Monday, September 30, 2013

Return To Me By Lynn Austin Book Review

/ / Return To Me / /

/ / Review By Madi / /

Book Title: Return To Me
Author: Lynn Austin
Source: The Litfuse Publicity Group
Number Of Pages: 459
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0898-0
Publisher: Bethany House
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
/ / Book Description / /
After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo's prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God's chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain.
Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers.
Bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, "Return to Me" tells the compelling story of Iddo and Zechariah, the women who love them, and the faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
 I love Lynn Austin. She has a great writing style. When I found out that she was about to be releasing another book, I was pretty darn excited. I'm so grateful to Bethany House for giving me the opportunity to read and review Return To Me. I had big expectations for this book, and it surpassed them all.
After several decades of being servants in a foreign land (Babylon), the people of Jerusalem are finally free to return home and start rebuilding their city. The most important things to the Jews when they start out on their mission is to rebuild God's temple. They start out completely focused on their mission, but when trials come, they start to crumble under the weight of expectation. When they arrive, they put off the building project to make themselves houses and shelters, then it's put off again because their neighbors destroy part of their supplies, then it is put off yet again when the King receives false information and forbids them to continue. So many things that God's people are letting hinder them from their calling to build God a dwelling place, so many things that are taking their eyes off the prize. Will God's chosen people ever fulfill their destiny?
Iddo is an old man that has been cursed with memories of being forced out of his homeland; Jerusalem. The Babylonians killed his family and forced him to leave the only home he had ever known. When he is released to return home, he is ecstatic.
Dinah (Iddo's wife), was born and raised in Babylon. It's all she knows. When her husband announces his plans to move, Dinah is crushed. What if her sons decide not to go with them? She will not only have to leave everything that she loves, but also everyone she knows. Dinah is a strong woman, but every person has their breaking point.
Zechariah is the eldest grandson of Iddo and Dinah, and he is already showing signs of great worth at the tender young age of thirteen. He is a Levite, and he knows that he is called by God to be a priest for his people. He starts his training early, and becomes a priest at the age of thirty. When Zechariah makes the decision to travel to Jerusalem with his grandparents and leave his father and mother behind, this young boy has no idea what lay ahead. He must face many trials, but God always pulled him through.
This was one of the best books that I have read in a long time. The Biblical history included in this novel was astonishing, and every detail was described so vividly that my imagination lacked nothing. Every character was so easy to relate to, and they were all included equally throughout the story. I usually don't like it when a story has to keep up with several people and what they are up to, but I think that Lynn Austin did a marvelous job bringing each individual to their perfect spot in the story. Everything was just so well blended together that I didn't even mind how many characters I had to keep up with. There was only one thing that I wasn't too terribly fond of in this book.
The only thing that I didn't really care for was how often there was mention of pagan practices. Zechariah's best friend (Yael) was into worshiping the moon and telling fortunes with the stars. Though Yael eventually came to believe in the one true God through Zachariah, there was a good piece of the book focused on the Babylonian habits that she had picked up. Other than that, this book was top notch!
~Madi For The Literary Maidens
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge by the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts and sentiments expressed in this post are completely mine and totally unbiased.

Monthly Reflections :: September 2013 {#5}

Hello Literary Maidens!

Since we had to skip last months Monthly Reflections post due to time, we are even more excited to get back with this months post, to share with you all a total of all the books us girls read in September. Even though September was a busy month for the both of us girls, we are happy with the amount of reading we got in and really enjoyed the books we read this month. So here's a list of the books we read this past month and what we rated them!

// Books Bethany Read In September //
Bethany's September Ratings:
Tattler's Branch by Jan Watson (Review Book) // 5 stars
Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund (Review Book) // 5 stars
A Home for My Heart by Ann Mateer (Review Book)  // 5 stars
Love's Awakening by Laura Franzt (Library Book) // 4 stars
City on Fire by Tracy L. Higley (Review Book) // 5 stars
Glittering Promises by Lisa Bergren (Review Book) // 5 stars
// Books Madi Read In September //
Madi's September Ratings:
Eventide by Shelley Shepard Gray (Review Book) // 4 stars
Before The Dawn by Kathleen Bauer (Review Book) // 4 stars
Wounded By God's People by Anne Graham Lotz (Review Book) // 5 stars
Sweet September by Kathleen Bauer (Review Book) // 4 stars
The Miner's Lady by Tracy Peterson (Review Book) // 5 stars
The Secret Keeper by Beverly Lewis (Review Book) // 5 stars
The Bargain by Stephanie Reed (Review Book) // 3 stars
A Christmas Gift For Rose by Tricia Goyer (Review Book) // 5 stars
Return To Me by Lynn Austin (Review Book) // 5 stars
So there you have it! That's what The Literary Maidens read in the month of September! What did you read this past month? Have you read any of the books we did, or enjoy that particular author? If so we'd love to know about it so please share down in a comment! We hope you all have a blessed October and that September was a good month, reading-wise, for you all!
~ The Literary Maidens

P.S. Starting tomorrow on Bethany's other blog Giveaways of Blessing, there will be a big autumn blog party called FALLing Into Fall, where there will be lots of giveaways and other autumn fun! Find out more HERE!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fired Up By Mary Connealy Blog Tour

/ / Fired Up / /

{Trouble In Texas, Book 2}


{Review By Madi}
Title: Fired Up
Author: Mary Connealy
Source: Review Book From Litfuse
Number Of Pages: 334
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0915-4
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars

/ / Book Description / /

Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can't let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he's trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she's determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she's terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner—never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.

