Tuesday, December 30, 2014

25 Favorite Reads of 2014

Well, looking back on this year, I have gotten the chance to read some incredible books! I know a lot of people who share their "best of" or "favorites" lists, so I thought...why not join the gang?

I started by going back through my Goodreads list to see what I actually read this year! Call me crazy, but the year flew by and I was having a hard time remembering what all happened this year. So, these aren't in any order other than the order that I read them in. Some were read for review, some just for fun, but either way--if you're looking for books to read in 2015, look no further ;)

25 Favorite Reads of 2014

1. Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will by Kevin DeYoung

2. Galatians for You: For Reading, For Feeding, For Leading by Timothy Keller  

3. Once Upon A Prince by Rachel Hauck 

4. Beowulf: Explosives Detection by Ronie Kendig

5. Humility: The Beauty of Holiness by Andrew Murray 

6. Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth

8. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

9. Mortis by Hannah Cobb

10. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

11. Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig

12. Words of Conviction by Linda White

13. A March Bride by Rachel Hauck

14. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

15. Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray

16. Somebody Like You by Beth K. Vogt

17. The Judgement Stone by Robert Liparulo

18. Hacker by Ted Dekker

19. Redeeming the Rancher by Deb Kastner

20. A Cast of Stones by Patrick Carr

21. Operation Zulu (all Episodes) by Ronie Kendig

22. The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen by Tosca Lee

23. Deceived by Irene Hannon

24. A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

25. In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin

Sunday, December 28, 2014

In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin | RE:View

The third book in the Wings of the Nightingale series, In Perfect Time follows the story of Kay Jobson, a flirt and a heart breaker. She's had her fair share of boyfriends no matter where her duties as a flight nurse take her, but there's one man who doesn't fall prey to her charms-- pilot Lt. Roger Cooper.

Kay is strong willed with a past that influences everything she does. Roger is focused and determined to accomplish his goals. How their story intertwines will keep you turning pages late into the night.

In Perfect Time is filled with surprises and twits. It will take you on an unforgettable journey through love, danger, and transformation in ways you could never predict. I thoroughly enjoyed this last book and thought it capped off the series extremely well. The complete immersion into WWII history is excellently done and I particularly loved the musical elements (being a musician myself).

This is a must read from Sarah Sundin!

Purchase: In Perfect Time: A Novel (Wings of the Nightingale)

Book Description 
(from Sarah's website)

Bold, sophisticated, and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don’t want to go.

Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts?

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Emilie Hendryx | Spread the Christmas Joy

I'm going to cheat.

I'm going to do two memories - one old, one new. I figure, since Spread the Christmas Joy was my idea, I can "break" the rules. ;-)

The Old

There are so many memories I could choose from...the one time Dad made a mobile of ornaments for me...the Christmas morning breakfasts with Grandpa and Grandma...the early mornings where I'd get to open my stocking so Mom and Dad could keep sleeping...but, instead, I wanted to reminisce about getting our Christmas tree. And no, not the time the tree fell on Mom's head...though that was funny!

You see, we're most definitely "real Christmas tree" people. My parents have a Victorian house from 1899 and that means tall ceilings. I'm talking 12 foot tall ceilings! Because of that, our Christmas trees have always been tall. Majestic, if you know what I mean.

Yep...that's me!
When I was little, we'd all pile into the truck (sometimes my grandparents would come as well) and we'd head up into the mountains to find the perfect Christmas tree. There would usually be hot coco involved and, if we were lucky, snow to play in. 

We'd make it up the mountain, and then the search was on. We had to have the perfect tree. Symmetrical, tall enough for the room, branches wide--but not too wide, and an overall pleasing appearance. We're creative and artsy people...

Once the perfect tree was acquired, we'd pack it into the truck and head back home, only to decorate it a few days later and enjoy the warm scent of fur saturating the air for the month of December.

To me, the tree is not only an image of beauty and Christmas spirit, but one of togetherness. It was a family effort - we'd all debate on the perfect tree, help carry it to the truck, and decorate it together. It stands in our living room and creates joy with its warm, colorful lights, sparkling like the start that led the wise men to our Savor.

