Saturday, December 7, 2013

Stones for Bread

Book Review

“You are now a keeper of bread.” So ends Christa Parrish’s book, Stones for Bread. The book is nourishing to both the body and soul. The book contains ten recipes for different artisan breads. I have a glutton allergy and I admit I grieved that I would not be able to make the bread and enjoy the fruits of my labor. The recipes look absolutely delicious. It is also a book that gives the history of bread making with a cultural literacy that is comprehensive. Parrish knows bread.

Protagonist Liesl McIntyre builds a community around bread. She owns Wild Rise Bakehouse and she painstakingly adds to her family of employees and friends as her business grows. This community of characters goes through circumstances that strongly speak to the human condition: faith, trust, love, and even death.

Parrish moves back and forth seamlessly between contemporary Liesl and Liesl’s childhood and coming of age. By the end of the book the reader knows Liesl well. I liked following the thread from Liesl’s traumatic childhood to her adulthood. The reader is allowed to observe Liesl’s struggle to become whole. I was left with a wonderful  sense of how God moves and intervenes in our lives. I felt blessed by this book.

This is a wonderful book. I recommend it even if the reader has a glutton allergy. I received a copy of this book in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy a copy of the book

About the Book

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 her 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.

About the Author

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.

Learn more about Christa at:

Christa Parrish is celebrating her fourth novel, Stones for Breadwith a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway.
#StonesforBread KitchenAid Mixer Contest #ChristaParrish

Easy steps to enter:

1. Follow Christa Parrish and TNZ Fiction on Pinterest.

2. Then Pin the Stones for Bread book cover (below), the contest graphic (above), or both, and link to this post (using this URL: #StonesforBread KitchenAid Mixer Contest #ChristaParrish

3. Then fill out THIS SHORT FORM to let us know. (There are also some additional ways to earn extra entries, as well as an option for non-Pinterest users. It's true—people like that do exist!)

Questions? Email info @ litfusegroup dot com.

Winner will be announced on 12/9 on Christa's Facebook Page.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Marriage in Middlebury

Book Review

A Marriage in Middlebury is a book by Anita Higman. I have read several books by Higman and enjoyed them. Somehow A Marriage in Middlebury failed to draw me in. It has many of the features that I usually enjoy. Middlebury is a charming small town with a delightful neighborhood with a teahouse, antique stores, gift shops, etc., located in an old residential part of the town. It comes complete with cobblestone walkways. Charlotte Rose Hill, the protagonist, owns and runs the teahouse. The teahouse is delightful with delicious food and Charlotte mixes her own personalized teas for her customers.

I should have loved this book because these are the types of things that typically keep me reading. In retrospect, I think what happened is that I could see where the book was going almost from chapter 1. It was completely obvious (to me) how each couple should be correctly paired. Because of this I found myself reading a few pages and I would lose interest. It took me much longer than usual to complete this book.

I was frustrated with Charlotte Hill because she was so perfect. This did become somewhat tiresome, as Charlotte never strayed from her perfect existence. I really wanted her to burst out of her perfection and say what she really felt. She never did though. If she was upset she went into her broom closet to pray. While that is an admirable way to resolve problems there were certainly times when I felt she should speak up.

I did enjoy the character, Meredith, immensely. She was quirky, funny, a creative thinker and an amazing friend. When she was “on stage” I read with interest. Consequently, I loved her romance with the village pastor. She would be an amazing pastor’s wife. This romance was funny, delightful and once again, really drew me in. Also, as someone who thinks that tea is one of the great wonders of the world, I enjoyed the types of tea that were described and I loved the idea of personalized tea.
A Marriage in Middlebury is in many ways a charming, feel-good book. Personally, I had problems losing interest. I knew the ending early on; but I do think that there are probably other readers who would enjoy the coziness and charm of the Village of Middlebury. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy a copy of this book

About the Book

One decision changed both their lives . . . but will love win in the end? Charlotte Rose Hill enjoys a comfortable life serving up country delicacies, uniquely blended teas, and matchmaking advice for her quirky, devoted customers. The only thing lacking is someone to share it with. At eighteen she denied Sam Wilder's marriage proposal after his family convinced her to walk away from their relationship. They both moved on . . . or so she thought. When Sam walks back into her life more than a decade later, Charlotte is surprised that her heart still quickens. But is it because of his presence? Or because of the presence of Sam's new fiancée? A second chance at love doesn't happen often, but their past may keep them apart. Is it too late for Sam and Charlotte?

