Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley

Enter Today | 11/14 - 12/3!
Dear Mr. Knightley Katherine Reay

Book Info and review
Author: Katherine Reay
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
November 2013
ISBN: 978-1401689681
Genre: Contemporary

About the book:

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

Includes Reading Group Guide
Plus Bonus Material: Q & A with Katherine Reay and Sam’s Reading List

My thoughts:

Wow, wow, wow. DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY was a story I wasn’t sure what to think of at first. Samantha had a very rough childhood. The stuff of nightmares, and like Anne of Green Gables, she retreated into her books. She can’t seem to communicate without quoting lines from the old classics.

Okay, it seems weird that most of the people Sam comes in contact with has also memorized all these lines and can tell you what book they came from. I mean, my guys can do that with movies. But I never heard women do it. And Sam was very rude sometimes, though I can understand where she’s coming from and why. I also thought that sometimes Alex was a big jerk as well. But then, they are flawed and human. Who among us isn’t?  It made them more real.

I did absolutely love her honesty in writing to Mr. Knightley. I figured out the truth of that relationship long before the end of the book, but it made the ending no less sweet.

This was just a totally awesome book, it’s going on my keeper shelf, and I am anxious to read more by this author. 5 stars. $15.99. 336 pages.

Purchase a copy:

Meet the author: 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 as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in "Focus on the Family" and the "Upper Room." Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. "Dear Mr. Knightley" is her first novel.

Learn more about Katherine at:

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Folds In the Map - Book Spotlight

Folds in the Map: stories of life’s unlikely intersections book

About the Author:

Jeff Bauer is a community organizer, public policy advocate, and writer based in
Saint Paul, MN. His blog,, has been read by nearly 10,000
people from over 50 countries. Folds in the Map is his first book. In addition to
his work as a writer, Jeff recently lead a successful advocacy effort, in his role as
Director of Public Policy at The Family Partnership, to pass a nation-leading Safe
Harbor law in Minnesota to protect children from sex trafficking and commercial
sexual exploitation. He lives in a tiny house on St. Paul’s West Side with his wife,

His latest book is the inspirational/essay book, Folds in the Map: Stories of Lifes
Unlikely Intersections.

Visit his website at

Visit his blog at

About the Book:

Title: Folds in the Map: Stories of Life’s Unlikely Intersections
Author: Jeff Bauer
Publisher: Inciteful Press
Genre: Inspirational/Essay
Pages: 166
Language: English
ISBN-10: 061589125X
ISBN-13: 978-0615891255

Purchase at Amazon

Folds in the Map is a collection of essays and stories by emerging author Jeff
Bauer. In these pages, he embarks on an earnest, touching journey to discover the
places where we feel most connected as human beings – to each other, to nature,
and to the world around us. From the bottom of a bomb crater in Laos, to a refugee
camp on the Sudanese border, to the side of a Panamanian volcano, and back home
again to the frozen January streets of Minnesota, Folds in the Map is a moving,
intensely personal exploration of shared experience and unlikely intersection.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Amanda Weds A Good Man

Author: Naomi King
Publisher: New American Library Trade
November 2013
ISBN: 978-0451417879
Genre: Amish / Women’s fiction

The Amish community of Cedar Creek is celebrating a wedding! When Amanda Lambright, widowed with three daughters, marries Wyman Brubaker, a widower with five children, she envisions joining their two households into one big happy family. But it isn’t quite that easy....

Amanda Lambright loves Wyman Brubaker, and after four years as a single mother, she is grateful for his support and for this new chance at happiness as his wife. She’s confident that their children will get along just fine. But once Amanda’s clan moves into Wyman’s home, the tight quarters and Wyman’s reluctance to make changes to accommodate Amanda cause friction. The older kids are squabbling. The little ones are frequently in tears. Tiny Alice Ann isn’t speaking at all. Amanda and Wyman can’t find any privacy. And Amanda wonders if she’ll ever have a chance to pursue the pottery making that means so much to her.

Amanda believes that family lies at the center of any well-lived Amish life. Can she find the wisdom to guide the reluctant members of her new extended family toward the love that will bind them together?

AMANDA WEDS A GOOD MAN is the first book in Ms. King’s newest series, One Big Happy Family. I felt for Amanda, struggling as a single mom with three children and marrying a wealthy man with five children. But Wyman wanted nothing of Amanda’s former life, her home, her things, her life, all had to go. He did make room for her mother-in-law and her children. But otherwise, the house and all the furnishings all belonged to his deceased wife. Difficult for any woman, Amish or English.

