Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pumpkin Decorating

Sometimes I wonder how I managed to do anything creative before Pinterest.  It was the first place I looked when I found out our church was having a pumpkin decorating contest at our annual fall festival.  There were so many creative ideas and it was hard to narrow down our choices, but we finally decided on a gumball machine, movie theater popcorn and Superman.  I think they turned out great and the popcorn won first place!

Batman vs. Superman
Bethany's friend made a Batman pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vendetta - A Book Review

I have not been reading action/suspense novels for very long, and I find myself wondering why it took me so long to pick up this genre of books.  I really enjoyed Vendetta by Lisa Harris.  I have to say it was probably a little more edgy than what I am used to.  It doesn't take much to get me spooked and since I do most of my reading at night I found it rather difficult to fall asleep after reading about serial killers and kidnappers.  On the other hand, I was losing sleep anyway because I did not want to put the book down.  It captivated me and had me on the edge with page turning suspense.  There is plenty of action, suspense and even a touch of romance.

Nikki and Tyler are spending the day together in remembrance of Katie, Nikki's best friend and Tyler's late wife.  It marks the one year anniversary of Katie's death, but their day together soon takes a shocking turn.
Nikki Boyd works for Tennessee's Missing Person Task Force.  Ten years ago Nikki's sister Sarah was kidnapped by the angel abductor.  There were other girls kidnapped and they were all killed, but Sarah's body has never been found, leaving Nikki's family wondering if she is still out there somewhere.  Nikki has so much guilt and has spend the last ten years studying missing cases.  When a 16 year old girl is kidnapped Nikki is called onto the case.  Nikki quickly begins to see the similarities between this case and her sisters case.  The deeper she gets into the investigation the more it seems like this is a personal attack on her.  As she gets closer to finding the abductor her very life is in danger as long with everyone around her.  Will she be able to stop this madman and how many people will lose their lives in the process?

This is such a well written book.  It had me caught up in the story from the very first chapter.  The characters are well developed and easy to connect with.  It also serves as a reminder to teach your children the dangers of talking to strangers online and the danger of abductors.

***Thanks to Revell publishing for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

When Love Returns - A Book Review

If I had to pick one christian fiction author as a favorite it would be Kim Vogel Sawyer, no contest.  She has such a gift of writing beautiful faith based fiction novels.  As I read her books I always get so drawn in, that it becomes so much more than just a story.  Her books have a way of ministering to my soul and encouraging me in my own walk with Christ.

Kim Vogel Sawyers latest novel When Love Returns is the third book in The Zimmerman Restorations Trilogy.  I would definitely recommend reading these books in order.   To fully appreciate When Love Returns you need to start at the beginning.

Suzanne Zimmerman was sent away as a young teen when her mother found out she was pregnant.  It hasn't been an easy life for Suzanne, but the hardest challenge she faced was when she returned to her Amish community and family.  When Love Returns continues Suzanne's story.  As Suzanne and Paul's biological daughter is planning her wedding, Paul and Suzanne are being drawn together and once again sparks are flying, but has too much happened between them for these two to rekindle their love?

Then there is Alexa.  She is heading back to Indianapolis and is in search for her biological parents.  Is she ready for what she will find?  Can Alexa and Suzanne trust in God to work all things out?

The whole story comes to an end in a beautiful way.  Complete closure, no loose ends.  Perfect ending, perfect series!

***This book was provided to me by in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Murder at the Courthouse - A Book Review

Murder at the Courthouse is the first book I have read by A.H. Gabhart.  More and more lately I find myself enjoying a good christian suspense novel.  I was excited to read Murder at the Courthouse, but the excitement soon turned to disappointment.  The book was not quite what I expected.  The first couple chapters caught my attention, but the further I got into the story my interest began to dwindle.  It was quite obvious who committed the crime.  I like a good "who-done-it" mystery that keeps you guessing until the end.  There were parts of the story that seemed pointless to me and I was really disappointed in the ending.  I think next time I will pass on this author and stick to one of my more trustworthy suspense writers that I have come to love.

More about the book:

Michael Keane has left his days as a Columbus police officer and moved to the quiet town of Hidden Springs.  Even while working in the big city he did not have to work very many murder cases.  When a body is discovered on the courthouse steps, Michael finds himself in search of a killer.  Everyone in the small town seems to have a theory and all of them want in on the action.  Who is the man who was murdered and who is the murderer?  Will Michael be able to find the killer before anyone else gets hurt?