Glynna can't help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There's the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna's diner into Dare's back. Are Flint's cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna's son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?

/ / Madi's Book Review / /

I read and reviewed the first book in this series (Swept Away) whenever it came out, and ever since  then I have been counting down the days to get this one in my hands. So far each book has been about one of the "brothers", and there are a few of them left, so maybe (hopefully) there will be another installment in the "Trouble In Texas" series. Not to mention that Mary Connealy is one of my all time favorite authors. I always get SUPER excited when she has a new book coming out.
  I've been looking forward to Fired Up for months.
Doctor Dare Riker is the town doctor, and a fine one at that. He thinks of himself as under qualified for his job, and apparently so does someone else, because someone is trying to kill the man. He survives a man-made avalanche, someone trying to burn his house/doctors office to the ground (with him in it!), a stab wound to the back, and more. Let me tell you, Dare is one tough cookie. And to top it all off, while he is trying to stay alive he is also trying to woo Glynna Greer, (and round up her rowdy son).  Is all this more than one man can handle?
Glynna Greer is a widow woman. She has been married two times, but both husbands have already died. Her second husband Clint Greer (the lousy skunk) died at the hand of Doctor Riker. Nobody wanted to kill anyone, but when you're defending those close to you, you got to do what you got to do. To Glynna, Dare is her knight in shining armor. She was tired of being beat up and thrown around, plus because of two lousy fathers her son Paul was going downhill fast. His heart was hard and bitter, and Glynna doesn't know if she will ever be able to penetrate the wall that he has built up around his heart. His distrust runs not only to  the men he grew up with, but to all men. This boy has some serious problems to work through.
Dare, Glynna and her kids, and all the "brothers" come together to solve the mystery of Riker's attacker, and what they find both shocks them and confirms their suspicions. This book is very well written, and it definitely shows some good ol' Texas charm. And it has one thing that all of Connealy's books contain: humor. Some of the things she writes are just downright funny! Especially the scenes where Glynna is in the kitchen. I would encourage anyone and everyone to read this book, I'm quite sure that you won't regret it.

/ / Favorite Quotes From Fired Up / /

"Only a true friend could comfort you and mock you at the same time"
"I Probably wouldn't let you perform an operation, but you can't hurt Elias with this. And you know, Jesus sent the disciples out to practice medicine without a license, and heaven knows I do it, so why shouldn't you?"
"Don't talk unless you can improve the silence."
"It's not an insult to say a lunatic is a lunatic. It's like saying that water is wet."
 Note: I was sent a copy of Fired Up free of charge by the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to give this book a good review if I found it unworthy of one.
~Madi For The Literary Maidens

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii By Tracy L. Higley Book Review

17586440// City on Fire //
A Novel of Pompeii
By Tracy L. Higley
{Review By Bethany}
Title: City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii
Author: Tracy L. Higley
Source: BookSneeze Blogger Review Program
Number of Pages: 400
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication Date: September 17th, 2013
Age Recommendation: 16+ years old
Bethany's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
// Book Synopsis //
"A Jewish slave girl fights for her life in first-century Pompeii on the eve of the city’s destruction.
Wealthy Roman patrician Cato came to the seaside town of Pompeii to build a new business, but hostility and outright corruption threaten his carefully laid plans and ignite his desire for social justice. Meanwhile, Ariella, an escaped Jewish slave girl, comes to town with a gladiator troupe. Disguised as a young boy, Ariella’s only ambition is survival.

Ariella and Cato face political intrigue, religious persecution, and family peril even as the ominous mountain in the distance begins to spew its fire. They must bridge their differences to save the lives of those they love before fiery ash buries Pompeii, turning the city into a lost world."

