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The Curious Prayer Life of Muriel Smith by Carol Raj

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: The Curious Prayer Life of Muriel Smith

(Available in ebook only at this time.)

AUTHOR: Carol Raj

PUBLISHER: Harborlight Books (Pelican Ventures LLC)

RELEASED: July 2019

One unlocked car door, one glance to the left, and suddenly impoverished retiree Muriel Smith is hurtling down the road at an alarming thirty miles per hour!

Will the teenage carjacker really shoot to kill? Muriel can’t die yet. Not until she’s accomplished something to make her daughter proud. Not until she’s seen her great-grandchild, the unborn baby her granddaughter isn’t sure she wants to keep.

It seems Muriel is running out of time. Especially if her survival depends on her driving skills!

Muriel and her carjacker find themselves on a wild adventure that has them both falling “victim” to Muriel’s curious prayer life.

MY THOUGHTS

As you can see, this is a new category in my blog. You probably won’t see it very often. It’s not technically part of my review. But it WILL perhaps give you a little bit of background about WHY this book was perfect for me at this time. We had just received word that our 29-year-old nephew had passed away from brain cancer. It was a long 5 years of suffering for him and his family. We know where he is. He received Jesus as his rescuer from sin, and he is with HIM in heaven. No more suffering for our nephew. The family, however, is left with a big hole. Their lives had literally revolved around this young man, of necessity, for 5 years. Now he is not here in person. It was into this time of reflection and sadness for the family’s loss that this book was published. Not my usual murders, although perhaps some danger. Laughs a mile a minute as I imagined the whole situation Carol Raj put forth. And answers. Not the ones that we humans expect, as Muriel found out. As we found out. Our nephew was healed, but not the way we had prayed. God answers according to HIS wisdom, so much higher than ours. I could not have picked a more perfect book to read during this time. THANK YOU, CAROL RAJ and JESUS!

MY REVIEW

 

The Curious Prayer Life of Muriel Smith

 

I discovered an unknown gem yesterday. The Curious Prayer Life of Muriel Smith by Carol Raj is a hoot!! I laughed out loud, startling others around me many times. Poor Muriel thinks God is not hearing or answering her prayers. WRONG!! God is a big part of this book and works in mysterious, yet somehow believable ways to create the new life Muriel needs after becoming a widow. For a book with such humor, the characters are very well-rounded and I loved both Muriel AND the car-jacker. It is amazing how God uses two very different people to help each other. If you’ve read the Agnes Sparrow books or Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, you might love this one! The style and humor are similar. I am very happy to enthusiastically recommend this book!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Carol Raj has been writing short stories for children and occasional articles for several years. Her first book, “The Curious Prayer Life of Muriel Smith,” is now available as an e-book. It’s a woman’s contemporary with a Christian slant, but don’t worry: It’s not preachy.
Carol was born and raised in the Midwest. She now lives in New England with her husband of more than forty years. They have three grown children and the cutest five grandchildren ever. She’d love to hear from her readers.

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

More Than Words Can Say, #2 A Patchwork Family Novel by Karen Witemeyer

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: More Than Words Can Say

SERIES: A Patchwork Family Novel (#2)

AUTHOR: Karen Witemeyer

PUBLISHER: Bethany Publishing House

RELEASED: June 2019

After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free to live life on his own terms. No opportunities to disappoint those he cares about, just the quiet bachelor existence he’s always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away once again when the baker of his favorite breakfast treat is railroaded by the city council. As hard as he tries to avoid getting involved, he can’t turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples.

Abigail Kemp needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. Not the stoic lumberman who oozes confidence without saying a word whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can’t even control her pulse when she’s around him.

Once vows are spoken, Abigail’s troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. As trust grows between Zach and Abby, she finds she wants more than his rescue. She wants her heart.

MY REVIEW:

More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer is a wonderful, zany, historical romance that includes faith at its core. While it is helpful to read the preceding book in the series, it is not required to enjoy More Than Words Can Say.

