CFBA presents The Return of Cassandra Todd by Darrel Nelson

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

The Return of Cassandra Todd 

Realms (February 5, 2013) 

by 

Darrel NelsonABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I am a schoolteacher by profession and have taught school for (thir—ahem!) years. I grew up in Raymond, Alberta, and attended the University of Lethbridge after graduating from high school and serving a two-year mission to Japan. During university, I met and married Marsha Smith, and we are the parents of four children, which has grown to include their spouses and our ten grandchildren.

I have always loved to write. I started writing stories before I was old enough to realize I was writing stories. It seemed a natural thing to pick up a pencil and paper and create a world simply by using words—worlds of adventure in steaming jungles (Tarzan was an early influence on me) or realms of adventure in outer space (Buck Rogers). But as I have grown older, I have discovered that the real inspiration for me is exploring the theme of love and how it can make such a difference in the world.

I’ve had an article published in Lethbridge Magazine and have written several dramatic plays, two of which won provincial recognition and were showcased at a drama festival. I won the CJOC radio songwriting contest two years running, and have had one of my songs receive international airplay. I have written four novels intended for the juvenile market. They are unpublished as yet, but I read them annually to my fourth grade students and my students tell me they love them, the darlings.

ABOUT THE BOOK

When the girl he hated in high school suddenly reenters his life, little son in tow, and asks for his help, Turner must put the past behind him if they are to survive.

Turner Caldwell works at a local motel as a handyman while attending college full-time. On his way to class one day, he passes the bus depot just as Cassandra Todd and her young son arrive. He is shocked to see her, remembering how cruel she was to him in high school. She was the popular head cheerleader and he the target of her mean-spirited pranks.
Turner could never have imagined that the outdoor training and survival skills he learned at Camp Kopawanee, a summer youth camp where he worked three years as a leader, would one day become so crucial. But when Cassandra and her son check into the motel where he works and she asks for his help in eluding her abusive husband, Turner finds himself entangled in a situation that will require every skill he has in order to survive.

If you’d like to read the first chapter of The Return of Cassandra Todd, go HERE.

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FIRST Wild Card Tours presents Come Eat at My Table by Ruth O”Neil

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Ruth O’Neil
and the book:
Come Eat at My Table by Ruth O’Neil
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
***Special thanks to Ruth O’Neil for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ruth O’Neil has been writing for over 20 years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She loves to touch the emotions when she writes. “If I can make one person laugh or cry, I’ll consider myself successful.” Her first novel “Come Eat at My Table” has just come out in ebook form and can be purchased on her website. She homeschools her three children (well, one now, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for 20-plus years. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Karin Miller has a need to feed everyone. One of her twin daughters always teases her about it. The other daughter, Faith, realizes that there’s more to it than that. Faith’s suspicions are confirmed when she is assigned a project in school that forces Karin to talk about her past, mainly her childhood. Most people have fun and pleasant memories from childhood, but not Karin. There are a lot of secrets, which she has kept hidden for twenty years that have contributed to her vulnerability and lack of self-esteem. Her husband convinces her that it would be good for her to let it all out. He tells her it would also be good for the girls to learn more about their mom and why she is the person she is. When it’s all said and done, Karin is a much stronger person and so are the members of her family. Until Karin faces her past, she and her family cannot face their future.

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99

File Size: 307 KB

Print Length: 133 pages

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Language: English

ASIN: B00BI2WZ9S

Text-to-Speech: Enabled

X-Ray: Not Enabled

Lending: Enabled

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

This book is a very nice and enjoyable read. This family endures many difficulties and struggles, secrets and tragic things that have happened. But they are a family that love each other, and even though they depended on themselves at first, they found the mercy and grace of a loving God. I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves a good clean, christian fiction. You will sure not be disappointed in this one!

I rec’d an ecopy of this book through FIRST Wild Card Tours. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The review here is my opinion only.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

PrologueIt’s said that the way we are raised forms who we are as adults. It’s all the experiences we have had in life that make us who we are. Mom was no different. Her experiences definitely shaped who she was.

I learned at an early age that it was my mom’s goal in life to feed everyone. She believed that food connected people and made them happy. Many of my own most vivid memories come from when we were sitting at the table eating with friends and family. Besides just inviting friends over for dinner, Mom would have someone over to eat in payment for a good deed. Mom would always make a meal for someone who was sick or in need. If she knew that someone was depressed, they would be the recipients of a plate of cupcakes. It was her signature touch of love, which made all her food special. Mom never failed to include a card, along with the food, with a few words of encouragement. If dessert was given, it was always presented on a pretty plate intended for the receiver to keep. Mom was famous for her cooking, especially for her cupcakes that were decorated individually.

It wasn’t until the year that my sister and I turned sixteen that we realized why mom had an underlying need to feed everyone. She wanted everyone to know they were loved – by her and by God. I remember that year as being one of the best of our lives. I don’t exactly know why because it was a year of difficulty for my parents and for us as a family. In spite of those difficulties, I remember that year as being fun and good.

Mom was one of those people that didn’t realize all the good she did or the number of people she touched. She did what she did because she felt God told her to. She didn’t do it for show. There was something deep down inside her that made her want to reach out to others. She never wanted anyone to feel like she had felt as a child, which was unloved. It wasn’t until the project for school our sophomore year that my sister and I found out why mom was the way she was.

It’s a story I will never forget because it was one that was difficult for my mom to tell and for us to hear. She wanted to shade my sister and me from her past, but I think I’m the better for knowing it. I think you will be, too.

Faith Miller

Chapter One

“Only two more days till Christmas!” Hope danced around the kitchen chanting while getting underfoot. She was good at that, but not always a whole lot of help.

“Yes, we know!” Hope’s twin sister Faith said, while frosting some of the cookies she had baked earlier in the day with their mom.

Hope picked up the cookie as soon as Faith set it aside to let the frosting set.

“You didn’t burn these did you?”

“I haven’t burnt anything in a long time!” Faith said.

“Yeah, it’s been at least a week!” Hope said sarcastically.

“We’d get more done if you helped a little more besides eating everything.” The girls’ mom, Karin, said to Hope without looking up from what she was doing.

“I’m taste-testing.” Hope said with her mouth full. “And taking pictures.” She held up her other hand, which contained a camera. It was an older camera that used film, but she found taking pictures enjoyable and she was good at it. She used her talent and became the photo editor of their school newspaper. She would often get right up in people’s faces to get a close-up shot. Karin and Faith hated that, which made Hope do it even more.

Hope and Faith were identical twins who would turn sixteen the next July. While they looked alike, they made every effort to look different. They had the same honey colored hair and green eyes as their mom. The three of them looked so much alike that their father often called them his triplets.

Karin wore her hair long, down to her waist. Faith had hair that came down past her shoulder blades, but more often than not, she had it up in a ponytail to keep it out of her way. Hope kept her hair only to her shoulders and she would straighten hers since she didn’t particularly like the waves that her mom and sister kept.

As far as their personalities were concerned, the twins couldn’t have been more different. Faith was the no fuss twin. Hope was the one who was more concerned about her appearance. She always took the time to do her hair and put on clean clothes and make-up before she took out the garbage.

Faith liked to cook alongside of her mother. Although she used to burn a lot of meals, after the last couple years of practice, she had become a much better cook. Faith liked to play sports and hated shopping. Hope liked shopping and hated sports. Hope was more popular at school and had a lot of friends. Faith was well liked, but she was much quieter than Hope and was loyal to her small group of close friends. Hope was much more talkative and more interested in the latest trends.

Hope talked incessantly, while Faith was a listener. Faith saw and heard things that Hope had no idea were there. Hope’s personality was more like her dad’s and Faith’s was more like Karin’s.

Faith was baking and frosting cookies while Karin was preparing Christmas dinner. When she pulled the ham from the oven she said as much to herself as to the girls. “I don’t know why I’m getting all this food ready now.” She had pretty much cooked everything so that on Christmas Day it would just have to be reheated.

“Well, now we can enjoy more time together as a family this year,” Faith said. “We always get up early, open presents, spend a few hours cooking, an hour eating, and the rest of the day sitting around doing nothing.”

“Yeah,” Hope agreed. “We can sleep in. We aren’t little kids anymore who are so anxious to open presents that we can’t wait till daylight.”

“We can sleep in as long as dad doesn’t wake us up.” Faith laughed.

It was true, their dad, Rob, was always the first one up on Christmas Day. He often got up and unsatisfied to be alone and to wait patiently, he would go and wake up the whole household. It didn’t matter that it was only four o’clock in the morning, it was Christmas and it was time to open all the presents that waited under the tree. If only he would leave everyone alone they could sleep in a little longer and still have plenty of time to enjoy the day and eat all the delicious food they were preparing.

Just then, the front door opened. All three of them looked to see who had entered. A little boy shyly stood there with a big smile. “Are you baking cookies?” He asked.

“We sure are.” Karin was always amazed at how Matt could show up at exactly the right time. “You’re a little late, Matt. I cracked the eggs a while ago!” Karin smiled.

One time when he came over while Karin was baking cookies, he told her he had heard her cracking the eggs. That was their own little joke now. He also heard her cracking the ice cube trays in the summer when he was hopeful of getting Karin’s famous lemonade.

Karin felt sorry for Matt. He was often at home alone. Matt was only ten years old. He had a single mom who worked extra hard just to make ends meet. Karin knew Matt’s mom’s schedule and they had an agreement that Karin would keep her eye out for their young next-door neighbor when he wasn’t in school.

Karin knew that if she offered to watch Matt his mom would feel obligated to pay her. Karin wasn’t looking for payment; she just wanted to be a good neighbor. Karin also knew that money was tight for Matt and his mom, so she often sent a plate of food home for her after Matt had eaten dinner with them. This arrangement worked well and kept them all happy.

Matt fit right in with the family, filling the role of little brother. Faith took him under her wing and nurtured him. Hope took him under her wing and conspired with him. Right now Hope and Matt sat on bar stools on the opposite side of the counter of where Karin and Faith were working. Hope was picking up two cookies, one more for herself and one for Matt.

None of them could resist Matt’s bright, blue eyes, blonde hair and the fattest cheeks anyone could ever imagine on a skinny, little kid. He was cute, of that there was no doubt. This was one reason Karin found it hard to resist his smile when he showed up on her doorstep, hoping for a cookie. He happily chewed on his treat as the three girls talked and sang Christmas songs as they played on the radio.

The four continued their baking, decorating, and eating. When Hope’s favorite Christmas song came on the radio, she ordered everyone to be quiet so she could listen and sing, when actually her singing ruined the song for everyone else. She grabbed a wooden spoon out of the crock on the counter and used it as a microphone as she sang and danced around the kitchen. Neither her singing nor her dancing was pleasant entertainment, but she ignored anyone who told her so.

Fortunately, the phone ringing interrupted her performance. Since her mom and Faith were both busy, Hope answered the phone without turning down the music.

