Friday, November 28, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up (Nov. 28)

This is the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

Current Giveaway
5th Annual Gratitude Giveaway Hop
(Click on the link to be taken to the giveaway page. Entries on this post will not be counted)
Ends November 30 at Midnight!

EBook Giveaway of Torn Asunder by Alana Terry
(Click on the link to be taken to the giveaway page. Entries on this post will not be counted.)
Ends November 30 at Midnight!
What I've Read
Blue Moon Bay (Moses Creek, #2) 
Reviews Posted
Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate
What I'm Currently Reading
Love Without End 
What's Up Next
An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County - Four Amish Christmas NovellasAn Amish Second ChristmasThe Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie TuranskySlave AgainThe Secret of Pembrooke Park

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Water Your Faith Wednesday: The Power of a Praying Wife (Part 1)

Hello everyone! Welcome to "Water Your Faith" Wednesday! How do you feel after spending your Sunday at church praising and worshiping our Lord? I know I feel great! I start my week fired up and ready to face what's in store. Oftentimes, however, by Wednesday, life begins to drag me down. My goal is provide a way to overcome the spiritual doldrums with encouraging words, scriptures, devotions, songs, etc. Let me know what you think!
(See the Week 1, the introduction: The Power). 
Today, we are continuing our devotions with the first chapter in The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian: His Wife.
"Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." - Proverbs 24:3-4 NKJV (pg. 44)

I picked this "power verse" because I think it sums up well what the chapter is about. The most painful part of this chapter was admitting to myself that change starts with ME, not my husband. Let's face it, no one wants to admit they have to change. But by asking God to change OUR hearts, OUR way of thinking, and OUR lives, He will be better able to hear our prayers for our husbands. 

My favorite three-word prayer; Who, me?.. Change..."The hard part about being a praying wife," says Stormie, " maintaining a pure heart." We sometimes sabotage our own prayers because we don't pray with the right heart. A right heart is a heart without anger, unforgiveness, and an ungodly attitude. So, instead of praying "change him, Lord," our prayer should be, "change ME, Lord." "The most effective tool in transforming him may be your own transformation." (pg. 23-25)

The Ultimate Love Language...
Prayer is the ultimate love language. By praying for our spouse, you are bringing more love into your life and marriage, as well as unity in your home. (pg. 26-27)

I don't even like him - how can I pray for him?
The first thing to do about this, says Stormie, is to TELL GOD ABOUT IT. Be honest with God. Tell Him how you're feeling toward your husband. That thought mortifies me, but when you get right down to it, God already knows how you REALLY feel. (Pg. 28)
Shut up and pray!
God's word tells us there is a time for everything under the sun... that includes when to speak and when not to. "There is a time to speak and a time not to speak, and happy is the man whose wife can discern between the two." (pg. 29) "Sometimes anything we say will only hinder what God wants to do, so it's best to...well...shut up and pray." (pg. 29) This was the hardest part of the chapter for me to grasp. Everything within me rebels at the thought of holding my tongue, especially during an argument, but I see the wisdom in it. If we listen, God will give us the right words to say and the appropriate time to say them. If we give into our emotions and spew it all out, our husbands will be less receptive to it.
 Creating a home
As a wife, you are the heart of the home. Your husband is the head. That doesn't make one more important than the other, God created these positions to be equal. One point that Stormie makes is that your husband expects you to take care of the home. As much as I hate to admit it, I am a horrible housewife. I hate cleaning, cooking, laundry, and all the stuff that goes along with making a home. But guess what, we can ask God to help us with these things! That creates a whole new perspective for me to work on and ponder. I never thought to ask God to help me have the desire to do chores.  (pg. 33-36)
Letting go of expectations 
"Let go of as many expectations as possible," says Stormie, because we will be disappointed when our husbands don't life up to the big list of expectations we have for them. Accept him the way he is and pray for him to grow because when he does change, it will be in God's time and it will be lasting. (Pg. 37) Strive to be the wife described in Proverbs 31 and respect your husband. Everything else will eventually fall into place according to God's timing and purpose. (Pg. 37-40)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate

Overview: Every Once in a Blue Moon Your Heart Waits at a Crossroads.

Seattle architect Heather Hampton, a trip back to tiny Moses Lake, Texas, is hardly in the plan. Yet because a promotion hinges on the sale of the family farmland, Heather heads to the last place she ever wanted to go. She's determined to return home, signed contract in hand, the next day.