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Abigail Kemp and Zacharias Hamilton are well-developed, lovable characters that I quickly found myself rooting for. Witemeyer provides likable secondary characters and a villain who, the more I knew, the more I actually hoped for redemption.
It was nice to read about a heroine who was somewhat less than thin. Unfortunately, the picture on the front of the book does not accurately portray the Abby presented inside.
Secrets and shame, guilt from past hold both Abby and Zach back. I feel shades of Les Mis in my mind when Zach cannot release the past, knowing he would repeat the wrong for its benefits. What a conundrum that causes and a stumbling block in his road to total honesty and a relationship with the Father.
Quotables:
“…a wise woman never burned a bridge she might need to cross at a future date.”
”…revenge had a tendency to warp a person’s mind when allowed to fester for a long period of time.”
“These stuffy male councilmen might want to hold her down, but like a well-made bread dough, she planned to rise to the occasion.”
For a fun, faith-filled romance, all well blended, baked, and deliciously served up; I heartily recommend More than Words Can Say. I was gifted a complimentary copy of the book through NetGalley. This in no way influenced my opinions for which I am solely responsible.

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MY RATING:

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. A transplant from California, Karen came to Texas for college, met a cowboy disguised as a computer nerd, married him, and never left the state that had become home.

Winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and a finalist for both the RITA and Christy Awards, Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She also loves to reward her readers. Every month she gives away two inspirational historical novels to someone from her newsletter list and offers substantial bonus content on her website. To learn more about Karen and her books, or to join her subscriber list, please visit www.karenwitemeyer.com.

BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

The Refuge by Ann H. Gabhart

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About the Book

Title: The Refuge

Author: Ann H. Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Released: April 2019

When Darcie and Walter Goodwin hear of a new cholera epidemic sweeping the area, they join the Shakers whose villages seem immune to the disease. It’s meant to be a temporary stay, but Walter is killed in a riverboat accident. With no family and no money, Darcie has little choice but to stay with the Shakers. To complicate matters, she is expecting a baby conceived before she and her husband came to the Shaker village. Marital relationships are considered sinful in this celibate community, putting Darcie in a unique–and lonely–position. Can the arrival of widower Flynn Keller and his headstrong daughter offer Darcie the hope of happiness . . . and family?

Ann H. Gabhart returns to the enigmatic world of the Shakers in this emotional exploration of the power of love and the bond of family.

Get your copy here.

My Review

An author who can grab your attention in the first sentence usually is skilled enough to keep it. I found this especially true of Ann H. Gabhart in The Refuge, her latest about a young widow, Darcie, in a Shaker village. ”You can’t cheat death.” Immediately, the reader wants to know why the narrator, Darcie, feels like this. While life in a Shaker village could be monotonous and dreary, devoid of family and marital relations, Gabhart managed to keep me eagerly reading to see what would befall
anxious Darcie. Her experiences in Harmony Hill as Gabhart recounts them are far from boring. 
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For the founders of communes such as this (and we had one similar in our community, set up in 1930 by a woman, where marriage was “wrong”), the Bible speaks plainly against this type of community. First, the Bible is clear that marriage is to be revered, sacred, and ENJOYED. Secondly, God clearly states that one should not add to His Word. Both in the case of the Shakers and our local commune, the leader’s ideas were considered equal, if not above, God’s Word. Of course, this community also died out.
Gabhart has a great cast of three-dimensional characters. Flynn struggles with how to raise his daughter, Leatrice. Silas struggles with how to help Flynn. The answers they choose have far-reaching consequences. I wished we could have seen more of wise Granny Hatchell.
“A body shouldn’t be trying to change other folks just to make things more convenient for her.”
Overarching themes I saw are learning to trust God day by day and not borrow tomorrow’s troubles; taking that step of faith as we see God leading; learning from others and living peaceably with them even not being in total agreement. How much richer Darcie’s life was for her time with Sisters Genna, Ellie, Helene, and even Eldress Maria.The Refuge... marriage quote.png
For those who will feel the ending was rushed: I believe circumstances in times like those often made it so. We need to stay true to history over having a “more satisfying ending” like we would plan.
Quotes:
“Marriage causes stressful living and not the peace and unity we seek here in our village.”
~ Mother Ann- founder of Shakers 

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“You prayed when my heart was too discouraged to hope.” ~Genna on answered prayer, showing the power of intercessory prayer for others. May this be said of me!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This did not affect my opinions, which are solely my own. 

