Bookish Thinking: Classics I hope to read this year

I have been remiss over the years in reading books that are considered classics so this year I hope to read a few at least.

Now, I will admit that I said the same thing last year. Or was it the year before? I can’t remember now but I do know I said I would read more classics and didn’t, except for what I read with The Boy for school.

We read Silas Marner, Lord of the Flies, To Kill A Mockingbird, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

We are now reading The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.

On my own, though, I hope to read at least five other classics this year:

Little Women

Lilies of the Field


The Secret Garden

and something by one of the Bronte sisters. Who can give me a suggestion of which one to read?

Also, are there any other classics you would suggest for me to read this year? I’ll see if I can squeeze them in.

Have you read any of the classics I mentioned? What did you think of them?

Favorite books of 2022 and books read

 I am not a prolific reader like The Husband and my mom, but I did read more books this year than in other years and thought I would share a few of my favorites today.

If I counted right (because I didn’t keep a list like other years and my totals are mixed up on Goodreads with all the books my mom read), I read 37 books last year, not counting children’s books. If I add in the kid-level books (Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Michael Bond, and C.S. Lewis) then I read 47. That’s a lot more than in previous years, so I’m pretty proud of myself. I actually think there are a couple of others I forgot to list.

Among my favorites were:

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

I read three Anne books in 2022, including Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island. Anne of Green Gables was a reread, which I read with Little Miss. Anne of the Island was my favorite of all three as it took her out of Avonlea more and pushed her to spread her wings even more.

For 2023 I plan to finish Anne of Windy Poplars and hopefully a couple of other Anne books.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie

I watched the mini-series of this on BritBox (on Amazon Video) before I read the book and ended up liking the book as much as, if not more, than the mini-series. This was the second book of Christie’s I’d read and as always the prose and dialogue is brief and to the point but always tells a suspenseful tale.

I plan to read more of Agatha this year.

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

This one had me guessing and on the edge of my seat all the way through. Part of this may because I have watched so much Sherlock Holmes related content with my husband who is a huge fan of Sherlock books (the original and beyond), movies and shows. I think anyone, a fan of Sherlock or not, would love this book but it is definitely geared toward Sherlock lovers who simply can’t get enough of stories about him, whether the originals by Arthur Conan Doyle or spinoffs, so to speak, like those by Horowitz.

I hope to read The House of Silk, another Sherlock-related book, this year.

Walking in Tall Weeds by Robin W. Pearson

This is a book I thought about long after I finished it. Part of the reason I thought about it was because I didn’t know if I agreed with a couple of scenes in the book. They rubbed me the wrong way. I think the fact they rubbed me the wrong was is a testament to Robin’s writing because it made me sit and think about why they rubbed me the wrong way. I realized I had a lot to learn about race relations but also relationships between family in general. It wasn’t only a thinking or issue book, though. There was an underlying love story between a longtime married couple and that story spilled over onto their son and their extended family. Love isn’t always romance, of course.

Call Me A Cab by Donald Westlake

I had not read any books by Donald Westlake before this one and my husband told me that this was a big departure from his other books. I tried another one of his a couple of months ago and have yet to finish it because, yes, Call Me A Cab was much nicer and sweeter. I still want to finish the other book, even though it isn’t necessarily my style.

The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson

This was one of two of the Longmire books I read in 2022. I really thought I’d read more of Craig’s books this year. That is something I hope to remedy in 2023. This was my favorite of the two I read. It followed the story of Walt Longmire investigating a case that other investigators said was already solved. Walt didn’t feel that way so he threw himself right down a rabbit hole to find the truth and I went with him on that ride. A lot of nail-biting fun, as always. Poor Walt, though. He’s always getting stranded out in the cold Wyoming winter while trying to find the truth.

Open Season by C.J. Box

I stayed in Wyoming for this first book in the Joe Pickett series. The Longmire Mysteries take place in Wyoming too, in case you weren’t sure what I was talking about there. This was another mystery that I wasn’t sure where it was going until it was barreling out of control to the finish. By the halfway point I couldn’t put it down and I’m looking forward to reading more in the series this year.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

This was a non-fiction book that I enjoyed very much despite some crass descriptions, way too many sexual references and quite a few four-letter words. I don’t usually read books like this but I watched Bourdain’s shows for years before he passed away and wanted to go back to the book that launched him into stardom. It was a fascinating look into America’s high-quality restaurants and not all the looks were good, but they were interesting. Bourdain’s love of food from the way it is prepared to how it connects people was the undercurrent of the book and the main reason I pushed through some very cringeworthy sections (cringeworthy for me at least).

