Friday, May 30, 2014

Thankful: Return to Sugarcreek Book 2 By Shelley Shepard Gray

I received this book from Litfuse Publicity for no charge in exchange for my honest review of this book. Any opinions expressed here are my own.

Book Description:  

Christina Kempf has always known that God chose Aden Reese to be her husband. As children, he was there to save her when she fell through the ice, and he’s been by her side ever since. After his parents died in a car accident ten years ago, the Kempfs raised Aden as one of their own, and everyone sees Aden and Christina as brother and sister. But Christina has never given up hope that Aden will one day ask her to be his wife.
Aden always planned to court Christina. But losing his mother and father changed everything—except his love for her. Her parents generously welcomed him into their home and treated him like a son. He can’t betray their kindness by admitting his feelings for the girl who is like a sister . . . yet so much more.
Pressured by her parents to court, Christina begins to accept the attentions of Sugarcreek’s young men, and now, Aden must make a choice. Will he stand by and watch the love of his life slip away? Or will he risk losing the love and trust of the family he holds dear to tell Christina how he truly feels?
Thankful includes a P.S. section with additional insights from the author, background material, suggestions for further reading, and more. 

My Thoughts:  

Thankful is the second book in Shelley Shepard Gray's latest series, Return to Sugarcreek. As a huge fan of Amish Fiction and having read the first book in this series I was excited to have the opportunity to read this book.  As children, Aden Reese saved Christina Kempf when she fell through the ice one winter day and since then the Kempfs gave him a place to live and raised him along with their other children.  Everyone believes Christina and Aden are brother and sister except for Christina who truly loves Aden and wants to be his wife.  Aden loves Christina too and wanted to court her but once his parents died and he moved in with the Kempfs he felt it would be disrespectful to the Kempfs for him to court her. Now Christina is accepting invitations from other young men and Aden isn't sure what to do because he doesn't want to lose her but still doesn't want to hurt the only people who have been family to him. In this book, there are a few different stories going on with Christina and Aden's being the main one. Also Judith and Ben are back going through the adoption process. They have the opportunity to foster a baby and after thought and prayer they agree to do foster care to the precious child. What they did not know was that James (the baby) is black until the social worker brings him there.  Judith and Ben bond with James instantly and find themselves wanting to adopt him.  Also there is Jana, who runs the local restaurant who is a widow and has made the restaurant the only thing in her life.  She realizes that she cannot keep it up and her best friend buys into the restaurant to be a partner, which gives Jana the time to find herself and what she wants with her life.

I enjoyed Shelley Shepard Gray's Thankful.  First and foremost Amish Fiction books are my favorite and Shelley Shepard Gray is on my must read list. Shelley Shepard Gray writes with authority on the Amish ways, Sugarcreek and other Amish cities, running a restaurant, adoption, and the Amish Faith. The three stories are bound together by the main idea of being thankful. As I read this book, it really challenged me to see all the things in my life that I need to be thankful for and how focusing on that does make you truly thankful. I found myself needing tissues as I read because so much in this story touched my heart.  I found myself unable to put this book down until the end.  Shelley Shepard Gray really puts her readers right in the middle of the story to watch the whole thing unfold, feeling like I am right there with the characters.  The characters are great and I enjoyed them, meeting new characters and finding out about old friends from the previous book.  I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Amish Fiction, you will not be disappointed. I look forward to reading the next book in this series. I give this book 4 STARS.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

DAISIES ARE FOREVER | Enter to win a Kindle HDX from Liz Tolsma!

I received this book from Litfuse Publicity for no charge in exchange for my honest review of this book. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Book Description:  

In the
final days of Nazi Germany, the strength of one woman’s heart will determine
the fate of a family. 

Prussia, 1945
The fall of the Third Reich is imminent. As the merciless Red Army advances from the East, the German people of Prussia await the worst. Among them is twenty-year-old Gisela
Cramer, an American living in Heiligenbeil with her cousin Ella and their
ailing grandfather. When word arrives that the Russians will invade overnight,
Ella urges Gisela to escape to Berlin—and take Ella’s two small daughters with

The journey is miserable and relentless. But when Gisela hears the British accent of a phony SS officer, she poses as his wife to keep him safe among the indignant German refugees. In the
blink of an eye,  Mitch Edwards and Gisela are Herr and Frau Joseph Cramer. Through their tragic and difficult journey, the fabricated couple strives to protect Ella’s daughters, hoping
against hope for a reunion. But even as Gisela and Mitch develop feelings
beyond the make–believe, the reality of war terrorizes their makeshift family. 

With the world at its darkest, and the lives of two children at stake, the counterfeit couple finds in each other a source of faith, hope, and the love they need to survive.

My Thoughts: 

Daisies are Forever is the second book in Liz Tolsma's Women of Courage series and it's FANTASTIC. I had the privilege of reading the first book, Snow on The Tulips so when Daisies are Forever came I knew I had to read it. This book tells the story of Gisela Cramer, an American who lives with her cousin Ella, Ella's two daughters, and their ailing grandfather. Gisela left Berlin to live with cousins and then again left there to live with her grandfather and Ella after both places became unsafe. Now Gisela is faced with leaving again to head back to Berlin with Ella's daughters in tow. Ella stays with their grandfather because he is too sick to travel and entrusts her children to her cousin to keep safe. Gisela also travels with an elderly neighbor and his two sisters. As they make their way to Berlin they experience devastation and heart break everywhere. Gisela tries to keep their group together and while finding refuge on a farm she saves the lives of two British soldiers who escaped a prison camp. She and one of the soldiers, Mitch Edwards, pose as a married couple traveling with their nieces. They become Gisela and Joseph Cramer. They work very hard to keep their group together but lose some on the way, and pick up some. As they make their way to Berlin Gisela and Mitch become close and dependent on one another. As they care for their group they hope to make it to see the end of the war.

Daisies are Forever is Liz Tolsma's second book in her Women of Courage series and I loved it. As a huge fan of Christian Historical Fiction, I took to this series and this book immediately.  Liz Tolsma writes with authority about this intense time in history and all the places that were affected by this war. The facts within the fiction open up the readers eyes to what happened to during this time in our worlds history and all the decisions people had to make in order to survive, families separated by land and politics, children forced to become adults, and the lives lost because of the decisions of the leaders. As I read this book, I could feel the emotions of those affect. Liz Tolsma gives her readers a look at this war that you can't learn in history books. As I read this book, I felt like I was there traveling with Gisela and her makeshift family across the borders to try to find safety. I found myself crying in many parts of this book as the tragedies unfold from the start. This book really brought out the emotions of this time in history. I enjoyed all of the characters in this book, especially Gisela. Her strength, perseverance, and dedication to keeping her "family" together is just amazing. As she made her way to Berlin, her faith kept her going and kept the others going also.  This is a story that has stuck with me and really opened my eyes to what really happened. Liz Tolsma does not go into graphic details and doesn't need to, her writing gives you the explanation without having to be graphic. I truly enjoyed this book. I highly recommend this book and series to anyone who enjoys Christian Historical Fiction, you will not be disappointed. These books are able to be read as stand alone and not in order. I cannot wait to read what Liz Tolsma has to put out next. I give this book

Liz Tolsma's latest WWII historical fiction novel, Daisies are Forever, is getting rave reviews. 

". . . compelling and fast-paced tale about the atrocities and tremendous losses. . . ." —Library Journal

"Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting and gritty, persevering characters make this WWII-era novel a must-read." —CBA Retailers + Resources

Liz celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX giveaway!
One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Daisies are Forever by Liz Tolsma
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 31st. Winner will be announced June 2nd on Liz's website.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Liz's website on June 2nd to see if you won.

The Miting: An Old Order Amish Novel By Dee Yoder

I received this book from Kregel Publications for no charge in exchange for my honest review of this book. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Book Description:  

Leah is seventeen and Amish. Like many her age, she has lots of questions, but the temporary flight of freedom known as rumspringen is not the answer for her. She does not desire Englisher fashion, all-night parties, movies, or lots of boyfriends. Leah is seeking to understand her relationship with God, to deepen and broaden her faith by joining a Bible study hosted by an ex-Amish couple. She wants to know why Amish life is the only lifestyle her family accepts, why the church has so many rules, and . . . most disturbing, how godly men can allow her best friend to be abused in her own home. In the pressure-cooker environment of church and family, Leah is not allowed to ask these questions. When finally she reaches the breaking point, she walks away from the Old Order Amish life that is all she has known. Though adapting amiably to the Englisher world, Leah is tormented with homesickness. Returning to the community, however, entails a journey of pain and sorrow Leah could never have imagined. The miting—shunning—that will now be Leah’s unendurable oppression every day is beyond her most devoted attempts to believe or understand. All the bishop and her family ask is that she abandon her practice of reading the Bible. Is that a price she is willing to pay?

My Thoughts: 

The Miting is Dee Yoder's first book and well it is SPECTACULAR. As my followers know I am a HUGE fan of Amish Fiction, it's one of my favorite genres, so when I saw this book I was drawn to it. This book is fiction but is based on true stories and experiences.  Leah Raber is part of an Old Order Amish community in Ohio.  She has been to the New Order communities and doesn't understand why her community cannot step into this new order.  The rules and expectations leave Leah feeling confused and stifled. She wants so much to please her family but feels drawn to something else. Her best friend, Martha confides in Leah about an abuse situation and the bishops really don't do much about. Treating Martha like she is the problem so Martha tells Leah she is leaving the order to move in with her boyfriend, also Amish, Abe Troyer.  Abe and Martha are doing wild things like drinking, smoking, drugs, driving, and being reckless.  One day Leah is invited to a bible study at the home of an  Ex-Amish couple, The Schrooks, feeling she wants to know more. She attends and finds herself drawn to Christianity and that it gives her peace. When her parents find out they are livid. Now Leah has to make a choice to turn away from Christianity or have to be put under the miting, which is basically shunned. Leah has to decide what she wants for her life.

The Miting is SPECTACULAR. As a HUGE fan of Amish Fiction and of debut books this book fit both bills and I am so glad I read it.  Dee Yoder writes with such heart and expertise on all things Amish, both new and old order, the laws in Ohio, abuse within the communities, and help for the Amish looking to leave.  As I read this book, I could really feel Dee's heart in the words.  This book is not a typical Amish Fiction book. The issues addressed and the experiences are much different than the ones I have read in the past.  This book really made a huge impression on me, especially how issues are handled in this Old Order Amish community. I could not put this book down.  I enjoyed the characters in this book especially Leah. My heart felt for Leah in her struggle to find herself and make decisions.  I truly felt like I was there watching this story unfold. I found myself crying in parts and holding my breath in others as Leah went through all of her trials and successes. I just can't do this book justice! I hope Dee Yoder is continuing with this series, as I would like to know whats in store for Leah and her life. The ending definitely leaves you wanting more, in a good way. For anyone interested in Amish Fiction, I HIGHLY recommend this book to them! You will NOT be disappointed. I cannot wait to read more for this spectacular author. I give this book 5+ Stars.

The Egyptian Princess: A Story of Hagar By KD Homberg

I received this audiobook for no charge from the author and Celebrate Lit Blogger Program in exchange for my honest review of this audiobook...