Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish (Review)

  • Paperback: 336 pages

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 5, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1401689018

  • A solitary artisan. A legacy of bread-baking. And one secret that could collapse her entire identity.

    Liesl McNamara’s life can be described in one word: bread. From her earliest memory, her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and the importance of this deceptively simple food. And now, as the owner of Wild Rise bake house, Liesl spends every day up to her elbows in dough, nourishing and perfecting her craft.

    But the simple life she has cultivated is becoming quite complicated. Her head baker brings his troubled grandson into the bakeshop as an apprentice. Her waitress submits Liesl’s recipes to a popular cable cooking show. And the man who delivers her flour—a single father with strange culinary habits—seems determined to win Liesl’s affection.

    When Wild Rise is featured on television, her quiet existence appears a thing of the past. And then a phone call from a woman claiming to be her half-sister forces Liesl to confront long-hidden secrets in her family’s past. With her precious heritage crumbling around her, the baker must make a choice: allow herself to be buried in detachment and remorse, or take a leap of faith into a new life.

    Filled with both spiritual and literal nourishment, Stones for Bread provides a feast for the senses from award-winning author Christa Parrish.

    My Review:

    I thought this was an interesting book. The characters and plot were well written and unique. My attention was held from the beginning. The writing style takes a little getting used to. It may seem choppy at first. This is a Christian contemporary fiction book. The writing has a lyric literary feel to it. I loved the characters. Liesl McNamara runs the bakery Wild Rise. She learned from her mother and grandmother. There were several detailed bread recipes in the book for the readers. The book alternates between her childhood and present day. There were other great characters too. A single father with a cute little girl starts getting closer to Liesl and others at the bakery. The end was satisfying. Highly Recommended.

    Christa Parrish is the award-winning author of three novels, including the 2009 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year Watch Over Me. When she's not writing, she's a homeschool mother of three wonderful children. Married to author and pastor Chris Coppernoll, Christa serves with him as co-leader of their church's youth ministry as well as serving as a facilitator for a divorce recovery ministry. She is now also slightly obsessed with the art of baking bread.

    Review copy provided by Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

    Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Aloha Rose
    Abingdon Press (November 19, 2013)
    Lisa Carter


    A word from the author:

    I am a wife and mother. My husband and I have two daughters and make our home in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

    I am a teacher. With a Master’s degree in history, I have taught at the university, high school and middle school levels. After years of church involvement as a soloist, choir member and worship leader, I also teach music.

    I am a writer. Delighted by the rhythm and musicality of words, I have been writing since childhood. In 2001, I won the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) Story Writing Contest that re-ignited a lifelong love of writing.

    I am on a journey of faith. My ultimate desire through my life and my writing is to proclaim the truth of God’s Word, His redeeming love as seen in the life of Jesus Christ and to help others know for themselves this great, awesome God of all comfort and wisdom. He is enough for every need.


    When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliquéd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Aloha Rose, go HERE.

    Saturday, November 23, 2013

    A Simple Christmas Wish by Melody Carlson (Review)

  • Hardcover: 176 pages

  • Publisher: Revell (September 15, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-0800719654

  • Rachel Milligan is caring for her seven-year-old niece, Holly, at her home in Chicago when she receives devastating news: Holly's parents have been killed in a plane crash. Because Rachel is Holly's only known relative, she assumes that she will be her beloved niece's guardian. However, custody is awarded to Lydia, a distant aunt who happens to be Amish. Just a week before Christmas, Rachel takes Holly to the Amish community in the hopes of persuading Aunt Lydia to relinquish custody. Instead, Lydia sets out to teach Holly to live according to the Amish way. As family secrets emerge and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs.

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

    My Review:

    I thought this was a sweet Christmas novella. I enjoyed reading it. Little Holly was so cute. The characters and plot were well developed. I loved Aunt Rachel too. She is great with Holly and loves her. The Amish part is well done. The conclusion is satisfying. Great Holiday book. Recommended. :)

    Melody Carlson has written around 200 books for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her books range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including the Rita and Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/

    Review copy provided by Revell/Baker in exchange for an honest review.