Love and A Little White Lie by Tammy Gray

This was a book I read toward the end of the year. I enjoyed the downhome style of it and the real look at the Christian community from a woman unsure of what she believes about God. I hated the one male character and how whiny he was but didn’t let him steal the enjoyment of the book away from me. If I were to meet someone like him in real life, though, I’d  most likely grab him by the front of his shirt, shake him a few minutes and tell him to, “get it together, man!”

I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in the series.

The Do Over by Sharon Peterson

This was a fun rom-com that had me laughing and shaking my head over the witty way in which it was written. The main character, Perci, was a blast and a treat but her Mimi (grandmother) had me gasping and shaking my head more than once. This was a clean read as well, which made me like it even more. I read two books with this title in 2022 and liked this one the best.

Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Ross

I wasn’t as enamored with the other two books I tried from the series because they either seemed to promote lifestyles and situations I wasn’t really a fan of or just weren’t as good as Miss Julia Renews Her Vows. I actually stopped reading the one at the beginning and didn’t look back. I do, however, think I will try one or two more of her books this year.

Favorite Christian Fiction Books

A couple of these books can also be listed under my favorite reads for the year, but I thought I’d separate them out for any Christian Fiction fans who are looking for definite clean reads. Some of the books above were not clean.

I already mentioned Love and A Little White Lie above.

Dead Sea Conspiracy by Jerry B. Jenkins

This was my first book by Jenkins, who has published more than 200 novels, and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would when I first started it. His writing style irritated me a little bit but the story was well done so I kept reading it. I will read others by him in the future.

The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham

This was my first book by Pepper and it was a wild, historical ride. This one was about a young woman running away from her fate in England and being forced to find a new life in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States. It had a lot of drama, romance, and heartfelt lessons. I am now listening to The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper and enjoying that as well. Some of The Heart of the Mountain was predictable but it was written well so I didn’t mind the predictability as much.

The Uncertainty of Fire by Stephanie Daniels

This was a debut book by an indie author, and it was very good and I’m sure she’ll going to go far. This was a Young Adult Historical Fiction book.

Walking in Tall Weeds, which I mentioned above.

The Rhise of Hope by Max Sternberg

Max is a new independent author who writes Christian fantasy. I am not a big reader of fantasy but have enjoyed his series. This is the second book in the series.

A Refuge of Convenience by Kathy Geary Anderson

I am not usually a big fan of “marriage of convenience tropes” in romances, but this one was creatively done and the storyline surrounding it was interesting enough to keep my attention. The writing itself was also compelling enough that I could look past the trope and instead focus on non-stop action and conflict. It was the second of Kathy’s books I read and I have her others on my 2023 TBR list.

Honorable Mention

Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour

This next one is an honorable mention because I don’t know if I can make a book that provides such a raw look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a “favorite” book but it was definitely the most eye-opening I’ve read all year.

Blood Brothers is the story of the Israeli takeover of the Palestinian region and Elias’ struggle with how it was done but also balancing his life as a Palestinian Christian in a world which assumes all Palestinians are Muslims.

For books I read with Grace this year I really enjoyed Emily’s Run Away Imagination, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and The Year of Miss Agnes.

Here is my full list of books read:

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson

Holly’s Homecoming by Jenny Knipfer

Still The One by Susan May Warren and Rachel Russell

The Rhise of Hope by Max Sternberg

The Cat Who Saw Stars by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Road To Redemption by Lisa Jordan

Every Star in the Sky by Sara Davison

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz

Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle by Ann B. Ross

Miss Julia Renews Her Vows by Ann B. Ross

Anything But Simply by Lucinda J. Miller

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Open Season by C.J. Box

Violet’s Vow by Jenny Knipfer

Walking in Tall Weeds by Robin Pearson

The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates

The Heart of the Mountain by Pepper Basham

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson

The Do Over by Bethany Turner

The Do Over by Sharon M. Peterson

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Dead Sea Conspiracy by Jerry B. Jenkins

Into the Flood by Milla Holt

A Brea of French Air by H.E. Bates

A Refuge of Convenience by Kathy Geary Anderson

The Cat Who Wasn’t There by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Uncertainty of Fire by Stephanie Daniels

The Dog Days of Summer by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon

Love and A Little White Lie by Tammy Gray

By Broken Birch Bay by Jenny Knipfer

A Quilters Holiday by Jennifer Chiaverini

Christmas Cookie Murder by Leslie Meier

A Mark of Grace by Kimberly Woodhouse

Books Read with Little Miss

The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Freedom Crossing by Margaret Goff Clark

Emily’s Run Away Imagination by Beverly Cleary

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ribsy by Beverly Cleary

Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Ramona The Pest by Beverly Cleary


Have you read any of the books on my list?

