Archive for the 'Holiday Books' Category


The Baxters are Back in “A Baxter Family Christmas” by Karen Kingsbury

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

baxter-family-christmas

Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter’s daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinner—Kendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin’s heart.

In light of their father’s idea, Ashley and her brother Luke don’t think it’s right. They want to protect their ten-year-old niece, Amy—the only surviving member of the accident. But John is determined and believes meeting this woman is something his deceased daughter would want.

At the same time, Maddie West, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Brooke Baxter West, is praying for meaning this Christmas. Could she find it in a newfound friendship with a boy she never expected to see again? Maddie believes in miracles, especially at Christmastime, but this is a stretch even she can’t imagine.

Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to find purpose in the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes the invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life.

Heartwarming and touching, filled with love and redemption, A Baxter Family Christmas brings together two families in the aftermath of loss and in the midst of an unfolding love story, all with the help of one very special child.

My Comments: I enjoyed this very short book revisiting the Baxter family. The book is a tad bit sappy for me, yet I can’t stop reading Kingsbury books. There are many characters – all interwoven in some way or another. This is definitely a feel-good, great holiday story. We begin at Thanksgiving and go all the way through Christmas Eve. Christianity is woven throughout as well – dealing with doubts, Christmas miracles, and faith building incidents including salvation. Prayer is integral to the story, which I love. My only complaint is that it is so short, yet we do have the promise of more Baxter stories, which makes me smile.

I received a free e-copy of the book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

 

A Picture-Purrfect Christmas by Patricia Fry – A great holiday read!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

a picture purrfect

About the book: Rags, the klepto cat, performs a Christmas miracle. A spellbinding story of love, hope, and a child’s innocent Christmas dreams. When Savannah Ivey agrees to teach photography to a group of at-risk children, she doesn’t expect a sweet-spirited little crippled girl to steal her heart and become an important part of her family. Even Rags, the kleptomaniac cat, is captivated by the child named Marissa. When she goes missing, everyone, including Rags, experiences the pain of loss. Detective Craig Sledge fears that Marissa’s unscrupulous, non-custodial father may be behind her disappearance and the search escalates into high gear. When even a pack of rescue dogs can’t find the child, the detective turns to Rags and everyone prays for a Christmas miracle. Can Rags succeed where the others have failed? While this story involves some intense drama, it will also make you smile and even laugh out loud. Bring out the tissues for the beautiful ending. A Picture Purrfect Christmas is one of those feel-good holiday stories you’ll want to read over and over again.

My comments: This book appealed to me on many levels: the mom in me, the teacher in me, the kid-lover in me, and the animal lover in me! If you are looking for a great holiday read, may I suggest this book? The story includes enough mystery to keep you going as well. The characters are very likable and sweet. A mystery solving cat is a little bit of a different twist which is intriguing. If you love animals, this would be a good book for you – if you love cats, dogs, and horses, especially. Patricia Fry is a new author to me, but I will be looking for more of her books in the future!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Amish Christmas North Star – Four Amish Holiday Stories

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

northstar

About the book: One night four lives entered the world by the hands of an Amish midwife, just outside North Star, Pennsylvania.

Rebekah’s Babies, as they are called, are now grown adults and in four heartwarming novellas each young person experiences a journey of discovery, a possibility of love, and the wonder of Christmas.

Guiding Star by Katie Ganshert
Curiosity gets the best of Englischer Chase Wellington when he investigates the twenty-five-year-old disappearance of an Amish baby. When he finds adventurous Elle McAllister in Iowa will his discoveries upend her world?

Mourning Star by Amanda Flower
Eden Hochstetler slips from her parents’ fudge shop to investigate the death of her friend Isaac. Who is guilty? Isaac’s handsome great nephew Jesse, an angry Englischer, or someone else?

In the Stars by Cindy Woodsmall
Heartbroken Kore Detweiler avoids North Star after Savilla Beiler rejects his love. But when he is unexpectedly called to return home, he and Savilla must join forces to keep a family together.

Star of Grace by Mindy Starns Clark and Emily Clark
Andy Danner left North Star to join a new Amish settlement in Mississippi. His little brother devises a scheme to bring Andy home for Christmas and unwittingly unleashes the power of forgiveness in a reclusive widower’s life.

My Comments: This is a great book by four great authors. I love the way each story intertwines with the other three. The setting of each story is in North Star, Pennsylvania.  Within these four stories we have the themes of  love, romance, mystery, murder, adventure, and loyalty. I have read books by all of the authors and enjoyed them immensely, as I did this anthology. The characters are the same although different ones are emphasized in each story. I love this type of anthology rather than having four completely different stories with four different sets of characters.

If you enjoy Amish fiction and if you enjoy Holiday books, this is one you would enjoy!

I received a copy of this book free of charge for my honest opinion, which I have given.

The Christmas Cradle by Charlotte Hubbard

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

christmas cradle

About the book: For the peaceful town of Willow Ridge, November presents an early holiday surprise. Stranded in the snow, 18-year-old Lena Esh and her boyfriend Josiah Witmer need more than a place to stay for the night. Lena defied her strict family and their judgmental beliefs to run away with Josiah and have his baby. But she’s starting to wonder if he can prove as responsible as he is passionate. And she isn’t sure how—or if—they can ever find a place to truly call home.

Expecting their own miracle baby, Miriam and Ben Hooley rally the town to help the young couple, and Lena draws strength from their unexpected support. Though trouble may come calling, in this season of joyous rebirth, a little child will lead them. And two couples will see their dreams of forever family come true . . .

My Comments: I really enjoyed this book. The main themes were changed lives and forgiveness. The group of Amish highlighted in this book seemed so different than most. They loved, protected, and took care of those the Lord sent their way. By acting this way, they were really able to show the love of Christ when needed the most. The story presents times of suspense, times of joy, times of sadness, and all the other elements that a good story possesses. This is the first Amish novel I’ve read for a while, and it was a winner!

The Midwife of Bethlehem by Shad Driggs

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

 

midwife

From the back: The Christmas Nativity is ‘the greatest story every told’. Every year, it is shared and performed a million times in a wide variety of settings and languages. While pondering what part of the story hasn’t been told, I thought of the women who might have been called on to help Mary that night. I wondered about the spiritual experience they might have had. While the Bible doesn’t say others were present, it is reasonable to think that they might have been.

About the author: Shad Driggs is a businessman who lives in Naperville, Illinois. He and his wife Darla, and their six children dedicate many hours in service to their church and community.

My comments: When I think that there isn’t another way the Christmas story can be told, lo and behold there IS – by the viewpoint of midwives–and two of them – Rebecca and Rachel. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to share it with my granddaughters and grandson during the holiday season.  A book like this can be used to begin new holiday traditions. I never really thought about midwives being present at the birth of Jesus, but why not? They are not mentioned at all. I always thought Joseph delivered the baby, but maybe not? The illustrations in this book are very nostalgic, so I like them for that reason. This is a great addition to any child’s Christmas library.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Forever Christmas by Robert Tate Miller

Friday, November 21st, 2014

image

About the book:

Andrew can’t remember the last time he spent Christmas away from work. The end of the year is crunch time for literary agents. But when your career is your life, your life starts to suffer . . . beginning with your marriage.

When a heart-wrenching accident in a Christmas Eve snowstorm jars this high-powered agent from his obsession with success, a Christmas miracle will give him a second chance at love, life, and gratitude, but only if he can put aside his own ambition and learn to appreciate each moment.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to change a man’s life—and to teach him to treat every day as if it were his last.

My Comments: Great holiday read on the order of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. I felt like there was going to be no lesson learned throughout most of the book which frustrated me, but it was part of the story which had to be told.

I was a little disappointed in the ending, but not sure of another way it could have ended. The message of forgiveness is woven throughout the story. The main character, Beth, was amazing and very likable. I found myself routing for her throughout. Andrew was a bit of a arrogant, self-absorbed character.

Life is short and difficult we need to make the most of it while we can. Priorities must be adhered to in order to have a life full of meaning. The Christian message was implied, especially forgiveness. This is a good read with great message!

 

 

The Christmas Light

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

imageAbout the book:

In the small town of Grandon, five very different people discover the true meaning of Christmas. Jennifer and Ryan are both single parents, struggling with their own losses and heartache as they attempt to move forward in the present while still holding onto the memories, joy, and heartache of the past. Sixteen-year-old Kaylee is faced with a life-changing situation that has affected her whole family. Stephen and Lily are happily married and ready to start a family. All of them are facing their own struggles, and all are finding their way through the dark. When they are brought together for a rather unconventional church Nativity, they will learn that with strength, courage, and love, there is always hope.
The New York Times bestselling author of the beloved The Christmas Hope series returns with this new heartwarming, inspirational story about the power of love and faith to reveal the possibilities that lay right in front of you.

My comments: This is an enjoyable little holiday book. The stories intersect well and tie together well. I love Donna VanLiere’s Christmas books. This is the latest of many. They are sweet, clean, and warm and fuzzy.

An Amish Christmas Quilt

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

imageAbout the book: 

With all the warmth of a cozy quilt, three authors stitch together Amish tales of hearts joined, friendships patched, and the bright joys of Christmas tradition . . .
A Willow Ridge Christmas Pageant
Charlotte Hubbard

Seth Brenneman didn’t expect his holiday would include rescuing pregnant young Mary Kauffman and her two children. . .or having unexpected feelings for the still-grieving widow. But when they must play the leads in an impromptu live Nativity pageant to help his Amish community, will their roles reveal their hearts–and work a miracle for a lifetime?

A Christmas On Ice Mountain
Kelly Long

Matthew Beider and Laurel Lapp’s secret wish to marry is a gift their feuding fathers definitely won’t accept. And trying to settle their dats’ long-standing quarrel is making their holiday anything but merry. Can rediscovering the joys and friendships of Christmas past finally turn their families’ futures bright?

A Perfect Amish Christmas
Jennifer Beckstrand

Anna and Felty Helmuth’s grandson, Gideon, plans to spend Christmas on a beach in sunny Mexico. But Anna is quite sure he’d rather be with them, snowshoeing, ice fishing–falling in love. And she knows the perfect girl. Not only is Dottie Schrock an excellent quilter and baker, she’s having a party. There’s just one complication–Gideon is not invited. Dottie has her reasons, but Anna trusts that the spirit of Christmas–and true love–will change her mind, and her future . . .

My Comments: Great Amish read! I love that it especially centers around quilts – warm and cozy! The three stories are unique – I mean they don’t intersect and the characters are different – the three commonalities are Amish, quilts, and Romance. So if you like clean, Amish fiction with the setting of Christmas, you will love these stories. I have read other Amish books by these authors – they are all good. Interesting that Kelly Long’s story contains a family feud – didn’t think Amish participated in this behavior, but according to this story, they do. Great book!

 

Where Treetops Glisten

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

treetops

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartimeSiblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories,
filled with the wonder of ChristmasTurn 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?
My Comments:  

The cover of this book did not grab my interest or cause me to necessarily want to open it and begin reading, but in this case “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to my feelings about this book. Once I began reading, I could hardly put it down, and wouldn’t have except I need to go to school every day and teach first graders.  The three stories set during World War II, feed off of each other. We are talking about three main characters – siblings – each one mentioned in the other stories, but each a star in her/his own story.  I love that – as well as the three different voices of the three different authors. The setting, World War II adds a different dimension as well – fear (what will happen to my loved ones?), faith (where does GOD fit in throughout all of this?), and family (closeness, especially at the holidays). The characters are strong as is the family. We read of multi-generations under one roof. This book definitely sets a holiday mood, and even though I was born years after World War II, brings back memories of a simpler time.
I would like to recommend this book to Christian fiction readers – especially if you are like me and can never get enough holiday reading. It’s a great read!
I agreed to read and review this book and give my honest opinion.  Thank you WaterBrook Multnomah for the free copy!

Our First Christmas Novellas by Mary Burton, Mary Carter, Cathy Lamb, and Lisa Jackson

Monday, October 27th, 2014

our first christmas

“It’s that time of year when the world falls in love…” Join four of your favorite authors for tales of Christmas romance to remember forever.

“Under the Mistletoe,” Lisa Jackson

Megan Johnson’s marriage is over—or so she thinks. When her husband Chris lands in the hospital, fighting for his life, she remembers the unexpected joy of their first Christmas together…

“A Ranger for Christmas,” Mary Burton

The holidays bring painful memories for history professor Marissa Thompson. Agreeing to help Texas Ranger Lucas Cooper solve a case offers the perfect distraction. But as danger threatens, the joy of love has never been more tempting.

“A Southern Christmas,” Mary Carter

Reporter Danielle Bright is heading home for the holidays to write up a feature story about Christmas down south—and possibly win back her ex. But Sawyer, the sexy photographer along for the ride, is determined to jingle her bells…

“Christmas in Montana” Cathy Lamb

Family is the ideal antidote to getting fired, but Laurel Kelly isn’t prepared for the changes at home in Montana—or the fact that her college boyfriend Josh Reed now owns the family land. But a blue Christmas could be the perfect surprise for a holiday to remember.

My Comments:  Every year I read tons of Christmas books, and I’ve already read one Amish, now I’m reading one secular. I love this type of book because there is mystery and suspense as well as romance. The first story A Ranger for Christmas was full of content – especially for a short story. I loved it! The characters were not perfect, yet they were totally interesting and people I would love to know. The pull towards family is strong, but the pain some people feel at the holidays was also very present.

My favorite stories were the first two, A Southern Christmas and A Ranger for Christmas. I read and enjoyed the other two, but the first two really caught my interest. Short stories put into an anthology are great for this time of the year, when I still enjoy reading, but don’t have the time for a long novel. I get it read quickly and completely.  Thanks NetGalley for the free review copy. This opinions are totally my own.