Tag Archives: Joyce Magnin

Top 10 Tuesday — Journeys to A New Life

12 Jun

My husband and I seem to have caught the travel bug. After 33 years of marriage in which we raised 3 kids and grew a business, we are now in the position to do a little traveling. An empty nest and a wonderful staff have made it doable. But our travels are short-lived and, except for the occasional blip, very routine. Not so for those who left everything to travel to a new place and a new life. I cannot imagine the anxiety people had in stepping out into the unknown. Whether by choice, or necessity, or through force, the characters in the following books stepped out in faith in their travels. These books are both historical and contemporary, but all of them share the desire for new beginnings.

For more traveling books, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.


Top Journeys to A New Life


By Boat

Anna’s Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberly Woodhouse

The Pelican Bride by Beth White


By Train 

The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser

Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Together Forever by Jody Hedlund



By Wagon

All Together in One Place by Jane Kirkpatrick

The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers


On Foot

The Long Highway Home by Elizabeth Musser


Taxis, Buses, Planes, Boats, You Name It!

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

The Heart Between Us by Lindsey Harrel


Have you ever taken a journey of faith?



Top 10 Tuesday: Books That Made Me Want to Travel!

26 Jul

Thanks so much to the folks at The Broke And The Bookish who week after week host the fun and fabulous Top 10 Tuesday. This week’s challenge is to list the Top 10 Things Books Have Made Me Want To Do. To find out what other bloggers have learned or are inspired to do, click HERE.


Well above all else, books make me want to travel. Now as my husband will attest, I am not much of a traveler. But the following books have really sparked my interest. Whether it is to real life places or places I can only dream about, here is my list.

Top Books That Make Me Want to Travel


Travel in Unique Ways

Route 66 — The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee

Public Transportation — Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin


Travel to Unique Locales

Ca d’Zan Ringling Museum — The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

Oregon Sea Stacks — Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Shetland Islands — The Inheritance by Michael Phillips


Travel Back in Time

Viking Days — God’s Daughter by Heather Gilbert

Medieval Period — The Abbess of Whitby by Jill Dalladay

Ashes to Ashes by Mel Starr


Travel to Fictional Small Towns

Appleton — Lock, Stock And Over A Barrel by Melody Carlson

Bright’s Pond — The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin

Last Chance — Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong


Travel Across Time/Space/Universe

The Bright Empires Series by Stephen Lawhead



Where do you want to travel?

Top 10 Tuesday — Small Town Reads

1 Mar

This week the folks over at The Broke And The Bookish are hosting The Top 10 Tuesday theme, What to Read if You Are in The Mood for X. To find out all the great book recommendations bloggers are making, click HERE.


I am a small town girl. I was born and raised in the city, but I got out as soon as I could! I have lived in small towns for the past 30 years. Although I’ll read just about any genre with any setting, I do enjoy a small town read. The slow pace, the intimate feel, the close-knit relationships, and, yes, the quirky personalities appeal to me. So here are some Small Town Reads that I recommend when you get in that mood too.

Top Small Town Reads

The Quintessential Small Town

Charlene Baumbich has created the quintessential small town in her Welcome to Partonville series. Eighty-something Dorothy Jean Wetstra rides around Partonville, Illinois in her 1976 Lincoln bringing readers fun, laughter and touching moments. There are 6 books in the series, so plenty of reading enjoyment! Dearest Dorothy, Are We There Yet is book 1.



Small Town Romance

Cathleen Armstrong creates contemporary romance novels with a small town setting in her Place to Call Home series. Set in the small New Mexico town of Last Chance, this series features real life situations with a strong faith message. Welcome to Last Chance is book one in this 4-book series.


The Dear Daphne series by Melody Carlson follows the up and down love life of Daphne Ballinger. Daphne moves back to her hometown following her Aunt Dee’s death. Finding out that she will inherit all of her aunt’s estate, if she marries within a year, creates a bit of havoc in Daphne’s life. This is a fun series that has a serious side too as Daphne comes to understand Aunt Dee and herself. The concluding book in the series is due out in April. I can’t wait! Lock, Stock And over A Barrel is book 1.


Small Town Suspense

Kathy Herman has several wonderful series that feature small towns, but her Baxter series is my favorite and great place to start with this talented author. A lot of mystery and mayhem happens in this small Tennessee town. Recurring characters, such as newspaper editor Ellen Jones, create a cohesive and continuing story line. This is a five book series. Tested by Fire is book 1.



Small Town Cozy Mysteries

Nancy Mehl has a long list of mystery/suspense novels set in small towns. All are excellent, but if you are looking for a cozy mystery, check out The Ivy Towers Mystery series. Featuring a small town bookstore owner, this series is often laugh out loud funny. In the Dead of Winter is the first book in the 4-book series.


Mary Conneally is known for her historical romance novels featuring hunky cowboys, but under the name of Mary Nealy she writes mysteries. In the Historical Society Murders series, Carrie Evans is back in her hometown editing the town’s paper and dodging dead bodies and a stuffed mouse. This series is also LOL funny. Book 1 is Bury The Lead.


Small Town Quirky

While all of the novels listed above have their fair share of quirky characters, it’s hard to find normal within the pages of Joyce Magnin’s Bright’s Pond series. Joyce’s mostly off-kilter world is fun to visit and perfect for those who want a funny and unique small town read. Five books make up this series. Book 1 is The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow.



So there you have my recommendations for small town reads?

What are some of your favorites?



Book Review: Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus

16 Mar

13100288Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle—and her heart—are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture—God has a different plan.


joyce-magninJoyce Magnin is the author of five novels, including the popular Bright’s Pond series and the 2011 middle grade novel Carrying Mason. She is also a frequent speaker and writing instructor. Magnin lives with her son in Pennsylvania. Magnin’s websites are joycemagnin.blogspot.com or joycewritesforyoungpeople.blogspot.com. She is also on Twitter (handle: @joycemagnin) and Facebook at (JoyceMagnin).


My Impressions:

Joyce Magnin’s books are always good for a good chuckle or belly laugh. Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus is no exception. When Harriet loses a bet to her daughter-in-law and is forced to move from her home in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania to Grass Valley, California, she decides that she needs to have some purpose in her life and begins with a cross country trip that involves traveling on public transportation. With the exception of a planned visit to the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, Harriet’s itinerary is based on whim and Amelia, her phone’s GPS. Along the way, Harriet meets people that help her out and many she helps out in return. A journey of discovering what God’s pleasure is all about, Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus is a thoroughly satisfying jaunt.

Harriet is seventy-two years old and has never really been anywhere. Her salt and pepper shaker collection consists of finds from other people’s travels. Her idea of traveling across the country on public transportation is met with enthusiasm from her best friend and those she meets along the way, and concern from her son Henry, who spends the time awaiting his mother’s arrival with a little discovery of his own. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and not a little bit of envy at the inventive ways Harriet travels and the things she experiences. Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus is inventive, the characters fun and bit a quirky and the trip altogether enjoyable.


Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click HERE.

Book Review: Maybelle in Stitches

3 Apr

752803Maybelle Kazinzki can’t sew. She was after all, the only girl in the seventh grade Home Economics class to sew the zipper in the neck hole of the A-Line dress they were supposed to make. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house she gets the crazy idea to finish it—somehow, come heck or high water. She thinks it will help fill the lonely nights while her husband, Holden, is serving overseas during World War II.
Her recently departed mother’s quilt is made from scraps of material Maybelle traces back to her mother’s childhood, her grandmother’s childhood and her own childhood. She tries to add one of Holden’s stripes to it but the sewing is not going well and neither is her life. After receiving some harsh news, Maybelle’s faith falters and she puts the quilt away and stops trusting God. But God is faithful- no matter what. And it’ll take a group of neighborhood women armed with quilting needles to help Maybelle believe that.



JMagnin-225Joyce Magnin is the author of the Bright’s Pond novels, including the award-winning The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow. A member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship, Joyce is a frequent workshop leader and the organizer of the StoryCrafters fiction group. She lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


My Impressions:

Set during the WWII years, Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin, is a story of hope amid the uncertainty of life during war. Bound by common experiences and a need to grasp onto positive thoughts, the women of the Sun Shipyard form a sewing circle and sisterhood by making a crazy quilt of memories. If you like sweet stories from bygone days, then pick up this latest in Abingdon’s Quilts of Love series.

Maybelle is a welderette at the local shipyard, doing her part for the war effort. Her husband, Holden, is serving in Europe, and her thoughts often turn towards him. After her mother’s death, Maybelle discovers pieces of cloth that were destined for a crazy quilt. Despite not being domestically-inclined, she is persuaded by best friend Doris and two new friends from the shipyard to make a quilt that will embody the hope they have for their husbands’ safe return.

Magnin again uses her particular voice to bring to life America during WWII. With references to rationing, black outs and the catchy mottos of the time, she makes the reader feel just what life during the mid-1940s was like. I found Maybelle’s encounter with a new wringer washer and the musing of border Roger on the possibilities of canned dog food amusing and nostalgic. The story is realistic, and there are tears and losses as well as happy reunions for those in the Greatest Generation.

A quick read, Maybelle in Stitches is the perfect thing for a trip back to simpler, yet poignant, times.


(Thanks to Abingdon and LitFuse for my review copy. All opinions are mine alone.)

For more reviews, click HERE.

To purchase a copy of this book, click on the image below.


Don’t miss this month’s Quilts of Love book, Maybelle in Stitches, by Joyce Magnin. Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it.


qol-maybelle-400-clickJoyce is celebrating the release with a $200 Modcloth giveaway. Enter today for a chance to spruce up your spring wardrobe!

One winner will receive:
A $200 Modcloth gift card
Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare
Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin

Book Review: Griselda Takes Flight

6 Feb

711570_w185Now that her morbidly obese sister, Agnes Sparrow, is comfortably dieting at the Greenbrier Nursing Home, Griselda learns to fly—literally—after a pilot makes an emergency landing and creates quite a ruckus in the otherwise sleepy town of Bright’s Pond. 

But Griselda’s newfound freedom—and her flight time with handsome pilot, Cliff—is hampered by other happenings in town. Like the gold digger who prances around town and is supposedly engaged to Stella Kincaid’s brother—the lottery winner who is in a coma. And there’s Ivy Slocum’s dog, Al Capone, whose adventures continue long after they should. 

When Chief of Police Mildred Blessing starts investigating the gold digger, however, things really heat up—for Griselda and all the residents of the unique Pennsylvania hamlet called Bright’s Pond!

joyce-magninJoyce Magnin is the author of five novels, including the popular Bright’s Pond series and the 2011 middle grade novel Carrying Mason. She is also a frequent speaker and writing instructor. Magnin lives with her son in Pennsylvania. Her newest novel, Cake, is now available in stores.

My Impressions:

Having visited the whacky world of Bright’s Pond twice before, I was anxious to return again by way of Joyce Magnin’s novel, Griselda Takes Flight. Set in a small, 1970s Pennsylvania town, this book is filled with peculiar people and peculiar goings-on. There is a man in a coma at the nursing home, a hussy has just moved to town, a plane made an emergency landing and giant pumpkins are the focus of one farmer’s life. And the rumor of lost treasure buried at the abandoned mine has everyone racing to become rich. Such is life in Bright’s Pond, a town with a lot going for it in terms of community and friendship, but a little short on common sense and insight. But there is the town librarian, Griselda Sparrow, who is tasting a bit of freedom in the sky above the town.

Joyce Magnin is adept at creating a town quirky enough to keep you laughing, but with enough real fears and hopes to make the characters relatable, or at least some of them. Have I mentioned the peculiar people? Griselda is the voice of the novel and also the voice of reason. Struggling to find her new identity, Griselda is willing to explore and grow, rather than to stay the same.

If you liked Jan Karon’s Mitford, but want a little more adventure and spirit, and yes, oddity, in your reading, then choose Griselda Takes Flight. This book is #3 in the series, but could be read as a standalone. But why? Here’s some more scoop on the residents of Bright’s Pond:

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow (book 1 Bright’s Pond series)

Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise (book 2 Bright’s Pond series)


(I purchased this novel for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

Book Review: Cake

13 Feb

733331_w185More than frosting filled those cakes… Wilma Sue seems destined to go from one foster home to the next—until she is sent to live with sisters and missionaries, Ruth and Naomi. Do they really care about Wilma Sue, or are they just looking for a Cinderella-style farmhand to help raise chickens and bake cakes? As Wilma Sue adjusts to her new surroundings and helps deliver ‘special’ cakes, Wilma Sue realizes there’s something strange going on. She starts looking for secret ingredients, and along the way she makes a new friend, Penny. When Penny and her mother hit a rough patch, Naomi decides to make her own version of cake—with disastrous results. Then tragedy strikes the chickens, and all fingers point to Wilma Sue—just when she was starting to believe she could at last find a permanent home with Ruth and Naomi. Will the sisters turn her out, or will she discover what it feels like to be truly loved?

ReturnImage.aspxJoyce Magnin is the author of The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, chosen as one of the “Top 5 Best Christian Fiction Books of 2009” by Library Journal. She’s written several short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children. Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups. She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow Book Spotlight

Review of Charlotte Figg Takes over Paradise

My Impressions:

I have read and enjoyed 2 adult novels by Joyce Magnin. Her quirky characters are part of the attraction for me. That and her humor. So when I was given the opportunity to review a middle reader book by her, I thought sure, why not. What I found was a really good book with humor, insight and a wonderful faith message. Cake: Love, Chickens And A Taste of Peculiar is a book I would recommend to everyone!

Wilma Sue is an orphan. Her mother dropped her on the doorstep of the Daylily Home for Unwanted and Misunderstood Children (Wilma Sue’s label) when she was just 17 days old. Wilma Sue has had her share of feeling unwanted, unloved and rejected during her 12 years. But now she has landed in the slightly odd and very unpredictable home  of Naomi and Ruth, sisters and retired missionaries to Malawi. What goes on in Gray House is anything but normal — birds and fireworks fly out of cakes, arthritic men stand a little straighter, a woman with a case of the gossips begins to talk of other things, and Wilma Sue finally feels like she has found a home. Wilma Sue learns that the best thing to do is not just get along, but to give and in turn receive love.

Cake is the perfect book for a family read along. There is a lot of truth among the stories of taking care of chickens and baking cakes. There are also some wonderful and of course quirky characters. Magnin’s humor also shines through, especially in her naming and descriptions of the characters. Who couldn’t feel a bit wary of a child named Penelope Pigsworthy or in awe of an opera singer named Ramona Von Tickle? There are also a lot of interesting tidbits to discuss along the way — from the country of Malawi to the care and feeding of chickens to the great classic Beowulf. Yes, all that and a lot of fun. My only complaint is that I had a readers copy that did not include the illustrations of the goings on within the book. From the cover illustration, I can imagine they add a great deal to the telling of the story.

So if you are looking for a book for your 9 – 12 year old children or grandchildren, get a copy of Cake, and then schedule some family time for reading fun.

Highly Recommended.

To purchase Cake, click on the image below.

(I received Cake from DJCCommunications in return for an honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)