// Bethany's Book Review //

 So, let's be honestly realistic here. It's no secret that the long forgotten city of Pompeii wasn't, well, the most moral of cities (!) In fact, usually whenever the topic is brought up concerning this city, horribly immoral stories are told of the ways of the Pompeian's, complete with descriptions of the utterly depraved practices of the city. So obviously, when first learning of a novel based on the vile city of Pompeii, the first thing to come to mind would be a deep concern for the appropriate level of historical facts about this extremely immoral city. At least, that's what first popped into my mind! And to be completely honest, it nearly turned me one hundred percent off to this novel instantly, before even really looking it over, just based off the place it is set in. But, after reading helpful reviews of the book written by my fellow book friends on Good Reads, (A big thanks to you ladies!) I decided to step out and take the risk and request to review this book. And let me just say I'm so very glad that I did! Otherwise I'd have sorely missed out on one of my favorite reads of 2013, as well as the newfound discovery of a new favorite author!
To start, I just want to say that this book exceeded my expectations in a far greater way than I could even have imagined. Once I finished it, I was just blow away with how well written the story was, as well as all the historical details and spiritual values in it. The character development in this novel was phenomenal as there is so much growth between the characters as the story progresses. I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to read about the characters, and it made me feel like I was there in Pompeii at times.
Another thing that blew me away with this story is all the historical facts and details that left me with a much greater understanding of Pompeii than before I opened the pages of this book. It's clear just how much time Tracy spent in researching the culture, and lifestyles of the Pompeian's; and at the end of the book I really enjoyed reading about all the additional facts about Pompeii as well as learning which characters really were real Pompeian's.
However, the biggest con for me with this story was how even though there was a strong immoral thread, the author also wove a thick Christian strand into the story and gave the storyline a strong Christian influence. Unlike other novels written on Pompeii from a atheistic author point of view, I found it refreshing to find a book that while plainly stated the vileness of Pompeii, it was from a Christian point of view and kept details to a minimum; as it promoted the Christian values versus the Pompeian values. While there were a lot of times when the ways of the Pompeian's were clearly stated, it wasn't exaggerated, or glorified. It was just told as is, without detail. I loved how Tracy incorporated the life's of the early Christians into the novel to compare to the Pompeian's. It was an interesting contrast and one that got me to thinking about the lives of the early Christians and the difficulty their faith brought to their life.
Another thing I loved about this book was the way it opened my eyes to the life lesson of living each day as if it where your last. When reading this book, I would always be reminded that seemingly big circumstances to the characters were actually not as big when put in light of the fact that the city was in it's last days, and really made me see the characters differently.
Now while this is in my opinion a phenomenal historical fiction novel, there are a couple mature reader scenes/content that I feel must be mentioned. And it should also be noted that this is by no means a book that is appropriate for every age level. Though I will state that the author deals with it very well. While she doesn't leave out details or take away from the historical accurateness of the city by glossing over their culture - all be it an extremely nasty one - she states things plainly but without detail or extravagance. The mature reader content in this novel included violence in scenes in the gladiatorial events, public persecution of Christians, vileness of masters when mistreating their servants, as well as the obviously painful deaths of Pompeian's when Mount Vesuvius erupted. As well as topics concerning brothels, and discreet mentions of the evils so prevalent to that time period which were performed out in the open, especially the numerous gods of the people and their forms of worship in temples. While the topic came up more times than I'd have cared for, I'll say it was dealt with in the discreet way possible given the setting. Another thing to be noted was the vile gay views for most Pompeian's who were passionate about this view which so clearly goes against Christian values. So I would strongly urge that for younger readers, before reading this book to think through the cons as well as discuss them with your parents before venturing into this story.
In all, though there are a few cons to this story, all of them being the mature content, I'd say that the historical benefit and the wonderfully written story line makes it worth it and a book to long stay in ones mind. I eagerly await the publication of future Tracy Higley novels and am so glad I ended up reading this book as I feel like I've benefited from it greatly!!
N O T E :: I'd like to sincerely thank Thomas Nelson publishers of for the opportunity to review this book. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts expressed are my own, completely honest and unbiased.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Bargain By Stephanie Reed Book Review


/ / The Bargain / /

{Review By Madi}

Book Title: The Bargain
Author: Stephanie Reed
Source: Review Book From The Litfuse Publicity Group
Number Of Pages: 178
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars
/ / Book Description / /
It's 1971, and Betsie Troyer's peaceful and predictable life is about to become anything but.

When their parents flee the Amish, nineteen-year-old Betsie and her seventeen-year-old sister Sadie are distraught. Under the dubious guidance of a doting aunt, the girls struggle to keep the secret, praying their parents will return before anyone learns the truth--a truth that may end all hopes of Betsie's marriage to Charley Yoder.

Worse still, Betsie must learn a trade while she boards with a dysfunctional Englisher family: Sheila, a twelve-year-old desperately searching for a friend and in dire need of her mother; the free-spirited mother, who runs off to "find herself" on the stage; the angry father whose structured life crumbles; and Michael, a troubled college dropout nearly killed in the Kent State Massacre.