Redeemer City Church Christmas Party
The New

Today, the idea of togetherness is still as important to me during the Christmas time. Whether it's friends or family (or both), that's what is important to me. That is Christmas.

This year things were a little different. You see, moving to a new city isn't easy. You uproot your life and suddenly nothing is the same. The streets are different. The neighborhood isn't what you're used to. The people act, talk, and dress differently. You get lost. Maybe a lot. But, despite all of these changes, there are beautiful new things as well. A new culture to learn. New places to explore. New people to befriend.

All of the newness can be overwhelming, but that hasn't been the case for me in D.C. so far. The friendships I've established at Redeemer City Church have been amazing. Deep, true, family-like friendships. They've made this holiday season truly amazing and I am so thankfully for those friendships.
Jenn and I - she's skeptical...

As the years pass and things change (as they have to) it's such a beautiful thing to remember the past as much as it is a blessing to live in the present. I am beyond thankful for my amazing family, for my friends, and for my church family. I know I will look back on Christmas 2014 with fond memories!

Leave a comment below to enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Let me know what your favorite Christmas memory is!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Kristy Cambron | Spread the Christmas Joy

The Best Christmas

Once upon a time, Christmas had a magic all its own.

They say that Christmas is for children. To a certain extent, I think that’s true. There’s nothing quite like the memory of minutes ticking away late on Christmas Eve and as a child, waiting anxiously to hear the sound of jingle bells on the roof while the snow falls outside the window. I remember fighting to stay awake. Straining to hear something – anything that would indicate presents were being pulled down the chimney. And almost without notice… you can’t recall when you fell asleep. And then, you wake! It’s morning and the festivities begin. The smell of coffee perfumes the air. My father’s deep voice reading Luke Chapter 2 turns into the sweetest, softest lullaby of a tradition for our family. The living room becomes a sea of brightly-colored wrapping paper, an enormous holiday breakfast spreads the table, and smiling faces of loved ones soon begin appearing with a knock at the front door. You might even snack on sugar cookies all day long. With all of that – with the smiles and the overabundance of joy – I can think of no better time of year.

So that’s why this Christmas took me completely by surprise. I never would have thought this one would be the one that’s the best ever. The one I know I’ll always remember. The December 25th that has gone deeper into my heart than the rest ever could… I always thought Christmas was for children and while that’s true –at thirty-five years old, I feel more like a child (His child) than ever.

Our budget is a little squeezed this year, so we cut back on some things we’d become used to. We’re feeling the loss of my Dad in 2013, now more than ever. Our family had a cancer scare of our own. A couple of surgeries. A major career change for me. A first-time book launch as an author. And of all years to reflect on, we’ve had more of the big ups-and-downs than I can ever remember in a single calendar year. That’s why this year owns it in the magic category.

It’s all about our eyes being opened.

Christmas isn’t about the jingle bells or wrapping paper. It’s never been about the shopping list or the red and green sugar cookies we eat at all times of the day. I have to confess that this year, in doing without so many things, I hadn’t realized all these years just when it was that I fell asleep. And then in 2014 – we wake! We’ve spent more time with our church family this year. More time with each other. We’ve held tighter, laughed easier, and loved deeper, especially with our fresh loss and the fear of what might have been had some medical tests turned out very differently. We’ll open less presents and eat fewer treats, but we’ve given and cared for others outside our home more than any other year in our marriage. And as if my Dad’s favorite Christmas Bible verses became the resounding lullaby for our lives anew, Luke Chapter 2 is more celebrated in our home than ever.

Who would have ever thought that less actually is more? That less control means more growth. That my pride needed a knocking down before my heart could understand a building up? That the uneven paths of life that stretch our faith muscles would have such value against the things we always thought defined Christmas in our hearts. That less of ourselves, over and over again, equals so much more of Him.

I’ll wrap a few gifts and bake a few cookies today. And as we lay our heads down on the pillow tonight, this magical Christmas Eve, I won’t have to wonder when I fell asleep. And I won’t be surprised when I wake up on the best Christmas ever.

In His Love,


 Emilie here: I love this CD. It has been on repeat more than once this Christmas season so I thought I'd offer up a copy of it as a giveaway.

Leave a comment to enter for the chance to win We Have A Savior by Hillsong!

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with history since hearing her grandfather's stories of his experiences as a B-17 co-pilot in WWII. She writes vintage-inspired, historical Christian fiction titles, which placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations & 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and finaled in the 2013 Lauries. Her debut novel, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN (Thomas Nelson, 2014), is a nominee for the RT Reviewers' Choice Best Inspirational Novel of 2014, and was named to Library Journal Reviews' Best Books of 2014 (for Genre Fiction). A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (Hidden Masterpiece #2) will release from Thomas Nelson in April, 2015.

Kristy lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.
Twitter: @kcambronauthor 
Facebook: Kristy Cambron  
GoodReads: Kristy Cambron
Website: KristyCambron.com
Pinterest: KCambronAuthor

A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (A Hidden Masterpiece Novel #2)
Coming out: April 7, 2015

Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor's story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.

Present Day—With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairytale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels she's stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy the perfectly planned future she’s planned before it even begins. Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future.

1942—Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped occupied Prague in 1939, and was forced to leave her half-Jewish family behind. Now a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, Kája has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

** And here’s a teaser for a new Women’s ministry/story community that’s COMING in early 2015… Including feature storytellers: Katherine Reay, Beth Vogt, Sarah Ladd, Katie Ganshert, Cara Putman, Melissa Tagg, Courtney Walsh, and Kristy Cambron.

Discover The GROVE -- Where story finds a home...

Join us at http://theGROVEstory.com/
Facebook: The GROVE
Twitter: @theGROVE_story
Instagram: the_GROVE_story
Pinterest: The GROVE Story

Katie Clark | Spread the Christmas Joy

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas 

I am a bit of a control freak. Not so much in that I want to control other people’s lives…just that I always want to be in control of my own. Unfortunately for all of humanity (and me), things rarely go as planned.

It was the Christmas season of 2010. My oldest daughter who was 4 years old at the time had recently been diagnosed with cancer. However, her treatments were going well, and we were looking forward to the upcoming Christmas celebrations. The week of Christmas drew closer and closer, and my daughter’s cough was getting yuckier and yuckier. Her skin was growing more and more pale, and my worries were increasing. We didn’t want her to miss the Christmas fun, so we finally broke down and called the doctor.

After a few blood tests, the doctors decided my daughter needed a blood transfusion. Her red counts were too low, and her immune system was in the tanker all around. By now it was Christmas Eve, so we waited in the ER. And waited. And waited.
It took hours for the blood product to be prepared, and then for us to be transferred to a hospital room on the hospital’s children’s floor. As you can imagine, none of this was going according to my “master plan” for the perfect Christmas.

Around midnight, the blood was at last ready. It was officially Christmas morning, but the nurse assured me we could be discharged as soon as the transfusion ended. In fact, she could transfuse more quickly than normal in order to get us out sooner! Great news, right? No, not so much.

You see, things just got worse and worse, and before we knew it we were looking at 8am Christmas morning, with our youngest daughter 45 miles away at Grandma’s house. At last we were discharged, and we headed out of the hospital. Low and behold, it had snowed overnight (something that almost never happens in Alabama, but certainly not for Christmas!). The world was a beautiful winter wonderland, and we got to drive home in the untainted snow since no one else was out and about on this lovely Christmas morning.

Our daughter was in great spirits after getting the boost the transfusion had given her, and by the time we made it to Grandma’s house the rest of the family had arrived. It turned out to be a great memory, and a wonderful celebration—in spite of my plans going out the window.

My daughter’s treatments ended in 2013, and today she is doing fantastically well. Our Christmas plans continue to go amiss, but I’ve learned to let this be. Life is like that, and you never know how things are going to turn out. It taught me to let go and let God, a bit of a cliché these days but true all the same.

This Christmas season may I have the pleasure of wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year? And may all of HIS master plans be fulfilled in you!


Katie Clark has been telling stories since she was seven years old. When she grew up and realized people liked hearing the stories, well, she was hooked. She spends her days telling tales to her two wee daughters, and she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Katie’s published works include her upcoming YA novel, Vanquished, the first book in the Enslaved series, as well as numerous children’s books. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Erica Vetsch | Spread the Christmas Joy

One of my favorite Christmas memories is thinking back on all those church Christmas programs we were part of as children. Saturday practices, getting assigned your part, the new holiday dress and the costume that went over it, and trying to find your parents in the audience when it was your turn to go on stage.

