Favorite Reads from 2010! Read bottom of post for Giveaway!

This year was my first year to blog.  And what a great year it has been! 
To end the year I want to share with you some of my most memorable reads from 2010.  
{Not in any special order.  Just books I thoroughly enjoyed and remember.}

 What is a favorite book that you've read this year?
Leave a comment with your email address and I'll pick one 
reader (using who will win the following book: 

Ends Friday, January 7, 2011!


the Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

Book Description:  In a sleepy Southern town in the 1930s, trusted newspaper reporter Mercy Land encounters a mysterious book that holds the past, secrets, and future of every person in Bay City. Trying to uncover the book’s purpose, Mercy discovers that its secrets burden her with the responsibility of choices…choices that could affect future lives forever, including hers.

My Review:  The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan is one of those unforgettable reads that leaves you with the knowledge that choices we make in life are ever so important and may affect more than "the today" of our lives.
Mercy Land is a traveling preacher's daughter with a sweet disposition and a faith that is  She begins working with Doc at the small town newspaper in Bay City called The Banner.  Doc is another lovable character with a heart as big as Texas but sometimes his kindness is flawed.  Doc can be ever so human.
The story focuses on a book that appears on Doc's desk.  The question should it be read? Are the secrets too much and what will the consequences be for the reader?  By why did it appear?  Doc doesn't want to let the story of a lifetime just vanish and Mercy doesn't think the book should be ignored.  As Mercy points out keeping this secret can become an outright lie.  A distraction that can lead to an obsession.   
This isn't your typical christian fiction for there is an element of "magic" interwoven through out the story.  This isn't something I can relate too but it did get the author's thought and intentions across in this delightful story.
At the end of the story Jordan does write to the reader that choices and their impact on our    interconnected relationships.  This 5 star read is engaging, mysterious and with magical element that lends the reader a look at choices. 
*I reviewed this book for WaterBrook Multnomah Press*

About the Author: River Jordan began her writing career as a playwright where her original works were produced, including Mama Jewels: Tales from Mullet Creek, Soul, Rhythm and Blues, and Virga. Ms. Jordan's first novel, The Gin Girl (Livingston Press, 2003), has garnered such high praise as "This author writes with a hard bitten confidence comparable to Ernest Hemingway. And yet, in the Southern tradition of William Faulkner, she can knit together sentences that can take your breath." Kirkus Reviews described her second novel, The Messenger of Magnolia Street, as "a beautifully written atmospheric tale." It was applauded as "a tale of wonder" by Southern Living, who chose the novel as their Selects feature for March 2006, and described by other reviewers as " a riveting, magical mystery" and "a remarkable book." Her third novel, Saints In Limbo has been painted by some of the finest fiction voices of today as "a lyrical and relentlessly beautiful book," and "a wise, funny, joyful and deadly serious book, written with a poet's multilayered sense of metaphor and meter and a page-turning sense of urgency," and reported by Paste Magazine as "a southern gothic masterpiece."

Her fourth novel, The Miracle of Mercy Land, arrives on September 7, 2010. Her first non-fiction work, Praying for Strangers, An Adventure of the Human Spirit will be published by Penguin/Berkley April 5, 2011.
Ms. Jordan teaches and speaks around the country on "The Power of Story", and produces and hosts the radio show Clearstory Radio from Nashville. When not traveling the back roads of America, River lives with her husband and their Great Pyrenees lap dog in Nashville, Tennessee.

Love On Assignment {A Ladies of Summerhill Novel} by Cara Lynn James

Book Description:  While Charlotte is focusing on uncovering sordid information on columnist Daniel Wilmot, her heart leads her into uncharted territory.
During the summer of 1900 Charlotte Hale, a native Newporter and secretary for the Rhode Island Reporter, accepts an undercover assignment as temporary governess to Daniel Wilmont's children in order to secretly gather evidence against him. As he helps her rediscover God, Charlotte learns that Daniel is an honorable man. They unexpectedly fall in love despite their different backgrounds and social positions. Charlotte soon realizes she must defend Daniel against the forces set against him—a willful student with a romantic crush and the newspaper editor determined to destroy his reputation.

