Monday, December 19, 2011

Love Lifted Me by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck

Love Lifted Me - book 3 in a six-part series. This book can be read as a stand-alone novel. It is well written and you won't feel left behind wondering what happened before, if you have not read the first two books.

This novel continues the story of Jade, her husband, Max, and little Asa.  It's a beautiful story.  The beginning of the book seems a bit like a movie script, and honestly, it took me a little bit of reading to really 'warm' up to the story because of this - it seemed a little like jumping into a movie after you missed the first ten to fifteen minutes, but it was easy to get into after that.

Jade Benson embraces unexpected motherhood when her husband Max gains custody of his young son. As she and Max work out their newly formed family, an invitation to coach Texas high school football sends them on a journey.

Then a stranger reveals a painful secret, and Jade faces her hardest challenge yet. When she surrenders her heart to God and to her husband, Jade discovers the joy of love lifting her above her fears.

Love Lifted Me is a story of strong and surrendered love that learns not to look back but living and loving in the "now".  It's a story of dreams, realities, heartache, pain, joy, gladness, surrender and finding peace.  And like Sara Evans states: "All my songs tell a story. But this one is special. My first book series is about looking backward while moving forward. It's about chasing dreams, endless country roads, and tender faith."

I wish to thank Book Sneeze, the blog review program of Thomas Nelson, for the complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Okay Faithful Blog Readers it's time for....drum roll please......
My First Book GIVE-AWAY!

Here's all you have to do:

1) Read my review of "When the Heart Cries" by Cindy Woodsmall and leave me a comment - be sure to include your name.


2) If you're my friend on FaceBook, share the link of my review of "When the Heart Cries" by Cindy Woodsmall to your FB page, then send me a private message telling me you did this.

That's it! Pretty Simple!

I'll draw the winning name from all those who enter by one of the two methods listed on Wednesday, December 21st!  So HURRY....time's limited!

**If you're one of my local friends - you'd definitely have the book in time for Christmas gift giving!  :0)

When The Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall

This was not your usual Amish fiction was an edge-of-your-seat, heart pounding story set among the Amish.  I was drawn into this book right from the start and it was a "sit down, hang on tight, roller coaster ride" through the book.  I just couldn't get enough!  Most books, even when in a series, kind of try to wrap things up nice and tidy, while a secondary character may come more to the forefront for the next installment...but not with this book!  I was so sorry to see this book end...and it left me on the train with Hannah Lapp, so curious as to what will cross her path in the next book of the series.

I really don't want to give too much away with this story, but it's definitely a HIGHLY recommended book.  Cindy Woodsmall is one of the best storytellers of Amish fiction I've come across!  She doesn't just focus on her main characters, but her secondary characters are so well rounded and fit into the story in ways that sure don't keep them in the shadows.

My emotions throughout this book went from the happiness of Hannah's love with Paul, to stark horror at the tragedy that befell her on her walk home, to anger with her sister (I'd like to grab her sister by the collar and shake her up, while giving her 'what for'), to sorrow at the way Hannah is treated by many of her other family members and her community, to understanding her reason for getting on that train.  I was touched by the undying friendship of Mary & Matthew, while at the same time appalled at the actions of Hannah's brother, Luke and her sister, Sarah.  This was an incredible start to this series and I can't wait to get into the next book to see what happens. 

Bravo, Cindy Woodsmall!

Thanks to the wonderful folks at WaterBrook-Multnomah, through their Blogging for Books program for the complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Friday, December 16, 2011

NEW From The "Girlfriends In God"


New From The Girlfriends in God Comes a Book about trusting God... No matter what! You don't have to understand God to trust him

In a culture where we tend to take control of our own lives, trusting God has become a religious platitude rather than a life-changing attitude. We say it, but do we really mean it? And what does trusting God really look like?
In this book you'll find:
  • A unique 12-week devotional study
  • A Bible study guide and journal page at the end of each week's study
  • The flexibility to study on your own or with girlfriends…or both!
Learn how to trust God—one step at a time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Naomi's Gift by Amy Clipston

Naomi's gift is a charming Amish Christmas novella that could easily be turned into a full-fledged fact, I would love to see that happen.  I was so drawn into the story and fell in love with the main characters, that I'd love to see what else happens in their lives!  (Oh, the ideas that are running through my writing mind!)

