Friday, August 31, 2012

Book review: Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio

About the book
Can a band comprised of six very talented but very different musicians make a difference with their music?
What made it possible for Diamond Rio to weather the storms inherent in the fickle world of fame and fortune and go more than two decades without a single lineup change? Any reader in search of transparency and a behind-the-scenes look into the life of the band as a unit as well as the individual lives of the players and singers will be well satisfied. Can true loyalty exist within the competitive, seemingly unforgiving music industry? In Beautiful Mess, Marty Roe, Dan Truman, Jimmy Olander, Brian Prout, Gene Johnson, and Dana Williams each has an entire chapter devoted to his personal and professional life. Beautiful Mess is a wild ride from the edge of disaster and a little-known secret to an ongoing heart-warming revival.

My thoughts
I enjoy learning about the lives of others and I love country music, so when I had the opportunity to review Beautiful Mess: The Story of Diamond Rio, I was excited.  There is nothing wrong with the writing or the stories, but I was just not drawn into the book.  It took me a LONG time to just get through it.  It is a good story, just not one that I found compelling enough to keep picking up.  I did like to reading each of their individual stories and the story of the group as a whole.  I also liked seeing the pictures of how they changed through the years. 

I recommend this book to Diamond Rio fans, as a book to read when you want something you can pick up as you feel like it.  This is the kind of book you can pick up to relax just before bedtime and not have to worry about being able to put it back down.

A special thank you to the author and publisher for the complimentary copy of this book that I received in exchange for this review.  As always, my opinion is my own.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This week's goals

I have been setting goals each week for myself and trying to ensure that I reach each one.  I have been doing okay, on my own, but I am hoping that by sharing my goals with you, and following up with my progress (or lack there of), I will accomplish more of them.

Here are this week's goals:

1) Make gifts for Cameron's teachers- My son will be starting pre-K next week and I want to send a little gift along for his new teachers.  I know what I want to make and have the supplies, so I just need to do it.  I will post what I make once they are done.

2) De-clutter and organize "my corner". - During my pregnancy, a lot of stuff got piled up on an end table next to "my" seat on the couch.  This goal is being carried over from last week.  I started it, but have a ways to go on it.

3) Finish cleaning out and organizing the medicine cabinets.- This is something I started last week (just as a part of cleaning, not a goal), but did not get finished.

4) Take the kids to the science museum and planetarium.- We bought a membership in May and finally have some time to go.  Plus, we studied astronomy last week, so the planetarium is fitting.

5) Complete 2 lesson plans.- I am trying to get ahead on our homeschool plans.  I have a rough plan of the topics we will study, but I need to pull the actual lessons together.

6) Finish reading Inescapable .- I am reading this for a review I will be posting soon.

7) Read Asher of Bethlehem: The Story of a Young Beggar, His Best Friend, and the Birth of an Extraordinary Child with the kids.- This is another book I am reviewing.

8) Finish reading The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.- This is just a book I am reading in my quest to always be the best wife I can be.  I may post a review, but it would be something I would be doing completely on my own.

9) Continue cleaning out my e-mails.- I will not say how many unread e-mails I have, but it will take me a LONG time to get through them.  I know I can just delete them, and I often do mass deletions, but there are some I still want to read, so it is easier said than done.

10) Bake 2 loaves of bread this week.- We are working on eliminating high fructose corn syrup from our diets.  Many breads are made with it, so making it myself is the easiest way to ensure there is none in there.  It is still very convenient and inexpensive to pick a loaf up at the store, so I need to ensure I have some made to avoid that temptation.

What are your goals this week?

Book Review: Hope Springs

About the book
In a small community where everyone is holding tight to something, the biggest challenge may be learning to let go.

Hope Springs, North Carolina, is the epitome of small town life-a place filled with quiet streets, a place where there's not a lot of change. Until three women suddenly find themselves planted there for a season.

Janelle hasn't gone back to Hope Springs for family reunions since losing her husband. But when she arrives for Christmas and learns that her grandmother is gravely ill, she decides to extend the stay. It isn't long before she runs into her first love, and feelings that have been dormant for more than a decade are reawakened.

