An Unlikely Blessing by Judy Baer

January 30th, 2011

Welcome to the blog tour for prolific author Judy Baer’s first book in her new Forever Hilltop series, An Unlikely Blessing (Guideposts, 2010). To celebrate Judy is giving away a KINDLE!

About the book: An Unlikely Blessing is a heartfelt story about a new pastor and life-long city dweller Alex Armstrong, who reluctantly accepts his first assignment, a two-point parish in the wilds of North Dakota. Hilltop Township, a farming community, blooms from the prairie like a wild pink rose—lovely and prickly all at once, much like the people who live there.


Alex quickly finds that this lovely place is in quiet peril. Farmers are struggling to make ends meet: Jonas Owens, a faithful member of Hilltop parish, is on the brink of losing the farm. Alex believes that part of why God called him to Hilltop was to help turn things around, and steps in with ideas for saving the Owens’ land. But can even God’s minister help save this rural community?

There are a lot of firsts for the new pastor—the annual Hunter’s Breakfast, julebukking (also called Christmas fooling), King Oscar’s fish balls, and the melody of the musical saw. And the new, single pastor creates remarkable excitement among the unmarried women in the community. If you could die of hot dish overdose, Alex would be a dead man. Whether performing weddings, counseling his flock, or herding cattle by snowmobile, Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he will teach them. Day by day, he falls more in love with the people of Hilltop Church. People may leave Hilltop, but Hilltop never leaves them. Look for Book 2 in the Forever Hilltop series, Amazing Grace, in February of 2012.

Buy a copy here.

About Judy: Judy Baer is the author of over seventy-five books for adults and teens. She has won the Romance Writer of America Bronze Medallion and has been a RITA finalist twice. She lives in Elk River, Minnesota with her husband. Follow the Hilltop characters on Judy’s blog and find out more about Judy and her books at

Blog Tour Schedule:

Tiffany at A Cozy Reader’s Corner An Unlikely Blessing is a wonderful, refreshing novel! I had a hard time putting this one down. From the moment Alex arrives in Hilltop, I was hooked. The story was wonderful mix between realistic modern day issues and a blast from the past in regards to lifestyle and small town communities that act more like family than neighbors. The characters are very easy to fall in love with, even those who are the towns grump or trouble makers.Judy’s writing flows easily which made me feel like I was sitting with grandma as she told me stories from the past while imparting wisdom, laughter and insight. I imagined myself as part of the Hilltop community while reading this novel and could easily picture the community in my mind. I even found myself falling for Ale’s charm and caring nature. I am anything but a farm girl, however this book captured me! I will be reading the rest of the series and highly anticipate the release of book two! I highly recommend the read.

Melanie at Ramblings of 2 Readers

Jamie at Little Blurbs

Margorie Reviews

Briana at I Can’t Decide

Mark at Thoughts of a Sojourner

Stacie at Hobbit Door

Patricia at Dream A Little Dream

Jeanine at My Bits and Bleeps

Jolene at Moments of Beauty

Isabelle at Canadian Lady Bug Reveiws

Pamela at Daysong Reflections An Unlikely Blessing has the same down home, character driven plot that kept folks reading Jan Karon’s Mitford series and Philip Gulley’s Harmony novels. I have read several books from both of those series and for my own personal preferences, An Unlikely Blessing takes first place. It is a heartwarming story with such real characters that I wanted to move right into Hilltop myself. Lots of humor, a bit of action, and just good storytelling makes An Unlikely Blessing a keeper. What can I say? I loved An Unlikely Blessing and can’t wait for the next installment so I can find out what is going on with Pastor Alex and his flock.

Pamela Readz

Ramblins of 2 Readers

Laura at Christian Bookworm Reviews

Briana at I Can’t Decide

Stacie at the Hobbit Door

Debra at Footprints in the Butter It is so blatantly obvious that in this book, Baer is writing about something she knows intimately — small-town life in North Dakota. The events unfold naturally. The people are so very real.  I laughed aloud. I loved that everything didn’t wrap up nicely at the end of the book. It just seemed so real. Small-town life is not portrayed as being perfect. What didn’t I like? That’s easy. I didn’t like that it ended.

Noelle at Live and Dream

Jeanine at My Bits and Bleeps

Janet at Home is Where God Sends You

Gretta at The Johns Family

Melissa at Books R Us

Melissa at Wordheard

Becky at Christian Chicks Thoughts

Mel’s World I could see the sights, smell the smells and put myself right into this charming book. I love when you become so connected with the characters of the story that they become lifelong friends…and that is what happened while I was reading An Unlikely Blessing.

Karla at Quiet Quilter This is a MUST READ book!! Judy does  a marvellous job in her description of the characters and involves you in all of their lives. You want to be the person who can help them all.  It is an easy to read book, light at times with humor, serious at others with situations that there seems to be not end to!  What a great book!!

Stacey at Word Up An Unlikely Blessing” by Judy Baer is a charming novel about a man embracing a mid-life career change when he is called to become a pastor. This uproots him from his big city home and the life he knows to relocate him to rural North Dakota. Alex Armstrong and his nephew, Jared, arrive in Hilltop Township after a considerable road trip only to be welcomed into Alex’s new adopted community with warm and unexpected hospitality. Ms. Baer paints a beautiful picture that can be taken from this work of fiction as a lesson for life.

Elana at The Twinners

Jodie at A Mom’s Pace

Kat at Reviews from the Heart 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!

Latawnia Kintz Reviews An Unlikely Blessing is truly a blessing to read. Judy Baer brings to life the community of Hilltop Township which is located in North Dakota. Here I got to meet the new pastor, a city fella named Alex Armstrong. Now I could relate to his feeling a bit out of his comfort zone in moving from the city to a small country community. I did the same when I moved from the big city to be with my husband on the family property just outside of a very small farming town. So when Alex found himself feeling a bit like a fish out of water, I understood. I particularly liked how Judy allowed her new pastor to feel trepidation, uncertainty, and all of the other emotions a real person experiences when stepping into a new situation, position and leadership. Also, I enjoyed watching the developing love and concern for each  person(s) in Hilltop in Alex. I look forward to reading more of this new series and discovering how Alex and his flock(s) are going to resolve their various problems.Definitely a series I will recommend!

Tea Time with Annie Kate Although this book is in the same genre as Jan Karon’s Mitford Years, the prairie town flavor and fast pace makes it unique. Judy Baer’s characters are totally believable, and I was swept into the story. Having grown up as a prairie girl, I loved the setting and felt at home in the book. It is all action, just like real life; every time I expected deep thoughts, something else would happen. An Unlikely Blessing is wholesome without being preachy and full of neighborly news without being gossipy. It refreshed and relaxed me thoroughly, and I’m still smiling because of it.

Janet at Along the Way

Julie at One Rainy Afternoon

Patty at Broken Teepee The story is a cute one about learning about people and their differences and trying to find ways to get along. Holding on to perceived hurts doesn’t do anyone any good. I enjoyed reading the book and would enjoy continuing the journey with the next two books in the series.

Ponderings by Andrea

Musings by Lynn

Quintessentially Quilly This is a glorious slice of life book. We get to move to Hilltop with Pastor Alex and spend the first few weeks watching him settle in to his new life, make friends, look at old problems with a fresh perspective, and remind folks that even though they haven’t had a pastor for awhile, God was always present in their lives. Judy Baer is a delightful writer. Much of her description left me chuckling or down-right laughing out loud. She has created characters so distinctive, complex and quirky I am certain I would recognize them if I passed them on the street.

Roxanna Jolly

Reviews by Molly 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!

Michelle at Life in Review I highly recommend this book! It’s a very sweet, fun, delightful and uplifting story. It’s touching and funny and it packs a great message! It’s a very light and easy read that will lift you up. I like the small town drama and all the fun, quirky characters. It also has a lot of truth to it that carries across to anyone. I would certainly like to read more Hilltop books! 

LaVerne at Christian Counseling Insight

Laurie at Knits & Reads

Ashley at Ashley’s Bookshelf

Christa at Fairfield Corner Academy

Michelle at Beyond Silver & Gold

Carly at Carly Bird’s Home

Beckie at RBC Library An Unlikely Blessing by Judy Baer is a gentle read reminiscent of Miss Read’s Fairacre series.  It is a slow-paced, hometown, comfort read.  If you like Jan Karon’s Mitford series or Charlene Baumbich’s Dearest Dorothy series, you will probably find this book to your liking.  The novel is the first in a series, so a lot of characters and story lines are introduced without much resolution.  The plots introduced should unfold in the coming books.  The lovable and sometimes quirky characters are endearing.  Even those who are trouble are treated with compassion.

Pamela at Mustard Seed Book Reviews An Unlikely Blessing is highly character driven. From the unsure new pastor to feuding families and churches to that Olsen/Olson distinction, An Unlikely Blessing is filled with down-to-earth (and a few over-the-top) characters from all walks of rural North Dakota life. To be sure, An Unlikely Blessing is never going to be considered a deep scholarly work.   This book is a fast read that is cleverly going to spin off into a series of books filled with the many characters introduced in this first book.    Read on its own, the ending leaves many dangling plot lines, but that seems ok because more books will eventually handle all of those details.

Kaylea at My Scrappy Life 

Jami’s Reviews

Deb’s Book Reviews I loved this story.

Dawn at Book Junkie Confessions A sweet, sometimes comical story of Alex Armstrong and his new congregation of country folk. Alex is a city guy so you can imagine some of the issues that come up for the new pastor, but he’s determined to stick it out. Quirky characters and tender moments make this a very charming book. Looking forward to next one this series. 

Suzanne at Clicking Her Heels