Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Found In You by Emily Seay

It's been a super hectic season.  There are multiple activities going on, extra commitments, and the kids seem to be flying around on a sugar buzz despite the fact that I'm not giving them anything out of the ordinary.  We needed some things to calm us down.

When I look for something calming for everyone to enjoy I reach for some music.  I wanted something a little different that didn't involve a red nosed reindeer or snow (we live in Virginia, it's 70 degrees and I feel like I'm being mocked by old man winter).

So when a FB friend's daughter put out a new CD I took a chance and went to ITunes to pick up a copy.
It's a new album and small.  There are only six songs, but it's well worth it to consider purchasing it. 

Emily is a new artist but she isn't new to singing and songwriting.  She comes from a very talented family and the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree.  I had two cranky and fussy kids on the start of the car ride, I popped in the CD and in a few minutes they had fallen under her musical spell.  To learn more about Emily's journey and about her click here

The songs themselves are lovely.  Not just because they quiet down overstimulated kids but because of the message they convey.  They are full of beauty, promise and praise.  To hear one of these songs click here

My personal favorite is Come Unto Me.  During these seasons of changes it is good to be reminded of the One who is always there for us and that He is holding us in the palm of His mighty hand.  I needed that reminder.  

I'm very excited to be following Ms. Seay's journey and can't wait to see what she plans on doing next.  So download your copy from Itunes or CDBaby and enjoy some beautiful and uplifting music! Happy Listening!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Titus Returns by Amy Lillard (Wells Landing book 5)

What's better than a good book?  It's a good book in a series that you get to go back to and visit again!  I just can't get enough of Wells Landing.  I love a good series and Amy Lillard knocks another one out of the park with book five.


From the back: In Wells Landing, Oklahoma’s warm and welcoming Amish community, there’s always hope for a new beginning—and a second chance…

Five tumultuous years have changed Titus Lambert in every way. Back then, Titus was preparing to marry his longtime sweetheart, Mandy Yoder. Then came the unthinkable—a tragic car wreck that left Titus serving time for vehicular manslaughter.

Titus isn’t sure he belongs in this peaceful place anymore, but he must make amends. When he goes to visit the Kings, whose son, Alvin, died that terrible night, he’s shocked to see that their farm has fallen into disrepair. Alvin’s sister, Abbie, resents Titus’s reappearance, but there’s no denying she needs his help. Honest toil—and their evolving friendship—slowly help his soul to heal. But with his feelings for Mandy still strong, Titus must choose between two very different futures, and find the strength and faith to claim the surprising gift of a fresh start.

Wow.  Just wow.  This series gets better and better with every book.  Amy brings her characters to life and you become immersed in the story.  Titus is a really strong personality and even though he's Amish Amy shows that even the Amish have to grapple with the same issues we face.  He feels as though he doesn't belong in either world and can't forgive himself for the damage that was done.  

From despair to hope and the promise of a fresh beginning, this is a great coming home novel.  It will grab you by the heart and engage you from the start.  So pick up your copy and find out if Titus can give himself the fresh start he desperately needs!  Happy Reading! 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Amish Christmas Kitchen by Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand, and Lisa Jones Baker


To purchase your copy click here.

Merry Christmas everyone!!  I hope that you are enjoying a wonderful day.  We have been up since before dawn and the kids and dog have wrapping paper everywhere and we will be sitting down to a nice big turkey dinner if we aren't too full from eating cookies and candy.  I love to cook and the kitchen really is the heart of our home (and the reason I will never be a size two). 


This Celebrate Lit tour takes us on some yummy stops!  While there are three really "gut" Christmas stories in this book and you will want to take some time to read Baking Love on Ice Mountain and The Special Christmas Cookie this tour focuses on The Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand.  Like the yummy center in my cookies this gem is sandwiched in the middle. 

From the back: When shy Katie Rose Gingerich’s dat sends her to Huckleberry Hill to secure a marriage proposal, she never expects to long for carefree Titus Helmuth—or to hope that he might want to spend every Christmas with her . . .

This is my first Jennifer Beckstrand book and it won't be my last.  This story sparkled with humor! Anna and Felty were wonderful and kept me in stitches wondering what they would be up to next. From matchmaking to Christmas goats (yes goats) you never knew what they would do next. Titus and Katie were beautiful characters and I loved to watch the way their relationship developed through the story.  Adam..... well, he was a jerk.  But he was the reason Katie was sent to Huckleberry Hill away from her family.  So who will win Katie's heart and hand?  Will Christmas goats become a new tradition?  Pull up a chair in your kitchen and maybe have a piece of Chocolate Wonder as you dive into this humorous and endearing story. 

Pick up your copy of The Amish Christmas Kitchen and make sure you enter the giveaway to win a copy of Huckleberry Christmas!   Merry Christmas and Happy Reading from our family to yours!  

Giveaway
To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away three copies of Huckleberry Christmas. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway! Enter here.

About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014.

Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and four adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Guest Post from Jennifer Beckstrand

What do you get when you combine Anna and Felty’s earnest grandson, Titus, with a pretty girl who’s practically engaged to someone else, a sleigh full of Christmas bakery orders, and two mischievous Christmas goats?

A wild, wacky, and wunderbarr Christmas, that’s what.

Anna and Felty Helmuth are determined to make this the most romantic Christmas ever on Huckleberry Hill, but have they bitten off more than they can chew trying to match their slightly scatterbrained grandson Titus with timid Katie Rose Gingerich? Titus tends to be a little thick in the head when it comes to love, and Katie Rose is too shy to open her mouth. It might take every potholder Anna can knit plus a determined goat and a little Christmas magic to bring Titus and Katie Rose together.

Titus would do anything for his Mammi Anna, even eat her very bad cooking and learn how to knit, but why does he have to be the one to care for Mammi’s new goat? Goats give him the willies. But when Titus meets the pretty girl staying with his grandparents for Christmas, he doesn’t mind the goat so much. The more he sees of Katie Rose’s gentle ways and loving spirit, the more he wishes he were the kind of boy she would bake a pie for. Can he convince her to love him without offending her boyfriend? And will Mammi notice if he gets rid of her goat?

After I wrote Huckleberry Hearts, I just knew there had to be someone special out there for Titus Helmuth, Anna and Felty’s lovable grandson. Christmas is the perfect setting for “A Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill” because Titus is one character who seems to have the spirit of Christmas in his heart all year long. When Katie Rose is homesick, Titus does his best to make her feel welcome and comfortable on Huckleberry Hill. He delivers her Christmas goodies, writes poetry for her, and sings Christmas songs. When he finally realizes he loves her, he’s going to have to use both Christmas goats and every trick in the book to convince her to marry him. It’s a fun, heartwarming, wonderful-gute Christmas romance.

“A Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill” is in The Amish Christmas Kitchen novella collection, and it will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Blog Stops

December 15: Daysong Reflections

December 15: cherylbbookblog

December 16: Karen Sue Hadley

December 16: Jeanette’s Thoughts

December 17: Quiet Quilter

December 17: Moments Dipped in Ink

December 18: The Power of Words

December 18:  A Greater Yes

December 19: Christian Bookaholic

December 19: Lighthouse Academy

December 20: Neverending Stories

December 20: D’S QUILTS AND BOOKS

December 21: Reading Is My SuperPower

December 21: Autism Mom

December 22: Bigreadersite

December 22: Splashes of Joy

December 23: Blossoms and Blessings

December 24: A Baker’s Perspective

December 25: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

December 26: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

December 26: Southern Gal Loves to Read

December 27: Bibliophile Reviews

December 27: Donna’s BookShelf

December 28: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

Saturday, December 17, 2016

An Amish Family Christmas: A Charmed Amish Life Christmas Novel (Book 4) by Shelley Shepard Gray

It's getting to be my favorite season in Virginia, winter!  The temperatures are dropping, Jack Frost makes patterns on my car, baking goes into full gear over here, and I wait for the first snowfall of the season.

I have to abandon my front porch swing but I just cozy up to my fireplace in my favorite armchair with a hot cup of tea and grab a book or two (or more).  My stack was growing so I had plenty to choose from.

My son gifted me a bunch of lovely books for my birthday and I was excited to see this beauty in the pile!
My son picked it out because he know I liked snow and "those people who have horses and buggies". He did a pretty good job.  This is book four in the Charmed Life Amish Series and the first book I've read in it.  

From the back: In Shelley Shepard Gray’s fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles—and love. 

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true…

Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually…perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together…in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.

This was a "gut" read!  I was a little leery about starting out with book four but this was a fantastic stand alone.  It also takes a different path than your traditional Amish book, something that I really appreciate.  

Levi is overcome with grief and hides a part of himself away.  You can feel his pain in the story.  Julia is on the run from a real creep.  She's changed her identity to protect herself and her little girl Penny. Like Levi, she has a great deal of pain inside of her.  Will Julia and Levi be able to leave the past behind and focus on what God wants for their future?  

This was a very emotional read.  The characters were really well written and Shelly Shepard Gray showed that even the Amish face problems.  It's a truly lovely story that has a fantastic ending that you don't want to miss (I'm not telling;) ).  The only regret I had was that I didn't read the other books first, but I plan on correcting that problem.  

So pick up your copy of An Amish Family Christmas and enjoy a wonderful Christmas story!  Happy Reading!  




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Cherished Quilt by Amy Clipston

Do you ever have a really great series?  One whose characters you come to love and just can't wait for the next installment?

This has been that series for me.  I have enjoyed every book more than the last one.  Amy Clipston does a fantastic job and every book gets better.  From the back: Tragedy tore Christopher’s world apart. But Emily believes there are enough pieces left behind to stitch together a beautiful new beginning.

Emily Fisher is eager to meet the new employee at her father’s shop in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. But when Christopher Hochstetler arrives, his cold demeanor freezes her attempts at building a friendship.

Longing for a fresh start, Christopher travels from Ohio to Bird-in-Hand to work at his uncle’s shop. Christopher’s heart is still wounded from memories of home, and making new friends is the last thing on his mind—he knows the pain that comes with losing those you love. When Emily is kind to him, he tries to remain distant, but he soon finds himself stealing glances at her throughout the day.

When Christopher shares his tragic reasons for leaving home, Emily decides to make a quilt for him as a gesture of their friendship. Even though he is not a member of the church, she’s found someone with whom she can imagine a future. The two are quickly falling in love when a family emergency calls Christopher back to Ohio without warning.

Emily finishes the quilt, in spite of her pain. But when Christopher receives it, will he have the courage to follow his heart? 

Amy Clipston's books get better and better.  She is really coming into her element as a writer and I enjoy each new book that she comes out with.  This book was filled with intense emotions and great characters. Emily and Chris are my favorite couple that Amy has done.  Their relationship starts out awkward and develops so beautifully as the story unfolds.  

The other supporting characters in the book were wonderful as well and we got to still keep up with the other sisters in the series but Emily was the shining star.  This was a hard book to put down and of course I STILL have NO IDEA what is in the chest so I'm just going to be left hanging until the last book!  

So if you are looking for a fantastic read pick up The Cherished Quilt and slip into a great story! Happy Reading!  


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection by Cynthia Hickey, Gina Welborn, Jennifer AILee, Angela Breidenbach, Darlene Franklin, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Amber Stockton, Niki Turner, Becca Whitham

I really love stepping back in time to take a peep into a different era.  I recently had a chance to go back in time and visit one of my favorite spots, the fair!  With the help of nine great authors there was so much to see and learn!
The Blue Ribbon Brides is another fantastic collection of great stories from Barbour.  From the back: 
Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man?

First, the book is just gorgeous!  You know sometimes you get a book that you just want to have out on display because it's just beautiful to look at?  This is one of those books!  The cover artwork is lovely, inside the cover is this stunning picture of a pie that makes you hungry to look at, and the pages look like they are individually hand torn for a fancy touch instead of a straight cut.  I just thought it was fantastic to look at.  

There are also nine really great stories in the book and every author brought their unique spin to fairs. From quilting to butter sculpting, ballooning to auto polo, farming and food you can find it all at the fair!  Each story had a great cast of characters and really nice story lines but a couple stood out for me and I wanted to give them a special shout. 

In Requilted With Love by Carrie Fancett Pagels:  Michigan State Fair, 1889.  Mistaken identity leads Grant Bentley to help Sarah Richmond with her quilt display at the state fair.  But when he learns that she lost two fiances to accidents, can he dare tell her of his job of a balloonist, or will the revelation of danger cause her to flee from the developing romance? 

From a really good history behind the story to wonderful characters this is the work I've come to expect from Carrie Fancett Pagels.  Sarah's spirit and courage shine through.  Will she trust in God and His rich promises for his children?  Grant was a bit bossy but it was an endearing flaw and added to the depth of his character.  Then you throw in some quirky characters and a surprise ending and you have a fantastic read.  

