Friday, July 29, 2011

Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa - A Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
Summerside Press (June 1, 2011)
Melanie Dobson


Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good, and she has now authored nine contemporary and historical novels including Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania which releases in November 2011.  

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.


With a backdrop of the community of The Amana Colonies, the Civil War, and a great love story, Melanie Dobson’s new historical fiction title LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA both enlightening and entertaining.

The novel is set in the United States during the turmoil of the 1860s. As the rest of the nation is embroiled in the Civil War, the Amana Colonies have remained at peace with a strong faith in God and pursuit of community, intertwined with hard work, family life and the building of their colony.

Amalie Wiese is travelling to the newly built village of Amana in 1863. When she arrives in the colonies she finds that her fiancĂ©e, Friedrich has left to fight with the Union Army. Amalie fears for his safety as she also struggles with his decision to abandon the colony’s beliefs. Matthias, Frederick’s friend, stays back in Amana to work in the colonies. But there is something wrong with Matthias; he always seems angry at Amalie when there is no simple explanation for him to act that way.

The goods that colonies manufacture are much needed supplies for the war effort and Matthias decides to deliver the goods to the soldiers. When he leaves, Amalie realizes that her fear for Matthias’s safety is equally as strong. What will become of Friedrich, will Matthias return safely, and will Amalie marry Friedrich? LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA is a richly told story of life in the Amana Society and the people who live and love there.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, go HERE.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Canary Island Song - A Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Canary Island Song
Howard Books; Original edition (July 5, 2011)
Robin Jones Gunn

I should begin by telling you that I fell in love with Robin Jones Gunn in high school.  She wrote the Sierra Jensen series and then the Christy Miller series.  My best friend and I devoured them as soon as a new one was released.  Imagine my delight when I opened my book review email to discover she has started writing adult fiction as well.  Yippee!!!!  

I must confess I am only 3/4 of the way through Canary song because as soon as I lay down to read, it only takes a chapter before my eyes start shutting.  However, it is not for lack of content.  The book is so good.  She delves into the life of a middle-aged woman who returns to her roots in the Canary Islands.  Her mother, who returned to the island years before, welcomes Carolyn with open arms.  However, once there she receives the welcome surprise that her high school crush, Bryan, has also returned to the island.  As they navigate the forgiveness for past mistakes and catch up on their present lives, I can't wait to see how the story turns out.


Robin Jones Gunn was born in Wisconsin and lived on a dairy farm until her family moved to southern California when she was five years old. She grew up in Orange County and spent her summers at Newport Beach with friends from her church youth group. After attending Biola University and Capernwray Bible School in Austria, Robin and Ross were married and spent the next two decades working together in youth ministry.

It was the young teens at Robin’s church who challenged her to write stories for them. She hadn’t thought much about being a writer, but took their request to heart and set her alarm for 3am, three days a week. With two small children it was the only time she could find to write the first story about Christy Miller. After two years and ten rejections the novel Summer Promise was accepted for publication in 1988. Robin hasn’t stopped writing since. Over 4 million copies of her 75 books have sold and can be found in a dozen translations all over the world.

Robin and her husband now live in Hawai’i where Ross is a counselor and Robin continues to write to the sound of tropical birds chattering in the palm trees outside her window. Their children are grown but manage to come to the islands with their families every chance they get. Robin's awards include: three Christy awards for excellence in fiction, a Gold Medallion finalist, Mt. Hermon Pacesetter and the Mt. Hermon Writer of the Year award. Robin travels extensively and is a frequent key-note speaker at various events around the world. She serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and Jerry Jenkin’s Christian Writer’s Guild.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

An American Doll for an American Girl

Meet my friends P, T, and their current three kids at their blog Unrelenting Love for Her.  And while you're there enter to win an American Girl doll.  This would be your opportunity to support an amazing family in their quest to bring home their American Girl and in the process you could win an American Girl for a sweet girl in your family.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


While there are a lot of good things happening in my life right now it is also a season of sadness.  I've heard more news of cancer and death lately than my heart can handle.  Every time my phone rings at an odd time I am terrified of what news may be on the other line.  So here's a bullet list of families I am praying for.  Mine included.

  • My Papaw.  91 years old.  Growing up, outside of my daddy, my Papaw and my Granddaddy were the strongest men I knew.  My mom's dad (Papaw) lived closer to us so we saw him more regularly.  I regularly spent the night there and have such fond memories of sitting in Papaw's lap while he "removed our meanness."  He and my Granny grew a garden that rivaled those of the Troy Bilt commercials.  He was a retired dairy farmer and continued on with beef cattle long after he retired.  The past few months have not been good to him.  He's getting weaker and is started to fall more and more.  The only drugs that keep him from being agitated keep him asleep.  It's hard, watching someone die.  It's even harder knowing they wouldn't want to live like this.  But I just pray that he can be comfortable.  I pray for my mom and her sisters as they watch over him at night and the caregivers who are there during the day.  
  • Baby Aiden -- My aunt and Aiden's grandmother are best friends.  I cannot imagine.  His story is eerily similar to my next entry.  But here's to praying the God of miracles performs one and D & S don't have to experience the pain of losing their only child.  Our God is big and no cancer is unnamed in His eyes.  
  • Baby Jamesie -- I was just directed to his blog yesterday through another blog I read.  And today he won his complete healing.  But now his mom and dad are left with a larger void.  I am praying for comfort for them as their worst nightmare has come true.
  • The family of Lee.  Lee was part of our family.  Not in the DNA sense but in the sense of what really makes family: commitment and stick-to-it-ness.  You see, my Papaw, when he was running his dairy farm needed help.  And Lee was just that.  He worked right by my Papaw up until the retirement days.  In fact I think Lee deciding to retire really pushed my Papaw into it as well.  He and his family remained close and he would often come and visit papaw and just talk farming.  Lee was diagnosed a few weeks ago with cancer and passed away yesterday.  As my mom and I decided last night, for her it was like losing an uncle.  
I know that's not it.  I know that we will always experience suffering as long as we are on this side of Heaven. But for now my heart is heavy with sadness.  It is aching for these families.  And while I know there is plenty of good happening in the lives of myself and those close to me, for now it's the sadness that is heavy on my heart.  So for now I shall pray some prayers, for that is the most I can do for any of these families.  

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

It's Therapy to Me

I like doing laundry.  I like spending Saturday morning sorting my clothes into piles and then washing them, folding them, and putting them away.  For me there is something therapeutic to the orderliness of this task.  I know that my t-shirts, yoga pants, and even underwear have a specific way in which they must be folded in order to maximize the space in my dresser.  My shirts must be hung up as soon as the dryer stops so they aren't wrinkled.  (Ironing is not therapeutic at this time of my life, however when I had to wear pressed clothes even that was nice.)  Skirts and dress pants too.  Jeans are folded just so and tucked away for their next wear.  My towels and washcloths are bleached and dried completely, because in my opinion nothing is worse than a musty smelling towel.  There's a way they must be folded as well.  And all of this, while extremely OCD to an outsider, makes me feel happy.  I like starting off my week knowing that all of my clothes are clean and ready for me to wear.  It also gives me a feeling of accomplishment that I don't find in other household chores.  Perhaps one of these days vacuuming or cleaning the kitchen will give me a sense of peace as well, but for now it is the laundry.

So if you come to visit, ignore the dust bunnies under the table and the dishes in the sink.  However, I'll be more than happy to show you my happy, organized t-shirt drawer.  And if you throw your laundry in my basket, it will be washed and folded come the weekend.