Friday, March 30, 2012

Rebecca Maney reviews Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

About the Book

Lucy Marsh's worldly resources are running out, but she's fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father's recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for.

Nate Stanton always hoped he'd marry someday, but running the family ranch meant he had no time for romance. When his father deposits Lucy Marsh—a city girl—on his doorstep, with two siblings in the bargain, he expects ranch life will send her running on the first train out of town. But Lucy is made of tougher stuff than Nate imagined. When danger moves in, Nate finds he'd give anything to protect Lucy and the children he's grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.

Blue Moon Promise is a story of hope, romance, and suspense . . . immersing the reader in a rich historical tale set under Texas stars.

Review by Rebecca Maney

Just the mention of Texas screams adventure. The lure of star-filled nights, cacophonies of wild life and wide open spaces (not to mention tall, handsome cowboys) spark the sense of pioneer in just about every reader.

But imagine arriving in this western paradise under a marriage-by-contract; bringing along two young siblings only to be shunned by a handsome stranger who happens to be your husband. This is exactly the predicament that Lucy Marsh finds herself in when she arrives at Stars Above Ranch with a father-in-law who has actually deceived both his son and new daughter-in-law with secrets of his own. Lucy felt that she had no choice; following the death of her father, the sole responsibility of raising her brother and sister fell upon her shoulders. At the point of destitution and stalked by shadows of her father’s past, Lucy determines to prove herself to her new husband and family, only to discover that trouble has followed her to Texas.

Lucy and Nate soon realize that their initial shock over an arranged marriage has transformed into a fragile, tender friendship. Each acknowledges inwardly that they want to move the relationship forward. Nate loves coming home to a warm, clean house, excellent cooking, a ready-made family and a wife that intrigues him; Lucy has fallen in love with her once-gruff, now protective and very loyal husband. On the banks of the Red River, they give themselves a “blue moon promise”; that when the moon turns “blue”, (the third moon in a quarter when there are four full moons in a season; really???) they will decide if their marriage is strong enough to fully consummate. Little do they know, that promise will be severely tested. Family feuds, stolen treasure, lost land deeds, and a near-brush with death from a snake bite; all contribute to building the foundation of a long-lasting relationship.

Admittedly, Blue Moon Promise lacks the well-crafted story lines that Coble is so well known for in her previous series; the plot is a little too predictable and the dialogue is stilted and awkward through-out. But I have full confidence that as this author digs into the series and endears herself to the setting and her characters that the ensuing books will be the quality that we all associate with Colleen Coble. However, she does a wonderful job of unraveling many spiritual struggles that are universal to her readers. Our human pride and desire to prove our self-worth, a hesitancy to trust in the people who love us the most and our deep hurt when those we trust betray us; the reminder that marriage is a relationship that must be built on friendship and determination in addition to unconditional love; these are all topics that Coble beautifully dissects and re-builds through-out the pages of a Blue Moon Promise. Loving and trusting a God who is worthy of our praise; there are reminders everywhere in Blue Moon Promise.

Have you read Blue Moon Promise? If so, we would love for you to share your thoughts!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Welcome Carrie Turansky!

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Thanks, Anne, I appreciate the invitation to visit with you and your readers on your blog today. Here’s a little about me. I’m originally from Oregon, but have lived in New Jersey for the last 23 years. Scott and I have been married for 34 years. We have five children and 3 grandchildren. I homeschooled my children for a number of years, and as they graduated I had more time for writing. My first book was published in 2005, and I’ve had nine novels and novellas published since then.

What do you feel is the most challenging aspect in writing?

One of the most challenging skills a writer needs to learn is to silence the internal editor that slows you down and questions every word and sentence. Turning her off helps your creativity flow. You can write more quickly and your unique writer’s voice appears on the page.

Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?

For me, the ideas and characters simmer together at the same time. I like to use resources from My Book Therapy (Susan May Warren) and Michael Hague to create my characters and plot. Both of these teachers encourage you to work on your characters and plot at the same time, step by step.  

Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?

In A Man To Trust, the heroine, Adrie Chandler, is trying to decide what’s more important to her in life. She has spent years training as a classical musician and wants to play her flute professionally with a symphony, but when the opportunity finally arrives, she’s not sure she should follow through on that dream. I hope readers will identify with Adrie’s desire to find God’s will and discern how to best use their gifts and talents. I also hope they’ll see how trusting God and forgiving hurts in the past can help build trust and stronger relationships in the present.

Is there a particular Bible verse that has helped you through a difficult time?

