Tag Archives: Christmas fiction

Spotlight on Romance — Christmas Cakes And Kisses

25 Jan

Is it too late or too early for a Christmas-y romance? I say NO! Today’s spotlight on romance features Christmas Cakes And Kisses by Lara Van Hulzen. If you are still in a holiday mood check it out! If not, make sure to add it to you TBR wishlist. Is July too soon to read it? LOL!

Eva Endicott comes to Silver Bay to prove to her family that she can make it on her own. Working in the local bakery, she’s determined to save enough to open her own cake decorating business. Winning an upcoming Christmas cake competition is the key to her dream, so Eva has no time for distractions, especially not devastatingly handsome ones that maker her heart skip a beat.

Tyler Vance is the personal trainer for professional baseball pitcher, Drew MacIntyre. After following a retired Drew to Silver Bay, Tyler’s own future is uncertain. Things become more unsettled when a beautiful baker enters his world. Eva fascinates Tyler and as he gets to know her better, he considers planting his roots in Silver Bay. But when the location Tyler chooses for his training facility is the same one Eva wants for her bakery, something has to give..

With the contest deadline looming, Eva can barely think about Tyler. Until a blinding moment finally reveals her true feelings.

Is it too late? Or will a Christmas miracle give them both more than they ever dreamed?

To purchase, click HERE.

What Readers Are Saying 

“. . . a lovely story about family, friends, and fulfilling your dreams.” PAULA, GOODREADS

“This is a sweet, clean romance. The readers are reminded of the important of family. ” —YVONNE, BOOKBUB

“What a heartwarming story and a wonderful addition to this series.” —SHERRI BABB, GOODREADS

Writing stories since she was a young girl, Lara Van Hulzen‘s dream of being a novelist became a reality with her Men of Honor series. An avid reader, she worked as a book reviewer for 18 years with various organizations. She has a BA in Journalism and a Masters of Divinity in Chaplaincy. Lara loves tea, baseball and living in Idaho with her husband and Great Dane.

Book Review — A Quilt for Christmas

2 Jan

I was determined to finish A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson by Christmas night. I failed, LOL! I did finish it prior to my immediate family’s Christmas get-together so I count that as a win. While you may think it’s past time for a Christmas-y novella, I recommend you take a look at this one. It has a great message of reaching out to others with hurts, challenges, and needs. At least put it on your TBR list for next December 😉 .

Christmas should be celebrated with family. But for Vera Swanson, that’s not an option this year. Widowed and recently relocated, she is lonely in her condo-for-one–until little Fiona Albright knocks on her door needing help. With her mother seriously ill and her father out of town, Fiona enlists Vera’s help, and when she finds out her new neighbor is a quilter, she has a special request–a Christmas quilt for Mama.

Vera will have to get a ragtag group of women together in order to fulfill the request. Between free-spirited artist Tasha, chatty empty nester Beverly, retired therapist Eleanor, and herself, Vera has hopes that Christmas for the Albright family will be merry, after all–and she may find herself a new family of friends along the way.

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites you to cuddle up this holiday season with this cozy story of giving, forgiving, and a little bit of romance.

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) 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:

The Queen of Christmas Novellas has done it again. A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson is a feel-good story about reaching out of our own lives to others who are hurting and facing challenges. Four strangers are brought together to create a quilt for Vera’s neighbor. Prompted by the precocious 4 year old Fiona, the four very different women forge friendships, and in one case an uneasy alliance, to help a family in need. The book is quick to take off as novellas do, but is filled with poignant moments and a few chuckle-inducing scenes. Friendships are made, a romance is kindled, and hearts are softened. It was the perfect book for holiday reading due to its Christmastime setting, but would make a great weekend read any time of the year.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

First Line Friday — A Quilt for Christmas

23 Dec

How is it Christmas Eve Eve?! LOL. I usually devour Christmas books from November through Christmas, but I have only completed one this year. I am still trying to adapt to my husband’s 3-day work week. We head up to our home in the mountains a lot or visit his mom in another state. Not sure why my road-tripping doesn’t translate into more reading time, but it doesn’t. I need to make some adjustments because I am missing my books. This weekend finds us traveling again, this time meandering a bit. We will be listening to an audiobook, and I will take A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson along. Carlson is a favorite, and I am determined to get it read before the stroke of midnight on December 25. What about you? Are you reading this weekend?

Here’s the first line:

Vera Swanson used to love Christmas.

