Monday, September 25, 2017

Plain Missing

GIVEAWAY
MILLER, EMMA
PLAIN MISSING

Inn owner Rachel Mast is no longer a devout member of the Amish community of Stone Mill, Pennsylvania, but she still cares deeply for them. So she's staying at her family's farm to help her mother through an illness -- and at the same time, trying to track down two missing people...

When the young gather to sing, it's usually an evening of wholesome fun -- but this time, the event has stirred whispers of scandal. Elsie Hostetler and her sweetheart, Datha Bender, never came home afterward. There's not even a trace of their horse and wagon, leading some to suspect that they've run off to marry and join the Englisch world.

But Rachel fears there's more to the story than a rebellious elopement. Her fiance, a state trooper, is out of town, so she starts investigating herself., using her Amish background to pry information from the tight-lipped community. It turns out things were not so peaceful between Elsie and Dathan -- and there was also a confrontation at the singing with a short-tempered ex-Marine. Among the simple houses and quiet country roads of Stone Mill, Rachel must find out just what kind of sins have been committed -- and who is in need of forgiveness...

My Review:

I love this series! I love Rachel and her crazy cat and unique friends and the interesting characters that make up Stone Mill -- both Amish and Englisch. This is the fourth book in  An Amish Mystery series but reads very well as a standalone. The only thing that carries over from one book to the next is the romance so Rachel is now engaged to the possible love interest in the first book. :-)

The mystery is heart wrenching and all too close to home. Rachel can't rest until she finds the answers her grieving community needs. Over time, she has gained the trust of her Amish neighbours who are more willing to talk to her than the police -- though not by much! But Rachel is nothing if not dogged and she's not about to give up. And neither is her Amish cousin, Mary Aaron, who makes a great sidekick.

This book has a bit more of a serious feel to it, though there are still plenty of quips and laughs too. There's a wonderful inspirational thread about finding spiritual peace in the hard times as Rachel begins to find a balance between her Amish and Englisch worlds.

But it is the relationship between Rachel and her mother that touched me the most. Though Rachel left the Amish over fifteen years ago, her mother has had a difficult time adjusting to the loss. If you've been following the series you'll have more of a feel for their relationship as their attempts to reconnect have slowly developed throughout the books and I was actually moved to tears at the end of this one!

Sweet perfection in a cozy mystery with an Amish twist!

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Plain Missing, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you leave your email in a comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easier for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday October 1 2017. Offers open to International Readers. Good luck!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

September Giveaway - Week Four



WON BY DONNA BROOKMYER

WON BY MARJORIE

WON BY MAXINE

WON BY BOOKS ARE A BLESSING (JOY)

WON BY CAITLIN

WON BY LUCY REYNOLDS

As always I will contact the winner by email, however, thanks to the nefarious ways of the internet, my email might land in your spam folder so keep your eyes peeled! If you haven't heard from me by Monday evening, please email me your snail mail address at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. From time to time a winner and I don't seem to connect so I have a one month time frame. If I can't reach you within four weeks, your win is forfeited. 

LOOKING AHEAD TO NEXT WEEK:

Argh -- picmonkey is no longer free so I can't make cutesy graphics.

Plain Missing by Emma Miller
Off the Grid Christmas by Mary Ellen Porter
Jane in Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge
Mending the Widow's Heart by Mia Ross
It Started With Goodbye by Christina June
What Once Was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Predator

GIVEAWAY
BLACKSTOCK, TERRI
PREDATOR

Her search for the predator has made her the prey

The murder of Krista Carmichael's fourteen-year-old sister by an online predator has shaken her faith and made her question God's justice and protection. Desperate to find the killer, she creates an online persona to bait the predator. But when the stalker turns his sights on her, will Krista being able to control the outcome?

Ryan Adkins started the social network GrapeVyne in his college dorm and has grown it into a billion dollar corporation. But he never expected it to become a killing ground for online predators. One of them lives in his town and has killed two girls and attacked a third. When Ryan meets Krista, the murders become more than a news story for him, and everything is on the line.

My Review:

published in 2010

And seven years later this is as pertinent today. Chilling, actually. Blackstock delves into the seedier side of social media and shows how we make it easy for all kinds of predators to find their next victim. Particularly the over sharing that is so prevalent among teens. A perfect recipe for a serial killer and Blackstock takes us on a nail-biting journey of despair and terror.

Krista, driven to avenge her sister's death; Ryan driven to prove his brain child isn't to blame. Explosive doesn't begin to describe their first meeting...or even their second. Krista is scathing and indignant. Ryan tries to be compassionate in a defensive sort of way. It takes  some time before they agree on a truce and begin to work together to expose the .'Grapevyne Killer.'

The author deals with heavy subject material and she doesn't pull any punches. Krista is devastated over her sister's death and her safe world and untried faith are deeply shaken. Her battle to trust God in the midst of the impossible is a moving tribute to women of faith everywhere who have overcome insurmountable odds.

I knew I shouldn't start reading this book right before bed but I couldn't resist. Just one chapter, I promised myself...and then didn't look up until the wee hours of the morning when I reached the end. It's that kind of a page-turning read.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to read Predator, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add your email to a comment, please remember to use AT or DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easier for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday September 24 2017. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Mountain Country Cowboy

GIVEAWAY
KAYE, GLYNNA
MOUNTAIN COUNTRY COWBOY

Second Chance Daddy

When he's offered a job at Hunter's Hideaway, single dad Cash Herrera immediately accepts. It means the former bad boy can start over and gain custody of his son, Joey. Still, small-town folk have long memories -- especially Cash's pretty childhood nemesis, Rio Hunter is is now a lovely, courageous woman...and Cash's new boss. Past betrayal makes them both wary, and Rio's secret promise will soon take her away from Hunter Ridge. Yet working with Cash and teaching Joey about her beloved horses draw her closer to both. Can she create a loving family with the man who's claiming her future?

Hearts of Hunter Ridge: Finding true love in Arizona mountain country

My Review:

Blissful sigh. This Princess and Cowboy have me all twitterpated. Toe-curling and infuriating all wrapped up in a bushel full of emotion. I wanted to knock heads and hug-smother them in turn. Rio because she's so quick to judge and gnarly stubborn. Cash because he thinks Rio deserves someone better than him and he's gnarly stubborn too. Gah! You don't get much better than Cash for hero material though! Except Rio won't trust her gut and believe in him...at first. Okay, so she might have some history that leads her to be wary but still...Gah! (you might say this is a gah-licious read!) I do so love being antsy over characters' behaviour in a story.

Both hero and heroine have been wounded in their pasts and they carry those scars into a burgeoning new relationship. It's awkward and painful and sweet and poignant. And even though their faith sustains them, it doesn't mean they are always in tune with the promptings of the Spirit. Sometimes they are just plain o' deer-in-the-headlights stuck when it comes to seeking inspiration.

Kaye takes a heart wrenching look at ways we try to bargain with God. I think if we're honest, we all have tried to manipulate outcomes by promising God something in order to get something. Even if it is for a greater good, it's still trying to bend God to our will. But oh, it is so hard to trust that He is sovereign. To bend our will to His when we don't have the advantage of seeing the bigger picture.

Heartwarming and inspirational with a whole lot of toe curls along the way.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Mountain Country Cowboy, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add your email to a comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easier for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday September 24 2017. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wings of the Wind

GIVEAWAY
COSSETTE, CONNILYN
WINGS OF THE WIND

Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman's destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?

Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting. Whne her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties. Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Hebrew camp, he's unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.

In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy. But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?

My Review:

This author has an amazing gift for bringing biblical stories to life. Yes, she uses some poetic license to fill in the blanks, but she still stays true to scripture. I can't imagine the amounts of research she had to do in order to present this time period -- the customs and culture and Mosaic Law -- in such vivid detail It's quite breathtaking!

As is the romance. Seriously -- who would think to center a love story around the end of the forty year trek through the wilderness? One of the most blood-thirsty and violent times in Old Testament history. And yet, Alanah and Tobiah's relationship blossoms with such sweet tenderness despite the chaos around them.

I love Alanah's conversion story. Her life changes when she opens her heart to the Voice of Yahweh. All the neglect and abuse washes away as she finally accepts that she is cherished. Both by God and Tobiah. But don't expect a happily ever after to come easily! The plot takes an unexpected twist and I am amazed at the way Cossette weaves Alanah's story into scripture. Intense page-turning stuff worthy of many gasp-out-loud moments! A stunning reimagining of  a pivotal time in biblical history.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Wings of the Wind, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add your email to your comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject  line so it's easier for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday September 24 2017. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Undercover Amish

GIVEAWAY
GIUSTI, DEBBY
UNDERCOVER AMISH

Amish Country Refuge

After Hannah Miller's mother is murdered and her sisters go missing, someone comes after her. Now the only way she can survive is to entrench herself in an Amish community...and rely on Lucas Grant, a former police officer who is planning to join the Amish faith, for protection. But finding refuge for Hannah -- disguised as Plain at a secluded inn -- pulls Lucas back into his old life. And when Lucas discovers the criminals after them may be the people who killed his partner, the mission to take them down becomes personal. With the assailants closing in, though, can Lucas stop them...and finally put his past behind him to start an Amish life with Hannah?

