Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review of "When the Soul Mends" by Cindy Woodsmall

When the Soul MendsWhen the Soul Mends by Cindy Woodsmall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
★: Didn't Like it
★★: It was Ok
★★★: Liked it
★★★★: Really liked it
★★★★★: It was amazing
Suggested Age: 18+
Genre:Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction



This book is the beautiful conclusion to the heart-touching, Sisters of the Quilt Trilogy.

I wish that I could put into words how much this series means to me. I’m sitting here trying to type this review and my heart wants to pour out all the wisdom that I learned from Hannah and yet my mind can’t form a sentence that does it justice. This is one of the best Amish Fiction stories you will ever read. You will cry, you will laugh, then you will cry some more.

Hannah’s story can be difficult to read in places. She has suffered things that no woman should ever have to suffer. Nevertheless…she finds peace in the Lord Jesus and she becomes this beautifully strong and vibrant woman who doesn’t let her past determine her future.

Beautifully written and very touching, this is a series that I will read again.
Hannah’s soul is mending and her life is going forward. She has a ready-made family in Martin. But, is it enough? Martin means well but Hannah struggles to fit into his fast-paced life.

Hannah also feels a need to help her trouble sister and Martin doesn’t have the same sense of family that she has. He’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong, but he and Hannah have quite a few differences that need to be worked out if they plan to have a successful relationship.

Further, Hannah has been thrown into a situation that puts her in close proximity of her old love, Paul. Of course, non-shocker, Paul is still in love with Hannah. She, however, still feels a lot of bitterness over his treatment of her when he had first discovered her pregnancy.

To further complicate things, Hannah discovers something about herself and her health that has the power to change everything in her future…again. Will Martin accept what Hannah has to tell him or will it be Paul that picks up the pieces?

Either way, you won’t be disappointed! I don’t want to spoil things but I think you’ll be pretty happy with the conclusion!
View all my reviews|Excerpt

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When the Heart CriesWhenWhen the Soul Mends

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author who has written six novels, three novellas, and Plain Wisdom, a work of nonfiction coauthored with her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. She’s been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Review of "When the Morning Comes" by Cindy Woodsmall

When the Morning Comes (Sisters of the Quilt, #2)When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
★: Didn't Like it
★★: It was Ok
★★★: Liked it
★★★★: Really liked it
★★★★★: It was amazing
Suggested Age: 18+
Genre:Amish Fiction, Christian Fiction

When the Morning Comes is book two in the Sisters of the Quilt Trilogy. These are my three favorite Amish books of all-time. In fact, I enjoy this series so much that it is hard to review them because I’m afraid of not doing them justice.

If you made it through book one—you’re already familiar with the violence that was outlined in book one. I notice reviews here and there that mention put off by that event being in a Christian book and then particular sadness at the ending.

Towards the end of the last book and the start of this one is when you start seeing the rays of sunshine bringing some hope back into Hannah’s life. Her personal life is in shatters but she still has the love of God that is cushioning her heart and giving her comfort. Nevertheless…this word just sums Hannah up. If you’ve read the book—you’re going to get this word and the volumes that it speaks about Hannah, about the grace of God and about overcoming the trials of life.

I hope that you are taking away the wisdom and life applications that I have as I read this series. I learned so much about forgiveness and also about trusting in the Lord from this trilogy. I just can’t suggest this book enough—it is stellar!

This book picks up where “When the Heart Cries” leaves off. Hannah has left her home to escape the scrutiny and judgment of her family. She has lost her beloved Paul. She has lost her baby. Nevertheless…

Hannah settles into her aunt’s home and forges new friendship and a new life. Though her heart still aches for Paul—she starts to find some comfort in her aunt’s dear friend, Martin.

Back in Owl’s Perch, Paul is grieved at his treatment of Hannah. He still loves her and he starts to consider how he can find her and get her back.

Meanwhile, Sarah is becoming increasingly unstable. Like Hannah, Sarah is receiving very little support at home and her behavior is threatening to become dangerous. With his daughter’s lives in tatters, Mr. Lapp is convinced more than ever of his eldest daughter’s sin.

Nevertheless…Hannah has started on her journey of self-discovery and healing. What will the future bring for her? Will she find a life among the English or will she return to Paul? Will she ever be able to forgive her family for their judgment?
View all my reviews|Excerpt

Have you ever faced a difficult situation like Hannah? Have you ever felt like your family wasn’t as supportive as they should have? What is your advice to someone who is dealing with pain and loss?


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When the Heart CriesWhenWhen the Soul Mends

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author who has written six novels, three novellas, and Plain Wisdom, a work of nonfiction coauthored with her dearest Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. She’s been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and has worked with National Geographic on a documentary concerning Amish life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review of "In the Field of Grace" by Tessa Afshar

In the Field of GraceIn the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
★: Didn't Like it
★★: It was Ok
★★★: Liked it
★★★★: Really liked it
★★★★★: It was amazing
Suggested Age: 18+
Genre:Biblical Fiction, Christian Fiction


I’m really not sure where to start with this review. I guess I’ll say—I LOVED the cover. I just wasn’t very crazy about the story.

I read quite a bit of historical fiction and Biblical fiction. I’m fine with fillers to the story but this stuff was kind of farfetched. Nowhere in the Bible does it mention that Boaz had another wife and children. I probably could have overlooked that but I also felt that some of the language wasn’t very—fitting. I don’t think “bumpkin” and “hussy” fits well in this type of story. I really can’t imagine Boaz even kidding with Ruth about her being a hussy…I think my jaw dropped when I read that. It feels too modern and out of place.

I also thought similes were overused and everyone in this story was nauseous over every little situation they faced in life. They were nauseous from heat or embarrassment or from hunger. These poor folks needed a prescription for Zofran…just saying.

Further, Ruth nearly died in every chapter it seems. This lady had very little luck. Heatstroke, hemorrhage, smoke inhalation…you name it and she nearly died from it.

I was also bothered that Ruth was credited as writing some of the poetry found in Song of Solomon—I’m not a Bible scholar so maybe I’m wrong but I’ve never read any inclination that Ruth was responsible for the poetry from the Song of Solomon. I read the author’s note on this matter but it still just didn’t resonate with me.

The swift point of view change from that of Ruth to Solomon and David was also rather abrupt. These are simply my views. You may read the book and love it. I won’t say that others shouldn’t read the book—simply that it was not a book that I particularly enjoyed.

Ruth the Moabite has traveled from Moab with her mother-in-law, Naomi. As expected, this story follows the basic storyline that is outlined in the Bible.

Ruth is a stranger in a strange land but finds the approval of Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. I thought the actual love story in this book was well written and the characters were fleshed out very well. Ruth and Boaz read in a voice that I would have imagined of them.

Overall, this book was okay. It’s not the worst book that I’ve ever read. I thought the characters were believable and even likable. You may or may not have the same issues that I had with the story. If you like Biblical fiction—you may still enjoy this tale!
View all my reviews|Excerpt

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Tessa Afshar was voted "New Author of the Year" for her novel, Pearl in the Sand (Reader's Choice Award 2011, sponsored by Family Fiction).

Her book, Harvest of Rubies, was nominated for the 2013 ECPA Book Award (formerly known as the Gold Medallion) in the fiction category.

Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last fourteen years in full-time Christian work.
I received this book free from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Review of 'Your Family in Pictures: The Parents' Guide to Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, and Everyday Life ' by Me Ra Koh

Your Family in Pictures: The Parents' Guide to Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, and Everyday LifeYour Family in Pictures: The Parents' Guide to Photographing Holidays, Family Portraits, and Everyday Life by Koh, Me Ra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For parents (especially moms) with little to no photography experience who want to capture better portraits and photos of their families using any camera.

What parent doesn’t want to capture the perfectly imperfect joy of family life through photos? From holidays and vacations to portraits and shared moments, celebrated photographer (and mom) Me Ra Koh not only helps moms and dads take better photos, but inspires them to discover photography as a way to connect with, cherish, and celebrate their family. With forty beautiful “photo recipes” anyone can follow—with any camera—preserving your family’s story has never been easier!

I was so excited to take this book! Photography is a passion of mind and as most of my friends know—I’m actually opening a new photography business called Simply Enchanted Photography.
The thing is though—it’s so much easier to take pictures of strangers than it is to take pictures of your family. You aren’t a photographer to your own children—you’re quite simply, mom.

I thought this book would provide me valuable tools and tips for photographing ‘my’ family. Instead, what I found was that this book had many wonderful tips, tricks and ideas that I will be able to carry through as I work with clients as well!

While I have a nice Canon DSLR, this book is still useful to anyone and it doesn’t require you to have a fancy camera to take nice pictures. The techniques suggested to getting your family’s attention and suggestions on how to build your photographer’s eye is helpful to anyone—new photographers or hobbyist especially.

Are you a new photographer or simply wanting to take better pictures of your family? Wherever you’re at in your photography goals—Capture life. Live life. Love life.
View all my reviews

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Me Ra Koh, affectionately known as The Photo Mom, is the leading photography expert and educator to moms with cameras. She hosts the Disney Junior TV show Capture Your Story with Me Ra Koh, and also writes a weekly column for Disney’s Babble.com

“I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.”