I love the Psalms. That’s where I usually run for comfort and guidance when I am facing a difficult time. Psalm 46 has been very meaningful to me: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” He doesn’t promise to just send us help and strength, he says He IS our refuge and strength, and He is always available to help us. That is so comforting!

Who would you pick to play the lead roles if this book was made into a movie?

If A Man To Trust were made into a movie, I’d choose Jim Caviezel to play Ross Peterson, and Amy Adams to play Adrie Chandler.


Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?

One of my most creative times is when I am just waking up. I like to stay in bed for a few minutes and think about my story and what comes next. Going for a walk is also another way I can think through a scene and figure out what to do when I feel stuck. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?

I enjoy reading and watching movies. In the warmer weather I like to work in my flower gardens and spend time outdoors. Cooking for friends and family is fun for me. And I love to arrange flowers for weddings and special events. I’ve done the flowers for two of my children’s weddings. It was a lot of work, but very rewarding to be able to use my gifts to bless them and give them beautiful flowers for their special day.

How do you choose a title?

I usually brainstorm a long list of words that relate to the story and then group them together and switch them around. My editor always makes the final choice and chooses from the list and sometimes comes up with something completely different. Of my ten books, only two have the original titles I chose. All the rest were chosen by my editors.

Do you use character charts? How about photos of real people to inspire a character?

Yes, I use character charts to help me get the facts down about my hero and heroine. I also like to use The Book Buddy, by Susan May Warren, to help me answer key questions about my characters and plot. I like to find photos for each of my main characters. I created a Pinterest board for my characters and setting for A Man To Trust. You can take a look here:

Can you give us a sneak peek into what book you are working on right now? When does it release?

A Man To Trust is the second book in The Bayside Treasure Series. The first is Seeking His Love. The third book is Snowflake Sweethearts. It will release in late November 2012, and is a sweet holiday romance. Each of these books features a group of four senior-age friends known as The Bayside Treasures. They love to get together each week to play Scrabble, share the latest news and work on matchmaking plans for their younger friends and relatives. They are great prayer warriors too. In Snowflake Sweethearts they hope to match Irene’s grandson Alex with Annie, a young single mother with a five year-old daughter who is a personal chef. 

Where can readers find you on the Internet?

I love to connect with readers on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and through my website: I offer an email newsletter every other month with book news, recipes, encouraging articles, book recommendations, and more. The signup is on my website.

I’d be happy to give away a paper book or eBook to any US resident, or a PDF to read on an eReader to anyone outside the US.

Thank you for all the insights into your writing experience, and for sharing some favorite activities with us, Carrie!

I read A Man to Trust and thoroughly enjoyed the story of Adrie and Ross. The tension between the two was just right. He's flirty and she's a little reserved, which is what makes this one such fun! 

I thought Adrie's desire to make sure she made the correct decision about her future and her hesitancy to trust Ross was presented in realistic fashion. After all, he's a new believer and a girl can't be too careful. Right? 

Thankfully, she learns to trust him because he lives his new found faith and proves to be a trustworthy friend. 

Biblical truth is woven beautifully throughout. 

I'd never actually finished a Love Inspired book until A Man to trust. The only thing that would have made it better is if it was longer J

Carrie is offering a print book or eBook to any US resident, or a PDF to an International reader! Leave a comment to be entered! Giveaway ends on April 3rd!

Feel free to ask Carrie some questions! She is happy to interact with us :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking = pretty cool!

I won a copy of the My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software in a giveaway from the lovely Diane Estrella, and am looking forward to many happy hours learning the digital side of scrapbooking! If you're interested, just use the coupon code in the right sidebar for $10.00 off!

For my first attempt, I didn't think I did too bad considering I didn't realize there was this really cool thing called "shadow". A couple of the ladies on the My Memories Facebook Page suggested it. I thought it looked kind of flat :/ 

The great thing about digital design is you can go back and change it! So I did. I added the shadow technique, more snowflakes, and changed the color of the brads. I think it looks better. The shadowing gave it some dimension, taking away the "flat" look and it's such fun!

If you're a scrapbooker, and have tried digital scrapbooking, which do you prefer? Traditional or digital? 

Images are mine. Please don't take or pin them without asking. Not that anyone would want them. I'm just sayin'. Thank you!


Congratulations goes to...

~ Faith Oygard ~

You won Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love!!!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and left comments!

Stay tuned for more author interviews, reviews & giveaways :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

When you want to ride but it's raining outside...

who needs one of these...

image link

when you have one of these...

'nuff said.

Image is mine. Please don't take it, or pin it. Not that anyone would want it. I'm just sayin'.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012




INGRID STUKEY- Deliver Me from Evil/Special Delivery – WINNER #1

MELISSA FINNEGAN – Deliver Me from Evil/Special Delivery – WINNER #2

Emails have been sent. Hope to hear from you ladies soon! 

