Saturday, December 7, 2019

Review: An Amish Christmas Bakery by Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Kelly Irvin




About the Book

Book:  An Amish Christmas Bakery
Author: Various Authors
Genre: Amish Fiction, Romance
Release Date: October 2, 2019

From bestselling authors in the Amish genre come four delicious novellas perfect for celebrating love, joy, and the holiday season.

Cookies and Cheer by Amy Clipston


As Christmas draws near, Alyssa Byler dreams of a window display for the bakery where she works. When she decides to design and build a sugar cookie nativity scene, all she needs is the right cookie cutters-and handsome blacksmith Kyle Smoker is the one she asks for help. Using Kyle’s handmade cutters, Alyssa creates a striking display that brings more tourists to the bakery than she can handle. And when shoppers request handmade cookie cutters of their own, Kyle finds himself overwhelmed by the demand. As Christmas approaches, Alyssa realizes she’s been too caught up in work to focus on the true meaning of Christmas-and too distracted to explore the feelings she has for Kyle. Together, they put aside the holiday rush and spend their time celebrating the season that has brought them together.

Loaves of Love by Beth Wiseman

As the only girl in a family of eight, Katie Swartzentruber has been left in charge of her family’s bakery while her mother recuperates from surgery. At first, Katie doesn’t think tending to the bakery alone will be difficult. She’s worked alongside her mother for years. But Christmas is coming, and with the holiday comes a flood of patrons, both regulars and tourists. When Katie becomes overwhelmed with the orders she is receiving, she is tempted to move her Old Order family into the modern world by purchasing propane ovens to help with the workload. She finds help from an unexpected source-childhood friend Henry Hershberger, who has harbored a secret crush on Katie for years. He’s been afraid to tell her how he feels, but he’s sure that this Christmas is his moment. As the demands of the bakery only get more intense, both Katie and Henry have to decide what really matters . . . and find the courage within themselves to go after it.

Melting Hearts by Kathleen Fuller

Mattie Shetler is an expert baker, so when her aunt Carolyn begs for help during the busy Christmas rush, Mattie eagerly packs her bags and heads to Birch Creek. What she doesn’t know is that her uncle has also asked for help with the bakery’s new expansion, and he’s asked none other than Peter Kaufman, Mattie’s sworn enemy. As the two work side by side, though, Mattie discovers not all is as it seems. With Christmas just around the corner, Mattie and Peter open their hearts for the greatest gifts of the season: forgiveness and maybe even love.

Cakes and Kisses by Kelly Irvin

Martha Ropp works hard at her family’s bakery, making cakes and pies in preparation not only for Christmas but the many community weddings, including her sister’s. To help during this busy season, Martha’s mother hires Ambrose Hershberger to make deliveries. Martha remembers Ambrose as a gentle giant from her school days, but soon discovers that still waters run deep. The more they work together, the more they want to spend time together outside of the bakery, but both Martha and Ambrose are too timid to make the first move. That’s when the town matchmakers step in.   Click here to get your copy. 



My Thoughts

An Amish Christmas Bakery is a delightful collection of Christmas-themed novellas by four talented authors – Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Irvin. The locations are different, but all have a small-town bakery setting. As I would have expected, they are all well written, engaging, filled with hope, love, a timely faith message, and radiate Christmas joy.

Amy Clipston’s writing style and characters had me completely engaged in “Cookies and Cheer.” And I loved Alyssa’s creative design for the bakery’s window display – using sugar cookies in the shapes of angels, shepherds, animals, and stars to surround the nativity figurines. But the greatest impact is the relevancy of the story, as it’s all too easy during the busyness of this season to neglect preparing our hearts for the coming of our Savior.

“Loves of Love” by Beth Wiseman and “Melting Hearts” by Kathleen Fuller emphasize the importance of honesty and forgiveness.

I was so touched by the story of Martha and Ambrose in “Cakes and Kisses” by Kelly Irvin. Ambrose has a mild mental handicap and Martha has the insight to see into his heart and high performing intellect. This story resonated with me so much because of a close family member who has special needs also.