“Hello? Merry Christmas!” She just about shouted into the phone. “Just a minute, please.” She handed the phone to her mom. “It’s Mrs. Carter, from church.”

Karin took the phone from her daughter. “Hello?”  It only took about two seconds for her whole demeanor to change. Hope was still singing, stealing cookies, and sharing them with Matt who had by now acquired a cup of hot cocoa, too.

Hope may not have noticed the change in her mom, but Faith, the one who saw everything, did see it. She also saw her mom walk into another room to avoid the noise. Faith turned down the volume on the radio not only so her mom could hear better, but also so that she could hear what her mom was saying.

“Hey!” Hope said as Faith turned the music down.

“Shhh!” Faith responded.

“I’ll take a meal over to them tonight.” Karin was saying. “I’ll also go ahead and set up meals for at least the rest of the week.”

When she hung up Faith asked what was wrong.

Karin put her hands on her hips like she was thinking. “Mrs. Lloyd broke her leg this morning.” She said.

“How did she do that?” Faith asked.

“She slipped on some ice and fell.” Karin answered.

Faith already knew exactly what was going through her mom’s mind. When Karin heard of a need, she automatically went into high gear. During the next few moments Karin spoke, but only to herself. The girls, and even Matt, knew not to interrupt.

“They are going to need food. There is no way Lisa is going to feel like cooking anything let alone a fancy Christmas dinner. I wish I had time to bake some cupcakes. I can do that later, instead of today. I don’t know how many people will be able to fix meals the week of Christmas. Hmmm. She’s going to need more help than that, too. She has five small children.”

When she looked up, the girls knew that they were now included in any further discussion. The funny part is that there wasn’t any conversation. The three of them looked at each other for a few moments. Took their eyes off each other long enough to scan over all the food that was spread out on the counter and the tables. There was ham, sweet potatoes, apple and pumpkin pies, herbed corn, and homemade rolls. When their eyes met again the decision had been made, all without saying one word. Hope grabbed one more cookie before the deal was sealed.

“Your dad doesn’t particularly care for ham anyway. He’s always saying he wants pizza for Christmas dinner; that we should go against tradition. How about we give him what he wants this year?” Karin asked the girls without expecting an answer. “Now I know why God had me prepare Christmas dinner early. See, girls, everything happens for a reason.” She commented. “Isn’t God amazing?” Karin just beamed.

Faith smiled. Hope acted a little disappointed. Both of the girls knew that their own Christmas dinner would be a little bit less than what was originally planned, but they both also knew that mom would make it special, even if it was just pizza.

“Mom’s got to feed the world!” Hope said. Her tone was sarcastic, but she said it with all the love she had in her heart for her mom. Everyone who knew her knew that Karin Miller had an innate need to feed everyone she met. And everyone she met was more than willing to eat at Karin Miller’s table, for her food was a treat for all to thoroughly enjoy.

Hope grabbed a couple more cookies. Faith went and got out one of the pretty plates her mom kept for such occasions. Karin would buy these plates when she found them on sale or at second hand stores or yard sales. It was one of those extra touches that were purely Karin. The plate was a gift along with whatever food was placed on it and was not to be returned.

“Here, Matt,” Faith began to hand him another cookie, but changed her mind when she looked at him. “Can you cram anymore cookies in those cheeks of yours?”

Matt tried to smile, but had to cover his mouth with his hand to keep cookie crumbs from falling out.

Faith continued, “Which cookies do you think the Lloyd’s will like?”

While munching on his own cookies, Matt helped Faith choose some of the prettier looking cookies to give to a family who would be in need of Christmas treats.

Faith arranged the cookies on the plate so they looked attractive. Then she covered the whole thing tightly with plastic warp so the cookies wouldn’t slide around. This would be dessert for the Lloyds to go along with the dinner her mom would soon be packing up.

Faith also grabbed a large plastic bag and filled it with cookies.

“What’s that for?” Matt wanted to know. Even though he didn’t live there, he knew Karin always put cookies on a nice plate and not in a plastic bag.

“These are for you and your mom.” Faith smiled.

“Oh, boy!” Matt said excitedly, rubbing his hands together.

“Yeah,” Hope interjected. “Make sure you save some for your mom. I heard she didn’t get any of the last batch.” She teased.

Matt just grinned. He knew he was guilty as charged. The last time Karin sent Matt home with some cranberry-ginger cookies, Matt ate them all. He paid for it the next day with a horrible stomachache.

“Hope, since you aren’t doing anything but eating, grab me some of those foil pans that are in the pantry.” Karin asked. “That way Mrs. Lloyd won’t need to worry about washing or returning any dishes.”

The Lloyd’s were a family at their church. They were relatively new members and Karin would do her best to make them feel like a part of the family.

When Hope came back with the foil pans in hand, Karin gave her another order. “Go get me that box of cards that is on the desk in my bedroom.”

That was another thing for which Karin had a talent. Whenever she gave anyone food, she also sent a card with much needed encouragement. Somehow, she always found the right Bible verse for every occasion. Karin didn’t know it and she certainly wasn’t keeping track, but she had touched many hearts with her efforts. Karin was well loved by everyone. A few people had even told her she should be a writer because the notes she wrote in the cards were so encouraging.

“There we go!”  Karin said as she finished packing up the ham dinner she thought she had been preparing for her own family. She smiled from ear to ear. Where many people would have been upset to put all that work into a meal and not be able to eat it, Karin was the opposite. She was in her glory, or God’s glory as her husband, Rob had come to call it. He may have teased her about all the food she prepared for other people, but he was known to help by telling her about people he knew were in need. He had delivered more than one meal in their twenty years of marriage.

“Hope can start putting stuff in the van if she ever comes back.”

“I’ll help.” Matt offered.

Faith handed him the bag of cookies. Matt happily carried his bag of cookies outside.

Hope came into the room. “There aren’t really any cards that are appropriate.”

Karin quickly looked through them. “You’re right.”

“Want me to go to the store and pick one out for you?”

Karin just looked at her daughter. “You can’t drive.”

“Yeah, but in seven months I’ll be able to, so why don’t you let me start practicing now?”

“Because it isn’t legal. I’ll stop and get a card on the way. Let’s go.”

“Are we going to the dollar store?” Faith wondered.

“Yeah, probably. That way I can see if they have any more pretty plates. I’m running low.”

The dollar store was one of her favorite places to find those small treasures. Often she would also find small pieces to use on the table as decorations for all of her entertaining. She often said, “Entertaining doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can still be beautiful.” And her table was often very lovely.

CFBA Presents Flora’s Wish by Kathleen Y’Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Flora’s Wish

Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

by

Kathleen Y’BarboABOUT THE AUTHOR:

RITA and Carol award nominee Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than forty novels, novellas, and young adult books. In all, more than one million copies of her books are currently in print in the US and abroad, and her books have been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish, to name a few.

Kathleen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She holds a BBA from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and a certification in Paralegal Studies, and is a former member of the Texas Bar Association’s Paralegal Division.

A tenth-generation Texan, Kathleen Y’Barbo has four children of her own as well as seven bonus kids she gladly inherited when she married her own hero in combat boots. Kathleen is proud to be a military wife, even if it did mean giving up her Texas drivers license.

ABOUT THE BOOK

May 1887–Flora Brimm is determined the fifth time is the charm. Back home she has a reputation as “Fatal Flora,” a woman whose previous four fiancés died in untimely accidents. Flora is desperate to marry, because producing an heir is the only way she can keep her family’s estate. She’s confident this visit to Eureka Springs with her grandmother will help her land a husband.

Pinkerton detective Lucas McMinn is hot on the trail of Will Tucker, the thief who broke his sister’s heart. When he discovers the slippery fellow with Flora, he thinks they are in on the devious plot together. Will Flora be able to convince Lucas of her innocence? Will Lucas catch the elusive Mr. Tucker?

And, more importantly, will Lucas survive if he pursues Flora’s heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Flora’s Wish, go HERE.

Will post review when I finish this book! Will say that I love Kathleen Y’Barbo!

FIRST Wild Card Tours presents….Beyond the Rapids by Evelyn Puerto

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Evelyn Puerto
and the book:
Beyond the Rapids
Pleasant Word-A Division of WinePress Publishing; First Edition edition (May 25, 2010)
***Special thanks to Evelyn Puerto for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Evelyn Puerto left a career in health care planning to serve as a missionary for seven years in Russia. During those years, she met and was inspired by the Brynza family, whose story she tells in Beyond the Rapids. After her return from the mission field, she got married, inheriting three stepdaughters, two stepgrandsons and a cat.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Imagine that you are a believer living in a communist country. You live with the knowledge that at any time you could be imprisoned, tortured or killed simply because you are a Christian.

Award-winning Beyond the Rapids is the true story of Ukrainian pastor Alexei Brynza and his wife, Valentina, who endured persecution in a culture that was hostile to their faith as they struggled to raise their children as believers The Brynzas children were tempted by ambition, wealth, love and popularity as they struggled with the choice between embracing the communist system or believing in God. Beyond the Rapids is an inspiring story of God’s grace and faithfulness in all circumstances.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99

Paperback: 348 pages

Publisher: Pleasant Word-A Division of WinePress Publishing; First Edition edition (May 25, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1414116055

ISBN-13: 978-1414116051

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK
This is an amazing read. And it is a true story! Just to read the struggles and difficulties of this family, I was in awe the situations throughout the entire book! And to see this families faith in God was encouraging and uplifting. I loved the characters and they really grow on you as the story unfolds!
This is a must read if you enjoy fiction of any kind. And this is author Evelyn Puerto’s debut book, though the way she writes you will think she has published many books before. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Beyond the Rapids today for your enjoyment. You will not be disappointed.
I rec’d an ecopy of this book through FIRST Wild Card Tours. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The review here is my opinion only.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Beyond the RapidsOne Family’s Triumph over Religious Persecution in Communist Ukraine
Chapter 1
Grandpa and the Firing Squad
Stone walls do not a prisone [sic] make.1

George Bernard Shaw

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32

As told by Lena

My parents didn’t allow my three brothers and me to play with the other children in the neighborhood. They built a wood fence around the yard and installed a gate, which Mama locked every morning after Papa left for work. Then she let us amuse ourselves in the yard while she was cooking or planting potatoes or taking care of the goats. We often stood at the gate, peeking through the bars, stretching our hands into the air, rejoicing that our hands were free, even if we were not, waving at the neighbors passing by, neighbors who laughed at us, remarking we were like prisoners in jail.

Maybe the neighbors were joking; maybe they remembered that our grandfather had been imprisoned during the Great Patriotic War. Many Ukrainians rejoiced when our country was invaded. Some greeted the German army with bread and salt, the traditional symbols of welcome, hoping the Nazis would rule more humanely than the iron-fisted communists. After two years of German occupation, the Soviet Army drove the Nazis out, fighting so fiercely around Zaporozhe that the Dniepr River ran red with the blood of the dead.

