Monday, August 31, 2015

Must-Have September Releases & Link Up

The Chase

        Only God could have written a love story as beautiful as Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky’s. From their teenage days thousands of miles apart when they separately wrote letters to their future spouses, to a chance meeting backstage at a concert, their story brings inspiration and hope to every girl.
        It’s easy to get impatient for the future to play out, especially when it comes to love. Before long you find yourself chasing the perfect guy and trying to write your own happily ever after. But the truth is, your best future won’t be found chasing boys—it’ll only come by first chasing God.
        In The Chase, Kyle and Kelsey take turns telling their story—with Kelsey sharing secrets to a Godly relationship and Kyle revealing the truth about what guys really think. Together they’ll show you how to put God first, protect your heart, deal with the loneliness and peer pressure that come along with purity, and see yourself as God does.
        Are you ready to trust God with your very own happily ever after? Let the chase begin!

        I have been looking to this book for a very, very long time, and I’m so excited that it will finally be releasing tomorrow! I already have my copy and have finished a good bit of it at this point, and am super excited to share with you my thoughts about it in the next couple of days. I know this book is going to touch so many young women’s lives, so I really commend Kyle and Kelsey for writing it. Don’t forget, I am doing a giveaway of this book on September 7th. Keep an eye out for your chance to win!

The Lopsided Christmas Cake

        Twin sisters Elma and Thelma Hochstetler have done everything together for their thirty-two years of life—including remaining unmarried. They inherited their grandparents’ house and general store, which will support them well. Now they will take on baking a cake for a Shipshewana charity event together.
        They are decent cooks, but they didn’t anticipate having to demonstrate the baking process on stage before their cake will be auctioned off. They panic, and Elma struggles to keep order while Thelma bumbles through the process with a smile. The pair end up being so entertaining that bachelor friends in attendance, Joseph Beechy and Delbert Gingerich, think it was all planned. Joseph, a shy harness maker, would like to meet Thelma and asks Delbert to bid on the sister’s cake.
        Could a lopsided Christmas cake be the key to opening the door to romance for one or more of the Hochstetler twins?

        I have long enjoyed Wanda. E Brunstetter’s Amish novels, so I am always on the lookout for something new from her. The Lopsided Christmas Cake sounds like a funny tale about two sisters known to get into a few scrapes, which I am sure will make for many laughs throughout the book. With such a cute plot, this one is sure to be a hit.

You can preorder a copy here.

Falling Like Snowflakes

Eden Martelli is too busy fleeing the clutches of danger to realize she’s running straight into the arms of new love.
        Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how it ever came to this—on the run, with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. But when a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas…even though they have no place to lay their heads.
        Beau Callahan is a habitual problem-solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over the family Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas season alone.
        When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets.
        Eden’s been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her.
        Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

        I have been a huge Denise Hunter fan ever since I first read her Chapel Springs series, so when I found out she would be doing a series about some of the people we met in her final Chapel Springs novel, when Ryan and Abby were in Summer Harbor, I was ecstatic. Especially as I read the descriptions for both Falling Like Snowflakes and the second novel—The Goodbye Bride—which releases next March. Both sound like they will live up to my already high expectations—Denise has yet to truly disappoint me—although I must confess I am looking forward to The Goodbye Bride just a tiny bit more. Either way, I am sure I will enjoy Falling Like Snowflakes very, very much, and I cannot wait to read it. Keep your eyes peeled for my review, because I’ve already preordered this gem and will be diving into it very soon!

You can preorder it—or The Goodbye Bride--for yourself here!

The Lost Heiress

        Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. When her friend Justin uncovers the fact that she is possibly the missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.
        The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and although her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not only when Brook’s life is threated do they draw close—but will their loyalty come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother?
        As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that their friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?
        And then for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and those who can save her still aren’t sure who to trust.

        I absolutely love Roseanna M. White. She is one of my all-time favorite authors, and for good reason, since her historicals are absolutely wonderful. Whispers from the Shadows—the second book in her Culper Ring series—is one of my all-time favorite novels. Like, top five favorite books, not just that list that has about a hundred. When I first read about this new series I got super excited—like jump up and down excited—and immediately put The Lost Heiress on my ‘books-to-preorder’ list (yes I have one of those). The Lost Heiress sounds full of mystery, secrets, intrigue, and love, which makes for the perfect combination. I am eagerly anticipating reading this book, so look out for my review of this one as well!

You can preorder a copy for yourself here!

The Mistress of Tall Acre

        The American Revolution is finally over and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her closest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe and sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the point of breaking. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

        Don’t you just love the cover for this novel? And the description; it makes The Mistress of Tall Acre sound like a book that is right up my alley, and sure to keep me engrossed from page one. I have only read one other novel by Laura Frantz—The Colonel’s Lady—but I absolutely loved it, and how perfect her military and 18th century facts were. The story swept me away, and her impeccable facts and storyline made the book even better. Since I am sure The Mistress of Tall Acre will be just as well written, I cannot help but have it on my must-have list.

You can preorder a copy here!

A Noble Masquerade

        Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she’s never actually met the man she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when her brother’s mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke.
        Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigued by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family’s estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

        A Noble Masquerade, the first book in Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series, is Kristi Ann’s first full length novel, and I am absolutely dying to read it. Just a couple of months ago, she released the e-novella prequel to the series—A Lady of High Esteem—which got me started on her writing. A Lady of Esteem was absolutely wonderful, e-short or not, and I was delighted to find myself already totally and completely in love with the Hawthornes by the end of it. I cannot wait to learn more of them and their exploits, so be sure I will be reading A Noble Masquerade as soon as possible.