About the Author

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Connect with Anita at:

Anita Higman is celebrating the release of her latest book, A Marriage in Middlebury, with a double Kindle Fire giveaway (one for you & one to give away!) and a "Tea for Two" Facebook Author Chat Party on December 12th.


One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire for you AND a friend
  • A Marriage in Middlebury by Anita Higman (one to keep and one to give away!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 12th. Winner will be announced at the "Tea for Two" Facebook Author Chat Party on December 12th. Invite your friends and connect with Anita for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Anita's next book!

So grab your copy of A Marriage in Middlebury and join Anita on the evening of December 12th 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 or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 12/12!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightly

Book Review

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay is a collection of letters from a young woman, Samantha Moore, to her benefactor who goes by the literary name of Mr. Knightley. It is an unusual format to use in a fictional account but Reay does it skillfully, giving the reader an intimate look into the life of Samantha. We are privileged to know the pieces in her new wardrobe, the description of her gorgeous apartment and her most private thoughts. We know about her biggest fears and her desire to change enough to be able to form friendships. We also get a detailed look into the lives of other people who are part of Sam’s life. I think that the style of the book gives the reader a sense of having an almost voyeuristic peek into the life of this young woman.

Anyone who enjoys Jane Austen will love this book. Sam is a graduate student at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her previous undergraduate work in classical literature is a big part of who Sam is. There are numerous literary references to Sam’s favorite books and she can quote or paraphrase Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens. I thought that it was fascinating to be able to watch the metamorphosis of Sam, from a bright girl who held people at a distance, to a polished, well-educated young woman that had numerous people who cared for her.

The ending was a surprise. The pertinent question through the entire story was, “Who is Mr. Knightley?” I had an idea who he was but I was not at all sure. This is a fascinating story done in an unusual way. It made me feel like I was part of the grad school experience again and I definitely enjoyed that. Also, in years past I lived in Chicago and it was fun to read about the restaurants – some I was familiar with, some I was not – and riding the “L” and the Metra. This is a great book for many reasons. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

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.

About the Author

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.

Learn more about Katherine at:

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!

Friday, November 15, 2013

To Know You

Book Review

To Know Him is actually three stories collected into one book. Authors Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel do a stunning job of pulling the three stories into a coherent whole. It is also a tour of the country - from Dallas, to Los Angeles, to Boston and Colorado Springs – all in a private luxury jet and staying in five star hotels. It is a detailed look into a way of life most of us can only imagine. I truly enjoyed this “lifestyles of the rich and famous” tour.

This is a story of miracles. Real miracles of Biblical proportion. The authors do it in a way that is believable and not contrived. There are relationship miracles and healing miracles and redemption that could only be a miracle. It is book that will make you feel like you have just observed something holy and precious.

The characters are all memorable and I became genuinely fond of most of them. I found myself relating to them in personal ways. I loved Destiny. She was an amazing young woman and she made me laugh. I thought that Matt must be one of the finest men to walk upon this earth. I enjoyed Julia’s flawless style and loved her career as a criminal sidewalk artist. Jack and Hope/Chloe were obnoxious but they are part of the redemption story. And then of course, there is Dillon. Dillon was an angel in the form of a young, teenage boy.

Ethridge and Mackel have penned a book that I had to keep reading, even when I should have been accomplishing other things. It absorbed me and I absolutely had to find out how this complex set of problems was going to play out. And – of course – I do recommend this book; but if possible, set aside enough time to read the book in its entirety. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

Julia Whittaker's rocky past yielded two daughters, both given up for adoption as infants. Now she must find them to try to save her son.

Julia and Matt Whittaker's son has beaten the odds for thirteen years only to have the odds---and his liver---crash precipitously. The only hope for his survival is a "living liver" transplant, but the transplant list is long and Dillon's time is short. His two older half-sisters, born eighteen months apart to two different fathers, offer his only hope for survival.

But can Julia ask a young woman---someone she surrendered to strangers long ago and has never spoken with---to make such a sacrifice to save a brother she's never known? Can she muster the courage to journey back into a shame-filled season of her life, face her choices and their consequences, and find any hope of healing?

And what if she discovers in her own daughters' lives that a history of foolish choices threatens to repeat itself? Julia knows she's probably embarking on a fool's errand---searching for the daughters she abandoned only now that she needs something from them. But love compels Julia to take this journey. Can grace and forgiveness compel her daughters to join her?

