Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Beyond the Storm
Abingdon Press (October 2012)
Carolyn Zane

 Beyond the Storm is one of those 'out of the ashes' books that reminds us people can not only survive great tragedies, they thrive by helping others through tough times. As a Missourian, this book brought back memories of the Joplin, MO, tornado, and now seems especially timely with the vicious attack of hurricane Sandy.

Zane makes the devastation seem as real as possible (it can't possibly be truly real unless you live it), and she shows the daily struggles to rebuild both physical and spiritual life when things just don't make sense.

I definitely recommend this one!


Author of 35 books, wife, mother and yes…hot (flasher) lives with her fabulous husband, Matt and their 5 children and 3 dogs in the scenic Willamette Valley in Oregon. When asked to describe her family, Carolyn likens her crowd to the Brangelia Bunch saying modestly, “Only we’re better looking.” Right now,Carolyn is back in the saddle with her new title: Beyond The Storm, coming out in October 2012! In the mean time, be sure to catch her on the critically acclaimed TOOHOTMAMAS Blog where Carolyn and Wendy tackle Marriage, motherhood and menopause: How to do all three and stay out of prison! They are hilarious! You'll wet yourself, guaranteed! Visit them at:


After a tornado rips through her town, store owner Abigail comes across a piece of fabric from a wedding dress among the devastation. Abigail is moved to start collecting other swatches of fabric she finds – her neighbor’s kitchen curtains, a man’s necktie, a dog’s bed – which she stashes in shopping bags. As she pursues her seemingly absurd quest, horrible realities spark the question, “What kind of a God would allow such tragedy?”

As she struggles to reconcile her right to happiness amidst the destruction, Abigail begins piecing together a patchwork quilt from the salvaged fabric in hopes it will bring some peace. But a new relationship with Justin, a contractor, may require too much of her fragile heart. Will her pain and questions of faith give way to the courage to love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beyond the Storm, go HERE.

Friday, October 26, 2012

COOKBOOK -- A Farmer's Daughter

A Farmer's Daughter -- Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen
Dawn Stoltzfus

As a cookbook junkie, I always love recipes that are straightforward and simple. A Farmer's Daughter is full of yummy recipes that don't take tons of ingredients and are pretty easy to prepare. These recipes aren't fancy, they are satisfying and family-friendly. 

There are several recipes I've already prepared -- Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (to die for! Recipe can be found here ), Strawberry Cheesecake Bars, and Old-Fashioned Potato Cakes were my family's favorites so far.

I really liked the recipe for Parmesan Italian Rice. It's such a nice change from pasta as a side dish with anything that seems Italian! It's also a good way to incorporate a bit of veggie (spinach) into a rice dish. Recipe is shared below.

With many recipes Dawn adds a little note about presentation, substitutions, or alternative cooking methods. These are both helpful and fun to read. In addition she writes fun introductions to recipes that give background on the dish or family traditions.

This recipe book is definitely a keeper!

Parmesan Italian Rice

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup jasmine or long grain rice (I made it with regular rice because that's what I had)
1 T olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped fine
1/4 t dried Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Stir in rice, oil, and garlic. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in spinach and Italian seasoning. Let set for 5 minutes. right before serving, stir in Parmesan cheese. Serves 3-4.

 For a link to more reviews and more recipes, check out Dawn's website at

Welcome to the warm and inviting kitchen of Dawn Stoltzfus, a young Mennonite wife and mother who was raised on a dairy farm where simple, wholesome food was a key ingredient of the good life. In A Farmer's Daughter, she opens up her recipe box, wipes away the crumbs and wrinkles from the well-loved recipes and shares them with cooks and food-lovers everywhere. She offers us over two hundred delicious recipes that reflect the comfort foods she learned to cook from her mother, the same hearty and creative recipes she made and sold at The Farmer's Wife Market.

Along with the simple, wholesome recipes for starters, main dishes, sides and desserts, readers will find charming stories from Dawn's Mennonite upbringing, tips and tricks for easy meal planning and preparation, and ideas for serving with flair. Anyone who loves to feed their loved ones hearty, wholesome meals will treasure this cookbook.

Dawn Stoltzfus is a wife, a mother of two sweet little boys and a lover of anything creative. She started and ran The Farmer's Wife Market until 2008 when she sold it in order to stay at home to raise her family. She loves to cook, for one or three hundred and sees cooking and entertaining as an opportunity to serve them out of love and joy rather than out of a sense of obligation. Her love for cooking was inspired by her mother and developed as she cooked for her family of six on their active, working dairy farm in Ohio.