Adjustment in any blended family takes time, and when there are eight children and a mother-in-law involved, even more so. Amanda wants to do the quiet pottery work she loves, but no one else takes her seriously. It’s just a hobby, you don’t need to do it. She struggled with the loss of her creative outlet along with all the other changes. One had to wonder how this couple—blended family—could possibly work things out for a happy-ever-after.

If you like Amish fiction, then AMANDA WEDS A GOOD MAN is a book to consider. Ms. King is a talented author, able to weave a story that moves along, and there is plenty of conflict to keep the reader reading.

$14.00. 336 pages.

Home at Cedar Creek

Amanda Weds a Good Man


About the Author:

I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways 
make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! 

While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.

Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.

Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I 
sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.

I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.

You can visit her website at

Home at Cedar Creek

Amanda Weds a Good Man

One Big Happy Family
Book 1

By Naomi King

Chapter 1

  Amanda Lambright paused outside the Cedar Creek Mercantile, clutching her basket of pottery samples and prayed that Sam would carry her handmade items in his store. She had also come to share some exciting news: she stood on the threshold of a brand new life in a brand new family, and the prospect thrilled her. But it frightened her, too.
When Amanda stepped inside, the bell tinkled above the door. As her eyes adjusted to the soft dimness of the store, she saw her teenage daughter Lizzie and the four-year-old twins making a beeline to the craft department while her mother-in-law Jemima ambled behind her cart in the grocery aisle. Several shoppers, English and Amish alike, lingered over their choices of cheese, locally-grown apples, and other household and hardware necessities, but she was in luck: the bearded, bespectacled man at the check-out counter didn’t have any customers right now. She approached him with a smile.
“And how are you on this fine September day, Sam?”
When Sam Lambright looked up from the order form he was filling out, his face lit up. “Amanda! How gut to see you. Things are going well at your farm, I hope?”
Amanda gripped the handle of her basket. Should she break her big news first? Or make her request? “The work never ends, that’s for sure. The last hay’s ready to cut, the garden’s gone to weeds, and Jerome’s training several new mules.” Jerome was her nephew by marriage, the boy she and her late husband Atlee had raised after his parents died in a fire.
“Your girls are growing up, too. I had to look twice to realize it was Lizzie, Cora, and Dora waving at me.”
“They change by the day, it seems. And, well . . . I’m making a few changes myself.”
Sam gazed at her in that patient, expectant way he had. He was Atlee’s cousin, and his expression, his manner, reminded her so much of Atlee that at times she’d not shopped here because she couldn’t deal with the resemblance. But that sadness is behind me now . . . and nobody will be happier than Sam, she reminded herself. “Wyman Brubaker has asked me to marry him. And I said jah.”
Sam’s smile lit the whole store. “That’s wonderful! Abby—” He gazed up toward the upper level, hailing his sister as she sat at her sewing machine by the railing. “Abby, you’ll want to come down and get the latest from Amanda. She’s getting hitched!”
“That’s so exciting,” Abby called out. “Don’t say another word until I get down there.”
Amanda noticed several folks in the store glancing her way, enjoying this exchange. It made her upcoming marriage seem even more real now that it had been announced so publically. She and Wyman had kept their courtship quiet, because they wanted to be very sure that a marriage blending two households and eight children was a wise decision.
“Months ago I suggested to Wyman that it was time he found another gut woman,” Sam said, “and I’m so glad he’s chosen you, Amanda. I can’t think of two finer folks with so much in common.”
“Well, we hope so. It’ll be . . . different, raisin eight kids instead of just my three girls,” she replied quietly. “But Wyman’s a gut man.”
“And with his grain elevator doing so well, it means you won’t have to worry about money anymore,” Sam replied quietly. “You haven’t let on—haven’t let me help you much—but even with Jerome’s income, it couldn’t have been easy to keep that farm afloat after Atlee passed.”
As Abby Lambright rushed down the wooden stairway to hug her, Amanda forgot about her four long years of scraping by. She felt lifted up by the love and happiness this maidel radiated. Rain or shine, Abby gave her best and brought that out in everyone around her, too.
“What a wonderful-gut thing, to know you’ve found another love,” Abby gushed. “And who’s the lucky man?”
“Wyman Brubaker.”
“You don’t say!” Abby replied. “I couldn’t have matched up a more perfect pair myself—and as I recall, his Vera and your Lizzie first met while both families were shopping here. And that started the ball rolling.”
“Jah, as matchmakers go they were pretty insistent,” Amanda replied with a chuckle.
 “And when’s the big day?”
“We haven’t decided, but it’ll be sooner than I can possibly be ready,” Amanda admitted. “What with Lizzie still in school, I’ve hardly packed any boxes—not that I know where to stack them if the wedding’s at my house,” she added in a rush. “And with Jerome training a team of mules now, we can’t clear out the barn for the ceremony. And I can’t see me driving back and forth, cleaning Wyman’s house in Clearwater—”
