Tag Archives: Donna VanLiere

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.

 

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 — 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?

Top Ten Tuesday — Best Christmas Novellas

13 Sep

Thanks to the folks at The Broke And The Bookish for hosting Top 10 Tuesday every week. This week’s theme is Favorite Genres. To find out what other bloggers love to read, click HERE.

 

toptentuesday

It’s September and while Pumpkin Everything is popping up, the temperatures here in Middle Georgia are still in the 90s. It may be a bit hot, but when the calendar says it’s Fall, I like to begin my Christmas reading. Every year I look for a Christmas fix in books. Here is a list of some great books to read to get you in the Christmas mood, no matter the date or temperature! I’ve divided them into categories, although there is some crossover, so that you can pick the best for your mood and tastes.

Top Christmas Novellas

 

Historic and Nostalgic Christmas

The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

Remembering Christmas by Daniel Walsh

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Suspenseful And Mysterious Christmas

Holy Night by Colleen Coble

Silent Night by Colleen Coble

Advent of Murder by Martha Oakley

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Romantic Christmas

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Secret by Donna VanLiere

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Christmas with Dogs And Cats

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson

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Funny Christmas

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

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Heartwarming Christmas

A Redbird Christmas by Fanny Flagg

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

Unexpected Christmas Hero by Kathi Macias

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What’s Your Favorite Christmas Book?

 

Audiobook Review: The Christmas Note

7 Jan

51wMzLacNZL._SX350_BO1,204,203,200_Gretchen Daniels has recently moved into a condo with her two children to be closer to her mother, Miriam. As they build a life together in their new community, they notice a mysterious young woman, Melissa McCreary, who lives next door. She has few possessions, little personality, and keeps to herself. One day a local landlord who is looking for Melissa knocks on Gretchen’s door for assistance. Melissa’s mother has died and in the coming weeks the landlord needs Melissa to empty her mother’s apartment. Gretchen reaches out and offers to help Melissa, but the apartment is a gut-wrenching shamble of a home. There is little worth saving except for a few photos and a note that is discovered on the crate beside the bed. It is unfinished, but in the two scribbled lines, Melissa discovers secrets about her family that she never could have imagined. Can two very different women embark on a journey that explores a long-buried need for forgiveness, hope, and redemption?

41mfdog-yrl-_ux250_Donna VanLiere lives in Franklin, TN, with her husband, Troy, their children, Grace, Kate and David, two dogs, two cats, and and a host of geese and ducks that use their pond as a pit stop on their way to prettier waters.

 

My Impressions:

My last Christmas read spilled into the New Year due to a full house, travel and limited walking time (I listen to audiobooks on my morning walks). But soon after January 1, my house became eerily quiet, there were no more road trips and the rains here in the South ended, all leading to time with The Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere. What a perfect ending to the holiday season!

VanLiere again revisits old friends (that’s how her characters feel) in The Christmas Note. This time two women are brought together by coincidence and grief to forge an unlikely friendship. Is it really coincidence or God snapping His fingers as one characters states? The book focuses on friendship, family, restoration and healing. Topics such as adoption, child neglect, and wounded servicemen are explored giving this novel depth and texture. If your book club is looking for a Christmas book to schedule next December, keep this one in mind. Good writing, well-developed characters and substance in its plotting make for great discussion. Again, VanLiere does a wonderful job of reading her book.

My Christmas reading is done for this season, but I will be sure to check out more by VanLiere come November 2016.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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

 

Audiobook Review: The Christmas Promise

24 Dec

5152OFgLoPL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Seven years ago Gloria endured a family tragedy that almost shook her faith entirely. Each Christmas she places a card in an envelope on her tree, restating a promise she made to her husband before he died. Now, having moved from her small town and all the painful memories it held, she is building a life by caring for people in need. Whether it’s a young mother who can’t pay her electric bill or a family who needs some extra food, Gloria always finds a way.

Miriam is a thorn in Gloria’s side. Miriam is a constantly critical, disapproving neighbor who looks with suspicion at all the good things Gloria does. When a twist of fate makes them roommates instead of neighbors, it’s the ultimate test of patience and faith.

Chaz has a good job as head of security at Wilson’s Department Store, but each night he returns home to an empty apartment. He longs for a wife and family of his own but realizes that the life choices he’s made have alienated him. He befriends a young boy whose mother has fallen on hard times, giving him a chance to have a life he thought impossible.

In The Christmas Promise, the lives of these characters collide and we learn that even as we move ahead, the past is never far behind. And when we are forgiven much, we love much. In this warmly humorous and deeply poignant story, we are reminded that the Christmas Promise is the promise of second chances.

41MFDog-YrL._UX250_Donna VanLiere lives in Franklin, TN, with her husband, Troy, their children, Grace, Kate and David, two dogs, two cats, and and a host of geese and ducks that use their pond as a pit stop on their way to prettier waters.

 

My Impressions:

The Christmas Promise is the second audiobook by Donna VanLiere that I have enjoyed this Christmas. (I am currently listening to number 3, The Christmas Note.) Full of humor and heart, this book’s message of second chances is front and center, whether it’s a grumpy neighbor or an estranged family member or a mom who has made some bad choices. Familiar characters from this series make an appearance making them feel like old friends. VanLiere reads the book herself, and her voices and inflection are a real treat. I listened to this book on a few daily walks and on two plane flights, and I must admit I had to stifle a few laughs and squint back a few tears. This heartwarming novella is perfect for the busy holiday season when time is short and nerves get a bit frazzled. So make sure to make some time for this touching book.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

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

Audiobook Review: The Christmas Secret

17 Dec

516Pmi+xHBL._SX408_BO1,204,203,200_When a struggling young single mother saves the life of an elderly woman, she sets into motion a series of events that will test her strength, loyalty, and determination, all the while setting her on the path to finding true love. Christine Eisley is the mother of seven-year-old Zach and five-year-old Haley. Her ex-husband provides little, if any, child support and makes life difficult for Christine by using the children as pawns. She works long hours as a waitress to make ends meet, but her job is in jeopardy because she’s often late to work due to the unreliable teenaged sitters she’s forced to use. When Christine saves the life of a woman who works in Wilson’s department store, the owner of Wilson’s wants to find her, to thank her, but Christine has disappeared, losing another job once again. He sets his grandson, Jason, to the task of finding the mysterious “Christy”. Jason, an accountant by trade who has lost his job to downsizing, thinks he is “above” working at Wilson’s. Soon, he discovers that this new task gives him more than he bargains for. The Christmas Secret is a novel for anyone who wants to see how love is a gift that keeps giving back; that hope is a treasure that never runs dry, and that faith is a miracle that is reborn with each new day.

41MFDog-YrL._UX250_Donna VanLiere lives in Franklin, TN, with her husband, Troy, their children, Grace, Kate and David, two dogs, two cats, and and a host of geese and ducks that use their pond as a pit stop on their way to prettier waters.

 

My Impressions:

The Christmas Secret is the first book I have read/listened to by Donna VanLiere, but it won’t be the last. In fact, I downloaded another of her Christmas novellas as soon as I finished this one. Filled with humor and heart, this novel points to the need for helping hands — extending them and accepting them. The cast of characters are fun — I want them as my friends (and family) too!  I laughed out loud and I shed a few tears while enjoying this heartwarming story. And as the title suggests there are a number of secrets that are revealed along the way. You’ll have to decide just which one touches your heart the most. There are a few mild curse words in the book, but that did not keep me from giving this one a recommended designation. The author reads this audiobook and that is perfect! All in all The Christmas Secret is a great holiday read.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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