These stories are fulfilling and exactly what I needed during this busy season. Recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Read an Excerpt

Read an excerpt of An Amish Christmas Bakery at https://aerbook.com/books/An_Amish_Christmas_Bakery-226178.html?utm_source=pubpage


Blog Stops

The Power of Words, December 7
The Avid Reader, December 7
Quiet Quilter, December 9
Life as Lanhams, December 10
Britt Reads Fiction, December 10
D’S QUILTS &BOOKS, December 10
Emily Yager, December 11
Texas Book-aholic, December 11
Older & Smarter?, December 13
janicesbookreviews, December 13
Bigreadersite, December 14
Batya’s Bits, December 14
For Him and My Family, December 14
Splashes of Joy, December 15
Lighthouse Academy, December 15
Jeanette’s Thoughts, December 15
EmpowerMoms, December 16
Hallie Reads, December 18
Mary Hake, December 18
A Reader’s Brain, December 20

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Review + GIVEAWAY: Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers by Kathy Joy




About the Book

Book: Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers
Author: Kathy Joy
Genre: Non-fiction, Gift Book, Picture Book
Release Date: October 1, 2019

The final book in the series, Breath of Joy, Winter Whispers speaks of the deep quiet earth movements that echo human proving grounds and transitions during rest. Photo Art and Prose. Three everyday celebrations on every page spread are not commercially Christmas but rather interrelational and spiritually poised. This is simply, because in Winter when the earth’s axis is the farthest away from the sun, people warm themselves and grow in the wonder of darkness, where God still sees us, breathing life. 

Click here to get your copy. 


My Thoughts

Winter Whispers, book #4 in the Breath of Joy series by Kathy Joy, is a wonderful little book! Sometimes the best things come in small packages and that’s the case here. Winter Whispers is a personal experience, a visual journey that conjures up the warm glow of memories – and all who read it will connect in their own way.

The Breath of Joy series celebrates each season, and while Winter Whispers is the first I’ve read, I would treasure all of them. The visual story is well grounded in faith, reminding that we are God’s children and that He is with us through even the most difficult of times, working in our lives.

Winter Whispers is a blend of poetic language and evocative images, each complimenting the other in a celebration of the season. I found the thoughts and pictures moving as they enveloped me in treasured memories and gratitude to the Creator. It would make an excellent coffee table book, enticing guests to join in this journey. And it’s a great book just to reminisce with throughout the winter season.

I’ll end by sharing a few of my favorite random thoughts from the creative pen of Kathy Joy, all of which I can relate to …

The honesty of trees in Winter,
how the limbs know to let things go…

Finding resolve in a discouraged spirit …
and discovering music in the pain of a confession

An awkward hello and a tearful goodbye…
A drink from the cup of forgiveness…
Even when the dregs are bitter.

The handwriting of someone you love…
And one small, gracious act that multiplies

Slogging through the waves to the other side of grief,
A soaked and victorious landing on the shore.

Recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


About the Author



      Kathy Joy enjoyed being a popular Christian radio D.J. in Colorado for many years. When her husband wanted to move to Pennsylvania to take over the family farm, Kathy Joy accompanied him with their two young daughters. Four years later, Kathy Joy found herself a widow raising two teenagers. 
      To stave off despair, she began writing three every day celebrations in a journal. Friends on Facebook began prompting her to write a book, and so the beginning of the Breath of Joy series began. 
      Kathy Joy now works in human services, speaking wonder on the weekends to grief therapy groups, motivational corporate meetings, and women’s retreats. Some of her topics include Vision Board workshops, Being a Harbor Pilot, Mirroring the Savior, The Fifth Season, and A Christmas Tea.  


More from Kathy

I’m so excited to join Celebrate Lit for this first real blog tour of my Breath of Joy series!

As a collector of celebrations, curating pithy delights and sharing them with my readers, I do hope you enjoy the visual experience and personal comfort offered in my Winter Whispers book.

Wintertime, especially Christmas and Valentine’s day, can be some of the toughest times of the year for people who have experienced trauma, or significant loss and grief. I’m one of those people.  Collecting three everyday celebrations for me was a means of refocusing on common joys in my life. They were a means of turning my despair into faith. Now, by publishing four books in less than two years, I have encountered another ladder of faith and I continue to face fear in order to live the adventure that God has for me.

Don’t you know, the Lord gives us many different kinds of gifts, and some of those gifts we would rather return to Him?  However, my seasonal “Breath of Joy!” books helped me not only to be thankful for the phase of life in which I found myself, but writing these books also built depth into my relationship with my real self, not my public persona, and specifically with the real God of the Bible.

It brings joy to my heart to collect snapshots of life and give my readers an opportunity to experience simple blessings in fresh, new ways. My books were borne out of sudden loss and grief when my husband of 23 years died of a massive heart attack. Gathering up my will to go forward, I remembered he always encouraged me to collect “beautiful moments” and write them down.

Now, when people connect with me, they say things like, “I couldn’t sleep, and so I picked up your book, and it gave me a new perspective that has helped me go on. If you can do it, so can I.” / “I went to one of Kathy Joy’s vision board making workshops. When I posted my board on the refrigerator, I had no idea how much I would rely on it to get me through the next year.  I am writing this to thank you for helping me stay out of the hospital for a full year.” /

”Just downloaded your file/book. Absolutely beautiful. I thought you wrote prose/poetry. Forgive me for putting you off. I loved perusing the pages. I went through it too fast. I need to sip it. I will peruse it again tomorrow. Totally different from what I thought it’d be. Hmmm. It’s more than a coffee table book. Gift book. Calming book. Nice, very nice.  Let me sit with it and ponder it. Lovely creation.

These kinds of receptions make my day. They let me know that God still has adventures for me to take and purposes for me to speak wonder into other people’s lives.

 

Giveaway


To celebrate her tour, Kathy is giving away the grand prize of a copy of the book in reader’s choice of format!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

Spotlight + GIVEAWAY: Reclaimed by Stephanie Broersma




About the Book

Book: Reclaimed
Author: Stephanie Broersma
Genre: RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Counseling & Recovery
Release Date: August 21, 2019  

Stephanie Broersma lived a charmed life . . . until the day she discovered a deleted online conversation between her husband and another woman. When confronted, he confessed to a ten-year addiction to pornography and multiple affairs. Yet even as her world crumbled, Stephanie refused to allow Satan to turn her marriage into another dismal statistic. 

Reclaimed: Finding Your Identity after Marital Betrayal is Stephanie’s story—from revelation to reconciliation and all the pain and confusion in between. But it’s also a guide for those whose lives have turned upside down—a raw and honest look at the emotions, decisions, and difficulties women face in marital betrayal. It’s a collection of stories shared by real women, a journal with leading questions to help put words to feelings, and an encouraging compilation of Scripture verses to give strength to the weary. 

Stephanie’s goal in sharing her story is that you will realize that you are not alone. That you are not without hope despite the chaos and pain around you. That you will find healing from the shame, anger, and brokenness that overwhelms you. That you will gain confidence as you rebuild trust and self-worth. And that you will walk out of this fire with your head held high, giving God the glory for the amazing, reclaimed story of your life. 

Click here to get your copy.  


About the Author



      Stephanie Broersma is a living example of how God brings beauty from ashes in the lives of His children. Married since 2002, she and her husband, Tim, have walked through the valley of marital betrayal and come out the other side stronger, more in love, and fully devoted to Christ. She now heads Reclaimed Ministry, an organization that seeks to help other broken brides recover from the pain and devastation of marital infidelity. 
      For more information or to find help, visit reclaimedministry.com.   


More from Stephanie

FUN FACTS about the book and Stephanie:

– In keeping identities private, Stephanie had to come up with a system to replace names when sharing stories from other women. She replaced the names with cast members from her favorite TV series, The Office.

– Stephanie has walked in two Susan G. Women 3 Day breast cancer walks and has ran in races with distances from 5k-50k.

– Her goal is to run a race in every state by the age of 50. She’s welcome to invitations and races with causes.

“Reclaimed is here to walk you through your season of brokenness. To support you with authentic tools and scripture based guidance that supports you and meets you exactly where you are. My name is Stephanie and I also have come from a place of dark despair. I created these materials to guide you on the path to wholeness and living a redeemed identity.

If your husband has had an affair… if pornography or sexual addiction has hurt your marriage… if you have discovered an emotional affair… then this message is for you.

Here’s why…

The problem is most women don’t know where to go for help when they discover an affair. Many will get counseling. Some will talk to close friends and family. Many will hide and pretend everything is fine. But none of that brings about the healing we need.
  • We need to connect with a community that understands what we are going through.
  • We need to discover the healing available through Jesus Christ.
  • We need a life that doesn’t feel out of control.
What happens if you don’t find healing? If you just keep doing what you have been doing? You remain stuck in brokenness and shame and may even continue enabling the same patterns of abuse.

My heart is for you to
  • Find your true identity
  • Develop confidence
  • Learn to love again”


Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Stephanie is giving away a $250 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the image above or the link below to enter.



