Friday, December 31, 2010

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

I confess I had never heard of this book or this writer until I signed up with Blogging for Books. The cover caught my eye and since I was headed into my Christmas readathon it seemed to be the perfect book to review. How right I was!

Co-workers Cora Crowder and Simon Derrick barely know the other exists, but then a chance encounter at a strange vintage book store changes all that.  Warner, Werner and Wizbotterdad's is far from a normal bookstore and books are not all that they deal in. Each year the booksellers host an enchanting Christmas ball in hopes of creating life long matches between couples they have brought together. Cora and Simon have NO idea what is in store for them... and neither do the booksellers, as they find Cora and Simon to be a challenge to say the least!

So will the 2 opposites find that they do indeed attract? Will they be able to set aside their differences and focus on their shared faith and the chemistry they have bubbling? Or will this match made on Sage Street be the booksellers first flop?

A totally delightful read! I gobbled it up in 2 sittings.... it is definitely one of those books you don't want to put down.

And now I am giving it away!  This is my first book giveaway... a grand way to start 2011.

Here is what you need to do to enter....

Leave a comment for this blog entry. Include your name and email address (write your email like this to prevent spammers:  name (at) whatever (dot) com

AND share 1 Christmas book that you have read and love. I am always looking for Christmas books for my annual Christmas readathon!

I will taken entries until midnight (CST) Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011.  Then on Wednesday, I will "pull" a name from the bunch and see who wins this wonderful book!

The Promise by Robert J. Morgan

I have quickly become a fan of Mr. Morgan's writing.  In The Promise, he focuses on a very familiar verse... Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (NIV) What a powerful promise!

In the first half of the book, Morgan takes this verse apart bit by bit. That might sound silly to some, after all the verse makes total sense. But there is so much more here than meets the eye. I was wowed from the start when he was able to get a chapters worth of wonderful insight from 2 simple words.. "We know".... 

The second half of the book looks at other scripture that echoes the promise of Romans 8:28. I love seeing God repeat the same thing in more than one part of the Bible. Especially when the same promise is found in the Old and New Testament.  It drives home how important this is to the Father.

So why learn about Romans 8:28... isn't knowing the verse enough? Well, maybe it is. But Morgan challenges the reader to do more than know it. He wants us to LIVE it.. to pray and act and love and serve and everything else according to the truth found in this verse. And in The Promise, he not only teaches us many of the treasures hidden in this Word, but he also shares ways to walk it out.

Excellent book!  Mine is marked up and will be referred back to often, I am sure.

Homespun Christmas by Renee DeMarco, Birdie L. Etchinson, Colleen L. Reece & Janelle Burnham Schneider

Four Novellas that center around the same small town.

Hope, Washington was founded a century ago by pastor Fergus McKay who came to the small logging village full of hope.  Over the years that hope has died and so has the logging industry as environmental group seek more protected lands for endangered species.  As the town seeks new direction, a small boy reminds them of their heritage and sparks a fire to fight to keep Hope alive.

Hope for the Holidays by Colleen L. Reece -- Sarah McKay, Hope's pharmacist, is determined to revive the town and keep it going so her son, Mike, can grow up there. Ben Macklin, the sheriff, loves Hope too and wants to see it thriving again. Can their drive and desire be the catalyst to get others involved? And will their time together spark a romance that has been lying dormant since High school?

More Than Tinsel by Janelle Burnham Schneider -- Susanna grew up in Hope and ran from their as soon as she was able. She wanted more out of life than a small town with their judgemental ways and tongues. Now she is back caring for a dear friend and finding that her perception of Hope might have been off. Will she find happiness and romance where she least expected it... in Hope?

The Last Christmas by Birdie L. Etchinson -- Walt and Dee have been married a lifetime... well, 25 years... and they are tired. Tired of the routine and each other. They have grown apart and apart is where Dee plans to stay.  Walt decides they need to get away... one last chance to rekindle what they once have. And when he sees an ad for Hope's Homespun Christmas, he knows that is just the place! An old fashioned Christmas removed from the hustle and bustle. Dee is not keen on the idea, but agrees to go.. mainly to prove that their marriage cannot be revived. What she doesn't realize is love and God are waiting in Hope.

Winter Sabbatical by Renee DeMarco -- Brinn Colston is coming into her own as a reporter ... just waiting for that big break... and she knows it is coming. To her surprise, she is not sent to Chicago to cover the big story, but to some small town in Washington state to write about their Homespun Christmas. Determined to do her job and get back to civilization soon, Brinn heads off. Once in Hope she finds there is more to her assignment than she was told ... it will not be short termed.  Over time she grows to love the citizens of Hope and determines to help them fight for their town. But can she keep her heart in check in the process?

A Season of Forgiveness by Brenda Coulter

Victoria and Sam are as different as can be. Victoria likes order and calm.. Sam's goes looking for risks and adventure. In normal circumstances they would probably not even look in each others direction. Circumstances, however, are not normal. Victoria is in danger and Sam, a stranger, swoops in to save her. Try as they might to avoid each other, they can't. They know something is there, but can Sam curb his dangerous lifestyle and can Tori learn to relax and trust God?

A wonderful Christmas read from Love Inspired!

Simply Christmas by Pamela Dowd, Wanda Luttrell, & Christine Lynxwiler

I am not a huge fan of Novellas or compilations, but I had some Christmas themed ones and thought they would be good for the holidays. I was right. I enjoyed them both.

Simply Christmas is compiled of 4 stories centered around slowing down during the holidays and savoring the joy and truth of Christmas.

All Done with the Dashing by Pricilla Dowd -- Maggie does it all.. she cooks, cleans, shops.. she is in charge of making everyone's holiday bright. Well, no more! It is her turn to breathe and enjoy Christmas. She is determined to worship this season instead of work. Can it be done? Will her family help and will it really make a difference? This is a challenge to all of us "superwomen" who feel the need to do it all!

No Holly, No Ivy by Wanda Luttrell -- Loraine is spending her first Christmas alone and she is determined to enjoy it. After all she will have no frenzied cooking and cleaning and wrapping.. it will be easy and relaxing. She soon finds that easy and relaxing translates to boring for her.... but not for long.  her neighbor (a feisty Jewish widow),  the owner of a local shop she frequents (who happens to be Muslim) and an intriguing new minister in the area stir the pot and give Loraine a Christmas she will never forget. This story is respectful of the other cultures and beliefs shared without compromising the author's (and this reader's) faith. No Holly stresses the need to reach out to others and show them the love of Jesus, even when it appears they don't want it.

O Little Town of Progress by Wanda Luttrell -- Octogenarian Mary Martha is happy to live out her life in her late husband's dark old house caught up in past hurts and Charlie  Justice (Mommy-to-be) is stressing about her current circumstance... specifically the expectancy of her first child. She and her husband have a plan and a baby is part of it.. but not now! A chance encounter (is there really such a thing?) brings them together and teaches both to look beyond themselves.

My True Love Gave to Me by Christine Lynxwiler -- Penny is Mrs. Christmas.. she is completely organized.. has everything mapped out to a tee! But then her husband decides they are taking Christmas on the road this year... literally!  He has borrowed a friend's RV and is taking Penny and the kids on a cross country trip full of surprises.  He is beyond excited, but Penny and the kids are less than thrilled. In fact, they are wondering what has happened to a normally rational man.  On their journey they all learn that traditions, while wonderful, are not the key to a joyous Christmas. They will learn about true love and sacrifice and the true gift of the season.

A Dropped Stitches Christmas by Janet Tronstad

This is book 2 in the Dropped Stitches series.  I strongly recommend reading book 1 first.  These are definitely books that build on each other. I have been saving this one for my annual Christmas readathon. As expected, I enjoyed it very much. I am not a huge fan of the first person style you find with Chick Lit, but somehow it works with this series. Even though the majority of the story is told from one person's view point, there are moments when someone else interjects via a journal that all members of the Dropped Stitch Sisters share. (Again, you need to read the 1st book to totally understand the significance of the group and the journal.) 
In book 2, we focus on Carly Winston, the former Rose Queen and cancer survivor. Carly, like most of us, has secrets... one big one she has kept from her "Sisters" and it is weighing her down. Will they understand when she tells them or will it cause a mistrust among them? And what about Randy and their evolving relationship? Will he understand? 
Carly has a lot to learn about being comfortable in your own skin... being open and transparent with those you love... and letting God heal you of your past hurts.