Tag Archives: Christmas fiction

Top 10 Tuesday — Book Title Mash Up

7 Aug

That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to a Book Mash Up! We are supposed to take two books that combined together would make one awesome new book. I’m afraid my brain is a bit creativity-challenged, so I tweaked the topic this week to a Title Mash Up — two book titles combined to create a fun book with little in common to the originals. Won’t you join the fun by leaving a comment with some mashed together titles?

 

Top 10 Book Title Mash Up!

 

The Captured Bride Most Begrudging 

She really didn’t want to get married.

 

Carolina Reckoning at Gossamer Pond

Let’s move the action down South.

 

Chasing Secrets of A Charmed Life

Must discover that secret!

 

Dressed for Death in The Shadows

You have to look good!

An Endless Christmas Angel Project

A women’s project gone awry!

 

Imperfect Justice Betrayed

Justice just can’t catch a break.

 

Lead Me Home at Last

Can’t wait to get there.

 

Phoebe’s Light My Fire 

Sounds like a story of a racehorse.

 

A Rebel Heart Between Us

You just can’t trust the heart.

 

Rules of Murder at The Flamingo

Let’s make sure we follow the rules.

 

What are some more titles that make a good mash up?

 

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First Line Friday — A Wreath of Snow

15 Dec

This week the folks at Hoarding Books have prompted bloggers to share a line related to travel or winter. I have a book that not only meets both of those criteria, but also Christmas! Win-win-win! The book is A Wreath of Snow by one of my favorites, Liz Curtis Higgs. This Victorian novella has its heroine traveling by train on Christmas Eve. You can read my review HERE.

Join in on the fun by sharing your first line in the comments and then heading over to Hoarding Books to discover other participating bloggers. Happy Friday!

 

Christmas Eve 1894

All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.
 
Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame.
 
When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?
 
As warm as a woolen scarf on a cold winter’s eve, A Wreath of Snow is a tender story of love and forgiveness, wrapped in a celebration of all things Scottish, all things Victorian, and, especially, all things Christmas.

 

What’s your first line?

 

Book Review (+ Giveaway!): 12 Days at Bleakley Manor

14 Dec

 

About The Book

Name of book: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor

Author: Michelle Griep

Genre: Historical Christmas

Release Date: September 1, 2017

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Click HERE to purchase the book.

 

My Impressions:

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep is a fun Christmas read. With its Victorian setting and a big nod to Charles Dickens, it captures the spirit of the season. This novella has quirky characters galore (with equally quirky names a la Dickens), a heartwarming message of second chances, and sweet romance just perfect for a long winter night’s reading experience. This one is a recommended read!

Clara Chapman was left at the altar months before this cold December. With her fortune gone, stolen she believes by her fiancé, she is living in reduced circumstances. An invitation to Bleakly Manor for the Twelve Nights of Christmas celebration promises a way out of her financial difficulties — if she stays the full 12 days. Benjamin Lane was arrested on the way to his wedding and has been held without trial awaiting transportation to Australia. He has become bitter and vengeful, but a chance to be released and restored to society has him also at Bleakly Manor. Clara and Ben, along with 8 other guests, are all hoping for their deepest wishes to come true.

A bit A Christmas Carol and a bit Then There Were None, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor has all the ingredients for a quick, quirky, and thoroughly satisfying read. The characters provide amusement and intrigue as the mysterious Master of the house manipulates the action. Odd occurrences and threats put them in danger, and they and the reader never know who is to blame. The novella is filled with Victorian details, especially those that surrounded the Christmas celebrations of England. I really enjoyed the trip back in time. The romance is filled with obstacles of betrayal, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings, but also the promise of love restored. When all seems chaos, the characters depend on a God that is in control.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor is the first in Griep’s Once Upon A Dickens Christmas series, and it has definitely made me want more. A great start for a promising series!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Thanks to Celebrate Lit for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

 

About The Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of both Regency and Colonial historical romances but also leaped the writerly fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. Keep up with her escapades at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

Guest Post from Michelle Griep

Go Green With Victorian Christmas Décor

Walk in any store and you’ll be bombarded with displays of Christmas lights, gaudy ornaments, and inflatable life-size lawn characters. Commercialization at its worst. 150 years ago, that wasn’t the case. Yearning to decorate in a simpler fashion this year? Here are some ways you can bring a bit of the nineteenth century to your home this Christmas…

TREE DECORATIONS

Queen Elizabeth’s husband, the German Prince Albert, introduced the concept of a Christmas tree to Windsor castle. And you know, if it’s good enough for royalty its good enough for the common folk, right? So, the tradition spread. Generally trees were brought inside on Christmas Eve and taken down on January 6th. Trees were decorated with homemade ornaments from paper or fruits and nuts, strings of popcorn or cranberries, or hanging cookies such as gingerbread men from the branches. And remember, an authentic Victorian Christmas tree would’ve been small, like small enough to stand on a table.

GREENERY

Holly. Evergreens. Mistletoe. Most Victorians couldn’t afford store-bought decorations even were there a commercialized industry at the time (which there wasn’t). So the next best thing was to bring in some free/natural ornamentations. Greenery would’ve been perked up with berries, ribbons, dough ornaments or flowers. Pinecones were also scattered throughout the house.

WREATHS

“Writhen” is the root word where we get the word wreath from. It’s an old English word meaning “to writhe” or “to twist.” While the art of hanging wreaths goes back to Roman times, Victorians continued the tradition.

CANDLES

Candles were primarily placed in one of two spots during a Victorian Christmas. A single candle in a window was lit to show that the house was willing to provide food and shelter to travelers. Candles were also used on each and every branch of a Christmas tree, which meant a huge danger of fire. Usually a servant would stand nearby with a bucket of water just in case the thing started to burn.

DRESDENS

Dresdens are ornaments hung from the tree, from a window, or really hanging pretty much anywhere. These were handmade by cutting out shapes (usually animals or trains) and painted with metallic paint so that they looked like metal.

And that’s about it. No obnoxious Santas or reindeer inflated on the front lawn. No psycho Christmas lights strobing enough to give every passerby a seizure. Just plain and simple decor that made the home feel cozy.

And speaking of cozy, how about grabbing a blanket and a cup of hot tea and settling in for a holiday read that’s sure to put you in the Christmas spirit? My latest release is 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, a Victorian blend of Dickens and Agatha Christie.

 

Blog Stops

Bukwurmzzz, December 14

Faery Tales Are Real, December 14

A Baker’s Perspective, December 15

A Reader’s Brain, December 15

Have A Wonderful Day, December 15

Texas Book-aholic, December 16

Carpe Diem, December 16

Cafinated Reads, December 16

Just the Write Escape, December 17

A Greater Yes, December 17

Remembrancy, December 17

Allofakindmom, December 18

History, Mystery & Faith, December 18

Simple Harvest Reads, December 18

amandainpa, December 19

Kat’s Corner Books, December 19

Mommynificent, December 19

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, December 20

Bookworm Mama, December 20

Vicky Sluiter, December 20

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, December 21

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, December 21

To Everything A Season, December 21

Reader’s Cozy Corner, December 22

The Fizzy Pop Collection, December 22

Reading Is My SuperPower, December 22 (Interview)

My Writer’s Life, December 23

Janices book reviews, December 23

For The Love of Books, December 23

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 24

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 24

Red Headed Book Lady, December 25

Raining Butterfly Kisses, December 25

Bibliophile Reviews, December 26

Blogging With Carol,December 26

Mary Hake, December 26

Reflections From my Bookshelves, December 27

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift card and a signed copy of 12 Days of Bleakly Manor!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c5b8

If You Liked The Gift of Christmas Past . . .

13 Dec

I usually recommend books for further reading at the end of each month. But because the book BTB read this month is a Christmas novella, I didn’t want you to miss out on any great Christmas-themed books. Here are a few books that I think you will like if you enjoyed Cindy and Erin Woodsmall’s The Gift of Christmas Past. Happy reading!

 

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

During Isabella Alcantara’s seventh month of pregnancy, her parents and siblings are murdered in gang- and drug-related violence, simply because their home was targeted by mistake. Isabella knows she was spared only because she now lives in a different location, but she knows too that the same thing could easily happen to her and her husband, Francisco. When her grandfather offers to hire a coyote to bring them across the border to America, she agrees. But Francisco and Isabella are abandoned by the coyote and left to die. Francisco then valiantly sacrifices himself to get Isabella to safety. Homeless, nearly penniless, pregnant, and alone, Isabella determines to find a way to honor her promise to her beloved husband.

Living on one of the smaller spreads along the Arizona border, Miriam Nelson becomes furious with God and turns from her faith when her border patrol agent husband, David, is killed in a skirmish with drug smugglers. Though her mother and young son do their best to woo her back from the anger and bitterness that have overtaken her, they make little headway.

Two widows one driven by fear and a promise, the other by bitterness and revenge must make their journeys along different pathways, but with the same destination: a barn full of animals that stands waiting for them on Christmas Eve. Forced to face their personal demons, Isabella and Miriam soon discover a common yearning that will bind them together in a most miraculous way.

Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport

 Christmas in Blue
In the wake of a personal loss deeper than anyone realizes, Angela plans to bypass as much of the season as possible and get through her duties as the church organist by going on autopilot. Instead, she finds herself in charge of the town’s celebration. After a mysterious young man arrives, townspeople suspect he is the reason that one set of plans after another disintegrate until little is left of their traditions. Yet Angela warms to Gabe because she suspects they share a secret—his real reason for coming to town. Even when all they have to work with is a garish supply of blue Christmas decorations, Gabe helps Angela discover the hidden beauty of hope.

Christmas in Gold
After eighty years, change is nothing new for Astrid. By the time she was twenty, she survived the destructive Nazi regime, caring for her family under brutal circumstances, moving to America, and losing her husband. At forty she was widowed again and left to build a new life with her children. Now, when she faces a move into an assisted living community and meets a young woman on the brink of despair, she resolves to stir up hope through tragedy one more time.

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard, and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is more than a little reluctant. He’s never liked Art and resents the man’s presence in his life, despite the fact that his own father abandoned the family when Rick was just twelve. When what was supposed to be just a couple days helping out at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keep hanging about, Rick’s attitude sours even more.

Still, slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons–as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day–work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas. With skillful storytelling, Dan Walsh creates a Christmas story will have readers remembering every good and perfect gift of Christmas.

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

Josie Meyers thinks she is living the American dream when she marries a nice, handsome man with a promising future. The dream quickly becomes a nightmare when Josie becomes a widow and must deal with the fallout of her husband’s decisions. She soon finds that she and her two small children are forced to live on the streets and in homeless shelters.

While the scenes surrounding Josie are dominated by Christmas decorations and carols, Josie finds herself struggling with the demands of caring for her two small children. She is forced to lean on the kindness and generosity of others. What she doesn’t know is that the influence of one homeless man in particular is about to change the course of her life and lead her home to the One who waits for her. He becomes her unexpected Christmas hero

Book Review: The Gift of Christmas Past

6 Dec

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.

Promises shattered.

Lies spoken.

She was arrested.

He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire.

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

 

Cindy Woodsmall is the “New York Times” and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She’s been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s “Nightline” and the “Wall Street Journal”. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com.

 

My Impressions:

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall is a departure from the best-selling author’s usual Amish genre. This new venture is a treat! While the setting may be different, this Christmas novella is still filled with the same heart that fans have come to love. My book club is reading this book later this month, and I look forward to a lively discussion.

Hadley and Monroe are just seventeen years old when they fall in love. Vowing to stay together, they are soon ripped apart by false accusations, family pressures, and obstacles stacked against them. Nearly 10 years later, as Hadley is close to reaching her dream of becoming a licensed speech therapist, another unfortunate fire and a hurting little girl throw the two together. But there are a number of past secrets that work to keep them separated yet again.

The authors set up a no-win situation for Monroe and Hadley in their early years. Both characters feel deeply, but their vulnerability, inexperience, and young age work against them. They are trapped by others’ perceptions and prejudices. I felt they were realistically portrayed in the early part of the book. But while Hadley’s character continues to be credible (I really liked her!), I found Monroe naive and immature even as an adult. For someone with many achievements and a great deal of responsibility, his reliance on his parents seems a bit unbelievable. But his character grows up and grew on me. By the end of the book he is a man of convictions and principles. Supporting characters are well-developed, especially Elliott and Trent. The Gift of Christmas Past is no fluffy novella. Serious issues are explored, and I found myself intrigued by the speech problems presented and the plight of at risk teens, especially those in the foster care system. This book is a meaty read without being too heavy — its great strength. In the epilogue, readers find the characters 4 years in the future — and what a great future it is. This one has a happy ending!

The Gift of Christmas Past promises great things for the duo of Cindy and Erin Woodsmall. I look forward to more from the two in the future.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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

Audiobook Review: The Christmas Angel Project

4 Dec

Five women from different walks of life have become close friends through their book club — enjoying one another’s company even more than they enjoy the books. So when the leader of the book club unexpectedly passes away on the cusp of the Christmas season, the four remaining friends are stunned. They relied on Abby for inspiration and motivation. She was the glue that held them together, and they’re sure that without her the group can’t continue.

When the group gathers “one last time” to open a bag Abby’s husband gives them, they find Abby had made each of them an angel ornament for Christmas, crafted especially for each woman and accompanied by a sweet and personal note. Inspired by their beloved friend, together Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda decide to commit themselves to becoming Christmas Angels to others in need. Each woman will use her life situation and talents to reach out and help others in her own unique way — little knowing that her own life and her relationships will be changed forever.

 

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller”. Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors, etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

 

My Impressions:

What kind of legacy will you leave? That is the underlying theme of Melody Carlson’s The Christmas Angel Project. Carlson, known as the queen of Christmas novellas, has another hit with this book. She takes her characters on a journey from grief to hope as she explores how people can use their talents and dreams to make a community a better place.

Four women — Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda — find themselves lost and rudderless following the death of their friend, Abby. Abby has befriended, encouraged, and basically loved on all four, and they find themselves unsure how they will get through the next days and weeks leading up to Christmas without her. Although members of the same bookclub, the women feel disconnected from each other without Abby. That is until they receive an unexpected gift from their dear friend.

The Christmas Angel Project is all about finding purpose within the framework of one’s gifts, personality, and passions. Each character built on what they had already developed in their lives and used it to reach out to others in unique and meaningful ways. The projects each woman undertook — veterinary care for the elderly, art classes for the grieving, decorating Habitat homes, and a fashion show for high schoolers — brought dignity, self-confidence, and hope to those they touched. The characters all had fears, self-doubt, and feelings of unworthiness common to all. I liked that about them. They were real women with real struggles who decided to focus not on themselves but on others. And that is what Abby had done in her life, and that is the legacy she left for the four to continue.

I listened to the audiobook of The Christmas Angel Project and was at first put off by the narrator’s voice. Her timing was great, but she made several of the characters sound older than they were. But as I got more and more involved with the story, her voice disappeared and the women emerged.

A heart-warming read for the Christmas season, The Christmas Angel Project gets a recommended rating from me!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

First Line Friday — 12 Days at Bleakley Manor

1 Dec

 

It’s officially the Christmas season! Oh, I know that many of you have your house all decorated and have been humming Christmas carols since Halloween. The stores here in Middle Georgia have certainly been decked out for months. But I like the Thanksgiving leftovers to be consumed and the calendar to read December 1st before I really start to celebrate. But don’t call me a Scrooge, because I am all in when it comes to Christmas books, indulging long before I crack open the ornament box. Speaking of Scrooge, my FLF selection is a Victorian novel a la Dickens. In fact, this book is the first in the Once Upon A Dickens Christmas series by Michelle Griep 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.

So grab the closest book, share its first line in the comments, and then head on over to Hoarding Books for more bloggers and their FLF posts!

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger . . .and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it — and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series — a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale — by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes — except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild).