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Friday, November 28, 2014

The Christmas Train...Review

About the book:
Anna Spano is on the train to meet her father while she befriends Eva Stephens, an older woman who occasionally thinks she’s traveling to her home village in pre–World War II for the holidays. Recognizing Miss Eva’s disorientation as the same dementia her late grandmother experienced, Anna isn’t sure who is actually taking care of whom on the journey.

At the far end of the journey, Tom Thurston is anxious about what to expect when his daughter arrives. So he’s doubly shocked when a teary old woman embraces him, convinced that he is her long-lost brother.

At Anna’s insistence, he reluctantly agrees to bring the woman home with them and try to locate her family. And as Anna clings loyally to her new friend, and Tom struggles to be who Miss Eva needs him to be, both father and daughter begin to understand one another. And through Miss Eva, they learn the true meaning of family, and of love.

Anna Spano's neglectful, slacker mom has decided that it's too much to care for her anymore and loads Anna on a train to meet the father she doesn't know. Because a 10 year old can't travel alone, Anna's mom asks Eva Stephens, an elderly woman traveling on the same train, to look after Anna. As the journey begins, it's Anna who ends up caring for Miss Eva who struggles with dementia and keeps believing herself to be back during World War 2, rather than the present. As Miss Eva struggles with her memories, Anna looks ahead with some fear and trepidation.

Tom, Anna's father, waits at the end of the line for the daughter he has never met. When Anna and Miss Eva finally arrive, Miss Eva mistakes him for her long-lost brother. Anna refuses to leave Miss Eva at the station when it becomes apparent that there is no one to meet her. Tom reluctantly concedes to Anna's wishes that Miss Eva come home with them.

As father and daughter negotiate their new relationship, they must also find a way to help Miss Eva.

Anna is such a sharp, precocious child, wise beyond her years. Her care and tenderness towards Eva is lovely. Tom isn't sure what parenthood will bring to him, but he's determined to be a good father to Anna and their interactions are sweet.

A tender, sweet Christmas novella that will tug at your heartstrings while it brings a tear to your eye and a smile to your face.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving: 
1: the act of giving thanks 
2: a prayer expressing gratitude 
3: a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness 

 "To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven." --Thomas S. Monson

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Perfect Gift...Review

About the book:
’Tis the night before Christmas… and businessman and single father Jason is scrambling to find the dollhouse of the season for his seven-year-old daughter Emily. But when he finally strikes gold at an obscure toy store, he’s met with resistance—literally, as a beautiful woman named Leah is grabbing onto the dollhouse box from the other side of the aisle, determined to get the same Christmas present for her own daughter.

Desperate not to let the other win, Jason and Leah forge a pact: stay together until they find the same dollhouse at a different toy store. It sounds simple, but ten stores and many hours later, they still come up empty. They might not be finding another dollhouse, but they sure are finding a lot to talk about and, as their mutual attraction grows, the unlikely pair finds the greatest holiday gift of all—love.

Single parents Jason and Leah are each on a mission to find the elusive Little People Dollhouse for their daughters. It's the most highly sought after Christmas gift of the season and when they each grab the last box in the store, neither one wants to compromise and let go. Attracted to Leah from the moment he laid eyes on her, Jason suggests that they each pay half for the current dollhouse and together try and find a second.

This little novella takes place over the course of two days as Jason and Leah search the city for another gift for one of their daughters. As they traverse from store to store and situation to situation, they talk and share and get to know each other.

While everything about the story is perfect, it's often a little too perfect. Jason and Leah are awesome parents, their daughters are perfect and involved in dance and sports and activities, well-behaved and sweet. This has all the makings of a Hallmark Christmas movie. It's light and romantic with a sweet tug on your heartstrings.

