Friday’s Fiction

The Discovery Saga Collection: A 6-Part Series from Lancaster County (The Discovery – A Lancaster County Saga), by Wanda E. Brunstetter, was originally released as a monthly serial over the course of six months.  All six stories, 1:  Goodbye to Yesterday, 2:  The Silence of Winter, 3:  The Hope of Spring, 4:  The Pieces of Summer, 5:  A Revelation in Autumn, 6:  A Vow for Always, are now together in one book.

The stories focus on the lives of a young Amish couple, Luke and Meredith Stotzfus, following their trials and losses over almost 2 years.

Due to the economic downturn, Luke lost his job as a woodworker at a nearby furniture store.  As things became more desperate for the couple, Luke received a call from his uncle in Indiana.  Uncle Amos offered to teach him a new trade and sell him all the equipment so Luke can continue to live in Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania.

Meredith does not feel good about the idea and wishes Luke would not take what little money they have to use for a bus ticket and buying the business.  In addition, Meredith is afraid for Luke to travel by bus from Pennsylvania to Indiana, because the weather is particularly bad, even for the month of January.  She is also reluctant for him to leave, because she suspects she is pregnant; however, she decides to not say anything and save the news as a surprise for Luke when he comes home.

The Stotzfus’ have many intense arguments concerning Luke’s determination to go to Indiana, but Luke is adamant and finally leaves by bus for Indiana.

Luke arrives in Philadelphia for a bus transfer.  While there, a drug-crazed man robs, beats and leaves him for dead on the floor of the men’s room of the bus terminal.

Thus ends the first novella in the series.

The Discovery Saga is a hard book to put down. Each section ends with a cliffhanger, making you want to hurry to the next story.  There are many surprising and intriguing plot twists and turns, leaving you almost breathless as you read about each one.  However, the story is written more along the lines of a YA (Young Adult) novel than as one written for the more mature reader.

The series is not a traditional Amish story.  It focuses more on the circumstances and the lives of each person rather, than on the customs and traditions of the Amish people.  There are lots of characters introduced, not only Amish but also Englischer (non-Amish), and the plot gets bogged down sometimes because of this.

Overall, a quick easy read suitable for a few free hours or a sleepless night.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



(I posted this a day early-guess I’m ready for the weekend!)


Friday’s Fiction

An Amish Family Christmas: Heart of Christmas\A Plain Holiday (Love Inspired) by Marta Perry and Patricia Davids is a book with two novellas about Christmas.

Heart of Christmas, the first novella is, by Marta Perry.

Susannah Miller was the teacher at Pine Creek Amish School. The job was a great consolation after her fiancée, Toby Unger, left her just days before their wedding.  Toby had fled to another Amish community, and while there married another woman and fathered two children.  With the help of her best friend, Becky Shuler, Susannah had finally moved on from her heartbreak of ten years ago, or so she thought.

Susannah and Becky are decorating the school for the Christmas pageant when James Keim, a new resident and school board member, tells her he is doing everything he can to ensure this year’s Christmas pageant would be cancelled. According to him, it was too worldly. He then told her that her job was in jeopardy. Susannah suspects it was because he wanted to replace her with his daughter, Mary.

Imagine her surprise when a short time later, in walks Toby Unger. And at his side are his two children, Anna and William, ready to be enrolled in her class. Susannah had heard Toby’s wife had passed away recently, but she never expected to see him and his children back in Pine Creek, and especially not having his children enrolled in her school.

Things are quickly deteriorating for Susannah; her perfectly ordered world is beginning to crumble.  Reeling from shock, she did the only thing she could, put on a brave face.

As Christmas gets closer, things begin to fall apart around Susannah. Toby’s son, William, is a thorn in her side as he causes constant turmoil in her class. Anna is too shy to look at her or befriend other students, and the Christmas play is still in danger of cancellation.

Heart of Christmas is a quick read and inspiring story of dealing with hardships and the forgiveness necessary to move on with one’s life.

A Plain Holiday, by Patricia Davids, is the second Christmas novella.

Sally Yoder is in her rumspringa or “running around” time. Rumspringa is the period of time when Amish youth have more freedom in order to decide if they want to be baptized into the Amish church.  She’s enjoying the freedom of not having to keep her unruly red hair in a kapp (a prayer covering or cap worn by Amish women). She also enjoys being able to wear Englischer (non-Amish) clothes.

Sally always knew she would not stay Amish, so when a nanny position opened up in another city, she knew it fit her goals perfectly.  She’s hired to be a nanny to Kimi Higgins and Ryder Higgins, the somewhat spoiled and materialistic children of a wealthy family.

She left her community in desperation trying to avoid Ben Lapp, a young man she shamelessly threw herself at during her younger years. She had used the ruse to keep Amish boys from becoming interested in her because she did not want to remain Amish.

The Higgins decided they are going to Paris for Christmas; however, they do not plan to take Kimi and Ryder with them. Instead they are going, along with Sally, to visit one of their grandmothers at her farm in Ohio.

Sally did not realize Ben was now working for the Higgins’ grandmother as a stable hand. In addition, she wants nothing to do with him now, but she has no way to avoid seeing him every day.

One day, she is coerced into going on a Christmas tree hunt with Ben, Kimi and Ryder. They had planned to visit the children’s other grandmother, who is Amish, for a little while before returning home.  A freak snowstorm causes them all to be stranded at the home of the children’s Amish grandmother. Sally was not prepared, nor did she want to be, stranded for days with the trio along with the children’s Amish grandmother.

Ben Lapp avoids her at all costs, because he does not want to “encourage” her behavior.  Even though Sally assures him there is nothing to fear from her, Ben still treats her warily as he is unable to forget her earlier behavior toward him.

A Plain Holiday is another quick read and lesson on how prior behavior can affect future circumstances, and make it difficult to move on.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Amish school and blizzard





Wednesday’s Words

As it gets closer and closer to the anniversary of my Dad’s death, the closer and closer I get to losing it.

I spent the last few weeks with him in the rehab center in Kansas. He had left to go visit my sister for a while and ended up having several major surgeries to restore blood flow to his legs. I had gone to visit with my sister and Dad. He was scheduled to be released on the day he passed away, February 2nd. I was scheduled to fly out on January 29th. I told my brother-in-law I was praying for a miracle to keep me there to help with Dad’s transition from rehab.

On the 29th, there was a freak ice storm at home and no flights were allowed in or out. “My prayers have been answered,” I jokingly told my brother-in-law. To which he replied, “Yeah, to the inconvenience of thousands and untold deaths.”  Little did we know of future events. I thank God I was there.

February 2nd held twofold excitement: He was going to leave the rehab and it was Super Bowl Sunday.

Dad was a HUGE football fan. He especially loved the Dallas Cowboys, as he had lived in the suburbs of Dallas for 30+ years and had worked for the Cowboys during their heyday in the 90’s.

We have many wonderful pictures of when we visited with him and Mother and visited Texas Stadium. We also took lots of pictures of Troy Aikman, Emmett Smith and Michael Irvin’s shoes, lockers and other memorabilia. (The Cowboy’s also, kindly let us visit their new stadium and have a tour. We were in Dallas for my Mother’s funeral almost 5 years ago. Dad had a free plot reserved there through the VA.)

So, now especially as we all gear up for Super Bowl Sunday again, I feel the pangs of grief and gratitude.

Revelation 21:4 (KJV) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.


Cowboys and crying

Misletoe Monday

Love at Mistletoe Inn: A December Wedding Story (A Year of Weddings Novella Book 1) by Cindy Kirk is, as the parenthetical section describes, book one of A Year of Weddings Novella.

The story has an intriguing premise:  Hope Prentiss, now an event planner for weddings and receptions, had eloped and married John Burke on what was to have been their prom night. She developed cold feet at the ceremony and was informed by the minister (ordained on-line) that the marriage wasn’t legal if the certificate is never mailed in to the proper authorities.

Ten years have elapsed since that fateful night. John left town immediately after the ceremony. Hope moved on and is dating someone new.  However, during the Boise Bridal Extravaganza, where she has a booth, Hope finds that she is, without a doubt, still married. Moreover, if that wasn’t enough, John shows up out of the blue. He is at her Aunt’s when she gets home.  He informs her he has plans to return home to live-in fact, right on her and her Aunt’s property, in their carriage house.

The story appears to falter some from that point on.

Hope, knowing they are still married, gives the impression of suffering real angst, but her actions show anything but distress!

** (Spoiler Alert) I was greatly surprised to see Hope and John sleep together almost as soon as they said hello! I also felt this was too much, too soon for a Christian novel.

As they grapple with the fact that their marriage is legal, Hope runs around trying to find a way to “un”marry John without having to divorce him.  When all else fails, she begins to have a change of heart.

The story starts with a great premise, but goes downhill from there. Missing also, are any true Biblical truths or principles you would expect from a story that is Christian in nature.

 Love at Mistletoe Inn is a cute story if you can overcome some of the more “fantastic” elements of the tale.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have at least two more Christmas stories to review-I really fell behind on these.

Cabin finish


Friday’s Fiction

Sheltered by an Angel’s Wing by Katherine Pasour, is an exciting book full of intrigue mystery and lots of Biblical insights.

The book is divided into three spine-tingling stories following the unplanned adventures of Emily Ratliffe.

Emily, a college professor, is over-joyed when her proposal is accepted for the International Women’s Conference on Education, to be held in London. To say her husband, Dan, is “under” joyed would be an under evaluation of his reaction. After much discussion and no real resolution, Emily departs for London, leaving behind, Dan and her two children, Alex and Cassie.

The hotel where Emily is staying and the site of the conference becomes the target of bio-terrorism. Because of the attack, Emily ministers, both spiritually and physically, to those that have fallen ill. She angers Dan for staying longer than planned even though she was forced to by a quarantine.

The story of Emily’s heroic acts and intriguing perils don’t end there as she becomes embroiled in more adventures in Parts Two and Three of the novel.

Sheltered by an Angel’s Wings is a hard book to put down. Fortunately, it is broken into three sections, or I would have spent 24 hours reading it straight through to the finish.

Exciting stories with Biblical principles and truths makes this a “must read” book.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I would like to thank Katherine for her patience with regards to how long it took me to read and review this wonderful book, and also thank her for sending me Sheltered by an Angel’s Wings to read. I am looking forward to reading future books she may publish.

***Word of caution:  There are scenes of violence.

Flight to London


Tuesday’s Tale

In keeping with carrying on the Christmas/better economy(?) cheer, I am posting several reviews of Christmas stories.

The first story is one I read and blogged about over 4 years ago and is still an enjoyable story!

Being unfamiliar with the name Donita K. Paul, I did a quick internet check which showed she had published other books under the pen name Kathleen Paul, several of which I had read.

So when I received my book, Two Tickets to a Christmas Ball, a few days ago, with great excitement  I curled up in my chair in front of the fireplace and began to read.

The story starts with Cora Crowder, a young Christian lady from a dysfunctional, non-Christian family who feels Christmas is too commercialized but also feels the obligation to get family presents.

Cora finds a charming bookstore in an old part of town almost no one remembers or goes to anymore and upon recommendation from the owner, buys a book for her uncle.

Her first encounter with the owner and  the son of Warner, Werner and Wizbotterdad’s bookstore, leaves her feeling slightly off kilter as if something is a bit askew, but there is no real no explanation for the feeling.

The story introduces Simon Derrick, Cora’s fellow employee, at the bookstore, where she quickly recognizes him having worked with him for five years. He’s practically clueless as to who she is when she says hello and repeatedly throughout the book calls her by the wrong name.

As the story progresses from her chance meeting of her boss’ boss, the book she buys with a ticket to the Christmas Ball tucked inside, on through to the end of the story there is a fanciful mix of fantasy, magic and reality. All is tied up loosely with a beautiful bow at the Christmas Ball.

Danita K. Paul does a good job of mixing the worlds of magic and Christianity along with a tolerable explanation of things normally not considered acceptable in the Christian world, such as fairies, wizards and magic.

The  one thing I wish was longer was character development, there are many things begging to be more fully developed and people you would love to get to know better.

Technically a novella, Two Tickets to a Christmas Ball  provides a quick, light read on a pre-Christmas night.

This book was provided to me free in exchange for a blog review.

Tickets to ball

Saturday’s Silly

One day two good friends, a Jewish rabbi and a Catholic priest, were at a picnic.  The priest, enjoying a ham sandwich, said to his friend, “This ham sandwich is really delicious. I know you aren’t supposed to eat ham, but why is such a good thing forbidden? Will you break down and try it?”

To which the rabbi replied, “At your wedding.”

Priest and Rabbi picnic

Prayers for France

John 16:33 (KJV)  33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Prayers for France

 I am so very sorry to have to say the same thing again today: November 13, 2015.
My heart aches, and I cry, for all who are impacted by these monstrous, horrible deeds.

Thursday’s Truth

We’re into the beginning of the second week of the New Year and as I ran across these verses in my devotions today, I thought this should be part of my New Year’s Goal-to be less judgmental.

Matthew 7:1-5 (KJV)

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

I try hard not to be judgmental. I am judged (and have been) constantly, so I know the sting it carries. However, as I read the verses I realized, I may not be a vocal judge, but I am definitely a silent one.

I look at how other people drive and think, “Did you get your license from a Cracker Jack box or out of a vending machine?”  Perhaps I see a young girl in a skimpy top, or skirt, or both and think, “Where is your brain, girl?” or alternately, “What was your Mama thinking letting you out like that?” Maybe I overhear a conversation and think, “That’s a somewhat harsh way to talk to someone!”

Then the verses hit me, and I know I’m guilty.

I grew up with a very authoritarian father, both a blessing and a curse. Most of the time, it was a curse. My Dad was so afraid one of us girls would get pregnant before we were married (we didn’t by the way, a combination of morals and fear stopped us!)  that he was constantly haranguing us.  In addition, his words were anything but nice in tone, delivery and message. We girls were made to feel like the cheapest, lowest, filthiest creatures to walk the earth. I know now many of the reasons, but when you are 12, 13 years old and your Dad is calling you filthy, vile names. . . .

So, I will try harder to be less judgmental and more loving, to not listen to the voices in my head telling me that I am worthless, to look past the exterior to the interior and to say a prayer for everyone I feel compelled to judge. Chances are greater than not that they have many, many voices in their heads, too. . . perhaps, worse than mine.

Lord, lead me to be more loving, caring and forgiving in this upcoming year. Give me strength to finally put the voices to rest and revel in Your love and forgiveness.  I ask this in Your precious Son’s name, Amen.

God’s Blessings to all!

disapprovalLady upset