Thanks so much to ALL who came by and left such encouraging comments! I hope you've signed up to follow Stuff & Nonsense II through Email so you don't miss any cool future author interviews, reviews or giveaways :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Heart's Frontier by Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith

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 authors are:


and the book:


Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.

Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen inspirational novels and more than fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense.

Visit the author's website.


An exciting new Amish-meets-Wild West adventure from bestselling authors Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith weaves an entertaining and romantic tale for devoted fans and new readers.

Kansas,1881—On a trip to visit relatives, Emma Switzer’s Amish family is robbed of all their possessions, leaving them destitute and stranded on the prairie. Walking into the nearest trading settlement, they pray to the Lord for someone to help. When a man lands in the dust at her feet, Emma looks down at him and thinks, The Lord might have cleaned him up first.

Luke Carson, heading up his first cattle drive, is not planning on being the answer to anyone’s prayers, but it looks as though God has something else in mind for this kind and gentle man. Plain and rugged—do the two mix? And what happens when a dedicated Amish woman and a stubborn trail boss prove to be each other’s match?

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736947523
ISBN-13: 978-0736947527


Apple Grove, Kansas

July 1881

Nearly the entire Amish district of Apple Grove had turned out to help this morning, all twenty families. Or perhaps they were here merely to wish Emma Switzer well as she set off for her new home in Troyer, fifty miles away.

From her vantage point on the porch of the house, Emma’s grandmother kept watch over the loading of the gigantic buffet hutch onto the specially reinforced wagon. Her sharp voice sliced through the peaceful morning air.

“Forty years I’ve had that hutch from my dearly departed husband and not a scratch on it. Jonas, see that you use care!”

If Maummi’s expression weren’t so fierce, Emma would have laughed at the long-suffering look Papa turned toward his mother. But the force with which Maummi’s fingers dug into the flesh on Emma’s arm warned that a chuckle would be most ill-suited at the moment. Besides, the men straining to heft the heavy hutch from the front porch of their home into the wagon didn’t need further distractions. Their faces strained bright red above their beards, and more than one drop of sweat trickled from beneath the broad brim of their identical straw hats.

Emma glanced at the watchers lined up like sparrows on a fence post. She caught sight of her best friend, Katie Beachy, amid the sea of dark dresses and white kapps. Katie smiled and smoothed her skirt with a shy gesture. The black fabric looked a little darker and crisper than that of those standing around her, which meant she’d worn her new dress to bid Emma farewell, an honor usually reserved for singings or services or weddings. The garment looked well on her. Emma had helped sew the seams at their last frolic. Of course, Katie’s early morning appearance in a new dress probably had less to do with honoring Emma than with the presence of Samuel Miller, the handsome son of the district bishop. With a glance toward Samuel, whose arms bulged against the weight of holding up one end of the hutch, she returned Katie’s smile with a conspiratorial wink.

Emma’s gaze slid over other faces in the crowd and snagged on a pair of eyes fixed on her. Amos Beiler didn’t bother to turn away but kept his gaze boldly on her face. Nor did he bother to hide his expression, one of longing and lingering hurt. He held infant Joseph in his arms, and a young daughter clutched each of his trouser-clad legs. A wave of guilt washed through Emma, and she hastily turned back toward the wagon.

From his vantage point up in the wagon bed, Papa held one end of a thick rope looped around the top of the hutch, the other end held by John Yoder. The front edge of the heavy heirloom had been lifted into the wagon with much grunting and groaning, while the rear still rested on the smooth wooden planks of the porch. Two men steadied the oxen heads, and the rest, like Samuel, had gathered around the back end of the hutch. A protective layer of thick quilts lined the wagon bed.

Papa gave the word. “Lift!”

The men moved in silent unity. Bending their knees, their hands grasped for purchase around the bottom edges. As one they drew in a breath, and at Papa’s nod raised in unison. Emma’s own breath caught in her chest, her muscles straining in silent sympathy with the men. The hutch rose until its rear end was level with its front, and the men stepped forward. The thick quilts dangling beneath scooted onto the wagon as planned, a protective barrier from damage caused by wood against wood.

The hutch suddenly dipped and slid swiftly to the front. Emma gasped. Apparently the speed caught Papa and John Yoder by surprise too, for the rope around the top went slack. Papa lunged to reach for the nearest corner, and his foot slipped. The wagon creaked and sank lower on its wheels as the hutch settled into place. At the same moment Papa went down on one knee with a loud, “Ummph.”


Ach! ” Maummi pulled away from Emma and rushed forward. Her heart pounding against her rib cage, Emma followed. Men were already checking on Papa, but Maummi leaped into the wagon bed with a jump that belied her sixty years, the strings of her kapp flying behind her. She applied bony elbows to push her way around the hutch to her son’s side.

She came to a halt above him, hands on her hips, and looked down. “Are you hurt?”

Emma reached the side of the wagon in time to see Papa wince and shake his head. “NoA bruise is all.”

“Good.” She left him lying there and turned worried eyes toward her beloved hutch. With a gentle touch, she ran loving fingers over the smooth surface and knelt to investigate the corners.

A mock-stern voice behind Emma held the hint of a chuckle. “Trappings only, Marta Switzer. Care you more for a scratch on wood than an injury to your son?”

Emma turned to see Bishop Miller approach. He spared a smile for her as he drew near enough to lean his arms across the wooden side of the wagon and watch the activity inside. Samuel helped Papa to his feet and handed him the broad-brimmed hat that had fallen off. Emma breathed a sigh of relief when he took a ginger step to try out his leg and smiled at the absence of pain.

“My son is fine.” Maummi waved a hand in his direction, as though in proof. “And so is my hutch. Though my heart may not say the same, such a fright I’ve had.” She placed the hand lightly on her chest, drew a shuddering breath, and wavered on her feet.

Concern for her grandmother propelled Emma toward the back of the wagon. As she climbed up, she called into the house, “Rebecca, bring a cool cloth for Maummi’s head.”

The men backed away while Katie and several other women converged on the wagon to help Emma lift Maummi down and over to the rocking chair that rested in the shade of the porch, ready to be loaded when the time came. Maummi allowed herself to be lowered onto the chair, and then she wilted against the back, her head lolling sideways and arms dangling. A disapproving buzz rumbled among the watching women, but Emma ignored them. Though she knew full well that most of the weakness was feigned for the sake of the bishop and other onlookers, she also knew Maummi’s heart tended to beat unevenly in her chest whenever she exerted herself. It was yet another reason why she ought to stay behind in Apple Grove, but Maummi insisted her place was with Emma, her oldest granddaughter. What she really meant was that she intended to inspect every eligible young Amish man in Troyer and handpick her future grandson-in-law.

Aunt Gerda had written to say she anticipated that her only daughter would marry soon, and she would appreciate having Emma come to help her around the house. She’d also mentioned the abundance of marriageable young men in Troyer, with a suggestion that twenty-year-old Emma was of an age that the news might be welcome. Rebecca had immediately volunteered to go in Emma’s place. Though Papa appeared to consider the idea, he decided to send Emma because she was the oldest and therefore would be in need of a husband soonest. Maummi insisted on going along in order to “Keep an eye on this hoard of men Gerda will parade before our Emma.”

As far as Emma was concerned, they should just send Maummi on alone and leave her in Apple Grove to wait for her future husband to be delivered to her doorstep.

Rebecca appeared from inside the house with a dripping cloth in hand. A strand of wavy dark hair had escaped its pins and fluttered freely beside the strings of her kapp. At barely thirteen, her rosy cheeks and smooth, high forehead reminded Emma so sharply of their mother that at times her heart ached.

Rebecca looked at Maummi’s dramatic posture and rolled her eyes. She had little patience with Maummi’s feigned heart episodes, and she was young enough that she had yet to learn proper restraint in concealing her emotions. Emma awarded her sister with a stern look and held out a hand for the cloth.

With a contrite bob of her head, Rebecca handed it over and dropped to her knees beside the rocking chair. “Are you all right, Maummi?”

Ach, I’m fine. I don’t think it’s my time. Yet.”

Emma wrung the excess water from the cloth before draping it across the back of Maummi’s neck.

Danki.” The elderly woman realized that the men had stopped working in order to watch her, and she waved her hand in a shooing motion. “Place those quilts over my hutch before you load anything else! Mind, Jonas, no scratches.”

Papa shook his head, though a smile tugged at his lips. “Ja, I remember.”

The gray head turned toward Emma. “Granddaughter, see they take proper care.”

“I will, Maummi.”

Katie joined Emma to oversee the wrapping of the hutch. When Samuel Miller offered a strong arm to help Katie up into the wagon, Emma hid a smile. No doubt she would receive a letter at her new home soon, informing her that a wedding date had been published. Because Samuel was the bishop’s son, there was no fear he would not receive the Zeungis, the letter of good standing. Rebecca would be thrilled at the news of a proper wedding in tiny Apple Grove.

But Emma would be far away in Troyer, and she would miss her friend’s big day.

