I just finished reading one of the best books. At 572 pages, it was a fairly long book but the read was well worth it. Forever Hilltop, featuring both An Unlikely Blessing and Surprising Grace together in one book, is about a city slicker Pastor named Alex Armstrong who moves to the North Dakota prairie as the new preacher of their two sister churches Hilltop and All Saints.
Although they are sister churches, the congregations are as different as daylight and dark. And so is the welcome they give Pastor Alex. Folks at All Saints aren’t actually mean to Alex, but because of the rocky past of their lead member, Alf Nyborg, things don’t get off to a welcoming start. Alf definitely has some demons to work through. And unfortunately, the flock tends to follow his every move.
Alex certainly had his work cute out for him in these novels. Here he was, a city dweller, fresh in the prairie country of North Dakota. It was steeped in tradition and familial warmth. Being from Chicago, he wasn’t used to that way at all. Everyone from Hilltop greeted him warmly and welcomed with TONS of food. That is one thing I miss about living in the country. It really is like that. Especially when, like in the book, the families that reside there are all descendants of the generations that settled there. In Forever Hilltop, not one farm has ever left the family of the settler. Judy Baer describes the residents as well versed in the bible, caring, educated even though they are from a small town and ready for a challenge. Coming from the country myself, I found that she described small town life perfectly. It left me longing for home!
In today’s day and age, people don’t tend to each other like they did in the past. Like they do in Forever Hilltop. In this book , if a member of the congregation is sick or hurt, everyone knows about it and everyone jumps in to offer support, cook meals, clean, etc. That is how I wish life was today.
Forever Hilltop took me back to a time, even though it is a modern day book, that lends itself to peace and happiness. Work was hard but loving each other was easy. And even when there was conflict, like between the 2 churches, events could bring everyone together for the greater good.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was calming. It wasn’t boring. There were conflicts and drama romance, and mysteries. But it wasn’t hard core fighting or full of foul language or sex. It was family friendly and used the word of God to get messages across in a writing style that made sense. The main character is a preacher so it makes sense that there would be scripture. But Pastor Alex is modern and down to Earth so he offered his congregation help in a way that fit with their lifestyles. I was able to learn while I enjoyed reading a great novel. That made for such a great reading experience!
Judy Baer was born and grew up on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota, experiencing many of the same things as her Hilltop characters. 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.
Baer graduated from Concordia College with majors in English and education and a minor in religion. While at the time, she was simply studying what interested her, Baer later realized that she was educating herself for her future career as a Christian writer. She certainly put her education to use as she is the author of more than 75 books.
A certified professional life coach now certified in three coaching disciplines, Baer coaches primarily professional and aspiring writers. She is also a faculty advisor in the Department of Human Development at St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis, MN. Baer has two daughters and three step children. She and her husband live in Minnesota.
She invites you to visit her at her web site www.judykbaer.com for more information on her and her books.
Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/azv7s
About the book:
The charming and often hilarious Forever Hilltop series follows the experiences of former city dweller Alex Armstrong as he settles into his new role as pastor of a Scandinavian community in rural North Dakota. Alex is sometimes baffled by his parishioners and their colorful ways, but he comes to appreciate their simple wisdom. One thing’s for sure — life in Hilltop Township is never dull! This new two-in-one format features An Unlikely Blessing along with its sequel, Surprising Grace.
In An Unlikely Blessing, Alex Armstrong is a former city dweller who has just accepted his first parish assignment to a small community in the wilds of North Dakota. In Hilltop Township, Pastor Alex becomes familiar with the residents and their odd traditions, from julebukking to King Oscar’s fish balls. 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.
In 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 loved — and the home he’s come to love.
Be sure to check out the entire LitFuse Blog Tour for Forever Hilltop.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Forever Hilltop as a participant in the the LitFuse Blog Tour. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.