Book Review: A Christmas to Remember

9 Dec

51u6nvtlel-_sx322_bo1204203200_Readers first met Ella in the multi-award winning The Calling of Ella McFarland. They cheered as feisty Ella battled to raise women from dark places, and they fell in love with Andrew alongside Ella. In the novella ‘A Christmas to Remember’ readers revisit Ella and Andrew three years into their marriage. Oklahoma has achieved statehood, and life in the cottage on the banks of Rock Creek has changed. What could have prepared the couple for the challenges thus far? Or those ahead? It’s Christmas, 1908, and Ella’s life is about to be transformed. Again.

 
61jathwzugl-_ux250_Born and reared in Raymondville, a small farming town in the southernmost tip of Texas, Linda Brooks Davis holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She devoted forty years to the education of students with special needs before settling down to her lifelong dream: writing. Set in 1905 pre-statehood Oklahoma, THE CALLING OF ELLA MCFARLAND, an inspirational historical with a strong romantic thread, debuted on December 1, 2015.

When not writing, Linda enjoys Bible study, reading, and researching genealogy. She and her husband dote on six grandchildren, three of whom arrived in 2005–in triplicate form. In her first published article, “The Choice”, which appeared in 2011 in LIVE, a publication of Gospel Publishing House, she chronicled her daughter’s agonizing at-risk triplet pregnancy and the heart-wrenching choice her medical team placed before her.

Linda likes to brag on her daughter and son, both veterinarians who like one another well enough to practice together. In Texas that’s called learnin’ to get along.

You may visit Linda at lindabrooksdavis.com. Porch light’s always on.

 

My Impressions:

Linda Brooks Davis’ debut novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, got a recommended rating from me. Her follow-up Christmas-themed novella featuring Ella, Andrew and other old and new characters is a heart-warming story that focuses on the what love entails. I can easily see this historical tale set in the early 1900s as a Hallmark Movie! Filled with historic details, engaging characters and a timeless message, A Christmas to Remember gets a highly recommended rating!

The last time we saw Ella and Andrew was shortly after they married. Now a few years later, they have a family of 6 girls! With 5 adopted sisters and a child of her own, Ella is stretched to the limits of her endurance. Determined to do all things for her family, Ella neglects the most important thing — sharing herself. Ella is working to prove herself worthy, but she learns in the end that love can’t be measured, love can’t be weighed, nor can it be earned.

A Christmas to Remember is a very short book — just 126 pages — but packs a lot of punch! I really enjoyed returning to Oklahoma and reconnecting with Ella. If you have not read Davis’ first book, don’t despair, A Christmas to Remember can easily be read as a standalone. This one is perfect reading beside the fire!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinion expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review: The Pattern Artist

8 Dec

51y8wtodaxl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Born into a life of hard work, English housemaid Annie Wood arrives in New York City in 1911 with her wealthy mistress. Wide-eyed with the possibilities America has to offer, Annie wonders if there’s more for her than a life of service. Annie chooses to risk everything, taps into courage she never knew she had, and goes off on her own, finding employment in the sewing department at Macy’s. While at Macy’s Annie catches the eye of a salesman at the Butterick Pattern Company. Through determination, hard work, and God’s leading, Annie discovers a hidden gift: she is a talented fashion designer—a pattern artist of the highest degree. As she runs from ghosts of the past and focuses on the future, Annie enters a creative world that takes her to the fashion houses of Paris and into a life of adventure, purpose, and love.

71mrtw6rdwl-_ux250_Nancy Moser and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She offers a monologue of Martha Washington (in costume) letting Martha share her life story. She also gives “God’s Gifts Workshops” around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She kills all her houseplants, and can wire an electrical fixture without getting shocked. She is a fan of anything antique–humans included.

Find out more: http://www.nancymoser.com

 

My Impressions:

Nancy Moser is a favorite author of mine. Whether it is contemporary women’s fiction or an historical novel, Moser always delivers an entertaining story with engaging characters. The Pattern Artist is no exception. Set in the early years of 20th century America, this novel explores the meaning of independence of spirit and dependence on a sovereign God. This one is a recommended read for fans of an historically-based novel with hints of romance.

Annie Woods has dreams of being more. A lowly housemaid, Annie believes she can work her way up to ladies maid if she works hard and is loyal to her employers. But life in service requires long hours, and efforts often go unnoticed and unappreciated. Faced with the knowledge that her dreams may never be fulfilled, Annie and two of her new friends run away and endeavor to start a new life in exciting New York City.