The Soviet Army rounded up all the men who survived the occupation to take to the front. My grandfather, Gavril, was among them. He refused to fight. The Baptist church left decisions about participating in war or bearing arms to each person’s conscience. For Grandpa, it was clear. “I am a Christian,” he said, “and I will not kill anyone.”

To the Soviet authorities, this was traitorous. How could any citizen shirk his duty to defend the Motherland from the fascist invaders? The Nazis treacherously attacked our country, plundered wantonly, slaughtered millions of people, and carried off thousands more to slavery in Germany. Maybe my grandfather would have been more willing to help a regime that had not been so cruel to believers. He certainly wasn’t going to compromise his principles to help the Communist Party complete its Five Year Plan. He would remain true to his faith and convictions no matter what.

For many years the authorities sought reasons to arrest Grandpa for his faith; now they had grounds to execute him. He was tried, sentenced to death by firing squad, and flung into the death cell with others condemned to die. There he sat for an entire month. The guards distributed almost no food and offered no medical care of any kind to these prisoners, reasoning that the inmates were going to die anyway. Why waste good food or medicine on traitors and criminals?

Every morning, as the pale winter sun peaked through the tiny window high up in the wall of the unheated cell, the cell’s door grated open and a guard would appear. As he probed the faces of the condemned with his flashlight, the prisoners waited, resigned, knowing what was about to happen—one of their number would be called out never to return, and each one hoped to be spared one more day. But the guard’s light would finally settle on one weary face. “You.  Let’s go.”

One morning the light drilled into Grandpa’s face. He calmly said good-bye to his cellmates. After a month in the death cell he still wasn’t sure why he had been arrested. Was it for refusing to fight in the army, refusing to kill another human being? Or was it simply for his faith? Now his sentence was about to be fulfilled; it didn’t matter why he was to die. He staggered to his feet, lightheaded from hunger, stiff from inactivity.

The weak light of the winter sun pierced Grandpa’s eyes when he left the cell. Each step was a struggle, every muscle protesting, pain shooting through his feet as he walked to certain death, his heart at peace. He knew that in a few minutes he would be rewarded for his faith and enjoy eternal life with God. The guards marched Grandpa along the muddy streets of the camp. As they passed the headquarters, an officer came out. “Where are you taking this man?” he asked.

“To the firing squad.”

“What has he done?”

“He’s a Baptist leech who won’t fight.”

“My mother was a Baptist,” said the officer. “I can’t allow you to kill him. Give him another trial.” At the second trial they sentenced Grandpa to ten years hard labor in a concentration camp in Siberia. Grandpa’s suffering was only beginning.

 

Christian Speaker Services Presents…..Kathi Macias and The Moses Quilt

The Moses Quilt

by Kathi Macias

4474487_orig

ABOUT THIS BOOK

The Moses Quilt is a contemporary novel that bridges racial and generational divides. With a realistic and compassionate look into a twenty-first-century dilemma, multiple award-winning author Kathi Macias introduces readers to a confused and apprehensive young woman, Mazie Hartford. Facing major decisions about the love of her life and her future, she must also wrestle with a nagging question about her family’s past. She finds the answer to her questions in a most unexpected way—her great-grandmother’s Moses quilt. As her great-grandmother begins to explain how each patch represents a story of courage and freedom, Mazie must decide if she has the courage and freedom to overcome her own personal fears and prejudices.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

This story focuses on a young lady, Mazie. Mazie’s great-grandmother gives her a quilt she purchased before she moved in with Mazie and her mom. The special thing about this quilt was that it tells the story of Harriet Tubman’s life, each square telling a different story. I was amazed as this sweet 93-year old lady told Ms. Tubman’s story of the racial difficulties throughout her life.

I always enjoy Kathi Macias’ books because she is not afraid to tackle the most difficult issues. In “The Moses Quilt,” Kathi deals with racial barriers because Mazie is dating a guy of a different race. Mazie’s great-grandmother and mom adore Edward Clayton, and he makes it known his feelings for Mazie, clearly wanting to marry her but for some reason, Mazie just can’t commit to a long term relationship with Edward. Could this be the reason for the great-grandmother’s quilt story?

I highly recommend this book for a wonderful and enjoyable read. I found this story different that a lot I read, because a 93 year old is the main character telling the story, and because her life is clearly coming to an end, she can only tell the story in short segments. But this doesn’t make the story boring at all! In fact, it is very interesting to find out just what Harriet Tubman went through her entire life. God was truly leading Ms. Tubman’s life and taking care of her safety. I thoroughly enjoyed her life’s story and can’t wait for the next book in this series.

I received this book through Christian Speaker Services. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinion in this review are mine only.

Interview with Kathi Macias about The Moses Quilt

The Quilt Series sounds interesting, but what makes it unique or sets it apart from the many other quilt books that are so popular right now? First, I must confess to NOT being a quilter. I’ve never even considered taking it up! Second, I love quilts and have always been fascinated by the stories behind them. I combined that fascination with my passion for writing issues-related fiction, and I ended up with a three-book series that is, for the most part, contemporary but told against historical backdrops.
Sounds interesting! Can you tell us a bit about each of the three books in the series? Sure! Book one, The Moses Quilt, involves an interracial romance, where the couple works through their concerns and apprehensions as they learn the story of Harriet Tubman’s faith and courage as told through the patches of the Moses quilt that represents her life. Book two, The Doctor’s Christmas Quilt, deals with the topic of abortion told against the backdrop of the life of America’s first woman doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell, who was strongly pro-life. Book three, The Singing Quilt, deals with a young woman overcoming a physical disability; the background for that story is based on the “Queen of Gospel,” Fannie Crosby.
Was it difficult to do the research on these women, particularly Harriet Tubman? What did you learn about her in the process? I knew more about Harriet Tubman than I did about Elizabeth Blackwell or Fannie Crosby, but I expanded my knowledge of each as I did the research. Harriet Tubman’s amazing faith and courage is what stood out most to me about her life. Here was a woman born a slave, penniless for the majority of her life, and illiterate except for the scripture verses she had memorized (even if she couldn’t read them). Her prayer life was powerful, even as a child. After she escaped to the North and began making forays back into the South to help bring others out of slavery, friends would caution her against it. “Harriet, there’s a reward on your head—dead or alive. Aren’t you afraid?” She brushed off their fear and explained that she believed God had called her to help rescue her people; therefore, He would protect her. When her job was done, He would take her home to heaven, so what was there to fear? Wow, what a dynamic woman of God! I also learned that her achievements went far beyond rescuing slaves, though that’s what she’s best known for. She also served as a spy for the Union Army, worked as a nurse, and opened a home for indigent elderly former slaves. She died there herself in her mid-nineties, and the entire town flew their flags at half-mast in her honor.
Tell us a little more about the contemporary story in The Moses Quilt. The majority of the contemporary story is set just outside San Francisco. Mazie is white and deeply in love with Edward, an African-American lawyer who adores her and wants to marry her but tries to be respectful of her hesitation to make a commitment. What he doesn’t know is that Mazie is disturbed by what she considers secrets in her family’s past, secrets that begin to be unraveled as her great-grandmother, Mimi, tells her and Edward the story behind her Moses quilt, which she bought years earlier in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a little town famous for its quilts. Edward thought he knew everything there was to know about Harriet Tubman, who had always been somewhat of a hero to him, but Mimi’s story opens up new avenues of discovery for both the young people in this relationship—and takes them straight back to the quilt’s origin in Gee’s Bend.
This sounds like more than just a “feel-good” story. Can it be used as a study book in some way? Absolutely! As with nearly all my books we have free downloadable discussion questions at www.newhopedigital.com that will enable The Moses Quilt to be read as a study book for individuals or used as a discussion/study book for groups.
___ For more opportunities for free copies of THE MOSES QUILT by Kathi Macias, please follow this book tour on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/CSSVBT.KathiMacias. This blog host was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview and/or book review on this blog. CSS Virtual Book Tours are managed by Christian Speakers Services (http://ChristianSpeakersServices.com).

1740181About the Author: Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 40 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.

First Wild Card Tours presents….Katie Opens Her Heart

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jerry Eicher
and the book:
Katie Opens Her Heart
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Jerry Eicher (nearly half a million copies sold) returns with the first book in another of his delightful series centering on Amish life.

Here is the story of a young Amish girl, Katie Raber, who finds she wants more from life than to be known as simply “Emma Raber’s daughter.”

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736952519

ISBN-13: 978-0736952514

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK
This is such a heartwarming book. A mother taking care of her daughter they way she knew best after the death of her husband. Katie’s mom Emma was known as the weird one in their Amish community and Katie was known as Emma’s daughter. Katie longed to be herelf, have real friends that didn’t look at her as her mom’s daughter but her mom wanted things to stay the way they had been for years, just the two of them. Then Jesse Mast comes along wanting to marry Emma, but Emma wants no part of Jesse either, until Katie decided to go against her mom’s will and go out with friends outside of their Amish community.
This story has a lot of twists and turns that will capture your attention and keep you reading. Will Katie and her mom change their way of living and be open to others in the community? And will the community and Jesse’s family accept them because of their reputation?
I loved this book and can’t wait for the other books in this series. In Jerry Eichers unique way with telling Amish stories, he pens
Katie Opens Her Heart
and gives readers a wonderful, clean, heartwarming Amish read that I highly recommend!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through FIRST Wild Card Tours. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions here in this review are mine only.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The early morning sun was rising over the well-kept farms of Delaware’s Amish country as Katie Raber drove her buggy toward Byler’s Store near Dover to begin her day’s work. She squinted when she spotted an approaching buggy in the distance. The horse had its neck arched high in the air. Katie didn’t have to think long before she decided who was coming toward her. Ben Stoll would be holding the reins. It was his buggy. She was sure of that. Ben was one of the best-looking Amish boys around. Blessed was any girl who was invited to ride with him in his buggy—something Katie figured she would never experience. Ben was without a doubt the catch among the community’s Amish young men. A cloud crossed the sun, and Katie held the buggy lines tight as she kept her eyes glued on the approaching buggy. Perhaps she could catch a glimpse of Ben this morning. That was all she could hope for. He was from another world. Ben never spoke to her, and she only saw him at the Sunday meetings and the Amish youth gatherings Mamm allowed her to attend. There he would be laughing and talking with someone else—someone more suited to his taste than “plain Katie,” the out-of-step daughter of the odd widow Emma Raber. Katie could walk right under Ben Stoll’s nose, and he wouldn’t even know a shadow had gone by.Yah, she was Emma Raber’s daughter. That’s how most people in the community thought of her. She even thought of herself that way—just an extension of her mamm. Mamm was nice enough, and Emma really loved her. So, nee, she wasn’t really complaining. But sometimes her mamm did unusual things, and that made Katie seem so…well, weird to the other young adults in the Amish community. For one thing, there would be no rumspringa for Katie. Everyone else she knew among the Delaware Amish would have their time to run around and try out the ways of the world. But not Katie. Emma Raber wouldn’t even consider such a thing for her daughter. And the Amish youth gatherings were few and far between. Mamm was suspicious of even those. “Too much socializing,” she had said.