You can preorder a copy of A Noble Masquerade or pick up A Lady of Esteem here.

The Photograph

He studied the picture more closely, finding it curious that the young woman looked so boldly into the camera while wearing a white prayer Kapp shaped like a heart—the characteristic head covering for the Lancaster County Old Order Amish.
Why would a devout girl have her picture taken?
        When her sister Lily disappears only months after their widowed mother’s passing, Eva Esch fears she has been wooed away from the people. Yet Lily’s disappearance isn’t Eva’s only concern: she and her sisters must relocate once their older brother takes over the family farmhouse. Then Jed Stutzman, an Amish buggy maker from Ohio, shows up in Eden Valley with a photo of a Plain young woman. Eva feels powerfully drawn to the charming stranger—but the woman in the forbidden photograph is no stranger at all.

        I absolutely LOVE the description to this novel! It sounds utterly fascinating! And, since I have read all but a small handful of Beverly Lewis’s books, I know what I am getting into by putting The Photograph on my to-read list. Beverly’s Amish dramas never fail to disappoint, but rather tend to be so wonderful and intriguing many of them make it onto my all-time-favorites list. I am sure The Photograph will be no exception.

You can preorder a copy of it here!

A Reluctant Bride

She never wanted to marry. He hopes to make amends for past wrongs. Can love find a way to mend both of their hearts?
        Sadie Schrock swore she would never marry. All of her other Amish friends could court and marry—she was content to manage the family business and eventually take it over when her parents are ready to retire. But all of that changes when a reckless driver kills both of her parents and seriously injures her younger sister. With mounting hospital bills adding to the pile of debt her parents left behind, Sadie is left with no choice: she must marry. And not just any man—the man who saw her at her weakest and walked away.
        Aden knows what his brother did to Sadie years ago was inexcusable. And every day since that incident, Aden has lived with the guilt for not intervening sooner. When he is faced with the chance to protect Sadie once again, he can’t let her down—even if it means living with the scorn of the woman he loves for the rest of his life.
        Working alongside Aden at the store, Sadie realizes he isn’t the same boy who once betrayed her. Just when Sadie starts to let her guard down and perhaps develop feelings for her new husband, several dangerous secrets are revealed. Now everything Sadie has worked so hard to protect is threatened, and she must find a way to save her family—and herself.

        I love reading Amish-themed novels. Can you tell? And A Reluctant Bride sounds utterly fascinating, doesn’t it? Kathleen Fuller always does a wonderful job of weaving secrets into her stories in a way that makes it absolutely impossible for you to put down her books until you find out their resolution, and I am sure that A Reluctant Bride will be the same way. Besides, it just sounds like something I wouldn’t be able to keep from reading.

You can preorder a copy of it here!

The Sea Keeper’s Daughters

        Restaurant owner Whitney Monroe is desperate to save her business from a hostile takeover. The inheritance of a decaying Guilded Age hotel on North Carolina’s Outer Banks may provide just the ray of hope she needs. But things at the Excelsior are more complicated than they seem. Whitney’s estranged stepfather is entrenched on the third floor, and the downstairs tenants are determined to save the historic building. Searching through years of stored family heirlooms may be Whitney’s only hope of quick cash, but will the discovery of an old necklace and a Depression-era love story change everything?

        The Sea Keeper’s Daughters is the third book in Lisa Wingate’s Carolina Heirlooms series. Let me just say, I absolutely love Lisa’s writing. Although I have only read one of her books so far (I was trying to read both of the previous novels in this series but with my move it just didn’t quite happen), I have completely fallen in love with the way she weaves her stories together. Her writing appears effortless, and she does an amazing job of coming up with captivating storylines. I look forward to reading more of her writing in the future, starting with the rest of this series!

You can purchase any of the novels in this series here!

Last Chance Hero

What happens when your heart is intercepted before you even know it’s in play?
        The folks in Last Chance, New Mexico, could not be more pleased. Dr. Jessica MacLeod has opened an office right on Main Street and Andy Ryan, the best athlete the town ever produced, has come home from the NFL to coach the high school football team. Unfortunately, Dr. Jess immediately gets off on the wrong foot with this football-obsessed town when she admits that she’s never seen a football game, isn’t really interested in doing so, and in fact doesn’t know a first down from a goalpost.
        Despite having little in common, Jess and Andy find themselves drawn to each other. But when a disagreement over the future of an injured player puts them both on the defensive, it begins to look like this game is over…

        Last Chance Hero is the fourth book in Cathleen Armstrong’s A Place to Call Home series. Although I have not finished any of her novels yet, I have started the first book in this series—Welcome to Last Chance—and I have loved every bit of it so far. Cathleen does a great job of writing characters with hidden pasts and stories to tell that makes you fall in love with them and devour their story so you can find out everything about them and their future. I cannot wait to finish this series, so I know I will be picking up this novel very soon.

You can purchase all of the novels in this series here!

A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn

        Emma Keim was heartbroken when her husband, Sanford, passed away, leaving her to raise three young daughters alone. Though several years have passed, her relatives have made it no secret that they expect Emma to remain a widow, mourning Sanford indefinitely. But when she meets Jay Hilty—a handsome widower with three young sons of his own—Emma is delighted to have a new friend who understands her struggles. Still, she is dismayed that her family is so opposed to their friendship—and the idea of it ever become anything more. She honors her husband’s memory every day, but is she destined to be alone forever?
        Emma’s gentleness with Jay’s boys stirs something in his heart that’s been quiet for far too long. But when his oldest son becomes engaged to a local woman, suddenly Jay, Emma, and their children are swept up in wedding preparations. Witnessing his son’s joy, Jay wonders if it’s time for him to move forward, too, and find happiness again.
        Once again, love has come to Pinecraft. But can these two parties of four become a happy, healthy family of eight?

        A Wedding at the Orange Blossom in is the third book in Shelley Shepard Gray’s Amish Brides of Pinecraft series, and is another book I have been anticipating for a little while now. I recently read the first two books—The Promise of Palm Grove and The Proposal at Siesta Key—and I really enjoyed both of them. Shelley does an amazing job of writing cute Amish stories that captivate you and touch your heart. I cannot wait to read this next installment in this series!

You can purchase any of the novels in this series here!

When Love Returns

Riddled with doubt and lingering regrets, will Suzanne and Paul find strength in God to explore a second chance at love?
        It wasn’t easy to move back to the Old Order Mennonite community from which quiet, responsible Suzanne Zimmerman was shamefully sent away as a pregnant teen. Returning twenty years later to take care of her mother, Suzanne and Alexa—the daughter she raised as her own—have spent months rebuilding relationships with her family.
        Now, with the upcoming wedding of their biological daughter, Suzanne and Paul find themselves drawn to one another once again—but with new challenges to face. They have been single parents with painful pasts. Can Paul and Suzanne find the strength to rebuild the loving relationship that was torn apart by their teen pregnancy so long ago?
        Suzanne must also let go of Alexa as she heads back to Indianapolis to visit friends—and as her chance to find her birth parents. Leaving the bed-and-breakfast in Suzanne’s apprehensive hands, Alexa embarks on a journey that will certainly changer her life completely. Can mother and daughter trust God to restore all things in His timing?

        When Love Returns is the final book in Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy, coming after When Mercy Rains and When Grace Sings. I absolutely loved the first two novels in the series—I read both of them in just a couple of days—so I have been longing to read When Love Returns ever since I finished them. I cannot wait to get to the dramatic conclusion of the Zimmerman family’s story, so that I can finally know what happens to them all. I will be reviewing this one soon as well, just so long as I can get my hands on it before my calendar fills up!

You can preorder a copy here!

        So, those are the books I'm most looking forward to that release next month! I hope you'll link-up here with me! There's only one rule, please follow me on at least one platform, whether directly on the blog or on my social media! After that, just link-up a post about whatever it is you happen to be posting about at the moment. Although my post has to do with must-haves for the next month, and I would love to hear about your must-haves, I would love to read any of your posts, no matter what they are about. So, have at it! Link-up your post for the day, your last couple of posts or, if you're feeling adventurous, join me in posting about your must-haves. I'd love to read anything you'd like to share!
        Happy reading!

Linking up at Let it Shine, Bloggers Who Have Inspired Me, and Totally Terrific Tuesdays.

All credit for the italicized synopses goes to the authors and their publishers.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Bookshelf: Your Best Happily Ever After by Ginger Kolbaba

Cinderella. Snow White. Sleeping Beauty. Rapunzel.
        These beloved stories all conclude with, “…and they lived happily ever after.” We sigh, smile, and know there’s an amazing story of love, adventure, and redeption coming.
        We all yearn for a fairy tale life, but too often our existence feels less like the pages of a storybook and more like a bad reality TV show. From poisoned apples (sin) and Ugly Stepsisters (joy-stealers) to magic mirrors (real beauty is more than skin-deep) and glass slippers (God’s perfect calling for us), the truth is that as daughters of God, we can live the perfect story the Author has written for our lives. We can experience the happily ever after that He has penned for us, now, regardless of our circumstances!
        Surrogate fairy godmother Ginger Kolbaba offers encouragement, challenges, biblical insights, and a little humor on how God wants us to live and love our stories in the here and now.

        Although I typically stick to fiction (except for devotionals of course) I took a chance on Your Best Happily Ever after, and I’m so glad I did. I read it as a devotional—which it sort of is in a way—and I absolutely loved Ginger’s comical way of putting things and all of the points she made about real-life happily ever afters. Choose to take a Sabbath rest. Don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t let grouchy people steal your joy. This book is chock full of wonderful advice for making your life the happiest it could possibly be, and the best part is, all of it really is doable! Ginger shows you reasonable things you can do to make your life the best that it can be, all in a humorous way that makes this book that much more enjoyable.
        Something I really loved about the way Ginger put together this book was how she gives plenty of practical applications for every idea she presents. She even gives stories of how either she or someone she knew did—or didn’t—do as she suggests. As a side note, I loved her stories. They were funny and relatable and interesting, and I loved that aspect of this book. Many times non-fiction titles are boring, repetitive, and tiresome, but I fortunately did not find that to be the case with this one. Rather, I really loved all that I learned in the course of reading this book.
        All in all, I enjoyed this book very much, and happily give it all five bookshelves. Even though, up until this point, I had never reviewed a non-fiction title, now I can say I have, and I am really glad I gave this book a chance. I would recommend it to anyone and am sure I will be reading it again in the future!
        Happy reading!

Photo creds go to my wonderful sister, Allie. Check out her blog here.

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

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Ginger Kolbaba and Shiloh Press.

Monday, August 24, 2015

My Bookshelf: Brightest and Best by Olivia Newport

Ella squeezed her eyes shut, flushes and chills taking her by turn. Gotte’s wille. How could she know God’s will? Was it even possible?
        Ella Hilty’s deepest desire is to marry Gideon Wittmer and be a mother to his three children. But before the betrothal and ceremony take place, Ella’s 1918 Ohio Amish community gets caught in a storm of controversy when English government authorities dictate that Amish children must attend consolidated public schools rather than their one-room schoolhouse.
        English schoolteacher Margaret Simpson had given up thoughts of marriage years ago, and she’s content with her peaceful life. But a budding romance and conflict with the neighboring Amish community lead Margaret down a path that she never expected.
        Citing freedom of religion rights, Amish parents stand their ground against progressive English laws that threaten to erode their culture and beliefs beyond recognition, but their stance doesn’t come without consequences. Where is the balance between submission to God and submission to a God-ordained government that endangers the church?
        Soon Margaret puts her last chance for romance at risk for the only choice her conscience can abide, and all eyes turn to Ella to bring unity to the Amish and understanding to the English.

        Brightest and Best is the third book in Olivia Newport’s Amish Turns of Time series, but it is the first book by her I have ever read. Although this novel started out a little slow for me, it quickly picked up speed, immersing me in the struggle between obeying God and obeying a God-ordained government. I really fell in love with the story, and found myself fighting along with them against the rules that threatened their way of life. I loved the historical aspects of this book and how they really made it what it was, and the characters were all wonderful and easy to relate to. Ella is so selfless and completely and utterly in tune with God’s will, and I really looked up to her and her faith. Margaret, although from a different background so unlike Ella’s, reminded me of her in so many ways. She really did want what was best for the Amish children, and it was obvious with everything that she did.
        What should you do when you know God is calling you to raise your children one way, and the God-ordained government you live under says something different? How do you know what is right, and how far to push the boundaries? Will God make His will clear, and if so, will He make a way possible so you can follow it? Many Amish parents were faced with these questions throughout the whole of this book, and how they rallied and tried their hardest to do what was right, despite attacks coming from all sides, and the effect was inspiring. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for them, wanting to do what was right but unsure exactly what that was and feeling the pressure put on them by the government and the other families. Olivia really showed us how difficult it was for them, and I applaud her for weaving the story in such a way that it made you feel as if you were a part of the drama.
        As the story progressed, it really drew me in, and I found myself anxious to find out what would happen. I really did love the ending, although it didn’t turn out exactly the way I thought it would. However, it definitely did end well, and I found myself looking up to Margaret and Ella even more as I finished. They are both so strong and inspiring, and I really was blessed by that. All the characters, really, had at least one relatable thing about them, and I loved all of them for the way that they handled the situations they were presented with. With everything that filled the pages of this novel, it really did end up being one that I loved, and I will present it with four bookshelves out of five, and the only reason I do not give it all five was because of the fact that the beginning was a bit slow for me. All in all, Brightest and Best was a very enjoyable novel, I highly recommend it, and am looking forward to reading more by Olivia in the future.
        Happy reading!

You can purchase a copy of this novel here!

Linking up at Let it Shine.
Photo creds go to my awesome sister Allie. Check out her blog here!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Olivia Newport and Shiloh Run Press.

Friday, August 21, 2015

High Five for Friday

        Another week has come and gone, and let me say, I am soooooo glad it’s finally the weekend! But, I have to admit, this week hasn’t been all bad…

        1. I have officially moved! It was a big transition, even though it wasn’t much of a distance, but I have to say, I am very glad everything worked out and that I am able to be here. While it was a bit of a whirlwind, I know this is where the Lord wants me to be, so I’m super pumped to see what He has in store. I’ll keep you posted.

        2. Currently I am reading The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate, and I am LOVING it. Up until this point, I hadn’t read anything by her, but I am so glad I picked up this one. Lisa’s writing is phenomenal; every scene flows effortlessly into the perfect story that draws you in and keeps you wanting more. I cannot wait to finish this story, and I’m already anticipating reading the rest more by her. As soon as I finish this one, I’ll let you know what I think of it as a whole. Because of the move, I’m a little behind schedule, otherwise I would’ve already finished and reviewed this one, but either way, it’ll get posted eventually (wink, wink).

        3. Everything is on track for my very first giveaway!! I’m planning on (as long as nothing comes up and throws me off track) having it start September 7th, so look out for that! I’m already so excited to get to read The Chase, so the fact that I get to give a copy away as well makes me super happy. For those of you who don’t know, The Chase is a new book for girls all about trusting God with your happily ever after, and it’s by Kyle Kupecky—a Christian Recording Artist—and his wife Kelsey—who is also the daughter of New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Kingsbury. Anyway, I cannot wait to share this book with you, so come back September 7th for my giveaway!

        4. Another thing I am reading at the moment is Your Best Happily Ever After by Ginger Kolbaba. I’ve been reading it as my devotions the last couple of weeks, and I absolutely LOVE it. As I’ve read page after page, I’ve learned so much about what it means to really live out the ‘happily ever after’ God has for you. I’ve been enjoying it immensely, and I cannot wait to share my full review with you!