A light, sweet Christmas novella. One you can read in just one or two sittings.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Dani-Lyn Alexander here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sam's Christmas Wish...Review

About the book:
Sam Edwards isn’t looking forward to Christmas, at least not this year. Since losing his job a few weeks before, he hasn’t had any luck in finding a new one. He isn’t sure how he can give his family a merry Christmas, and the last thing he wants is charity from his neighbors. But when he falls asleep in his living room—with his shotgun across his lap just to make sure no one attempts to visit him—he wakes up to find his front porch laden with Christmas goodies. But when he tries to find out who left the presents, the freshly fallen snow reveals no footprints.

Years later, Sam’s wife has passed away and his children are grown. Old and sick, Sam remembers the kindness of the anonymous stranger from long ago and wishes for an opportunity to bless another’s life. So on Christmas Eve, when he sees his neighbor’s house on fire, he hopes that he can be the means for another anonymous miracle.

Sam Edwards lost his job and money is tight. He doesn't want charity and is pretty outspoken about it. He falls asleep on Christmas Eve, with a shotgun across his lap to ensure that no one comes by or brings anything. Awakening on Christmas morning however, his house is full of Christmas gifts. But no footprints or anything to indicate how they arrived.

As he's storming around, trying to find a reason for the gifts, he watches his children's joy at receiving them and his heart softens. That Christmas spirit enters his heart and he realizes that it's about service and giving, not receiving.

As years go by, many in the community benefit from Sam's kindness, but he has always wanted the opportunity to serve anonymously. When that opportunity comes, Sam blesses another and finds true joy in Christmas service.

The story is not long, but is poignant. I did think that the ending, while expected, was a little abrupt. But this is a sweet Christmas story with gorgeous illustrations and a lovely message that Christmas isn't just an event, it's a feeling of love and a spirit of giving.

Thanks to Shadow Mountain for the opportunity to review this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tim Cratchit's Christmas Carol...Review

About the book:
In A Christmas Carol, evil Scrooge was shown the error of his ways by three helpful ghosts and vowed to become a better person. Bob Cratchit and his family benefited most from Scrooge’s change of tune—but what happened after the goose was given, and Scrooge resolved to turn over a new leaf?

Tim Cratchit's Christmas Carol shows us Tiny Tim as an adult. Having recovered from his childhood ailment, he began his career helping the poor but has since taken up practice as a doctor to London’s wealthy elite. Though Tim leads a very successful life, he comes home at night to an empty house. But this holiday season, he’s determined to fill his house with holiday cheer—and maybe even a wife.

When a single, determined young mother lands on Tim’s doorstep with her ailing son, Tim is faced with a choice: stay ensconced in his comfortable life and secure doctor’s practice, or take a leap of faith and reignite the fire lit under him by his mentor, Scrooge, that fateful Christmas so many years ago.

I think one must be very brave to write a sequel to a celebrated classic, especially when that celebrated classic is a Dicken's story. Jim Piecuch does a fantastic job of taking us back to the Cratchit family. Tim is all grown up and now a successful doctor. As Christmas approaches, he begins to realize that his life is rather empty. It's become all about work and even then, he's not helping the poor in need. Instead, his practice is wrapped up in wealthy, gluttonous hypochondriacs and his partner is selfish and money oriented rather than patient oriented.

Tim knows he wants more from his life. When a young woman with a dying son comes to him one evening, Tim knows he can't turn her away. As he begins to research her son's condition and possible cures, he remembers how much he loved truly helping those in need. As Tim goes about helping others, there is one person who still has an influence on his life, even from beyond the grave.

I loved that this author doesn't try to be Charles Dickens. He doesn't recreate the setting or story of A Christmas Carol. Rather, he takes these wonderful characters and gives them new life. The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are not here, but the influence and presence of Ebeneezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit are, and it's beautiful.

The Cratchit family makes a reappearance and new people come into Tim's life and others leave it. The story is at once poignant and engaging with characters you love. There is a sweetness and tenderness, but humor and at the end a smile because of the magic that is Christmas.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Jim Piecuch here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Red Book of Primrose House...Review and Giveaway

About the book:
In Marty Wingate’s charming new Potting Shed Mystery, Texas transplant Pru Parke’s restoration of a historic landscape in England is uprooted by an ax murderer.

Pru Parke has her dream job: head gardener at an eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex. The landscape for Primrose House was laid out in 1806 by renowned designer Humphry Repton in one of his meticulously illustrated Red Books, and the new owners want Pru to restore the estate to its former glory—quickly, as they’re planning to showcase it in less than a year at a summer party.

But life gets in the way of the best laid plans: When not being happily distracted by the romantic attentions of the handsome Inspector Christopher Pearse, Pru is digging into the mystery of her own British roots. Still, she manages to make considerable progress on the vast grounds—until vandals wreak havoc on each of her projects. Then, to her horror, one of her workers is found murdered among the yews. The police have a suspect, but Pru is certain they’re wrong. Once again, Pru finds herself entangled in a thicket of evil intentions—and her, without a hatchet.

Having just read 
The Garden Plot, I was thrilled to jump right back into Pru's life. She has been offered her dream job as the head gardener for an old English estate, whose garden was designed by a renowned landscape designer. Pru is ecstastic at the prospect of restoring the gardens to their former greatness and seeing Detective Inspector Pearse on the weekends.

But Pru can't simply have a normal life. As she works on the gardens, vandals destroy her efforts, her assistants bicker and she walks into the garden one day to find one of them murdered. Pru once again finds herself thrust into a murder investigation, this time with a crotchety detective who resents her involvement. However, Pru is curious and clever and discovers answers and clues on her own, even as her life is once again in danger.

I loved this one more than the first one. Pru and Christopher are terrific together. I love the subplots of Christopher's son and Pru's discovery of family. Pru's new friends are terrific and the story enthralling. I didn't want to put it down and while I had my suspicions of the culprit, I was still left guessing until the end.

Sequel to The Garden Plot, the story can stand on its own, but the character development is richer for having read the first book.


Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Marty Wingate here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

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Because I loved the book and I know many of you will too, please enter the giveaway for a gift card and copy of The Garden Plot!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Garden Plot...Review

About the book:
In an entirely appealing mystery debut, Marty Wingate introduces readers to a curious Texas ex-pat whose English gardening expertise on occasion leads her to unearth murderous goings-on.

Pru Parke always dreamed of living in England. And after the Dallas native follows an impulse and moves to London, she can't imagine ever leaving--though she has yet to find a plum position as a head gardener. Now, as the sublet on her flat nears its end, the threat of forced departure looms. Determined to stay in her beloved adopted country, Pru takes small, private gardening jobs throughout the city.

On one such gig in Chelsea, she makes an extraordinary find. Digging in the soil of a potting shed, Pru uncovers an ancient Roman mosaic. But enthusiasm over her discovery is soon dampened when, two days later, she finds in the same spot a man's bludgeoned corpse. As the London police swarm her worksite, ever inquisitive Pru can't quite manage to distance herself from the investigation--much to the dismay of stern Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse. It seems that, much as he tries, even handsome DCI Pearse can't keep Pru safe from a brutal killer who thinks she's already dug up too much.

All Pru Parke has ever wanted is to live in her mother's home country of England and be the gardener for an English manor. After her mother's death, she impulsively moves to London. While searching for a permanent head gardener position, Pru takes on some smaller jobs and uncovers an ancient Roman mosaic. Soon afterwards, she discovers a dead body in the same location and finds herself involved in the investigation. While often, unintentionally, impeding it, she also manages to uncover clues, but it all turns scary when the killer comes after Pru.

I like cozy mysteries, but they're not always my first genre of choice. When this one came across my radar, I grabbed it based on the British setting. I was not disappointed. Pru was terrific and while I thought she was very naive at times, she was plucky and resilient. I liked Christopher and I hope to see more of his relationship with Pru in future books.

I love mature heroines. And Pru is a 50-something gardener with a penchant for sleuthing that often gets her into trouble! This is the first in the Potting Shed Mystery series and it was a lot of fun. I look forward to more.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Marty Wingate here. You can purchase your own copy here\.

Read 11/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conversations at our House

Mom: "Is your homework finished?"
The Boy: "Not really. We have to read an essay by this 200 year old dead guy and do a dialectical journal."
Mom: "Who are you reading?"
The Boy: "Somebody named Thoreau."
Mom: (excitedly) "Henry David Thoreau. He wrote Walden."
The Boy: "Yeah, Walden, that guy. I don't get any of it."
Mom: "Show me what essay and I will read it and then we can talk about it together. Will that help?
The Boy: (relieved) "Yes!"
Mom: "And then I will show you Dead Poets Society. Robin Williams. Awesome."

Yep, Thoreau is a 200 year old dead guy. Did you know?

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What was really cool about this conversation was that later that evening, we sat down together. We talked about the essay, he found his quotes and necessary points for his dialectical journal. He began to get a grasp of the essay and points. We went through the questions at the end of the essay and talked about them, even though he said we didn't need to.

The next day, the conversation went like this:

The Boy: "You totally saved me in English today."
Mom: "Why?"
The Boy: "We had a sub and the assignment was to do the questions at the end of the essay. I looked at the kid next to me and said, 'It's cool. I've got this. My mom went over these with me last night!'"
Mom: "So it was a good thing that we did that then?"
The Boy: "Yes, and I totally understand the part about the train now too!"

Yep, sometimes homework help does have its rewards...

This post has been edited.

This post has been shared at Brilliant Blog PostsThriving ThursdayGrace at Home, Heart-Filled FridayThat Friday Blog Hop




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten...Review

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

Three 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 White Christmas by Cara Putman, 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 Theatre 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 front line 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 God’s plan for a future?

I love Christmas. I love Christmas stories. And there is just something touching and poignant about war time Christmases.

Where Treetops Glisten is fantastic. These are novellas, so of course the stories are wrapped up fairly quickly, but they're also full of depth and heartwarming. I would have loved a full-length novel for each couple!

Honestly, I can't pick a favorite although if I was forced to it would probably be Pete and Grace's story in I'll be Home for Christmas and that is mostly because Linnie was such a delightful child! But, I loved their story of forgiveness.

I loved the Turner family and I spent a happy afternoon curled up in my easy chair following their stories from book to book. This really is the perfect winter read.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, November 14, 2014

Loving Lucianna...Preview and Giveaway

About the book:
Sir Balduin de Soler gave up long ago on love. He never had the means to support a wife until an unexpected advancement in his fifties allows him to reassess his future just as the lovely Lucianna enters his life.

Lucianna Fabio harbors a secret, painful memory from her past that has kept her unwed, as well. Now in her forties, she thought herself too old to marry until she meets Sir Balduin. Now suddenly their lonely autumn lives feel very much like spring again . . . until Lucianna’s brother appears without warning and threatens to revive the secret that will destroy Lucianna’s second chance at love.


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About the author:
Joyce DiPastena dreamed of green medieval forests while growing up in the dusty copper mining town of Kearny, Arizona. She filled her medieval hunger by reading the books of Thomas B. Costain (where she fell in love with King Henry II of England), and later by attending the University of Arizona where she graduated with a degree in history, specializing in the Middle Ages. The university was also where she completed her first full-length novel…set, of course, in medieval England. Later, her fascination with Henry II led her to expand her research horizons to the far reaches of his “Angevin Empire” in France, which became the setting of her first published novel, Loyalty’s Web (a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist).

Joyce is a multi-published, multi-award winning author who specializes in sweet medieval romances heavily spiced with mystery and adventure. She lives with her two cats, Clio and Glinka Rimsky-Korsokov, in Mesa, Arizona.

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Thanks to Laura at Italy Book Tours for the opportunity to preview this book. You can learn more about Joyce DiPastena here. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

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Enter to win a copy of the ebook!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Singing to a Bulldog...Review and Giveaway

About the book:
Growing up in 1950s California, young Anson William Heimlich showed very little promise. Clumsy, unsure of himself, and made to feel like a failure by his disappointed artist of a dad, Anson started working odd jobs as a teenager to help support his family. His boss at one of these jobs, an aging African-American janitor named Willie, unexpectedly became a mentor -- and the lessons he taught young Anson proved to be invaluable throughout his subsequent career as an actor, director, and entrepreneur.

In Singing to a Bulldog, Anson Williams (as he came to be known) relates both these lessons and the never-before-revealed stories of the many seminal TV series he has worked on and the famous (and not-so-famous) folks he's encountered during his 40 years in Hollywood, including:

  • the day Robin Williams woke up Happy Days
  • being directed by Steven Spielberg in his first dramatic role
  • getting kidnapped by Gerald Ford's daughter at the White House
  • subbing for Sammy Davis, Jr., as a headliner with Bill Cosby
  • being humbled by Sunny, a young volunteer for the Cerebral Palsy National Organization
  • being inspired by Shailene Woodley on the set of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and many more.
This compelling read has a cross-generational and broad appeal, combining all the fun of a celebrity memoir with the emotional impact of an inspirational bestseller. With Singing to a Bulldog, Anson Williams brings his gift of storytelling to a new medium in a book that is sure to touch readers' hearts and lives as profoundly as Willie once touched his.

Like many who grew up in the 1970s, I loved the television show, Happy Days. And, like most people, I had no idea about the personal lives of the actors. 

Anson's home life wasn't great and while he doesn't dwell on the difficulties at home, they had a profound effect on him. Getting his first job as a department store janitor introduced him to Willie Turner, an uneducated, alcoholic African-American janitor who saw potential in Anson and proceeded to become an unlikely mentor to him.

As he shares his experiences in becoming an entertainer, Anson does speak of meeting John Lennon and Elvis Presley, but he shares what he learned from each man, rather than simply the awe he felt in meeting them. He's not afraid to talk about other celebrities, but always in the context of what knowledge, insight or lesson he gained from the association.

His friendship and association with Willie taught him many important things and the life lessons Anson learned as a teenager are still relevant today. In telling his story, he's honest and forthright and very willing to give credit where it's due.

I loved that while this was a memoir, it wasn't a "look at me name drop" memoir. It's really a life lessons memoir and one I appreciated. 

Thanks to Leyane at FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Anson Williams here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

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Because I loved the book and I think you will too, please enter the giveaway for a copy. U.S. Addresses only.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death...Review and Giveaway

About the book:
Move over, Miss Marple—Mark Reutlinger’s charming cozy debut introduces readers to the unforgettable amateur sleuth Rose Kaplan and her loyal sidekick, Ida.

Everyone knows that Rose Kaplan makes the best matzoh ball soup around—she’s a regular matzoh ball maven—so it’s no surprise at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors when, once again, Mrs. K wins the honor of preparing the beloved dish for the Home’s seder on the first night of Passover.

But when Bertha Finkelstein is discovered facedown in her bowl of soup, her death puts a bit of a pall on the rest of the seder. And things go really meshugge when it comes out that Bertha choked on a diamond earring earlier stolen from resident Daisy Goldfarb. Suddenly Mrs. K is the prime suspect in the police investigation of both theft and murder. Oy vey—it’s a recipe for disaster, unless Rose and her dear friend Ida can summon up the chutzpah to face down the police and solve the mystery themselves.

While I don't think the intended audience is only Jewish, the Jewish terms and Yiddish words were numerous, but most I was familiar with. The setting is refreshing and the heroines not young and perky. The folksy first person narration by Mrs. Kaplan's best friend Ida had potential, but the story was just too slow for me and got bogged down in details, funny as they were.

I'm not so sure about the Miss Marple comparison and Ida fancies herself a Watson to Rose's Sherlock, but the book certainly had its moments and Rose and Ida are feisty, funny sleuths. Fans of cozy mysteries should enjoy it.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review this book. You can see other reviews and tour stops here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 11/14

* * *
3/5

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Mailbox Monday 11/10

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list


The last couple of weeks have been fairly slow on the mailbox front. Of course, I've added Kindle freebies and some Netgalleys, but I'm only going to list what actually arrived for review!



Singing to a Bulldog: From Happy Days to Hollywood Director, and the Unlikely Mentor Who Got Me There by Anson Williams (for review, from FSB Associates)

Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day by Susan Newman, PhD (for review, from iRead Book Tours)


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What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

God Bless Us Everyone...Review

About the book:
In creating stories for others, we sometimes end up revealing truths to ourselves. Such was the experience of the beloved Charles Dickens, master storyteller and honorary champion of Christmas. But Dickens was not always the purveyor of yuletide wisdom we know today—he too had to discover for himself the true spirit of Christmas and how best to keep it all the year through.

It was 1843, and winter was fast approaching. Times were tough for Charles Dickens and his family. He needed to publish something that would earn enough money to meet his many obligations. Pondering his predicament, Dickens set out to write a quick Christmas story that would be sure to sell. Little did he know that his writing—and the genial ghost he would bring to life—would take him on an incredible journey of the heart.

This beautifully illustrated volume tells the story behind the writing of Dickens's most famous work and reveals how he discovered the spirit of Christmas for himself—with a little help from his own literary characters. Originally presented by acclaimed British actor John Rhys-Davies at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 2013 Christmas concert, the book also includes a DVD with footage from the event.

Who doesn't love A Christmas Carol? I do and I wasn't familiar with the story of how Charles Dickens came to write it. The account is fictionalized here, but the circumstances that led to his writing the story are true. It's a lovely story and beautifully illustrated.

I thought it would include a CD with John Rhys-Davies reading the story. Instead, a DVD is included of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 2013 Christmas concert, which featured a dramatization of Charles Dickens' story, narrated by John Rhys-Davies. This seems to be the new norm for the choir and I should have realized it. However, the production is well done and would be a fun show to watch as a family.

The story itself is wonderful and the illustrations are gorgeous. It's not a short bedtime story, but if your family enjoys reading Christmas stories, they will enjoy this one.

Our family tradition is to read Christmas stories on Christmas Eve. Everyone shares his or her favorite Christmas story and we end with the account of Jesus' birth in the Bible. This book would be a lovely addition to that Christmas Eve tradition.

Thanks to Shadow Mountain for the opportunity to review this book. You can purchase your own copy here

Read 11/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, November 7, 2014

Christmas in Snow Valley...Review and Giveaway

About the books:
Christmas in Snow Valley is packed with six wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring romance into your holiday season.

An Unexpected Kiss by Cindy Roland Anderson 
Lucy Phillips doesn’t want to spend her Christmas vacation dodging her ex-boyfriend, so when he turns up at the airport to give her a ride home, Lucy panics and asks a complete stranger to kiss her. Although the kiss is incredible, Lucy never expects to see the guy again. Is it bad luck or destiny when Lucy comes down with a sore throat and the new doctor in Snow Valley is none other than the guy she kissed at the airport?

Feels Like Love by Jeanette Lewis (Janet Halling)
Christmas in Snow Valley is the perfect way for April Winston to introduce her city slicker fiance, Scott Mecham, to life on a farm. If only Wade Hadley, hometown boy and high school sweetheart, will cooperate! But Wade has no intention of letting April go without a fight. This Christmas, Wade is determined to overcome their painful past and show April that she already has what she’s been seeking all along.

Full Court Devotion by Cami Checketts
Kazlyn is too busy with her schooling and future plans to enjoy life, let alone fall in love with a man who has heartbreak written all over him. Tyrese Hamilton, a college basketball star and major heartthrob, is intrigued when Kazlyn doesn’t pursue him or even seem interested. Ty’s career is in jeopardy, and he needs a miracle and Kazlyn to save him.

​ The Christmas Eve Kiss by Taylor Hart
When Molly O’Hare gets a prediction that she will kiss her true love on Christmas Eve, she thinks it’s utterly ridiculous. But when she gets teamed up with Kevin Snow, aka her ex-boyfriend, to decorate a Christmas tree, things start to change. Too bad getting over the past is hard and seeing him kiss another girl is even harder. Now Molly is left with a choice—run away from home and heartbreak or let Christmas work out a miracle all of its own.

