Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Advent Bride by Mary Connealy

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The Advent Bride is part 1 of a 12 part series of 12 Brides of  Christmas.   Here is a little about the series itself:
Christmas is the time for love. Each week leading up to Christmas, readers will be introduced to a new bride who is on her way to the altar, whether she knows it or not. Across the heartland of America, readers will experience old-fashioned Christmas traditions, sweet romance, and inspiring faith from 12 acclaimed Christian authors, including Mary Connealy, Margaret Brownley, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Michele Ule, Amy Lillard, Miralee Ferrell, Susan Page Davis, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Davalynn Spencer, and Vickie McDonough.

My review:

I received this sweet novella and enjoyed the simplicity and happy feelings that it brought to me.  This book takes us back in time to November of 1875.  Melanie is a school “marm” in Nebraska and finds her little cantankerous student huddled outside against the cold.  This student has been a hard one for Melanie but still seeing him outside in the cold waiting for his father who hadn’t come, made her feel concern despite the fact that this was definitely not her favorite student.  
Simon, whose father was a widower, was a real challenge in her life, almost as much as Mrs. Rathbone, in whose home she was staying.  Her room was an unheated attic and Mrs. Rathbone expected her on time for dinner and gave her absolute grief if all her rules were not abided by exactly as she wanted.

She finds out that Simon’s father has a new job as the sheriff and without a wife has no one to care for him after school.   As much as she dreads the thought, she stays with Simon daily until his father arrives to take him home.  And to make matters worse, Simon’s father seems to blame Melanie for his son’s behavior in class. 

In her attic room, Melanie discovers a box.  This small box gives Melanie ideas for a plan and she asks Mrs. Rathbone if she might have the box. 

This is a sweet book with a very happy Christmas Advent tradition wrapped into Melanie’s plan.  I enjoyed how the box helped to develop the Christmas theme and how it helped to bring about answers to Melanie’s prayers.  I think it will brighten anyone’s holiday season with its peacefulness and simplicity.  

I received this ebook from the publisher for my honest review which I have given.

Author Mary Connealy.

You can find a copy here and here .

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain by Kelly Long

I received this book from the publisher Kensington books.  It was a really different take on Amish fiction then what I have been reading in the past.  The book grabbed me from page one.

Mary is an Amish woman living in what is considered the Mountain Amish community.  It appears that they are perhaps quite different than the Amish I have learned about in other regions, such as Lancaster.

In this book, Mary becomes acquainted with Jude, a professor who is studying the Amish mountain people on Ice Mountain.  They have some romantic encounters and are forced by her father to marry, although their encounters were very simple kisses.

After their marriage, they remain celibate and return to Jude's home, where many difficult interactions with Jude's father occur.  And with some misunderstandings, Mary returns under the guise of homesickness.  The book is very engaging and I enjoyed the storyline, but was surprised by a little more physical tension between the two than I had before read in an Amish book.  I kind of tend to lean towards the less "physical" types of Amish writings.  That was my only reservation on the book, other than this, I thought is was very good.

You can find a complete list of Kelly Long's books here.

Disclosure:  I received this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The River by Beverly Lewis

I love all things Beverly Lewis.  Her book "The Bridesmaid" was the first Amish book that I had ever read as I took a long flight to Poland.  Before I left I thought I'd stop at Wal-Mart and pick up something to read.  And since that time, I have been reading and writing reviews.

I just finished reading The River.  I really enjoyed it.  I had won a Barnes and Noble gift card, and decided to spend it on the ebook for Nook.  I only have Nook on my laptop and my cell phone.  So I have been reading it from my phone.  Kind of strange for a Kindle Fire person, like me.  It was definitely a smaller screen, but the book had me so enthralled I totally ran my battery down fast!

