Monday, September 3, 2018

Reviewing: More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer

...from the publisher....

Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes--one bright blue, the other dark brown--Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world's judgments, and Eva has two--Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers. 
More Than Meets the Eye (A Patchwork Family Novel Book #1) by [Witemeyer, Karen]

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father's death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach's sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline? thoughts....

I enjoyed reading More than Meets the Eye, book one of Karen Witemeyer's new series called A Patchwork Family. Evangeline is an ideal heroine. With her mismatched eyes she could have been bitter and unforgiving to those who ridiculed her yet she was the complete opposite. I admired her for her openness and kindness; just they type of gal you'd want for a friend.  When she met Logan it was her good nature that disarmed all his defenses.   He found out that this sheltered young woman was no match for any designs he might have on her for his plans.

While Evangeline and Logan's story is at the heart of this book I have a soft spot for Zach, Eva's oldest brother.  He had such a hard shell around his heart created by difficult circumstances.  He'd had to grow up quickly after the Orphan train crashed.  He could have escaped on his own but quickly decided to stand by and protect two younger orphans who survived with him. In one moment he went from being a teen with a chip on his shoulder to creating and providing for a new family.  A Patchwork Family he never let down.

This is a wonderful story of resilience, forgiveness and love.  Not just the romantic love but a love story of families who grew out of need in the wild west of old.  Karen Witemeyer is noted for her wonderful stories emanating from the wild west and for that I am pleased.  I enjoy a peek at what life may have been like for those who helped build this great western piece of our country.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Add The Christmas Prayer by Wanda Brunstetter Sure to Be An Annual Christmas Gift

...from the publisher....

Beloved, bestselling author of Amish fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter takes readers on a journey in 1850 along the California Trail.

Only the brave—or foolhardy—would attempt a cross-country journey late in the season. Three wagons meet up in Independence, Missouri, in April 1850, and their owners decide to keep forging ahead despite many setbacks and 
delays. December finds them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when a sudden snowstorm traps them, obscuring the trail.
Cynthia Cooper is traveling with her mother and the man she has promised to marry. But as Christmas is upon them and they are hunkered down in a small cabin, she is forced to reevaluate her reasons for planning to marry fellow-traveler Walter Prentice. When a widowed father heading to a California ranch and a gold prospector both show an interest in Cynthia, she weighs her dreams for marriage alongside her responsibility to care for her mother. Can love win over her timid heart? thoughts.....

If you enjoy reading Wanda Brunstetter's books you will also enjoy A Christmas Prayer.  Many women kept diaries in covered wagons along the trail west.  What a treasure if I found one among my grandparents things when I was young. I enjoyed reading Cynthia's accounts in this story while the characters came alive as they chopped wood, argued and learned to work and live together in order to survive under unimaginable circumstance.  

Each person had a reason for their journey.  After months of enduring hardships these reasons shifted.  Certain plans were no longer concrete.  I enjoyed the resiliency and strength of character as it emerged for Cynthia. She began as a young woman eager to find security with Walter to emerging into a strong woman ready to strike out on her own if need be.

We are so used to Wanda Brunstetter writing Amish fiction that this book is a wonderful surprise.  I recommend A Christmas Prayer as a gift-worthy book for anyone on your gift list who loves historical fiction and a copy for yourself!  

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Rumored Fortune Invites A Wealth of Treasure Hunters!

A Rumored Fortune by [Politano, Joanna Davidson]A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano is full of mystery and intrigue.  From the opening pages of the book, Tressa Harlowe came to life for me starting when she is summoned home from abroad only to learn her father had died and she was left to care for a mother who was needy and self indulgent. Under normal circumstances it wouldn't be too bad for a family with their wealth.  However, her father's fortune was shrouded by mystery and uncertainty and well hidden, leaving Tressa no money to run the large estate.  She found new problems at every turn.  

These things provided an interesting backdrop for a fine mystery complete with long lost relatives, a former suitor and a tall, dark, handsome stranger who seemingly was hired by her father to manage the vineyard.  He is not all that he seems...or maybe he is more...

I liked this book for the strong female character who overcame difficult situations that would leave many a Victorian lady to swoon after the first offer marriage simply for protection.  In the end I found her to be a resilient, faithful young woman.  Love and fortune are not always found in the usual places and this author provides  profound  lessons among the pages of viticulturist's journal!

 I am happy that I was introduced to this author's works by Revell Books who provided me with a copy for an honest review.  I recommend it for those who love a good mystery set in Victorian times.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Surprises Await In The Hope Jar by Wanda E Brunstetter

The Hope Jar (The Prayer Jars Book 1) by [Brunstetter, Wanda E.]

...notes from the publisher.....
Michelle Taylor is not who her new family in Lancaster County believes her to be. The Lapps were looking for their long-lost granddaughter when they met Michelle and she assumed the identity of Sara Murray. Once homeless and hopeless, Michelle has come to love her new Amish friends and even considers the idea of romance among them.
Finding an old blue jar in the barn that is filled with slips of paper containing thoughts, quotes, and prayers by an unknown author becomes a boost to Michelle s budding faith but also convicting. How can she tell the truth without hurting the ones she has truly come to love? thoughts...

The Hope Jar by Wanda E Brunstetter is one of her best so far.  I am excited to see a new series is on the horizon for this beloved author.
When I opened the story I connected immediately with Sara. She was so devastated after the death of her mother that she was honestly surprised at her stepfather's kindness when he allowed he to go through her mother's things.  I felt as though she was going to leave right away and meet her long lost relatives.  Time and interesting circumstances intervened.
When Michelle was introduced I wondered just what role she would play in the story.  Her life never seemed to right and when she seized the opportunity to take advantage of a simple act of mistaken identity the story took off.  The path she chose and the role she played in the lives of Willis and Mary Ruth's lives was amazing.  She assumed the role of Sara as though she was born to it.  
These well developed characters will win your heart.  I had to make time to finish the book because I wanted to see what happened next.  Wanda E Brunstetter delivers on a regular basis and for those interested in Amish fiction, this book gives a good idea of how the simple life may not be as simple as one thinks.  I look forward to the next book in the Prayer Jars series so I can re-visit this Amish church district to see what happens next.  I have a feeling there more stories out there!  I recommend this with 5 stars!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reviewing: Linda Evans Shepherd's Praying God's Promises

Lately I have been reading Praying God's Promises by Linda Evans Shepherd.  She has gathered up the promise verses and gathered them for us to read and re-read as we need them.  You see, sometimes we need a few encouraging verses and spend time flipping the pages of our bibles for just that one verse.  Linda's book is categorized by topic and I find that to be very helpful.  If I want to look for verses of Joy or Direction, there is a section of verses covering those topics.  While there are no discussion questions, I believe this book is a good fit for group study.  

Last spring as I listened to novels about promise jars or promise boxes I thought how nice it would be to have one place to find the promise verses.  If we believe in God's promises, how better to spend devotional time than to read the promise verses.

Many thanks to Revell books for publishing faithful books we can read and study to further our faith.  I received a copy of Praying God's Promises from Revell for an honest review.  I recommend this book to anyone who longs to deepen their faith whiled studying God's word. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Another Success: Minding the Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Minding the Light (Nantucket Legacy Book #2) by [Fisher, Suzanne Woods]Suzanne Woods Fisher's Minding the Light will capture your imagination from page one onward.  The characters are lively and not what you might expect from the black and white pages of your history books about Quakers.

A coveted journal from one of the first white settlers on Nantucket Island makes its way into book two of the Nantucket legacy series.  Written by Mary Coffin Starbuck, who wrote about her life in the 17th century, her days seemed to parallel the life of her forbears.

Captain Reynold Macy had much to look forward to when he returned home after a six year voyage. What waited for him on arrival was more than he bargained for.  The story unfolds it is certain that the life he dreamed of with his young wife Jane was never going to be what he imagined. The ship's hold was full and should turn a profit. His cousin and business partner Tristram Macy, had looked after his business affairs so all would be well.

His young sister-in-law, Daphne, was about to become engaged to Tristram. She had been helping Jane manage the large house on Orange Street where all fine captains lived.  Her heart was with her family, and although her mother was pushing her engagement, she was reluctant to set her heart fully on the match. 

I meant to read only a few pages as the hour was late when I began, but soon found the time had moved along until I was well into the third chapter before I had to put it down.  I was looking forward to this book since I read the sneak peek in Phoebe's Light.  The Quaker faith in this series is inspiring as it relates to bringing forth the light.  Jane, and her sister Daphne have a strong faith and live their lives accordingly. However, while the Quakers considered themselves "Friends"  they also do not welcome the native population or blacks into the polite society of their meetings.  This is very evident with their own mother, Lillian Coffin, whose standards are so different than her daughters. 

I recommend Minding the Light with 5 stars for those who love historical fiction.  The characters are engaging and the plot well written. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Celebrate Lit Blogging Tour for Firestorm by Laura Hilton Plus Giveaway

About the Book

Title: Firestorm
Author: Laura Hilton
Genre: Christian Amish
Release Date: July, 2018

Bridget Behr and her family migrate from the bustling Amish community where she grew up in Ohio to the mostly unpopulated Upper Peninsula of Michigan after a stalker breaks into their home. While her father and brother try to find work in the area, the family is forced to reside in a borrowed RV until the house and barn are rebuilt. While Bridget is hoping for a fresh start, she’s afraid to trust anyone—even Gabriel, the overly-friendly Amish man who lives nearby. Bridget thinks he’s a flirt who serial dates and doesn’t even remember the girls’ names.
Due to not enough construction work in his Florida community to keep him out of trouble, Gabriel Lapp has been sent to Michigan to work. His father is desperate for his son to settle down. When the family walks into Gabe’s home in the middle of a thunderstorm and he discovers their circumstances, he offers to help with construction. For Gabe, the beautiful girl he teasingly calls “the recluse” once he discovers she doesn’t attend youth events, confuses him like none other.
As Gabriel and Bridget grow closer, they realize there is more to a person than meets the eye. Just as Bridget is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding love, tragedy strikes. Now Bridget and her family must decide if they should move to another Amish community, or dare to fight for the future they’d hoped for in Mackinac County. thoughts...

Laura Hilton hooked me into this story immediately.  From the moment the Behr family arrived at their new home to meeting Gabe Lapp I knew I was in for an entertaining ride.  I am tempted to tell all but no spoilers here. However, I will share that as this summer is heating up, this is one book Amish Fiction fans do not want to miss.

The characters are complex and the novel has a few side stories that keeps the reader's interest.  Bridget, who has been burned before is not going to let the handsome Gabriel Lapp into her life.  She does not date.  Period.  

Gabe, who is freezing in Michigan after growing up in Florida is the guy you  hope to introduce to your younger sister.  He is nice, funny and will help you in any way he can.  He is popular with the young ladies but nobody sparks his interest until he meets "Green eyes" aka Bridget, who does not date.  

Hosea Behr's strict no nonsense approach is such a sharp contrast to Gabe that one can feel their tension nearly leap from the page.  It is interesting to see how these two men try to work together in the face of consequences that both face for their actions.  

I enjoyed this book for the story but also because the characters are well written and believable.  The struggles they face are not what you expect in an Amish story.  Life can be a struggle and what you do with what you are handed is what makes or breaks a spirit.  Laura Hilton manages to keep all together with a surprising solution for all. 


Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

  Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with over twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write.
 Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.
When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

Guest Post from Laura Hilton
I read a series of books a year or so ago by another Amish author who had set her books in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As a Michigan native, I was curious, and I researched, but found nothing about Upper Peninsula Amish except a notation that one had tried and failed. So I contacted the author. She told me that she’d never been there, and her research had all been hearsay, so with that lack of firsthand knowledge and no trip to the Upper Peninsula planned, no trip to see for myself would be possible. At least at that time.
Then God intervened. My son who is in the United States Coast Guard was stationed in the Upper Peninsula this past summer (2017.) He saw the Amish driving around in their buggies. And he felt like a stalker as he followed one to see where he went and drove through the area. He even sent pictures. (Shhhh.)
Yes, there are Amish in the Upper Peninsula – at least at the time this book was written.
Okay, as a Michigan native, I used some terms that may not be familiar to non-Michiganders. A Yooper is someone who lives in the Upper Peninsula. A Troll is someone from the Lower Peninsula. A pastie is kind of like a Hot Pocket, except it’s a meat pie made with root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and rutabagas. They are so good. And the straits are the area of the Great Lakes connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
As for the wildfire, the earliest wildfire I could find any documentation on in the Upper Peninsula was in April. It is generally a snowy area — trust me. I lived near the Muskegon area and saw snow drifts in May. We sometimes had over six feet of snow on the ground at one time. So, to get the wildfire when I wanted/needed the wildfire I used artistic license. Yes, fires really happened in Michigan’s history. Just not in the month mentioned in the book.

I am attaching a meme about Michigan seasons. We’ll call the fire set in “fool’s spring.” My son got married during the “third winter” this year. April 21 and there’s snow on the ground. He and his beautiful bride got married at a water fall (Tahquomenon Falls) very near where the story is set.

Thanks for reading Firestorm!!

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, July 10
The Avid Reader, July 12
Among the Reads, July 14
Pause for Tales, July 20
amandainpa, July 21
Bigreadersite, July 21
           Little Homeschool on the Praire, July 23tops 


To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away

Grand prize: Firefighter Puppet 9 (Melissa & Doug), Copies of Amish Firefighter and Firestorm by Laura Hilton.

First place prize of “I Love You to the Cross & Back” Mug (Gardenfire) & Firestorm by Laura Hilton!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!


uncertain of new home sight unseen
hasty judgements
doubt of others
reasons behind doubt
dedication to service/fighting fires
proving oneself to extent of own endangerment

Friday, July 20, 2018

Plain Everyday Heroes Celebrate Lit Blog Tour Review & Giveaway!


About the Book

Plain everyday heroes finalTitle: Plain Everyday Heroes
Authors: Laura V. Hilton, 
Rachel J. Good, Thomas Nye
Genre: Christian Amish
Release Date: July 4, 2018
Playing with Fire

Arie Zimmerman has been in love with Noah Behr from almost the moment they met, but after a devastating wildfire destroys the community, everything changes. Noah questions how a loving Gott could allow such things to happen. As Arie and her family struggle to rebuild their home and lives, Noah escapes to California to fight another off-season wildfire—and maybe find Gott in the process.
When Noah returns, he promises Arie the prize money if she will help him with a chili cook-off to fund the fire department. Of course, in order to spend more time with the girl he loves, he’s also willing to pitch in unloading the new furniture and animals her daed bought at an auction. He’ll even help Arie slice and dice vegetables if he can taste test the recipes.
More than just the kitchen heats up as they spend time together. But will Noah find a still missing Gott in the process and discover there’s more to life than what he initially believed?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ thoughts....
I enjoyed reading Playing With Fire and learning what became of Noah Behr, who first appeared Laura's book Firestorm.  Arie and Noah sincerely care for each other but before they can move ahead in their relationship he needs to come to grips with his faith.  Arie's  family lost everything in the firestorm, yet her faith is stronger than ever.  Noah is refreshing as he searches to find God and he is determined to keep searching.  The resilience in this story could only be written by master story teller Laura V Hilton.  If you have not read her work  yet, I recommend you start now.  
An Unlikely Hero
Mysteries intrigue secondhand shop owner Benuel Miller. Although strangers may think a blind man would be easy to cheat, those who know Benuel realize he’s honed his other senses to pick up clues his eyes don’t see, making him a savvy business owner. When a stranger enters Benuel’s secondhand shop, the man is shocked by Benuel’s accurate assessment and unsolicited advice. Wary, he hopes Benuel won’t find out his true intentions, but the shopkeeper is already on the case.
Later, Mari and her twin sister, Frannie, stop in Benuel’s shop with Frannie’s three-year-old son, and Benuel senses trouble. His hunches have never led him astray, but is he misreading something here? He can’t help being drawn to Mari, yet is she as sweet and loving as she seems? Or is she hiding a deep, dark secret?
One explosive night when tragedy strikes, Benuel risks his life to find out the truth. Can he unmask the stranger from his shop to foil a sinister plot? And will what he discovers destroy his only chance for love?
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ thoughts on Unlikely Hero...
This is an intriguing mystery that kept me turning pages one night until I came to the end!  Benuel  Miller is  blind but bears a special insight that enables him to read a lot into the characters of customers who enter his store. While he is not your every day hero, he quickly sizes up the situation between Mari and Frannie and knows things just don't add up.  I enjoyed this novella by Rachel j Good, an author who finds the most intriguing real life subjects for her books.
 Racing the Slow Girls
A recipe for fast-paced, comical, Amish adventure— Ingredients: Three fun-loving teenage boys on bicycles. Mix in an adorable little girl on a pony, a few spunky teenage girls, and a hint of romance. Directions: Place the characters in a beautiful setting, such as Holmes Co. Ohio. Roll in the boys on bikes. Stir up a few harsh words spoken carelessly. Add plenty of retaliation by the girls. Place in the heat of a family emergency until everyone is completely undone. Sit back and enjoy an Amish adventure with a cup of coffee. thoughts  on Racing the Slow Girls...
I enjoyed reading about  Daniel and Libby, an unlikely friendship developed through his simple acts of kindness toward her.  Libby was an engaging child who seemed to make him late when he was meeting friends for fun and games.  Daniel had two identities and when the truth comes out in an all important event to help out his young friend, the results are a nice finish to a game of mistaken identity.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Authors
Laura pictureLaura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals for blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New.
Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye. They currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children.
When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.

rachel goodRachel J. Good is the author of several Amish series in print or forthcoming—Sisters & Friends, Love & Promises, and two books in theHearts of Amish Country series—as well as the Amish Quilts Coloring Books and the contemporary novella, Angels Unaware, part of the Hope Chapel series. Visit Rachel at her website:
Thomas Nye writes novels about horses and Amish life, with a touch of romance, and a foundation of faith in Christ. He and his wife, Shari, live on her family farm where they raised five children. Their six grandchildren love to visit Karma and Karla, a team of draft horses which Thomas purchased from an Amish friend.

Arie’s habanero chili

1 lb stew meat: venison, or beef
1/4 cup bacon bits
1/2 Onion, diced
Green pepper, diced
2 cans of habanero Rotel
1 can tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1/2 cup sliced jalapenos
1 TSP cayenne pepper
3 TB chili powder
2 TB beef bouillon
1 TSP paprika
1 TSP pepper
2 TB garlic
salt to taste

Saute onion and pepper, set aside. Sear stew meat in hot pan until brown. Do not over cook. Add meat and other ingredients to pot and simmer until done. Add water if necessary. Serve with cornbread. Approximately 7 servings
Recipe compliments of Michael Hilton (Laura’s son)

Blog Stops

Mary Hake, July 11
Quiet Quilter, July 13
Carpe Diem, July 16
Splashes of Joy, July 18
Bigreadersite , July 19


To celebrate the tour, Celebrate Lit is giving away

Grand prize: a $25 Visa gift card

1st – 4th place: eBook copy of Plain Everyday Heroes!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mary Bennet's Untold Story Now Written by Katherine J Chen in Mary B

Mary B: A Novel: An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice by [Chen, Katherine J.]As an avid fan of Jane Austen's books, I was eager to read this untold story of Mary Bennett by Katherine J. Chen.

In Pride and Prejudice we see Mary as that difficult middle daughter who possesses none of the beauty of her elder sisters. Nor is there the spunk found in her excitable younger sisters who seem to find nothing but mischief and the desire to be courted by anyone sporting regimental reds.

This story brings a new twist to Mary's personality as the men we've come to admire in the original seem to look past her plain looks and personality to see the real Mary and her potential.  Even Mr. Collins' plight has had a new light shed upon his toady personality as the author digs deeper into his background and odious behavior in seeking a wife.

Jane Austin's Mary, a well read young woman who seeks no dance partners nor special ribbons to adorn her plain looks is the same Mary Bennet in Mary B. The difference is that in Mary B, we get more than a superficial glimpse into this young woman's life.  If you find you haven't had your fill of the Bennet family, you will probably enjoy adding this book to your collection.  It is written in the style faithful to Pride and Prejudice.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Historical Romance Set on the Shirley Plantation!

Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance

Good news!  I enjoy Carrie Fancett Pagels historical fiction so when she shared that Return to Shirley Plantation  was being released in audio book format I was pleased.  

 This novella is set on the historical Shirley Plantation, a beautiful contrast to the pain the soldiers endured.  Historical fiction is one genre  that i find intriguing and compels me to look a little deeper into the time and place of many books.

The Civil War was a tumultuous time for  our country and for our hero Matthew Scott especially!  Far from home and wearing a uniform whose cause he did not support was difficult.  He was an actor not a soldier.  However, had he not been thrust into the gray uniform of the confederacy he never would have met the one woman who captured his heart.  

Angelina Rose was meant to be up north by now where freedom beckoned. She couldn't seem to get away from Shirley Plantation though she had had the opportunity.  Time, chance and a bit of faith intervened or she never would have met Matthew Scott who needed her care among the injured.  There was something different about him and it took others on the plantation to help put the pieces together.  This was not a clear case of an injured soldier falling for a beautiful nursemaid. 

Audio books are another way for authors to get their stories out to readers who may not have a chance to experience their books.  I first enjoyed listening while traveling but found it is a wonderful companion to many of the every day tasks I do around the house or garden and even when I am working on my hobbies.  

I recommend Return to Shirley Plantation for anyone who enjoys novellas and historical fiction.  Congratulations to Carrie Fancett Pagels on her first audio book!  I hope it will be the first of many.

...from the Publisher....

Abducted against his will, theater manager Matthew Scott is conscripted into the Confederate army because of his Copperhead senator father’s political leanings. Injured at Malvern Hill, Matthew is taken by the Union army to Shirley Plantation in Virginia, where he is tended by seamstress Angelina Rose, a freed slave. 
Given an opportunity to leave the South and start a new life for herself, Angelina remained for the sake of her sister’s orphaned twins, who are still enslaved. 
Matthew must use his acting skills to to remain safe. Will his return to Shirley Plantation settle a mystery concerning his father’s past? And will Matthew find the family for which he longs?