Sunday Showcase #21

Another week hanging at the NetGalley has brought me a few reads. 🙂 Thank you NetGalley for creating such an awesome system… and special thanks to all the publishers offering the goodies.

If I Tell by Janet GurtlerJasmine Evans knows one thing for sure… people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a one night stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn’t raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she’s never fit in hasn’t been easy. But she’s been surviving. Until she sees her mom’s new boyfriend making out with her own best friend. When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?

Why I Picked It Up: Normally, contemporary works aren’t my thing. The title sort of pulled me in on this one. It reminded me of Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala. I know… silly reason, but it got my interest. I’m really hopeful about this work. I don’t have anything against contemporary. It’s just mundania has never really called to me as unique. I know I miss out on a lot of fantastic works because I’ve constantly got my eye out for paranormal goodies. It’s time for me to get a taste of realistic drama. 🙂

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly LongShe isn’t looking for love. He’s mending a broken heart. It will take divine intervention for these two to get together.

Local Amish schoolteacher Lilly Lapp is tired of weddings, afraid of horses, and immersed in caring for her depressed mother. But when Jacob Wyse, a handsome horse breeder from her small community rescues her from a dangerous accident, Lilly discovers a renewed interest in life and the possibility of love.

Yet Jacob has lost the one true love of his life to another man and doesn’t care to expose himself to the vulnerabilities of loving again.

God works to bring this unlikely pair into a sweet romance to produce a pattern of faith, which leads to the creation and comfort of Lilly’s Wedding Quilt.

Why I Picked It Up: Simply put, I’ve become addicted to Amish romances. There’s just something about reading about a group of people who are so far removed from the materialistic rat race.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

Practical Jean by Trevor ColeJean Vale Horemarsh is an ordinary, small-town woman with the usual challenges of middle age. She’s content, mostly, with the life she’s built: a semi-successful career as a ceramics artist, a close collection of women friends (if you ignore the terrible falling out she had with Cheryl all those years ago), a comfortable marriage with a kind if otherwise unextraordinary man. And then Jean sees her mother go through the final devastating months of cancer, and realizes that her fondest wish is to protect her dearest friends from the indignities of aging and illness. That’s when she decides to kill them . . .

Why I Picked It Up: Now Chicklit typically isn’t my thing, and I’m pretty sure this is what this is. The premises is just so out there, I had to check it out.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

So this was a unique week of requests (other than Lilly’s Wedding Quilt) for me. Have you stepped out of your normal reading habit recently? How did you fare?

Novel Review: An Amish Love

Originally, I’d plan to space out reading and reviewing the stories in An Amish love by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Long. Once I started, I just kept going, and here we are today — ready for the review. But first, the blurb from Goodreads:

Two of today’s most popular genres–Romance and Amish fiction–together in one volume.

“Healing Hearts” by Beth Wiseman: Levina Lapp and her husband Naaman are alone for the first time in 30 years. When Naaman left to visit cousins in Ohio, Levina wasn’t expecting him to be gone a year. Now that he’s back, will they be able to move beyond this estrangement and fall in love again?

“What the Heart Sees” by Kathleen Fuller: A tragic accident rocks a peaceful Amish community, leaving Ellie Chupp blinded and Christopher Bender’s future shattered. But they find love and forgiveness in a place they least expect.

“A Marriage of the Heart” by Kelly Long: Rachel Yoder is tired of her Amish lifestyle and her domineering father’s ways. When handsome Joseph Lambert comes back from the Englisch, she lies to force a marriage of convenience, providing the perfect means to escape her father’s rule. But Rachel never imagined she’d fall in love with Joseph so quickly or irrevocably.

I particularly liked the first story, A Marriage of the Heart. An Amish man (Joseph Lambert) returns to the community after a bann and is forced into marriage in order to protect the honor of a deceitful young Amish woman (Abigail Kauffman). The first thoughts which came to mind was this couple was unequally yoked. Early, I worried Abigail would lead Joseph astray. It was beautiful the way love and patience transformed the couple so they both ended up pulling in the same direction. 4.5 – 5 out of 5 stars. Definitely my fave of the three.

