Fall Harvest Celebration With Tommy Nelson {Giveaway}

As we head into the last weeks of October there is a crispness about the air and a beautiful multi-colored tapestry is unfolding in the trees around the Ozarks. Our drinks have turned to hot apple cider and pumpkin spice coffee. There are corn mazes to navigate and pumpkins to be picked. Fall is here in full force and Fall Harvest Festivals are everywhere!

One of our favorite things to do this time of year is cuddle up with our little ones and read some great books that celebrate the season. We'd like to invite you to do the same! Tommy Nelson has some fabulous children's books on sale right now that highlight every wonderful aspect of the fall harvest season. If you are looking to add to your collection head on over to the FaithGateway Online Store and check out their specially priced books.  

Another one of our favorite things to do around here is share with you our friends and readers. So, in honor of the season we're going to have our own online Fall Harvest Celebration by doing a giveaway with Tommy Nelson. We've put together three of our absolute favorite fall harvest children's books that we are going to give to one of our readers. Here's a little bit about each one of them:

The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs is an all-time favorite of ours. It is of course told in parable form and illustrates how a loving farmer can turn a simple pumpkin into a simply glorious sight. In the same way, God's transforming love can fill each of our hearts with joy and light. Liz Curtis Higgs created this parable as a way to share the Good News with her own precious children each harvest season . . . and now with children everywhere.

A Pumpkin Prayer by Amy Parker and beautifully illustrated by Kirsten Richards is a sturdy board book perfect for chubby little hands! Little ones will delight in the wonders of this special time of year and learn to be thankful to God for His blessings. Colorful pumpkins, crunching leaves, crisp breezes—celebrate the abundance of the harvest season through charming illustrations and sweet rhymes that are perfect for young hearts.

Good Night, Little Pumpkin is adorably illustrated by Claire Keay. Sleepy little Milo, in his oversized pumpkin costume, is making the rounds at the harvest party with his friends. It’s time to go home, but he wants to enjoy every game at the fall fair before the night is over! Crunching leaves, crisp breezes, mountains of sweets—celebrate the abundance of the harvest season through this bedtime book for children. Charming illustrations and a sweet story are perfect for young hearts. It is a great alternative to scary books, this fun harvest-themed book is sure to be a perennial favorite.

The Giveaway

We have partnered with Tommy Nelson to offer one of our readers a copy of The Pumpkin Patch Parable, A Pumpkin Prayer, and Good Night, Little Pumpkin. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Friday, October 24, 2014. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Rafflecopter form below. All entries are optional.

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All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant ~ Contemporary Romance Review & Giveaway

Contemporary Romance

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. 
They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew 
she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

My Thoughts

Kat Varland is a small town girl with big city dreams. She loves her Aunt Maggie and doesn't mind working for her at Sweetie Pies, but her desire to branch out is strong. Her family doesn't seem to understand this and tends to stifle her at every turn.

The one person in her life that encourages her love of all things cupcake is Lucas Brannen. Kat and Lucas have been good friends forever. But recently they both are beginning to want just a little bit more. How in the world are they going to communicate that without risking what they currently have? Without Kat's knowledge Lucas enters her in a reality TV show called Cupcake Wars. Surely that will communicate to Kat how much Lucas loves her. But making it to the final episode is anything but sweet.

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes is an endearing tale of friendship turning to love. Both Kat and Lucas want a deeper relationship but are too scared to risk letting the other know. It is a story of sacrificially giving of yourself in order to better the lives of those you love. The story is at times funny and also heartbreaking. 

I enjoyed an afternoon of reading this lighthearted story of love and friendship. It includes a delicious recipe for Kat's specialty cupcake and a Reading Group Guide. If you are involved in a book club and looking for something on the lighter side this would be perfect.

The Giveaway

We have partnered with Family Christian Stores to offer one of our readers a copy of All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Saturday, November 1, 2014. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Rafflecopter form below. All entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Promise to Cherish by Elizabeth Byler Younts ~ Historical Amish Fiction Review

Promise of Sunrise Series, Book 2
Elizabeth Byler Younts
Historical Amish Fiction

It's 1945, and Christine Freeman is a nurse at Hudson River State Hospital, where she works alongside members of a Civilian Public Service unit. Eli is one of the conscies--conscientious objectors to the war--and he is doing his best to become a man of character instead of the immature heart-breaker he used to be back home in his Amish community.

Christine and Eli are friendly, but when an old acquaintance, jack, returns home from the war, Christine's world is violently turned upside down. Eli, heartbroken  to see his friend so hurt, offers her an escape within his Amish community. Despite her misgivings, Christine is fully embraced by Eli's community. She slowly begins to feel valued and loved as she learns the Amish way of life.

Christine finds herself falling for Eli. But soon, the abusive Jack discovers Christine in her Amish hideaway and starts causing trouble for the quiet community. Christine can't see herself becoming Amish, and she knows that if Eli leaves the church to be with her, he will be shunned. Will she escape Jack and possibly have to give up the one thing she holds most dear, or will she follow her heart and promise to cherish the Amish man who loves her?

My Thoughts

I enjoy reading Amish fiction. I really enjoy reading Amish fiction that is unique in presenting an aspect of that lifestyle that I am unfamiliar with. 

Elizabeth Byler Younts first introduced me to what was happening in Amish settlements during World War II in Promise to Return, the first book in the Promise of Sunrise series. I knew that the Amish were conscientious objectors but had no idea about the Civilian Public Service. 

While that first book introduced the Civilian Public Service, Promise to Cherish  takes us inside one of those camps. Through the story of Eli we are allowed to see what it was like to be drafted and then sent to a CPS settlement. It would seem that no one was thrilled to have him there. His fellow Amish (especially his family) are irritated that he is leaving his responsibilities as first-born behind to spend such a long time away from home. The local community where the CPS camp is located resent the conscientious objectors and look at them as cowards. The only place where he finds a small amount of welcome is the Hudson River State Hospital.

At first Eli would rather be anywhere but at the hospital. It is understaffed and lacks some of the basic necessities for its patients. Most of the patients are mentally ill and are left at the hospital by their families. The irony is that in this most dire of places, Eli begins to see his life differently.

While serving at the hospital Eli meets Christine who is a nurse on the ward where he is assigned to work. She has lost two brothers in the war and is rather cold towards Eli. But as often happens in life, the very person she dislikes is the one that winds up being her salvation.

This story has great depth and delves into several subjects that are somewhat uncommon in Amish fiction. There is a date rape that results in an unexpected pregnancy. I found it refreshing to read what felt like true reactions from the Amish community to this situation. There was true conflict and strife but in the end there was also a great amount of faith and trust in God's divine plan.

If you enjoy Historical Fiction, especially surrounding the WWII time-frame, I think you will be intrigued with this fascinating look at a very pivotal time in our country's history. 

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It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst ~ Trusting God Through Fear and Change {Review & Giveaway}

Lysa TerKeurst
Illustrated by Natalia Moore
Juvenile Fiction

It really will be Okay

Growing up brings change (whether we like it or not). Change can trigger fears that are sometimes real and sometimes imagined. How do kids learn early on that in the midst of these uncomfortable times, they don't have to be afraid?

Little Seed and Little Fox are facing fears, changes, and brand-new things. And they don't like it one bit!

Through this unlikely friendship, children can identify with the main characters and will:
  • Discover that God is always with them as they overcome new or scary circumstances
  • Replace doubtful thoughts about God's plan as they learn to trust Him through change
  • Build their relationship with God by introducing them to the scripturally based characteristics of who God is
It Will Be Okay will show your child that in the end, it really will be okay because we have a God who is good and kind and always watching over us!

My Thoughts

If you are a sappy sentimental momma like me, I would suggest having a box of tissue handy when first reading this book. The story centers around Little Fox, Little Seed, and the Farmer. Little Seed is very content to live in his comfy seed packet in the warm and dry shed. He knows his environment and what to expect day after day. Kind of like you and I in our comfy houses.

Little Fox has a nice and cozy den that he lives in but it can be scary when the storms come. On one such stormy day Little Fox seeks out the shed for shelter and meets Little Seed. Before you know it they become the very best of friends.

All is well until one day the Farmer, who by the way is " always good and always kind" decides it is time to plant the seed. Suddenly Little Seed finds himself in a place he's never been and he's scared. The farmer assures him that he knows what's best and to trust him. Trust is easy in a nice and safe environment, but when the place you find yourself is unknown it can be terrifying.

Little Fox doesn't know what has happened to his new friend. Kind of like how we mommas feel when our little one is out of our sight. Is everything okay? Will my little one be safe? But for those of us that trust in the Father, we have the assurance that He is always watching even when we don't realize it. The same can be said about the Farmer in the story.

Before long Little Seed began to flourish in his new environment. In fact he eventually grows into a beautiful tree that provides great pleasure for his friend Little Fox. By trusting the Farmer, Little Seed grew to be what he was designed to be.

I love the message that this book helps us instill in our kids. When the Father is looking out after you, there is absolutely nothing that escapes His attention. We can trust Him because He is always good and kind and He is watching over us even in the dark and scary places.

Coloring Sheets

Tommy Nelson has some absolutely adorable coloring sheets that go along with the book. You can download them here.

The Giveaway

We have partnered with Tommy Nelson to offer one of our readers a copy of It Will Be Okay. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents and will run through midnight on Thursday, October 30, 2014. You must be at least 18 years old to enter. The winner will be contacted by email and will have forty-eight hours to claim the prize. If unclaimed, a new winner will be drawn. The winners’ entries will be verified. Please enter the contest using the Rafflecopter form below. All entries are optional.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun ~ YA Dystopian Romance Review

Stone Braide Chronicles, Book 1
Bonnie S. Calhoun
YA Dystopian Romance

The Time of Sorrows is long past.
The future of Selah and her people is shrouded in mystery.
And the clock is ticking.

Hidden in the tall grasses along a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city, a hunter crouches. It is the eve of her eighteenth Birth Remembrance and high time she proves to herself and her brothers that she can stand on her own two feet. Selah Rishon Chavez waits not for game but for one of the small boats that occasionally crash against the desolate shoreline. Because inside one of these boats she will find her quarry--a Lander.

These people from an unknown land across the ocean are highly prized by the Company and bring a good price--especially if they keep the markings they arrive with.

Everything falls to pieces when the Lander whom Selah catches is stolen by her brothers, and Selah wakes the next morning to find the Lander's distinctive mark has appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her--Bodhi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell in the Mountain.

With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of disturbing scientific advances, devious political conspiracy, and survival in a hostile wilderness, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a society more like our own than we may want to admit. From the tension-laced first scene to the captivating last page, Thunder is an epic journey into the heart of humankind that explores how far we are willing to go when we're pushed to the limit.

My Thoughts

Young Adult fiction is not something that I'm usually drawn to. Young Adult Dystopian Romance is nothing that I would have ever guessed that I would read. But let me tell you that I am so glad I did.

Bonnie Calhoun has put together a fast-paced thriller that changed my opinion of this genre entirely. The story is based in a post-apocalyptic America, the east coast to be specific. It has been 150 years since the great Sorrows struck and much of the surrounding area lays in ruins. 

There is a mysterious group known as the Landers that is being hunted for the bounty that is upon their heads. Bodhi Locke is one of those Landers and he finds himself imprisoned and heading to an unknown fate.

Shortly after Selah Chavez's eighteenth Birth Remembrance everything that Selah thought she knew about her life comes unraveled. To save her life she must run away from home and everyone she holds dear. The one person that can help her is Bodhi, but to gain his help she must first free him.

The reader is taken on a fascinating journey that flashes between locations and different groups of people. The story has a science fiction tone to it that adds to the mystery of what is going on. While this is definitely a romance, there is so much more to the story than the relationship between Selah and Bodhi. 

This would make a great read for teens. The primary character, Selah, is eighteen so some of the scenes are geared towards that age group. I don't think that I would recommend it for a tween, but I only say that because of the overall themes. There is nothing unsavory that goes on in this book. The characters are not promiscuous or racy. But there is definitely attraction and heart thumping romance going on between Selah and Bodhi. 

If you just aren't sure if you would like this book and series you're in luck. Bonnie has written a prequel novella entitled Tremors that is currently a free download for your favorite ereader. It is a great way to get a taste of the flavor of the novel. It gives background on the characters and how they got where they are and it also includes a portion of Thunder to really whet your appetite.

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