 My Rating

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About the Author

Ann H. Gabhart grew up on a farm in Kentucky. By the time she was ten she knew she wanted to be a writer. She’s published over twenty novels. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. She still lives on a farm not far from where she grew up. She loves playing with her grandkids, walking with her dog, reading and, of course, writing. Her Shaker books, set in her fictional Shaker village of Harmony Hill in the 1800’s, are popular with readers. The Outsider was a Christian Fiction Book Award Finalist in 2009. Her Heart of Hollyhill books are Small Town, America books set in the 1960’s. Angel Sister, a Rosey Corner book set during the Great Depression, will be followed by Small Town Girl. Visit Ann’s website http://annhgabhart.com or her two blogs, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com, and the Hollyhill Book of the Strange, www.hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspo…. Giveaways several times a year.

Bethany House, Biblical Fiction, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

Until the Mountains Fall, #3 Cities of Refuge, by Connilyn Cossette

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Until the Mountains Fall

SERIES: #3 in Cities of Refuge

AUTHOR: Connilyn Cossette

RELEASED: July 2, 2019

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband’s brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh’s head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother’s death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah’s father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

Get your copy of the book here.

MY REVIEW

Travel back in time and cultures to a land so different from ours, yet so very alike. Israel is a young nation, yet they are already leaving their first love. Compromise and complacency coupled with a blatant refusal to follow the Creator Who has led them to the new land leaves them vulnerable and divided.
It is against this thrilling backdrop we meet Rivkah, a widow who is promised to her husband’s brother. To what lengths will Rivkah go to escape an unwanted match, meant to give her security?
Connilyn Cossette is now one of my favorite Biblical historical fiction writers. She sets the scene so well, with meticulous research presented throughout a very engaging story. I suspect there are enough Biblical references, suspense, and masculine thoughts (pov is first person, shifting between Rivkah and Malakhi) that even men would enjoy reading this account. Until the Mountains Fall is the third book of the series, The Cities of Refuge. While sweeter if one has the background of the other two, this novel can certainly stand on its own.
So much emotion is packed into this one volume! So many parallels between ancient Israel and God’s people in a free land today.“We do not know the whole of the story. But Yahweh does, and we trust Him with the outcome.”.png
One issue I grew tired of, I began to realize was simply Malakhi holding a view common to his time and culture. As a woman, I come away from this tremendous work glad that I did not live as a woman of that time. Yet, Cossette also points out the need for women to be treated humanely and loved well, which would have erased much of the burden of being a woman at that time.
Favorite quotes.
“The more prosperous we’d grown, the less generous we’d become with those who’d been appointed to serve Yahweh and were therefore unable to inherit land of their own.”
“We do not know the whole of the story. But Yahweh does, and we will trust Him with the outcome.”

Copy of The more prosperous we’d grown, the less generous we’d become with those who’d been appointed to serve Yahweh and were therefore unable to inherit land of their own.
“So many of our young people don’t care enough to defend this land, Malakhi. They’ve given in to compromise. It’s all too easy to sit back and take tribute from the Canaanites, profiting off our disobedience instead of finishing what Yehoshua and Calev started. We need men to stand and fight with careless abandon. If your generation does not take heed, we would do better to strap on our sandals and walk right back to Egypt, because the enemies that surround us here have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This did not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

MY RATING

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

14134437Connilyn Cossette is the CBA-Bestselling, Christy Nominated author of the Out from Egypt Series and the Cities of Refuge Series from Bethany House Publishers. When she’s not engulfed in the happy chaos of homeschooling two teenagers, devouring books whole, or avoiding housework, she can be found digging into the rich ancient world of the Bible. She delights in discovering new gems of grace that point to Jesus and weaving them into an immersive fiction experience. Although she and her husband have lived all over the country in the last twenty-plus years, they currently call North Carolina home.

