COTT: Summer Fiction

What a great bunch of books to take on vacation or read under a shady tree
this summer. Selections include a Regency romance, a thriller, the story of
an abandoned child found by the shore and two Westerns. Peruse below and
let us know which one you’ll put on top of the stack in your beach bag.
Scroll down and vote in the survey box. Then let your friends know about
these interesting reads.

Unmasked Heart by Vanessa
Riley

A young woman reconciling the lies of her birth must learn her true worth,
unmasking her heart to true love, but will she find her soul mate in a duke
running from scandal? With everything she knows to be true evaporating
before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being
exposed and shunned by a powerful duke who has taken an interest in
her?
Rodeo Reunion by Shannon Vannatter
Slade Walker, the bronco-riding rodeo chaplain breaks all of widowed
Raquel’s rules—find a father for her son with a safe occupation, who’s home
every night. He can’t turn his back on the cowboys who need him, but Raquel
and her boy need him, too.
Two Days in Caracas by Luana Ehrlich
In this pulse-racing Christian thriller, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica
to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed, a Hezbollah assassin, from
murdering a high-profile government official.
Finding Mia by Dianne J. Wilson
Isobel is on the beach hunting for her muse. What she finds is a toddler,
sunburnt and close to death.
The Rancher Takes a Cook by Misty Beller
When their South Carolina home burns to the ground, Anna Stewart’s only
choice is to move with her younger brother to the wilds of a Texas ranch.
When danger escalates in the form of a band of cattle thieves with deadly
intent, can Anna learn to release control to God’s capable hands…and
those of the blue-eyed cowboy who’s stolen her heart?

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Sabbath Sunday: The Duck in the Lake

June2015duck

It’s so easy when we look around to absolutely freak out at what we’re seeing, hearing and believing.

The God that created the duck also created you and me.

As I watched this little guy travel around the lake in Speculator, New York, I realized what a picture of peace he is.

And he might look lazy but I think under the water where I can’t see, he’s getting the job done.

I might not be the loudest voice on your newsfeed but I can say this: underneath the water, I’m praying.

For the root cause behind the flags and the rainbows. For wounded people wounding people. And so much more.

Prayer is key.

Prayer changes things.

Prayer gives peace.

May Christ’s peace be yours today.

Saturday Confession: When Did That Happen?

Feelings of failure loomed late night as the large ice cream cake I bought didn’t fit in our freezer. I didn’t think the fridge would work. I  threw an ice sleeve and ice in a freezer bag with the cake and hoped for the best.

When I presented the cake, it took a gasp of air and collapsed into a pile of peanut butter goo.

My husband asked why didn’t I cut the cake up and put that in the freezer?

I almost graded my parenting based on that melted cake.

But I looked over and watched him share with his friends and girlfriend.

The laughter.

Recalling moments in NYC where they served with the NYC Dream Center.

His second year.

Then I realized he’s filling out a job application.

Making plans for his senior year

And beyond.

When did that happen?

Wasn’t he the kid that tried to make his entry at 32 weeks?

Then decided to stay put until surgeons intervened?

Wasn’t he the one banging his head as a toddler when he was mad?

Or luring his aunt into his room to play and keeping her there for hours?

Asking for kinne and fries, agpa and his dog, kissiwa?

Wasn’t he just in first grade drawing a picture of a little boy crying with a U-Haul because we’d moved to Ohio hours before?

When did it happen that he got braces?

Then glasses?

Then another set of braces?

And many more pairs of glasses?

Didn’t he just pick percussion as his choice for elementary band?

Wasn’t he the kid that nearly passed out in a spelling bee?

When did that happen that he was in middle school?

Weren’t we just whining that we hate science fairs?

Wasn’t she just introduced to us as his friend that we knew he liked?

Didn’t he just attend high school orientation?

How can it be he’s going to be in his brother’s wedding when he was just in his sister’s?

Melted cake, you can’t kill my joy.

I’m celebrating.

Even though I keep asking when did that happen?

 

COTT: Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas

This follow-up story will delight readers of Thomas’ previous
novel, but, it reads perfectly as a standalone as well
.

– RT Book Reviews Top Pick – 4.5
stars

About the book:
When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left
unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad
company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the
family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but unusual pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman.Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, with the freckles
and cute, turned-up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she’s his
grandmother’s housekeeper and helper, so she’s always around and ready to
push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn’t care about his loss,
before beginning to understand she’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s
health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and
Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry’s future
and Mayfair’s life are put at risk.

Until the Harvest
PURCHASE
A note from the author:
Good Books and Great Food

Eating and telling stories are two of
my favorite things so it’s only natural that food turns up in my writing
over and over again. The second book in the Appalachian Blessings
series—Until the Harvest—opens with the hero, Henry Phillips, enjoying one
of his favorite dishes–venison steak. And a little later he partakes of . .
. fried squirrel.

Now, before you turn up your nose, understand
that in my growing up years we ate quite a bit of game including squirrel.
Plenty of folks still enjoy it. And my mother made the best squirrel gravy.
If you tried some on a biscuit, I bet you’d think so, too.

My
books aren’t about food, but food plays an important role in each one. Life
on the farm—in West Virginia or anywhere else—centers on raising and
harvesting food. Readers often comment that my books make them hungry, so
today I thought I’d share a couple of recipes with you. One for Emily
Phillips’ fried squirrel (courtesy of my mom, Nancy Loudin) and one for
Margaret Hoffman’s egg salad (courtesy of WV chef Dale Hawkins).

Hope you enjoy the book AND a good meal!

What COTT voter had to say:

–I have enjoyed “getting to know” Sarah Loudin Thomas via social media and
eagerly look forward to reading both of her novels.
–I absolutely
loved Until The Harvest, by Sarah Loudin Thomas!
–I love Sarah Loudin
Thomas’s books! She is a favorite of mine!!
–Absolutely LOVED Until
the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas. UTH has it all–life lessons, “get
real” God moments, and the sweet stirring of love–all set amidst the
beautiful backdrop of Appalachia country. No ten dollar words here–just
great storytelling at its absolute finest!
–Sarah Loudin Thomas, I
have loved both of your books! Keep ’em comin’!
–Sarah Loudin Thomas:
keep up the good work and allowing God to reach people through your
writing!
–Sarah Loudin Thomas is one of my favorite authors. I love
the way she tells a story! I can always feel what the characters are
feeling.

Fried Squirrel with Gravy

Makes 4 servings

2 large squirrels
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
Oil or
lard for frying
Milk and water

Soak the cleaned squirrels
in a pan of water in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Cut into
pieces, place in a large pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce
heat, and simmer until the meat is tender, but not falling off the bones.
Drain. Season the meat with salt and pepper and roll in the flour. Heat oil
or lard to shimmering in a cast-iron skillet and add the pieces without
crowding. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove to drain on a brown
paper bag. Leave about two tablespoons of oil in the skillet and add two
tablespoons of the flour left over from dredging the squirrel. Stir the
flour until it’s lightly browned. Add milk and water alternately, stirring
constantly, until your gravy is as thick as you like it. Season to taste
with salt and pepper. Serve with hot biscuits.

Egg
Salad

8 eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. prepared
yellow mustard
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ tsp. paprika
Salt
and pepper to taste

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with
water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and
let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water,
cool. Peel and grate on a box grater. Place the eggs in a bowl and stir in
the mayonnaise, mustard, and green onion. Season with salt, pepper, and
paprika. Stir and serve.

About the author:

Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the
seventh generation to

live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates
the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel,
Miracle in a Dry Season, released August 2014 through Bethany House and won
the 2015 Selah Award and an INSPY Award for debut fiction. Book #2, Until
the Harvest, released May 2015.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina
University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist.
But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in
public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and
communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North
Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing
them to hike, run, and play tug-o-war. Sarah is active in her local church
and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

 

Book Review: Avalon by Vanessa Morgan

518ABIn7XgL._AA160_Some cats need nine lives to make a difference. Avalon only needed one.

From Amazon bestselling author Vanessa Morgan, Avalon is the heartwarming and once-in-a-lifetime love story of a girl and her neurotic Turkish Van cat.

With humor, the author details how Avalon made other creatures cringe in distress whenever he was around, how he threw her dates out by means of special techniques, and how he rendered it almost impossible for her to leave the house. Avalon was so incorrigible that even her landlord ordered her to get rid of him. But beneath Avalon’s demonic boisterousness, Vanessa recognized her own flaws and insecurities, and she understoodthat abandoning Avalon would be the worst she could do to him. Thanks to her unswerving loyalty, Avalon transformed into a tender feline, and even landed a major role in a horror movie. In turn, Avalon made it his mission to be there for his human companion.

By turns jubilant and deeply moving, Avalon is a memoir for anyone who has ever been obsessively in love with a pet.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Avalon. I’m definitely a dog lover and wasn’t sure I could stay engaged in a book about a Belgium author and screenwriter’s relationship with a cat. However, Avalon is a sweet tribute to a cat that left a lasting impact on the author.

What I enjoyed about Avalon was it seemlessly weaved the author’s life as a writer into Avalon’s. She learned life lessons from the cat. When life was tragic, Avalon was there to pick up the pieces. When Avalon’s life was at the end, the author puts you there with the emotional goodbye and epilogue.

Earlier this year I had to put my senior dogs to sleep. I had no idea until after they were gone how embedded my life had been in caregiving. I didn’t realize how sick they were until they were gone. Everything about them became a part of me, and in their absence, I still think about the ways they defined our home.

That’s what Avalon does—sneaks your way into your heart as you learn about Avalon’s “catty” ways and utmost devotion. If you love animals, Avalon will tug at your heart and not let go.
To purchase Avalon, click here.

I received a copy of Avalon in exchange for an honest review.

Sabbath Sunday: The Duck on the Lake

June2015duck

It’s so easy when we look around to absolutely freak out at what we’re seeing, hearing and believing.

The God that created the duck also created you and me.

As I watched this little guy travel around the lake in Speculator, New York, I realized what a picture of peace he is.

And he might look lazy but I think under the water where I can’t see, he’s getting the job done.

I might not be the loudest voice on your newsfeed but I can say this: underneath the water, I’m praying.

For the root cause behind the flags and the rainbows. For wounded people wounding people. And so much more.

Prayer is key.

Prayer changes things.

Prayer gives peace.

May Christ’s peace be yours today.

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