Friday, March 24, 2017

Her Secret by Shelley Shepard Gray

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the LitFuse Publications book blogger campaign. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 


Her Secret (Avon Inspire, March 2017)
A suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker
After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.
For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.
Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.

Shelley Shepard Gray is the "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author of the Seasons of Sugarcreek series, the Sisters of the Heart series, and the Families of Honor series. She lives with her family in southern Ohio, where she writes full time. Before her work in the inspirational market, Gray wrote several novels as Shelley Galloway. During this time her books appeared on the Waldenbooks bestseller list, and she won "RT Book Reviews'" prestigious Reviewers' Choice Award.

Dynamic Uno Here:  If you've been following my blog for any length of time you know that I love to read Amish fiction and that Shelley Shepard Gray is one of my favorite authors in that genre.  When the Litfuse Publicity Group posted Her Secret as an option for review, I hesitated because I wasn't sure how the suspense would play into the Amish culture.  As usual, my curiosity won out and I requested to review the book.  

The suspense did not disappoint and actually made the Amish characters more realistic because they were dealing with some heavy issues throughout the story.  

Seeing the Amish in this new perspective, made me realize that they are flesh and bone just as I am, and they have less than perfect lives as well. The suspense of someone stalking an Amish person led to a creepy factor for me.  I can only imagine the turmoil Hannah and her family went through to where they even felt they had to move to another state.  I hope no one ever really has to go through that horrible experience in their lives.

Overall, if you're looking for an Amish story with a twist of suspense, then you'll definitely want to start with this first book in The Amish of Hart County series.


As an avid "quotation collector," I found many gems that spoke to me and tie in to my word of the year--perspective:

"Life was full of ups and downs....It was uneven and unexpected.  It was full of quiet moments..."
What a beautiful picture of the messiness of life.  There are many days that I feel the ups and downs, but it is the quiet moments that I get to think about the many blessings God has given me.

"It made me not worry about things that don't matter."
How amazing is this quotation?  For someone to realize that you don't have to constantly worry about all of the stupid little things in life.  That in the larger scheme of things, they really don't matter.

"Even in the midst of darkness, there is always something to be thankful for."
Amen.  While I struggle daily to remember this and have to constantly remind myself that I am blessed and that there are others who have it worse than I do, it was neat to see that even the characters in the book had to remind themselves as well.  It's a struggle we all deal with on a daily basis.


"Faith is believing when you don't have proof.  Faith is understanding that you can't control everything and that is just as well."

Can you even think of a better word picture than this one?  As a control freak, I have to be constantly reminded that I am not in control.  That God is the one in charge and He can handle things MUCH better than I ever could.  It was refreshing to see that even the Amish have their moments where they have to be reminded to trust in God too.

I hope you enjoy reading Her Secret as much as I did.  Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Happy 2017!

It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone.  Time seems to go faster and faster every year and I feel like life is just passing me by because I'm choosing to stand still and watch rather than participate in the craziness all around me.  I think in this season of life God is giving me a new perspective and slowing down to observe is part of that process.

I'm sorry dear readers for not posting as often as I have in the past, but stopping a lot of my activities is what I needed to do in order to learn the lessons God was and is giving me.

The new year is when most people choose resolutions or a word to focus on for the year.  I've tried to do this in the past, but have usually slacked off a couple of weeks into January.  Sadly, I think most people do this as well.  While I do have goals that I'm setting for myself, I think that my word for the year will be:

In fact, I think it's rather fitting considering what God has taught me--to look at things from multiple perspectives before commenting and reacting.  I also think it's fitting because one of my favorite artists, M. C. Escher, would draw images that mess with people's perspectives to try and get them to look at things in a different light or way.

Throughout the year I will be posting on how I'm doing relating to my word, as well as my usual book reviews, favorite songs and groups, and life in general.  I hope you will continue to join me along this adventure!

Friday, October 21, 2016

A SIster's Wish and An Amish Family Christmas Book Pack Giveaway!

Click on the link below for more details and your chance to win!

A Sister's Wish and An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received these books free from the publisher through the LitFuse Publications book blogger campaign. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

About the book: 

A Sister's Wish (Avon Inspire, September 2016)

In Shelley Shepard Gray's third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.

Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman---at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she's also harboring a secret: She's been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he's about as far from "perfect" as an Amish man could get . . . but that's exactly why she's so drawn to him.

Life hasn't been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he's determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past . . . unless it pertains to Amelia.

He's loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas---who just happens to be Simon's best friend---has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he's the only one who can truly make her happy.

But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together---and face their past mistakes. There's a chance for love . . . but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.

Purchase a copy:

About the book: 

An Amish Family Christmas (Avon Inspire, October 2016)

In Shelley Shepard Gray's fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles---and love.

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can't help having doubts. There's something about Julia that doesn't ring quite true . . .

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships---but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she's hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually . . . perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together . . . in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Shelley Shepard Gray
 is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Dynamic Uno here: I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the fictional people living in the Amish town of Charm, Ohio.   The first two books in the series: A Son's Vow and A Daughter's Dream were just the introduction to the Kinsinger family saga, with these two as the book-endings.

A Sister's Wish is book 3 in the series and focuses on Amelia, the sister who takes care of the home front while the other siblings are off either working, or in Levi's case, away from the family.  While she is by far the sweetest of the Kinsinger clan, I could see why she had a soft spot for the rough and tumble Simon.  (After all, isn't the stereotype that the good girls want the bad boys because they see a sense of adventure and daring that they wouldn't have otherwise?)  Thankfully, for Amelia's sake, Simon no longer lived the rough lifestyle that he grew up with and that carried over into part of his adult life.  

I enjoyed this book in the series because it reminds us all that no matter what we have done in our past, God still forgives and has redeemed us.  Something I know that I need to be reminded of on a regular basis.

Book 4, An Amish Family Christmas, was a great way to wrap up the series--although if it were up to me, it would have been waaaaayyyy longer because I don't want to say goodbye to the characters.  Levi has finally returned home after fleeing to Pinecraft, Florida after their father's death.  Rather than live in the large family home, he decides to rent a house in town.  There, he begins a friendship with his neighbor Julia and her daughter Penny.  Julia has her own issues and secrets, but after Levi befriends her, she begins to realize that she doesn't have to be ashamed of her past and her secrets no longer have to stay that way.

I think out of all four of the books in the series this one was my favorite.  All of the siblings found their life-match and despite the difficulties they had to endure, they were able to overcome them with the help of friends, family, and their faith in God.  

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this series.  The Kinsinger clan and the the other characters were realistically written and had to overcome many of the same struggles that you and I face each day.  It's nice to read an author who is not afraid to tackle these challenges in her writing and to portray them in such a way that hope and love are the remaining responses.

If you think the Amish have an idealistic life and that nothing bad ever happens to them, you're wrong.  They suffer from the same tragedies and heartaches that the rest of us face, but they rely on their faith, friends, and family to help them get by.  This is an excellent series and I can't wait to read more by this author!

Let me know what you think in the comments section and Happy Reading!



Click on the link below to enter to win the book pack giveaway!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor (Preston Barclay Mystery #2)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the LitFuse Publications book blogger campaign. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

About the book: 

Murder Mezzo Forte (Lamplighter Mysteries, June 2016)

He is a reclusive history professor with musical hallucinations. . . .

She a headstrong professor of religion, a converted Wiccan. Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they're probably guilty of her murder. A leak of the alleged scandal to the college administration threatens their jobs.

Their desperate attempt to prove themselves innocent of the triangle and the murder plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere.

Can this ill-matched pair's stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college's incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:

Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His publications include three suspense novels, one historical novel, and a book of poetry. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

Dynamic Uno here:   In the first book of the Preston Barclay Mysteries, Rhapsody in Red,  Press and Mara get caught up in a murder scandal at their school and end up having to prove their innocence before they too end up on the list of the murderer.

In this second book of the series, Press and Mara get caught up in unusual circumstances once again at the college where they teach.  Another faculty member has been murdered and Press and Mara get sucked into the middle of the investigation--this time for supposedly being involved in a love triangle.  Press and Mara must once again prove their innocence while trying to track down a murderer, hopefully keep their jobs, and trying not to get killed in the process.

 I've always imagined what the soundtrack of my life would be like at various moments throughout my day, but Preston has very specific musical hallucinations throughout his and makes the reader privy to such information.  (I only wish there was a way to listen to the music he hears as I'm reading the book.  Hopefully the audio-book will insert the various pieces of music in the background so the readers have an idea of the type of music he's hearing.)  

I thoroughly enjoyed this second adventure of Press and Mara--the unwilling crime solving duo at Overton University.  I also enjoyed the developing relationship between the two colleagues and am interested in knowing what the response was to the situation at the end of the book.  (Guess we'll have to wait and see...)

 For those of you who have not read book #1, don't worry--this book could be a stand alone, although the author does a fabulous job of informing his readers about the backstory along the way.  If you enjoy reading cozy mysteries with a touch of romance, then this is the book for you! 

Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!