Saturday, November 29, 2014

Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey (Quilts of Love- Litfuse Blog Tour)

Quilted by Christmas A grandmother's last wish is to communicate God's love through an Irish chain quilt.

Taryn McKenna believes she's easy to forget. Abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vows to never love again and throws herself into her love for the outdoors and the pursuit of a college degree---something no one else in her family has ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle-schoolers she teaches. When Taryn's grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping Grandma work on a final project---an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that God will never leave her behind even though others have?
Jodie Bailey is Tarheel born and bred. After 15 years as a military spouse, she settled with her family back in North Carolina. She is the author of the military suspense novel Freefall and is a contributor to Edie Melson's devotional for military families, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home. While not working on her next novel, she teaches middle-schoolers to love writing as much as she does (if she's lucky that day and they're actually listening...). Jodie loves to bake, ride the Harley with her husband, and fish the Outer Banks with their daughter. 

Connect with Jodie: websiteFacebookTwitter

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My thoughts:
I enjoyed this story of faith and heartache.  Taryn has been hiding something for years, something she was counseled by her father and grandmother to keep to herself, and it has haunted and narrowed her life.  On the day her best friend and boyfriend, Justin, leaves to join the army they have a fight that colors how she sees herself for the next ten years.  Faced with losing the person she knows the best and loves the most, she tries to convince him to stay instead of go, causing him to make her feel like she is needy and manipulative.  That whole exchange leads to a chain of events neither of them could imagine.

When Justin comes back to town and seems to want to be her friend again, she is confused and worries that the longer she takes to tell him about what she did in his absence the harder it is going to be to do it, but at the same time she fears that once he knows he won't want to be around her anymore.  When her grandmother ends up in the hospital with a broken arm, it comes down to Taryn to finish her cousin's surprise wedding quilt.  Surprisingly, Justin offers his help with hand piecing the quilt.  Working together night by night they are able to rebuild their old rapport, but the secret is still there.

I love stories about Christmas and about people finding their way through tough situations that are true to life.  Nothing is easy or simple or solved right away, these characters work through their issues together and separately finding out who they are and what they really care about, while trusting in their faith.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Vineyard by Michael Hurley TLC Blog Tour

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Dory Delano, Charlotte Harris, and Turner Graham have been drifting through life since their days as roommates at Smith College, ten years ago. Dory is resisting taking the reins of her family's legacy and fortune even as she relishes the fabulous lifestyle it affords her in the fashionable seaside resort of Martha's Vineyard. She invites her old friends to join her for a summer on the Vineyard in hopes of rediscovering the innocence of old days and healing new wounds. But hidden in their midst and unknown to all but a few, a reclusive--some say dangerous--fisherman wanders alone, fueling wild speculation about his purpose and his past. None of these women can imagine the events their encounter with the fisherman will set in motion, the shadow he will cast over their destinies, or the transformation that awaits the world they know.

My thoughts:
After a slightly slow start, this book sucked me in and kept me wondering what was going to happen next.  Charlotte Harris shows up at Dory's Martha Vineyard home planning to end her own life to spend purgatory with her unbaptized daughter.  I had a rough time with the depth of her depressions and despondency at the beginning of the novel.  Getting to know these women, who are getting reacquainted after their separate lives for the past ten years, you feel like you are there on the island with them.  No one is quite how they seem and the past is never totally in the past, but what is really important always seems to come through.

These women are straining against what is expected of them, the sacrifices they feel they need or must make to achieve their goals and the idea of faith.  Each of them has had a different experience with the church and faith, Charlotte believes in the church teaching so forcefully that she is willing to make many sacrifices to make sure her daughter's soul will be able to ascend to heaven while Turner has very little faith in things she can't see and touch and is looking for something to believe in without even knowing it.

These women are drawn together and become closer during their summer, after Charlotte tells her how the fisherman saw her savior when she had reached rock bottom.  Turner writes about the incident on her blog and all of a sudden a spark is lit. When he also intercedes on Dory's behalf and Turner again records it something is set in motion that cannot be stopped and the pace just picks up.

It is hard to write about the book without revealing where the story is going, but it is so satisfying as it goes along that I would hate to rob anyone of the surprises.  This book kept me up late for the past two nights because I got into it so deeply that I forgot to pay attention to the time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780976127567
  • Publisher: Ragbagger Press
  • Publication date: 11/25/2014
  • Pages: 384

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman and Sarah Sundin Litfuse Blog Tour

Book Description:

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime.

Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas.

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America's involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana. 

In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements---until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help. 

Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew? 

In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart. 

The Turner family believes in God's providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ's birth and His plan for a future?

Purchase a copy:

About the authors: 

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, includingChasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger. 

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction. 

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.

My thoughts:

I love interconnected stories and Christmas.  Having the two together in one book is a special treat.  I liked the short introduction story, especially with the way it introduced the grandmother and her desire to have traditions upheld, even during a time of war.

Set during WWII, three siblings have different experiences with loss and love, but they all rely on their faith to lead them during the hardest times.  Along with the elements of faith there were those of humor and family.  Who can imagine Christmas with all three of those things to bring people together and to remember what is truly important in life.

Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters, Russell Kendall (Photographer), Russ Kendall (Illustrator)

Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times

About the book from Barnes and Noble:
Written by Carolyn Phelan
"Waters and Kendall, who showed the lives of Pilgrim children in "Sarah Morton's Day" 1989 and "Samuel Eaton's Day" 1993, offer a useful companion book, a study of a Wampanoag Indian boy in the 1620s. Clear, full-color photographs, taken at the Plimoth Plantation historical site in Massachusetts, make this an unusually vivid visual presentation of Native American life. In the fictionalized story, young Tapenum, disappointed that he has not yet been chosen to become a warrior, hunts for food, shoots a rabbit for his mother, and goes fishing with a companion. Later he befriends a wise man, who teaches him about making arrows and learning patience. The story seems a bit purposeful at times in its inclusion of information, but it does a good job of dramatizing what life might have been like for the Wampanoags, who are often studied in elementary school because of their connection with the Pilgrims."

My thoughts:
I have used "Samuel Eaton's Day" in the classroom for years, but was pleased to discover this book as well as Sarah Morton's Day when I went to the library recently.  I used this book with a cub scout group to meet some electives about Native Americans.  I loved that the children got to see what the clothing looked like, what a typical day was like and the jobs and chores the children had during that time period.  The pictures really helped to make it all more real for them and to raise their understanding.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590202374
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1996
  • Pages: 40

Friday, November 14, 2014

Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure by Anna Walker

Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Peggy the hen is contented with her quiet existence and daily routine. When a powerful gust of wind sweeps her up and deposits her in the midst of a busy city, she explores her new surroundings, makes new friends, and cleverly figures out how to get home—with a newly kindled appetite for adventure. Evocative full-color paintings follow Peggy’s journey, offering comical details that reward repeated viewing. This reassuring tale and its unruffled heroine invites discussions of exploration, safety, and resourcefulness

My thoughts:
I loved seeing the city through Peggy's eyes, it was new and wondrous and full of things to explore and people to meet.  The illustrations were very nicely done and the pages had a really nice feel, not too glossy, not too matte just right.  For children, the world can be this way, so many new things to see and explore and people to meet, but at the same time all that newness can be overwhelming, so this is a reassuring book.  Keep your head and don't panic, enjoy the experience, but know that your safe home is still there, waiting for you and you can always find your way back.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780544259003
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Pages: 32

Meet the Author

Author and illustrator Anna Walker has won numerous children’s book design and writing awards, including several accolades for Peggy, in her native Australia. The artwork and stories she’s created in her Melbourne studio have reached young readers worldwide. Visit her website at

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell


Overview from Barnes and Noble:

New York Times Best Seller! An Indie Next Pick!
From New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones.
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply—but that almost seems beside the point now.
Maybe that was always beside the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her—Neal is always a little upset with Georgie—but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
My thoughts:
Life is always a balancing act and in a marriage things are not always equal.  When Neal and Georgie had their children it was Neal who decided to stay home with them because Georgie was following her screen writing dream and he couldn't seem to find his dream path or job.  This worked for them, but somehow Georgie started to feel on the outside of her family because her girls went to Neal whenever they needed something because he was there.  Her writing career was plugging along, and right before Christmas a great opportunity came up, but it meant working through Christmas and she just couldn't go to Omaha and write with her team.  Being alone throws Georgie for a loop.
I loved the landline phone from the past that lets her talk to Neal, but it the past, because this separation is so much like the one they had right before the Christmas that Neal proposed to her, but she never knew why he came back and what changed his mind about their problems and issues.  Why he didn't go back to his high school girlfriend next door but chose to deal with all their issues instead.  She can't reach her current Neal on his cell phone, her battery keeps dying and every time she calls the girls or his mother answer and he is no where to be found, but on the landline she gets him almost every time, but not now him but then him.
What would you say to someone from your past?  Would you admit that things were going to be hard?  That at times you wanted to quit and he wanted to quit and you wonder if things would be better if you just did quit.  Would you risk not having the you your are now and the kids you have now if you could take away some of the stress and fights and problems.  Would you still want to have it all knowing what you know now?  Is there a different way to have a life or was this the best one, even with the bad parts, because there were so many good? 
 I loved being inside Georgie's head as she wrestled with all the issues and emotions from the show, from the separation that might be just for Christmas or might be for good, and with what she should be telling past Neal about the future.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250049377
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/8/2014
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Rainbow Rowell
RAINBOW ROWELL lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and two sons. She's also the author of FangirlEleanor & Park, and Attachments.