Tilly and Ruth are two former Amish women, the first married with twins and the second her unmarried sister.  They are now living away from their former community and from their other family members.  Their brother contacts one of the sisters in hopes that they might come for their parents wedding anniversary.  After some discussion about why they don't want to go back, they finally decide that because of their father's failing health, it would be best to put their feelings aside and go home for the weekend.  They drive to their former community although there are definite family rifts causing the young woman to tread carefully.  The story unfolds and so do the  lives of the two young women.  Ruth is torn between an old beau and the newer beau in her new home.  The decisions are not easy to make as they extend their stay.  Feelings are sometimes hard to understand and reasons for Tilly and her father's unhappy relationship also come to light.

 It is a wonderful book with caring and love of family despite the human flaws and frailties that exist. Forgiveness and patience are also virtues that are woven into the pages of each of their lives as they try to overcome misunderstandings, feelings of guilt and remorse for things past.

I loved this book!  I had hoped it would never end.
You can find a copy at this link. And also here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Chat With Vera Giveaway.

Posted: 19 Sep 2014 09:00 PM PDT

Tried and True

Click on Rafflecopter to enter:

GIVEAWAY:  One of Chat With Vera's readers has the opportunity to win a copy of Tried and True. So just use the Rafflecopter entry form below as much or as little as you wish. Begins September 20 & ENDS October 10 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

An Interview with Vannetta Chapman and a Giveaway of her latest book HIDDEN!

I am so very, very lucky to have a wonderful author, whose books I absolutely love to read, as my featured guest today on my blog.  

Vannetta Chapman, author of many wonderful Amish books, including cozy mysteries, has shared some of her personal thoughts with you.  I hope you will enjoy learning more about this amazing author, just as I have!  Thanks Vannetta, for being my special guest today.

Vannetta, please tell us about when you first realized you wanted to be a writer:
It was while I was finishing my graduate work for a MA in English. We had a lot of reading to do and even more writing. I found I enjoyed it immensely, but that I wanted to write things of a less academic nature. That was 15 years ago, and it’s been an incredibly fun journey.

We are anxious to hear about Hidden, please share a little bit about this book and how it came to be written:
Hidden is the story of Dana Jacobs—who SEEMS to have it all together, but in fact is held back in her personal and spiritual life by events in her past. Faith is something she stopped having as a small child. Now Ben Marshall is in her life—a steady, calming, faithful presence, and she doesn't know what to do with him. When they become deeply involved in a case that threatens both their town and their lives, Dana must decide if she’s going to let her past define her. She must decide whether she’s going to live in fear, or live by faith. It’s a fun, suspenseful story that focuses on God’s grace and love for us.

What are your feelings about writers supporting one another:
Certainly there have been a lot of writers who have supported and encouraged me. In return, I try to do that for new writers as well as other established writers. We are in competition with one another, but in another sense we’re a community of writers who have the same goal—to tell a good story and in the process, for Christian writers, to glorify Christ.

What is the most satisfying part of writing in your life?
Meeting readers. I love reading myself, so I love to talk to readers about what kind of stories they enjoy and what they’d like to read about next. In effect, we’re a big book club for one another.

What is your favorite genre when you are the “reader” and not the writer.
Probably suspense. I like and read all genres, but I do grow frustrated if a story moves too slowly.

Which of your books brought the most satisfaction?
Oh, that’s a hard question. It seems I have a personal tie to each of my stories. For instance, A Perfect Square (book 2 in my Shipshewana series), helped me work through my father-in-law’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. For each book I've written, I could tell you a story like that. They’re all personal to me and have really all brought a great deal of satisfaction.

What other writers have had the most impact/influence in your writing?
I grew up reading Janette Oake and L.M. Montgomery. Those stories did have a huge impact on me. I can still REMEMBER them—scenes will pop up in my mind though it’s been 35 years in some cases. And what always stands out most, for me, is the relationships within the books.

How do you spend your “me” time?  What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I have a lot of hobbies! I quilt and crochet, garden, hike, and travel when I can. We have 2 cats and a new dog that is a 3 year old lab—so we spend a lot of time walking her.

If you were an Amish youth in Rumspringa-how would you want to try to “spread your wings” or would you?
This will make me sound like a nerd, but I would want to go to school! I’d want to read more and learn more, even though I understand their reasons for ending their formal education after the 8th grade. This was really the catalyst for Annie in my book, A Simple Amish Christmas. She loved being Amish but she had a thirst for knowledge. I’d probably spend my rumspringa in college!

About the author:

The first thing you need to know about me is that I write Fiction full of GRACE.  Every plot is different. The characters change. Some of my books are mysteries, others are novellas, and some are romances. But they all are stories of light, hope, and truth. Stories that at least for a moment touch the deepest places in our heart.Tales that whisper hope. That speak of family and community. That remind us of God and His love.  What do I write? If I had to reduce it to four words, I suppose I’d say I write Fiction full of GRACE.

Vannetta is offering a giveaway of her new book HIDDEN in either a print or ebook version.  Here is the question she has for you to answer in your comment.

"HIDDEN takes place in Taos, New Mexico, where my husband and I went for our honeymoon. What is one of your favorite vacation spots?"

Be sure to add your email address to the your comment so that you can be contacted if you are the winner!  This giveaway ends Sept. 27, 2014.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Perfect Square by Vannetta Chapman

The Shipshewana series of cozy mysteries by Vannetta Chapman is a wonderful set of books that will enthrall any mystery readers.  The books are set in the charming Amish community of Shipshewana.  I read this book last, although it was actually book 2 of the series.  It read well as a stand-alone book, as well.  It continues with some of the main characters of the previous book, but engages you right away and if you didn't know anything about them, you would still easily be caught up in the tale.

A dead Amish girl is found in the pond of Reuben Fisher, a local Amish man.  After all the evidence is gathered, it would appear that Reuben is the culprit that caused this event.  But is he?  As in the previous book, Callie Harper and her Amish friend Deborah and others of the community find themselves trying to figure out what happened and who is really to blame for what has happened.

An older Amish gentleman with Alzheimer's also engages Callie into looking for a daughter who he claims disappeared in the towns worst tornado experiences back in the year 1965.   But no one seems to believe him, but Callie seems to have a warm spot in her heart and tries to find the daughter who would now be in her 50's.  After all this time, is it even possible?

I enjoy how the book has moments that make you feel just plain good.   The character, Esther, who says, "I do believe the Lord's Word, but when my heart hurts, as it does today, I have to wonder if his plan doesn't include a bit more refining and learning than I would have chosen.   I have to wonder if there couldn't have been an easier way.  I wonder why."

I really liked that because each of us probably needs more refining and learning, probably more than any of us would want, because the refining is usually not easy but therefore, makes each of us a bit stronger than we might have been before.

This was a great book, and I highly recommend it to others who enjoy the Amish genre, and a good mystery.

To find out more about Vannetta and her wonderful books click this link!
To grab a copy of this fun read check out this link!

And soon there will be another book to read.  Hidden is Vannetta's forthcoming book!  You can pre-order here at Amazon!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chat with Vera Giveaway

  Another Chat with Vera giveaway can be found at this link.  Just click  here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Huckleberry Christmas by Jennifer Beckstrand

I just love reading Jennifer Beckstrand's books!  I think you probably all know that by now!

I just finished reading Huckleberry Christmas.  I can only say 5 stars.  It was so good.  It was fun, entertaining and just plain enjoyable!

This book has the lovable Anna and Felty Helmuth back to their match-making antics.  This time it's for their recently widowed granddaughter, Beth.  Beth has a young son, Toby and lots of hard to deal with memories of a very difficult marriage.  So hard that thoughts of another marriage are the last things on her mind.

Anna has plans for Beth and Tyler Yoder.  But those plans are not Beth's as she tries to arrange dates for Tyler, thinking she may have gotten a good match with Erla Glick.  But is this what she really wants?

Her deceased husband's brother, Isaac, is also after her heart, feeling that she has responsibilities to their family, especially since her mother-in-law is very ill.  Beth does go to their home to help and Isaac tries to claim Beth as his fiance.  There are lots of fun twists and turns in this book.

Now this is entirely an aside from what I have written.  I am a German and we eat "Bratwurst", commonly called "Brats". I have a brother-in-law who lives in Wisconsin, in fact, close to Bonduel.  He is always talking about Brat buns.  Well, I tell him Germans do not eat Brats on a bun.  It just isn't done...he says in Wisconsin they have special buns for them.  This is an ongoing laugh we have together.  Well, it must be a "Wisconsin" thing, because Jennifer mentions Brat buns in her book which is set in Bonduel, Wisconsin.  I had to laugh at this part.  She really did her research!  And then the line which Tyler states, "It's a crime to eat a Brat without one." So of course, this was a little private joke just for me!

I am so excited as I looked at Jennifer's blog to see that there is another title coming out in the Spring! I can't wait to read that one, either.  The others have all been so good.  Here's a picture of her next cover.

What a beautiful cover!  I will certainly be reading this one, as well!

You can find out more about Jennifer and her books at her website. Here's the link.

Monday, September 8, 2014

An Amish Christmas Quilt by: Charlotte Hubbard, Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand

If I understand correctly the Novellas included here are an extension of their own Amish series and characters.

This lovely Christmas book is a set of 3 novellas written by the above authors. 

The book begins with Charlotte Hubbard’s A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant.

Mary, a pregnant widow returns with her two step children to her Amish community of Willow Ridge after having lost her husband.  The story starts out immediately as Mary’s baby decides it is time to come.  Help arrives in the young Amish man, Seth, with whom she soon is befriended.  The story continues around the Christmas pageant that is planned by the Amish school. 

This story was so sweet.  I loved reading it and it brings a beautiful feeling of peace and love.  It is a great read and I enjoyed it very much.

 A Christmas on Ice Mountain by Kelly Long. 

Laurel Lapp is secretly being courted by Mathew Beider, a son of her father’s most disliked person.  The two father’s have disliked one another for years, yet their children have fallen in love.  Somewhat of a Romeo and Juliet theme here, revolves about Matthew searching for Laurel in a terrible storm and nearly freezing and they both needing to spend the night on Ice Mountain.  A very engaging storyline and an entertaining read with love, forgiveness and trials. 

A Perfect Amish Christmas by Jennifer Beckstrand

Because I have read the other Huckleberry Hill series books written by this author, I was very familiar with some of the characters in this story, as well.  Anna and Felty Helmuth are serial matchmakers and a very sweet and likeable pair.  Their grandson, Gideon, is requested by Anna to come and help Felty, yet she has ulterior motives, good ones, at that.  Dottie and Gideon would make a great match, or would they?  Anna is convinced, yet things don’t always go as Anna plans.  A great story, wonderfully engaging characters and as always, a fun and humorous tale crafted by Jennifer as only she can!





Chat With Vera Giveaway!

Here is a  link for another giveaway by Vera!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I snagged this book for Kindle for free.  I am so happy that I did.  It was a wonderful book.  And I can't praise it enough.

Carrie the main female character loses Sol the love of her life to his life of baseball during his Rumspringa.  She marries another, but this marriage is not as she had hoped.  But things change as Daniel has a fatal accident.

Carrie finds Daniel's cousin, Abel, who has been incarcerated and discovers many secrets regarding events that caused Abel's incarceration.  A truly engaging book.  I would highly recommend it to readers of Amish fiction.  The book embraces love, forgiveness, human frailty and feelings of guilt to that are very hard for some of the characters to divulge.  The conflicts in this book make it easy to read this very quickly because you don't want to put the book down.  It's that intriguing.  And I just looked and it is still free on Amazon!  What could be a better deal than that.  Here is the link to the book!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Chat with Vera Giveaway

Here is the link for another giveaway on the Chat with Vera blog!  More cultural books for kids.  We can't learn enough about other countries!