Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Merry Christmas!

http://vimeo.com/17408486May your days be Merry and Bright!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Emily of Deep Valley by Maude Hart Lovelace

"When you read a book as a child it becomes a part of your identity that no other reading in your life does."- From "You've Got Mail" by Nora Ephron

Well, somehow in my childhood reading, Maude Hart Lovelace's books failed to appear.  I used to worry that there were books out there that I wouldn't discover before I died (I was a bit morbid as a child).  But now, I am happy to say, that Harper Perrenial Modern Classics is re-releasing the Deep Valley books just for me. Or those like me whose town library was a bit short on the must- reads for young ladies. And of course the generations of young readers to come who will delight in Maude's loveable characters and heart felt stories.

Emily of Deep Valley is Maude Hart Lovelace's first young adult stand-alone novel.

It follows the Betsy-Tacy novels which take place in the same town of Deep Valley, Minnesota.  The books are based on the author's child-hood experiences and  friends in Mankato, Minnesota.

There is a lovely forward by Mitali Perkins which sets the mood of the story and end notes afterward which give readers who are hungry for more some more tid-bits to ponder as you plan which book by this wonderful author to read next.

Christmas is coming and I highly recommend anything by Maude Hart Lovelace as gifts for those special women in your life.

Other fans include: Anna Quindlen, Meg Cabot, Nora Ephron, Bette Middler and Laura Lippman.

Read on for info on Mitali Perkins' forward and a brief summary of "Emily".
Happy reading!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Emily of Deep Valley
Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (October 12, 2010)
Mitali Perkins


A word from Mitali: Who In The World Is Mitali Perkins?

That's a good question. I've been trying to figure it out myself, spending most of my life crossing borders.

I was born Mitali Bose in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and always tried to live up to my name—which means “friendly” in the Bangla language. I had to! Because my family moved so much, it was the only way I could make new friends.

By the time I was 11, I'd lived in Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York and Mexico before settling in California just in time for middle school. Yep, I was the new kid again, in seventh grade, the year everybody barely makes it through.

My biggest lifeline during those early years was story. Books were my rock, my stability, my safe place as I navigated the border between California suburbia and the Bengali culture of my traditional home.

After studying political science at Stanford and public policy at U.C. Berkeley, I taught in middle school, high school and college. When I began to write fiction, my protagonists were often—not surprisingly—strong female characters trying to bridge different cultures.

Mitali Perkins is the author of several books for young people, including SECRET KEEPER (Random House), MONSOON SUMMER (Random House), RICKSHAW GIRL (Charlesbridge), and the FIRST DAUGHTER books (Dutton).


Often cited as Maud Hart Lovelace’s (of Betsy-Tacy fame) best novel, Emily of Deep Valley is now back in print, with a new foreword by acclaimed young adult author Mitali Perkins and new archival material about the characters’ real lives.

Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can’t leave her grandfather. Emily resigns herself to facing a “lost winter,” but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed...

In addition to her beloved Betsy-Tacy books, Maud Hart Lovelace wrote three more stories set in the fictional town of Deep Valley: Winona’s Pony Cart, Carney’s House Party and Emily of Deep Valley. Longtime fans and new readers alike will be delighted to find the Deep Valley books available again for the first time in many years.

If you would like to browse inside Emily of Deep Valley, go HERE.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Divine Appointments by Charlene Baumbich

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Divine Appointments
WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (September 21, 2010)
Charlene Baumbich


Charlene Ann Baumbich is the author of the previous three books in the Partonville series. A popular speaker, journalist, and author, for several years she has lectured to women’s groups and retreats. Baumbich is also an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Today’s Christian Woman, and numerous other publications. She is the author of six nonfiction books of humor and inspiration.

Charlene says: For over two decades of writing and speaking, my passionate pursuit to entertain and rejuvenate using humor (I love to laugh-especially at myself), uncommon wisdom, and passionate insights has been affirmed through countless calls, letters, and evaluation sheets. A reader recently e-mailed, "There is so much depression and sadness in this world. I applaud you for reminding all of us to treasure the moments in our lives, and for encouraging us to find joy in the little things. What you do helps so many to rise above the heaviness of life and live, and laugh, and face another day, so thanks!!!!" That is exactly why I keep doing what I do.

I am a firm believer in the power of story (short or book-length, funny or insightful, real or fiction, on stage or page) to accomplish my purpose, which is to remind you: Don't Miss Your Life! Whether you're tuning into me live or in print, fasten your seatbelt. I promise you a wild, fun, provocative, heart-warming ride.


Josie Brooks, at the age of 47, thought she was leading an enviable single life. A successful consultant, she calls her own shots, goes where the money is, and never needs to compromise. But her precisely managed world begins to falter during a Chicago contract when an economic downturn, a bleeding heart boss, and the loyalty and kindness between endangered employees ding her coat of armor.

Throw in hot flashes, a dose of loneliness, a peculiar longing for intimacy, an
unquenchable thirst—not to mention a mysterious snow globe with a serene landscape, complete with a flowing river and lush greenery that seems to be beckoning her in—and Josie’s buttoned-up life is on the verge of coming completely undone.

Maybe her solitary existence isn’t as fulfilling as she has convinced herself to believe. It will take a few new friends, a mystical encounter, and an unexpected journey to set Josie on her own path to “right-sizing” and making the life changes that really matter. Filled with laugh-out loud moments and a gentle dash of inspiration, Divine Appointments is another heartwarming charmer from a master storyteller.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Divine Appointments, go HERE.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Lightkeeper's Bride by Colleen Coble

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lightkeeper's Bride
Thomas Nelson (October 19, 2010)
Colleen Coble


Author Colleen Coble’s thirty-five novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers Best, and the 2009 Best Books of Indiana-Fiction award. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.

A word from Colleen: God has been faithful, though the path has not been easy. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. God wouldn’t let me give up, and I like to think the struggle made me stronger. God has given me so much in my life, most importantly my great family, a loving church family at New Life Baptist Church, and my wonderful publishing family at Nelson Books.


A thrilling romantic mystery set in the lush Victorian age.

Central Operator Katie Russell's inquisitive ways have just uncovered her parents' plan for her marriage to wealthy bachelor Bartholomew Foster. Her heart is unmoved, but she knows the match will bring her family status and respectability.

Then Katie overhears a phone conversation that makes her uneasy and asks authorities to investigate. But the caller is nowhere to be found. Mysterious connections arise between the caller and a ship lost at sea.

Against propriety, Katie questions the new lighthouse keeper, Will Jesperson. Then a smallpox epidemic forces their quarantine in his lighthouse. Though of low social status, Will's bravery and kindness remove Katie's suspicion and win her love. Katie and Will together work to solve the mystery of the missing girl and the lost ship as God gives the couple the desire of their hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lightkeeper's Bride, go HERE.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Silent Order
Summerside Press (November 1, 2010)
Melanie Dobson


Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good.

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.


Rural America - 1928. After the murder of his partner, Detective Rollin Wells hides away in an Amish home near Sugarcreek, Ohio, to find out who in the police force is

collaborating with Cleveland’s notorious mob. While Rollin searches for answers to his partner’s death, he befriends an elusive young Amish woman named Katie and her young son. As Rollin learns about Katie’s past, he’s shocked at the secret Katie is hiding - a secret that has haunted Rollin for eight years.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Silent Order, go HERE.

Friday, November 12, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Amy Inspired
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Bethany Pierce


After completing a master's in Creative Writing and working as a visiting instructor at Miami University in Ohio, Bethany Pierce now lives with her husband in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is a  member of the McGuffey Art Center and continues to write. Her first book, Feeling for Bones, was one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2007.


With rejections piling up, she could use just a little inspiration...

Amy Gallagher is an aspiring writer who, after countless rejections, has settled for a career as an English professor in small-town Ohio just to pay the bills. All her dreams suddenly start to unravel as rejections pile up--both from publishers and her boyfriend.

But just as Amy fears her life is stuck in a holding pattern, she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli. She struggles to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as staying true to her faith becomes unexpectedly complicated.

When secrets, tragedy, and poor decisions cause rifts in Amy's relationships, she must come to terms with who she's become, her unrealized aspirations for her life, and the state of her faith. Can she dare to hope that she will find love and fulfillment despite it all?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Amy Inspired, go HERE.

