30 November 2011

Diana's Corner - Book Review of The Measure of Katie Calloway

The Measure of Katie Calloway 

by Serena Miller

Revell 2011

5 stars~ *****

Review by Diana L. Flowers


In The Measure of Katie Calloway, Serena Miller takes us on an arduous journey beginning in post civil war-ravaged Georgia to a lumber camp in Bay City, Michigan. Katie falls in love with and marries the handsome and charming, Harlan Calloway, a graduate from West Point, the sole heir of Fallen Oaks Plantation in Georgia. 

As Sherman and his Union troops burn down everything in their pathway, Fallen Oaks is destroyed, leaving only a small cabin for Katie, her little brother, Ned, and Harlan, to inhabit. After the war, Harlan, turns to alcohol, and beats Katie severely, until one day fearful for her very life, she runs away, taking Ned and a small bag of coins with her, determined to get as far away as the money will take her. 

She ends up in the beauful logging country of Michigan, and meets Robert Foster, owner of a lumber camp and desperately in need of a cook for his men. 
Robert Foster is a kind and fair man; good to his "shanty boys" as the loggers were called, but a man who carries a deep burden of guilt for not being with his wife when she died giving birth. He, too, was on the battlefield, and saw tremendous atrocities such as couldn't be uttered, and he carries a secret that no one knows. Does Katie find out what it is by reading an old journal she finds of Robert's? And what about the secret she is keeping from him - the fact that she is not a widow, but a married woman.

Katie's work is backbreaking, and she must get up at two in the morning to begin feeding the shanty boys. Gruff on the outside, but with hearts of gold, they all grow to love Katie, and of course, her wonderful cooking! Robert Foster is falling in love with her as well, but Katie fights their growing attraction, as she is still married, and fearful of Harlan finding her. 

Add a terrible forest fire that could destroy the whole 680 acre camp, a starving Indian woman with her baby, and a once runaway slave, to the budding, but forbidden romance, and you have one more exciting tale!

Serena Miller's novel is laced with humor (I laughed outright at some of the episodes), but she covers some pretty heavy issues; slavery, spousal abuse, and post traumatic stress disorder, to name a few. Her extensive research into the lumber business taught me alot, and her realistic setting had me actually smelling the scent of spruce and freshly sawed white pine trees. I loved her secondary characters, and still miss the rough spoken and malodorous, but protective and loving shanty boys.

*One word of warning-Do not read this book while hungry, because Ms. Miller's many descriptions of the delectable, mouth watering meals that Katie concocts, will have you craving food and running to the kitchen..mmm.:)  Wonderful novel, Serena Miller, and I am wholeheartedly looking forward to the next one! 

Giveaway:  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book in either Kindle or paperback version, your choice!  

28 November 2011

Interview with Serena Miller

Serena Miller is the author of The Measure Of Katie Calloway, and Love Finds You In Sugarcreek, Ohio. She also has five more novels coming out in the next three years.

I met Serena through an article she wrote for Christian Writer’s Online Magazine, about writing through family illness.

Welcome to Overcoming Through Time, Serena.  Would you share either the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help, or the most tragic situation or circumstance one of your character’s has had to get past?

For me, as I wrote about in the Wellness column in the on-line magazine you mentioned above, the most difficult thing I ever had to get through was finding out that my husband had a rare form of bone cancer. He was found to have 11 spinal fractures, only one month after I had signed my first contract for a full-length inspirational novel. The cancer was so rare, it took eleven months for the doctors to accurately diagnose it—during which time my husband suffered incredible pain and needed my around-the-clock care. My husband (who had always been my emotional and spiritual rock) was half out of his head from heavy pain meds much of the time, and I was terrified of what the future might hold. By the grace and mercy of our God, I still managed to write two novels during that time.

God gave us a miracle in the form of a brilliant doctor who accurately diagnosed the cancer and began to prescribe appropriate meds for my husband. We spent three weeks this past Christmas in a research cancer hospital, as a stem cell/bone marrow transplant was administered. My husband is now in full remission, out of pain, and able to minister to our congregation full-time again. The transplant doctor says that based on his body’s excellent response, my husband has at least another ten to twenty good years ahead of him. We are incredibly grateful for the prognosis.