But the currents of Moses Lake take visitors on unexpected journeys. As Heather's stay lengthens, she discovers a family steeped in secrets and an unexpected connection to local banker Blaine Underhill, despite his opposition to Heather's project. With each new revelation and question, Heather can't help but wonder if the handsome banker--and the family she has come to know again--are crooks or crusaders. Somehow she must find out the truth before she loses everything she has worked for and everything she's found on the shores of Moses Lake.

ISBN-13: 9780764208225
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 2/1/2012
Series: Moses Lake Series , #2
Pages: 384
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: This book took me a while to get over halfway through the book. The story wasn't bad. I was interested enough to keep reading, but I wasn't involved in the story until the half way point. Then, I couldn't put it down. 

For most of the story, I found Heather to be childish, selfish, and annoying. I understood her reasoning for being the way she was, but it still bothered me. I wanted her to look, REALLY LOOK, at the people around her and how they perceived her, rather than how she perceived them. The secondary characters, the uncs mainly, provided a sort of relief to the story. I loved Blaine's "all-American good boy" character. The romance kind of seemed forced, though.

The message was my favorite part of this story. "In keeping my defenses high, in striving to maintain a self-sufficient, ordered, controlled life that contained minimal risk, I was missing everything that mattered most. A well-lived life, an authentic life, involved risks - and faith that allowed you to take those risks." In keeping your self locked away because of the risks involved, you are missing out on the blessings God has in store for your lives!

Overall, the book was good. I thoroughly enjoyed the message it contained and look forward to reading the third book in the series.

About the Author: Selected among BOOKLIST'S Top 10 of 2012 and Top 10 of 2013, Lisa Wingate skillfully weaves lyrical writing and unforgettable Southern settings with elements of women's fiction, history, and mystery to create stories that Publisher's Weekly calls "Masterful" and ForeWord Magazine refers to as "Filled with lyrical prose, hope, and healing.” Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and the author of over over twenty novels and countless magazine pieces. 

Her books have held positions on many bestseller lists, both in the U.S. and internationally. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, a Christianity Today Book Award nominee, an Inspy Award nominee, a two-time Carol Award winner, a LORIES Best Fiction Award winner, and a Utah Library Award winner. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.  Visit Lisa at her website:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up (Nov 21)

This is the Weekend Wrap-Up, inspired by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Review. This is where I will tell you what I've read in the past week, what I'm currently reading, and what I plan to read in the week ahead. I might also share some interesting events from the past week!

Current Giveaway
5th Annual Gratitude Giveaway Hop
(Click on the link to be taken to the giveaway page. Entries on this post will not be counted)
Ends November 30 at Midnight!

EBook Giveaway of Torn Asunder by Alana Terry
(Click on the link to be taken to the giveaway page. Entries on this post will not be counted.)
Ends November 30 at Midnight!
What I've Read

Reviews Posted
A Love Undone by Cindy Woodsmall
The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson
Recipe for Love by Brandy Bruce

What I'm Currently Reading:
Blue Moon Bay (Moses Creek, #2)
*I will be reading The Power of a Praying Wife throughout the next month or so. Each week, on Wednesday, I will write a post about a chapter. The first "chapter" post can be found here: Water Your Faith Wednesday: The Power *

What I Plan on Reading in November:
Love Without EndAn Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County - Four Amish Christmas NovellasAn Amish Second ChristmasThe Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Torn Asunder by Alana Terry - Cover Reveal & Blog Tour

Free Ebook Giveaway From Alana Terry

Torn Asunder is the upcoming release from award-winning Christian suspense novelist Alana Terry. You can pre-order Torn Asunder on amazon now for only 99 cents and have it delivered right to you when it's released in December. As an added bonus, Alana, along with recording artist Cherie Norquay, is offering free downloads of one of the songs featured in Torn Asunder.

Synopsis: After graduating from the Secret Seminary, Hannah and Simon are ready to return to their homeland. Their training has equipped them to carry the gospel to a country ravaged by darkness and despair. If necessary, they’re even prepared to face the North Korean labor camps, but the hardest part of their mission isn’t the hunger, cold, and incessant danger. The hardest part is cutting off contact with one another.

In this world of spies, secret police, and informants, staying together might not just compromise their ministry. It could cost them both their lives.

A Christian romantic suspense from the author of The Beloved Daughter, which won awards from Women of Faith, Grace Awards, Readers' Favorite, The Book Club Network, and more.

Pre-order Torn Asunder for only 99 cents or enter the giveaway below! You can also sign up to get a free mp3 song download from Cherie Norquay, whose work is put out by Grammy-award-winning producer, Phil Naish, and whose lyrics helped inspire certain scenes in Torn Asunder. Click below or get her free song downloads here. (Several of her song lyrics also appear in the novel itself.)

You can also sign up below to help spread the word about Alana's fundraiser to help rescue North Korean refugees on a modern-day underground railroad.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Out of the Storm by Jody Hedlund

Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope): A NovellaOverview: Having grown up in a lighthouse, loneliness is all Isabelle Thornton has ever known--and all, she assumes, she ever will know. But when her lightkeeper father rescues a young man from the lake, her sheltered world is turned upside down.

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund's Out of the Storm is her first ever novella and introduces readers to Beacons of Hope, a new series set in the 1800s amid the romance, history, and danger surrounding the Great Lakes lighthouses of Michigan.

ISBN-13: 9781441265524
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/1/2014
Series: Beacons of Hope  
Format: eBook
Pages: 128
Download it for FREE: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: This novella was such a tease! I read it in less than an hour and loved it. I fell in love with the characters. Isabelle is a kind, caring, innocent young woman. Henry is an incessant flirt, with a good heart. The story is excellently executed, even in the short amount of pages. Even in such a short story, the author provides an excellent message: don't let your circumstances define your life and who you are. Let the Lord of love and mercy guide you and your life will always be full. I can't wait to read the installment, which is a full length novel, in this series.
*Thank you, Bethany House, for providing this copy as a special review opportunity.*

Author Jody HedlundAbout the Author: Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances.

As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she’s not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.

She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.

You can send questions or comments via her Contact page, or connect through Facebook or Twitter

Water Your Faith Wednesday: The Power of a Praying Wife

Hello everyone! Welcome to "Water Your Faith" Wednesday! How do you feel after spending your Sunday at church praising and worshiping our Lord? I know I feel great! I start my week fired up and ready to face what's in store. Oftentimes, however, by Wednesday, life begins to drag me down. My goal is provide a way to overcome the spiritual doldrums with encouraging words, scriptures, devotions, songs, etc. Let me know what you think!
A dear lady in my church gave me this book as a wedding present. She said it has helped her tremendously in her own marriage and she hopes it will help and encourage me in mine. As you all know, I recently married my best friend. It's been a little over two months of wedded bliss and I couldn't be happier. However, I know as time goes on and we grow together as a couple, problems could come creeping in that we aren't willing or able to address. I know our marriage won't be perfect. I know there will be problems. My hope is that by reading this book now, I can address those problems in a biblical and Godly way. I am inviting you, my blogging friends, along my journey to become a praying wife. For the next month, I am going to cover one chapter every Wednesday. My hope is that we can share our struggles, thoughts, and praises. Let's get started!

"Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."  - Proverbs 31:10-12 NKJV

The beginning of the book opens with Stormie's account of her forty plus years of marriage to her husband, and how her attitude and her marriage changed when she learned to pray for her husband. Many of the things that happen in marriage are actually part of the enemy's plan to destroy us and the marriage that God holds so sacred (pg. 14). We are the ones who have the power to say "I will not allow anything to destroy my marriage."  We have the means to establish a hedge of protection around our marriage through Jesus

Wait! Before you write off marriage...
God can take your struggles and use them for His good, but only when we lay down our selfish desires, our flesh, and fully surrender to Him. "When a heart becomes hard, there is no vision from God's perspective...When we pray, however, our heart becomes soft toward God and we get a vision." (Pg. 18). God's will is to break down all the barriers we put up, heal our wounds and put love back in our hearts. "Nothing and no one else can." (Pg. 19)

What about me? I need prayer, too.
"Praying for your husband will be an act of unselfish, unconditional love and sacrifice on your part." This is the hardest part for me to grasp. Because, Stormie says, it is very likely that our husbands will not pray for us the way we pray for them, or at all. (pg. 20) By nature, I am a very selfish creature. I will struggle tremendously with this, but I have faith that I can do it!

