The End of an Era

It's official.  A week or so late but official.  This is the last post to be written AND published at this site.  The site will remain.  The words will remain.  They will actually be part of some weird cool dual life thing.  All posts are here...and there.  Of course if you are reading this there then WELCOME!  Today's the day that the new site officially launches.

I can't wait for you to check it out!  Please join me as I continue bringing you random bits of Fizziness, more reviews than seem humanly possible and eventually the relaunch of my shop (the entire reason this all began).

It felt like there was a million years when I took the first step of this journey (beyond months of talking about it) back on July 1st.  There was all the time in the world.  Heck I even took Jammication and still had all the time in the world.  Then all the sudden there was a week left, a day left, and then just over a week later it's finally coming to fruition.  Life was happening in all those intervening days.  My life, my partner in crime Kristin's life, your life.  All life.  It's still a work in progress.  There's almost 200 'old' posts from the intervening years to update and correct to the new format.  Pardon Our Mess as the saying goes.  However, I can't wait to share the next step on this journey with you, my readers and friends.


BOOK REVIEW: The Divide by Jolina Petersheim

In this gripping conclusion to The Alliance, nearly six months have passed since Leora Ebersole's Old Order Mennonite community fled to the mountains for refuge after an attack destroyed the power grid and altered life as they knew it. Since then, Leora has watched and waited for news of Moses Hughes, the young Englischer pilot who held off invading looters long enough for everyone to escape. Unsure Moses even survived, Leora has begun to warm to the affections of Jabil Snyder, who has courted her patiently. But she struggles to see herself as the bishop's wife, especially when she learns that Moses is alive and has now joined a local militia.

An unexpected encounter in the woods deepens Leora's crisis, as does a terrifying new threat that brings Moses' militia into the community's shaky alliance with the few Englischers left among them. When long-held beliefs are once again put to the test, Leora wrestles with the divide between having faith and taking action. Just how much will her shifting landscape change her?

I was so ready to jump into this story.  The first book, 'The Alliance' crept in and hooked me.  I need to find out more. Back with the Old Order Mennonite Community from Mt. Hebron as they are settling into their new camp up the mountain.  I'm sad that this is set to be the conclusion of this short series and am wondering how I can finagle the idea that it can, and should, continue.  I know luck is most likely on my side but ya know, a girl can dream.  Forget the end of the world as we know it (that song totally ran through my head as I typed it).  Could you survive without electricity?  Or the internet?  Or coffee?  I mean, Leora and her community do just fine without the first two but the last...

OK, enough about my plea for another installment, let's talk about the book.  I'm gonna start, as always, with the eh moments.  There's a lot that happens in this story.  A LOT.  With those things there were opportunities to bring depth to the situations and characters that was missing.  Depth of emotion and feeling.  Depth of even spiritual conflict when it comes down to making choices that involve the tenants of personal faith.  The love triangle shaded into rather annoying as well.  They are hard to write successfully and hard to love (at least for me).  This one got petty and I didn't love it.  Finally, and literally finally, the ending was just too neat.

But, there was so much good as well.  Leora truly grew as a person.  And Seth.  And Charlie (yes even that cranky Englisher grew - in my opinion).  And Moses.  And Jabil.  They evolved due to their situation, their faith, and the idea of what the future may hold.  I have to wonder, for Leora, what her crisis of conviction regarding the tenants of her faith will lead her.  It's not completely addressed in this story but you can't make the hard choices she made (in a split second mind you) and not have long term ramifications on your convictions.  I grew to love this community and these characters.  I'd love to see them again.  I'd love to see how the end, or the beginning depending on how you look at it, plays out.  I still don't know the extent of the EMP.  I'm telling ya, there's so much more here to explore...

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review. 

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The Divide (The Alliance #2)

About Jolina Petersheim 
Jolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of The Alliance, The Divide, The Midwife, and The Outcast, which Library Journal called “outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational” in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. That book also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller and was featured in Huffington Post’s Fall Picks, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Tennessean. CBA Retailers + Resources called her second book, The Midwife, “an excellent read [that] will be hard to put down,” and Booklist selected The Alliance as one of their Top 10 Inspirational Fiction Titles for 2016. Jolina’s nonfiction writing has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Writer’s Digest, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and Today’s Christian Woman. She and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but they now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughters.