Becca is finally on the trajectory she's longed for. Having been in the ministry trenches for years, she's been recruited as the newest speaker of a large Christian women's conference. But her husband feels called to become the pastor of his late father's church in Hope Springs.

And Stephanie has the ideal life-married to a doctor in St. Louis with absolutely nothing she has to do. When her cousin Janelle volunteers to stay in Hope Springs and care for their grandmother, she feels strangely compelled to do the same. It's a decision that will forever change her.

As these women come together, they soon recognize that healing is needed in their hearts, their families, and their churches. God's plan for them in Hope Springs-is bigger than they ever imagined.

My thoughts
I enjoyed Hope Springs immensely.  While it revolves around the lives of Janelle, Becca, and Stephanie, there are many, many more characters that will make you smile as well.  In fact, there are so many more characters, it can get a bit difficult to keep them all sorted in your mind.  Fortunately, the author realized this and included a family tree in the front of the book for the reader to reference as needed.  What I love most about this book is the way it deals with real issues that many of us have in our lives today.  The topics of illegitimate children, divorce and remarriage, and racism are handled very well in a Christian way, without being preachy.  Christianity is a large part of what this book is about, but it is not in a pushy way.

I recommend this book to anyone who does not have a perfect extended family (isn't that all of us?) and enjoys seeing how others deal with the events and people in their lives that are contradictory to how they live.  I also recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing how segregation still exists in churches today and how we can change it.

About the author
Kim Cash Tate is the author of Cherished, Faithful, Heavenly Places, and the memoir More Christian than African-American. A former practicing attorney, she is also the founder of Colored in Christ Ministries. She and her husband have two children.

Kim Cash Tate is the author of Cherished, Faithful, Heavenly Places, and the memoir More Christian than African American. A former practicing attorney, she is also the founder of Colored in Christ Ministries. She and Her husband have two children. 

Book Review: Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan

About the book
As the Gilded Age comes to a close, Elena Bissette's once-wealthy family has nearly lost its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, where they will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. But Elena is repulsed by the idea of marrying for money.

Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls, Elena spends most evenings escaping back into Mackinac's rugged forest. There she meets Chase, a handsome laborer who shares her love for the night sky. The two begin to meet in secret at an abandoned lighthouse, where they work together to solve a mystery buried in the pages of a tattered diary.

As Elena falls in love with Chase, her mother relentlessly contrives to introduce her to Chester Darrington, the island's most eligible bachelor. Marriage to the elusive millionaire would solve the Bissettes' financial woes, and Elena is torn between duty and love.
My thoughts
Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan begins with the tired plot of parents trying to marry their daughter off to a wealthy man.  However, this story has several twists and turns that keep the storyline fresh.  I also love the descriptive way the author describes not only the locations, but also the characters.  It is easy to find yourself immersed in Elena's world.  This was another book that I had trouble putting down.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys love stories and/or exploring new places.
About the author
Melanie Dobson has written ten contemporary and historical novels including five releases in Summerside's Love Finds You series. In 2011, two of her releases won Carol Awards: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa(for historical romance) and The Silent Order (for romantic suspense).

Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. Prior to her writing career, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist for The Family Channel. She later launched her own public relations company and worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for more than fifteen years.

Melanie and her family enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific.

When Melanie isn't writing or playing with her family, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

For more about Melanie Dobson and her books, visit

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: Angel Eyes

About the book
Once you've seen, you can't unsee. Everything changes when you've looked at the world through . . .Angel Eyes

Brielle went to the city to chase her dreams and found tragedy instead. She's come home to shabby little Stratus, Oregon, to live with her grief and her guilt . . . and the incredible, numbing cold she can't seem to shake.

Jake's the new guy at school. The boy next door with burning hands and an unbelievable gift that targets him for corruption.

Something more than fate has brought them together. An evil bigger than both of them lurks in the shadows nearby, hiding in plain sight. Two angels stand guard, unsure what's going to happen. And a beauty brighter than Jake or Brielle has ever seen is calling them to join the battle in a realm where all human choices start.

A realm that only angels and demons-and Brielle-can perceive.

My thoughts
Angel Eyes is not one of my favorite books, but I did not hate it either.  It was slow to start and very heavy in the religion aspect.   However, the religious part is partly expected, as it is a book about angels, and it does not push any one specific religion.  Another positive part of the book, was the strength of character development.  The reader truly gets to know each character as though they are real.  You almost cannot help but start to fall for Jake yourself.

Due to the paranormal aspect, the strong religious undertones, and the nature of the relationship between Jake and Brielle, I would not recommend this to pre-teens.  It is marketed as a young adult book and I feel that is appropriate.  If you enjoy paranormal books, especially ones that are not dark in nature, and you enjoy romance stories, and you do not mind the strong religious undertones, you will probably enjoy Angel Eyes.

About the author
Shannon is a wife and mother. A sister. A daughter. A friend. She was raised in Northern California by her parents-pastors of their local church and constant figures of inspiration.

As a youth, Shannon traveled with an award-winning performing arts team, excelling on stage and in the classroom. As a young adult, she attended Portland Bible College, continued acting, and worked with an outreach team targeting inner-city kids in the Portland-Metropolitan area.

It was in Portland that she met her husband, Matt. They were married in 2002. Soon after, they took the reins of the youth ministry at Living Way Community Church in Roseville, California where they continue to serve in that capacity. In October of 2004, their son Justus was born, followed by their daughter Jazlyn, born in 2008. 

Find out more at

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.


Book Review: Crazy Dangerous

About the book
"You probably want to hear about Jennifer and the demons and how I played chicken with a freight train and-oh yeah-the weird murder . . . you're definitely going to want to hear about that."

Sam Hopkins is a good kid who has fallen in with a bad crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and thugs, Sam knows it's only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble.

But one day, Sam sees them harassing an eccentric schoolmate of his named Jennifer. When Sam finds the courage to face the bullies down, he loses a bad set of friends and acquires a very strange new one.

Because Jennifer is not just eccentric. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons and the devil and death. And here's the really crazy part: Sam is beginning to suspect that these visions may actually be prophecies--prophecies of something terrible that's going to happen very soon. Unless he can stop it.

With no one to believe him, with no one to help him, Sam is now all alone in a race against time. Finding the truth before disaster strikes is going to be both crazy and very, very dangerous.

My thoughts
Crazy Dangerous was a quick, easy and exciting read.  It is geared towards young adults, and I have to agree that the reading level, coupled with the themes (namely the supernatural and death themes) of the book, make it suitable for mid-late teens.  The book also deals with bullying, peer pressure, figuring out who you are, and accepting others.  The plot moves quickly and reaches a surprising end, but it is enjoyable.

I recommend this book to anyone, particularly in the 14-18 year old range, who enjoys books that are a little dark, yet still uplifting and not too dark.  It is a good book for anyone who has either been seen as eccentric or is/was a "preacher's kid" and had to deal with how to wear that title.

About the author
Andrew Klavan was hailed by Stephen King as "the most original novelist of crime and suspense since Cornell Woolrich." He is the recipient of two Edgar Awards and the author of such bestsellers as True Crime: The Novel and Don't Say a Word.

His books and screenplays have been turned into films directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Michael Douglas, Ed Burns, Michael Caine among others.

Hometown: Santa Barbara, California Books Sold to Date: over 1.5 million.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: Lucy Come Home

About the book
Fifteen-year-old Cindy worked long days beside her migrant worker family in Michigan's sugar beet fields in the early 1940s -- the "war years" -- until she met a dashing young man from a traveling carnival, bringing some joy and fun into her hard-scrabble life. But a tragic twist of fate -- and a dead field boss-- sent the two young people on the run, leaving behind family and everything she'd ever known.

