Monday, September 26, 2016

The Wedding Shop: A Review and A Giveaway!

 My Review:

This is the third book in Hauck's Wedding Celebration series, and I can honestly say all three are worth the read. The books are stand-alone reads, but I highly recommend picking up all three books.
In this book, Haley returns to Heart's Bend to open an abandoned wedding shop. Much like the shop, she has faced disappointments in life, and this is an opportunity for her to find herself. The story follows the original owner of the store and is written over a nearly 100 year time span, covering the shop in its glory and Haley's drive to see it returned to that position.
Like all of Hauck's books, the storyline offers hope and focuses on God's purpose for our lives. Without preaching to her readers, Hauck lets the Gospel shine through her words. Her characters are well-developed and likeable, and you long for things to work out for them.
I did receive a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review for Celebration Lit. I'd give this book 5 stars. A fun, lighthearted read that offers hope!

About the Book


Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.
It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.
More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.
When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.
As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

About the Author


Rachel Hauck is a USA Today Bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Her book Once Upon A Prince was a Christy Award finalist.
Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and two pets and writes from her ivory tower. Visit her online at, Facebook: rachelhauck, and Twitter: @RachelHauck

Guest Post from Rachel Hauck
Hey everyone! I’m so excited to share The Wedding Shop with you. This book is one of my favorites.
While all books are my “babies,” this one found a special place in my heart.
This standalone novel is part of the Wedding Collection – The Wedding Dress and The Wedding Chapel – and it came to life when I discovered the story of Cora Scott, a 1930s wedding shop owner.
At 30, she’s an old maid, but the best “bride’s maid” in fictional Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. But she’s in love with a charismatic, charming river boat captain.
The contemporary heroine, Haley Morgan, is a retired Air Force captain returning to Heart’s Bend to restart her life. She’s recovering from a broken heart. The handsome, dynamic, charming man she loved was nothing but trouble.
Returning home, Haley is set on keeping a childhood promise she made with her best friend—to open the old wedding shop.
The shop is legend in Heart’s Bend. Haley grew up with stories of Miss Cora and the shop, hearing the town’s mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers reminiscing about their “day in the shop,” walking down the grand staircase in their wedding gown.
But in 2016, the shop is dilapidated, neglected and in need of more money than Haley possesses.
While writing this story, I had to ask a lot of questions. Why reopen the old shop? Why not just open a new one?
Haley was a combat veteran, deployed to Afghanistan twice, why would she want to open a wedding shop?
I also investigate the meaning of the shop to the town? To Cora? To Haley?
As I developed the backstory for the characters, the shop and the town, Cora’s came to life. She fascinated me. I admired this fictional woman. She exuded ingenuity, courage, and deep, deep devotion.
On the other hand, Haley was a bit of a mystery but from the start, she saw value in something no one else did.
What if we all saw value in people or places others wanted to reject?
Isn’t that what Jesus does for us?
The heroes of the book, Birch and Cole, are just stellar guys. Princes among men. I love writing about slightly wounded but strong and tender men.
The theme of family and community populates the story. Also, how misconceptions and preconceived ideas often ruin relationships.
Booklist gave The Wedding Shop a Starred Review and called it, “Spellbinding.”
There’s a lot of fun drama in this book! I hope you enjoy spending time with Cora and Haley, the men they love and the shop they bring to life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Connect with me at

Blog Stops

September 13: A Holland Reads
September 14: Giveaway Lady
September 14: Daysong Reflections
September 15: Bibliophile Reviews
September 16: Bigreadersite
September 16: The Scribbler
September 17: Books,Dreams,Life
September 17: ASC Book Reviews
September 18: Book Babble
September 18: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
September 19: Pause for Tales
September 19: Book by Book
September 20: The Power of Words
September 20: Lighthouse Academy
September 21: Proverbial Reads
September 21: Splashes of Joy
September 22: Faithfully Bookish
September 23: Tell Tale Book Reviews
September 24: Quiet Quilter
September 25: For The Love of Books



To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away her Wedding Collection Series! Click here to enter:

Sunday, September 25, 2016


This post was inspired by the new book: Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman which releases November 15th! You can purchase a copy at

I just finished reading in Chapter 4, which talks about about "necessary people."