One prayer at a time.
The change in your life and marriage isn't going to happen overnight. It will take time, God's time. Stormie states that to us very clearly. "It's your responsibility to pray. It's God's decision to answer according to His will. Leave it in His hands." (pg. 21)

Dear Lord, please be with me as I take this journey to become the wife that you would help me be. Help me to lay down my selfishness and place my life in your hands. In your Holy name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Can't Wait for Sequels

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!
 Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish
This Week's topic: Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait To Get
Sabotaged (Alaskan Courage #5)Price of Privilege (Price of Privilege, #3)To Win Her Favor (Belle Meade Plantation, #2)Now and Forever (Wild at Heart, #2)Until the HarvestGone Without a Trace (Logan Point, #3)Desperate Measures (Port Aster Secrets, #3)Lethal Beauty (Mia Quinn, #3)The Daughter of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides, #2)After a Fashion 
I really enjoy series that follow a family or group of friends, such as Sabotaged and Now & Forever. It's fun to meet the new family member or friend, while still keeping up with the previous characters. A new favorite kind of series of mine is one that follows the same person throughout the whole series, like Julia Elliston in Price of Privilege, Kate Adams in Desperate Measures, and Mia Quinn in Lethal Beauty. I feel like you can really connect with the character and watch them learn and grow.
  1. Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey - Alaskan Courage Series
  2. Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta - Price of Privilege Series
  3. To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander - Belle Meade Plantation Series
  4. Now & Forever by Mary Connealy - Wild at Heart Series
  5. Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas - Appalachian Blessings Series
  6. Gone Without A Trace by Patricia Bradley - Logan Point Series
  7. Desperate Measures by Sandra Orchard - Port Aster Secrets Series
  8. Lethal Beauty by Lis Wiehl - Mia Quinn Series
  9. The Daughter of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky - Edwardian Brides Series
  10. After a Fashion by Jen Turano - I don't know if this will be a series or not, but I love Jen's writing so I added it anyways :D
 What sequels are you DYING to get your hands on?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Recipe for Love by Brandy Bruce

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Love Inspired Heartsong Presents (November 1, 2014)

***Special thanks to Brandy Bruce of for sending me a review copy.***

Brandy Bruce holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Liberty University. She's worked as a book editor for ten eight years. Brandy makes her home in Colorado with her husband and two children. When she's not editing manuscripts or writing, she's usually reading--anything from books about vampires to quiet Amish life. She also loves watching movies, talking on the phone with her sisters, blogging, or baking any kind of cheesecake.

Visit the author's website


Is Jeremy Mitchell Cooking Up Romance? 
Overworked chef Jeremy has ordered up the perfect vacation: a fly-fishing getaway and some much-needed alone time. But when he arrives in the Colorado mountain town, he's immediately captivated by the lovely proprietor of the bed-and-breakfast, not to mention her young son.

Alison Taylor still mourns her first husband even as she fights to keep their shared dream of a B and B alive. But there's no denying that she and her big-city guest have all the right ingredients for something special. Will this star-crossed pair realize that second chances can happen…if only they'll let them?

Product Details:
List Price: $4.99
Publisher: Love Inspired (November 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373487355
ISBN-13: 978-0373487356

This is such a sweet story! Brandy Bruce writes her stories with a lot of heart and soul. I particularly connected with Alison in this story due to similar circumstances. I think Brandy did an excellent job of portraying the gravity and seriousness of Alison's situation, and Jeremy's sensitivity to it. Nic adds a lightness to the story, so it's not bogged down in sadness and seriousness. Overall, I truly enjoyed this amazing story about love, life, and God's grace. The Lord truly is "my strength and my song."