My Review:  Charlotte is young woman who dreams of becoming a journalist.  A surprising occupation for a young lady of 1900.  Charlotte is willing to excel and takes on an assignment like none she's encountered before.  She accepts an undercover assignment as a temporary governess to Daniel Wilmont's children thinking that she has an inside view to nab him of wrongdoing.  Her boss wants her to find some wrongdoing in Daniel's life (somewhat reminiscent of Daniel in the Lion's Den) and to get Daniel to stop writing his articles.  Articles that defy sin and corruption and try to bring justice in a time of need. But as life as it . . . Charlotte is given a glimpse of what christianity is really about.
Charlotte begins to love the "nanny life" and soon begins to see that truth must prevail or innocent people could be destroyed by wrong words. I was enthralled with the way children are presented as sweet, lovable munchkins who need training in the ways of God.  As the story unfolds we travel through the faithful life of Daniel and Charlotte finds out more of what the surrendered life of a christian should entail.
Charlotte wrestles with bringing her family into her confidence.  Whom can she trust with the information and how can truth prevail with so much corruption?
This is a story of true forgiveness, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior and how true love can prevail in times of distress.  
I loved the way Ms. James made the characters  Wanting to know more of the story keeps one turning the pages to see what will happen next.   From beginning to end, this book held my interest as I read about the adventures of Charlotte and Daniel.  Ms. James designed an excellent plot, keeping me in suspense until the very end and weaving her faith faultlessly into the story.  This book is not preachy, and the references to Christianity seem completely natural, making Love On Assignment a true 5 star read! This is also a stand alone read but if you haven't read the first Ladies of Summerhill, Love On A Dime, be sure to check it out too.  
Christian fiction at it's best!

*I reviewed this book for Thomas Nelson Publishing/BookSneeze*

About the Author:  Cara Lynn James is the author of Love on a Dime.She’s received contest awards from Romance Writers of America and the American Christian Fiction Writers. She resides in Florida with her husband Jim.  Love on Assignment is her second novel.  For more information, visit


A Place of Peace by Amy Clipston

Book Description:  Miriam Lapp, who left the Amish community in Pennsylvania three years ago, is heartbroken when her sister calls to reveal that her mother has died suddenly. Traveling home to Pennsylvania, she is forced to face the heartache from her past, including her rift from her family and the break up of her engagement with Timothy Kauffman. Her past emotional wounds are reopened when her family rejects her once again and she finds out that Timothy is in a relationship with someone else. Miriam discovers that the rumors that broke them up three years ago were all lies. However, when Timothy proposes to his girlfriend and Miriam's father disowns her, Miriam returns to Indiana with her heart in shambles. When Miriam's father has a stroke, Miriam returns to Pennsylvania, and her world begins to fall apart, leaving her to question her place in the Amish community and her faith in God.

My Review:  Amy Clipston has become another new favorite author of mine.  She  writes a clear, flowing story with concise characters and the Plain people become a live in A Place of Peace.  
Sometimes we all need A Place of Peace to retreat to. Miriam Lapp is called home to a mourning family as she heads back home after her beloved mother's death.  But Miriam has been gone a long time . . . three years to be exact.  Three years of change in her, three years of change in him and three years of change in the community.  Can all the change be good?  
Home again in the small cabin of her sister's abode she prepares for the evening when she hears a horse and buggy come to the cabin and it parks near her honda.  It's not Zach as she expects  it's . . . Timothy Kauffman!  Oh, the agony!  Oh, the joy!  "She stared into his eyes, and the time they had spent together flashed before her like a movie. All of the love she’d felt for him in the past boiled up in her soul, and she wanted to reach out and hug him.
Instead, she stood still and held his gaze as his blue eyes studied hers.
“We were fed lies,” he whispered, his gaze so intense that her breath paused.
Speechless, she nodded."
Sometimes circumstances aren't as we see them.  Sometimes people think they have a better plan for a our lives and mistakes happen.  Such is the case in Miriam and Timothy's lives.  The misunderstandings and the judgments that came between Miriam and Timothy will make your heart break for them.  Can they get past the misunderstandings and forge ahead to a new path in their lives?  Not such an easy path but a 5 star story for the reader who loves Amish fiction!  There are also wonderful gut recipes included in this read.  
I've read A Gift of Grace so I dove into A Place of Peace but somehow left out the second book A Promise of Hope.  This is the Amish Bakery Series and A Place of Peace is the third book.  In my opinion one can read these as stand alone books but it would be better to read them in order.

*I reviewed this book for Zondervan*
*I reviewed this book for Zondervan

 The Amish Bakery Series:

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} ChickenCorn Chowder

Chicken Corn Chowder
This is one of those cold-weather soups that children love as well as adults. Serve with cornbread sticks.
1 cup diced ham
2 Tbs. Butter
1 red onion, chopped finely
2 Tbs. All-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into one-inch dice
1 medium tomato, chopped finely
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups frozen corn kernels (Or cut kernels off three fresh cobs)
1 cup cooked chicken breast, torn
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced

Place ham and butter in large soup pot and lightly sauté over medium heat, three minutes. Add onion and cook until onions are just starting to brown. Add flour and stir one minute over low heat, being careful not to burn the mixture. Pour in the stock and potatoes. Cook over medium heat for fifteen minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in tomato, cream, corn and chicken breast. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium low heat for fifteen minutes. Add parsley, stir through, and serve. Makes 6 servings.


Miss Sugar Crumb's Cooking Lesson

Book Description: Miss Sugar Crumb returns in this sequel to Malinda Mitchell’s previous book, Miss Sugar Crumb's Magic Kitchen. In this delightful story, Friend, a rabbit from the previous book, gathers other animals in the forest and leads them to Miss Sugar Crumb’s house. In her magic kitchen, Miss Sugar Crumb lovingly teaches her talking animal and bird friends how to cook. She shows how fun learning can be as she encourages the animals to ask questions and patiently answers them.
Children will receive a cooking lesson as well as a math lesson with fractions as they read, or hear this adorable book read aloud. This story comes alive with Malinda's words and Nora Tapp Franzese’s illustrations.

My Review:  Miss Sugar Crumb (don't you just love that delightful name!) seems to be a single young woman who loves the forest animals around her home.  She invites these beautifully illustrated  animals to come into her home and teaches them how to use measuring cups, the oven and how to read a recipe.
She and the forest friends make sugar cookies.  This delightful book with exceptional illustrations is sure to be a big  hit with young readers!  This story has a double lesson as well. . . . be kind to your forest friends and also how to feed those around you by cooking.  As Josie turtle says, “Cooking sure is a lot of work.”  But Miss Sugar Crumb patiently shows the animals how to bake.
When all the cookies and goodies are baked and put on the table the friends and Miss Sugar Crumb gather around for a mid morning snack but before partaking of the goodies they all bow their heads as Miss Sugar Crumb gives thanks. I love that this story also teaches young readers to be thankful for what God has provided!
This is one of those "magical" stories where kindness and patience are the norm.  The story is cute and reads smoothly.  The illustrations are fantastic as you can tell by the cover picture!  I love the picture of the raccoon pressing out the cookie dough. Such a sweet 5 star read for young readers!
*I reviewed this book for Readers*


Unexpected Love (Seasons of Redemption, Book 3) by Andrea Boeshaar

Book Description:  Nurse Lorenna Fields is drawn to a blind patient searching for his past. But as his memories return, will there be a place for her in his future? Lorenna Fields has always taken her job at Chicago's Mercy Hospital seriously, determined never to become personally involved with her patients. But when a mysterious man with eyes like onyx is admitted after a shipwreck on Lake Michigan, she develops a connection with him that she can’t deny. Slowly her patient regains consciousness, but to Renna’s dismay he has lost both his sight and his memory. Dubbed “Mr. Blackeyes” by her, the two build a strong, trusting friendship as they search for clues to his past. But part of her dreads the day of his recovery, convinced that his memories will take him away from her and his regained sight will reveal a secret about herself that Renna has been trying hard to hide. In Unexpected Love, Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar continues the dramatic saga of the McCabe family that she began in Unwilling Warriorand Uncertain Heart.

My Review:  Lorenna Fields is a nurse who has a blind patient in her ward.  She has determined that she will not become personally involved with any of her patients, ever.  However, as life goes, she is drawn to that one patient with beautiful, onyx colored eyes.  Eyes that have a story to tell.  Eyes that can't tell her what he saw or where he's from.  So, as Lorenna takes care of this mysterious patient she secretly calls her patient "Mr. Blackeyes."  
Lorenna's patient, Mr. Blackeyes, begins to regain consciousness, she begins to realize that there may "that certain spark."  Talking to, encouraging and helping Mr. Blackeyes makes her an initimate part of his everyday life.
Mr. Blackeyes also feels that certain spark but feels that because he can't remember his past maybe there shouldn't be a future until that past comes back.  Lorenna only knows that she has never felt this way before and would like to have a future with him.  She knows that one day Mr. Blackeyes will regain his memory and somewhat dreads that day.  Will he/can he accept her as more than his nurse. Someone to just rely on in his time of need?
Unexpected Love creates that great mystery of love that comes unexpectedly and sears the heart with blind, unbinding passion.  A passion so great it sees beyond the outer surface.
This is a wonderful third book in the Redemption Series.  Andrea writes a wonderful 5 star flowing and moving story that keeps the reader turning the page to find where life will take Lorenna and Mr. Blackeyes.  Whether you've read the first two books in this series or not be assured that this is fine stand alone book in it's own right.  
*I received a free copy of the book from the publisher/publicist, Strang Book Club, for review. I was not required to write a positive review. My comments and thoughts express my own opinions.*


Merry Christmas!

May His presence give you peace this Christmas!

Merry Christmas! And Winners....

Merry CHRISTmas!  And the fourth week winners are. . . 

Hearts Awakening 
is Rachel


Love Finds You in Carmel by the Sea 
is Judylynn

Thanks and Merry CHRISTmas to one and all!

(winners have been contacted by email)

12 Pearls of Christmas Day 13: Love

Title: Love

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas! Enjoy these Christmas "Pearls of Wisdom"! Please follow along through Christmas day as each post shares heartfelt stories of how God has touched a life during this most wonderful time of the year. AND BEST OF ALL ... there's also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS!  Pearls - a tangible reminder of God's grace to us all.



When asked to write a Christmas message, one of my first thoughts was Do I climb up on my soapbox regarding changing the words in Christmas songs, using only holiday, etc. I thought about it and decided no. After all, they’re only words and what difference does a word make---really make after all?

Then I kept on thinking. If they’re only words… But we as writers know the power of words, as do readers. When the wrong word is used, it jars, while the right word can be most powerful. Take one highly overused and under practiced word---Love. Four letters is all. We toss it around so glibly, saying love ya and luv and love. But think about the power in I love you. Three of the most precious words in our language when put together. Those of us who write romances or books with romance in them, understand the power when one of our characters tells another, I love you. As humans we can never hear that enough or too much.

Christmas is about love. The greatest love story ever told, that of God for us humans, and it never changes. Customs change, politics change, the years change but God’s love never, ever does. At Christmas we are invited to share that love, to give it away, to pass it around. To find wonder again and joy in simple acts of love. We make contact with people we might never see or talk with through the year. That says I love you. We buy and make gifts to give, we reach out to strangers in need, we try to make sure everyone has a special dinner and every child a present. By giving, we receive. 

So, let’s use the power words, but more so, put feet on those words and pass the love around. Let’s look for and find the wonder, the joy and the peace, maybe in small bits and pieces and perhaps in an avalanche of blessings. Make your days brighter with the simple gift of a smile, a kind word, a touch, for every single one that you give away, will come back to you multiplied. As you give, so shall you receive. Merry Christmas my friends. May we all recognize our blessings----and let an attitude of gratitude permeate this holiday and every day. With love and joy on this day, Lauraine!


About Lauraine: Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of more than sixty books, with sales of over 2 million copies. She also writes for a wide range of magazines, and helps others reach their writing dreams by teaching at writer’s conferences across the country. Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley, and a watchdog Basset named Chewy.

For more information please visit Lauraine's


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit


12 Pearls of Christmas Day 12: An Unforgettable Gift

Title: An Unforgettable Gift


An Unforgettable Gift
Karen O'Connor

On Christmas morning, 1912, in Paducah, Kentucky, fourteen-year-old Charlie Flowers and his three brothers and two sisters huddled in their beds, fully dressed, trying to keep warm as the wind howled outside their small frame house.
It was a desperate time for the family. Earlier that year the children's father had died. And their mother had not found work. The coal had run out and there was little money––none for gifts. Their scrawny tree with decorations made from scraps of colored paper had been given to them the night before by a local merchant.

"Can't sell this one," the man said with a nod of his head before handing it over to the eager children.
To pass the time, the siblings joked and shouted stories from their bedrooms across the hallway from one another. Then suddenly a racket from the alley at the rear of the house broke into their games.
"Charlie," his mother called, "would you see what's going on out there?"
Charlie pulled on his shoes, grabbed a thick overcoat from the hook by the door, and ran out back.

There stood a man in a wagon bent over a load of coal, shoveling it into the shed as fast as he could.
"Hey Mister, we didn't order any coal," Charlie shouted. "You're delivering it to the wrong house."
"Your name's Flowers, isn't it?" the man asked, still shoveling. 
Charlie nodded yes.
"Well then, there's no mistake.  I've been asked to deliver this to your family on Christmas morning." He looked the awe-struck boy square in the eye. "And I'm under strict orders not to tell who sent it," he teased.
Charlie ran into the house, his coattail flapping in the cold morning wind.  He could hardly wait to tell his mother and brothers and sisters. God had provided––just as he had on that first Christmas morning so long ago when He sent his only son to a needy world.
Charlie Flowers died in 1994 at age 96. And right up to the last year of his life, not a Christmas went by that he didn't tell the story of that sub-zero Christmas morning of his boyhood when two men gave his family an unforgettable gift.
It wasn't the coal that was remembered or cherished, Charlie often said––welcome as it was––but rather what two men brought to his desperate family. One, for his gift of recognizing their great need and taking the time to do something about it. And the other, for being willing to give up part of his own Christmas morning to deliver it.
That gift of so long ago has continued to warm the Flowers family from one generation to another, as Charlie's son––my husband, Charles––calls to mind these two unknown men each Christmas morning and whispers a prayer of thanks.

About Karen: Karen O'Connor is an award-winning author and writing mentor living in Watsonville, California with her husband, Charles Flowers. Karen’s latest book is 365 Reasons Why Gettin’ Old Ain’t So Bad (Harvest House 2010).

For more information, please visit Karen on the web at


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is 
{FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog ( on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit