Wednesday, July 31, 2013

YOU can get HarperCollins in the 50th anniversary treasury book of Footprints in the Sand!

Footprints in the Sand has touched the lives and hearts of the young and old for 50 years.

To recognize the undeniable impact of Margaret Fishback Power’s beloved poem, HarperCollins is asking the public, “How has the poem inspired you?” Submit a story that tells how the poem helped during times of difficulty, or an experience that relates to the poem’s words or message, and it could be published in the Footprints: 50th Anniversary Treasury book in 2014!

Head on over to the following link to get more details about submission guidelines and to read the Footprints poem:

Happy writing!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A great tale! My review of "The Hero's Lot" by Patrick W. Carr

Cover Art

about the book....

With the King Near Death, Will the Kingdom Fall?

When Sarin Valon, the corrupt and dangerous church leader, flees the city of Erinon and the kingdom, Errol Stone believes his troubles have at last ended. But he and his friends still have dangerous enemies working against them in secrets and whispers.

In a bid to keep them from the axe, Archbenefice Canon sends Martin and Luis to Errol's home village, Callowford, to discover what makes him so important to the kingdom, and in that journey they discover amazing new secrets about the workings of Aurae.

Back in Erinon, Errol is unjustly accused of consorting with spirits. Convicted, his punishment is a journey to the enemy kingdom of Merakh, where he must find Sarin Valon and kill him. To enforce their sentence, the church leaders place Errol under a compulsion--he must complete his task, or die trying.

my review....

Patrick W. Carr returns in fine form with the second book in "The Staff and The Sword" series. The pages are alive with action-packed scenes, stirring drama, and a splash of romance too! Carr has done a masterful job at continuing to develop the character of Errol, a character that inspires loyalty with his painful past and the manner in which he continues to grow and succeed over insurmountable odds. "The Hero's Lot" adds a lot to the series, providing many answers to what is going on in the Kingdom, and hinting at who Errol really is and the future role he will play in determining the fate of the kingdom. The supporting cast of characters continue to be fantastic as well, and I am eager to find out how they will all fare in the third book in the series. The book is quite lengthy, but I felt that the overall pace of the story kept moving along quite well. I do wish that the book included a map of all of the different locations that the characters visit as I would like to clearly visualize who was going where in the story. However, the book is filled with vivid descriptions that allowed me to create the world in my mind...and perhaps that's how the author prefers it!

I continue to enjoy how the story captures the essence of faith, and the parallels to the Holy Spirit and his interaction in the lives of the people in the story particularly interested me. Despite being a fantasy fiction novel, the scenes that I read stirred my faith as well, and I am confident that readers will find a lot to relate to in the midst of this imaginative story.

I strongly recommend this fine addition to the fantasy fiction genre, and award it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

 about the author....

Patrick W. Carr

Patrick W. Carr teaches high school math and makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee, with his incredible wife, Mary, and their four awesome sons, Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. Learn more at

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Free AWESOME fiction ebook: "Harvest of Rubies" by Tessa Afshar

Free for download today is the wonderfully written "Harvest of Rubies" by Tessa Afshar. Grab a copy from Barnes & or


Will capture the attention of young readers: My review of "The Berenstain Bears: Faithful Cubs" @DailyVineCA

The Berenstain Bears, Faithful Cubs

about the book....

This three-book collection of the popular Berenstain Bears Living Lights™ stories will provide children with an ideal gift they will enjoy all year long. The biblical values, morals, and life lessons are invaluable for children throughout every stage of their lives.

Titles include:

The Berenstain Bears Do Their Best: The cubs want to enter a kite-flying contest. Papa and Mama both help the cubs as they build a homemade kite. Will they build the best kite?

The Berenstain Bears Discover God’s Creation: What happens when Mama Bear tells the cubs there is more to life than their favorite television shows? Join the Bear cubs as they explore the Bear Country community and realize that God’s creation is better than any show on TV.

The Berenstain Bears Learn to Share: Sister learns that God wants us all to share the good things he has provided, whether it be toys or good times with friends and family.

my review....