Lucy Tucker, the crotchety old bag lady from the popular Yada Yada House of Hope series, is a veteran of Chicago streets and not about to give up her independence, even as she approaches her 80th birthday.

Until, that is, a young displaced woman with her gentle aging mother and a dog named Dandy seem to need her -- unsettling the secretive Lucy, who doesn't let anyone get too close. But just when it seems her past is catching up with her to bring her in out of the cold... Lucy disappears again. How these two tales intersect and intertwine between past and present gradually shines light into the dark corners of Lucy's murky past. But... why won't Lucy come home?

My thoughts
This book started a little slow for me, but after the first several chapters, I found it difficult to put it down.  I was drawn into the life of Lucy and found myself remembering that we are ALL God's children and we all have a story.  It is so easy for us to pretend that those who are homeless or otherwise "undesirable", do not have a story to tell, often an story just as intriguing as our own. I also found it interesting to read about the life of a migrant in the 1940's.  I know people who have worked as migrants in more recent years, and I wonder how much things have changed in the past 70 years.

I have to admit, I have not read any of the books from the Yada Yada House of Hope series, but Lucy is a recurrent and popular character from the series.  Having read Lucy Come Home,  I will definitely be looking to read the books in the Yada Yada series. 

I found the writing style of the book to be interesting as it was told from both a 3rd person perspective and by Lucy herself.  It is a different style than I am used to, but I enjoyed it none-the-less.  It reminds me of my own life, when some days I am fully present living my life and other days, I feel like I am watching it from the outside as a voice narrates it in my head.  

I recommend this book to those who enjoy reading about the lives of others, those who already know who Lucy is from the Yada Yada books, and those who just enjoy a book that can transport you to a time and place through writing alone.

About the author
Dave and Neta Jackson are award-winning authors living in the Chicago area where their parallel novels from the Yada Yada House of Hope and Harry Bentley series are set.

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books.

Visit for more info.

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.

Product Review and Giveaway: Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaners

I have always liked Soft Scrub products for their efficacy with little elbow grease.  When I was a waitress, I remember asking a manager to go buy me a bottle of Soft Scrub to clean the sinks with because the commercial stuff they used was awful.  He told me no and I went and bought my own bottle to bring in.  Once he saw the difference, he stopped ordering the other stuff and began to buy Soft Scrub.  I recently was sent 2 bottles of Soft Scrub Total and I have to tell you, they still do not disappoint. 

I received Soft Scrub Total with bleach and Soft Scrub Total Bath & Bowl.  I used the Soft Scrub Total with bleach on my kitchen sink, which is white, but had some food stains I have been unable to otherwise remove.  Soft Scrub finally brought my sink back to its original whiteness and now it looks as clean as it is (at least until we throw dirty dishes in it again).  The Soft Scrub Total Bath &Bowl worked great on the soap scum in my shower and at removing the stains in my toilet bowl.  My favorite part about this line of household cleaners, is that you can spray them upside down, making it easy to get under the rim of the toilet bowl.  I also like that you can choose between having the spray come out as a fine spray or as a thick foam. Just like the other Soft Scrub products, these are tough on stains, yet gentle on surfaces. In addition to the two formulas I received, they also have Soft Scrub Total All Purpose. 

Be sure to check out these new household cleaners on the Soft Scrub website.  While you are there, you can also enter their giveaway (I have one too, details are coming in a moment).  They are giving 1 lucky winner $1000 and 50 additional winners will get $40 each.  You can enter here.

Now, for my giveaway:
I have been given some coupons valid for a free bottle of any Soft Scrub Total, Soft Scrub Bleach Clean, or Soft Scrub abrasive product (valued up to $4.69) to give away to 2 of my readers.  Use the rafflecopter form below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I have received 2 bottles of Soft Scrub Total, as stated above in exchange for this review.  I am also being entered in a giveaway for letting you know about the Soft Scrub giveaway.  As always, my opinion is my own and has not been influenced by anyone.