Hatteras Girl (review part deux)

I love the cover of Alice J. Wisler's new book Hatteras Girl.  I long to be that girl on the beach of damp sand, packed down by the tide, contemplating the waves coming in and going back out again.  I've been to many beaches in my life time, starting  with old Cape Cod and the rockier beaches on the Maine coast.  Eventually ending up for a while in Virginia Beach and the Chesapeake Bay area.  I can almost smell the salty air as I sit here at my desk in the mid-west.  My heart's desire is to live in Kennebunkport Maine, where, as a child, I roamed the beach near my Aunt's bed and breakfast called Oak Ledge.  It was wonderful.

I guess what I'm trying to say that there are places that get right into your very blood, right down to the core of your being and come as close to Heaven as we can get on Earth.
Alice Wisler and her book Hatteras Girl takes you to that place.  The place where a young woman named Jackie Donovan's dream lives.  Her desire is to acquire the house of her heart, the Bailey Bed and Breakfast, the place of her happiest childhood memories. Starting with kind and welcoming people, raspberry cream soda and her best friend Minnie.

Now, all grown up, Minnie has a little boy turning six and has lost her husband, the love of her life, to the sea and she and Jackie are sharing an apartment to make ends meet.

The question is, can childhood dreams become reality?  This one will surely take a miracle, and does God really care about dreams? I have asked those questions myself and I am still waiting to see how it will all turn out. Is it ever too late? I wonder.

I love the movie Steel Magnolias, and Hatteras Girl has all the charm and strength that the term inspires, with Alice's trademark- a bit of Asian twist- warmth and humor.

If you have a longing to go to a place in your heart this one will take you there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hatteras Girl by Alice J.Wisler

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hatteras Girl
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Alice Wisler


Alice J. Wisler is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She has been a guest on several radio and TV programs to promote her self-published cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. She graduated  from Eastern Mennonite University and has traveled the country in jobs that minister to people. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina.

Facts about Alice
* Born in Osaka, Japan and lived in Japan for 18 years
* Went to Kyoto International School and Canadian Academy
* Majored in Social Work and graduated in 1983 from Eastern Mennonite University
* Worked at a group home for disadvantaged kids outside of Philadelphia
* Taught English and Culture Orientation at a refugee camp in the Philippines
* Taught English as a Second Language in Japan
* Speaks and teaches on Writing the Heartache
* Has three kids on earth, and one in Heaven
* Recently got married to Carl on 2/7/09  


There are two things twenty-nine-year-old Jackie Donovan asks God for: an honest, wonderful man to marry, and to own a bed-and-breakfast in the Outer Banks region. In the meantime, Jackie works for Lighthouse Views magazine, writing articles about other local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.

There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: the Bailey Place, a fabulous old home where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons, a place that has now fallen into disrepair because of its outrageous price tag.

When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey Place, Jackie is sure God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to question her own motivation. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hatteras Girl, go HERE.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Grace by Shelley Shepard Gray

I love Christmas. I love the sparkle of Christmas lights. I love Christmas magazines and their promise of the most magical Christmas ever. I often end up with three or more glossy Christmas magazines in my check out cart at the grocery store. I can't resist! What if I don't purchase the one with the gorgeous table setting in red and gold and it holds the secret to the most perfect Christmas party??? What then???

Actually,  it's more about the dream of the perfect Christmas (wonderfully executed by yours truly) than the actual achievement of perfection.  I know that Martha Stewart has a staff of highly trained Christmas experts and I don't... but my children are great helpers!

So what do my meandering thoughts about my addiction to all things Christmas have to do with Grace, by Shelley Shepard Gray?  Well, it seems that even the Amish have ideas about what Christmas should look like.  And in spite of some simple plans for a relaxing family Christmas, guests arrive at the Brenneman Family Inn with some very special needs. Needs that will require more than just a warm bed and some good home cooking, although I would like to check in for some of that!  No, what these visitors need is a generous helping of grace to heal broken hearts and spirits.