In Seven Medals and a Bride by Angela Breidenbach: Chicago World Fair, 1893.  With the shortage of women in Montana, Luke Edwards agrees to go to Chicago and manage the mining exhibition all summer with hopes of finding a wife.  But a pretty botanist, who despises the way most mining ruins land, keeps getting in the way of his pursuits. 

This story was just plain fun.  I had a smile on my face through most of the book.  Once again, we have an author who is able to weave history and fiction together so well.  The tension between Luke and Bettina was tangible and you wondered if they would either get together or ring each other's necks!  The matchmaking was sweet and the story had a great ending!  

There are lots of other great stories in the book and each one had their own unique takes yet managed to fit well in this great collection!  So pick up your copy today and come to the fair!  Happy Reading! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Enchanting Rose Teacup and Mug Exchange

So I do a lot of book reviews and while I am enjoying a good book, chances are I'm enjoying a cup of tea right along side of it.  Having lived in New England for many years it's almost a requirement to enjoy a proper cup of tea.

So while I was enjoying my teatime one afternoon a little blurb from an author I enjoy caught me eye.  She participates in a tea cup and mug exchange.  I was so excited, I had to go check it out!

The Enchanting Rose started this fun tradition back in 2013.  It was a huge hit and she now does it twice a year.  I was excited to participate this time around!  It's super easy, you sign up for one or both exchanges (I did teacup only), you can even choose to ship overseas (I stuck to local, but next time I think I'm going to try overseas for something new!).  You fill out some preferences and voila! You are matched to a "tea buddy".  You can also be a coffee drinker (I can't have it, but I know not everyone loves tea).

This was fun.  I had a blast packing special gifts for my pal.  The lovely woman who got my name, Teri Schultz, went above and beyond in finding special gifts.




These items were all beautiful and she included a personal story with why she chose each one, which made them all the more special.  I loved all the them.  I collect teacups and teapots so this was a super special gift.  Plus tea tastes better in beautiful cups!  

So if you would love something fun to do and would like to be a part of the next exchange (March or April 2017) follow this link to The Enchanting Rose blog.  While you are there take time to look around.  It's a beautiful blog.  Happy tea drinking!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall and Giveaway

I am a big fan of series books and when they are by one of my favorite writers and you throw in some serious heart thumping scenes with a swoon worthy hero.  So when I had a chance to be a part of the blog tour I jumped on it!

Dawn Crandall brings another amazing story to life in the Everstone Chronicles.  From the back: Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents' New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks but when Violet's own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries. In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance&, Vance Everstone.

As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU.

With danger stalking her and a new fiancé who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust, and who to leave behind.

A mark of a good writer is when you think they are going to path a but then surprise you and you are suddenly on path b.  Dawn Crandall leads me on a merry chase every time in her stories.  The only thing I can predict is that I will be wrong, ha! 

Every book of hers gets better and better.  I find myself burning dinner, forgetting laundry, and when my daughter's developmental ped walked in the room I asked her to just let me finish "this last paragraph". Luckily, she has a good sense of humor (and is also a fan of the books)!  

With a beautiful and rich message of God's redeeming love and forgiveness, lifelike characters that jump off the page, kissing scenes that were amazing while still keeping it clean, and a dash of mystery you will find yourself enjoying this fourth installment.  

To make things even better we have a giveaway going on!  Enter here!
Pick up your copy of The Cautious Maiden and get ready for a wonderful read!  Happy Reading!

Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles, which currently consists of: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart and The Captive Imposter. The Cautious Maiden is her fourth book. 

Apart from writing, Dawn is also a mom of two little ones and serves with her husband in a premarital mentorship program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn't begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream. It didn't take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. 

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and an associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter. She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Sound of Silver Birthday Blog Tour and Giveaway!

A few weeks ago I discovered I have email filters on my Facebook page.  Ummmm, where have I been?  Anyway, I'm glad I figured it out because I might have missed a silver opportunity!  I was invited to be a part of The Sound of Silver birthday blog tour.  There is also a great giveaway so stick around!

The Sound of Silver is the second in the Steadfast Love Series Books.  From the back:  The stalwart saint, fighting for faith...and the redeemed rebel, fighting for honor.

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile--and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Now truly orphaned yet not alone, Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Dirk's quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth's searching hearts ever sing the same song?

This book is set in the medieval/renaissance era.  I will say I didn't read the first one, and I'm really sorry I didn't before I started this.  Even though I was able to quickly pick up on the story personally I feel like I missed something.  I'll be heading back to pick up the first book, but if you haven't read any of this series start at the beginning!