I immediately thought of my Mom, because she is more than necessary to me and so many other people around us.

But I've been thinking of other necessary people, and I want to give a shoutout to some of them...

Like the M&O department at the college where I work. They are forever unlocking doors for me, or packing books for me, or setting up the gym for displays for me. They are a great group of guys (and gal- Thanks, Sherri!)  and I couldn't do what I do without them!

And Shannon and Kena in academics. They are forever answering questions for me, e-scanning documents for me, helping me with scheduling, and allowing me to gripe when my day gets too hard.  And Brad and our IT guys, who keep this technologically challenged teacher able to minimally function. Pinky and Lesa and Ann and Bryan who help me when I'm not sure about advising and Leanna and Leanne in the business office who let me use their microwave and make sure I know how to complete forms.

Necessary people like the cashier at Walmart whose name I don't know but who always has a smile on her face as she scans my items, even when I have forgotten something and have to run to the back of the store to pick up toilet paper.

And the staff at McDonalds- Sarah and Miranda and Katelyn and Taylor and all of the others who I don't know personally. These guys make sure Caleb's chicken nuggets are cooked to perfection and call me beautiful when I go through the drive-thru and also exchange my drink for a Diet Coke when I may or may not have said Dr. Pepper accidentally.

Necessary people like teachers who go to work early and stay late and grade papers sitting in front of their TVs at night, but loan kids whose Moms never go to the ATM quarters for lunch.

People like my mailman, who just happens to be my cousin, who knew we were going on vacation and arranged for our mail to be stopped without us going into the post office.

Necessary people like the manager at Wendy's the other night, who kept bringing out chicken sandwiches and cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets even though I'm pretty sure he brought out more than what we paid for. He kept a smile on his face and was courteous to a dining room of stinky football players.

And necessary people like Baretta, who works Caleb in at the last minute to get his hair cut, even though it's after football practice (and that can't be pleasant).

The lady who cleans the church and the man who mows the grass...

Cooks and janitors and bus drivers...

See, whatever it is you do, you have an eternal impact. Your job matters and you are necessary to somebody, even if you don't think so. Often, you're one of the only people with that skill set, and we need you!

So, thank you for whatever it is you do for this world... keep on doing it!
And know His grace is sufficient even when you feel like it's too hard and no one cares.

I see you... and so does He!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

One More Day: A Review

Carrie would give anything for just one more day.

What would she do differently?

One more day with her toddler... but that's impossible.

Or is it? Because, here he is... and then he is gone.

The heartbreak that follows as she is plunged into a murder investigation and past experiences that haunt her leave her reeling as she tries to make it through just one more day...

I enjoyed this book. Part supernatural, part thriller, my heart  hurt for Carrie. At times it was a little hard to follow, though, because I wasn't sure who some of the characters were. Would recommend it for anyone who likes mysteries and thrillers.

I did receive a free copy of this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review and am posting this review on their website. This book is available through

Amazon. I receive no compensation through Amazon for using the link with their book information.
Professional Reader

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"When I Was..." and other Parenting Fails

This afternoon I turned into THAT mom. 

Actually two days in a row made me feel like THAT mom. 

Yesterday I turned around and told Caleb and his girlfriend that "the younger generation didn't know how to effectively communicate..."

And today I found myself saying, "When I was in 7th grade..."

(Yes.  I.  Did.  And I also walked 10 miles uphill both ways in the snow to get to school.  Y'all!!! Where did that even come from???)

And as I made that statement, I immediately realized that when I was in 7th or 8th grade, I WOULD HAVE REACTED IN THE SAME WAY THAT CALEB DID.