Thrust into the English world, Betsie must grapple with the realities of war and miniskirts, pot parties and police brutality, protests and desertion. Can she help the Sullivan family and find peace in her new surroundings, or must she forget the bargain she made and seek refuge back in Plain City with protective and reliable Charley?
 / / Madi's Book Review / /
 Betsie is a sweet, innocent Amish girl helping her cousin out while he serves in the military. Her family has to give her a substantial amount of help with talking their Bishop into letting her board with an English (non-Amish) family, but eventually it works out for her to go. She starts her job at a leather shop, and she loves it. Or, should I say, she loves it when she actually gets the opportunity to work? Her boss's bum/hippie son is supposed to be training her, but he always seems to have better things to do. When she isn't working in the shop (which is constantly), she takes to keeping house for her employers family. The mother of this family always has her head in the clouds, thinking that if she just practices enough, she will one day make it big on Broadway. Needless to say, practicing her lines takes up most of her time, and she is basically neglectful of her family. When Betsie starts taking over the running of the home, the lady of the house hands it to her gladly. It doesn't take Betsie long to figure out that this family isn't anything like the one that she grew up in, and it's not just the cultural differences that throw her off. This family has some major issues to sort out.
 Meanwhile, at her own home, Betsie is dealing with the loss of her parents. No, they didn't die, they left the Amish faith. Which, to Betsie, was an even bigger form of betrayal than death. How could they break the promises they made to the church, long before she was ever even born? How could they desert their two almost-grown daughters? How could they abandon everything they had taught Betsie and her siblings since the day of their birth? It just wasn't right. At first, Betsie is sure that it's just a phase. She was sure they would come back eventually. I mean, how could they not? But slowly she comes to realization that her parents are gone for good, and now she must face the Amish community and take blame for her parents mistakes.
All at once, things seem to gradually grow worse, both at home, and at work. Will she ever get a break? Will she ever feel true peace again?
This book, though well written, was kind of, well, boring. Nothing new here. There was really nothing in it that made it stand out from your average Amish novel. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. It took me FOREVER to finish it. It would probably make a good read for someone looking for a slower moving book with good dialoge, but it's not for me. I like suspense, action and surprise, and this didn't really come through on that. I might have given it a higher rating if there was at least ONE character that took things seriously. I don't know. It just wasn't my cup of tea, ya know? I hope that if you read it, you enjoy it, but I probably won't be reading any more books by this author unless it comes highly recommended.
/ / Favorite Quotes From "The Bargain" / /
"I don't know what to make of Michael. He's like Ohio weather; if you don't like it, wait fifteen minutes for a change."
"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor the man perfected without trials."
"Young bucks like to try out their antlers some."
"The problem with the English is that everyone wants to lead. No one wants to submit to authority."
"A change of clothes doesn't mean a change of heart."
"Love helps us do for others what we would never have the courage to do on our own."
"The wounds that hurt the most are those which are allowed to fester."
~Madi For The Literary Maidens
Note: I was provided with a free copy of "The Bargain" by the Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not paid to do this review, and all thoughts expressed are completely my own and totally unbiased.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Home For My Heart By Anne Mateer Book Review

// A Home For My Heart //
By Anne Mateer
{Review By Bethany}
 Title: A Home For My Heart
Author: Anne Mateer

Source: Review Book from
Bethany House Publishers
Number of Pages:
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: September 15th, 2013

Bethany's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

// Book Synopsis //

"Sadie Sillsby works as the assistant to the matron at the Raystown Home for Orphan and Friendless Children and dreams of the day she’ll marry her beau, Blaine. But when the matron surprises everyone by announcing her own engagement, Sadie is suddenly next in line for the job. For a young woman who was once an orphan herself, a shot at such an esteemed position is a wish come true.

But the matron of the Home cannot be married. Is Sadie willing to give up her dreams of a life with Blaine and a family of her own? Is she prepared to forego daily involvement with the children as she manages the finances and logistics of the ministry? And when it’s revealed that the Home is spending a lot more money than it’s taking in, can Sadie turn things around before the place is forced to close forever?"

// Bethany's Book Review //

In the style of Janette Oke comes this heartwarming story from author Anne Mateer, set in the 1900s over the backdrop of  the charming Home For Orphans and Friendless Children orphanage.
This is the second book that I've read which was written by Anne Mateer, and once again I've been extremely impressed with her novels! I loved A Home For My Heart so very much, and am very glad I had the opportunity to review it as I'll probably want to re-read it one day.
This story is set at the Raystown Home For Orphans and Friendless Children, which is based on a real orphanage bearing the same name in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania during the late 1800's to early 1900's. I found this very interesting that while this novel was a work of fiction, it still bore the legacy of the real orphanage which sheltered children long ago.
I loved how this setting brought forth the aspect of the different children that lived at the Home, and their unique circumstances coupled with how the workers dealt with those things and provided comfort for the children. In short, I loved how their were so many children in this book, and loved even more how much the author sought to display how children are special and are gifts from the Lord no matter what their circumstances - unlike the worlds popular view that they are a bother and distraction from attaining goals in life. On the contrary Anne Matter displayed the fact that for the main character, Sadie, these children at the home were her goal in life, which brings about Sadie's difficult decision to choose marriage or the children as she can't have both because of a rule at the Home that workers cannot be married.
Another thing I liked about this novel was the character development among the many characters ranging from children in the home to workers, to possible future husbands. I especially loved the character development and bonding between Sadie and Miranda, and think the author had a specific purpose for that relationship when thinking through the plot. I think the relationship added so much to the story and taught a lesson on not judging a book by it's cover. Another thing about this novel is that it's written in first person setting from the view of the main character Sadie. While sometimes I don't like first person writing styles, mainly because it's hard to get different views on the situation, I think this one was well written and no con at all since the characters were already so well developed.
Probably one of my favorite aspects of this novel aside from it being set in an orphanage and being very child friendly, was how low romance it was. Aside from Sadie deciding if she should marry, which was really a short decision considering what she'd have to give up, there wasn't hardly any romance. So for ladies who don't like a lot for romance in their novels, then this is a novel just for you. I really appreciated how the author choose to focus on children versus men and romance in her book. Another thing was how even though this novel was low romance it certainly wasn't lacking in things to keep the story line going and exciting as it was anything but a boring novel!
In all I found this novel to be a very nice light novel based on an orphanage with plenty of excitement without the romance that focused a lot on children and stretched the importance of how God views children - especially ones that are in difficult situations. I'd highly recommend this book to any Janette Oke fans, or fans of books that put a high emphasis on children. I eagerly look forward to future Anne Matter novels!

N O T E :: I'd like to sincerely thank Bethany House publishers for my complementary copy of A Home for My Heart, which I received for free to read and review. I was not paid to review this book, and all thoughts expressed in this review are my own, and completely honest and unbiased.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Secret Keeper By Beverly Lewis Book Review

/ / The Secret Keeper / /

{Review By Madi}

Title: The Secret Keeper
Author: Beverly Lewis
Source: Review Book From Bethany House
Number Of Pages: 346
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0980-2
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
/ / Book Description / /
Readers Eagerly Await the Latest from Beverly Lewis, the #1 Name in Amish Fiction
With her love for all things old-fashioned, Jennifer Burns has often been told she's an "old soul," but no one is prepared for the young woman's decision to set aside her modern life in favor of the Old Order Amish world. Yet Jenny does exactly that, adopting Plain dress and settling in with Samuel and Rebecca Lapp while she works as a mother's helper for the bishop's wife--a far cry from her former job as an x-ray technician.
The people of Hickory Hollow are curious about the beautiful young seeker among them, one handsome Amishman in particular. But he is not the only man vying for Jenny's affections, and Jenny faces many challenges in the Proving time the brethren have set for her...challenges of the heart, as well as the spirit.
Will Jenny's secrets keep her from the peace she longs for? Or will they lead the way home?
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
Jennifer Burns (also know as Jenny), was raised in a well-to-do family that enjoys the everyday pleasures the modern world has to offer. Always the loner, Jenny enjoyed all things old. Antiques, clothes, books, journals, you name it. She went to Sunday school a couple of times as a kid, but her parents didn't really care about her walk with the Lord. She needed peace. She needed a place to come closer to God and embrace her love for simplicity, and becoming Amish seemed like just the ticket. She knew that it would take her a long time to become an accepted member of the Amish community, but she was up for the fight. She knew going into it that she would have to spend anywhere from six months to two years proving herself earnest, but in Jenny's mind she has nothing but time.
When Jenny starts to realize what it truly means to be set apart, she wonders if she has what it takes. The work that is from sun up to sun down, the never ending list of rules, the many social practices to be mastered, the requirements for running a household and separation from her emotionally distant family are all taking their toll on her. How could anyone ever measure up to such high standards? And then there's Andrew.
Andrew is the Bishop's nephew, and he helps out occasionally on the Lapp farm (where Jenny is currently residing). He had his heart broken a long time ago, and he's afraid to love again. He wasn't looking for a good girlfriend, he just kind of found her. Jenny is afraid that if she fails, Andrew will be the most devastated of all. When thing's reach their breaking point, will Jenny push through, or hightail it back to her former life?
Beverly Lewis is one of my favorite authors. I have an entire shelf in my bookcase dedicated to her novels. She had such a huge part in making Amish Fiction what it is today, and I'm tickled pink to have the opportunity to read and review The Secret Keeper. If I ever get into a reading rut, I know all I have to do is pick up a Beverly Lewis title and I'll be dead to the world in minutes.
The Secret Keeper is a wonderful book, and I wouldn't change a thing about it. I read Amish novels all the time, but I don't think I've read very many about an Englisher (a non-Amish person) trying to convert to this decaying way of life. It was interesting to say the least. I'm quite sure that I personally would have a much harder time adjusting to such an extreme lifestyle. I liked the way Lewis wrote this from an outsiders point of view, it made me feel like I learned a little bit more about why exactly the Amish believe what they do. I would recommend this book to just about any female I could possibly come in contact with. It's clean, refreshing, and easy to comprehend. Well done, Mrs Lewis!
~Madi For The Literary Maidens
Note: I was provided with a free copy of this book to read and review by Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to give this book a good review if I found it undeserving, and all thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own and totally unbiased.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Miner's Lady By Tracie Peterson Book Review

/ / The Miner's Lady / /

/ / Land Of Shining Water, Book Three / /

{Review By Madi}

Book Title: The Miner's Lady
Author: Tracie Peterson
Source: The Litfuse Publicity Group
Number Of Pages: 331
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0621-4
Publisher: Bethany House
Year Of Publication: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
/ / Book Description / /
When Chantel Panetta's younger sister claims to be in love with Orlando Vittorio, Chantel knows there is no hope. The Panettas and Vittorios have been sworn enemies for decades, and young love cannot heal the deep wounds between the two iron-mining families. Yet, unable to resist Isabella's pleas, Chantel agrees to help her sister spend time with Orlando...only to have a run-in with Dante, Orlando's brother. The older, more handsome one.
Chantel can't deny the attraction that flares when she's with Dante. But when a tragedy occurs at the mine, is there any hope that the hatred that has simmered between these two families might be resolved? Or will Chantel's hope for love be buried amidst decades of misunderstanding?
/ / Madi's Book Review / /
This is the best book that I have read all month. Yes, I know the month is still young, but I'm a fast reader. Here lately I kind of got into a reading rut, and the last several books that I've read have been mostly 4 star books. This one got me out of my rut and anxious to read the next book on my shelf. The Miner's Lady was so suspenseful, and once I actually took the time to sit down and read it, I couldn't put it down!
The Panetta's and Calarco's have been sworn enemies for several generations, and old habits die hard. When Chantel's little sister Isabella falls for the youngest Calarco boy (Orlando), things get heated between these two passionate Italian families. Chantel is all for making peace between the two families, but Dante (Orlando's older brother), and the father of the two boys will have nothing of it. They seem to think that it would dishonor their family to have anything to do with the Panetta's. But when Dante's efforts to stop his brother's "nonsense" collide with Chantel's longing for peace, Dante might follow in his little brother's footsteps and fall for this young Panetta woman that is always getting in his way.
Now, I know a lot of people will be comparing this novel to William Shakespear's "Romeo And Juliet", but there couldn't be a worse comparison. Romeo and Juliet is horrible, take it from someone who actually read it. The Miner's Lady is a wonderful book, and I'm so glad that I got the opportunity to read it. It has suspense, plot twist, and a wee bit of  romance. Oh, and it teaches the moral called forgiveness. If you have read many of my reviews, you know that I'm a sucker for a story with a good moral.
The moral's, the suspenseful plot twist, the foreign history, and so much more made this book one of my new favorites. I hope that you get the chance to read it soon, if you haven't already!
/ / Favorite Quote's From The Miner's Lady / /
" 'A man who is without a Savior is without hope. We cannot be cleansed of our sins without God's grace and the sacrifice of our blessed Savior. We are utterly and completely left to condemnation and darkness, by our own choice. And,' he continued, 'we are ushered into forgiveness and light by a choice, as well.' "
"Nonna Barbato had always told him that when his heart was confused on doing the right thing or the wrong thing, he should pray."

~Madi For The Literary Maidens 

Note: I was provided with a free copy of The Miner's Lady by Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to give this product a good review if I found it undeserving, and all thought's expressed in this review are completely my own and totally unbiased. 


















Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rebellious Heart By Jody Hedlund Book Review

// Rebellious Heart //
By Jody Hedlund
{Review By Bethany}
Title: Rebellious Heart
Author: Jody Hedlund
Source: I received a copy from the author after requesting to be an influencer for this novel
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 0764210483
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date: September 15th, 2013
Bethany's Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
// Book Synopsis //

"In 1763 Massachusetts, Susanna Smith has grown up with everything she's ever wanted, except one thing: an education. Because she's a female, higher learning has been closed to her, but her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge. She's determined to put her status to good use, reaching out to the poor and deprived. And she knows when she marries well, she will be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.

Ben Ross grew up a farmer's son and has nothing to his name but his Harvard education. A poor country lawyer, he doesn't see how he'll be able to fulfill his promise to make his father proud of him. When family friends introduce him to the Smith family, he's drawn to quick-witted Susanna but knows her family expects her to marry well. When Susanna's decision to help an innocent woman no matter the cost crosses with Ben's growing disillusionment with their British rulers, the two find themselves bound together in what quickly becomes a very dangerous fight for justice."

// Resources //
{Available September 15th, 2013}
// Bethany's Book Review //

One of the things that first sold me to Jody Hedlund's writing is the way she incorporates so much history into a wonderfully written work of fiction that not only delights, but also included a lot of history. Her newest novel Rebellious Heart is no exception and doesn't disappoint as it takes you back in time Colonial America in the 1700s when you were forced to choose between being loyal to the king or rebelling against him!

One of the things I loved so much about this novel was all the history involved, up to the point where the main characters were loosely based on famous people of our past that played a critical role in America's upcoming during the time when America was on the verge of the Revolutionary War. I was very impressed with all the research that Jody obviously did to make this novel as accurate as possible, and it lit a match in my heart to further study these great people of our past and this critical time in America's history.

I loved how despite the fact that the story was about real people, it still had a nice amount of fiction and was so interesting and such a page turner. This book literally kept me up until the wee hours of the next day despite my need for sleep, but I just couldn't put it down! Especially towards the second half of the novel where there is constantly something happening that makes you want to continue reading!

On the romance side, this novel definitely had a bunch of it. While I'm the kind of person that likes more history than romance, I think that the romance level in this novel did go over what I'm usually okay with reading. However, due to all the history involved in the story and the great story-line, I considered it more than worth the romance side, considering all the history that I feel like was very helpful and interesting along with the suspense of the story line.

                                             ::::::WARNING!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!:::::::

                                             To avoid spoilers skip the following paragraph.

However I will note that in the first chapter of the book, as well as a couple other times in the book there was some sensitive subjects that would make the novel only for mature readers. These things involving detailed scenes of a man receiving punishment for a crime he supposedly committed by being branded and having his ear cut off, as well as several scenes with a runaway slave who was abused by her master and is found pregnant later on, though details were not given. For those who have read Jody's last book Unending Devotion and are aware of the high level of adult content contained in that story, then just know that this novel is much more friendly towards young adult readers than Unending Devotion was, concerning the mature topic that largely made up the story. So while this novel does include a few sensitive scenes, there aren't near as many as Unending Devotion.

                                                          ::::::::SPOILER ENDING:::::::::

As far as characters go, Susanna definitely had a more determined and somewhat feministic character. Often times I'm not completely in support of hard-core feminists because of the disrespect for men that comes as a result of wanting to be not equal to men, but better than the males around them. But I didn't feel like Susanna's womanly confidence that I'd consider feminism to be disrespectful, however that isn't to say she didn't wasn't very strong in her belief that women could do anything a man could do. However when I compare her feminism to that of the lady whom she was supposed to represent in the story, I don't see the original woman as a disrespectful feminist, so it didn't really bother me so much with Susanna's character. Of course this is a small detail that certainly wouldn't make or break the novel, just something I observed.

Overall this novel was a delightfully irresistible read filled with an interesting plot that keeps you turning pages late into the night, as well as a good dose of history and a wonderful written story. Any fans of Jody Hedlund or historical fiction from the 1700s would love this novel, and I highly recommend it!

NOTE :: I'd like to sincerely thank author Jody Hedlund as well as Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a complementary copy of Rebellious Heart to read and influence for. I was not paid to write this review, and all thoughts expressed in my review are completely my own, honest and unbiased.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wounded By God's People Book Review

/ / Wounded By God's People / /

{Review By Madi}
Title: Wounded By God's People
Author: Anne Graham Lotz
Source: Review Book From Booksneeze
Number Of Pages: 237
ISBN: 978-0-310-26289-3
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2013
Madi's Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars

/ / Book Description / /

Tucked into Abraham's biography is the story of Hagar, a young Egyptian slave with whom Abraham had a son named Ishmael. Hagar stood out because she was wounded---not physically, but in ways that were as emotionally and spiritually painful as any injury to a body would be. Some wounds were provoked by her own bad behavior, but others were inflicted by those who considered themselves God's people. Anne Graham Lotz too has been wounded by God's people. Some wounds have been deeper than others, some have come out of nowhere, and still others have been provoked by her own behavior, but all of the wounds have been deeply painful. They seemed to hurt even more when the wounders wrapped their behavior in a semblance of religion or piety. As Hagar's story unfolds, you will discover that wounded people often become wounders themselves. While Anne identifies with the wounded, the unpleasant reality is that she also identifies with the wounders, because she has been one, too. She knows from experience that wounding is a cycle that needs to be broken. And by God's grace, it can be. Many have had similar experiences. And perhaps you are among those who have been so deeply hurt that you have confused God's imperfect people with God. Maybe you have even run away from God as a result. Or perhaps you have been a wounder to the extent that you are living in a self-imposed exile, believing you are unworthy to be restored to a warm, loving relationship with God or with God's people. Whatever your hurts may be, Wounded by God's People helps you to begin a healing journey---one that enables you to reclaim the joy of God's presence and all the blessings God has for you. God loves the wounded. And the wounders.

/ / Madi's Book Review / /

When I heard about this book's upcoming release, I was totally stoked. I grew up listening to sermons by Billy Graham and reading his books (I even did a report on him in middle school), and I was sure that a book written by his daughter would be a great find. Anne (Graham) Lotz did very good job in writing this book, and I can't wait to share my thoughts on it with you.
The first thing that I noticed about this book, before I even started reading it, was it's beautiful cover. I mean, look at it! It's so pretty! Thumbs up to whoever designed it. And the inside is just as beautiful as the outside. By breaking down an age old tale from the Bible and incorporating her own experiences Anne creates an encouraging view on how God's people represent him. The main idea of this book was to show that you may have been cast out or hurt by God's people, but not by God. So many people confuse God's actions with those of the people who call themselves by His name. Through taking time to examine the story of Hagar (the slave girl that belonged to Abraham's wife, Sarah) and her transformation from Egyptian slave to the wife of the most prosperous man of his time, to a nobody again I got a new view on what it meant to be wounded by God's people. God started the covenant of Israel through Abraham. Hagar watched him build alter after alter for the Lord, and yet he wounded her. His wife wounded her. He gave her over to Sarah's cruelty. He sent her and their son out of his home. He WOUNDED her. And he was the one that God used to start a nation. How do you deal with a rejection like that?
Not only did the author touch on being wounded, she talked about wounding others. When we're weak and hurting, we want to mistreat those who brought us this pain. We want to avenge ourselves. When we allow that to happen we become no better than the person that first hurt us, and we turn wounding into a never ending circle of pain. This book gives us a few ideas of way to get over the pain and trust that God will work it all out in the end.

Note: I was provided a free copy of this book by Booksneeze. All rights go to the author and publisher. I was not required to give this book a good review if I found it unworthy and all thoughts expressed in this post are my own and completely unbiased.











Friday, September 6, 2013

Freebie Friday // Free E-book Deals

Happy Friday to you ladies!

Some of you may remember the post I did a while back sharing a few Kindle books that were, at the time free on Kindle. Well I got to thinking, since there are daily Kindle deals for free Christian novels, why not post about them more often? Because after all, not many people can turn down a completely free books! Or at least I can't. {This the 400+ e-books on my Kindle that I'll probably not ever have the time to read in my lifetime, but they were all free, so hey!} So hence this post series. I'm not sure if I'll have one each and every Friday; it will depend greatly on the free books at the time, but I will be planning on posting at least two of them a month, so keep your eye out as often times the deals only last for a short period of time before Amazon changes the prices.
And as always, PLEASE double check to make sure that the e-book is $0.00 otherwise the free deal may have ended, and you'd end up being charged for the book. To make absolute sure you won't be charged for downloading the book the price on the right hand side of the page should say $0.00 otherwise you'll be charged. Please be sure to double check on each book before you buy it to avoid any confusion.

Also, for those of you who don't own a Kindle but would still like to read these books, Kindle has an app that will work on any mobile device or tablet, where you can busy and read e-books through the Amazon Kindle store. Be sure to check that out on the Amazon website or search for the app in your app store or on Google Play to begin reading on your device!
So here it goes! Here's the current freebies that I wanted to share with you ladies this week!
7879278// Waterfall //
The River of Time Series // Book #1
By Lisa T. Bergren
Free September 6th, 2013 only
Get your FREE e-copy on September 6th 2013 HERE!
// Book Synopsis //
"What do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaeologist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds...until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting."
So here's the deal: This series is both Madi and I's favorite series. Ever. Like seriously, you should read it's completely FREE if you buy it on September 6th {That's TODAY so be sure and pick it up before it goes back to the regular price of $9.99} If you haven't read this book, or even if you have and still want an e-version then I'd highly recommend you download this novel as it's a top favorite around The Literary Maidens!
12963710// Inescapable //
The Road to Kingdom Series // Book #1
By Nancy Mehl
Free through September 9th 2013
Get your FREE e-copy through September 9th 2013 HERE!
// Book Synopsis //
"Page-Turning Romantic Suspense Set Against the Backdrop of a Small Mennonite Town
Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, her family, and her faith with plans never to return. Five years later, Lizzie finds she'll have to run again. False accusations at her job, a stalker, and a string of anonymous threatening letters have left her with no other options. This time, however, her escape is back to Kingdom, her hometown.
As Lizzie becomes reacquainted with Kingdom, she realizes she may not have left her Mennonite roots and her faith as firmly in the past as she thought. She draws on the support of Noah Housler, an old friend, as she hides out and attempts to plan her next steps.

When it becomes painfully clear that the danger has followed Lizzie to Kingdom, suspicions and tensions run high, and she no longer knows who to trust. With her life and the lives of those she loves at risk, Lizzie will have to run one last time--to a Father whose love is inescapable."
192722// Candle In The Darkness //
Refiner's Fire Series // Book #1
By Lynn Austin
Free through September 30th, 2013
Get your FREE e-copy of this book HERE!
// Book Synopsis //
"Book 1 in the Refiner's Fire series. The daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, Caroline Fletcher is raised in a culture that believes slavery is God-ordained and biblically acceptable. But upon awakening to the cruelty and injustice it encompasses, Caroline's eyes are opened for the first time to the men and women who have cared tirelessly for her. Her journey of maturity and faith will draw her into the abolitionist movement, where she is confronted with the risks and sacrifices her beliefs entail."

17660619// Distant Dreams //
Ribbons of Steel Series // Book #1
By Judith Pella & Tracie Peterson
Free through September 30th, 2013
Get your FREE e-copy of this book through September 30th, 2013 HERE!
// Book Synopsis //
"The year is 1835 and Carolina Adams finds herself enchanted by an unlikely suitor...the railroad. Frustrated by society's expectations upon her gender, she longs to study more masculine subjects and is thrilled when her father grants her a tutor.

James Baldwin arrives to serve as Carolina's teacher, but of more importance, he is to court Carolina's beautiful older sister, Virginia. Will expectations--and Virginia's southern charm--elicit the hoped-for proposal? Or will James and Carolina dare to acknowledge the mutual interests and feelings growing between them?"
So that's all for this edition of Freebie Friday! We hope that you'll take advantage of these great deals while they are available, and that you enjoy your new reads! Let us know down in the comments if you'd like to see more of these posts in the future! Have a fantastic Friday, y'all!
~Bethany for The Literary Maidens