In To Know You, Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel explore how the past creates the present . . . and how even the most shattered lives can be redeemed.

About the Authors

Shannon Ethridge is a best-selling author, speaker, and certified life coach with a master's degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University. She has spoken to college students and adults since 1989 and is the author of 21 books, including the million-copy best-selling Every Woman's Battle series. She is a frequent guest on TV and radio programs and mentors aspiring writers and speakers through her BLAST Program (Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers.)

Learn more about Shannon:

Kathryn Mackel is a best-selling author and acclaimed screenwriter for Disney and Fox. She was on the screenwriting team for Left Behind: The Movie, and Frank Peretti's Hangman's Curse. She is the acclaimed author of "The Surrogate", "The Departed", and "The Hidden" and resides in Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband.

Learn more about Kathryn:


Shannon Ethridge is celebrating the release of  To Know You (co-written by Kathryn Mackel), by giving away a $100 gift certificate to Lisa Leonard Designs and a personal coaching session, as well as throwing a Facebook Author Chat Party!


One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 19th. Winner will be announced at the "To Know You" Facebook Author Chat Party on the 19th. Connect with Shannon and friends for an encouraging evening of fun chat, book club discussion, giveaways, and a chance to win a PERSONAL COACHING SESSION WITH SHANNON!

So grab your copy of To Know You and join Shannon on the evening of November 19th 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 or TWITTER or Pinterest and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on 11/19!

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Book Review

Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher is part of the Where the Heart Lives series. Hatcher is a veteran writer of many novels and knows her craft well. The novel is a familiar pattern, part of the historical romance genre.  Yet, Hatcher has written a book that draws you in. Set in Boise City, Idaho, right at the turn of the 20th century, the male protagonist, Tyson Applegate, is the son of a wealthy owner of several silver mines. He walked out on his wife, Diana, a few months after they were married. Now he has returned, a changed man, who wants to convince Diana that he has changed and wants to love her. When I condense it like that the plot sounds worn-out and perhaps even boring.

This is where the skill of the author shows. Hatcher traces the path that Tyson went through to come to a decision to make things right. She writes of God’s redemption – how God can take a hopeless situation and bring healing. Hatcher has seamlessly blended the storyline, showing how Tyson’s rebellion hurt the individual (Diana); but also how his choices created a wider net of hurt that affected several other people.

The book is a testament to how God can take an individual who has committed horrendous wrongs and help him to relinquish control and allow God to guide his life. In contrast to the hurt Tyson caused, God changes everything to love, peace and joy. He blesses Tyson and Diana’s home over and over.

I do recommend this book. Even thought it is a bit predictable, it is a wonderful story. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

Diana is ready to begin a new chapter in her life—until the husband she believed dead reappears at her engagement party.

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word from him in years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when Tyson returns, claiming to be a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom.

He agrees with one condition—she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

About the Author

Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.


Robin Lee Hatcher is celebrating the release of her latest novel, Belovedwith an iPad Mini giveaway! 
  One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 15th. Winner will be announced November 16th at Robin's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Robin's blog on the 16th to see if you won. (Or, better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gunpowder Tea

Book Review

Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley is the third book in the series The Brides of Last Chance Ranch. It is a novel written about two private detectives, one with the fabled Pinkerton Agency and one with Wells Fargo. The story is set in 1897 in Arizona Territory. For the first part of the book, the plot seemed almost comedic.  Neither of the two detectives figured out that they were both private eyes searching for the same criminal, the Phantom.

As the reader, it seemed obvious to me that the two protagonists, Annie and Branch, should have been able to figure each other out. Instead they seemed to bumble along. Consequently, after about a hundred pages I was unprepared when the book morphed from a seeming comedy to an exciting story. I have to say, the climax of the book surprised me. The author kept the identity of the Phantom a secret and had me puzzled right to the end. It made for an exciting ending.

Brownley writes knowledgeably about life in 19th century Arizona. She described ranching life, the desert terrain and portrayed the sense of community in the small town of Cactus Patch. Her characters are marvelous, from the quirky Aunt Bessie, “the hello-girl” who lived in the town, to the “family” of complex characters who call The Last Chance Ranch home.

Gunpowder Tea is an interesting book with a surprise ending. I do recommend this book. I received Gunpowder Tea from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

About the book

In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life.

When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom---an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch.

But she isn't the only one at the ranch with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective
Jeremy Taggart is working undercover as well. Their true identities may be a secret, but it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the sparks flaring between them.
Neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn't removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they get to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets---and no one on the ranch is safe.

The longer Miranda and Jeremy spend working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers-and their lives-depend on solving this case. Love will just have to wait.

"In the exquisitely intriguing finale to her Brides of Last Chance Ranch trilogy, Brownley blends faith and romance with a dash of mystery to serve up a cozy, fulfilling story set in the Arizona Territory of the 1890s . . . .This enchanting account of the hardships and wonders of the Old West features many delightful characters. The story stands on its own merits, independent of the first two in the series, drawing readers into a world that is difficult to leave." 
---Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this---except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter at the time. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction." So that's what Margaret did. She's now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit. Her first non-fiction book Grieving God's Way: the Lasting Path to Hope and Healing has won much critical acclaim. She is currently working on the third book in her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.

Learn more at Margaret's website:


Margaret Brownley's latest release, Gunpowder Tea, is receiving high praise, and she's celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway and a "Tea with Margaret" Facebook party!

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. Winner will be announced at the "Tea with Margaret" Facebook Author Chat Party on the 7th. Connect with Margaret and friends for an evening of book chat, prizes, and get an exclusive look at Margaret's next book!

So grab your copy of Gunpowder Tea and join Margaret on the evening of 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 today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word — tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 11/7!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Snow On the Tulips

Book Review

World War II has been a very literate period of time with both fiction and non-fiction publications. I have read several fictional offerings with a World War II setting and found most of them fascinating. The stories of sacrifice are amazing. Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma, is not an exception. I found the book riveting, right up to the end.

Cornelia was a young woman whose husband was killed on the first day when war broke out in the Netherlands. The story covers the few months just before the Canadians came in to liberate the Dutch state of Friesland. I think one of the main points of the story was the dichotomy between people who believed that a person should obey the state in all situations and those who believed that it is important to protect those that the state is abusing.

Cornelia’s brother-in-law, Piet, was a believer in always following the law and he went willingly with the Nazis to a camp. He did not even try to hide. Cornelia chooses to shelter and nurse a young man who was a Dutch resistor who survived a Nazi execution. The book gives a reader much to think about. I definitely came down on the side of those who were sheltering Jewish people and helping the Dutch Resistance.

Other than Corrie ten Boom’s story I have not read much about the Dutch during World War II so this was interesting. I had not realized that when Hitler’s Blitzkrieg rolled across the border the Dutch army rode against them on bicycles. Obviously, it was not a fair fight. I also respected the stubbornness and determination that the Dutch people exhibited, against all odds.

Snow on the Tulips is a book based on characters in the author’s family. It is a fascinating book, definitely worth reading. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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.

Buy a Copy of the Book

About the Book

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.

About the Author

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.

She'd love to have you visit her at


Liz Tolsma is celebrating the release of her novel, Snow on the Tulipsby giving away an Amazon Reading Pack to one lucky winner. Find out what readers are saying about the book here.


  One winner will receive:
  • A $50 Amazon gift card
  • Snow on the Tulips by Liz Tolsma
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 16th. Winner will be announced November 18th at Liz's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Liz's blog on the 18th to see if you won. (Or, better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox! Just enter your email address on the left sidebar of her blog.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Journey of Josephine Cain

Book Review

The Journey of Josephine Cain is a book in the series An American Tapestry by Nancy Moser. This book is set in America, post-Civil War. Josephine is an ingénue socialite who lives in Washington DC. Her father was a famed Civil War general who has an important role in laying the track, building the transcontinental railroad. The story chronicled Josephine’s life from the assassination of President Lincoln to the completion of the railroad.

In the beginning of the book, Josephine was a spoiled, whiney, uninteresting, shallow young woman – a girl who insisted on having her own way. The book ended with Josephine marrying. She became a strong, intelligent young woman who confidently made her way in the Wild West. I liked the mature version of Josephine. The difficulty for me was the story was not long enough for Moser to develop Josephine’s growth as a character. The change from shallow Josephine to the interesting person she became was abrupt. I think I would enjoy reading more about Josephine as she was at the end of the book.

For history buffs, the story is an interesting chronicle of the period as the tracks are laid through Nebraska, Wyoming and finally on to Promontory Point in Utah. Moser painted a picture of the ruggedness and the depravity of the temporary towns that followed the railroad workers. There were multiple saloons, gangs of outlaws and a house of prostitution, all transportable from town to town. Moser is from Nebraska and she described the prairie well – from the tall grass as high as a man’s head to the gorgeous sunsets.