Written in catchy rhyme, "Faithful Cubs" contains three stories that are sure to capture the attention of your young readers (age 4-8). Although these stories are not part of the popular "I Can Read!" format, my girls (in grades 1 and 2) had no problem reading through all three of these stories. They enjoyed the lively and colorful pictures as they were reacquainted with Brother and Sister bear as they learned important lessons on life. Without even realizing it, my children were learning lessons about sharing, working hard and not giving up, and enjoying God's creation and not spending all summer cooped up in front of the television! The stories are well-written and easy to follow, and though they do lack some of the humour that other Berenstain Bears stories contain, they still held my children's attention. "Faithful Cubs" also offers excellent value for money spent, as three different stories are included in this hardback book, making it a book with something for everyone. My children have already been wanting to read this book over and over, whether together or on their own, and it has earned a permanent place on our book shelves.

Families looking for a book that will entertain little minds while imparting important truths will want to plan on adding "Faithful Cubs" to their collection of children's stories. I, and my children, give this book a solid rating and award it 4 out of 5 stars.

A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

 about the authors....

Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear books in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he starteddrawing and writing about them too. Though Stan died in 2005, and Jan in 2012, Mike continues to create the delightful Bear adventures from the family home and studio in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks much like the sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country.

Find out more about the book on the publisher website:

Free fiction ebook: Rearview by Mike Dellosso

Free for download this week from Barnes& &

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Don't give up! You're an "Overcomer" (thanks for the reminder, Mandisa!)

It can be SO EASY to be overwhelmed by the challenges of life, so easy to feel like we are on our own and that things will NEVER get better. It can be so easy to lose hope! I've talked to countless people who no longer feel hope for their future, for their marriage, for a job, for the chance to see their kids again after divorce has devastated their family.

Lately, God has been reminding me of his amazing promises:

God "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20)

Don't give up! HIS power is at work within us, and He is able to do even MORE than we can ask him to do! I love it!

Here's a prayer from the Word that I also love:

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)

I love to proclaim this prayer over other people and remind myself of this powerful truth. I don't need to CONJURE up hope. I need to turn to the Holy Spirit who will help me overflow with hope. When I feel like giving up, that's when I need to be asking the Holy Spirit to help me view life through God's eyes and to fill me with his hope.

And you know what? He does.

Lately, I've been blessed by Mandisa's song "Overcomer", who speaks to the hope God gives. I hope you enjoy it too!

Overcomer   -     
        By: Mandisa

Friday, July 26, 2013

Revolutionize the way we watch television? Maybe, but I still prefer books, and here's a couple freebies!

So, everywhere it seems that everyone is talking about "Chromecast":


What is it? A small device you plug into your smart T.V. that lets you "control it with your existing smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Send your favorites from Google Play, YouTube, Netflix, and Chrome to your TV with the press of a button". Compared to a cable bill, this sounds like a good deal and if you look on Amazon it's a top seller right now....

As for me, I rarely watch t.v. and couldn't care less. Why? At the risk of sounding old fashioned, I just find that most of the shows on t.v. are filled with garbage that I shouldn't be putting into my mind. Instead, I spend time reading books, except for catching the odd clean movie.

 For those like me, grab a couple of free ebooks that will bless your soul like the average television show probably won't!

Free fiction ebook: Twang by Julie L. Cannon

Free from Abingdon Press today, for download from Barnes& &

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Free song download: Here in Your Presence By New Life Worship

Here In Your Presence

This powerful new album combines the talents of Ross Parsley, Glenn Packiam, Jared Anderson and Jon Egan in a truly unique worship experience. The worship of 15,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs flows from the heart of one of Americas most influential team of worship leaders and songwriters.

You can also download the whole album here:

Free ebook: Hell is Real (But I hate to admit it) by Brian Jones

Free ebook from publisher David C. Cook, available for download from Barnes&Noble &

Fascinating, from start to finish! My review of "Anomaly" by Krista McGee @DailyVineCA


about the book....

Thalli has fifteen minutes and twenty-three seconds left to live. The toxic gas that will complete her annihilation is invading her bloodstream. But she is not afraid.

Decades before Thalli’s birth, the world ended in a nuclear war. But life went on deep underground, thanks to a handful of scientists known as The Ten. Since then, they have genetically engineered humans to be free from emotions in the hopes that war won’t threaten their lives again.

But Thalli was born with the ability to feel emotions and a sense of curiosity she can barely contain. She has survived so far thanks to her ability to hide those differences. But Thalli’s secret is discovered when she is overwhelmed by the emotion in an ancient piece of music.

She is quickly scheduled for annihilation, but her childhood friend, Berk, convinces The Ten to postpone her death and study her instead. While in the scientists’ Pod, Thalli and Berk form a dangerous alliance, one strictly forbidden by the constant surveillance in the pods.