Anyway, I've really been thinking a lot about parenting lately. I've been seeing posts on the internet about helicopter parents and how we let our kids by with way too much. I shared a post on facebook about uncoachable kids which led to a debate between some members of my family, and the conversation inevitably turned to parenting, and how often the parents may be more of the problem than the player.

I may or may not have been guilty of making the comment, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

It's just true. We behave how we see others behave...

which is why I'm kind of glad Caleb doesn't sit with me at most football games.

He'd be getting flags right and left for back-talking refs because "CAN'T YOU SEE THAT WAS A HORSECOLLAR???" and " IF I KNOW IT''S HOLDING IT'S PRETTY DAGGONE OBVIOUS!"
and also, "YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME" more times than I can count.

And here's the thing. It's a fine line that parents have to tight-walk. We want our kids to be instilled with confidence, and to us, they are the absolute best at everything they do... except they aren't.

I would have loved to have been an Olympic gymnast, but there was one problem.

I couldn't hardly do a round-off.  I always landed kind of sideways.

I want Caleb to be involved in a lot of things, and I encourage him to pursue whatever activities interest him, and I may occasionally encourage him to pursue things that he isn't really interested in.

But like I told him the other night, I know he won't be THE BEST at everything he does, and that's ok.

I know I sound like a parent making excuses, but sometimes you learn more from NOT being the best. In fact, I'd almost wager that you ALWAYS learn more when you aren't the best, because you're having to work that much  harder.

But y'all.  Letting our kids fail is hard.

Sometimes I feel heartless.

A lot of times I make excuses for why I need to jump in there and save Caleb.

And a lot of times we end up yelling at each other because THE APPLE DOESN'T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE and THE FAMILY TREE HIT HIM IN THE HEAD  and SCREAMING IS MY MODE OF COMMUNICATION (note the capital letters used for emphasis.)

How can we support our kids and give them confidence when they are falling on their face?

Maybe by love.

Acceptance when they fall.

And for Heaven's sake, stop the screaming.

I'm no perfect parent, y'all.  Caleb may or may not have worn dirty socks to football practice last week (although I did pick them up and sniff them and they didn't smell too bad, so they were probably clean, right?) and as I attested earlier, I did point out the flaws of his generation while making my generation seem like we have it together.

Except I'm pretty sure Caleb knows we don't.

And that part about how kids learn what they see?

Well, maybe that's how we teach them how to fail. By letting them see what big messes we are but also pointing them to grace...

by giving them grace. By giving others grace. Even referees deserve grace, y'all!! (And I'm not knocking refs. I wouldn't be one if you paid me a million dollars!)

And the best part?

His grace is sufficient... for any mess. For every mess. And it's sufficient to get me through these teenage years...

because He loves Caleb way more than I could ever imagine.

And He loves me that much, too.

So His grace is sufficient to help Caleb survive this hot mess of a Mama.

May he always know just how blessed I consider myself to be his mama...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hope in My Heart: A Review and A Giveaway Link


My Review: I don't usually like short stories. If I'm going to read a story line, I want it to be detailed. However, when this was offered by Celebrate Lit, I decided to review it because it seemed like a good storyline. I enjoyed this book, even though I was left wanting more. The characters were likeable and the book was a quick read. The storylines in the three short stories were varied and did offer hope in the resolution for their characters. I'd recommend this book.

My only complaint is that I think there could have been more than three stories. One short story had several different storylines that I felt could have been expanded into individual stories. I also wanted to find out more about the characters lives; they almost ended too soon... which could be why I don't like short stories.
Overall, though, an enjoyable read.
I did receive a free copy of this book through Celebrate Lit in exchange for an honest review.


About the Book:

Hope in My Heart is a collection of short, heartwarming stories with characters in need of hope.
In “Love Unexpected,” a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.
Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, “The Best Gift.” Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister’s wedding. Jordan wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.
In “Peace and Love,” three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents’ divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love.