Christmas should be celebrated with family. But for Vera Swanson, that’s not an option this year. Widowed and recently relocated, she is lonely in her condo-for-one–until little Fiona Albright knocks on her door needing help. With her mother seriously ill and her father out of town, Fiona enlists Vera’s help, and when she finds out her new neighbor is a quilter, she has a special request–a Christmas quilt for Mama.

Vera will have to get a ragtag group of women together in order to fulfill the request. Between free-spirited artist Tasha, chatty empty nester Beverly, retired therapist Eleanor, and herself, Vera has hopes that Christmas for the Albright family will be merry, after all–and she may find herself a new family of friends along the way.

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites you to cuddle up this holiday season with this cozy story of giving, forgiving, and a little bit of romance.

Book Review: Mistletoe Countess

21 Dec

Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham was a fun way to spend a reading/relaxing weekend. This marriage of convenience story made lots of sense, especially with some endearing characters and LOL moments. There are lots of kissing scenes too — something Basham is famous for. If you’ve got some time in between baking, shopping, and celebrating, I recommend this historical romance.

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. 

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance “peppered” with grace and humor. Writing both historical and contemporary novels, she loves to incorporate her native Appalachian culture and/or her unabashed adoration of the UK into her stories. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the wife of a fantastic pastor, mom of five great kids, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate, jazz, hats, and Jesus. Her nineteenth novel, Authentically Izzy, debuted in November with Thomas Nelson. She loves connecting with readers and other authors through social media outlets like Facebook & Instagram.

You can learn more about Pepper and her books on her website at http://www.pepperdbasham.com.

My Impressions:

My book club always picks a Christmas-y novel for our December discussion. This year we chose the historical romance by Pepper Basham, The Mistletoe Countess. I found it perfect reading for my busy holiday schedule. It is light, humorous (often LOL funny), and balances romance, mystery, and a firm spiritual message well. The premise of the book is a marriage of convenience, one that made perfect sense given the era in which the book is set. An American heiress marrying a nobleman in need of a cash infusion to save his estate was not uncommon in the late 1880s. The book pushes the time period to the early 1900s, a time with a few more conveniences 😉 . The sizzle between the two main characters starts from the beginning, even as they were not intended happy couple. (Read the book to find out more.) I could see their romance coming from the outset, but that’s exactly what I wanted. Mysterious accidents put the two on alert, especially the Sherlock Holmes-loving Grace. I found Grace to be absolutely delightful. With her head planted in the fictional worlds of a lot of books, she, nevertheless, has common sense and intelligence. She might be youthful, but she can match wits with anyone. Frederick is the perfect brooding hero of the story, and, as Grace, proclaims his story as well. The black sheep of the family, he grows into his new responsibilities with Grace’s encouragement and belief in him. The faith of the two characters is front and center. And while they may have doubts and insecurities, their trust in God never really wavers. Lots of kissing scenes ignite the budding romance, and events of a mysterious nature speed the plot along. I love that Grace is determined to save her man!

If you like historical romance, heavy on the romance, with some mystery thrown in you will like this book. Add to it the Christmas season, and The Mistletoe Countess is a winner!

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

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

Top 10 Tuesday — Cozy Reads

29 Nov

Happy Tuesday! Have you recovered from your Thanksgiving festivities yet? We have extended our fun with a two week visit from our not quite 3 year old granddaughter. Whew! I am old! 😉 I keep reminding myself that when our oldest was her age, I had a 14 month old and another on the way. But I was a lot more agile back then.

Blogging has taken a backseat to the care and feeding of a preschooler, but I didn’t want to miss a TTT. This week’s theme is Cozy Reads. That could take all forms — from mysteries, to romances, to small town reads, and Christmas books. I am featuring some from all those categories so that you have a good mix to choose from. Hope you find a book to love!

For more favorite cozy reads, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Cozy Reads

Cozy Mysteries

Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

Crime And Poetry by Amanda Flower

Cozy Romances

Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter

Just Let It Go by Courtney Walsh

Stay with Me by Becky Wade

Small Town Cozy Reads

High Cotton by Debby Mayne

Home to Hickory Lane by Deborah Raney

More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

Cozy Christmas

The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere

The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson

A Quilt For Christmas Blog Blitz!

14 Oct

A Quilt for Christmas JustRead Takeover Blitz

Welcome to the Takeover Blitz for A Quilt for Christmas by Melody Carlson, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Quilt for Christmas

Title: A Quilt for Christmas: A Christmas Novella
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Genre: Christian Romance

Recently widowed Vera Swanson is having a hard time getting in the Christmas spirit in her new town. When asked to make a quilt for an ailing neighbor, she pulls together a diverse circle of quilters, including freespirited Tasha Ellison. The group becomes stitched together through shared stories, trust, and a little romantic weaving.

