Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book review with a giveaway: The Quieting by Suzanne Woods Fisher

About the book:
The Stoltzfus family faces serious problems, both in the church and at home. Everyone in the community expects minister David Stoltzfus to fix things–fast. But David doesn’t work fast. He prefers to wait for God to work in individual hearts. However, even he is left wondering if the solution to their most pressing problem might be a Quieting.

When David’s mother arrives, uninvited, more upheaval is in store. She has matchmaking plans for everyone in the family, including David and her eligible granddaughters–and especially for David’s niece Abigail. When Abigail stumbles onto a curious connection during her genealogical research, it could help David solve one problem–but will it create another?

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher takes fans back to Stoney Ridge, delivering the twists, turns, and romance they adore.

My thoughts:

I just have to say how much I love Suzanne Woods Fisher's writing style.  She gets into the heads of her characters and lets the readers really understand where they are coming from.  And as the characters develop, it really is a testament to God's working in their lives. Fisher writes a cozy, comfortable story that you care about and can get lost in.  I am enjoying this author more and more.  For more reasons to love this author, read my review of the previous book in the series here.

I highly recommend this second book in The Bishop's Family series for fans of Amish fiction, and also for those who just want a good story to read without elevating their pulse.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author whose most recent novels include Anna’s Crossing and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Guest post by the author:

Twenty years ago, my husband and I attended a large church with a dynamic senior pastor. Each Sunday, we would sit spellbound during 40 minute sermons—he was that good a preacher. And then a terrible thing came to light—this very man had been taking advantage of vulnerable women during counseling sessions. Fourteen women, it turned out, and the pastor remained unrepentant. As issues were dealt with, our entire church suffered. We were a hurting community. The sins of one affected all.

As I plotted out ‘The Bishop’s Family,’ I wanted to borrow the theme of how a leader’s sins hurts the church community. (Now, I need to clarify that this is not a novel that addresses sexual sin. However, it does address unrepentant sin in an ordained leader.) First, I spoke to some Amish friends to see if my story idea had any merit. Was I was on the right track? To my amazement, a similar situation to my novels had occurred in one Amish friend’s church, and it resulted in a “quieting.” That’s an Amish phrase that means revoking the responsibilities of an unrepentant ordained leader. Just like it sounds–he is, essentially, “quieted.”

In this novel, you’ll see the behind-the-scenes of Amish church leadership, and get a sense of how a community is hurting. And how it begins to heal, too.

This series began in the Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania community with The Imposter. More twists and turns are coming to Stoney Ridge after The Quieting—so stay tuned for The Devoted to hit bookshelves in early October. Just in time for autumn reading by a warm fireplace!

Warmly, Suzanne

The giveaway:

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a grab bag of Amish-made gifts worth over $100! Click the link to enter:

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book review: Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette

Kiya is a young, privileged Egyptian woman, who is fiercely loyal to her family.  But when her father is forced to sell her to a family friend to pay his debts, her life changes dramatically.  Instead of being served, she is now serving an ill-tempered mistress.  The bright spot in her new life is a friendship that develops with a Hebrew slave girl, and Kiya learns about Yahweh, the Hebrew God.  Then the plagues begin, and distrust abounds toward the Hebrews and Hebrew sympathizers, as they are not affected by all the plagues.

This was an amazing book to read, learn about Egyptian culture, and experience the Exodus through the eyes of an Egyptian.  I really felt as if I was there, dealing with the horror of the plagues.  As someone who is already familiar with the Biblical account of the Exodus, I was eagerly turning the pages to discover what would happen next.

This book is a well-researched and deftly crafted novel.  In her debut novel, Connilyn Cossette invokes all of a reader’s senses as the story plays out.  I highly recommend this book for fans of biblical fiction.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Her novel Counted With the Stars won the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semifinalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Coloring book review with a giveaway: Amish Quilts Coloring Book by Rachel J. Good

About the book:

Feeling stressed? Why not relax with an adult coloring book?  Rachel J. Good’s Amish Quilts Coloring Book takes you back to a time and place that’s calm. Immerse yourself in a world of peace as you color the 25 different quilts.

Inspired by quilts seen in Amish country, many of these designs are based on traditional patterns, but some have been reimagined or repeated multiple times to create more intricate designs to color. Each quilt is printed on only one side of the page; facing pages contain inspirational Amish proverbs. To make the quilts even more colorful and interesting, sketch fabric designs – plaids, checks, paisleys, flowers, or abstract shapes – into the larger quilt blocks, use pattern stamps, or even collage fabric scraps to the pages. And if the designs inspire you to make quilts of your own, the pages can be used as templates for quilt-making.

My thoughts:

“Let’s color,” they said.  “It’ll be fun,” they said.

Adult coloring books have become a craze recently.  “Coloring is relaxing,” they said.

My 11-year-old daughter was given an adult coloring page in her Sunday school class.  The class colors while the teacher reads a missionary story.  The teacher told me that it helps the children to focus, and that afterwards, they are better at answering the questions about the story.  And my daughter enjoys it.  I also think that she thinks it is cool because it is an adult coloring page.

I saw the neatest thing at the library last week.  While their elementary-aged kids were using the computers, the mom & dad were seated at a nearby table, connected by ear buds to the same IPod, and, heads together, were coloring on the same adult coloring book page.  I thought it was pretty cool.  The mom later told me that it was a wonderfully cheap date.

So adult coloring books are a thing.  And now it’s my turn.

The reviewers at Celebrate Lit were given the opportunity to review Amish Quilts Coloring Book by Rachel J. Good.  I have been curious about the whole adult coloring book thing, and I need stress relief, so I took the challenge, hoping that this would be an easy, relaxing book review.

I printed out the two pages we were given, and noticed the tiny, intricate spaces.  Then some fellow reviewers started posting pictures of their pictures.  Wow.  I was intimidated.  Oh, well. . . .

I got out my box of colored pencils.  I had purchased the big box for a retreat I went on about 15 years ago.  Good thing I saved them.

Then came the moment of truth.  You know how on the inside of the box of crayons or colored pencils there are the little colored marks that the crayon has made?  You know that you’ll be able to get everything back in the box the way it belongs because of those little marks.  Well, with so many colored pencils, it was hard to tell exactly what color each one was, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to put them back in the way they were.  I could just take out one pencil at a time, then put it back in the box when I was finished, but I knew that that wouldn’t work because of the intricacies of the designs and necessary repetition of color.  So [Gasp!] I just took the pencils out of the box.  I played with them for a while, sorting them into little piles of colors that I thought would go well together.

Once I got past that OCD episode, it was time to color.  I tested each pencil out on scrap paper, to see how each would look, then began to color.  I tried to make patterns with the colors that would look nice.  I’m usually pretty good with color.  At work when I am making colored documents, I’m usually pleased with how they turn out.  But when I’m working on the computer, if I don’t like something, I can change it easily with a few mouse clicks.  Once I make a mark with the colored pencil, it’s pretty much there to stay.  So not every block turned out as wonderful as I would like, because of the trial-and-error in my decision making.

Now for the adult part.  I was getting in the groove of making the patterns, with uplifting music in the background, when the carpal tunnel syndrome kicked in.  Ouch.  And how reading glasses made it so much easier to concentrate.  Ugh.

This experience certainly gave me even greater respect for quilters and other artisans, and the detailed work that they put into their masterpieces.  But for me as an amateur colorer, I decided that cheating is okay.  Perfection wasn’t necessary.  It was about the chance to experiment with color and be creative. 

From the pages I was given, and the images I saw on Amazon, I found a good variety of images to color.  For adults who are looking for a coloring book of their own, I think this would be a good choice.  I enjoyed the Amish proverb on each page.  It was something to reflect on while coloring.

I received two of the pages from this book from Celebrate Lit, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:

Rachel J. Good, inspirational author, writes life-changing, heartfelt novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She is the author of Amish romances in the Sisters & Friends series. She grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her novels. A former teacher and librarian, she completed her MA from Vermont College while raising five children. She is presently an MFA student in Writing and Illustration at Hollins University. In addition to having more than 2200 articles and 30 books in print or forthcoming under several pseudonyms, she also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers.

The giveaway:

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away two autographed copies of her Amish Quilts Coloring Book! Click here to enter:

To purchase:

To buy the Amish Quilts Coloring Book:

Visit Rachel at:






Friday, May 13, 2016

Book review: Playing the Part by Jen Turano

A haunted castle, a handsome loner bachelor, and a skirt-chasing goat all come together to form an interesting story that will keep you turning the pages.

It was delightful to get to know actress Lucetta Plum in the third installment the A Class of Their Own series by Jen Turano.  After having spent many enjoyable hours reading Harriet's and Millie's stories, learning about the mysterious Lucetta was a treat.  This novel gave insight into the wonderfully talented Lucetta's personality.  And while she was gifted in many ways, she was humble enough to recognize areas in her life where she needed to forgive, let go of anger, and be more vulnerable.

Bram Haverstein, the handsome grandson of Abigail Hart, has many secrets, but his admiration of Lucetta Plum is not one of them.

Once again, Jen Turano offers a story filled with laugh-out-loud scenarios, along with mystery and romance, that will delight readers of historical fiction.  Playing the Part stands alone, but characters from the first two books return, and the surprise ending skillfully wraps up the series.

I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:

Jen Turano is the best-selling, critically acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist. It is also a nominee for Romantic Times 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013. Her seventh book, Playing the Part, released in the spring of 2016, will be followed by a new four-book series, Apart from the Crowd.

When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying herself as an empty-nester since her son recently abandoned her for the college life. She can be found on Facebook at She is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency. Her books may be found in most fine bookstores, or follow the Baker House Publishing link to find additional places to purchase her work –

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Book review: A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund

As a librarian and as a mother whose daughters are approaching their teen years, I'm always looking for Young Adult material that I can recommend without reservation.  A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund fills that need.  From the opening sentence on, readers will enjoy this fast-paced adventurous novel.

This sequel to An Uncertain Choice lets us get to spend time with Collin, whom we met in that first book.  His story is fleshed out, as is that of Juliana Wessex, a young woman of noble birth who has been living in hiding since her father's death at the hands of her uncle.  She has become a Robin Hood type of character, who feels responsible for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods after her uncle's seizure of her home and lands.

As Collin and Juliana get to know one another, they are forced to consider whether or not their assumptions toward each other's class are true.  I was a Collin fan in the first book, and I enjoyed the banter and the relationship that developed between him and Juliana in this one.

Those who enjoy romance in a medieval setting will enjoy this book.  And although it is a YA book, adults will enjoy it thoroughly, as well.

I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

About the author:

Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves fairy tales and happily-ever-afters.  She makes her home in Midland, MI, with her husband and five children.  When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.