Tag Archives: Christmas fiction

If you liked Catching Christmas . . .

12 Dec

My book club read Catching Christmas this month. This heartwarming novella is a departure from Terri Blackstock‘s normal fast-paced suspense, but we all really liked it. It was just the right length for a very busy time of year, it was sweet and touching, and the author’s afterword was an inspiration. So what to read next? If you too liked Catching Christmas, consider the following books for the days leading up to Christmas.

The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

An Irish Christmas by Melody Carlson

For Colleen, life is spinning out of control. She just lost her husband, and her relationship with her young adult son Jamie is crumbling. Should she confess to him the secret that has been haunting her for twenty years? Jamie has a few secrets of his own. When he announces his plans to join the military, Colleen decides it’s time for the two of them to take a trip together — to Ireland. The truth they discover there could fulfill both their dreams in a way neither ever thought possible.

 

 

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.

 

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Audiobook Mini-Review: The Christmas Light

12 Dec

In the small town of Grandon, five very different people discover the true meaning of Christmas. Jennifer and Ryan are both single parents, struggling with their own losses and heartache as they attempt to move forward in the present while still holding onto the memories, joy, and heartache of the past. Sixteen-year-old Kaylee is faced with a life-changing situation that has affected her whole family. Stephen and Lily are happily married and ready to start a family. All of them are facing their own struggles, and all are finding their way through the dark. When they are brought together for a rather unconventional church Nativity, they will learn that with strength, courage, and love, there is always hope.

 

Donna VanLiere is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author and gifted conference speaker. She has published ten titles including The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing, both of which were adapted into movies (starring Rob Lowe, Kimberly Williams-Perry and Neil Patrick Harris) and garnered big ratings for CBS television. LifetimeTelevision adapted The Christmas Hope (starring Madeline Stowe) and premiered it December 2009 to stellar ratings as well. Donna’s non-seasonal novel, The Angels of Morgan Hill, has captured the same warmth as her Christmas books and continues to please loyal and new fans alike.

Donna is the recipient of a Retailer’s Choice Award for Fiction, a Dove Award, a Silver Angel Award, an Audie Award for best inspirational fiction, a nominee for a Gold Medallion Book of the Year and was recently inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence joining such luminaries as Coretta Scott King, Hugh Downs, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Senator John Glenn. Donna is an in-demand conference speaker having appeared at countless women’s and family events, including select Women of Faith and Extraordinary Women conferences.

The Library Journal says of Donna’s latest book, The Christmas Star (2018), “Second chances abound in this story, resulting in a Christmas gift worth waiting for . . . This sweet tale of love and overcoming obstacles offers a festive atmosphere readers will savor.”

Donna lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with her husband, Troy, and their children, Grace, Kate and David.

Learn more at http://www.DonnaVanLiere.com

My Impressions:

There is just something about a Christmas novella by Donna VanLiere that I cannot resist. I downloaded the audio version of The Christmas Light and was immediately swept away to the warm and welcoming town of Grandon. Longtime residents and familiar characters, Gloria and Miriam, are a hoot as they navigate the treacherous waters of a church nativity program. They, along with new characters, fill the pages of this book with humor, wit, wisdom, and hope. Yes the book is a bit predictable — I saw the endings for many of the characters coming — but that didn’t keep me from loving every minute and shedding a few tears. One particularly moving (and hilarious) moment is when one of the children proclaimsthe baby of all babies has been born!” Isn’t that just wonderful! There’s a little bit of something for everyone — second chances, new starts, and new love. The audiobook is narrated by the author, so you get exactly what she was going for in terms of inflection and meaning.

A fun and very Christmas-y read, this one is perfect to help you get in the spirit!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Top 10 Tuesday — December Bookish Bingo

11 Dec

I just found bookish.com! How did I miss this site? For all book nerds, this is the site to bookmark. (See what I did there!) Anyway, their Holiday Calendar is the perfect Advent Calendar for all your bookish needs. I especially loved their December Book Bingo, so I decided to incorporate it into my Top 10 Tuesday list. To get you started, I have included some recommendations that will fill those squares. While the books don’t have to be specifically Christmas-y, that’s what I shared. Enjoy!

Find out what other fun things bloggers are sharing today in the Freebie Top Ten Tuesday by visiting That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

bookish.com

Top Books for December Book Bingo!

There’s Mistletoe — Magnolia Mistletoe by Lindsey Brackett

Red or Green Cover — Jane and The Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

Characters Are Snowed In — 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michele Griep

Set During A Winter Holiday — Christmas by The Sea by Melody Carlson

Characters Sing — The Christmas Light by Donna VanLiere

Less Than 200 Pages — The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Bookish Book Club Pick — The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Snow on The Cover — A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

 

Bingo!

 

First Line Friday — Catching Christmas

7 Dec

It’s the first Friday in December! Are you ready for Christmas yet? I am almost finished with the decorating, the shopping, and the baking. Ok, I am so not ready! LOL! But that won’t stop me from enjoying some Christmas reading. Today I am sharing the first line of Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock. She is a go-to author for my book club, and her novella is our December selection.

Please share your first line and then head over to Hoarding Books for more fabulous first lines!

 

 

This Year, Christmas Comes Just in Time

As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is paying his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild-goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.