Thank you to Revell Publishing Group for providing a copy of this book for review.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No Safe Harbor

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
No Safe Harbor
Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Elizabeth Ludwig

This historical novel has lots of suspense and action! It takes place in New York in the late 1800's, when scores of Irish immigrants were leaving because of the famine. Cara Hamilton thought her brother was dead until she received a short note asking her to go to America quickly and to trust no one.

Unwittingly she falls prey to those who are trying to kill her brother, and she isn't sure whom to turn to when her life is in danger. 

While the twists and turns in this book are fascinating, there were times when I wasn't really sure what was going on. Some details seemed a bit too convenient, and I think the author presumed some knowledge on the part of the reader about Irish politics. That said, it all comes together in the end and I finished the book wanting to know more about English/Irish political history.

I will definitely read the sequels to this book.


Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author whose work has been featured on Novel Journey, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Her first novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Janelle Mowery, earned her the 2008 IWA Writer of the Year honors. This book was followed in 2009 by “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” part of a Christmas anthology collection called Christmas Homecoming, also from Barbour Publishing.

In 2010, her first full-length historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned Four Stars from the Romantic Times. Books two and three of Elizabeth’s mystery series, Died in the Wool (Barbour Publishing) and Inn Plain Sight (Spyglass Lane), respectively, released in 2011.

Coming in 2012 is Elizabeth’s newest historical series from Bethany House Publishers. No Safe Harbor, the first book in the Edge of Freedom Series, will release in October, with two more books following in 2013 and 2014.

Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, and often attends conferences and seminars, where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoyed a wide readership in its first full year, with more than 17,000 visitors in 2011. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in the great state of Texas.


The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America

Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.

If you would like to read the first chapter of No Safe Harbor, go HERE.

Thank you to Bethany House publishers for providing a copy of this book for review.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Memory Jar

The Memory Jar
Tricia Goyer

I was thrilled to see another book about the Amish community in West Kootenai, Montana. Like Tricia's other Amish books, this one breaks the mold of a traditional Amish romance. It was fun to learn about the tradition of Amish men moving to this small town to gain hunting rights.

While this is a romance, the real underlying story in the book is one of learning to forgive yourself and give memories their proper place in life. Sarah Shelter watched her best friend drown, and she is holding the terrible memories and overwhelming guilt close to her heart. Goyer's portrayal of each character and his/her past is very tender and life-like. I love the way she creates characters that the reader cares so much about -- there are times I find myself wanting to pray for them! Reading a Tricia Goyer book is like stepping into another place and time and sitting right in the room where the action is taking place. I love her books, and The Memory Jar is another success. I can't wait for the sequels to this book.

I love the concept of a memory jar, and I want to start this tradition with my family. See more about it here.
Every year, a number of young Amish men descend on the cozy mountain town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive "resident" status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but some go home with brides.

Sarah Shelter has lived in West Kootenai for the last ten years and wonders if she will ever fall in love. Since the tragic death of her best friend, she saves her memories in a jar along with the small items connected to them. For just as long, she's also been carying around her emotions instead of allowing them to penetrate deep into her heart. Until she meets Jathan Schrock.

Can this kind and gentle man break down her walls, and can Sarah risk her heart to finaly achieve her dreams?
 Tricia Goyer is the bestselling author of thirty-two books, including two novels that have won ACFW's Book of the Year award. Her co-authored novel The Swiss Courier was also a Christy Award nominee. Tricia loves to travel and research for her fiction and believes real life inspires great fiction. Tricia and her husband, John, live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have four children ages two to twenty-three years old.

Celebrate with Tricia by entering her Amish Kindle Gift Pack Giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook party on November 7th. (And be sure to catch the fun video trailer or try your hand at one of the simple, keepsake crafts Tricia has put together on her website.)


One fortunate winners will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Custom-made Memory Jar Kindle Cover
  • Amish-made decorative items {Wall hanging, horse/buggy and Amish houses}
  • The Memory Jar {Be swept away by this captivating series.}
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 6th. Winner will be announced at the ”Memory Jar Author Chat Party on 11/7. Connect with Tricia for an evening of book chat, Amish trivia, and a live video chat! There will also be a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of The Memory Jar and join Tricia on the evening of the November 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 7th!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Against the Tide

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Against the Tide
Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Elizabeth Camden

I love books about women who push the edges of convention, and Elizabeth Camden is a masterful writer of just such books. Against the Tide is about a woman in the late 1800's who lands a job as a translator for the Navy. She is fluent in several languages and becomes a key part of the organization.

In order to earn additional money, she does translating on the side and is pulled into a fight to end the opium trade, which was rampant -- and legal -- at that time. Little does she know this will become a fight for her life.

This is a wonderful book that was hard to put down. I'm looking forward to reading more of Elizabeth Camden's books!


A Word from Elizabeth:

I am a college librarian in central Florida by day, but by night I can be found pounding out inspirational historical novels the moment the sun goes down. I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others.

I married relatively late in life, which turned out to be an odd kind of blessing. I had gotten very good at leading a solo life, and although I was not particularly content being alone, I had become reconciled to it. Most importantly, it taught me never to take my husband for granted. I give daily thanks for the blessing of being able to share a life with my favorite person on the planet.

As for who I am? I love old Hitchcock films, the hour before sunset, a long, sweaty run through the Florida countryside, and a glass of good wine. After spending my entire adult life on a college campus (either as a student or a librarian) I have finally been able to pursue my ultimate goal of writing professionally.


Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden's Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Against the Tide, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

All To Jesus

All To Jesus
Robert J. Morgan

MY THOUGHTS:I was a little concerned when I first saw that this book was a daily devotional. I've read a lot of devotionals, and most of them left me with a nice, happy feeling at the end of the page but they didn't really do anything to challenge me or increase my faith.

All to Jesus is refreshingly different. Robert Morgan has pulled 365 important verses and has done a lot of research to ensure that his daily writings cause the reader to better understand God, to think about Him in fresh, expanded ways, and to question assumptions. In a couple of short paragraphs he teaches about original word meanings and provides provocative quotations and stories that further understanding.
After reading these devotions, I'll never look at the little word 'all' in the same way again. When God says 'all', we can be sure that he means 'ALL' --- and that word may be the most important one in the verse!

I highly recommend this devotional for those who want to expand their understanding of God and His word. It is great for those of you who aren't satisfied with just reading happy words to send you on your way, but instead seek meaningful concepts that require you to think through your assumptions and act in a way that that reflects your faith.

“Cast all your cares on him.” “Love the Lord with all your heart.” “I can do all things . . . .” Most would be surprised at how often the word “all” appears in the Bible—literally thousands of times. And with each description of God’s comprehensive promises, each reminder of our complete blessing in Christ, each appeal for our full and total surrender, His reputation grows larger before our eyes. We see again what He can do. We see again who we can be.
Based on the Bible’s sizeable emphasis on this tiny yet powerful word “all,” best-selling author and pastor Robert J. Morgan has created a remarkable 365-day spiritual growth experience in his new devotional, All to Jesus: A Year of Devotions (B&H Books, October 2012). A choice sampling of the Bible’s most “all”-encompassing statements, All to Jesus will surround believers each day with inspiring stories, personal reflections and the encouraging assurance that they are cared for in ways they never imagined.

 Robert J. Morgan is a best-selling, Gold Medallion Award-winning author whose over twenty-five books include Then Sings My Soul, The Red Sea Rules, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart and The Children’s Daily Devotional Bible. A staff writer for Dr. David Jeremiah and Turning Points Magazine, he has also served as pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, for three decades. Morgan and his wife have three daughters and ten grandchildren.


Can you tell us how your new devotional, All to Jesus, came into being?
One night when I was troubled, I found 1 Peter 5:7, a verse of Scripture I had known for years: Casting all your care on Him for He cares for you. The word "all" struck me. I'd never seen it before. The verse would have been wonderful without it, but its inclusion lifted the promise to infinity. No burden or problem was beyond the reach of 1 Peter 5:7. I could cast "ALL" my burdens on Him without limitation. That made me wonder if there were other verses in the Bible that were similarly modified with that little adjective and I found over 5000 of them. We selected 366 "alls" for this book.
What is “the largest little word in all the world” and why do you think so?
Someone said: "All means all and that's all all means." We often use the word "omni" to describe God — He is omnipresent, omnipotent and so forth. The little word "all" is the earthly application of God's omni-qualities. It takes His infinite nature and shows us what it means to us here and now. The Lord doesn’t waste words in His Book. In the verses above, the alls could easily have been left out; yet there they are. Seems it’s one of God’s favorite words. He used it thousands of times, often in passages that would have read nicely without it; yet the all maximizes the meaning to the absolute. It’s the largest little word in the world, taking already-strong statements and broadening their applications to virtual infinity, which, after all, is what one would expect from an omnipotent Father.
How many times is “all” mentioned in the Bible? Why do you believe God uses the word so frequently?
The word “all” appears in the Bible 5,675 times. God loves to speak in all-encompassing superlatives because He is eternal and infinite. According to 2 Corinthians 9:8, He is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
What are a few of your favorite “all” verses and why?
All things work together for the good of those who love God—Romans 8:28
You have thrown all my sins behind Your back—Isaiah 38:17
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted—Matthew 10:30
Love the Lord your God with all your heart—Matthew 22:37
Trust in the Lord with all your heart—Proverbs 3:5-6
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened—Matthew 11:28
Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life—Psalm 23:6 (NIV)
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you—Matthew 6:33
What do you hope readers will take away from their daily readings of All to Jesus
Each of these devotions is excerpted from my pulpit ministry and represents what I believe to be solid exposition of Scripture, sprinkled liberally with stories, quotes and interesting tidbits of truth. Each reading calls us to total faith and total obedience, based on the totality of God’s grace. Because He is our All in All, we can say, “All to Jesus.”
Thank you to B&H Books and B&B Media Group for providing a copy of the book for  this review.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

All Things New

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
All Things New
Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2012)
Lynn Austin

I really enjoy historical fiction that is more history than romance. All Things New has both, but the most intriguing aspects of the book relate to the difficulties of life in the post-Civil War South. Each character in the book has to address his or her perspectives and prejudices in order to evaluate life and pick up the pieces.

This book offers new insights into the lives of those who lost their entire ways of life...slave owners AND slaves, and provides hope to all who may be facing drastic changes in their future. The variety of approaches each character takes -- trying to reclaim what was lost, fighting back against change, or stepping forward into a new life and embracing a new future -- offers unique perspectives on how anyone can move forward during times of change.

I was fascinated by this book and I'd love to see sequels!


For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband's work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she'd earned at Southern Connecticut State University to become a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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 the aftermath of the Civil War, Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives when they return to their Virginia plantation. But the bitter realities of life after the war cannot be denied: their home and land are but shells of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken. The privileged childhood Josephine enjoyed now seems like a long-ago dream. And the God who failed to answer any of her prayers during the war is lost to her as well.

Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival--and recognizes that Lizzie, as one of the few remaining servants, is the one she must rely on to teach her all she needs to know. Josephine's mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak...but a bitter hatred fuels her.

With skill and emotion, Lynn Austin brings to life the difficult years of the Reconstruction era by interweaving the stories of three women--daughter, mother, and freed slave--in a riveting tale.

If you would like to read the first chapter of All Things New, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Because You Care

Because You Care -- Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers


Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk


Approximately 30% of Americans provide care for either an elderly parent, a family member, or a disabled child. The majority of these caretakers are women. With our senior citizens living longer than ever before, the chances are you will become a caretaker for your parents, a spouse, or another family member at some time in the future. I bet you know someone now who is in that role.

Because You Care is a beautiful gift book for those who are dedicating a portion of their lives to loved ones who need special attention. It addresses all aspects of care giving, from the moment a caregiver realizes his or her life will change forever to the  moment he or she has to say good-bye to the one that is loved. The book will touch your heart through poignant testimonies from Cecil, Twila, and others who are in this role. 

The photography is fantastic, and the book includes a section called Practical Suggestions -- God's Strength for Caregivers that has fabulous reminders for the many aspects of care giving.

As a caregiver myself, this book addressed thoughts and concerns that I had not discussed with anyone and it gave me peace that this place where I've found myself is actually a gift from God -- for me and for the person being cared for.

You can buy a copy of the book HERE.


As someone caring for an ill or elderly loved one, you understand that your role can push you to the limit, press on every nerve—and yet fill you with a deep sense of love and peace of mind.

Beloved authors Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk know this too. Beautifully written and full of gentle wisdom, their personal stories of caregiving will help you face some of the ups and downs of your journey.

  • Feeling guilty for doing too much, too little, or nothing at all
  • Answering other’s well-meaning but insensitive questions

  • Watching someone you dearly love suffer or die

Here are the stories from those living the life. Let their encouraging words lift your heart.


Twila Belk and Cecil (Cec) Murphey are both long-term caregivers for their spouses. Twila, aka the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves to brag on God. She works fulltime with Cec as his manager, personal assistant, and biggest fan. Cec is a veteran author who has written or co-written more than 125 published books, including the bestsellers 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold in the millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. Cec and Twilas’ second co-authored book, Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware (Guideposts Books), released in August 2012.

For more info about Twila, visit
For more info about Cec, visit



Grand Prize Giveaway Description
·                     Book—Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers
·                    Book—Hope and Comfort for Every Season
·                    Hallmark journal, list pad, and memo pad stack
·                    Glade “Angel Whispers” candle
·                   Hershey’s Bliss dark chocolate

Instructions to Enter the Grandprize Drawing:
           1. Leave a comment about the book or author on the blog post during the blog tour.
2. Each blog tour host will draw one name from those comments to send to the tour coordinator by October 12.
3. The coordinator will put all the names into a drawing, and select a winner, using an online randomizer.
4. The coordinator will notify the blog tour host who submitted the winning name.
The blog tour host will notify the winner and collect the mailing info so the author can send out the prize. 

Thank you to Kathy Carlton Willis and Harvest House Publishers for providing a copy of this book for review.