Other than the feeling of something missing once I slipped into the author's world I was transported to another place.  Rachelle Rea has an amazing attention to detail and really makes the time period shine.  I loved the way the words and phrases worked with the time period, yet were easy to understand for the reader.

The characters also were well thought out and had life and depth.  The romance was beautiful and the struggles they went through made the characters more realistic.  You can't have a good love story without struggles along the way.  Faith plays a huge part in the book, but it never comes across as being overly preachy.

There are some great twists and turns and I will also need to read the third book ( The Sound of Emeralds) to see what happens next!  So pick up your copy and sign up for the giveaway below! Happy Reading!
Enter here to win a beautiful necklace created by Baubles, Beads, and Stuff and your choice of any one of Rachelle’s three books (the series begins in Book One, of course, but in case you have one or two of her books already, Rachelle will gladly send you the next one to read!).

International friends, the paperback & necklace giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do still enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive an e-book.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wrapped in God's Grace by Barbara Bras

To purchase your copy click here

I'm on tour with Celebrate Lit again!  I was so super excited to have a chance to read another book by Barbara Bras that I jumped at the chance to sign up for this one!  

This time we take a step away from fiction and discover an amazing life.  

About the book:   The crushing pain of seven years of unanswered prayer for a child. A miraculous adoption story, followed by unforeseen challenges and heartbreak.

Barbara Bras begins her memoir by sharing God’s answer to her prayers and the difficult times that followed. Although God does not provide an easy fix, the intricacies of God’s plans reveal themselves to her, and she relives her life in a new light.

Bras then recounts the stories of her grandfather Arshag and her grandmother Gulle, survivors of the atrocities of Armenia in 1915. Arshag, sent to South America for his protection, returns as a soldier of the Armenian Legion to fight for his country. Gulle is the only member of her family to survive the death march into the desert. Through God’s grace they find each other, marry and move to America in 1921. Bras is their first grandchild.

The final section of the memoir follows Bras as she marries and moves to Hawaii, only to return as a single mother to teach school in a small town. It is there she finally realizes that God has provided her with protection and direction. Bras discovers that once we truly surrender our will to God, His plan always produces blessings beyond our wildest dreams!

I'll be honest, I'm not a huge memoir reader.  If I had not been blown away from her last book I had read I may have skipped this one.  I'm so glad I didn't!  The story drew me in right from the beginning.

This is three stories woven into one book.  It takes a lot of talent to pull off and have the stories weave into each other without being choppy.  The stories came together beautifully. Barbara shares her life and her family's life.  She doesn't shy away from writing about the hard times.  In every story you saw how God's love, grace, and mercy were present.

I was especially drawn to the adoption story.  Having struggled years before our prayers for adoption were answered and then adopting two special needs children I felt a very similar and personal connection to Barbara's struggles and triumphs.

So pick up your copy today!  And be sure to enter the giveaway!  It's for a $100 Amazon gift card. Think of all the books you can buy with that!  Follow us on the blog tour as well.  Happy Reading!
Enter the Giveaway here

About the Author


In 2015, Barbara Bras left her career to pursue her dream of serving God. She believed that her first step would be to share the amazing ways God had blessed her. As she wrote of her son’s miraculous adoption and the challenging years that followed, it led to the rediscovery of her entire life, including the history of her grandparents’ remarkable survival in Armenia and her search for purpose and love. Her memoir led to her first novel, which she hopes readers will find engaging and memorable.



Guest Post from Barbara Bras

An Unanswered Prayer

I struggled for many years with one unanswered prayer. It was my “go to” request every time I came before the Lord.

Convinced that with God nothing is impossible, I also knew that the Lord may say “Not now” many times, even before he says no. I acknowledged that the Lord probably had a much bigger and better plan in mind for me, but none of that offered any comfort. As I struggled year after year with my unanswered prayer I found more questions than answers.

Was I fooling myself and ignoring God’s “No”? Could my lack of faith be the reason I couldn’t hear the Lord? And if not now, then when dear Lord?

Then I discovered that the Lord said “Not now.” because he had a miracle waiting for me, more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Like Hannah, God finally answered my prayer for a child. And through that miracle I learned that surrendering my will to God allows Him to bless me beyond my human understanding.

To my further surprise, I discovered that the miracle didn’t mean the end of the story. Experiencing a miraculous adoption didn’t come with a guarantee or a promise that the rest of my life would be free of heartache.

