Thursday, September 21, 2017

Brave Beauty

Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You 


Hardcover, ebook 

August 29, 2017

by Lynn Cowell (Author)

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Faithgirlz
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310763147

What will my life be like? Who will I be? Whether girls put these concerns into words or struggle anxiously with these thoughts, during this season of change, girls have questions. Sometimes these questions also come with fears and they need a safe place to process these fears. From Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and blogger, Lynn Cowell, comes Faithgirlz Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You.For girls 8-12, Brave Beauty brings tweens 100 courage-building moments to reflect on Scripture and find confidence in God, rather than in someone, some place, or some thing, as culture will all-too-soon tell them to. Lynn will also prepare girls to:
  • Overcome confidence-defeating thoughts and stand on who Jesus says she is.
  • Shape her self-worth on Christ and overcome the temptation base it on environmental factors.
  • Build a strong foundation to face the fickle and flippant opinions of others.
  • Find approval of herself even when she lacks the acceptance of others.
  • Find security by turning to Christ as she steps through the exciting, yet scary world of growing up
Formatted as theme-based mini chapters, these moments can be read as one-a-days, one-a-weeks, or at the reader’s own pace. Simple and empowering, Lynn’s voice is relatable and conversational, making it easy for girls to feel like they’re spending time with a friend. This inspirational read will be set as a gorgeously foil decorated hardcover, with beautifully formatted pages in line with the well-known and loved Faithgirlz look, and with an easy-reference index to look up any topic.

My thoughts:  BRAVE BEAUTY  is a devotional for tween girls. It has a brief story that tweens can relate to, an application where they answer a short quiz or write thoughts or do something that relates to the devotion and concludes with a brief prayer.  

My daughters both really enjoyed reading this devotional, discussing it, and discovering the ways they feel the same and where they differ in how they handle things. We also had fun discussing some of the devotions. 

A great devotional book for tween girls to do alone, with a sister or a friend, or with a mom, grandma, or aunt. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Gathering the Threads

Gathering the Threads

About the book:

Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves, will Ariana's new perspectives draw her family closer together-or completely rip them apart?

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she's learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana's Daed doesn't understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family?

Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana's arrival threatens to unravel Skylar's new identity-and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.

Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in The Amish of Summer Grove series.

Learn more, read an excerpt, and purchase a copy.

My thoughts: GATHERING THE THREADS is the third and final book in this series, and I highly recommend readers read the books in order, starting with Ties that Bind and Fraying at the Edge. 

Ariana is back with the Amish - in person - but the Englisch world has left some gulfs between her old world and her new one. Bridges need to be built but whether Ariana is truly accepted in her old home remains to be seen. The bishop, preacher, and deacon seem against her and preach about her sins -- as if it was her fault she was reunited with her biological parents.  

I absolutely LOVED Gabe. He is a total sweetheart, kind, considerate, and so calm. He loved his family with everything he had in him, but was called to sometimes do dangerous jobs. 

Ari broke my heart, struggling to fit into both worlds, and yet stay true to herself. But who is she?  Will she ever find her place? 

I couldn't put this book down and read it in spurts across two days. I loved this entire series.  Highly recommended. Don't miss GATHERING THE THREADS. 

I received this book free. All opinions are my own. 

About the author:

Cindy Woodsmall is the "New York Times" and CBA best-selling author of nineteen works of fiction and non-fiction with more than a million copies sold. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured in national media outlets such as ABC's "Nightline," the "Wall Street Journal," and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.
Find out more about Cindy at
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How Humbling Yourself In Your Time of Need Changes Everything by Tricia Goyer

How Humbling Yourself In Your Time of Need Changes Everything

Tricia Goyer



The other day I was cooking dinner when my six-year-old son rushed into the kitchen.
Beads of sweat slid down his red face. “I’m so hot. You never get me anything to drink.”

I stirred my spaghetti sauce with one hand as I turned to him. “Excuse me?”

His voice rose in a full, high-pitched whine. “You never give me anything to drink!” He waved his hands and dropped to the floor.

I took in a breath and then released in, telling myself to keep my voice steady, calm. “I’d be happy to get you a drink. I just need you to ask.”