“Or keeping it wedding-ready until the big day. His Vera’s a responsible girl, but looking after her three brothers and Alice Ann is all she can handle,” Abby remarked in a thoughtful tone. She looked at her older brother. “Sam, what would you say to having Amanda’s wedding at our house? What with preparing for Matt and Rosemary’s ceremony next week, and then for Phoebe and Owen’s that first Thursday of October—”
“Oh, no!” Amanda protested. “I didn’t mean to go on and on about—”
“That would be just fine.” Sam gazed steadily at Amanda. “We’re setting up the tables for the meals in mamm’s greenhouse—leaving them up between the two weddings, anyway. So if you pick a date in the first few weeks of October, it would be very easy to host your ceremony, Amanda. And I would feel like I’d finally given you some real help when you needed it.”
Amanda nearly dropped her basket of pottery. “My stars. That would solve a lot of my problems . . .”
“And with Wyman living in Clearwater and your house being on the far side of Bloomingdale, Cedar Creek would be a more central location for your guests,” Sam reasoned.
“And it’ll be gut practice for Sam, delivering another wedding sermon,” Abby added mischievously. “Right after he was ordained as our new preacher last spring, Rosemary asked him to preach and then Phoebe insisted on him, too. So he should be pretty gut at it by the time you and Wyman tie the knot!”
Sam flushed. “Jah, but if you want the preachers from your district to—”
“It would be an honor to have you and Vernon Gingerich officiate for us.” Amanda squeezed Sam’s arm, her excitement mounting. “Wyman will be so glad you’ve settled our dilemma, because if we choose one preacher and one bishop from our own districts, we’ll still be leaving out the other bishop and three preachers.”
“And you don’t want them all to speak! Six sermons would make for a very long day,” Abby added wryly.
As their laughter rose toward the high ceiling of the mercantile, Amanda relaxed. Wasn’t it just like these cousins to offer their home when she would never have asked another family to host her wedding? What a relief, to concentrate on moving her three daughters, Atlee’s mamm, and herself into Wyman’s home rather than also having to prepare for a couple hundred wedding guests.
Abby leaned closer to Amanda, watching Lizzie and the twins fingering bolts of fabric. “So how are your girls taking the news? And what of Jemima?” she asked quietly.
Amanda smiled. “Truth be told, it was Lizzie and Wyman’s Vera who got Wyman and me to the same places at the same time,” she confessed. “And bless him, Wyman said from the first that he had a room for Atlee’s mamm. It won’t be easy for her, living in a home other than her son’s. But we’ll all be together.”
“One big happy family!” Abby proclaimed as she hugged Amanda’s shoulders again.
“And what of Jerome?” Sam inquired. “He’s lived with you since he was a boy, but he’s what? Twenty-two now?”
“Twenty-four,” Amanda corrected. “And with him being so established with his mule breeding and training, I’ve asked him to stay there on the home place. It’s what Atlee would’ve wanted for his nephew.”
“A gut decision,” the storekeeper agreed. “One of these days he’ll be finding a wife, and a whole new generation of Lambrights can live there.”
Amanda nodded, feeling a flicker of sadness. Her Atlee had passed on before they knew she was carrying the twins . . . but cogitating over the other children they might have had together—or which ones might have taken over the Lambright farm—wasn’t a useful way to spend her time. A little gasp brought her out of her woolgathering.
“What’s this in your basket?” Abby asked as she reached for the handle. “My stars, these are such pretty colors for pie pans and cream pitchers and—” Her brown eyes widened. “Did you paint these, Amanda?”
Amanda’s cheeks prickled. “I make the pottery pieces on my wheel and then I glaze them, jah,” she said quietly. “I was hoping that—rather than packing away my finished pieces—you might want to sell them here.”
“These are pieces any woman could use,” Abby interrupted excitedly. She was carefully setting items from the basket on the counter so Sam could get a better look at them. “A pitcher . . . a deep-dish pie plate . . . oh, and look at this round piece painted like a sunflower!”
“That’s a disk you heat in the oven and then put in your basket to keep your bread warm,” Amanda said. “I sell a lot of those at the dry goods stores north of home. Seems English tourists like some little souvenir when they visit Plain communities.”
“I can see why,” Sam remarked. He was turning the pitcher this way and that in his large hands. “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen kitchen pieces with such bold colors. And if you make them, Amanda, I’d be happy to take them on consignment. Folks hereabouts would snap these up.”
“You’ve got several pieces with you, I hope?” Abby asked.
“This is such a blessing,” Amanda replied quietly. “I’ve got three boxes of this stuff in my wagon, along with an inventory list. I figured that if you didn’t want it, I’d stash it all in Wyman’s basement until we get moved in.”
“Don’t go hiding these in the basement!” Abby insisted. “We’ll set up a big display down here, and I’ll arrange the rest of them up in the loft.”
Sam started for the door. “I’ll help you carry in your boxes, Amanda. You can decide which items might sell better over at the greenhouse and work that out with Mamm.”