This story revolves around Naomi King, a 24 year old character re-introduced from another Kauffman Amish Bakery series book. (I've only recently discovered Amy Clipston but I'm really enjoying her delightful Amish tales) Naomi has been burned by love twice before and has all but given up on ever find her 'one true love'.  As Christmas nears, Naomi becomes even more certain that she'll live out her life as an old maid, but we all know that Christmas is a time of miracles....

Widowed, Caleb and his delightfully lovely 7 year old daughter, Susie come back to Lancaster County to spend some time with Caleb's family for Christmas.  Young Susie remembers that it's only proper to bring your hostess a gift when you go visiting, pleads with her father to stop at a local farmer's market to find just the perfect hostess gift for her aunt.  While browsing the items, Susie is attracted to beautiful quilts and is reminded of her mama, who passed away two years prior.  When Caleb notices that Susie's missing, he begins frantically searching the area for his daughter.  Susie, while not realizing she's 'lost' engages in some lively conversation with Naomi about the quilts.

As time continues, Susie develops quite an endearing friendship with Naomi, as well as her cousins.  Naomi begins to take notice of Caleb but fears that it's useless to get to know him since he'll soon be returning home to Ohio so she guards her heart from more heartbreak.  In the meantime, Caleb's sister, Sadie is determined to get her brother and his daughter to move back to his hometown area and to settle down with a new wife.  She feels it's imperative that little Susie have a mother figure in her life.  Sadie plays matchmaker trying to get Caleb and Irene together.  It's obvious that Irene really has no desire to have a 'ready made' family and shows little interest in Susie.

The story was delightful, but I do have a couple of complaints with the story - (1) Sadie's harshness with Naomi - she gossips about her, talks negatively about her, and her extreme interference in her brother's life which anyone familiar with the submission of Amish women to Amish men can see that this is carried to an extreme - Sadie truly pushes things way beyond what would be acceptable behavior; and (2)  the over usage of Pennsylvania Dutch words and phrases...a little goes a long way.  After a while, it distracts from the story.

There was a family tree included in the beginning of the book - which didn't really add anything to the book, as far as I was concerned.  I did enjoy that the author included a recipe as well...those all seem interesting.

I wish to thank Zondervan for the complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Plain & Simple Christmas by Amy Clipston

Anne Mae has been shunned by her Old Order Amish family for her decision to marry Englisher, Kellan.  Anne Mae's expecting her first child and her heart's desire for Christmas is to reunite with her family, so that her child will get to know Anne Mae's parents and siblings.  Through a series of letters between Anne Mae and her sister-in-law, plans are made for Anne Mae and Kellan to come back home for Christmas.  Anne Mae's arrival is not the warm reception she hopes for, especially with her father, the local Bishop.  After several uncomfortable encounters, Anne Mae feels that there is no way reconciliation will happen and she and husband, Kellan decide to go back to Baltimore to celebrate Christmas there.  After their vehicle slides off the road, into a snow bank, a Christmas miracle is about to happen....

This is a sweet story for anyone hoping for a little escape from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and enjoys Christmas miracles.  There's also an interesting recipe included that really sounds good, in fact, I will probably try it!

This was the first Amish story I've read by author Amy Clipston.  It was an enjoyable, quick read.

The only draw back I had with the book, was the numerous times the author used Amish phrases throughout the story.  Clipston includes a glossary of the words and phrases in the front of the book and it got a little frustrating flipping back and forth to figure out the meaning of the words and phrases.  It seemed like she was trying to impress her readers with her knowledge of Amish words and phrases.  This seemed to take away from the flow of the story.  There was one major mistake in the text, a mix-up of the character's name in one of the's not a big deal but was enough to draw attention to the error and disrupted the flow, making it a bit disappointing that it wasn't caught in the proofreading process.

I wish to thank Zondervan publishers for the complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

The Christmas Singing Book Trailer Link & First Chapter Preview!

Follow this link to see the book trailer for Cindy Woodsmall's "The Christmas Singing"
You can also read the first chapter of "The Christmas Singing" by following the link below!

