Friday, July 31, 2015

Among the Fair Magnolias

Among the Fair Magnolias

Among the Fair Magnolias 

Novella Collection 

Thomas Nelson 

During the most turbulent decade of our nation's history, four Southern women---their destinies forged by birth and heritage---face nearly impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love.

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love
Abigail Clayton hopes to reconcile with Dr. Wade Bennett and become his wife. But her father insists she marry her distant cousin Charles Kittridge so the plantations of the two families will be joined. With her wedding looming, Abby must choose between duty to her family and the yearnings of her own heart.

My thoughts: This was a sweet story. Abby Clayton knows her heart, and it is true to Dr. Wade Bennett. She is not fond of Charles at all and has had encounters with him that prove she doesn't want to marry him, but her father and Charles are insistent. It would benefit Abby's father's run for governor and ensure Abby is taken care of... Since this story is set five or so years before the start of the Civil War, in South Carolina, and we all know our history... Well, ignorance is bliss, right?  The story was slow, but the writing was stellar. I definitely had my opinions about the two men vying for her attention. If you like sweet historical romances, A HEART SO TRUE is a cute story. It was a good lead story for this collection. 4 stars. 

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander
Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home.
So when the new owner Aidan Bedford seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancée, Savannah jumps at the opportunity. But can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed? And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front---this time, a battle of the heart.

My thoughts: This is the most adorable story! I absolutely loved TO MEND A DREAM. Savannah and Aidan were both very well developed characters and I cared for both of them deeply. I thought Aidan had known her boyfriend during the Civil War--not exactly the case. I didn't care at all for Aidan's fiancee, but I know Savannah needed the money to take care of her brother and sister. An absolutely wonderful story. I will look for more books by Tamera Alexander. 5 stars. 

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser
Emily Derracott loves her childhood friend Thomas McGinnis, but she cannot marry a man who doesn't share her strong convictions about the freedmen. Besides, she harbors a secret love for someone else. But the prospect of becoming his wife is not only improbable---it is completely impossible.

My thoughts: This was a rather sad book to read, even this many years later. It is terrible how the KKK treated fellow Americans. I know it was real, and it added for lots of tension, but the story broke my heart multiple times. I did like both of the main characters and even some of the secondary characters, and had to admire Emily's efforts. The story is well written and seemed true to history. A nice addition to this collection, and a sweet ending. 3.5 stars. 

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray
Seven years ago Russell Champion was betrayed by the two most important women in his life. Now Russell returns home, but is it too late to make amends with his mother and find closure with his true love?

My thoughts:  I love Ms. Gray's Amish romances, but this one not so much. It was well written in Ms. Gray's classic style, but the writing almost seemed amateurish compared to her Amish stories. Russell left home seven years ago because he murdered his step-father for sexually abusing Russell's fiancee. His mom and his fiancee reject him for being a murderer so he leaves and joins a violent gang. But now he's back--for reasons unknown. I couldn't connect with this characters though I did want to. 3 stars. 

Over all thoughts: I love these four in one collections, but this had one story that I truly enjoyed. The others were okay.  If you like historical fiction and are fans of these authors work, you will probably love AMONG THE FAIR MAGNOLIAS.  Its also a good way to get a taste of different author's work.  I did find a new-to-me author I'd like to read more by.  Over all, 3.875 stars. Rounded up to 4. 

Includes Recipes and Discussion Questions

Purchase a copy:

 Meet the Authors 

Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of numerous books including A Lasting Impression and The Inheritance. Her richly-drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide. Tamera is a two-time Christy Award winner, two-time RITA winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Library Journal Award. Tamera and her husband recently returned to her Southern roots and now make their home in Nashville.

Visit her website Facebook: tamera.alexanderTwitter: @tameraalexander

Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list. A native of Texas, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in Colorado and taught school for ten years. She and her husband have two children and live in Southern Ohio.

Visit her website at Facebook:ShelleyShepardGray Twitter: @ShelleySGray

A native of west Tennessee, Dorothy Love makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever. An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels.

Visit her online Facebook: dorothylovebooks Twitter:@WriterDorothy

Elizabeth Musser writes 'entertainment with a soul' from her writing chalet-tool shed-outside Lyon, France.  Elizabeth's highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon's Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia's Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years (Georgia Backroads, 2009).  All of Elizabeth's novels have been translated into multiple languages. Two Destinies, the final novel in The Secrets of the Cross trilogy, was a finalist for the 2013 Christy Award. For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work with International Teams.  The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

Visit her website at Facebook:pages/Elizabeth-Musser

 Blog Tour Schedule

Four best-selling novelists bring tales of four Southern women who face near impossible choices on their journeys in life and in love during the most turbulent decade of our nation’s history in Among the Fair MagnoliasDon't miss this collection of stories from Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser.

Join the authors in celebrating the release of Among the Fair Magnolias by entering to win their Southern Hearts Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVPing to their August 13th author chat party!


One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HD 6

  • One copy of Among the Fair Magnolias

  • Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/13. The winner will be announced at the Among the Fair Magnolias Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tamera, Dorothy, Shelley, and Elizabeth, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!


    RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 13th!

    Thursday, July 30, 2015

    A Season of Love

    A Season of Love (Kauffman Amish Bakery Series) 

    by Amy Clipston  (Author)

    published by Zondervan

    June 24, 2012

    ISBN: 978-0310319979

    Three young friends enter the most important season of their lives. But relationships have changed, and only time will tell if Lindsay, Katie, and Lizzie Anne have made the right choices.
    Three young women are about to change their lives: Lizzie Anne and Samuel have decided to get married, and Lindsay is about to be baptized into the Amish faith and is being courted by Matthew. While Katie Kauffman is happy for her friends who seem to have settled their futures, she is also finding herself something of a fifth wheel.
    When Lindsay’s sister Jessica returns to Bird-in-Hand, she finds that Jake Miller has moved on with his life. He lost hope that Jessica would ever be satisfied to settle in rural Pennsylvania and takes comfort in becoming close friends with Katie. However, it’s not an easy road as Jake is Mennonite and Katie has just been baptized. Her father forbids them to see each other, adamant that his daughter marry an Amish man.
    Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you’ll meet the delightful women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman’s story unfolds, you will share in her joys, dreams . . . and secrets. You’ll discover the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle and, most importantly, you will be encouraged by the hope and faith of these women, and the importance they place on their families.

    A SEASON OF HOPE was loaned to me by a friend since she is a huge fan of Amy Clipston and I have only read and liked a few of her novellas and one of her young adult books. My friend says this is Ms. Clipston’s best book. We both are fans of Amish fiction, so I asked to borrow my friend’s book.

    I am no judge on whether or not this is her best book, but I wasn’t impressed with it. The characters were flat, and the reader was held at a distance. I couldn’t connect with them, even though I wanted to. Plus, they had the same conversation multiple times, even in the same chapter. Repetition is good in some things such as learning the multiplication table, not so good in others, such as getting lost in a book.

    The story is clean, with nothing a conservative reader would find shocking, and I do like the way it is centered around a bakery in Lancaster County and everyone even remotely connected to it.  Fans of Ms. Clipston might find this “her best book ” as my friend did. Fans of Amish fiction and series related to one family (bakery) saga might like it.

    3 stars. 302 pages. Available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, audio, and audio CD.  

    Wednesday, July 29, 2015

    Doable, Cost-Effective, Leading Edge… Life Changing.

    Doable, Cost-Effective, Leading Edge…
    Life Changing.

    "We can bring the Gospel to a generation that is literally dying without it. An invasion of truth that interrupts the lives of people ages 15-25, in a venue they use every day. This unique strategy—to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all” by leveraging mainstream media and technology—is doable, cost-effective, and cutting edge. More importantly, it’s working."   

    –Sean Dunn
    Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—Today’s young people suffer from unprecedented levels of depression, anxiety, pressure, loneliness, and desperation for approval. For many, one nagging question motivates every social media post, short-sighted decision, and attempt to self-harm: Does anyone really care about me?

    At, teens and young adults from across the globe find comfort, guidance, and the answers they desperately seek.  An initiative of Groundwire, follows and expands the remarkably effective model that has touched millions of young viewers and listeners since 2006. Using a multi-pronged strategy, Groundwire leverages media and technology to meet the age 15-25 demographic exactly where they are — viewing, listening, texting, or chatting — and to invite them to voice their questions and struggles so they can find answers in the message of the Gospel. Young people listening to popular radio broadcasts or viewing favorite shows on networks like CW, MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming, and Comedy Central are interrupted by direct advertising spots that catch their attention, resonating with where they are today.

    The initiative includes targeted, authentic, and well-produced commercials that grab the attention of young viewers and listeners by the millions. As they respond to the broadcast messages, they are invited to visit the website where they can chat with a live spiritual coach available day and night, as well as find a collection of resources such as podcasts by Groundwire’s founder and executive director, Sean Dunn, and daily devotionals.

    “Statistics indicate that 86% of teens believe in God, but most don’t believe He is loving. Even fewer believe they are lovable. What if this generation truly understood and responded to God’s offer of hope, truth, and purpose?” Dunn asks.

    Since 2006, Groundwire has interacted with broken and searching youth on thousands of live chats. Students are drawn to the honest dialogue about spiritual issues, often receiving Christ as their Savior as a result of the coaches’ ministry. Coaches then do their best to connect visitors to local churches and resources where they can continue to grow in their faith. looks to grow Groundwire’s reach in contemporary culture.

    “Today’s younger generation hungers for a real and personal relationship with the Living God. And that really transcends culture. Unfortunately, a common misconception many older Christians have about young people is that they only desire interaction with others who are young like them and are products of the same culture,” Dunn says. “The truth is that this group is desperately in need of intergenerational connection. They crave it. The Jesus Cares initiative has already shown us that, when we make ourselves available to listen and respond, young people cling to that, and they are willing—even eager—to share their burdens and receive the Good News we offer.”

    Hundreds of volunteers from around the world form a team that offers coaching 24 hours a day, and that number must increase alongside launches of the ministry in new locations. is seeking coaches of all ages and backgrounds to be available when young seekers respond to the TV and radio ads. is rapidly expanding, having arrived in Colorado Springs and Chicago during the first and second quarters of 2015. The initiative launched in South Bend, Indiana this summer and fundraising efforts are underway to support upcoming launches in Dallas, Tampa, and Denver this fall.

    To bring JesusCares to your community or to sign up as a coach, go

    Tuesday, July 28, 2015

    Hope Harbor

    Hope Harbor: A Novel 

    by Irene Hannon


    July 7, 2015

    • ISBN-13: 978-0800724528
    • Genre: Women's Fiction
    Come home to Hope Harbor--where hearts heal . . . and love blooms.

    Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life--and love--altered her plans. Now she's home again--with a floundering farm to run . . . a tragic secret . . . and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

    My thoughts: HOPE HARBOR is a lot slower than Ms. Hannon's trademark romantic suspense, and in this particular book, the sexual tension is almost nonexistent. There is a romance, but no sparks. The main story seems to be how Michael Hunter comes to town in search of peace and hope for his own life, but ends up offering it to everyone else. 

    Anna is an older character in this book who is estranged from her son, she benefited the most from knowing Michael as her life transforms greatly. But is it enough to end twenty years of silence? 

    I mostly enjoyed this book. I read it in one sitting, so it held my interest. It was just slow and I would've liked the usual Irene Hannon helping of sexual tension. 4.5 stars. 

    Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 352 pages. 

    I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    A Flying Affair

    Author: Carla Stewart
    Publisher: Faith Words
    June 2015
    ISBN:  978-1455549993
    Genre: historical romance

    Ever since Mittie Humphreys agreed to join dashing barnstorming pilot Ames for a joyride in his airplane, her lifelong love of horses has been surpassed by one thing--a longing for the skies. It seems she's not the only one--with Charles Lindbergh making his victory tour in the Spirit of St. Louis, aviation fever is spreading across the country. Mittie knows flying is the perfect focus for the soaring ambition and taste for adventure within her, and whenever she can slip away from her duties on her family's prosperous Kentucky horse farm, she heads to the airfield.

    Considering their shared passion, it's no surprise that Ames begins to vie for Mittie's time. But when handsome British aviator Bobby York offers her flying lessons, he is equally surprised-and beguiled-by Mittie's grit and talent. Driven to succeed, Mittie will do whatever it takes to compete in the Women's National Air Derby alongside Amelia Earhart. But when Calista "Peach" Gilson, a charming Southern belle, becomes her rival both professionally and in love, Mittie must learn how to navigate her heart's romantic longings as well as the skies.

    Ms. Stewart is a hit or miss author for me. Since recently I’ve read more hits than misses I thought I’d give A FLYING AFFAIR a try. I have to say that the writing is impeccable, and as the story is told completely from Mittie’s POV we are left guessing about whether she’ll marry Ames or Bobby—though it’s a given she’ll fall in love with a fly-boy. I liked this aspect of the book very much.

    Mittie loved two things—horses and aviation. Not necessarily in that order. As a socialite, she’s also active in community events. A busy book with many subplots. If you like books with a lot of plots and subplots, this will be something you’re interested in.

    I didn’t like the use of so much slang. It felt forced and unnatural. I also thought there was too much telling, including a few times when the reader is told what would happen next. I also have to add I’m a very conservative Christian and the use of cigarettes and alcohol bothered me. There were a few prayers, but otherwise I didn’t notice any faith message.   

    3 stars. Available in ebook and paperback. 320 pages.

    I obtained this book from the publisher (via Book Fun Magazine) in exchange for my honest review. 

    Sunday, July 26, 2015

    The Beginner's Bible: Bible Story Favorites with CD / Holy Bible / Collector's Edition

    Bible Story Favorites 

    (I Can Read! / The Beginner's Bible) 

    Hardcover – April 23, 2012

    by Kelly Pulley (Illustrator)

    ISBN: 978-0310728290

    Bible Story Favorites features the amazing stories of our faith using artwork from the beloved The Beginner’s Bible and easy-to-read vocabulary perfect for children just learning to read! Also included is a narrated CD with each story and a signal for when it’s time to turn the page. Stories included are: Adam and Eve in the Garden Baby Moses and the Princess Joseph and His Brothers Jonah and the Big Fish Jesus Saves the World.

    A great book for children just learning to read. Written in simple words, it is guaranteed to instill confidence in beginning readers as they are able to successfully navigate through five different Bible stories. Recommended for Christian schools, day cares, preschools, and homeschool parents.  For 4 - 8 year olds. 

    160 pages. Hardcover (with CD) and Kindle.


    NIrV Beginner's Bible, Holy Bible (The Beginner's Bible) 

    Hardcover – September 30, 2014

    by Zondervan (Author)

    ISBN: 978-0310743569

    Ready for your first “real” Bible? Great! You’ll love how you can read this Bible all by yourself. The print is easy to read and The Beginner’s Bible® art is fun and will help you better understand the stories in the Bible.
    Features include:
    • Presentation page so you can make this Bible your own.
    • Complete text of the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) of the Bible―written for kids just like you!
    • Large print is easy to read.
    • 18 full-color pages of The Beginner’s Bible illustrations help you better understand the stories.
    • 66 book introductions and outlines explain who wrote each book of the Bible and what you will discover as you read.
    • Dictionary of key Bible words will help you when you come to a word you don’t know.
    • Reading plan of 150 famous Bible stories will give you a great overview of God’s Word.

    This is a nice beginner's Bible. It has large print  (might be good for adults with poor vision, too) and in my daughter's opinion, the best part is, it has pictures!  When I was a child, I had a Bible with pictures (it was KJV, with a imitation leather cover) that was my favorite Bible. I can easily see how a child would love this one with its colorful images and easy to read text. If you don't mind using the NIrV Bible, this would be a great gift for your beginning reader.  

    • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
    • Hardcover: 2048 pages - also available in e-book


    Beginner's Bible Collector's Edition: Timeless Children's Stories (The Beginner's Bible) 

    Hardcover – October 7, 2014

    by Zondervan (Author)

    ISBN: 978-0310747345

    Introduce preschool children to the stories and characters of the Bible with this best-loved Bible storybook, now available in a Collector’s Edition.  Children will engage with the Bible like never before as they read the book, listen to the audio, and watch the stories come alive in individual animated story videos. With more than 90 Bibles stories included, children will delight in Noah helping the elephant onto the ark, Jonah praying inside the fish, and more, as they discover The Beginner’s Bible just like millions of children before.
    The Beginner’s Bible Collector’s Edition includes a copy of the storybook Bible, an enhanced audio recording on 2 CDs, a DVD with animated story videos for each of the 94 Bible stories, packaged in  a slipcase box perfect for gift-giving.

    What a great collection for preschooler and early elementary children! Perfect for beginning readers, and coms with CD and DVDs with over 90 different Bible stories included.  Perfect for churches, for preschools, for Christian schools, for grandparents (to entertain visiting grandchildren). A great collection. My only complaint was the DVDs were semi-animated, and rather boring (to me) and my youngest (age 10) wasn't real impressed with them either.  

    • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
    • Hardcover: 512 pages

    Saturday, July 25, 2015

    The Beginner's Bible: Noah's Ark / Jesus Shows God's Love / Super-Duber Mighty Jumbo Activity Book

    Baby Beginner's Bible: Noah's Ark (The Beginner's Bible) 

    Board book – May 30, 2013

    by Zondervan (Author)

    ISBN-13: 978-0310736349

    Noah’s Ark, based on the bestselling storybook Bible of all time, is part of the Baby Beginner’s Bibleboard book series crafted for parents to share with their youngest children to experience the Bible through colorful illustrations and simple words. For added benefit, the complete story of Creation is told at the end of the book.
    Other books in this series include Creation, Daniel and the Lions, and Jonah and the Big Fish.

    It is hard to review this book. Pictures, with nouns under it. Noah. Rain. Animals. Family. Calm. Bird.  The complete story is included at the end of the book. Would be ideal for baby portions of the church nursery. 

    Board book for babies. 14 pages. 4 stars. 


    Jesus Shows God's Love (The Beginner's Bible) 

    Paperback – December 24, 2013

    by Zondervan (Author)

    ISBN: 978-0310741480

    Jesus’ Ministry

    After Jesus is baptized, he chooses his disciples and begins his work.  Young children will learn about Jesus’ mission on earth, teaching the message of God’s love to his disciples and people everywhere.
    Jesus’ ministry comes to life in Jesus Shows God’s Love using the art from the popular The Beginner’s Bible.

    This is the simplified version of the story of Jesus - from birth through-out his life - for toddlers. The pictures are interesting for young children to look at and the story is simple and short enough to hold the interest of an active two-year-old. Ideal for Christian day cares or churches. 

    24 pages. Available in paperback.


    The Beginner's Bible Super-Duper, Mighty, Jumbo Activity Book

    Paperback – September 8, 2012

    by Zondervan (Author)

    ISBN:  978-0310724995

    Bible stories have never been so fun and interactive.
    The Beginner's Bible Super-Duper, Mighty, Jumbo Activity Book provides young children with mazes, dot-to-dots, word puzzles, matching games, and more, all using beloved The Beginner’s Biblecharacters and stories.

    A thick book geared to keep young children quiet during church (if they aren't in the children's church) or for Christian preschools or long car trips. Teaches letters,  numbers, simple counting, mazes, matching, and more. Thick book for 4 - 8 year olds (I'd say 2 years old and older).  My ten year old did enjoy doing some of the puzzles though. And there are plenty of coloring pages. 

    384 pages. Paperback only.