I look at those two books now, and the kind reviews they’ve received, and I give God all praise. Without Him holding my hand through that dark time, not only would I not have been able to write, I would have probably lost my mind. Now—I write my books with a song of praise in my heart, and a greater appreciation for each pain-free normal day the Father gives us.

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
Job 13:15 KJV “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

That became a sort of rallying cry for us during that dark time of my husband’s illness. We could not fathom the reason behind the pain, or the multiple misdiagnoses. It would have been tempting to blame God for allowing such pain—but Job’s cry during his time of suffering became our own.

Human suffering has caused so many to abandon their faith, and turn their backs on God. The reasons behind what happened to my husband was incomprehensible to us—especially since he had devoted his entire life to serving the Lord. We had a choice to make—would we laud the Father only during pleasant times and curse him when things got bad? Or would we continue to trust him, even when we didn’t understand? We chose to cling to Him—and it made all the difference. 

(Serena, that was my verse during a time I was extremely ill 2009-2010 and wondered if I was going home to heaven.  It is a verse to cling to.  So glad your husband survived this terrible ordeal. God still has plans for him!)

Disability friendliness:
Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio? At this moment, all I know for sure is that Doubleday has brought Love Finds You In Sugarcreek out in large print. Both books are available as e-books. I don’t know about the audio yet.

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?

I heard an author once say that she wasn’t trying to save the world with her stories, she was simply trying to brighten someone’s weekend. That is my goal, too. I try to create a safe place into which a reader can retreat, with a sigh of relief. As I write, I always mentally write for a weary nurse walking around with my paperback in her pocket, looking forward to the respite of losing herself in a different world for a few minutes during her hurried lunch. I hope the book will take her on an adventure that will end in an uplifting of her spirits, a greater appreciation of our Lord, and hope for the future.

As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?

As I researched the Amish, I was invited into a grandmother’s daadi-haus. It was a small, fully functional home that was attached by a short walkway to her daughter and son-in-law’s farmhouse. This is the norm for Amish families. The grandfather and grandmother eventually sell their larger home to a son or daughter, and move into the attached daadi-haus. The grandparents get an income from the sale of their home. They get to continue to be a part of their family’s life. They spend time teaching the wisdom they’ve gained to their grandchildren. The grandfather continues to help out around the farm as long as he is able, and the grandmother helps with canning and gardening as long as she is able. This is their beautiful answer to a retirement home. I was touched and impressed with the contentment and happiness I saw in their eyes because of it. 
In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
In the book, my heroine's southern-born husband comes home from the Civil War a defeated, bitter man. His hatred for the north is so great that he turns his anger upon his northern-born wife, Katie, and begins to routinely abuse both her and her orphaned little brother. Katie keeps hoping he'll change, but finally realizing that if they don't get away he'll kill them--Katie and her little brother run for their lives. Even though she has no idea where to go or how to support herself when she gets there.

I have known too many women who endured physical abuse--both to themselves and their children--because they were more afraid of walking into the unknown than they were of their abusive husbands and boyfriends. I wanted to portray a woman who gathers her courage to save herself and the child she loves.   

I used to work as a court reporter in Detroit, Michigan. There was one wise, woman judge I greatly admired. I heard her once admonish a woman who had been allowing her husband to abuse her and her two children. She said she was too afraid to leave. The judge said, "You are a mother. Your job is to protect your children. You don't have the luxury of fear. You don't wait around hoping that man won't pound on you again. You put one child under one arm, the other child under the other arm. And you don't walk, you RUN out that door."  

Therefore, my favorite line in the entire book is at the end of the first chapter when Katie climbs upon that good, fast horse and says, "Let's ride, little brother!" 

Katie takes what little faith and courage she can muster, walks into an unknown future, and begins to grow both physically and emotionally as she allows God to create a new path for her and her little brother.   

(CFP: Sounds like this book is about second chances, new beginnings, and the chance for God to put things aright, too.) 

Thank you Serena for sharing with our readers. I remember praying for you during that difficult time and when I read your story I had been so touched it brought tears to my eyes. God bless and keep you and your dear husband!

Thanks for having me! 

