TGIF: How to Get Great Free Books


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If you see the MennoMedia Facebook page, you likely know about Goodreads.

If you read a lot of books anyway, and would like to get more books, you would likely enjoy Goodreads. It’s one of those social media sharing sites for people with specialized interests. Giveaways are popular through social media, but time consuming to manage and administer, so that’s why, with a very small staff, we at MennoMedia and Herald Press use the Goodreads program frequently.

Right now we have three Goodreads giveaways offered:



  • Two copies of Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds are on the giveaway block at Goodreads from now until September 22. Bonnet Strings is a memoir by Saloma Miller Furlong about a woman who grew up Amish and then made the traumatic decision to leave her community as she fell in love with and married her eventual husband. A great book to curl up with this fall and winter … or share with a friend or family member! More info here.


  • Five copies of Rebecca, the second of Mary Christner Borntrager’s Ellie’s People series are up for grabs on Goodreads beginning Monday, September 15, and running through October 1. If you know girls between the ages of 8-14, they just might enjoy this book. Read more about the series in our earlier blog post. (And you have to be at least 13 to enter on Goodreads.)


  • And here’s a different giveaway over at Valley Living, a Harrisonburg-area magazine for families that I edit in my spare time. On November 1, Valley Living will give away one free copy of Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations in a drawing from all those who complete a word search from the Valley Living website (the magazine is doing this to promote the website too). Here’s where to download the word search, this one on “the skeleton,” which can help kids learn about bones. So if you have kids, grandkids or teach kids the right age, they might enjoy helping do the word search, or even sending it in to win the free book for their mom or grandmother (hint hint). It has to be downloaded to enter it in the giveaway. For more on the beautiful book, check here. Not into a word search? That’s fine—share it with a friend.The deadline to submit the puzzle for the contest is October 29, and the address to send it to is printed on the puzzle.

That’s the point of all these giveaways anyway: sharing information, helping people know about good books available for a wide variety of interests and tastes, and keeping the love of reading and demand for books alive, regardless of whether you prefer ebooks, softbacks or old fashioned hardbacks.

Sophia Shine Bible


All of these books and more are always available at our store (or by clicking on the photos above) or by calling 800-245-7894.


Do you know of other book giveaway sites? What is your favorite? Let us know! And enter any and all of these giveaways for some wonderful books.


If you’re curious about the “rules” from Goodreads, here are some of the guidelines:

  • No purchase necessary. Only one entry is allowed per household. You must be 13 or older and a legal resident of one of the countries this giveaway is listed for.
  • The publisher or author, not Goodreads, is responsible for shipment of books to winners. To list a book, the publisher or author has already agreed never to send you anything except the book in question.
  • You are not required to review the book if you win a copy. However, we encourage you to do so, as it’s the reason the publishers are giving us free books in the first place. People who review the books are also more likely to win more advance copies in the future.
  • By accepting an advance copy and posting a review, you grant Goodreads and the publisher an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, and distribute your review.
  • In compliance with FTC guidelines, please disclose in your review that you received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.



Melodie Davis, managing editor and author

Part II: And then she was gone …

Blog post in 2 parts: 1st part here.

Mary Christner Borntrager was born the seventh child in an Amish family of ten and went on to author of a series of novels with over 500,000 copies in print.

Part II: And then she was gone …

Here’s oldest daughter Kathryn Borntrager Keim’s account of her mother’s last years and days:

“When I walked into the hospital that morning, I was already tired. For the past three months, I had been running back and forth—juggling my household duties, babysitting grandchildren, and taking care of my mother’s things.


“Mother moved in next door to us after my father died of cancer. For 10 years, things went pretty well. Then Mother’s ailments took a turn for the worse. She had TIAs (ministrokes) and heart problems. She was in her 70s and when the doctor said she should not be living alone, Mother moved in to live with my husband and me. She was in our home for four years. Then her health got worse. The morning I called the paramedics, I almost dropped her. She couldn’t walk and had tremors so bad she couldn’t even hold a spoon.


“Now, three months later, she had been in the hospital, then rehab, then a nursing home for the third time. Here she was back in the hospital again, and not doing well.


“I met her doctor in the hall and he gave me an update. The Lupus she had developed taxed her body to the limit causing the tremors to accelerate. He said her lungs were full of fluid again, but felt she was too weak to stand the procedure to clear them. His question was, ‘What should we do?’ My thought was, ‘Please God, I’m too tired to make another decision.’


“The doctor said Mother agreed to have the procedure if he thought it would help. But he wanted my input. I told him as long as Mother could make her own decision, I would go along with it. He said, ‘Why don’t you go in and talk it over with her and I’ll go talk to the other doctors. I just don’t feel good about this. She looks so tired.’


“I walked in the room and Mother greeted me with a weak smile. We talked about getting her lungs drained. She said what she always said, ‘I’ll try.’ I wasn’t so sure but said it was up to her and the doctor.


“Her food tray was sitting untouched by her bed. I asked her if she wanted to eat anything. She replied, ‘Since they were kind enough to bring me something, I should at least try. But I’m not really hungry. I told her she didn’t have to eat, but she said again, ‘I’ll try.’ I gave her a sip of water, and then a bit of pudding. Her mouth moved, and then she was gone.


“I’m not sure what I said when I realized Mother was not breathing. But a nurse came running right away and took over. I sat in a chair and watched in a daze, so many things going through my mind. I wanted to scream, ‘Mother, don’t give up. Please just try.’ Then I realized that Mother never gave up. She lived what she taught us. Keep trying. When things get tough, just keep trying. God is always there to see you through. Just keep trying ‘til He calls you home.


“After my father died, Mother said she sometimes felt like giving up. But then she would remember that as long as you have life, God has something for you to do.


“Her first book had just been accepted for publication about a week before my father died. Yes, she kept trying. The book Ellie, which she wrote while in her 60s, became a best seller for the publisher. When they asked her for more novels, she supplied them with nine more books over the next nine years. At times, it wasn’t easy, but she kept trying.


“I loved to take her to her speaking engagements and watch the people as she spoke. She had a way of making you feel at home. It was like having a cup of tea and chatting with a friend. That is also how she wrote her books—about people’s lives just like hers. The struggles, joys, hopes, and fears. But all in all, never giving up.


“The Ellie’s people series is a wonderful legacy for me to remember how one woman touched many lives through her books and her life. Never giving up.


“Good bye, Mother. I’ll miss you. But now, I must go and make some more decisions. I can’t give up ‘til God calls me home.” –Kathryn Keim, 2002.


Mary Christner Borntrager, at her writing desk.

And now, these books are being resurrected to not only provide a whole new generation with entertaining reading, laced with wisdom and inspiration to think through and solve the family problems and issues that face them, like one reader commented above. At least we hope so.

Rebecca, New Edition
The next book in Mary Christner Borntrager’s 
series, Rebecca, is due out Oct. 1, 2014.

Through this legacy of her books, Mary is still helping her small denominational publisher hang in there and keep trying during these difficult economic times for many publishers.

We thank her family for allowing her books to be published again. May another half million be sold! And we’ll all do a happy dance.


Have you read any books in the Ellie’s People series? What was your favorite?

Did you ever meet Mary Christner Borntrager?

 To purchase Ellie, go here.



Kathryn’s story of her mother’s last days and relatively peaceful death reminds me profoundly of a recent Herald Press on dying called Living Thoughtfully, Dying Well: A Doctor Explains How to Make Death a Natural Part of Life by Dr. Glen E. Miller. See more here

P1050565Post by Melodie Davis, MennoMedia editor, writer, producer. Also blogging