Characters make The Pattern Artist. Main character Annie is a work in process. As she encounters obstacles and threats, she learns the costs of wrong choices. Annie is not a believer in the beginning, but is wooed by God throughout the novel and is influenced by godly characters who show her what love looks like. Her search for independence is contrasted with the necessity to put full dependence on God for provision and protection. Annie is extremely likable; you’ll find yourself cheering for her even as you cringe at some of her decisions. She is definitely real with flaws galore, but a spirit that cannot be extinguished. Supporting characters compliment and advance Annie’s story as she discovers God’s purpose for her life. Her love interest, Sean, is a great romantic hero. History fans will love the historical figures and events that are woven throughout The Pattern Artist. Moser also provides a wonderful view into the world of fashion and home sewing. An element of danger adds to the tension and creates some welcomed suspense to the novel.

I really liked The Pattern Artist — just the right amount of romance, history and suspense to keep the pages turning!

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Barbour Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

December Book Club Selections

6 Dec

I am a bit late posting the books my book clubs are reading this month. My mind has been filled with lots of distractions including the upcoming wedding of my youngest son. All the books have Christmas connections, although not necessarily Christmas-y themes. Have you read these books? What did you think?

51d5h-ifykl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Finding Riley by Dan Walsh. An unexpected surprise brings the Mitchell family of Savannah a chance to experience the Christmas trip of their dreams. An unexpected disappointment threatens to turn it into the worst Christmas of their lives. John Finch and his friend Alfred live in the woods. Been doing it for decades. He likes wintering in Florida, but this year’s been particularly harsh. Between the cold, freezing rain and terrifying lightning storms, John’s starting to wonder how much more of this lifestyle he can take. A new friend enters the picture and changes everything. Kim Harper, the dog trainer introduced in Rescuing Finley, is contacted by a billionaire philanthropist seeking her help with a new dog training project that will help the homeless. Is he for real? And is her co-worker right? Does this rich, handsome man’s interest in Kim go much deeper than her dog-training skills?

 

51vc8gcajjl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Christmas Crimes by Anne Perry (2 novella volume).

Christmas Homecoming. Charlotte Pitt’s mother, Caroline, is spending the holiday with her young husband, Joshua Fielding, in Whitby, the fishing village where Dracula first touches English soil in Bram Stoker’s sensational novel. Joshua has arranged to produce a stage adaptation of Dracula, written by the daughter of millionaire Charles Netheridge, but tempers flare after a disastrous first read-through of the script. As wind and snow swirl around Netheridge’s lonely hilltop mansion, a black-cloaked stranger emerges from the storm. At the same time, a brooding evil makes itself felt, and instead of theatrical triumph, there is murder—shocking and terrifying.

Christmas Garland. The year is 1857, soon after the violent Siege of Cawnpore, and India is in the midst of rebellion. In the British garrison, a guard is killed, a prisoner escapes, and a luckless medical orderly named John Tallis is arrested as an accomplice simply because he was the only soldier unaccounted for when the crimes were committed. Though chosen to defend Tallis, young Lieutenant Victor Narraway is not encouraged to try very hard. His superiors merely want a show trial. But inspired by a simple Christmas garland, and his own stubborn faith in justice, Narraway is determined to figure out the truth, despite the appalling odds. In an alien world haunted by massacre, he is the accused man’s only hope.

Top 10 Tuesday — New To Me Authors

6 Dec

2016 has been a great reading year! Lots of favorite authors with new books and plenty of new to me authors to insure many hours of reading pleasure in the future. This week the folks at The Broke And The Bookish are featuring 2016 New To You Authors. To discover a new to you author, click HERE.

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2016 New To Me Authors

 

 

biopicCalled “the suspense author everyone is talking about” by Family Fiction Edge magazine, Zachary Bartels is the author of critically acclaimed supernatural thrillers. An award-winning preacher and Bible teacher, Zachary has been serving as pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Lansing, Michigan, for ten years. He enjoys film, fine cigars, stimulating conversation, gourmet coffee, reading, writing, and cycling.

His debut novel, Playing Saint, has been called an “intrigue-filled thriller” (Library Journal) and “a page-turner from the very beginning . . . gripping and realistic” (RT Book Reviews). His newest book, The Last Con (HarperCollins Christian Fiction, 2015) has met early positive reviews. He lives in the capital city of a mitten-shaped Midwestern state with his wife Erin and their son.