    Available November 2013 wherever Baker/Revell books are sold.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013

    Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay (Review)

  • Paperback: 336 pages

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 5, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1401689681

  • Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.
    Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.

    Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.

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

    As Sam’s program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it’s pulled from her favorite books.

    But when secrets come to light, Sam is – once again – made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

    Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

    My Review:

    I loved this book. It is a fantastic debut for Katherine Reay. The characters and plot are well developed and interesting. I was captivated from the beginning and could not read fast enough. I had to know what happened next. I am a fan of the classics also which is not a requirement to read this book but helps. Sam is a loner  girl in the foster system and ended up at Grace House. She has trouble relating to others and lives in her books. She gets a special scholarship to college that requires her to write letters to a secret donor she calls Mr. Knightley. The author does a good job telling most of the story through letters. There are good supporting characters also like Kyle a fellow foster child. Also there is a little love interest that develops between her and an author she meets named Alex Powell. There are a few twists and turns. This book is on my keeper shelf and I can't wait to read her next book. Highly Recommended. :)

    Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in Focus on the Family and the Upper Room. Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. Dear Mr. Knightley is her first novel.

    Review copy provided by Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

    Critical Reaction by Todd Johnson

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Critical Reaction
    Bethany House Publishers (November 19, 2013)
    Todd M. Johnson


    Todd M. Johnson has practiced as an attorney for over 30 years, specializing as a trial lawyer. Todd's career experience blends with his passion for writing in his novels published through Bethany House.

    A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Minnesota Law School, he also taught for two years as an adjunct professor of International Law, and served as a US diplomat in Hong Kong.

    The Deposit Slip, Mr. Johnson's first novel, debuted in 2012. Todd's second novel, Critical Reaction, will be released in November 2013.

    Todd lives outside Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife Cathy and children Ian and Libby.


    After decades of turning out plutonium for the arms race, the Hanford Nuclear Facility has long been shuttered, though its deadly legacy cannot be fully contained. The men who guard the facility from sabotage or monitor its buildings for radiation leaks are told the risks are under control. They believe it, until the worst happens: a thunderous explosion in the dead of night.

    Two workers, lifer Poppy Martin and new hire Kieran Mullaney, believe themselves lucky to survive the blast. But as the debris is cleared, they discover their safety is not assured. Dead ends and closed doors halt their efforts to discover what really happened--and what radiation may have poisoned them. When stalling and threats force them into the hands of experienced trial lawyer Ryan Hart, they learn that theirs is no ordinary lawsuit. There is something still hidden in the desert of eastern Washington, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to make sure it never sees the light of day.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Critical Reaction, go HERE.

    Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma (Review)

  • Paperback: 336 pages

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 6, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-1401689100

    A stranger’s life hangs in the balance. But to save him is to risk everything.

    The war is drawing to a close, but the Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.

    When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their  lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.

    As she nurses Gerrit back to health, she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully, despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage imaginable.

    She is as terrified of loving Gerrit as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will end before it even begins.

    My Review:

    I thought this was an okay Christian historical fiction book. I liked Gerrit and Cornelia together. I did not like her brother Johan at all. He was reckless and careless especially with his own life. I had a hard time reading this book. It did not hold my attention for the most part. While the plot was somewhat interesting some of the characters needed more development. Overall an okay debut. Fans of WWII Christian fiction might still like it.

    Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. Add a dog and a cat to that mix and there's always something going on at their house. She's spent time teaching second grade, writing advertising for a real estate company, and working as a church secretary, but she always dreamed of becoming an author. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. She'd love to have you visit her at www.liztolsma.com or at www.liztolsma.blogspot.com.

    Purchase a copy here.

    Learn more at Liz’s website

    Review copy provided by Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

    Friday, November 15, 2013

    Dear Mr. Knightley Contest

    Debut author Katherine Reay is celebrating the release of her delightful novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, a fun Favorite Austen Moments Pinterest contest, and an Austen-themed Facebook Party.

      One winner will receive:
    • A Kindle Fire HDX
    • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
    • Handmade Austen-themed items (scarf, mug, bracelet, and necklace) 
    Two ways to win! Enter today by clicking one of the icons below or participating in the Pinterest contest (see banner below)—or BOTH! 

    But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Dear Mr. Knightley" Austen-themed Facebook Author Chat Party on the 3rd. Join Katherine (and Austen fans) for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Katherine's next book.

    So grab your copy of  Dear Mr. Knightley and join Katherine on the evening of December 3rd 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 today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST. Hope to see you on the 3rd!

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    Derailed by Dave and Neta Jackson (Review)

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Worthy Publishing (October 8, 2013)
    Dave and Neta Jackson


    As a husband/wife writing team, we are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together we are the authors or coauthors of over 120 books. (You can see our Publication Record by clicking HERE.) In addition to writing several books about Christian community, we have been privileged to coauthor numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

    But over the years the we have especially enjoyed writing for children and young people! This includes our award-winning TRAILBLAZER series, historical fiction about great Christian heroes and heroines for young people ages 8-12, and the four-volume HERO TALES: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Great Christians, and the companion book, Heroes in Black History.

    Somewhere along the way, our own children grew up! Son Julian is Director of Experience Design for the Alder Planetarium in Chicago where he “provides the experience of exploring space” for visitors. He has two sons, Liam Isaac and Elijah David. Daughter Rachel graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and after working in the field of rape-crisis prevention went on to earn a Masters Degree in counseling from the University of Illinois. She is now a counselor at “Uni High School” in Champaign, Illinois. She is the loving mother of Havah Noelle (our first grandchild!) and Noah Zion, our youngest grandchild. The Jackson family also includes a Cambodian foster daughter, Samen Sang, who has four children.

    We live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years we were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. We are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.


    Forced to give up his hard-earned retirement, Harry Bentley goes back to work as a detective. Receiving a bizarre undercover assignment that sends him across the country by train. Things suddenly go awry when it appears one of his new neighbors may be part of a smuggling ring and suspicion rises about his own son’s involvement in a major drug cartel. The second in the Windy City Neighbors series, Derailed is a contemporary, and often humorous, tale in an urban setting, featuring ordinary people wrestling with the spiritual and practical issues of real life. Intersecting with Grounded (book one), the Jacksons employ their innovative storytelling technique of “parallel novels.” Though each book follows its own drama and story arc, the characters’ lives become intertwined and affect one another. Derailed transports you to Beecham Street—a typical, isolated American neighborhood . . . until hope moves in.

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

    My Review:

    I enjoyed reading this book and learning more about the Bentleys. This is the second book in the Windy City Neighbors series. It is written in an interesting style called "parallel novels." The first book was called Grounded and I liked it also. I recommend reading them in order to get the full effect of the writing style. The characters and plot are well developed and interesting. I can't wait to read the third book. Highly Recommended.

    Saturday, November 9, 2013

    Paige Rewritten by Erynn Mangum (Review)

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Paige Rewritten
    NavPress (October 8, 2013)
    Erynn Mangum


    A few things about her:

    So, if we were having this conversation in person, we would probably be hanging out at Starbucks or one of the cute coffeehouses in town. I’m nuts about all things coffee, I’m crazy about all things pink and girly, and I love, love, love the Food Network! I’m married to my best friend and the most amazing guy ever, Jon. He is amiable toward coffee, does not like anything pink or girly and tolerates the Food Network. So, we make a good match! In July 2010, we became parents to one of the funniest, cutest, sweetest little guys in the whole world (and nope, we aren’t biased at all!), our Nater-Tot, who is legally known as Nathan. Most days, I’m cleaning up messes, making goofy faces, trying to fit some writing in, and just LOVING the life that God has given me!


    Paige Alder is in a really good place. She’s dating nice guy Tyler. Her boss has offered her a raise. Her walk with God is strong. Life is great—and that’s when things start to change.

    First, the youth pastor at church keeps asking Paige to work with him full-time. Then her sister shows up newly engaged and wanting to reconnect, even though they haven’t spoken in years. And now former boyfriend Luke has come back into her life. How is Paige supposed to know what the right decisions are?

    This warm and humorous second book in the Paige Alder series will help young girls work through important issues, such as forgiving others and obeying God.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Paige Rewritten, go HERE

    My Review:

    I loved this book. This is book two in the series and are best read in order. Paige is a lovable real character. She struggles with the same things all twenty something females do on a daily basis including work, relationships, faith, etc. The plot and characters are interesting and held my attention from the beginning. The ending made me a little mad though. I felt like there needed to be more closure instead of chopping it off. I can't wait for book three to come out. I am dying to know more about Paige and her two men. :) Highly Recommended.

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    Traces of Mercy by Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Traces of Mercy
    David C. Cook (October 1, 2013)
    Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley

    Michael Landon Jr., son of television legend Michael Landon, is an award-winning storyteller, first in television and film, and now in books. His print works include One More Sunrise co-written with Tracie Peterson.
    Cindy Kelley is the co-author of the novel The Silent Gift, and Traces of Mercy. Her career as a screenwriter with long-time writing partner, Michael Landon, Jr., began with the adaptation of Margery Williams’ classic story, The Velveteen Rabbit, which had a theatrical release. Several television movies followed, most notably Love Comes Softly, (based on Janette Oke’s novel) which won a CAMIE Award and the Epiphany Prize for Movie Guide’s most inspirational television movie of 2003. Cindy and her husband, Jim, make their home in the Southwest; have three adorable grandchildren and four big dogs who rule the house.


    From Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley, authors of The Silent Gift and creators of the hit television film Love Comes Softly, comes an exciting historical romance set in post-Civil War, and filled with suspense and faith-building values.

    At the war’s end, a young woman suffers an accident that leaves her unconscious and alone. Waking with amnesia, she takes the name Mercy and wants more than anything to find out the truth of her past. But then a handsome stranger arrives, who may hold the key to everything she has forgotten. What he knows could devastate her future, and even end her life.

    Written by two proven storytellers, Traces of Mercy is perfect for anyone who loves historical fiction, prairie-based tales, or just a good romance.

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

    Saturday, November 2, 2013

    The Cat in the Window Edited by Callie Smith Grant (Review)

  • Paperback: 192 pages

  • Publisher: Revell (October 15, 2013)

  • ISBN-13: 978-0800721800

  • A playful bat of a string. A bored yawn. A tender purr at the touch of your hand.
    Cats are one of God's most enigmatic creatures. They're as crafty as they are cuddly, as rambunctious as they are reserved. We never quite know just what our cats are thinking--but it's perfectly obvious that they always are.

    The Cat in the Window is a delightful collection of true stories that celebrate the cats in our lives. Inside you'll meet an orange tiger-striped cat who softened the hard edges of life for a young family, a skinny black-and-white stray who braved a blizzard to find a home, a fat cat who saved his owner's life one night, cats who offered comfort in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and many more. These warm stories will touch your heart and renew your spirit.

    So curl up on the couch with the special cat in your life . . . and enjoy!

    My Review:

    I enjoyed reading this collection of non fiction short stories featuring humans and their cats. We have two cats at my house named Little Baby and Biscuit who are spoiled rotten! These were heart warming stories that made me happy we have cats. You might not appreciate them as much if you do not have a lot of experience with cats. It left me wanting to read more. Highly Recommended. :)

    Callie Smith Grant is the editor of A Dickens of a Cat, A Prince among Dogs, and The Dog Next Door. She is also the author of several nonfiction books for young readers and adults, as well as many animal-themed stories and poems that can be seen in Guideposts anthologies and in magazines such as Small Farmer's Journal.

    *Available October 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.*

    Thank you Lanette at Revell for my review copy.

    Classics Club Spin 18

    My Classics Club Spin List for August This is a hodgepodge of books left on my list I made in 2017 for the Classics Club. Tomorrow the clu...