Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review: What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman

If you like Amish mysteries, you need to grab a copy of What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman. This first book in a new series features a bishop with an extraordinary talent that could be the key to finding a murderer.

Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene of an out of control fire in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. He soon learns the fire was no accident and that Vernon Frey was killed. Considering Vernon's reputation in the Amish and Englisch communities there is no end to potential suspects.

When police suspect someone Henry knows is innocent, he must decide if he will use his mysterious, God-given gift to set the record straight.

When I heard Chapman was releasing a new series that blended two of my favorite genres--Amish fiction and mystery--there was no doubt I would read it. What the Bishop Saw hooked me right from the Prologue and didn't let go until the Epilogue was done. I'm already planning to beg to review the next book in the series when it comes out.

Her trademark of "Christian Fiction Full of Grace" is front and center throughout this exciting story, while the romance between Henry and Emma percolates slowly like a good cup of coffee. The ending is superb and I loved the Epilogue. The novel is filled with characters I hope we will see again in the next book.

I have enjoyed everything I've ever read by Vannetta Chapman, but What the Bishop Saw is my new favorite. I can't wait to see what happens next in The Amish Bishop Mysteries series.


Series: The Amish Bishop Mysteries (Book 1)
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (May 1, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736966471
ISBN-13: 978-0736966474

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Review: Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker

A story of faith, love and lifelong friendship is what you'll find in Annie's Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker.

In the second book of Baker's Hope Chest of Dreams series, Annie Mast and Levi Miller are reunited many years after a shunning forced him from her life. With their bond as strong as ever, the two separately imagine spending their lives together. But Levi is part of the English world and there is still a ton of bitterness over his family's shunning. With love on their side perhaps they will find an answer to their prayers.

Annie's Recipe is a sweet story that will tug at your heartstrings. Annie and Levi were the best of friends as children, but that ended abruptly when his father was shunned and the family moved away. When Levi returns to Arthur, Illinois for a wedding they reconnect and it opens up new possibilities for both of them.

What caught me off guard a bit with this story was how much focus was placed on simply these two characters. So much of the Amish fiction I read gives you an entire community feeling. Annie's Recipe was really about Annie and Levi and to some degree their families. I wasn't quite sure how I felt about that at first because it was decidedly different from what I am used to. By the time I came to the end, however, I was grateful for it. This style truly allowed me to fully understand these characters and how they developed thought this touching story.

While I didn't read the first book in this series, I didn't miss anything as Annie's Recipe is a stand alone novel. I would, however, love to read Rebecca's Bouquet and Rachel's Dream because these three women are sisters and it would be interesting to learn all their stories. I'll definitely be on the look for more of Baker's work in the future.

If you enjoy Amish fiction, you need to add Lisa Jones Baker to your "to be read" list.


Series: Hope Chest of Dreams (Book 2)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Zebra (February 28, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1420141546
ISBN-13: 978-1420141542

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Visit Us at The Book Connection



Cheryl's Christian Book Connection is taking a short hiatus. Between my work schedule and family responsibilities, I am cutting back on some blogging duties. Please be sure to visit us at The Book Connection.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Review: A Tree's Christmas by James Andrew Bowen

A Tree's Christmas by James Andrew Bowen must be one of the most beautiful, magical tales of the season ever written.

As has long been a family tradition, once the season is over the Christmas tree is taken out to the yard and placed in the garden to lay until spring. After this particular Christmas, the trees around the garden wake from their winter slumber to hear the story of the young fir and the important part he played in the family's lives.

Once in a while a seasonal story touches your heart in such a way you can't help but share it. That's certainly true of A Tree's Christmas. I smiled. I cried. It truly warmed my heart. This is a book that will be treasured for years to come. The reading of A Tree's Christmas would be the perfect tradition to start in your home. I know I'll be starting it in mine.