        5. Oh, I almost forgot! The lock-in I mentioned I was planning on last weeks’ post went really well! It was so much fun, and I know all the teens enjoyed themselves. It was also just such a great time of bonding for everyone, especially since we are currently in transition and without a youth pastor. Anyway, it was an absolute blast, full of great games like Sardines and Hunger Games Dodgeball, and lots and lots of pizza. I cannot wait to help out with another one!

        There’s my highlights for my week. I cannot wait to see what next week holds!
        Happy Friday!

All credit for the photo of Your Best Happily Ever After goes to my sister, Allie. Check out her blog here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Proposal at Siesta Key by Shelley Shepard Gray

        Penny Troyer rarely disobeys her parents. In the years since her sister’s tragic death, they’ve wanted nothing more than to keep her safe…even if it means never leaving the house.
        But tonight, she’s bending the rules because Michael Knoxx, the most famous member of the Knoxx Family Singers, a traveling Mennonite Evangelical family, is scheduled to speak. Penny has heard of Michael—how he lost part of his leg in a terrible accident and uses the experience to inspire others—and knows she must meet him. So, for the first time ever, Penny stands up to her parents and goes out on her own.
        Though he speaks about living life to the fullest, Michael knows he needs to take his own advice. Life on the road is grueling and Michael wants to slow down, to rest…to perhaps meet someone who sees him as a man, not just a celebrity. So when a twist of fate allows him to stay a little longer in Pinecraft, Michael knows God is showing him a new path, especially when he discovers that Penny has also survived a terrible ordeal.
        But as Michael’s time in Pinecraft comes to an end, Michael and Penny are left to wonder what kind of future they could possibly have together. Are they brave enough to take the chance given to them? Or will they choose to cling to what is familiar, even if it pushes away their dream of happiness?

        The Proposal at Siesta Key is the second book in Shelley Shepard Gray’s Amish Brides of Pinecraft series, and is my favorite so far. Although I loved both Leona and Zach, and their story, I loved Penny and Michael even more. I felt that this story flowed even better than the first, and it was easier for me to relate to. Besides, in the beginning, I felt so much pity for both Penny and Michael that it endeared them and their journey to me even more. With their funny interactions and painful situations, this book quickly pulled me in, and I also loved getting to know Beverly better, as she is starting to be one of my favorite characters of the series. I cannot wait to read her book.
        Anyway, Penny’s sweet character drew me to her immediately, and I loved watching her take control of her life. Her determination to not let her life pass her by is admirable, and I loved the way she gave Michael another chance even though he didn’t exactly deserve it at first. Of course, he was in pain, so you have to give him a little bit of grace and mercy, which Penny seems to be full of. I quickly felt as if Penny and I were friends, despite our obvious differences, and I loved watching her story play out, especially the parts with Michael. She is just such a sweet character, and her kindness and patience were almost limitless. Plus, her crush on Michael was pretty cute.
        Although we don’t really get the best impression of Michael in the beginning, I quickly got over his minor faults and found him to be a man of worth. He, like Penny, was an extremely determined person, even though sometimes it wasn’t the best of his traits. But, all in all, he really did treat Penny well, and if you add that to his other admirable qualities, you cannot blame Penny for her attraction to him. Even though he is tired of constantly being on the road, he continues without saying a word because he doesn’t want to disappoint his family, and he always strives to never be a burden. Besides, I loved the way he gently teased Penny, their palpable attraction was really one of the cutest things I have ever seen.
        Since I really did enjoy this sweet story even more than I expected I would, I gladly award it all five bookshelves, and I know I cannot wait to read the next two books in the series—A Wedding at the Orange Blossom Inn, which releases next month—and A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft—Beverly’s story—which releases in October. I have really enjoyed the first have of this series, and applaud Shelley for such wonderful Amish novels that I would recommend to anyone who likes Amish fiction.
        Happy reading!

You can purchase a copy of this novel, or the others in the series, here!

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Shelley Shepard Gray and Avon Inspire Publishing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-Buy Authors

        Today’s Top Ten Tuesday are the top ten authors whose books I auto-buy, meaning the authors whose novels I preorder/purchase without even thinking about it. Because I know I have loved their previous works, I go on ahead and preorder their books. Since I’m sure I’ll love it, I might as well get it, right?

1. Julie Klassen

        Julie Klassen has been on my auto-buy list the longest. I have read every single one of her novels, and have loved each one. Clearly I could not help but add her to my list, so now every one of her new novels ends up on my ‘books to preorder list’ (yes I have one of those). Lady Maybe was the most recent of her books I ordered, although I am already planning on ordering The Painter’s Daughter, which releases in December.

2. Sarah E. Ladd

        Sarah E. Ladd has been on my auto-buy list almost as long as Julie has. Although I haven’t read that many of her books yet, I absolutely loved the ones I have finished. Recently, I preordered and read her latest release, The Curiosity Keeper. I really loved that first book in her Treasures of Surrey series, so I am already planning on preordering the next one—Dawn at Emberwilde—which releases next May.

3. Rachel Hauck

        Rachel Hauck is one of my favorite authors of all time. Obviously, it stands to reason that she would be on this list. I absolutely love her books, and am looking forward to all her new releases to come. Especially The Wedding Chapel—it releases in November—which I have already preordered as an e-book.