 

 

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Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass, #1 An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery by Heather Gilbert

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass, #1 An Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery

AUTHOR: Heather Gilbert

PUBLISHER: Kensington/Lyrical Underground

RELEASED: June 25, 2019

When exotic pet-sitter Belinda Blake moves into a carriage house in tony Greenwich, Connecticut, she’s hoping to find some new clients. Instead she discovers a corpse in the garden—and a knack for solving murders . . .  
 
Pet-sitter Belinda Blake doesn’t rattle easily, but move-in day has been eventful, to say the least. The python in her care tried to slither to freedom—just as she met Stone Carrington V, her landlords’ disarmingly handsome son. With the constrictor back in its cage, she heads out to the garden, only to discover a designer shoe poking out of the boxwood hedge—attached to a woman’s dead body.

The victim, Margo Fenton, was a Carrington family friend, and no one in their circle seems above suspicion. Between client trips to Manhattan and visits to her family in upstate New York, Belinda begins to put the pieces together. But though she’s falling for Stone’s numerous charms, Belinda wonders if she’s cozying up to a killer. And soon, daily contact with a deadly reptile might be the least dangerous part of her life . . .

MY REVIEW

I love cozies. Cozies that meet the original definition as near as I can tell can be hard to come by, but Heather Gilbert’s newest had me smiling. Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass by Gilbert is a new favorite in this category. I don’t know that Greenwich is considered a “small town,” but the setting of a carriage house on the grounds of a mansion worked. The main character is an exotic pet-sitter. So no kittens or dogs. In this case, the snake Belinda is caring for plays an important role. Quirky characters? At least one, and Belinda is a little out-of-the-ordinary herself. Her other job is to review video games. How can she then hold Stone accountable for having a real job?
But what I especially liked was the fact there was no bad language nor scenes I was ashamed to read. Sure, there is hanky-panky somewhere behind the scenes. But if there were not, would there be any enemies or deaths?

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This was just a fun(when not scary) cozy. The action really started to snowball faster than I had expected, and a great tension ensues as Belinda searches for the killer before the killer finds her. I was surprised at the outcome. Also, forbidden romances add romantic tension and puzzle to the novel as well. I truly enjoyed this offering and I can’t wait to see what Belinda is up to in the next book, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
Fave quotes:
“My mom would tell me to embrace myself and stop trying to be someone I’m not…’Why fit in when you can stand out?’ she’d say.”
“I extended my foot and gave his leg a little nudge with the toe of my Doc Martins, a reminder that we’d come for more than just drinks and lies.”

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“When money’s your god, everything else is a poor substitute.”
“…there were so many mixed signals coming from Stone, he could be a drunk referee.”
“Sometimes one forgot things when one was flying by the seat of one’s pants.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions for which I am solely responsible.

MY RATING

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Publisher’s 7232683Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

Find Heather on Pinterest (heatherdgilbert), Instagram (@heatherdaygilbert), Twitter (@heatherdgilbert), and Facebook (heatherdaygilbert). You can find all her books at heatherdaygilbert.com.

 

 

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Anointest My Head with Oil, #16 Psalm 23 Mysteries by Debbie Viguie

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Anointest My Head with Oil

SERIES: The Psalm 23 Mysteries

PUBLISHER: Big Pink Bow

RELEASED: June 25, 2019, Kindle ed.

When an arsonist targets synagogues Jeremiah and Cindy must race to find him before he strikes again.

MY REVIEW

At long last. Book #16, of the Psalm 23 series by Debbie Viguié, Anointest My Head with Oil, is finally here.
First, we start with a smile. That’s because the first sentence of every book is very similar, changing only the character, day of the week, and his/her feeling toward it. So, for the first and only minute of the novel, the reader has a moment of calm before the hurricanes of action set in. I have called them hurricanes for a reason. Just as one tragedy or terror is resolved or survived, there is a short moment of rejoicing and romance and another dervish of frenetic action is set in motion. This particular volume holds the key to some mysteries locked beforehand, but also opens new possibilities and new fears.

Don’t miss Debbie Viguié’s latest Psalm 23 Mystery, Anointest My Head With Oil! Fun, Romance, and Terror in Every Chapter!
If you like Christy Barritt, you will love Debbie Viguié. Snarky, quick wit; hot, clean romance; a loyal group of friends; and intense suspense. These qualities make Anointest My Head…and the whole series one not to be missed.
Oh, yes. I read this in one sitting. Just necessary. Be warned.

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While I purchased the book directly from the author, this does not reflect in my opinions, which are solely my own.

MY RATING

golden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-stargolden-star

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debbie Viguié is the New York Times Bestselling author of more than three dozen novels including the Wicked series co-authored with Nancy Holder. In addition to her epic dark fantasy work, Debbie also writes thrillers including The Psalm 23 Mysteries, the Kiss trilogy, and the Witch Hunt trilogy. Debbie also plays a recurring character on the audio drama, Doctor Geek’s Laboratory. When Debbie isn’t busy writing or acting she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, visiting theme parks. 174708

 

 

Bethany House, BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

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ABOUT THE BOOK

TITLE: Whose Waves These Are

AUTHOR: Amanda Dykes

PUBLISHER: Bethany House

DATE RELEASED: April 2019

GENRE: Christian Historical Romance

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

“Every wave in that big old blue sea is a story.” With these words, young Annie’s great-uncle finds a way to unlock some of her fears and turn them into something beautiful. But when she returns to Ansel-by-the-Sea as an adult, will she have the key she needs to unlock her adult fears and turn them to confident love and purpose?
Amanda Dykes may be a name I had never heard before, but by penning Whose Waves These Are she is rapidly garnering attention in the Christian fiction world. I predict this novel will win an award for a debut novel in 2019.
A time-slip book, the reader is tossed like the sea between young Annie as she grows up, a mature Annie of the present, and a young Robert Bliss whose twin is drafted in 1944.
Annie is a great heroine. One can’t help but root for her as she returns to look for her great-uncle. Will she grow enough to fit in and find her place in this seashore town? The pieces to this puzzle are more numerous than I expected and definitely include Annie’s parents. A story like this, told chronologically, would have been interesting. By creating a time-slip out of it, and adding the unexpected twists, Dykes produces a work nothing short of amazing!
Some favorite quotes:
The first and most important to me-
“Life is big. And God is bigger.”
“You’re a good man. Let me try to be one, too.”
“He wasn’t the oldest, but they both knew he was the one who had the fury of a nor’easter inside him, a fury he could use to fight.”
“She imagines people as combination locks, each bit of information a tick on the dial as she works to build up their story in her mind, to unlock them.”
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“…if everything around you is broken, it’s time to unbreak something.”
When Annie is trying to figure out her purpose:
“‘The microbes,’ he says, ‘only have a single cell. And they use it to capture sunlight all day— their sole purpose. At night, when danger comes, …they don’t run. They don’t shrivel up or hide. They release the sunlight they’ve been storing up, right into the darkness. They fight it back by lighting up.’”
Expect a small town, big hearts, sweet romances, tragedy, and miracles. Expect a blessing in this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.
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My Rating

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About the Author 517ufoFnplL._US230_

Amanda Dykes is the author of Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, the critically-acclaimed bicycle story that invited readers together to fund bicycles for missionaries in Asia. A former English teacher, she has a soft spot for classic literature and happy endings. She is a drinker of tea, a dweller of Truth, and a spinner of hope-filled tales, grateful for the grace of a God who loves extravagantly.