Tag Archives: Christmas fiction

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?

Audiobook Mini-Review — The Christmas Heirloom

19 Dec

December always finds me trying to stick with my fitness goals. Walking everyday is one of the ways I de-stress and keep moving. A Christmas novella in audiobook form goes a long way in keeping me on track. I listened to The Christmas Heirloom, a 4-novella collection, a few weeks ago. It was great! Here’s more about the book.

 

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s Legacy of Love, Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s Gift of the Heart, widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s A Shot at Love, Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s Because of You, Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

 

My Impressions:

The Christmas Heirloom features a unique brooch handed down from one generation to another. Its symbolic promise of true love permeates all of the stories. Four women, separated by place and time, all find the love they are looking for — the love of a husband and the love of God. I really liked the way each story was unique and the message presented in different ways. The 4 novellas take place in Regency England, Texas following the Civil War, West Virginia in the 1950s, and modern-day Washington State. Having different authors for the stories allows each main character to have a clear and distinct voice. I really did love all the novellas, but my favorites were A Shot at Love and Because of You. Vastly different in time, place, and characters, those two resonated with me the most. The audiobook has 4 narrators — another way the characters came to life as individuals.

The Christmas Heirloom is a great addition to Christmas reading. Each novella is short enough to finish in 1-2 days, depending on how far along you are in your Christmas planning. 😉 If you start now, you can have it finished on Christmas Eve! A great way to gift yourself. 🙂

Recommended.

Audience: adults

(I borrowed the audiobook from my library. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

First Line Friday — Boo Humbug

18 Dec

Happy Friday! Only 7 more days until Christmas! It doesn’t seem real does it. I know a lot of your Christmas celebrations will be different this year. We are trying to protect my MIL by staggering family visits. We have friends grieving losses due to Covid and others who are fighting cancer and other chronic diseases. It seems too much somehow. I have been a bit emotional this week with all that is going on, and that leads to more distraction and less reading for me. After I hit publish, I am going to try to get my reading mojo back on and escape into a great book.

So do you read less or more during Christmas? Do you find relaxation in the pages of the book or do all the distractions of the season keep you from focusing? (I am not counting time with friends and family a distraction 😉 ). If you need a good escape, do I have a book for you! Actually, a whole series. You’re welcome! Rene Gutteridge is one of my favorite authors and her Boo series is so much fun. This week I am featuring the first sentence of Boo Humbug. It is such a fun Christmas novella. You need to read the whole series though. Again, you’re welcome. 😉

Here’s the first line:

“Think outside the box,” Mr. Watson implored as his gaze fell over his students, all clustered together on the stage floor, their backs erect with enthusiasm.

 

It’s Christmastime in Skary, Indiana, but the holiday season has been hijacked by maverick director Lois Stepaphanopolis as she attempts to bring her horror-ific vision of A Christmas Carol to life. But the holly-decked path from page to stage is a thorny one, as Lois attempts to rally her skeptical cast, including new father Wolfe Boone, and then she learns that her reluctant marketing director, Alfred Tennison, is truly a Christmas Scrooge.

Alfred’s grassroots marketing plan proves more than successful as the buzz builds that Skary should anticipate an overflowing audience for their opening night —  but a crucial miscommunication leaves the visiting theatergoers expecting of a very different Christmas production. As chaos ensues, can the actors pull off an improv miracle — and can the Skary community convince their own Scrooge to embrace the true meaning of Christmas?

Rene Gutteridge is the author of 24 novels, including Misery Loves Company, Possession, Listen, Never the Bride (2011 Carol Award Winner), The Boo Series, The Storm Series, The Occupational Hazards Series, My Life as a Doormat (now a Hallmark movie called Love’s Complicated) and Love’s a Stage. She has a degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in screenwriting and twenty years of experience writing, directing and publishing comedy sketches. She writes in both comedy and suspense genres. She is also a full-time screenwriter for The Skit Guys.