Christmas should be celebrated with family. But for Vera Swanson, that’s not an option this year. Widowed and recently relocated, she is lonely in her condo-for-one–until little Fiona Albright knocks on her door needing help. With her mother seriously ill and her father out of town, Fiona enlists Vera’s help, and when she finds out her new neighbor is a quilter, she has a special request–a Christmas quilt for Mama.

Vera will have to get a ragtag group of women together in order to fulfill the request. Between free-spirited artist Tasha, chatty empty nester Beverly, retired therapist Eleanor, and herself, Vera has hopes that Christmas for the Albright family will be merry, after all–and she may find herself a new family of friends along the way.

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites you to cuddle up this holiday season with this cozy story of giving, forgiving, and a little bit of romance.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Christianbook | BookBub

EXCERPT

So Vera would be alone for Christmas—not that she planned to acknowledge the holiday. Who was there to celebrate with anyway? After five months in Fairview, she hadn’t made a single friend. She’d heard that as one got older it grew more difficult to make new friends. Perhaps her loneliness was proof of that. 

A loud knocking at her door brought Vera’s little pity party to a halt. Hurrying to see who was pounding so urgently—since no one ever called on her here—she suddenly remembered she was still in her pajamas and robe. She cracked open the door with a cautious hello? but could see no one. 

“Please, please, can you help me?” a small voice pleaded from down below. 

Vera blinked at the small child who stood on her doorstep. With two messy blond pigtails, bare feet, and widened blue eyes, the little girl looked somewhat lost and confused. And like Vera, the child was dressed in sleepwear, except hers was a thin, summery nightgown that looked none too warm.

“Wh-what?” Vera fumbled to unlatch the chain and fully open the door. “Who are you?” 

“I’m Fiona,” the girl reached for Vera’s hand and, grasping it tightly, tugged. “We live right there.” She pointed to the opened door across the hallway. “Mama is sick. Please help me!” 

“Oh my!” Leaving her own door wide open, Vera let the child lead her across the hall and into the condo.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than 250 books with sales of more than 7.5 million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romances. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, her novel All Summer Long was made into a Hallmark movie, and the film version of The Happy Camper is soon to be released. She and her husband live in central Oregon.

Connect with Melody by visiting melodycarlson.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.


TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a print copy of A Quilt for Christmas, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and quilted coasters!

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight October 12, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on October 19, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

2022 Christy Award Finalists

11 Oct

Image Credit: The Christy Awards

Congratulations to all the fabulous authors who are 2022 Christy Award Finalists. I’ve read several of these books, including 4 that were my book club’s choices. All look so good! You are welcome for the additions to your TBR pile! 😉

Romance

All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter

Husband Auditions by Angela Ruth Strong

First Novel

All That Is Secret by Patricia Raybon

Recorder by Cathy McCrumb

Sugar Birds by Cheryl Grey Bostrom

General Fiction

The Letter Keeper by Charles Martin

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Under the Magnolias by T. I. Lowe

Historical

Between The Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette

Drawn by The Current by Jocelyn Green

The Widows of Champagne by Renee Ryan

Yours Is The Night by Amanda Dykes

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Aftermath by Terri Blackstock

The Barrister And The Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson

On The Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Speculative

A Time to Seek by Tracy Higley

Dark Intercept by Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson

Recorder by Cathy McCrumb

Windward Shore by Sharon Hinck

Historical Romance

As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin

Hope Between The Pages by Pepper Basham

Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen

Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

Short Form

A Texas Christmas Carol by Karen Witemeyer (in Under The Texas Mistletoe collection)

False Pretense by Heather Day Gilbert

Mr. Nicholas by Christopher de Vinck

Young Adult

A Gentle Tyranny by Jess Corban

Realms of Light by Sandra Fernandez Rhoads

Shadow by Kara Swanson

Top 10 Tuesday — All The Shops!

4 Oct

Today’s TTT prompt is favorite bookstores. I feel like I have posted on this topic many times with many variations. So today I am going off topic with All The Shops! What does that look like? — my dream small town with all the shops that I have come to love in fiction. There are even a couple of bookstores, because, books!

For more of bloggers’ favorites, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Shops to Fill My Dream Small Town

Bakery

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at 40. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what’s next. She couldn’t have imagined what God had in mind. When her estranged sister is committed to a sanitarium, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a 5-year-old nephew she never knew she had.