Book Review: Wish You Were Here

About the book
Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong. The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.
Still, kissing the groom’s brother in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at this point. And pulling a “Runaway Bride” complete with stealing, er, borrowing her best friend’s car doesn’t seem to solve her problems.
Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Maybe she just needs to stop orchestrating everything. Allison prefers being the one in control, and giving it up is not going to be easy. But to find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her and find the strength to let Him lead.

My thoughts
I enjoyed this love story because it was one I could kind of relate to.  I have never been a runaway bride, nor have I been in love with my boyfriend's brother, but I do know what it is like to be in love with someone other than your boyfriend and how hard it is to break up with them when they have done nothing seriously wrong.  I   also know what it is like to try to convince your heart that you do not love someone whom you have known a long time or who should be " off limits"  due to how they fit in your life (such as a friend's ex, or an ex's brother).  The book is an easy read and all of the characters are easy to like and emotionally connect with.  I recommend Wish You Were Here to those who like love stories and anyone who has ever had the internal struggle to either break up with someone or pursue a relationship with someone (or do both, as Allison does), when God is encouraging them to do so, but their head/family/friends/society is telling them not to.

About the author

Beth K. Vogt believes happy endings aren’t limited to novels. She provides her readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God’s lavish grace. Married to her husband Rob for 31 years, as the mom of three adult children and one 10-year-old, Beth embraces her less-than-perfect life. Her degree in journalism helped establish her as a nonfiction writer. Find out more about Beth K. at 

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: My Stubborn Heart

About the book
Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light...whether he likes it or not.

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

My thoughts
I really enjoyed My Stubborn Heart and had trouble putting it down.  I was immediately drawn to the relationship between Kate and Matt and found I could really relate to what she was going through.  Matt does his best to keep her at arm's length, but she manages to wiggle into his heart.  I have men in my life that are the same way and it can be difficult to get them to open up about anything.  I also like that Kate did not set out to win his heart.  She just wanted to develop a friendship with Matt, so it was nice to watch the relationship blossom from friendship into more.  There are points in the book where you will smile and points where you will cry.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great love story.  Also, while I am not an antiquer and do not restore old homes, I suspect that if these are things you enjoy, you will like this book.

About the author

During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She's been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky's passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances with Avon Books, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her kids, then recently returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She felt led to move to the genre of contemporary Christian romance and couldn't be more thrilled with it. These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.

Learn more at: 

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Have a safe school year with Master Lock

It's that time of year again as kids are preparing to head back to school.  With all the electronic gadgets they carry now, from cell phones, to iPods, to mp3 players, the risk of theft is much greater than it once was.  Add to that the fact that young adults are the most at risk of identity theft and it becomes imperative to keep both them and their electronics safe.  Here are some ways to protect them:

- Remind them not to give personal information to anyone.  This applies to both strangers online, but also to their classmates.  We are all aware of the dangers that can come into play when someone shares their location with a stranger, but their classmates can use their personal information to steal their identity.

- Teach them now to shred and destroy all papers with their personal information and account numbers on them.  My oldest daughter has been receiving credit card offers since she was 2 years old.  We immediately had her credit report ran to make sure that her credit had not already been compromised and we check it regularly for her still.  We also shred all credit offers that come in her name.  On top of shredding the information, we then throw the shreds into a garbage bag with the grossest garbage we can find, such as poopy diapers, conveniently left open and any foods that might have gotten left in the back of the fridge.  We want to make sure no one wants to even try to piece the shredded papers back together.

-  Keep their electronics safe with Master Lock 5900D SafeSpace which provides protection for electronics, cash, keys and other items that they carry with them.  The oval-shaped, foam-lined case features an integrated cable that can be securely anchored to a fixed object or used as a handle for convenient carrying. The Master Lock 5900D SafeSpace is available in white, grey and even pink (my favorite!) and retails for under $20.

Although my children do not attend regular school, I still find it is important for them to follow the above hints to keep themselves safe and to ensure their identity remains their own.  You can visit Master Lock's facebook page to test your own safety and security knowledge and to enter the Master Combo Challenge.

This post contains affiliate links.  Also, by posting about Master Lock, I am entering a contest for a Master Lock back-to-school prize pack as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club.


Book Review: Forever Hilltop

About the book
The charming and often hilarious Forever Hilltop series follows the experiences of former city dweller Alex Armstrong as he settles into his new role as pastor of a Scandinavian community in rural North Dakota. Alex is sometimes baffled by his parishioners and their colorful ways, but he comes to appreciate their simple wisdom. One thing's for sure -- life in Hilltop Township is never dull! This new two-in-one format features An Unlikely Blessing along with its sequel, Surprising Grace.

In An Unlikely Blessing, Alex Armstrong is a former city dweller who has just accepted his first parish assignment to a small community in the wilds of North Dakota. In Hilltop Township, Pastor Alex becomes familiar with the residents and their odd traditions, from julebukking to King Oscar's fish balls. And then there's the excitement the single pastor creates among the unmarried women in the community! Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he has to teach them.

In Surprising Grace, Alex Armstrong is settling into his new role as pastor of Hilltop Church, and he's even starting to understand the strange ways of the people who populate this barren stretch of North Dakota prairie. But he also finds that his flock needs help and counsel like he never imagined. In this cozy and entertaining read, Alex must choose between the woman he once loved -- and the home he's come to love.

My thoughts
  I had the opportunity to review the first half of Forever Hilltop, An Unlikely Blessing in February 2011.  You can read the review for that part here.  I found the second half of the book, Surprising Grace, to be written in the same slow, but intriguing manner as An Unlikely Blessing.  I still love the small-town adventures and I enjoy how this book makes me reminisce about my short time in tiny Akron, Colorado.   

I recommend Forever Hilltop to the same people I recommended An Unlikely Blessing to.  This is a great book for those who enjoy a nice, easy read, one that you can put down and pick up as you can, yet draws you back with its strong story. 

About the Author 
Judy Baer was born and grew up on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota, experiencing many of the same things as her Hilltop characters. An only child, she spent most of her days with imaginary people-either those she read about or those she made up in her head.

Baer graduated from Concordia College with majors in English and education and a minor in religion. While at the time, she was simply studying what interested her, Baer later realized that she was educating herself for her future career as a Christian writer. She certainly put her education to use as she is the author of more than 75 books.

A certified professional life coach now certified in three coaching disciplines, Baer coaches primarily professional and aspiring writers. She is also a faculty advisor in the Department of Human Development at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis, MN. Baer has two daughters and three step children. She and her husband live in Minnesota.

She invites you to visit her at her web site for more information on her and her books.  

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review: Beyond Hope's Valley

About the Book
Beyond Hope's Valley – Book Three in the Big Sky series

After an extended stay in Montana, where Amish traditions are different than in her home state, Marianna Sommer returns to Indiana for two reasons, first to help her brother and his girlfriend prepare for a baby and their wedding. Second, to plan her own wedding to Aaron Zook -- a marriage she’s been dreaming about ever since childhood. And yet, although she had missed the idyllic farms and families of her upbringing, Marianna is surprised that Indiana is somehow making her long now for Montana.

As months pass, secrets that were hidden in winter’s frozen grasp thaw and take on a life of their own. The truths about a child, about a past relationship, and about God’s plans are being revealed. Walking through a valley of questions, Marianna must hold on to hope as she decides where and with whom her heart truly belongs.

My thoughts
I have enjoyed all three books in this series (you can read my reviews of Beside Still Waters here, and Along Wooded Paths here.) immensely, although I also found the series as a whole to be a bit predictable, with it ending as I had thought, and hoped it would.  As in the other books in the series, this one is very respectful of the Amish faith, yet allows for Marianna to explore her beliefs as well.  I loved watching Marianna come to realize where her heart really was and to see her life and the lives of those around her, fall into place.  

I recommend this book, as well as the others, to anyone who enjoys love stories or Amish fiction.

About the author
Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of thirty-two books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

More info: Living Inspired and

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and the author for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.  My opinion is my own and was not influenced by anyone else.