She could live without rumspringa. Or without Ben Stoll, for that matter. So what, Katie told herself, it might even be best for her if Ben were unobtainable. He might not be all that wunderbah if she ever got to know him. Katie sighed. These were desperate excuses, and she knew it, but lately Mamm’s restrictions were becoming harded and harder to bear. She was only trying to make herself feel better. Ben was wunderbah. Even her friend Arlene Miller wasn’t above stealing a glance at Ben—and that with her boyfriend, Nelson Graber, sitting right across from her at the Sunday night hymn singings!

Katie wondered if all the girls were as taken with Ben as she was. She was aware of everything about him. She noticed when he wore a new black suit at communion time every spring. She noticed the way his buggy shone when the sun rays bounced off the sides at the Sunday meetings. The boy must spend hours waxing the black vinyl of his buggy, she thought. And most of all, she noticed the way Ben smiled when he was happy, which seemed like most of the time. What would it be like to be the kind of girl who made Ben smile that smile? Ha! Certainly a simple, plain soul like Emma Raber’s daughter couldn’t be such a girl…ever.

Katie tried to look away from the fast-approaching buggy. She was way too fascinated with the boy. If Mamm knew her feelings, Katie knew she’d be given a lecture the size of the state of Delaware and right at the kitchen table after supper. Yah, Mamm would not understand how she felt. Life had been hard for Mamm, especially when it came to men. Hadn’t Daett passed away when Katie was still a young girl? The loss had been so painful for Mamm that she might never marry again.

The beat of horse hooves on pavement grew louder. Katie eased open her buggy door just enough to make sure that whoever was in the passing buggy could see it was her in case a greeting was forthcoming. With her hands on the reins, Katie held her breath as the buggy approached and passed without its buggy door opening even an inch. Katie saw the unmistakable outline of Ben’s face through the small window. His hat was tight on his head, and his eyes were looking straight ahead. The moment passed in a flash without the smallest flicker of a hand wave through the window. And then the buggy was gone.

It was the sun in his eyes, Katie told herself. That’s why Ben hadn’t slid open the buggy door or bothered to wave. But she knew better. Ben wasn’t being mean. No, she just wasn’t worth the effort. He had greater and better things on his mind than paying attention to Emma Raber’s odd daughter. Now if she were beautiful, or charming, or funny, or even talkative at the Sunday-night hymn singings, it might be different. With such qualities, perhaps her plainness could be overcome. But all that was a dream that would never come true. She couldn’t be what she wasn’t.

Perhaps she should settle for Joe Helmuth from down the road. Joe walked with a limp from a hay wagon accident when he was five. He would take over his daett’s farm someday, but the scars from that long-ago day would never leave him. The problem was that Joe didn’t pay Katie any attention either.

Well, at least thinking about Ben Stoll helped ease the pain a little, Katie decided. She was only Katie Raber, after all. The girl who could barely open her mouth without dumb words falling out all over each other. If she could only be more like the rest of the Amish girls in the community. But that could never be either, not with how Mamm felt about things.

Katie slapped the reins against her horse as her thoughts swirled through her mind. She couldn’t remember much about Daett. He’d been gone since she was three years old. She could remember happy times though. Going to the barn with him when they did the evening chores. But that was so long ago. If she only had a daett, Katie decided, life would be different. If Mamm married again, Katie figured both of them would be better accepted in the community and Mamm might change her ways. The most obvious possibility was widower Jesse Mast. And he’d come calling on Mamm again just the other evening. Mamm hadn’t said anything about the visit, but Jesse had surely spoken of marriage.

Yah, Mamm should marry again, Katie decided. Mamm’s sorrow over losing her husband was still written on her face after all these years. Was it not high time things changed? Yah, and Katie would pray about the matter.

Da Hah must already be thinking the same thing if He was sending Mamm a suitor in the person of Jesse Mast. So why couldn’t Mamm see this and accept Jesse’s offer of marriage? Was she turning him down because he wasn’t much to look at? Yah, he was a little rough around the edges. But it wasn’t like Mamm to be so concerned with outward appearance. She went more by a person’s kind heart than how he looked on the outside. Perhaps it was the fact that Jesse’s frau, Millie, had died and left him with a family of five children. Was that why Mamm objected? She didn’t want her household increased so dramatically?

Nee, Katie decided that couldn’t be the reason either. Mamm didn’t mind hard work. And if a large family was the problem, she should have been happy after turning down Jesse. Instead, Mamm had walked around the house with the lines on her face running deeper than ever. So why had she turned Jesse down? That was assuming Mamm had turned him down. The proposal of marriage was just a guess on Katie’s part, but she was sure she was right. It couldn’t have been anything else. The two had talked for a long time while sitting on the porch swing. Afterward, Jesse had stood in the yard for a few moments longer, still speaking with Mamm. He’d held his hat in his hand, the sweat ring in his hair still apparent from where the hat had been pressed tightly on his head. Then Jesse had walked back to his buggy, his head bowed. Even Jesse’s horse, Lucy, had looked depressed as they drove down the lane.

Katie had been ready to ask Mamm what Jesse wanted, but one look at her face caused her to change her mind. Mamm looked troubled and yet, at the same time, ready to give someone a piece of her mind. A question from Katie could easily have resulted in another lecture she didn’t want to hear. A lecture about being satisfied with one’s lot in life and not reaching for the stars. That was the standard lecture Mamm always gave when Katie dared complain about attending more of the Amish youth gatherings.

“You don’t know how nice you have it,” Mamm would say. “We have enough to eat, a roof over our heads, and horses to drive us to work and church. What more could we ask for?”

Well, Katie thought, there was plenty more to ask for. All kinds of things a young woman could want. Things that were out there just waiting to enrich one’s life—and, happily, things that were not forbidden by the Ordnung. Like liking a boy. Like someday loving a man who would love her back and consider his life empty without her. Someone who’s eyes would light up when he saw her. Someone who called her sweet things on Sunday nights as he sat on the couch beside her. Wasn’t that what dating couples did? Mamm wouldn’t say when Katie asked, other than muttering something about useless talking until all hours of the night.

How could such time be considered wasted? Katie wondered. It would be glory indeed to sit beside a boy—a soon-to-be man so near she could touch him. What delight it would be to hear his deep voice rumble when he spoke or feel his eyes watching her long before she looked up to meet his gaze. Nee, this couldn’t be wasted time. It would be a touch of heaven, and the most worthwhile thing a girl could set her heart on. Especially if the boy were Ben Stoll…

Katie sighed. So had Jesse Mast asked for Mamm’s hand? Had she turned him down? She’d sent him away looking disappointed, so something was going on. And then there was that look on Mamm’s face in the evenings after the sun had set and the house was quiet. Mamm didn’t like the loneliness of their house either—the hours without a man’s voice being heard. She’d been silent after Jesse left that night, staring at the kitchen wall and seemingly more troubled than usual.

What could she do to help? Katie wondered. She should do something, yah.

A car passed Katie’s buggy, its engine roaring. Katie forced her mind back on the road ahead. Her horse, Sparky, knew the way to Byler’s Store. He should after all this time she’d worked there. But even so, he mustn’t be allowed to go his own way.

Ahead of her, Bishop Jonas Miller’s place was coming up. His wife, Laura, was out in the yard hanging wash on the line. Katie leaned out of the buggy to wave, and Laura paused long enough to wave back before bending again to her work. At least the older Amish folk didn’t think she was strange, even with her Mamm the way she was.

Katie settled herself in the buggy seat again. If Mamm married Jesse, she might have to stay home from her job at Byler’s and help with the added work five children entailed. But that would be an attractive kind of work—more normal almost. And it could lead to other kinds of normalness in her life. And perhaps even to a boy sitting on the couch beside her some Sunday night after a hymn singing. Yah, somehow Mamm must be persuaded to accept Jesse’s offer of marriage.

Katie turned into the parking lot at Byler’s and pulled Sparky to a stop at the far end of the hitching rail that was located on one side of the store. She climbed down, unhitched the buggy, and led Sparky around to the back where he could munch at stray pieces of grass during the day. She tied him to the fence with a long rope before walking back to the buggy. She pushed both doors shut before heading to the employee entrance of the store.

When the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey

When the Heart Heals

by Ann Shorey

Print

 

 

About this book!

In a country healing from war, can a young woman find healing for her heart?

Courageous and unconventional, Rosemary Saxon served as a nurse during the Civil War, a service that has caused most women in town to regard her as unfeminine and even downright vulgar. Although she would like to put that part of her life behind her, she needs to support herself. She takes a nursing position with Dr. Elijah Stewart, but whenever they are together they always seem to do or say the wrong things. When someone threatens Rosemary, will she find the courage to stand, or will she leave town-and Elijah-forever?

With tenderness and grace, Ann Shorey invites you back to the town of Noble Springs, Missouri, for an engrossing story of love’s tentative first steps and fragile future in the face of opposition.

 

My Thoughts on this Book

Rosemary Saxon wants to be accepted in her community for the nurse that she is, but at this time in history, women just didn’t have that position. So she applies for a position and was accepted to help Dr. Elijah Stewart in the small town of Noble Springs. But then petty things started causing conflict between Rosemary and the Doc.

 

I really enjoyed this wonderful book by Ann Shorey. I love the small community of Noble Springs and its people, and slow pace lives, where most people took care of each other. Rosemary was a sweetheart, and never minded helping others in need. But would Dr. Stewart accept her way of helping others, both medically and giving someone a home to live in? Ann Shorey gives readers an amazing story of love, forgives and acceptance that will stay with you long after you finish reading the pages. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys fiction, and especially historical fiction! You will not be disappointed!

 

This book was provided by Revel Publishers for me to read and review. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

Ann Shorey

Ann Shorey

Ann Shorey is the author of Where Wildflowers Bloom, The Edge of Light, The Promise of Morning, and The Dawn of a Dream. She has also published selections in the Cup of Comfort series and in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul. Ann and her husband make their home in southwestern Oregon.

 

Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson

Picture Perfect

by Janice Thompson

9780800721527[1]

 

About this book

She’s trying to focus on her future. How can one man make everything feel so . . . fuzzy?

Hannah McDermott has a successful photography studio. She’ll soon be featured in Texas Bride magazine. And she has a celebrity client whose Galveston ceremony will be her ticket to the top spot on wedding coordinator Bella Neeley’s list of recommended photographers. But it could all come crashing down around her because of one man: archrival and photographer extraordinaire Drew Kincaid.

As the competition between Hannah and Drew heats up, Hannah is surprised to find that it’s not the only thing getting more intense. She can’t get the handsome man out of her thoughts-or even out of her line of sight-and the job of her dreams is turning into a nightmare. Will everything she’s worked for slip out of her hands? And can she see past her pride to find a picture-perfect love?