4. Denise Hunter

        Although Denise Hunter is a relatively new author to me, I fell in love with her writing almost immediately. Her Chapel Springs series are some of my favorite books of all times, and I am so excited for her new series, the Summer Harbor series. The first book, Falling Like Snowflakes, releases next month, and I’ve already preordered it, and am making plans to order the second book—The Goodbye Bride—even though it doesn’t release until next April.

5. Katherine Reay

        Katherine Reay made it onto my auto buy list easily, even though I’ve only read one of her two books so far. I absolutely loved Dear Mr. Knightly, and I cannot get enough of the Jane Austen themes that filled that book, which make me excited to read her other novel, since it is full of them as well. Not only does she get her inspiration from Jane, she also finds ideas between the pages of the novels by the Bronte sisters, as is evident in her book that is releasing in November. The Bronte Plot is going to be wonderful, I am sure of it, so that is why I’ve already ordered it.

6. Kristi Ann Hunter

        Although Kristi Ann Hunter is obviously a very new author to me—she has only released one e-novella—I couldn’t help but put her on this list. Why? Because I was already planning on preordering her first full length release before I even finished A Lady of Esteem (the e-novella). A Lady of Esteem was by far the best novella I have ever read, and I absolutely loved Kristi Ann’s writing style. Since I loved it so much, I already have the whole Hawthorne House series on my ‘books to preorder list’, starting with A Noble Masquerade, which releases next month.

7. Melanie Dickerson

        I love, love, love Melanie Dickerson’s books. Her fairy tale retellings are absolutely amazing, and I love the way she ties some of them together. Full of dashing heroes and dangerous situations, her novels are always captivating, which made my decision easy when I thought about who to add to this list. I have been eagerly anticipating her next release—The Golden Braid—for months already, and it doesn’t even come out until November. Obviously I cannot wait until that book shows up at my door.

8. Regina Jennings
         Even though I have only read one of her novels, I already love Regina Jennings. A Most Inconvenient Marriage is one of my favorite books of all time, and while reading it, I fell in love with the way she weaves together her historicals. Imagine my excitement when I first found out about her upcoming release—At Love’s Bidding. I immediately added it to my preorder list, and am excited to get to read it soon.

9. Elizabeth Camden

        Although I have only read one of her books as well, I am positive I love Elizabeth’s work. She writes the best super sweet historical novels that I cannot get enough of. Since I loved The Rose of Winslow Street as much as I did, I could not help but add Elizabeth to this list and plan to order Until the Dawn, her upcoming December release.

10. Siri Mitchell

        Last but not least, Siri Mitchell is another author I absolutely love. The first novel I ever read by her—She Walks in Beauty—is by far one of my favorite novels of all time, and to this day I cannot forget it, not that I’ve tried. Siri does such a wonderful job of writing super sweet, captivating stories that definitely touch your heart, so I always anticipate reading her books. Flirtation Walk—her upcoming March release—is no exception, so that is why she has this well-earned spot on my list.

        So, those are my top ten auto-buy authors! I’m excited to see if they change much over the next couple of years. What do you think? Do you have a few in common with me? There’s only one way to find out!
        Happy reading!

Linking up at Top Ten Tuesday.

My Bookshelf: The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

Happily ever after…or happily nevermore?
        Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela meets the duke’s son, Valten—the boy she has daydreamed about for years—and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

        I absolutely loved this book (and isn't its cover just stunning?). Melanie Dickerson always does an outstanding job of weaving captivating, suspenseful romances, and The Captive Maiden is no exception. With its Cinderella themes, dashing hero, and dangerous rescues, this novel was absolutely impossible to put down. I just couldn’t get enough of it, and finished it in a matter of hours (even though I had to stay up late to do so). Since Gisela is the ‘Cinderella’ of this adventure, it was extremely easy to love, admire, and pity her, though Valten is another story. I know, I know if he’s the ‘Prince Charming’, then I must love him, right? Don’t worry, I do. I just fell so, so much harder for him than I ever did for Charming.
        Valten—Lord Hamlin, to be exact—is absolutely, positively wonderful. Although he is apparently incredibly handsome, that has nothing to do with my feelings for him (yes, you can have feelings for fictional characters; wink, wink). Vulnerable, yet strong, Valten is the picture of the perfect hero. The way he chases after and protects Gisela no matter what is completely and utterly adorable, and his determination to trust God despite his fears is just as sweet as it is inspiring. I absolutely loved watching him compete or interact with his sisters and, as always, I enjoyed his and Gisela’s interactions. Their attraction is palpable, and seeing them fall in love was beautiful to behold.
        Gisela is so strong! I cannot imagine facing everything she faced at the hands of her stepmother and sisters and still remaining aloof, claiming not to care. Yet Gisela does so with practiced ease, though I know her heart hurts inside at their ill treatment. The way she hangs on to the picture of Valten she has in her head even after all the years that pass is by far one of the sweetest things I have ever heard, so you can imagine my excitement as things started to work out between them. Although her life was far from easy, Gisela continued to trust in the Lord and look for His guidance in her life, and her constant faith and determination were absolutely inspiring. From the very first page, I felt as if Gisela was one of my very closest friends, and I cheered with her as her life become more like the ‘Happily Ever After’ part of the fairytale.
        Since I loved The Captive Maiden so very, very much, I obviously cannot help but give it all five bookshelves. This is far and away my favorite of Melanie Dickerson’s books that I have read so far—and I have loved each of them so, so much—and it has a permanent place on my ‘favorite books of all time’ list. I would recommend it to absolutely everyone, and I am so very glad I bought it, as I am sure I will be reading this wonderful tale again and again.
        Happy reading!