About the Author

Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart and a journalist by profession. She loves the art of storytelling and is especially delighted to have released her first book, an inspirational romance novella called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, in Sept. 2013. When Alexis is not working on her next book or chasing down the next big story for the newspaper where she works as a freelance reporter, she can be found listening to songs by her most admired musicians, enjoying the food in cafes/restaurants, shopping at her favorite malls and spending quality time with loved ones (family and friends).

Guest Post from Alexis Goring

It’s an honor to have my first published book, Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, going on a blog tour with Celebrate Lit!
I met Sandra, founder of Celebrate Lit, through Facebook when she asked me to be one of the book reviewers for her company. At the moment, I was in grad school pursuing my MFA in Creative Writing so I didn’t have time to write a review. But I enjoyed reading my fellow bloggers’ reviews of the books featured by a blog tour hosted by Celebrate Lit. Imagine how delighted I was to be afforded the opportunity to participate in one of these tours not as a blogger but as a featured author!
I’m guessing that you’d like to know a little bit about me as an author. So, here’s my (real-life) story: I’m an East Coast girl with a love for writing, photography, good food and music that inspires hope in my heart. Most people think that I’m either from New York, California or an “exotic island”. They are right about the island heritage, because my dad is from the Caribbean. I love making connections with people and learning from their life stories. I believe in finding the good in everything and showing God’s love to the world. I have a heart for the hurting and hungry. I want to help people discover their true worth and realize their true identity—they are loved and belong to the Creator of the Universe. I believe that I achieve that goal to an extent, through my Christian lifestyle blog, “God is Love.”
As an author, my goal is to warm the hearts of my readers, bring a smile to their face and point them to the One who loves them with all of His Heart. I am talking about God. He’s amazing! I’m so grateful to Him for giving me the gift of writing and showing me ways to share my writing and His love with the world! I love that He made a way for me to publish my first book and is making a way for me to publish my next ones.
Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories was originally published by Crossbooks (former imprint of B&H Publishing Group) in Sept. 2013. However, after Crossbooks closed, my book was re-branded by WestBow Press (a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan) and re-released in Nov. 2015. It’s available for purchase on and a few other book retailer sites online. Initially, it was on the shelves at Barnes & Noble (my favorite bookstore) but since being re-branded, it’s only available online.

To celebrate her tour, Alexis is giving away seven eBook copies of her book Hope in My Heart! Click here to enter:

Blog Stops

September 2: Faithfully Bookish
September 3: Bukwurmzzz
September 3: The Power of Words
September 4: Mary Hake
September 5: cherylbbookblog
September 8: Southern Chelle
September 10: Karen’s Krayons
September 13: Carpe Diem

Saturday, September 10, 2016

On Football...

To say I'm disillusioned right now would be an understatement.

It's a Saturday night, and usually that means that I'm in a football state of mind.

Y'all. I love sports.

I love high school sports.

I love college sports.

I love the NFL, especially my Steelers...

but tonight I'm shaking my head, just a little.

My football Bobcats are 0-3.

My UK Wildcats are 0-2.

The top 2 draft picks for my fantasy football league team with Wallace are out for injuries.

And I'm holding my breath for Monday night.

And I know in the grand scheme of things a winning football season isn't something to worry about... in fact, football in general isn't that big of a deal.

Except it is.

Because the way I see it, football is kind of reflective of our society.

Football has adapted in response to our society.

In Breathitt County, 20 years ago we had won our first state championship and were on our way to another one. Our population was a little larger than it is now, and our school system was in better financial shape.  And our community was behind our boys in blue.

All of our community.

There were signs galore and every business had "Go Cats" on their billboard.

The only color to wear on Friday night was blue.

Fast forward 20 years, and no, we aren't winning...

but those kids also don't get much support. There aren't signs in the community and the money has all dried up.

It's almost like some people enjoy seeing others fail.

I'm not writing this saying that I am giving up on our Bobcats, because y'all know that I've been a true fan ALL MY LIFE and I've been right there in the bad times as well as the good.

What I am saying is that there is a sense of hopelessness in our community, and it plays out on the field. Negativity breeds negativity, and if all kids hear is the negative, well, that will translate to picked passes or missed blocks or for a quarterback on the other team rushing for four or five touchdowns.

And before you think I'm pointing fingers at the coaching staff, let me assure you that I'm not.  (God forbid.  Nobody knows the life of a coach and his wife and his kids. I may question calls, but that's just my nature. Best not say anything negative about the coaches around me.)

Now I know that not everybody in Breathitt Co. cares about football, and that's ok. What concerns me is that I think there is a large group of people who don't care about anything.

Complete apathy.... but for some reason, those are the people who choose to complain.

One of my favorite quotes is "The person rocking the boat isn't the one rowing." 

I love Eastern Kentucky, but I am afraid for it.

I wish I had the answer.

I wish I could create jobs and stop the drug problem and keep families together.

Those are all large problems that outweigh any problems our sports programs may face, and there isn't one single thing that I can do about them on my own.

What I can do, though, is offer future generations some hope.

It's why you'll never see me give up on a player.

They may be missing a block on the field... but I have no idea what they are going home to.

And even if I know they are going home to a mom and dad who fully supports them, I also know that being a teenage is tough, and you can't ever have enough support.

But then there's the fine line of coddling our kids, which is easy to do. It's easy to make excuses for them and to allow them to pretend that they are greater than they are... because everybody's kid is the best.


Which brings me to the other reason I'm disillusioned. See, my philosophy on football is that it is a character building game. It teaches teamwork and discipline and it's hard.

But I'm sad to say that in this game that I love, character is becoming questionable.

I understand everyone has the right to their own opinion, and our nation is far from perfect.

And I understand that oppression is real and that racial tensions are real and that even 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement there are still very large gaps.

But this whole not standing for the National Anthem really gets me.

And the fact that the NFL is just letting it go really leaves me shaking my head.

And again, that's  completely from my perspective... but I know a lot of soldiers from all races and religions died so that Old Glory can be waved and The Star-Spangled Banner can be played.

Again, I wish I knew the answer for that. I wish I knew how everyone could be treated fairly and feel loved and respected.

I guess all I can do is my small part, and treat everyone the way I'd like to be treated.

Keep being a cheerleader, and pray for better things.

His grace is sufficient, even when football leaves me shaking my head.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Birthday Wish

So, today I turn 37.

Not a particularly exciting milestone...

I mean, there's none of that new driving possibility that you get when you turn 16. I've been an official adult for longer than I was a child. No need to celebrate being able to go out and drink like I potentially would have 16 years ago, if I hadn't been a teetotaler married nursing student.

There's not even the dread like most people have when they turn the big 4-0.

37 is a pretty plain number.

Doesn't seem like much to get excited about.

Just an ordinary day with hitting the snooze button too many times and lecture and raising my voice at Caleb and tripping going up the stairs to my office.

Just an ordinary day...

but really, what is an ordinary day?

Really, isn't every day full of opportunity?

No minute is the same even if we do the same things over and over.

The mundane is the beautiful if we pause to really breathe it in.

On this day, 37 years ago, I took my first breath, and each day I've continued to breathe in, not always as deeply as I should. Somehow, I've managed to stumble through life and make it here, to this exact moment.

And each moment is a gift. Each moment is full of first chances, if I don't squander them away.

Y'all, I've been guilty.

Guilty of expecting too much and being disappointed... but also guilty of not expecting enough.

Guilty of not appreciating all that has been given to me.

Guilty of sleepwalking through years.

Today, on my 37th birthday, I'm thinking of how different things were a year ago... and yet the past is the past.

The only thing I have is right now, this moment. You, reading this on the other side of that screen? It's all you've got, too.

We are not promised tomorrow...

but we are given unlimited possibilities in the here and now.

And really, those opportunities aren't for us.

