Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh – Review

Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

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Keeping Christmas is a holiday novella about adjusting to Christmas when there is a change in the family. For Stan and Judith, that change happens to be an empty nest. This is the first holiday they’ll be spending without any of their kids, and they don’t know what to do about it. Judith just can’t seem to muster up any Christmas spirit. The novella is heartwarming and emotional, all too relevant for anyone who has ever spent holidays without a loved one. If you’re looking for a holiday read with a little more substance and a little less fluff, Keeping Christmas is the book for you! It can be easily read in an evening or two, and it also makes a great gift for friends or neighbors. Recommended for fans of Christmas novellas and inspirational fiction.

Publisher Info:

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 . . .

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Unfinished Gift and The Restoration Series with Gary Smalley. He has won three Carol Awards, and three of his novels were finalists for the RT Book ReviewsInspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for twenty-five years. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he’s busy researching and writing his next novel. Learn more at www.danwalshbooks.com.

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson – Review

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

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Another delightful Christmas novella from Melody Carlson! The Christmas Joy Ride follows Joy, an eighty-something Christmas blogger, & her thirty-something neighbor, Miranda, on an RV trip down Route 66. Joy is on a mission to spread Christmas cheer to a list of specific people, and she enlists Miranda to help her. In an interview, Carlson said Carol Burnett would be the perfect actress to play Joy in a movie, and I loved having that reference before starting the book. Joy and Miranda will absolutely steal your heart. They are an excellent duo, and I’d love to hang out with them! Carlson’s Christmas novellas are always something I look forward to, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Grab The Christmas Joy Ride when you have a few hours to spend in a cozy chair with a cup of something hot. This book has it all–holiday spirit, heartfelt friendship, a bit of suspense, and a dash of romance. The Christmas Joy Ride is such a fun story. It’s the kind of holiday novella you’ll reach for year after year. It’d also make a great Christmas gift! Highly recommended!

Publisher Info:

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!

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books with combined sales of more than six million. She is the author of the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington’s, and The Christmas Cat. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti — Review

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

Publisher Info:

On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. 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.

Review:

An Endless Christmas is a heartfelt holiday tale of faith, family, and love. One of my very favorite types of books, it’s a holiday novella focused on family during the Christmas season. This is the first book by Cynthia Ruchti that I’ve had the pleasure to read, and it was such a great experience! The characters are well developed and lovable, the story has a few unexpected twists, and the setting screams picturesque holiday. This book is by no means holiday fluff (though I do love such stories!), Ruchti weaves a bit of suspense and mystery into the story. The pace is perfect–which is tricky for some authors when it comes to novellas. You’ll finish this story longing to spend more time with the Binder (pronounced Bender) family, but also aching to hug your own! An Endless Christmas stresses the importance of family, forgiveness, and living in the moment. This is a must-read for the upcoming Christmas season, and it may well become a Christmas tradition in your holiday reading. Highly recommended for fans of Christian fiction, holiday novellas, and inspirational fiction.

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.

*I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A Marriage Carol by Chris Fabry & Gary Chapman – Review

A Marriage Carol

Synopsis:

On Christmas Eve twenty years earlier, Marlee and Jacob were married in a snowstorm.   This Christmas Eve, they are ready to quit, divorce is imminent. Their relationship is as icy as the road they’re traveling and as blocked with troubles as the piling snow. They take a shortcut to get to the lawyer’s office, on a slippery, no-fault path. She thinks they need to stay on the main road. He disagrees. They fight. Story of their lives and they slam into a bank of snow , spinning, drifting, falling, out of control. Just like their lives. Reluctantly, freezing cold, hungry, scared, she trudges up the hill. Jacob is nowhere to be found. Her ears frozen, fingers and hands red, she comes to a house on the hillside, built like a Bed and Breakfast, a green wreath on the red door and the door-knocker is in the shape of a wedding ring.

The red door opens and the first thing she notices is the fire in the room, blazing hot, a warm, inviting, friendly place and the voice of an old man welcomes her in. There are three golden pots on the hearth, shining, glimmering things. The old man claims that they are used to restore marriages. She laughs-and begins a journey through her past, present, and future that will test how she views her lifelong love. There are two futures available. Which will she choose?

My Thoughts:

A Marriage Carol is an emotional take on A Christmas Carol, but with a twist. In this story, Marlee and Jacob are a couple struggling to survive in more way than one. A car crash and a mysterious man lead them to critical moment where they must choose which path to take. This story is incredibly engrossing, and it will grab your heart! While it is technically a Christmas story, it can be enjoyed any time of year. Jacob and Marlee are extremely realistic. Other parts of the story include a bit of fantasy, keeping in time with A Christmas Carol. I highly recommend A Marriage Carol to fans of Christmas fiction, inspirational fiction, and retellings of classic stories. Read this book. It will only take you an hour or two!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson — Review

The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlson

Info from Publisher

He felt his face flushing as Cara opened the door. Wearing a garnet-colored knit dress and with her dark hair pinned up, she looked even prettier than he remembered. Suddenly he wished he’d thought to bring a hostess gift. Like a cat.

After years abroad, Garrison Brown finds himself at the home of his beloved grandmother who has just passed away. He must sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While he hopes to dispense with the task quickly–especially since he is severely allergic to cats–his grandmother’s instructions don’t allow for speed. She has left some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends.

Can he match the cats with the perfect new owners? And is it possible that he might meet his own match along the way?