Shelley Shepard Gray continues her Sisters of the Heart series with this heart warming story of pain and brokenness redeemed at this most wonderful time of the year, reminding us all what it's really all about.  New life.  New beginnings. And yummy food... 

Please read on for information about this wonderful gut Christmas story!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Avon Inspire; Original edition (October 26, 2010)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven.  Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado.  She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children.  When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.


It's Christmastime at the Brenneman Bed & Breakfast, and everyone is excited about closing down for the holiday.

Anna and Henry will be celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple, and for Katie and Jonathan Lundy, it's their first Christmas with baby Stefan. Winnie and Samuel Miller plan to stop by as well for a wonderful two weeks of family and rest.

But when two unexpected visitors show up, hoping to stay for Christmas, the family must test their commitment to hospitality. Levi is a widower who lost his wife four years ago and can't bear the thought of another Christmas alone. And Melody is a young pregnant woman who won't open up about how she ended up on her own at Christmas at almost nine months pregnant.

Anna, who knows a thing or two about keeping secrets, doesn't trust her, and strives to find out the truth about these two strangers who have disrupted their holiday. But as the Christmas spirit descends on them all, as well as snow that traps them in the inn, a healing and hopefulness takes over, allowing new relationships to be built, and the boundaries of family to be extended.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Grace, go HERE.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

When I think of the Puritans, I think Cape Cod and the Massachusetts Bay Colony or Plymouth Rock... But  The Preacher's Bride, a novel about  Puritan people, takes us back to 1659 Bedford England, where it all began, amidst all kinds of persecution.

Author Jody Hedlund recreates a slice of History full of the details that pull you into this time period of religious and social upheaval.  I enjoyed getting to know Elizabeth, the young woman who dares to stand up to the "piously wrong" in the congregation. I was fascinated to learn about some of the superstitious beliefs of the time, such as- an infant could be tainted by the devil if nursed by a woman of an unsavory background.  Obviously, there was no Platex Nurser at the time... and mothers often died in childbirth.

The "preacher" is John Costin, a newly widowed man in great need of help.  He is a tinker by trade and a preacher by calling, and with four children to tend to, what he really needs is a wife.  Elizabeth Whitbread is a devout young woman who has a self image that is much lower than it should be.  She lacks confidence in her own inner and outer beauty.

There are some very bad men in this book, one Mr. Foster in particular who does some really wretched things.

This book is more than a history lesson, and much more than a love story, though there's nothing wrong with either one.  I was reminded of the people who have gone before who managed to live and carry on in spite of conditions that were horrible.  I am thankful for the courage of these characters, who were based on actual historical figures.  I have benefited from their lives.

Thanks Jody, for telling their story.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Preacher's Bride
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
Jody Hedlund


Jody has written novels for the last 16 years (with a hiatus when her children were young. In May of 2009 she double-finaled in the Genesis contest, a national fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW.Shortly after the final, Jody acquired an agent, Rachelle Gardner of Word Serve Literary. Her agent spent the summer of 2009 working on selling her books. In September of that year, Jody signed a three-book deal with Bethany House Publishers. Jody’s debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, releases in Oct. 2010. Her next book will release in 2011 and a third in 2012.


In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family. Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Preacher's Bride, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Season of Miracles by Rusty Whitener

First off,  I thought that A Season of Miracles was a Christmas book.  No, it wasn't misrepresented by the publisher, Kregel, I just assumed...  So when I saw that it was about baseball I wasn't sure if I was up for it, especially after my beloved St. Louis Cardinals performed so poorly this year in spite  their amazing talent.  Ah, baseball...

I stepped out of my comfort zone, which is romance and thrillers, to check it out, feeling a bit proud of myself for doing so.  Well, Rusty had me at page one.  The book has a memoir feel, a middle aged man remembering one season of Little League baseball.  He captured the voice of preadolescent boys, in all of their goofiness and angst, perfectly.  The time when winning is everything, and somehow it's up to them to turn their rag tag gang of Robins into killer baseball players. The characters are unforgettable!