Our programs were never very grand, a small re-enactment of a portion of the Christmas story, some Christmas carols, simple decorations and cardboard props. But it wasn’t about the production, it was about the content and the people.

You see, the reason I love these memories is not because any of us had aspirations to be great actors or singers or to stand in the spotlight, but because of the feeling it gave us kids of being an important part of the church body. With the help of Mrs. Bassett, who always directed the children’s program, and our church pianist, Dorothy Shogran, the kids assembled to perform a ministry that the adults in the church couldn’t do. Grown-ups couldn’t put on the children’s play. It taught us early on that we were important in the church body, that we had a ministry and a role to play in the edification of our local fellowship. For one evening, the adults deferred to the kids to deliver the message and music. It was something to look forward to each year.

And of course, there was the bag of candy every child received after the program was over. J

Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Erica has graciously offered a copy of A Log Cabin Christmas as a giveaway to any US resident! Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win!

Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Brandy Vallance | Spread the Christmas Joy

When I was six years old we had a silver tinsel tree with a retro color wheel. I remember lying on the carpet and watching the tree turn colors. Red, green, yellow, and blue reflected on the walls and ceiling. While the room sparkled, I’d let my imagination roam. Pans rattled in the kitchen—my grandpa making fudge. My grandmother’s voice joined his in low tones of conversation. The rise and fall of those moments stay with me to this day.

A second predominant Christmas memory comes from the seventh grade. My family and I had moved to Mecca, Ohio. After living in the city my entire life, this place was magical. We had ten acres by a lake. Our driveway was a path through the forest, flanked by forsythia bushes that turned yellow in the spring. Almost every day I climbed massive trees, walked in the woods, or played in the creek. We had three dogs and two pet goats that followed me everywhere. I started writing my first story that year. Winter came, and the snow that fell was like something out of Narnia. On Christmas Eve, I bundled up and snuck outside.

Sometimes snow brings silence, like the world is new again. Or sometimes that silence makes you feel the age of the world, but it’s like it’s letting you in on the mystery. I was alone in the field that night, my boot prints deep. I walked further and further away from the lights of the house until the hush was all around. I remember taking a deep breath and feeling like anything was possible. Like the white-blue moonlight was just the beginning. I opened my arms to the thick snowflakes and turned my face into the Christmas sky.

As I think about these two memories it occurs to me that there’s a correlation. Although I’ve had many Christmas memories, I picked these. They were the memories that begged to be told. Why? I think in both instances life was a perfect span of possibility. There was only safety, and the freedom to dream.

The joy of Christmas for me is like that. As we celebrate the most precious gift of Jesus—God’s love to the world—let’s make space for dreams. Give yourself the permission to let your mind roam. And may the Lord fill you with His blessed hope, and His peace which passes all understanding.

Here’s a song that lends itself to winter dreaming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwStDK2_qpw

Brandy is offering up to copies of her novel The Covered Deep. Leave a comment to enter to win!


Bianca Marshal is looking for a man who can quote both Jesus and Shakespeare. Not surprisingly, that man is hard to find in the small Appalachian town where she lives. Her mother insists that Bianca lower her standards. One the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, even Bianca wonders if her mother is right.

Still set on experiencing love, or at least a little adventure, Bianca wins an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for the perfect hero. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of Palestine, Bianca's true love will be revealed—but not without a price that might be too heavy to pay.

Brandy Vallance fell in love with the Victorian time period at a young age, loving the customs, manners, and especially the intricate rules of love. Since time travel is theoretically impossible, she lives in the nineteenth century vicariously through her novels. Unaccountable amounts of black tea have fueled this ambition. Brandy's love of tea can only be paralleled by her love of Masterpiece Theater Classics, deep conversations, and a good book. Brandy is the 2013 Operation First Novel winner and the 2012 winner of the ACFW Genesis Contest for historical romance. You can connect with Brandy via her website www.brandyvallance.com, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, YouTube, or Twitter @BrandyVallance.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Andrew Swearingen | Spread the Christmas Joy

Christmas Presence

When it comes to Christmas, I'm a total kid at heart.

I've outgrown my days of drooling over the Sears toy catalog, circling the really cool toys, then leaving it out on the kitchen table where I hoped my mom would notice it. Now I'm all grown up and I have to live vicariously through what my nieces and nephews receive on Christmas, which can be a pretty sweet gig. I'll never forget the fun when my oldest nephew received a castle play set on Christmas. He toddled up to me and asked “Uncle Andrew, can you help me build my siege tower?”

I try to be mindful to get the kids toys that they will actually play with. I have several nieces who are in to the “Disney Princess” thing, so I don't get very many cool toys to play with from them, although on occasion they've suckered me into playing with their princess toys.

But, every once in a while I get some nice surprises, like last Thanksgiving when I was playing with my nephew Sam. He opened up all of his toy bins, in that way that five-year-old boys do so well, and I was delighted to find that his collection included Star Wars toys , the Avengers, Ninja Turtles, Legos and even some pro-wrestling figures (this kid is sooo my nephew).

So, that year for Christmas I bought Sam a Star Wars Lego set (the A-wing star fighter with an Admiral Ackbar figure for those of you who want to know). I knew it was a great gift....and apparently so did someone else, because when Sam opened my present, he let out a disappointed “Aww. I already got this one.” (I figured it wasn't a big deal, because extra Legos just means 'extra parts' in my book, but Sam did not share this opinion.)

My sister-in-law pleasantly explained that she could just take it to Wal-mart and exchange it for another set. I couldn't help but feel a little miffed at this. Granted it was given as a gift and if Sam didn't want the extra set then that was fine. But it was my gift to him. I'd picked it out, bought it, and wrapped it. So it was a pretty disappointing to see it get returned.

And apparently my entire family does their Christmas shopping at Wal-mart, because Sam got another Lego set that needed to be returned (apparently you can do that even without a receipt, which kinda blew my mind). This ended up working out really, really well because the two medium sized Lego sets were exchanged for one big one that built a dragon. It was pretty complex. Lots of moving parts and ball joints and such.

And guess who got to help Sam build his dragon? The same uncle who helped build the siege tower.

That's one thing I learned about the Holidays as I got older. Yes it's fun to get stuff. And all of us enjoy giving good gifts to the people we love. The trappings of the season are great but in the end it's less about those things, as much as it is about just being around each other.

So this year, just take some time to get away from crossing items off your holiday shopping list and your travel plans, use this time to savor the people God has blessed you with.

And who knows. Maybe you'll get to build a siege tower and help rescue the Disney Princesses from a Lego dragon.

Many of you know my love of all things that Ronie Kendig writes (check out her website HERE and her books HERE). Well, a dear friend of mine has offered up a copy of the HAWK audio CD. She got an extra copy and, best friends being what they are, wanted to offer it to you, my dear readers! How cool is that? So...

Leave a comment below to enter for the chance to win a audiobook copy of HAWK by Ronie Kendig.

Andrew Swearingen is a blogger and aspiring writer, living in the hidden kingdom that is Southern Illinois, where (for his 'real job') he works for a landscaping company. He also finds occasional work as a substitute teacher, serves in his church's kid's program, and has on several occasions saved the city from robot invasion.

(One of those isn't completely true, but we'll let you guess which one.)

Blog: http://speculatethat.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @WittySwearWords

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Nicole Deese | Spread the Christams Joy

Nine years ago this November, my husband Tim and I brought our first baby home from the hospital. Not only were we in the clutches of chaos trying to survive sleepless nights and frozen meals, but we had just moved across state lines and were in the process of waiting to hear news on a new job.

Needless to say, we had approximately seventeen dollars in our checking account, and what we lacked in money was made up in stress. The idea of buying Christmas presents, much less, purchasing a Christmas tree was far from a reality.

One night right before Christmas that year, my husband came home from a Men’s Game Night held at our church. When he walked through our front door, his eyes were downcast, his shoulders slumped in defeat. I worried something awful had happened to him in those few hours away from home. Had he been hurt? Had he heard bad news about the job?

Tim sat down beside me on the sofa and studied our sleeping baby cradled in my arms. “There was a big Christmas jackpot for the last man standing tonight. I made it to the very last round—to the very last hand—and I lost.”

My husband’s not an emotional man by nature—sincere, yes—but emotional? No. I never would have imagined him so upset over losing a card game.

He looked at me, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Every round I won, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to surprise you on Christmas morning—give you something so amazing because of all you’ve given me.”

And in my hormonally-sensitive, sleep-deprived state, sobs rolled through me like tidal waves.

But I wasn’t crying because Tim couldn’t buy me Christmas presents, or because we only had seventeen dollars to our name.

I cried because I realized in that beautifully raw moment that God had given me something I could never earn or deserve.

In my arms laid the blessing of new life, and at my side, sat a man who sought my happiness over his own.

No gift could outshine what God had already given me.

That December night long ago is a reminder that no matter what season of life we find ourselves in—whether it be lean or plentiful, sad or joyful, lonely or filled to the brim with family, our Savior's gifts are all around us.
And most of them are wrapped in the shape of the people we love.

Merry Christmas,
Nicole Deese

2014 American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis Award Finalist

Writing happy endings is easy. Living one is the hard part.
Georgia Cole—known in Hollywood as the “Holiday Goddess”—has made a name for herself writing heartwarming screenplays chock-full of Christmas clichés, but she has yet to experience the true magic of the season. So, when her eccentric grandmother volunteers her to direct a pageant at Georgia’s hometown community theater, she is less than thrilled. To make matters worse, she’ll be working alongside Weston James, her childhood crush and the one man she has tried desperately to forget.

Now, facing memories of a lonely childhood and the humiliation of her last onstage performance, seven years earlier, Georgia is on the verge of a complete mistletoe meltdown. As Weston attempts to thaw the frozen walls around her heart, Georgia endeavors to let go of her fears and give love a second chance. If she does, will she finally believe that Christmas can be more than a cliché?
(Book description taken from Amazon)

Nicole has graciously offered up a copy of her novel A Cliché Christmas as a giveaway. Leave a comment below to enter!

Nicole Deese is a lover of fiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be found fantasizing about “reading escapes,” which look a lot like kid-free, laundry-free, and cooking-free vacations.
Her debut novel, an Inspirational Contemporary Romance, All for Anna, has hit multiple milestones since its release in January 2013, including a 4.7 star rating on Amazon and more than 120,000 downloads on Kindle. She has since completed the Letting Go series and is over-the-moon excited about her new release, A Cliché Christmas, published by Waterfall Press, an Amazon Publishing imprint. A Cliché Christmas is available at Walmart stores nationwide and on Amazon.com.
Nicole Deese is represented by Jessica Kirkland of The Blythe Daniel Agency, and lives in Frisco, Texas, with her husband, Tim, and her two rowdy boys, Preston and Lincoln.

Website: www.nicoledeese.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/nicoledeeseauthor
Twitter: @nicoledeese

Friday, December 19, 2014

Carole Brown | Spread the Christmas Joy

A Bundle of Love and Peace and Joy!

“Behold, I bring good tidings of great joy.”

I suppose one of my biggest desires I’ve had since my boys reached an age where they were considering marriage, was the time when I could become a grandmother. You see, I thought it would never happen. Sigh.

My husband (when the boys were growing up) ALWAYS teased that he didn’t want them to marry until they were thirty. Thirty? I just rolled my eyes. Until the years rolled by . . . And rolled by . . . And rolled by.

We did teach them to pray about choosing a life partner and they were confident that that was the way to go about knowing God’s choice of a companion. Finally, though, our youngest son married a woman with two sons.

Heaven! I immediately adopted them and jumped right into being a grandmother. Though they had a maternal grandmother, I reminded them often, I was the “fun-est” one ever! They grinned in agreement.

A few months later when I learned a baby was on the way, I was thrilled. And nine months later I was invited into the delivery room, was the first person (the other grandmother graciously gave me the opportunity) to hold that bundle of little joy. And the first Christmas we continued to thank God for the privilege of being grandparents. It’s still, two years later, one of the best Christmases I can remember.

God loves children (Become as one, he says), and I cannot doubt that he saw my longing for a precious grandchild.

Does God care about our “little” desires and wishes? Of course, he does? He delights in giving us good answers. He loves seeing us rejoice at his gifts to us. Did God really answer my prayers for grandchildren? Oh, yeah. I see the results. Merry Christmas!


Brown not only has her award winning (RWA International Digital Awards finalist in Inspiration, Laurel Award finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, 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?

Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/browncarole212
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown
Stitches in Time: http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/
Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/

Laura V. Hilton | Spread the Christmas Joy

Excited to switch things up for this mornings post! I'm welcoming Laura V. Hilton to the blog with an interview (in the Writer Wednesday style). Laura was also gracious enough to offer up a copy of her novel The Snow Globe as a giveaway!

You and Writing

Who is one of your favorite authors and why? ...Susan May Warren. She really draws me into her stories. Love them.

What is one book or resource you would recommend to other writers? Why?
...I don’t really recommend any. I learn better by studying and reading other authors.

Share a writing-related milestone with us?
... I won the Laurel Awards in 2012 with A Harvest of Hearts, both in the Amish category and in the best fiction book overall.

How do you balance your time between writing and other actives? Any helpful tips, tricks, or suggestions?
...That’s a good question and even now, writing my thirteen book, I still struggle with it.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about The Snow Globe...
Victor Petersheim has left the Amish and works on a river boat on the Mississippi River, spending three months on the river then having three months off. During his off-work months he returns home to his Amish community and helps out on his grandparents’ farm. When he returns home after his most recent absence, he discovers his grossmammi has developed health problems and they’ve hired Esther Beachy to be a “mother’s helper.” Victor is unsettled by this woman living in their home, but has to accept it. Esther loves listening to Victor’s grandmother’s stories and while puttering around in a store while the grossmammi’s in the hospital, she discovers a snow globe that depicts an area where the Petersheims used to live. She buys it as a gift for the grossmammi to cheer her up during her hospitalization. Victor is touched by Esther’s gift and her care for his grossmammi, and strives to be friendlier. Will Esther’s gentle heart draw him back to the community? Or will he return to the river once again?
What was one trial you faced when writing it? One success? 
...I had to dive right into this book from another and didn’t have time to let the brain unwind between different stories. But with God’s help, I managed.

Who is your favorite character and why?
...Oh, that’s hard. I love Viktor, Esther, Anna and Reuben.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...I leave that up to God and the reader. What I take away might not be what the reader takes away.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Apple cider and pumpkin seeds.

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
...A mom and a writer.

Laura Hilton lives and writes in Arkansas, surrounded by her husband and five children. The author of inspirational novels about the Amish, she is also a book reviewer.
Website: http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/
Blog: http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1030516.Laura_V_Hilton
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512?ref=bookmarks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Laura_V_Hilton
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/vernetlh/

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker | RE:View

I've been a fan of Ted Dekker's for a long time now. He has consistently put out books that I love. They inspire me, entertain me, and make me think. A.D. 30 was another such book.

A.D. 30 follows the story of a young woman, Maviah, whose father is a powerful Bedouin sheikh. When turmoil hits, Maviah narrowly escapes with the help of her father's warriors, Saba and Judah. Sent on a mission from her father, these three cross desserts and encounter all sorts of adventure.

This story is one that will transport  you to another time. It will wrap you up in beautiful language and description, as if you were the one experiencing the grit and dryness of a sandstorm or staring in awe at a sky filled with stars.

For me, when Maviah's path crosses with that of the "enigmatic teacher" Yeshua, my connection with the story deepened. I was there seeing Him. I was experiencing His stories in real time. I was the one being called daughter. 

It is a story of purpose, adventure, and transformation. 

I highly recommend this novel to anyone. Whether you enjoy historical fiction, enigmatic tales, or action and adventure, you will enjoy this book. I cannot sing its praises enough!

Purchase A.D. 30: A Novel

Book Description
(from Amazon)
A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.

A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.

Step back in time to the year of our Lord...A.D. 30.

The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father's warriors--Saba who speaks more with is sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

But Maviah's path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people--and herself.
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.