About the book: Return to Amish Country in Topeka, Indiana, and the Hochstetler twin sisters who are pulled apart by life s changes. Elma is living alone for the first time in her life after Thelma married. Elma has dated some, but she wonders if she is just too picky to find love. Will she remain alone while Thelma moves on to build a family? Find out in this brand new romance from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter, writing with her daughter-in-law Jean Brunstetter.
Paperback, 208 pages Expected Publication June 1, 2017, by Shiloh Run Press
My review: I really enjoyed this book from Wanda and Jean Brunstetter. Sometimes it’s nice to have a light, fun read, and one that’s not bogged down with a heavy storyline. This is a good story about two Amish women, who happen to be twins, living their lives in Indiana Amish country.
It was so fun to visit with Thelma and Elma again. I felt like I was more familiar with the twins this time and that their individual personalities really came through in this book. Thelma is still a newlywed and expecting a baby of her own and Elma is navigating through life as a single woman living on her own without the constant companionship of her twin.
I really enjoyed getting to know the twins as individuals but at the same time still getting to see them in their unique relationship as twins. Along with the twins, we also get to know Joseph, Thelma’s husband, better. Delbert is back again and there are also a few new characters to get to know.
Sometimes the writing in co-authored books seems choppy and just doesn’t flow that well. That is definitely not the case with these authors and this book. The writing is seamless and the story flows well from beginning to end. Their writing and the descriptions they use make me feel as if I’m right there with the characters. There is a scene in the story where a tornado in Kokomo, Indiana is mentioned. Having actually been in that tornado (at work, in the restroom with coworkers) seeing it mentioned in the story made the story that much more real and believable for me. It made the story more authentic and genuine.
This book could be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading The Lopsided Christmas Cake first. Not only will you have a better understanding of the characters but the book is good and you won’t want to miss out on reading it.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.
About the book: No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah. He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.
Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman occupied Judea.
On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.
Paperback, 262 pages Published January 31, 2017, by Thomas Nelson
My review: I love dogs. I love books about dogs. With that being said I this isn’t a book I would have picked up to read on my own. A book about Jesus told from a dog’s perspective just didn’t sound like a book I would enjoy. How wrong I was!
I have to be completely honest though and say that at times I wanted to quit reading the book. The story wasn’t bad or anything it was just that Barley’s story was sad. From his earliest memories as a puppy to the life he lived as a stray, Barley often times had a rough life. There were happy times for Barley though and those moments kept me reading.
As to the part of the story that included Jesus, who is referred to as the Teacher or The Kind Man, well, I found that part of the story interesting, too. I found the way that the author told this story from Barley’s perspective was unique and entertaining. The author made the dog almost human in his ability to understand what was going on.
There was a nice surprise to the end of the book that made reading all of the sad parts worthwhile. I was pleased with the way the story ended and the fact that it brought a smile to my face. I would recommend this book to people looking for a different kind of read. I found it interesting and a quick read.
I received a free copy of this book from the Fiction Guild and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.
About the author: Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an “Outstanding Book of 2008.” For the past five years he has taught a very popular course on the subject of grief using film, theatre, literature and oral history as a way to study this often intimidating subject. He has acted extensively on TV―in everything from Lost to West Wing to Entourage -and appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie Illusion, for which he also wrote the screenplay. He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA. Brian Shuff is a writer from Mesa, Arizona, who now lives in Los Angeles where he is at work completing a book of short stories. His mother died when he was eight years old, giving him a life-long interest in the subject of grief. Along with Ron Marasco he has written a screenplay based on Louise Hay’s groundbreaking book, You Can Heal Your Life that will premiere in 2011. He and Marasco are also working on a dramatic adaptation of John McNulty’s book This Place on Third Avenue.
About the book: Summer weddings in Barton Farm’s picturesque church are standard procedure for museum director Kelsey Cambridge. At least they were until the Cherry Foundation, which supports the museum, orders Kelsey to host her ex-husband’s wedding on Farm grounds.
Ambitious wedding planner Vianna Pine is determined to make the bride’s Civil War-themed wedding perfect. But each time Vianna’s vision threatens the integrity and safety of the Farm, Kelsey has to intervene.
When Kelsey finds Vianna’s dead body at the foot of the church steps, everyone’s plans fall apart. With both the wedding and Barton Farm at risk of being permanently shut down, Kelsey has to work hard to save her own happily ever after.
Kindle Edition Published May 8, 2017, by Midnight Ink
My review: Amanda Flower has struck gold once again with the third (and final, I believe) installment of the Living History Museum series. Chaos is reigning once again at Barton Farms. With attack chickens, a bridezilla, and a tipsy Abraham Lincoln this book is part murder mystery and part comedy and an all around fun read!
I’m not sure how Amanda Flower is able to take things that sooo don’t belong together (see above) and put them together to make perfect sense. I’m glad she is able to because her books are a delight to read. Her characters are quirky yet realistic and the situations they are put in are sometimes so off the wall you don’t know how they can handle it. Somehow they do and the result is hilarious and heartwarming.
The murder mystery aspect of the book is well done. I was left guessing until the end as to who the murderer was. I had no clue and was surprised at the reveal. I love that Amanda can keep you guessing and on your toes as to who the bad guy (or gal) is.
Knowing that this is the last installment of the series I was happy that the storyline between Kelsey and Chase has closure. I will miss these characters and am hoping that perhaps one day we can make a return trip to Barton Farms and see how everyone is doing.
If you like cozy mysteries then be sure to pick up this one. It is a good read and you won’t want to miss out on it. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two books in the series as this can be read as a standalone. I would recommend the first two books though as they are just as fun as this one!
I received a free copy of this book and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.
About the author: Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an adult services librarian for a public library near Cleveland. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan.
How many books are in the series?
As promised, here is the 2nd part of our interview and giveaway listed after Part One the interview.
What was your favorite Mother’s Day?
My favorite was after Matt was born because I had my two wonderful boys.
What “proud mom” moment would your Nana share about you?
My nana passed away when I was a junior in high school, and I wish she could have met my sons. (I also wish she could read my books!) I believe my nana would be proud to see my sons are good, thoughtful, funny young men. I think she’d also be proud of me for raising my sons in the church and working hard to teach them how to be respectful members of our society.
When you first learned you were going to be a mom what thoughts entered your mind?
I was thrilled, and I hoped and prayed my baby would be healthy. I prayed this prayer fervently when I was pregnant with Matthew because I’d experienced a miscarriage two years before he was born. I was terrified I was going to lose another baby, which why I call Matthew my miracle. He was appropriately born on Good Friday.
Can you share one of your parenting goof ups?
Oh, there are so many, but some I would never put on display in a blog! Ha ha! The one I will share happened the weekend before Zac started Kindergarten. Joe and I took him to the beach at the Outer Banks, and we spent the day on Oregon Inlet. It was overcast, and I stupidly didn’t think we needed sunblock. I didn’t know until later that Zac burned terribly on his shoulders, and he went to school the following day in pain. To make matters worse, he developed blisters. I cried! It was terrible. I felt so horrible for allowing him to get hurt that way. (Please don’t send me hate mail. I learned my lesson!)
Thank you so much, Amy for taking the time to answer our questions . We wish you, your mom and our readers a Happy Mother’s!