A Book Review – The Christmas Admirer

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About the Book

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Name of book: The Christmas Admirer

Author: Laura V Hilton

Genre: Amish Romance

Release Date: September 5, 2017

Amish romance fans will love this heartwarming holiday story, perfect for gift-giving.

Benaiah Troyer has loved Susanna King for as long as he can remember, but when his parents died in an accident a year ago, he broke up with her—for her own good. After all, he was now the sole caregiver for his three younger sisters. What woman would want to put up with that? Still, against his better judgment, he can’t help leaving her a gift now and then, anonymously addressing her name in big block print, just to catch a smile. Roses one month, maple syrup candy another; and maybe this time, something special for Christmas.

Susanna has never gotten over losing Benaiah, but now the clock is ticking. Her father is selling his glass-blowing business, remarrying in January, and moving to Iowa with his bossy wife-to-be. Angry and frustrated, Susanna realizes she’s left with three options: one, go with Daed to his new home with a new mom; two, stay in Jamesport, Missouri, as an old maid; or, three, the best yet, flush out her mysterious secret admirer. But how could she be with anyone else when her heart is still with Benaiah?

Click here to purchase your copy.

Review

(I received this book for free from Celebrate LIt Bloggers, CelebrateLit in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.)

Laura Hilton’s The Christmas Admirer is a Christian Fiction book set in modern day Amish country. Benaiah Troyer has loved Susanna King for a long time and in these small, close-knit communities, it’s obvious from the beginning that this couple will probably remain a couple until the end, though there are some obstacles in the way of their true love.  Though the story is predictable at some points, isn’t that the kind of read we are looking for when we want to simply relax with a good book? The author did an excellent job of incorporating Amish terms and phrases and even gives a glossary at the beginning of the book to help the reader out. Though the Amish ways are uniquely theirs, the contemporary setting made me consider the Amish life in today’s society in a new way. The mention of cell phones and use of internet make the Amish characters more relatable and not simply a representation of the past. The author’s understanding of scripture is evident in her main character’s name.  Benaiah.  Why isn’t that a more popular baby name? The author’s choice of name made me dig through my Bible to learn more about this name and the references the character made. It’s always good to grow and learn and this name made me do just that.

I enjoyed this book though a few times I thought the author’s attention to passion and temptations (they never gave in to it fully) were not needed for the storyline.  I truly appreciated the “magic potion” myth associated with Gingerbread houses and thought it was fun to imagine Amish women buying into it even if only for fun.  The author even gives us a recipe to try on our own! I look forward to putting what I learned about faithfulness and responsibility through the friends I met in the book into practice.  And, I look forward to reading more from this author and maybe even baking some gingerbread soon!

About the Author

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Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Amish of Jamesport includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. In spring 2016 she released The Amish Firefighter with the setting in Jamesport, MO, the same as for The Amish Wanderer.

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

Guest Post from Laura V. Hilton

Glass Blowing and The Christmas Admirer

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Right before my youngest son joined the Coast Guard we went on a short mini-vacation to Springfield, Missouri, actually going farther north almost to Kansas City to see another Amish community near there in Osceola. There is a cheese factory there and my son wanted to try some of their cheeses – such as a ghost pepper cheese. Too spicy for me.

But upon the return to Springfield, Steve read about a glass blowers shop in the downtown area. We found the address and went to visit it. It is owned by an older gentleman and his son. They had a display area set up where people could see their wares and buy them and then a work area where the son mostly worked, and talked about how the fire needed to be so hot, and showed us how he worked and made things. As we watched, he made a lovely flower, a lily, in different colors of glass, green, white, pinks.

It was fascinating.

And I got to thinking what if…

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So I did some more research. Asked questions. Probably drove them nuts. But when Whitaker House indicated they’d be interested in a Christmas novel, I proposed one about a glass blower.