Amish Protectors: These heroes offer shelter from the storm

My Review:

Intense suspense and toe-curling romance make this a read-in-one-sitting kind of book. Take a deep breath before diving in because you won't want to come up for air until everything is all resolved. Well...almost everything because this is the second book in the Amish protectors series and there is still one sister MIA. No worries, it's not really a cliff hanger ending though younger sister Sarah is still missing. Both Undercover Amish and the first book, Amish Refuge, read easily as standalones. I'm just really looking forward to when the sister are finally reunited. I need a happily ever after for everyone! :-)

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Undercover Amish, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add your email to your comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easier for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on Sunday September 24 2017. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Hideaway

GIVEAWAY
DENTON, LAUREN K.
THE HIDEAWAY

When her grandmother's  will wrenches Sara back home, she knows more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever knew in life.

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags's ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed The Hideaway to her and charged her with renovating it -- no small task considering her grandmother's best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still lives there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid drywall dust, old memories, and a charming contractor; she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.

Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags's friends, Sara begins to piece together they mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed her grandmother's destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice -- stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she's grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

My Review:

This debut novel has created quite a buzz and is currently #19 on Amazon's most sold list not to mention having nearly 500 reviews. The vast majority are 4 and 5 star but this book isn't without controversy so there are a number of low ratings (1 and 2 star) as well. So, what's all the fuss about?

Well, in a nutshell, this is Christian fiction pushing the limits so this book might not be for everyone. In fact, I wasn't sure about it myself and started reading with some trepidation. It wasn't long before Denton's charming Southern style captivated me. I didn't know there was such a thing as Southern Fiction, but apparently there is and The Hideaway is a prime example of all that is good in that genre.

This story is about family -- the one we are born into and the one we choose to belong to. It's real and raw -- unapologetically celebrating the lives and loves of a diverse cast of flawed characters. And, just as in real life, the author doesn't shy away from controversial subject matter. I appreciate her honesty and compassion and the fact that she moved me to dig beneath the surface about some hard-hitting issues. Sometimes it was uncomfortable -- especially Mags's story line -- but I feel like I have stretched and grown from it.

Some reviewers will say there isn't an inspirational thread. That The Hideaway is a mainstream book that just happens to have a Christian publisher. And I'll admit to agreeing with them at first. Then, somewhere around the half way mark I realized the inspiration was there, woven in an understated way throughout. It's especially evident in Mags's story. In some ways she hasn't lived an exemplary life but in her own eccentric way she has indeed been the hands and feet of Christ to so many.

There are two short church scenes -- subtle but significant. They reveal Mags's relationship with God and it really humbled me. This will sound crazy -- but I was suddenly overcome with such love and compassion for this complicated woman despite some of her past actions. I guess I stopped judging so I could actually see her as the daughter of God she is. Yes, I know she's just a character in a novel, but if I can't extend grace to fictional folk how can I ever hope to extend it to the real people in my life?

The dual timeline plot was a real draw for me. Sara, in present day, returns to The Hideaway to deal with the aftermath of her grandmother's death. In the process she learns a lot about herself and about the quirky grandmother who used to be an embarrassment when she was a teen. The reader is treated to flashbacks of Mags's life from her early twenties until her death. Past and present are exquisitely woven together into a rich tapestry of life and love, loss and hope.

I love that the B&B is called The Hideaway -- because that's what it became for Mags. It was her hiding place for a time and then it became her standing ground.  The same can be said for Sara as well. It's details like this that make The Hideaway such an exquisite read and give avid readers so much to talk about. Definitely an excellent choice for a book club read.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY:

If you would like a chance to win a copy of The Hideaway, leave a comment below or email me at kavluvstoreadATyahooDOTca. If you add your email to a comment, remember to use AT and DOT instead of @ and . in order to protect yourself from spammers. If you enter the draw via email, please add the title to the subject line so it's easier for me to spot your entry. Draw will be held and winner announced on September 24 2017. Offer open to International Readers. Good luck!