 

If You Liked . . . The Christmas Table

16 Dec

I normally do the If You Liked posts at the end of each month, but you really need these recommendations early. You don’t want to miss out on some great Christmas-y reading! The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere had laugh-out-loud moments and some tear-inducing scenes. The book features an heirloom table and some special family recipes and includes great messages of hope and the power of prayer. This novella is my favorite so far by VanLiere. I have selected the following books that have similar themes and elements. I hope you find one to love!

 

Another Favorite from Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Promise

Seven years ago Gloria endured a family tragedy that almost shook her faith entirely. Each Christmas she places a card in an envelope on her tree, restating a promise she made to her husband before he died. Now, having moved from her small town and all the painful memories it held, she is building a life by caring for people in need. Whether it’s a young mother who can’t pay her electric bill or a family who needs some extra food, Gloria always finds a way.

Miriam is a thorn in Gloria’s side. Miriam is a constantly critical, disapproving neighbor who looks with suspicion at all the good things Gloria does. When a twist of fate makes them roommates instead of neighbors, it’s the ultimate test of patience and faith.

Chaz has a good job as head of security at Wilson’s Department Store, but each night he returns home to an empty apartment. He longs for a wife and family of his own but realizes that the life choices he’s made have alienated him. He befriends a young boy whose mother has fallen on hard times, giving him a chance to have a life he thought impossible.

In The Christmas Promise, the lives of these characters collide and we learn that even as we move ahead, the past is never far behind. And when we are forgiven much, we love much. In this warmly humorous and deeply poignant story, we are reminded that the Christmas Promise is the promise of second chances.

 

Family Heirloom

The Christmas Heirloom (4-novella collection) by Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, and Becky Wade.

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s Legacy of Love, Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s Gift of the Heart, widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s A Shot at Love, Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s Because of You, Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

 

Funny and Poignant

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

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. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride — and a hidden problem 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!

 

Importance of Family

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

Rick Denton lives his life on his terms. He works hard, plays hard and answers to no one. So when his mother calls on Thanksgiving weekend begging him to come home after his stepfather has a stroke, Rick is reluctant. He’s never liked Art, despite the fact his own father abandoned them when Rick was twelve. Rick’s attitude sours even more when a couple of days helping at the family bookstore turns into weeks of cashing out old ladies and running off the homeless man who keeps hanging about,

Slowly but surely, the little bookstore and its quirky patrons — as well as the lovely young woman who works at his side each day — work their magic on him, revealing to Rick the truth about his family, his own life, and the true meaning of Christmas.

 

Book Review: The Christmas Table

15 Dec

My book club always reads a Christmas-themed book for December’s discussion. While reading/listening to a Donna VanLiere novella is a yearly tradition for me, The Christmas Table was the first of her books for us to read together. It got a unanimous thumbs up!

 

In June 1972, John Creighton determines to build his wife Joan a kitchen table. His largest project to date had been picture frames but he promises to have the table ready for Thanksgiving dinner. Inspired to put something delicious on the table, Joan turns to her mother’s recipes she had given to Joan when she and John married.

In June 2012, Lauren Mabrey discovers she’s pregnant. Gloria, Miriam, and the rest of her friends at Glory’s Place begin to pitch in, helping Lauren prepare their home for the baby. On a visit to the local furniture builder, Lauren finds a table that he bought at a garage sale but has recently refinished. Once home, a drawer is discovered under the table which contains a stack of recipe cards. Growing up in one foster home after another, Lauren never learned to cook and is fascinated as she reads through the cards. Personal notes have been written on each one from the mother to her daughter and time and again Lauren wonders where they lived, when they lived, and in a strange way, she feels connected to this mother and her daughter and wants to make the mother proud.

The story continues to from 1972 to 2012 as Joan battles breast cancer and Lauren learns to cook, preparing for the baby’s arrival. As Christmas nears, can Lauren unlock the mystery of the table, and find the peace she’s always longed for?

 

Donna VanLiere — a mom, a wife, an animal lover, and a closet comedian at home. She’s passionate about cooking (…and eating), reading, movies and teaching, inspiring, challenging and encouraging dreamers! She doesn’t like watching sports on TV but is a huge fan of athletes under five feet tall who call her Mom. Donna also loves to write books. As a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, her 14 titles include The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing — both of which were adapted into movies starring Rob Lowe, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Neil Patrick Harris. Both movies garnered stellar ratings for CBS, including the highest rated made-for-TV movie of the year.  The Christmas Hope starring Madeline Stowe was adapted by Lifetime Television, and her movies The Christmas Secret and The Christmas Note when aired were among the highest rated movies in the history of the Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel. Donna’s non-seasonal novel’s, The Good DreamAngels of Morgan Hill and non-fiction works like Finding Grace and High Calling — the biography of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband — capture the same warmth and poignancy as her Christmas books.

Donna has won a Retailer’s Choice Award for Fiction, a Dove Award, a Silver Angel Award, two Audie Awards (seven nominations) for best inspirational fiction, has been a nominee for a Gold Medallion Book of the Year and is an inductee in the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence joining such luminaries as Coretta Scott King, Hugh Downs, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Senator John Glenn. She also serves on the board of directors for National House of Hope, a residency program that is offered in several states for abused and at-risk teens. (By the way, if you’re looking for a place to give or to serve, look no further than here… http://www.NationalHouseofHope.org)

Donna’s mini-van is staring down 200,000 miles as she runs her kids to school, drama and tennis practices, Tae Kwon Do, church, and the grocery store all while promising her editor to meet her book deadlines (…which occasionally does happen). She loves to spend her summers with her family around the swimming pool or a campfire.

One of Donna’s great loves is teaching and speaking. She has appeared at countless events around the country including keynote addresses at the prestigious Patricia Adams Lecture Series at Heidelberg University, Women of Faith, Among Friends Conferences and Extraordinary Women.

 

My Impressions:

Listening to a Donna VanLiere Christmas audiobook is one of my yearly traditions. This year I was excited to share her latest novella, The Christmas Table, with my book club. All of us liked it immensely. The story is sweet and poignant and had me laughing out loud and crying all within a few minutes! As a warning, one of the characters has breast cancer. My own journey this year with that devastating diagnosis caused a lot of the weeping. I almost put the book down because of it. Almost. I stuck it out and am glad I did. The messages of hope and the power of prayer are very strong and encouraging. This one is definitely a recommended read.

The Christmas Table returns the reader to Grandon and all of the characters (many quirky) readers have come to love. The story has two timelines — 1972 and 2012 — that eventually come together in a most satisfying way. At the center is a family heirloom and recipes that bring focus on the importance of family and friends. I loved both stories, although Joan’s was tough to read. The characters are all very relatable in their struggles. An easy and quick read, its depth of message make it one of my favorites by VanLiere. As always, it would make a great Hallmark movie. And for those who love to cook (or not), many of the mouth-watering recipes that Joan cooks up are included at the end of the book! Yum!!

If you don’t mind some tears among your laughter, The Christmas Table is a great choice for your holiday reading. Grab a hot beverage, a cozy blanket, and box of tissues 😉 , and snuggle in!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

First Line Friday — Skipping Christmas

11 Dec

Happy Friday! The countdown continues — only 2 more Fridays left before Christmas! I’ve gotten a lot accomplished in the last week — all the decorations are up and I am down to just a couple of gift cards to pick up. Whew! I’ve almost made it. Have you ever considered skipping all the Christmas doings? I know 2020 has put a damper on many of our traditions — no office Christmas party, no big Christmas Eve open houses — but are you still putting out all the decorations and baking up a storm? My neighborhood looks a lot more festive this year. Some of my neighbors are going all out.

This week I am featuring Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. The book was made into the movie Christmas with The Kranks, but, as always, the book is much better. The book is just as funny, but it has a great message that the movie just didn’t capture. If you haven’t read this book yet, put it on your Christmas TBR list. I think it is a classic.

Here’s the first line:

 

The gate was packed with weary travelers, most of them standing and huddled along the walls because the meager allotment of plastic chairs had long since been taken away.

 

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that have become part of our holiday tradition.

