Saturday, December 8, 2018

Pick a Good Book & Have a Sit-down

Sit down and enjoy a good book this weekend. Need help deciding what to read? Maybe one of these will strike your fancy.



December 2018 New Releases


More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Amish Romance:



The Amish Sweet Shop by Laura Bradford, Mary Ellis, and Emma Miller -- It's almost Valentine's Day at Beechy's Sweets, where the Amish gifts of love and faith are even sweeter than the home-made candy. In The Sweetest Courtship by Emma Miller, bachelor Jacob Beechy is a master candy maker whose mother longs for grandchildren, so she sets out to find him an assistant confectioner during the Valentine’s holiday—and a wife. In The Sweetest Truth by Laura Bradford, Sadie Fischer can’t see beyond her scars from a barn fire, but there’s a young man who sees only sweetness when he looks at her, and he’s sending her Beechy’s chocolate and mysterious gifts leading up to Valentine’s Day. In Nothing Tastes So Sweet by Mary Ellis, Pregnant widow Hannah wants to buy her English employer’s hardware store, but ends up following a clue from Beechy’s to clear a man’s name—and finds a partnership in work, faith, and love. (Amish Romance from Kensington)



Amish Christmas Memories by Vannetta Chapman -- When a young Amish woman collapses in the snow shortly before Christmas, Caleb Wittmer rushes to her aid. Only, “Rachel” remembers nothing of who she is. Now his family has taken in the pretty stranger, disrupting Caleb’s ordered world. He’s determined to find out where she belongs…even if Rachel’s departure means saying goodbye to his old-fashioned heart forever. (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])




A Quilt for Jenna (Apple Creek Dreams #1) by Patrick E. Craig -- On her way to win a quilting competition—and a ticket out of Amish life, Jerusha finds her God, her missing husband, and a lost little girl in the heart of the Storm of The Century. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)




The Road Home (Apple Creek Dreams #2) by Patrick E. Craig -- Adopted into an Amish family as a child, local historian Jenny Springer is looking for the parents she never knew. When Jenny meets Jonathan Hershberger, a drifter from San Francisco who lands in Apple Creek fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, she is intrigued by this Englischer with an Amish name, and offers to help him discover his Amish roots. While Jonathan discovers his need for home, family, and a relationship with God, Jenny finds more than she hoped for—truth and love and the knowledge that you can go home again. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)





Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams #3) by Patrick E. Craig -- When Jenny’s husband disappears in a terrible boating accident, she returns home to Apple Creek, Ohio and her adoptive parents. Working through her grief, she pursues newfound writing dreams and is presented with a possible romance with a handsome young publisher, until the elders of her church confront her consideration of going outside her faith to pursue her dreams. At the same a faint hope that her husband might someday be found alive holds her heart in the past. (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)




Minding the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte -- Amish store clerk Tessa Fisher isn’t ready for marriage or a family—until a baby girl is abandoned on her doorstep. Now Tessa and her gruffly handsome landlord, Turner King, must mind the baby together. And soon Turner and the sweet-cheeked kind are burrowing into Tessa’s heart. But with secrets between them, can the temporary family find a way to stay together forever? (Amish Romance from P & J Publishing)


Contemporary Romance:





Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher -- Jessica was pregnant and facing divorce when her husband and daughter were killed in a car accident. Withdrawing from friends and family, she feels far away from God. Then months later she receives her great-grandfather’s Bible at her grandmother’s funeral. Ridley has suffered his own loss. Bitter over disgrace at his job, an ended career, and subsequent breakup with is girlfriend, he retreats to a vacation property owned by his parents to lick his wounds and hide from the press. Thumbing through the Bible later, Jessica journeys through the aged margin notes, back to faith and wholeness. And the broken roads they have followed bring Jessica and Ridley to each other as well. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)



Historical:





Three Christmas Novellas by Mary Connealy -- Three Christmas Novellas in one volume: Long Horn Christmas, The Sweetest Gift and The Christmas Candle. (Historical, Independently Published)


The Making of Mrs. Hale by Carolyn Miller -- Can a runaway marriage ever be redeemed? Julia Hale ran off to be married in Gretna Green, following romance instead of common sense. But her tale isn't turning into a happily ever after. Her new husband is gone and she doesn't know where—or if he's ever coming back. Julia has no option but to head home to the family she betrayed by eloping and to hope they'll forgive her.Along the way she will learn how relationship with God can bring restoration and hope, and find the answers she needs both for her husband and her future. (Historical, Kregel Publications)





Child of Light by Annette O’Hare -- While praying for her own Christmas miracle after five years in a childless marriage, Margaret offers aide to a destitute and expectant young woman during the holidays. She is condemned for her decision to help a woman of ill repute and must face the consequences of doing what is right. Will Margaret's prayers for a child of her own be answered this Christmas or does God have something else in store? (Historical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])





The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson -- Inspired by a Gripping True Story from World War II’s Daring Doolittle Raid--Japan, 1948: A prostitute seeks her revenge; a war hero finds his true mission. (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)



Historical Romance:



The MissAdventure Brides Collection by Mary Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Kathleen E. Kovach, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Marjorie Vawter, and Kimberley Woodhouse -- Seven daring damsels refuse to let the cultural norms of their eras hold them back! Follow along as they trek the wilderness as a fur trapper; teach in the backwoods; campaign for women's rights; breed llamas; drive cross-country; become a hotel tour guide; and pursue art. Will they meet men who admire their bravery and determination? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)





Kiss Me Once Again by Gail Kittleson -- When Glenora Carson’s first love perishes along with the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona on December 7, 1941, she locks away her heart and her dreams of attending college on scholarship, instead choosing to hold down the home front by helping out the family business – Carson’s Garage. The grease-stained overalls don’t do much to compliment her female figure, but they cover her female heart well enough. That is, until Hank Anderson, a wounded warrior back from battle, walks into the garage and into Glenora’s life. Is an old maid’s future Glenora’s fate, or will Cupid throw a wrench in her plans? (Historical Romance from WordCrafts Press)




Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt -- Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)






Friday, December 7, 2018

Christmas Angels and Miracles

Do you believe in angels? 
Miracles? 
Christmas Angels has a tiny bit of suspense, nostalgia, and romance in it. The novella has
been called a tear-jerker. Written some time ago, I loved this short sweet tale set during WWII.

  • I love to add quirks or special touches to evoke the spirit of the story, the characters, and/or the era. Below, I will share a short scene that touches on the era—the “call to action”—that the people from WWII lived through— that of rationed food.
  • I love to bring to life characters who convey emotional reactions to their storybook life. In all I write, I want strength, goodness, and faith to prevail. In Christmas Angels, Abigail's wavering faith is barely flickering, her fear and doubts are crushing, so is God truly listening? Does he see her struggles?

And most of all, what kind of Christmas miracle could possibly save her?


Here's a brief scene Gingerbread Scene from 
Christmas Angels 
(From the Lake to the River Anthology)

He beckoned with his gnarled hand “Come in. Come in, Abigail. Want some tea? That dismal Dana—even if she is a good cook—brought me some gingerbread last evening. Have some. Have some. It’s good even if I didn’t make it. Sit down, child, for a minute.” Albert toddled over to the fridge and brought out a quart of milk. “Want milk with your tea, Abigail?”
Where had he gotten real milk?
But she shook her head, not wanting to use up his precious supply, and sniffed. The spicy, delectable smell of the gingerbread wafted toward her, and she closed her eyes to savor it. When was the last time she'd had such a treat? Suddenly ravenous, she couldn't wait any longer and crammed her mouth full of the sweet bread. A little sound of moaning escaped from between her lips. This was so-o-o good.

And the reasoning behind all this...
During WWII most people were food rationed. Delights such as nuts, milk, sugar and eggs were sometimes hard to come by making delights such gingerbread non-available throughout the war. Everyone was touched by the rationing and all encouraged to participate in “giving up” for the soldiers and the war.

In Christmas Angels, elderly Mr. Albert, Abigail's boarding house neighbor shares his loaf of gingerbread that another resident (Dana) had given him. Though reluctant to eat any of his treat, knowing how hard the ingredients were to come by, Abigail can't resist. Both Mr. Albert and Abigail enjoy this special blessing through Neighbor Dana's generosity.

May you be blessed as you feast on this moist, delightfully spiced dessert.

Gingerbread Loaf
Ingredients for the loaf:
1 stick real butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup of applesauce
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
chopped walnuts, for topping (optional)
for the frosting:
1/2 block (4 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray (or shortening and flour). Using a stand mixer or an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy.

Beat in the vanilla and the egg. Blend in the apple butter (or applesauce.)
Slowly add the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.)

When everything is mixed, pour the batter into your loaf pan. Bake for about 55 minutes until it is risen and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely on a rack before frosting.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese with the vanilla and then add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and creamy. Add a little more sugar if it’s not as thick as you like.

Spread a thick layer of the frosting over the gingerbread cake. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Enjoy!


Blurb:
Her mother called her a failure, and maybe she was. Her husband was gone—in the service, yes, but if he loved her—really loved her, why didn't he write? Or call? Or send the money she needed?

She was scared too, afraid of being alone, and though she loved this sweet little bundle of joy—her baby—well, was she smart enough and strong enough to raise her? She didn't mind doing without all the nice things she'd love to have, but not being able to provide luxuries like Christmas trees, ornaments and presents for her baby girl was beyond enduring.

What she needed was a miracle...and that wasn't going to happen.


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About Carole:

Besides being an active participant in many writing groups, Carole is an award-winning author and enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense, tough topics, romance, and whimsy into her books and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons? 


Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Book Review of "The Blessed" by Ann Gabhart

The Blessed (Shaker, #4)The Blessed by Ann H. Gabhart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've enjoyed all of Ann Gabhart's shaker books and couldn't believe I'd missed one ... but I had! So I grabbed a copy and read it in a couple of days. As usual, it was full of the characters who had not always experienced the best things in life, had not always made the right choices, and these characters were living through the consequences of their actions. In short, Ann Gabhart writes real-people-type characters the reader can relate to.

What I love about these Shaker books is that while they deal with a group of people we'd label as a cult today, the author treats them with the dignity and respect they deserve as people trying to do their best with what they know and believe. She never demeans them or makes them into caricatures. They are fully-rounded characters with strengths and weaknesses, beauty and warts. And into the lives of these people, the author weaves a tale of hardship and hope. Well worth reading. 

If you've never read one of Ann's Shaker books, you can start with any of them. They all read as stand-alone novels. Watch for the next one releasing in April of 2019, The Refuge.