Gift Giving Guide for Readers

Do you have a reader in your life? Or are you the reader and looking for things to buy for yourself?

Here are a few recommended gift ideas for those special people you know and love-

My Top book Picks for gifts:

These are just a few that would be on my list…

(Click on the book title for link)

Kept by Sally Bradley – This book title reminds me of a modern day Redeeming Love. Ms. Bradley carries us through a grittier story of pain and redemption in a beautiful way.

The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate– Investigating an old slush pile? What could be more exciting as this story weaves through past and present!

Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall- This whole series is amazing! Just recently available in paperback, this book series is written in first person in such a skilled way that you will forget that it is. I highly recommend.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz- Set after the Revolutionary War, this book is a sweet story, but also filled with hardships that you would not expect. I loved it!

The Diplomat’s Wife by Pam Jenoff– This is not a Christian read, but a HEA story that warms the hearts of historical fiction fans.

I could go on and on… but my wish list is a mile long!

Here are a few from my wish list that I have not read:


The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen– Her other books have been incredible.

Isle of Hope by Julie Lessman– I own every one of her books!

Until the Dawn- Elizabeth Camden– I have rarely ever been disappointed with one of her books.

The Five times I met myself by James Rubart – His books are very different than what I usually read, but this one fascinates me.

The Golden Braid– By Melanie Dickerson- It comes in hardcover and is beautiful. I love the cover art and her books are not ones to be missed.


Items for Readers- 

From electronic readers to jewelry, there is something here for the reader in your life.

Kindle– Even a diehard hard copy fan like me, has really enjoyed owning a kindle. I love it for traveling! It has made my suitcase a lot lighter, that is for sure. The Kindle Fire’s are cheaper right now, but this one is better for just reading.

Clip-On Book light– This works wonderful for reading in bed or camping with your kindle or book. It is easier to use with a kindle, but works fine with a book too. In a pinch, it works as a flashlight as well.

Mugs-  Readers love to drink coffee, tea or hot chocolate often while reading, or at least I do. Some of these are really cute.

“Kindly Go Away, I am reading” 

“My Courage Always Rises with Every Attempt to Intimidate Me”

Jane Austen Literary Mug 

First Lines of Literature Mug 

Novel Tea– Bags of tea with literature quotes

Pendant Necklace– “So Many Books, so little time”

Alice in Wonderland necklace 

Book Journal- This is great to keep track of your books in. Especially for the readers that don’t use Goodreads.


Then we can’t forget about the young adults in your life that love books and audio books. These are a few that have been popular around here:

Audio and Print Books:

Melanie Dickerson’s Fairy Tale retakes...- Do you have a young woman that loves fairy tales? These are available in both print and audio now. They are totally worth it! They will not just appeal to young adults, but also to adult readers.

Michael Vey series- By Richard Paul Evans– If you want your fantasy loving young people to get hooked on a series, start this one. Mine hardly could do anything else once they got through the first one. This is not Christian fiction, but fairly clean, although there is magical powers etc. involved, if you avoid that.

Wayne Thomas Batson’s book series – He has several. Many of them are available on audio, although we are so sad that his latest ones are not.

A Horse for Kate by Miralee Ferrell– This one is not available on audio, but is an easy read. There is a whole series for your horse loving girls and boys.

Chuck Black Series– He has a bunch of different options for both younger and older age groups.

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson– This is another that we wish were on audio. Her books are very popular with young people and is Christian fiction.

I hope this helps with finding books for some of the readers in your life. If you ever are looking for book lists for one reason or another, remember to contact me and I would happy to make one up for you!


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Basketball and MFW- ECC etc

The last 7th/8th game of the season! They ended the year, undefeated, although they had one or two close ones. They played very well and worked hard.  There are two tournaments that are upcoming and then I just have high school ball to work on.

And, speaking of high school ball, we have been spending time on the bleachers a lot this year. I have two high school players and in this game last night, they both were playing in the same game. It was fun to watch. H. has a really high vertical as does P. They make up for their shorter height in jumping ability and speed.  I sit in the bleachers and breathe prayers for an injury free year.

School has been going well. We are beginning Week 15 as of yesterday. This month has sort of been a blur, and we had trouble with our math programs this month. But we are working on resolving that. We are trying new things for the boys and hopefully going to be pushing them a bit this month.

We had fun with Scandinavia and are in the middle of Germany right now. Yesterday, we watched a youtube video with pictures of the city where my grandfather was born in Germany. We still have relatives in Germany, so it made it more personal. We enjoyed making French food as well and am looking forward to trying out some German food this week.

Life has been a bit rough, with my loss and my increased work schedule, which has caused extra stress on my students as well as me. I am just praying to move past it and keep going.

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Thanksgiving was a challenge this year to get to.

I had decided that on top of our normal busy schedule with basketball, school and other baking, I would add extra baking to earn a little for some extra expenses.

It took some extra work, as on the day I decided to bake, we also got a small storm. That would have been fine, but everyone had been busy and we discovered too late, that the tires I had for winter, didn’t fit. All day Tuesday, besides baking, we went through all our tires. Then I found a pair that looked like they would work. The roads were ice covered and there was no way to drive to my mom’s without snow tires safely.

I juggled tires, and then bought a pair that looked great. The rims were universal and should have fit, but alas. They were not universal for my car. I had called tire places and everyone was booked up to put tires on, which is what I was trying to avoid. As I was about to give up hope, a friend with a tire shop called and said that he had an opening. I hurried over, tires and a pan of cinnamon rolls in hand. We were on the road soon after leaving the shop. I forgot a bunch of things on my list, but we were on our way.

On the way up, we passed my sister and her husband on the side of the road. Their tire on their travel trailer had shredded and the jack in their borrowed truck was no where to be found. Thankfully, my little Honda jack worked for them and we followed them into town where we helped my mom prepare and serve a meal to thirty youth and leaders, besides the twenty that were of our family. She made a delicious meal of Stuffed Shells, Baked Ziti, salad, garlic bread and pie. All the younger children helped serve it.

We were exhausted when we got to the house with aching feet, but I finished up my writing for the day anyway.

I was reminded of my friend, Tiffany, whose passing has left me somewhat stunted this month. She came for Thanksgiving quite a few years back now. We had an exciting trip to  my mom’s house that year too!

I mulled over my memories, cried a little and have been moving forward. It has not been easy though. The loss of my friend and my grandfather this year has left tears hovering just below the surface more times than ever in my life.

On Thanksgiving day, most of the work has been done previously. I work very hard on Tuesday to make sure of that. I put together my breakfast casserole the night before with shredded potatoes, eggs, cheese, sausage and vegetables and put it in the oven in the morning to feed the horde. I served it with cinnamon rolls and salsa this year.

The stuffed turkeys were placed in bags and roasting while everyone ate breakfast. The peeled potatoes were waiting to be cut and mashed, and sweet potatoes roasted along side the turkey.

Everything was done and ready to eat at the right time and tasted wonderful. We were trying to be better about how many pies we made this year, and ended up with about 21 or 22. There was also a crisp and a cheesecake as well. It was a good amount. There was plenty for pie for breakfast the next morning for the children, lots of sugar free desserts for those on that plan and everyone was happy.

We were missing a few people, which was hard, but over all, it was a very nice Thanksgiving!


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The Mountain Midwife by Laurie Eakes


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Book:

Ashley Tolliver has tended to the women of her small Appalachian community for years. As their midwife, she has seen it all. Until a young woman gives birth to a baby at Ashley’s home and is abducted just as Ashley tries to take her to the nearest hospital. The new mother is dangerously bleeding and needs medical attention. Now Ashley is on a mission to find the woman and her newborn baby . . . before it’s too late.
Hunter McDermott is on a quest—to track down his birth mother. After receiving more media attention than he could ever want from a daring rescue of a young girl, he received a mysterious phone call from the middle of Virginia from a woman claiming to be his mother. He seeks out the aid of the local midwife—her family has assisted in the births of most babies for many generations; surely she can shed some light on his own family background.

My Review:

All the other books I had read by Ms. Eakes had been historical, so I was pleasantly surprised by a contemporary. I enjoy history, but there is something about a well written historical. When it is about midwives, birth and such, it is even better. This book portrays the life of a nurse midwife that works in a small Appalachian community. As such, she gives her viewpoint as such.

I enjoyed the storyline, with a mystery interwoven throughout, bringing us full circle from wealth to the backwoods. The real trials that face women that live those areas was painted in broad strokes.

It made me want to research some of the laws for midwifery in that area, and learn more about what is available there.

If you enjoy books on midwifery, birth or just a good story, pick this book up. It will be released Dec. 15th.

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The Politics of Grief

It is inevitable that when you are grieving that someone will point out that you are not doing it correctly.

I was struck with amazement at how once again, when attacks happened in Paris, a city where no one thinks of terror striking, when others expressed support, sadness or grief on social media, the comments flooded in on why they were doing it the wrong way.

Grief is very personal. One mother may grieve for her child by staying busy, focused on tasks at hand, while another sits listlessly in a chair sobbing. Another may seek to find the good in it, while another points out the horrible injustices in the world.

In the case of large scale deaths, often people seek comparison. “You do not have the right to be sad over the mere hundred people that died here because thousands died over here.”

The issue is grief is our own. One person may grieve in one way as a believer in God and as a Christian. Another may respond differently as someone that does not believe God exists. The critiques coming in from all groups of people have not helped anyone.

I understand the fear. Their is a fear that while bravado tries to cover it up, but when someone is murdered, killed or taken from us, we suddenly feel vulnerable. This causes us to respond with bravado, judgement, or fear based reactions.

I would ask, how does this help a grieving family? Does our boasting bring peace to the world?

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Romans 12:15, KJV.

Instead of judging others for not grieving the people they should be grieving, or doing it the way we think they should, let’s instead see how every life is precious. Let us seek to heap coals of fire instead of using bullets.

“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” Romans 12:20, KJV.

Let us weep, mourn and wail with those that have been lost around the world and instead of biting and devouring one another with our words, use those words to comfort and stand together. We will all die someday. It is better to die in peace than in anger.

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Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila


About the book:

“Start where you are. Feed yourself. Do your best, and then let go. Be helpful. Slow down. Don’t be afraid of food.”

Alana Chernila has these phrases taped to her fridge, and they are guiding principles helping her to stay present in her kitchen. They also provide the framework for her second book. In The Homemade Kitchen she exalts the beautiful imperfections of food made at home and extends the lessons of cooking through both the quotidian and extraordinary moments of the day. Alana sees cooking as an opportunity to live consciously, not just as a means to an end.

Written as much for the reader as the cook, The Homemade Kitchen covers a globe’s worth of flavors and includes new staples (what Alana is known for) such as chèvre, tofu, kefir, kimchi, preserved lemons, along with recipes and ideas for using them. Here, too, are dishes you’ll be inspired to try and that you will make again and again until they become your own family recipes, such as Broccoli Raab with Cheddar Polenta, a flavor-forward lunch for one; Roasted Red Pepper Corn Chowder, “late summer in a bowl”; Stuffed Winter Squash, rich with leeks, chorizo, apples, and grains; Braised Lamb Shanks that are tucked into the oven in the late afternoon and not touched again until dinner; Corn and Nectarine Salad showered with torn basil; perfect share-fare Sesame Noodles; Asparagus Carbonara, the easiest weeknight dinner ever; and sweet and savory treats such as Popovers, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, Summer Trifle made with homemade pound cake and whatever berries are ripest, and Rhubarb Snacking Cake.

My Review:

You know when a cookbook is like a beautiful story? This cookbook is one of those. You feel inspired to make real food when reading this book. It is not limited to the normal “real” or “whole” foods. There are easy sounding recipes for cheeses, goldfish crackers, animal crackers, desserts among the many main dishes, and breads. It is an amazing experience  for the palate and the eyes to read through this book. As I was reading, I kept thinking, “I want to buy one for this person, no, this person, oh, maybe that person as well.” There are so many people that will enjoy this book. It has amazing pictures throughout, stories of how she developed the recipes, as well as family stories. I loved this book!

This book was provided for me for review. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Secrets She Kept by Cathy Gohlke


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book: 

The secret a mother was forbidden to share . . . the consequences a daughter could not redeem—but will risk everything in her attempt.

