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Discover the love of books with A Simply Enchanted Life. We review a variety of books, typically family friendly though not always in the Christian Genre. Book content will be thoroughly outlined and teen friendly books will be marked with an easy to find seal of approval. In edition to books you will also find product reviews, recipes, occasional posts about my life, and information on my handmade shops.
Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes" is the first book that I have read by Denise Grover Swank. It is not the kind of book that I typically would pick up and read and I absolutely cringed when I realized it was written in first person perspective. However, I decided to stick it out and give it a chance because I absolutely adore the person who referred the book to me! I have to say…I think this is the only book I’ve ever read in first person perspective that I got through without throwing it up against the wall in utter frustration.
The voice of this book is a girl named Rose. A spunky southern girl who is a bit naive, okay, a lot naive and a little bit crazy…at least to her neighbors and her mother. Rose’s mother is convinced her daughter is demon possessed. Why? Because, Rose isn’t like everyone else…she has visions about the future. Nothing hugely prophetic, usually the visions are useless information that Rose can’t help but blurt out such as someone locking their keys in their car or some other random slice of life.
When Rose has a vision about dying, she decides that she is going to live her life out in a short amount of time. Whether her momma approves it or not! Unfortunately, her poor momma doesn’t have much time to worry about her new found nerve. Momma takes Rose’s place in her vision and the town suspects that Rose is the one who murdered her! Desperate to live her life before a new vision proves true for her (or before she goes to jail) Rose sets out to accomplish a list of twenty-eight wishes. Her wishes range from opportunities that she miss out on as a child, such as, “dress like a princess” to “find a boyfriend”.
On this journey of self-discovery we get to know Rose’s sister, Violet, and a hunky neighbor named Joe who seems to be the answer to several wish-list criteria to the tune of “find a boyfriend”. Something is suspicious about Joe and honestly, there were times I wanted to scream “RUUUUUUNN! And other times I desperately wanted him to be better than he appeared. I suppose an easy-peasy romance would be a very boring read so of course there had to be drama! And drama there was!!!
I enjoyed this book, so…. I’m not going to spill all the details; you’ll just have to read it for yourself. I did have just a few complaints… Since my own sister uses the term “crappy doodles” I could overlook it...the first few times. I felt it was overused in some places since Rose was “growing up” I thought maybe she would finally choose a new expletive word at some point. And then my second complaint…now I’m not too stuffy when it comes to curse words in books but I felt the f bomb was a little harsh for such a fun loving light read (well, if you can consider murder fun-loving--which I did for this story). I understand they were used by persons who would be more likely to use them but it still felt a little…forced.
Overall, the story was well written and I think the author is one of the rare people who can actually write in first person perspective and do it well. The characters had an interesting voice on paper and a personality that kept me turning the pages to find out more!
A Season for Tending by Cindy Woodsmall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"A Season for Tending" is the first book in the Amish Vines and Orchards series by Cindy Woodsmall. So far I have enjoyed every single book I've ever read by the author and this book was no exception to that. There's a certain standard I have come to expect from Cindy and that is:
1. Characters you can fall in love with.
2. Wisdom interwoven into the very fabric of her stories.
3. Edgy and unique storyline.
In this book we meet a young lady named Rhoda Byler. As an Old Order Amish, you would expect Rhoda to be a fairly typical girl looking for love. However, Rhoda has an unusual gift -- at times she has seen into the future, certainly not an attribute you would think of a typical Amish girl! Her "intuition" has helped many people but she failed to help the person that mattered the most to her in the world, her sister. In the attempts to save her sister from being in a terrible accident, Rhoda exposed her secret and now many of her community fear her. They fear that she practices witchcraft and tend to ridicule and harass her. For that she has isolated herself in her garden, tending to beloved plants that offer no condemnation.
Through a strange course of events, Rhoda meets the King family. The Kings own an orchard that is struggling and Samuel, the oldest of the King boys, is confident that Rhoda can save their orchard and thus save their family from financial ruin. Though she declines at first, a personal setback causes her to reconsider and in doing so she finds herself developing a strange connection with the entire family.
"Sometimes what keeps a relationship from shattering is minding your own business and enjoying what does exist between the two of you"
We are super excited to be celebrating 600 fans on facebook! To show my thanks to all of my wonderful fans I have decided to put together a little giveaway!
White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fall is in the air in my little spot in the world and I'm starting to dream of cooler weather and the wonderful festivities that follows soon after. It's with these feelings that I picked up "White Christmas Pie" by Wanda E. Brunstetter.
In this book we meet a young man by the name of Will. Hrmm, what can I say about Will...I guess foremost in my mind was how grumpy this poor boy is. He has good reasons, however. As a young boy of 6, Will was abandoned by his father during the Christmas season. Left with an Amish couple that he barely knew, Will was thrust into a new world. Having lost his mother earlier in his life, Mark and Regina are now his guardians and step into the role of mom and dad for young Will.
Now in his 20s, Will has committed to the Amish faith and is engaged to be married to Karen Yoder. However, Will is extremely jealous and possessive of his young fiance and his jealousy threatens their relationship. Of course, all of these negative feelings stem from his abandonment as a young child.
Mid story we are introduced to Will's biological father, Hank and find out the true reason why he abandoned his young son. He too is filled with bitterness and carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. Everywhere he goes he is always looking for the son that he lost and yet...still loves. Though he has a new wife and two precious daughters, he can't get over the loss of his son.
When Hank's wife places an ad in a local paper in search for Will, Regina responds. Eager to find out the reason that Hank left and she is eager for Will to talk to his dad to find out why he left so many years ago. But will a reunion and an explanation be enough for Will to forgive his dad? And will his inability to forgive and work out his problems destroy his relationships with his folks, and with Karen?
This book was a light and fast read. It lacked some depth in character development but I think that is somewhat due to this being a stand alone book meant for a light read. I missed the connection that I get with a lot of other of Brunstetter's characters. It was still an enjoyable read and the recipe in the back of the book looks delicious! I definitely look forward to trying it.
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I got crafty today and made some ribbon sculptures! Fall is certainly around the corner and that always brings out my desire to craft and get things accomplished.
His Love Endures Forever by Beth Wiseman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
His Love Endures Forever is book three in the Land of Canaan series by Beth Wiseman. I have read all all of the previous installments but this is the first review I've had the honor of putting up for this fantastic series. Not to worry, I'll reread the rest of the series at some point so that I can put up a review for all of my lovely readers.
In this book we are once again immersed into the quaint and lovely community that Beth has woven into her series. This particular story tells the story of Danielle Kent. In previous books, we briefly met Danielle as a troubled teen--abused by her mother and taken in by a kooky and fun loving character named Martha. Martha isn't an Amish lady but she is friends with the surrounding Amish in her community.
It is through Martha that Danielle is introduced to the Amish and she meets a young man by the name of Levi. But she also meets Matthew Lapp from a neighboring Amish community and though she is best friends with Levi, she begins a romantic relationship with Matthew.
Now 18, Danielle's world changes in an instant with a little pink plus sign. Danielle is pregnant. She hopes that Matthew will do the right thing and settle down, marry her and help raise the baby. However, Matthew is determined to leave the Amish community and he wants absolutely nothing to do with Danielle or their child.
When Danielle turns to Levi for comfort and advice he throws out the crazy idea of marriage. Much to the horror of his mother, Danielle accepts! However, there is one thing that stands in their way. Danielle is an unbeliever. Having suffered abuse at the hands of those that were supposed to love her the most--Danielle is put off by the thought of God. Where was God when her mother hit her? Where was God when she became pregnant and the father didn't want the child?
"Talk to God like a friend. He will be there for you."
Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Accidentally Amish is Book 1 of the Valley of Choice Series by Olivia Newport. This is the first book that I've read by the author and I really enjoyed it!
In this book we meet Annie Friesen, a hard working and very talented software creator that has already made a fortune selling her work though she is quite young! When Annie finds out that her business partners have turned on her and are out to steal her business, she leaves town, fearing for her business and somewhat for her safety.
Due to a little mishap, she finds herself as a guest in the home of Rufus Beiler and his family. Rufus and his family are Amish and newly settled in a small community in Colorado. Their beliefs and customs are far from anything Annie is accustomed to but she is very intrigued and not to mention-- attracted to the young Amish-man.
Rufus is a talented cabinetmaker by trade and when a local competitor resorts to vandalism harassment, Annie is determined to do something about it. But the Amish believe in "turning the other cheek" and Annie struggles learning to mind her own business. And as an outsider she ruffles feathers when she oversteps her bounds more than a few times. Though her intentions are good, she has a lot to learn about the plain life...and life in general.
The thing I liked most about this book was the historical "time warp" to the story of Annie and Rufus' ancestry. Honestly, I think I'd have enjoyed reading an entire story about the historical account of Jakob Bieler's journey from Switzerland to Pennsylvania. Although, I was fairly disappointed at some of the heartache that was woven into the ending of that part of the story. I felt some of the woes were a little unnecessary...that is until I read to the author's notes. I was so surprised to see that much of this story was based on the author's actual ancestry and some of the events actually happened!
I really look forward to reading more books put out by this author. A new found enjoyment of mine is reading Historical Fiction and this author certainly has a talent in portraying times past!
This book is set to release on October 1st 2012 by Barbour Books.
You can pre-order here:
Barnes & Noble
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I received this book free from Barbour Publishing through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own
I am so excited to have the opportunity to review and share a review for Glade Expressions® with all of my readers! One thing is for certain, I like for my home to smell, well...Simply Enchanted. As a busy mom and pet owner this is sometimes a challenge! So you can imagine my surprise and excitement to be chosen to review these products.
I had the pleasure of receiving the following products for review
Glade Expressions® Fragrance Mist
Glade Expressions® Fragrance Mist comes in a new stylish holder that releases a longer-lasting, finer mist of fragrance. The gentle mist creates layers of true-to-life fragrance that opens up note by note. The chic, newly designed holder blends with your décor for a burst of fragrance that’s always out and available. Just squeeze to spray; then refill the holder with your favorite fragrance.
Glade Expressions® Oil Diffuser releases a combination of long-lasting fragrances, without the hassle of electricity. The oil diffuser infuses layers of true-to-life scents throughout even the most open living spaces. The trendy holder matches décor perfectly, making it a convenient and stylish home-fragrancing option.
Be Still My Soul: A Novel by Joanne Bischof
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
"Be Still my Soul" is a debut novel by the author, Joanne Bischof. I really wanted to like this book. The cover is beautiful and the storyline seemed like it would be interesting but it fell short of my expectations.
My thoughts and feelings about this book are so conflicted. So much so that I've had trouble putting my thoughts into words and explaining why I feel this book deserved a two star rating.
In terms of expression, this book was very well written aside from just a bit of redundancy in the use of terms or descriptions. It was the story line that truly bugged me about this book. Where I was let down? I expected to pick up this book and read a story of love developing against all odds. Instead what I find is a young girl, Lonnie, traded off to a man she doesn't love. Not only does she not love him...he tried to take advantage of her and she despises him! I know situations like this happened in times of yesteryear, however I find it hard to believe that the character would fall for the man who she despises in such a short period of time.
Lonnie's husband was downright abusive and she played right into falling and swooning for him within what felt like days. Even the symptoms of her pregnancy showed up way too soon. Unrealistically soon...It seems they were only together a week and she was already experiencing nausea and pregnancy symptoms. In terms of abuse and his actions, I felt this was no different than the abusive relationships that are glorified in books like Twilight, in which a young girl falls for a man she shouldn't and instead of the reader being disgusted...you found yourself wishing her into an unhealthy relationship.
I really wanted to like this story but the characters were just not likable...at ALL. I never connected with them. I got tired of hearing Lonnie referred to as "little missy" so much so that I cringed every time it was used, which made me dislike even the decent characters in the story. I disliked Gideon so much that I really hoped his character would be killed - although I knew he wouldn't since Lonnie really had no one else and didn't want anyone else. She was content to be with this abusive scumbag from day two of their marriage it seems.
Did I hate the story...meh, not exactly. It was "okay" but it wasn't the best I've ever read. I don't think I'll be picking up book two anytime in the near future.
I received "Be Still My Soul" as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. My comments and opinions are my own.
Although I didn't enjoy this book...I know others that have! You may enjoy it as well. You can read the first chapter of the book here
You can enter to win a copy below.
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I woke up to a pleasant surprise this morning. A nomination for "One Lovely Blogger Award."
The Healing by Wanda E. Brunstetter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Healing is part two in the Kentucky Brothers series by Wanda E. Brunstetter. It picks up where The Journey leaves off--in the midst of a family tragedy. In this story we follow Samuel through his grief and through the pain of losing his wife, Elsie and their unborn child in a terrible accident.
Samuel is heartbroken at the loss of his wife and child. The pain of living in their home without her is more than he can bear. He decides to move to Kentucky to be near his brother Titus who was the first of the brothers to relocate from Pennsylvania to Christian County. Samuel decides that the move is for the best and hopes for a new start so that he can work through his depression and move on with his life. For his sake and for the sake of his four living children.
When he arrives in Kentucky he meets Titus' new friends, including Esther, who offers to watch his children so that he can start a new job. When Esther's folks move out of town, she remains behind to work at a local bed and breakfast which frees up her old home for Samuel to rent if he so desires.
As Esther continues to watch his children, she begins to have feelings for Samuel but he is so caught up in his grief that he pushes all thoughts of her aside. He also worries that falling for Esther will betray the memory of his loving wife.
As time goes on, Samuel has to make some hard decisions. Does he continue wallowing in depression and self pity? Or does he turn his grief and despair over to God and allow God to heal his wounds?
"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. -Psalm 147:3"
The Journey by Wanda E. Brunstetter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Journey is part one in the Kentucky Brothers series by Wanda E. Brunstetter and follows the story of Titus Fisher as he is the first of the brothers to relocate from Pennsylvania to Christian County, Kentucky.
When our story begins, Titus is a heartbroken young man who is trying to get over his long time love who has decided to leave their Amish community and live among the English. He is so heartbroken that he decides to leave his home and Pennsylvania so that he may distance himself from anything that reminds him of Phoebe. He is also determined to prove to himself and to his parents that he can be a responsible and upstanding member of the family and in the faith.
Once he arrives in Christian County he meets an interesting young lady by the name of Suzanne Yoder. Unfortunately, Suzanne reminds him of Phoebe, the girl who broke his heart and he refuses to get to know Suzanne or give her a chance. To be honest, he is downright rude to the poor girl. Instead he focuses attention on work and on Suzanne's best friend, Esther.
As time passes, Titus begins to realize that perhaps Esther isn't the girl for him and he starts to notice that even though Suzanne bears a resemblance to his old flame, that is where the similarities end. Where Phoebe was self-centered and focused on her desires and wants--Suzanne lives for others and focuses on what God wants for her life.
Just as the couple began to get close, Phoebe shows up and threatens to destroy everything. Titus must learn to seek God and then how to follow His will.
"...the hardships we experience and the trials we face here on earth will teach us to trust more in God. For the weaker we feel, the harder we'll lean on Him." -p.141
I received absolutely no monetary compensation for sharing this giveaway and the opinions are all my own.
The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"The Fiddler" by Beverly Lewis takes us back to the heart of Hickory Hollow. A quaint Amish community, home to the beloved but shunned Katie Lapp from Lewis' famous book "The Shunning."
In this book we meet Amelia Devries, a very accomplished classical violinist who has, much to the disdain of her parents, her agent and her boyfriend, fallen in love with country fiddlin'. It seems Amelia lives to please everyone else and thus she struggles between following her heart and following the music.
When fate seems to throw Amelia and Michale Hostetler into each others paths, she finds herself running away to Hickory Hollow and is accepted as a guest into the home of Joanna, a warm and inviting young Amish woman who challenges Amelia's ideas and beliefs. Amelia begins to question her life and her commitments. Ella Mae (remember this spunky and fun loving character from "The Shunning?") urges Amelia to examine her faith. Is she fulfilling her commitments for others only? Has she ever considered using her talents to honor God first?
In the meanwhile, Michael is questioning whether he should commit to the Amish church. He is torn, having been the sole influence on a wayward niece who is now in an abusive relationship with a good for nothing drunk. Michael longs to make right those wrongs while still doing what is best for himself. And of course, he really wants to get to know Amelia a little bit better!
Eventually both Michael and Amelia have to make big decisions regarding their faith and family. Putting God first and then their families leads them to a new path. Does that path push them together? I guess you'll just have to read to find out!
This was a great read. I was really torn on rating this book but in the end I had to give it 4 stars only because I didn't feel the same emotional pull to the characters the way that I have from other books by Mrs. Lewis. I think for me, it was just the characters in this particular story. I really wanted to get to know Joanna better so I am really looking forward to the next installment, "The Bridesmaid" which is to be released on September 11, 2012. I felt drawn to her and of course I always look for any chance to visit with Ella Mae!
On a quick side note, Beverly Lewis made me proud with her mention of Suzuki Violin and Mark O'Connor in this book! My daughters are proud to be Suzuki students of the beautifully talented Ms. Rhonda Lorence who happens to be a fan of O'Connor and shares his book " O'CONNOR Violin Method" with her students!
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Recently I saw a really awesome post on how to dye rice using food coloring and rubbing alcohol. I'm a homeschooling mama and I also have a two year old who loves to craft so I decided to try this out and incorporate it into the school day.
|Supplies needed for each color|
|1/2 Tsp rubbing alcohol|
The Struggle by Wanda E. Brunstetter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Struggle is part three in the Kentucky Brothers series by Wanda E. Brunstetter. Though I have not yet read the others, this book was easily read as a standalone as well with only minimal confusion. The author did a great job of clearing things up for those of us that picked this up without reading the others.
In this story we meet Timothy and his wife Hannah as they make a move from Paradise, Pennsylvania to Christian, Kentucky. Timothy feels the move will provide some much needed space between Hannah and her mother. Hannah has never fully accepted that her place is with her husband and she would rather spend time with her parents than with her new family.
Hannah is determined to make the move as difficult for Timothy as she can. She refuses to makes friends and she oversteps her bounds whenever she can. She is hard to get along with and very controlling, even when it comes to the couple's only child, Mindy. Hannah hovers over Mindy and doesn't allow the child the freedom to learn on her own or enjoy life's simple pleasures. She is condescending and critical of everything and everyone--especially her husband.
When tragedy unfolds around them, Hannah retreats even further away. In one last ditch effort to hold on to hate and the unforgiving spirit that consumes her, Hannah decides to leave her life in Kentucky. From the depths of her depression and despair she is forced to realize that God always has a plan, even when we can't see what that plan is. Our struggle to control our lives instead of letting God have a hand, it often results in being miserable.
"If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's that we don't get to choose our fate. We can only learn how to live through it."This book is fantastic. I cried along with the characters when they were sad and hurting and I gained strength for my own pain that I'm going through. I connected with these characters. I see so many of Hannah's flaws in my own self and those are flaws I need pray about myself.