Risking it all for Love by Award-Winning author, Kimberley Montpetit
Succumbing to family pressure, Jessica Mason reluctantly comes home for Christmas. Ever since her high school boyfriend’s death from a car accident three years earlier, Jessica and religion have not been compatible. So, when she visits Michael’s grave, she’s surprised to meet the handsome James Douglas, Pastor John’s nephew, who’s studying for the ministry. James can not only dish back Jessica’s finely-tuned sarcasm but understands grief all too well, turning Jessica’s world upside down. Is she ready to take another risk on love?

Blue Christmas by Lucy McConnell​ (Christina Dymock)​
As head of Snow Valley hospital’s fundraising effort, Paisley Hackett barely has time to organize the craft show, cookie decorating party, and the annual Christmas Ball. What she doesn’t have time for is falling in love with Clay Jett, the incredibly handsome bass player who sweeps into town. She’s been burned by a tourist romance before and, with everything going on, Paisley will have to work overtime to protect her heart from Clay and his swoon-worthy ballads.

These stories of six young women from Snow Valley, Montana are delightful. I loved the town of Snow Valley. What an amazing place to spend Christmas!

This was a fun Christmas anthology. These novellas were quick, easy, enjoyable reads. I liked some more than others, but I don't think I can pick a favorite. All capture the magic of the Christmas season. Each story can stand alone, but characters from one story might make an appearance in another. Clean and humorous chick-lit, light on the Christian. Perfect for curling up with in front of a roaring fireplace.

Thanks to the authors for the opportunity to review this set. You can purchase your own copy here. The Kindle price, at least for today is $.99!

Read 11/14

* * * *
4/5 Stars

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Because I loved the book and I know many of you will too, please enter the giveaway for a gift card!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Vivian...Review

About the book:
From loss breeds new beginnings...

Vivian Monroe had been jaded. Her husband's death only compounded the lies she'd only come to learn about.

Clayton North knows a thing or two about loss. He figured it was fate for him to meet Vivian Monroe. He'll take on the challenge of helping her mend her heart.

Amidst new friendships and new romance, Vivian must let go of her pain and face the woman who helped Adam Monroe weave his deceptive web.

The Three Mrs. Monroes wraps up with wife number one, Vivian's story. Vivian must not only come to grips with Adam's bigamy, but the fact that her marriage was never legal. As she moves forward with Amelia and Penelope with plans to open the daycare, the house renovations uncover more secrets. Secrets that her psychotic mother-in-law held and that Vivian discovered. Truths about her relationship with Adam and why it had deteriorated so much before he married the others.

As she comes to grips with this new information, she also meets Clayton North, a widower whose daughters will attend Vivian's daycare. Attracted to Clayton, she must come to terms with her waning feelings for Adam and the sorrow she feels over the relationship they were never able to have.

The story wraps up well with lots of excitement. Vivian was the most prickly wife to start with, but she becomes the most human by the end.

This series was light and enjoyable. Each book was a fairly quick read with bits of depth here and there.

Thanks to Author Marketing Experts for the opportunity to review these books. You can learn more about Bernadette Marie here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Penelope...Review

About the book:
From loss breeds new life.

Penelope Monroe married on impulse and her heart had been broken by Adam Monroe’s lies. Pregnant she wonders how she will survive, alone, with her baby.


Brock Romero held Adam Monroe when he died in combat. Now released from the Army he makes it his priority to find Adam’s wife and share with her his last words.


On the verge of making the same mistake twice, Penelope must trust her heart—especially when new lies are uncovered.


Book two in The Three Mrs. Monroes series features Penelope, wife number three. The youngest of the three Mrs. Monroes, Penelope and Adam hadn't been married very long. But she was foremost in his mind when he died, because he entrusted his friend Brock to find Penelope and tell her that Adam loved her. 

Wounded in the same attack that killed Adam, Brock finds solace in Penelope's photo and the idea that he will finally meet her. By the time he does, he's practically in love with her. 

Penelope, Amelia and Vivian have realized that they must do something to support themselves, because what Adam left isn't enough for the three of them to live. They decide on starting a daycare and begin renovating Adam's grandmother's old house. When Brock arrives to finally speak to Penelope, he finds that he can't leave her and he is soon drawn into this odd family.

I enjoyed the interactions between the wives and the tenuous friendships that are formed and begin to solidify. 

Second in the series, the story ends with the point of continuing in Vivian's story. The books really need to be read in order as they build on each other.

Thanks to Author Marketing Experts for the opportunity to review these books. You can learn more about Bernadette Marie here. You can purchase your own copies here.

Read 10/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Amelia...Review

About the book:
From loss breeds new opportunity. 

Amelia Monroe had felt the sharp pain from the loss of a soldier before—Adam Monroe’s death didn’t have that same effect. Sam Jackson had one job—deliver Adam Monroe’s revised will. Even he couldn’t have anticipated that he’d be entangled in the web of lies his client had woven. 

Doing what is right had been inbred in Amelia. She’d planned to say her goodbyes and start fresh. Staying in Adam’s small town with his other lies, that wasn’t part of her plan.

When her husband dies in Afghanistan, what Amelia Monroe doesn't expect to discover is that Adam had three wives. The Three Mrs. Monroes all converge at Adam's funeral and after a near disastrous meeting, an unlikely alliance is formed.

Amelia is wife number two and for much of her marriage Adam was deployed and they were apart. When she discovers his bigamy, any vestige of love she'd felt was gone and it's very easy for her to move forward.

As Adam's attorney, Sam has one job and it's to present the will to his widows. He and Amelia have an immediate connection and while staying in a small Oklahoma town isn't part of her plan, Amelia finds herself drawn there. As she gets to know Adam's other wives and learns that her marriage was the only legal one, she can't just leave. She feels an obligation to Penelope who is pregnant and Vivian who has Adam's two daughters. The three wives form an unlikely partnership as they try and move on and deal with the aftermath their husband left behind.

The premise for The Three Mrs. Monroes series is an interesting one: what happens when three wives of the same man all meet at his funeral. The book is a quick read and easily read in one or two sittings. I liked Amelia although she was a little rough around the edges and I'm glad that Penelope and Vivian will each have their own book so we can get to know them easier.

While not graphic, there is non-marital intimacy and the characters have no moral qualms about it.

Thanks to Author Marketing Experts for the opportunity to review these books. You can learn more about Bernadette Marie here. You can purchase your own copy  here.

Read 10/14

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mailbox Monday 11/3

It's time for another Mailbox Monday which was created by Marcia at To Be Continued.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week... Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish list

Other than some Kindle freebies (I love those!), my last two weeks have been fairly quiet on the mailbox front.

Not a bad thing as I have an overflowing TBR stack and a bursting Kindle.

What about you?

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What new books did you receive?  Check out more Mailbox Monday posts here.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Weekend Reflections 11/1

Looking outside....it's cloudy and chilly. There's a chance of rain. The fireplace is going.

Listening...to silence. The Doctor is working and the boys are asleep. They're up at 5:45 every school day, so I love letting them sleep on Saturdays.


Loving...that I finally have a working dryer again.

Thinking...that I can't believe November is here already. But, its arrival signals the beginning of the holiday season and I love the holidays.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate and I think I'll try something new for dinner. Any suggestions

Wearing...red penguin pajamas and a black turtleneck with fuzzy black socks.

Needing...to tidy the garage, hang some blinds and do some chores around the house.

Reading...The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag. I didn't do much reading this last week so this isn't finished.

Today...chores around the house and some family time this afternoon.

Hoping...for some time to read. 

Planning...for the week and I'm doing some holiday planning as well.

Gratitude...for a husband who is able and willing to do repairs and fix things around the house.

From my world...the fire bushes in my Mom's backyard. I love the gorgeous fall colors.



What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?