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than six million. She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus,The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington’s, as well as The Christmas Pony and A Simple Christmas Wish. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at http://www.melodycarlson.com.

My Review:

I look forward to Melody Carlson’s Christmas novellas every year. Each book is full of holiday spirit, emotionally relevant, and just the right length for an afternoon or evening of reading by the fire. The covers are always spot-on, as well. The Christmas Cat focuses on Garrison Brown. After his grandmother passes away, he’s left with the arduous task of finding perfect homes for each of her 6 cats. His grandmother left very specific instructions regarding the cats, and Garrison finds there is much he didn’t know about her. Carlson has again woven a heartwarming tale that will be enjoyed by all age groups. She kept the story lighthearted while also addressing heavier matters. I highly recommend The Christmas Cat for all cat lovers, Carlson fans, and those who enjoy holiday novellas. Warning: this story may cause you to run out and get a cat!

Reviews

Praise for Carlson’s Christmas Novels

“A wonderfully sweet story, with vivid descriptions that pull you right into the pages.”–Book Reporteron The Christmas Pony

“This novel should be on everyone’s must-read list for the holiday season.”–RT Book Reviews, 4½ star Top Pick, on The Christmas Pony

“It would make a great old-fashioned gift for many people, especially older dog lovers, grandmas and neighbors.”–FaithfulReader.com on The Christmas Dog

“Bestselling novelist Melody Carlson blends humor and warmth in The Christmas Cat. Recommend as a gift for those who love animals.”

CBA Retailers+Resources

Where Treetops Glisten Part 1: White Christmas by Cara Putman – Review

Where Treetops Glisten

Part 1: White Christmas by Cara Putman

About the book: 
The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime

Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Cara Putman’s White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements—until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail’s brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas,trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete’s friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he’s no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, “Merry” to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that’s precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God’s providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ’s birth and His plan for a future?
Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/BwVP9
About the authors: 
 
TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, includingChasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger.
CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction.
SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.

My Review:

White Christmas is the first story in Where Treetops Glisten. It served as my introduction to Cara Putman’s work. I’m not a usual fan of historical fiction, but White Christmas had all the aspects of contemporary fiction that I loved while allowing me to escape to a different time period without being overloaded with historical facts. I’m not a history buff, so don’t ask me if everything was entirely accurate in a historical sense. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if every fact doesn’t line up exactly. An author needs room to let their creativity flow! Putman’s story felt contemporary in the sense that I didn’t feel like I was looking back at Abigail’s story or even looking in as an outsider. It felt as though I were living it alongside her. The author’s storytelling masterfully set the scene–I could see every part of Abigail’s world in my mind! A favorite part of the story for me was the description of Abigail’s work in the candy store. The detailed explanation of making candy canes was extremely interesting but not so drawn out that I got bored. I highly recommend the first novella in Where Treetops Glisten to any fan of Christian Historical or Contemporary Fiction. Be sure to have White Christmas & Holiday Inn (the movies) on standby because you’ll definitely want to watch them after reading this story!

Look for reviews on Parts 2 & 3 of Where Treetops Glisten very soon!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories — Review

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

My Review:

12 Short Stories by different authors, so of course there are hits and misses!

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – LOVE. Of course, it’s written by RR and I’ve yet to find anything of hers I don’t love. The format is fun and interesting, the characters are realistic and grab you immediately. One of my favorite stories in the book. Strong start! 4.5 stars

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – not really my type of story, but it was entertaining and held my interest. I don’t regret spending time reading it, and Link has a style of writing I really like. 3.5 stars

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena – I actually really liked this story! I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but the writing felt real. I liked the characters, and while the story seemed a little generic, I liked it a lot. Probably one of my favorites. 4 stars

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – not what I was expecting! A story of unrequited love between a human and en elf – but I totally enjoyed it! The story was silly and fun, and I always like Han’s work. 3.5 stars

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – I loved this story! It’s one of the more realistic stories in this collection. This is the first piece of writing I’ve read by Perkins, and I wasn’t disappointed. The characters were realistic, the story was original, and the dialogue was fun. 4 stars

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – I didn’t love this story. It was fun enough, but I’m not usually a fan of Levithan’s work and this didn’t change my mind. The main character seems a little clingy and self-involved, but I liked the underlying storyline. 2 stars

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – I really didn’t like this story. If you like books with a mystical element, including characters that are half-goat and such, you’ll enjoy this. Not my style. 1 star

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – loved it! I fell in love with the characters, and the story developed perfectly! Another winner from Forman. A favorite from this collection! 4 stars

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – liked it, but didn’t expect to! This story grabbed my attention with the first line, and it held it to the end! The characters are realistic, the story is funny and original, and the writing is spot on. It had me laughing a lot. A favorite! 4 stars

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – I liked this story. It seemed a little long and some parts were slow moving, but I liked it all by the end. Predictable, but a good story. 3.5 stars

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – one of the longer stories. I enjoyed it. Most people will figure out the ending, but it’s an original holiday story with a fun twist. 3.5 stars

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I REALLY didn’t like this story. I seriously considered not finishing the book, but I pushed through it. I’m not a fan of magical or mythological creatures as characters, so this story wasn’t for me. It seemed to be one of the longest stories, too. One of my least favorite. 1 star

As a collection, I found more winners than losers. There’s something for everyone in this book, so I suggest you get a copy and pick out your favorites! It would also make a great gift for the holiday reader in your life. My True Love Gave to Me releases in Hardback and eBook form on October 14.

(I received a digital ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.)

Publisher Info:

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love!