Hardcover: 68 pages
Publisher: Clearview Communications Publishing; 1st edition (September 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0979359317
ISBN-13: 978-0979359316

I received a free copy from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

7 Things to Know about Christianity By Cheryl C. Malandrinos, Author of Little Shepherd




This is a guest post I wrote in 2013 while promoting my children's picture book, Little Shepherd. The blogger, Rebecca of Paperback Writer, asked me to share "7 Things to Know about Christianity." A tough task, despite being a Christian my entire life. Since God’s Word says it best, I offer you some of my favorite Bible verses.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

By itself, this is an inspiring verse for me. I’m not a perfect person. Despite my years of faith and desire to follow God’s plan, I fail. I’ve used this verse with some of our youngest Sunday school students to assure them everyone sins.

This is Paul’s response to the Jews who felt they had an advantage because they were God’s chosen people. In this chapter, Paul explains everyone needs to be saved through Jesus Christ. God doesn’t play favorites. None of us deserves the salvation God gives us. We have no right to brag about ourselves because nothing we do makes us worthy; a person is only made right with God through faith.

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Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

There are several verses that discuss God’s love for us, but I feel this one is special because it points out that God sent His Son to die for us though we remain sinners. God doesn’t put conditions on His love; and what’s more, Christ willingly offered up His life for us.

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Mark 12:30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

This is Jesus’ response when a scribe asked Him what the first commandment of all was. Seeking to discredit His ministry, the religious leaders of the time posed questions meant to find fault with Jesus. On this topic, there was enough contention among them already. Some felt the positive commandments held more importance, while others believed God looked more kindly on those keeping the negative prohibitions.[1] Neither held true. With these words Jesus focused on our true purpose as God’s people. We miss something very important if we don’t open ourselves up to a personal relationship with God. Only by loving God with everything we are, with every portion of our being, can we become all we are meant to be.

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Psalm 84:10 “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

For whatever reason, David could not be at the temple in Jerusalem, and he longed to be in the place that symbolized God’s presence with His people. The last line of the second verse actually says, “My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.” Can you imagine how much David must have longed to be in God’s presence and with His people to say his such a thing? Can you picture what that type of longing must look like?

In verse 10, David is saying he would rather be a lowly doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell with wicked people. Is that our mindset now? Do we look to the world to provide for us or do we look to God? Do we have hearts that long for God?

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John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

In an anxious world filled with dangers, trials, and tribulations, we have received the special gift of peace; a sure peace that we are no longer of this world, but that we belong to Christ. A peace in knowing our sins are forgiven. A peace that comes through Christ’s death and Resurrection. A peace that comes from knowing we will share eternity with God. A peace we can only know when we enter into a relationship with God and cast our burdens onto the Lord.

Jesus knew His time with the disciples grew short. He knew they would be facing the loss of their teacher and their friend. He knew they would meet opposition, just like He did. But the peace of God would help them, just as that same peace helps us cope with the hardships we face in life.

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Matthew 28:6 “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…”

Imagine being Mary Magdalene on that third day. She and the other Mary are walking down to the tomb where the body of Jesus had been hastily buried. Suddenly the earth is shaking; an angel of the Lord rolls away the stone and sits on it, scaring the guards to death. And then the angel tells you not to be afraid. Yeah right. But then the angel tells these women what they hoped to hear, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…”

This is as much a message of hope for us today as it was that morning. God promised He would send a Savior, and He did. Jesus promised He would rise again, and He did. God is faithful forever. We can put our trust in Him.

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Mark 16:15 “…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

This is commonly referred to as “The Great Commission.” It is the last direct instruction Jesus gave to His disciples before He ascended into heaven. The Gospel of Matthew words it this way, “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

This is the basis for evangelism and missionary work. Christians are charged, by Christ, to “make disciples of all the nations” and to be witnesses for Him to the end of the earth. This gives us the opportunity to put our faith into action. Not only that, it allows us to share the message of hope, love, and faith we know when we engage in an intimate relationship with God. Just look at the news these days. All the suffering. All the pain. This message can make a difference in people’s lives. We must share it.

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1. Keathley, III, J.H., (2004, June 9). “The Paramount Issues of Life (Mark 12:28-31).” Bible.org. Retrieved October 25, 2013 from https://bible.org/



Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, and Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com/ and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/
Social Media Links:
Website Address: http://ccmalandrinos.com/


Twitter Address: @ccmalandrinos



Monday, December 26, 2016

From My Wish List: The Mistletoe Collection by Richard Paul Evans

I bet many of you received some book gifts this Christmas. My son was kind enough to bless me with The Mistletoe Collection by Richard Paul Evans, which includes all three books in his Mistletoe series.


Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.

Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:

1. No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day

The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.



At thirty-two Kimberly Rossetti, a finance officer at a Lexus car dealership, has had her heart broken more times than she wants to remember. With two failed engagements, a divorce and again alone with no prospects, she hardly seems the type to dream of being a published romance author. Dreading another holiday alone, she signs up for The Mistletoe Retreat, a nine-day writing retreat in Savannah, Georgia. Deep inside Kimberly knows she's at a junction in her life and it's time to either fulfill her dream or let it go. The other reason she decides to attend the conference is because famed romance writer, H.T. Cowell, once the best selling romance writer in America, and the author whose books instilled in her the desire to be a writer, will be speaking in public for the first time in more than a decade.

In one of her breakout sessions Kimberly meets another aspiring writer, and one of the few men at the conference, Zeke, an intelligent man with a wry wit who seems as interested in Kimberly as he is in the retreat. As Kimberly begins to open up to him about her stories and dreams, she inadvertently reveals her own troubled past. As Zeke helps her to discover why her books fail to live up to their potential she begins to wonder if he's really talking more about her life than her literature. But as she grows closer to him, she realizes that Zeke has his own darkness, a past he's unwilling to talk about.

The theme of The Mistletoe Inn is that like literature, relationships must be lived with passion and vulnerability to succeed.


Dear Universe,
Is anyone out there?

Thinking no one is reading, a blogger who calls herself LBH writes about her most personal feelings, especially her overwhelming loneliness. She goes from day to day showing a brave face to the world while inside she longs to know how it would feel if one person cared about her.

Alex Bartlett cares. He’s reading her posts in Daytona Beach, Florida. Nursing his own broken heart and trust issues, he finds himself falling for this sensitive, vulnerable woman whose feelings mirror his own. Following a trail of clues LBH has inadvertently revealed, he discovers that she lives in the small town of Midway, Utah. He makes his way there just after Thanksgiving, determined to find LBH. Maybe she’s a Lisa, Lori, or a Luanne. Instead, he finds a woman named Aria, a waitress at the Mistletoe Diner, who encourages Alex in his search while serving his pie along with some much-needed sympathy and companionship.

Alex finally finds his LBH, a woman who is as beautiful and kind as he imagined she would be. How can he tell her that he knows her secret? What’s holding him back? Could it be his feelings for Aria?


Feel free to share any books you received this holiday. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Clearance at Christianbook.com


The Baxters always spend Christmas together. Each family member struggles with their father’s decision to invite the new owner of their sister’s heart to such a joyous occasion. They may miss out if they choose not to go. Forgiveness doesn’t come easy when it’s yourself you must forgive.


These brief but power-packed devotions will bless your soul as you delight in the everyday gifts God provides. Open your heart and discover the extraordinary provision that comes in your daily walk with the Master Creator. This volume includes a presentation for gift-giving and a removable bookmark.


If your holiday wish list includes a menagerie of furry gifts that purr, wag their tails, and canter around the yard, then this is the anthology for you. Best of all, it's hypoallergenic and you won't have to feed it! Includes three heartwarming titles: The Christmas Cat, The Christmas Dog, and The Christmas Pony.

For these and more please visit www.christianbook.com