Monday, September 1, 2014

A wonderful start to a new Amish series from Adina Senft: "Herb of Grace"

Herb of Grace

about the book...

Amish widow Sarah Yoder has been struggling to raise her two teenaged sons and provide a home where family and members of her Old Order Amish church can find fellowship and friendship. Though she is close to her in-laws, lately it feels like her relationship with her boys is splintering. Her stepson Simon wants to move out west with his cousins to find work. And her youngest, Caleb, is spending far too much time over at the tumbledown home of a man who left the church long ago. Henry Byler only returned recently to Willow Creek when he inherited the family farm--under protest--and now seems caught in a struggle between the faith of his childhood and the world he's come to know.

Ruth Lehman, the local Dokterfraa, believes Sarah should use her gift for growing plants to become an herbal healer, too. Sarah is reluctant, however, uncertain if caring for others will take her away from her family--the place where she believes God wants her. But when she feels called to help members of her community, she soon discovers that the heart can be scarred as deeply as the body. As she compiles her herbs, she waits for God to do his healing work in a man who rues a harsh decision, in a lonely prodigal who has lost everything, and maybe even in a herbalist-in-training who firmly believes she will never love again.

my review...

Adina Senft's latest novel provides a wonderfully entertaining read while imparting wisdom that will feed the soul. As with her prior books, she has achieved a wonderful combination of interesting characterization with life drama that kept me turning the pages from start to finish. From family conflicts to romance to moments that result in heart-ache, this book has it all!  Amish widow Sarah Yoder is one of those characters who quickly becomes someone you feel is as real as can be, and I felt like cheering her on as she steps out of her comfort zone to discover if God has something new in store for her. While reading this story, I found myself contemplating God's will and how we discover his purpose for our lives. I love how Adina has clearly shown that often we don't have full certainty of what God has called us to do, but that he gently guides us (and sometimes pushes us) where he wants us to go. And then, like Sarah, we can only step out in faith, believing like Sarah when she knew there was "something God could do with these hands of mine if I just had the courage to let him". May we all have that courage!

I strongly recommend "Herb of Grace", for those readers who typically enjoy Amish fiction, but also for those who might normally choose a different genre. This isn't just good Amish fiction - it's good fiction, period. I eagerly anticipate the next addition to the series! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Faithwords, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

about the author...

Adina Senft grew up in a plain house church and was often asked if she was Amish. (The answer was no.) She holds an MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she is part of the adjunct faculty. Between books, Adina enjoys playing the piano and Celtic harp, making historical costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

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Measure of Katie Calloway, The: A Novel - eBook

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another winner from McCourtney: "Death Takes a Ride"

Cover Art

about the book....

It's official. This case is above her pay grade--and Cate's in over her head.

Cate Kinkaid arrives at H&B Vintage Auto Restorations to give a friend a ride. But, as usual, trouble finds Cate even there--this time in the form of one dead man, one wounded man, and what appears to be a pretty obvious case of self-defense. 

Despite having been merely an unfortunate bystander, Cate finds herself sucked into the case. And the deeper she gets, the more she begins to suspect that the shooting in the H&B office may not have been as cut-and-dried as it appeared!

my review....

The final book in the "Cate Kincaid" series provides a fun ride from beginning to end. I enjoyed the first two books in the series, and this final installment certainly doesn't disappoint. From the quirky, entertaining characters to the mysterious plot line, I was kept glued to the pages. Cate continues to be a fascinating character to follow along with on her exploits, as she isn't some polished expert sleuth, but rather seems to find herself in the middle of trouble without any effort on her part!  The relationship that has developed from the beginning with the ever helpful Mitch has provided many moments of hilarity, and I loved the scene in this book that takes place in the bar (you will see what I mean as you dive into this story yourself). The ending of the book is truly a unique one, and if you can read it without at least cracking a smile (if not outright laughing) then I would be shocked. McCourtney continues to provide a nice blend of wonderful characterization with well paced plots. I just know that readers who enjoy light-hearted mysteries that are clean and that celebrate love and faith, with a good mixture of humour thrown in, will greatly enjoy this book.

I do wish that there were more than 3 books in this series, because I would love to see what else lies in store for Cate! "Death Takes A Ride" will leave you with a smile on your face, and I strongly recommend not only this book but indeed the whole series. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

 about the author....

Lorena McCourtney

Lorena McCourtney is the New York Timesbestselling and award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Invisible (which won the Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America) and Dying to Read. She resides in Oregon.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Have your hanky handy: My movie review of "When the Game Stands Tall"

If you don't have plans tonight, then I highly recommend you go see the movie "When the Game Stands Tall"! Read on for my review.

About the film:

Inspired by a true story, When The Game Stands Tall brings to life the incredible winning streak of the De La Salle High School football team: 151 straight victories over 12 years. All along the way, as Coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) builds his seemingly invincible national powerhouse, he has emphasized purpose and significance rather than streaks and titles. When the streak is broken, and tragedy strikes the team, Coach Ladouceur must teach his players – and the entire town – that it’s not about how you fall, but how you get back up.

 My review:

I am one of those unusual males who does not thrive on watching hours of sports on television - I'd rather read a book! Yet give me the chance to watch a sports-inspired movie and I will jump at the opportunity. The reason? Such films are totally inspiring, and "When the Game Stands" is one of the best sports films to come along in awhile! This is a movie that your whole family can enjoy without worrying about offensive material. The acting is solid, with great performances by a number of talented actors, and I was completely drawn into the storyline. I found myself mesmerized by the action on the screen, to the point that I was gripping my arm rests to see how the football games would play out!

Prior to this film, I had never heard of the De La Salle High School football team or their amazing victory streak. But I can certainly appreciate why this story was brought to the big screen. Not only is the film entertaining, but there were a number of moments where I wanted to pause the movie and go back and listen to the movie lines again because of the profound wisdom being shared. I loved watching Coach Ladouceur speak real life into the kids, fearlessly showing them what real faith looks like, and teaching them that the game, and life, is not about winning and about doing for yourself, but for coming alongside others and being true family to those around you. There were many times that I had tears in my eyes (and my wife was full-on crying), so I will warn you that be prepared to get emotional!

"When the Game Stands Tall" is a movie that I will be watching again and again, not only for the pure enjoyment of an entertaining film, but because it reminds me of what really matters in life - love, sacrifice, faith, and living for others.
My thanks to Graf-Martin for providing the opportunity to review this film.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

$200 B&B Weekend Getaway Giveaway & 9/9 Facebook Party with Deborah Raney!

The first book in Deborah Raney's new Chicory Inn series, Home to Chicory Lane, introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has launched all her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some of her own dreams during her empty-nest years. However, not all of her children are ready to stay out of the nest quite yet.

Deborah is celebrating the release of her new series with a $200 B&B Weekend Getaway and a Facebook author chat party.

  One winner will receive:
  • A B&B Weekend Getaway (via a $200 Visa cash card)
  • Home to Chicory Lane by Deborah Raney
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 9th. Winner will be announced at the Home to Chicory Lane Author Chat Party on 9/9. Deborah will be hosting a heartfelt book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at the next book in the Chicory Inn series!

So grab your copy of Home to Chicory Lane and join Deborah on the evening of September 9th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!