Blog Stops


CarpeDiem, November 19
Book Love, November 21 (Spotlight)
Artistic Nobody, November 22
A Baker’s Perspective, November 24 (Author Interview)
Texas Book-aholic, November 25
janicesbookreviews, November 26
SusanK. Beatty, Author, November 27 (Author Interview)
A Reader’s Brain, November 28
Inklings and notions, November 29
Andrea Christenson, November 30 (Author Interview)
Quiet Quilter, December 1
Simple Harvest Reads, December 2 (Author Interview)

Review + GIVEAWAY: Letter from Paul by Mary Weins




About the Book

Book: Letter from Paul
Author: Mary Weins
Genre:  Christian Non-Fiction, Bible study
Release Date: April 5, 2019

A devotional workbook on Galatians that gives enough substance for the interactive part of the workbook. It is worthwhile for small groups or individuals.” Dr. Dennis Beatty

Draw closer to God. Revel in the knowledge that you are saved by grace, not works. Discover how Paul addressed the Galatian people when they veered from the truth back into bondage to the rules and customs of their time.

This Bible study takes you verse by verse through the book of Galatians, with insights into what occurred so many years ago yet is still relevant today. Bringing home the truth that we don’t have to perform a certain way to be accepted as heirs to Christ, Letter from Paul offers relief to those who feel pressured to live by the world’s standards.

You will be refreshed and renewed as you lean into the fact that God loves you just as you are. Yes, He has given us the commandments, but He doesn’t pile additional rules on us that we can’t possibly follow. Instead, He gives us grace. And mercy. And love.

“Galatians is about the difference between salvation by works and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is not about obeying all the rules versus having a good time. It is about a personal relationship with our Creator and Savior.” – Mary Weins

Click here to get your copy!


My Thoughts

In his letter to the Galatian church, Paul addressed a serious problem in that church at the time, and his words are just as relevant for us today. In Letter from Paul, Mary Weins has created an excellent resource for delving into the heart of Galatians. Written in a conversational style, the teaching is thorough and easy to follow. New believers or even those who have never studied Galatians before would find this study appealing.

Nothing can turn people off to Christianity faster than a legalistic approach, and that is the overarching theme of Galatians – legalism, law, and salvation by works vs. love and grace. Letter from Paul begins with an overview of the Galatian church that was struggling with this very problem. The following chapters correspond with the six chapters of Galatians and begin with an attention-getting story relevant to the topics discussed in each chapter. This is followed by teaching and study questions that applicable and easy to understand. The chapters then conclude with questions and thoughts for personal reflection.

Works vs. God’s saving grace and false prophets are just two of several topics discussed. Letter to Paul is insightful, and I found the last chapter especially thought provoking as it asks the question, What Does a Christian Look Like?

In addition to personal study, Letter from Paul would also work well in small-group study. Recommended.

I received a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


About the Author



      As a Pastor’s kid, Mary has been involved in the church most of her life. She has led many Bible study groups in homes, in the church environment, and in jails; Mary has worked in various women’s ministries, and is a writer, speaker and Bible Teacher.
      Currently, Mary and her husband are retired and live in Northern California. They have 3 sons, and 5 grandchildren who live nearby. When not writing, speaking, leading Bible study groups, or studying God’s Word on her own, Mary enjoys entertaining friends, cooking, and playing with her grandchildren…not necessarily in that order.

 

More from Mary

Letter from Paul: to the Church in Galatia…and Us!

      As a preacher’s kid, I was brought up in a strict, structured home environment. This upbringing created a harsh view of Christianity and an overwhelming fear of hell, fire, and damnation for me. 
      It was not until years later that I found a church emphasizing God’s love. I read the Word and prayed daily and began to develop a close, personal relationship with God. But fear kept haunting me until I really got into Galatians and broke it down, verse by verse. The book of Galatians is a crucial book of the Bible for me because it emphasizes God’s love and forgiveness and provides assurance that, even though I mess up at times, God still loves me! 
      It is my hope and prayer that you, too, can embrace the beautiful message of love and acceptance contained in Galatians and apply it to your life. When we fully submit and trust God for our lives, an overwhelming peace envelops us. We no longer need to fear Him. He is a loving God who provides all our needs and protects, encourages, comforts, and directs us. He is our heavenly Father, our constant companion, and a friend who really does have all the right answers. 
      Living in a right relationship with God dramatically changes the way we view ourselves and the world. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17 KJV). 
      Written in a down-to-earth, easy-to-read approach, the Bible studies contained in Letter from Paul highlight the main points covered in each chapter of Galatians. 
      It is my hope and prayer that this book will erase the doubts and fears of Christians who question their salvation or fear that they are not good enough to maintain it and to point the way for the unsaved to realize how easy it is to become a child of God.


Giveaway



To celebrate her tour, Mary is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon Gift Card & Paperback of “Letter from Paul”!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the image above or the link below to enter.