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Posted May 19, 2012
I so enjoyed the characters in this book, made me wish I lived there! A perfect Rural Town America, and most everyone was looking out for another.
When Alex Armstrong arrived in North Dakota, the people of Hilltop Township, did not expect the new Minister to stay. Love all the food arriving, and it warmed my Heart with the arrival of Tripod! You can see God's Hand in his calling Alex here, and he warms up to Country life real fast.
From the beginning you wonder if the two churches involved in sharing this Minister will ever be brought back together. There are hurts that have lasted decades, and some hands that held out are left hanging.
You will adore the Character Will, and his Hoomain Society. He sounds so cute, and full of mischief...I for one cannot wait to read the next book to find out how things come along, and renew old friendships!
I received this book from the Publisher Guideposts, and was not required to give a positive review.
Posted March 20, 2011
"Uncle Alex! Look out for that pig!" Love the first line. Alex, the new minister in town has to navigate more than pigs in this small town, there's cows, chickens, single women and things he can't see and/or know to look for. This was Alex's first ministering job at the age of forty-two it's scary. Having lived in the city all of his life and only seeing farms in movies and on TV was one thing, but actually living with land and animals quite another story.
Jared, Alex's nephew screams as he looks at the church, "It's like a photograph.or a movie set! It doesn't even look real.Uncle Alex it's like we're on another planet."
Alex had to agree as they drove around town, he felt as if they were "driving thru a Norman Rockwell painting. " He likes what he sees and hopes he's heard God correctly in accepting this position. He prays, "Here I am Lord. You've taken me a long way from home in so many ways. It is like another universe. What had he signed up for?"
Alex learns about a new twist to his ministry. He would be the pastor of two churches, neither one could afford a full-time pastor of their own so they shared in the expense of bringing Alex here. The board expected him to preach at both churches every Sunday morning. He soon discovers that these two churches are polar opposites of each other. He felt warmth and welcome from the people at Hilltop. Alex is overjoyed by the warm welcome and love shown to him by the members of Hilltop church and all the food they bring over is amazing. But things were a little chilly at All Saints; everything was done by the book. A book Alex hadn't read and didn't know how the rules. Oh, God help him.
.A sign said, "Welcome to Grassy Valley, North Dakota, City Population 1,254. A Place Like Home!" Alex wanted the sign to be true for his life. He loved what he saw in the land and community of Grassy Valley. He just had to learn how to warm up the members of the All Saints church.
He his secretary at Hilltop she says, "People tend to meddle in each other's business around here. You'll get used to it. Why, sometimes word gets out about what I've done before I've even gotten around to doing it!"
Alex is soon convinced that God has called him to this place and set the mission of helping these two churches be united in love. Alex is also compelled to help the farmers in any way he can keep their farms. This wasn't ordinary land; these were farms that have been in the family business for generations.
Judy Baer paints a town much like Mayberry on the Andy Griffith show. Alex is single and new to town that makes him a target for the single girls. That's why Alex was getting all the food, young ladies were hoping he'd notice them and their cooking. This makes for fun times in the book. Alex learns about farming from a whole new angle. There is more to fruit and veggies than buying them in the grocery store.
I felt the town itself was as much a character in the book as well as the loveable quirky cast Judy has put together. You only learn a little bit about each one in this book as she sets up the beginning of the Forever Hilltop series. This is a lighthearted story filled with laughter, fun adventure and truth learned along the way. I can't wait to read the next one.
Posted February 18, 2011
What a wonderful, gentle read. If you are like me and like to "people-watch," this is a wonderful way to feed the habit. Seriously, I've fallen in love with the Hilltop community. Even with those at All Saints Church. The author has done a great job in creating characters so real they could be your family members, friends, and acquaintances. She shows through each of these characters and the difficult circumstances they face that God is in the business of restoring and strengthening His people. I love seeing this rural community through the eyes of city-dweller Pastor Alex Armstrong. An Unlikely Blessing isn't my usual preferred genre of mystery, suspense, or adventure, but it is a wonderful book to curl up with when you need something gentle and loving. If you loved Jan Karon's Mitford books and Father Tim, you'll love Judy Baer's An Unlikely Blessing.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 2, 2011
At age 42 and fresh out of seminary, Alex Armstrong finds himself as the pastor of a congregation in the rural North Dakota farming community of Hilltop Township. Having lived in the city his whole life, Alex feels like he is in another world. In addition to adjusting to this change, he sees that his new community has enough problems to keep him busy for years. Dealing with everything from church feuds to financial issues, Hilltop Township is in need of help and hope. Will Alex be able to adjust to his new life and be of assistance to a community in need or will the problems he faces cause him to flee as so many others have done before him?
In this novel, Judy Baer does a great job of portraying daily life in a small mid-west town where feuds run generations deep, life moves at a slower pace, and farmers deeply feel the effects of changes in the economy. She also does a great job of revealing how an outsider may see this lifestyle and what challenges they may face; a sort of city mouse vs. country mouse problem. I found myself laughing at so many parts of this book; my favorite was when Alex walked out of his office only to step right into the middle of a pie one of his parishioners had left for him. I love the way the characters are developed and they way they all interact. The back of this book says this is the first book in the Forever Hilltop series; I can't wait to read more!
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided for my review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.
Posted February 2, 2011
This was a likable surprise for me. At first, when I sat down to read, I thought it started off a bit slow, but once I pushed past the first few pages, I fell in love with Grassy Valley, Hilltop Church and Alex!!! I loved how Judy Baer made the main character solely a male character. Usually, when you read a book, it is about a female character with a male character secondary. Nope. Not this time! She made Alex's sweet, lovable character the man character and boy, was he awesome!
The plot line was interesting. A single 42 year old man received the "calling" to become a preacher. Well, once he did that he received a second "calling" from the call committee of Grassy Valley to preach at their two churches in Hilltop. So, once again, he did that. Only he wasn't sure what to expect when him and his nephew arrived, in this, um, well, small little town. Boy, was that city guy in for a treat! Through some laugh out loud bits and some sweet, tender moments, Judy Baer really captured this reader's heart. It was an unlikely blessing all the way around, for Alex-who loved to just listen and help his new found friends, for all the ladies of Hilltop who had some one to cook for(this is where the laugh out loud bits come in!) , and for me....the amazed reader who has fallen in love with Hilltop, and of course, Alex's character! Oh, and did I mention that Twinkle Toes???? She's a character that you'll love!
Well done, Judy! This is a book worthy of recommendation and 4 stars. It is one that I will keep on my book shelf for some time to come, as well as, I will be anxiously awaiting more Guideposts books in this sweet series!
Posted February 1, 2011
Following God's direction, Alex Armstrong moves to rural North Dakota to pastor not one, but two churches. He's an experienced professor, but this is his first pastoral assignment. As he gets to know his congregation, Alex finds that many of them have serious problems. Feelings of insufficiency surface as he realizes that he doesn't have the ability to solve any of the problems. Trying to bring his two, feuding congregations together is proving futile. Yet, in unexpected ways, God moves in Alex's life and the lives of those around him. Alex finds that his faith will be tested, but trusting in God is always the right choice.
An Unlikely Blessing by Judy Baer is the first book in the Forever Hilltop Series. I was only okay with the ending because I know there are more books coming in this series. There were several unresolved situations and if there were no follow-up books, I would have hated the book simply because of the ending. The book includes recipes from the residents Hilltop Township. I have yet to try any of them myself, but Gandy Dunn's Puppy Chow looks promising.
This book is definitely worth reading, but I recommend waiting until the rest of the series is published and reading them consecutively. If I have the opportunity to review the next book in this series, I will have to go back and refresh my memory on this book. There are a lot of characters in the story, but they aren't all memorable and most likely, I wouldn't remember who each character was.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted February 1, 2011
It must be hard to pick your life up and start all over again in a new town, new faces and new opportunities but it can also be exciting as well.
When Alex Armstrong decides to make a new change after living in the city his whole life and start life over again as a pastor of Hilltop Community Church, he believes he is taking a step that God has called him to pursue.
At 42, and almost married, he is ready for new challenges. Armed with his nephew Jared, he packs everything up and heads for the hills. What he finds there is a beautiful countryside full of farms that have been handed down to families for generations. People have been praying for a minister for their church and since Alex was the only one to apply for the position of pastor, they feel led that he is the one.
But is Alex ready to deal with new challenges? Hilltop Township has been hit hard by the recession and people are literally on the verge of losing everything, but will Alex be able to help them?
In the latest book, An Unlikely Blessing by Judy Baer, the reader is transported to a slower pace of life, where people still welcome newcomers to town with plenty of food and conversation. You are never a complete stranger here. In the enchanting story woven through the pages of this book, we are delighted in the new experiences just waiting around each corner for both Alex and the reader. I loved this book and can easily give it a 5 out of 5 star rating!
I received this book compliments of Litfuse Publicity for my honest review and would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a virtual new start in a wonderful town.