The story is set in Jamesport, Missouri, and while completely stand alone, it does have some continuing characters from other books I’ve written set in Jamesport. If you are interested, the books set there are:

Amish Books set in Jamesport, Missouri:

The Snow Globe

The Postcard

The Birdhouse

The Amish Firefighter

The Amish Wanderer

The Kissing Bridge (part of Springs of Love collection)

The Christmas Admirer

Gingerbread Wishes (part of A Plain Thanksgiving collection–November 2018)

Love by the Numbers (February 2018)

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I haven’t read any books about an Amish glass blower, but that’s not to say they aren’t out there. I haven’t read all the Amish books available. Jamesport is an area that is more tourist-oriented than the books set in Seymour / Webster County Missouri. They give buggy tours, have bed and breakfasts, open their homes for visitors to eat supper with them, and have businesses.

All Amish districts are different and the rules vary depending on the bishop and preachers. Some are more liberal and some more conservative. Some keep themselves distant and don’t welcome attention from non-Amish and some embrace it. While Jamesport is not as touristy as some districts in Lancaster Pennsylvania or in Ohio, it is much more so than others.

Susanna’s Cranberry Salad

Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), chopped
  • 1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the first six ingredients until blended. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Just before serving, fold cream and walnuts into cranberry mixture.Makes 16 servings.

Susanna’s Cranberry Sauce

For on top of turkey sandwiches as Becca requested
Ingredients
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (thawed), chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water or orange juice
Directions

In colander, rinse cranberries. In sauce pan, add water or orange juice and sugar, boil until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Lower to simmer and cook about 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries had burst. Let cool.

Susanna’s “Love Portion” Gingerbread

Ingredients
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup shortening, melted slightly
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ c water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
Directions

Shift together flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Set aside.

In mixing bowl, mix shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until they are absorbed. Divide dough into three pieces, pat down until about 1 ½ inch thickness, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness. Cut in desired shapes. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes in preheated oven. Cool on wire racks. When cool, decorate as desired.

Giveaway

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In honor of her tour, Laura is giving away

Grand Prize Package: The Christmas Admirer, “Unto Us a Child is Born” painting on decorative serving plate by Donna White, The Hearthside Collection, Inc., and commemorative Whitaker House/Anchor Distributors coloring book (not in photo).

1st Place Package: The Christmas Admirer and The Very First Christmas by Juliet David with interactive illustrations by Pauline Siewert (children’s book).

2nd Place Package: The Christmas Admirer and “The Woman Who Honors The Lord Shall Be Praised” myrrh-scented candle from abba Jerusalem!

Click the link to enter! https://promosimple.com/ps/c16f

 

Blog Stops

ASC Book Reviews, November 9

Books n Baubles, November 9

Janices book review, November 9

Avid Reader Book Reviews, November 10

Have A Wonderful Day, November 10

A Greater Yes, November 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 11

God’s Little Bookworm, November 11

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 11

Eat, Read, Teach, Blog, November 12

A Holland Reads, November 12

Simple Harvest Reads, November 12

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 13

Beck To Basics, November 13

Carpe Diem, November 13

Christian Bookaholic, November 14

Blossoms and Blessings, November 14

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 15

Reader’s cozy corner, November 15

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, November 15

Baker Kella, November 16

Quiet Quilter, November 16

Karen Sue Hadley, November 16

Pause for Tales, November 17

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, November 17

Pursuing Stacie, November 17

For The Love of Books, November 18

Blogging With Carol, November 18

Pink Granny’s Journey, November 18

Bigreadersite, November 19

Vicky Sluiter, November 19

SusanLovesBooks, November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 20

Moments Dipped in Ink, November 20

New Horizon Reviews, November 20

The Fizzy Pop Collection, November 21

A Simply Enchanted Life, November 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Jeanette’s Thoughts, November 22

Daysong Reflections, November 22

Splashes of Joy, November 22

 

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Psalm 46:1-3

bible-1021657_960_720God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though it’s waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

— Psalm 46:1-3

I don’t know about you, but some days I really need to read the above scripture. And, better than just reading it over, I need to truly believe He is a real help to the day.  After reading it this morning, I thought about the truth in the words.  God is our refuge and strength and not just when the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, but always.  He is our refuge and our strength when a friend hurts us or a co-worker fails us. He is our help in trouble be it foaming seas, quaking mountains or broken dishwashers.  He is God and He is always our refuge and strength and an ever-present help in trouble.  Today, you can fill in the blanks with the struggles you are facing and remember that he will help you. (It says so in His word!)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though __________________ and the ______________________________, though _______________________and ______________________________. — Psalm 46:1-3

We will not fear!

