Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Sister's Test by Wanda Brunstetter

Sisters of Homes County

Book 1 – A Sister’s Secret
Book 2 – A Sister’s Test
Book 3 – A Sister’s Hope

I enjoyed reading this book and going back to a quieter time/place. It saddened me to think of criminals doing things to hurt these peaceful people and its hard for me to comprehend not reporting to the police the wrongdoings that had been happening to this family and community. The Hostettler's trust God for HIS vengeance something the typical American would find challenging. For some reason pain feels more raw when reading it from an Amish perspective, but at the same time the peace that follows feels more real too. Start with A Sister's Secret and begin your journey into Holmes County, Ohio's Amish country.

Back of Book Says:

One woman’s shattered dream…
One man’s second chance…
And the faith that can heal broken hearts.

Ruth is the second oldest sister in the Hostettler family, and she has one burning desire – to marry and fill her Amish household with children. Life seems to be falling into place when Martin Gingerich starts to court her and she befriends a motherless child.

But her dreams are suddenly shattered in one horrific moment, putting Ruth’s faith to the test. Finding herself spiritually adrift, Ruth’s only real prayer becomes a desperate “God, why?”

Will Ruth find the faith and strength to rise about the ashes?

Discussion questions (spoiler alert)

Chapter 1 Excerpt

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Winter Turns to Spring by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman

Four Seasons Fiction Series

Book 1 – It Happens Every Spring
Book 2 – Summer Breeze
Book 3 – Falling for You Again
Book 4 – Winter Turns to Spring

The final installment of the Four Seasons Series takes the reader into the life of newlyweds Brad and Ashley Hanes. They seemed so happy and so in love and then life hit them quickly. Read along as you see how issues of alcohol abuse, pornography and more are dealt with in this novel. Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman braved deep waters in this book. You are bound to find an issue that you or someone you love has endured in this series. The authors help readers realize that problems come to all people, but what makes a difference are the resources available to conquer them. I recommend reading the whole series in order so the reader is able to have background information about the characters. This series is easy medicine and I recommend them to anyone who enjoys fiction or who has issues to deal with in a marriage, but doesn’t think they can read another self-help book on marriage.

Back of Books Says:

They knew it wouldn’t last forever, but they never expected their marriage to be over almost before it began. When Brad finds an adorable puppy abandoned near the local pub, he thinks it might be just what he and Ashley need to grow closer.

While the neighbors of Deepwater Cover are concerned about the newly weds, they’ve got bigger worries on their minds. Conditions are icy, and Cody Goss is terrorizing the streets in an effort to earn his driver’s license. Though Derek Finley has volunteered to teach Cody to drive, it still leaves everyone running for their lives and desperately trying to protect their mailboxes.

Just when it’s least expected, a late-winter storm descents on the bustling towns and everything comes to a screeching halt. When the wail of emergency sirens pierces the still air, the neighbors wonder who could possibly be in trouble now.

The promise of spring seems just around the corner – if only everyone can survive this last winter blast!

For an author interview and product description go here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Falling for You Again by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman

Four Seasons Series

Book 1 – It Happens Every Spring
Book 2 – Summer Breeze
Book 3 – Falling for You Again
Book 4 – Winter Turns to Spring


Some may find this book difficult to read because of the subject matter, but I thought the authors did a good job working through the issues and showing the reader one way to cope in times of medical problems. The characters are endeering and I enjoyed learning more about them in this third installment. If you need more info on dementia or autism there are many websites available with useful information.



Back of Books Says:

Esther Moore is the new talk of Deepwater Cove. Just last week, she put her Lincoln Town Car in drive instead of reverse, launching off the carport into her backyard. It seemed like a simple mix-up to Esther. But coupled with her recent forgetfulness and a startling diagnosis from her doctor, it has her husband, Charlie, worried. What is happening to the woman he’s been married to for nearly fifty years? Even the rest of the town admits that Esther isn’t quite herself.

Meanwhile, love is in the air for one couple in the neighborhood, but trouble may be on the horizon for another. And amid weekly meetings of the Tea Lovers’ Club and running between his various jobs, Cody Goss receives startling news that may change his life forever.

As autumn winds gust into Deepwater Cove and neighbors scurry about making holiday plans, a Thanksgiving parade gives everyone a chance to come together to celebrate their blessings . . . and to honor one woman who has given them so much.

For publishers description and reader reviews go here. For first chapter and discussion questions go here. To learn more about Gary Chapman's nonfiction book, The Seasons of Marriage, go here.




Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Hope Chest by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Brides of Lancaster County

Book 1 – A Merry Heart
Book 2 – Looking for a Miracle
Book 3 – Plain and Fancy
Book 4 - The Hope Chest

The final book in this series went a little differently than I had hoped even though the back of the book told me how things would go... I guess I just hoped some things would have changed before the conclusion of the book. Everything ended well though. I'm not a big fan of romance books (even Christian romance) because they are usually so unrealistic. The Amish books that I've been reading have been refreshing (even though they are romance books) because they are so sweet and innocent and the trappings of the modern world aren't destroying the main characters.

Back of the Book Says:

Rachel Beachy desires and hopes for something she can’t have her sister Anna’s boyfriend.

Silas Swartley has been in love with the spirited Anna since they were children, and Rachel, the tomboy, has loves Silas for nearly as long. Like Job from the Bible, Rachel feels that her swiftly moving days are spent without hope – hope of ever making Silas take notice of her.

But when Anna unexpectedly leaves the Amish faith, Rachel’s hope is rekindled. She initiates a campaign to win Silas’s heart and begins to fill her hope chest when she discovers how much she and Silas have in common.

Can Silas set the pain of Anna’s rejection aside and see Rachel as anything more than a tomboy who is little more than a child? Will Rachel be disappointed in Silas and in God, or will she learn the true meaning of hope?

Find The Brides of Lancaster County series and enjoy your journey into Amish Country. You may even decide you'd like a simpler life yourself...

For discussion questions (spoiler alert) go here.

Rachel’s Ribbon Salad recipe was listed at the end of The Hope Chest – each book in this series shared a special recipe that was mentioned in the book. It has three different kinds of jello, pineapple, walnuts, cream cheese and cool whip. Each layer has something special... It sounds like fun and I plan to give it a try…

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Breeze by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman

Four Seasons Series

Book 1 – It Happens Every Spring
Book 2 – Summer Breeze
Book 3 – Falling for You Again
Book 4 – Winter Turns to Spring

Last November I read the second book in this series, Summer Breeze. The authors tackle problems that are common in many marriages. Summer Breeze specifically deals with issues of second marriages and blended families. Read It Happens Every Spring then find a copy of Summer Breeze to learn more about the quirky yet endearing characters.

Book Jacket Says:

Nothing spells disaster like a meddling mother-in-law. Unfortunately for Kim Finley, hers has come to visit . . . indefinitely. Not that Kim couldn’t use the help: she recently returned to work, leaving the care of her eleven-year-old twins to her new houseguest. What she didn’t count on was Miranda’s unwanted decorating tips and unending criticism.

Kim’s husband, Derek, soon finds himself volleying between the woman he loves and the mother he can’t escape. With the increasing demands of his job as a Water Patrolman, Derek can barely keep from drowning.

Winter may be drifting into the Finley household, but summer is in full swing in Deepwater Cove, and the members of the Tea Lovers’ Club intend to take full advantage. There are barbecues to plan, neighbors to help, and a new store owner to welcome. But when they lose the one person who brings them together, the community craves the calm only a summer breeze can bring.


For discussion questions go here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It Happens Every Spring by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman

Four Seasons Series

Book 1 – It Happens Every Spring
Book 2 – Summer Breeze
Book 3 – Falling for You Again
Book 4 – Winter Turns to Spring

I enjoyed It Happens Every Spring because it tackled some difficult marital issues in a non-threatening way. For many people it is easier to sit back and enjoy a novel rather than read a "self-help" book. This book gives you both for the price of one. People who may be apposed to counseling even Christian counseling may come to realize that they are not alone in the problems they deal with and they may find the encouragement they need to seek outside counseling.

Back of Books Says:

Word travels fast at the Just As I Am Beauty Shop. So when a simple homeless man appears on Steve and Brenda Hansen’s doorstep, the entire shop is abuzz especially when Brenda lets him sleep on her porch.

That’s not all the neighbors are talking about. Spring is blooming outdoors, but an icy chill has settled over the Hansen’s marriage. Steve is keeping late hours with clients and the usually upbeat Brenda is feeling the absence of her husband and college-age kids.

Add to that the unsavory business moving in next to the beauty shop and the entire community gets turned upside down. Now Brenda’s friends must unite to pull her out of her rut, and keep the unwanted store out of town. But can Steve and Brenda learn to thaw their chilly marriage and enjoy the hope that spring offers?

For a book excerpt go here. If you've already read the book and would like to answer discussion questions go here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Sister’s Secret by Wanda Brunstetter

Sisters of Homes County

Book 1 – A Sister’s Secret
Book 2 – A Sister’s Test
Book 3 – A Sister’s Hope

Back of Book Says:

Putting her rumschpringe (running-around years) behind her, Grace Hostettler returns to Homes County, Ohio; joins the Amish church; and begins a new life with a new romance. The next four years are nearly idyllic for the oldest Hostettler child – except for the hidden pain she bears from a carefully harbored secret.

Her peaceful world is shattered the day she runs into Gary Walker – an Englisher who knows enough about her past to destroy her future. Gary’s arrival in Holmes County coincides with a series of startling attacks against the Amish community – and the Hostettler’s in particular. Is Gary at the root of this evil?

Amishman Clean Schrock plans to marry Grace but is unaware of her past. When evidence o f Grace’s deception arrives on her family’s doorstep, will Cleon feel compelled to desert the woman he loves?

Will one woman’s secrets destroy an entire Amish community? Can love and faith triumph over shame and deception?

This book like the other Amish books Wanda Brunstetter has written take the reader back to a simpler place where problems are solved eventually because of both a communities love for each other and their individual relationships with God.

For discussion questions (spoiler alert) go here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado with Jenna, Andrea, & Sara Lucado (Illustrated by Liz Bonham)

Recommended for ages 4 to 8, but the story will touch the hearts of “children” of all ages (4 to 108 years).

Inside book jacket:

Joshua, the black and white spotted lamb, longed to be like the other lambs. He wondered why he had to limp along with a crippled leg, instead of running and playing in the meadow.

Because Joshua the lamb was different, he often felt left out. Yet God had a very special plan for his life, as He does for all who feel alone. Joshua not only witnessed the greatest event in history, he was able to give the newborn King the one thing He needed most.

Lucado was joined by his daughters to write his most touching children’s story yet.

This beautiful story along with its touching illustrations helps the reader realize that God has a plan for each of our lives even if it isn’t exactly what we may have hoped. This book helps us understand that God’s ways are higher than our own and His hopes for us are bigger and better than anything we could ever dream.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Designed by God so I must be Special by Bonnie Sose (Illustrations by Bonnie and Holly Sose)

This bright and cheery book is part of the Character Builder’s for Kids Series. Each page has simple and colorful illustrations that will interest young children. Parents can also use each page as a teaching tool while children identify colors and count various objects.

Each page has a simple rhyme about different parts (or senses) of the human body that God made. Young children will enjoy both the story and the rhythm of the poetry.

Find a copy of this book and help your preschooler learn about the amazing body God created for him or her and to learn some basic counting and color identification skills.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Bishop’s Daughter by Wanda Brunstetter

Daughters of Lancaster County Series

Book 1 – The Storekeeper’s Daughter
Book 2 – The Quilter’s Daughter
Book 3 – The Bishop’s Daughter

Back of the Book Says:

The Amish bishop’s daughter is off limits to an outsider like Jimmy… Even though Jimmy Scott’s typical American upbringing isn’t as far removed from the Amish as it may appear. After his mother dies from cancer, Jimmy learns he was not his parents’ biological child. What his father reveals about Jimmy’s first year of life is shocking.

Jimmy leaves Washington state for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in search of …

…understanding of where God is when tragedy strikes.
…forgiveness for the only father he has ever known.
…education in a faith foreign to his experience.
…reunion with the family he never had a chance to know.

When he meets Leona Weaver, dedicated bishop’s daughter and one-room schoolhouse teacher, he is just in time to witness another senseless tragedy – hardly the moment to mention the issue of his search. So Jimmy jumps in to help her family in anyway he can.

But Jimmy never expected his search for his heritage to lead to a forbidden romance with Leona. When her faith ahs already been shaken by heartbreak, can he ask her to see him as more than just an outsider.


This book brings the conclusion of the Daughter’s of Lancaster Series. The series didn’t have any real surprises for me, but I enjoyed discovering how the author was going to bring the various elements together. I think she did a great job tying the three books together and yet having a specific ending for each book. There was one major theme that remained unfinished until The Bishop’s Daughter. Even though this book ties everything up pretty neatly, I’d like to see how the characters change because of decisions made in this book. Find the whole series and enjoy a journey into the Amish world.

For discussion questions (spoiler alert) go here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Quilter’s Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Daughters of Lancaster County Series

Book 1 – The Storekeeper’s Daughter
Book 2 – The Quilter’s Daughter
Book 3 – The Bishop’s Daughter

Back of the Book Says:

Abby runs a successful quilt shop and is engaged to a wonderful Amish man. But then duty calls. When she leaves her beloved shop and patient fiancĂ© to attend to her mother in need, a double tragedy strikes, shattering Abby’s world in one fell swoop.

Once Abby wipes away the tears and ashes, she is forced to look for answers outside her Amish community. Can God make anything good come out of her heartache? Will she find hope and a future…

…in the ashes of the past?
…in her love of quilting?
…in the world outside of her own desires?
…in the heart of an overlooked Amish man?

With a shaken faith, Abby reaches beyond herself and finds friendship where she least expects it. Can her faith, tried by fire, withstand the flames? Will she have the courage to love again?

This book is more a sequel than just a series of related books as in the previous series that I read by Wanda Brunstetter. There is both new material and a continued storyline began in The Storekeeper’s daughter. All three books in this series are tied together beautifully. I enjoyed this book, but was glad that my library was able to acquire this book and The Bishop’s Daughter at the same time because I immediately began the third book upon finishing this one. (I guess there is some good in being on pregnancy rest ordered by the doctor.) Find a copy of this book and a comfortable spot and escape to the slower paced world of the Amish.

For discussion questions (spoiler alert if you haven't read the book) go here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Storekeeper’s Daughter by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Daughters of Lancaster County Series

Book 1 – The Storekeeper’s Daughter
Book 2 – The Quilter’s Daughter
Book 3 – The Bishop’s Daughter

About the author - Wanda E. Brunstetter – Fascinated by the Amish during the years of visiting her husband’s Mennonite family in Pennsylvania, Wanda E. Brunstetter combined her interest with her writing. She lives in Washington State, where her husband pastors, but take every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the country.

Back of the Book Says:

Time appears to stand still in Naomi Fisher’s Pennsylvania Amish community…But she’s running out of time to correct a terrible mistakes.

Naomi was content with her life…
…until her mother died in an accident.
…until her somber father need her to
tend the family store every day.
…until her seven siblings started relying on her for their needs.
…until her English friend showed her
how confining her life had become
…until her heart started to long for romance.

When Naomi turns her back on one basic duty, the unthinkable happens – and now she feels unworthy to accomplish anything set before her. How can she escape the weight on her spirit that paralyzes her emotions? Is there any redemption for such a failure?

The Storekeeper’s Daughter is a book full of heart wrenching pain. There are many situations that the Fisher family deals with that could collapse any family, but their faith and support of their community helps them cope with their tragedies. Some creative thinking helps solve one of the problems while a major issue remains unsolved until the last book in the series. Find a copy of this book and take a journey to another place, a slower place and learn a little about the Amish in this novel.

For discussion questions (spoiler alert) go here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Randy Alcorn's Summer Reading Book Giveaway

Randy Alcorn is giving away two of my favorite fiction books dealing with spiritual warfare - Lord Foulgrin's Letters and The Ishbane Conspiracy. The deadline to enter this giveaway is Friday, July 25, and the winners will be announced on Randy's blog on Monday, July 28. For your chance to win, leave a comment on his blog post.


Lord Foulgrin's Letters are written by a demon to his subordinate Squaltaint. Lord Foulgrin advises Squaltaint how to tempt and deceive Jordan Fletcher, the human "vermin" or "sludgebag" to whom he's assigned. For more information, go to Randy's blog or Read an excerpt from Lord Foulgrin’s Letters.


In The Ishbane Conspiracy, during one unforgettable year, four college students find themselves in a series of battles between light and darkness. Readers eavesdrop on the enemy, overhearing his strategies to deceive and destroy the youth culture in general, and these four in particular. Readers of all ages (this isn't just a "youth novel") will be fascinated by a story that unveils the longings, confusions, and battles of the younger generation. Read an excerpt from The Ishbane Conspiracy.

Lord Foulgrin’s Letters is on sale on the EPM website for $7.79 (retail $12.99), and The Ishbane Conspiracy is on sale for $8.99 (retail $14.99).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Plain and Fancy by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Brides of Lancaster County

Book 1 – A Merry Heart
Book 2 – Looking for a Miracle
Book 3 – Plain and Fancy
Book 4 - The Hope Chest

I didn't like the cover picture on the front of the book, but don't let it take away from the sweet story.

Back of the Book Says:

Laura Meade grew up with all the modern conveniences and frills that her fancy English world could offer. While studying interior design at a school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she becomes fascinated with the Amish who live in the area, and she seeks to learn more about their culture.

When Laura meets Eli Yoder, one of the Plain People, she falls hopelessly in love.

Never much of a churchgoer, Laura has no real concept of God’s love or the need to attend church. Eli, a baptized member of the Amish church, is enamored with Laura, as well. However, the rules of his church forbid him to marry outside the faith, and he knows that should he decide to leave, he will face a shunning.
(In my reading of the book, I found these last two sentences to be an incorrect, Eli wasn’t yet a baptized member of his church, much to his mother’s dismay. Since he wasn’t baptized, he wouldn’t be shunned for joining the English world, but relationships would be stained with his family and the Amish community.)

Is it good for two people – one plain, and the other fancy – to fall in love? Will Laura and Eli find a way to be together?

Plain and Fancy was a book that makes one consider what they would do for love. If you’d like to relax a bit and step into the slower paced world of the Amish, grab a copy of this book, but only after you’ve read books 1 and 2. Each book can all stand alone, but I enjoy learning more about characters as they develop and mature.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

God Says I am Written by Laura Derico and Illustrated by Wayne McLoughlin

This delightful children's book, God Says I Am: What God tells us about Himself in the Bible from A to Z, teaches children the alphabet while sharing Scripture and facts about God. For instance on the page with the letter T it hightlights the word Trustworthy and the illustration depicts a little girl helping a little boy who has fallen in a race. The book has beautiful words and illustrations accompanied by God's Word on each page.

Front Book Jacket says:

God Says I AM presents characteristics of God based on statements God has made about Himself in the Bible - from A to Z!

With lyrical text by Laura Derico and luminous paintings by Wayne McLoughlin, this beautiful alphabet book is perfect for reading aloud to your child or for beginning readers to discover for themselves.

Supported with verses from Scripture, God Says I AM will help young children know more of God's greatness and His care for them.

God says, "I am Good."
Gays says, "I am Love."
God says, "I am Unfailing."
God Says I AM

Enjoy sharing this book with your children as they learn about God, the world He created and the alphabet.

The book is part of the Heritage Builders books. Heritage Builders, a ministry of Focus on the Family, is dedicated to training and equipping parents to pass on a spritual heritage to their children. For more information or ideas to encourage your family, check out the Heritage Builder's Website.