As her life ticks away, she hears rumors of someone called the Designer—someone even more powerful than The Ten. What’s more, the parts of her that have always been an anomaly could in fact be part of a much larger plan. And the parts of her that she has always guarded could be the answer she’s been looking for all along.

Thalli must sort out what to believe and who she can trust, before her time runs out…

my review....

Minutes into the first few pages of "Anomaly", I knew I was in for trouble...that there was no way I'd be putting this book down any time soon! Krista McGee has created a fascinating futuristic world, a post-nuclear war age where science rules the day, and feelings and spirituality have been genetically removed from human DNA. I loved the idea of Thalli, a character who doesn't fit the mold but instead questions why things are the way they are, and feels things on a deep level. She is a wonderfully unique character with her love of music, her emotions and creativity, the way she discovers a Designer at work around her, and I simply couldn't read enough about her! Indeed, Krista has created a winning combination of characters as a whole, and has given them life such that readers will soon feel like they are friends. The story is full of twists and turns that kept me racing through the pages as I sought to discover what was real and what was not.

Yet the novel has also caused me to think about the nature of life on a deeper level, about what truly makes us human, and about our own efforts as a society to scrub God out of the equation and create our own morality and rules and meaning in our life. "Anomaly" shows the danger of stepping into God's shoes, and it does so in a wonderfully entertaining manner.

I, for one, am highly anticipating the next addition to Krista McGee's clever series. I highly recommend this wonderful addition to the world of dystopian fiction, and award it 5 out of 5 stars.

A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

 about the author....

Krista writes for teens, teaches teens, and more often than not, acts like a teen. She and her family have lived and ministered in Texas, Costa Rica, and Spain. Her current hometown is Tampa, FL.


Find out more about the book on the publisher website:

   Or Kobo Canada:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Absolutely hilarious! My review of "Dolled up to Die" by Lorena McCourtney

Dolled Up to Die (Cate Kinkaid Files Series #2)

about the book....

Cate's not sure just what she expected . . . but she knows it certainly wasn't this.

When Cate Kinkaid receives a frantic call about a triple homicide, she drives to the scene against her better judgment--aren't triple homicides more up the police department's alley?--only to find that the victims are not quite who she expects. Now she has a new rule to add to everything she's learned in her short stint as an assistant private investigator: always find out if the victims have human DNA. Because these three do not.

But who would shoot this nice lady's dolls? What possible reason could the shooter have? And then there's the startling discovery of another victim, who definitely does have human DNA . . .

With tension that is matched only by humor, Dolled Up to Die is the exciting second book in Lorena McCourtney's Cate Kinkaid Files. You won't find a place to stop and take a breath in this fast-paced story.

my review....

Lorena McCourtney has done it again! Written with her signature humorous style, "Dolled up To Die" had me in stitches chapter after chapter, just as with the first book in the series, "Dying to Read". Cate Kinkaid continues to captivate me with her gutsy determination to solve murders, along with some bumbling attempts and misguided notions that made for some truly funny scenes. The book is filled with action-packed drama and had me zooming through the pages. I couldn't put it down because I simply had to find out what Cate would try next! Along with laughs and some true moments of suspense, the novel also celebrates the meaning of true friendship, even when it pushes us out of our comfort zones. The author also manages to present a clear gospel message without coming across as pushy. The dialogue is witty, and there is just enough romance without becoming too mushy for male readers. As such, both females and males will enjoy Cate's latest adventure!

I dare you to read this book without at least cracking a grin. If you are looking for an enjoyable suspenseful read, then pick up a copy of "Dolled up to Die". You'll be glad you did! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

 about the author....

Lorena McCourtney

Lorena McCourtney is the New York Timesbestselling and award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Invisible (which won the Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America) and Dying to Read. She resides in Oregon.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Colleen Coble’s “Rosemary Cottage” Nautical Summer Giveaway


Water can be calming and healing, but it can also be dangerous, as Amy Lange and Curtis Ireland both found out. Both lost their siblings to the sea, and they hope to find healing on Hope Island. But will they find it, or will their quest to find answers set them at odds with each other and with those who have secrets that need to stay hidden?

Find out in Colleen Coble’s latest book, Rosemary Cottage, which released July 9. To celebrate, Colleen is hosting a 12-day Nautical Summer Giveaway. From July 16-27, Colleen will be giving away a new nautical prize every day. She’ll announce the winners on July 29 on her website, so mark your calendars for that date to see if you were picked as a lucky winner!

Not on Facebook? Enter here.

Win an iPad Adventure Pack from @SuzanneWFisher | A Big Year for Lily Giveaway Extravaganza!

Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating the release of A Big Year for Lilybook three in the beloved Adventures of Lily Lapp series, with a giveaway extravaganza!


  One winner will receive:
Twelve winners will receive:
  • Special prizes specially picked by Lily (something new each day)! Suzanne will announce the winners on July 29 on her blog!
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 27th. All winners will be announced July 29th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 29th to see if you won one of the fun prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Monday, July 22, 2013

A sheer delight to read: My review of Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar (with CFBA tour)

Harvest of Gold

Check out a preview and my review of the latest book from Tessa Afshar, courtesy of the publisher and CFBA:


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Harvest of Gold
River North; New Edition edition (July 1, 2013)
Tessa Afshar


TESSA AFSHAR was voted "New Author of the Year" by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader's Choice Award 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.


The scribe Sarah married Darius, and at times she feels as if she has married the Persian aristocracy, too. There is another point she did not count on in her marriage-Sarah has grown to love her husband. Sarah has wealth, property, honor, and power, but her husband's love still seems unattainable.

Although his mother was an Israelite, Darius remains skeptical that his Jewish wife is the right choice for him, particularly when she conspires with her cousin Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ordered to assist in the effort, the couple begins a journey to the homeland of his mother's people. Will the road filled with danger, conflict, and surprising memories, help Darius to see the hand of God at work in his life-and even in his marriage?

A hidden message, treachery, opposition, and a God-given success, will lead to an unlikely bounty.

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Harvest of Gold, go HERE.

my review.....

"Harvest of Gold" is a delight to read, filled with fascinating historical details, captivating characters, and splendid adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book introducing the characters of Sarah and Darius, "Harvest of Rubies", and have been eagerly anticipating this sequel. I was certainly not disappointed! The prose is impeccable, and Tessa has woven a tale that is utterly rich in faith and actually moved me to tears in one scene. Although the aspect of the plot dealing with the assassination attempt of King Artaxerxes made for some absorbing reading, it was actually the scenes focusing on Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem that deeply moved me. Nehemiah has many scenes that will long stay with me, moments where he stirred people on to greatness and displayed a wonderful trust in God. I was struck anew by the fact that he prayed without ceasing for four-and-a-half months before God answered his prayer to be able to speak to the King and be given the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem and lead his people to rebuild the walls. There are times in all of our lives where we can grow impatient in prayer, and this is a wonderful reminder that God answers prayers in his own timing, and that though the answer may not always be what we are looking for, it always results in good. I am definitely planning to read this book over again to mine the deep truths contained within its pages!

If you are looking for a book filled with romance, intrigue, and ancient wisdom, then "Harvest of Gold" is for you! I highly recommend this book and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, for the purposes of this unbiased review.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Update: Check out my review of "Grounded" by Neta & Dave Jackson

Earlier in the month, I posted about the latest novel from Neta and Dave Jackson, entitled "Grounded". I am happy to report that I have now received my copy of the book from the publisher, and have added my review. It's definitely a book worth checking out :)

And if you haven't read it yet, pick up a copy today!

Free fiction ebook: Skip Rock Shallows by Jan Watson

Free for download this week from Tyndale House Publisher, available from Barnes& &

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Enter to win an iPad Mini from @KristaMcGeeYA | “Anomaly” Giveaway! @litfuse

Krista McGee is celebrating the release of Anomaly, the first book in her new YA dystopian series, with an iPad Mini Giveaway!

One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A $25 iTunes gift card (download Anomaly to the iPad!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 31st. Winner will be announced at Krista's website on August 2nd.

Spread the word about Krista and her giveaway HERE!

I haven't yet read "Anomaly", but the publisher has agreed to send me a copy, so stay tuned for my review, coming courtesy of HarperCollins Canada :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Free fiction ebook: "The Language of Sparrows" by Rachel Phifer

Free for download today from Barnes& &

FREE song for download: Today is the Day by Lincoln Brewster

God You Reign

You can also grab the whole album from

Sure to bless your marriage: "The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex" by Shiela Wray Gergoire @DailyVineCA @sheilagregoire

about the book....