After all of those years of unanswered prayer, I found myself back on my knees with a new daily prayer request. The Lord had something else to teach me through this new struggle, a lesson that took me another fifteen years to learn.

Not only did those fifteen years lead me right back to where I started, surrendering my human will to His and trusting in His greater plan, but it convinced me that the Lord wanted me to share my story.

Wrapped in God’s Grace, a Life Rediscovered begins with my unanswered prayer for a child, but as I wrote it, God’s plan for me became clear. The second section of the book recreates the events surrounding the survival of my grandparents through the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Their immigration to America in 1921 led to my existence. The book closes with the Lord blessing me with a loving husband in spite of the many missteps I made directing my own life. A reviewer found this nonlinear sequence of events unusual, and I am fine with that, since that’s how the book unfolded before me.

Captured by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, I now view my writing as a tribute first to the God who comforts and strengthens all of us in hardships and trials, and second as my mission to encourage others.

A photo gallery for Wrapped in God’s Grace, a Life Rediscovered can be found on my website AuthorB.Bras.com. Click here to view the Photo Gallery. 

Blog Stops

October 11: Bibliophile Reviews
October 13: Eat, Read Teach, Blog
October 14: Book Love
October 15: A Greater Yes
October 16: Carpe Diem
October 18: Pause for Tales
October 19: A Reader’s Brain
October 20: Bigreadersite
October 22: Mary Hake
October 22: Simple Harvest Reads (Spotlight)
October 23: Christian Bookaholic

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Honeybee Sister's Cookbook by Jennifer Beckstrand


To purchase click here

I have a secret obsession.  I love cookbooks.  I have lots of cookbooks in my home.  When my son and I were diagnosed with IBS and food allergies my world tilted.  Food that we used to love wasn't good for us.  Then we both began a FODMAP diet.  So for a long time I shoved the cookbooks I had in drawers because I couldn't look at them.  

But that began to change about eight months ago.  Slowly my son and I are venturing and testing what foods and combinations we can have again.  Watching him feel bad because he couldn't have a simple cupcake spurred me into action and on a mission.  I wanted food to become an enjoyable thing for both of us.  So out came the cookbooks and I began modifying foods for both of us.  

When I saw that a cookbook was going to be a Celebrate Lit tour I jumped at the chance to hop on board and see what goodies I could make for our family!  

About the Book:

A collection of delicious honey recipes from the Honeybee Sisters book series, featuring quotes and recipes from Sweet as Honey, A Bee in her Bonnet, and Like a Bee to Honey–Amish romances by Jennifer Beckstrand.

Lily, Poppy, and Rose Christner, known as the Honeybee Sisters in their Amish community, are smart, inseparable, and all grown up. Orphaned when they were very young, the girls were raised by their eccentric Aunt Bitsy, who doesn’t behave like a proper Amish spinster. The Honeybee Sisters have blossomed into rare beauties, and the boys in the community have begun to take notice. But Aunt Bitsy is determined to scare off all comers with her brusque manner and her handy shotgun. None but the most worthy will make it past Bitsy’s defenses. It’s going to be a rowdy and romantic summer–harvesting honey from their many beehives and fighting off the boys right and left.

Note from Aunt Bitsy: When my girls told me they wanted to write a cookbook, I wasn’t too keen on the idea. Food attracts boys like honey attracts bees. I warned them that if they didn’t want the boys hanging around the house, they shouldn’t make the cakes and pies and cookies that are sure to bring them running. My nieces didn’t seem to be alarmed about the prospect of boys all over the place, so I suppose they’ll have to learn the hard way.

My problem is that smart, feisty, pretty girls attract boys even better than honey does. So even if my girls stopped cooking altogether, I have a sneaking suspicion that the boys would still find excuses to come over.

Some of the recipes in this book, like Honey Glazed Pretzels and Whole Wheat Bread, are very traditional Amish dishes. Others, like Salmon Tacos and Coconut Lime Chicken, are less traditional but still wunderbarr. I lived as an Englischer for twenty years before coming back to the Amish to raise my three nieces, and as a dental hygienist, I collected a lot of recipes.

Here’s my final warning: Boys are like stray cats. If you feed them, they’ll keep coming back. Buy this cookbook at your own risk.

So this was a fun cookbook!  If you have read The Honeybee Sister books you will find snippets from the stories you may recognize.  They added some extra fun to the cookbook.  The recipes were easy to follow, and most exciting for us, easy to modify to our eating.