 

71xnmguh8yl-_ux250_A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a mom to two precious little boys and also serves with her husband in a premarriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

 

davis_lindabrooks_2016_01-31-copy-2Linda Brooks Davis is the 2014 Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel 1st place winner. Her debut historical novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland, was released on December 1, 2015. Now working on her second novel, Linda pens stories inspired by her ancestors’ lives of faith and grit, tales that testify to the hope and healing found in Jesus.

Linda was born and reared on a farm in small-town Raymondville in the southernmost tip of Texas. She attended Abilene Christian University where she earned a degree in speech pathology in 1968 and maintained a forty-year career in public schools while rearing a daughter and son who are now veterinarians in practice together. As the eldest student in her post-graduate class, she earned a Master’s degree from Houston Baptist University in 2002.

Now retired, Linda lives in Central Texas with her husband. When not writing, Linda dotes on her six beautiful grandchildren, serves in lay ministry at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, reads, and explores genealogy.

 

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4114506_origCamille Eide writes romantic, inspirational dramas about love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, oldies Rock, and Peanut M&Ms. I read her historical/romance novel, The Memoirs of Johnny Devine.

 

 

 

 

amy-matayo-1Author Amy Matayo is an excellent speaker, mathematician, seamstress, chef…and liar. She’s decent at writing books but not much else. Then again, the book thing makes her marginally cool and a whole lot intimidating.

Not really. Not even her kids are afraid of her.

She graduated with barely passing grades from John Brown University with a degree in Journalism. But she’s proud of that degree and all the ways she hasn’t put it to good use.

She laughs often, cries easily, feels deeply, and loves hard. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids and is working on her next novel.

I read The Thirteenth Chance.

 

4129Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater. Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater. I read The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder

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611b1ezgmtl-_ux250_For 27 years, Deb Richardson-Moore was a reporter for The Greenville (SC) News, winning three national writing awards and routine recognition from the South Carolina Press Association. She was a wife, mother of three, and that suburban cliche, a minivan-driving soccer mom.

She then took over the religion beat at The News and enrolled in a nearby seminary to learn more about it. Her life was never the same. She left the newspaper and earned a master of divinity degree. Because jobs for clergywomen were scarce in her own Baptist denomination, she accepted a job as pastor of the non-denominational Triune Mercy Center, a crumbling, inner-city mission church to the homeless.

Deb is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Erskine Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Vince, have three grown children. The Cantaloupe Thief was her debut novel.

 

41tko0oljtl-_ux250_Mike Nappa is an entertainment journalist at FamilyFans.com, as well as a bestselling and award-winning author with more than one million books sold worldwide. When he was a kid, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe scared him silly. Today he owns everything Poe ever wrote. A former fiction acquisitions editor, Mike earned his MA in English literature and now writes full time. Annabel Lee was his debut novel.

 

press-kit-headshotSandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time . . . when not doting on her young grandchildren.

 

 

 

kelli-stuart-sqKelli Stuart is a writer and a storyteller at heart. A graduate of Baylor University with a degree in English Professional Writing, and a minor in the Russian language, Kelli has honed her skills in the written word through editing, ghostwriting, blogging, and traveling the world. Kelli has a gift for languages that puts her at ease in other cultures, allowing her to view this creative life from the vantage point of mothers worldwide.

Kelli is a noted blogger and the writer behind the wildly popular blog Minivans Are Hot.com. She has traveled extensively, constantly honing her craft at weaving words into tales as she experiences life and the world. Kelli has written for, and represented, such brands as The Huffington Post, 5 Minutes for Mom, Tonic.com, Disney, American Girl, The MOB Society, Extraordinary Mommy, God Size Dreams, Short Fiction Break, and (in)courage. Kelli has also served as editor-in-chief for the St. Louis Bloggers Guild and as a board member for the St. Louis Women in Media. I read Like A River from Its Course.

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(All author biographical information came directly from their websites.)

What new authors did you discover in 2016?

Book Review + Giveaway: Pray A to Z

5 Dec

51wn-jo7l-_sx343_bo1204203200_Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Praying for Your Community will help you topically organize your prayer requests and lay the burdens of your community at the feet of our Heavenly Father. Whether you are praying for a friend’s adoption journey, a neighbor’s bankruptcy, or a family member’s cancer, this book will give you Bible verses, prayer prompts, and prayer starts to guide you through praying for even the most difficult issues that affect the people you know and love. Perfect for either individual or group prayer, Pray A to Z will help you experience the peace that comes from communicating with God.