Do bad girls really have more fun? Surveys say no. 

The women who are most likely to enjoy sex are married and religious. In other words, they’re Good Girls!

But good girls know that making sex great isn't about acting trashy. It’s about recognizing what God really designed sex for, and then learning how to reap all these benefits and joyfully enjoy your husband.

Frank and contemporary, The Good Girls’ Guide to Great Sex will give the newly engaged and new brides---and some veteran wives---a Christian resource to answer their most intimate, and embarrassing, questions.

In a conversational style, with lots of humorous anecdotes, the book will show that sex isn't just physical: it’s also an emotional and spiritual experience. And we’ll learn why commitment in a Christian marriage is the perfect recipe for a sex life which is out of this world!

my review....

Sheila Wray Gregoire has written a book that is sure to bless women from all walks of life! Candidly written, full of humour, and thoroughly practical, "The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex" is a welcome addition to the world of literature dealing with sex, love, and marriage. There are many things to appreciate about this book, from the Biblical basis that the advice and guidance is given from, to the statistics that have been woven into the pages. An especially neat addition to the book is the numerous places in the book where there are inserts entitled "A Good Girl Speaks", where regular women share their own experiences or challenges or successes. Women are likely to especially relate to what they have to say, and their voices have been seamlessly woven into the sections of the book. Gregoire offers a tremendous amount of truth in the pages of this guide, debunking many myths, and helping women come to understand how God has created their man to be a sexual being. My wife appreciated that Gregoire openly deals with many challenges woman can have in their sexual relationships, while encouraging them to view sex as a gift and to experience freedom in that relationship.

If you are seeking to have a God-honouring sex life within your marriage, then definitely plan on picking up a copy of this book! And while you're add it, get a couple for your friends as well. They will no doubt thank you. I strongly recommend this book for married women or those preparing for marriage. 4 out of 5 stars.

A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

++Special thanks to my wife for her participation in this review :)

 about the author....

Sheila Wray GregoireSheila Wray Gregoire speaks around North America teaching women how to create relationships that thrive. An author of five books and a syndicated parenting columnist with an audience of more than 1,000,000, she also loves speaking with her husband, Keith, at Family Life marriage conferences. When not writing and speaking, you can usually find her at home in Belleville, Ontario, where she homeschools her two teenage daughters.

Find out more about the book on the publisher website:

Or Kobo Canada:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

FIRST WildCard Tour: A Wedding For Julia by Vannetta Chapman

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


 Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill country. Her first two inspirational novels—A Simple Amish Christmas and Falling to Pieces—were Christian Book Distributors bestsellers.

Visit the author's website.


Julia Beechy’s dream of opening a café is shattered when her mother says she must marry or move to live with distant family upon her mother’s imminent death. Caleb Zook thought he would never marry, but can he help this beautiful, sad woman? Is this God’s plan for his future?

Product Details:
List Price: $8.79
Publisher Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2013)
Language English
ISBN-10 0736946160
ISBN-13 978-0736946162



Pebble Creek, Wisconsin


Julia Beechy stood next to the open grave and prayed the wind would stop howling for one moment. Next to her, she could feel her mother trembling. Ada Beechy had turned seventy-eight the previous week, two days before Julia’s father had passed. It would have been perfectly acceptable for her mother to sit, especially in light of the mist, the cold, and the wind.

Ada Beechy had no intention of sitting.

But Julia did shuffle one step closer to her mother, so that their sleeves were touching, as the bishop began to read the words to the hymn Ada had requested—“Where the Roses Never Fade.” Ada had stared out the window of their kitchen, her attention completely focused on the rosebushes, which had yet to bud, while members from their church sat beside Jonathan’s body in the next room. She’d gazed at the bushes and made her request.

Bishop Atlee had nodded, ran his fingers through his beard, and said, “Of course.”

Julia tried to focus on the bishop’s words as the men—the pallbearers—covered the plain coffin with dirt. How many shovelfuls would it take? Would Bishop Atlee have to read the hymn twice? Why was she worrying about such things?

David King stepped back, and Julia realized they were finished. Bishop Atlee bowed his head, signaling it was time for them to silently pray the words from the passage in Matthew, chapter six, verses nine through thirteen—their Lord’s prayer. Julia’s mind formed the words, but her heart remained numb.

“Amen,” Bishop Atlee said, in a voice as gentle as her mother’s hand on her arm.

