Welcome to Week Two



Valentine Bride: A Sweet Romance Novella (Holiday Brides Book 1) by Shanna Hatfield

My Review

What a fun novella to read. Shanna Hatfield’s first story about the city of Holiday is sometimes whimsical and silly. However, everything, at least for a while, isn’t coming up roses for her characters.

Fynlee Dale’s grandmother is droll and entertaining and manages to keep poor Fynlee on her toes while she tries to save herself and others from her grandmother’s lovable and laughable schemes.

Carson Ford’s aunt, Ruth, moves into the same retirement home where Fynlee’s grandmother, Matilda lives. Carson has his hands full, too, with his aunt and her escapades with Matilda.

I had only read two and a half pages before I was spontaneously laughing hysterically, picturing Matilda as she was described. The Valentine Bride is a fun, adorably imaginative and creative story. The novella opens with Fynlee having to leave work to rescue her grandmother from another typical escapade, and it keeps you on a wild roller coaster ride from there. Toss Carson’s shrewish girlfriend, the other residents at Golden Skies (the retirement home), and some situations that leave Fynlee, Matilda and Ruth understandably confused into the mix, and you have a wild ride on your hands. You’ll find yourself excited for the characters when things are going at a steady pace. Your heart will plummet when things seem to be out of control. Then you will coast into the ending with a smile as things straighten out with a little help from friends.

I received the book from the author. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Two unlikely matchmakers set the stage for love…

Fynlee Dale returns to Holiday to take care of her wacky grandmother. Although it means giving up her dreams of a career and husband, she needs to be there for Grams.

Carson Ford vows to take care of his elderly aunt after buying her ranch. Comfortable with all aspects of his life, his world turns upside down when he meets a woman who’s impossible to forget.

They find themselves in the midst of a plot by two scheming old women determined to make them fall in love.

Valentine Bride is a funny, sweet romance novella given a liberal dose of humor through a cast of colorful characters intertwined around a heartwarming love story.

The Reluctant Groom (Brides of Seattle Book 1) by Kimberly Rose Johnson

My Review

Kimberly Rose Johnson’s book, The Reluctant Groom, is book one in the Brides of Seattle series, which begins with a curious premise. Ray O’Brien’s grandfather stipulated, in his will, that Ray must be married before his twenty-eighth birthday. If not, he loses ownership of his gym.

Katie Fairchild is losing her apartment because her best friend is getting married. One day, without thinking, she off-handedly comments to Ray that he could marry her.

A marriage of convenience is not something you usually read about in a contemporary novel. However, Johnson has written a believable and plausible story.

When you throw in a snobbish future mother-in-law for Katie, a darling precocious niece for Ray, Katie’s absentee mom and the pressure of having to marry for Ray, you get a myriad of feelings – from confusion and fear to frustration and anger. It all becomes a perfect recipe for disaster. Yet, somehow it all works out when God is first and foremost.

The Reluctant Groom is a sweet story, but not without its sadness, too. Johnson has done a great job of writing likable, relatable characters in a tale typically reserved for historical fiction. I can’t wait to read future books in the series.

I received the book from the author. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

When everything goes wrong, can two friends discover true love?

When Ray O’Brien’s world is turned upside down, Katie Fairchild wants to help, but the personal cost is high. Neither desires a marriage of convenience, but when Katie blurts the first thing that comes to her mind Ray can’t dismiss her offer of marriage. It would solve all his problems except for one thing—they aren’t in love.

Can these two friends team up for the greater good and perhaps find love along the way, or are their expectations impossible?

Amish Sweethearts by Amy Clipston

My Review

First off, I have to say, that even though it admittedly took a while, I have now come to love novellas. I especially like when there’s a book of novellas by the same author. Having said that…

Amy Clipston’s book, Amish Sweethearts, is a book with four novellas. I appreciated the development of each story. Even though they are novellas, as a reader you won’t feel left with a lot of questions, left hanging or frustrated in a hurry up and finish pace as you reach the end. The only complaint (if you could really call it that) is I would like to know more about each character. However, I feel that way about almost every story I read, be it novella or novel.

A Home for Lindsay surprised me. There were situations depicted that I never realized were a part of the Amish community (no spoilers, so I won’t say what). I truly hurt for Matthew Glick and Lindsay Bedford, though I felt Matthew’s decision was a little impetuous. They were both thrust into a complicated, challenging situation.

I enjoyed Love and Buggy Rides because it dealt with tough issues such as obedience to your parents, plus acceptance of difficult situations just to name a couple. Throughout the story, I could relate to the struggles that Janie Lantz and Jonathan Stoltfutz faced.

In Where the Heart Is, Clipston portrays the cost of anger and poor decisions, along with their consequences for others. Tobias Smucker has a rough time, most of it caused by his own thoughtlessness. However, he is willing to do anything he can and needs to do to make the situation right.

