Saturday, May 5, 2012

Forever Hilltop by Judy Baer

An Unlikely Blessing

Meet Alex Armstrong, former city dweller who has just accepted his first parish assignment to a small community in the wilds of North Dakota. In Hilltop Township, Alex becomes familiar with the colorful residents and their odd traditions, from rommegrot to lutefisk. And then there's the excitement the single pastor creates among the unmarried women in the community! Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he has to teach them, providing all with An Unlikely Blessing.

Surprising Grace:
Alex Armstrong is settling into his new role as pastor of Hilltop Church, and he's even starting to understand the strange ways of the people who populate this barren stretch of North Dakota prairie. But he also finds that his flock needs help and counsel like he never imagined. In this cozy and entertaining read, Alex must choose between the woman he once planned to marry-and the home he's come to love.

My review:
This book is actually two books in one: An Unlikely Blessing and Sustaining Grace. The stories revolve around Alex Armstrong, a 42 year old single pastor, and the people of the town and two churches that he has come to pastor.

I reviewed the first book already in February of 2011, but this is supposed to be a review of both books.

I have read some of Judy Baer's books over the years, and this has to be the best thing she has written that I have read. I like everything about the books. It is possible that I identify a little with the main character, but I really like him, and being a single guy the same age probably has a lot to do with my liking the series so well.

The plot lines are great. It seems everything that can happen in a small town community, does, giving Alex a lot to deal with. In addition to him, the books contain all sorts of colorful, interesting, and hilarious characters.

In the first book, Alex arrives in his new pastorate in the country, fresh from the city, and meets the people and challenges of this backwoods community and its people. In the second, three months has passed since his arrival, and he has gotten to know the people better, and is still learning about some of them and their issues. He also has to deal with his ex-girlfriend visiting.

The books I read the most and enjoy the most, are suspense/mystery. This series is far removed from that genre', but I found myself caught up in the story the same way I am when I read suspense. This is an excellent series, and writing at its best. I feel a great testament to a book is when the reader is so caught up in the story that they find themselves wishing they were there, meeting the people, exploring the community - and that is how I felt. I honestly was sorry to come to the end of the book, and though it was midnight, I could have read on for hours more about this pastor and people and the unique situations he faced. I hope Judy has more books coming in the series, and that it isn't another year-plus to the third installment. If I gave stars, it would get five out of five. Definite quality.

About the author:
Judy was born and grew up on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota. An only child, she spent most of her days with imaginary people-either those she read about or those she made up in her head. Her most ambitious conjuring did not succeed, however. She kept a clean stall with hay and oats for the horse she imagined would come but unfortunately, it never did. As an adult, however, she managed to make that dream come true and raised foundation quarter horses and buffalo for some years. A voracious reader, Judy learned to read with comic books, anything from Little Lulu and Superman to the Rawhide Kid. She sold her first story for $10.00 to a farm magazine. She still has the $10.00.

She graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota with a major in English and education and a minor in religion. At the time, she was simply studying what interested her, but now realizes that she was educating herself for her future career as an inspirational christian romance writer.

Judy wanted to write for Harlequin even in high school but it wasn't until her youngest child learned to say "No" that she realized that she'd better consider a second career to fall back on when mothering was done. Her first book was written with her little girl on her lap. Judy would type a few words, say "Now, Jennifer," at which time her daughter would hit the space bar before Judy continued typing. It wasn't the fastest way to work, but it offered a lot of mother-Judy Baer Picturedaughter time together. An over-achiever, she's written 71 books for various publishers. The mother of two and step-mother of three, she now has lots of family to enjoy.

In 2001, she went back to school and became a certified professional life coach. Currently she is working on her Master's in Human Development in the areas of writing, coaching and spirituality and writing inspirational Chick Lit which, she says, is the most fun she's ever had writing.

Forever Hilltop is available from Guideposts Publishing.

Thanks to Guideposts and Litfuse for the review copy.

@JudyKBaer is giving away a Kindle for YOU … and one for a Friend in her Forever Hilltop Giveaway!

Celebrate with Judy by entering to win a Kindle for you and a friend!

One lucky winner will receive:

  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi
  • Brand New KINDLE with Wi-Fi to Giveaway to a Friend!
  • Forever Hilltop by Judy K Baer for you and a one for a friend

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 22nd. Winner will be announced 5/24/12 on Judy's Blog.

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