With contagious humor and a cast of quirky characters, Janice Thompson gives you crazy bridal-business drama, sweet romance, and a satisfying dose of laughter.

 

My Thoughts on this book

Just as the other books I’ve read by Janice Thompson, Picture Perfect is an enjoyable and fun read, with characters that you will grow to love.  Hannah is a fun character and wanted desperately to fulfill this opportunity that could boost her photography business, but it wasn’t as easy as she might have thought.

I enjoyed the humor in this wedding story, even though it wasn’t difficult to see where the story line was going. But not to worry about knowing what will happen, there is enough going on in this story to keep you interested and wanting to read to the end. If you enjoy light, heartwarming reads with a good bit of humor involved, you will love Picture Perfect. I highly recommend this for a wonderful enjoyable reading experience.

This book was provided by Revel Publishers for me to read and review. I was not expected or required to write a positive
review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

 

Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series. She lives in Texas

FIRST Wild Card Tour presents My Amish Childhood by Jerry Eicher

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Jerry Eicher
and the book:
My Amish Childhood
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Bestselling fiction author Jerry S. Eicher recounts his childhood in the Amish community of Aylmer, Ontario and his parents’ decision to move to Honduras. Jerry also tells of his eventual conversion to Christ and the reasons for his departure from the childhood faith he knew.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736950060

ISBN-13: 978-0736950060

 

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

I really enjoy reading anything Amish, and it was especially nice and interesting to read about Jerry’s life as an Amish. I felt like I was getting a front row seat into the Amish life. And after reading so many Amish fiction, this was a nice thing for me. I love Jerry Eicher’s books, and I enjoyed this one just as much. And being real life was even more special for me.

If you enjoy Amish, or are curious about the lifestyle of Amish people, this would be wonderful for you to read. Go out a grab a copy for your enjoyment! You will not be disappointed! I
rec’d this book from the publisher  through F.I.R.S.T. WildCard
Tours. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions
in this review are mine only.

 

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

I can still see his face. Lean. Determined. Framed by his lengthy beard. I can see him running up the hill toward our house. He was carrying his bag of doctor implements.Mom was having chest spasms, and any real doctor was miles away—across four hours of the broken, rutted, dusty Honduran road we took only as a last resort.

The running man was my Uncle Joe. The smart one of the family. The older brother. The intellectual genius. When Uncle Joe walked by, we stopped talking and listened intently when he spoke. On this day, he rushed by, not paying any attention to us children.

I knew he was coming about Mom, but I recall experiencing no fear for her life. Perhaps I wasn’t old enough to have such a fear. To me, Uncle Joe’s haste seemed more entertainment than emergency. After all, Mom had looked fine to me a few minutes earlier.

When Uncle Joe left the house some time later, he issued a favorable report that I never questioned. Nor did anyone else. The mysteries of the Englisha world of medicine were even further removed from us than the four hours to town. Uncle Joe studied the books, and we trusted him.

Years later, when our little Amish community in Central America was on its last legs and held in the grip of terrible church fights over cape dresses, bicycles, singing in English or Spanish on Sunday mornings, and other horrors that the adults spoke of with bated breath, it was the look on Uncle Joe’s face as he talked with Mom and Dad by the fence on Sunday afternoon that made things clear to me. If Uncle Joe thought something was over, then it was over.

Uncle Joe lived below us, across the fields, in a house smaller than ours even though his family was much larger. How they managed, I never thought to wonder. Their house never looked crowded. It was kept spotless by his wife, Laura, and their oldest daughters Rosanna and Naomi. We didn’t visit often on Sunday afternoons. Mostly we children dropped by on weekdays, sent on some errand by Mom or we wandered past on our meanderings around the countryside.

They kept goats in the yard, all of them tied with long ropes to stakes. One of them was named Christopher. We didn’t have goats. Dad ran a machine shop, and Mom took care of the garden. Goats were foreign to us. Smelly creatures. Mom scorned goat’s milk, even when Uncle Joe said emphatically it was far superior to cow’s milk.

We all lived near each other in those days—part of a grand experiment to see if the Amish faith could survive on foreign soil.

My grandfather, Peter Stoll, an Amish man of   impeccable standing, had taken it upon himself to lead an Amish community to the Central American country of Honduras. He wasn’t an ordained minister, and I don’t remember seeing him speak in public. Still, the integrity of his life and his ideas so affected those around him that they were willing to follow him where few had gone before.

At the height of the experimental community, we ended up being twenty families or so. We all lived on two neighboring ranches purchased in a valley below a mountain. Most of us had come to Honduras from the hot religious fervor of the small Aylmer community along the shores of  Lake Erie in Southern Ontario or from the detached coolness of Amish country spread over Northern Indiana. Plans were for the two to become one in mind and heart. And for awhile we did.

Those were wonderful years. The memories of that time still bring an automatic gathering of hearts among the Amish who were there—and even some of us who are no longer Amish. All these years later, most of us are scattered across the United States and Canada—except for the few of the original group who stayed behind.

Some of the people credit the joy of those days to the weather in our Honduras valley. And lovely weather it was. Balmy. Hardly ever above ninety or below forty. Others credit the culture. Some attribute our happiness to being so far from the States that we only had each other. I don’t know the full reason for our happiness. Perhaps it isn’t possible to know. But I do remember the energy of the place—its vibrancy. I do know the years left their imprints on us all.

This was my childhood. Those hazy years when time drags. When nothing seems to come soon enough. And where everything is greeted as if it had never been before. To me that land—that valley—was home. I absorbed it completely. Its sounds. Its language. The color of the dusty towns. The unpaved streets. The pigs in the doorway of the huts. The open fires over a metal barrel top. The taste of greasy fried beans. The flour tortillas and meat smoked to perfection. In my heart there will always be a deep and abiding love for that country.

Around us were mountains. To the north they rose in a gradual ridge, coming in from the left and the right to meet in the middle, where a distinctive hump rose into the air—officially named Mt. Misoco. But to us it was simply what the locals called it: La Montaña. The Mountain. Our mountain. Which it was in ways we could not explain.

To the south lay the San Marcos Mountains. At least that’s what we called them. Those rugged, jagged peaks lying off in the distance. I never climbed those mountains, but I often roamed our mountain—or rather our side of it—from top to bottom. On its peak, looking over to the other side, you could see lines and lines of ridges running as far as the eye could see.

A party of courageous Amish boys, along with a few visiting Amish youngsters from stateside, once decided to tackle the San Marcos Mountains. They threw their forces together and allowed two days for the trip. I was much too young to go along—and probably wouldn’t have anyway. But I waited for news of their adventure with interest. They came back soon enough— defeated and full of tales of dark jungles and multiple peaks that disoriented the heart. No one even caught sight of the highest point, let alone the other side.

In the summer, around five in the morning, the Southern Cross—that symbol of Christianity—hung over the San Marcos Mountains. Its haunting figure made of stars swung low in the sky. I would stand for long minutes gazing at the sight, caught up in the glory of it.

I was eight when we arrived in Honduras. We were one of the first families there after Grandfather Stoll had purchased and settled on the Sanson ranch. Dad seemed driven to the move by motives other than adventure. He was unhappy with the ordnung rules in the Amish community at Aylmer, and he wanted change. Change that didn’t include the great sin of joining a more liberal Amish church, of course.

In time Dad came to love the land along with the rest of us. And strangely, he came to love what he didn’t expect—the old ways, imperfect though they had been. My most enduring memory of Dad in those days is hearing him sing the old German songs at the top of his voice over the roar of his machine shop motors. And in the end, it came down to that question for all of them. A choice between what they loved and what they loved the most.

I grew up surrounded by men dedicated to an old faith. I saw those men, most of them my uncles, tested to the core. I saw them wrestle with the old and with the new, trying to figure out where everything fit together. I lived among giants of faith. I saw their agony and their sacrifice. I saw their choices, and it affected me deeply. Their faith had been hammered out back in the sixteenth century, in the old town of Zurich, Switzerland. Back during the time Ulrich Zwingli thundered his sermons in the old Grossmunster Church.

But in the days of my childhood, those stories of   long ago were not mine yet. Those gallant tales of deeds done under fire and sword. Of imprisonment in noblemen’s castles. Of narrow escapes into the Swiss countryside from the murderous Berne Anabaptist hunters. Instead, my memories are of men in my own time. Men who believed that life was not worth living if you didn’t believe in something worth dying for. I was surrounded by men of passion. And if someone should make the claim that these men were misguided, I would insist the fault lay not in caring too much about religious matters. For I learned while growing up among them that this is how a person should live. That true believers follow God with all of their hearts and souls.

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley….From Thomas Nelson

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley

 

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Book Description

The Brides of Last Chance Ranch, #3

Molly Hatfield comes to Arizona Territory seeking stability and security. But living in Cactus Patch provides her with more than she ever dreamed.

There is nothing Molly wouldn’t do for her teenaged brother, Donny. Blaming herself for the accident that left him wheelchair bound, Molly has dedicated her life to his care. But in 1896, gainful employment for a woman is hard to come by. So when Molly learns that an eccentric rancher in Cactus Patch, Arizona, is looking for an heiress—someone to take over management of the ranch in exchange for future ownership—she jumps at the chance to provide a real home for her brother.

However, Molly didn’t bank on meeting Dr. Caleb Fairbanks, the town’s charming unmarried doctor. Caleb has a way with Molly that makes her nervous. But it’s how he is with her brother that really alarms her. Caleb sees past the wheelchair and genuinely likes Donny, but Molly fears he’s putting unrealistic ideas into her brother’s head. Falling in love with Caleb would threaten everything she’s worked for, even her brother’s future happiness. But it could be the very reason God brought her to Last Chance Ranch.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Having read the first two books in this series, I was anxious for the third book in The Brides of Last Chance Ranch to hit the stands. And author Margaret Brownley did not disappoint! With characters that I fell in love with, I thoroughly enjoyed another really good read that will stay with me for a while! I grew to love Molly, and the relationship she had with her brother was truly heartwarming. My heart went out to her as she strove to do whatever she could to take care of Donny.

Waiting for Morning is truly a story that will capture the heart of any reader, just as it did mine. I highly recommend this historical fiction to book lovers everywhere. A copy of this book was provided by Booksneeze’s blogger program. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

CFBA Presents For Love of Eli by Loree Lough

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

For Love of Eli 

Abingdon Press (February 1, 2013) 

by 

Loree LoughABOUT THE AUTHOR:

With more than FOUR MILLION copies of her books in circulation, Loree has 98 books (fiction and non-fiction for kids and adults; four novels optioned for movies; more books slated for release between now and 2014), 68 short stories, over 2,500+ articles in print, and over 19,000 letters from fans!

Loree loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic approach makes her a favorite (and frequent) guest of writers’ organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, college and high school writing programs both here and abroad.

A writer who believes in “giving back,” Loree dedicates a portion of her income to Soldiers’ Angels, Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations.

