Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Feature and Giveaway: Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter

Lydia's Charm: An Amish Widow Starts Over in Charm, Ohio
Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter
Publisher: Barbour Books
Publish Date: September 1, 2010
Trade Paperback, 384 pages
Christian, Amish Fiction, Romance

Since I'm running slightly behind, I thought I would bring back my book feature posts.  It's simply information about a book I have in my queue to review.  So check this one out, doesn't it sound good?  I'm getting ready to start it so watch for the review soon, and scroll down for information on the giveaway.

About the Book:
Widowed and jobless, Lydia King moves her son and herself to Charm, Ohio, to be close to her mother and help with her grandfather. Menno Troyer, a furniture store owner, is also recently widowed and the father of four energetic boys. Levi Stutzman, another newcomer to the area, is the only one in his family not handicapped by dwarfism and has dedicated his life to caring for them. As fall colors the countryside, will anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life and romance, or will another tragedy flood her with infinite despair?

About the Author:
Award-winning, 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 several Amish friends.

GiveawayThanks to Danielle DeLuca of Planned Television Art, I have one copy of Lydia's Charm to giveaway.  I'm keeping this one simple again.  Just comment with an email address (if it's not available in your profile).  I would love it if you were a follower, but it's not required.   Giveaway ends 12/20 and will probably mail after Christmas.

FTC Information: I received this book from Danielle DeLuca of Planned Television Art for review, and she also provided the copy for the giveaway.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

Book Review: Love of a Stonemason by Christa Polkinhorn

Love of a StonemasonLove of a Stonemason by Christa Polkinhorn
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release:July 24, 2010
Paperback, 434 pages

My Review:
Why I read this:The author sent me information about the book asking if I would like to review it, I was intrigued by the premise and agreed (and I am really glad I did).

How is the novel driven:  Characters are the driving force in this book.  It's about Karla, Andreas, family and friends. 

My Thoughts:  The first thing that went through my mind when I finished this book on Friday night was simply "Wow".  I felt like I had been told a full story and while I wanted more of Karla and Andreas at the end, the story really was complete.  I don't know when was the last time I truly felt that when I finished a book.  Ms. Polkinhorn did a magnificient job crafting this story and getting it on the page.  The characters, scenery and happenings in the book really came alive for me and I felt like I was watching and feeling Karla and Andreas through the full book.

How to classify this book - I first thought it sounded like a romance, but after finishing it, I would say it is more general fiction.  Romance is key, Karla and Andreas' relationship is very key to the book.  But most romance novels stop after dating and marriage usually, sometimes with glimpses of family life if there are several books in a series.  The beauty of Ms. Polkinhorn's novel is that it continues through the years after they marry and delves much deeper into the characters of Karla and Andreas as they tackle the new ups and downs of marriage, of their art and of family.

Love of a Stonemason never lags in plot.  Whether you are looking into depression, the ups of a great art career, the separation (distance-wise) of Andreas and Karla, starting a family, all of this flowed together so well and made a great story.  I was never bored and wondering when something good would happen.  It was all interesting and attention getting.  It's as edge-of-your-seat as a non-thriller work can get.  I was always wondering what would happen next, what aspect of life would be shown.

The realism is beautiful too.  Love of a Stonemason truly shows the ups and downs of life, love and family.  No family or person is perfect, there are always problems and always two sides to a story and that is what this book really looks into.  I love that every aspect is shown and I really enjoyed the growth of the characters.  Andreas and Karla are not superficial,  you really get to know them through the whole book.  I felt as though I knew them personally.  The foreign setting and descriptions of landscapes and cities is also well-done.  I also enjoyed learning about the art world, something that never really interested me before, but the author does a great job of making it interesting.

I laughed, I cried, I was frustrated with the characters (in a good way).  I think I ran through most every emotion with this book.  And what I love most is the feeling of the complete story and it's a story that will stick with me for some time.   I found myself thinking of Karla and Andreas and the other people in their lives through the weekend.  Really letting the story settle over me and how I feel now is that this is a definite reread in my book and that is saying something since I don't really reread books.  My true hope is Ms. Polkinhorn will have another book on the way so I have another one of her books to enjoy.  She brings realism to the story without it depressing you and leaving you down for days and I really like that.  I do not have any complaints about this book and I think those of you who enjoy general fiction with a foreign-flair and romance will really enjoy this book.

My Rating:  5.0/5.0

About the Book:

The young painter, Karla Bocelli, is no stranger to loss. When she was five years old, her mother died in a car crash in the south of Switzerland. Her Peruvian father lives at the other end of the world, and a year ago, her aunt and guardian passed away. Now, at age twenty-four, Karla almost gets hit by a speeding car. As if this wasn't fateful enough, Andreas, the driver, turns out to be a sculptor and carver of tombstones. In spite of his profession, Andreas is anything but morbid. Quick-tempered and intense, he exudes a rough-and-tumble energy. After a tumultuous start of their relationship, Karla comes to see in Andreas the "rock in her life," the perfect antidote to her fears of abandonment and bouts of depression. Andreas, however, wrestles with his own ghosts: an alcoholic father who abused him as a child and his own fits of anger. Together, the two artists must confront the demons that haunt them. Love of a Stonemason is a story about the struggle of two artists with their past, their family, their creativity, and their love for each other. Told from the point of view of Karla, it depicts the world through her painter's sensibility. It takes the reader on a journey full of sights, smells, tastes, and sounds from the south of Switzerland to Italy and the Peruvian Andes.

About the Author:
Christa Polkinhorn, originally from Switzerland, lives and works as writer and translator in Santa Monica, California. She divides her time between the United States and Switzerland and has strong ties to both countries. Her poems have appeared in various poetry magazines. She is the author of Path of Fire, a collection of poems published by Finishing Line Press. Love of a Stonemason is her first novel.
Author’s page on Amazon with the ebook for Kindle and the trade paperback version
Christa's page on Smashwords with a variety of ebook versions

FTC Information: I received this book from the author for an honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.