Tag Archives: Christmas

Mini Book Review: Finding Riley

26 Dec

By The Book read Finding Riley by Dan Walsh in December. Walsh is a great favorite of ours, so we were especially excited to read this book — a Christmas story and a dog! What could be better? Well as it turns out, a lot. All of us were disappointed with this book. We felt there were too many story lines and with none well-developed. The writing fell a bit flat for us and seemed somewhat juvenile. A homeless character was the highlight of the book, with Walsh shining a light on the reality of a homeless life. While we didn’t like this book, it will not keep us from reading Walsh in the future.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

unknownAn 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?

 

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

Every year I share Third Day’s Born in Bethlehem. I just love this song! Enjoy!

 

Audiobook Mini Review: Anne Perry’s Christmas Crimes

23 Dec

Page Turners read Anne Perry’s Christmas Crimes in November and December. This 2-novella set includes A Christmas Garland and A Christmas Homecoming. I listened to the audiobooks which are offered separately. Both are historical mysteries, one set in India following the Rebellion of 1857, the other set in a manor house in northern England. The only things they have in common are the murders to be solved, the time of year– Christmas, and their Victorian era. Not particularly Christmas-y despite the timeframe, they are interesting mysteries to keep you engaged. I had not read Perry before, but she is a great favorite of one of our members. I found both books well-written and full of great historical details. The mysteries kept me guessing until the end. The narrators for the audiobooks were very good. Both books are recommended to those who like complex, historical mysteries and want a bit of the feeling of Christmas.

51vc8gcajjl-_sx322_bo1204203200_A 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.

A 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.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

Book Review + Guest Post: A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

19 Dec

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To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book

Genre: Christian Romance/Christmas

Release Date: October 18, 2016

Book Format: Paperback & Ebook

a-royal-christmas-wedding-kd2-rev1-197x300Avery Truitt aches for true love—the kind she once shared with Prince Colin. Can she dare to hope for happily ever after, or is a fairy-tale ending beyond reach?

College volleyball star Avery Truitt has not seen her former flame, Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom, since he suddenly pushed her away five years ago. But now, the sadness of losing her father and the joy of her sister Susanna’s pregnancy have brought Avery back to Brighton just in time for Cathedral City’s enchanting Christmas season.

Avery knows she can’t avoid seeing Colin—now the Kingdom’s most eligible bachelor—whether or not her heart is ready to relive the pain. But seeing him again might bring her the closure she needs after all this time.

When Colin finds himself at the center of a centuries-old Brighton tradition, he must decide whether to follow the path laid out before him or follow his heart to the only woman for whom he would ring the Pembroke Chapel Bell.

Can Colin convince Avery to meet him at the chapel on Christmas morning—as tradition dictates—or will Avery run back to her St. Simons home and pursue a coaching career as planned?

In the fourth installment of the Royal Wedding Series, New York Times bestselling novelist, Rachel Hauck, weaves a charming story of holiday romance as two broken hearts seek the love they once knew.

About the Author

rachel-hauck-hr-1-731x1024Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling, and award-winning author.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full-time in 2004.

She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.

Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets, and writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Guest Post from Rachel Hauck

I don’t think we can ever get enough of royals or Christmas, do you? The two just seem to go together.

The Bible tells us eternity is written on our hearts. (Ecc. 3:11) I wonder if it’s also written on our hearts to be princesses in a grand, beautiful, perfect kingdom.

That being said, welcome to The Royal Christmas Wedding blog tour. My deepest thanks to all the bloggers, reviewers, and readers for hosting and visiting this tour. I’m excited to share this story with you all.

The hero and heroine, Prince Colin and Avery Truitt, first met in Once Upon A Prince at King Nathaniel’s coronation.

I hadn’t planned to write a spinoff story with the two of them. In fact, I didn’t even know Prince Colin existed until Avery walked into the abbey for the coronation and glanced across the sanctuary into his eyes.

Here’s his introduction:

Lean, aristocratic with an outdoorsman ruddiness, he nearly made Susanna swoon when he winked at Avery.

I liked Colin immediately. So did Avery. As well as a lot of you.

When my publisher asked me to write their story, it would be two years before the book would release. Plenty of time, right?

But “time crunch” is the name of the game with most writers. Between life, rewrites, edits, and promotional activity, we often find ourselves hurrying toward a deadline. Well, at least I do.

In the fall of 2015 I was writing The Wedding Shop and A Royal Christmas Wedding at the same time.

I’d also dealt with a physical issue that left me shaky. Could I write two books in five months? Did I want to even make the attempt?

If I said no, publication dates would be pushed out, causing a year delay on A Royal Christmas Wedding. And I knew that was something I did not want to do.

Publishing is a long game. Books are contracted and due 12 to 18, even 24 months, before release dates. Time must be carved out for rewrites and editing, marketing and promotion. Review copies go out at least five months in advance.

So I agreed to write both books. I told my editor, “Diamonds come from pressure.”

Coming up with Avery and Prince Colin’s story wasn’t as easy as I’d planned. Since they met in Once Upon A Prince as teenagers, I struggled with how to advance their age and relationship, and how to present them as the book opened.

Where had their relationship gone “between the books?”

When I came up with the idea of the Pembroke Chapel bell, the story magic began to happen. One of the things I love in the royal wedding books is the fairytale aspect. Looking for something out of the ordinary.

Even though my writing time was tight, writing Avery and Colin’s story was a joy. Once again I wish I could visit Brighton, eat a puff, and royal watch for the Strattons!

I hope you found a few sweet spots in the story, all wrapped in Christmas holiday cheer, and enjoyed your time with me in Brighton Kingdom.

Merry Christmas!

Blog Stops

December 8: Book Reviews From an Avid Reader

December 8: New Horizon Reviews

December 8: inklings and notions

December 9: Reading Is My SuperPower

December 9: Redeemed Hope Dweller

December 9: Book by Book

December 10: His Grace is Sufficient

December 10: Blossoms and Blessings

December 10: Pause for Tales

December 11: Quiet Quilter

December 11: Ashley’s Bookshelf

December 11: Reviewing Novels Online

December 12: Bibliophile Reviews

December 12: Lights in a Dark World

December 12: Splashes of Joy

December 13: Moments Dipped in Ink

December 13: Neverending Stories

December 13: Through the Open Window

December 14: The Power of Words

December 14: Counting Pinecones

December 14: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

December 15: Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses

December 15: Genesis 5020

December 15: CTF Devourer

December 16: Lighthouse Academy

December 16: God’s Little Bookworm

December 16: Christian Bookaholic

December 17: Smiling Book Reviews

December 17: God is Love

December 17: A Simple Life, really?!

December 18: A Holland Reads

December 18: The Scribbler

December 18: Faith * Love * Books

December 19: By The Book

December 19: Karen Sue Hadley

December 19: Southern Chelle

December 20: Faithfully Bookish

December 20: Books. Books. And More Books

December 20: A Baker’s Perspective

December 21: ASC Book Reviews

December 21: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card plus a copy of A Royal Christmas Wedding and a copy of The Wedding Shop. Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post to earn 9 extra entries in the giveaway! https://promosimple.com/ps/aaeb

My Impressions:

Christmas + a fairy tale = great reading! That’s the equation for Rachel Hauck’s A Royal Christmas Wedding, the final book in her Royal Wedding series. Readers met Avery Truett and Prince Colin in the first book in the series, and their whirlwind romance turned heartbreak finally comes full circle as Avery and her recently widowed mother join the royal family of Brighton Kingdom for the Christmas holidays. Neither characters have forgotten the sweetness of their time together nor the bitter taste of separation. But trust is hard to rebuild even when the heart longs for it.

I have loved all of Hauck’s books in this series. There is a sense of the magical both in the settings and in the tales that unfold. In A Royal Christmas Wedding, God intervenes when a Colin sends his heart’s desire heavenward. Who needs a fairy godmother when you have God on your side? And while the course of their love isn’t without obstacles, you know in the end there will be a happily-ever-after. In the Epilogue, Hauck also includes a wrap-up to all the love stories that took place throughout the series. A perfect ending for a wonderful series!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

Book Review: Restoring Christmas

15 Dec

618chyzgjql-_sx343_bo1204203200_Alexis Blake has one chance to land her own show on the Home Project Network and nothing, not an uncooperative client, a job site without indoor plumbing, or a challenging videographer, is going to stand in her way. Elsie, at seventy-plus, is far from the ideal client, but she knows exactly what she wants her fieldstone house to look like, and no designer can tell her otherwise. Gabe Langley, the man with the camera, is caught in the middle and it is his wisdom and warmth that just may be the bridge that will bring these two women together. Can they restore more than just a house and bring about special, almost lost forever Christmas memories?

 

cynthia-ruchti_green_couch1-1024x819Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in hope through her novels, novellas, devotions, and nonfiction, and through speaking for women’s events/retreats and writers’ conferences/workshops. She draws from 33 years of experience writing and producing the 15-minute daily radio broadcast, The Heartbeat of the Home. Her books have received recognition from RT Reviewers’ Choice, PW Starred Review, Selah Awards, Christian Retailing’s BEST Awards, CLASSeminars Award of Excellence, Golden Scroll Awards, and more. She serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, is a board member of the Deliver Hope ministry, and is part of the worship team at her church. She and her husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

 

My Impressions:

Cynthia Ruchti’s latest Christmas-themed novella is the perfect addition for your holiday reading this year. Restoring Christmas is a story filled with humor, heart and hope. Alexis is a designer with dreams of a big break in television. She travels to small town Wisconsin to take on the challenge of restoring a home in just 8 weeks before Christmas. She soon finds that her plans must take a backseat to the story of the home and its owner, Elsie. Amidst obstacles, the project bumpily progresses, and Alexis grows in her appreciation for a true restoration.

While Restoring Christmas is a novella, I never felt short-changed in character development. Alexis is a woman driven to be the very best despite insecurities brought on my her childhood experiences. Cameraman Gabe has overcome a past as well, and his irritating enthusiasm and perkiness is the perfect foil for Alexis. It is their pasts and the past of the home they are restoring that points to the overall theme of how the past often comes to define us, unless we let God remake and restore us. One of my favorite lines in the book reflects the way God overcomes and makes new out of a mess — Our past converted into something more suitable for how we live today. (p. 211). Ruchti also uses setting to great effect. I now have Door County and its environs on my travel bucket list!

Restoring Christmas is a quick read, but it is one that will stay with you for a long time. Pick it up for your Christmas reading fix!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

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

Children’s Corner: Christmas Love Letters from God

14 Dec

51erywzt5ul-_sy447_bo1204203200_Written for children ages four to eight, Christmas Love Letters from God cleverly combines both prose and poetry as the story of Jesus’ birth unfolds. The book includes seven stories, beginning with Isaiah’s prophecy and ending with the visit of the wise men. Following each story, the child will find his or her own letter from God, folded into a small envelope attached to the page. Each letter begins with a space in which to write the child’s name, so each one can be specially addressed to the child.

Written as if God is speaking, each personalized message gives the young reader a sense of wonder as they discover anew the Christmas holiday and the birth of Jesus. A very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Perfect Promise, also accompanies each story and letter as God’s personal words of love, promise, and hope.

 

21elzywgdnl-_ux250_Glenys Nellist (in her own words) —

Although I live in Michigan, USA, I was born and raised in a little village in northern England.

I grew up in a big old house, with two wonderful parents and seven siblings. My dad was the one who introduced me to the gospel. My mum was the one who encouraged me to work with children.

And at primary school, my teacher was the one who urged me to write. One day a week, I was one of the lucky few withdrawn from the classroom to sit in big, comfy armchairs in the teachers’ lounge. There, in front of a roaring log fire, with pencil and paper at the ready, I would write.

I never would have imagined that four decades later, I would be blessed enough to be an author of children’s books, or be married to a wonderful husband, or be mum to four sons, and a grandma too. But of course, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

And to God, alone, be the glory.

My Impressions:

Nothing I can say can improve on the description of Christmas Love Letters from God at the top of this post. Scripture told in easy to understand language combines with rhyme that makes the characters come to life giving your child a big picture view of the birth of Jesus foretold by ancient prophets and come to earth as God’s greatest gift. The book is beautifully illustrated and captures the awe and wonder of the Christmas season. I loved how the author includes promises from God’s word that apply to the stories as well as to life today. Special letters from God help personalize each story. There is even a blank letter at the back that your child can address to Jesus!

A wonderful addition to family reading time, Christmas Love Letters from God is a recommended read!

Recommended.

Audience: children ages 5-8.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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

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.)