In 1960s LaFontaine, Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.

Bookstores

Bookshop by The Sea by Denise Hunter

After her mother became bedridden and her father bailed on the family, Sophie found herself serving as a second mother to her twin brother, Seth, and younger sister, Jenna. Sophie supported her siblings through their college years, putting aside her own dream of opening a bookshop in Piper’s Cove—the quaint North Carolina beach town they frequented as children.

Now it’s finally time for Sophie to follow her own pursuits. Seth has a new job, and Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance.

When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart?

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

When attorney Madeline Carter inherits her aunt’s bookstore in a small town north of Chicago, she plans to sell it and add the proceeds to her nonexistent “investment portfolio.” But plans change when Madeline discovers the store isn’t making money and she gets passed over for promotion at her firm. She quits in protest, takes the train north, and decides to work at the store to prep it for sale. Madeline soon finds herself at odds with employees Janet and Claire; when she also finds herself attracted to an affianced man, it only confuses the entire situation.

After blowing up her marriage two years earlier, Jessica has found solace working at the bookstore and a kindred spirit within its owner, Maddie Cullen. But when Maddie dies and her niece, Madeline, barges in like a bulldozer, Janet pushes at the new owner in every way-until she trips over common ground. Soon the women are delving into online dating and fashion makeovers, and Janet feels the pull to rediscover her art, a love she thought long behind her.

After a night of bad decisions leaves the store in peril, Claire arrives and tries to save the day. While she, too, found sanctuary in the little bookstore, she knows it’s under-insured, in the red, and will never survive. When she discovers her teenage daughter has played a part in vandalizing the store, Claire taps into strength she didn’t know existed-or had long forgotten. The quietest of the three, she steps up and finds a way to save her family, the store, and the precious friendships that have grown within it.

Chocolate Shop

Sweet on You by Becky Wade

Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.

Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who’s spent the past 18 months traveling the world. He’s achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him–Britt’s heart.

When Zander’s uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But while Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.

As they work together to uncover his uncle’s tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also, finally, come to light?

Coffee Shop

Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon

Katherine Parker is on the cusp of having everything she ever wanted–fame, money, and acclaim. So why isn’t she happy? In search of answers, she comes incognito to Hope Harbor on the Oregon coast for some R&R. Maybe in her secluded rental house overlooking the serene Pacific she’ll be able to calm the storm inside.

Coffee shop owner Zach Garrett has found his niche after a traumatic loss — and he has no plans to change the life he’s created. Nor does he want to get involved with his reticent new neighbor, whose past is shrouded in mystery. He’s had enough drama to last a lifetime. But when Katherine and Zach are recruited to help rehab a home for foster children, sparks fly. And as their lives begin to intersect, might they find more common ground than they expected . . . and discover that, with love, all things are possible?

Diner

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

The red warning light on her car dashboard drove Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. But as she encounters the people who make Last Chance their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life for Lainie’s comfort–especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie finds that she is increasingly drawn in to the dramas of small town life. An old church lady who always has room for a stranger. A handsome bartender with a secret life. A single mom running her diner and worrying over her teenage son. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little hick town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

Cathleen Armstrong pens a debut novel filled with complex, lovable characters making their way through life and relationships the best they can. Her evocative descriptions, observational humor, and talent at rendering romantic scenes will earn her many fans.

Dress Shop

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton — the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman —  boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.

Drug Store

The Christmas Remedy by Cindy And Erin Woodsmall

Twenty-four-year-old Holly Zook lives a unique life for a young Amish woman. Years ago, her bishop allowed her to continue her education and become the lead technician for Greene’s Pharmacy, an old-timey drugstore that looks out for the Amish community–a group largely without secure healthcare plans. She knows she can’t marry and hold onto her professional job. She’s Amish, and she can only have one or the other, so she spurns love and works toward addressing treatable diseases–like the one that claimed her father’s life.

As long as Holly continues to avoid Joshua Smucker, the one man who draws her like a warm hearth in winter, she should be fine. When something unexpected threatens Greene’s Pharmacy, Holly and Joshua must work together to unravel what’s happened and find the “missing” patient before the Board of Pharmacy shuts them down. As the snows of December arrive, with Christmas in the air, will Holly succumb to the generous spirit of the season?

Flower Shop

Just Let Go by Courtney Walsh

For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.

Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out—and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town—and Quinn’s life—possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.

Grocery Store

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons–but she’ll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she’s pregnant with her deceased fiancé’s baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

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.