Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Merry Wednesday Hodgepodge

If it's Wednesday, it's time to join Joyce for the Hodgepodge!

1. Time magazine has selected The Ebola Fighters as their person of the year for 2014. Do you agree, and if so who would you say is a close second? If you disagree with their choice, who do you think should have been chosen?

That's a better choice than some of the ones they have picked in the past. I don't know who I would pick for a runner-up.

2. This question comes to you courtesy of Susan who blogs over at Stew Mama Says. She knows we have a wedding happening any minute now, and she asks, 'What's your favorite-something old? something new? something borrowed? something blue in your home? Be sure you hop over and say hi to Susan today!

Old - my mom's rolling pin & sifter. Practically speaking, they are better than any new ones I've used, and they always bring back sweet memories when I use them.
New - the Amish quilt on our bed
Borrowed - I honestly can't think of anything I have that is borrowed.
Blue - My recliner

3. Fudge-yay or nay? Your favorite flavor? Do you make it yourself? With nuts or without?

Occasionally, in small amounts. But it has to be chocolate, not peanut butter or any other kind. And absolutely with nuts!

4. December 17th is Wright Brothers Day, commemorating the first successful flights made by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. How old were you when you made your first flight? Do you like to fly? Have you ever been to Kitty Hawk or other parts of the North Carolina Outer Banks?

5. Do the people in your family tend to follow a particular career path, and if so what's the path?

No, we've all done different things. But getting a college degree is automatic.

6. What is one thing you absolutely, positively must accomplish today?

I have peanut brittle to make and some Christmas shopping to finish. Although the peanut brittle may get pushed to tomorrow, depending on the weather. Of course, it was perfect candy-making weather on Monday and Tuesday when I had to work!

7. This Christmas I hope___________________________________.

I hope we all stay healthy and don't deal with congestion or other issues.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Emmanuel. Our God is with us.

Do we even comprehend what that really means?!


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Our God Is With Us

Reposting this from December 2008....

This is one of my favorite songs you don't hear much any more. Michael Card and Steve Green sing this song reflecting on the incredible reality of what we celebrate.


We can't even begin to fathom, 2000 years later, what that was really like, what that meant to those living at the time of the Messiah's birth, to the shepherds who received the good news from the angels, to the Magi who followed the star and fell at their feet to worship the Christ Child. I've alluded to this before, but studying the Old Testament and the lives of the ancient Israelites made Christmas so precious to me.

Think of the Israelites: Years of slavery followed by wandering in the wilderness, finally reaching the Promised Land only to settle for earthly kings who fell fall short of God's requirements. Trying to follow a law that only revealed the darkness within their adulterous hearts which turned away time and time again from their covenant God to worship dead, worthless, man-made idols. The tabernacle and the temple, with its Holy of Holies where only the high priest could enter, and then only once a year. The continual need for a sacrifice, which could only cover - but not remove - sin. Hearing a word from God only through prophets. Carried away once again in exile to a foreign land. Finally allowed to return home. But then. . .silence.

400 long years of silence. No prophets. No signs. No word from God.

When suddenly, the very Son of God took on flesh and was born as a baby.

Immanuel. Our God is with us.

Words and Music by Michael Card

A sign shall be given
A virgin will conceive
A human baby bearing
Undiminished deity

The glory of the nations
A light for all to see
That hope for all who will embrace
His warm reality

Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us
Our God is with us

For all those who live in the shadow of death
A glorious light has dawned
For all those who stumble in the darkness
Behold your light has come

Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us?
Our God is with us

So what will be your answer?
Will you hear the call?
Of Him who did not spare His Son
But gave Him for us all
On earth there is no power
There is no depth or height
That could ever separate us
From the love of God in Christ

Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us?
Our God is with us

Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could stand against us?
Our God is with us


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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Great Gift Idea!

Read my review of this delightful book!


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Hodgepodge is Always Worth Waiting For!

I always love the Wednesday Hodgepodge and I can't believe I missed the 200th edition last week! It is so hard to participate on the weeks I work on Tuesdays because I just don't have time to blog. But it's fun to be kicking off the 201st!

1. What is one new holiday tradition you'd like to establish, or one you've established recently, say in the last year or two?