Why must I live there when everything I love is here?

She draped a thick quilt over her end of the hutch and sidled away while Papa secured a rope around it. The faces of her friends and family looked on. They filled the area between the house and the barn. She loved every one in her own way. Yes, even Amos Beiler. She sought him out among the crowd and smiled at the two little girls who hovered near his side. Poor, lonely Amos. He was a good father to his motherless family. No doubt he’d make a fine husband, and if she married him she wouldn’t have to move to Troyer. The thought tempted her once again, as it often had over the past several weeks since Papa announced his decision that she would live with Aunt Gerda for a while.

But she knew that if she agreed to become Amos’s wife that she would be settling. True, she would gain a prosperous farm and a nice house and a trio of well-behaved children, with the promise of more to come. But the fact remained that though there was much to respect about Amos, she didn’t love him. The thought of seeing that moon-shaped face and slightly cross-eyed stare over the table for breakfast, dinner, and supper sent a shiver rippling across her shoulders. Not to mention sharing a marriage bed with him. It was enough to make her throw her apron over her face and run screaming across Papa’s cornfield.

He deserves a wife who loves him, she told herself for the hundredth time. Her conscience thus soothed, Emma turned away from his mournful stare.

“That trunk goes in the front,” Maummi shouted from her chair on the porch. “Emma, show them where.”

Emma shrank against the gigantic hutch to give the men room to settle the trunk containing all of her belongings. An oiled canvas tarp had been secured over the top to repel any rain they might meet over the next week. Inside, resting on her dresses, aprons, bonnets, and kapps, was a bundle more precious to her than anything else in the wagon: a quilt, expertly and lovingly stitched, nestled within a heavy canvas pouch. Mama had made it with her own hands for Emma’s hope chest. The last stitch was bitten off just hours before she closed her eyes and stepped into the arms of her Lord.

Oh, Mama, if you were here you could convince Papa to let me stay home. I know you could. And now, without you, what will happen to me?

Yet, even in the midst of the dreary thought, a spark of hope flickered in the darkness in Emma’s heart. The future yawned before her like the endless Kansas prairie. Wasn’t there beauty to be found in the tall, blowing grasses of the open plain? Weren’t there cool streams and shady trees to offer respite from the heat of the day? Maybe Troyer would turn out to be an oasis.


Maummi’s sharp tone cut through her musing. She jerked upright. Her grandmother appeared to have recovered from her heart episode. From the vantage point of her chair, she oversaw every movement with a critical eye.

“Yes, ma’am?”

“Mind what I said about that loading, girl. The food carton goes on last. We won’t want to search for provisions when we stop at night on the trail.”

An approving murmur rose from the women at the wisdom of an organized wagon.

“Yes, ma’am.” Emma exchanged a quick grin with Katie and then directed the man carrying a carton of canned goods and trail provisions to set his burden aside for now.

A little while later, after everything had been loaded and secured under an oiled canvas, the men stood around to admire their handiwork. Samuel even crawled beneath the wagon to check the support struts, and he pronounced everything to be “in apple-pie order.”

Emma felt a pluck on her arm. She turned to find Katie at her elbow.

“This is a gift for you.” Her friend pushed a small package into her hands. “It’s only a soft cloth and some fancy-colored threads. I was fixing to stitch you a design, but you’re so much better at fine sewing than I am that I figured you could make something prettier by yourself.” She ducked her head. “Think kindly of me when you do.”

Warmed by her friend’s gesture, Emma pulled her into an embrace. “I will. And I expect a letter from you soon.” She let Katie see her glance slide over to Samuel and back with a grin. “Especially when you have something exciting to report.”

A becoming blush colored the girl’s cheeks. “I will.”

Emma was still going down the line, awarding each woman a farewell hug, when Bishop Miller stepped up to the front of the wagon and motioned for attention.

“It’s time now to bid Jonas Switzer Godspeed and fair weather for his travels.” A kind smile curved his lips when he looked to Maummi and then to Emma. “And our prayers go with our sisters Marta and Emma as they make a new home in Troyer.”

He bowed his head and closed his eyes, a sign for everyone in the Apple Grove district to follow suit. Emma obeyed, fixing her thoughts on the blue skies overhead and the Almighty’s throne beyond. Silence descended, interrupted only by the snorts of oxen and a happy bird in the tall, leafy tree that gave shade to the porch.

What will I find in Troyer? A new home, as the bishop says? A fine Amish husband, as Papa wishes? I pray it be so. And I pray he will be the second son of his father so that he will come home with me to Apple Grove and take over Papa’s farm when the time comes.