Love Birds deals with much more profound issues. Ellie Lapp is coping with grief and loss. Lloyd Blank is dealing with frustration over his father’s behavior, and from a betrayal he would never have imagined.

Clipston’s familiarity with the Amish way of life shines through in each novella. She deftly weaves stories of love, redemption, hope and forgiveness throughout the entire book. If you are looking for something to read quickly, or you want something a little longer, you can’t go wrong with Amy Clipston’s Amish Sweethearts.

Each of the four stories brings back characters in earlier series, and two, Love and Buggy Rides and Love Birds, are also published in other anthologies.

I received this book from Fiction Guild and Amy Clipston as a member of her Bakery Bunch. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Love and Buggy Rides (previously published in An Amish Harvest)

Janie Lantz is a cashier at Lancaster Souvenirs and Buggy Rides, where Jonathan Stoltfuz is a buggy driver. A frightening accident brings Janie and Jonathan together in a blossoming friendship, yet daunting obstacles stand between them and something deeper. Can love kindle into flames that burn away fear and regret—and lead them to a life together?

A Home for Lindsay

From Amy Clipston’s beloved Kauffman Amish Bakery series comes Lindsay Bedford’s story. Lindsay is happily looking forward to the day she becomes Matthew Glick’s wife and is excited for the plans he has for the house he will build her. So, when Matthew suddenly calls off the wedding, she is blindsided. She knows there is more to the story than what he is telling her, but will he open up and let her in on his own heartbreak?

Where the Heart Is

Tobias Smucker is back home, and it’s no secret he and his father are still not on the best of terms. But what is surprising is that his little sister’s best friend, Mariella, has been harboring her own secret feelings for Tobias. With her help, he begins to unravel a family mystery and learns that everyone has their own hidden depths, including his father.

Love Birds (previously published in An Amish Market)

While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?

(Images from Pixabay, google and author’s books-some images i have enhanced)

The Battle Plan Prayer Journal by Stephen Kendrick and‎ Alex Kendrick

My Review

The Battle Plan Prayer Journal, modeled after the one used in the movie, The War Room, comes in two sizes, the stationery size, which is 3.7 x 0.6 x 5.7 inches and weighs 3.2 ounces, or the paperback size which is 5.1 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches and weighs 6.4 ounces. Mine is the smaller of the two.

The Battle Plan is bound in a soft brown, suede-like material. What I like about it is the size. It is perfect for carrying in a purse. It could possibly even fit in a pocket.

Although it is mostly pages that are lined, there are several introductory pages, followed by pages for prayer requests with space for the date of the request and when it was answered, along with a Bible verse. On the opposite side is a space for journaling. Also, there are sections divided into specific types of prayers. For example, prayers for each day of the week with ideas for what to pray for, prayers of adoration, prayers of confession, etc. The book ends with guided prayers, such as prayers for the workday, prayers for forgiving someone and for someone sick in the hospital, to name a few. There are little nuggets scattered throughout – things like the meaning of the cross-hairs, scripture to pray and guided prayer.

One warning, though, if you get the stationery size, the lines are very small-scale, and there is not much room to write. Nonetheless, it’s perfect for tucking prayer requests in the back pocket of the book or for tracking your prayers.

I received the book from Lifeway. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

The Battle Plan Prayer Journal provides users with a prayer planning, execution, and tracking resource that they can carry with them no matter where they go. The journal is small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, but sturdy enough to last through a hardback cover, elastic closure, and ribbon. The content is far from plain lined sheets and instead provides the user with guided prayer prompts, prayer request organization, scripture reminders, answered prayer tracking, and more.


Perennials by Julie Cantrell

My Review

I came to sympathize with Eva (nicknamed Lovey), the protagonist of Perennials. She feels betrayed by her older sister Bitsy. No matter which direction Lovey turns, Bitsy is doing everything in her power to hurt and destroy her. I could empathize with Lovey. I could imagine Lovey, at age 45, becoming tired of running. I could believe her seeing her father’s request to come for his and her mother’s 50th anniversary as a way to “come home again.”

I was looking forward to reading Perennials, by Julie Cantrell. I had not read any of her books but had heard many good things about her work as an inspiration fiction writer. I think of the inspirational fiction genre as a publishing arm of the Christian community. You can imagine my surprise when I found the protagonist follows the teachings of her Buddhist mentor. I was even more surprised at allusions to Mary, Christ’s mother, speaking to and guiding other characters in the book.

I love to learn from the novels I read. Julie Cantrell vividly weaves an abundance of flowers and trees into the story’s setting, along with information about the cities portrayed in the book. Perennials teaches us about the color and greenery God has planted in His world.

Perennials is an interesting story. It speaks to our heartfelt need for home and family, even under circumstances that are desperately difficult. The book resonated in my life; it inspires.

I received this book from Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.

Eva Sutherland—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Mississippi, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries it caused, changed everything. Her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage. Bitsy became the homecoming queen and the perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.

At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona. Free from Bitsy’s vicious lies, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself. But at forty-five, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that led her here.

When her father calls insisting she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at her wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.

Lovey is drawn in to a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning how to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.

Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.

Book Tour for 21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships

About the Book

Title: 21 Days of Love

Compiled by: Kathy Ide

Genre: Non-fiction, Devotional

Release Date: January 1, 2016

Love can be found in many treasured relationships: boyfriend-girlfriend, husband-wife, parent-child … with a special friend, teacher, or pet … in the kindness of a stranger. We even have a national holiday to celebrate love.

The greatest love ever known is God’s abundant love for us, His children. And He often demonstrates that perfect love through imperfect people.

These stories represent all kinds of love. Woven through each story is the sustaining hand of our loving heavenly Father. On Valentine’s Day—and every day—whether your life is chocolates and flowers or loneliness and pain … let these stories fill your heart with hope, peace, and most important, love.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

21 Days of Love highlights Valentine’s Day by focusing on the love one has for another, be it romantic, for family members or for friends, illustrating how God brings each type into our lives for a reason.

The 21 stories are short and end with a life application and a small “biography” of the author.

The book is the perfect size to tuck into your purse or have next to you on your nightstand for a quick morning or evening devotional.

I have several of the 21 Days books, and I treasure them all! I am excited to add this one to my collection.

I received this book from CelebrateLit. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

About the Author

Compiler and editor KATHY IDE has been a published author since 1989. She has written fiction and nonfiction books and is the author of Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. She has ghostwritten ten nonfiction books and a series of five novels. She also writes columns of writing and editing tips for blogs and newsletters. Kathy makes her home in Orange County, California.

Guest Post from Kathy Ide

Kick off the new year with love!

21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships, book 3 in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series, contains short fiction stories about all kinds of love. Boyfriend-girlfriend. Husband-wife. Parent-child. Teacher-student. Even love for pets and showing love to strangers. Since the greatest love ever known is God’s abundant love for us, His children, the sustaining hand of our loving heavenly Father is woven throughout. Each story is written by a different author and is followed by a brief Life Application in which the author shares how the fictional story relates to our day-to-day lives.

21 Days of Love has chapters written by well-known, best-selling novelists, including Susan May Warren, Sherry Kyle, Renae Brumbaugh, and New York Times best-selling author Cindy Woodsmall. There are also stories by writers you may not have heard of. At the end of each chapter is an author bio that gives some background information about the author. So if you really like a story you read, you can find out what else that author has written. You may just find some new names to add to your favorites list.

And if you haven’t read much Christian fiction, this devotional will give you a small taste of several different authors and genres, without having to commit to reading an entire novel. You might just discover that you actually love Christian fiction!

21 Days of Love, a finalist in the 2017 Selah awards, makes a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for friends and loved ones.

Blog Stops

Bibliophile Reviews, February 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 11

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 12

A Greater Yes, February 12

Captive Dreams Window, February 13

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting,  February 13

Mary Hake, February 14

Blossoms and Blessings, February 14

Bigreadersite, February 15

margaret kazmierczak, February 15 (Interview)

Janices book reviews, February 16

Christian Bookaholic, February 17

Reading is my Super Power, February 17 (Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, February 18

Carpe Diem, February 19

A Baker’s Perspective, February 20

Simple Harvest Reads, February 21 (Guest post from Mindy)

Pursuing Stacie, February 22

proud to be an autism mom, February 23


To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away

2 Grand Prizes of a full set of the 21 Days Hardback books
3 first place prizes of a hardback copy of 21 Days of Love
4 second place prizes of an eBook copy of 21 Days of Love!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c8e3

Blue Ridge Sunrise (A Blue Ridge Romance) by Denise Hunter

My Review

Denise Hunter’s newest book, Blue Ridge Sunrise, is a little edgier than most of her books, indeed more so than most books in the Christian genre. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story.

Zoe Collins ran from Copper Creek as fast as she could. A tragic misunderstanding undermined her feelings of self-worth, and she took off, with the town’s bad boy-Kyle Jimmerson-to become a famous songstress. Things were seeming to go well, and their band, Brevity, was making a name for itself. However, as is often the case, life got in the way.

Cruz Huntley could not understand why Zoe fled, leaving him with a broken heart.  Now that she is back, he’s not sure where he stands.

There are some weighty issues dealt with in Blue Ridge Sunrise, for instance; two issues are premarital sex and domestic abuse. Portions of the book are a little difficult to read. Readers should be aware that Blue Ridge Sunrise does not have an explicit gospel message in which its characters’ broken lives are redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ.  Rather, the characters in this novel are strengthened by hardship and adversity. Seeing them emerge stronger, in the end, is inspiring and fits the book well into the genre of inspirational fiction. Due to some of the situations depicted in the story, I would suggest this book be read by those in their mid-teens or older. This novel could be used as a catalyst to open up a line of meaningful dialogue (and I sincerely hope it will!).

I received this book from Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now–five years later.