Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Book Review-Total Christmas Makeover- 31 Devotions To Celebrate With Purpose

About the book 

"Are you tired of just letting Christmas happen at your home-and praying merely to survive? No more! Now you and I can be absolutely intentional about embracing
all the fun, faith, family, and friendships of this amazing holy season. Melissa Spoelstra's Total Christmas Makeover gently guides us through everything seasonal around
music, food, scripture reading, extended family gatherings, serving, and especially how to rest in the midst of it all."
---Lucinda Secrest McDowell, author of Ordinary Graces andDwelling Places

"Jesus picked a busy time of year to have a birthday! Although I am saying this in
jest, there is nothing funny about how the frantic nature of this season can rob one
of joy that Christmas represents. In her latest project, Melissa Spoelstra gives candid
and practical tools to help the overcommitted and overwhelmed put the merry back
into 'Merry Christmas.' "
---Amberly Neese, speaker, author, humorist

Do you find that you too have been caught up in the Chistmas have to's instead of the God-centered love to's? Give your Christmas a makeover with this practical approach to help your family learn what it means to truly celebrate their Savior.

In Total Christmas Makeover, author and Bible teacher Melissa Spoelstra provides ways for you and your family to turn your attention toward God's grace day-by-day as you prepare for Christmas. This 31-day devotional presents key scriptures, ideas to implement with each reading, and questions for reflection to guide you in rediscovering the meaning behind traditions we often lose sight of in the chaos. Melissa divides the book into 3 sections, focusing on the following three common elements of biblical celebrations:

  • Ritual: Special activities out of the ordinary routine were planned to help remember what God has done.
  • Relationships: People spent time together preparing special foods, eating, gathering in holy assembly, and explaining their traditions to children.
  • Rest: Regular work was to be set aside for planned times of celebration and rest from activity in order to reflect on God.
Mindfully take time to listen to how God continues to speak through the Christmas story as the Gospel narratives centered around the birth of Jesus provide encouragement and revelation concerning the love of God and his wisdom for us today.

And I thought
Just in time for the holidays.  A great devotional for the busy mom who wants to have a more meaning Christmas for her family. 

Melissa Spoelstra begins the book sharing her families Christmas experiences.  From her own experiences as a child and her husbands.  They took their own experiences and tried to blend a 
special time for their children.  

With frank honesty Melissa shares how the early Christmas' were a bit of a failure with a 6 year old, 1 year old twins and a 3 month old.  

As the attempted to bring meaning into the holiday season they read Bible stories and tried to make the season center around Christ.  

I loved the frankness as she shared how her 6 year old was 
thoroughly enchanted with the event.  While the 3 month old fell asleep.  And then there were the 2 year old twins happily exclaimed when asked "Who created the world."  One twins response was "I did!"

Many of us have been there.  Trying to bring significance to the holidays and remind and remember the reason for the season.  

With this small devotional a mere 203 pages Melissa shares thoughts ideas and suggestions to make this season one that is special and centered around Christ. 

The book is a fast and easy read.  With some humor to make the reading light and enjoyable.   

The book is made up of  3 separate sections:
Ritual with 10 days of devotionals
Relationships with 10 days of devotionals 
Rest with 11 days of devotional

Each short devotional begins with a scripture and ends with a prayer, followed by questions for reflection and a practical approach filled with suggestions and ideas. 

I would suggest this great book to everyone.   
This would be a great gift to give to an adult child at Thanksgiving. 

I think it would be a great book to read with a group of friends as a Bible study for the holidays.  

Whether the application group study or individual study you'll 
come away feeling a little more relaxed and ready for the wonderful season of Christmas!

I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse.
This review will appear on retail sites where the book is available.
This review will appear on Good Reads and on the Litfuse tour page. 


Visit the tour
Read more reviews at the Litfuse tour.  Click here.

Visit the author
Click here to visit Melissa website

Monday, October 23, 2017

I Read A Good Book The Other Day-Author Interview with Debra E. Martin

I read this book the other day. This is one I think you'll enjoy.
I got a chance to interview the author too . . . 

Hello Debra and welcome to the blog.  I was delighted to have the chance to chat about The Clobbered Cad.

Thank you. I enjoy talking about the book. I had so much fun writing it.

