Monday, November 30, 2015

Keeping Christmas - by Dan Walsh

Cover Art

About the book:

Stan opened the ugly ornaments box and pulled out the top three ornaments, the ones wrapped in green paper, the kids' favorites, and set them on the coffee table. He picked up the first one, the biggest one--Anna's blue pinecone--and began to unwrap it. Without thinking, Judith walked up, stopped him, and gently took it out of his hand. She wrapped it back up, set it carefully in the box. Then picked up the other two ornaments, put them in the box, and closed the flaps.

"What's the matter?" Stan said. "Did I do something wrong?"

"I don't think I can do this."

Nothing is more beautiful than family
For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids, and it's looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can't bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her kids always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they had made each year since they were toddlers. Sure, the ornaments were strange-looking--some were downright ugly--but they were tradition.

With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan's only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments . . .

My review:

This was more of a sad story as Judith really struggled with not seeing her kids or grandkids for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Her best friend and husband both try to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work.  I really felt badly for her, but also wanted her to snap out of it.  It's not like her kids didn't want to come home; they just couldn't afford to.  I could understand feeling sad, though, when things don't turn out like you want them to.  The story definitely had some cute moments, especially the end.  It was so touching!  I really liked the idea of having a tradition of making ornaments with your kids.  It made for a lot of good memories Judith's family relived every year.  I also liked that Judith was teaching other moms how to start that tradition.  The story spent an equal amount of time from Judith's perspective as well as Stan's.  Stan and his friend went fishing and to the Bass Pro Shop as well as working part-time and a lot of their part of the story was spent dreaming about the boat they were close to buying.  Faith is more of a background element in the story.  I definitely think men as well as women would like this book, especially those who can relate to an empty nest.  I would recommend it if you are looking for more of a nostalgic story.

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Dan Walsh
    © Dan Davis Photography

    Dan Walsh

    Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Dance and The Promise with Gary Smalley, as well as The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery, and The Reunion. He has won three Carol Awards, and two of his novels...
    Continue reading about Dan Walsh 

The Christmas Joy Ride - by Melody Carlson

Cover Art

About the book:

Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that's exactly what she's getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix--in the dead of winter, no less--the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off with Joy toward Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride--one that could derail the whole venture.

No one captures the heartwarming fun of the Christmas season quite like Melody Carlson. Fasten your seat belt, because it's going to be an exciting ride!

My review:

This was such a fun, joy-filled story!  I loved the idea of an RV decorated for Christmas and I think it would be a lot of fun going on a road trip and spreading Christmas cheer.  Miranda and Joy were wonderful ladies, with Joy being such an encourager to Miranda and the people she wanted to help.  I really felt for Miranda and the hard time she was going through.  It would have been so easy to just throw a pity party, but she resolved to help Joy and really enjoyed herself.  They both seemed to have a strong faith, Joy especially.  There were some touching scenes as the people they helped were so appreciative.  There was a hint of romance and the enthusiasm of a child at Christmas made me smile.  They had some difficult times, but they persevered!  I highly recommend this Christmas story that really gets you in the spirit of the season!

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Melody Carlson

    Melody Carlson

    Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas...

    Continue reading about Melody Carlson 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Every Girl Gets Confused - Brides with Style 2 - by Janice Thompson

Cover Art

About the book:

How can she choose between the love she thought she lost and the love she stumbled upon in the aftermath?
Katie Fisher and Brady James may be a match made in heaven, but that doesn't seem to guarantee them a happily ever after accompanied by angelic choirs. Katie's almost-fianc├ę Casey is back in Fairfield, ready to rekindle their relationship. And there's nothing Katie's parents want more than for their small-town girl to leave Dallas and come home for good.

But can she really leave Brady behind? And will she ever be able to wear that gorgeous wedding dress she won?

My review:

This was an enjoyable story that continues Katie's story from book one, so I recommend you read these in order.  There was a lot of crazy shenanigans, especially from her Aunt Alva, who could not seem to understand the concept of a bluetooth!  So, probably needless to say, there was some humor in the book.  Katie has a huge family and there's always something going on with them or with the busy bridal shop she works at.  It was fun chaos, but sometimes a little too much for me.  I couldn't really understand how she could be confused about her ex after he'd dumped her, especially since she had a great guy now.  I really liked the conversations about seasons of life and how we could be going through something hard now, but it will pass.  I absolutely loved the Doris Day theme, with the quotes about her and from her starting each chapter!  It was also fun to picture the wedding dress design based on a dress she wore in one of her movies.  She's one of my favorite actresses.  It was also fun to to have the older designer who designed the dress and knew her back in Hollywood.  I also liked the multiple romances going on with couples of all ages.  There were some sweet moments.  This was a fun, zany book and I recommend it if you like humorous romance!

