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Amish Front Porch Stories
by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, and Richelle Brunstetter
What are the fruits of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23 in the New Testament of the Bible states that they are love, joy, peace, longsuffering (a willingness to stick with things), gentleness (kindness), goodness, faith, meekness (not needing to force our way in life), and temperance (self-control). These are certainly admirable qualities for anyone, but do you ever ponder how these play out in the life of a Christian?
Amish Front Porch Stories is a collection of tales by Wanda E. Brunstetter and two other writers from her family. These stories demonstrate the challenges for those trying to live in such a way that the fruits of the Spirit are evident in their lives to the people around them. It is not always easy to submit your will to God to try to be like Jesus. In each story, the main character faces a dilemma, and she learns to recognize a problem in her life like pride or resentment, often with the help of a friend, mentor, or family member. She confesses to God and asks for the Holy Spirit’s power in overcoming the problem.
None of the short stories have overly complicated plots, but they address real issues people face, whether they are Amish or not. I enjoyed reading this as I prepared to go to sleep in the evenings. It was relaxing and helped me focus on positive things rather than worries. Each story ended with a Bible verse that relates to the specific focus of the story.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Barbour Publishing (Shiloh Run Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Christian, General Fiction (Adult)
Publication: November 1, 2019—Barbour Publishing (Shiloh Run Press)
“But the most important thing you can do to bring joy back into your life is to think about and quote some Bible verses out loud.”
If your day is hemmed with prayer, it is less likely to unravel.
“Kindness is a good thing. It can heal ourselves and others too.” “I agree with you. It’s not always easy, but it is worth doing.”
Snowed in with the Single Dad
by Melinda Curtis
Laurel, who frequently acts as a double for her famous actress twin Ashley, takes her role too far on a date with handsome actor Wyatt with some lasting consequences. She escapes to Second Chance where she meets Mitch, a lawyer who is managing the inn and his just turned teenage daughter Gabby who has perfected eye rolls. Laurel is a creative dress designer, but she always puts the needs of others, especially her sister Ashley, ahead of her own. Among the locals, the quirky but artistically talented sisters Odette and Flip are mainstays in Second Chance and are instrumental, along with Mitch, in helping Laurel find her own dream as Second Chance lives up to its name in this sweet romance.
I would like to extend my thanks to Melinda Curtis for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Romance (Clean)
Notes: #2 in the Mountain Monroes Series but works as a standalone. There is a chart showing the family relations and the author provides any background from previous books that is needed.
Publication: June 1, 2019—Harlequin Heartwarming
She’d seen Mitch smile before. Kind smiles. Polite smiles. Rueful smiles. But never a smile like this. A smile of pure, unapologetic joy. That smile. It reached into her chest like a heart-to-heart hug. It said everything was going to be all right.
He laid his cell hone faceup on the table, the sure sign of a man who considered whatever might happen in the world more important than the person they were dining with.
Her mother was a master manipulator. She recognized the dead end they’d come to and took on a new attack as smoothly as a shark circled back for the kill.
The Dog Who Lost His Bark
by Eoin Colder
illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Oz is a sweet puppy traumatized by a bad experience with a mean family. He ends up in a dog shelter where Patrick discovers and adopts him. Patrick comes from a musical family, and music emerges as the key to socializing Oz who has remarkable pitch when he whines. He starts with “Ode to Joy,” but expands his repertoire quickly. After Patrick’s breakthrough with Oz, he decides he needs to teach him to bark.
In the background of the puppy drama, we can tell, as can Patrick, that something is wrong with his father who is supposedly in Australia playing with his band. Patrick decides that if he gets rid of Oz, his father, who is allergic to dogs, will return to be a part of the family again. Oz goes back to the pound, but Patrick is no happier and Oz is very sad. Patrick learns that his mother and father are separating, but that his dog loves him and will always be his best friend.
The Dog Who Lost His Bark is a sweet story, especially for dog lovers. It could be helpful for children whose family structure is in transition, providing opportunities for discussions of the feelings the various characters have. I would encourage parents to read this book to their child or for a child to read it independently. Sharing with a group is probably not the best choice. The issues could be a trigger for sensitive children and problematic depending on the family situations of the children in a group.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Candlewick Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Children’s Fiction
Notes: This chapter book is intended for children:
Publication: September 10, 2019—Candlewick Press
This boy seemed kind right now, but that was people’s CLEVER TRICK, to be happy until it was time to be ANGRY. Dog was not going to fall for that one again.
“…teach your dog to bark. Because when a dog barks at something, that dog isn’t so afraid of that thing anymore.”
“You have a friend, Patrick. You have the best friend a boy could ever have. And he loves you even when it looks like you don’t love him anymore.”
Just in Case You Ever Wonder
by Max Lucado
illustrated by Eve Tharlet
A gifted storyteller for both adults and children and known as “America’s Pastor,” Max Lucado has a way with words and thoughts. In Just in Case You Ever Wonder, Lucado has captured some of the most important truths of reassurance in the Bible in a book he wrote for and dedicated to his daughters many years ago. In this newly published version, Eve Tharlet created soft and welcoming illustrations that feature bears as the characters instead of people. I am enchanted by this book that talks about God’s love and the parent’s love for his child. It provides reassurance for a child that both God and the parent will always support and love the child through good times and bad. The bad times are age appropriate—monsters in the dark, bullies, and bad days at school. It skirts the issue of death while describing the promises of heaven. I think every home with small children should have a copy: it will indeed be a favorite bedtime story.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Thomas Nelson for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Christian, Children’s Nonfiction
Publication: August 6, 2019—Thomas Nelson
The same hands that made the trees and the moon and the sun made you. That’s why you are so special. God made you.
If you looked all over the world—in every city, in every house—there would be no one else like you…
I knew in my heart God had sent someone very wonderful for me to take care of.
by Karen Barnett
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The middle of the Great Depression
Ever Faithful is the tale of young people from various walks of life joined by employment at Yellowstone. Some are pack rats (porters), some pillow punchers (maids), and others pearl divers (dishwashers). Additional college students working the summer are tour bus drivers and laundry workers. Throw into the mix a contingent of down and out, unemployed and often uneducated young men from the cities, part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) founded by President Roosevelt to combat unemployment and the problems that can arise from idleness and defeated attitudes. All of these young people have pasts that affect their presents.
Elsie, the daughter of a park ranger, loves Yellowstone and has spent many summers working hard at the inns at the park to achieve her dream—to go to college to become a teacher. She and her friends have romantic entanglements typical of summer romances. Some, however, seem more serious than others. Vaughn, a park ranger, sets his eyes on Elsie as does Nate Webber who has taken a CCC job to get out of trouble and provide money for his family in New York. Secrets abound and some are potentially deadly as they are linked to wildfires that could destroy the dry, pine beetle infested forests of Yellowstone.
After an interesting story with a historically accurate setting, author Karen Barnett moves the story ahead four years with a quite satisfactory epilogue. Then she provides information on the main aspects of this work of historical fiction and notes a few minor discrepancies as well as how the park has changed.
Yellowstone with its bears, bison, geysers, and vistas is on many a bucket list. Some of the original inns remain while others have been replaced. There are probably too many tourists, but it is still a park that belongs to the people, and it is a wonderful setting for this tale.
I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to WaterBrook (Penguin Random House) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Christian, Historical Fiction
Notes: 1. Thematically a part of the Vintage National Parks Novels but remains a standalone in terms of characters, setting, and plot.
2. Gentle reminders of God’s presence and plan.
Publication: June 18, 2019—WaterBrook (Penguin Random House)
“It’s hard for men to be out of work. It wears at their souls, tears them down piece by piece like a crumbling brick wall.”
It was odd how teaching both energized her and sapped her at the same time. During class, she flitted from one student to another, each one’s progress sending a wave of satisfaction through her chest. But when the room emptied, her strength seemed to go with them.
Nate reached into his pocket and pulled out the pine cone he’d picked up at Roosevelt and squeezed it in his fist. The scales were closed, glued shut by sap. According to Ranger Brookes, without fire it wouldn’t open to disperse the seeds hidden within. God could bring good out of disaster.
by Karen Kingsbury
Elise is a budding artist, and Cole has a promising future as a doctor when they meet and their lives become intertwined during their last semester of high school. In Karen Kingsbury’s Two Weeks, these young people have to deal with their own pasts with single moms, their love for each other, and their relationship with God. An unplanned pregnancy, the loss of a child, and trust in God take center stage as Elise and Cole wrestle with major decisions that have wide ranging consequences.
Two Weeks is a romance but it also deals with the emotional and personal impacts of abortion outside of any political concerns. It also addresses the agony of miscarriages and infertility while holding up adoption as a difficult and complicated but positive possibility. This work of Christian fiction shines a light on a subject that is painful for many. It also examines parenthood from several viewpoints. Both topics may be sensitive for some readers, but I do recommend this work written by a prolific Christian author whose books have been made into movies.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Howard Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Romance, Christian
Notes: 1. This book is the latest in an extensive series of books about the Baxter family. I read it as a standalone and had no problem following the plot.
2. There is a discussion guide at the end.
Publication: April 2, 2019—Howard Books
Ashley would do the most powerful thing she could. The best gift a mother could give her child. Grown or not. Now and forevermore like her life depended on it. She would pray.
Their lives were a trail of broken moments and closed doors when it came to having a baby.
“I never think of them as dead.” Her eyes grew softer. “They’re alive. They just have a new address in heaven.”
Mother’s Day Mayhem
by Lynn Cahoon
You don’t have to have a good relationship with your mother or your child to enjoy Lynn Cahoon’s Mother’s Day Mayhem. This novella provides a quick, enjoyable, themed read. Lynn Cahoon is a big proponent of “sometimes, the family you make is just as strong or stronger than blood.” Another nice feature of this book is that although there are mysteries (where ARE those missing garden gnomes?), there are no murders.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: a novella in the Tourist Trap series
Publication: April 2, 2019—Kensington
Life was good. Or it would have been if Greg hadn’t thrown a stone in the pond. Now, I had to deal with the ripples his request had caused.
“You’re never making a mistake by making yourself vulnerable. You’d regret it more if you didn’t take a chance.”
“Bite me,” the kid called back, speeding up even more. Greg sighed. “Not my circus, not my monkey. But if it was, that kid would be sitting in my office waiting for his folks to come and get him. Sometimes people need to know that respect is an important part of building a community.”