Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: Amish Christmas at North Star: Four Stories of Love and Family

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife, just outside North Star, Pennsylvania. 
Rebekah’s babies, as they are called, are now grown adults and in four heartwarming novellas each young person experiences a journey of discovery, love, and the wonder of Christmas.

Guiding Star
 by Katie Ganshert

Curiosity gets the best of Englisher Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby. When he finds adventurous Elle McAllister in Iowa will his discoveries upend her world? 

Mourning Star
 by Amanda Flower

Eden Hochstetler slips from her parents’ fudge shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac Yoder.  Who is guilty? Isaac’s handsome great nephew Jacob, an angry Englisher, or someone else?

In the Stars
 by Cindy Woodsmall

Kore Detweiler has nursed his broken heart, avoiding North Star after Savilla Beiler suddenly rejected his love.  But when he is called to return home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.

Star of Grace
 by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark

Andy Danner left North Star to work in construction in a new Amish settlement in Louisiana. His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas, and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in an old widower’s life.

~See more at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com

This was a great Christmas read!  I don't normally read a lot of Amish stories but I decided to give this one a try.  I loved the thread running through all four stories about the babies that were all born on the same night and where they are now as adults.

My favorite of the stories was Guiding Star by Katie Ganshert.  I liked the element of adoption in this story and how Elle is drawn into finding her biological parents.  The process of connecting with her family was sweet.  I also liked how Chase and Elle connect and fall in love.

Morning Star by Amanda Flower was also interesting.  The nature of the short story novella didn't allow much time for developing a relationship between Jacob and Eden, but there was a connection.  And the mystery of Isaac's death keeps your attention.

In the Stars by Cindy Woodsmall was my least favorite of the four.  The whole reason for Savilla's rejection of Kore and his broken heart could have been solved a whole lot quicker by a little more communication and trust.

Star of Grace by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark was endearing.  Andy left town after Nellie jilted him and left to pursue higher education.  Although Nellie is now back in town and sorry for what she has done, Andy has also left town and has a hard time trusting her again.  However, the main part of this story (and what make it so endearing) centers around Andy's brother Sam who is desperately trying to get Andy back into town for Christmas.  How he goes about it is sweet and also touches the life an old widower.   Good story!

*Thanks to Blogging For Books for the complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions stated are my own.*

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Katie Ganshert
Christy Award finalist, Katie Ganshert is the author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows. She lives in Iowa with her handsome husband, their dinosaur-loving son, and their goofy black lab, Bubba. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption, which she and her husband hope to complete sometime before they are fifty.

Amanda Flower
Amanda Flower is an Agatha Award–nominated author. She also writes the USA Today bestselling Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries, including Murder, Simply Served and Murder, Simply Stitched under the name Isabella Alan.

Cindy Woodsmall
Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the Foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family.

Mindy Starns Clark & Emily Clark
Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction (more than 800,000 sold) including coauthoring the Christy Award–winning The Amish Midwife. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. She enjoys speaking to churches, civic groups, and libraries across the country. Her unique blend of humor and insight make her an audience favorite.
Emily Clark is Mindy's daughter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Felicity - Spotlight & Giveaway

Felicity (1)

Felicity 2Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot by Loralee Evans

Felicity hasn’t had an adventure in months, and the little sparrow thinks that dangerous quests are behind her for good. Which is just fine with her! She would rather hang out with her friends the fairies, and read her books safe at home than go on scary adventures! But Felicity didn’t count on one group of strangers showing up that cause more trouble than she ever imagined they could! A strange, troublesome bunch that the fairies call… people.

She laughed.  “You don’t need to hide from peoples, er, I mean people, Colin!  They’re not scary!  They’re just noisy and messy.  And so slow!  They can’t get us up here.  It’s not a big deal.”
“It is a big deal, Felicity!” Colin insisted.
“Because people must not see us!”  he hissed.  “Ever!”
“Um…” She cocked her head to the side.  “Why?”
“Felicity!” Colin seethed.  “For the goodnesses’ sakes, stop talking!  This isn’t a game!”
Felicity rolled her eyes.  “Okay, mister bossy wings.”
She took a hop toward the knothole.  “I hope they don’t step on the mushrooms.  Or your stuff.”
Colin’s eyes met hers.  A look of alarm spread over his face, and a hand went to his head.
“Cinders!” he exclaimed.

barnes and nobleamazongoodreads

Praise for the Book
“Dreams, imagination, and different worlds intersect in a positive and simple story that kids will find whimsical and delightfully fun.” –D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot will touch the hearts of children both young and old. It’s a tale that connects friendship and nature in a magical, memorable way.” --Mikey Brooks, author of The Dream Keeper Chronicles and The Stone of Valhalla.

LoraleeAuthor Loralee Evans

Loralee Evans is the author of five novels, The Birthright, The King's Heir, The Shores of Bountiful, Felicity~ A Sparrow's Tale, and her latest release, Felicity and the Featherless Two-Foot. When she's not writing, she enjoys teaching, running, being with her family, and reading all sorts of good books, including the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, J. Scott Savage, Rachel Ann Nunes, and James Dashner.

$25 Blog Tour giveaway

$25 Blog Tour Giveaway

Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/30/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Swagbucks Santa's Lil' Helpers Team Challenge

The holidays are a time to celebrate but they are also a time of giving. There are so many people that don’t have the privilege of a holiday experience they justly deserve, whether it be gifts or a hearty meal. While we celebrate with our family and friends it is important to reflect on all the blessings that have been bestowed on us and remember that we have a duty to help others. That’s why Swagbucks is humbly asking all of you to be Santa’s Lil Helpers this holiday season in their newest Team Challenge!    

For the first time ever Swagbucks will allow us to donate your Team Challenge bonuses to a charity of our choice!  

The season of giving begins Monday, December 14th at 8am PT/12pm ET so get in a giving mood. The Team Challenge ends Friday, December 18th at 12pm PT/3pm ET but you are encouraged to stay in the holiday spirit through New Years of course!  

All members who participate and contribute at least 200 points to their team’s total will be receive a SB bonus. Members of the 1st place team will receive a 40 SB bonus, members of the 2nd place team will receive a 20 SB bonus!  

On Monday, December 21st you’ll receive an Inbox message asking if you want to donate your Team Challenge Bonus to a charity of your choice. If you accept, we will donate your bonus, in your name, to your charity!  

If you are new to the Swagbucks world, make sure to create your free account here. Once you do, you will be able to join the Team Challenge right away and start getting paid for doing your everyday online tasks.    For more information on Swagbucks see my previous posts.

'Tis the season to get Swagging and do some good, so lets have some fun and spread the joy!

So many ways to earn and contribute to your Team!

Survey Completes - Earn SB when you complete a survey and you'll contribute 22 pts to your team!

Watch - Earn SB when you watch entertaining videos from nCrave and Watch and you'll contribute 14 pts to your team!

Search - Grab rewarding search wins through your defaulted search engine or from your mobile device and you'll contribute 12 pts to your team!

Discover - Earn SB by discovering great deals on your desktop or through the Swagbucks Mobile App and you'll contribute 8 pts to your team!

Swagstakes - Pressing your luck doesn’t end when you break the wishbone! Try your luck in a Swagstakes and contribute 4 pts to your team!

Survey DQ/OQ - Attempt a survey and if you earn an SB for getting DQ'd or OQ'd you'll contribute 3 pts to your team.

Swag Codes - Redeem daily Swag Codes through the SwagButton browser extension or the Swagbucks Mobile App! Contribute 2 pts to your team.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Blog Tour Giveaway & Review: Seaside Christmas

seaside christmas

My rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars

He can’t stand her. She thinks he’s crazy. Will their feelings stay etched in permanent ink?

Cruz Hunter has always stuck out in his small hometown. Now that he’s covered in tattoos, the residents peg him as even more of an outcast. It seems like the whole world is against his dream of opening a local tattoo parlor.

When he finally finds the perfect place for his new business, Cruz discovers a pastor and his daughter have already bought it. The only thing more irritating than the change in his plan is Talia, a beautiful and feisty argument in a dress. Cruz would like nothing more than to have her out of his life and his mind, but for some reason, she’s the only thing he can think about.

If Cruz and Talia can stop arguing long enough, opposites may do much more than attract.

Seaside Christmas is the fifth standalone novel in the Seaside Hunters collection, a series of sweet contemporary romances centered on the Hunter brothers. Author Stacy Claflin's beautiful seaside town of Kittle Falls will make you want to visit… and stay! If you like chemistry, budding romance, and love in a quaint small town, then you'll fall for the latest tale in the series.

Cruz double-checked the house number and walked up the sidewalk and to their walkway. A street lamp turned on as he walked underneath. He’d gone over what he was going to say countless times. There weren’t any other buildings in town he could use for his tattoo shop—the city council had made it clear the only place he would be allowed to do business was the outskirts of town—so he needed to be convincing if he wanted to talk them out of the building.
His sense of humor and charm had always gotten him out of trouble growing up, so he needed to tap into that. So many times, all he’d had to do was tell a joke and laugh, and his teachers would just melt and let him get away with whatever trouble he’d created. It didn’t work quite as well now that he had facial hair and tattoos, but that wouldn’t stop him from trying.
Cruz walked up the steps to the porch and knocked on the door, avoiding a wreath. It smelled of pine, like it had been freshly made.
Noise sounded from inside, and then the door opened. The blonde chick from the day before—what was her name again?—stood before him, wearing another dress. It was bright yellow with a pattern of tropical flowers. Her hair was pulled back and a floral scent engulfed him—her perfume?
She smiled and stepped back. “Come on in, Cruz.”
And she remembered his name. He forced a smile and nodded a thanks, stepping inside. The house had bare furnishings and almost no decorations, spare a few holiday ones.
Blondie closed the door and then Cruz saw a pile of moving boxes. That’s right. They were new to town. “Nice place.”
“We’re still trying to figure out where everything is. You know how moving is.”
“Not really.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“But I imagine it’s a pain in the—uh, neck. I grew up in one house, and the only time I moved was when I went to college, and all I packed fit on my motorcycle.”
Her gorgeous blue-green eyes widened. “Really?”
“Don’t look so shocked. I went to UCLA. I graduated, even.”
“That’s not what surprised me. It was because you got everything on a motorcycle.”
He shrugged.
“Isn’t UCLA hard to get into? Less than ten percent get in, don’t they?”
Cruz looked away. “I didn’t really pay attention. Just wanted to hang out in LA for a while.”
“What brought you back here?”
“Sure wasn’t the town. My dad had some health problems and I wasn’t really gettin’ along with the guy I was working for, so I just packed up my bike and came back.”
“Is your dad okay?” Talia’s eyes widened. “Do you guys need anything?”
“No, he’s okay now. Takin’ care of himself and everything. My mom and all five of us brothers help out, too.”
“Oh, good. Well, if you do need something, you have our number.”
Cruz nodded and slid off his jacket. Her eyes widened as her gaze went over his heavily tattooed arms. He tried to tell if she was judging him or checking them out. It was hard to tell because her expression didn’t reveal anything. He’d been judged before by religious people, making wild assumptions based on his body art.
Cruz flexed both arms and then held out his jacket. “Someplace I can hang this?”

This is a well written book and I enjoyed reading it.  I had no problem following the story or the characters even though it is the fifth is a series.   As it states, it is written to be a stand alone.

Cruz is a somewhat gritty character (a tattooed, smoking, motorcycle riding kind of guy) and for him to be paired with a pastor's daughter gave the story plenty of room for mishaps as well as an unexpected romance.   I like how Cruz is trying to be a better person.  He's trying to start his own business and move out of his parents house and he's trying to quit smoking.  He also does a good job of trying to control his temper when faced with a nemesis from his past.   He tries to talk himself out of falling for the pastor's daughter, Talia, because he doesn't think he's good enough for her.   I liked how Talia and her dad (the pastor) show him that he's wrong.  I loved the family dynamics and interaction with Cruz' family.   Both Talia and Cruz are dealing with the loss of a family member which allows them to be sympathetic to the other's grief.  All in all, this is a nice fast Christmas romance read.

*Thanks to eBooksForReview for a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are my own.*

View all my reviews


seaside Christmas (1)

Meet the Hunter brothers of Kittle Falls…

The Seaside Hunters novels are a series of contemporary sweet romances. They’re set in the beach town of Kittle Falls, following the Hunter brothers as they make their way back to their hometown and find the loves they couldn’t elsewhere. Each book is a standalone.



Author Stacy Claflin

I don’t stick to a single genre in my writing, reading, or viewing. My favorite shows include Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, Lost Girl, Vampire Diaries, and Once Upon a Time.

I've been writing and telling stories for as long as I can remember. As a kid, my story telling would get me into trouble because I would try to convince others that my stories were real.

When I'm not busy writing, I like spending time with my family and friends. I also educate my kids from home.

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$25 Blog Tour Giveaway 

Enter to win an Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 12/27/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by readinglight.com. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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December 7th

December 8th

December 9th
December 10th
Mel’s Shelves – Review
Smiling Book Reviews – Review
Books and Authors – Review
Mom With a Reading Problem – Review
The Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass – Spotlight
Curling Up With A Good Book – Spotlight

December 11th
A Leisure Moment – Review
deal sharing aunt – Spotlight
Mythical Books – Spotlight
A Writer’s Dream – Spotlight
Cassandra M’s Place – Spotlight
Coffee Books & Art – Spotlight
Adventures in Publishing – Spotlight

December 16th
Singing Librarian Books – Review
Kerrific – Review
Christy’s Cozy Corners – Spotlight
Practical Frugality – Spotlight
Melanie D. Snitker, Author – Spotlight
Amber Daulton – Spotlight

December 18th
Bookworm Lisa – Review
Lisa’s Research & Reviews – Review
fundinmental – Spotlight

Friday, December 4, 2015

Review: Until The Dawn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A volunteer for the newly established Weather Bureau, Sophie van Riijn needs access to the highest spot in her village to report the most accurate readings. Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie knows no better option despite a lack of permission from the absent owners.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover a local woman has been trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There's a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark and the Vandermark family history are no longer content to stay in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

This book has the ultimate dark versus light component that makes for a thrilling read. I can't say that I really liked the hero when he's first introduced but that's to be expected since he is in desperate need of some good in his life and soul! Sophie becomes that light to his life and also helps show him the light of God for his soul. I loved Sophie! She had a lot of character and strength. In spite of the sorrow she has experienced, she is still cheerful, friendly, kind, and compassionate. She closes doors softly even when she's upset! For some reason, I loved that little tidbit in the book. :)

I liked how Dierenpark is described - the land and atmosphere surrounding the house is beautiful, serene, healing to the body and soul - almost a paradise of sorts. It sounds like a wonderful place to live. But it's also been tainted by the rumors about what caused the family to abandon the house and land for sixty years. I liked how the author wove the threads of beauty and tragic mystery together.

There are a lot of secondary characters that support the story. The grandfather plays a pivotal role in the relationships between Quentin and his son, and Quentin and Sophie. They in turn help bring him to a happier place. I liked the guards - big and scary and loyal and hidden soft sides. And then there was Quentin's son - a little boy in dire need of the sunshine of Sophie's love and the healing hope of a good life at Dierenpark.

All in all a great story with a sweet and somewhat stormy romance, plenty of mystery to keep you intrigued, the hope of redemption from a tragic past, and the light of salvation for a better future.

*Thanks to Bethany House & Netgalley for the complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions stated are my own.*

View all my reviews


Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

Connect with Elizabeth on her Website & on Facebook .


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review: The Perfect Arrangement: An October Wedding Story

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Meet the people who make it all happen—the planners, the photographers, the musicians who have helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples—as they find their own happy endings in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

Meeting Nick was truly an accident—but Amelia finds that he’s one of the few people she can count on.

Amelia Woods is a small-town wallflower who inherited her grandmother’s flower shop. Despite her success in business, her love life has ground to a halt. And then her temptation to spy on her ex-boyfriend’s wedding leads her to a horrifying fender-bender—with Nick, the groomsman who happens to be her ex’s new brother-in-law.

Meanwhile, William, Amelia’s younger brother, has proposed to his girlfriend. Amelia would be excited except she has evidence that the fiance is not who she says she is. How can she be supportive and yet be the protective big sister too? It seems Nick is the only one available for any advice-giving, and he’s pretty good at it—and pretty fun to talk to. Amelia and Nick continue online conversations about everything, but always lingering in Amelia’s mind is the fear that he’ll realize who she is and what she was doing at the church that day of the accident.

As Amelia works to craft the perfect flower arrangements for other people—including a ninety-year-old “fairy godmother” named George—she begins to wonder if real love is better than the dream. And if it is, will Nick still be interested when he learns who she is?


I really enjoyed this Year of Weddings novella. The fun quirkiness of how Amelia and Nick meet is carried on throughout the book. Especially with their ongoing conversations through emails. I liked the use of emails vs texting because it gave them room for actually conversing. I love the fact that Amelia owns a flower shop (simply because I love flowers!). A great little novella with a sweet romance.

*Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions stated are my own.*

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Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.