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Janice Thompson

    Janice Thompson

    Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the...
    Continue reading about Janice Thompson 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ties That Bind - The Amish of Summer Grove 1 - by Cindy Woodsmall

This was a wonderful, fascinating story! Twenty-year-old Ariana Brenneman loves to bake and wants to open a cafe to help her large family have a little more breathing room financially.  She and her twin brother have been saving for years toward that goal.  She's just started dating a man she could get serious about and her life starts to feel like it's all coming together.  Suddenly, she runs into Quill, the man she loved as a teenager who had left the Amish community behind along with her good friend.  It's been five long years and she finds out that he's been helping people leave the Amish and someone in her family is next.

Quill had his reasons for leaving, ones he still can't share with Ariana.  He wants to protect her, though, and soon is asked by her parents to dig into the circumstances surrounding her birth.  He wants Ariana to trust him again, but knows that when the truth comes out, he may lose it forever. As he digs for the truth, he also tries to help Ariana figure out a way to earn the rest of the money so she can close on the cafe.  He knows she'll need that victory to deal with the truth that's coming to light about her connection to a girl named Skylar Nash.

There were a couple unique aspects that really made this book stand out.  Most Amish books don't deal with the negative aspects of Amish life so to show a man who not only has left the Amish, but is also helping others leave was interesting.  The situation with Ariana and Skylar was fascinating, too, but I won't reveal what that was about!  I really liked Ariana and her twin, especially the situation with his unrequited love for a certain girl.  Both Ariana and Quill had a strong faith.  I liked the interesting conversations they would have.  Quill was really an upstanding guy who put other people ahead of himself.  There were some cute romantic moments.  I'm excited to see where the series goes!  There were so many fascinating situations to be resolved.  Cindy Woodsmall is one of my favorite authors of Amish fiction.  I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Check out these websites for more about the book:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review of Cynthia Ruchti’s ‘An Endless Christmas’ and Holiday Cheer Giveaway!

About the book:
An Endless Christmas
(Worthy Inspired, October 2015)

Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster.

Christmas takes a very different turn when the guests of honor break up instead of announcing their engagement. Trapped with his family, they learn that love looks different than either imagined. Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their grandson Micah is planning to ask his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him so they can celebrate with the whole family. But things go very wrong when she says, "no." Now they are stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.

My review:
This was such a wonderful Christmas story!  I absolutely loved it!  It was well-written with a wonderful mix of romance, the true meaning of the season and a huge family you just wanted to be a part of.  The plot was great and can you imagine a more awkward way to meet the family, after you've rejected one of them in front of everyone?!  There were sweet moments of romance, which were especially touching with the elderly grandparents.  There were some pretty humorous moments, too.  I absolutely loved the whole family.  There's a bit of mystery as we're not told right away why Katie tells Micah no and some of the baggage she's dealing with.  The whole family and Katie have a strong faith in God, yet Katie struggles with letting go of her past and feeling inadequate.  Her journey was beautiful to see, with a great mix of action and reflection throughout the story.  This is probably the best Christmas story I've ever read!  I highly recommend it!

I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

About the author:
Drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry, Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals, and speaking for women's and writers' events. Her books have been recognized by Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, Selah Awards, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and Carol Award nominations, among other honors, including a Family Fiction Readers' Choice Award. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in Pittsville, Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

Connect with Cynthia: website, Twitter, Facebook
There's no getting out of Christmas now, despite Katie rejecting Micah's marriage proposal. Cozy up this holiday season with Cynthia Ruchti's new novella, An Endless Christmas. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it’s Christmas.

Celebrate the holidays with Cynthia and An Endless Christmas by entering her $100 Target gift card giveaway!

endless christmas-400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of An Endless Christmas
  • A $100 gift card to Target
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 30th. The winner will be announced December 1st on Cynthia's blog.

endless christmas-enterbanner