Tag Archives: Christmas fiction

Top Ten Tuesday — Modes of Transportation

26 Apr

Happy Tuesday! Today’s TTT theme is books with ___ on the cover. I chose modes of transportation — you know trains, planes, automobiles, etc. Some of these books I have read; others are on my TBR shelf. I hope you find a book to pique your interest.

For more cover love, check out that Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Book Covers with Trains, Planes, Automobiles, Etc.

A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Elvis Takes A Back Seat by Leanna Ellis

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

The Mother Road by Jennifer AlLee

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

With You Always by Jody Hedlund

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

If You Liked . . . Last Christmas in Paris

30 Dec

My book club really liked Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. The novel was set in WWI and told almost exclusively through letters between the characters. It was complex, yet unputdownable. If you liked it too, here are more recommendations.

An Epistolary-ish novel — The London House by Katherine Reay

Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.

Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian. But pleasantries are cut short. Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover.

Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war.

Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.

In this rich historical novel from award-winning author Katherine Reay, a young woman is tasked with writing the next chapter of her family’s story. But Caroline must choose whether to embrace a love of her own and proceed with caution if her family’s decades-old wounds are to heal without tearing them even further apart.

WWI-Era Novel — The Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield. 

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

Set at Christmas, But Not Really A Christmas Book — Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher

Elfrida Phipps, once of London’s stage, moved to the English village of Dibton in hopes of making a new life for herself. Gradually she settled into the comfortable familiarity of village life — shopkeepers knowing her tastes, neighbors calling her by name — still she finds herself lonely. 

Oscar Blundell gave up his life as a musician in order to marry Gloria. They have a beautiful daughter, Francesca, and it is only because of their little girl that Oscar views his sacrificed career as worthwhile. 

Carrie returns from Australia at the end of an ill-fated affair with a married man to find her mother and aunt sharing a home and squabbling endlessly. With Christmas approaching, Carrie agrees to look after her aunt’s awkward and quiet teenage daughter, Lucy, so that her mother might enjoy a romantic fling in America.

Sam Howard is trying to pull his life back together after his wife has left him for another. He is without home and without roots, all he has is his job. Business takes him to northern Scotland, where he falls in love with the lush, craggy landscape and set his sights on a house.

It is the strange rippling effects of a tragedy that will bring these five characters together in a large, neglected estate house near the Scottish fishing town of Creagan. 

It is in this house, on the shortest day of the year, that the lives of five people will come together and be forever changed. Rosamunde Pilcher’s long-awaited return to the page will warm the hearts of readers both old and new. Winter Solstice is a novel of love, loyalty and rebirth.

After The Great War — As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters – Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa – a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

First Line Friday — The Christmas Eve Edition!

24 Dec

Merry Christmas Eve! Today I am sharing the first line from a favorite Christmas book, The Judge Who Stole Christmas by Randy Singer. It has a somewhat inauspicious beginning 😉 . I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

“Doggone it,” grunted Thomas, glancing toward the Holstein as the big fella lifted its tail.

A Yuletide free-for-all.

It starts innocently enough in the town square of Possum, Virginia. But it ends up as a spectacular national scandal: Can a federal judge outlaw Christmas?

Thomas Hammond and his wife play Joseph and Mary in the annual live nativity scene in their hometown. But a federal judge rules the display unconstitutional — and a Christmas showdown ensues. Thomas refuses to abide by the court order…and ends up in jail. From the courtrooms of Virginia to the talk shows of New York City, the battle escalates into a national media spectacle. Caught in the middle is law student Jasmine Woodfaulk — assigned to represent Thomas as part of her school’s legal aid clinic. 

Whatever happened to peace on earth?

Only a surprising series of events — nearly as humbling and unexpected as the origins of the season itself — can reconcile a stubborn father, a crusading law student and a recalcitrant judge.

The Judge Who Stole Christmas, 
by acclaimed author Randy Singer, is a charming, warm, and thought-provoking Christmas tale that explores in a fresh way the real reason for the season.

Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned nine legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel Directed Verdict. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as a teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his “Jekyll and Hyde thing”—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and ethics at Regent Law School and serves on the school’s Board of Visitors. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. 

Book Review: A Christmas in The Alps

6 Oct

I always like to start off my Christmas reading with a novella from Melody Carlson. This year’s offering is A Christmas in The Alps, a feel-good story about reconciliation. A recommended read, this book will whisk you off to the charming French Alps — bucket list anyone?

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

For anyone who is wearying of staying home, Melody Carlson invites you to spend Christmas with her in the beautiful French Alps this year. So pull on your mittens, tie your scarf tight, and prepare yourself for a magical mountain holiday.

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

My Impressions:

I always like to start my holiday reading off with a novella from Melody Carlson. This year, Carlson takes readers away to the French Alps with a young woman who longs for family in A Christmas in The Alps. Simone has been left alone after the death of her grandmother. Facing an uncertain future, she allows herself to be talked into a trip to her great-grandmother’s home village to discover a mysterious treasure. Throughout the book I was reminded of the verse in Matthew 6: for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Several of the characters learn the truth of this scripture as they search out lost family connections. Simone finds family, love, and a new purpose on her trip. The story isn’t complicated and is somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed it. Sometimes I just need a sweet read that turns out the way I want. 😉

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

First Line Friday — A Christmas in The Alps

24 Sep

Happy Friday! It’s fall, y’all! While many people are polishing their pumpkins and sipping cider or spiced lattes, I begin my Christmas reading. It’s never too early for a little Christmas cheer, right? This week I am featuring the first of my Christmas reads, A Christmas in The Alps. What better way to kick off the season with a Melody Carlson novella.

When do you start your Christmas reading?

Here’s the first line:

Simone Winthrop knew all about loss.

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

For anyone who is wearying of staying home, Melody Carlson invites you to spend Christmas with her in the beautiful French Alps this year. So pull on your mittens, tie your scarf tight, and prepare yourself for a magical mountain holiday.

Top 10 Tuesday — Fall TBR

21 Sep

Happy Tuesday! After a few challenging TTT topics, I am relieved to have an easy one — Fall 2021 TBR. I can always come up with lots of books that I will be reading soon. As always I have a mix of genres, so you can find a book to suit your tastes or whims. Let me know if any books on my list made yours.

For more Fall TBR lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Books on My Fall TBR List

A Christmas in The Alps by Melody Carlson

Deadly Target by Elizabeth Goddard

Everywhere to Hide by Siri Mitchell

In The Shadow of Your Wings by JP Robinson

Labyrinth of Lies by Irene Hannon

The London House by Katherine Reay

Out of The Water by Ann Stewart

Point of Danger by Irene Hannon

A Season on The Wind by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Top 10 Tuesday — Hunky Heroes

31 Aug

Happy Tuesday! Today’s Top 10 topic is fictional crushes. I rarely have a crush on a character, but I can recognize a hunky hero a mile away. 😉 My definition of a hunkster may differ from yours, but generally they are brave, all in, easy on the eyes kinds of guys. They usually have a sensitive side too. As in real life, it is the heart that matters. To come up with my list I put hunky in the search bar of the blog and chose the first 10 books in which I used hunky in the review — it’s all very scientific over here! Hunky is definitely in the eye of the beholder, but you will find them in a variety of genres — romance, suspense, historical, cozy mystery — and with a variety of occupations — farmer, 19th century naval officer, author, and tech geek, to name a few. I hope you find a hunk and a book to love!

For more book crushes, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Hunky Heroes

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson

Flood Watch by Christy Barritt

The Forgotten Life of Evelyn Lewis by Jane Rubietta

The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall

Living Lies by Natalie Walters

No Safe Place by Sherri Shackleford

Prose And Cons by Amanda Flower

The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham

Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Top 10 Tuesday — Anticipated Books of July – December 2021

29 Jun

Can you believe that half the year is already gone?! 2021 is going so much better than last year — we’ve had a lovely wedding, fun times with family and friends, and no health issues to concern us. Add on top of that the great books published this year, and 2021 is looking to be a banner year. 😉 I am behind on reading so I am not sure I will get to all the books on my list this year, but I am sure going to try!

