Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark & Susan Meissner

Apprenticed blacksmith Jake Miller is skeptical of Priscilla Kinsinger's innate ability to soothe troubled horses, especially when he has own ideas on how to calm them. Six years earlier, Priscilla's mother died in an awful accident at home, and Priscilla's grief over losing her mother was so intense that she was sent to live with relatives in Indiana. She has just returned to Lancaster County. Not that her homecoming matters to Jake, who is interested in courting lighthearted Amanda Shetler. But Jake's boss is Priscilla's uncle, and when the man asks Jake to help his niece reconnect with community life, he has no choice but to do just that. Surprisingly, he finds himself slowly drawn to the beautiful but emotionally wounded Priscilla. Jake then determines to prove to her that it's not her fault her mother died, but what he discovers will challenge everything they both believe about the depth of love and the breadth of forgiveness.


The second book in the Men of Lancaster County is about Jake. Jake is Tyler's (Book 1) uncle, but they grew up as brothers.  Jake left his father's buggy shop because he wanted to be a farrier. He has a kinship with horses and yearns to open his own blacksmith shop one day. He's been apprenticing as a blacksmith shop and things have been going well.

Then one day the family welcomes home Priscilla. Priscilla's mom died years ago and Priscilla couldn't handle the grief so she was sent to live with relatives in another town. Now,she's back and Jake's boss has asked him and his girlfriend Amanda to make Priscilla feel welcome and get her interested in young people's activities. It's not exactly what Jake wants to do but he likes his job and he knows he must help out his community. If only Priscilla wasn't a volatile person. Rude one moment and quiet the next.

Jake is also working with horses on his downtime. He likes to find out what is wrong with them and help "cure" them. He knows they must be able to trust their owner and he works on building those relationships.  But no matter how hard Jake tries, with Amanda, Priscilla, or the horses, things begin to go awry in his life.

He needs to do some praying, make some changes, and unravel a few mysteries of his own as his life journey makes many changes.  A great addition to the series; I enjoy reading in the male's perspective.  I thought there was way too much horse information though. I did enjoy reading how things worked but it was a bit overkill. Also, Priscilla was a bit prickly which really took a while to like her character. But all in all, a good solid story and I look forward to the next in the series. 



*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wendy

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Rise of Miss Notley b Rachael Anderson Book Blast & $50 Amazon GC or Paypal Giveaway!

  the-rise-of-miss-notley-gr  

The Rise of Miss Notley by Rachael Anderson When Miss Coralynn Notley’s father barters her off to the first titled gentleman to come along, she realizes she must flee her home or be forced to wed a despicable man. Driven by desperation, she applies for the position of housekeeper at Tanglewood Manor, the home of the handsome Mr. Jonathan Ludlow. The moment Jonathan sees Miss Notley, he is intrigued. She is far too young and inexperienced, yet there is something about her that that inspires a certain hope within him. Does he dare offer her the position of housekeeper or will doing so result in catastrophe?
    
Excerpt Cora nodded and followed Mr. Ludlow into the parlor. He closed the doors and stood in front of them with his arms folded, looking far more intimidating than he had during their last meeting. He said nothing, merely lifted an inquiring eyebrow and waited. Caught unprepared, Cora stared at him, trying to organize her thoughts into words. After a few moments of awkward silence, he lost patience. "What is it you wished to speak with me about, Mrs. Notley? Or are we to stand here staring at each other all afternoon?" Not knowing how else to begin, Cora blurted, "Why have you hired me, sir?" He blinked a few times before frowning. "I believe I have made that perfectly clear. You are to be the housekeeper, are you not?" This was going to be more difficult than she had imagined. "Yes, of course, but there has been some talk about, or rather concerns expressed . . ." How did one put this delicately? "About . . .?" he prodded, obviously not thrilled that his morning regime had been waylaid. "About the reasons I have been offered the position," she quickly said, hoping that would be enough to make him understand her meaning. Unfortunately, his brows drew together in confusion. "What are you saying, Mrs. Notley? I have hired you to do certain duties that will hopefully make my household run more smoothly. What other reason could I possibly have for offering you the position?" "You have hired me to do a job I am untrained to do," she said. "While I am grateful for the opportunity, I also find it necessary to clarify that I have come here to be a housekeeper and only a housekeeper. Even though I am young and . . ." Her voice drifted off. Had she almost referred to herself as pretty? Goodness, this was proving to be very awkward indeed. "Beautiful?" he finally guessed, not looking at all pleased with the direction the conversation was taking. "I was going to say not repulsive," she fibbed. "Very well," he said. "Even though you are young and not repulsive . . ." He moved his hand in a circular gesture, urging her to finish her thought. Cora straightened her shoulders and forced herself to continue. "I am not the sort of girl who would ever . . . fraternize with her employer." Her face infused with heat, but she forced her gaze to remain steady. "I see." He walked slowly towards her, rubbing his chin with his hand. A few steps away, he stopped and eyed her quizzically. "Have I made any improper advances towards you?" "No, sir." "Have I spoken to you in an unprofessional manner?" "No." "Have I looked at you in a way that has made you feel uncomfortable?" "No." Cora suddenly wished she had not felt the need to clarify anything. He made her feel as though she had put the cart before the horse when what she had been trying to do was see that the cart and horse simply stayed in their proper places. Was that so wrong? "Might I ask who, exactly, has led you to believe that I am the sort of man capable of—how did you put it? Fraternizing with my help?" "I, er, would rather not say, sir." Though Cora felt no loyalty towards Sally, she refused to bring Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd's names into the conversation. "I did not mean to besmirch your name or cause any offense, Mr. Ludlow. I merely wanted to make my feelings on the matter clear." "And you have." "Good." Cora dropped into a quick curtsy, anxious to get away. "I shall go and find Watts now." She was almost to the door when his voice stopped her. "Once again, you are attempting to scuttle away before we have completed our conversation." Slowly, she turned around and lifted her eyes to his. "I never scuttle, sir." "What would you call that rapid walk of yours?" "A rapid walk."
 
   Rachael 
Author Rachael Anderson A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.
    amazon or paypal $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 3/15/17 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 author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Amish Groom by Mindy Starns Clark & Susan Meissner

Born to an ex-Amish mother and an Englisch father, 23-year-old Tyler Anderson was raised as a military kid until the age of 6, when his mom passed away. His dad, shipping off to yet another overseas post, placed Tyler in the care of his Amish grandparents, an arrangement that was supposed to be temporary. It lasted a lifetime.
Rachel Hoeck is the young woman waiting for Tyler’s proposal. She senses that though he loves her and wishes to make a commitment to her and his Amish beliefs, part of him still wonders whether an Amish lifestyle is truly for him.
When an opportunity to connect with his father unexpectedly arises, a visit to California causes Tyler to question everything, including a future with Rachel. Will the new girl in his life, Lark, cause him to remain in the Englisch world? Or will he choose to be an Amish groom after all?



After just finishing the Women of Lancaster County, I was excited to delve into the Men of Lancaster County. I was caught off-guard right away because the book is told from the man's viewpoint. Uncommon, but not unheard of and frankly a nice change of pace.

Tyler was born to an Amish mother and a military father.  When his mother dies when he is young, he is taken in by his Amish grandparents while his dad finished his tours in the military.  After time passes, his dad has remarried and had another son. It's at this time he gives Tyler the option to return with him or continue being raised with his grandparents. Tyler is still a child but he decides to remain where he is.

Many years forward, Tyler still hasn't joined the church because he feels like he is missing something. Even though he loves Rachel, he can't commit to marrying her until he joins the church. He prays to God to give him a sign of what to do. His answer is his dad calling from California needing someone to sit with Tyler's younger brother while he is away on business.

This time gives Tyler the chance to experience life without his community. He's hoping it will give him more time to spend with his brother and maybe give him the answers he is seeking.  But there are several curveballs thrown into Tyler's orderly plan and he will need to follow his heart and his faith to find what he is looking for.

A great addition to the Lancaster series. I really enjoyed seeing Tyler in the English and the Amish world and how he acted/reacted in both.  The characters were all believable and the story moved along at a good pace. I look forward to reading the next installment in this series.  


*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wendy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Lost Girl: (The Universe Builders 0.5) by Steve LeBel



Fear holds God Town in its icy grip. A child has disappeared... 

Desperate to find little Emily, the town begins an exhaustive search. By the second day, fear grows that the little girl may be lost forever. Only the woods remain to be searched. But the gods are so afraid of the woods, they will not venture there - not even to save the young girl's life. 

Armed with nothing but courage and a magical stick, Bernie and his friends, Suzie and Lenny, are the only ones willing to enter the shadowy world. They discover dangers and terrifying monsters. It will take a miracle to save them, and even that may not be enough... 

This is the prequel to The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Putty, that won 16 awards for excellence. 




I found this book to be a very good read.  It gave a lot of insight into the world of the gods, which is what drew me into the story.  There was a brief time about half way through the book that I thought the story line slowed down, maybe even a bit repetitive.  At the three quarter mark, though, the pace picked back up and actually got really intense.

This story also drew me in when a young girl went missing and one god decided to show courage doing what no one else was willing to do.  My favorite charcter is actually part of the main character.  It is a cloud which Bernie named Chaos.  I enjoyed Chaos so much, because as much trouble it caused Bernie, it was also a very big help when needed.  Overall, I would recommend The Universe Builders to any young adult or anyone looking for a good, quick read.


*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  William

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.


In his brilliant collection of short stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno, Anthony Marra peels back the layers of Russian life to reveal a collection of people that is unforgettable.  Moving from the Russia of 1937 to the Russia of the future, Marra manages to make this collection about more than just heartbreak and loss, joy and triumph.  He makes Russia herself a star of each short story, illuminating her turbulent past, her harsh present, and her hopeful future.

         The stories in the collection could each stand alone, but characters appear in one story and are then referenced in future stories as well.  These vignettes capture the Russian life that each individual character experiences, as well as their interactions with each other.  As the stories move through time, you get to see a fuller picture of the lives that are affected by various events. 
         Many of the stories have a militaristic lean, with references to the Soviet system that resulted in heartbreak for families, violent skirmishes, and the pillaging of rich land.  The stories are nuanced, but yet simple, and provide the reader with insight into the human condition even in harsh circumstances.

         Since the characters reappear throughout the stories, The Tsar of Love and Techno reads a bit like a novel.  I found this welcoming, as I am not typically a fan of short story collections. None of the stories were clunkers.  The first, “The Leopard”, about a Soviet censor, sets the tone for the rest of the stories.  I loved it and knew, while reading it, that I was reading the work of a magnificent writer.  Another favorite, “A Prisoner of the Caucasus” concerns two prisoners who were thrown in a pit.  Though I have only studied Russia up through the Revolution, I found these stories provided rich context for understanding and empathy for the Russian people.  The later stories, while still compelling and readable, were not as touching as the earlier stories.

         I cannot recommend The Tsar of Love and Techno highly enough.  It is a masterpiece and my review does not do it justice.


*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bloodmark (Bloodmark Saga #1) by Aurora Whittet


Sixteen-year-old werewolf princess Ashling Boru is different from other wolves—she was able to shift to wolf form at birth. Rather than bringing pride to her family, it brings fear, and as a result, she is forced to live in seclusion in Ireland’s countryside. Ashling’s reputation is further blackened when she refuses her betrothed and defies the ancient laws. When her pack’s oldest rivals begin hunting her, she finds herself in the small town of York Harbor, Maine—far from everything she’s ever known. 

In Maine, she crosses paths with the dark and rebellious Grey Donavan, and something ignites within her soul. There’s just one problem: Grey is human. Their instant connection turns into a passionate romance, and Ashling begins to believe she can create her own life outside of wolf laws. When she begins to uncover long-buried pack secrets—secrets that threaten to destroy all she holds dear—Ashling’s courage and tenacity are tested. Will she choose her deep and enduring love for Grey, or will she follow Old Mother’s path to her destiny? 




The characters in this book are very relatable. I found myself connecting to each one on a different level from the last. My heart felt for Ashling throughout the book and her story. I would love to say she was my favorite character because of her strength and determination to be loved and feel loved. She was not, however. 
My favorite character was in fact Grey. Grey was magical to me in that he fought every step of the way to be with Ashling  no matter the danger to himself. Once I really started reading this book I didn't want to put it down. I can't wait to start reading the other books in the series.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April M.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Obsidious by Lucas Pederson


Sometimes, the membranes between worlds thins and something slips through… 


Taking their kids on a hunting trip to Maker's Woods, Sergeant Kris Jensen and her Special Ops friends, Brooke and Melanie, soon realize they are the ones being hunted. 



When one of the kids goes missing they search the area, finding a nest with ravenous creatures that move very fast and bend light to appear invisible. But the creatures aren't the only danger. One of Kris's friends gets black goo on her and becomes infected with and obsidious interdimensional spore. 



As a covert military base sends out units to neutralize the interdimensional threat, Kris, her son, the kids, and friends fight to survive against an enemy ripped from a loved one that will stop at nothing to infect them and overrun our world with its offspring. 



Kris battles the ultimate nightmare. One that refuses to end and might ultimately destroy her and the entire human race.



Obsidious has been a great book to read.  This story had me so enthralled that I couldn't put it down.  Infact as I was reading it, it felt as though I was watching it on a bigscreen.  I felt like I could relate to parts of the book, mainly in the beginning. For example, the relationship Kris has with her son, just seemed like the same way my son and I enter act to each other. 

 Overall this was a very well written book and I truly hope that Mr.Pederson continues this story into another book.  I would definitely recommend Obsidious to anyone who is into young adult or science fiction books and wants a quick, great read. Thank you Mr. Pederson for such a fantastic read.


*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. William