He kicked his foot against the floor. “But I want a drink now!”
 “I know you do.” I peered down at him. “And as soon as you ask the right way I’m happy to get some some ice cold water.”

And then my son stood, smiled up at me and asked so sweetly for a drink of water …NOT!

Instead, he whined and fussed more. Finally, I asked him to leave the kitchen.

You know what? He never did ask. In fact, he didn’t get anything to drink until fifteen minutes later when we were sitting down to dinner. He was so bent on complaining and whining—in feeding his discontent—he didn’t want to release his control in order to ask me for help. I would have gladly given him the drink he requested if only he asked in the right away.

Feeding Our Discontent
I wish I could say this is just a little kid issue, but I’ve been there myself. During my teen years I lived in that storm of discontent. I complained when things didn’t go my way. I worried. I fretted. I fought.

 I even took matters into my own hands when I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy at age 15. My own fears and worries led me to a choice I now regret—I had an abortion.

It wasn’t until years later, at age 17 when I was pregnant again, that things took a turn for the better. It’s then I humbled myself and turned to God. By this point I realized the whining, complaining, and acting out wasn’t getting me what I wanted or needed.

At six months along, I wrapped my arms around my growing stomach and prayed, “Lord, if you can do anything with my life, please do.”

God showed up big time. He not own gave me Himself (which is the best!), He has also led me on a journey where radical, and wonderful things, have happened. This has included marrying a wonderful Christian man, having two more kids, starting a crisis pregnancy center, mentoring teen moms, adopting seven more children, and writing over 70 books!

God didn’t just offer me a cup of cool water when I asked. He opened the floodgates of blessing. But it took me humbling myself and seeking Jesus to meet my needs.

 This reminds me of a Scripture I was reading just this morning, “I called on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life,” Lamentations 5:55-58.

Mumbling, complaining and griping is easy, but they rob us of having our greatest needs met. Yet when we humble ourselves and turn to God, things will change for the better.

When we call to the Lord, He hears us. When we turn to Him, He comes. When we call to Him, He reminds us that He is present and we have no reason to fear. When we place our needs in His court, Jesus redeems our life.

 It took a lot to humble me as a teen—two unplanned pregnancies in fact. Yet I’m thankful that I learned back then that when I turn to God He will meet my needs. He will meet them in more wonderful ways than I ever expected.

You can read more about how God can show up radically in your life in the book Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time .

If you pre-order Walk It Out before October 1, you’ll also receive 30 Days of Prayer as You Walk It Out FREE! 

Tricia Goyer is the author of over 70 books, 
including her popular works of Amish fiction, contemporary fiction, and non-fiction titles. She and her husband, John, are the parents of ten and the grandparents of four.

A best-selling author, Tricia also founded Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana and leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The homeschool mom has co-authored with Max Lucado, Robin Jones Gunn, and many other Christian writers. Well-known for her inspirational public speaking and her personal blog, Tricia has over 100,000 social media followers. With a heart for teenage mothers, adoption, and missions work, Tricia spends much of her time ministering to others in her local community and around the world.

You can find Tricia here: 

Monday, September 18, 2017

An Amish Christmas Love

An Amish Christmas Love: Four Novellas 

Paperback, ebook, digital

September 12, 2017

by Beth Wiseman (Author), Amy Clipston (Author), Ruth Reid (Author), Kelly Irvin (Author)

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0529118707

Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman
Three generations of Stoltzfus women are all living under the same roof. At twenty-five, Naomi has never been married, and both her mother, Barbara, and her grandmother, Ruth, have recently been widowed. Each nursing broken or lonely hearts, they also each have potential suitors. When a storm on Christmas Eve forces the three couples to take shelter in the basement of the Stotlzfus homestead, secrets are revealed, hearts are opened, and all three potential grooms drop to their knees for very different reasons—a proposal, a prayer, and an epiphany.

My thoughts:  WINTER KISSES has a charming title - and a unique theme. Three single women. Three single men all together at the women's bed and breakfast for the month of December. I wasn't sure what to think of Ruth. She added a bit of comic relief to the story, but wow was she forward.  Eli was a sweetheart and reminds me of someone I know.  A very sweet, unconventional romance by Beth Wiseman. Fans of Amish fiction and Ms. Wiseman's usual women's fiction will love this.  
The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston
Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. Although the Amish don’t normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma’s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry’s favorite wingchair. But the cat isn’t the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.

My thoughts: THE CHRISTMAS CAT is kind a sad story, but it's also sweet. Emma is spending her first Christmas without her husband and as expected is awash in a sea of memories. The story sways from present to past as she relives her courtship with Henry and their years together. A cat decides to spend Christmas with her, and some young adults stop by to share a meal and fellowship and end up snowed in. A sweet story, even if I did read it with a tear in my eye. 
Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin
As a young man enjoying his rumspringa, David Byler gave his heart to an Englisch girl, but he eventually realized he couldn’t give up his Plain faith and family for her, so he let her go. He’s found a new love in his Bee County Plain community, Molly Shrock. Molly has been patient, waiting for the man she loves to love her back. Just as he is ready to propose, David makes a startling discovery: Bobbie McGregor, his Englisch love, is back. Will Molly’s prayers for a Christmas love be answered?

My thoughts: SNOW ANGELS is a sweet and sour romance. David can't quite make up his mind. The sweet, quiet Amish girl -- Molly -- with whom there is no sparks, but part of the life he wants, or the wild, exciting Englisch girl -- Bobbie -- who fills his every thought and dream.  I felt kind of sorry for Molly. She had so much to deal with, with her beau having feelings for another woman, the bold Englisch woman talking with her, rumors, and of course, two young Mexican children who  just lost their sole relative.  Set in Ms. Irvin's popular Bee County, Texas, it plays in with that series. 

Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid
When a misdirected GPS sends Ellie Whetstone to the wrong address, she inadvertently finds herself breaking into the home of Amish man, Ezra Mast. Ellie hopes to fix up the house left by her aenti and sell it quickly, but a series of run-ins with Ezra and his young daughter have her questioning whether a hasty sale is the right move. Could this new place with its slower pace be the right home for Ellie?

My thoughts:  Ruth Reid's HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is a story with a bit more substance than the previous three.  Ellie is Englisch and very heavily involved in the show dog business with a poodle named Lulu.  Ezra Mast is a widower with a young daughter with a disease that causes seizures.  Ellie's aunt and Dad were Amish, but Ellie is not.  She is kind of a misfit in this community with people questioning her and suspecting her, and she herself is not sure of her future. I did enjoy this story very much, though thought Ezra was a bit harsh at times. 

Overall thoughts:  A very nice collection.  I requested it due to Kate Lloyd and Ruth Reid's stories as I love their Amish books.  They are different than the average, cookie-cutter Amish fiction.  However, both Beth's and Amy's in this collection, were different, too, and quite good. 

Recommended for fans of Amish fiction  or of any of these four authors. 

I received a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

All She Left Behind

All She Left Behind 

Paperback, ebook, hardcover, audio book 

September 5, 2017

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Revell 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800727000

Already well-versed in the natural healing properties of herbs and oils, Jennie Pickett longs to become a doctor. But the Oregon frontier of the 1870s doesn't approve of such innovations as women attending medical school. 

To leave grief and guilt behind, as well as support herself and her challenging young son, Jennie cares for an elderly woman using skills she's developed on her own. When her patient dies, Jennie discovers that her heart has become entangled with the woman's widowed husband, a man many years her senior. Their unlikely romance may lead her to her ultimate goal--but the road will be winding and the way forward will not always be clear. Will Jennie find shelter in life's storms? Will she discover where healing truly lives? 

Through her award-winning, layered storytelling, New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick invites readers to leave behind their preconceived notions about love and life as they, along with Jennie, discover that dreams may be deferred--but they never really die. Based on a true story.

My thoughts: ALL SHE LEFT BEHIND is a story based on a true story - which always makes for a good read.  Jennie Pickett is a pioneer woman who was into essential oils long before they became popular. Her dream is to help heal women and children and to help men recover from alcoholism. 

Unfortunately, she discovers that her husband is totally against the idea, her best friend denies there's a problem, and Jennie must come to terms with her own problems. 

Ms. Kirkpatrick knows how to set the scene, and the reader can almost "see" what the character sees in this story. Almost feel what the character feels, which generally makes for a story that they are drawn into. 

Jennie has a very hard life, sharing a three bedroom home with her husband, son, and two other families, mourning the loss of her infant daughter (which no one wants to admit existed -- most women who miscarried or had  a stillborn baby can relate to that) and having a dream that very few people, not even her husband, is willing to acknowledge or support.  Even when he seems to support it, he really has ulterior motives. 

The story starts out slow and seems to have a dark, depressing undertone which made it difficult to read this book for long stretches of time. It dragged me down with it, and I didn't like those feelings. However, it was interesting reading about Jennie's journey as she struggled to realize her dreams.

I received a copy of this book free. All opinions are my own. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book Spotlight: A Highland Emerald

 A Highland Emerald


Aine MacLean is forced into an arranged marriage with Sir William, Chief of Clan Munro, yet her heart belongs to a handsome young warrior in her father’s guard. She must leave Durant Castle, the home of her birth on the Isle of Mull, and travel across Scotland in a perilous journey to her husband’s home on Cromarty Firth. William agrees to a year and day of handfasting, giving Aine an opportunity to accept him and his clan. He promises her the protection of Clan Munro, however, Aine experiences kidnapping, pirates, and almost loses her life in the River Moriston. She doubts the sincerity of William’s promises and decides to return to Durant Castle when the handfasting ends. William determines to win Aine’s heart. Will the brave knight triumph in his fight for the bonnie lass?

A Highland Emerald is the third book in the award-winning Highland Treasures series. It tells the story of Aine MacLean and William Munro, and is the prequel to A Highland Pearl.

Isle of Mull
Scotland, 1486

My father sat in his usual chair in front of the crackling fire, staring at the flame with dim eyes and a fur robe wrapped around his broad shoulders, the deerhound curled at his feet.
“Where are you going, Aine?” he asked with his back turned toward the stone, spiral staircase where I stood. “Come, sit with me for awhile.”
I pushed the arisaid from my shoulders, letting it drop to the floor, then stepped over the wrap. Making my way to the stool where my mother's embroidery frame stood, I took a seat and watched the flame.
Without turning his head, my father, Lachlan Og MacLean, eighth chief and fourth Laird of Durant Castle, asked, “Where are you going?”
“How did you ken 'twas I?” He never ceased to amaze me with his uncanny knowledge of events  around him although his eyes, so dimmed by injury, saw very little.
“I heard the rustle of your skirts.” He extended his hand for me, so I rose and hugged his neck.
He smiled, embracing my arms. “And I ken your scent, lass. ‘Tis so like your mither's. You use the same scented soap as she.”
“Aye, but from so far away and with the smell of burning wood and dog in your nostril's?”
“Your odor is a different pleasantry among the usual burning wood and dog. It stands out in my memory as does the pleasant odor of your mither.” He smiled broadly, showing still straight, white teeth beneath a greying beard. I could almost feel his penetrating gaze upon me as in the days before his sight was taken in battle. He asked, “Where are you going this dreary night?”
“Here, Da. To sit beside you and talk of the feast on the morrow.”
“Don't try to deceive me, lass. I heard the sound of your arisaid dropping to the floor. You are planning a tryst, I feel certain.” His dimmed gaze pierced through to the depths of my soul. “I could see the turn of your head toward him each time he spoke at the evening meal.” A line formed between his brows and a shadow darkened his face. “You are to marry the Munro.”
“I dinna love William Munro.” My voice began to rise, and I struggled to control the cry climbing from the depths of my heart. “I wanna marry him, Da. You promised I could wed for love, not convenience.” The cry emerged from my lips. I buried my head on his shoulder and sobbed.

Buy Links:

Author Bio:
The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.
Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

Author Contact Information:

Facebook Post:
A Highland Emerald, Book Three in the Highland Treasures series, is now on pre-order at most ebook vendors. Reserve your copy now to be downloaded to your ereader on September 26. Find vendor links here:


A Highland Emerald, Book 3 Highland Treasures series, available for pre-order via @rayburnlady #RRBC #TheTwelve