I enjoyed the character of Josephine’s Aunt Bernice. Frieda Schultz, Josephine’s ladies’ maid was also interesting and appealing. General Cain, Josephine’s father was difficult to figure out. He was a man with strong leadership talents. He made his daughter’s wishes come true, yet was absent from his marriage. Josephine’s mother was the mother you can be thankful you never had.

Over all, this book is a good story and I do recommend it. It portrays an interesting period in the history of the United States. Also, Moser fleshes out her characters well – especially the secondary characters – the ones who play a supporting role. It is also a book that showed the strength of women. Women who played an important role in settling the West.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book

When a socialite from the nation's capital embarks on a journey to the Wild West, her life is changed forever.

A setting populated by hundreds of laborers, outlaws, and Indians is hardly the place for a wealthy general's daughter. But Josephine Cain is determined to visit her father, who supervises the day-to-day work involved in the grandest ambition of post-Civil War America: the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Life with the railroad is far from the proper life Josephine is used to, and she faces deadly gunfights, harsh weather, and vigilante uprisings. She is torn between the West and the East; between her privileged upbringing and the challenges of a new frontier; between the pull of the suitable beau her parents approve of and an attraction to a rough but charming Irish railroad worker. But if Josephine is willing, she just might find a new life, a unique purpose . . . and true love.

About the Author

Nancy Moser is the best-selling author of more than twenty novels. She is a winner and two-time nominee of the Christy Award, and her latest novel was named to Booklist's "Top 10 Romance Novels of 2011." Nancy and her husband have three grown children and three grandchildren, and they live in the Midwest.

Learn more at Nancy at:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fields of Grace

Book Review

Hannah Luce has a story to tell. She was the sole survivor of a disastrous plane crash. Fields of Grace is her story told by Hannah, with Robin Gaby Fisher. Hannah is the daughter of Ron Luce, the founder of a ministry called Teen Mania. Hannah grew up as a princess, very pampered. She lived in a lakeside home and had traveled the world. She entered Oral Roberts University with a full-ride scholarship. After college, in an era when jobs were in short supply she was given full-time employment with Teen Mania.

Hannah told how as an adolescent she began to secretly question much of what she had been taught about God. I thought one of the somewhat amusing parts of the story was her description of trying to speak in tongues. After much prayer, with still no tongue speaking from above, she decides to fake it and makes up, on the spot, a message in gibberish. In some ways, I could relate to her story because as a teen-ager I felt like I could never get Christianity right. It took awhile; but I finally learned that it was not anything I could do. I was dependent on God rescuing me. Hannah was good at “God-talk” but her struggle to find God continued through her college years.

The story began with Hannah returning to the field in Kansas where her plane went down. It ended with the same setting. The middle of the story is an autobiographical depiction of her life, including her struggle with God. One of the more extraordinary parts of the book was her description of her post-accident life as a burn victim. She made the horror of it graphically real. Another thought-provoking segment was the inclusion of stories from the two women who were the first on the scene after the plane crashed. I was deeply touched by the fire chief who went with Hannah back to the field where the crash occurred and the nurse who was off-duty and still sat the entire night with Hannah. These are ordinary people who were truly heroes.

Hannah’s story showed a brave, gutsy young woman who survived a horrible accident. She told of feeling closer to God because of the accident. Yet, her theology still seemed confused. She went to the scene of the accident to try to put the event behind her and to enable her to move forward. I will be interested to see how God uses this young woman in the future.

This is an interesting book. There appear to be two parts to the book. It is an intimate look into the life of a young woman who was well connected in Christian circles; and it is an insider’s look at a young woman who suffered through a horrible accident. Obviously, Hannah could not go through the pain and suffering that she did and not be strongly affected. In a sense, I think that Hannah’s story is only beginning.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy the book for $17.29

About the Book

On May 11, 2012, a small plane carrying five young adults en route to a Christian youth rally plummeted into a Kansas field. Only two survived the crash: twenty-seven-year-old ex-marine Austin Anderson, who would die the next morning from extensive burns, and his friend Hannah Luce, the twenty-two-year-old daughter of influential youth minister Ron Luce. Had it not been for Austin rising out of the rubble to help Hannah along in his last hours, and the assistance of a passing driver who just happened upon them, she may have died.

Fields of Grace is a story not just of survival against the odds, but of spiritual revelation. On the surface, Hannah was the dutiful daughter of Evangelical royalty, with a degree from Oral Roberts University and a staff position in her father’s ministry. Yet she had begun to investigate and question her early religious convictions. Hannah recounts the transformative aftermath of the crash—Austin’s strength as he took care of her even as his own body failed, the miracle of the stranger who rescued them, and memories of her beloved friend Garrett. Profoundly moving and ultimately uplifting, Fields of Grace is a story of a girl staring death in the face only to find resilience and hope from her faith—a new kind of faith that would change her forever.

Book Review

Hannah Luce is the daughter of Teen Mania Ministries cofounder and preacher Ron Luce. She lives in Chicago. At twenty-three years old, she’s also the founder of Mirror Tree, a nonprofit devoted to re-integrating refugees from the horrors of rape, genocide, civil wars, and other means of trauma by funding educational research to improve their lives.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Return to Me

Book Review

Return to Me by Lynn Austin is a powerful story. It is the first volume in a new series Restoration Chronicles. The book traces the story that begins in 539 BC when the prophet Daniel is summoned to read the message written on the wall for Babylonian King Belshazzar. The message predicted the fall of the Babylonian Empire. After the fall, Persian King Cyrus was the new ruler and he, fulfilling prophecy, let the Jewish people return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of God. The story ends with the dedication of the new temple.

The book sent me back to study the scriptures – Ezra, Zechariah, (a central character in the story) and 2 Chronicles. I found that the scripture and the prophecies are fascinating; but Austin’s account made them come alive. I could imagine the grief Dinah, Iddo the priest’s wife felt. She had been born in Babylon and had married and had children in Babylon. It was her world, everything that was familiar. Now her husband was asking her to give all this up. None of their adult children chose to go, so Dinah had to leave her children and grandchildren. Only one grandson, young Zechariah went with his grandparents to Jerusalem. This book gave me an understanding that when the remnant left Babylon to return to Jerusalem they had to leave family, friends and everything that was familiar. I could feel the danger this remnant faced, being newcomers and being the minority.  Austin takes what I always thought were interesting passages from the Bible and with skillful writing, brings them to life.

I also was struck by the themes of the Almighty One: “Walk with me”, “Return to me.” In addition to making the story live, Austin gives the reader a chance to understand how much God wants us to have a relationship with Him. She shows this through Zachariah’s life. We are introduced to him when he was a serious 12-year-old student of the Torah. The author carefully shapes his character, showing his struggle to understand, believing in the God of the Torah, but having many unanswered questions. His journey and struggles through adolescence, into adulthood, and becoming an inspiring prophet, not only made a fascinating story but also made me realize anew what it meant to trust God.

This is a lengthy book, definitely worth taking the time to read. I recommend it. I am also looking forward to volume 2. I received this book from the publisher in return for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Buy the Book for $9.16

About the Book

From the Acclaimed Author of Chronicles of the Kings

After decades of exile, the prophesies are coming true---King Cyrus has declared the Jews may return to Jerusalem. Iddo, a priest, is sure this is a sign of God's renewed favor. For too long they've remained in Babylon, and many, including Iddo's sons, are losing the faith that sets them apart. And so only a few choose to leave everything to return---return to their home and their God.

Nothing about their journey to the Promised Land is easy. As hardships mount, even the faithful, like Iddo's beloved wife, Dinah, question the sacrifice of following God's leading. Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the family they left behind. But one life-changing encounter with the Holy One gives him insight that will change Zechariah---and history---forever.

Bringing the Old Testament to vibrant life, Return to Me tells the compelling story of two men living by faith in the midst of doubt, the women who love them, and the faithful remnant struggling to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.

About the Author

Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago.

You can find out more about Lynn at

Give Away 


Lynn Austin is celebrating the release of Return to Me, the first book in her new Biblical fiction series, The Restoration Chronicles, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat party.
  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Return to Me by Lynn Austin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 22nd. Winner will be announced at the "Return To Me" Facebook Author Chat Party on October 22nd. Connect with Lynn and friends for an evening of book chat, biblical trivia, prizes, and get an exclusive look at the next book in Lynn's Restoration Chronicles series!

So grab your copy of Return to Me and join Lynn on the evening of October 22nd 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 or TWITTER. Hope to see you on the 22nd!


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