Chapter One

Jeremy Mitchell gritted his teeth as his cell phone lost service again, along with his GPS navigator. He slowed his pace to see the name of the next road.
It would have been nice to know that there isn’t reliable cell service this far up into the mountains.
The road narrowed, and despite his frustration that his GPS wasn’t working, Jeremy drank in the scenery. He’d left Denver hours ago for Estes Park, Colorado, for this very reason—beauty and peace. He wanted to experience the sunshine of the days and sharp chill of the nights as the mountains transitioned into autumn. The aspen trees, many of which had already changed to yellow hues, the magnificent colors of the flowers, the clear mountain air, the cold rushing water of the rivers and waterfalls—he wanted all of it. With it being late September, quality fishing opportunities would be winding down before winter.
Jeremy breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the turn for Rockridge Lane. After driving about a mile down the gravel road, he saw a large, worn sign that read Mountain View Bed & Breakfast. Jeremy pulled into the circle drive and came to a stop, taking a moment to look over the two-story house in front of him. It needed a fresh coat of paint; that was for sure. But the B&B sat right by a river, and for Jeremy, that was all he needed. Well, that and a fly fishing rod. He hopped out of his truck and grabbed his luggage and gear and headed up the front porch steps.
He knocked three times and waited. The door opened and a boy who could be no older than seven or eight years old stood in front of him. They just stared at each other.
“Is your mom home?” Jeremy asked.
“Nicholas!” A slim, blond-haired woman came rushing up behind the boy. “You know you’re not supposed to open the door without me! Oh! Hi there. I’m Alison Taylor. You must be Jeremy Mitchell. Please come in. This is my son, Nicholas.”
Nicholas held out his hand. “I just turned eight.”
Jeremy bit back a chuckle and gave the boy’s hand a good shake. “Nice to meet you, Nicholas.”
He stepped inside the foyer and took a look around. The B&B had a similar look to most B&Bs Jeremy had stayed at in the past—a little quaint, a little rustic and old-fashioned, but neat, clean, and welcoming. He set down his bags and pulled out the online registration form he’d printed off. Alison took it from him.
“Thanks so much. Well, let me show you to your room.”
Nicholas reached for one of the smaller bags. “I’ll help you, Mister.”
“Thanks. You can call me Jeremy, if that’s okay with your mom.”
“It’s fine,” Alison said amiably. She headed up the staircase, and Jeremy and Nicholas followed her. “You’re our only guest this week, Jeremy, so please make yourself at home. Breakfast is at 8:00, unless you’d prefer to have it earlier. I know you mentioned in your email that you plan on doing a lot of fishing. I can work with your schedule.” Alison took a right at the top of the stairs and stopped.
“There are three rooms up here—the Dove, the Ark, and the Haven. I prepared the Dove for you because it has the best view, but the Ark is bigger and you can certainly have that room if you’d like the extra space. The Haven is the smallest room of the three. All three rooms have telephones that ring downstairs to our living quarters, so you can call anytime you need to. And each bedroom has its own private bath.”
“The Dove sounds fine, Mrs. Taylor. Thank you,” Jeremy said. She nodded and opened the door to her right. Nicholas walked in first and set down the bag he was carrying.
“Please call me Alison. And,” Alison hesitated for a moment, her eyes on Nicholas. “You might as well know that I’m a widow.”
Jeremy’s mouth went dry. “I’m so sorry.”
“Thank you.” She held out a single key. “Here’s a key to the front door. I keep the door locked most of the time, so please keep the key on you at all times. There are snacks on the kitchen counter that you are welcome to. Please feel free to make yourself at home. Our primary living space is in the basement, so the first floor living room and dining areas are available for your use. The river is very close; you can see it from our breakfast area. You can go right out the back door, off the deck, and make your way to the water. I assume you have a fishing license?”
“Of course,” Jeremy responded as he set his rod in the corner of the room. Nicholas stood next to his mother and she ruffled his hair affectionately.
“All right then, Jeremy. Welcome to the Mountain View B&B,” Alison said with a smile.
“We hope your stay is a nice one,” Nicholas chimed in. Alison beamed at him, and then the two of them descended the stairs, leaving Jeremy to get settled.

“I don’t want to have to tell you again, Nic. You have to wait for me before you open the front door to strangers. Got it?” Alison stood at the bottom of the stairs with her hands on her hips. Her son hung his head and looked appropriately reprimanded.
“Sorry, Mom. I’ve got it.”
Alison leaned down so that the two of them were eye level. “It’s my job to protect you. It’s just you and me here, and I need you to listen to me. The people who stay with us are our guests, but we don’t really know them. We need to be cautious. That means you follow the rules I set.”
“Okay. Jeremy seems nice though, doesn’t he?”
Alison straightened and gave her son a smile. “Sure he does. I hope he has a good time here.” At the sound of a car turning into the driveway, Alison peered through the front window. “Grandpa’s here. Go grab your hoodie. Remember, he’s taking you to Griffin’s birthday party and then bringing you home. I’d like you to be home in time for dinner.”
Nicholas was already running toward the basement stairs to grab his hoodie. Alison opened the front door and stood on the porch while her dad jumped out of his Yukon.
“Hi, Dad,” she called out, preparing herself for the questions that he would undoubtedly ask about the truck parked in front of the house.
“Do you have a guest?” he asked. She glued a smile to her face.
“We sure do. Isn’t that great?”
He frowned. “Did a couple come up to the mountains for the weekend or was it a family with kids?”
She shook her head. “No, actually, it’s just a fisherman. He’ll be staying with us for the week.”
Her dad’s frown deepened. She didn’t blame him really. In all honesty, having a stranger stay with her and Nicholas for the week wasn’t the ideal choice and she knew it. But with their current financial state, Alison couldn’t be choosy about guests. She kept the door to the basement locked, Connor’s old handgun in her closet, and she tried to vet her guests as much as possible before agreeing to have them stay. She never allowed Nicholas to be alone with the guests, unless they were children his age or younger.
She ran a B&B, after all. She had to entertain guests or she might as well close up and sell now. Her parents had recommended she do just that after Connor died, but Alison hadn’t been able to bring herself to sell the business that she and Connor had started together.
She’d lost Connor, her best friend and the love of her life. She couldn’t bear to lose the dream they’d shared of owning their own business. Not to mention the fact that they’d invested every penny they owned in the Mountain View B&B. Alison avoided eye contact with her dad, hoping to steer clear of any disapproval he might show for her decisions.
“Thanks for taking Nicholas to the birthday party, Dad. I appreciate it. Here are the directions to get to Griffin’s house.” She walked down the porch steps and handed him a printed off map.
“I don’t mind at all,” her father said and Alison believed him. Her parents lived in a small house right outside of town and they spent as much time with Nicholas as possible. Alison’s dad especially tried to make time for him since Connor had passed away, and that meant the world to Alison.
Nicholas came running out the door and down the steps. “Hi, Grandpa!”
Her father’s eyes lit up. “Hey, champ!”
“Did you get the gift for Griffin?” Alison asked, and Nicholas held up the gift bag carrying the baseball cap Nicholas had chosen.
“All right then. Have fun! I’ll see you at dinnertime.”
Alison waved from the porch and then just stood for a moment, enjoying the sound of the wind whistling through the trees. The door behind her opened and she jumped.
“Did I scare you?” Jeremy asked. Alison tried to catch her breath.
“No. Well, maybe a little. I’m not that used to having people around.” Alison wanted to bite her tongue after saying that.
I run a bed and breakfast for crying out loud! She scolded herself.
Jeremy’s face didn’t show any emotion. “Things have been slow?” he asked.
You could say that, Alison thought dryly. You’re my first guest in more than a month.
“Yes, but I’m hoping things will pick up. A lot of people like to visit the mountains when the colors change.”
He nodded. “I had hoped you could give me a few recommendations for restaurants in the area.”
They stood rather awkwardly on the porch with Jeremy framed in the doorway and Alison right by the steps. She didn’t like it.
“Absolutely, if you want to go back inside, I have some Estes Park brochures that list out restaurants, local attractions—basically anything and everything about the surrounding area.”
Jeremy stepped aside, letting her go through the front door first. Alison tried to ignore the unease she felt. It had been a long time since she’d been alone with a man, other than her dad, of course.
“Here they are,” she said once they reached the kitchen. She showed him the basket where she kept brochures for the guests.
“And what do you recommend?” Jeremy asked pointedly. Alison thought for a moment. She and Nicholas rarely went out to eat. But she’d lived in Estes Park since high school, so she knew the area well.
“For such a small town, there are lots of restaurants for tourists to choose from. Do you like Italian food?”
Alison caught the amused look on Jeremy’s face when she said that, but he didn’t elaborate so she didn’t ask.
“I do,” he answered.
“Mama Rose’s is good. Dave’s BBQ is another local favorite.”
“Is it okay for me to use the kitchen on evenings I’m here?” Jeremy asked.
“Of course. Nicholas and I usually have our meals downstairs when guests are here. I have a kitchenette in the basement. But even if I do cook upstairs, Nic and I will eat downstairs. For the most part, the kitchen is available to you. I’m afraid none of the local places deliver way out here. We’re just a little far for that.”
“No problem.”
They stood in silence for a moment, then Jeremy pulled out one of the bar stools and sat down at the peninsula counter, flipping through the pamphlets.
“I was about to make some coffee. Would you like some?” Alison offered. He looked up.
“That sounds great. I was thinking I’d take a walk down to the river in a bit. Sort of scout out my trail for tomorrow.”
Good coffee was the one treat Alison often splurged on. The B&B had had a few busy weeks mid-summer, but spring had been too slow. Too many weeks without any income. Connor’s death had left her a small amount of life insurance money, which had kept her afloat so far, but she’d set aside an amount for Nicholas’s college fund and refused to touch that money. The money she had reserved to supplement her income was dwindling quickly. There just wasn’t money for extras.
But on the bad days, on the days when she missed Connor the most, a good cup of coffee comforted her.
Within minutes, the smell of fresh coffee brewing filled the kitchen. The breakfast area and the connecting living room were surrounded by large windows. The windows were just one of the reasons Alison and Connor had fallen in love with the B&B the first time they’d walked through it. The windows let in the life of the mountains. Through the trees, one could see the river rushing. Deer and even elk would often meander within arm’s length of the house.
“Good coffee,” Jeremy murmured once Alison had poured him a mug. He breathed in the scent approvingly. “You have a lovely home,” he said as he walked with his cup of coffee over by the windows and looked out.
“Thank you. I have ideas for improvements . . . but well, like I mentioned before, things have been slow.” Alison knew the house badly needed to be repainted. And some of the interior was dated and needed redecorating. But she was too strapped financially to spend much money on the house.
“Everything looks nice. And the location is really the best feature. I’d love to buy a place like this someday—tucked away in the mountains, next to a river,” Jeremy stated.
“I love it here,” Alison said. “My family moved to Estes Park from Denver when I was sixteen. I thought I’d hate it, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I fell in love with the area. I can’t imagine ever leaving.” Alison wanted to clamp her mouth shut.
Why do you keep rambling? Are you so desperate for conversation? Why not just wear a sign that reads, “I’m lonely!” Stop telling him such personal things.
But Jeremy didn’t seem annoyed. “I moved to Denver from Santa Fe to go to college, and I ended up staying,” he told her. “I enjoy the city, but I come up to the mountains whenever I can. It’s peaceful. There’s something about being on the river that makes me feel closer to God.”
Alison understood the feeling. “I found my soul when my family settled here. I’d go hiking with my dad and come across a waterfall or a river flowing, and it’s like I could feel God speaking peace over me. I’d never felt so close to God before. Am I right in assuming you’re a believer, too, then?” Alison wondered, hoping she wasn’t overstepping by asking.
“Yes. I’ve been a believer since grade school. But life can get so hectic—sometimes I have to take myself out of my schedule in order to reconnect with God.”
“So . . . your soul was thirsting for a river?” she said knowingly, and Jeremy smiled.
“I couldn’t have said it more perfectly.”
Jeremy looked back toward the view, and Alison took that moment to really look over Jeremy Mitchell. He couldn’t have been much older than she—he looked to be in his early to mid thirties. His light blond hair was cropped short and his hazel eyes were friendly, though a little serious. He stood with perfect posture; Alison wondered if he came from a military household. He was dressed for the mountains with brown boots, a red flannel shirt, and dark jeans.
He seemed to be about Connor’s height and build, maybe 6’ or 6’1” and fit. He looked like someone who lifted weights on a regular basis. But that’s where the similarities with Connor ended. Connor’s Hispanic heritage had resulted in olive skin, dark hair, and even darker eyes. And Connor’s eyes were almost always playful. He was a jokester, rarely serious.
But in that moment, watching Jeremy Mitchell, Alison didn’t mind the seriousness that seemed to accompany him. He was handsome in an earthy way that Alison liked. He turned back toward her.
“Thank you for the coffee, Alison.”
She froze at the sound of her name on his lips.
Oh dear.
Jeremy left the mug in the sink and then took off out the back door to explore. Alison stood unmoving in the kitchen, rationalizing away her attraction to this hazel-eyed stranger.
It’s been two years since Connor died—obviously I’m lonely. I’ve been so preoccupied with taking care of Nicholas and running the business that I haven’t had much of a social life. I’m stressed about money and I miss the life I had with Connor. So, I’m reacting to even the smallest attention from an attractive man. It’s nothing.
From where she stood, she could see Jeremy navigate the rocky riverbank as he followed the river west.
Oh Lord, help me to get a grip.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

OverviewHe felt his face flushing as Cara opened the door. Wearing a garnet-colored knit dress and with her dark hair pinned up, she looked even prettier than he remembered. Suddenly he wished he'd thought to bring a hostess gift. Like a cat.

After years abroad, Garrison Brown finds himself at the home of his beloved grandmother who has just passed away. He must sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While he hopes to dispense with the task quickly--especially since he is severely allergic to cats--his grandmother's instructions don't allow for speed. She has left some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends.

Can he match the cats with the perfect new owners? And is it possible that he might meet his own match along the way?

ISBN-13: 9780800719661
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 9/9/2014
Pages: 176
Buy It: B&N | Amazon | CBD

My Review: I can now say that I have successfully kicked off the Christmas season by reading my first Christmas novella! Melody Carlson's book is a light-hearted, easy read. Though at times I found Garrison's behavior frustrating, it was interesting to read a book entirely from the male perspective, and I think Carlson pulled it off nicely. The story itself is sweet. It made me want to get a cat to cuddle with (though, I don't think my husband would care to much for that!). The romantic aspect of the story was my least favorite part. It felt rushed to me. Overall, though, I still enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick Christmas novella that will warm your heart and make you want to cuddle a kitty!

*I received this book from the publisher through the Revell Reads blogging program in exchange for my honest review.*

About the Author: Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, as well as The Christmas Pony and A Simple Christmas Wish. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Love Undone by Cindy Woodsmall

OverviewA husband and son abandoned to forge a path alone. 
A young woman who sacrificed her dreams.
How will the God of grace and hope help them find their way?

At nineteen years old, Old Order Amish Jolene Keim was on the brink of happily-ever-after when everything changed, stealing the future she expected and burdening her with an unbearable decision. For the next ten years, Jolene throws herself into family life—and then she meets Andy Fisher. The horse trainer and father to a sweet nine year-old challenges her and holds up a mirror to issues Jolene has been unwilling to face.

Andy is cautious about his deepening friendship with Jolene, but he believes she knows the truth about him – that he is a grass widower. As a man whose wife has abandoned him six years past, he is unable to divorce or remarry according to the Amish ways. Andy has wrestled with God concerning his reality, and he had found peace with the solitary future facing him…until he met Jolene.

As Andy and Jolene find themselves confronted by difficult choices, will they trust in God's guidance—or will the allure of their deepening friendship only lead to further temptation?

ISBN-13: 9780307730008
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Publication date: 9/9/2014
Pages: 336
Read an Excerpt
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My Review: Cindy Woodsmall has a way of taking an ordinary Amish story and turning it into an extraordinary one. I devoured all 336 pages of this book. As I began to delve into the story, I immediately knew this wasn't going to be a typical Amish book. I highly enjoy learning more about the Amish faith and their day to day lives, but it can be a little redundant at times. It's refreshing to read a story that doesn't follow the typical "mold." 

I really enjoyed getting to know Jolene and her family. The obstacles she had to overcome were every bit as daunting as the author made them out to be, and I could feel Jolene's struggles right along with her. Ray added a different element to the story, offering insight from someone who Jolene had worked her best on, but couldn't quite let go of. I'll admit, I didn't quite like Andy when we first meet him in the story. I think the author did this on purpose, though, because as the story progresses, I fall in love with him just like Jo does. 

Both Andy and Jolene, and in some ways Ray, have a lot to overcome in this story.  Though Jolene is content and works her best to please God and follow His word, there are parts of herself she keeps hidden and struggles with fear, doubt, and anger. Andy accepts his position in life, until he meets Jo. Then he struggles to again overcome the reality of his situation. The imagery of the Dogwood blooming year round was beautiful in that it reminds the characters the God is there for them, watching over them, no matter what. His ways are perfect and flawless, and in time we will hopefully come to accept, and maybe understand them.

Overall, I highly recommend this story of "shattered dreams", of "love undone", and "God's unfailing grace."

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.*

About the Author: Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the Foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family. - See more at: