Friday, March 28, 2014

Rocky Mountain Romance by Lesley Ann McDonald

This novel was a fun read.  Not too long and a nice Christian romance novel.  This story is about a young woman, Sheila Macintosh, who leaves her L.A. job for vacation to be there as her friend Courtney has her first baby.  She almost doesn't make it with pressing assignments that need doing at her job.  She recalls her last visit in Montana at Courtney's wedding.  Here is where she met Courtney's brother, Ben, and a new romance begins.  But just as things are getting underway a misunderstanding ends what appears to have been a budding romance.  She leaves sad and unhappy that she could have trusted him.

Now as she finds herself returning, she feels the feelings she had for Ben are still there.  But she no longer has the trust that she had before and doesn't encourage a relationship to start. 

On the other side of the picture, Ben is very much smitten with Sheila.  But he is shy and has a difficult time opening up. 

The book is a fun read and a quick one.  The characters are warm and fun to read about.  I enjoyed this book. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Murder Simply Brewed, An Amish Village Mystery

As a young girl growing up in a small Minnesota town, we had a tiny little library.  However, the collection of Nancy Drew, Box Car Children and Hardy Boys' Mysteries kept me going back each week to check out new books.  I loved mysteries!  I have always have.  And apparently, even though I am older than that little girl who read Nancy Drew, I still love a good mystery.

Vannetta Chapman has authored a great book for those who enjoy and love this genre.  And it mixes it up a bit with Amish and "Englisch" together side by side working to resolve the crime.

This book takes place in the Amish community of Middlebury, Indiana.  The setting is the Amish artisan village shop area where Amish items are sold.  Some of the workers are Amish and others are not. 

Hannah, an Amish girl working in a quilt shop arrives at work and notices the normal smells permeating from the coffee shop next door were not there.  She wonders why the difference and discovers that the proprietor, Ethan Gray had arrived to work that day and appears to have died in the coffee shop.

Hannah calls the manager of the Amish shops, Amber, and it would appear through police reports that a heart attack caused by vandalism would be the cause of death for Ethan Gray.  However, a continuing series of events occur which rule out death through health causes.  As the story progresses, new characters come into play which could be the possible perpetrators of the death of Ethan and the vandalism.

Hannah is asked by Amber to take over the work at the coffee shop and Hannah is concerned because she has never done this type of work.  She quickly catches on and the coffee shop begins to come back to life.  As the vandalism in the Amish artisan village continues there is no doubt that Ethan was murdered and Hannah and Amber combine efforts to find the answers to the mysterious happenings.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I love a good mystery and that it was!  I was taken in immediately into the lives of the characters of the book and enjoyed the sparks of romance that brought people's lives together in the book, as well.  A very well-written and enjoyable book.  And if you love a mystery, you will love Murder Simply Brewed!

Monday, March 17, 2014

An Amish Garden Review

My husband and I have had a garden for all the years of our married life.  In our beginning efforts, it was quite a struggle for us to have it watered adequately, yet not too much, to keep the weeds down and to know how to properly deal with the little garden pests, both insect variety and larger animal variety. 
We often had problems that we had to “weather” out, such as late frosts after the garden was beginning to come up or early frosts when we not prepared and hadn’t brought in the harvest.  Hail and wind storms also wreaked their havoc upon our little garden plot.  It was and sometimes still is frustrating when things didn’t go as we had hoped and planned.  But so is our life, also not the smooth road we always hope and pray for.  We have to learn to “go with the flow” and accept what happens and move forward.  Yet we can find peace in our lives and grow and learn.  The garden holds many happy memories and fun as the kids and now grandkids help us harvest, weed and enjoy the fruits of our labors.

This wonderful book, which entails four Novellas, written by four wonderful authors, shows how the gardens in our lives help us to move ahead and as stated in the final novella by the very talented author, Vannetta Chapman, Gardens will bless your soul. 

“They are a place to rest, to draw near, and to heal.”  I especially loved that line and marked it as I was reading the book, because that is how I truly feel about gardens, as well.
My Review:

1.       Rooted in Love, Beth Wiseman

Rosemary Lantz is the main character in this story.  She is a talented young woman except that gardening has its challenges for her.  In her courting days, she was together with Saul until she hears a secret about him that at her age of 16, causes her to separate from him.  This was a hard thing for both of them, but Rosemary knows that a life with Saul under these circumstances would never work.  As they begin to work together in her garden, they share work and laughter together.  I especially liked the part with Rosemary’s father and there was a part that brought me to tears as I read the feelings between the two of them.

2.       Flowers for Rachael, Kathleen Fuller

Rachael has a beautiful flower garden and spent most days tending to it.  She loves her garden and even finds herself talking to her flowers, perhaps because she is lonely. She apparently has a secret admirer, however, as suddenly and daily a beautiful flower appears for her with a very short note.  She has no idea who is bringing the flowers, although she hopes it might be Gideon.  Yet, it appears not to be as he seems unaware of the flowers’ meanings when she gives a flower to Gideon. 

Rachael cares for her grandfather and finds him collapsed one day, which leads to a hospital stay and Rachael feels she needs to be her grandfather’s caretaker.  Her grandfather insists she needs to tend to her life and that God will take care of things all in their due time.  Rachael still is worried about her grandfather but discovers that she must learn to trust.
3.       Seeds of Love, Tricia Goyer

This novella takes place in Montana and the main character is Sadie Chupp who is a young woman whose late mother left her with a legacy, heirloom seeds that are her special remembrances of her dear parents.  She seems to harbor some unhappy feelings towards her siblings, who, after the deaths of their parents, sold the family home.  Sadie being the youngest was heartbroken and moves to her uncle in Montana to start fresh.   She brings her mother’s seeds and plans a garden to continue to keep the feeling of her parents close to her.  A company has wanted to buy the heirloom seeds, but Sadie’s mother had not wanted to do so, because the seeds had belonged to her family for generations.
She meets Eli who wants to help her with her gardening.  As time passes she and Eli have a misunderstanding and Sadie is beyond sad.  Her garden undergoes lots of damage and the heirloom seeds have all been planted.  How will she ever be able to repair the damage that a bear cub has done?

The biggest surprise yet occurs when Sadie meets Eli’s grandfather.
4.       Where Healing Blooms, Vannetta Chapman

Emma is a widow who lives with Mary Ann, her mother-in-law.  Mary Ann has a beautiful garden that she lovingly tends. Emma tries to find a purpose in life now that her children are grown.  She learns that a runaway Amish boy has been hiding in her barn.  She tries to know how she can help him at this troubled time of his life.  She leaves food and hopes that he will feel that he can trust her to help him.  She also is asked by the bishop to house an abused Amish woman and her two children.  They find a safe refuge at Emma’s and begin to work together. 
Emma begins to find some meaning to her life and purpose

Her old friend, Danny, has returned home after many years absence.  She had once hoped that they would marry, but Danny had disappointed her by moving away to pursue his life’s plans leaving Emma alone and to marry another.  Emma feels she is too old now to find love again in her life.
Mary Ann’s garden holds a secret which she reveals to Emma and Danny that may just change both of their lives. 

These four stories will touch your heart.  These four authors share how gardens can help you find peace, faith, endurance, hope and healing.  I loved them all!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Interview With Jennifer Beckstrand, Author

I am so excited today to be able to post an interview with Jennifer Beckstrand.  She is an amazing author and I have enjoyed her books so very much.  I wanted you all to be able to hear about Jennifer and her latest book.  I have done a review already and the link is here. 

Jennifer is a fellow Utahn, and I am so happy that she took the time to do this guest post on my blog. Thank you so much, Jennifer for taking the time out of your very busy schedule! And I hope readers will take the time to read one of Jennifer's books, because if you read one, you will definitely want to read more!

Bio: Jennifer Beckstrand writes Amish Inspirational Romance for Summerside Press and Kensington Books.

Her newest Amish romance series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, follows the escapades of two scheming Amish grandparents who try to help their grandchildren find suitable mates. Who would ever suspect two elderly Amish folks of mischief? Huckleberry Hill, the first book of the series, released earlier this year. The second book, Huckleberry Summer, comes out in June.

Jennifer has a degree in mathematics, which comes in handy when one of her six children needs help with algebra. After twenty-five years of being a chauffeur, a cook, a maid, and a nurse, she embarked on a writing career.

Share a little bit about yourself. For almost 30 years, I have been married to the same wonderful guy I fell in love with in college. I have six children. The four oldest are girls with two boys at the end. My three oldest daughters are married, and I have two grandsons. Most of my spare time revolves around my family. I attend lots of tennis matches, soccer games, and choir concerts. I am an avid reader. If you come to my house and I’m not writing or playing with grandchildren, I’m probably reading or doing a crossword puzzle. I also love to sing, direct musicals, and put on Shakespeare plays with my kids. And believe it or not, I love cleaning my house. (I really appreciate a clean bathroom, especially when mine are dirty.)

How did you get started writing?

About four kids into my life I suffered from chronic insomnia because I couldn’t stop wondering what I had forgotten to do that day—like hug my children or go to the bathroom. That is how I started my writing career. One night, a few months after the birth of my fourth daughter, I lingered on my pillow unable to sleep and decided to make up a story. It took me fifteen years to finish my first romance. Once I signed with an agent (and all the kids entered the public school system), it took about four months before I had a contract with a publisher for Kate’s Song. It was very exciting!

What is your writing process?

My goal is to write 10,000 words a week. It has taken me a long time, but I have finally found a process that works for me. I set the timer for one hour and write as fast as I can. This keeps me from wandering around the house, looking for food, or surrendering to a nap on the couch. Even if I am not sure what to write, I start typing. The ideas usually flow once I put in the effort to get myself into the chair. As long as my fingers are busy, I can usually stay awake, although even on good writing days my son often comes home to find his mother sprawled on the couch trying to steal a few minutes of sleep.

I have found that if I ponder and think and contemplate and stew, ideas will come (if I am awake) and a great plot or character will speak to me. The advantage of being a task-oriented, stay-at-home mother is that many of my daily jobs allow ample time for musing. I ruminate while puffing on the treadmill or running a vacuum over my carpet. I actually still do a lot of brainstorming right before I fall asleep. My best thinking is done in the shower—I’m notorious for long showers, for which I apologize to my dad. (He had six daughters, and long showers were his pet peeve.)
Why do you think there is such an interest in Amish fiction right now?

A lot of people read Christian/Inspirational fiction for an uplifting, faith-building message. Many read inspirational romance because they want a romantic story without steamy love scenes. I think people read Amish specifically because they want to immerse themselves in a simpler time where faith and family are cherished values. In a world of cell phones, computers, and cable television, the idea of a less complicated existence appeals to many people. And, of course, everybody loves a happy ending.

What are your biggest distractions?

Food has always been a big distraction for me. If I can’t think of something to write, I get out of my chair to search for a Twinkie. Setting the timer on my writing has helped that problem quite a bit.

My motto as a stay-at-home mom is: “My interruptions are my work.” My family takes priority over my writing. So, when my children need me, I’m there. I have been able to manage my deadlines in such a way that I always have time for the grandkids.

Tell us about your latest book.

In Huckleberry Hill, Lia Shetler is resigned to being a spinster. So she’s helping her pretty, spoiled sister Rachel secure the perfect husband–Moses Zimmerman. But the more Lia sees of Moses’s gently teasing ways and quiet understanding, the more she wishes he could be hers alone. Now both will need the kind of miracles only faith and courage can bring to finally reach for a lifetime of happiness. calls Huckleberry Hill “…delightful, full of joy, romance, sweet wisdom and great laughter.”

My next books, Huckleberry Summer and Huckleberry Christmas come out later this year. There’s also an Amish novella that will be out just in time for Christmas.

Where can readers find you and your books?

My books are available online and wherever Christian Inspirational books are sold.

You can learn more about me and my books by going to my website at, on Facebook at Jennifer Beckstrand Fans, and on Twitter @JenniferBeckst1



Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pennsylvania Patchwork by Kate Lloyd

Photo used by permission.

Pennsylvania Patchwork is book 2 in the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy.  This is an Amish Novel written by Kate Lloyd.  Click here to see Kate's blog .
This was a fun book, with some romance, Amish, and some mystery, as well.  The main characters are Holly Fisher, her mother, Esther and grandma Anna.  When Esther was in her rumspringa years she headed away from the Amish faith, along with Samuel.  They were married and then Samuel left for military service while Esther expected their child, Holly.  They never saw one another again.  Holly never met her father and they lived in the "English" lifestyle and never returned to the Amish until many years had passed.
Esther and Holly come to Lancaster County and live with Esther's Mamm and Holly is suddenly finding herself with several suitors. Holly is enjoying life in the Amish community and does not feel the need to return to Seattle and the hectic lifestyle it represented in her life.

Esther finds Nathaniel and they begin a courtship and plan on marriage, when suddenly rumor has it that Nathaniel's first wife is alive and living in deplorable conditions.  You will need to read the book to see what happens, here!

Holly and Zach become engaged and soon a former woman in Zach's life appears, making life for Holly very difficult and uncertain. 
Many adventures are to be had in Amish country, old feelings to be healed that have festered for long years.  This is a book of forgiveness, second chances and hope of good things to come in life.  It was a happy and engaging book.  I really enjoyed Kate's first and second books and I look forward to reading book 3!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Balanced by Tricia Goyer

This is a great book, especially for the mom, (or the grandma, for that matter), on the go. Don’t we all feel like we NEVER, EVER have the time we need to do all the things we want or need to do? Well, if you find yourself in the same situation, this book is a MUST for you.

Tricia, who also shares a very busy lifestyle, shares her insights with all of us as to how to find balance in our lives. It is a good reminder that sometimes we will also have to choose between: GOOD, BETTER, or BEST. Sometimes when all our choices are good ones, we have to eventually draw some type of line, because we can’t do it all. None of us can.

The author draws from many of her own life experiences, both good and not so good, to help us through the things she has learned in trying to balance her own life. Through trial and error, she has explained the steps she has taken to get her through the busiest times. Times with deadlines, times with crisis and how to balance them all to our best end.

I feel each of us, no matter what stage of life we are in, can benefit from Tricia’s well thought out book. She also fills her book with some very thought-provoking quotes and sayings. Some I would love to memorize for those days in life that are not going the way I want them to, so that I can have that little mental boost to get through it all.

I highly recommend this book to you. It will help you put your priorities in good order and to help you sort out the best. It will also help you balance your life, spiritually, emotionally and physically. And we can always use all the help we can get. I give this a 5 star rating.

I have received a free copy of this book from the publisher to give my honest review.

Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand And a GIVEAWAY!!!

I am very happy to announce that I am hosting a giveaway for 2 signed copies of Huckleberry Hill.  Two lucky winners will receive a copy of Huckleberry Hill.  Thanks so much, Jennifer for this great opportunity! 
To enter:

1. Please leave a comment at the end of the post.
2. Leave your email address in a safe mode such as Janedoe at yahoo dot com.  If no address is shown, I will not be able to contact you.
3.Share the link and tell me where you have shared for an extra entry.
4.  Contest open to US residents only
5.Contest ends Wednesday April 23rd. 2014 at 8:00 pm MST.  After the winners have been notified, they will have 2 days to respond, or another winner will be chosen. 

A truly CAPTIVATING book!  I almost wanted to call in sick from work so that I could finish the book!  So instead, I stayed up reading that night till I had finished every page.  Now the only sad part is that the next book, "Huckleberry Summer" isn’t out till June.  One thing is for certain!  I will be reading it!

I have no idea how I will write this review without a spoiler, I just want to share everything about it.  I loved it.  And I will have to hold myself back from giving away all the secrets!

Lia Shetler has been blessed with a lot of height.  So much so that she is the one her Mamm turns to when there is a need to reach something on a high cupboard.  Unfortunately, as far as finding the right man, the height seems to be a detriment.  Her family, especially her father and sister Rachel, seem to remind her of that often.  As a result, she has resigned herself as not being worthy of someone’s affections. 

She has the opportunity to go to another Amish town, Bonduel, to help with two elderly people, Anna and Felty doing chores and helping them with jobs around the home and property that they are no longer able to do.  As Lia arrives, she meets the also tall and very handsome, Moses, their grandson.  Anna and Felty also have a little bit of an “ulterior motive” as they plan to play match maker with Lia and Moses. 

When Lia writes home about handsome Moses, her father decides this will be the perfect man for his other, much prettier and petite, daughter Rachel.  And he insists that Rachel and Lia trade places.  This is very disappointing to Lia, who, although she won’t admit it, does seem to have a little spark of interest growing inside her heart.
Rachel, although very pretty, is spoiled and “delicate” due to an illness earlier in her life.  As a result, she is pampered by her family.  She meets Moses after her arrival to Bonduel and clearly wants to spark his interest.  Lia manages to return to Bonduel and both sisters are in the home of Anna and Felty. 

The conflicts that arise between the young ladies is most interesting to read and you see the caring Lia and the pampered Rachel clash.  Rachel reports everything to her father and he comes to Bonduel.  Clearly on the side of Rachel as he makes all the decisions. 

In this book, you clearly see different qualities in strong characters.  Each manifesting them in opposite ways.  There are many twists and turns in this book and that will keep any reader totally fascinated in this wonderful Amish romance.  If you like Amish fiction you will LOVE this book.  It is now probably one of my favorites!  The characters grab you from the start.  The cute Anna and Felty, handsome Moses and Sweet, hard-working Lia, all countered by spoiled Rachel and firm, unyielding Dat Shetler all make for the most lively, fun, and heartwarming reads.  Highly recommend this book!
The Winners are:  Emma and Juanita!