Monday, April 14, 2014

Murder Simply Brewed by Vannetta Chapman

Murder Simply Brewed cover
I haven't read Amish fiction in over ten years. To be honest, I just got tired of  the genre. But I was intrigued by the fact that Murder Simply Brewed isn't just a romance or drama, but a mystery. Zondervan Publishing's book description of a friendship between a young Amish woman and her English (non-Amish) employer, working together to try to solve the murder was very appealing. Plus, it's set in a coffee shop; I couldn't pass it up. I decided to give Amish fiction mysteries a chance, and I'm so glad that I did.

I loved Murder Simply Brewed. The tension of the story isn't found in whether or not someone is going to stay Amish or leave the faith, but in solving a series of crimes that may include murder, though the police don't believe it. The book is set in a tourist location in Indiana, The Amish Village, where visitors can stay in an inn, eat at a restaurant, and shop for Amish goods. Though the Village is run by an English woman, it employs many Amish people and sells Amish goods, helping bring income to the Amish community, as well.

The heroines of the story are Amber Wright, the Amish Village manager, and Hannah Troyer, the sweet young Amish girl who finds Ethan Gray dead from an apparent heart attack. Amber initially asks Hannah to step in and run the coffee shop that Ethan had been running, since she had occasionally filled in for him. Unfortunately, Ethan's death is quickly followed up with several vandalism events, with Biblical warnings and threats being left at each location. Together Amber and Hannah try to piece together the mystery and see if they can prove Ethan was murdered. A friendship soon grows between them, despite a nearly 20 year age difference and their cultural differences. Of course, they aren't working entirely alone. Each woman finds themselves discovering new love as Amber's neighbor (Tate) and Hannah's childhood friend (Jesse) lend listening ears and help with the investigation.

Murder Simply Brewed brings a new twist to Amish fiction. It takes my favorite genre of cozy mystery and adds a bit of an Amish element. As with most cozy mysteries, a little love interest adds to the story without taking over. I like that Vannetta Chapman shows more of the working relationship and intermingling of the Amish community with their English neighbors, since many authors prefer to focus on their separation instead.

I have to admit that I stayed up 3 hours after my husband went to bed  finishing the book. I even outlasted my 17 year old daughter by an hour. I kept telling myself I should go to bed, but I couldn't put the book down. I loved the characters, and the mystery was very well-written, keeping me guessing most of the way through the book. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the Amish Village Mysteries as they are written!  In the meantime, I'm going to read Vannetta Chapman's other series, The Shipshewana Amish Mysteries.

April E.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Two specialized devotional Bibles from Zondervan!

Zondervan has published two new devotional Bibles for very specific audiences. Each one has devotionals and other features designed specifically to meet the needs of its reader.

fulfilled bible cover image
Fulfilled: The NIV Devotional Bible for the Single Woman  is a beautiful hardcover Bible with 104 encouraging devotionals written by Christian single women.  Scattered throughout the Fulfilled Bible, you'll find profiles of 19 different single women in the Bible.  Quotations by well-known authors are sprinkled through the Bible, on topics and issues that single women face.  There are also 200 highlighted passages of Scripture that are especially meaningful to single women.  The highlighted scriptures were selected by Mary Hollingsworth, who also wrote the profiles of the 19 Bible ladies.

Flipping through the Bible, I found a quote by Elizabeth Elliott that spoke directly to many of the discussions I've had with my 18 year old daughter as she seeks God's direction for her life.  Next to it is a devotion written by Helen K. Hosier about finding God's will that I know would encourage my daughter.  Both the hardcover and the dust jacket feature the beautiful lily, but only the dust jacket carries the subtitle "Devotional Bible for the Single Woman".  The hardcover just says NIV and Holy Bible on it. The Fulfilled Bible is available in different formats, but the hardcover retails for $34.99. 


This is a beautiful and encouraging Bible that will bless the single woman.  I know that it would have encouraged me when I was single.


Hope In The Mourning Bible

NIV Hope In The Mourning Bible is written to comfort anyone who is walking through grief - whether they are mourning a friend, a spouse, a child, a parent, or a sibling.

The NIV Hope In The Mourning Bible is meant to take the grieving reader on a journey through the Bible, as they journey through their grief.  There are six undated readings per week for an entire year - one for each weekday and then one for the weekend. Each devotion begins with a key text to read and meditate on, followed by a truth-filled and encouraging devotion.  A simple "Heart Whisper" prayer prompt closes the devotion.  Small print at the bottom of the page tells you exactly where to turn for the next devotion.


One unique feature of this Bible is the free download from Music For the Soul that allows you to access music written specifically for the Christian walking through grief.  Lyrics from some of the songs are located at the back of the Bible, along with information on how to access the music itself.  The back of the Bible also contains information on where to find additional resources for dealing with grief.


The hardcover version of this Bible has a beautiful dust cover with an ocean scene.  Under the dust jacket, the Bible itself has a simple blue cover titled Holy Bible. Although it's available in several different formats, the hardcover version retails for $34.99.

I have to confess that my life has been spared from deep grief so far.  I have yet to walk through an extended period of mourning. But, reading the devotions and music lyrics in this Bible, I can say that they are very encouraging and sensitive to the needs of those who are grieving. I would definitely give it as a gift to a friend or family member I cared about.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

April E.






Monday, March 24, 2014

The 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman by Joyce K. Ellis

500 Hats Modern Day Woman
Woman, Wife, Mom, Working Woman, Friend, Sister, Volunteer, Christian ... so many different hats that women have to wear all at the same time.  Within each of those labels, there are multiple responsibilities and expectations to fulfill.  Being a wife means being a helper, a friend, a lover, a supporter.  Being a mother means being a teacher, child trainer, laundress, cook, chauffeur, and overall chief of chaos control. Expectation upon expectation, task upon task, responsibility upon responsibility ... endlessly.

So how do we balance it all?  How do we give our best to our family, friends, bosses, and God?  How do we not lose ourselves under the weight of all those hats?

Joyce Ellis takes a look at all these different roles and helps us sort it out.  This book doesn't offer literal tips for scheduling out your life, or for shortening your "to do list".  You will find a Scriptural look at ordering your priorities and keeping yourself focused on God while fulfilling all your duties. Each chapter unwraps the struggles we face, offering Scriptural advice, a touch of humor, relatable stories from her life and others' lives, and application questions for thought or discussion. 

I really enjoyed reading The 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman.  My favorite chapters actually weren't the ones relating to marriage and motherhood, but the later chapters about aging, servanthood, and being bold for Christ. It wasn't a life-changing book for me, but it was an encouraging book that helped restore my priorities and spiritual focus.  Joyce helped me remember WHY I'm doing what I'm doing, and WHO I'm really doing it for. This book would make an excellent study for a church book club or small group study, since it would work well in a multi-generational setting.

April E.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Want a helper for your modern-day journey? Enter to win a Kindle Fire in Joyce K. Ellis’ “500 Hats” giveaway!

In Joyce K. EllisThe 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman you’ll find strength, purpose, and perspective to balance your many roles—and gain insight into the roles of women around you.


Want a helper for your modern-day journey? Enter to win a Kindle Fire in Joyce's "500 Hats" giveaway!

500hats-400-click



One winner will receive:


  • A Kindle Fire
  • The 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman by Joyce K. Ellis
  • A Modern-Day woman kit (T-shirt and hat)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 30th. Winner will be announced April 1st on the Litfuse blog.



Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by the Litfuse blog on April 1st to see if you won.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Teaching Grammar to a 10 Year Old Boy, Part 2

It was just a month ago that I shared the sentences my 10 year old son (M) wrote for his grammar lesson. Today I couldn't believe the sentences I spoke to him to teach compound sentences.

He was whining (dramatically) while I fixed lunch, that I hadn't ever told him what "simples" were. I asked him "simple whats? fractions? what?"  He said, "Simples or compounds!"  Again, I asked him, "Simple or compound WHATS?"  Finally, he said, "IN GRAMMAR!" Which still didn't help, since it could have been simple subjects.

I took a break in lunch preparations to go look at his book.  Aha, he's studying simple or compound sentences! Of course, the book explained what a compound sentence was at the very top of the page, but I gave him a few more examples.  As soon as I said them, I thought to myself, "WHAT am I saying?!?!"

Compound sentences for a ten year old boy:
  • I shot the dog, and then it died.
  • I robbed the bank, and I was arrested.
 Simple sentences from those compound sentences:
  • I shot the dog.  Then, it died.
  • I robbed the bank.  I was arrested.
I still can't believe those were the two examples that immediately came into my mind, and out of my mouth.  I think the boys are rubbing off on me.

April E.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Goodnight, Angels by Melody Carlson



Goodnight, Angels cover
I collect bedtime books. One of our family favorites is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Most of our favorite bedtime stories have a gentle and soothing rhythm, comforting repetition, and cozy pictures. Goodnight Angels  by Melody Carlson fits right in with our favorite bedtime stories.

We gave this board book to our son for his first birthday. He's a little young to fully enjoy the book. He usually flips through the pages faster than we can read them. But, our 3 year old daughter and 5 year old son both enjoy the story and I know he'll grow into it soon. My three year old relates to the book most, as we often encourage her to say goodbye or goodnight to the things around her as a means of helping ease the transition from one activity/location to the next.

In Goodnight Angels, a little boy says goodnight to being outside, goodnight to his toys, his snacks, his bath, his pets, and his parents before settling into bed. As he drifts off to sleep, he also says goodnight to God, thanking Him for the blessings in his life. Finally, he says goodnight to the angels who will watch over him as he sleeps.

The illustrations by Sophie Allsopp are warm and softly colorful. I love the details of a dog chewing on a slipper in the background, children's artwork posted on the kitchen wall, and toys scattered on the floor and kicked under the bed. Melody Carlson's text has a soothing rhythm and comforting repetition that young children will enjoy hearing as they settle down for the night. She has created another bedtime story to add to our shelf of family favorites. It doesn't quite compare to the classic and enduring nature of Goodnight Moon, but I like the Christian focus that Melody brings into Goodnight Angels.

You can find Goodnight Angels at your local Christian bookstore as well as Christianbook.com and Amazon.com.  It is published by Zonderkidz in hardback, board book, and several e-book formats.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

April E.

The Good News ... and the Bad News

The good news is that I didn't kill my clothes dryer this week. The bad news is we have one less pillow after that feather pillow exploded inside the dryer. I could have sworn I've washed and dried feather pillows successfully before. 

The good news is that B's new sippy cups arrived in the mail yesterday. The bad news is that the "assorted colors" they sent are pink and purple with flowers. His 3 year old sister V was excited, and he's too young to mind ... yet.

The good news is that the snow was all melted yesterday morning. The bad news is that more snow fell an hour later. (Thankfully, it's gone again.)

The good news is that Spring is almost here. The bad news is that our road is now closed due to road and bridge re-construction. That's going to make life difficult as we'll need to take dirt roads to town, and have to go a couple miles out of our way at times.

The good news is that the chickens are laying again. The bad news is that I have another child starting to dislike egg meals. Egg meals were back on the weekly menu after our oldest went to college, but I probably need to back off of them for awhile.

The good news is that Steve sold a car last month. The bad news is that it was to the junk yard, because the transmission was shot.

The good news is that we only have ten weeks of school left. The bad news is we only have ten weeks of school left ... and a lot of material to cover.

I think the best news this week was that I didn't kill my dryer. I was afraid I had when I opened it up and saw feathers pasted everywhere, and all the vents filled with feathers, too.

Second best news is that Spring is almost here. The next ten days even have spring-like weather forecast. I hope the forecasters are correct.

April E.