Is this your first blog tour? Not really but nearly. I booked two blog tours and they ended up overlapping in October. I feel like a vaudeville star hitting the stage in a new town every night!  It's kept me on my toes and I've really enjoyed it.

I love the tours.  I especially like the chance to do these interviews with the authors. Great! I actually enjoy interviews because I don't have to think too hard. Sometimes guest posting is a lot of work. (I have to sound clever and interesting!)

Can you tell me what interests you in doing a blog tour? Self-interest, of course! I get to meet new people and show off my book. The whole idea is to hopefully gain new readers. I mean anyone can publish a book, but promotion has become half the job. Without book bloggers we'd all be sunk!  I've poked around many of the blogs I'm now visiting and it's fun to be waving from the inside.

I wish you the best with the tour for The Clobbered Cad.  It certainly is an interesting title.  Can you explain the title for the readers?  Well, multiple factors at work. First of all, we chose titles that hinted at the old "girl detective" titles, and second, I love alliterative titles, but I wanted readers to expect just a tiny bit of 'camp' in the story. Thankfully my victim was a cad and, yet, he got clobbered.

How did you decided on the era for this series? The publisher and my author friend, Lisa Karon Richardson (Who proposed the idea and is the author of Book #1 The Counterfeit Clue, wanted an era that would parallel the decades when 'girl detective' novels were really big. We settled on the post war era, and I _could_ say I remember the fifties. Okay, at least the sixties, so this era doesn't feel so far removed for someone...my age!

Scotland was a fun locale for Heather.  I was wondering what other places she has visited?  Scotland was Heather's first trip across the ocean, but her family did a cross-country tour when she was a teen. Classic Americana!  Next, she'll be visiting Ireland and I believe there's a charming Irishman--and a murder--in her future.

Is Scotland a place you've lived or visited or did you have to do some research about the area for the book? I actually had this book partially plotted when I made a spontaneous decision to go to Scotland. So it became a perfect opportunity to change the setting and dig into the history and archaeology departments. That's when I discovered the perfect murder weapon.

During your research did you get a  chance to sample any Scottish whisky? The day my friend and I visited Edinburgh Castle, there was a free whisky tasting. We tried a cream whisky. (I expect they do this all the time, but it felt like a real treat!) There's certainly a lot to learn about the whole process and Scotland would be the place to do it.

I enjoy reading Cozy Mystery's.  Do you feel like the book/series could fit into other categories or genres?  With some added emphasis, it could have more romance, and because of the age of the heroine and her innocence, it's appropriate for YA as well. Even as is, The Clobbered Cad doesn't fit perfectly into a cozy genre as we know it now. I studied classic mysteries and other amateur sleuth stories as well as Nancy Drews and Trixie Beldens. (Such hard work--ha ha!)

Can you tell us which retail sites the book is available.  I am curious is there a specific store or site that doesn't have the book that you love for your books to be available?  We started out with the books on more markets but now, I believe, they are just on Amazon. This was a matter of bottom line and streamlining for the publisher. Of course, I'd love to see it on the shelf of a bookstore, but that's very difficult for any small publisher to achieve.

This was a delightful visit.  Thank you for taking the time to chat. 
Thank you Sherry! I enjoyed your questions and I appreciate your willingness to host me and review my book. I look forward to chatting with your readers. and hope they enter the giveaway. Thanks also to Lori of Great Escapes!

My review is over here
My Reading Journeys

To read more reviews, guest posts or author interviews visit the 
Great Escapes Tour. 
To visit the tour click here.

Happy Homemaker Monday-Last Weeks Highlights-This Weeks Plans

Welcome to Happy Homemaker Monday.  Each week I share a few plans and join Sandra and a few others for a fun little party...

The Weather
 Fall...I love Fall weather don't you?  Here it is in the 70's and still creeping to low 80's in the afternoon.  Aghh....

Right Now I  Am
Making plans in my head for some new things here on the blog. 
Maybe I'll have new pages and background up for you today. 
We'll see!

Looking Forward To
Working less.  Praise the Lord.  I am sure you've notices how absent I have been here.  
Now I will only be working every other Monday.  A whole day off to do 'stuff'!  It will mean a huge difference to me.  
We are planning on my cutting back and not working on Friday. 

On The To Do List
I am planning to take Domino to a garden center or pumpkin patch to take pics!

On My Reading Pile
I always have way too many  on my pile so lately I have been 
I have been sharing 'the one' that is calling me to jump in and turn some pages.  This week I this one is calling my name!
Snowbound with an Heiress by [Faye, Jennifer]
I can't wait to read this one.  But I have a few others to read first.
I have books on my computer, on the kindle, on the phone and print copies.  I can read wherever I am.  

On The Menu
Monday- leftover fried cat fish from the weekend, potato salad, gumbo
Tuesday- let's grill we have a couple steaks in the freezer
Wednesday-We call it goulash (hamburger cooked with onions,tomatoes and macaroni) and fried okra
Thursday- Chicken Fried Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
Friday- Chinese take-out

In The Kitchen 
A new recipe to try...
{so darn cute!} Polar Bear Hot Chocolate from @momendeavors

Our grandson loves hot chocolate.  Can't wait to set up the 
hot chocolate station this year.  

In The Garden
I bought small mums last week I hope to get them in the flower bed.
The pumpkin vine has blooms again but haven't gotten a pumpkin.

Fabulous Features  
I loved Lindsay's post at Repurpose and Recycle . . . 
When it comes to my decor, you know I have two requirements; cheap and easy.  After all, if it breaks the bank and takes too much time, then decorating becomes a chore. Anyone else feel this wayhow to decorate a fall mantel

Click here to visit the post. 

From The Camera
From last year.  I am looking forward to doing this project again!

Devo./ Scripture
Establish The Work . . .

 Image result for my journey back happy homemaker monday

Book Review-A Woman Overwhelmed by Hayley DiMarco- A Litfuse Tour

A Woman Overwhelmed

About the book (provided by Lifuse)
A Woman Overwhelmed: Finding God in the Messes of Life (Abingdon Press, August 2017)
“A Woman Overwhelmed” is a phrase with which many women can relate.
But what would happen if we could see the insanity in our pace and embrace our overwhelming God?
There is a reason they say that a woman’s work is never done— because it isn’t! As women, we often are overwhelmed by the demands and circumstances of life, resulting in stress, fear, worry, impatience, fatigue, frustration, and even depression. The truth is that we were created to be overwhelmed . . . not by life but by God! When we learn to be overwhelmed by God, the fruit in our lives goes from rotten to fragrant—filling our days with peace, hope, love, and joy.
In A Woman Overwhelmed, best-selling author Hayley DiMarco shares biblical insights and personal stories to offer a glimpse at the comedy of an overwhelmed life while encouraging us to discover the depths and heights of God’s love and power.
Be empowered to find freedom in becoming overwhelmed with who God is—by learning to focus on what we know about God so that we can hold onto faith even when it seems that all is lost. For it is when an overwhelmed woman gives up the mission of me and exchanges it for the mission of God that being overwhelmed becomes a good thing.
Choose to bask in the abundance of the Father instead of the abundance of life as his unfathomable depths can surely replace our fathomable messes.
And I thought
I wouldn't be truthful if I said I am not a Woman Overwhelmed

I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said that I didn't find help in filling my days with peace, hope, love and joy after reading this book.

Who doesn't want to bask in the abundance of the Father.  

Hayley DiMarco shares herself and shares what God has taught her.  

This is a great book for all women.  Mature or young.  I think there are times that we are all in a place where we need to be reminded of God's sovereignty and his grace. 

Let's face it.  It's hard being a wife and a mom.  I for one am grateful to find some help.  

I recommend Woman Overwhelmed to all women. 

I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse. 
This review will appear on retail sites where available and on 
Good Reads. 