“Jah, I will. Denki so much, you two. Let me show you what I’ve brought.” Amanda’s heart skipped happily as the bell above the door tinkled. This trip to Cedar Creek was going even better than she’d dreamed, and she was eager to set her wedding date with Wyman now that they had such a wonderful place to hold their ceremony.
As they stepped outside, however, an ominous crash rang out, followed by a yelp and another crash. 
Simon! Get your dog out of that wagon!”
Amanda’s face fell. Oh, but she recognized that authoritative voice. And there could be only one Simon with a pet who had stirred up such a ruckus . . . and only one wagon full of pottery with its end gate down. 
As she rounded the corner of the store with Sam and Abby, the scene in the parking lot confirmed Amanda’s worst fears: the Brubaker family was gathered around her wagon, coaxing Simon’s German shepherd out of it while Wyman lifted his youngest son onto its bed. When the five-year-old boy grabbed his basketball from the only box of her pottery left standing, the picture became dismally clear.
“Oh, Amanda,” Abby murmured as the three of them hurried toward the Brubakers. “This doesn’t look so gut.”
Amanda’s stomach clenched. How many days’ worth of her work had been shattered after Wags had apparently followed Simon’s ball into her wagon? 
“Gut afternoon to you, Wyman,” Sam said. “We just heard your exciting news, and we’re mighty happy you and Amanda are hitching up.”
Wyman set his youngest son on the ground and extended his hand to the storekeeper. “Jah, I finally found a gal who’ll put up with me and my raft of kids. But I can’t think she’s too happy with us right this minute.”
Amanda bit back her frustration as her future husband lowered one of her boxes to the ground so she could see inside it. The other boxes had been overturned, so some of her pie plates, vases, and other items lay in pieces on the wagon bed. She had considered padding her pottery more carefully, boxing the pieces better, but who could have guessed that Simon’s energetic, oversized puppy would follow a basketball into her wagon? A little sob escaped her.
“And now, Simon, do you see why you should always check the latch on the dog’s pen when we leave?” Wyman asked sternly. “Not only was it dangerous for Wags to come running up alongside our buggy, but now he’s broken Amanda’s pottery. What do you say to her, son?”
The little boy, clutching his basketball, became the picture of contrition. Simon’s brown eyes, usually filled with five-year-old mischief, were downcast as he stood beside his father. “I . . . didn’t mean to break your stuff,” he murmured. “I bounced my ball too high and Wags had to play, too. I’m real sorry.”
Chastising this winsome boy wouldn’t put her pottery together again, would it? “Things happen,” she replied with a sigh. “I was hoping to sell my ceramics here at the mercantile, but . . . well, maybe we can salvage some of it.”
“Tie Wags to the wagon, Simon, before he causes any more trouble,” Wyman murmured.
Abby had stepped up beside Amanda to carefully lift the contents of the box onto the tailgate while Wyman set the other two boxes upright. Amanda was vaguely aware that the rest of the Brubaker kids were nearby: his teenage sons, Pete and Eddie, went on inside the mercantile while seventeen-year-old Vera came up beside her, cradling little Alice Ann against her hip.
“See there, all is not lost,” Abby remarked as she set unbroken dishes to one side of the wagon bed. “Still enough for a display, Amanda—” 
“And look at these colors!” Vera said as she fingered some of the broken pieces. “Dat told me you worked on pottery, Amanda, but I had no idea it was like this! So, do you paint ready-made pieces or do you make everything from scratch?”
Amanda smiled sadly as she held up two pitchers that no longer had their handles. “I form them on my pottery wheel, and when they’ve dried I glaze them and fire them in my kiln.”
“Would you mind if I take the broken stuff?” 
Amanda considered this, surprised. Vera’s eyes were lit up with interest, as though she truly loved the pottery even though it was shattered. “I don’t know what you’d do with it,” she murmured, “but it’s not like I can sell repaired plates and pitchers, either.”
“I’m sorry this has happened, Amanda. I’ll pay you for what Simon broke,” Wyman offered as he squeezed her shoulder. “At least you won’t be needing the income after we marry, jah?”
Amanda sighed. “Denki, Wyman. That’s generous of you.”
As much as she had come to love Wyman Brubaker during these past months of their courtship, a red flag went up in Amanda’s mind. He—and most men—didn’t understand that her pottery was much more than a way to earn money. It had been her salvation after Atlee had lost a leg to gangrene and then lost his will to live. . . a way to focus her mind on cheerful designs and colors instead of becoming lost in the darkness of her grief after he died.
Wyman ran the only grain elevator in the area so he was able to provide quite well for a large family. Yet as she considered mixing her Lizzie and the twins—not to mention her opinionated mother-in-law—with the three rambunctious Brubaker boys, Vera, and toddler Alice Ann, Amanda wondered what she was getting herself into. Everyone seemed amiable enough now, but what if their good intentions went by the wayside once they were all together in one household?
Would they be one big happy family, as Abby had predicted? Or had she let herself in for more major changes than she could handle by agreeing to marry Wyman Brubaker?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mansfield's Book of Manly Men