 

arhodes-412Amelia Rhodes is a speaker and author of Isn’t It Time for a Coffee Break: Doing Life Together in an All-About-Me Kind of World. Amelia’s writing has also been featured in four Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, devotionals for the OneHope blog Undeterred and the international devotional Upper Room. Amelia has a growing speaking ministry and speaks regularly to women’s groups on topics of spiritual growth, friendship, and community, offering practical tools for living our faith in the everyday. She lives in Lowell, Michigan.
Find out more about Amelia at http://www.ameliarhodes.com.

 

My Impressions:

Community, according to my dictionary, is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. We all live in community whether as part of a small town or a large city, a remote rural area or a sprawling urban center. And even if your closest neighbor is miles away, we are all part of a larger group. I see the book Pray A to Z as a means to bring people closer together. This small book can make a big impact. Arranged alphabetically by topic, each passage begins with a verse of Scripture and then gives direction for specific prayer. Many of the topics are people and things I may not have included in my own prayer time without prompting, but are vital to the well-being of my community — court cases, foster families, eXcellence and generosity. The book is an effective resource to re-energize and re-focus personal prayer time or group prayer meetings. I also see it as a tool to compliment prayer-walking or driving as we go about our daily life.

If you want to up your prayer game, then consider Pray A to Z!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Worthy Publishers and LitFuse for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Giveaway!

 

Learn more about Pray A to Z and how to pray for your community, and enter to win Amelia’s Guide to Prayer Prize Pack to get you started.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

A copy of Pray A to Z
A set of Pray A to Z prayer cards
A custom wood sign (similar to this one) made by Amelia’s friend
A prayer journal

Enter today by clicking HERE, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 20. The winner will be announced December 21 on Amelia’s blog.

Clash of The Titles!

1 Dec

It’s the end of our CLASH year, and we’ve lined up some awesome holiday reading (and gift ideas!) for this month’s Clash of the Titles.
Vote for your Ideal curl up in front of a fire read!

 

 

Scroll through these releases and cast your vote for your perfect idea of a next read.

It’s a tough choice, but it’s up to you to determine our Clash Champion!

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Risking Love

Brenda S. Anderson

 

A play-it-safe bank employee falls for a down-on-his-luck, risk-taking widower.

Can she risk loving a man whose home she may have to take away?

32574171

 

An Unexpected Role

Leslea Wahl

 

Josie’s island getaway becomes the summer of her dreams as friendships grow,

romance blossoms and a series of thefts surround her with excitement. But as

she sets out to solve the mystery she has become entangled in, she not only

realizes the importance of relying on her faith but along the way also

discovers her true self.

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Forest Child

Heather Day Gilbert

 

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable,

conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life and is Book Two in the

bestselling Vikings of the New World Saga.

29430781 

 

Can’t Help Falling

Kara Isaac

 

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a

mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and

picturesque Oxford, England.

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The Cautious Maiden

Dawn Crandall

 

In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with

a taciturn acquaintance; Vance Everstone. With danger stalking her and a new

fiance who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust

and who to leave behind.

 

 

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The Thorn Healer

Pepper D. Basham

A wounded nurse battles resentment against a German prisoner as the two work together to save an Appalachian town from deception and disease in the wake of World War 1.

 

 Click Here to load a dedicated page to the survey. 

Children’s Corner — The Best Christmas Gift Ever!

30 Nov

6144nu7pchl-_sx460_bo1204203200_A new VeggieTales board book about the true meaning of Christmas.

In this festive VeggieTales book, the Veggies are celebrating Christmas — decorating the tree, singing carols, and exchanging gifts. But even though it’s so much fun to give and receive presents, the Veggies all know that the greatest gift of all was God’s gift of Jesus, his Son. Children will love the colorful art featuring their favorite Veggie friends. Parents can use this book to introduce little ones to the reason we rejoice at Christmastime — Jesus’ birth.

 

 

My Impressions:

Kids just love VeggieTales! There is just something about those green, red, and yellow characters that kids connect with. So it is great that there is a new book for the smaller set that tells the true meaning of the Christmas season. With catchy rhyme and colorful illustrations, The Best Christmas Gift Ever! captures all the excitement of the holidays — singing, presents and fun, fun, fun! But children will learn that without Jesus, there really wouldn’t be a reason for the season. I loved the last stanza — So at Christmas we sing, we give gifts and have fun, but the reason we’re glad is the gift of God’s Son — an important concept for parents to reinforce in a time when the real meaning of Christmas often gets lost. So if you are looking for a book for your preschooler that will keep the focus on Jesus, then check out The Best Christmas Gift Ever!

Recommended.

Audience: children ages 2-5.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Worthy Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)