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.

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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.

Once Upon a Summertime by Melody Carlson — Review

Once Upon a Summertime by Melody Carlson

Synopsis:

She’s looking for her big break. She never imagined it would depend on a blast from her past.

Managing the Value Lodge in her hometown was not what Anna Gordon had in mind when she set out in the hospitality industry. But it’s a safe choice for a young woman starting out her career.

Then, out of the blue, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to reinvent herself and reinvigorate her career by moving to New York City. She applies for a management position at a stylish new hotel, The Rothsberg. But the city is full of surprises–not the least of which is discovering that Sean O’Neil, a once-upon-a-time crush, has applied for the very same position.

This sweetly romantic tale of dreams come true takes you through the storied streets of New York City–and into the depths of the human heart.

My Thoughts:

Another winner from Melody Carlson! I was so excited when I heard Melody Carlson was coming out with a new contemporary series. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on a review copy and dive head first into the Follow Your Heart series! Book 1 is called Once Upon a Summertime and centers on Anna Gordon, who has a less-than-fulfilling career and not much else of which to speak. Following a series of events and decisions, Anna winds up in New York City to interview for her dream job. While this story has definite fairy-tale tendencies, it’s not a fairy tale. Anna faces ups and downs in her new city, including a new romance. New York City itself is a main character in this story and has as much a part in the romance as the actual couple. Carlson’s descriptions of the city left me wanting to visit more than any other book has. If you’ve been to NYC, you’ll be itching to go back. If you haven’t been (like me!), you’ll be dying to plan a trip! The setting, characters, and plot are both inviting and envy-worthy. While the ending feels a bit rushed and possibly too easy, it’s well worth the read. Highly recommended for fans of NYC, romance, and Melody Carlson’s other works. I can’t wait for the next book in the Follow Your Heart series!

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

About the Author:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than 6.5 million. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, includingFinding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson – Review

Every Bride Needs a Groom

Synopsis:

Somewhere in a sea of tulle and taffeta, satin and crepe, Katie Fisher needs to find a key ingredient of the perfect wedding–the groom.

Small-town girl Katie Fisher is busy planning her fairy-tale wedding. Sure, her boyfriend hasn’t managed to pop the question just yet, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t enter a contest in Texas Bride magazine to win the dress of her dreams, right? Anyway, she’s sure he’ll be getting down on one knee any time now. And a one-of-a-kind designer dress doesn’t just fall out of the sky right when you need it.

But when Katie’s boyfriend takes a job in another town and breaks up with her–on the very same day she wins her dream dress–her world is turned upside down. Dare she go to Dallas to claim her prize? And will the hunky pro basketball player who runs the beyond-swanky bridal shop–yeah, you read that right–discover her humiliating secret if she does?

My Thoughts:

Janice Thompson is one of my favorite authors, so of course I loved this book! Katie Fisher is so easy to identify with and root for. Being a Texan, I love the setting! I only live a couple hours from where this story takes place, and that always makes a book special. Thompson’s writing is both realistic and comical. Like most of her books, this one is a lighthearted story with some underlying emotional turmoil. I’ve fallen in love with the Fisher clan and hope to see more of them in the Brides with Style series. Looking forward to book number 2!! Highly recommended for fans of inspirational fiction romance, contemporary fiction, and wedding stories.

[Every Bride Needs a Groom is currently only $4.99 on Kindle!!]

About the Author:

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 author of the hugely popular Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series, as well as Picture Perfect, The Icing on the Cake, and The Dream Dress. She lives in Texas. Learn more at http://www.janiceathompson.com.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

At Home in Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong — Review

At Home in Last Chance (A Place to Call Home Book 3) by Cathleen Armstrong

At Home in Last Chance is the third book in Armstrong’s A Place to Call Home series. Like the first two, this story is set in Last Chance, New Mexico. Kaitlyn Reed was introduced in the 2nd book, One More Last Chance, as Chris’ sister who dropped off her daughter and took off with her new boyfriend. Kaitlyn has returned to Last Chance in an effort to clean up her life and take care of her daughter. However, she finds it hard to escape her past mistakes in a town so small and seemingly judgmental. Throw in Steven Braden, charmer extraordinaire, and Kaitlyn’s task gets much more difficult. At Home in Last Chance is a story in which you can’t help but care about the characters, and Armstrong adequately avoids predictability. I don’t love the cover, mainly because it’s not at all how I picture Kaitlyn. Despite that, the story feels honest and realistic. Fans of Chris & Sarah will love seeing their story continue in this Last Chance novel. Highly recommended for fans of Contemporary Inspirational Fiction!

Publisher’s Synopsis:

What happens when the life you’re running from won’t let go of your heart?

Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden have always had a similar philosophy of life: when the going gets tough, they get going–out of town and away from the problem. Now they are both back in Last Chance, New Mexico, and trying to start over.

Kaitlyn is working to reestablish a relationship with the seven-year-old daughter she left behind six months earlier. Steven is trying to prove to his family that he is not the irresponsible charmer they have always known him to be. As Kaitlyn and Steven find themselves drawn to one another, one big question keeps getting in the way: How will they learn to trust each other when they don’t even trust themselves?

With emotional depth and characters who leap off the page and into your heart, Cathleen Armstrong invites you to return once more to the dusty and delightful town of Last Chance.

Author Info:

Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi. Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. She is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction, and One More Last Chance.

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

The Kindle version of all 3 books in this series are currently on sale on Amazon!! Check them out now!!

Trading Secrets by Melody Carlson — Review

Trading Secrets by Melody Carlson

Info from Publisher:

The truth may set you free–but it might also land you in some uncomfortably hot water.

Over the years, Micah Knight has exchanged many letters–and many secrets–with her longtime Amish pen pal, Zach. But Micah’s kept quiet on the biggest secret of all–the fact that despite her name, she’s a girl.

Now Micah finally has the chance to meet her pen pal face-to-face. She wants nothing more than to experience life on Zach’s Amish farm, but she’s more than a little anxious. Will he be angry at her for deceiving him all these years? And will she risk losing his friendship to find something more?

My Review:

Trading Secrets is a fun story that shows life in two different worlds–English and Amish. Micah and Zach have been pen pals for years, but there’s a catch. Zach thinks Micah is a boy! When she goes to visit his family’s farm for Spring Break, things get interesting. I really enjoyed this story by Melody Carlson. Once again, she nails the teen perspective. Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll just say I appreciated the twist in the book. It gives the story another dimension. This is the first of Carlson’s Amish crossover novels I’ve read, but I look forward to reading the others. Trading Secrets is for fans of YA Inspirational Fiction. It will make a great Christmas gift for teen girls who love to read!

About Melody Carlson:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books, including the Dating Games series, the Life at Kingston High series, Double Take, A Simple Song, and My Amish Boyfriend. She has received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. Melody and her husband live in Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

(I received this book from the publisher 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.”

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