Buy from Amazon Buy from Barnes and Noble  Buy from Books-A-Million

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Simple Sunday-Fabulous Party

> pinterest: ellemartinez99 <

Be Blessed. Enjoy your Sunday

Welcome to the party!
Simple rules.  Keep it Family Friendly.
No Halloween.  Please. 
I post my own Halloween post filled with your links.  Leave a comment to let me know to visit your spooky posts! 
  All posts pinned on the Fabulous Party board each Saturday
2 features chosen each week and posted on my Happy Homemaker Monday.
Let's party!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Meet Domino- A Wordless Wednesday With A Few Words-Choose 1 Add A Caption

First if you visited yesterday you may have been surprised. 
No I am not going back to reviewing books here. 
Yes I am a little spacey sometimes especially when I am tired. 
Your interested in my reviews I would love you to visit over Here

My Journey back will stay as it is.  But it just might get over run with just a few or a lot of these . . . 
Photos in random order


Thanks for visiting. 
Leave a comment

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Review-Cold As Ice-By Julie Mulhern

About the book (provided by Great Escapes Tours)
Ellison Russell’s life resembles a rollercoaster ride. And rollercoasters make her ill. Her daughter Grace has a crush on a boy Ellison doesn’t trust and she’s taken to hosting wild parties when Ellison goes out for the evening. Worse, the bank which represents Grace’s inheritance from her father may be in trouble.
When a meeting with the chef at the country club leads to the discovery of a body, Ellison can’t afford cold feet. She must save the bank, find the killer, and convince Grace (and herself) that powerful women don’t need men to rescue them.
Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), amateur sleuth books, book club recommendations, humorous murder mysteries, historical mysteries.
The series
Author interview

And I thought
It took awhile.  This one wasn't a put you on the edge of your seat from the first chapter when someone is murdered.  

This one just had you turning pages and warming up to the story and the characters.  

It was interesting because the story takes place in the 70's which 
had me wondering how the murder(s) would be solved and how the investigation would be handled without all our present day resources.  

The eventual murder happened well into the book and then was followed by a 2nd one.  

Even though I jumped into book 6 of the Country Club Murders I wasn't lost or distracted in fact it was hard to put this book down!

My only negative thought was I think I might be looking for another Country Club if it seems to be the host of all the murders in town!

I enjoyed Cold As Ice and look forward to reading more in the series.  

I received a complimentary copy from Great Escapes Tours.
This review will appear on the retail sites where available.
This review will appear on Good Reads.


Visit the tour 
Click here


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Simple Sunday -The Fabulous Party

 Establish The Work . . .
In case you haven't visited recently or this is your first visit.
Until Christmas I am sharing photo's I have taken and illustrated or scripture drawings/doodles that I have made.  The photo's and doodles I have made for a book/journal I am putting together for my daughter for Christmas.   
Shh! Don't tell.

This photo was taken 7 years ago.  Even then when she was recently divorced she  was following God and serving and ministering to others.  This photo was taken when she hosted a Fall party for at risk teens that volunteered where she worked.  

Today she is ending a weekend of ministry to women.  
A semi-annual retreat she attends.  


Simple rules.  Keep it Family Friendly.
No Halloween.  Please. 
I post my own Halloween post filled with your links.  Leave a comment to let me know to visit your spooky posts! 
  All posts pinned on the Fabulous Party board.
2 features chosen each week and posted on my Happy Homemaker Monday post over here
Let's party!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Book Spotlight-Gathering the Threads by Cindy Wodsmall


About the book (provided by Litfuse)
Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves, will Ariana's new perspectives draw her family closer together-or completely rip them apart?

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she's learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana's Daed doesn't understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family?

Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana's arrival threatens to unravel Skylar's new identity-and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.

Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

Summer Grove, Pennsylvania
Ariana’s head roared with voices, those in the kitchen around her and others from far away, even from hundreds of years in the past. Voices of real people she’d talked to or had heard preach or teach, as well as the voices from the many books Nicholas had asked her to read. The voices grouped in clans, their murmurings growing fervent, insisting precisely what she needed to believe, who she needed to be, and why she needed to march to the beat of their drum.
Ariana needed to know herself well enough to pick a tribe she agreed with and shut down the rest with her own reasoning. But she couldn’t parse what she believed, and they hounded without mercy.
Marred flatware jangled endlessly as her nine siblings, five of her fourteen nieces and nephews, her Mamm and Daed, and Skylar sat around the table in rickety chairs. The mid-January wind pushed against the house and seemed to come right through the walls.
An old galvanized bucket sat in the sink because the water pipe to the kitchen was broken again. If the pipes to the sink in the mudroom hadn’t been working, getting breakfast on the table would’ve been a lot more work.
Rickety furniture, cold winds seeping in, and broken pipes didn’t bother her. Money and work could easily fix those things. What nagged at her was much deeper. She was finally in the very home she’d pined for while away, and yet only a fragment of herself seemed to be here.
Her Daed worked really hard, but his income was too small for a family this size. Ariana couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t long to make life better for them. That was why she and Abram had spent years working to buy the café. She had been convinced it would bring in enough money to make life easier for Mamm and Daed.
The voices in her head grew louder. One group said money was evil and poverty was God’s will, that it made people rely on Him more. Another group shouted louder than the first, saying that lack was from the Enemy. Still more voices said that being poor was due to a lack of education. A dozen more camps vied to be heard, and Ariana was powerless to sort them out.
“Ariana.” Mamm pointed at her plate, sounding baffled, maybe even alarmed. “Is this not your favorite breakfast anymore?”
A stack of pancakes stared back at Ariana. Her stomach churned. “It is. Denki, Mamm.” She used the edge of her fork to cut into the pancakes.
“You’re not yourself.” Susie passed her a plate of bacon. “That’s more plain to see than your poorly pinned-up hair under your lopsided prayer Kapp.”
Her bun was messy and her head covering was pinned askew? She should at least adjust the Kapp, but she simply nodded. “I’m a little out of sorts. That’s all.”
She didn’t feel just a little out of sorts. She longed to scream at the voices in her head to shut up.
Salome smiled. “Anyone who’d been through what you have would be feeling strange. I imagine you feel as if you’ve been through the blades of a hay baler.”
That depiction had a decent amount of accuracy, but to be more precise, her brain felt as if it had been rubbed with poison oak, and it screamed in discomfort, begging to be soothed with a poultice of clay, apple cider vinegar, and peppermint.
“A hay baler?” Daed smiled at her. “You’ll be right as rain soon enough. A little time here at home with us and your Rudy, and you’ll feel like yourself again. I guarantee it.” He took a bite of food. “Forget what’s behind you. Only look ahead.”
“He’s right.” Mamm drew her mug toward her lips. “There’s much to look forward to.” She peered over her mug, smiling. “Your wedding for one.”
Rudy must’ve told them they’d decided to marry. What else had he told them? When she’d arrived home last night, Rudy had seemed unusually connected to her parents, even asking Ariana to wait while he spoke privately to her Mamm. Ariana had been so involved in her own thoughts that the incident hadn’t meant anything to her, but today it seemed a little curious.
Right now she didn’t want to talk about a wedding, and she was pretty sure her parents knew it. She wanted to discuss her immediate future. Ariana forked a bite of pancakes, hoping she looked calm and natural. “Rather than my wedding, I’d like to discuss moving in with Berta.”
When she’d mentioned the idea the night before, the reaction had been swift and negative. She’d defended Berta, leading to a respectful, soft-spoken disagreement with her parents as they tried to stuff her into the same thinking, the same role, the same box she’d been in before she left. It no longer fit. This morning as Ariana looked from her Daed to her Mamm, their facial expressions hadn’t altered one bit. It was as if they hadn’t heard her.
“A wedding and then”—Daed swept his arms open as if gesturing to a large crowd—“you’ll be expecting your first little one by winter for sure. That’s what you need to focus on, Ariana. It’s what all our attention needs to be on.”
“Okay,” Skylar said, sounding offended, “the marrying-young part I get. They’re in love, and they want to get busy.”
“Skylar,” Mamm chided, “we don’t talk that way.”
Mark chuckled. “What was the rest of your thought, Sky Blue?”
“Planning to have a baby that quickly after getting married is crazy. Completely crazy, especially in this day and age. If I understand right, they’ll marry this fall. She’ll barely be twenty-one. What about a little time for just her and Rudy?”
“That’s not God’s way, Skylar.” Daed took a bite of bacon. “If people are mature enough to marry, they are ready to have children. Waiting is the Englisch way. Birth control and wanting the babies to come at a convenient time are worldly. God said that children are a blessing, and He commanded us to be fruitful and multiply.”
Heat skittered across Ariana’s skin. “He didn’t command it,” she mumbled.
“What?” Daed’s voice deepened, and his brows furrowed.
She should’ve kept her mouth shut. “I just meant that we don’t know it was a command.”
“Of course we do.” Daed’s hands fisted as they rested on the table. “What are you saying, Ariana?”
Memories of living in the Englisch world and crying out to God to help her return home circled in her mind. She’d wanted to get back to her Amish roots as quickly as possible. She hadn’t wanted to leave here in the first place, but she’d had no choice, and while she was on the outside, a different kind of life, a different way of thinking had been poured into her, purposefully and with diligence, for three months. Now it felt strange to sit at this table with her hair pinned up again and her Amish clothes on while science and philosophy books and Bible passages translated from the Hebrew text danced in her head.
She knew her Daed was waiting on an apology and a confession of belief that lined up with the church’s teachings. But when she tried to say what was expected, the words disappeared. All eyes were on her, and every adult seemed unable to move. She had to respond.
“Daed, with respect, it seems we’ve been taught that God commanded things that aren’t actually commands.” She’d said enough, so she bit her tongue, but the rest of what came to mind shocked even her. Even if God commanded people to multiply, that was thousands of years ago, long before the planet had seven billion people. Is that what she believed, or were Nicholas’s thoughts simply filling her head?
Daed seemed dumbfounded, but then anger grew hard in his eyes. He set his napkin on the table and pushed back. “If we’re to be at church on time, we better get moving.” He stood. “It seems one of us needs every moment of it she can get.”
Ariana watched as he went into the living room. Her brothers walked toward the back door, and she knew they would put on their coats and go to the barn to hitch horses to enough carriages to get the throng to church.
Her sisters started clearing the table.
“Ari.” Her youngest sister put her hands on her hips. “It’s Daed’s house, and you are his child. What are you thinking?”
“She’s not property, Martha,” Skylar corrected. “She has a right to think her own thoughts, speak them, and act on them.”
Ariana had no idea what to say, so she stood and began stacking plates, wishing she didn’t have to go to the Sunday meeting. It would mean listening to yet another voice telling her what she needed to think and who she needed to be.
“The Word says children are to obey,” Mamm said. “And God didn’t put an expiration date on that, although once she’s married, her Daed will keep his opinions to himself.”
“Well.” Susie unloaded an armful of dirty glasses onto the counter near the sink. “Maybe God didn’t give a cutoff date because He expected people to use common sense.”
The voices of Mamm, her sisters, and Skylar moved inside Ariana’s head to their respective tribes—the very conservative, the rational conservative, and the feminist—and joined the other chorus of voices.
Ariana longed for a moment of silence, where all voices let her think in peace. Maybe then she’d know who she was and what she thought.
Salome put her arm around Ariana’s shoulders. “I’m glad you’re home.”
“Denki,” Ariana mumbled.
Salome squeezed her. “We need time to talk, just sisters catching up, ya?”
“We do.” But right now Ariana was busy thinking about a different woman in this room, the one she was watching. Skylar had on jeans and a tunic sweater. Since the three-hour service of songs, messages, and prayer would be in a language she didn’t know, she wasn’t required to go. Because she hadn’t been born into this home, she wasn’t required to wear the cape dress, apron, or prayer Kapp.
What about Ariana’s rights?
“Salome”—Ariana held out the stack of dishes—“I need to talk to Daed. It might be a good idea to pray for me…or him.”
Salome took the dishes, and Ariana went into the living room. Daed had a poker in his hand, banking the fire before they left the house for the next seven hours of travel, the service, a small meal, and expected fellowship.
“Daed, I…I know you won’t understand this or agree with it, and I’m sorry about that, but I need a few days away to think. Out of town, at a hotel probably.”
He stood. “Have you lost your mind, child?”
“Not yet, no.”
He crouched again, shaking burning logs until hunks of embers fell into the heap. “We’re so glad you’re back. We’ve missed you, Ari.” He remained crouched as he turned to look at her. “You really don’t want to be here?”
He sounded so hurt.
“I do, Daed. Please trust me on that. I just need a few days away to think.”
He focused on the fireplace again. “What you need is to be here, with us. To renew your mind to Christ’s ways.”
Christ renewing her mind would be lovely, but Christians wouldn’t agree on exactly what that would mean or what she should think as proof that her mind had indeed been renewed by Christ and not by the world or heresy.
Sparks flew upward as Daed prodded the fiery embers. “Trust me to guide you, Ariana, and you’ll be fine. You’re feeling the pangs of transition, nothing more.” He stood. “Transitions are always hard, but you just need to trust God.”
“I do trust Him. But—”
“That’s gut. We don’t need to discuss anything else right now.” He set the poker in its stand and picked up the shovel.
“Nee, Daed. I’m telling you that I need this.”
He pushed ashes in a circle, making a crater of embers. “You’re fine.” His voice was calm, as if she were a five-year-old saying she wanted another ice cream.
She couldn’t stand it. Of course he didn’t understand. She didn’t either, but it was every bit as unbearable as her first days adjusting to Englisch life, only then she believed it was her place to submit and obey. She needed to understand who she was so that no matter what happened in life, whether she was fully Amish or was stripped of it, poor or wealthy, single or married, she would know this is who I am—whatever this was.
Her thoughts meandered to her Englisch family. Her mom, Gabe, and Cameron were probably returning to their fancy home after a morning run. They would be dressed totally inappropriately, and without her there it might be a coin toss as to whether they went to church or not. Yet Ariana had come to love them and their unconventional ways of looking at faith. But learning to respect her Englisch mom, stepdad, and stepsister hadn’t helped her know who she was and what she thought.
Her dad was probably in his recliner, reading some hard-to-understand book by a learned philosopher, cognitive scientist, or historian. She’d started out hating it when he’d shoved his beloved facts at her. A few weeks in, she began to find the knowledge fascinating. Part of her wished she could sit down with her Englisch dad and discuss the deep matters that were taboo in this home.
“Daed.” Her voice sounded firm, but her insides were trembling. Was she really going to go against him?
He turned to face her.
“Out of respect for you and Mamm and a desire not to cause trouble with the preachers, I’ll go to the Sunday meeting and stay with the family until we return midafternoon. But then I’ll hire a driver to pick me up, and I’m going away for a few days.”
His face mirrored disbelief, then fear, which quickly turned to anger. He walked over to her, his shoulders filling her view. “You came home only yesterday, and today you doubt whether you want to join the Amish or not?”
“What? No. That’s not it at all, Daed. I suddenly have two million opinions zipping and zooming inside my head, and I need time to silence them. Time to sort them out. But most of all I need to understand who I am. I don’t think I’ve ever really been clear on that.”
“You’re a child of God.”
“I am.”
“And you’re Amish, today and always.”
“Daed, kumm on, of course.”
He relaxed a bit. “Then what else is there to figure out?”
“I don’t know.” Did she sound as torn and scattered as she felt? “Everything. Nothing. But at least something.”
“That makes no sense.”
“If you think that makes no sense, you should spend one minute inside my head. I need this, Daed. Please.”
“Nee. A young Amish woman alone at a hotel? I can’t allow that.”
She had no desire to disrespect his needs while trying to address her own. “Then let Salome go with me.”
The ministers and community were likely to discover she’d left for a few days. There wasn’t really a way to hide something like that, but if Salome went with her, it would ease everyone’s minds and keep it from sounding completely unbefitting. The community wouldn’t have any trouble believing that after being in the world, she needed a few days with a good Amish woman, someone older and wiser, to help talk her through all she saw and experienced while draus in da Welt. Since no one outside the family, other than Quill, knew that Salome had planned to leave the Amish, her reputation was fully intact.
Fortunately for Ariana, Salome had good reason to understand Ariana’s feelings of confusion and the opposing views being shoved at her. But how would Ariana pay for it?
Abram tapped on the door frame. “The carriages are ready, and the rest of the family is getting in them now.”
She turned to the man she’d grown up believing was her twin. He looked so different, mature and more confident. What had happened to him these past three months?
“Abram, I’m sorry to ask this, but I could use a bit of money. Does the café have any discretionary cash left?”
Daed’s face was pale now, and his shoulders seemed to quake. “I’m not agreeing to you going away.”
She faced him, an eyebrow raised. “I understand, but I am going away.”
Abram shrugged. “Maybe.” He walked to a bookshelf and picked up three ledgers and an overstuffed manila envelope.
He’d said maybe. Her blood ran cold. “I…I thought the café was doing well.”
“It is, and if you need a reasonable amount of cash, it’s there. But be aware that no one has received a full paycheck yet.”
“What?” Her head spun, and her knees suddenly felt like gelatin. “But when I closed on the café, there was enough money left over from the benefit to pay the bills on the café, so the day-to-day income should’ve covered paychecks, plus income for Mamm and Daed.” The whole purpose of her years of trying to get the café was to make money so Mamm and Daed didn’t live in poverty.
“I know that was the plan, but it hasn’t worked out that way exactly. The largest portion of the money was used to help Cilla Yoder get a better doctor, new medical tests, and much better medication.”
“Oh.” Relief ran warm through Ariana, but just what kind of financial shape was the café in?
He passed her the books. “Everything you need to know is in there. I was going to wait until tomorrow to give them to you.”
“But you’ve paid the mortgage each month, right?”
Abram looked at the ledgers. Was that doubt concerning what had and hadn’t been paid?
Ariana’s heart pounded. He and the others had sacrificed months of their lives to keep the café running until she returned, and here she stood, not only asking for money, but also planning to take a few days off when she had yet to work one! What was she thinking?
She set the ledgers back on the bookshelf. Right now she needed to put on her coat and go to church. Surely when the time came to focus on the ledgers, she could get the café finances straight. At least she hoped she could.
“Denki.” She hugged Abram. “You did the right thing for Cilla and her family. That was the best possible way to use the money.”
Daed dusted ashes off his hands. “The lack of money settles it, as it often does.”
“Not this time, Daed.”
He angled his head, looking at her as if she were an outsider. The issue was, she felt like a stranger even to herself. But a little time away would help that. She knew that as much as she knew her own name. A sense of peace rolled over her as she settled into the plan.
The need for money was only a speed bump. Nothing more.
Daed’s eyes reflected confusion, and she felt sorry for him. She wished she could give him what he needed—the same obedient, naive Amish daughter who’d left here.
He pointed at her. “I forbid you to ask your siblings or brothers-in-law for money to do such a thing as this. While we’re on the topic, that includes any other Amish person or someone related to the Amish, namely Quill. Do you understand?”
From the corner of her eye, Ariana saw someone enter the room. Based on the color scheme, she knew it had to be Skylar. It was a reminder that both of Ariana’s Englisch parents had money. Nicholas could be a real pain about some things, but it would actually make him happy to give her money. Of course she would pay him back once she got the finances squared away on the café.
She glanced at Skylar.
“I’ll be sure it doesn’t come from anyone Amish.”
Daed looked in the same direction Ariana had a moment earlier. His expression changed, as if he’d just remembered that Ariana had other resources.
What unfair challenges was she heaping on the man who’d raised her?
“Daed, I didn’t do well during the transition from here to the Englisch world. I ended up in a bar, unknowingly drinking alcohol while some man who resembled Jesus tried to take advantage of me.”
Daed fell backward into the closest chair. Concern etched deep within the wrinkles on his face. “Child…”
“Quill arrived, and he got me home safely. But I landed in that bar because I kept ignoring how splintered and confused I felt while I did what was expected of me.” At least this time she knew herself well enough to realize she had to get away and think.
Daed nodded, but the grief in his eyes broke her heart.
Could she figure out anything within a few days that would make what she was doing to Daed and her family worthwhile?
And I thought
For me this was a different kind of Amish story than I have read before.  I haven't read the others in the series and I couldn't help but wish that I had the chance to read the books in order.    

There's a lot of background in the story and I am just a bit nosy and curious.  I want to know what lead up to the outcome of Gathering the Threads and the ending of the series.

I enjoyed the characters.  I felt a little sorry for Ariana.  Finding out that the parents that raised her were not her biological parents is heartbreaking.   For a young 20 something she endures alot and stands strong.  

I didn't like that as she struggles with returning to the Amish life that she is thought of as rebellious.  

I liked how the author included a cast of characters at the end. 
This made it really easy to keep up with all the different characters and how they fit into the story.  

Gathering the Threads is a story about family, friendship and community.  It is a story about love and trust.  

I would like to read the other books in the series.  

I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse.
This review will post on retail sites where available. 
This review will post on Good Reads. 

Visit the authors site and purchase
Click here

Visit the Litfuse tour
Click here