Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston, © 2017

Amish Heirloom, Book 4
The Beloved Hope Chest
My Review:
I have been wanting to read this final book in the Amish Heirloom series by Amy Clipston. Will this bond the family further together or separate them with the disclosure of the hidden away memories in their mamm's hope chest?

I love how this last book has begun at the very beginning as Mamm shares her heart with her girls. I loved the other books, but... have been excited to discover the clue from the first and continuing stories in the series. Life has a way of happening in the very least way we thought it would. Hearts held lightly to grow in what is today until a depth cannot be expressed in words. Love happens as a gleaning of learning together, discovering or finding usually little by little or slowly ~ coming together in trust.

Home. Safe. Cherished.

Especially, to know the rest of the story before discovering the very beginnings. Happiness has already been shared. Lives have played out to today. An adventure of love that will carry them through anything that may have come before.

Leroy Fisher has known loss in his life that affects his expectations and concern for Mattie. Wanting to shelter and care for her ~ and fulfill his longing of his longtime love for her, these childhood friends seek refuge.

Mattie's parents, with their children now adults, have chosen a smaller one-bedroom cottage for them with her dat considering retirement in building and selling furniture in a shared business with another man.

This story is looking back as Mattie realizes how she has been loved and provision for future generations by a glimpse of what caring for another can look like in retrospect. Others come alongside to share, encouraging her as all things are new on an untraveled path to find her way.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
Enjoy the previous stories in the series that share clues to this final story.
The Forgotten RecipeThe Forgotten RecipeThe Forgotten Recipe
***Thank you, author Amy Clipston for sharing an Advance Reader's Copy with me. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Monday, April 17, 2017

Upon a Spring Breeze by Kelly Irvin, © 2017

Every Amish Season, Book 1

30649243

Such a beautiful visual cover! Ready to open up and begin reading...

I so enjoyed the Amish of Bee County series by this author and am ready for this new series that will contain F*O*U*R novels. We will be meeting the Weaver and Graber families featured in Jamesport, Missouri.

~*
In Upon a Spring Breeze, the first book in my new Amish romance series, Every Amish Season, Bess Weaver’s first step in healing after tragedy is to visit a nursery, pick out her favorite flowers, take them home, and plant them. Here’s a snippet from the nursery scene:
“Take these.” He shoved a tray of golden yellow marigolds along with another of pink impatiens onto the cart. “Oh, and these. You’ll need to balance out the colors.”
“Zinneas in pinks, yellows, and fuchsia. A cornucopia of color. Somehow she felt better already, and not a single flower had graced Mattie’s garden. “Thank you.”
Watching new life sprout in the spring reminds Bess that her life isn’t over. This is a season of change in her life, just as it is in ours. Sometimes flowers are the best medicine.
   --author Kelly Irvin ~ flowers
*~

Blue Morning Glories, Four O'Clocks, and White Moon Flowers are some of my favorites ~ the beginning and ending of a day. Bess Weaver has received therapeutic value from her plantings. A young widow with her newborn son, Bess strives to find her place in her new life, so different from what she had expected in continuation of each day.

I was glad Bess had a listening ear by those near her. Women in her community come alongside and are such a benefit for her. I especially liked Mary Katherine Ropp, an older widow who lovingly nurtured Bess, gathering her in with Jennie Troyer and Laura Kauffman, befriending her when they could understand the most. They wisely love her by example rather than telling, for each one must experience a resurfacing after a raw loss and new directions. Moms can remember what it was like with your first child ~ uncertain of what you were to do and others seemed to do it so easily.

Bess does not want to become a burden and seeks employment to help with daily needs within her extended family. Post-partum depression and feelings of inadequacy, Bess relies on skills she does have.

Spring is in the air and the Purple Martins have come to nest. A reminder that life continues and you can rely on growth and the cycle of seasons renewing. This story is portrayed in a realistic way surviving the best way she knew ~ by trying to find herself separate from what she had known.

I am looking forward to reading the continuing stories of these families.

Kelly Irvin
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***Thank you author Kelly Irvin for having a print copy sent to me from the publisher. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection ~ Joanne Bischof, Amanda Dykes, Heather Day Gilbert, Jocelyn Green, Maureen Lang, © 2017

Hope Reaches Across the Centuries in One Single Bottle, Inspiring Five Romances



My Review:
You are in for a treat when you begin reading the stories of hope traveling in the different time periods.

A sprinkling of hope that ignites hearts to believe again ~ beyond their limited scope. How narrowly do we keep our boundaries?
   A new voice seemed to penetrate his heart––a truthful voice that seemed older than time itself. The voice said only one word, but he heard it very clearly: hope.
   --The Distant Tide, 41.
1170: County Kerry, Ireland
Join Princess Britta as she finds a foe is a person who is not a threat to her ~ only to his memory of past confrontation with her kingdom home.

~*~
 Lucky white heather from Scotland
Long days have maneuvered between what was and what is today...
Duncan and MegAnd there--just in the very depths of her eyes––he saw it. A flicker of hope––distant and elusive as a will-o'-the-wisp light upon the loch. If she could dare to believe...
   --A Song in the Night, 115.
1715: Scotland and England
Could it be all that her heart desired? Meg MacNaughton sought a touch of home, strength enough to bolster courage. Longingly, the messenger.
"I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search."
Psalm 77:6
Peace to renew strength.

~*~
Image result for pearl street NYC 1798
Miss Abigail Van de Klerk has been sent to the home of her friend by her father for the summer season to entertain proper decorum away from his medical practice.
"...Age is only important as it relates to experience."
   --The Forgotten Hope, 187.
1798: New York

It is so important to be who we are, and not to emulate another for societal expectations. Frivolity does not match solidity in character when misrepresented, especially on first impressions. For in being ourselves we find out who we truly are intended to be. Beloved.
~*~
IMG_3225.JPGMiss Cora Mae Stewart had a decision to make to be able to continue care for her mama: By settling for her pap's parting request, now including care for young June, herself needing a mama. Or... upturned by war, the dispatch of Union soldiers removing her from her Southern mill work drawing patterns for Confederate uniforms. This second decision wasn't hers to make.
Hearing her talk had been like looking at his own reflection, the recognition so complete, it was like coming home. The woman he captured just this morning was now seizing his heart instead.
   --A River between Us, 293-4.
1864: Roswell, Georgia
Following orders does not cover the courage of a longing to care for another protectively. Dreams, faith, and hope, not lost amid uncertain travel to destiny as it seemed.
Dare to imagine a different life than the one you got used to expecting.
   --Ibid., 296.
Is that beautiful, or what!
"Hope is on the inside. Even if the vessel is battered and scarred. Hope can still live within."
   --Ibid., 322.
You will indeed cry with this story!!

~*~
"I write things down that I mean not to forget. Notes for remembrance."
    --The Swelling Sea, 379.
1890: Coronado Island, California
Image result for hotel del coronado 1888
Rosie Graham meets Jonas McIntosh on the beach as he frees a bottle from the salt-laden sand near the edge of the water. Insistent that it is hers, she attempts to have it. A story of encouragement, understanding, and a hope without boundaries.

I know I will be starting back to the beginning as these stories are interwoven with a single word on a bottle that is cherished and sent forth to a further generation who will realize its message at just the right time.
Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:10
EnJ*O*Y this excerpt beginning in 834 AD Ireland ~ Prologue


Prologue

“You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.”
Job 11:16 NIV

Ballyfír Monastery, the North of Ireland
834 AD

Flames lapped at the monk’s robes. He raced down corridors that crackled with the collision of dampness and heat, dodging fire-lit debris. So this was to be the end, then. The night the stones of Ballyfír Monastery would tell their last tale.
   Voices ricocheted. Quick into an alcove he pressed himself, wincing against the sharp, foreign echoes. One man barked out heavy words, only to be cut off by another. How many were there? Five in the cross path, by the sounds of it. Maybe more. Perhaps there was yet hope, if their number was small. Another, more distant voice summoned them away, and they thundered in the direction of the cellarium.
   Good, he thought. Let them take the food. If they will but leave the words. . .
   The monk released his breath then pulled in ash-thick air only to sputter it back out in a fit of coughing. Turning, he flung open the latched window and gasped for clean air. He was too far from the round tower where the finished manuscripts were stored, but he might reach the scriptorium before the fire did. The Living Word must endure.
   But as he filled his lungs afresh, he saw them: three ships curled against the night in stark silhouette, horrible dragon mouths agape upon each prow. Torchlights running to and fro on board, on the beach, winding their way up the hill to the monastery like one great serpent, ready to swallow them whole.
   “Please, Father.” His whispered prayer was raspy. “If we perish, may hope yet live.”
   Slipping into the empty corridor, the prayer released a thousand leaden weights that had anchored him: the sight of the abbot moments before, slain in the refectory; the desperation that washed over him at the thought of those confined to the infirmary, unable to escape; and the subsequent realization that none of his brothers could flee—not far enough, on this island. Tonight Ballyfír—the place of truth—would give its life for truth. For hope.
   Suddenly the yelling, the crashing debris, the pounding footsteps, and shrieks of a raid faded until all he could hear was his own heartbeat carrying him swiftly to what he sought. In the darkness of the scriptorium he grabbed for something—anything—to protect the words. He laid hold of a vessel, hand-forged by one of the metalworking brothers, its cold bronze inscribed with braided intricacies and a Latin word encircling its neck. He pitched the quills it held and capped it. The bottle was a messenger, now. A guardian.
   He gripped it and ran to snatch the parchments from the table. With full arms he lingered but a moment, torn: Should he flee back into the fiery mayhem, where destruction would surely consume the pages? The room seemed smaller and smaller, and so did he, until his eyes fell on the small wooden door in the corner—only waist-high, created to retrieve candles from the cupboard shared with the kitchen. He dashed to it, flung open the door, tossed the cupboard’s contents out, and burrowed through to the other side.
   A door scraped open behind him. They’d breached the scriptorium. Pulse rushing in his ears, he scrambled into the kitchen and through its door to the outside, where the night cloaked him long enough to reach the cliff-side tower. Wind lashed his face and plucked the parchment leaves from his arms until he held fast to what remained: one solitary sheet in a swirling dance of wind-borne pages. Despair threatened to cripple him, but truth was truth whether one page or fifty. The tower door creaked open to his push, and he took the steps up, up, up two at a time until he burst into the tower chamber—home to the perpetual flame that guided weary visitors to them. The monk shivered, realizing it was the work of his own hand that had guided the Vikings here—for he’d tended the flame just hours ago. Was it such a short time? It seemed an eternity, and now he stood on the brink of just that.
   With a mighty heave, he pushed open the window latch overlooking the surf. Time stood still as he rolled the solitary parchment up, glimpsing its ornately illuminated words as he did. He slipped the scroll inside the bottle. This, then, would be their legacy to the world. He would set it free to be carried somewhere, to safety if it pleased God.
   Windows in every direction, he turned to take in the sight of his earthly home one last time, clutching the vessel to his chest.
   Behind him, he glimpsed the far end of the monastery, where the open-air cloister walled in a handful of candles flickering amid the firestorm encroaching around them. Those who still lived must have gathered there. He could hear their harmonies rising on the wind, a haunting and sweeping steadiness carried with each interlaced note, wrapping him with the peace of his God. Peace that made no sense. Peace that could only be from its very Author.
   Beside him, the steady stream of torches grew closer.
   And before him, the midnight sea waited to swallow the precious words. Through cracked lips, the monk prayed the waves would not bury them, but carry them until they could speak life into another soul.
   Perhaps even the souls of their attackers.
   “Father, forgive them. . . .”
   He lifted the candle and dripped its wax around the bottle’s mouth to seal it before securing the lid. By the light of the single flame, he read the word etched 11 upon the bronze with such care: Spero.
   He stretched his arm out through the window and, gathering every bit of strength left within him, hurled it outward. It arced, briefly catching the moonlight, then dropped into the dark water below.
   It was finished.
   The monk dropped to his knees, hands clasped, and joined his voice with his brothers in a song of life, even as Viking shouts overpowered them.
   The stones of Ballyfír told their last tale that night. . .but it was just the beginning.

***Thank you lovely authors for gifting me with this beautiful volume. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Joanne Bischof
@JoanneBischof

Amanda Dykes
@AJDykes

Heather Day Gilbert
@heatherdgilbert
Jocelyn Green
@JocelynGreen77
Maureen Lang
http://maureenlang.com/

Monday, April 3, 2017

21 Days of Grace: Stories that Celebrate God's Unconditional Love compiled by Kathy Ide, © 2015

A Fiction Lover’s Devotional series, Book 1

21 days of grace FB cover
Click here to purchase your copy.

Book: 21 Days of Grace  
Author: Compiled by Kathy Ide
Genre: Devotional  
Release Date: March 24, 2015

Love fiction? Looking for a devotional? Check out 21 DAYS OF GRACE, book one in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series (published by BroadStreet Publishing Group). Fictional stories followed by brief life applications written by best-selling Christian novelists and debut authors, including Angela Hunt, Cindy Woodsmall, and Deborah Raney. Great for individual or group study.


21 Days of Grace

My Review:
A hardcover devotional just the right size to take along with you for moments to read while you wait. Whether you are at the doctor's office or in a school zone picking up your child, you will find just the right time to read a devotional by a favorite or soon to be! author.

Grace ~ Grace ~ God's Grace
This is a compilation of sharings of how God has met them in their daily adventure. Twenty-one days of freedom to experience individually. These stories parallel the grace we have been given. Accepting it or placing focus only on what we have known, is the decision our choice will make ~ rejecting a burden to rely completely upon His love offered to us.

You will enjoy refreshing as you also re-read these devotions and apply them for yourself, beneficial to others! Seeing with new eyes, possibilities. Honoring another, receiving help given to you, when you usually fill a need you observe in others, allows them to give. A gift to both!

Each day has a life application and author introduction. There is a ribbon bookmark ready to keep your place. Short reads, but their reflective thought will stay with you. They would make a good around the table devotional for discussion over tea and scones, adding applicable Scripture examples with them. Any one of the day stories would be a good conversation opener for small gatherings to share life experiences where God has shown His grace.

Kathy Ide-rectangle (1)
visit www.KathyIde.com
This little book would make a nice tuck-in gift. You may even find a new author you would like to follow after reading their fiction story here that magnifies God's unconditional love for each of us in our daily life. A snippet that will tug at your heart and stay with you long after the day has begun.

***Thank you, Celebrate Lit for including me in the book tour for 21 Days of Grace and sending a copy to me. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Visit the website, FictionDevo.com, and find the forum for "21 Days of Grace."


Kathy Ide is the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors and the editor/compiler of the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. She’s a full-time freelance editor and writing mentor, working with Christian authors of all genres at all levels. She teaches at writers’ conferences across the country and is the director of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. She’s a co-owner of the Christian Editor Network LLC and founder of the four divisions that comprise the CEN: Christian Editor Connection, The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, PENCON, and The PEN Institute. To find out more about Kathy, visit www.KathyIde.com

Guest Post from Kathy Ide

I’ve always loved Christian fiction, and I’ve seen the power of fiction to touch hearts and change lives, both firsthand and hearing about the experiences of others. But you know, in my quiet times with the Lord, reading a chapter from a novel just doesn’t seem quite appropriate. So a devotional with short fiction stories seemed like a great solution. And you can take these purse-sized devotionals wherever you go, to read when you have a few minutes of down time. It’s a great way to get “inspiration on the go.” And they make fantastic gifts for friends and loved ones.

Blog Stops

March 24: ASC Book Reviews
March 24: autism mom
March 28: A Greater Yes
March 29: Southern Chelle
March 30: Pause for Tales
March 30: The Scribbler
March 31: Carpe Diem
April 1: Splashesofjoy
April 3: Lane Hill House
April 5: God is Love

EnJ*O*Y these Fiction Lover's Devotionals:

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away:

1st – 4th place winners: A set of all four devotionals in the series. 
5th & 6th place winners: An autographed copy of 21 Days of Grace with a novel written by one of the contributing authors!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b2cd

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Pony Express Romance Collection ~ Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens, Pegg Thomas, © 2017

Historic Express Mail Route Delivers Nine Inspiring Romances

The Pony Express Romance Collection

What could be more fun than joining the Wild West and the NINETEEN-month Pony Express??

I was surprised to find the short-lived Express ~ perhaps safer than the train robberies, the stagecoach holdups, and who knows what else ~ especially when they knew the mail pouch contained long-awaited pay by many. Merely my speculation!

Read this New News! I received via email from author Maureen Lang today.


Maureen Lang
I will be highlighting My Dear Adora written by author Maureen Lang ~ thank you for honoring me with a copy of The Pony Express Romance Collection, Maureen!!

Setting Time Period
San Francisco ~ Spring, 1862

My Review
Adora Denley had arrived at her destination months earlier, but due to an accusation of duplicity and an unsavory announcement of her character, she is erroneously let go from her employment and... livelihood. Thankful for the harboring at Miss Roseleen's Boardinghouse, she is taught kitchen skills to alleviate Roseleen's duties. A shelter from the storm of life.

Chip Nolan had hunted down a stolen mochila, the saddle pack filled with mail that Lewy, his little brother, had been carrying as a Pony Express rider. Assured he would uphold his brother's name with Lewy being left for dead, Chip was finally about to complete his deliveries. Upon arriving in San Francisco, he was now at his last stop, finding a Miss Adora Denley.

Appearing dandy Dirk Stanford has arrived ahead of Chip Nolan and has indebted himself to the aid of Miss Denley's social standings. He has encouraged her that he is just the one who can bring her peace and security by staying by his side for now and the future.

An unriddling is set when the newest boarder arrives. Returning Jed Malone; he had been among the first of the forty-niners. I always like it when a stabilizer comes along to set things straight toward what is right.

The Mochila: detail from Pony Express
a mochila, or covering of leather,
 was thrown over the saddle

I really liked this novella! I am eager to read the remaining eight stories.



***This review was written in my own words. No other compensation, besides adventure, was received.***