Even though I found the book slow paced and predictable it seems that a lot of people have given the book 5 stars.  If you are a fan of A.H. Gabhart's writings I would say your opinion may differ from mine, so read a few more reviews and make your choice!

***This book was provided to me by Revell publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Bishop's Son - A Book Review

The Bishop's Son is the second book in the Amish of Bee County series.  I loved the first book and I think this one is even better!  The author, Kelly Irvin does a superb job in writing Amish fiction.  This book would make a great stand alone book book, but I would definitely recommend reading the first book too.  I really enjoyed getting glimpses into the lives of the characters I got to know in the first book and to read about Abigail and Mordecai's wedding was great!

The main character in this story is Leila, Abigail's daughter.  Leila finds herself torn between two men.  She must decide, but will she follow her heart or her head?  Two very different choices.  One she will remain with her faith, one she will not.

First there is Jesse Glick.  Leila has loved Jesse from the first time she saw him, but Jesse's feeling remain unclear.  He is wishy washy to say the least.  He sends Leila mixed messages.  He wants to court her, but he is struggling with his faith and is not sure it is fair to Leila for them to start a relationship, plus he has a secret that he is not ready to share.  He begins introducing her to other things, such as movies and cars and the things that the English life has to offer.

 Then there is Will.  Will is Jesse's cousin and has been keeping his feeling to Leila to himself.  Will is more grounded and knows that he is ready to commit his life and future to the Amish lifestyle.  He is hesitant to make his feelings to Leila known since his cousin has feelings for her as well.

Who will Leila choose.  Her faith?  Her heart?  Will she find true happiness in her choice?  You must read to find out!

***Thanks to for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest review.

Forgiven - A Book Review

Forgiven:  The Amish School Shooting, A Mother's Love, and A Story of Remarkable Grace is written by Terri Roberts, the mother of the Amish School house shooter.  In October of 2006 Charlie Roberts went into an Amish School house and shot 10 young girls, killing five and also killed himself.

Most people are very familiar with this story.  You may remember hearing about it on the news when it happened, or read a book about it or even seen the movie.   Maybe you're like me and all of the above apply to you.  I was pretty sure I knew all there was to know about this heart wrenching event, but this book takes you too a more personal level.  Written by the shooters mother, Terri shares insight into the shooters life as a child and the story told from her eyes.  There are sections that Amish have contributed and I really enjoyed those first hand stories as well.

This is a story about forgiveness.  It is a story about love.  Forgiveness is sometimes a journey and it is not always easy, but without forgiveness one cannot heal.

I can't imagine being the mother of someone who committed such a crime.  I admire Terri Robert's bravery in writing this book and sharing her story. It is very well written and pulls at the heart strings of the reader.  There is much to learn about forgiveness within the pages of this book and I believe that the reader will learn so much about God's love within the pages.

***Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing me with this book in exchange for my review.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Streams of Mercy - A Book Review

Streams of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling is the third book in the Song of Blessing series.  I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I get when Lauraine Snelling comes out with a new book about the town of Blessing!  She has written nineteen books (compiled into 5 series) about the Bjorkland family and the people of Blessing and I never tire of this family that I have come to love!  When I get a new book I devour it!  It's like getting a letter from home.  There are a only a handful of books that have made me cry while reading them and a couple of them have been Lauraine Snelling books about Blessing.  I am so connected with this family that when something happens, it's like it is happening to my family.

One great thing about Lauraine's books is that you don't necessarily have to start from the very beginning.  She writes her novels in such a way that you don't feel lost.  The first book I read was from the Daughter's of Blessings series.  I loved it so much and became so interested in the family that I when I learned that it was a part of a bigger story I just had to go back and start from the beginning.  So even though this book is a great stand alone story I would encourage you, if you have not already read the rest of the books, to go back to the beginning.  I don't think you will be sorry!

Each book usually features a different characters life, but one thing I love about these books is that even though the story may focus primarily on a certain character, there is plenty story dedicated to the rest of the town and to the matriarch of the whole series, Ingaborg Bjorkland.  It really is an ongoing story of the Bjorkland family and the people of the town of Blessing, but with each book you get to know certain characters a little better.