She splits her time between a tiny home in the Baltimore suburbs and an even tinier cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and shares both with her real-life hero Larry, who rarely complains, even when she adds yet another item to her vast collection of “wolf stuff.”

ABOUT THE BOOk

When unspeakable tragedy leaves young Eli an orphan, two families are devastated. But Taylor, Eli’s aunt and legal guardian, vows to help him remember his parents by creating a Memory Quilt. As she begins piecing together the moments of his parents’ lives, the story of the young family emerges and Taylor and Eli begin to heal. But Eli’s uncle Reece is slow to let go of the past and still blames Taylor’s brother for his sister’s death. So, although he has long been attracted to Taylor, Reece keeps a safe distance away. Can their shared love for Eli pave the way to forgiveness or will Taylor and Reece be separated by pain?

If you would like to read a first chapter excerpt of For Love of Eli, go HERE.

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

For Love of Eli is another book in the Quilts of Love Series from Abingdon. As in the other books, the main focus is a quilt, and this one is the making of Eli’s memory quilt. The story is very sad, yet very touching, with two important caregivers that loved Eli. The characters were believable and real, and the story keeps your attention throughout. This is truly a story of love sacrifice and forgiveness. Its a bit different than I thought, but I did thoroughly enjoy this story.

A copy of this book was provided by Abingdon Press through CBFA for me to read and review. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

Pump Up Your Book…….Spotlight on “The Truth”

image001

ABOUT TA’MARA HANSCOM

Having experienced the healing work of the Lord in their own marriage, Ta`Mara and her husband, Jim, are strong promoters of a healthy marriage through obedience to Christ. Ta`Mara shares a testimony of deliverance and healing for hurting marriages, as well as messages on other topics. References can be provided.

It is Ta`Mara’s prayer that, as the readers explore the truths in these volumes, they will come away with a new perspective on love, obedience, and God’s plan for marriage.

Ta`Mara Hanscom has worked on The Caselli Family Series since 1996. Within three weeks she had created a 900 page rough draft of what would become a five- novel series of the epic love story of Tillie Caselli and Noah Hansen.

Loving all things Italian, Ta`Mara created the Caselli family true to their ethnic name. Born and raised in South Dakota, she brings this traditional family alive on the Great Plains where she has spent the entirety of her life.

WEBSITE

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ABOUT THE CASELLI FAMILY SERIES

image002BOOK 1 – THE PRETENDER

My Jean-Marc’s uncle was married to an English woman, and she told us once, a very long time ago, that in this world there are men of two kinds. The one, the knight, is the man possessing only strength and quality of moral character. He will never ask a lady to compromise her honor for less than a vow, and never, ever will he consider another once he has captured her heart. A knight keeps his vow, even when it hurts, and the honor of a knight is a thing a country is built upon. A knight comes along only seldom these days.

Now, a blackguard is a man who can be found quite easily, for it is an easy thing to be a blackguard. He attempts to trick the young ladies into taking him home and caring for him, making them believe their honor can be given away as a mere trifle, offering no vow, and making only human demands. The blackguard is to be avoided at all costs, for to settle for someone like him is to settle for something less than ideal.

In the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, Tillie Caselli promises to marry Noah Hansen. Theirs’ was a love intended to last, and their promises were never to be broken. But when there’s an illusion of unfaithfulness, the result is an error in judgment—an error that changes the course of lives.

Epic romance, global adventure, ethnic passion, and Christian values inspire this new series.

 

image003BOOK 2 – PIT OF AMBITION

Rosa begged Guiseppi to reveal their prayers to Angel.  But Guiseppi was stubborn…and the thing with Alex went too far.  Guiseppi buried Noah’s identity deep within himself and demanded that Rosa do the same. Now Guiseppi is tempted to tell Angel the secret that is crushing his heart—but Noah will find out first!

 

image004BOOK 3 – A BLACKGUARD’S REDEMPTION

A Blackguard’s Redemption picks up where Pit of Ambition left off. Noah has discovered the identity of his beloved Angel and he schemes a way to have words with her alone at church.

Tillie is not at all happy with the situation. Surprisingly, she is still extremely angry with Noah for what transpired between the two of them more than eleven years before. She makes Noah promise that he will not ever tell Alex, or any of her brothers. Noah agrees.

Alex decides to run for political office—and it’s worse than ever. He reveals his real “blackguardly side” by notifying Tillie that he’s spent enough time at home with her and the kids, and that he should move (by himself) to another city. He leaves Tillie and the kids behind in order to pursue his career.

image005BOOK 4 – THE GIFT: THE STORY OF ANNIE LAURIE

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings as eagles;

they shall run, and not be weary;

and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

 

image006BOOK 5 – THE TRUTH: SALVATORE’S REVENGE

As Marquette Caselli plans his retirement, the pinnacle of his career takes center stage and the end of an era draws near…

CFBA Presents Daybreak….by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

Daybreak 

Avon Inspire; Original edition (February 12, 2013) 

by 

Shelley Shepard GrayABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley’s Facebook Fan page

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Viola Keim starts working at a nearby Mennonite retirement home, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with resident Atle, whose only living relative, son Edward, is living as a missionary in Nicaragua. Viola understands the importance of mission work, but she can’t imagine leaving her father in the hands of strangers. Even though her family is New Order Amish, it’s not the Amish way, and though she doesn’t know Ed, she judges him for abandoning his father.

But when Ed surprises his father with a visit, Viola and Ed both discover an attraction they never expected. Despite her feelings, choosing Ed would mean moving to a far-off country and leaving her family behind. She can’t do that. Her twin sister, Elsie, is going blind and will need someone to care for her all her life. Her family is reeling with the recent discovery that her grandmother hid her past as an Englischer. Her father seems forgetful and distracted—and to be harboring some secrets of his own.

Does Viola dare leave them all behind and forge her own life? Or will family ties mean her one chance at love slips away?

If you would like to read a first Chapter excerpt from Daybreak,go HERE.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

I love a book that is a light read and totally entertainment, and Daybreak is one of those books! Viola had a special relationship with Ed’s dad in the Mennonite retirement home and she wasn’t happy with Ed leaving his dad there for several years and not visiting him. And when Ed finally came home and visited his dad, Viola didn’t want the attraction that was between she and Ed.

Shelley Shepard Gray writes another amazing book with characters that I grew to love, and can’t wait to read about them again in the next book in this series. I highly recommend this book for your reading enjoyment!

FIRST Wild Card Tour….A Home for Lydia…by Vannetta Chapman

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Vannetta Chapman
and the book:
A Home for Lydia
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. Her first two inspirational novels—A Simple Amish Christmas and Falling to Pieces—were Christian Book Distributors bestsellers.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A Home for Lydia, the second book in a new romantic series from popular author Vannetta Chapman, centers again on the Plain community of Pebble Creek and the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges to their community from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways.

Aaron Troyer simply wants to farm like his father and grandfather before him. But instead he finds himself overseeing the family’s small group of guest cabins nestled along the banks of Pebble Creek. That also means he must work with the cabins’ housekeeper, Lydia Fisher.

Lydia is the most outspoken Amish woman Aaron has ever met, and she has strong opinions about how the guest cabins are to be run. She also desperately needs this job. Though sparks fly between boss and employee at first, when the cabins are robbed, nothing is more important to Aaron than making sure Lydia is safe.

Together they work to make the vacation property profitable, but can they find out the identity of the culprit before more damage is done? And is Lydia’s dream of a home of her own more than just a wish and a prayer?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736946144

ISBN-13: 978-0736946148

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK
This is one of my favorite series in a while! I love the way Vannetta Chapman makes me feel as if I am sitting in the mist of this family and community. Everything about this book, her writing, the characters, the situations, all of it is so real and believable, it was truly am absolute joy to read A Home for Lydia.
If you enjoy Amish stories, this book and this series is a must! And if you haven’t tried Amish fiction, this is a wonderful book to start with!
I rec’d this book from the publisher through F.I.R.S.T. WildCard Tours.
I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this
review are mine only.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

• Prologue •Wisconsin

May

Lydia Fisher pulled her sweater around her shoulders and sank down on the top step of the last cabin as the sun set along Pebble Creek. The waters had begun to recede from last week’s rains, but the creek still pushed at its banks—running swiftly past the Plain Cabins and not pausing to consider her worries.

Debris from the flooding reached to the bottom step of cabin twelve. She could have reached out and nudged it with the toe of her shoe. Fortunately, the water hadn’t made it into the small cottages.

Almost, though.

Only two days ago she’d stood at the office window and watched as the waters had crept closer to the picturesque buildings nestled along the creek—watched and prayed.

Now the sun was dropping, and she knew she should harness Tin Star to the buggy and head home. Her mother would be putting dinner on the table. Her brother and sisters would be needing help with schoolwork. Her father would be waiting.

Standing up with a weariness that was unnatural for her twenty-two years, Lydia trudged back toward the front of the property, checking each cabin as she went.

All were locked and secure.

All were vacant.

Perhaps this weekend the Englisch tourists would return and provide some income for the owner, Elizabeth Troyer. Guests would also ensure that Lydia kept her job. If the cabins were to close and she were to lose her employment, she wouldn’t be able to convince her brother to stay in school. Their last conversation on the matter had turned into an argument—one she’d nearly lost.

Pulling their old black gelding from the barn, she tied Tin Star’s lead rope to the hitching post, and then she began to work the collar up and over his ears.

“You’re a gut boy. Are you ready to go home? Ready for some oats? I imagine you are.”

He’d been their buggy horse since she was a child, and Lydia knew his days were numbered. What would her family do when he gave out on them? As she straightened his mane and made sure the collar pad protected his shoulders and neck, she paused to rest her cheek against his side. The horse’s sure steady breathing brought her a measure of comfort.

Reaching into the pocket of her jacket, she brought out a handful of raisins. Tin Star’s lips on her hand were soft and wet. Lydia rubbed his neck as she glanced back once more at the cluster of buildings which had become like a small community to her—a community she was responsible for maintaining.

Squaring her shoulders, she climbed into the buggy and turned toward home.

• Chapter 1 •

Downtown Cashton

Thursday afternoon, two weeks later

Aaron Troyer stepped off the bus, careful to avoid a large puddle of rainwater. Because no one else was exiting at Cashton, he didn’t have to wait long for the driver to remove his single piece of luggage from the storage compartment. He’d thanked the man and shouldered the duffel bag when the buggy coming in the opposite direction hit an even bigger puddle, soaking him.

The bus driver had managed to jump out of the way at the last second. “Good luck to you, son.”

With a nod the man was back on the bus, heading farther west. A part of Aaron wished he were riding with him. Another part longed to take the next bus back east, back where he’d come from, back to Indiana.

Neither was going to happen, so he repositioned his damp duffel bag and surveyed his surroundings.

Not much to Cashton.

According to his uncle and his dad, the town was about the same size as Monroe, but Aaron couldn’t tell it. He supposed new places never did measure up to expectations, especially when a fellow would rather not be there.

The ride had been interesting enough. They had crossed the northern part of Indiana, skirted the southern tip of Lake Michigan, traveled through Chicago and Rockford, and finally entered Wisconsin in the south central portion of the state. Aaron had seen more cities in the last twenty-four hours than he’d visited in his entire life. Those had been oddities to him. Something he would tell his family about once he was home, but nothing he would ever care to see again. But passing through the Hidden Valley region of southwestern Wisconsin—now that had caused him to sit up straighter and gaze out of the bus’s window.

There had been an older Englisch couple sitting behind him. They’d had tourist brochures that they read aloud to each other. He’d caught the highlights as he tried to sleep.

He heard them use the word “driftless.” The term apparently indicated a lack of glacial drift. His dat would laugh at that one. Not that he discounted all aspects of science, but he had his doubts regarding what was and wasn’t proven as far as the Ice Age.

According to the couple’s brochure, Wildcat Mountain to the east of Cashton was teeming with wildlife and good hiking. Any other time he might be interested in that piece of information, but he wasn’t staying, so it didn’t matter much to him.

He also learned that small towns in the Driftless Area were at risk of major flooding every fifty to one hundred years.

Staring down at his damp pants, he wondered how much rain they’d had. How much rain were they expecting? He hoped he wouldn’t be here long enough to find out.

Aaron glanced up and down the street. He saw a town hall, a tavern, a café, a general store, and a feed store. A larger building, probably three stories high, rose in the distance, but he had no desire to walk that far because it could be in the wrong direction. Already the sun was heading west, and he’d rather be at the cabins before dark.

Several streets branched off the main one, but they didn’t look any more promising. Pushing his hat down more firmly on his head, he cinched up the duffel bag and walked resolutely toward the feed store.

Instead of heading toward the front door, he moved down the side of the building to the loading docks, where two pickup trucks and a buggy were parked.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the buggy that had sprayed him with rainwater and mud. He would rather not ask information of that person, though in all likelihood the driver had no idea what he’d done. Folks seldom slowed down enough to look outside their own buggy window—even Amish folk. It appeared some things were the same whether you were in Wisconsin or Indiana.

He approached the loading docks, intending to find the owner of the parked buggy.

“That duffel looks heavy… and wet.”

Turning in surprise, he saw a man leaning against the driver’s side of the buggy. Aaron could tell he was tall, even though he was half sitting, tall and thin. Somber brown eyes studied him, and a full dark beard indicated the man was married. Which was no surprise, because a basket with a baby in it sat on the buggy’s floor. The baby couldn’t have been more than a few months old, based on the size of the basket. He couldn’t see much except for a blanket and two small fists waving in the air.

“Duffel wouldn’t be wet if someone hadn’t been determined to break the speed limit with a sorrel mare.”

The man smiled, reached down, and slipped a pacifier into the baby’s mouth. “That would probably have been one of the Eicher boys. I’m sure he meant no harm, but both of them tend to drive on the far side of fast.”

He placed the walnut bowl he’d been sanding with a piece of fine wool on the seat, dusted his hands on his trousers, and then he stepped forward. “Name’s Gabe Miller.”

“Aaron Troyer.”

“Guess you’re new in town.”

“Ya. Just off the bus.”

“Explains the duffel.”

Aaron glanced again at the sun, headed west. Why did it seem to speed up once it was setting? “I was looking for the Plain Cabins on Pebble Creek. Have you heard of them?”

“If you’re needing a room for the night, we can either find you a place or take you to our bishop. No need for you to rent a cabin.”

Easing the duffel bag off his shoulder and onto the ground, Aaron rested his hands on top of it. “Actually I need to go to the cabins for personal reasons. Could you tell me where they are?”

“Ya. I’d be happy to give you directions, but it’s a fair piece from here if you’re planning on walking.”

Aaron pulled off his hat and ran his hand over his hair. Slowly he replaced it as he considered his options. He’d boarded the bus ten hours earlier. He was used to long days and hard work. Though he was only twenty-three, he’d been working in the fields for nine years—since he’d left the schoolhouse after eighth grade. It was work he enjoyed. What he didn’t like was ten hours on a bus, moving farther away from his home, on a trip that seemed to him like a fool’s mission.

“Sooner I start, sooner I’ll arrive.”

“Plain Cabins are on what we call the west side of Pebble Creek.”

“You mean the west side of Cashton?”

“Well, Cashton is the name of the town, but Plain folks mostly refer to Pebble Creek, the river.”

“The same river going through town?”

“Yes. There are two Plain communities here—one to the east side of town, and one to the west. I live on the east side. The cabins you’re looking for are on the west. The town’s sort of in the middle. You can walk to them from here, but as I said, it’s a good ways. Maybe five miles, and there are quite a few hills in between, not to mention that bag you’re carrying… ”

Instead of answering, Aaron hoisted the duffel to his shoulder.

Throughout the conversation, Gabe’s expression had been pleasant but serious. At the sound of voices, he glanced up and across the street, toward the general store. When he did, Aaron noticed a subtle change in the man, like light shifting across a room. Some of the seriousness left his eyes and contentment spread across his face.

Following his gaze, Aaron saw the reason why—a woman. She was beautiful and had the darkest hair he’d ever seen on an Amish woman. A small amount peeked out from the edges of her prayer kapp. She was holding the hand of a young girl, who was the spitting image of the man before him. Both the woman and the child were carrying shopping bags.

“I was waiting on my family. Looks like they’re done. We’d be happy to take you by the cabins.”

“I don’t want to be a bother,” Aaron mumbled.

Gabe smiled, and now the seriousness was completely gone, as if having his family draw close had vanquished it. As if having his family close had eased all of the places in his heart.

Aaron wondered what that felt like. He wanted to be back with his own parents, brothers, and sisters in Indiana, but even there he felt an itching, a restlessness no amount of work could satisfy.

From what he’d seen of Wisconsin so far, he could tell he wasn’t going to be any happier here. He’d arrived less than thirty minutes ago, and he couldn’t wait to get back home.

Gabe was already moving toward his wife, waving away his protest.

“If it were a bother, I wouldn’t have offered.”

Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith

Rebekah

A Novel

series: Wives of the Patriarchs

9781441240583[1]

About

Can love heal the rift between two souls?

When her beloved father dies and she is left in the care of her conniving brother Laban, Rebekah knows her life has changed forever. Though she should be married by now, it’s clear that Laban is dragging his feet, waiting for a higher bride-price to line his pockets. But then Rebekah is given a chance to leave her home to marry Isaac, a cousin she has never even seen, and her hope for the future is restored. Little does she know what a wondrous and heart-wrenching journey she is beginning.

As Rebekah experiences the joy of young love and the bitterness of misunderstanding and betrayal, her resolve is tested. When the rift between Isaac and her grows so wide it is surely too great to be mended, can she trust the God of Isaac’s father Abraham to bridge the gap?

Join bestselling author Jill Eileen Smith as she fills in the blanks around the life of the enigmatic Rebekah.

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

I always enjoy Biblical fiction because it brings the lives of those people we read about in the Bible to life before our eyes. And is just what Jill Eileen Smith did with her new book Rebekah. I so much enjoyed this entire book and the lives of Isaac and Rebekah and their family. It just makes their story more personal and heartwarming, yet lets us know that as a family, they had difficult times just as we all do.

I will say to remember that this is fiction, and the author took liberties in writing this story, but she does let readers know where these liberties are in the story. But saying that, I did really enjoy the imagination of Jill as she tells her version. And I loved the scripture all throughout this story, it was just so refreshing and heartwarming.

So all in all, I love, love this book! If you enjoy Biblical stories, historical fiction, or just Christian fiction in general, this is a must for you to read. You will not be disappointed!

“Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from Revell Publishers. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are my own.

Jill Eileen Smith
Photo Credit:  © Amanda Matilla Photography

Jill Eileen Smith

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the bestselling Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, all part of The Wives of King David series, and of Sarai, book 1 in the Wives of the Patriarchs series. Her writing has garnered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

5 Days to a CLutter-Free House…by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims

5 Days to a CLutter-Free House

by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims

9780800721077[1]

About

A clean, organized, and restful home is only 5 days away.

If you’ve picked up this book, you want to reduce the clutter in your home, organize what’s left, and keep it that way. But does the sheer scope of the project give you an anxiety attack? Don’t let fear stop you! Organizing and time management experts Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims show you how, with the right game plan and a healthy dose of adrenaline, you’re just 5 days from your goal.

With their proven team-based approach, even the most overwhelming de-cluttering job becomes doable. Section one shows you how to de-clutter, with each day of the week focused on one reachable goal. Section two shows you how to cultivate time-tested habits that keep your house in the clean, well-ordered state you’ve just achieved. You’ll even learn how to deal with common obstacles such as•filing•storage needs•health issues•space restrictions•the car•even family sabotage!

So what are you waiting for? The home of your dreams is just a week away.

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOKS

This is a really great book to help organize your home! From storage, to filing important papers, to dealing with small space areas and even health issues, this book will show you neat and simple quick and easy ideas. But the more important thing is it will teach you to de-clutter. My son loves that I have this book because he calls me a pack-rat! I really want to use some of these ideas in the next couple of month. And I highly recommend this book to all ladies! I think we can all find something helpful in this valuable book.  And remember, Spring is getting near! And this is a wonderful resourse to help with Spring cleaning!

“Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from Revell Publishers. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this
review are my own.

ABOUT THESE AUTHORS

Sandra Felton

Sandra Felton

Sandra Felton, The Organizer Lady, is a pioneer in the field of organizing. She is the founder and president of Messies Anonymous and the author of many books including Organizing Magic. Sandra lives in Florida.

Continue readingabout Sandra Felton

  • Marsha Sims

    Marsha Sims

    Marsha Sims is a national speaker who has taught seminars on time management and organization, managing the front desk, and projects and priorities. She has been a professional organizer for fifteen years as the founder and president of her Miami-based…

    Continue readingabout Marsha Sims

A New Home for Lily by Susan Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger

PrintA New Home for Lily

 

ABOUT THIS BOOK

New town, new house, new friends-and always lots of fun!

Lily Lapp is moving with her family to Pennsylvania to join a new Amish community. In this small town, Lily has to get used to a new school, new friends, and Aaron Yoder, the most annoying boy in the world! But some changes are good, like exploring an attic full of adventure and getting a new baby brother. Still Lily wonders, why can’t God bring her just one sister?

My Thoughts on this Book!

Susanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger writes another awesome fiction for young ladies. I thoroughly enjoyed a further look into Lily Lapp’s life. Which includes issues that any young lady faces today. The characters are sweet and believable and so enjoyable to read about! This is a wonderful book, and a wonderful series for young girls. My copy is going to my niece to read and enjoy!

I received this book from Revell Publishers. I
was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this
review are my own.

 

About the Authors

Mary Ann Kinsinger

Mary Ann Kinsinger was raised Old Order Amish in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. She met and married her husband, whom she knew from school days and started a family. After they chose to leave the Amish church, Mary Ann began a blog, A Joyful Chaos, as a…

Continue readingabout Mary Ann Kinsinger

  • Suzanne Woods Fisher

    Suzanne Woods Fisher

    Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children’s series, The…

    Continue readingabout Suzanne Woods Fisher

 

 

 

CFBA Presents….Redeeming Grace…by Ward Tanneberg

This week, the 

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance 

is introducing 

Redeeming Grace 

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas;
1st edition (February 28, 2013) 

by 

Ward TannebergABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ward Tanneberg is a pastor/writer/novelist who has given more than 50 years to evangelism, youth, college and pastoral ministry, including two Pacific Northwest churches and 23 years as the senior pastor at Valley Christian Center in Dublin, CA. In 2008, he was named President/Executive Director of The CASA Network. Ward speaks extensively at 50+ retreats and ministry leadership events in the USA and elsewhere. When at home he meets weekly with a group of business and professional leaders. He and Dixie have 2 children, 3 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren and a great grandson.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Seven years ago, Grace Grafton died in a boating accident while partying on the Georgia, South Carolina coast. Was her death the result of alcohol and drugs or something more sinister? Nobody knows: her body was never recovered. Now years later, a woman reads in disbelief the note addressed to her: Hello Grace, did you think we wouldn’t find you?

Those nine chilling words end Grafton’s self-imposed sanctuary of witness protection. Now she and everyone she loves are in grave danger. Long believed dead, she has a secret that can change the world. She knows the man running for president is guilty of a double murder! But who will believe her?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Redeeming Grace, go HERE.

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK

Getting into this book was a little slow for me, there was a lot going on and it was difficult to follow and a bit confusing as well. But after a while, the story gets more interesting, and I begin to enjoy what I was reading. It is a little gruesome in places which I could have done without, but I skimmed over these places on to the better reading. And don’t let the many pages in the book keep you from reading, because I found this book to be a very fast read.

Overall, if you enjoy a good thriller/suspense story, then you will enjoy this book!

This book was provided  through Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
I was not required or expected to give a positive review. The opinions in this
review are mine only.

FIRST WildCard Tours presents……A Quilt for Jenna by Patrick E. Craig

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
Patrick E. Craig
and the book:
A Quilt for Jenna
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books. Patrick and his wife Judy make their home in northern California and are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Amish + Quilts = readers delight! And in this first book in Patrick Craig’s Apple Creek Dreams series, readers will follow master quilter Jerusha Springer’s journey out of tragic circumstances to a new life of hope. A beautiful story of loss…and redemption.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736951059

ISBN-13: 978-0736951050

MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK
One thing for sure, this book is a new twist on Amish fiction! It gives readers another side of an Amish man jumping the fence. And it is full of suspense, as well as the kindness of Amish characters as well. And along with it readers get a good taste of what being in a war is like. A Quilt for Jenna is a mixture of many different issues that will sure keep your attention and keep you in the book until the very last page! I encourage you to pick up your copy today!
This book was provided by  FIRST WildCard Tours. I was not expected or required to write a
positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Jerusha Springer reached behind the quilting frame with her left hand and pushed the needle back to the surface of the quilt to complete her final stitch. Wearily she pulled the needle through, quickly knotted the quilting thread, and broke it off.Finished at last. She leaned back and let out a sigh of satisfaction. It had taken months to complete, but here it was—the finest quilt she had ever made.

Thousands of stitches had gone into the work, seventy every ten inches, and now the work was finished. It had been worth it. The quilt was a masterpiece. Her masterpiece…and Jenna’s.

She grabbed a tissue and quickly wiped away an unexpected tear.

If only Jenna were here with me, I could bear this somehow.

But Jenna wasn’t there. Jenna was gone forever.

Jerusha glanced out the window as the November sun shone weakly through a gray overcast of clouds. The pale light made the fabric in the quilt shimmer and glow. A fitful wind shook the bare branches of the maple trees, and the few remaining leaves whirled away into the light snow that drifted down from the gunmetal sky.

Winter had come unannounced to Apple Creek, and Jerusha hadn’t noticed. Her life had been bound up in this quilt for so many months—since Jenna’s death, really—that everything else in her life seemed like a shadow. She stared at the finished quilt on the frame, but there was no joy in her heart, only a dull ache and the knowledge that soon she would be free.

She had searched without success for several months to find just the right fabric to make this quilt, and then she stumbled upon it quite by accident. A neighbor told her of an estate sale at an antique store in Wooster, and she asked Henry, the neighbor boy, to drive her over to see what she could find. The Englisch had access to many things from the outside world, and she had often looked in their stores and catalogs to find just the right materials for her quilting.

On that day in Wooster she had been poking through the piles of clothing and knickknacks scattered around the store when she came upon an old cedar chest. The lid was carved with ornate filigree, and several shipping tags were still attached. The trunk was locked, so she called the proprietor over, and when he opened it, she drew in her breath with a little gasp. There, folded neatly, were two large pieces of fabric. One was blue—the kind of blue that kings might wear—and as she lifted it to the light, she could see that it seemed to change from blue to purple, depending on how she held it. The other piece was deep red…like the blood of Christ or perhaps a rose.

The fabric was light but strong, smooth to the touch and tightly woven.

“I believe that’s genuine silk, ma’am,” the owner said. “I’m afraid it’s going to be expensive.”

Jerusha didn’t argue the price. It was exactly what she was looking for, and she didn’t dare let it slip through her fingers. Normally, the quilts that she and the other women in her community made were from plainer fabric, cotton or sometimes synthetics, but lately she didn’t really care about what the ordnung said.

So, pushing down her fear of the critical comments she knew she would hear from the other women about pride and worldliness, she purchased it and left the store. As she rode home, the design for the quilt began to take form in her mind, and for the first time since Jenna’s death, she felt her spirits lift.

When she arrived home, she searched through her fabric box for the cream-colored cotton backing piece she had reserved for this quilt. She then sketched out a rough design and in the following days cut the hundreds of pieces to make the pattern for the top layer. She sorted and ironed them and then pinned and stitched all the parts into a rectangle measuring approximately eight and a half feet by nine feet. After that she laid the finished top layer out on the floor and traced the entire quilting design on the fabric with tailor’s chalk. The design had unfolded before her eyes as if someone else were directing her hand. This quilt was the easiest she had ever pieced together.

The royal blue pieces made a dark, iridescent backdrop to a beautiful deep red rose-shaped piece in the center. The rose had hundreds of parts, all cut into the flowing shapes of petals instead of the traditional square or diamond-shaped patterns of Amish quilts. Though the pattern was the most complicated she had ever done, she found herself grateful that it served as a way to keep thoughts of Jenna’s absence from overwhelming her.

Next she laid out the cream-colored backing, placed a double layer of batting over it, and added the ironed patchwork piece she had developed over the past month.

On her hands and knees she carefully basted the layers together, starting from the center and working out to the edges. Once she was finished, she called Henry for help. He held the material while she carefully attached one end to the quilting frame, and then they slowly turned the pole until she could attach the other end. After drawing the quilt tight until it was stable enough to stitch on, she started to quilt. Delicate tracks of quilting stitches began to make their trails through the surface of the quilt as Jerusha labored day after day at her work. The quilt was consuming her, and her despair and grief and the anger she felt toward God for taking Jenna were all poured into the fabric spread before her.

Often as she worked she stopped and lifted her face to the sky.

“I hate You,” she would say quietly, “and I’m placing all my hatred into this quilt so I will never forget that when I needed You most, You failed me.” Then she would go back to her work with a fierce determination and a deep and abiding anger in her heart.

And now at last the quilt was finished—her ticket out of her awful life.

“I will take this quilt to the Dalton Fair, and I will win the prize,” she said aloud. “Then I will leave Apple Creek, and I will leave this religion, and I will leave this God who has turned His back on me. I will make a new life among the Englisch, and I will never return to Apple Creek.”

She stared at the quilt. I will call this quilt the Rose of Sharon. Not for You, but for her, my precious girl, my Jenna. The quilt shone in the soft light from the window, and Jerusha felt a great surge of triumph.

I don’t need You—not now, not ever again.

And Jerusha turned off the lamp and went alone to her cold bed.

Kaleidoscope Summer: Samantha’s Story….by Rita Garcia

Kaleidoscope Summer banner

 Kaleidoscope Summer: Samantha’s Story

 ABOUT THIS BOOK

Samantha Forrester has it all together. Deafness at age fifteen has not hampered
her success. Life, although predictable, has hit a comfortable stride. Her world
crumbles when secrets of the past are brought to light. She travels to Serenity
Cove to settle her birth mother’s estate and search for her true identity.
Samantha soon becomes enamored with the town. And then there’s police chief
Logan Delatorre who startles her pulse, and grandparents who refuse to
acknowledge her. More mystery unfolds when an attack is levied against
her—someone wants her out of Serenity Cove. Samantha’s faith is called into
question when she stumbles over the need to forgive. Can Dr. Ellie Clarimonde
help her connect the pieces of her past and learn the power of forgiveness?

 

ABOUT THIS BOOK

I thoroughly enjoyed Samantha’s story! Traveling to Serenity Cove was difficult for her because she never had the opportunity to meet her birth mom, now she is gone and Samantha wants to find out about her life. Along the way she meets Logan Delatorre, who she was immediately attracted to, and Logan’s sister, Maggie. But even though Maggie and Logan was pleased to have Samantha there, someone else wasn’t so happy about it. As the story unfolds, so does the mystery in Serenity Cove. You sure don’t want to miss this wonderful story.

I really liked Samantha and her hearing dog. And the sweet attraction between Logan and Samantha, one that Samantha knew she couldn’t elaborate one, was enough to keep me reading. As well as the mystery behind the situations happening to try to run Samantha out of town. I loved the characters, they were so realistic and believable, and brought the story to life in their unique way.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good clean story to read! And I appreciate the faith weaved into the character’s everyday lives as well! I encourage you to grab a copy of  “Kaleidoscope Summer: Samantha’s Story” for your reading enjoyment!

This book was provided by the author, Rita Garcia through PUYB blog tours. I was not expected to give a positive review,
only an honest one. The opinions in this review are mine only.

ABOUT RITA GARCIA

Dr. Rita Garcia is an inspirational novelist—her imagination was creating stories when she was still too young to put pen to paper. Romance is a big part of her novels. Hope is an even larger element of the stories. Rita and her husband reside in Southern California. They have four adorable daughters and seven fantastic grandchildren who fill their lives with love and never a dull moment.

She is a Clinical Christian Counselor, licensed by the National Christian Counselors Association, and certified as a Biblical Christian Counselor by the American Association of Christian Counselors. She has a passion for helping others achieve their most important life goals.

Please visit Rita at her blog and website:

Blog: http://www.reflectionswithdrrita.com/

Website: http://www.ritagarcia.com/