Friday, July 29, 2011

CFBA Book Review: Love Finds You In Amana, Iowa

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
Summerside Press (June 1, 2011)
Melanie Dobson


Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good, and she has now authored nine contemporary and historical novels including Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania which releases in November 2011.

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.


With a backdrop of the community of The Amana Colonies, the Civil War, and a great love story, Melanie Dobson’s new historical fiction title LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA both enlightening and entertaining.

The novel is set in the United States during the turmoil of the 1860s. As the rest of the nation is embroiled in the Civil War, the Amana Colonies have remained at peace with a strong faith in God and pursuit of community, intertwined with hard work, family life and the building of their colony.

Amalie Wiese is travelling to the newly built village of Amana in 1863. When she arrives in the colonies she finds that her fiancée, Friedrich has left to fight with the Union Army. Amalie fears for his safety as she also struggles with his decision to abandon the colony’s beliefs. Matthias, Frederick’s friend, stays back in Amana to work in the colonies. But there is something wrong with Matthias; he always seems angry at Amalie when there is no simple explanation for him to act that way.

The goods that colonies manufacture are much needed supplies for the war effort and Matthias decides to deliver the goods to the soldiers. When he leaves, Amalie realizes that her fear for Matthias’s safety is equally as strong. What will become of Friedrich, will Matthias return safely, and will Amalie marry Friedrich? LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA is a richly told story of life in the Amana Society and the people who live and love there.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, go HERE.

This book is a good, refreshing read from the first few pages where you follow Amalie on the wagon across the trails to Amana, IA to the very end.  I think I would be a little upset if I had traveled miles and miles in a wagon to meet up with my fiance only to find him gone.   Not only gone, but fighting in a war.  Amalie is upset but Mattias, her fiance, Frederich's friend doesn't find her to be up to par to marry his friend.  As you read you feel Amalie's loss and sense of longing, you feel Matthias' anger no matter how misdirected and you feel how Frederich is torn, this is a very good, sweet, fun summer read!


Book Review: Safe From the Past

Safe from the Past: A Story of Hope, Faith and Determination

Safe From the Past, by Patricia Miller Mauro

About the Author:
Patricia worked in New York City's financial district for thirteen years in the field of securities operations. At that time, she went on to obtain an MBA from New York University . She and her husband moved to Dallas , TX in 2001 where they are raising their two children.
During her time in NY, Patricia wrote an article entitled "A Tribute To My Mother" which was published in "The Recovery Journal" in 1999. Her book is a continuation of that tribute and serves to spread the message to those in similar situations that good news is on its way to children considering a higher education but who are afraid to dream. For more information please visit,  

About the book:  
A kidnapping, the divorce of her parents, the loss of her father, temporary abandonment and extreme poverty are just some of the issues the author dealt with as a young child. 

Her mother finally tells her she must go to college so she can break out of this cycle of poverty and hopelessness. But how can she when she has no money and absolutely no confidence or self esteem? 

Read this true story to discover what hope, faith and determination can do to change a life.

A truly inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships, Safe from the Past makes clear the restorative power of an education.

Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author's life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living.

No matter how helpless you feel, everyone has the power to shape their own life.

My Thoughts:
This is a memoir and author Patricia Miller Mauro writes quite honestly,  she is a woman who fights against all odds and does not let set-backs get her down.  This is a story about survival that parents should share with their children, it shows that even those with the odds against them can come out ahead if they have the strength to push past difficulties.  This is a very inspirational book, and a must read for this summer, you won't be disappointed.

....and here's a chance to win a copy of Safe from the Past:

Litfuse is sponsoring a $30 giveaway!!
To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #litfuse) about Safe From the Past or share about it on Facebook!
If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know ( Easy.
Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea:
TWEET THIS:  Safe From the Past by Patricia Mauro - inspiring tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships. #litfuse
FACEBOOK THIS: Don’t miss Patricia Mauro’s Safe From the Past  - inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships. Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author's life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living.

You can read more reviews on this book HERE

* I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Litfuse, I did not receive any additional compensation for my review.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Handbag Heaven

Oh my goodness, can you believe that fall is just around the corner? A few days ago I walked into Joann fabric and my eyes couldn't take in all of the gorgeous fall fabrics on display. Simply delicious!  I picked up a new pattern, I'm making the sleeveless dress now, and then image c, only with 3/4 length sleeves next!  Easy and cute!

When you start buying fall/winter clothing, it seems like the need for a new purse is right around the corner....I love Handbag Heaven, they have some seriously cute bags, and great prices, here's a code to save 15%!  I am in love with this bag:


CFBA: Book Review: Canary Island Song

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Canary Island Song
Howard Books; Original edition (July 5, 2011)
Robin Jones Gunn


Robin Jones Gunn was born in Wisconsin and lived on a dairy farm until her family moved to southern California when she was five years old. She grew up in Orange County and spent her summers at Newport Beach with friends from her church youth group. After attending Biola University and Capernwray Bible School in Austria, Robin and Ross were married and spent the next two decades working together in youth ministry.

It was the young teens at Robin’s church who challenged her to write stories for them. She hadn’t thought much about being a writer, but took their request to heart and set her alarm for 3am, three days a week. With two small children it was the only time she could find to write the first story about Christy Miller. After two years and ten rejections the novel Summer Promise was accepted for publication in 1988. Robin hasn’t stopped writing since. Over 4 million copies of her 75 books have sold and can be found in a dozen translations all over the world.

Robin and her husband now live in Hawai’i where Ross is a counselor and Robin continues to write to the sound of tropical birds chattering in the palm trees outside her window. Their children are grown but manage to come to the islands with their families every chance they get. Robin's awards include: three Christy awards for excellence in fiction, a Gold Medallion finalist, Mt. Hermon Pacesetter and the Mt. Hermon Writer of the Year award. Robin travels extensively and is a frequent key-note speaker at various events around the world. She serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and Jerry Jenkin’s Christian Writer’s Guild.


When Carolyn’s grown daughter tells her she needs to “get a life,” Carolyn decides it’s time to step out of her familiar routine as a single woman in San Francisco and escape to her mother’s home in the Canary Islands. Since Carolyn’s mother is celebrating her seventieth birthday, the timing of Carolyn’s visit makes for a perfect surprise.

The surprise, however, is on Carolyn when she sees Bryan Spencer, her high school summer love. It’s been seven years since Carolyn lost her husband, but ever since that tragic day, her life has grown smaller and closed in. The time has come for Carolyn to get her heart back. It takes the gentle affection of her mother and aunts, as well as the ministering beauty and song of the islands to draw Carolyn into the fullness of life. She is nudged along by a Flamenco dance lesson, a defining camel ride and the steady gaze of Bryan’s intense blue-gray eyes.

Is it too late for Carolyn to trust Bryan? Can Carolyn believe that Bryan has turned into something more than the wild beach boy who stole her kisses so many years ago on a balmy Canary night?

Carolyn is reminded that Christopher Columbus set sail from the Canary Islands in 1492 on his voyage to discover the New World. Is she ready to set sail from these same islands to discover her new life?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Canary Island Song, go HERE.

Canary Island Song is a book with strong mother/daughter/family relationships.  Carolyn has suffered a great loss with the death of her husband, and after having her sister and nieces living with her she is ready to move on, and Canary Island seems just the place.  The imagery in the book is fantastic, you can feel and smell the ocean breeze as well as taste the fresh seafood right from your own home!  This book will take you along with Carolyn to the Canary Islands and you'll leave the story feeling hopeful and refreshed!

* I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from CFBA, I was not monetarily compensated for my thoughts or opinions of this book.


Friday, July 22, 2011

CFBA: Book Review: Shadows on the Sand

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Shadows on the Sand
Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Gayle Roper


Gayle is the award winning author of more than forty books. She has been a Christy finalist three times for her novels Spring Rain, Summer Shadows, and Winter Winds. Her novel Autumn Dreams won the prestigious Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. Summer Shadows was voted the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Book of the Year (tied with fellow author Brandilyn Collins).

Gayle has won the Holt Medallion three times for The Decision, Caught in a Bind, and Autumn Dreams. The Decision won the Reviewers Choice Award, and Gayle has also won the Award of Excellence for Spring Rain and the Golden Quill for Summer Shadows and Winter Winds. Romantic Times Book Report gave Gayle the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her Amhearst mystery series, Caught in the Middle, Caught in the Act, and Caught in a Bind, originally published by Zondervan, was reprinted in 2007 by Love Inspired Suspense with a fourth original title added, Caught Redhanded. Another original single title, See No Evil, was also released. Caught in the Middle has been optioned for film.

For her work in training Christian writers Gayle has won special recognition from Mount Hermon CWC, St. Davids CWC, Florida CWC, and Greater Philadelphia CWC. She directed St. Davids for five years and Sandy Cove CWC for six. She has taught with Christian Leaders, Authors and Speakers Services (CLASS), serving for several years as their writer in residence. She enjoys speaking at women's events across the nation and loves sharing the powerful truths of Scripture with humor and practicality.

Gayle lives in southeastern Pennsylvania where she enjoys her family of two great sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and the world's five most wonderful grandchildren. When she's not writing, or teaching at conferences, Gayle enjoys reading, gardening, and eating out.


Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But Carrie has a painful past, too, and when the reason she once ran away shows up in town, the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg threatens to implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry. Two wounded hearts struggle to find a way to make one romance work. Failure seems guaranteed when Carrie locates her waitress but is taken hostage...

If you would like to read the first chapter of Shadows on the Sand, go HERE.

This is a very good read, it's the kind of book that you don't expect to find a murder in, the story begins with a cozy restaurant and young love, but that quickly changes and murder as well as love keep this story moving right along!  This is a book that has a little bit of everything thrown into the mix, and is told from different characters points of view but if you're able to keep up with it you won't be disappointed!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CFBA: Book Review: Falls Like Lightening

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Falls Like Lightning
Bethany House (July 1, 2011)
Shawn Grady


Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. He is the author of the novels Through the Fire, Tomorrow We Die & Falls Like Lightning.

Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. From fire engines and ambulances to tillered ladder trucks and helicopters, Shawn’s work environment has always been dynamic. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locale, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras.

After graduating from James Logan High School in Union City, California, Shawn attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego as a Theology undergrad. There he found clarity of direction and proceeded on to acquire an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science Technology as well as Paramedic licensure through Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.

Shawn currently lives in Reno, just outside of Lake Tahoe. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador.


When hotshot smoke jumper Silas Kent gets his own fire crew, he thinks he's achieved what he's always wanted. But a lightning-sparked fire in the Desolation Wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas has his team in a plane before they can even train together.

Pilot Elle Westmore has been called up to drop the crew into the heart of the forest infernos. A single mother of a mysteriously ill six-year-old, she can't imagine her life getting any more complicated.

It doesn't take long for things to go very wrong, very quickly. A suspicious engine explosion forces Elle to make an emergency landing. Silas is able to parachute to safety but soon discovers his crew can't be trusted. They're hiding something, and now Silas is on a race to save himself and Elle from the flames--and from a more dangerous threat: his own team.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Falls Like Lightning, go HERE

WOW.....this book reads like 'lightening'!  There is some serious action here and before I knew it I was half-way through the book and it was well past midnight and I didn't want to stop.  This is one story that will draw you in, there is drama, love, mystery, murder and danger and the story line grabs you from the very first page.  I really enjoyed how the author brought a sense of sweetness into the story because without the sweet little character of Elle's daughter this book good be quite harsh....but she seems to bring light and joy to even the darkest moments.  Many of the characters in the story are suffering and have things to work through and of course some come out better than others and I'm not going to say any more because I'm afraid I'll spill the 'beans''re just going to have to read this book for yourself.  This is not your every day firefighter book!

* I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from CFBA.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Review: The Blessed

ABOUT THE BOOK:   (back cover)
It is 1844 and Lacey Bishop's life is a tangled mess. The BlessedEstranged from her own family, at age 16 she started working for a preacher and his wife. All is fine until the wife dies a few years later and the preacher convinces Lacey the only decent thing to do is marry him. That way she can continue to act as mother to the little girl who was left on his doorstep. But Lacey never expected he would decide to take them all off to a Shaker village. There she's still married but living in a community that believes marriage is a sin. And to make matters worse, she finds herself drawn to Isaac Kingston, a man who came to the Shakers after his young bride died. But of course any notion of love between them is only a forbidden dream. How will Lacey ever find true happiness?

If you would like to read the first two chapters click HERE

This is the second book that I've read in this series (this is the 4th book).  This book can definitely stand on its own.  I found myself getting angry at some of the characters, at Lacey for how she deals with the preacher, among others, but then I had to remind myself that this book is placed in the 1800's and the characters are simply acting as they should for that time period!  This is a good book, you learn a bit more about the Shakers, they really have an interesting way of looking at things, a way that is very strange to most of us.  There is a lot of sadness to this book because of the many characters who are hurting and it's nice to see how the author brings them rays of happiness throughout the story.

“Available July 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing.


Friday, July 15, 2011

CFBA: Book Review: Pattern of Wounds

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Pattern of Wounds
Bethany House (July 1, 2011)
J. Mark Bertrand


J. Mark Bertrand lived in Houston, where the series is set, for fifteen years, earning an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Houston. But after one hurricane too many he relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota. Mark has been arrested for a crime he didn't commit, was the foreman of one hung jury and served on another that acquitted Vinnie Jones of assault. In 1972, he won an honorable mention in a child modeling contest, but pursued writing instead.


It's Christmas in Houston, and homicide detective Roland March is on the hunt for a killer. A young woman's brutal stabbing in an affluent neighborhood bears all the hallmarks of a serial murder. The only problem is that March sent the murderer to prison ten years ago. Is it a copycat -- or did March convict the wrong man?

Alienated from his colleagues and with a growing rift in his marriage, March receives messages from the killer. The bodies pile up, the pressure builds, and the violence reaches too close to home. Up against an unfathomable evil, March struggles against the clock to understand the hidden message in the pattern of wounds.

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

It's been awhile since I've read a murder mystery, so it took me a few chapters to get into this book...only because I'm a bit rusty!  This book is full of questions and it leaves you wondering who's the good guy and who's the bad.  While this book has a tendency to be rather descriptive and a bit gory it's a fascinating read and you find yourself working right alongside the detectives trying to solve the mystery!

A great summer read, and a before bed story if you dare....


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Vintage Sailor Dress!

I have been rather neglectful of my blog this summer, it's been quite a summer so far! Today I want to share a project that my daughter has been working on with you! She's in 4H and always does the Fashion Revue program...if you remember, last year she sewed a beautiful blue dress and added yellow accents, she brought home a win at county as well as's a photo from last year:

This year she went vintage after falling in love with a vintage sailor dress pattern I found at a garage sale. She found vintage sailor buttons on Etsy and they came from an old mill in New Jersey, then we also found a vintage belt buckle kit to make an honest to goodness vintage style belt! We tried for vintage shoes, but people seemed to have had MUCH smaller feet in the 1950's! So she went with what she had. Judging was last night (Tues.) and we don't find out the county fair results until Friday night the's a long wait! Here's this year's dress:

I'm sorry about the contrast in the photo, if my daughter were home she'd make the photo look a lot nicer, but she happens to be baling hay!

In the sewing process of this dress we learned quite a lot about the history of sailor dresses, it really is quite interesting.  It seems it all began with a little prince in a tiny sailor suit....who knows where it will go in the future?!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Some Knitting Fun...and a giveaway

I thought I'd share some fun knitting facts with you!

Do you know that the earliest knitted garment was found in Egypt? And it was a pair of socks?

During World Wars I and II women were encouraged to make garments for soldiers. To this end, the phrase "Knit your Bit" was used by which organization?

The American Red Cross. "Knit your bit" appeared on a famous poster depicting a pair of knitted socks in progress and the line, "Our boys need sox!" Special patterns were designed for uniform garments, and required olive drab or navy blue yarn. The patterns are still available at the American Red Cross Museum website, and in 2004 a new "Knit your bit" kit was released to commemorate the dedication of the National World War II Monument in Washington DC.  

Here are some people knitting with the world's largest knitting needles!

Photo found at:
...and here is a great blog with knitting info:

How about some links for free patterns?

Don't know how to knit?  There are some great online resources:

How old were you when you learned to knit?  Who taught you?  What was your first project?  Any funny knitting moments?

Let's turn this into a contest:  Just be a follower, and answer any of the questions above for a chance to win, leave a separate comment for each question for multiple entries!
giveaway will end at midnight on the 17th of July!  Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!

Suppose you'd like to know what you'll win?  How about a Crocheted (yes, knitters I know that's a nasty word!) hot pad set?!  I'll have more options available when the giveaway ends, so the winner can choose her favorite two.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blog Tour: Martha

Martha: A Novel

ABOUT THE BOOK:  (back cover)

She has spent her life caring for others-will she ever find someone who will cherish her?

Martha's entire life is marked by her responsibilities to her family.  In the absence of her mother, she runs the household, makes the meals, cares for her father, and attempts to keep her absentminded younger sister on task.  In the midst of her duties, will she ever find time to live her own life-or find her own love?

This touching, well-researched portrayal of Martha of Bethany, sister of Mary and Lazarus, unveils the woman within the Bible character.  Through Diana Wallis Taylor's lush descriptions and inspired fusion of imagined and recorded dialogue, Martha's world-her trials, triumphs, and loves-vibrantly comes to life.  Follow Martha as she navigates the complicated worlds of family, faith, and love...and you'll never read her story the same way again.

This book took me a bit longer to get into than others similar, but once I got going I really enjoyed the book of Martha.  Diana Wallis Taylor really brings the characters of Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Jesus among others to life.  As you read you feel the joy, and the heartache of Martha, you learn more about Jesus and his disciples as well as other more unknown Bible characters.  I never really thought about the disciples having wife's before I read this book, and the book of Martha taught me many other aspects of the time period that I have not known or realized before.

Martha was a very misunderstood woman, she gave her heart and her all for her family even though she deeply yearned for love.  On the other hand, Mary was rather 'flighty' did not have much responsibility and seemed to have everything fall her way from the love and honor of Jesus to a love of her own!  For Martha, things did not go as well and as you read her story you will learn that there was a whole lot more to Martha than is generally portrayed.

I highly recommend this book, it was a joy to read.

“Available June 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from Revel a division of Baker Publishing.


Friday, July 1, 2011

CFBA: The Protector

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Protector
Avon Inspire; Original edition (June 28, 2011)
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven. Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado. She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children. When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page

Everyone needs a safe place to call home

When her mother passes away, Ella's forced to auction off her family's farm. Her father died years ago, and she could never manage the fifty acres on her own. But after she moves to town, she can't deny the pain she feels watching the new owner, Loyal Weaver, repairing her family's old farmhouse—everything Ella had once dreamed of doing.

What Ella doesn't know is that Loyal secretly hopes she will occupy this house his wife. He begins inviting her over, to ask her opinion on changes he wants to make. As their friendship blooms, Ella starts to wonder about Loyal's intentions, especially when her best friend, Dorothy, hints that Loyal is not who he seems. There's no way the golden boy of their close-knit Amish community could be interested in Ella, long the wallflower, hidden away caring for her ailing parents.

Should she trust the man she's always yearned for, or the friend who's always been by her side? When one of them threatens to disrupt the independence she's finally achieved, Ella is faced with a choice. She can protect her heart and keep things the way they've always been. Or she can come out of her shell, risk everything for the love she's always wanted, and finally have a place to call home.

If you would like to read an excerpt from The Protector, go HERE.

If you're a frequent reader of my blog you'll know how much I enjoy reading and reviewing Amish books!  The is the second book in this series, and while everything flows along nicely if you read the first book, it also is a book that can stand alone. I enjoyed how the characters were developed and the few different twists to the usual Amish story!

Go on and give this book a try, if you enjoy Amish stories you won't be disappointed!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review from CFBA