Born on February 8, 1955, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, John Grisham worked as an attorney and Mississippi legislator before becoming a best-selling novelist with works like The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and A Time to Kill, all of which were turned into hit films. Grisham has continued to publish an array of titles, such as Bleachers and The Litigators, and has also worked in screenwriting, as seen with the 2003 baseball film Mickey.

 

For more First Line Friday fun, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Christmas Books

8 Dec

Happy Tuesday! The countdown is on until Christmas. Have you gotten all your decorating and shopping done? I still need to do some things around the house, but my shopping list has grown shorter. But one thing I have made sure to do is get some Christmas reading in. Priorities! 😉 So far, I have read The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere (reading her novellas is a yearly tradition) and I should be finished with The Christmas Heirloom novella collection today (really great; review to come). Because Christmas books often fall into the romance genre (who doesn’t like a good romance?), I have decided to split my Top 10 Tuesday list into 7 genres for those who want a bit of mystery, or history, or a good laugh too. I think there’s something for everyone on my list. I hope you find a Christmas book to love — now get reading!  Be sure to visit That Artsy Reader Girl for more Christmas fun!

 

Top Christmas Books

 

An Amish Christmas

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall 

 

A Classic Christmas

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

 

An Historical Christmas

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins 

 

 

A Laugh-Out-Loud Christmas

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

 

A Mysterious Christmas

All Is Calm, All Is Bright by Colleen Coble

Silent Night, Holy Night by Colleen Coble

 

A Poignant Christmas

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

Remembering Christmas by Dan Walsh

 

 

A Romantic Christmas

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti

The Wedding Dress Christmas by Rachel Hauck

 

 

 

First Line Friday — A Redbird Christmas

4 Dec

Happy Friday! Can you believe it, only 3 more Fridays until Christmas! I have yet to decorate — a lot of it is still in the attic — but I am determined to make some headway today. My husband put the wreaths up on the exterior of the house, so we don’t look like complete Scrooges. I do have most of my shopping done. I just need a few more and the stocking stuffers and I am DONE! What I have gotten to is my annual Christmas audiobook listening. Priorities, you know! Are you a Christmas book fan? I’d love for you to share your favorites.

Today, I am sharing the first sentence of one of my all-time favorites, A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg. My church book club read this years ago. We loved its Southern flavor and the sweet story. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to.

Here’s the first line:

It was only November sixth but Chicago had just been hit with its second big blizzard of the season, and Mr. Oswald T. Campbell guessed he had stepped in every ice-cold ankle-deep puddle of the dirty white slush it was possible to step in, trying to get to his appointment.

 

With the same incomparable style and warm, inviting voice that have made her beloved by millions of readers far and wide, New York Times bestselling author Fannie Flagg has written an enchanting Christmas story of faith and hope for all ages that is sure to become a classic.

Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.

Fannie Flagg began writing and producing television specials at age nineteen and went on to distinguish herself as an actress and writer in television, films, and the theater. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (which was produced by Universal Pictures as Fried Green Tomatoes), Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, and Standing in the Rainbow. Flagg’s script for Fried Green Tomatoes was nominated for both the Academy and Writers Guild of America Awards and won the highly regarded Scripters Award. Flagg lives in California and in Alabama.

 

For more First Line Friday fun, head over to Hoarding Books.

 

 

 

 

2021 Christy Award Winners!

16 Nov

Congratulations to the very talented Christy Award authors. This list represents the best of the best in Christian Fiction. You now have a great TBR list! You’re welcome!!

 

2021 Christy Award Winners

 

Book of The Year

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

 

Contemporary Romance

Now And Then And Always by Melissa Tagg

 

First Novel

A Long Time Comin’ by Robin Pearson

 

General Fiction

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

 

Historical Fiction

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

 

Historical Romance

The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

 

 

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

The Girl Behind The Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

 

Short Form

A Christmas Haven by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

 

Visionary

Hidden Current by Sharon Hinck

 

Young Adult

The Means That Make Us Strangers by Christine Kindberg