A female sniffled behind her. Not Katie, but Rebecca. A twist inside Emma’s rib cage nearly sent tears to her eyes. Oh, how she would miss her sister when Rebecca left Troyer to return home with Papa. She vowed to make the most of their time together on the trail between here and there.

Bishop Miller ended the prayer with a blessing in High German, his hand on the head of the closest oxen. When the last word fell on the quiet crowd, Maummi’s voice sliced through the cool morning air. “Now that we’re seen off proper, someone help me up. We’ll be gone before the sun moves another inch across the sky.”

Though she’d proved earlier that she could make the leap herself at need, Maummi allowed Papa and the bishop to lift her into the wagon. She took her seat in her rocking chair, which was wedged between the covered hutch and one high side of the wagon bed. With a protective pat on the hutch, she settled her sewing basket at her feet and pulled a piece of mending onto her lap. No idle hands for Maummi. By the time they made Troyer, she’d have all the mending done, and the darning too, and a good start on a new quilt.

Emma spared one more embrace for Katie, steadfastly ignored Amos’s mournful stare, and allowed the bishop to help her up onto the bench seat. She scooted over to the far end to make room for Papa, and then Rebecca was lifted up to sit on the other side of him. A snug fit, but they would be okay for the six-day journey to Troyer. Emma settled her black dress and smoothed her apron.

“Now, Jonas, mind you what I said.” Maummi’s voice from behind their heads sounded a bit shrill in the quiet morning. “You cut a wide path around Hays. I’ll not have my granddaughters witness the ufrooish of those wild Englischers.”

On the other side of Papa, Rebecca heaved a loud sigh. Emma hid her grin. No doubt Rebecca would love to witness the rowdy riots of wild cowboy Englischers in the infamous railroad town of Hays.

Papa mumbled something under his breath that sounded like “This will be the longest journey of my life,” but aloud he said, “Ja, Mader.

With a flick of the rope, he urged the oxen forward. The wagon creaked and pitched as it rolled on its gigantic wheels. Emma grabbed the side of the bench with one hand and lifted her other hand in a final farewell as her home fell away behind her.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman ~ Review

The last time I read an historical fiction book with Irish characters that made an impression on me was BJ Hoff's Emerald Ballad series. I was certain I would never again read a story that would embed itself in the recesses of my mind like that one...until now!

I won A Passion Most Pure months ago in a drawing at Overcoming Through Time-With God's Help. Yes, I am ashamed to say it really was months ago. In my confused mind, and I can only contribute the delay to that, I convinced myself I didn't have time to read it because I had other books that took priority.“Official” ones that I needed to read for review purposes. Well, let me say I will never delay again when I have one of Julie's books in my hands! She is the most passionate writer about Christ and His love for us that I have ever read!!!

In A Passion Most Pure, the complexity of characterization is phenomenal, the depth of spiritual and emotional insight extraordinary. I was so lost in this story that I finished it in 2 days. That's 477 pages of intense passion, and I don't mean just that kind of passion. These characters are Irish. Seriously Irish and seriously passionate about everything. A roller coaster ride of emotions - love, joy, anger, sorrow, love, hate, forgiveness, grief - did I mention love yet?

My mind is still reeling! I saw myself in so many ways, in so many of these characters. If you manage to read this book and it doesn't prompt you to pick up a bible, driving you to the feet of the One who loves you with the utmost passion, then you need to read this book again!

Thank you, Julie for your passion for God and communicating His love for us! I didn't have to write this review, but for those of you who have read Julie's books, you know you can't help BUT tell others how awesome they are! I know I didn't discuss the individual characters but to me the book is a whole unit and words are almost not enough :)

You can order your own copy at Amazon or CBD.

Grab it while you can!

True Devotion, Book One in Dee Henderson's exciting beginning to the Uncommon Heroes series is available for FREE on Kindle right now! This is an oldie but goodie. Don't miss out!


Book Description

Kelly Jacobs has already paid the ultimate price of loving a warrior; she has the folded flag and the grateful thanks of a nation to prove it. Navy SEAL Joe (Bear) Baker cannot ask her to accept that risk again--even though he loves her. But the man responsible for her husband's death is back; closer than either of them realize. Kelly is in danger, and Joe may not get there in time.

Purchase- Kindle - Amazon

Read an excerpt from Tyndale House.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Legend has it that *Patrick was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave, escaped, only to return later and bring Christianity to Ireland. He explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaf clover, Ireland's shamrock! March 17th is thought to have been the day he died, in 461. Whether true or not, I am thankful Christianity was brought to Ireland and that many may know Christ Jesus as Lord & Savior today! 

I found this info on the History Channel website but since then a dear friend posted a link on Facebook that has ACCURATE information! So, please take time to go to  Christian and read all about this wonderful saint!

Sorry for all the wacky confusion of the post being up, then down, and now back up :)

Have a great day in the Lord!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Giveaway & Review ~ Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love

About the Book

She’s a beautiful young widow. He’s a   Southern gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home.
After losing her husband in the Civil War, Carrie Daly is scared she will never have the family she longs for. Eligible bachelors are scarce in Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, but Carrie has found love. Not the weak-in-the-knees kind, but something practical. Still, she isn't quite ready to set a wedding date with Nate Chastain.
Griff Rutledge is a former member of Charleston society, but has been estranged from his family for years. He’s determined to remain unattached, never settling in one place for too long. But when asked to train a Thoroughbred for an upcoming race in Hickory Ridge, he decides to stay awhile.
Despite objections from the townsfolk, and her fear that true happiness has eluded her, Carrie is drawn to Griff's kindness and charm. It will take a leap of faith for them to open their hearts and claim God's promise to give beauty for ashes.
My Review
Beauty for Ashes is a story of hardship and loyalty. Siblings Henry and Carrie have been dependent on each other for a number of years, holding the family farm together after the death of their parents, and Carrie's husband. It works well for them, even if life is not as exciting as she wishes it could be.
Shortly after the story opens, Henry is getting married to Mary, a widow with two young sons. Both boys are extremely rude and disrespectful towards Carrie. Needless to say, since they are all living in the same home, this causes some serious problems between the three adults.
Griff Rutledge is old money from Charleston, and has no plans to settle down in any town, any time soon. He's a wanderer. You know what that means. When he meets Carrie he decides he might need to hang around a while. It helps that he's asked to train a beautiful piece of horse flesh for a race that will rival the new Kentucky Derby. A race that will hopefully bring new people and growth to Hickory Ridge.
Due to the authors word artistry in describing the area, I had no problems visualizing the scenes but the pacing of this drama was too slow for me. On several occasions I found myself putting it down to do something else. It lacked the level of excitement that I prefer in my reading material. However, if you like an unhurried pace then this book will appeal to you. It does have some interesting historical details that will intrigue most historical fiction fans. I also think the cover is lovely and does a good job conveying the essence of the book.
BookSneeze provided a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, just my honest opinion of the book, which I have done.
You can purchase Dorothy Love's  books at Amazon, CBD, or Thomas Nelson. (also available as an Ebook)
I'm giving away my copy. Leave a comment* to be entered. Ends March 22nd. Continental US Only!

♥ Cover love ♥
Here's a sneak peek of the next book :)
Coming Fall 2012. Sophie Robillard Caldwell has spent a lifetime guarding her heart.... and a life changing secret. Hoping to follow in the footsteps of the newspaperwomen she has come to admire, she returns to Hickory Ridge from Texas to revive the local paper, the Gazette. Ethan Heyward, son of a Georgia planter has come to town to build and manage Blue Smoke, a luxury resort soon to open at the top of Hickory Ridge. He, too, is harboring a secret too painful to share with anyone...even Sophie.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rural Thursday ~ What Do I See?


an OLD barn

a RED barn


a BIG barn


a pretty BLUE barn

That's what I see from the passenger seat.
What do you see from your passenger seat?

I'm linked up with Rural Thursday!

Have a great day in the Lord!

Images are mine. Please don't take them without asking. Not that anyone would want them. I'm just sayin'. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good books...I can't help it!

Over on my book blog, Stuff & Nonsense II, these books are up for giveaway this week. Stop by and leave a comment on one or both posts to be entered in the drawings.

These two books are being given away as a set. The winners will each get one book from the reviewer and one book from the author.

If you don't follow my book blog, Stuff & Nonsense II, you might want to sign up through the email link over there so you don't miss out on any upcoming interviews, reviews or giveaways!

Thanks Y'all :)
Have a great day in the Lord!

Tuesday Tip

We replaced our old breadmaker with a new one and, of course, the first thing we made was... 

My husband and I  all the veggies.

You can never have too many veggies.
Our boys love meat

 So I loaded on the pepperoni. And loaded on some more. You'd think you couldn't get too much pepperoni.

But you can. 
And it's gross
I had to soak the grease off with paper towels. 
No picture of that disaster. 
Take my word for it. 

So there you have it. 

Tuesday's Tip: Don't put too much Pepperoni on the pizza!

Images are mine. Please don't take them without asking. Not that anyone would want them. I'm just sayin'. 

Welcome Margaret Brownley, and a Review

I'm so honored to have one of my favorite authors, Margaret Brownley, here today! She's talking about her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series, and the first book Dawn Comes Early. There's a contest, and a surprise too :)

About Margaret

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this, except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. 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."

It turns out God was and Margaret did. She now has more than 20 novels to her credit. In addition, she's written many Christian articles and a non-fiction book. Still, it took a lot of prodding from God before Margaret tried her hand at writing inspirational fiction which led to her Rocky Creek series. "I love writing about characters at different stages of faith," she says of the new direction her writing career has taken, "and I'm here to stay."

Happily married to her real-life hero, Margaret and her husband live in Southern California.

More Love and Laughter from New York Times Bestselling Author

Margaret Brownley

Daily Reasons to Smile” Contest

“I’ve matched up twenty-three couples over the years and in all that time I only made one error. Although I still think the marriage would have worked had she not shot her husband.”

—From Dawn Comes Early (Brides of Last Chance Ranch) 

Characters from Margaret’s new book will send you a reason to smile every day until April 11th. Join in the fun and you could win a book, potted cactus (the story takes place in Arizona Territory) or an iPod Nano and alarm clock docking station. To enter send an email to Be sure to put “Reason to Smile” in the subject line. That’s it!

Today’s the official launch day of my new book Dawn Comes Early. The idea for the Brides of Last Chance Ranch series came to me after reading an old newspaper article in the New York Times dated 1891 (It’s amazing what you find when changing the shelf paper).

A group of fifty ladies of the First Church of Millford formed a society of old maids in 1861. Each member vowed she would not marry. Each woman paid five dollars on admission with the principal going to the one who remained unmarried the longest. Thirty years later all but fifteen of the original had married. I was never able to find out who won the prize—and being a romantic I sincerely hope there were no winners— but that’s the wonderful thing about writing; you can make up your own endings.

Kate Tenney is a disgraced dime novelist who travels to Arizona Territory as “heiress” to a cattle ranch, but before gaining the ranch she must first sign a document forbidding her to marry.

She meets up with trouble the minute she steps into town thanks to Cactus Joe, the resident outlaw. Luke Adams comes to her rescue but it’s clear from the start that he and Kate are from two different worlds; she’s a college educated woman and he’s “just a blacksmith.” He doesn’t know what she’s talking about half the time.
What does Kate know about running a cattle ranch? Absolutely nothing! But she intends to learn if it kills her. If only she can stay away from a certain handsome blacksmith and his two matchmaking aunts.

Thank you so much for sharing these insights into the creation of Dawn Comes Early! 

Now for the surprise :) Margaret is offering a copy of this first book in the Brides of Last Chance Ranch series to one of my readers! Isn't that awesome?! Leave a comment to be entered. Continental US Only! Ends March 19th!

 My Review

Morning came too early for me after staying up into the wee hours to finish this fascinating new book.

Kate Tenney comes to Arizona Territory after answering an advertisement seeking an heir for a ranch owner. She is a city girl and former dime novelist who has romanticized the west in her mind and finds out quickly, as soon as she gets there, in fact, that it is nothing like she thought it was going to be. Faced with an outlaw from the get go, Kate is thrown into the wild and wonderful world of western life.

Luke Adams is the local blacksmith. He’s a hardworking, not too formally educated but oh so lovable kind of man. He ends up rescuing that crazy city girl Kate from numerous situations. He falls for her pretty early on but doesn’t think he’s smart enough for a woman like her because she uses big words when she talks. Their romance was so much fun to watch with some exceptional scenes that would look good on the big screen!

The main aspect that kept me so engaged while reading this book was how well I got to know each and every character. From Miss Walker, the unusual owner of Last Chance Ranch, to the seasoned ranch hands and Luke’s charming, matchmaking aunts, I was held captive by the depth of characterization and humor! There was no glossing over anyone’s importance to the story at all. I loved that! I genuinely felt like I was seeing into each person’s life-their hopes and dreams, fears and heartaches, failures and accomplishments-and I laughed out loud, often!

There are a few scenes in the book when Kate reads to the ranch hands from one of her dime novels and all I can say is – they are priceless! I woke my husband from a sound slumber with my laughter. It’s during that scene and a few that follow, that I fell in love with all the cowpokes and knew they would champion Kate in her determination to conquer the challenge of learning ranch life.

I can’t wait until the next book! Margaret’s writing plunges me into the depths of the storyline with exceptional humor embedded throughout. Containing a strong spiritual thread, I never felt like I was being hit over the head with it. It’s just a natural part of who the characters are. 

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Brides of Last Chance Ranch series! I want to thank Margaret Brownley for asking me to be an influencer once again and providing an Advanced Reader Copy for review purposes.