Author: Stephen Mansfield
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
November 2013
ISBN: 978-1595553737
Genre: Christian Life / Man’s issues

Witty, compelling, and shrewd, Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men is about resurrecting your inborn, timeless, essential, masculine self.

The Western world is in a crisis of discarded honor, dubious integrity, and faux manliness. It is time to recover what we have lost.

Stephen Mansfield shows us the way. Working with timeless maxims and stirring examples of manhood from ages past, Mansfield issues a trumpet call of manliness fit for our times. 

“My goal in this book is simple,” he says. “I want to identify what a genuine man does—the virtues, the habits, the disciplines, the duties, the actions of true manhood—and then call men to do it.”

MANSFIELD’S BOOK OF MANLY MEN is a book I am looking forward to giving to my son for Christmas. He is the one who discovered Mansfield’s website and frequently visits it, hoping to gain wisdom from a biblical perspective on how to be a man of honor. I knew when I saw this book that he would absolutely love it.

This book is hardcover, very masculine looking, and stock full of quotes from preachers, bible, maxims, and more. There are three different parts in this book:

Part I includes the “beginning” or introduction, and several maxims.
Part II includes different traits such as Honor, Friendship, Quest, Humor, Integrity,                   vision and more
Part III includes quotes, and lists ten essential books and movies for men

If you are looking for the perfect book to give the young man in your life, especially one who is striving to be someone, then MANSFIELD’S BOOK OF MANLY MEN. $19.99 Hardcover, $12.99 kindle. 304 pages. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Marriage in Middlebury

Enter Today | 11/18 - 12/12!
anita higman a marriage in middlebury

Book Info and review
About the book: 

Author: Anita Higman
Publisher: Abingdon Press
November 2013
ISBN: 978-1426733871
Genre: Contemporary romance

Charlotte Rose Hill has been serving up country delicacies, uniquely blended teas, and matchmaking advice for her quirky but beloved customers for more than 10 years. But for her, marriage seems like an elusive butterfly, always out of reach.

At 18, Charlotte fell in love with a young man, Sam Wilder, but his family convinced her to walk away from their relationship. She did, and then became engaged to another man, who later died before they were married. Now, more than a decade later, Charlotte finds that she still has feelings for her first love.

Initially thrilled to learn that Sam has come home to Middlebury, Texas, Charlotte is devastated to learn that he’s brought someone with him: his fiancée. But all is not lost when the townsfolk decide to get involved. Will Charlotte and Sam find their way back to each other?

My thoughts: 

A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY is a great story. Kind of slow starting, it never does pick up the pace. But it is a sleepy small town comfortable sort of book, perfect to pick up when you are totally stressed and need a quiet sort of book to bring the blood pressure down. It works like a charm.

I loved Sam’s quiet, sure, steadfast personality, but was a bit sad that he was prepared to ruin lives by being so honorable. Which isn’t a bad thing, it just sounds that way. I did NOT like his fiancée. She was way needy. I loved the way it played out in the romance department though, and all the characters did some growing up. Multiple romances (at least three, but I might have lost count) are included in this book, with more points of view than the average romance. Well done. Recommended. $14.99. 5 stars. 304 pages. 

Purchase a copy:

Meet the author: Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty 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.

Connect with Anita at:

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Monday, November 25, 2013

High-Stakes Holiday Reunion

Author: Christy Barritt
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
November 2013
ISBN: 978-0373445639
Genre: Romantic Suspense


When Christopher Jordan sees the fear in Ashley Wilson's eyes, he knows he can't let her request for help go unanswered. Despite their tumultuous history, he's the only person his ex-fiancée can trust to find her kidnapped nephew. But how can Christopher trust her when he finds out that Ashley's "nephew" is actually his son, the one she never told him about? With a terrorist cell convinced Ashley holds the key to accessing top secret government files, time is running out. And Christopher will stop at nothing to bring their little boy home in time for Christmas.  

HIGH-STAKES HOLIDAY REUNION is the third in Ms. Barritt’s The Security Experts series. The books Key Witness and Lifeline easily stand alone, but involve the same security company.

I enjoyed getting to know Christopher and Ashley. I figured that somehow Ashley was the target behind her brother’s and nephew’s disappearance, so I had to keep reading to see what she did that would bring terrorists down on her head to the point that they’d chase her through a mall filled with Christmas shoppers firing shots.

If you like romantic suspense, then check out HIGH-STAKES HOLIDAY REUNION. It has a touch of Christmas, a lot of action, and enough red-herrings to keep the pages turning. $5.99. 224 pages. 4 stars.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Bride for Noah

Authors: Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith
Publisher: Harvest House
October 2013
ISBN: 978-0736953474
Genre: Historical

Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith, beloved authors of the Amish of Apple Grove series, team up again in an exciting new series for devoted fans and new readers.

It's 1851, and Evie Lawrence is penniless and heartbroken after a failed romance. When a kind elderly man announces his plan to move west and make his fortune, Evie jumps at the chance to go with him and start a new life. She says goodbye to the only home she's ever known and sets out for the Northwest.

There she meets Noah Hughes, a handsome young man who has gambled everything he owns on the chance to make a fresh start. Living the rugged life of a lumberjack, he too is determined to one day make his fortune. The last thing he's looking for is a why can't he get Evie out of his mind?

In this first book of the Seattle Brides series, two people learn what it means to move beyond their expectations and embrace the very best God has for them.

A BRIDE FOR NOAH is a cute historical romance based on the beginning days of the founding of Seattle, Washington. The authors use some real life people and events to set the stage for the fictional characters that come to make Seattle their home—before it’s anything more than a lumber camp.

The story starts slowly. But it is engaging. Evie and Noah don’t get along at all, she’s bullheaded and stubborn and he’s trying to keep her safe and out of trouble. An impossible chore, since trouble seems to go looking for her. She has an impossible dream, her supplies are stolen, the Indians are amorous, and … anything that possibly could go wrong does.

Noah too is struggling. He wants to be invaluable to the camp and realizes he’s the most expendable man there. He’s just trying to do his job, and he can’t help it that his job seems to thwart every idea that Evie has.  One had to keep reading to see if Evie can make her idea pay – or if she’ll be on the next boat out. If you like historical romances, be sure to pick up A BRIDE FOR NOAH. Discussion questions and some of the real-life history and notes are included at the end. $13.99. 320 pages. 4 stars.

The New York City Leadership Center Joins the National #GivingTuesday Movement

The New York City Leadership Center Joins the National #GivingTuesday Movement
Pledges Will Expand Initiatives to Provide Leadership Training to Christian Leaders

[November 20, 2013] [New York, NY] -The New York City Leadership Center has joined #GivingTuesday, a national movement to harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners – charities, families, businesses and individuals – to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.  Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday inspires people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back and help create a better world.

As a catalyst for the acceleration of Christian leadership effectiveness and influence in New York City and, leading cities nationally and globally, The New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC) knows first-hand the power of collaboration. The NYCLC joins #GivingTuesday to increase awareness of the strategic impact of NYCLC’s Christian leadership development initiatives—including the Leadership Fellows Program and the Global Leadership Summit (broadcast by Willow Creek Association). The Center seeks to replicate best practices and Gospel Movements to other cities through the Movement Day Congress, and the scripture engagement initiative with American Bible Society.

In the last 3 years, the NYCLC has hosted and trained an aggregate of more than 7,000 Christian senior leaders.  “Our goals are to inspire leaders, churches and ministries to cultivate partnerships and share best practices as a way of achieving a true gospel movement and resolving some of today’s biggest challenges in our cities, “ states Dr. Mac Pier, founder and CEO, The NYCLC. “History has shown that great spiritual and social movements birthed in New York City – impact the rest of the nation and the world. We believe God can and will do the same in this present time.”

Those who are interested in learning more about The New York City Leadership Center and donating a tax-deductible year-end gift to the Center’s #GivingTuesday campaign can visit our website at

For more details on the #GivingTuesday movement, visit their website

About The New York City Leadership Center
The vision of The New York City Leadership Center is to become a model of Christian leaders impacting the spiritual and social climate of an urban center.  Our mission is to exponentially increase the leadership effectiveness of ministry and marketplace leaders. Please visit our website at

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fifteen Minutes

Author: Karen Kingsbury
Publisher: Howard Books
October 2013
ISBN: 978-1451647051
Genre: Contemporary

About the book:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury comes a dramatic story about fame, true love, and the cost of having it all. 

Zack Dylan made a promise to God and his college sweetheart as he left his family’s horse farm in Kentucky to compete on the popular reality television show Fifteen Minutes: If he makes it, the fame won’t change him.

Overnight, Zack is the nation’s most popular contestant, a country singer with the looks and voice of a young Elvis. As his star rises, Zack is asked to compromise and quiet his beliefs, and also some­thing more. Something Zack could never have imagined. Just as America is falling in love with Zack, just as he’s on the verge of winning it all, his choices lead him to the brink of personal disaster.

At the same time, Reese Weatherly, a thera­peutic horse instructor, is no longer sure about her relationship with Zack, or the wedding they had dreamed about. While Zack advances from one round of the competition to the next, an offer comes to Reese—one that will take her to a home halfway around the world.

Then Chandra Olson—reigning diva pop star and one of the Fifteen Minutes judges—intervenes. Chandra has suffered so much public pain and pri­vate agony since her days as a Fifteen Minutes contestant. Now she wants just one thing: meaning.

Can Chandra’s private losses help Zack find his way, or will his fifteen minutes of fame cause him to lose the life he once loved? Fifteen Minutes is a story of character, compromise, and the cost of having it all. A story that raises the question: Who are the real winners?

My Thoughts: 

I have one word for FIFTEEN MINUTES. Wow! That’s all I can say. I loved this story, I love Karen Kingsbury’s books, and I loved the characters. Even the ones that have clearly lost their way became real to me on the pages of this book and I felt their pain. I wanted Zach to stand up for his beliefs, for his love for Reece, for his convictions. I wanted Chandra’s life to have meaning again. She gave up so much for her career.

I thoroughly enjoyed FIFTEEN MINUTES. If you like contemporary stories, love Karen Kingsbury, or wondered about the reality behind a reality talent show, then FIFTEEN MINUTES is the book for you. 5 stars. 384 pages. $22.99 hardcover, $15.99 paperback, $9.99 kindle. Also available in audio. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Aloha Rose

Enter Today | 11/15 - 11/30!
Quilts of love vannetta chapman lisa carter

Book Info and review
About the book: When Laney Carrigan's adoptive parents encourage her as an adult to seek out her birth family, her only clue is the Lokelani quilt in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island, she battles fears of rejection from a family that abandoned her once before while her faith struggles to embrace God's love.
Along the path to her true heritage, she meets Hawaiian cowboy/helicopter pilot, Kai Barnes. Kai is determined to protect the people he's come to regard as family against a woman he suspects of being nothing more than a gold-digger, but he finds himself drawn to Laney in spite of his reservations. He's spent his entire life seeking forgiveness from past mistakes and longs for a second chance at happiness. 

Laney's painstaking journey to find restoration and a place to belong among the breathtaking allure of the Big Island will lead her closer to her past and maybe even something more.

My thoughts: 

ALOHA ROSE exceeded my expectations. As book twelve in the Quilts of Love series, a collection of stories written by different authors about quilts and how they are the threads that hold a family together, this book was just head and shoulders above most of the others I’ve read so far in this series.

Both Kai and Laney are survivors. Both abandoned as children, Laney’s mother leaving  her on a doorstep, and Kai’s mother murdered in his presence. Plus, Kai is suffering for PTSD, a result of Afghanistan. But while Kai knows his history, Laney has no memory of it. Only what she has been told or “knows in her heart.” And some of what she “knows” is lies.

There was a twist in this story—but I saw it coming way before it happened, so it wasn’t a big surprise.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Great tension between Laney, Kai, and her family. I wanted the sexual tension to be a notch or two higher, but it was there as well. If you enjoy contemporary romances then ALOHA ROSE is a book you’ll want to read. It will warm your heart in more ways than the Hawaiian sunshine.  

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Meet the author: Lisa Carter has been published in MomSense andChristian Parenting Today. Lisa is currently teaching music at a preschool and enjoying the enthusiasm and joy for life for which preschoolers are famous. She and David have two beautiful daughters.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christmas at Harmony Hill

Author: Ann H. Gabhart
Publisher: Revell
September 2013
ISBN: 978-0800719821
Genre: Historical Christmas

A stirring story of healing, hope, and home at Christmas

It is 1864 and the nation is torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child. With her husband at the front and nowhere else to turn, she seeks refuge in the Shaker village of Harmony Hill. Amid the tumult of the times, Heather yearns for the peace she sees in this strange community. But can this longing really be fulfilled amid these people with their peculiar beliefs about family?

As Christmas approaches, the joy of new life and the love that is born of forgiveness may hold the answer.

CHRISTMAS AT HARMONY HILL is set half on the battlefields of the south, and half in a Shaker Village. Heather married a Union soldier, going against her father’s wishes, especially after Heather’s brother signed up to fight with the southern army. With the family torn asunder, the father disowned his oldest daughter since she married the enemy. With nowhere to go, Heather trailed the Union soldiers as a washerwoman to be near her husband until time was near for the birth of her baby. Gideon didn’t want his child born on a battlefield.

Heather heads home to her mom, but finds she will have no refuge at home. Her mom left her a letter telling her to go to the Shaker Village and find her great aunt. Heather does so, but finds the Shakers not at all what she expects. Will trials and battles both for Gideon and Heather, will there be a happy ending for Christmas?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading CHRISTMAS AT HARMONY HILL and if you like historical stories, then you won’t want to miss this book. So far this has been the best of all the Christmas stories I read this season. This book would make a wonderful gift for the historical reader on your Christmas list—or for yourself. $15.99 hardcover. 9.99 kindle. 208 pages. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Simple Christmas Wish

Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
September 2013
ISBN: 978-0800719654
Genre: Christmas / Amish

Rachel Milligan is caring for her seven-year-old niece, Holly, at her home in Chicago when she receives devastating news: Holly's parents have been killed in a plane crash. Because Rachel is Holly's only known relative, she assumes that she will be her beloved niece's guardian. However, custody is awarded to Lydia, a distant aunt who happens to be Amish.

Just a week before Christmas, Rachel takes Holly to the Amish community in the hopes of persuading Aunt Lydia to relinquish custody. Instead, Lydia sets out to teach Holly to live according to the Amish way. As family secrets emerge and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs.

Combining an Amish family saga with the anticipation of Christmas cheer and the promise of a budding romance, this newest Christmas story from beloved author Melody Carlson is sure to please.

A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH is Ms. Carlson’s newest Christmas book. I look forward to her Christmas novellas every year. This story combines Christmas, English and Amish in a story that is sad at times, but wonderful to see Christmas and living with Amish through the eyes of the child.

Ms. Carlson’s stories that I’ve read this year seem to be more told than shown, so there is a distance between the reader and the story. I would have loved to see more of the budding romance in A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH, but the promise of one was nice.

If you are looking for a new Christmas book, then A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH is one to consider. $15.99 hardcover. $8.76 kindle. 176 pages. 4.5 stars. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Christmas Quilt

Enter Today | 11/15 - 11/30!
Quilts of love vannetta chapman lisa carter
Author: Vannetta Chapman
Publisher: Abingdon Press
October 2013
ISBN: 978-1426752773
Genre: Amish / Christmas

Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself taking the buggy to her brother Adam’s home.

Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

THE CHRISTMAS QUILT is part of Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series, yet it is a sequel to Ms. Chapman’s first Amish novel with Abingdon, A Simple Amish Christmas. It was nice to catch up with the characters in that first book.

Both Annie and Leah are expecting babies – Leah, twins. But when an unhappy sister-in-law, marital problems between Leah and Adam, and other issues to deal with, the weeks following Thanksgiving are anything but peaceful. Instead, family strife rules, emotions erupt, and everything is harder than it needs to be.

I did enjoy reading THE CHRISTMAS QUILT,  it was a sweet Amish Christmas story. Discussion questions are included at the end of the book. $12.99. 256 pages.

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Meet the author: Vannetta Chapman has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

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Just for the Summer: (A Fun Swapped Roles Contemporary Clean Romance Novel)

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