Book review and giveaway: Dog Days of Summer

Book: Dog Days of Summer

Author: Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Christian/Mystery/Romance Fiction

Release date: October 2022

Trina Potter, Nashville country music star, buys a ranch near her hometown in Brenham, Texas, to help her niece open a rescue facility for dogs. Her presence in town stirs up some old high school rivalries—and romance. Finding property to buy is a challenge, convincing her mother to move there with her is daunting, and navigating a string of strange accidents is perplexing. Sometimes Trina feels like she’s purchased her own three ring circus instead of a beautiful piece of land. But her first priority will be figuring out who wants Second Chance Ranch shut down before they even have the grand opening.

Click here to get your copy!


If you are looking for a cozy mystery with entertaining characters, then Dog Days of Summer is a good choice.

The book starts off pulling you into the story with characters who are downhome, even though one is a famous country singer.

This is the second book in the series, but you don’t have to read the first one to know what is happening in this one.

Y’Barbo writes characters who are very relatable.

A few sections dragged a little bit for me, but that’s merely my opinion. Other readers may not mind a little meandering. I felt that there could have been a bit more information about the main character’s singing career but that’s because I was interested, not because there was anything wrong with how it was written. I wasn’t a huge fan of how the love story was tossed in there as a plot point. It didn’t feel flushed out to me. The love story and the ending felt rushed to me but other readers may feel the pacing was just fine. Overall, this was a clean, cozy story that left me with a happy feeling at the end.

About the Author

Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Novelists Inc., and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

When she’s not spinning modern day tales about her wacky Southern relatives, Kathleen inserts an ancestor or two into her historical and mystery novels as well. Recent book releases include bestselling The Pirate Bride set in 1700s New Orleans and Galveston, its sequel The Alamo Bride set in 1836 Texas, which feature a few well-placed folks from history and a family tale of adventure on the high seas and on the coast of Texas. She also writes (mostly) relative-free cozy mystery novels for Guideposts Books.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas and are the parents and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and one very adorable Londoner.

More from Kathleen

Do you love dogs…or cats…or both…? I’m firmly in the “both” category. Since childhood I’ve always lived in homes that had at least one or the other, usually several of each. With every dog or cat comes at least one good story. One of my favorites is the tale of Bandit, the inspiration for the cover of my cozy mystery DOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

Once upon a time there was a black and white dog named Bandit. He was an English Springer Spaniel by birth but was completely convinced he was human. Bandit loved his people—three growing boys and a baby girl—even more than he loved popcorn and playing keep away (his version of catch). After many years, Bandit’s people grew up and he grew old. Toward the end of his very long and pampered life, he was plagued by the unwanted and yet much appreciated friendship of an ornery orange-striped cat named Baby and a snooty pedigreed feline named Fifi.

Everyone loved Bandit…except the territorial squirrel who lived in a tree in our backyard in Southeast Texas. From the moment Bandit joined the family, the furry fellow was determined to rid himself and his backyard of the trespassing canine. The squirrel’s favorite tactic was to tease Bandit until the dog chased him up a tree. Once treed, the crafty critter would run around the trunk just out of Bandit’s reach. Once the squirrel tired of this, it would retreat to a limb. There, the battle of the backyard beasts would commence again but with the squirrel lobbing pinecones and the dog trying to catch them.

While every good story has a beginning, middle and end, unfortunately at the end of this one there was no winner in the dog vs. squirrel wars. A job transfer led us to Houston where squirrels were in abundance in our new neighborhood but none of them were nearly as much fun as the one Bandit left behind. The last time I spoke with the owners of our old house, they told the funniest story: they loved their new home, but there was this squirrel in the backyard that kept throwing pinecones at everyone.