The neat part was there were lots of different kinds of recipes.  After looking through the book with my son he decided on Salmon Tacos with Pineapple Salsa.  In fact, he took charge and made a lot of it himself.  He even took a picture.
These were a huge hit.  The recipe said it makes 12 servings, but if you have a hungry boy it might make a little less:)!

I would recommend this book for a couple of reasons.  The first is the food is really good and the second is a big thing for people with food allergies.  The recipes are easy to modify.  Not all cookbooks are easy to convert to allergy friendly and have good results.  This book hits the mark!

There is also a giveaway!
One lucky person will win a copy of the Honeybee Sisters Series.  To enter click here.  

So pick up your copy today!  Happy Reading and Eating!!

About the Author


Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in Examiner.com list of top ten inspirational books for 2014.

Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and four adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Guest Post from Jennifer Beckstrand

Nothing brings family and friends together like a home-cooked meal. When I think of Amish food and cooking, I think of the way my mother used to cook and the way her mother cooked before her.

Both my parents grew up on farms, and hard work was a way of life. So were homemade meals and food that stuck to your ribs and gave you fuel for a hard day’s work in the fields. Cooking was more of an art than a burden, a way to sustain life, but also a labor of love for your family, day in and day out.

I joke with my husband that I have forgotten how to cook now that we’re empty nesters and I’d rather eat cold cereal that fire up the stove, but creating a nutritious meal for my family or baking a delicious dessert still brings me satisfaction and is a gift of the heart to my loved ones.

The Honeybee Sisters Cookbook began to take shape when I came up with the idea for a series about three sisters who keep bees and make delicious honey treats. In the Honeybee Sisters Cookbook, you’ll find some traditional Amish favorites as well as some not-so-Amish dishes—recipes that Aendi Bitsy collected from her years living with the Englisch. The pages are filled with mouth-watering photos, and I’ve included quotes from the Honeybee Sisters books. I hope you enjoy trying out the recipes as much as we enjoyed creating them for you.

My father in-law, who was also raised on a farm, passed away very recently. His mother made him a bowl of oatmeal every morning, which he hated, and it would be waiting for him after school if he didn’t eat it at breakfast. In honor of him, I would like to share a rhubarb recipe. Rhubarb was one of his favorite treats.

This recipe is authentically Amish from my friend Priscilla Stoltzfus in Pennsylvania.

Rhubarb Upside-down Cake

Mix together:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 cups rhubarb, diced

Pour rhubarb mixture into an 8×8 pan.



Mix together:

¼ cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1 egg

Add:

2 cups flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

Pour the flour mixture over rhubarb mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Turn upside-down on a plate to serve. Serve warm, if you wish.

Blog Stops

September 20: Smiling Book Reviews
September 20: Book Babble
September 22: Reading Is My SuperPower
September 23: Artistic Nobody
September 24: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 25: Bibliophile Reviews
September 26: Simple Harvest Reads
September 27: A Baker’s Perspective
September 28: Blogging With Carol
September 29: Bukwurmzzz
September 29: Donna’s BookShelf
September 30: Through the Open Window
September 30: cherylbbookblog
October 3: Quiet Quilter

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fun-schooling with Minecraft by Sarah Janisse Brown, Isaac Brown, and Tolik Trishkin

There is a curriculum for everything out there.  Yes, there is.

Today I'm handing my blog over to my nine year old son.  I was going to write a review for an amazing new curriculum for Minecraft fans but I was told that I could not do proper justice to it.  So without further ado, here is my nine year old son Marvin.

My name is Marvin.  I'm nine years old and Minecraft is my favorite game!!  I would play it all the time but I have to do chores and stuff.

I home school.  That means I go to school at home and can wear PJs all day long.  Except when I have to go out.  Then I wear my cowboy boots.

I used to go to regular school.  But it was hard.  Letters and numbers looked funny.  Everyone else could learn but I couldn't.  I felt dumb.  I would come home angry a lot.  Before I lived with my mom I lived with another family.  I have something called Shaken Baby Syndrome.  Mom also took me to some doctors who tested me for learning stuff.  It was boring but mom says she learned a lot.  The doctor said I should have some fancy word (mom says it's called modifications).  But the school still wouldn't do what mom said.  Boy did that make her mad.  But I was just sad all of the time.