We were put on this earth for service... service to God. Service to others.

So, as I'm contemplating looking ahead, past this birthday, I'm resolved (again) to make the most of each day. Each gift.

By loving even harder than I have, even when it hurts.

By making myself vulnerable to others by opening up, even when I'm scared.

By looking people in the eye and making sure they know they are important.

By making this world a little better, so that people will say that my life was a gift.

There may never be a parade set aside on September 7th because a great person was born on that day...

but maybe there will be a few people who will look me up in Heaven and tell me I made a difference.

That's my birthday wish...

Won't you join me?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Honeybee Sisters: A Review and A Giveaway LInk


About the Books

Sweet as Honey:

Smart, kind, and good-hearted, the three Christner girls are affectionately known as The Honeybee Sisters in the beloved Wisconsin Amish community where, under the care of their aunt, they’ve grown into skilled beekeepers–and lovely, sought-after young women. . .
Though she has blossomed into a beauty, Lily Christner doesn’t really believe it. Deep down, she still feels like a lonely, gawky teenager. Maybe that’s why she’s all but promised herself to Paul Glick, the one boy who never teased her in her awkward girlhood–unlike Dan Kanagy, whose creative name-calling left her in tears many a time. Now he’s back in town after two years away–and being surprisingly sweet, suspiciously attentive–and making Lily unsettlingly yet deliciously nervous. It seems Dan wants Lily’s forgiveness–and her heart. But can he convince her–not to mention her protective schwesters and aendi–that despite the past, her future lies with him?…

My thoughts on this book:
Great read! Characters were well developed, and I found myself falling in love with some of them... and some of them, well, I definitely cheered against them! Beckstrand's story flowed well, and I loved Aunt B, who is your not so typical Amish aunt!!! Lily's lack of confidence at times made me cringe, and we won't even go into how I feel about Paul Glick, because that will give the story away... but definitely worth the read!
A Bee in Her Bonnet:

Lively, determined, and independent, Poppy Christner isn’t about to let some vandal keep making mischief on her family’s farm. She’s been outrunning boys and standing up for picked-on children ever since she was a girl–no matter how much her prideful, arrogant schoolmate Luke Bontrager insulted her. So Poppy certainly doesn’t need his interference now, especially since he’s made it plain he prefers demure, ladylike companions. In fact, if Luke doesn’t stop helping her find the culprit–and growing humble and remorseful–she’ll be forced to notice how handsome his change-of-heart is making him. And that could mean falling in love–maybe for a lifetime…
My thoughts:
Poppy is probably my favorite Christner sister. She doesn't care to tell it like it is, and stands up for herself and her sisters. This follow-up book puts Poppy in the spotlight and gives her a chance to become more developed. Still an easy to follow read with a great storyline.

Like a Bee to Honey:

Shy, skittish Rose Christner is more comfortable tending to the beehives on the family farm and keeping her aunt’s unruly cats in line than attending social gatherings with the rest of the die youngie. A childhood trauma and secret shame keep her heart under lock and key, and Rose just can’t accept the sweet attention she’s receiving from a handsome neighbor. But the more she shies away from Josiah Yoder, the more their families sneakily plot to bring them together. And when a vandal who’s been plaguing the Honeybee Farm starts targeting Rose, Josiah’s steadfast protection—and patience—just may lead her into his waiting arms…
My thoughts:
Ah, sweet Rose. I loved her in book one because she was so socially awkward, and I totally get that. She's relied on her sisters for long enough, and this book gives her the opportunity to grow into her own. I really enjoyed revisiting the characters from the previous books, and again, Beckstrand writes in an easy to follow dialogue that is just light enough to finish quickly.

I loved all three of these books. I would recommend reading them in order. I did receive complimentary copies of these books for an honest review.

About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in list of top ten inspirational books for 2014.
Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and four adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Guest Post from Jennifer Beckstrand

Lily, Poppy, and Rose Christner are known as the Honeybee Sisters in their Wisconsin Amish community because they keep bees and sell the honey they pull from their beehives. The orphaned sisters came to live with their aunt Bitsy when they were very young. Aunt Bitsy was an Englischer for twenty years, but she is trying to raise her nieces to be gute and devout Amish girls.
Still, Aunt Bitsy is a bit eccentric and has brought some of the Englisch ways with her to the Honeybee Farm. She wears her dangly earrings when she’s in a bad mood, sports temporary tattoos just for fun, keeps a shotgun by the front door, and has a cat named Farrah Fawcett. (Bitsy simply adored “Charlie’s Angels.”)
With the honey they pull from their hives, the Honeybee schwesters make all sorts of appeditlich, delicious, things to eat. Their baking and their beauty attract boys to the Honeybee Farm, so Aunt Bitsy has to keep her shotgun handy to ward off the would-be suitors.
Many of the Honeybee Sisters’ recipes are included at the back of the three Honeybee Sister novels. Many more can be found in The Honeybee Sisters Cookbook available on Amazon and other online bookstores.
I hope you’ll fall in love with the Honeybee sisters, Aunt Bitsy, and their incomparable Bienenstich (Bee Sting) Cake—which recipe is included in both the cookbook and Sweet as Honey.
Here is a recipe the Honeybee Sisters would definitely make. My dear friend gave me some of these caramels for Christmas last year, and they are heavenly. The honey is used in place of the more-common corn syrup and gives the caramels a rich, deep flavor. My favorite thing about these caramels is the coarse sea salt that gives the caramels a salty crunch. Yummy!
Honey Vanilla Caramels
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup salted butter, cut into bits
Coarse sea salt

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a clay, enamel, glass, plastic, or stainless steel (non-reactive) pot, combine the sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. Mix everything together using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar melts. When the sugar has melted, increase heat to medium and cook until the mixture caramelizes and is a deep amber color. Do not stir the mixture once it starts to boil. Instead, swirl it around occasionally with the pan’s handle. (This will help the caramel cook more evenly.)
While the caramel is cooking, place the heavy cream in a small saucepan on low heat. As soon as it reaches a simmer, remove pan from the heat and set aside.
When the caramel has reached a deep amber color, reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the bits of butter. Whisk well until the butter is completely melted.
Add the warm cream and whisk until smooth.
Turn the heat back up to medium and cook until the caramel reaches a temperature of 245°. Carefully pour the hot caramel onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Let it rest for about 8 minutes, then sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt.
Cool completely (about three hours), before cutting into squares and wrapping with parchment paper.
(Adapted from
Blog Stops
August 25: A Reader’s Brain
August 28: The Power of Words
August 31: cherylbbookblog
August 31: Quiet Quilter
September 1: Rhonda’s Doings
September 1: Book Babble
September 2: Lighthouse Academy
September 4: Bukwurmzzz
September 5: Donna’s BookShelf
September 7: Blogging with Carol


To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away five copies of The Honeybee Sisters Cookbook! Click here to enter:

Friday, September 2, 2016

Blueberry Cupcake Mystery: A Review and A Giveaway

This short, "cozy" mystery (as the author describes it) is a heartwarming story of a break-in of an Amish bakery, the hunt for the culprit, and how an Amish community came together to support each other and outsiders.

This book is an easy read. Only around 150 pages (I read the ebook), I could have definitely finished in one sitting. The characters are likeable. Katie is a warm, caring Amish girl working at the bakery, whose kind heart leads her to embrace grace.

The story line flows easily.  Miller uses vocabulary that might have been used by the Amish throughout the book, but provides a dictionary at the beginning of the book. To be honest, the use of these words didn't add to the story.

I feel as though the ending of the story could have been elaborated on; I was left wanting to know more about the characters. Maybe Miller will address this in her next book in this series.

I would recommend this book to individuals looking for a quick, light-hearted read and those who like Amish fiction. I'd give it 3.5 stars because the story line was somewhat simplistic, but overall it is a good read.