In the last two or three years we have minimized gifts within our family and used the money to bless others.

2. It's the second week of December. Have you sipped a cup of eggnog yet this month? Wrapped a gift? Opened a gift? Kissed someone under the mistletoe? Lit a candle? Eaten a Christmas cookie? Seen Santa in person? Watched a Christmas movie or special? Read scripture relating to the birth of Jesus?

So far my December has consisted of working and those lovely "-oscopies" that come with aging. I have enjoyed some lovely Christmas music which has caused me to pause, reflect, and worship.

3. Do you think it's better to be an adult or a child at Christmastime? Explain.

An adult with children. 'Tis better to give than to receive, and it's such fun to see it through their eyes!

4. It's often said, 'Good things come to those who wait'...agree or disagree? Why?

Disagree, as a general rule. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. In fact, it brings to mind Hebrews 11, often referred to as the "Faith Hall of Fame" when it concludes by saying,
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39

Sometimes the "good" doesn't come until eternity.

I prefer the flip side of that statement: "Good things are worth waiting for."

5. What's the last sweet thing you baked? Did you keep it, take it to a party/event, or give it away?

I baked cookies for Thanksgiving and took them to Houston for my family to eat during the long weekend.

6. This question comes to us courtesy of Jhona who blogs over at The Red House at the End of the Lane. Everyone hop over and say hi to Jhona this week! Here is her question... "I heard an actor talk about how he makes a conscious choice to talk to people in elevators. He chooses to connect, make eye contact, and converse. Do you talk to people/strangers when you're in an elevator or any other place where you might have to wait together? Why or why not?"

Not in elevators. I pretty much respect the unwritten rule of "no eye contact, no conversation." LOL I'll occasionally speak to a stranger in other situations but it goes against my introverted nature to do so.

This question reminds me of my college days when a friend did an assignment for Psychology 101 where she had to break some of those "unwritten rules" - talk (or face the back) in an elevator, invade someone's personal space by not leaving the empty chair between them at the library table, etc. The folks on the other end of her "experiment" were not amused! LOL

7. Are you on the naughty or nice list this year? What put you there?

Nice. Because God's grace has forgiven all of my naughty.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm curious: what do you put in your college/early twenty-something guy's stocking?


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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Watch for the Light

Watch for the Light
Readings for Advent and Christmas

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard,
Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris, C. S. Lewis,
Henri Nouwen, and others
(Plough Publishing)
ISBN: 978-0874869170
September 2014/344 pages/Hardcover/$24.00

Though Christians the world over make yearly preparations for Lent, there’s a conspicuous lack of good books for that other great spiritual season: Advent. All the same, this four-week period leading up to Christmas is making a comeback as growing numbers reject shopping-mall frenzy and examine the deeper meaning of the season.

Ecumenical in scope, these fifty devotions invite the reader to contemplate the great themes of Christmas and the significance that the coming of Jesus has for each of us – not only during Advent, but every day. Whether sampled at leisure or used on a daily basis, Watch for the Light gives the phrase “holiday preparations” new depth and meaning.

Includes writings by John Donne, Meister Eckhart, Dorothy Day, T. S. Eliot, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Eberhard Arnold, G. M. Hopkins, Martin Luther, Edith Stein, Thomas Aquinas, Dorothee Soelle, Philip Yancey, and others.

It's hard to go wrong with 40 essays and poems from theological writers such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, Madeleine L'Engle, Martin Luther, Kathleen Norris, Henri Nouwen, Philip Yancey, Karl Barth and Síren Kierkegaard. These are not frivolous, feel-good Advent readings; they are deep, sometimes jarring reflections, many with a strong orientation toward social justice… This collection, born of obvious passion and graced with superb writing, is a welcome even necessary addition to the glutted holiday bookshelves. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)


We often give lip service to "the reason for the season" but fail to fully appreciate the deep significance of Christmas. This book will cause you to pause, reflect during these holy days. Written by some of the hallmark theological authors, these are not a breezy read but ones to soak in and contemplate. Some are brief--a page or two--while others are a bit lengthier. (Having recently received the book, I haven't had the time to read every devotion so as always, hold what you read against the plumb line of scripture.) Even though we are well into December, it is not too late to benefit from this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Handlebar Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Thursday, December 4, 2014

ACFW New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

Murder Tightly Knit (An Amish Village Mystery) by Vannetta Chapman -- As fall blankets the Pumpkinvine Trail with colorful leaves, a local Amish man is found dead on the path. For the federal investigator called in on the case, everyone is suspect. Even the Amish village knitting shop, The Cat's Meow, is implicated. Amber Bowman and Hannah Troyer know who isn't guilty-they know this community down to the last buggy, but can they find the guilty party before someone else is in danger? (Cozy Mystery from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson & Zondervan])

Contemporary Romance:

Raspberry Kisses by Cecelia Dowdy -- Facing eviction, pastor's widow Rhea Morrison must save her failing bakery. Her recently-injured twin sister, Raven, loans her money on one condition. Rhea must attend a singles retreat to spy on Martin Lane, Raven's new love interest. Disgruntled, Rhea attends the retreat and is attracted to Martin. When he, a former successful bakery owner, formulates a plan to save her business, will she be forced to choose between her twin sister's love and a second chance at romance? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Wayward Hearts by Susan Anne Mason -- Hairstylist Maxi North is thriving in one of Manhattan's classiest salons. But her father's death puts her plans on hold while she travels home to face her past. There, she is forced to confront unrequited feelings for her former best friend, Jason Hanley, as well as her deeply buried guilt over her younger brother's death. When his friend, Maxi North, and her mother almost perish in a fire, firefighter-in-training Jason Hanley becomes involved in helping them re-build their farmhouse. Can he and Maxi ever put aside their differences to find a future together? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Deep Freeze Christmas by Marian P. Merritt -- Louisiana Chef Leona Buquet agrees to cook at a Colorado mountain lodge during the Christmas holiday, never expecting to be taken by the friendly and good-looking son of a movie producer. Trouble is, with glamorous actresses clamoring for his attention, why would he even notice Leona? Cameron Fleming struggles with a career he hates in order to please his famous father. Then he meets Leona and determines to get to know her. That is hard to do while dodging starlets...and the woman he wants is avoiding him. Can love sizzle, along with the Cajun dishes, in subzero temperatures? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

Historical Romance:

Petticoat Detective (Undercover Ladies) by Margaret Brownley -- On the trail of the Gunnysack Bandit, Pinkerton Detective Jennifer Layne poses as a lady companion named Amy at Miss Lillian's Parlor House and Boots in Goodman, Kansas. Former Texas Ranger Tom Colton has every reason to distrust the green-eyed beauty at Miss Lillian's who calls herself Amy. Determined to clear his brother's name, he's convinced she knows more than she lets on, and he means to find out what it is. As Amy's investigation continues, her biggest problem is Tom and his stolen kiss. The closer she gets to nabbing the outlaw, the harder it is to keep Tom from finding out the awful truth about his brother. The Gunnysack Bandit she can handle, but it'll take a whole lot of faith and a little help from Miss Lillian and her girls to snag the man who stole her heart. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Her Honorable Enemy by Mary Davis -- For Charles Young, All's fair in love and war. The British soldier scorns the trappings of society life-including a society wife. So a posting in the remote San Juan Islands is perfect for him. But when an American girl crosses enemy lines, she turns his structured world upside down. As smart as she is fetching, Rachel Thompson's only experience with romance is the books she devours. But her father is determined that his spirited daughter make a suitable match. And a British officer could never be suitable. Can this real-life Romeo and Juliet triumph over the odds...or will their romance trigger the unthinkable-war? (Historical Romance from Heartsong Presents [Harlequin])

Love Unexpected (Beacons of Hope) by Jody Hedlund -- Stranded at Presque Isle port after her steamboat sank, Emma Chambers can't find work or even a place to stay. When a widowed lighthouse keeper and his young son arrive in town, a traveling preacher believes they might be the answer to each others' problems. After a hasty marriage, Emma is headed back to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Struggling with her new tasks of motherhood and domesticity at every turn, Emma also suspects Patrick may be keeping something hidden from her. In town she hears whispers about strange circumstances surrounding his previous wife's death, and it seems as though Emma's answered prayer for a home and family may actually be something much more dangerous. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing])

A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings -- Having fled a difficult home life, Civil War nurse Abigail Stuart feels like her only friend in the world is sweet but gravely wounded patient Jeremiah Calhoun. Left with few options and fearing he won't survive, Abigail agrees to marry the dying Confederate soldier, then look after his sickly sister and take ownership of his farm back home. Just when his sister learns to accept her, the real Jeremiah Calhoun appears, puzzled to find a confounding woman posing as his wife. Jeremiah is determined to have his pre-war life back, but his own wounds limit what he can do on his own. Not fully convinced Abigail isn't duping him, he's forced to let the woman stay and help him--not admitting to himself she may provide the healing his family needs. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing])

Read my review of A Most Inconvenient Marriage.

Colorado Dawn by Erica Vetsch -- Watch as God lights the way of love, despite the resolve of three Colorado men. A collapsing mine shaft made David Mackenzie blind and bitter, but Karen Worth will not give up on her unconditional love for him. Disillusioned by love, Sam Mackenzie reluctantly escorts a jobless and homeless Eldora Carter plus three orphans cross country. And just when that challenge seems too overwhelming, an avalanche descends. . . . Pastor Silas Hamilton falls for Willow Starr, an actress bound for New York City. But he's fairly sure the love between a pastor and an actress could never survive. . .could it? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn -- After a flood damages the looms at Zenus Dane's Philadelphia textile mill and the bank demands loan payment, Zenus turns to his aunt for help repurposing his textiles. Trouble is . . . his aunt has already been hired by the lovely yet secretive Englishwoman Mary Varrs. Eager to acquire his aunt's quilt patterns, Zenus attends the summer Quilting Bee, a social event his aunt has uniquely designed with the secret purpose of finding Zenus a wife. However Zenus only has eyes for Mary, but Mary has no such desire for him. Can he realize that love requires stepping out of his routine? And will she recognize that following her heart doesn't mean sacrificing her ambition? (Historical Romance from Abingdon Press)

The Snowbound Bride by Davalynn Spencer -- On the run from a heartless uncle, Arabella Taube hides in Nate Horne's farm wagon just as a harsh winter storm sweeps into Colorado. Despite Ara's mysterious background, Nate's mother thinks she is the answer to a prayer and the hope for his future. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Historical Suspense:

Embers of Courage by Diane and David Munson -- ICE Special Agent Eva Montanna discovers the world is ablaze with danger when militants capture her task force teammate, NCIS Special Agent Raj Pentu, during a CIA operation in Egypt. She risks her life to defeat tyrants oppressing Christians, and is plunged into a daring rescue mission. Eva's faith is tested like never before as mysterious ashes, her ancient family Bible, and fifteenth century religious persecution collide with modern-day courage under fire. (Historical Suspense, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

One Among Men by Connie Almony -- Samantha Hart is looking for purpose, like her missionary best friend, but is forced to take a job as a resident director of the all-male party dorm at the major state university where her prodigal past haunts her. Chris Johnson, a rock guitarist, has come back to school as a music major, and finds himself in a business relationship with the ruthless supplier of an on-campus drug ring. He's intrigued by the lady RD, while learning more about his musical gift and the God who gave it to him. Can he manage his two worlds without risking Samantha's life? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Navy SEAL Noel by Liz Johnson -- Abducted by a drug cartel, scientist Jessalynn McCoy's orders are simple-produce a deadly toxin, or be killed. She's desperate for help...she just never expected it from Will Gumble. The boy who let her down years ago is now a navy SEAL. She trusts his skills, his experience. Trusting the man is a different matter. Will's Christmas wish is to heal their damaged relationship and get them to safety. But time is running out and the stakes keep rising. Any mistake could mean the difference between facing the holidays together or apart forever. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Read my review of Navy Seal Noel.

Women's Fiction:

Love Defined (Remnants) by Elizabeth Maddrey -- July (pronounced "Julie") and Gareth have reached the end of their infertility treatment options. With conflicting feelings on adoption, they struggle to discover common ground in their marriage. Meanwhile, July's twin sister, June, and her husband, Toby, are navigating the uncertainties of adoption and the challenges of new parenthood. How much stretching can their relationships endure before they snap? (Women's Fiction from HopeSprings Books)


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Monday, December 1, 2014

Navy Seal Noel

Navy Seal Noel
(Men of Valor)
Liz Johnson
(Love Inspired Suspense)
ISBN: 978-0373446391
December 2014/224 pages/$5.99


Abducted by a drug cartel, scientist Jessalynn McCoy's orders are simple—produce a deadly toxin, or be killed. Trapped with no options, she's desperate for help…she just never expected it from Will Gumble. The boy who let her down years ago is now a navy SEAL. She trusts his skills, his experience. Yet trusting him is a struggle. Will's Christmas wish is to heal their damaged relationship and get them to safety. But time is running out and the stakes keep rising. Any mistake could mean the difference between facing the holidays together or apart forever.

Men of Valor: These navy SEALS were born to excel…

Read an excerpt.


By day, Liz Johnson is a marketing manager for a Christian publisher. She finds time to write late at night and is a two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist. Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring local music, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nieces and nephews. She loves stories of true love with happy endings and blogs about her adventures in writing at


I read few Love Inspired novels because they are simply too short--and often too predictable--for me, but I always make sure to read the ones that Liz Johnson writes! She packs a lot into her stories and keeps me turning pages as quickly as I can, keeping me intrigued by the plot and enamored with the characters. The danger and suspense, including the chilling inclusion of a drug cartel keeps this Christmas-themed book from being overly sentimental. A great stocking stuffer or one to tuck in your bag when you need to escape the busyness of the season, Navy Seal Noel is the perfect holiday read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Liz Johnson and Love Inspired Suspense as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful for the Hodgepodge

1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving, it's also National Game and Puzzle Week...what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?

I haven't played any games "in real life" in quite a while, but I play Words with Friends and Scramble on a daily basis with several friends. No puzzles in the last week, although I do like word puzzles.

2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?

I'm always thankful for my home!

3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores...which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? For those of you playing along who aren't in the US, answer as it relates to any big holiday meal.

I'll be working on Thanksgiving Day, so none of the above. But I generally like to doze after the big meal.

4. Besides Thanksgiving, what's your favorite home cooked meal?

Chicken fried steak and the trimmings.

5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?

I immediately change the channel if I see an infomercial.

6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?

Haven't started, but we don't do much but stockings. I generally avoid the stores on Black Friday, and I hate that they are now opening on Thanksgiving Day. I'd do a fair amount of all sorts of shopping, not just Christmas, online.

7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?

Aside from the cliche answers of family and friends, I'll say central heat. And seat heaters in my car.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Most Inconvenient Marriage

A Most Inconvenient Marriage
Regina Jennings
(Bethany House)
ISBN: 978-0764211409
December 2014/336 pages/$14.99

Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun's Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.
Most Inconvenient Indeed.

With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he's gone--a practical solution for both of them.

After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain--until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail's story. Abigail is flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she's never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn't trying to steal his farm? And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?


Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children. Visit her website at


If Regina Jennings were not already one of my must-read authors, this book would have ensured her place on that list! Captivated at once by the intriguing title, the wonderful cover, and the beginning of the story description, I eagerly delved into this novel and hardly came up for air before finishing it. An endearing heroine and hero and strong, albeit occasionally annoying, secondary characters provide plenty of opportunity for amusing banter and lively conflict. Vivid scenes ring with authenticity as Jennings aptly portrays the struggles of a family, community, and nation recovering from the war that tore them asunder. A charming novel that subtly addresses deeper issues of faith, family, and forgiveness, A Most Inconvenient Marriage would make a most excellent addition to your reading or gift list!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Regina Jennings and Bethany House Publishers as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, November 24, 2014

CFBA - Swept Away

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Swept Away
Abingdon Press (November 18, 2014)
Laura V. Hilton
Cindy Loven


Award winning author Laura V. Hilton has penned many novels, including the Amish of Seymour series, the Amish of Webster County series, and the forthcoming Amish of Jamesport series. A member of ACFW, Laura is also a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites. A pastor’s wife, stay-at-home mom, and home school teacher, Laura and her family make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

A lifelong reader, Cindy Loven is an active church wife of a minister and mother to one son who is a home school graduate. Cindy and her family reside in Conway, Arkansas.


Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.

Still, it doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Swept Away, go HERE.


Swept Away is another enjoyable read from Abingdon's Quilts of Love Series. Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven join forces to create a story with a twist on the usual boy-meets-girl formula. The relationship between Sara Jane and her Grandma makes a compelling secondary story, with Grandma's intermittent and increasing dementia--not to mention her obsession with bringing Sara Jane and Drew together--providing for heart-wrenching as well as awkwardly humorous moments. You'll be Swept Away by this charming book!


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Lizzy and Jane

Lizzy and Jane
Katherine Reay
(HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-1401689735
October 2014/252 pages/$15.99

Sometimes the courage to face your greatest fears comes only when you've run out of ways to escape.

At the end of a long night, Elizabeth leans against the industrial oven and takes in her kingdom. Once vibrant and flawless, evenings in the kitchen now feel chaotic and exhausting. She's lost her culinary magic, and business is slowing down.

When worried investors enlist the talents of a tech-savvy celebrity chef to salvage the restaurant, Elizabeth feels the ground shift beneath her feet. Not only has she lost her touch; she's losing her dream.

And her means of escape.

When her mother died, Elizabeth fled home and the overwhelming sense of pain and loss. But fifteen years later, with no other escapes available, she now returns. Brimming with desperation and dread, Elizabeth finds herself in the unlikeliest of places, by her sister’s side in Seattle as Jane undergoes chemotherapy.

As her new life takes the form of care, cookery, and classic literature, Elizabeth is forced to reimagine her future and reevaluate her past. But can a New York City chef with a painful history settle down with the family she once abandoned . . . and make peace with the sister who once abandoned her?


Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked in not-for-profit development before returning to school to pursue her MTS. Katherine lives with her husband and three children in Seattle, WA. Dear Mr. Knightley, her first novel, was a 2014 Carol Award double winner (Debut Novel and Contemporary Novel) and a 2014 Inspy Award winner. Twitter: @Katherine_Reay Facebook: katherinereaybooks


Katherine Reay is an absolute delight and Lizzy and Jane is every bit as charming as she is. Guaranteed to resonate with any Jane Austen fan, the appeal of this novel isn't limited to that audience. Reay has layered this novel with multiple threads that intertwine and tug at the heart. 'Tis best to read this one after dinner, as Elizabeth's culinary journey and experiments will have your taste buds wanting to crawl through the book. Stunning succulent details provide rich color and a unique depth without turning the novel into a nutrition lesson or cookbook. Family dynamics--and the strain that a cancer diagnosis adds to the already tenuous cords between sisters, spouses, parent & child--are honestly yet tenderly portrayed, and the pages fairly palpate with emotions that simmer and, at times, boil over. Care, friendship, love, forgiveness, and the shared bond of literature infuse this heartwarming story. Don't miss the opportunity to read anything that Katherine Reay writes. You'll be richer for it.

I purchased a digital copy of this book because I loved meeting and interviewing Katherine Reay back in June at ICRS. If you missed that interview, you can read it here.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Have Seen God

I Have Seen God
Klaus-Dieter John
(Monarch Books)
ISBN: 978-0857215741
October 2014/288 pages/$16.99

The miraculous founding of a top class hospital for some of the world’s poorest people

Klaus-Dieter and Martina John–both brilliant, talented, and highly qualified doctors–turned their backs on lucrative careers to follow their dream to open a first-rate medical facility for the Indians of the Peruvian Andes, some of the world’s poorest people. The Peruvian Andes natives suffer appallingly from the diseases of poverty and, although they make up approximately 40 percent of Peru’s population, are ignored by the authorities.

Having studied at the universities of Harvard, Yale, and Johannesburg during his training as a surgeon, Dr. Klaus-Dieter John together with his wife, Dr. Martina John, a pediatrician, developed a concept for a modern hospital in the Peruvian Highlands.
Turning down other offers, including a professorship, they set themselves the task of raising the millions of dollars needed. God opened the hearts and consciences of individuals and companies to create not just a health center, but a fully equipped hospital. Their story and vision has captured attention around the world and today they have the backing of 180 corporations and 50,000 private supporters.

The hospital’s name, Diospi Suyana, means “we trust in God” in Quechua, the native language of the people it serves. It is a testament to their experience that with God the impossible can happen. The incredible conviction and profound faith of the Johns will refresh your heart and stir your spirit.


Klaus-Dieter John studied at the universities of Harvard, Yale, and Johannesburg during his training as a surgeon. He and his wife Dr. Martina John, a pediatrician, have dedicated their lives to the establishment of the hospital in Peru.


Having a family member who was a career missionary in South America, I was particularly interested to read this book and it did not disappoint. This is a fascinating account of a couple called to serve God as medical missionaries among the poorest population of Peru and how they built a modern hospital through donations of time and materials and amazing interventions by God. A beautiful testimony of faith and commitment to the cause of Christ, this stirred my heart. I am grateful they have translated this best-selling German book into English for those of us in the USA to read and be encouraged - and maybe even humbled as sometimes I think we believe we are the only ones who have been called to "go and tell." (My one slight disappointment with the book is that John did not share a bit more of the personal struggles of those involved. He alluded one time to some interpersonal conflict among the missions staff, but it was an isolated incident and he did not detail the resolution. While the purpose of the book was to highlight God's movement, I wish John had depicted that power among the lives of his fellow missionaries, who are flawed and human.) I highly recommend this book. It will encourage and inspire you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Monarch Books and Litfuse Publicity as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, November 17, 2014

The Christmas Cat

The Christmas Cat
Melody Carlson
ISBN: 978-0800719661
August 2014/176 pages/Hardcover/$15.99

He felt his face flushing as Cara opened the door. Wearing a garnet-colored knit dress and with her dark hair pinned up, she looked even prettier than he remembered. Suddenly he wished he'd thought to bring a hostess gift. Like a cat.

After years abroad, Garrison Brown finds himself at the home of his beloved grandmother who has just passed away. He must sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While he hopes to dispense with the task quickly--especially since he is severely allergic to cats--his grandmother's instructions don't allow for speed. She has left some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends.

Can he match the cats with the perfect new owners? And is it possible that he might meet his own match along the way?


Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than six million. She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, as well as The Christmas Pony and A Simple Christmas Wish. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at


A sure harbinger of the holiday season is a Christmas novella by Melody Carlson once again, she provides a heartwarming story with The Christmas Cat. I was hesitant to read this one since I am about as fond of cats as Garrison but Carlson's talent for storytelling and character development drew me in. Cat lovers will adore this book and even those who eschew felines, such as I, will still enjoy this engaging tell. A purr-fect holiday read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Revell Publishers as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Friday, November 14, 2014

A Question of Destiny

A Question of Destiny
Anita Higman
(Amazon Digital Services)
November 2014/1496KB/$0.99

Lucy O'Brien is about to be given ten millions dollars and a chance to live a life she never imagined. Will this newfound wealth be Lucy's undoing, or can she rise above the temptations within high society and choose to become a nobler version of herself? And will the solitary Andrew Whitfield—a man who watches over Lucy as she adapts to her new lifestyle—cause her to close the door on her dreams or be the key that opens the rest of Lucy's destiny?


Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has forty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Learn more on her website,


What a bargain! This is a great little novel and such a deal at less than a dollar! Anita Higman has crafted an engaging story with an intriguing premise: what would be the impact of sudden wealth on the life of a humble young woman dedicated to helping others? I immediately connected with Lucy as she tried to navigate the new world thrust upon her as she simultaneously tried to figure out what aspects of her old life to keep or upgrade, with relationships proving to be the most challenging. Andrew Whitfield and his boss fascinated me, and the remaining characters were spot-on; some were completely irritating while others garnered my sympathy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found that it gave me much to ponder as I wondered how I would react, were I in Lucy's position. Grab a copy of this book for your Kindle or Kindle app today!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an electronic copy of this book free from Anita Higman. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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