Giveaway: Leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win a Serena Miller book, your choice and in your preferred format. 

24 November 2011

Thankful Thoughts - And Link to Marcia Gruver Review

Diana Flowers at Home by her bookcase!

By Carrie Fancett Pagels
I am thankful that I had a fabulous guest poster on my blog last March.  Her name was Diana Flowers and she reviewed a Marcia Gruver book Raider’s Heart, (Backwoods Brides)that she loved! Now she's a contributor on this blog!  So be careful when you read and review those Marcia Gruver books, you never know what might happen!

Here is the link to Diana's review of Marcia's earlier release. Click here.
Diana Flowers at home.
What about you?  Do you have friends you are thankful for?  Special authors you are glad are out there?  Give us your links to your favorite friends' blogs or websites!  

I want to also express thanks to all the Colonial American Christian Writers and especially those who blog on Colonial Quills!  What a difference even a few months have made for that blog!  

Giveaway:  Leave a comment for a chance to win beaded jewelry that Carrie misses making now that she's writing so much!  Also a giveaway for a copy of Marcia Gruver's new release.

23 November 2011

Diana's Corner - Book Review Bandit's Hope by Marcia Gruver

Bandit's Hope 
by Marcia Gruver 
(Backwoods Brides-Book Two)

Review by Diana Flowers

5 stars~*****

Historical Fiction At Its Finest!

Marcia Gruver has crafted another masterpiece of a book in Bandit's Hope; a tale of love, forgiveness, greed, and deceit in 19th century Mississippi  Mariah Bell is a beautiful half Choctaw woman, and owner and proprietess of Bell's Inn, a place that she has promised her deceased mother to never give up. In keeping that promise, Mariah becomes a harborer of a very dark secret, that if revealed, threatens her very relationship with those she loves. Tiller McRae lands on the doorstep of Bell's Inn in need of shelter for a few days, and Mariah hires him as a handyman to perform long overdue repairs on the inn.

Tiller, a product of an unjust childhood, ran away from home ten years ago with his friend, Nate, and ends up in more trouble than he can handle; a life of an outlaw and a swindler, but a life that he is tired of and willing to give up for the beautiful Mariah. But if she finds out his secret, will she have him?...especially when two very handsome Choctaw Indian braves, and a childhood friend are all vying for Mariah's hand as well. And when a severely injured Otis Gooch is brought to the inn to be nursed back to health, what secret does he hold, that terrifies Tiller to the core, should the elderly man ever regain his memory and reveal it? And who steals Mariah away and why, and will the men reach her before it is too late?

I absolutely loved this tale, with its wonderful characters, twists and turns, and page turning excitement! Marcia Gruver is a master storyteller, who laces her novels with rich Southern humor (I loved Otis Gooch!) to offset the dark times her characters face. With a strong spiritual thread of love and forgiveness throughout, this book is a must read! Although Raider's Heart is the first book in the Backwoods Brides Series, Ms. Gruver does a good job of recapping so that it may be read as a stand alone, although I highly recommend them both. Nicely done!

This book was sent to me by Barbour Publishing and I was not required to write a positive review. My opinions are my own.

Giveaway:  Marcia is generously giving away a copy of Raider's Heart this week.  We at Overcoming Through Time - With God's Help are also doing a giveaway of beaded jewelry made by Carrie - a backwoods woman herself, although not a backwoods bride!  Leave a comment and your email address to enter for both giveaways.  

21 November 2011

Interview with Marcia Gruver

Interview by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Marcia Gruver is the author of Bandit’s Hope, book two in the Backwoods Brides series and the sequel to Raider’s Heart. Other books to Marcia’s credit include: Diamond Duo, Chasing Charity, and Emmy’s Equal, the Texas Fortunes Series.

Marcia, welcome to Overcoming Through Time.  Would you share either the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help, or the most tragic situation or circumstance one of your character’s has had to get past?
This is an easy question since I just struggled through the most difficult season of my life. Several doctors suspected that my mother’s recent illness was Lymphoma, a malignancy of the lymph nodes. Her diagnosis remained uncertain for several months until a biopsy could be performed. During this time, I had a manuscript deadline hanging over my head for Hunter’s Prize, the final installment in the Backwoods Brides series. I needed to be there for my precious mom, yet I felt an incredible responsibility to my publishing house and my fans. It began to feel like the Bible story of the baby King Solomon threatened to split in half—and I was the baby! Thankfully, God intervened in a miraculous way. Mom’s biopsy returned negative for cancer, and I made my deadline on time. So the baby survived in one piece. I can’t say the same for my shattered nerves.

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
My favorite scripture changes depending upon where I am in my walk with God. Going through a trial where you face the possible death of a loved one will change your perspective considerably. While my mom went through her cancer scare, we spent time reading about near-death experiences and discussing the realities of heaven. As a result, I think I wound up even more comforted than she did about our eternal destiny. Therefore, my latest favorite scripture is the promise made by Jesus in John 14, versus 2 & 3: “In my Father's house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.”

Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?
All five of my books are available on in Kindle e-book format [link]. Four of them are available at on the Nook [link]. I’ve requested that the missing book, Raider’s Heart be made available, as well. Diamond Duo, book one of Texas Fortunes, and Raider’s Heart, book one of Backwoods Brides, are available in large print editions.

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
I take care to weave threads of God’s mercy and forgiveness into every book I write. The decision to write inspirational fiction in the first place stemmed from a desire to leave behind a legacy of my faith for the coming generations. Someday, somewhere, someone in the distant future will pick up a dusty, dog-eared copy of one of my books and read the salvation message. It’s a way to keep my testimony alive when I’m gone.

As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
I love writing about real hometown legends. In Diamond Duo, my first book, I wrote about the true-life  unsolved murder of “Diamond Bessie” Monroe in Jefferson, Texas. Bessie’s story intrigued me because, after more than 130 years, she’s still a household name in Jefferson. I figured there had to be a (hopefully) divine reason for this. Standing over her sad little grave in Jefferson’s Oakwood Cemetery, I decided Bessie, from her vantage point, wouldn’t mind my using her story to further the Kingdom.

I had a very touching moment after the release of Raider’s Heart. In the book, I feature Henry Berry Lowry, the Lumbee tribe’s hero in the fight for civil rights and tribal self-determination. Shortly after the release, the wife of one of Henry’s descendents contacted me. I can’t express how thrilled and excited I was to hear from her, and we’ve since become great friends. I get such a kick from visiting her Facebook page and seeing among her friends and family the same surnames as the characters in my book. J

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
In my next release, Hunter’s Prize, I feature an autistic boy, and I touch on some of the ways his governess found to help him. This book releases in July 2011.

Thank you Marcia for agreeing to answer these questions.  So glad your mother was fine!  

GIVEAWAY:  Marcia is generously offering a copy of Bandit's Hope to one of our readers!  Leave a comment with your email address to enter.

Marcia's Bio:

Marcia Gruver’s southern-comfortable roots lend touches of humor and threads of faith to her writing. Look for both in her Texas Fortunes and Backwoods Brides series. When she’s not perched behind a keyboard, you’ll find her clutching a game system controller or riding shotgun on long drives in the Texas Hill Country. Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband Lee have five children. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with a dozen grandchildren and one great-granddaughter—so far.

19 November 2011

Maggie Brendan Week Winners

We enjoyed having Maggie with us all week and her friend Marian's review on Friday and Diana's review on Wednesday!

Sadly, I have been unable to locate BeeMama's email address and since she did not leave an addy perhaps did not mean to enter for the drawing.  

So using the random generator number but working backward, the winner would be Jen.  Congrats Jennifer Whitney!

Our second winner is, drumroll, Janice Smith!  Congrats!  

Come by next week for Marcia Gruver week!  Interview and reviews!  And giveaway time, too!

18 November 2011

Friend on Friday - Review of Deeply Devoted by Maggie Brendan

Picture from Miriam of her copy of Deeply Devoted!!! Isn't this pretty?
Maggie Brendan sent us her friend's review to post for our Friend on Friday.  
Welcome Miriam Davis! 

Before there was online dating, there were mail-order brides. This way of developing relationships into lasting marriages was risky business for both men and women.

The novel opens with mail-order bride, Catharine Olsen, her two younger sisters, and her mother's Blue Willow china leaving Holland and her painful past to make a new life with wheat farmer, Peter Andersen, in Wyoming.

Newlywed life seems normal as both Catharine and Peter make adjustments to each other. Peter's patient teaching of farm life encourages Catharine and her desire to work hard at learning how to be a farmer's wife.

Peter's mother is not happy with her son's choice for a wife and begins an investigation into Catharine Olsen's past. Will revealed secrets of Catharine's past harvest hearts of distrust and reap unmeasurable trials for Catharine and Peter?

Maggie Brendan's Deeply Devoted shows how her writing vividly expresses new depths of relationships dealing with forgiveness, honesty, and trust. The heights this novel reaches sets the stage for the next novel in The Blue Willow Brides Series to come. I have no doubt that The Blue Willow Brides Series will fast become treasured in the hearts of Maggie Brendan readers and those who are new to her novels. I highly recommend it and look forward to her next ones in this series.

Bio - Miriam Davis: Jesus loves me! He is my Savior and LORD! Happily married woman to a godly, loving man, blessed mom. Praying daily for them. Writing, painting, and photography are treasures that are being pulled off the shelves to be a part of my life again.

Thanks for sharing with us, Miriam!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of a Maggie Brendan book this week!  

16 November 2011

Diana's Corner - Book Review of Deeply Devoted by Maggie Brendan

Deeply Devoted by Maggie Brendan
5 stars~ *****

Deeply Delightful!
Review by Diana Flowers
Maggie Brendan takes us on a delightful, but painstaking journey of one mail-order bride's quest to find love and trust in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the late 1800s. Catharine Olsen leaves Holland with her two sisters to marry a man who she has only met through letters. As Catharine arrives in Wyoming with only her mother's Blue Willow tea set and a tragic past, she has high hopes that she can make a new start in life and find security, if not love, with the kind man with whom she has been corresponding, Peter Andersen.

Peter Andersen, a Wyoming wheat farmer, is quite taken with his lovely new bride, but is quite chagrined as well, to see that she has brought along her two sisters, Anna and Greta. Catharine knows nothing about domestic skills, but does her best, in spite of being fought on every hand by Peter's mother, Clara, who had her heart set on her only child marrying the woman of her choice. Soon troubles abound as Greta starts sneaking out to see a young soldier, whom she fancies herself in love with...and Clara unearths a terrible secret concerning Catharine; one that threatens to loosen every bond of trust and love that she and Peter have worked so hard to build between them. 

Clara has been a lonely widow for years, but will she finally find love in the private investigator who she hired to find out about Catherine, or will he betray her trust, as Catharine has betrayed Peter's? Will Catharine ever find forgiveness with Peter, and what important role does the beautiful Blue Willow China play in the restoration of this family?

I simply loved this story! Maggie Brendan knows how to tell a story that will keep you saying, "I'm gonna read one more chapter...just one more chapter." Her characters are easy to fall in love with and I miss them already...even Clara, who is simply a victim of loneliness and boredom.  A story of love, betrayal, and forgiveness, that is guaranteed to leave your eyes filled with tears at the satisfying conclusion! Maggie Brendan's best yet...can't wait 'til the second book in The Blue Willow Brides Series!

Giveaway: We are giving away two of Maggie's books this week, your choice of format (paperback/Kindle) and book!  

14 November 2011

Interview with Maggie Brendan

Interview by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Maggie Brendan is the author of Deeply Devoted of The Blue Willow Brides series. Maggie’s first series was Heart of the West, which included No Place for a Lady, The Jewel of His Heart and A Love of Her Own.

I recently met Maggie at the ACFW conference and had the privilege of talking with her while traveling back.

Maggie, welcome to Overcoming Through Time.  Would you share either the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help, or the most tragic situation or circumstance one of your character’s has had to get past?

My heroine in Deeply Devoted has a tragic past, but I’d be giving away the best part of the book here so instead I’ll tell share my own difficult times. My brother was my writing mentor, with seven westerns under his belt. He died suddenly and without warning from the Hantavirus contracted most likely at Glacier National Park where he was Deputy Superintendent. I felt like my world was caving in because he was not only my friend, but the father figure for most of my life which had been thrust upon him while he was still in high school. A year before his death, almost to the day, another brother died suddenly from cancer. Four years earlier, my sister died of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma—a rare type. I didn’t think it could get much worse, but my mother died three years after my sister. Then during the deadline of Deeply Devoted, my oldest brother died of congestive heart failure. I couldn’t have walked through any of this without my faith in God and the knowledge that I know for a fact, I will see them again. Praise God! He gave me strength to face each day and surrounded me with His love by supplying me with the love of a few close friends and of course, my family. The more deposits you get in Heaven, the more appealing it becomes. I look forward to it someday. Other very sad things happened during my deadline, but that will have to be shared in the future. Let’s just say God is continually working in my life, stripping away all the layers of self to get to my heart.

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
Oh goodness! I have several but I usually sign this scripture on my book: Psalm 27:1a (NASB) The Lord is my light and my salvation: Whom shall I fear?

Disability friendliness:
My previous books are in large print and available on Kindle and if your guests reading this didn’t know, Kindle can read to you. J Deeply Devoted will soon be in large print later on. That usually happens after it has been in print for a few months.

Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio? 

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
I like my readers to know that man may plan his life but God directs his steps. I’d say that our entire life and future is dependent on our faith in God and if we allow His direction, instead of trying to handle things on our own we can have abundant life. In Deeply Devoted, I used what is broken, cracked and even lost can be ransomed and redeemed by God’s eternal love. I relate this to the Blue Willow china in that just as china must be fired to become a durable piece in order to have a delicate pattern, we, too, are also tested by fire to refine our character that can result in becoming purified as God’s works in us to be in a more resilient follower of Christ. He who is deeply devoted to us is the ultimate author of love and romance…The Living God.

As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
The one thing that always comes to my mind while researching is the resilience of the people who settled the great West. Today, we wimp out when a thunderstorm takes out our electricity for a few hours or days instead of using that time for reflection or reading and just enjoying the quiet. That’s when we can hear God’s voice…in the quiet stillness. Our world seems so full of constant “noise”. We all need a respite from this crazy techno world we are experiencing at this stage in history. I doubt most of us  would’ve lasted one week if we’d had to endure what the settlers of the West dealt with day in and day out.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
As mentioned, restoration, through God's grace, is a theme in this book.

Comments from Carrie:
Maggie’s answers really gave me pause.  She has certainly had her share of grieving. Having lost my own mother a little over a year ago (and she loved the Blue Willow pattern!).I feel like I am just coming out of that shock of having no parents. But as Maggie says, one day we will see our loved ones again, in heaven. And what about those people who don’t have that reassurance?  We need to reach out to them today.

Do you know someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one? Are you?  What can you do or what has been done for you to ease pain?

GIVEAWAY:  We will be giving away a Kindle version and a paperback version of one of Maggie’s books, any of your choice.  Leave your email address with your comment to enter.  

Fund Raiser for Sandi Rog

Please stop by Colonial Quills and check out the info on the gift basket the Colonial Quills team put together for the fund raiser for Sandi Rog.  Follow the link in Roseanna White's post.  Please consider placing a bid to help Sandi and she fights cancer.  Sandi is also represented by Joyce Hart, CEO of Hartline Literary Agency.

12 November 2011

Veteran's Day & Winner

Rogers' Rangers by Frederic Remington, French-Indian War
My first manuscript in the proposal my agent recently re-sent out (with a cut in the word length) is set just before the French-Indian War.  Wonder how many British veterans of this war and colonial militia supporting the British fought in our American Revolution?  

My friend, Janet Grunst, who writes colonial American fiction did an excellent post yesterday on Colonial Quills.  Here's the link:

Janet comes from a long line of Navy families and is the mother of two veterans, one currently deployed. If you get a chance, go by and give this mother of a couple of our veterans a word of encouragement!  

WINNER of A Lancaster County Christmas by Suzanne Woods Fisher is: 
Ingrid, whose mom had AD.  Congrats, Ingrid, and we pray you will be blessed by this book! Check your email!

10 November 2011

Review of The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Choice
by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Revell (2010)
Five Stars *****

Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Both Amish, Carrie Weaver and Daniel Miller are much in love. A baseball player, Daniel, is about to go pro. When Carrie's life changes, so does her choice of future husband. And with a younger brother to care for who suffers from hemophilia, Carrie must choose for more than herself alone.

I listened to this on audio with a download from The narrator's voice seemed more suited to the female antagonist in the story than to the Amish characters, which was distracting. However, I always try to not hold that against the author when I am listening, as they have no control over this. Unless they are Liz Curtis Higgs who recently narrated her own audiobooks.

I would describe this as an almost “literary” Amish book with romantic elements. It was most unusual. If you are anticipating a formulaic Amish story – forget it!  Suzanne Woods Fisher had more twists and turns in her story than in Amish country near the Ohio River! 

SPOILER ALERT: I will warn the reader that there is an important death that almost stopped me from finishing listening to the rest of the book.  I was angry with Suzanne – yup, she had violated my expectations for a romance.  Guess what?!  This is not a romance.  It is an Amish fiction with romantic elements, some women’s fiction to it, suspense, and a literary twist.  So I had to get over my irritation as I do not like big surprises in my reading.  My friend and author, Dina Sleiman, who has an MFA degree would likely be jumping for joy at literary quality of this book.  I, on the other hand, like my reads or listens to be fairly straight forward with no killing off of someone I have begun to get attached to in the story. 

Back to the previous programming - That being said, the rest of the novel was very well done and Suzanne needed the plot element for her heroine’s emotional and spiritual arc.  There is an arsonist amongst the characters and she does a great job of obscuring just who that might be.

Forgiveness is a huge theme in this book and in many Amish books.  Carrie has made choices that she has to address.  Some of her decisions require forgiveness of herself.  One of the male protagonists makes a sacrificial choice that has ramifications that ripples throughout the family.  I found that fascinating how Suzanne spun that storyline across so many characters’ story arcs.

I really loved two secondary characters’s romance.  They were a really fun couple and I was glad the author put them together.  And the inclusion of a subplot about Carrie’s younger brother who has hemophilia was very gripping and just another example of the many layers of this story. 

Second spoiler alert: I was rewarded for my continued reading with a happy ending!  Gotta love a happy ending.
Bibliotherapy: Hemophilia, bereavement, forgiveness, and life’s transitions.
Disability Friendliness: Available in hardcover, paperback, Kindle or ebook, and audio versions as well as large print.

An ECPA, CBA and CBD Bestseller, Crossings' Main Selection, Doubleday, Literary Guild and BookSpan selection! (This information copied from Suzanne's website.)

Available for pre-order  

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Lancaster County Christmas!  

08 November 2011

Diana's Corner - Book Review by Diana Flowers A Lancaster Christmas by Suzanne Woods Fisher

A Lancaster County Christmas 

Suzanne Woods Fisher

5 stars *****

Heartwarming Christmas Tale!

From the pen of Suzanne Woods Fisher comes a heartwarming tale, destined to become a Yuletide classic, A Lancaster County Christmas! A chance meeting at a doctor's office forever changes the destiny of two very different Amish and the other English.

As the story opens, a heartbroken Mattie Riehl finds herself at the doctor's office following a miscarriage, accompanied by her only son, six year old Danny. She had hoped to give her husband, Sol, the perfect Christmas that a baby was on the way, but as usual is disappointed. There she meets, Jaime Fitzpatrick, a young woman disillusioned with her career, her life, AND her marriage.

As Jaime and her husband, C.J., embark on a trip with Jaime's father, who has never been there for her, they stop by the Riehl's farmhouse on the way to drop off Danny's whistle that he had left at the doctor's office. A "chance" snowstorm forces the two families together, and both of their lives are forever changed. Mattie and Jaime soon realize they are not so different after all, for they both carry an empty vacuum inside that can't seem be filled. 

As a near tragedy brings them all closer together, will these ladies from two different worlds help each other with their bitterness towards God and find peace for their troubled souls? Will C.J. and Jaime learn to value what's truly important in life, and find love with one another all over again...and more importantly give their lives over to God?

This was a very heartwarming tear-jerker guaranteed to keep the reader turning those pages for the outcome! I have read every one of Suzanne's fiction books, and she certainly knows how to write a story containing realistic characters with human faults, an exciting storyline, and a very satisfying conclusion! 

Grab the eggnog, a box of kleenex, throw another log on the fireplace, and "Have Yourself a Merry Lancaster Christmas Now!" 

This new book is available many places, e.g., through CBD and Amazon, including for Kindle.

Readers:  Leave your comment and your email address for a chance to win a copy of this wonderful book!  

06 November 2011

Interview with Suzanne Woods Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the author of “A Lancaster County Christmas” and ‘Lancaster County Secret’ series, as well as some non-fiction books about the Amish, including “Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World.” She is under contract to publish a whole bunch more books, too, through at least 2016, with her latest contract "Petticoat Row" to be set in Nantucket.

I met Suzanne Woods Fisher at ACFW in St. Louis, Missouri. She is represented through Joyce Hart, who is also my agent.  I got to chat with Suzanne at the recent ACFW conference.

Thanks Suzanne for the interview!

Would you share either the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help, or the most tragic situation or circumstance one of your character’s has had to get past?

My dad is in late stages Alzheimer’s disease. I’m sure that many of you can relate to having a loved one who suffers from AD. It is a very sad, long-term and costly (emotionally and literally) experience in my family’s life. My dad was my go-to person—very practical, matter-of-fact, full of energy and enthusiasm. He was a delight! The strange thing about AD is the by the time someone is diagnosed—which is called “Early Stages AD”—years have passed. The first symptom of AD in my dad was impaired judgment. He was scammed by Canadian sweepstakes con-artists. Over $135,000! A long story and a very sad one—but as my siblings and I caught wind of what was going on, we stepped in to protect my parents, then try to figure out how Dad could have been susceptible to such evil people. (And they truly were evil people—they would call my dad and start the conversation with “God bless you!” Then proceed to scam him.) Anyway…ten years later, Dad is still quite healthy physically, but doesn’t recognize us and can’t carry on a conversation. The piece of my dad’s demise that is hardest for me is that I know he would have hated this long, dribbling end. He always wanted to drop in the harness. But as one reader told me, “As long as you’re breathin’, God has a reason.”

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
“His name will be called Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’.”( Matthew 1:22-24). It seems so simple—yet it is such a fundamental truth. So very profound!

Disability friendliness:  Suzanne has seven books on audio (Here's a link to Simply Audiobooks). Listening is my preferred mode of reading.  I dowloaded The Choice which I will review this week. Five downloads are available for purchase through She also has three large print books. All of Suzanne's books are available on Kindle.
What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
My hope is to write in a way that invites readers to get to know God better. To take a step toward deepening one’s faith. But I really try not to ever whack readers on the head with a 2x4—that’s not my job. Changing hearts is the work of the Holy Spirit.

As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
As I have studied the Old Order Amish, I think what has touched me in a deep, unsettling way is their intentional forgiveness. We just don’t emphasize that enough in our churches! To the Amish, it’s a daily attitude of “letting things go.” The Amish place great importance on forgiving others because of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15). It really makes me gulp!

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
In “A Lancaster County Christmas,” Jaime Fitzpatrick is a young woman who keeps trying to stuff down some serious issues in her life…but they keep popping up. Her mother had recently passed away, her father has just re-appeared in her life, and her poor husband, C.J., seems to get the short end of Jaime’s trouble with trust. Jaime’s story was inspired by my close friend’s life. I watched my friend come to grips with her father’s “here today-gone tomorrow” love and separate her father’s character from God’s character. Ten years later, she is a teaching leader for Bible Study Fellowship and has an amazing ministry. God is in the business of redeeming all things—even flawed parenting.

Thank you Suzanne Woods Fisher for agreeing to answer these questions.  Have a blessed day and keep on writing!!

Thank you, Carrie, for inviting me to pop by! I’m easy to find on Facebook and via my website:  Connecting with readers is the best part of this author gig!

GIVEAWAY: We are giving away an AUTOGRAPHED (generic, sorry but it is her signature!!!) copy of Suzanne’s newest book, released September, 2011, “A Lancaster County Christmas” in hardcover.  Please leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win a copy!  The cover on this is awesome BTW!!

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