I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for completing an honest review for the Celebrate Lit Blog Tour.

About the Book


In the small town of Abbott Creek, mystery is as much a part of daily life as The Sweet Shop’s sugar cookies.
Katie Chupp spends her days at The Sweet Shop, taking care of customers and baking delicious treats . . . not exactly a profession where one expects to be thrown into the midst of mysteries and mayhem.
But when the bakery is broken into, someone has to find the thief . . . besides finding another place to do the baking and get the orders to the customers.
Is this a random theft, or is the thief trying to ruin the town’s Independence Day celebration?

About the Author

Naomi Miller mixes up a batch of intrigue, sprinkled with Amish, Mennonite, & English characters, adding a pinch of mystery – and a dash of romance!
Naomi’s day is spent focusing on her writing, editing, and blogging about her experiences with writing. When she’s not working diligently to finish the next book in her Sweet Shop Mystery series, Naomi tries to make time for attending workshops and writers conferences. One of her favorites is the four-day event that the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization holds annually.
Naomi also enjoys traveling with her family, singing inspirational/gospel music, taking a daily walk, and witnessing to others of the amazing grace of Jesus Christ.

Guest Post from Naomi Miller

Hello! I’m Naomi Miller — and I’m honored to be featured on Celebrate Lit!
I want to share with you how the title and cover for my debut book, Blueberry Cupcake Mystery, was chosen. This is a story I haven’t shared with anyone else — yet. The story behind the blueberry cupcake…
I was actually writing an Amish suspense novel last winter, when God placed it on my heart to write a shorter story — a cozy mystery, with no suspense, no danger, but plenty of faith, family, compassion and community.
While thinking of the best way to begin the story, my daughter made a batch of blueberry cupcakes, which happen to be one of my favorite treats. Of course, the idea to use a favorite treat was too good to resist. Then, during the early days of writing, I began experimenting with the idea of baking cupcakes — but adding blueberries before baking. Two favorite treats in one!
And there you have it . . . once we had a picture of a blueberry cupcake, the designer quickly sent back a cover I fell in love with (although there were a few more tweaks before the final cover was approved).
I actually began writing many years ago — 1990 to be exact. But I had just become a single mom and I didn’t have time to pursue it. I wrote notes, letters, articles, short stories, and I occasionally thought about a career as a novelist, but not once did I consider that dream to ever become a reality.
Several years ago, after my children were grown, my daughter challenged me to write a novel. I began a sweet, Amish fiction story about a young girl—but about halfway into the story, someone was almost murdered! Needless to say, I was surprised, but kept going. Once done, I went back to the beginning to do a major re-write on what was now an Amish suspense novel.
And that’s . . . the rest of the story.
I’m also excited to be doing two special giveaways — 1) a gift bag full of treats and 2) an advanced reader digital copy of Christmas Cookie Mystery (but you’ll have to wait for it)!
In the meantime, here’s the recipe for those delicious blueberry cupcakes
Blueberry Cupcakes
Ingredients1 white or yellow cake mix
2 cups fresh blueberries
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 cup water

Prepare cake mix according to the directions. Add blueberries and fold into batter. Bake following instructions on cake mix box.
Icing1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. milk
additional milk as needed

DirectionsPrepare icing, mixing small amounts of confectioner’s sugar with milk to desired consistency. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Blog Stops

August 24: cherylbbookblog
August 25: A Greater Yes
August 25: A Holland Reads
August 25: Mary Hake
August 26: Gypsy Road
August 27: Bigreadersite
August 28: Lighthouse Academy
August 28: Book Babble
August 29: Karilyn Putt
August 31: Quiet Quilter
September 1: Just Commonly
September 3: Bukwurmzzz
September 4: Ashley’s Bookshelf
September 4: just the write escape


To celebrate her tour, Naomi is giving away a gift bag full of treats and an advanced copy of her new book Christmas Cookie Mystery! Click here to enter: