A Wedding Invitation, by Alice J. Wisler

This book was disappointing for me. I never did figure out how the beginning of the story, when Samantha Bravencourt accidentally attends the wrong wedding, ties in with the rest of the book. The plot is extremely slow-paced. I wanted to like Samantha’s love interest, Carson, but I couldn’t. He was a wimp. In moments that called for him to pursue her, he backed off. Samantha and Carson are at odds with each other for most of the book, and not in a romantic tension/repressed passion sort of way where you know they’re really just aching to fall into each other’s arms and start smooching. Rather, they are cold and distant and bitter, because they are both lousy at communicating. The actual words of this book are written well enough, but the plot and characters did not hold my interest.

While I don’t recommend this book, I have read another of Alice J. Wisler’s books, Hatteras Girl, which I liked better than this.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review.


More on Cindy Woodsmall’s Latest Book

Cindy Woodsmall is one of the best writers of Amish fiction. I love how she deals with the tension of being Amish in a 21st-century world. It’s always interesting to see how her characters face the challenges of being in the world, but not of it.

Cindy’s latest book, The Christmas Singing, is available now and would make a great Christmas gift for the person on your list who enjoys Amish fiction. Here is a book trailer:

And you can read the first chapter of the book here.

If you wish to purchase the book, you can receive 30% off by ordering here and using coupon code CHRISTMAS11. This code is good through December 20, 2011.

You can read my review of The Christmas Singing here.

Disclosure: For promoting this book, I will be receiving compensation in the form of a new book from Waterbrook.



Family Update

This is our first year of homeschooling. D.L.F. learned to read when he was three and has had his head in a book ever since, but this year, we have added math and handwriting. He is getting the hang of both, and Cupcake is picking up a lot as well. D.L.F. is participating in a community youth choir, and he and Cupcake both love going to AWANA every week. At 16 months now, Smiley is such a sweetheart, always giving kisses and following us around. She has learned to walk within the past few weeks, and her ratio of walking to crawling is heavy on the walking side now. She also has quite a few words, or at least sounds she consistently uses to represent particular words. She is very good at communicating. She loves to be read to, and is constantly shoving books at us, exclaiming, “Boo! Boooooo!”

T is employed at a job he loves, which is such a blessing. He is a wonderful Papa and a romantic and caring husband, and I am so blessed to be married to him. I thank God for him every single day.

I am back in college, working toward a Bible and Theology degree (no, I don’t know what I’m going to “do” with it; it’s more for personal enrichment at this point, and I am open to God’s leading for the future). I’m in a degree completion program, so I only have class one night a week, but there is a lot of outside work, more than I anticipated. I’m loving it, though. I always hoped I would get to finish college one way or another, and I’m grateful that the opportunity opened up for me to go back.

We just put up most of our Christmas decorations, and I’m starting to think about holiday baking. I think my favorite type of holiday cookie is Snowballs, a.k.a. Mexican Wedding Cakes, a.k.a. Russian Tea Cakes.

That’s it in a nutshell. ūüôā

An Amish Wedding, by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long

This book is unique in that it contains three novellas, which are each written by a different author, but all are about characters in the same Amish community. Each of the novellas captures the courtship of a different couple. An Amish Wedding is a sweet, quick read, but none of the stories are particularly memorable or beautifully written. The novella format does not allow for much development of the characters, so they are all fairly one-dimensional. Especially in the middle novella, entitled “A Perfect Match,” the main characters are just too perfect. They have basically no flaws, which to me, makes them kind of boring. This book is all right, but there’s better Amish fiction available.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Love on the Line, by Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist has done it again in her latest unique, hilarious, riveting historical romance novel.¬†In¬†Love on the Line, Georgie Gail has a dream career for a young woman in the early 1900’s. By day, she operates the telephone switchboard for her community, and in her free time, she has plenty of time to indulge in her favorite past-time of¬†bird-watching. When Luke Palmer is assigned to work undercover in Georgie’s office, she alternates between resenting his intrusion and finding him fascinatingly mysterious. Luke is attracted to Georgie, but he can’t even tell her who he really is, much less offer her a secure lifestyle, given the nature of his work as a Texas Ranger.

I have read all of Dee’s books, and let me just say, without exception, every time I start one, I end up staying up until the middle of the night to finish it. They’re just that engaging. Her¬†characters are always colorful and memorable and perhaps a bit larger-than-life, and yet are somehow still completely relatable.

If you love historical romance, you will love this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Christmas Singing, by Cindy Woodsmall

I am a big fan of Cindy Woodsmall. I have read all of her books, receive her newsletter, “like” her on Facebook, etc., so I was super excited to have the opportunity to review her new novella, The Christmas Singing. The story centers on Mattie Eash, a creative and scatterbrained cake decorator who is trying to move on with her life after the man she loved dumped her with no explanation. I recognized some of the characters from Cindy Woodsmall’s earlier novella, The Sound of Sleigh Bells. The Christmas Singing¬†can stand alone, but I recommend reading The Sound of Sleigh Bells first.

I was a little disappointed in The Christmas Singing, and here’s why: compared with the high standard of Cindy’s other novels, The Christmas Singing seemed predictable and formulaic. Some of the phrasing is awkward, and some of the dialogue is unrealistic. Considering that it is the book’s title, I thought that the Christmas Singing aspect should have been explained and played up a little more. And I know that a novella only has so many pages to work with, but I really thought there should have been more overall interaction and romantic tension (it is a romance novel, after all) between Mattie and Gideon.

All that aside, though, The Christmas Singing is a pleasant, cozy holiday read, and I do recommend it, even with its faults. Cindy Woodsmall is still one of my favorite authors, and I look forward to reading her novella, The Scent of Cherry Blossoms, when it comes out in February 2012.

You can read an excerpt of The Christmas Singing here.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: The Doctor’s Lady, by Jody Hedlund

I found out that Jody Hedlund is a homeschooling mom of five kids, so it’s amazing that she made the time to research and write this book, but I’m glad she did. The story is very, very loosely based (“inspired by” might be more accurate) on the historical figures of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and their fellow missionaries and travel companions Henry and Eliza Spalding.

In The Doctor’s Lady, Priscilla White and Eli Ernest are pressed into a marriage of convenience based on their common calling to be missionaries in an era (the 1830’s) when missions organizations would only support married candidates. Priscilla and Eli agree to live as “business partners,” so that if the living conditions in the untamed West are too rough on a refined East Coast lady, they could get an annulment and Priscilla could go back home. This arrangement becomes increasingly difficult as Priscilla and Eli grow in respect and attraction toward each other as they travel the Oregon Trail toward the Native American people they plan to live among.

Jody Hedlund does a great job of detailing the sights, smells, and sounds of the westward journey and portraying just how challenging it was–especially for women, and even more so for women who were pregnant or caring for young children. Priscilla’s devotion to God, willingness to sacrifice everything, and love for unsaved people serve as an example for every Christian.

Eli, though he has his faults, is a good hero: brave, capable, chivalrous, and charming. And he flirts with his wife, which gains him even more points with me.

I didn’t want to put this book down! You can probably figure this out without my saying so, but it has a happy ending, and I do love a happy ending.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Budding Artist

Cupcake (3) drew this picture on the Doodle Pro of “somebody swimming in the water.” Cute, huh?

Book Review: Restless in Carolina, by Tamara Leigh

I had several false starts before I really got into this book (not to mention the fact that I misplaced my review copy and had to go check the book out from the public library), but once I embraced the book for what it is, which is southern chick lit, I was able to enjoy it. What annoyed me at first is that the book starts out with an unrealistic conversation between the main character, Bridget, and her twin 5-year-old niece and nephew about Bridget’s personal life. Then I realized that maybe the conversation was only unrealistic to me because I’m not southern, and I’m not used to people being “in each other’s business” to the degree they are in this book.

All that aside, Bridget is feisty and unique (there probably aren’t too many books in which the main character keeps an opossum for a pet), and the way she works through her grief over her husband’s death four years earlier and her subsequent anger with God seems realistic.

I wish the character of J.C. Dirk had been developed more and that he and Bridget spent more time together in the book, but I guess there’s only so much an author can do in 300-ish pages.

Restless in Carolina is the third book in the Southern Discomfort series by Tamara Leigh, but it stands alone well. I have not read the other books in the series, but I had no trouble following the characters or plot of this book.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Review: Surprised by Oxford, by Carolyn Weber

Surprised by Oxford is a memoir of how a girl met God at Oxford; of how God gently wooed her to Himself, revealed Himself in ways she could not deny, and used other believers to help her work through her many objections to Christianity.

In addition to being an engaging story, Surprised by Oxford is beautifully written, featuring memorable imagery and clever turns of phrase. I rarely re-read books, but this is one that I’d like to re-read and even underline favorite passages. I highly recommend it.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.