You can purchase a copy of this novel here!

Photo creds go to my super awesome sister Allie! Check out her blog here!

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Melanie Dickerson and Zondervan Publishing.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Promise of Palm Grove by Shelley Shepard Gray

        Amish bride-to-be Leona is thrilled to be in Florida, on a mini vacation in the pretty town of Pinecraft. Her girlfriends think she’s happy because she’s away from the stress of wedding planning. They have no idea that Leona’s real joy is in being away from her fiancĂ©.
        Edmund is a good man and will make a decent husband…just not for Leona. The more time she spends with him and his overbearing ways, the less she wants to be his wife. Her cousins are sure Edmund is the right man for her—and their certainty makes Leona begin to doubt herself. But when a chance encounter with a wayward cat brings her face-to-face with a handsome, fun-loving Amish man named Zachary Kaufmann, Leona’s faced with two vastly different futures.
        Leona must decide: Should she follow the path set out before her? Or take a chance with only the promise of what could be to guide her?

        The first book in Shelley Shepard Gray’s Amish Brides of Pinecraft series, The Promise of Palm Grove is a delightful little story that made for the perfect summer read. Although it is just a little bit fluffy—it was definitely a light read—I really enjoyed reading all about Leona and her dilemma. Besides, who ever said fluffy reads were bad? Plus, this novel did have plenty of hairy situations and a few laughs, along with some pretty lovable characters.
        I really liked Leona. Since she is such a sweet girl, she is easy to love, and her struggle with knowing God’s will is something everyone can relate to. What I don’t understand, however, is how she ever liked Edmund in the first place. That man is a piece of work! I most certainly couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life with a man like that. Clearly, I cannot blame Leona for having second thoughts. With a demanding man like Edmund, I’m sure anyone would want out (let me just assure you that Edmund is a fictional character and that any hatred I have of him does not carry on to any real men who might happen to be anything like him). Especially once she meets Zach Kaufmann.
        Zachary Kaufmann is by far the exact opposite of Edmund. Always putting others before himself, Zach spends all of his time taking care of his younger sister, helping his family, and doing things for others, and none of his time on himself. Then he meets Leona. With her sweet smile and charming ways, she immediately catches his eye, and he knows he must find the time to get to know her before she leaves Pinecraft.
        The Promise of Palm Grove is such a sweet story of love, forgiveness, and new beginnings that was all too easy to enjoy. Along with all of its wonderful characters, something I loved about this novel was the fact that it is full of people learning to trust God and His will in their lives. I also really loved meeting the minor characters, some of whom will be featured in later books. Because of its wonderful storyline, I gladly give this novel all five bookshelves, and would happily recommend it, and the rest of the books in the series.
        Happy reading!

You can purchase a copy of any of the books in this series here!

Linking up at Let it Shine.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Shelley Shepard Gray and Avon Inspire Publishing.

Friday, August 14, 2015

High Five for Friday

        It’s Friday! You know how some weeks it seems to take forever to get to the weekend? Well, this was one of those weeks. But it’s finally here now, and I’m gonna celebrate! Though I have to say, this week hasn’t been all bad…

        1. I’m setting up for my first ever giveaway!!! I’m so excited I can barely stand it! I’m not a hundred percent sure what day it will start, but it will most likely be September 7th through the 14th (both are Mondays, by the way). Unfortunately that seems like an eternity away, but that’s because the book I’m giving away doesn’t even come out in stores until the 1st, and the copy I’ve already ordered to give away won’t get to me until the 3rd. Plus, that will give me some time to actually read my copy so I can tell you how wonderful it is so that you’ll want to win the giveaway even more. What book is it, you ask? Just the one book I have been looking forward to the most ever since I first heard of it. It’s called The Chase: Trusting God with Your Happily Ever After and it is by Christian Recording Artist Kyle Kupecky and his wife Kelsey, who is also the daughter of New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Kingsbury. Here’s the description:
        Only God could have written a love story as beautiful as Kyle and Kelsey Kupecky’s. from their teenage days thousands of miles apart when they separately wrote letters to their future spouses, to a chance meeting backstage at a concert, their story brings hope and inspiration to every girl.
        It’s easy to get impatient for the future to play out, especially when it comes to love. Before long you find yourself chasing the perfect guy and trying to write your own happily ever after. But the truth is, your best future won’t be found chasing boys—it’ll only come by first chasing God.
        In The Chase, Kyle and Kelsey take turns telling their story, with Kelsey sharing secrets to a godly relationship and Kyle revealing the truth about what guys really think. Together they’ll show you how to put God first, protect your heart, deal with the loneliness and peer pressure that come along with purity, and see yourself as God does.
        Are you ready to trust God with your very own happily ever after? Let the chase begin!
        Doesn’t that sound amazing! I’m absolutely dying to read it. Anyway, keep an eye out for my giveaway; I’ll be posting more details soon!

        2. This week I have to give God a huge, huge thank you for the blessings he has given me. The main reason I say this as one of my highlights is because of the people God has placed in my life, and how much they mean to me. You see, I’m going to be moving (not far, just residences) next week, and an absolutely amazing couple who goes to my church—and are also more like family to me than anything else—have been going above and beyond trying to help make this move as easy as possible. Last Sunday, they had mentioned something about helping me out, but I had been quick to assure them that, while that meant the world to me, I didn’t want them to have to go out of their way and that they didn’t have to do that.
        Well, they knew they didn’t have to, but they wanted to, so on Wednesday they brought it up again, and they—along with my best friend—had me sit down and write out everything else I needed before move-in day so they could help me pick it up. I cannot tell you how blessed I felt as I sat there among some of the people I love the most as they tried to help me by reminding me of things I might need that I hadn’t thought of, and then offering to purchase it for me. I have never been so thankful for the way God gives you exactly the blessing you desired, right when you needed it most. And I’m not talking about the act of helping as much as how loved I felt by their offer. Even if they never actually did a single thing to help, just the way they offered and the way they showed how much they loved me meant more than they will ever know.

        3. More nail designs! The middle nail on that hand is a little messed up, but that’s okay (I’m not very patient when waiting for them to dry). Unfortunately I have to say this isn’t my favorite design, but I do like it nonetheless. And I am positive that I will be doing stripes again—I really want to try chevron by I’m not sure if I’m brave enough yet. Speaking of nail designs…

        4. I’m working on my very first nail tutorials! Isn’t that exciting? While they aren’t going to be videos (I know I’m not brave enough for that just yet), they will be step by step instructions with quite a few pictures to lead you through! I’m thinking I will have at least one design every 1st and 3rd Monday, although I’m not entirely sure just yet. We’ll see, but either way, I will have some tutorials soon! Since I’m moving, it might not be until next month, but rest assured, they are coming!

        5. Last but not least, I just read The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson. I know I always talk about books, but I really couldn’t help it this time. The Captive Maiden was absolutely amazing! I read it all yesterday, and I loved every bit of it. I have never, ever melted into a little puddle as many times as I did reading this novel. It was by far one of the sweetest books I have ever read, and the suspense just about killed me! I cannot wait to review this book, but I’m waiting until Tuesday since I own this one and want to post it as a part of my regular “My Bookshelf” posts I always do on Tuesdays. So, look out for that review, because I will have a lot more gushing—and swooning—over this book to do!

        Happy Friday!

Linking up at High Five for Friday.

All credit for the photo of The Captive Maiden goes to my sister Allie. Check out her blog here.

All credit for the italicized synopsis of The Chase goes to Kyle & Kelsey Kupecky and Revell Publishing.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

What if the title, the estate, the life of security and splendor… what if it isn’t enough?
        Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain’s elite.
        When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London’s East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love—and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served.

        The Daughter of Highland Hall is the second book in Carrie Turansky’s Edwardian Brides series, coming after TheGoverness of Highland Hall. While I definitely enjoyed the first book in the series, I have to say, I liked The Daughter of Highland Hall better. With a much more suspenseful plot, this novel kept me captivated; I never was completely sure what would happen. Personally, I felt like the happy ending was much more glorified, much more unexpected (if a happy ending can be unexpected) and exciting. Besides, I found Katherine and Jonathan to be even more relatable than Julia and William.
        All her life Katherine Ramsey (yes she is William’s niece) has dreamt of marrying a wealthy man of society and securing her future, especially since her family estate became her uncle William’s when her father died. As she begins her first season among London’s elite, Kate believes she will be able to do just that, until family secrets and scandal threaten to ruin her chances. Longing for her life to mean something, Kate joins Julia’s medical-student brother, Jonathan Foster, as he volunteers in the East End. What she finds is nothing like she expected; instead, she realizes she loves helping out where she can, and she is enjoying her time with Jon far more than she thought she would. Will she give up everything she thought she wanted for a life unlike any she’s ever known, or will she sacrifice her chance at a life of happiness for the security she’s always longed for?
        Honestly, I cannot tell you how refreshing Kate was. Her honesty never failed to astonish me, and I loved watching her relationship with God deepen as time went on. She had more compassion and love than I originally gave her credit for, and I enjoyed seeing her find fulfillment in helping others. I liked watching her with Jon, too (wink wink). I couldn’t get enough of the two of them. Their attraction was palpable, to me anyway, and you could practically see the sparks fly between them. It also didn’t hurt that Jon was such a sweetheart. From the day he met her, Jon constantly felt the need to protect Kate—whether from the dangers of East End or the incredibly rude and pushy remarks from her irritating aunt—and that was so sweet to behold. And I have to say, it’s hard not to love a man with such deep faith who puts the needs of others before his own. I would’ve been shocked if I—and Kate—hadn’t fallen for him.
        Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While I found the plot, and the characters, interesting and wonderful, I also really loved the elements of faith in this novel. After reading both The Daughter of Highland Hall and its predecessor, that is something I really applaud Carrie for. She does an amazing job of weaving her faith into her books in a way that is touching and inspiring, and I love her for it. Obviously I must give this novel all five bookshelves. I loved it too much to even consider giving it less. And I highly recommend it because I am sure you, dear readers, will love it too.
        Happy reading!

You can purchase a copy of  The Daughter of Highland Hall here.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Carrie Turansky and Multnomah Books.