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Forever Hilltop Two-in-One featuring An Unlikely Blessing and Surprising Grace Paperback – May 1, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Judy Baer, award-winning author of nearly eighty books, is a North Dakota native who writes from her home in Elk River, Minnesota. As well as being a full-time writer, Judy is a writing and life coach, a mother of two daughters, and a stepmother of three. Read more at judykbaer.com.
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Product Details

  • Series: Forever Hilltop
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Guideposts Books (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824945298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824945299
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,945,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Coffee Addicted Writer (Billy) TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
There are two books in one volume in Forever Hilltop. In the first book Unlikely Blessings, you meet Alex Armstrong, who after the age of 40 decided to follow God's word and become a pastor. Despite being from the city, his first parish assignment is in Hilltop Township, a small community of Grassy Valley, North Dakota, city population 1,254. With the assistance of his nephew Jared, he travels to the small town, where upon arriving he learns that he is a pastor to two churches. The two churches can't afford much; therefore Alex is pastor to both of them. He soon realizes that each church is the opposite of each other as the two sets of parishioners do not get along.

The town isn't exactly Mayberry, or anything Alex had imagined. The people tend to meddle in other's affairs. And the single women like the idea that Alex is single too, bringing him plenty of food to eat. Alex doesn't really know how to react to this as he is still getting over a failed relationship.

In the sequel Surprising Grace, Alex Armstrong is adjusting as pastor of Hilltop Church, and adjusting to the odd ways and rituals of the town. His lost love soon returns, and Alex must choose between her and his parishioners.

Forever Hilltop is a charming and sometimes funny read that reminds me of the old movies The Egg &I and Angel in My Pocket. The main character Alex is very likeable and as a reader I felt he was relatable in some ways as he tries to connect with his parishioners who are dead set in their ways. The author did a remarkable job creating a believable small town filled with quirky characters throughout. Both books are cute and clean-cut that most Christian readers and generic readers will enjoy.
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Format: Paperback
Forever Hilltop Two-in-One featuring An Unlikely Blessing and Surprising Grace Want a heart-happy, chuckle-out-loud read that leaves you feeling uplifted, refreshed, and like all is right with the world? Then be sure to read Judy Baer's, Forever Hilltop featuring An Unlikely Blessing and Surprising Grace. These charming slice of life stories follow new Pastor Alex Armstrong on a spiritual journey he wasn't expecting.

In An Unlikely Blessing, city pastor Alex Armstrong, accepts a two-pulpit (dual churches) post in rural North Dakota fearing his biggest challenge will be boredom; however his perspective changes before he even reaches town. At the edge of the city limits he encounters an ancient farmer, a tipped pick-up truck, a runaway sow with piglets and several members of his future congregation. It isn't long before he realizes life is going to be very different than he'd anticipated. Then he discovers that sometimes rural life can be too interesting -- especially for a well-respected, eligible bachelor in a town with an abundance of marriage-minded women.

In Surprising Grace, Natalie, Alex's former fiance, the woman who broke his heart and was a large part of the reason he accepted a parish in Hilltop Parish, North Dakota, has had a change of heart and wants him back -- but she doesn't want Hilltop Parish. Alex has to choose between everything he's always wanted, and the new life he's forged in Hilltop Township. To complicate matters, there's a burglar on the loose, the township's only doctor is leaving the area, and one of the town's spinsters, without any encouragement, has pegged Alex as her future husband.
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Format: Paperback
Although the welcome sign states "A Place Like Home" - Grassy Valley, North Dakota with a population of 1,254 is nothing like Alex Armstrong's home near Chicago. However, his new life as reverend of a "two-point parish" is nothing like his past experience as a college professor either. The two parishes that he will serve are at odds with one another. Within the first chapters of book one, the reader meets such terrific characters! The thought that Americans like these can probably still be found in many small U.S. towns is heartening. I had to keep reading to hear more of their life stories as Alex meets, gets to know, and appreciates his congregation and their uniqueness. Alex's prayer list for parishioners grows, along with his desire to help these Scandinavian farmers continue to live on land that's been in their families for generations.
My children sometimes accuse me of being nosy. I like to hear people's stories and appreciate optimistic, friendly, original people with wonderful family stories. Judy Baer's rural characters stand out. Initially, some of the characters seem to be uncommunicative, quiet men; their reticent personalities made me want to hear more about them. Many readers will appreciate this peaceful, but often uplifting, funny story.

*Complimentary copy received for this review, does not affect my opinion in any way*
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Format: Kindle Edition
Foreer Hilltop is comprised of the first two books in this series, so in some ways, it is not fair to be reviewing them together. The series in indeed charming, and since I am now a country girl, I am able to idenitify with some of the issues that come up. And indeed, Alex has to be the most charming pastor I have ever encountered!

The first in the series was nice enough but sometimes just a little bit slow. I rhink that sometimes the first book in a series can tend to be this way because it is the introduction to all these characters. I will give Judy Baer credit for assembling a motley crew that cover the entire gamut of church personalities. You would think that a little town would be boring, but that cannot be said of Hilltop!

This becomes all too clear in the second of the series. By the end of the book, Pastor Alex has more drama in his parish than a dog has fleas. I found this second book a delightful continuation, and the relationships I had begun with the characters in the first book continued even more into this second book.

The second book had everything that makes a good story: romance, love triangle, theft, mystery, and a vicious love triangle (kind of). I was quite pleased with Pastor Alex's decisions throughout the book (no spoilers from me) and his total reliance on God. And yet even the pastor wavers now and then!

In conclusion, this is a lighthearted summer read that will resonate with most. I can hardly wait to read the next book in the series!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
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