Books Read in January 2016

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Books Read in January 2016

I decided for 2016 that I am going to be a little more intentional in the books that I read. I plan to read at least one book on marriage and one book related to writing or business per month plus continue with book reviews. All in all, I will probably read fewer books this year but I am okay with that. I am going for quality over quantity here.

In that vein, I’ve completed three books in January:

greensmoothies

Green Smoothies: This was for a book review and the recipes in this book are delicious! If you like smoothies and/or juicing, or just curious about juicing, you may want to take a peek at this book.

Writing with Power

Writing with Power by Peter Elbow: This volume is chock-full of ideas and techniques for writing well and quickly. Elbow outlines several versions of the writing process and the editing process. A must read for any author/writer.

Better Forever

Better Forever by Gregory Popcak: One of the best books on marriage that I’ve read in a long time. This book is great for those who are engaged and for those who have been married a long time.

Of course, I’ve also read the introduction for the Mercy Bible Study I blogging through.

Books I’m Reading in February

The Healing of Families

How to Get Honest Reviews

An Amish Year

What books are you reading this month? Do share in the comments!

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Tweetable: Books Read in January 2016

Books Read in October 2015

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.

I read some fun books this month, two of which were Amish Christmas novels. Nothing like getting into the Advent/Christmas season a little early!

Amish Christmas Gift

An Amish Christmas Gift: This book is collection of three stories featuring one of my favorite Authors, Amy Clipston. I enjoyed this book a lot and give it four (4) stars in my review.

Amish Christmas at North Star

Amish Christmas at North Star: This is also a compilation of four stories, also featuring another one of my favorite authors, Cindy Woodsmall. I enjoyed this book as well and gave it four (4) stars in my review.

Intentional Living by John C. Maxwell

Intentional Living: It took me some time to read this book. There is a lot of wisdom to digest and it gave me a lot to think about. I gave it four (4) stars in my review.

Katie's Redemption

Katie’s redemption:  This was a book I found free on Amazon. I started reading it while I was waiting for my son to get out of CCD and then couldn’t put it down! Very good story.

Books I’m Reading in November

I am keeping the reading light this month. I may read more but these are the three that I need to read:

Semi-Serious

Semi-Serious

H3 Leadership

H3 Leadership

Your Daily Brain

Your Daily Brain

That’s it for me. What books have you read in October or reading for November? Please let me know in the comments!

Book Review: An Amish Cradle

About the book:

An Amish Cradle is a collection of four novellas all centered around the theme of “babies.” In all four stories, the An Amish Cradle coverprotagonists are either expecting or have just had a baby, and they each have to deal with unique challenges and circumstances.

The first novella, written by Beth Wiseman, is called “In His Arms.” This tells the touching story of a young couple whose first child is born with Down’s Syndrome.

The second, written by Amy Clipson, is “A Son for Always.” As a teenager, Carolyn had a child, Ben, out of wedlock. Now, she is married and expecting another child. She worries and fears that her husband, Joshua, will not accept Ben or love him as much as his biological child.

The third novella, “A heart Full of Love” is by Kathleen Fuller. In this story, the protagonist, Ellie, is blind, and must deal with an overbearing mother who questions Ellie’s ability to take care of her child.

The fourth, “An Unexpected Blessing” is by Vannetta Chapman. In this story, Etta finds herself expecting at the age of 42 and stuck in a snowstorm as she tries to get to the birthing center. Plus, she has concerns for her other children, especially her one son, David, who has left the Amish community.

My Comments:

I completely enjoyed An Amish Cradle. It is an easy, sweet, and quick read; and with summer fast approaching, it is a great book to read while lounging at the beach. There are no real plots or drama in the stories because they all center on relationships, but that is okay, because it is impossible not to be drawn into characters and their lives.

All the stories are touching and sweet, but out of all of them, my favorite is “In His Arms.” Maybe I am biased because I am a huge fan of Beth Wiseman (although I’m a big fan of Amy Clipson, too), or maybe it was the topic. It is not very often that topics such as people with physical or mental challenges (formerly known as disabilities) are portrayed in novels. And Beth Wiseman does so with aplomb and sensitivity. Either way, “In His Arms” is a story that I will not soon forget.

But, that is not to take anything away from the other stories. They are all good, and they all are written very well. They all have interesting characters, and they all have the same comforting “feel,” as if you are being wrapped in a warm blanket when  you read it. 🙂 I am sure you will enjoy all the stories.  In fact, when you read the book, you will probably think one of the other stories are your favorite instead.

On top of all this, like many recent Amish novels, there are a few recipes for some of the meal items mentioned in the book, like the homemade stew and mock pecan pie.

If you enjoy Amish fiction, you will enjoy this collection. I give An Amish Cradle four (4) stars.

 

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: An Amish Second Christmas

An Amish Second ChristmasAbout the book:

An Amish Second Christmas is a collection of four very different Amish novellas, each one written by various authors: “When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman, “Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid, “A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller, and “The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer.

My Comments:

I think I am getting into the Christmas spirit early this year. 🙂 This is my second Christmas-themed book that I’ve read within the past two weeks. And I enjoyed it very much!

Each story in the collection is unique and special in its own right. The characters are believable and relatable. The plots are simple and yet draw you in. And, when you are finished with each story, it leaves you happy and yet wanting more. I didn’t want the stories to end, especially the last one, “The Christmas Aprons.”

Hands down, “The Christmas Aprons” is my favorite of the four novellas. I can totally relate to Esther’s shyness and insecurities but I can also relate to her peace and joy when she remembered the love God has for her. The story touched my heart in a special way, but all of the stories touched me as well.

And, what is always fun, at the end of the book there were recipes for some of the food items mentioned in the stories. I can’t wait to try some of them!

If you are looking for a quick, easy, and heart-warming read this Christmas season, or for a gift for your favorite reader, I absolutely recommend An Amish Second Christmas.

I give the book four (4) stars.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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P.S. On a completely different note, I would be remiss if I didn’t say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my cousin Tommy and my BFF Theresa!

Book Review: A Mother’s Secret by Amy Clipston

A Mother's SecretFrom the Book Description

“Carolyn Lapp dreams of marrying for love. But will the errors of her past destroy this dream forever? Carolyn Lapp longs to have a traditional Amish family. But she lives on her brother’s farm with her parents and her 15-year old son, Benjamin. Carolyn has never revealed the identity of Benjamin’s father and lives daily with the guilt and shame of her youthful indiscretion. Her brother simply will not forgive her. His answer is to arrange a practical marriage for Carolyn to Saul, a widower with a little girl. But Carolyn isn’t convinced that Saul really loves her and believes he is simply looking for someone to help raise his daughter. When Benjamin causes trouble at a local horse auction, horse breeder Joshua Glick decides that he must be taught a lesson. Carolyn and Joshua are unmistakably drawn to each other, but Joshua mistakenly assumes that Benjamin is Carolyn’s brother. Carolyn fears that if he discovers the truth, her past will destroy their budding romance. After years of shame and loneliness, Carolyn suddenly has two men vying for her attention. But which of them will give her the family – and the unconditional love – she’s longed for?”

My Comments

Amy has done it again. Over and over Amy proves why she is one of my favorite love-inspired, Amish novelists, and A Mother’s Secret is no exception. I didn’t realize, when I chose this complimentary book to read and review through the Book Look Bloggers Review program, that it was the second of a series of books. It doesn’t matter though, this book is easily read on its own.

What I love about Amy’s writing is that she focuses on compelling themes, in this case forgiveness and restoration. She writes characters that are believable and likable, and in some cases, not so likable. 🙂 When I read her books, including this one, I am transported into another world, and yet, I can so easily relate to the struggles and joys experienced by the Amish characters. Who hasn’t made mistakes, been judged, and/or needed to forgive or be forgiven at some point in their life? Most of us have, Amish or not.

Amy also writes in a way that keeps me interested and turning the pages. As a matter of fact, I read this book in one sitting because I didn’t want to stop reading! It is an easy read, for sure, with a predictable ending, but that doesn’t take away the enjoyment of reading the book.

A Mother’s Secret is the perfect end-of-summer light read and I give it four (4) stars.

Book Review: An Amish Miracle

An Amish Miracle is a set of three novellas. Always in my Heart by Mary Ellis, tells the story of Hope Bowman who gave her son An Amish Miracleup for adoption when she was young. Always His Provision by Ruth Reid is about Rosa Hostetler, a widow, who is in danger of losing her home and Always Beautiful by Beth Wiseman relates the struggles of Becky Byler with her weight and self-image.

A while back, I had the opportunity to read and review An Amish Kitchen which included a novella by Beth Wiseman; therefore, I was excited to have the chance to read An Amish Miracle through the Booksneeze book review program. It was the perfect “easy read” before delving back into textbooks now that a new semester of college has begun. 🙂

Out of the three novellas, Always in My Heart is my favorite. I really felt for Hope’s character and I thought her character evolved the most out of all the characters amongst the three novellas. I also related to Hope and felt a connection with her even though I have never given up a child for adoption. The only “issue” I had with the novella is how abrupt and quick resolution was between Hope and her father at the end of the story.

Rosa Hostetler was also relatable. She is stubborn, set in her ways and doesn’t want to rely on anyone for help. And, as my husband can attest, I know a little bit about being stubborn. 😉 Rosa struggles with a neighbor, she keeps losing her chickens whose eggs she needs to sell, and she doesn’t see the man right in front of her who is ready and willing to help her in her struggles.

Always Beautiful deals with an issue facing many women, young and old: self-image. Becky is self-conscience of being heavier than those in her Amish community. After praying  for a “miracle” she begins to lose weight; however, losing weight doesn’t turn out to be the “cure-all” for her troubles as she expected. She still doesn’t feel like she fits in and continues to struggle with her self-image. However, in the end, she comes to terms with herself and wins the love of her life: all typical of formula fiction (Just like the other two novellas).

I very much enjoyed the three  novellas and if you are looking for a good, easy read, I recommend An Amish Miracle. I give the book three (3) stars.

Book Review: The House that Love Built by Beth Wiseman

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I’ve read several of Beth Wiseman’s Amish fiction novels, so I was happy to have the chance to read The House that Love Built which is NOT an Amish novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It tells the tale of a widow named Brooke and a divorcee named Owen. They meet at the hardware store that Brooke owns when Owen goes in to get supplies for his new house that he is fixing up. There are also two sub-stories, one about a young troubled teenager named Hunter and another one about Brooke’s mother and her “love interest.” To top it all off, there is a little mystery entwined.

One would think that will all these story lines the book would be hard to follow but Beth Wiseman is an expert story-teller who easily manipulates each story-line, eventually weaving them all together into one cohesive unit at the end. By the end of the second chapter I was hooked and didn’t want to put the book down!

If you enjoy books about love, forgiveness and healing, you will love The House that Love Built. I give this book four (4) stars.

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: An Amish Kitchen

An Amish Kitchen coverAn Amish Kitchen is actually a collection of three short stories: A Taste of Faith by Kelly Long, A Spoonful of Love by Amy Clipston and Recipe for Hope by Beth Wiseman. Although I’m not familiar with Kelly Long’s writings, I’m a fan of both Amy Clipston and Beth Wisemann so I was excited to have the opportunity to review this book.

From the book description:

“The Amish Kitchen is the Heart of the Home – and the Ideal Setting for Stories of Love and Hope.

Fall in Paradise, Pennsylvania always brings a brisk change in the weather. This time also provides unexpected visitors, new love, and renewed hope for three women.

Fern has a green thumb for healing herbs and flowers, but longs for love to bloom in her life. The next-door neighbor’s oldest son Abram comes running into Fern’s kitchen seeking help for his little sister. The crisis soon leads to a promise of romance—until an incident threatens to end their growing attraction.

Nearby, Hannah runs her parents’ bed and breakfast, Paradise Inn—but her life feels nothing like Paradise. She longs for a man of integrity to enter her life, but never expected him to knock on the front door looking for a room. Will she be able trust Stephen with her future once she discovers his mysterious past?

When a storm blows a tree onto Eve’s farmhouse, she has little choice but to temporarily move her family into her parents’ home. Outside of cooking together in the kitchen, Eve and her mother can’t agree on anything. But this may be just the recipe for hope in healing old wounds.

Three Amish stories—each celebrating love, family, and faith—all taking place in a tight-knit community where the kitchen truly is the heart of the home.”

My thoughts:

I enjoyed all three stories. They were charming and engaging with realistic characters I could relate to and appreciate. Was the plot/storyline predictable? Yes, in usual Amish fiction fashion, but it doesn’t take away from enjoying the story and it doesn’t keep you from getting involved with the character’s lives. And all three stories give the reader different glimpses into Amish daily life.

I have to say that of the three novellas, I think the first one, A Taste of Faith was my favorite. I so loved watching Fern and Abram’s relationship change and blossom. I will definitely be checking into more of Kelly Long’s books. 🙂

Besides the sweet stories, An Amish Kitchen has some extras at the end of the book. One is a study guide (which is typical in Amish fiction) and then a bunch of recipes. The one set of recipes are recipes for medicinal treatments and the second set are food recipes. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but they look good!

If you are a fan of Amish fiction you will enjoy these stories. I give An Amish Kitchen four (4) stars.

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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com (http://www.booksneeze.com) book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html) : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Book Review: In Name Only by Ellen Gable

In Name Only is my third book of Ellen’s that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. You can read my review of Stealing Jenny here and Emily’s Hope here.

From the back cover:

“1876, Philadelphia. Caroline Martin’s life has finally taken a turn for the better. After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table. Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn toward Him.”

My comments:

I liked Emily’s Hope, I thoroughly enjoyed Stealing Jenny and I absolutely LOVED In Name Only. 🙂 It is definitely my favorite out of Ellen’s three books. (a BIG thanks to Ellen for offering me a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for the review. 🙂 )

In Name Only is a historical romance, set in 1876 Philadelphia, but it isn’t an ordinary historical romance. Many romances, including historical, are often smutty and makes me want to go to confession after reading them! That’s why I usually stick with Amish love-inspired novels, such as The Wonder of Your Love. Ellen’s book, however, is anything but smutty. It is a touching and engaging romance that captivates the reader from the very beginning.

Ellen does a wonderful job touching on human sexuality and the Catholic teaching on sexuality. It is direct but weaved into the story seamlessly. She also beautifully handles topics such as tragedy, miscarriage and confession.

The characters are realistic, human and interesting and I fell in love with all of them. I became lost in the book, completely drawn into the story as I ‘watched’ the different character relationships evolve; so much so, I stayed up WAY past my bedtime because I didn’t want to put the book down!

If there was one “negative” thing to say it would be that the storyline was a little predictable; BUT, almost all books are like that for me. I have this thing of always thinking of possible scenarios and can almost always predict what will happen next in a novel. Still, even being able to expect what will happen didn’t detract from the plot lines whatsoever. They were interesting, several times made me tear up, and the perfect complement to the characters’ lives in the story.

Finally, I hated for the book to end. I wish Ellen would bring Carolyn and David back in a sequel to this book! Please, Ellen?!

I give this book 4 (four) stars for sure. 🙂