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Thankfulness Reset

IMG_2128Be joyful always. Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. Do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything, hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil. –1 Thes 5:16-22

 

I woke this morning with a lot of regrets.  Little nagging regrets but regrets all the same.  I did not choose joy yesterday, I chose ingratitude and bitterness….over nothing! As we begin this month of Thanksgiving, I want to hit the reset button and try again. (And, I may need to hit that reset button again each morning.) As I read the above scripture, I decided that this month I will make a “game” out of giving thanks in all circumstances.  I will test everything and hold onto the good.  What might that look like in my life?

We miss the bus? That gives me a reason to remember to be thankful that we actually catch it more than we miss it. It’s raining? gives me the perfect excuse to curl up with a good book. The tire on my car is low? Might as well stay home and phone a friend. Piles of laundry to be done? I can be thankful that 3 of my children are grown and responsible for their own laundry and the 2 at home are in training.

So though yesterday I allowed myself to become bitter instead of better in the face of changed plans, unmet expectations and general spiritual fatigue, today, I will accept the scriptural challenge.  I will give thanks in all circumstances and test everything.  I will hold onto the good and I am sure to wake tomorrow with a lighter heart!  I challenge you to do the same.

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Understanding

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I visited a cardiologist this week and was diagnosed with PVCs (Premature ventricular contractions.) The doctor took a lot of time with me and attempted to explain the complicated heart and ventricle electrical system.  Even with his drawings and lengthy description I didn’t understand.  And, I decided that I didn’t need to understand, but he did and I told him so.  I didn’t think there was a chance that I’d understand in a short office visit all the intricate things he learned during medical school.  I was comforted by the amount of information he had and his full understanding of it.

4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

—Proverbs 3:4-6 NIV

In the doctor’s office, I decided to not lean on my understanding and it was a relief. The following day, I had lunch with my friend.  She has spent the last 7 months dealing with breast cancer and surgeries. She is an adoptive mom friend of mine who adopted because she was unable to have biological children of her own due to cancer in her youth. She adopted two children from hard places (aka foster care, trauma, unknown backgrounds) who have serious mental health issues and her life is anything but easy. She shared with me that the doctors said her cancer may return within two years and possibly it will return in her lungs. She said this and then went on to describe the temper tantrum her boys had the day before, the calls from the school and how both kids have been acting up due to the added stress in the family.  Kids from trauma facing potentially more trauma is a bad combination.

On my way home from lunch, I was talking with God and wondering why she had to face so much.  I don’t know anything about living with cancer, but I do know about parenting kids from hard places and I know the struggles she faces daily with that.  Couldn’t God just heal those boys and allow some peace in her home?  I know He could, but why won’t He?  And, why won’t He now so she can focus on her health? I just don’t understand. That’s right.  I don’t understand.  And, guess what else?  I don’t need to.  “Lean not on my own understanding, acknowledge him and he will make my paths straight.” Again, I don’t need to understand, I just have to place my friend into the hands of the one who does.  As much as I trust my cardiologist’s understanding, I trust God more. There is definitely comfort and relief in that!

 

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Keep Your Pants!

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My father in law has been in and out of the hospital many times in his 90+ years.  He has endured long stays and yet has sometimes been released on the same day.  His common joke during these times is to “never let them take your pants.”  He claims that once you have to give up your pants and don a hospital gown you are going to have to stay.  Now, after he has a trip to the ER, when we call to check in he will report, “Well, they took my pants” or “I didn’t let them get my pants” which lets us know if he will be staying or not.  Although I loved his clever way of reporting his health status, I never realized exactly what it meant until recently when I’ve been having some of my own health issues.

In May during some pre-surgery testing, I had an irregular EKG.  I had to have a follow up on that and the repeat EKG was deemed good enough for me to have the minor surgery, however, I now knew there was a blip on my EKG that would cause someone in the medical field to take a second look.  In August, I fell and broke my nose and bumped my head while on vacation in Nashville, TN.  When I got to the ER, they immediately requested all sorts of testing.  When I heard them mention an EKG, I politely refused the test.  I knew the “blip” would appear and I would find myself in a hospital in Tennessee while on vacation.

A few weeks ago, while traveling in Denver, CO, my heart started doing a flip-flop every now and then.  It has done this before and though not alarming, I have a family history of heart issues, so I became more aware of my heartbeat.  (Which is kind of like when someone tells you to be still after you’ve been still and you all of a sudden want to move.)  I became hyper-aware of my beating and every now and then pausing heart. This continued and I traveled to North Carolina where the flip-flops increased.  I toyed with the idea of going to the hospital, but I was out of state and didn’t want to change my plans.

I returned home and the irregularities seemed to increase and caused me to wonder. Should I go to the hospital? I didn’t want to go the day I got home, I didn’t want to miss K’s School walkathon, the weather was supposed to be nice on Saturday and I didn’t want to miss that, I knew I couldn’t go before I attended an event with my husband on Friday, and the excuses continued. I called doctors who all advised me to go to the ER if I was concerned until my upcoming scheduled cardiology appointment.  Still, I didn’t want to go.  I knew the monitor would show something and I had plans.  My plans did not include a trip to the hospital.

I finally entered the ER on Friday night AFTER attending the event and I sat in the parked car feeling my heart beating to see if I truly needed to go in.  With some encouragement from my husband (him refusing to back out of the parking spot and take me home), I went in.  I was told to put on a gown….but I could leave my pants on.  YAY!  The pants stay on, I may not need to stay.  The monitor was reporting the variations of my heart rhythm so I knew they could see what I was feeling. There was definitely something going on and it wasn’t all in my head. I was told it was PVCs, a very common affliction that many people have and most don’t even feel.  I. feel. each. one.  Regardless, I was treated with 3 baby aspirin and told to go home.  They never took my pants, I maintained my control.  However, does my need for control demonstrate my lack of faith?  I really don’t ever have control, do I?

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

In the above scripture, the Roman officer who had control of his army and his decisions realized that he didn’t have control of healing his sick servant, but he knew who did. He knew Jesus was the one who could heal him.  Jesus was pleased with him when he said, “Truly, I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” I believe Jesus knows we want to control things, I mean, He made me, right? So he knows I want to control, but I also think he is pleased when I give up control and turn situations over to Him.

So, I have an appointment with a cardiologist in 5 days, I feel the flip-flopping heartbeat and second guess if I have any additional symptoms from time to time. The ER doctor said I am fine and I’m giving this anxious heart over to God.  He is in control.  I’m going to wear my pants physically, but I’m truly going to let God wear the pants in this relationship.

 

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Psalm 5 – Rad

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I’m sure you’ve heard of many Scripture versions, the KJV (King James Version), the NIV (New Internation Version), etc.  Though no one can say for sure, there are about 900 versions of God’s Word, but I bet you’ve never heard of this one:  The RADmom.  Yes, The Reactive Attachment Disorder mom’s version, but trust me, it is very real.  It is like no other.

This morning started with  my RAD son (I know, politically correct I should say, “My son, who happens to have RAD,” but not today.  No PC in me today.)  Anyhow, the morning started with him waking groggy after about 2 hours of sleep.  I don’t know why he is not sleeping, but it was a struggle for him to stay awake long enough to get dressed for school.  I sent an email to the teachers saying that we have a doctor’s appointment soon to see if there is a med error and he got on the bus.  I was looking forward to a day alone with nothing but my thoughts and hopefully some paper to write them down.  I decided to throw in a load of laundry and that’s when it happened.  That’s when the RAD in our home took over.  Even without him here, he leaves a big wake!

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My washing machine was full of one pair of pants (who does that? Washes one pair of pants?) about four packs of gum sans the wrappers which were already stuck to the side of the drum, a can of beef jerky & some other indescribable items. I attempted to scrape the gum off the sides with no luck, so I threw my hands up and had a good cry.  Well, a mini cry, I guess. I phoned my husband and started sending texts to his teachers (who have been teaching him to do laundry for a couple of years,) and I took my own advice that I mentioned before in a blog post and I called a friend who would make me laugh.  Well, actually, I texted her and her goofed-up voice texting back while driving made me laugh out loud.  I attempted to regroup and then was faced with another pesky annoyance.  Where would my help come from?! My help comes from the Lord as I am reminded in Psalm 54:4 (Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.)

So I turn on some random instrumental praise music and the first song is Hallelujah.  Not feeling that so I skip ahead to the next random song and a Piano plays a tune titled, “Psalm 5.”  I decided to turn to Psalm 5 in my Bible and I was blessed as I was able to hear from God.  I’ll share from Psalm 5 – RADmom.
5:1-5   Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing . (O Lord, what the heck?!) Listen to my cry for help, (What am I supposed to do? Help me out here!) my King and my God, for to you I pray. (Well, I’m not talking to myself!) In the morning I lay my requests before you (I need to get some laundry done) & wait in expectation. (Do you want me to get laundry done?) You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; (You didn’t want this gum stuck in my dryer) with you the wicked cannot dwell. (So if I want your help I better not start screaming and swearing!) The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; (Wow Lord, I’m humbled, I can’t even do my laundry without crying out to you.) you hate all who do wrong. (Keep me biting my tongue!)
5:7-8 But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; (I will open my Bible and visit you.) in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. (My shaking head becomes a bowed head.) Lead me, O Lord, (What am I supposed to do next)in your righteousness (What’s the right thing to do?)because of my enemies–(That stinking sticky gum!)--make straight your way before me. (Don’t let me waste the entire day on this mess.)
5:11 But let all who take refuge in you (who sit at the kitchen table with an open Bible and open ears) be glad; let them ever sing for joy. (Lalalalalala) For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; (You will allow me to move on.) you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (You will make sure that someone checks their pockets next time.)

My hope is truly found in the Lord and the Lord alone.  Only he can understand my joys and my sorrows even if today it is only gum stuck in a washing machine. He will make my paths straight and today I think He knew my hope and joy would be found in spending a little more time with Him.  Now, unfortunately, I think he wants me to go back to the basement and try again.

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Book Review: Adventures of Jordan

IMG_2044Grab an afghan or a fleece blanket and have a child by your side as you read and enjoy Adventures of Jordan – A Children’s Bible Story from a Bird’s View by Linda Hemphill. This 77 page, 5 chapter book would make a great read aloud as you wind down at the end of the day. Children who are transitional readers will also enjoy reading this book by themselves as the safe, warm, characters will make reading alone less lonely. The large, easy to read font along with the occasional illustrations make this title reader friendly.

The story of Noah is brought to life by personable conversations between a curious, young bird, Jordan, who was injured and finds himself aboard an ark full of animals. These likable characters do an excellent job of sharing the word of God in a fun format that children will enjoy.

The author’s love of scripture becomes evident as she makes these characters shine the love of Christ and engage the reader.  Actual scripture passages are included in the Addendum for further exploration.

From the beginning when Jordan “opened his right wing and plucked a loose feather from underneath,” until later when Noah “stopped to gently stroke a horse’s neck, scratched a llama behind its ears, laughed at the antics of a pair of kangaroos, and smiled as a small monkey climbed up on his shoulder,” the author’s descriptive language makes you enjoy your time spent in the company of these characters who will feel like friends by the end of the book.

Pair this book with a book light and a cuddly stuffed animal and it will make a great Christmas gift for all of the children on your list.

book tree

Adventures of Jordan – A Children’s Bible Story from a Bird’s View – Noah

Written by Linda Hemphill              Illustrated by Richard Hemphill

HemphillBooks.com

2017

95 pages including NIrV Genesis 6-9

ISBN  978-0-9992378-0-9

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