Then one day mom said I have something new to try.  It was my first book by The Thinking Tree.  It was so much fun!!  I loved it.  But then I finished it.  Then mom found this book for me!!  MINECRAFT!!!!

This book is so awesome!!  It is written with special letters that make it easier for me to read.  I get to learn about lots of neat things.  I am studying China.  I have made the Great Wall in my Minecraft world.  It is my new favorite country.

I also get to watch documentaries.  I watch How It's Made.  I like learning how things are made.  I have seen almost everything get made.

I read neat books too.  Some times I listen to them on tape, but I like reading.  I didn't like reading before these books but now I want to read everyday.  I like it when mom sits down and we all read together.  My little sister is blind so we read out loud a lot so she can have books to.

I also get to write things.  It sometimes takes me longer but that's OK.  I wrote all about a day in the life of a modern miner.  Mom was surprised with how much I knew.

My favorite part is that I get to play Minecraft EVERY DAY!!!  I take the things I learn and put them in my worlds.  I have cool things all over.

I love this book.  I can learn.  I can do things and I feel smarter now.  Thank you for making this book for kids like me.  I'm going to see if I can play Minecraft now.

Marvin

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Worth Forgiving by Janet K. Brown

This summer I have tried to make it a point to discover some new writers.  Sometimes, good luck smiles and in this case a writer found me.  I was asked to read a brand new, not released book! SQEEEE!!!!!!  So I pretended to be cool about it (which I am pretty sure I failed miserably at) and agreed to read the book.


This is book 2 in The Wharton Rock Series.  From the back:  Can prejudice and mistrust threaten an ex-con drug addict's new beginning?

After spending three years in a Texas prison on drug charges, Katie Smith is released to rebuild her life. Full of optimism, she sets out to get a job, rent her own place, and make a home for her eight-year-old daughter, whom she had to give away. She could use a friend, but her past choices threaten to doom her to continued failure.

Larry Pullman graduated from seminary with high marks, but the fact that he has no wife makes finding a preaching job almost impossible. It doesn't help that running from God as a teenager gave him a past that he can't undo. He sure doesn't need an ex-con drug addict messing up his life, but then why did God lead him to her? Or did He?

Now Lacey Chandler has to cope with her ex-con sister too. Isn't it enough that she gave her niece a home? Does that mean she has to clean up Katie's messes forever? Why is forgiving such a burden?

Could it be Katie's not Worth Forgiving?

This book focus is on the youngest sister, Katie.  I always worry a little bit about coming into the middle of the series.  Sometimes you have a hard time following along.  But Janet Brown did an excellent job of filling in the reader on other characters.  So even if you haven't read the first one you can fall right into the story.

Katie was a really well thought out and strong character.  There were some hard things in that happened to her and just as in real life she made mistakes and triumphs.  Katie's relationship with her sister was something that I related to on a personal level.  It struck many chords with me throughout the story.  The characters as a whole were extremely well thought out and well written.

Seeing Larry and Katie's relationship change as the story unfolded was so enjoyable.  At times I found myself bossing the characters in hopes of pushing them together quicker.  The story also had some great twist and turns and surprises that left me guessing what was going to happen next.  What I really enjoyed most about the storyline was that these things could and do really happen in our world as well.  The characters also have to learn to trust in God's plans and timing.

There were also a few things I'd have tweaked.  Without spoiling it, the ending felt a little unfinished. There was such a great build up towards the end, but there were some unanswered questions and it felt a bit rushed.

Overall, it was a great new find and I was so excited to get to read Janet's book.  I plan on going back to Wharton Rock to pick up the first book in the series so I can catch how it began.  So pick up your copy of Worth Forgiving on September 1st and plan on falling in love with some amazing new characters!  Happy Reading!

Janet K. Brown lives in Wichita Falls, Texas with her husband, Charles. Writing became her second career after retirement from medical coding. 

Worth Her Weight will be the author’s debut inspirational women’s fiction, but it makes a perfect companion to her recently released, Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness. Both books encompass her passion for diet, fitness, and God’s Word. Worth Her Weight marks Brown’s third book. Who knew she had a penchant for teens and ghosts? She released her debut novel, an inspirational young adult, Victoria and the Ghost, in July, 2012. 

Janet and her husband love to travel with their RV, visit their three daughters, two sons-in-law and three perfect grandchildren, and work in their church. Find her at http:/ /www.janetkbrown.com on Twitter, @janetkbrowntx , on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Janet-K-Brown-Author/143915285641707