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Wednesday, February 1

Love Stuff (Elle King) + A Giveaway!!

This month, we're featuring all kinds of LOVE!  Siblings, parenting, historical, newlywed, and self.  There's even a giveaway!  So grab a blankie and settle in...

When We Last Spoke (Marci Henna)   
With the heart and humor of Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, author Marci Henna introduces you to the Cranbournes—a mostly lovable and undoubtedly nutty family who’ve had more than their fair share of hard times.  A beautiful blend of tears and laughter, When We Last Spoke tells the tale of sisters Juliet and Evangeline, who are dropped off by their Broadway-bound mother at their paternal grandparents’ Texas ranch in 1967. After their cherished father is killed in Vietnam, the girls are orphaned. Still mourning their son’s death, grandparents Walt and Ruby accept their role as guardians, only to be surprised soon after by another permanent houseguest’s arrival—Walt’s kooky mother, Itasca.  Fast-forward to the present, where the warmhearted home in which the girls grew up is now just a faint memory. The estranged sisters are in need of a good dose of Walt’s famous stargazing wisdom: “You’ve got to look real close. Pay attention to what’s around you in this life. You’re liable to miss something important if you don’t.”  Packed with plenty of quirky characters and hilarious escapades, this must-read novel also digs in deep to the things that matter most—family, friends, love, and forgiveness.

From the author of Ruby and the Stargazers comes another memoir of her childhood growing up in Texas.  She tells the true story, from a child’s perspective, of love, loss, and grief…as well as overcoming them all to reach laughter and forgiveness.  Her ‘characters’ are loveable, and you’ll find yourself relating to her as she retells the past.  I loved the voice of the main character…I could just hear the drawl coming through the pages, akin to a Dixie Cash novel.  It’s both a heartwrenching and heartwarming read that will keep you up by the fireside, reading through the night!

Get Social!

The author will be giving away a FREE Kindle version (2/20-2/24) on Amazon, so stay tuned!

WIN A COPY TODAY!  (plus a sneak peek of the DVD!)

Amish Weddings (Leslie Gould)
Gregarious Rose Lehman, who's always the life of the Amish youth singings, is determined to marry the bishop's son, Reuben Byler--until the handsome Army buddy of her future brother-in-law shows up in Lancaster County. In comparison to Trevor, Reuben seems downright boring. Trevor shares Rose's sense of fun and adventure, and her easygoing disposition. When her sister Lila's buggy is rear-ended and Lila is horribly injured, Rose finds herself with more freedom than she's ever experienced. Everyone is so concerned about Lila that no one realizes Rose is sneaking out with Trevor. Except for Reuben. But in his usual passive way, he doesn't confront her, nor does he address the situation with her Dat or anyone else in the district. Rose appreciates Reuben's discretion, but she also resents it. Part of her relishes the freedom she's found with Trevor, but the other part of her wishes Reuben would "fight" for her, as much as any Amish man would. Too late, she realizes the foolish choice she's made. Has she ruined her best chance at love, or is there another path to happiness she just hasn't seen yet?

While the third book in a series, this can be read alone without losing anything. You will have more background and introduction to the characters from reading the other two, but it isn’t necessary. The story is engaging and moves as a good tempo, and covers a topic we don’t usually see in Amish stories – the love triangle. Specifically, you have a young girl who is considering two suitors, for different reasons, and she has to make all the wrong choices before she finally makes the right one. Some of the storyline will make more sense if you have read the first two in the series, but if you haven’t, you’ll just skim over those parts and consider them to be trivial and non-integral pieces to the story. The author is just wrapping up the entire series as she proceeds through this story. Of course, in the end, everyone manages to work out their drama, come to grips with life as it is, and make the right decisions.

Nothing to Prove (Jennie Allen)

Are you trying your best to measure up—yet you still feel as if you’re losing ground?  You are not alone.  Jennie Allen understands the daily struggle so many of us face with the fear that we are not enough. And she invites us into a different experience, one in which our souls overflow with contentment and joy. In Nothing to Prove she calls us to…(1) Find freedom from self-induced pressure by admitting we’re not enough—but Jesus is. (2) Admit our greatest needs and watch them be filled by the only One who can meet them. (3) Make it our goal to know and love Jesus, then watch what He does in and through us.  As you wade into the refreshing truth of the more-than-enough life Jesus offers, you’ll experience the joyous freedom that comes to those who are determined to discover what God can do through a soul completely in love with Him.