In Streams of Mercy Anji Baard Moen, has returned from Norway after the death of her husband.  Blessing has always been home to her and she is settling into life.  She is now teaching and writing articles for the town newspaper.   Two men are working their way into her heart.  Who will she choose.

There was an unexpected tragedy in this book and let me tell you, I needed tissues.  I didn't see it coming and I don't want to give any spoilers away...but, wow, I didn't expect it!  Thank you so much Lauraine Snelling for another beautifully written story!  I can't wait for the next book!

***Thanks to Bethany House Publishing for providing me with Streams of Mercy in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Imposter - A Book Review

Suzanne Woods Fisher is well known for her Amish novels and I have read a number of her previous novels. The Imposter is the first book of a new series entitled The Bishop's Family.

The Imposter has definitely not made my "favorite book" list. It wasn't a bad book by any means, but it is very slow paced and there are multiple story lines each told from a different character's point of view. There were a couple story lines that I connected better with than the others and I would of preferred the author write more about these. Also, the multiple character's/story lines were a little confusing in the beginning. Sometimes when it would switch to a different story line, I found myself thinking "who is this". Maybe it was harder for me to keep track of some of the character's because I wasn't connecting with all of them.

I tend to do most of my reading at night, laying in bed with a book light. It's nothing for me to read well into the morning hours, but this book found me struggling to stay awake. About half way through it did pick up some for me, but I have to say, I was never 100% sure who the Imposter was and I'm not really sure who The Bishop is. I'm sure the series is about David's family, but there were other Bishop's and...well yeah, I was confused.

I'll touch on a couple of the story lines that I liked the best.

Katrina Stoltzfus lost her mother in a buggy accident and she just found out that John, the boy she loves, is marrying someone else. Reeling from grief she is obviously depressed. She agrees to stay with a widow to help her out with her business. She thinks it will be a good time to heal and possible find a way back into John's heart before he marries. Andy Miller has been hired at the widow's farm to help out as well and Andy and Katrina become instant friends and Katrina begins wondering if she could be developing feeling for Andy. There is a lot of mystery surround Andy and she does not want to be hurt again.

David is Katrina's father. He is still mourning the death of his wife and trying to do his best to raise his five children. David felt lead by God to go to Stony Ridge to help Bishop Elmo, but when the Bishop dies another minister, Freeman Glick gets appointed as new Bishop and Freeman and David disagree on many things, mainly the fact that Freeman wants to let down on their rules to prevent young people from leaving the Amish community.

Then there is Birdy. Birdy is my favorite character. She has her heart set on David, but every time she is around him she turns in to a clumsy mess. She is the new school teacher and her experiences in the class room are a joy to read.

If you like Amish fiction you may want to give this series a shot. Just because it wasn't one of my favorites, doesn't mean you won't find it enjoyable.

***Thank you to Revell for providing me with The Imposter in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Heart's Home - A Book Review

A Heart's Home is book six in Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart's Series. There are six books in this series and in this book you will read the conclusion of our story thus far.  This series is the first that Colleen Coble wrote.  These books have not been available for 10 years, but now fans of this author have the chance to read her first work.

All six books are quick and easy reads.  All the books are around 100 pages.  This makes it very convenient for busy days, but what I don't like about it is that you have to wait until you get the next book and sometimes that leaves you hanging.  I would definitely encourage buying all six books, that way you can read the complete story without delay.  I do wish that instead of 6 books this series would be set up as one or two books. 

Each book starts where the last one ended and A Heart's Home concludes the story.   Emmie and Isaac are planning their marriage, but Emmie has still not shared her secret with Isaac.  When an unexpected tragedy happens to one of Emmie's dear friends, she must honor a promise she made even though it will cost her own happiness.  On top of that, the Indians are attacking and everyone at Fort Laramie is in danger.  Will Emmie's heart ever find a home?  

Along with Emmie's story we get to continue on with Luke and Sarah and the birth of their baby.  It was a good ending to this series and all of the characters that I have gotten to know had closure to their stories.  What I didn't like, is that the author never shared Emmie telling Isaac "the secret" and what his reaction was.  The last three books have revolved around the secret and then at the end it was just forgotten.  That frustrated me.

At times you can tell that this is Colleen Coble's first work.  She has definitely perfected her writing style through the years, but for her first work, I feel like the series was well done and I enjoyed reading it!  

***This book was provided to me by the publisher through the booklook blog review program in exchange for my honest review.