When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.

 

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times and USA Today best-seller, with over seven million books sold worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

In 1994 Terri was writing romance novels under two pseudonyms for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening prompted her to switch gears. At the time, she was reading more suspense than romance, and felt drawn to write thrillers about ordinary people in grave danger. Her newly awakened faith wove its way into the tapestry of her suspense novels, offering hope instead of despair. Her goal is to entertain with page-turning plots while challenging her readers. She hopes to remind them that they’re not alone, and that their trials have a purpose.

Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.

Top 10 Tuesday — Cozy Winter Reads aka Christmas Novellas!

4 Dec

Nothing says cozy to me more than a wonderful Christmas novella. And since ’tis the season  . . . here is a list to warm your heart as you snuggle with a hot beverage next to the fireplace. Even if it is 90 degrees where you live, these Christmas novellas will give you a warm feeling that won’t make you sweat 😉 . Funny, poignant, or just plain full of the Christmas spirit, these books run the genre gamut. Grab one (or two, or more) and get ready for some great reading!

For more great cozy winter reads, check out the bloggers who have shared their lists at That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top 10 Cozy Christmas Reads

The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock

The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

 

What’s your favorite cozy Christmas book?

December Book Selection — Catching Christmas

1 Dec

Terri Blackstock is my book club’s go-to author for suspense. But this Christmas we are reading something a little different from her — Catching Christmas. Won’t you join us ? FB Discussion Page.

This Year, Christmas Comes Just in Time

As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is paying his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild-goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.

When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.

 

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times and USA Today best-seller, with over seven million books sold worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

In 1994 Terri was writing romance novels under two pseudonyms for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin, Dell and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening prompted her to switch gears. At the time, she was reading more suspense than romance, and felt drawn to write thrillers about ordinary people in grave danger. Her newly awakened faith wove its way into the tapestry of her suspense novels, offering hope instead of despair. Her goal is to entertain with page-turning plots while challenging her readers. She hopes to remind them that they’re not alone, and that their trials have a purpose.

Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.

Congrats to The 2018 Christy Award Winners!

8 Nov

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Christy Award! I have read several on the list and concur that they are indeed award-winning. The list includes a variety of genres, so there is something for everyone. They are all good read guaranteed!

 

Contemporary Romance

True to You by Becky Wade

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

First Novel

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

There was another South in the 1960s, one far removed from the marches and bombings and turmoil in the streets that were broadcast on the evening news. It was a place of inner turmoil, where ordinary people struggled to right themselves on a social landscape that was dramatically shifting beneath their feet. This is the world of Valerie Fraser Luesse’s stunning debut, Missing Isaac.

It is 1965 when black field hand Isaac Reynolds goes missing from the tiny, unassuming town of Glory, Alabama. The townspeople’s reactions range from concern to indifference, but one boy will stop at nothing to find out what happened to his unlikely friend. White, wealthy, and fatherless, young Pete McLean has nothing to gain and everything to lose in his relentless search for Isaac. In the process, he will discover much more than he bargained for. Before it’s all over, Pete — and the people he loves most — will have to blur the hard lines of race, class, and religion. And what they discover about themselves may change some of them forever.

General Fiction 

Life After by Katie Ganshert

Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.
 
A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest. 
 
Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve-year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake. 
 
In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

Historical

Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

In this epic Biblical narrative, ideal for fans of The Bible miniseries, a young woman taken into the prophet Isaiah’s household rises to capture the heart of the future king.
 
Isaiah adopts Ishma, giving her a new name–Zibah, delight of the Lord–thereby ensuring her royal pedigree. Ishma came to the prophet’s home, devastated after watching her family destroyed and living as a captive. But as the years pass, Zibah’s lively spirit wins Prince Hezekiah’s favor, a boy determined to rebuild the kingdom his father has nearly destroyed. But loving this man will awake in her all the fears and pain of her past and she must turn to the only One who can give life, calm her fears, and deliver a nation.

Historical Romance

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiancé and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives — including her own — are lost?

Short Form

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

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.

Visionary 

The Man He Never Was by James Rubart

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on—with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they’re shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he’s changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He’s oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he’s been but knows he’s been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he’s been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside—like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury—and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

Young Adult

The Delusion by Laura Gallier

By March of Owen Edmonds’s senior year, eleven students at Masonville High School have committed suicide. Amid the media frenzy and chaos, Owen tries to remain levelheaded―until he endures his own near-death experience and wakes to a distressing new reality.

The people around him suddenly appear to be shackled and enslaved.

Owen frantically seeks a cure for what he thinks are crazed hallucinations, but his delusions become even more sinister. An army of hideous, towering beings, unseen by anyone but Owen, are preying on his girlfriend and classmates, provoking them to self-destruction.

Owen eventually arrives at a mind-bending conclusion: he’s not imagining the evil―everyone else is blind to its reality. He must warn and rescue those he loves . . . but this proves to be no simple mission. Will he be able to convince anyone to believe him before it’s too late?

Owen’s heart-pounding journey through truth and delusion will force him to reconsider everything he believes. He both longs for and fears the answers to questions that are quickly becoming too dangerous to ignore.

Book of The Year

True to You by Becky Wade