For more anticipated books, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Anticipated Books of July — December 2021

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner (July)

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family–but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

The Chase by Lisa Harris (July)

US Marshal Madison James may not be sure who shot her three months ago, but she does know one thing–it’s time to get back out into the field. When her partner, Jonas Quinn, receives a message that a federal warrant just came in on a man connected to a string of bank robberies, Madison jumps at the chance to get back to work. What she and Jonas find is a bank robbery in progress that’s gone wrong–and things are about to get worse.

For these bank robbers, it’s never been just about the money. It’s about taking risks and adrenaline rushes, and getting caught is not part of the game. When the suspects escape, Madison and Jonas must hunt them down and bring them to justice before someone else–someone close to them–gets hurt . . . or worse.

From Seattle to the San Juan Islands, bestselling author Lisa Harris takes you on a nonstop chase where feelings are complicated and failure isn’t an option.

Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks (July)

A woman off the grid.

Darby Graham thinks she’s on a much-needed vacation in remote Idaho to relax. But before she even arrives at the ranch, an earthquake strikes. Then a barn on the edge of town is engulfed in flames and strange problems at the ranch begin to escalate, and Darby finds herself immersed in a chilling mystery.

A town on fire.

More fires erupt around town, and a serial arsonist sends taunting letters to the press after each. As a forensic linguist, this is Darby’s area of expertise . . . but the scars her work has caused her are also the reason she’s trying to escape her life.

A growing darkness.

As the shadows continue moving in, pieces of the town around her come into sharper focus. To make it out alive, Darby must decide if she can trust the one man who sees her clearly.

The Barrister And The Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson (August)

As a barrister in 1818 London, William Snopes has witnessed firsthand the danger of only the wealthy having their voices heard, and he’s a strong advocate who defends the poorer classes against the powerful. That changes the day a struggling heiress, Lady Madeleine Jameson, arrives at his door.

In a last-ditch effort to save her faltering estate, Lady Jameson invested in a merchant brig, the Padget. The ship was granted a rare privilege by the king’s regent: a Letter of Marque authorizing the captain to seize the cargo of French traders operating illegally in the Indian Sea. Yet when the Padget returns to London, her crew is met by soldiers ready to take possession of their goods and arrest the captain for piracy. And the Letter–the sole proof his actions were legal–has mysteriously vanished.

Moved by the lady’s distress, intrigued by the Letter, and goaded by an opposing solicitor, Snopes takes the case. But as he delves deeper into the mystery, he learns that the forces arrayed against Lady Jameson, and now himself, are even more perilous than he’d imagined.

Under The Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse (August)

Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She’s soon teaching just about everyone–and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives.

Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong.

A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham (September)

Will the magic of Christmas bring these two newlyweds closer together, or will the ghosts of the past lead them into a destructive discovery from which not even a Dickens’s Christmas can save them?

Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick’s Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she will trust in her faithful novels and overactive imagination to help her not only win Frederick’s heart but also to solve the murder mystery of Havensbrook Hall before the ghosts from Frederick’s past ruin her fairytale future. 

Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan (October)

“Where did Narnia come from?”

The answer will change everything.

Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics.

She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.

Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.

Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

Shiloh by Lori Benton (October)

December 1795
A year has passed since Ian Cameron reluctantly sent his uncle’s former slave Seona and their son, Gabriel, north to his kin in Boston. Determined to fully release them, Ian strives to make a life at Mountain Laurel, his inherited plantation, along with Judith, the wife he’s vowed to love and cherish. But when tragedy leaves him alone with his daughter, Mandy, and his three remaining slaves, he decides to return north. An act of kindness on the journey provides Ian the chance to obtain land near the frontier settlement of Shiloh, New York. Perhaps even the hope for a new life with those he still holds dear.

In Boston, Seona has taken her first tentative steps as a free woman, while trying to banish Ian from her heart. The Cameron family thinks she and Gabriel should remain under their protection. Seona’s mother, Lily, thinks it’s time they strike out on their own. Then Ian arrives, offering a second chance Seona hadn’t dared imagine. But the wide-open frontier of Shiloh feels as boundless and terrifying as her newfound freedom—a place of new friends and new enemies, where deep bonds are renewed but old hurts stand ready to rear their heads. It will take every ounce of faith and courage Ian and Seona can muster to fight for their family and their future . . . together.

Every Word Unsaid by Kimberly Duffy (November)

Augusta Travers has spent the last three years avoiding the stifling expectations of New York society and her family’s constant disappointment. As the nation’s most fearless–and reviled–columnist, Gussie travels the country with her Kodak camera and spins stories for women unable to leave hearth and home. But when her adventurous nature lands her in the middle of a scandal, an opportunity to leave America offers the perfect escape. 

Arriving in India, she expects only a nice visit with childhood friends, siblings Catherine and Gabriel, and escapades that will further her career. Instead, she finds herself facing a plague epidemic, confusion over Gabriel’s sudden appeal, and the realization that what she wants from life is changing. But slowing down means facing all the hurts of her past that she’s long been trying to outrun. And that may be an undertaking too great even for her. 

Lights Out by Natalie Walters (November)

CIA analyst Brynn Taylor developed a new program to combat terrorism, and she invited members of foreign intelligence agencies to America to foster cooperation between countries. Now one of them, Egyptian spy Remon Riad, is missing.

Jack Hudson has been working for the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency (SNAP) for almost nine years and takes the lead in hunting down the missing spy. But he isn’t at all pleased to find out Brynn is involved. It’s hard to trust a woman who’s already betrayed you.

Every lead they follow draws them dangerously deeper into an international plot. Kidnapping, murder, explosions, poisoning–the terrorists will do anything to accomplish their goal of causing a digital blackout that will blind a strategic US military communications center and throw the world into chaos.

Can Brynn surrender control to a man who doesn’t trust her? And can Jack ever get over what she did to him? The fate of the world–and their hearts–hangs in the balance.

Top 10 Tuesday — Books with Ocean (References) in The Title

6 Apr

Happy Tuesday! Today’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is listing books that I would throw in the ocean. Uh, even if I don’t like a book, I am not sure I could throw it into the ocean! So instead I am listing books with ocean (or ocean references) in their titles. They include historical fiction, contemporary romance, and suspense — something for everyone!

Have you ever wanted to throw a book in the ocean? (Or at least across the room? 😉 )

For more Top Tuesday posts, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books with Ocean References in The Title

A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

A Christmas by The Sea by Melody Carlson

Far Side of The Sea by Kate Breslin

The Inn at Ocean’s Edge by Colleen Coble

The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

The Turning Tide by Melody Carlson

A Vast And Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter

Top 10 Tuesday — Books That Made Me Laugh

23 Feb

Happy Tuesday! This week’s Top 10 Tuesday challenge is Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud. Are you in the mood for a good laugh, a chuckle, a snicker, or a guffaw? Then I have a list of books for you! I’m not sure any of the books can be labeled humor, but they have elements that are just plain funny. What I love about them is their balance — a good story that provides insight with enough levity to even out the hard things of life. I laughed out loud (and sometimes cried) while reading these books because of quirky characters or the predicaments that characters find themselves in. I hope you get a good laugh and a great reading experience from them.

 

For more funny books, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Top Books That Made Me Laugh

 

The Cedar Key by Stephenia McGee

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere

Darcy by Any Other Name by Laura Hile

 

For The Love of Joy by Janet Ferguson

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

On A Coastal Breeze by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Star Rising by Janet Ferguson

 

Stay with Me by Becky Wade

The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

 

What book has made you LOL?