What the Heart Sees was quite enjoyable, though the ending was a bit rushed. Still, it held my interest throughout though. In this story, we have an Amish man (Christopher Bender) wanting to reenter the community after a bann but his inability to forgive another member interferes with his desires. Helping him through his journey is blind Amish woman (Ellie Chupp) who believes her blindness makes her undesirable for marriage. I think this work would have been much stronger if so much information weren’t withheld from the reader. The information was doled out in a way that left me (as a reader) in the dark but offered no suspense. But like I said, the over all story kept me interested. 3.5 – 4 out of 5 stars.

The final work, Healing Hearts started out wonderful. I absolutely loved the idea of an older couple falling in love again. Though I’m far from their age, I could truly relate to their situation. My biggest issue is the story dragged out too long, and the characters got a little silly stupid toward the end. Partway through the story, a side character (Larry) was introduced with minimum information. Though he played a significant role to keep the story moving beyond the happily ever after, I knew so little about him, I lacked interest in his story line. 3 out of 5 stars.

One thing interesting about this collection, all the stories were in the same setting. Not just an Amish environment, but in the exact same town so that characters from on story mingled with characters in the other stories. Now isn’t that cool?

An Amish Love is available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

Sunday Showcase #11

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted a Sunday Showcase. Well, I’ve whittled down some of the reads from Netgalley and thought it might be okay to put in a few requests. And so I did. 🙂 Surprise! They approved me for five more reads…

Okay… five is a little much. I think I’m going to have to double up on reads… two books a week to catch up on some of these Netgalley copies PLUS meet my Goodreads Reading Challenge.

And as folks know, Borders is closing. We don’t have a Borders, but we do have a Walden Books which is a store under it… so they’re having an going out of business sale also. It’s a shame. Last time I went in there (before the big announcement, I mean), I asked the salesclerk about the store staying open. That was around the time Borders was closing a mass of stores to cut costs. She was confident it would since the store pulls in pretty good business. <sigh> I guess the thought of the entire corporation going bankrupt didn’t occur to her.

Well that’s another story. I picked up one book for myself while I was in the area.

The Art of Steampunk seeks to celebrate the world of Steampunk: a world filled with beauty and innovation.  A world in which steam power and technology intertwine to create machines that are not only functional and practical, but unique and striking.  

Inside, you will find the fantastical and stunning artwork of Steampunk artists from around the world.  The 17 artists featured on these pages, among the frontrunners of the Steampunk genre, have had their work displayed at an exhibition at The Museum of History of Science at the University of Oxford, UK and have attracted the media attention of BoingBoing, one of the world’s largest blogs.  Their artwork consists of everything from clocks and watches to light fixtures and jewelry, but every piece demonstrates hours of painstaking work and devotion from its creator.  You will find that the artists themselves are just as unique and colorful as their masterpieces.  Fully embracing Steampunk ideology, many have adopted a Victorian alter ego—a mad scientist persona to match the complicated intricacies of their artwork.

The Art of Steampunk brings the vision of the Steampunk artist alive on the page, providing a unique insight into the captivating and dynamic world of a vastly underground genre.

Why I Picked It up: Lindsay Buroker, I BLAME YOU! That is all. I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

McKinley challenges nominal Christians to take a deeper look at themselves.

Jesus divided the world into two groups—those who follow him and those who don’t. But what happens when someone thinks he or she is a Christian, but isn’t? With his witty, engaging style, Mike McKinley takes readers on a journey of what it means to be a Christian. He asserts that “manipulative evangelism techniques and a poor understanding of the gospel have resulted in an abundance of professing Christians who have no idea what it means to follow Christ.” 

Each chapter title begins with “You’re not a Christian [if/when/just because you]…” As he surveys what it means to be Christian, McKinley offers criteria for evaluating one’s standing before God. Readers are guided through a series of challenges to reflect, repent, remember, and report to another person. Am I Really a Christian? ends with chapters on salvation and the local church. This unique book is written for nominal or new Christians and can be used in personal or small-group study.

Why I Picked It up: Mostly because of America. Some statistics show about 75% of Americans believe they’re Christian and have a ticket to heaven. According to the bible, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14 (NIV) So I want to see what this guy has to say. I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

Two of today’s most popular genres–Romance and Amish fiction–together in one volume.

“Healing Hearts” by Beth Wiseman: Levina Lapp and her husband Naaman are alone for the first time in 30 years. When Naaman left to visit cousins in Ohio, Levina wasn’t expecting him to be gone a year. Now that he’s back, will they be able to move beyond this estrangement and fall in love again?

“What the Heart Sees” by Kathleen Fuller: A tragic accident rocks a peaceful Amish community, leaving Ellie Chupp blinded and Christopher Bender’s future shattered. But they find love and forgiveness in a place they least expect.

“A Marriage of the Heart” by Kelly Long: Rachel Yoder is tired of her Amish lifestyle and her domineering father’s ways. When handsome Joseph Lambert comes back from the Englisch, she lies to force a marriage of convenience, providing the perfect means to escape her father’s rule. But Rachel never imagined she’d fall in love with Joseph so quickly or irrevocably.

Why I Picked It up: After my first and only Amish read, The Promise of an Angel by Ruth Reid (see review here), I’m on an Amish kick. I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

When 28–year–old Emma Donahoe becomes a nanny to John Chen’s daughter, Simone, she does not expect to be drawn into a world of martial arts, magic, and extreme danger, where both gods and demons can exist in the mortal world.

Emma gradually realises that John Chen is no ordinary businessman and that nearly all the demons in hell would like to see him dead. John and his American bodyguard, Leo, begin to teach Emma their particular brand of martial arts and special defensive techniques … they also begin to realise that there is something that is different about Emma but exactly what it is, nobody can say.

A fabulous, fast–paced and very entertaining fantasy adventure … a trilogy based on Chinese mythology, set in modern–day Hong Kong, where an ancient god falls in love with a young Australian woman …

Why I Picked It up: Okay. Here’s the thing. I don’t read too many Asian book, and this one looks freakin’ cool. So that’s the first thing. next, I saw on Goodreads that the reviews are pretty decent. I’m sold and can’t wait to get to this goodie. I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

Although proud of living apart from the world, Marianna Sommer’s newly relocated Amish family is discovering that life in the remote mountains of Montana requires working together with the Englisch. As Marianna pours her life into helping those around her-and receiving their help-her heart further considers two directions. She’s torn between the Amish man from Indiana whom she has long planned on marrying and the friendly Englischer who models a close walk with God like she’s never seen before.

Who should have young Marianna’s heart? What is God asking of her through ongoing family struggles and this romantic and spiritual tension? The answer is found along the wooded paths.

Why I Picked It up: Stuck on Amish. So here we have, two more Amish stories. Let’s see if this genre will become my new love. 🙂 I received this from NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her…until Patch comes along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Why I Picked It up: This one has been on my reading list for ALONG time. It just never made my purchase list. Well, the Walden going out of business sale reduced the price on this baby. I picked up the Hardback for less than $4.

Available at: The Book Depository and Barnes & Nobles

So that’s what I’ve received these past few weeks. I have got to get some major reading done. I think I’m 4 books behind on my 2011 Goodreads Reading Challenge.

In Other News

If you haven’t picked up I Loved You First, what are you waiting for? Use it for your next, In Your Mailbox Meme! I released it yesterday, and it’s available at Barnes & Nobles,Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, and Smashwords. One thing I will mention, it’s on sale at Amazon for $0.99 for this week only. If you don’t have a Kindle, great news. For the same week, it’s on sale at Smashwords IF you use the coupon below:

Promotional price: $0.99
Coupon Code: FA89H
Expires: August 5, 2011

Add I Loved You First to your Goodreads List.