I loved this book and I want everyone I know to read it. I promise you, Moms, Dads, grandparents, friends, coaches. you will be so glad you did.
Soooo....Play ball!!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Season of Miracles
Kregel Publications; Reprint edition (August 3, 2010)
Rusty Whitener


Rusty Whitener is a novelist, screenwriter, and actor. His first screenplay, Touched, won second place at the 2009 Kairos Prize at the Los Angeles Movieguide Awards and first place at the Gideon film festival. That screenplay soon became A Season of Miracles. The movie version of this book is now in production with Elevating Entertainment. Find out more at www.rustywhitener.com and www.aseasonofmiraclesmovie.com. Videos and book club discussion questions are also available at www.aseasonofmiraclesbook.com.


“A Season of Miracles is a must read for anyone who has ever played youth baseball.  I read the book, and was reacquainted with my childhood. In the midst of an enjoyable read that took me down memory lane was a touching, challenging and beautiful story about how God can use the unlikeliest among us to draw us to Him.”—Matt Diaz, outfielder, Atlanta Braves
“Baseball, inspiration and childhood memories—a great combination. I couldn’t put it down!”—Richard Sterban, bass singer for The Oak Ridge Boys
“Rusty Whitener weaves a deft tale of young friendship and the curve balls of faith, the whole story seasoned with sunshine and the leathery scent of baseball gloves!”—Ray Blackston, author of Flabbergasted
A Season of Miracles is a heartwarming all American story of small town boys and Little League baseball. You’ll be cheering this captivating bunch of characters all the way home both in their game of baseball and the bigger game of life.”—Ann Gabhart, award-winning author of The Outsider


Looking back on the 1971 Little League season, Zack Ross relives the summer that changed his life…

Gunning for the championship is all that matters until twelve-year-old Zack meets Rafer, a boy whose differences make him an outcast but whose abilities on the baseball field make him the key to victory.

Admired for his contribution to the team, Rafer turns everyone’s expectations upside down, bestowing a gift to Zack and his teammates that forces them to think—is there more to life than winning or losing? And what is this thing called grace?  

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Season of Miracles, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunstetter

Wanda Brunstetter continues to be a shining star in the Amish fiction genre.  Her gentle style and treatment of the Amish community has introduced so many to the Amish culture, and has captured the imagination of readers everywhere.

Lydia's Charm continues the tradition of good, wholesome fiction.  But don't let the word "wholesome" fool you. Wanda packs a wallop in plot twists, and does not spare her characters pain. Obstacles threaten to overwhelm Lydia and it will require a miracle of love in order for her to bear the tragedies that have visited her and even more to overcome.

Can love conquor all? What will it take to bring healing to Lydia's broken heart?

Read on for more about Wanda Brunstetter and her new book, Lydia's Charm.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Lydia's Charm
Barbour Books (September 1, 2010)
Wanda E. Brunstetter


A Note From Wanda:

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. When I was in the second grade, I wrote my first poem about a moth. Luckily, I received encouragement from my teacher. During my teen years, I wrote skits that my church teen group performed during special holidays.

It wasn’t until 1980, that I took a course on writing for children and teenagers. I became serious about a career as an author. Soon after that, I began to write stories, articles, poems, and devotionals, which appeared in a variety of Christian publications. Later, I had 5 books of puppet/ventriloquist scripts published. *These books are currently available by contacting me. (wanda@wandabrunstetter.com)

My first novel was released by Barbour Publishing’s book club, Heartsong Presents, in Dec. 1997. I have now written nearly fifty books, with over 4 million books in print. Many of the novels I've written are Amish-themed.


Widowed and jobless, Lydia King moves her son and herself to Charm, Ohio, to be close to her mother and help with her grandfather. Menno Troyer, a furniture store owner, is also recently widowed and the father of four energetic boys.

Levi Stutzman, another newcomer to the area, is the only one in his family not handicapped by dwarfism and has dedicated his life to caring for them. As fall colors the countryside, will anonymous gifts left for Lydia bring her hope for a new life and romance, or will another tragedy flood her with infinite despair?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Lydia's Charm, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
While We're Far Apart
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)
Lynn Austin



It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.  


In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother.

Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war.

And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse.

Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.

If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.

Cheryl Comments:

Lynn Austin has created a masterpiece of a novel with While We're Far Apart.  The story takes place during World War II, in Brooklyn and was reminiscent of  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a book which I remember from my childhood and one that has stayed with me for thirty-five years or so...

The characters in While We're Far Apart are all so well drawn that I feel as if I could reach out and touch them, visit with them and share a cup of war-rationed tea, as I watched their lives play out in a drama so warm and so real that I found that I didn't want to leave them or their world.

Who are these characters and are they  so perfect that they can only be admired from a distance like statues on a pedestal?  Far from it! At the start  I wasn't sure that I even liked the protagonist, Penny Goodrich.  At first glance she appeared to be an over-eager mouse of a woman who volunteered to care of Esther and Peter in order to gain the affection of their widowed father, who was serving over in England as a mechanic.  Esther is almost thirteen and is determined to block Penny's every attempt at kindness as she mourns the loss of her mother, and Peter, her younger brother has lost his voice as a result of trauma that today would be referred to as post traumatic stress syndrome.

Oh but keep reading, because this is a story of ugly ducklings turning into swans,  of pain and loss, fear and hoping against all hope that a loving God exists in the universe, and that somehow He still cares in spite of the unspeakable horrors affecting the world and everyone in it.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to read this book and I know that this story will stay with me for a long time.
Share with those you love.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Passion in the Kitchen or The Day I Met the Just Bare Chicken People

A week or so ago I got a call from my friend Heidi, telling me that she took the liberty of signing me up for a cooking class at Dierbergs, our local grocery store. Great, count me in! All I knew was that subject would be chicken. Okay, I can always use some inspiration in the chicken department.

What I love about these cooking classes is that they take into account my generally lazy attitude and eagerness to have other people do the work. Awesomeness (as my daughter Rachael would say).

I also love to see people who know what they are doing cook 4 main courses in about 2 hours.  For real??? Yup. 

Enter Lisa Golden Schroeder from the Just Bare Chicken company. (My husband and I like to call it bare naked chicken because we think it's funny), but don't be confused, it's Just Bare Chicken. 

So anyway, she explained a little bit about the philosophy of the company, how they network with small family farms and actually have a tracking number on each package of chicken, so you know exactly where your food comes from (how cool is that?) Then she got to work.

She started off with Garlic Chicken and Toasted Couscous Salad which she made with orzo pasta.  Lisa made it look so easy and really, it was!  Anyway how can you go wrong with boneless chicken, garlic, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives and greens?  The dressing was made using lemon juice and  

zest, prepared basil pesto, olive oil and white wine or tarragon vinegar... hungry yet?  Lisa followed this show stopper with Korean Barbecued Chicken, Osso Bucco-style Chicken Legs, and Roasted Citrus Chicken with Olives. YUM!!! Oh yes, we got to try everything and it was all terrific.

I was the last one out- no surprise there- and I mentioned that I actually buy their brand- because I'm always on the lookout for better choices, and we got talking... Which led to... an interview on the Just Bare blog.  I also got to share my friend Nancy Doyle's Chicken Piccata recipe!

I hope I tempted you to check out the Just Bare Chicken website and blog, I really enjoyed meeting Lisa Golden Schroeder, a fellow Mom of three growing boys and food expert.  For recipes galore and the interview with yours truly go here: http://www.justbarechicken.com/blog/

Enjoy, and stay healthy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Embers of Love
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)

Tracie Peterson


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels.

She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents.  She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella.  Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max.  She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books


The logging industry in eastern Texas is booming, and Deborah Vandermark plans to assist her family's business now that she's completed college. Unexpectedly, her best friend, Lizzie Decker, accompanies her back home--fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in.

Deborah, the determined matchmaker, puts her sights on uniting her brother and dear friend in a true love match. Deborah soon meets Dr. Christopher Clayton, a much-needed addition to the town. As their lives intersect, Deborah realizes that she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she was trained in.

But when typhoid begins to spread and Lizzie's jilted fiance returns, Deborah wonders if true love can overcome such obstacles...for those dearest to her, and for herself.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Embers of Love, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Snow Day
FaithWords (October 11, 2010)


Billy Coffey


When you’re raised in small-town Virginia by a redneck father and a Mennonite mother, certain things become ingrained. And when you marry a small-town girl and have two small-town kids, all you want to do is pass those ingrained things along.

Like believing the best life is one lived in the country enjoying the pleasures it provides—summer nights beneath the stars, rocking chairs on the front porch, deer grazing in the fields. And believing that no matter how iffy life can get sometimes, there are some things that are eternal and unchanging.

But above all else, believing that in everything there is story waiting to be told.

That’s where I come in.

Billy Coffey was raised on stories. The first ones came on the front porches of relatives, tales laced with local charm and deep meaning. Then came the stories from people like Max Lucado and Robert Fulghum, who write with a charm and deep meaning of their own.

Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you drive by his house, you’ll probably spot him on the front porch. If you do, give him a wave. He’ll wave back.


In this debut novel, Peter is a simple man who lives by a simple truth--a person gains strength by leaning on his constants. To him, those constants are the factory where he works, the family he loves, and the God who sustains him. But when news of job cuts comes against the backdrop of an unexpected snowstorm, his life becomes filled with far more doubts than certainties.

With humor and a gift for storytelling, Billy Coffey brings you along as he spends his snow day encountering family, friends, and strangers of his small Virginia town. All have had their own battles with life's storms. Some have found redemption. Others are still seeking it. But each one offers a piece to the puzzle of why we must sometimes suffer loss, and each one will help Peter find a greater truth--our lives are made beautiful not by our big moments, but our little ones. (2010)

To read an excerpt from Snow Day, go HERE.

Some thoughts about Snow Day:

You are invited to spend one very important day in the life of Peter Boyd,  young husband and father, as he takes a personal snow day.  You will explore some deep truths about the meaning of life and travel down roads that will take you to ordinary places and see everyday occurrences in a new light, shining clean and fresh on the new-fallen snow.

Author Billy Coffey's characters are well drawn, so much so that you feel that if you visited this little Virginia town and went to the Super Saver you would recognize some of the people and call them by name.  They all have their stories that are reflected in this snow globe-like town on this day in Peter's life.

Snow Day is replete with hope and discovery.  It's about taking the time to access and observe life from a fresh point of view.

Accept this invitation and have an epiphany of your own. Isn't it time that you took a personal  snow day?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe!

That was always my dream.  To fall madly in love and share a tender moment on Christmas Eve "under the mistletoe" and so...

Summerside Press continues their "Love Finds You" series with a double header by Irene Brand and Anita Higman.

Irene starts us off  post World War II in Mistletoe, Kentucky with An Appalachian Christmas.  The heroine, Julia Mayfield, has completed her tour of duty with the WAC (Women's Army Corps) and as the fulfillment of her sister's dying wish, is travelling to Kentucky to introduce her two year old nephew, Bobby, to his grandparents who are unaware that their only son, Robert, married before he was deployed to the European war theatre.  They only knew that he was missing in action and presumed dead.

Julia finds herself stranded in Mistletoe with Bobby and must rely on the kindness of some delightful, hard working, big hearted, "hillbillies" including the handsome hero, David Armstrong.

Irene Brand writes in a painterly style, capturing the nuances of the scenery and characters.    I felt transported to the time period, when travelling by bus was the norm, and people kept their promises and welcomed strangers (mostly).  I really enjoyed this special view of the "great generation" when they were young, but had served and lived a lifetime. When they find love, it's really grand.

Fast forward to today in Once Upon a Christmas Eve, by Anita Higman, where Holly Goodnight of Noel, Missouri, must choose between two men whose hearts she holds in the palm of her hand.  It's not that she asked these worthy gentlemen to fall head over heels for her, they just couldn't help themselves!
So, who will it be? The novelist, Van Keaton, or her best and oldest friend, Owen Quigly?
You'll have to read this cute, yet touching romp of a Christmas Romance and find out for yourself.
Unless you read this with a box of peanut brittle (like I did) it's a fat free Christmas indulgence.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe
Summerside Press (September 1, 2010)

Irene Brand & Anita Higman


Irene Brand has written Sunday School curriculum, edited a two-year series of mission curriculum, and her works have appeared in five program-material anthologies. Her publishers include Zondervan, Standard Publishing, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Fleming-Revell, Barbour Publishing, Kregel Publications, Steeple Hill (inspirational imprint of Silhouette), and Summerside Press. She has had 4 non-fiction books published, and 43 fiction works. Her first inspirational romance was published in 1984.

Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen.


Two Christmas stories - one historical, one contemporary - under one cover!

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: An Appalachian Christmas

A promise to her dying sister compels Julia Mayfield to take her young nephew to Mistletoe, Kentucky, a tiny town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains. Sparks fly when she meets David Armstrong, a World War II veteran like herself. Even as shadows from the past weave a dangerous web around Julia and David, will their love flourish like the mistletoe that blankets the nearby hills?

Love Finds You under the Mistletoe: Once Upon a Christmas Eve

Hollie Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Hollie's story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes. . .until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.

If you would like to read an excerpt of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Autumn's Promise
Avon Inspire (August 3, 2010)


Shelley Shepard Gray


Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold twenty-six novels to numerous publishers. She has written a seven book contemporary series for Avalon books. She also published The Love Letter, a western for Avalon. Five Star Expressions published Suddenly, You in February of 2007. This novel is a historical western set in the mountains of Colorado.

Shelley has written nine novels for Harlequin American Romance. Cinderella Christmas, her first novel with them, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. Her second book with them, Simple Gifts won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice award for best Harlequin American Romance of 2006. The Mommy Bride, was chosen by Romantic Times Magazine as one of their TOP PICKS for May, 2008.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for Harper Collins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. HIDDEN and WANTED the first two novels of her ‘Sisters of the Heart’ series, were chosen to be Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/ Literary Guild Book Club. FORGIVEN, book 3, has received glowing reviews. Avon Inspire is releasing four novels by Shelley this year.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two teenagers, and is an active member of her church.


Some promises are meant to be broken...

Until Robert Miller met Lilly Allen, his world had been dark. A widower after only two years of marriage, he'd been living in a haze, feeling that, at twenty-four, his life was already over.

But thanks to his friendship with Lilly, he now has new reasons to wake up each day. He knows his connection to her doesn't make sense. She's only nineteen, with a past the whole town talks about. Even more, she's not Amish, like Robert. A marriage between the two of them could never happen.

Lilly's heart is drawn to Robert, not to his faith. No matter how much she admires his quiet strength and dependability, she doesn't think she could ever give up her independence and reliance on the modern world. Is their love doomed before it even begins?

If you would like to read the first chapter of  Autumn's Promise, go HERE.

Cheryl's Comments:

Shelley Shepard Gray has won my respect as a creator of wonderful stories that are fun to read and truly heart-warming.  Shelley has managed to convert me to the Amish Romance genre with her gentle yet relevant plot lines and characters.  Somehow she accomplishes this without sugarcoating conflicts such as teen pregnancy and rebellion against parental authority.

As a mom of teens, I could relate to the worry and sleepless nights that the parents in this series have experienced, as children struggle to figure out if  the way they were brought up is the best way of life for them, or if life might be greener on the other side of the Amish tracks...

For the Amish, the consequences of leaving the faith are pretty dire.  Imagine losing family relationships and everything that speaks of home forever if you break with the "plain" way of life.  Imagine trying to convert to the Amish way after having all of the conveniences of modern life...

Autumn's Promise is a story of life and love that crosses barriers and expands the heart.

Great book series for teens, moms, grandmas... I look forward to reading more by this gifted author.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Bridge of Peace
WaterBrook Press; Original edition (August 31, 2010)
Cindy Woodsmall


Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

She was also a homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter.

Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her second book, When the Morning Comes, hit numerous best-sellers lists across the US, including edging into the extended list of the New York Times, coming in at number thirty-four.

Her third book, When the Soul Mends, hit the New York Times best-sellers list, coming in at number thirteen, as well as making the USA Today’s best-sellers list.

Cindy continues to write and release best-selling works of fiction, and she’s also written a nonfiction work with an Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. The book is titled Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. It will release March 11, 2011.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and two daughters-in-law reside in Georgia.


Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?

Win a "Trip To Amish Country"...contest opens August 31st -December 31st...go HERE to enter!

If you would like to read the first chapter of  The Bridge of Peace, go HERE.