**If you enjoyed this preview, you can take 30% off and free shipping on The Christmas Singing (and any other title) when your readers use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout on The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

The Christmas Singing - Cindy Woodsmall

Mattie loves her new life in Ohio.  She's trying her best to put Gideon behind her and start her life over.  Gideon was Mattie's first true love....and heartbreak.  She still questions what it was that caused Gideon to find interest in someone Englisher, of all people.  But Gideon holds a secret. He believes he's done Mattie a favor setting her free.  But is this a decision he ends up regretting? After Mattie's bakery burns down and leaves Mattie injured, Gideon rushes to Mattie's side but his secret still surrounds the walls of his heart.  Sol, Mattie's new love, is confused as to Gideon's return after breaking Mattie's heart.  Mattie goes back home to Pennsylvania to visit Mamm and Daed for the holidays, while recovering from her injuries.  Being closer to Gideon, brings about more heart wounds than she bargained for.  Mattie needs to decide where she'll spend her favorite night of the year, Christmas Eve...her order to enjoy The Christmas Singing.

This was a delightful Amish Christmas tale.  Author, Cindy Woodsmall, weaves a touching story in this novel.  A nice bonus at the end of the book are two delicious sounding Amish cake recipes....I can't wait to try them!

I would like to thank WaterBrook-Multnomah's Blogging For Books program for supplying me with this complimentary copy for my review.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

NLT Life Application Bible Contest!!!

Wanted to let you know about a great giveaway happening over at the New Living Translation Facebook page, and also give you a chance to enter a Tyndale Blog Network exclusive giveaway.
Here are the NLT Facebook page giveaway details:
Starting on November 29th until December 24th at the New Living Translation Facebook page we're giving away lots of great prizes and something free for you just for singing up.
By visiting the giveaway entry page (located on the NLT Facebook page, the link is under the profile picture) and entering your name and e-mail address you'll be entered to win the following prizes:
  • One random person each day will win a Life Application Study Bible Family Pack (Guys Life Application Study Bible hc, Girls Life Application Study Bible hc, Student's Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible Large Print hc).
  • One Random person each week will win an Apple iPad 2!
Everyone that signs up gets a free download copy of the Life Application Bible Study – Book of Luke!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rescued by John Bevere & Mark Andrew Olsen

After taking John Bevere's Messenger Module through the International School of Ministry, which combined John's books Breaking Intimidation, Driven by Eternity and Extraordinary, I decided to delve into more of Bevere's books and I came across this "novel", Bevere's first.  It's very similar in teaching to Driven by Eternity - it deals with the Judgement Seat of Christ and eternity - but as a novel.  It's plot is more expanded than the story of Affabel contained in Driven by Eternity, but in many ways it is similar.

In Rescued we follow the story of Alan Rockaway, his wife Jenny and his oldest son Jeff.  Rockaway is the pastor of one of the largest churches in Colorado.  Rockaway's son, Jeff agrees to do a video documentary of the pastor and a group of his congregants, who take a couple's cruise together as part of a teaching series on strengthening marriages/relationships.  Parts of the trip are beamed live to the congregation back in Colorado from time to time.  As part of one of their excursions, the group gets to experience a dive in a submarine and as the passengers begin to board the sub, Pastor Rockaway decides to send a live message back to his church, who are gathered for Sunday service.  Just as the submarine begins it's descent an unspeakable accident happens - an out-of-control boat hits the sub trapping all of it's passengers.  Those gathered for Sunday worship are horrified at seeing the accident.  Members of the Barbados coast guard, whom Jeff thinks have come to help in the rescue, actually cause more harm, by sinking the renegade boat in an effort to cover up the real reason for the accident.  Destroying the boat only causes further damage to the sunken sub and adds peril to the lives of the trapped passengers.  As oxygen levels begin to diminish, many of the passengers lose their lives...and learn of their eternal destination after facing Judgement.

Without giving away the end of the story, this book will make you take a look at your life and begin to become even more aware of eternity.  Stressed throughout the book is the fact that often times grace is preached our churches today in such a way that believers never realize that how you'll spend eternity is as important as where you'll spend eternity.

The message of Rescued is phenomenal!  While there were parts of the story (especially early on) that were a bit slow, once you get going, it's a hard book to put down!  I would highly recommend this novel to anyone and everyone.

At the time I purchased my copy of this book, Christian Book Distributors was selling the book for $2.99 in paperback.  At that price, it would make an excellent book on everyone's gift giving list this Christmas...what a better gift to give than to be sure that those you know and love gain more insight and understanding into eternity.  Who knows, this one book could be all it takes for them to fully accept Christ as their Lord and Savior...and secure their eternity!