The large crowd began to move. Words of comfort flowed over and around her. There had been a steady coming and going of people through the house to view her father’s body for the entire three days. Julia had become used to her privacy as she cared for her parents alone. The large amounts of food and the people had surprised her. Some of them she saw at church, but others came from neighboring districts. Those she barely knew.

She and Ada turned to go, for their buggy was marked with a number one on the side. The white chalk against the black buggy caused Julia’s heart to twist. They had led the procession to the cemetery. They would lead the gathering of friends away from the graveside.

But Julia realized she wasn’t ready to leave.

She pulled back, needing to look one more time. Needing to swipe at her tears so she could read the words clearly.

Jonathan Beechy



83 years, 4 months, 3 days

Now she and her mother were alone.

Chapter 1

Tuesday morning, six months later

Julia glanced around the kitchen as she waited for her mother’s egg to boil. Everything was clean and orderly. Why wouldn’t it be? It was only the two of them. Except for the days when she baked, there was little to do. Julia was hoping that would change soon, and she meant to talk to Ada about it. Today would be a good day. She’d put it off long enough.

The water started to boil, and she began counting in her mind. Three minutes made for the perfect egg, at least for Ada it did. There were few things her mother could stomach on the days she wasn’t well, but a soft-boiled egg was one.

Julia walked around the kitchen as she counted, and that was when she noticed the calendar. She’d failed to flip the page to September. Where had the last six months gone?

Six months since her father had died.

Six months of Ada’s health continuing to fail.

Six months that Julia had continued to postpone her dream.

She flipped the page, smiled at the photograph of harvested hay, and vowed that today she would speak with her mother. Returning to the stove, she scooped out the egg with a spoon and placed it in a bowl of water to cool. Slicing a piece of bread from the fresh loaf she’d made yesterday, she laid it on a plate and added a dab of butter and apple preserves on the side. She set the plate on a tray, which already held a tall glass of fresh milk. Picking it all up, she turned to walk to her mother’s room and nearly dropped the tray when she saw Ada standing in the doorway.

“I’m not an invalid, and I don’t need to eat in my bedroom.”

She weighed a mere eighty-nine pounds. Julia had brought in the scale from the barn last week and confirmed her fears. Her mother was losing weight. She was also shrinking. Ada now stood a mere five foot four inches.

Why was it that the body shrank as it grew older? It was almost as if it needed to conserve its energy for more important things. Her mother had attempted to braid her hair and tuck it under her kapp, but the arthritis that crippled her hands made the task difficult. The result was snow-white hair sprouting in various directions and a kapp tipped slightly to the back of her head. She also hadn’t been able to correctly pin her dark green dress.

In spite of her appearance, the blue eyes behind her small glasses twinkled with good humor and complete clarity. Her mother’s health might be failing, but today her mind was sharp. Julia was grateful. Some days sporadic bouts of dementia robbed her even of that.

“Mamm, I don’t mind bringing it to you.”

Ada waved her hand, dismissing the notion. “When I’m too feeble to get out of bed, I’ll be praying the Lord sees fit to take me home.”

Julia didn’t think it was a good time to remind her she’d stayed in bed three days last week. Ada remembered well enough. She simply chose to ignore the bad days.

“Let me help you.”

Setting the tray on the kitchen table, Julia was relieved to see that at least her mother was using the cane Dr. Hanson had provided. He’d suggested a walker, but Ada had insisted “the Lord was her strength.” The cane was a compromise.

Julia inwardly winced as she looked at her mother’s hands. Some mornings the crippling arthritis was better than others. This morning her hands—wrinkled, and spotted with age—resembled claws. She wondered how her mother would be able to pick up the utensils to eat. She was tempted to offer to feed her, but the last time she’d suggested that had earned her a twenty-minute lecture on self-sufficiency.

Ada must have noticed her staring. Patting her daughter’s arm, she murmured, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.”


She bowed her head as her mother prayed over her breakfast. While Ada thanked God for her food, Julia prayed for strength and wisdom.

Was today the right day? And how best to broach the topic? Why were her palms sweating?

She waited until Ada had finished the egg and eaten half the bread. Some part of her wanted to believe that if her dream came true, Ada would improve. Another part knew it was only a matter of time until she’d be left alone in the big two-story house beside Pebble Creek.

“My baked goods have been selling well at Lydia and Aaron’s shop.”

“Ya. That’s wunderbaar.”

Julia nodded but vowed in her heart to push forward with her plan. She’d thought perhaps she should wait until her mother’s health improved, but after the visit with Doc Hanson last week, she knew that wasn’t going to happen. It was imperative she not wait until winter. The tourist crowds came during the summer and stayed through the fall foliage. If she was going to do this, she needed to do it now.

“Mamm, I’d like to expand my cooking business.”

“You don’t have a business.” Ada fumbled with the glass of milk, and they both reached to settle it. “You have a hobby.”

Rising and walking across the room, Julia fetched the herbal ointment the doctor had recommended. When she opened the jar, the smell of mint balm filled the kitchen. Pulling her mother’s left hand across the table, she worked the cream into the skin, rubbing gently with her fingers to massage the muscles until they were straightened.

“I’d like to make it a business, though.” She looked up, peering directly into her mother’s eyes.

Why was this so hard? Why was she so afraid Ada would say no?

She was thirty-seven years old, and she was still worried whether her mother would approve of her plans. “I’d like to open a café here in the house.”

Ada didn’t speak as Julia reached for her right hand and began rubbing the ointment into it. When she’d finished, her mother touched her cheek, leaving the faint scent of mint and summer.

“Dear Julia, how can you open a café in these rooms if you won’t be living here?” Behind the glasses were blue eyes filled with calmness, sadness, and determination.

“I don’t understand—”

“Do you think your dat and I would leave you here after we’ve gone on? Leave you alone?”


“Nein, Julia. It wouldn’t be proper. It wouldn’t be right.”

“What…” Julia’s heart was racing so fast she felt as if she’d run from the creek. She didn’t know which question to ask first. “How…”

“We always hoped you might marry. Your father spoke to you about this on several occasions.”

“Ya, but—”

“I know your reasons, and I even understand them. The fact remains that you can’t live here alone once I’m gone, which according to Doc Hanson will be relatively soon.”

Julia jumped up from her chair, walked to the kitchen counter, and glanced outside. Her gaze fell on the rose bushes. They still held some of summer’s blooms—a deep, vibrant red.

“So you’re deciding I have to leave? Just like that? I have no say in it at all?” Her voice rose with each question.

“You’ll go to Pennsylvania. Back to live with my family.”

“I don’t even know those people.”

“They’re family, nonetheless. You’ve exchanged letters with them for years.”

“This is my home, mamm. You would kick me out of my home?”

Ada bowed her head. She didn’t speak for the space of nearly three minutes—long enough to boil another egg. When she looked up, her words were gentle, but they still made Julia want to scream. “God is our refuge and strength, dochder.”

“The Psalms are not the answer to this!”

“Always you can find the answers in Gotte’s Word.”

Julia closed her eyes and forced her emotions to calm down. When she looked at her mother again, she saw the same quiet, loving woman who had been beside her every day of her life. What she recognized, in her mother’s eyes, was kindness—and it confused her as much as the decree she had just issued.

“There’s no changing your mind?”

“Nein. The papers were drawn up before your dat passed. It’s why we agreed to sell the pastureland to Mr. and Mrs. Elliott. This home will be sold when I pass, and the money will be put in a trust for you, to help support you the rest of your life—”

“Support me.”

“On the condition you live in Pennsylvania with my family.”

“Why are you telling me this now?” Julia’s voice was a whisper. How could her life have taken such a catastrophic turn? When she’d slipped out of bed this morning, she never would have imagined that her days in this home, her days living beside Pebble Creek, were numbered.

It was true she hadn’t been overly social. She couldn’t remember the last singing she’d been to, but then she was not a girl. She was a woman.

Instead she’d waited. She’d done what a good daughter should do, followed all the rules, and waited. For what? So she could be turned out of her home. So she could be told once more what to do.

It wasn’t fair.

And she hadn’t seen it coming. She had never expected such an answer. She had never dreamed her mother and her father—she mustn’t forget he had agreed to this plan—would betray her this way.

No, she’d been busy designing a café in the bottom floor of their home. Where should she put the tables she would purchase from David King? What type of sign would best attract customers? What would be the best location for it? Should she advertise in the Budget? What design should she use for the menus?

None of those things mattered if she would be living in Pennsylvania.

“Why now?” she repeated.

“Why? Because you asked.” Her mother stood, gripped her cane, and shuffled out of the room.

Leaving Julia alone, staring out at the last of the crimson roses.