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BOOK REVIEW: Her Brother's Keeper by Beth Wiseman

Charlotte Dolinsky is not above playing dress-up and telling a few lies to find out what happened to her only brother. In fact, that is exactly what she’s come to Lancaster County to do. Now, calling herself Mary and slipping on a kapp, Charlotte will lie her way into the confidence of anyone who knows why Ethan had to die. Unless she gets found out first.
But when Charlotte befriends a quiet Amish man named Isaac Miller, she begins to rethink her motives. And with a little help from a friend back home, Charlotte might find out that love comes packaged in ways she couldn’t have foreseen.
Isaac’s been caring for his cancer-stricken father and sympathizing with his frustrated mother for three difficult years. And that means he hasn’t been dating. He believes Hannah King is the woman for him, but Hannah is still grieving the loss of her fiancĂ©, and Isaac has all he can handle on the farm. When Hannah’s family plays host to a woman named Mary, their new cousin shakes things up for all of them.
As Charlotte digs deeper into the mystery of Ethan’s death, she finds more than she’d bargained for in the community he once called home. But will she ever learn the truth? And what will the community—and her new family—do if they learn the truth about her?

This is the first time I've reviewed Beth Wiseman.  I've read her work before but never reviewed it.  And as we all remember the great hiatus where I missed out on so many books coming out.  I came across the latest book in this series on NetGalley and requested it praying that I'd be approved.  As soon as the approval came through I was requesting the first two books at the library.  Obviously, they are all going to end up on my need to own list.  Before I get too deep into this however, I have to advise you that the synopsis on Goodreads does not any anyway match the book.  Sometimes you have to step out that a book is just that good and worth reading without necessarily basing everything on one synopsis on one website.  Trust me, this book is worth stepping out for.

The author steps up and tackles tough subjects.  You don't read much about mental illness in the Amish communities.  You don't read a lot about a lot difficult life things that are not respecters of faith or lifestyle or gender or anything.  Bad stuff happens to anyone anywhere.  Charlotte needs to know what happened to her brother.  Raised English, raised in the shadow of all the bad things, he converted to Amish for the love of his life.  And there, before they even joined their lives, took his own life.  Charlotte, his sister, needs answers.  She needs to know who to blame.  She's not getting any answers from calls and letters and she's convinced the fiancee did something.  No answers?  No problem!  Just go get your own.  What's a few lies right?  What she didn't expect was to find the family she never had.  And to really like the fiancee.  And her own Amish man.  

I felt like the story moved so very slowly for about the first half.  It was building the plot and characters and nothing there was unnecessary and I read it quickly but it just felt slow.  The last part picked up a bit and questions were answered.  Though Nicholas on the plane was by far one of the most endearing things in the entire book.  I'm interested to know where the author takes these characters from here. 

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Her Brother's Keeper (Amish Secrets, #1)

About Beth Wiseman
Beth has a deep affection for the Amish and their simpler way of life, and while she plans to continue writing Amish love stories, she is also branching out into other areas. Her first non-Amish, contemporary—Need You Now—released in April 2012 and landed on the CBA Bestseller List. She enjoyed writing the story based in a town near where she lives, and she chose another small Texas town for her next non-Amish contemporary—The House that Love Built—which is based in Smithville, the same quaint town where movies such as Hope Floats and Tree of Life were filmed. Beth continued to spread her wings when she released The Promise in October 2014. Inspired by actual events, The Promise follows Beth’s characters all the way to Pakistan. Beth was involved in the real-life rescue when her friend was held captive in Pakistan. Beth is currently working on book #2 in her new Amish Secrets series, tentatively titled Jacob’s Ladder. Book #1—Her Brother’s Keeper—recently released and was chosen as a Top Pick by RT Reviews Magazine.
Beth and her husband are empty nesters enjoying the country life in Texas with three dogs and a rooster. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, paint, and enjoy time with friends and family.
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BOOK REVIEW: Will Not See by Chautona Havig

When Vikki Jeffries wakes up in a Rockland hotel with no idea of who she is and why she can’t remember… well, anything, the Rockland medical community begins to take a closer look at what may have happened to cause a second case of inexplicable amnesia.

But for Vikki, this is more than a medical anomaly–it’s her life. What is she doing in Rockland, thousands of miles away from her home in Apache Junction, Arizona? Who is she? Why is no one looking for her? Or are they?