In DOG DAYS OF SUMMER, I tell the story of another Texas backyard. This one is located in Brenham, Texas, and it is about to become a very special place for some very special dogs named Patsy and Cline. Have I mentioned these dogs belong to a country singer named Trina who has a mother named Mama Peach who happens to own a cat named Hector that dislikes almost everyone and can open doors? Then there’s the problem of the next door neighbor and his penchant to forget to close the lid on his grill when he’s cooking? Did I mention that Patsy and Cline enjoy nothing more than whatever they happen to find on an unguarded grill? While the two furry scoundrels are rounding up trouble next door, there is even more trouble happening at the building site for Second Chance Ranch Dog Rescue on the other side of the property. Apparently not everyone is happy about the new neighbors. The mystery is who that person might be. While you’ve got to read DOG DAYS OF SUMMER to find out, I can give you one hint: it’s not the squirrel!

I’ve told you mine; now tell me your favorite dog or cat story. I can’t wait to read them.


To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e-gift card and a print copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Book review/recommendation: The Do Over by Sharon M. Peterson

Book: The Do Over

Author: Sharon M. Peterson

Genre: Romantic Comedy/romance


“Look, you’re a nice girl but I don’t think we should see each other anymore.” The voicemail ends and I freeze in the dentist’s chair as I realize… I’ve just been dumped on live radio.

It took the most humiliating break-up for me to see that my life is in serious need of a do-over. Cue my anti New Year’s resolutions that even I can’t fail at:

  1. Stop dating. (Men are the worst.)
  2. Stop trying to lose weight. (I’m never giving up chocolate.)
  3. Stop working so hard. (Selling mortgages is not my dream career.)
  4. Stop trying to live up to unrealistic expectations. (Start living my best life.)
  5. Stop trying to please my mother. (It’s not possible.)

But it turns out number five is harder than I thought, as she begins her campaign to get me back with my ex. So, what’s the perfect solution to keep her out of my love life? An imaginary boyfriend—at least he was supposed to be imaginary until I blurted out my neighbor’s name…

Nate, the bad boy next door with gorgeous hazel eyes, a razor-sharp jawline and a mysterious scar, might be hot, but he’s definitely not my boyfriend. Now all I need to do is stick to my resolutions while also keeping my interfering family away from my non-existent lover who has no idea that we’re fake dating. What could possibly go wrong?


The Do Over by Sharon Peterson is the second romantic-comedy book I’ve read this year with this title but this particular version was a lot more fun, with a much more likable main character and love interest. Not only that but the icing on the cake was a sassy, Southern grandma who kept the humor level all the way to the top.

This book was a fun read, and I needed a fun read with all the stress in the world these days. It kept me hooked from the beginning and even though a couple of parts were a little predictable, they were predictable in an entertaining way. The main character’s full name was definitely not predictable but I’ll let you read the book to find out the story behind that.

Peterson promised a fun ride from page one and delivered on that promise all the way through. If a writer can make a dentist appointment a hook to pull this reader right into their book, then they have some talent. I hate dentist appointments, but I carried on through that first chapter because I just had to know what happened.

Every character Peterson introduced was likable or interesting in their own way, from the main to the minor supporting characters.

I’m not always a fan of the “fake boyfriend” trope in romance novels but Peterson handled it in a realistic way that didn’t leave me rolling my eyes.

She also managed to weave in social issues without making them preachy or letting them weigh the book down with unnecessary heaviness for a romantic comedy.

If you are looking for a fun, fast read that will leave you with a smile and make you forget your problems for a little bit, then this is a book I encourage you to pick up and immerse yourself in.

Book Recommendation: Mama, Sing My Song

Book Title: Mama, Sing My Song

Author: Amanda Seibert

Genre: Children’s

Release Date: September 2022


Mama, Sing My Song is a children’s book about God’s big love, giving families affirming words to shower on their kids, revealing the bright joy, deep care, and unending love they have in their hearts. Amanda Seibert, founder of Mama Sing My Song, the popular company that creates personalized songs for parents to gift to their children, knows that the words we speak over our little ones can shape them for years to come. 

When we look at our children, we see those one-in-a-million grins, their crinkled noses, and sweet eyes looking back at us, which soften our hearts. God designed those babies uniquely, and Mama, Sing My Song is a celebration of all that is lovely and true about your child. Let your little ones know they are safe, loved, and cherished in your family.

This affirming book for 4- to 8-year-olds.

My review

This beautiful children’s book captured my heart and my and 7-year-old daughter’s attention with the beautiful words and beautiful illustrations. The message was heartwarming and instills such an important message in our children — that they are God’s work of art. No matter what others say about them, they are made in God’s image and God loves them, protects them, and watches over them.

I absolutely love how the front and back of the book provide spaces to personalize the book to your child with headings such as “wonderful qualities I see in you”, “my hopes and dreams for your life,” “the special meaning of your name,” etc.

This isn’t just a children’s book. It is a child’s keepsake, something I feel like children will hold on to remember that their parents love them, and God does as well.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

Little Miss’s Reading Corner: Silly, spooky, and grasshopper books

Little Miss and I took a trip to the library a couple of weeks ago and she picked out some books for us to read together. I thought I’d share a few from our stack today for her Reading Corner. I took photos of the fronts of the books, but our library puts the barcode right over the titles, which I find terribly annoying as someone who likes to photograph what I’m reading. Silly, I know. I suppose I’ll get over it. Sigh.

Little Miss wanted something “spooky” even though she doesn’t usually like spooky stuff. She said she would read it during the day. So we grabbed a book called simply The Spooky Book by Steve Patschke and illustrated by Matthew McElligott.

It was a very cute book about a boy reading a spooky book that is about a girl reading a spooky book at the same time. When something happens in the book, it happens to the boy too.

It’s a fun book that insists a book can’t scare you while it scares the people reading it. We thought it was very cute.

Next Little Miss picked a book about dragons because she loves dragon stories.

Dragons Are Real by Holly Hatam is a board book probably meant for younger readers and those less discerning about dragons because Little Miss kept correcting the lore within its pages saying “that’s not true,” or “dragons don’t do that” when she disagreed with the declarations made inside it.

Overall we enjoyed the book, however, because the illustrations were very colorful.


I picked out Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Long (brother and sister) and we both ended up really liking it, partly because the illustrations featured extra creatures in the images, hanging out on trees and in leaves, etc.

The story is about a monkey who is grumpy but doesn’t know why and tries his best to be happy for everyone who keeps telling him he needs to be happy.

The message is that sometimes we are grumpy and it’s okay and we don’t have to figure out why we are grumpy. As long as we aren’t mean to others while we are grumpy. That’s not okay.

I placed The Ant and The Grasshopper by Luli Gray and illustrated by Giuliano Ferri on hold as part of our grasshopper unit.

This was a very cute book about an ant who prepared for the winter and a grasshopper who didn’t and how the ant helped the grasshopper and they became friends.

Little Miss has been fascinated with grasshoppers lately, including catching them in the backyard and running to me to show me what she’s caught.

We also signed out a book about dinosaurs and another one about grasshoppers, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

Hopefully we will get to them this week before they are due.

So that’s what Little Miss has been reading. How about you?

Book Recommendation with Celebrate Lit Tours: Far From Home by Mabel Ninan

About the Book

Book: Far From Home

Author: Mabel Ninan

Genre: Christian / Non-Fiction / Spiritual Growth

Release date: July 12, 2022

What is my purpose? Why do I exist? A sense of self and belonging are two questions many of us struggle to answer.

And what if you are a foreigner in another land?

How does one adjust to a new culture? Discover their place in a new society?

For Mabel Ninan, born and raised in India and an immigrant in America shortly after marriage, the search for those answers sent her on a journey that led to an unexpected and exciting discovery.

God revealed she was not only an earthly immigrant but also a spiritual one, created with a unique calling to impact His kingdom. Mabel’s renewed perspective imbued her with joy and hope, urging her to share the message with others.

Drawing from her personal experiences and by examining the lives of biblical heroes, Mabel sheds light on what it means to live as a citizen of Heaven on earth. Far from Home will inspire you to:

  • Embrace your identity as a foreigner on earth.
  • Make your home with God.
  • Find community and common purpose with fellow sojourners.

Explore the intersection between culture, identity, and faith in this new release from an earthly immigrant who gained a spiritual perspective.

Click here to get your copy!

My Thoughts

Far From Home by Mabel Ninan is a meaningful, inspirational, and powerful devotional written from the perspective of a woman who was a physical immigrant to the United States, but who also recognizes that humans are spiritual immigrants in a world we do not belong in.

Mabel Ninan moved to the United States from India in 2008 with her husband and was thrown into an unfamiliar world. There were days that her only comfort was Jesus who she’d known her whole life after being brought up in the church in a minority Christian community in India. Over the years, Mabel has lived in different countries and on different continents and no matter where she goes, she has found that Jesus is her one constant.

 During her time of adjustment in the States in 2008, during her first move with her husband and family, she came to know Jesus in an even more intimate way, leaning on him during a time when she was lost, confused, and lonely.

The lessons she learned during that time are captured in this wonderful devotional that reminds all Christians about their need to call out and reach for Jesus instead of material things which will not sustain them during the hardest times in their lives.

The words of encouragement in this devotional came at the perfect time for me. I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for a review but was not required to give a positive review. I have no problem giving a positive review, however, because this devotional helped me remember that even when I feel like I don’t fit in with others, I do fit in with God.  

This devotional’s main focus is to remind us that our identity is in Christ and not in what we, or others, believe our identity to be.

 I thought I’d take a moment to share a personal reason for choosing to review this book. I had a good friend named Rev. Charles Reynolds who was a Christian missionary to India for over 50 years. He brought Indian tea home with him and had it stored in his and his wife Maud’s shed in a small town near where I grew up for years. One day I stopped by and I was suffering from a cold. He offered me a cup of tea and said tea solves a myriad of problems, including illness. I didn’t believe him but after a few moments of sipping the tea, I did actually feel better.

He often told me stories about his time in India, once raised money for victims of an earthquake there, kept in contact with the women’s medical school he helped build up when a missionary there, and wrote a book about he and his wife’s time there. Over the years his stories and mission somehow made me feel like I had a connection to the Indian people. I enjoyed reading about Mabel’s journey partially because of this, but also because of my own struggles to find my identity in an often chaotic and uncertain world.

About the Author

Born and raised in the minority Christian community in India, Mabel moved to the US in 2008 shortly after getting married. In nearly thirteen years of her marriage, her family has called ten different places across two continents and seven cities home. The challenges Mabel faced as an immigrant on the move led to a spiritual crisis that drew her nearer to God’s side where she learned valuable lessons about how to live as a citizen of heaven. Her mission is to inspire believers to embrace their pilgrim journey on earth and boldly pursue their heavenly calling.

A contributor to Guideposts’ All God’s Creatures: Daily Devotions for Animal Lovers 2022, Mabel’s writings have appeared in The Upper Room,, Leading Hearts Magazine, and (in) She hosts a YouTube podcast called Immigrant Faith Stories where she shares testimonies of immigrants, refugees, missionaries, and cross-cultural ministry leaders. She has been serving in various roles in women’s ministry for almost a decade.

Mabel enjoys reading, traveling, and dancing, but nothing gives her more joy than having conversations about the Bible.

Mabel is pursuing M.A. in Theological Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She lives with her husband, son, and Maltese pup in Northern California.

More from Mabel

When the idea of this book was birthed in 2018, I wanted to publish a collection of letters to my son. I wanted to keep a record of God’s faithfulness to me in a foreign country. How He became my all in all when I had nobody to call my own. How He gave me His all when I was empty. I hoped my stories and learnings would strengthen not only my son’s faith but also other immigrants like me. But God had a different plan for this book.

By 2019, the book underwent a complete change in its content and organization. It also targeted a different group of readers. I wrote for those who were coping with changes, those who wanted a deeper walk with God, those who found it difficult to belong or cling to hope in the midst of suffering, and those who were tired of going through the motions. My agent and I replaced the title of the book from This is not Home to Far from Home.

After facing rejecting from almost eight publishers, Far from Home found its home in Harambee Press, an imprint of Iron Stream Media that publishes ethnic writers. I was thrilled!

Far from Home is a nonfiction book but it is also part memoir. I’ve described what life was like growing up in India and I also recount a few experiences as an immigrant in the U.S. What makes Far from Home unique is also that the book introduces the reader to another culture, the Indian/South Asian culture. Some parts of the book read like a devotional while others are rich in biblical character studies and teaching.

Overall, I feel the book reflects who I am—an Indian, an America, an Indian-American, a storyteller, an immigrant, and a Bible teacher—though that was not my aim. I find it fascinating that I could be myself and tell my stories and use all aspects of my identity to declare the goodness and greatness of God.

There is a need for more diversity in our stories. I’m not saying this because diversity is the new buzz world these days. We need diverse voices and ways of worship because they reveal God’s power, beauty, and creativity. Testimonies from other cultures can open our eyes to a new way of experiencing God and His Word. They engage our brains and touch our hearts in a unique way. Reading books by diverse authors can enlarge our capacity for empathy, push back our defenses, and even turn our fear of the unknown into appreciation.

I hope my writing helps you see God from a different lens, a different angle. I hope it makes you want to read books by authors from varied cultures, races, and ethnicities.

And my desire, more than anything else, is that Far from Home convinces you that you’re never really far from home. In the triune God, you always have a home here on earth while you await a better one in heaven. A home that will be shared with people from all nations, tongues, and tribes.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 1

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 2

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, September 3

A Reader’s Brain, September 4

Beauty in the Binding, September 5 (Author Interview)

Boondock Ramblings, September 5

Inklings and notions, September 6

deb’s Book Review, September 7

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 8

Simple Harvest Reads, September 9 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 10

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 11

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 12

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 13

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, September 14 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, September 14


To celebrate her tour, Mabel is giving away the grand prize package of a Paperback copy of book, customized notepad and bookmark (these eco-friendly products made by rural artisans in India help sustain endangered art forms and secure livelihoods), access to digital resources (recipe booklet, teaching videos, and audio prayers), and a $30 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Book Tour with Celebrate Lit: The Heart of the Mountains by Pepper Basham

About the Book

Book: The Heart of the Mountains

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Christian Fiction / Romance

Release date: July 1, 2022

Can their hearts overcome the darkness of the mountains?

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.

Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.

Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

If you are a fiction of historical fiction and historical romance, then Pepper Basham is the author for you, and her latest, The Heart of the Mountains, will have you hooked from the beginning.

I connected with the two main characters early on and felt like I needed their lives to turn out okay after all they had been through before the book even started and then went through during the book.

There was non-stop action and a variety of interesting characters which transformed what could have been a simple run-of-the-mill, cookie-cutter inspirational romance book into a novel with depth, complexity, and heartfelt tenderness.

There were quite a few side characters in this two-person point of view book. Crisis after crisis popped up involving each of the side characters, which could have been a bit confusing at times but wasn’t because it kept the booking moving along at a speed just fast enough to hold my interest but not too fast to make my head spin in confusion. Basham kept the characters straight for the readers like a true professional, balancing subplots like a well-trained literary juggler.

About the Author

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor with southern Appalachian flair. Both her historical and contemporary novels have garnered recognition in the Grace Awards, Inspys, and ACFW Carol Awards. Her historical romance, The Thorn Healer, was a finalist in the 2018 RT Awards. Her historical romance novels, My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge and The Red Ribbon, and her contemporary novels, the Mitchell’s Crossroads and Pleasant Gap series, showcase her Appalachian heritage, as well as her love for humor and family. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist to about fifty more, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus.

You can learn more about Pepper at her website or connect with her on FB, IG, or Twitter.

More from Pepper

It’s so interesting how one idea can influence an entire series, or…how one person’s story can.

The idea for The Heart of the Mountains started in Laurel’s Dream with a hint of a family history story about a girl named Kizzie. (Someday, I hope to bring Kizzie’s story to the pages of a book). From there, the idea began to grow out of a love for my Appalachian culture into a series of books which highlighted (and fictionalized) stories from my family history.

The main story in The Heart of the Mountains is about Jeb and Cora, two different people with similar servant hearts, but the secondary story that touched me so much was the one based on my great grandfather’s life. I write about it in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, so I won’t go into detail about it. However, what I loved getting to do is bring the truth of God’s redemption in my great grandfather’s life…to life again.

I never knew “Papa Rat”. I only knew the stories handed down to me by my granny and my mama, but in writing this story, I feel as though I had a tiny opportunity to “meet” him in these pages. He was a gruff mountain man with a broken past which led him to make a whole lot of broken choices, but his story is incredibly encouraging, because it points to the God of broken people. My great grandpa wasn’t left in his brokenness, but, after years of running away from God, he would later recount that God pursued him. The beauty of Sam McAdams’ journey in The Heart of the Mountains is only a little glimpse into what I imagine my great grandpa’s redemption story looked like.

Because my great grandpa was forever changed when Jesus saved him (as any of us should be).

I think that’s what my granny and her siblings (and even “Papa Rat” himself) would want most -that his story would point to Jesus. I hope that’s what you see when you read about Sam McAdams in The Heart of the Mountains.

Have you ever read a book based on family history? One of my favorites is Catherine Marshall’s Christy.

Blog Stops

Bizwings Blog, July 28

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 28

Bigreadersite, July 28

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 29

Texas Book-aholic, July 29

Inklings and notions, July 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 30

Boondock Ramblings, July 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 31

Reading With Emily, July 31

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 31 (Author Interview)

lakesidelivingsite, August 1

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, August 1

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 1

Daysong Reflections, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Live. Love. Read., August 2

Betti Mace, August 3

Book Looks by Lisa, August 3

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Remembrancy, August 4

For Him and My Family, August 4

Blossoms and Blessings, August 4

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, August 5

By the Book, August 5

Wishful Endings, August 5

For the Love of Literature, August 6

Books, Books and More Books, August 6

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 6

Connie’s History Classroom, August 7

SodbusterLiving, August 7

Splashes of Joy, August 7

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Back Porch Reads, August 9

Through the Fire Blogs, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 9

Labor Not in Vain, August 10

Miriam Jacob, August 10

To Everything There Is A Season, August 10


To celebrate her tour, Pepper is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon e- gift card and a paperback copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Book recommendation: Walking In Tall Weeds by Robin W. Pearson

Book title: Walking in Tall Weeds

Author: Robin W. Pearson

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 19, 2022


From award-winning author Robin W. Pearson comes a new Southern family drama about one family who discovers their history is only skin-deep and that God’s love is the only family tie that binds.

Paulette and Fred Baldwin find themselves wading through a new season of life in Hickory Grove, North Carolina. Their only son, McKinley, now works hundreds of miles away, and the distance between the husband and wife feels even farther. When their son returns home, his visit dredges up even more conflict between Fred and Paulette.

McKinley makes it no secret that he doesn’t intend to follow in his father’s footsteps at George & Company Fine Furnishings or otherwise. Fred can’t quite bring himself to accept all his son’s choices, yet Paulette is determined McKinley will want for nothing, least of all a mother’s love and attention—which her own skin color cost her as a child. But all her striving leaves Fred on the outside looking in.

Paulette suspects McKinley and Fred are hiding something that could change the whole family. Soon, she’s facing a whirlwind she never saw coming, and the three of them must dig deep to confront the truth. Maybe then they’ll discover that their history is only skin-deep while their faith can take them right to the heart of things.

My Thoughts:

With Walking in Tall Weeds, Robin W. Pearson once again takes readers on a journey with characters who are easy to love despite their flaws.

Walking in Tall Weeds is the third book I have written by Robin W. Pearson, which is fitting since it is the third book she has written.

Each time I read one of her books I am pulled into a world that I am both familiar and unfamiliar with. Her characters feel like people I know, partially because they are from the South and my mom’s family is from the South, but also because Robin is so amazing at writing characters who are multi-dimensional and well-rounded.

Robin details each part of her characters’ personalities in deeply personal and creative ways which creates a warm and nurturing environment for their stories to be told.

Each time I read one of Robin’s books, I am drawn to the main characters. In A Long Time Comin’ I related to Evelyn and felt like maybe Robin had been reading my private journals before she flushed out her character. In ‘Til I Want Not More I didn’t understand Maxine at first, but as I continued to read and think about her, I realized I was a lot like her as well. In Walking in Tall Weeds, though, I share so much of Paulette’s personality it was almost like looking in a soul mirror. When she did, said, or thought certain things I thought, “Oh my. That’s me.” This was both a good and a bad realization depending on the moment Paulette was in the midst of.

This book definitely touches on the evil of racism, but it is not overly dark or the only theme of this emotionally rich novel.

Robin has a way of dealing with the tough issues with a little bit of humor and a whole lot of love.

Walking In Tall Weeds is a book that intertwines a number of challenges — both family and social — but at the ultimate center of it all is how humans relate to each other.

Some readers might call this a book that focuses on a societal issue and yes, that is one aspect of this book, but the main, undercurrent focus of this book is relationships. To steal a quote from the author, this is a book that asks,  “How do we love others well, through all the different stages of life? Husbands, wives, extended family, children, friends, enemies, co-workers, ourselves?”

Robin’s writing makes you think deeply about what her characters are going through but also how to tackle those same issues in your own life. 


If you’d like to win an autographed copy of Walking in Tall Weeds please enter the giveaway on my Instagram today through Friday.