All her life, Hannah Sterling longed for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following Lieselotte’s death, Hannah unlocks secrets of her mother’s mysterious past, including the discovery of a grandfather living in Germany.

Thirty years earlier, Lieselotte’s father, ascending the ranks of the Nazi party, demands a marriage for his daughter to help advance his career. But Lieselotte is in love—and her beloved Lukas secretly works against the Reich. How far will her father go to achieve his goal?

Both Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s stories unfold as Hannah travels to Germany to meet her grandfather, who hides wartime secrets of his own. Longing for connection, yet shaken by all she uncovers, Hannah must decide if she can atone for her family’s tragic past, and how their legacy will shape her future.

My Review:

I had been looking forward to this read for awhile. When I was riding on the train, I was able to take the time to read this book. The skillfully written words are some that will go deep within your soul and make you think about different angles of the war.  It made me wonder how many hard mother/daughter relationships might be because of lack of communication, even today. Hannah believed her mother did not love her. Yet, her mother loved her so much, she had given up everything for her.

This book contains glimpses of inside Germany’s Reich, and some of the confused minds of the inhabitants of the country. However, because of a few of the deeds done by some of the evil men of that time, this book would be one that mature teens and adults should read. It is not graphic, but gives details that you would want to discuss with your teen.

I think it would be a good one for a book club or mother/daughter read together. The relationship between a mother and daughter can be so hard with lack of communication which this book shows so dramatically. It will also give you some inside looks at what happened after the war in Germany as well.

This book was provided for me for review. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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The Sea Keeper’s daughter by Lisa Wingate


About the book:

From modern-day Roanoke Island to the sweeping backdrop of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Roosevelt’s WPA folklore writers, past and present intertwine to create an unexpected destiny.

Restaurant owner Whitney Monroe is desperate to save her business from a hostile takeover. The inheritance of a decaying Gilded Age hotel on North Carolina’s Outer Banks may provide just the ray of hope she needs. But things at the Excelsior are more complicated than they seem. Whitney’s estranged stepfather is entrenched on the third floor, and the downstairs tenants are determined to save the historic building. Searching through years of stored family heirlooms may be Whitney’s only hope of quick cash, but will the discovery of an old necklace and a Depression-era love story change everything?

My Review:

My reading time has been limited, and since this was on my kindle, it took me awhile to get it read.
I found the historical bits and pieces fascinating and was loath to see the book end. I enjoyed the story of healing for the main character, her struggles were talked throughout. The secondary characters were really in the background and even though there was a mild romantic thread, it was really not the focus and could have even been ignored. This is the third book in a sort of series, but even though it refers to events that happened in other books, I believe you read them as stand alone. I really enjoyed this book as well as The Story Keeper. The wording is rich in both, and something you want to digest and mull over.

This book was given for review by NetGalley and Tyndale Publishers. The comments are my own.

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The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko 

There can be only one mistress of Tall Acre . . .

The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–you will find it all in the rich pages of this newest novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz.

My Review: 

Just when I didn’t think Laura Frantz could do it again, she meets my expectations in this novel. The unusual  storyline had me scratching my head a couple of times and wondering where she would take me next. I savored each moment of the book, loving the rich story line, set after the American Revolution. You have to pick this one up, especially if you have enjoyed her other books.

Book given to me by NetGalley and Bethany House for review. The opinions contained herein are my own.

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Not By Sight by Kate Breslin


Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book:

Gripping Sophomore Novel from a Rising Historical Romance Talent

With Britain caught up in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation and society status serving as a foolproof cover.

Blinded by patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her country’s cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of events she’ll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.

And neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal that follows them–or the faith they’ll need to maintain hope.

My Review:

The gorgeous cover on this book will stop you dead in your tracks to begin with. But besides that, Ms. Breslin fulfills some of the wishes in this book that she missed in her first book. Her first book became the subject of controversy earlier this year, and in this book, she totally avoids all that. Her style of writing is very good and I enjoyed the story. It had unique twists and turns, set in a time period of WW1, when not a lot of books are set now. The history is rich as well, and the characters are ones you care about.

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