Anyone who knows me that I'm not just Type A, but Type Triple-A!  And while that can be a good thing, at times, it can also become a really bad thing...and can even affect your health.  Doing it all, doing it perfectly....why?  Why are we trying to prove ourselves, and to whom are we trying to prove it?  The author of this book pulls no punches.  She lays it all out there on the table, like a girlfriend who just wants the best for you, over a cup of coffee.  There are Biblical references for her points, but if that doesn't speak to you, you can skip them and still get the meat of the book.  Put it this way - if you're the kind of person who thinks she's too busy to read this book (and I'm totally going with the pronoun "she," because based on my experience, we women are typically the ones trying to do it all), then you NEED to read it.

Happily Homemade (Rachel Schultz)
Does the question “What’s for dinner?” fill you with dread? Is the thought of looking for something to cook every day overwhelming? Popular food blogger and Pinterest celebrity Rachel Schultz has you covered in Happily Homemade, with 100 tasty recipes even a beginner can serve with pride. Reinvigorating familiar dishes with interesting and unexpected flavor combinations, Rachel shares her go-to creations that always get rave reviews. Even with so much variety, Rachel’s approachable recipes include only ingredients you can find at your local grocery store. This gorgeous cookbook includes a photo of every recipe, plus essays and tips from Rachel (and her friends) on hospitality and making life easier in the kitchen. Happily Homemade is all about celebrating food and joyfully loving others through cooking. Let Rachel show you how easy it can be to bring warmth and delight to everyone at your table by serving something happily homemade.

Complete with full-color, stunning visuals that will make you feel like you're sitting right in the author's kitchen, this is one of the most authentic cook books I've come across in a while.  The very first things we tried were the Dark Chocolate Scones and Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal.  Super yummy, and you can use them for either breakfast or a healthy dessert!  The ingredients are realistic - you can easily find them on the store shelf - and they're also whole foods.  If you're into making your own dairy, you can use that with this book.  No preservatives or false ingredients are included here.  One thing that is included, however, is a dose of perspective, as the author tells us about her journey into homemade cooking, and about accepting and embracing her role as a homemaker.

The Chamberlain Key (Timothy Smith)
Imagine you are a young, ambitious, successful appraiser of artifacts and antiquities—your services in demand by many of the most powerful individuals and branches of government in Washington, D. C.  Your future could not seem brighter—except for a troubling dream...with the same mysterious message...on the same exact date...three years in a row...  Timothy P. Smith, heir to a renowned family business responsible for construction or renovation of some of America’s most cherished landmarks, struggled to understand the significance of his recurring dream...until he had another dream--one that identified a specific location where it seemed he might find answers to his questions. So Timothy drove to a remote spot in British Columbia. There the adventure--which later led to a startling discovery in the oldest Hebrew text of the Bible--began.  It took the convergence of the sacred text, one man’s life, and modern computer technology to reveal messages that may explain dramatic world events, as well as influence every person alive today. 

This is not the book to read before bed, unless you're looking to unwind quickly.  That's not to say that it's uninteresting, but it's dry and hard to get into and stay into.  Once you've plowed through it, though, the points the author makes will stay with you and niggle at your mind.  It's perfect for theology students, Bible study groups, and anyone else who wants to get into the history and understory of the Bible itself.

Grace and the Preacher (Kim Vogel Sawyer)

At the age of twenty-four, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires, but has only met through his letters.  Theophil Garrison is on the run from a past and a label he’s desperate to escape. Ten years ago, his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now their sentence is complete, but the plan for vengeance has only just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, a chance encounter could provide Theo with the escape he needs.  But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?

Kim Vogel Sawyer writes very realistic, and touching, historical novels that will suck you right in…this was no different. The characters are lovable and believable, and you will feel like you’re taking the journey along with them. It’s a beautiful story of relationships, and personal transformations within them, that will leave you thinking long after the last page is finished.

I received some of these books in exchange for an honest review.
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