The secrets of a past she's discovering she doesn't want to know lay locked away in a memory that refuses to acknowledge their existence.

When Brandon Marana finds his neighbor struggling to open her front door, his quiet life becomes a race to protect Vikki and himself from people who are determined to find her.

He's falling in love with her--but he shouldn't. He's a Christian. She's not. But the more she depends on him to know who she is and learn why these things keep happening to her, the stronger those ties become.

Will Not See: Sometimes, the past needs to stay there.

I was super excited when this book came up for review with Celebrate Lit.  Remember, the first book None So Blind is what shot this author to the top of my favorites list.  It left me wanting so much more and I was NEEDING this followup to provide all that and some.  Again, I was not left disappointed.  And while some questions were answered it spun so many more.  We get to pick back up with Ella as she steps to to try to help the next victim of whatever this thing is.  I didn't quite bond with Victoria (Tori now Vickki) as I did with Ella.  Her story in and of itself drew me in and made me ache for who she had been but also who she could become.  But she wasn't Ella.  She didn't have her backbone, her strength, and her indomitable spirit.  I mean, I guess she did but it was softer.  She'd survived so much and still came out ahead.  

I'm not as taken of guard with the loss of memory as I was with Ella.  Vikki's situation brought answers to previous questions and even more questions.  What frustrated me was the seeming lack of ability for law enforcement to actually get their hands on information.  Birth certificates?  Criminal background?  Those things are seemingly easy to get your hands on with a simple internet search.  I know it's really not that simple but...  I'm still waiting for resolution on the money!  And now the drugs.  And the hospital.  And Rockland.  How did Vikki end up there anyway?  And... So many questions.  I know that there's another book coming but I can't wait!

I love how Havig took something so intense and difficult and personal and makes it open without saying a word.  Vikki's background, what she could piece together, was not the thing of fairy-tales.  It wasn't even just a 'bad' childhood.  The author handled that with grace and compassion without being overt and heavy handed.  The more I read about Vikki the more I bonded with her.  The more I cared.  I was invested in her faith, or lack thereof.  I was even invested in her love triangle.  I honestly can't say who would even wish for her to be with at the end.  What I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt is I need the next book sooner rather than later.  I need to know how this all plays out.  There are so many mysteries and balls in the air and I'm not even in the ballpark to be able to figure out where they will drop.  Oh gravy, did I just use a sports-y reference?!?  Now that's worth writing about!

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review. 

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Will Not See (Sight Unseen #2)

About Chautona Havig 
 I am fortunate enough to live in the great state of California (in the Mojave Desert) with my husband Kevin and five of my nine children. My eldest is married with five children, so I have the fun of a son-in-law and grandbabies to enjoy. I’ve graduated six out of my nine children from our home school, and they’re all doing quite well in their lives. My younger children keep me from getting too selfish, and someday I’ll be fully retired as their teacher. I have to say, I’m lookin’ forward to it. Teaching about gerunds was fun the first time… not so much anymore. I salute all of those in the education field. You are my heroes.

When I’m not writing (which I admit isn’t often) I enjoy blogging (a totally different kind of writing, trust me), paper crafts, sewing, smocking, photo editing, and old music. No, really, I like OLD stuff… the Beatles are too newfangled for me. Yeah,I know they’re before my time… but I like stuff before my PARENTS time.

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Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren's Page Turners. To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners.

I'm so very blessed to have friends who enable my book addiction.  A friend who recently moved away (but has since moved back) recently hit up the library sale in her new town and brought me bags (yes with an S) of books!  This was one of them.  Crichton is known for amazing stories and I can't wait to have time to immerse myself into this one!
 In Paris, a physicist dies after performing a laboratory experiment for a beautiful visitor.

In the jungles of Malaysia, a mysterious buyer purchases deadly cavitation technology, built to his specifications.

In Vancouver, a small research submarine is leased for use in the waters off New Guinea.

And in Tokyo, an intelligence agent tries to understand what it all means.

Thus begins Michael Crichton's exciting and provocative technothriller, State of Fear. Only Michael Crichton's unique ability to blend science fact and pulse-pounding fiction could bring such disparate elements to a heart-stopping conclusion.

This is Michael Crichton's most wide-ranging thriller. State of Fear takes the reader from the glaciers of Iceland to the volcanoes of Antarctica, from the Arizona desert to the deadly jungles of the Solomon Islands, from the streets of Paris to the beaches of Los Angeles. The novel races forward, taking the reader on a rollercoaster thrill ride, all the while keeping the brain in high gear. Gripping and thought-provoking, State of Fear is Michael Crichton at his very best.

State of Fear

Give it up, what's a big best seller that you haven't read yet?  Share in the comments!

BOOK REVIEW: The Beloved Christmas Quilt by Wanda E Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, and Richelle Brunstetter

One Quilt Binds Three Generations of Amish Women

For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. Psalm 31:3
The scripture embroidered on the back of a beloved quilt brings hope to three generations of Pennsylvania Amish women at Christmastime.

Luella’s Promise
By Wanda E. Brunstetter
Luella Ebersol has been caregiver for a dying woman and her young son. When Dena Lapp gives Luella her favorite quilt, she makes Luella promise to pass it down to her daughter. But Luella isn’t sure she will ever marry if she can’t find someone with maturity and faith like Dena’s husband Atlee Zook.

Karen’s Gift
By Jean Brunstetter
Karen Allgyer and her husband moved to a slow-paced village to raise their children, but Karen longs for the closeness of family to help her through the challenges of managing three girls with one on the way. When life’s pressures rise, will Karen cave to her fears?

Roseanna’s Groom
By Richelle Lynn Brunstetter
When the unexpected happens on the day of her wedding, Roseanna Allgyer can’t help blaming herself, despite not understanding why. Then an old friend returns to town, and she battles feeling for him—afraid of being hurt again.

I was really excited when I first heard about this book.  I mean, symbolically, what better than three generations of women writing about three generations of women?  Three generations of love and faith.  I think I've reached a situation where anticipation clouded reality.  I liked this book but I didn't fall in love with it.  I fell in love with the story, the characters, and the promise of love for generations.  There were some elements that I felt lacking and missing though, and that kinda breaks my heart.  This review is so hard to write for many different reasons.

Let's break the three stories down.  In the first story I fell in love with Louella and Atlee.  It took me a touch off guard when I realized that the quilt originated with Atlee's first wife, a dear friend of Louella.  I feel, however, that this story missed opportunities to build conflict.  Both internal conflict within the characters but also the resolution of those conflicts through faith.  This book set an amazing stage for the following two stories but it just wasn't a bulls-eye.  Jean's story of Karen and Seth was rich with conflict that was handled really well.  So much of the conflict set the stage for the following story but also showed the reality of working through the process when a child has a handicap.  However, there was so much 'filler' that didn't do much to progress the story along but felt more to fill space.  The story also jumped through time awkwardly without filling in enough of the gaps.  I feel like the biggest missed opportunity for this story was the passing of the quilt. The quilt was it's own role, it's own character really, but there was opportunity for the quilt to find it's home that was missed.   Richelle's story embraced the theme of this book in ways the other two weren't in a position to do so.  First, before I even go there, I LOVED the story of the runaway groom!  You don't see that portrayed in books or movies much, it's always the stereotypical runaway bride.  Richelle built and developed characters with depth and flaws and pulled in the reliance of faith that is very reminiscent of her grandmother's earlier work.  This story flowed so easily with developed story-line and even depth of conflict and resolution that is hard to pull off in a novella length story.  This story held the promise of the quilt.  This story held the promise of faith and love and family and future and God.  There was one little thing I noticed that I was shocked when Kristin and I were comparing notes that she didn't catch.  When John went to talk with Roseanna about why he ran there was the big set up that despite the cold and snow he chose to walk.  After their conversation he walked back to his buggy?!?  Sometimes it's the little things and I usually miss those.  That little story edit glitch did not however affect my rating of this book.

This collection of intertwined stories of generations of love is one that I will gladly re-read and am happy that I own as part of my collection.  It's a great book for anyone who cherishes family, love, and a life built in faith through the easy and the difficult.  It is not just a holiday read and while centered on Christmas is a book that can bring heartwarming and joy at any time of year.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Barbour Books and NetGalley.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

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The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith

About Wanda, Jean and Richelle Brunstetter
 Meet Wanda E. Brunstetter
 New York Times bestselling author, Wanda E. Brunstetter became
fascinated  with the Amish way of life when she first visited her husband's
Mennonite  relatives living in Pennsylvania. Wanda and her husband, Richard,
live in  Washington State but take every opportunity to visit Amish settlements
throughout the States, where they have many Amish friends.

Meet Jean Brunstetter
Jean Brunstetter became fascinated with the Amish when she first went to Pennsylvania to visit her father-in-law’s family. Since that time, Jean has become friends with several Amish families and enjoys writing about their way of life. She also likes to put some of the simple practices followed by the Amish into her daily routine. Jean lives in Washington State with her husband, Richard Jr. and their three children, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish communities in several states.  In addition to writing, Jean enjoys boating, gardening, and spending time on the beach.   

Meet Richelle Brunstetter
Richelle Brunstetter lives in the Pacific Northwest and developed a desire to write when she took creative writing in high school. After enrolling in college classes, her overall experience enticed her to become a writer, and she wants to implement what she’s learned into her stories. Just starting her writing career, her first published story appears in The Beloved Christmas Quilt beside her grandmother, Wanda E. Brunstetter, and her mother, Jean. Richelle enjoys traveling to different places, her favorite being Kauai, Hawaii.

BOOK REVIEW: Just Sayin' by Dandi Daley Mackall

Just Sayin' tells the story of an almost-blended family that almost falls apart before it even begins. 11 year-old Cassie Callahan is staying with her grandmother while her mom, Jennifer, recovers from a difficult breakup from her fiance, Trent. Cassie, along with Trent's kids, Nick and Julie, are trying to figure out why their parents' relationship ended so abruptly and searching for a way to bring them back together. Meanwhile, the kids get caught up in a game show that encourages the "art" of insults, and learn along the way that our words have much more power than they think.

In a way that only Dandi can accomplish, this story weaves together, in a contemporary way, an old-time game show, letter writing, outstanding vocabulary, and reminders from God's word that taming our tongue is both difficult and important!

There was something about the idea of this book that reached out to me when I exploring options on the Tyndale site.  It looked interesting and different.  I'd peg this more to a middle grade reader than a young adult reader.  Though as a grown up I really enjoyed it!  It is a fun story about Cassie and Nick and their experiences as their parents don't marry and they finagle their way through the idea of insults and game shows and Cassie's aversion to the phone.  Cassie also spends a little more time at church, a built in approved way to avoid her Moms phone calls, and picks up a few tidbits of helpful knowledge.  And curbs her insult career a tad.

I didn't get the opportunity to read this with the Minions of Mischief but I really really think that both Moo and Munch would enjoy it for vastly different reasons.  It's a little mature, as far as the actual words, for Moo but she would enjoy the relationships cheesiness of the characters.  Munch, on the other hand, would devour it in an afternoon and I think would bury into the insults and the interplay and would greater grasp the 'power of words' thread more so than his younger sister.  Although some of the 'handwriting' in the book was difficult to read (Gram and Ma had such thin tight writing) but I have to wonder if the kids would struggle with that as well since it's cursive.  I know there's been this whole hoopla about cursive and school and whatnot.  My Minions are learning it so that won't be an issue.  But it's something to think about on a larger scale.  And also something to consider as far as limiting accessibility to this book to older middle grade readers who have been exposed to cursive.

The entire story was fanciful and partly so over the top that while it was not realistically believable it was embracing and endearing.  The idea of a famous person writing a couple of kids back?  Or Gram becoming besties with said celebrity?  Or two kids winning spots on a national game show?  Or? Or? ... There were lots of that will never happen moments.  And a beautiful massive red bow tied all around the ending.  It didn't bother me one bit.  I know, I am shocked too!  The author managed to build solid characters with a multilayered story line with letters.  Plain, old, post office delivered, letters.  And she managed to encompass faith for a young person that made sense without feeling preachy or fake or awkward.  The letter to God felt so real.  I highly recommend this book to any middle grade reader, young adult reader, adult reader, senior reader, just a reader.  It's quirky and entertaining and insightful and just there ya go...

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

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Just Sayin'

About Dandi Daley Mackall 
Dandi Daley Mackall is the award-winning author of over 450 books for children and adults. She visits countless schools, conducts writing assemblies and workshops across the United States, and presents keynote addresses at conferences and young author events. She is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and has made dozens of appearances on TV. She has won several awards for her writing, including the Helen Keating Ott Award for Contributions to Children’s Literature, the Edgar Award, and a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. Dandi writes from rural Ohio, where she lives with her husband, Joe, their three children, and their horses, dogs, and cats.s.

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