Monday, December 26, 2011

Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Irene Brand & Anita Higman (Christmas Book 6)

I have not had as much time to read this Holiday Season as I hoped.. in fact, it seems my reading time has lessened dramatically over the past year. Hopefully 2012 will be a bit less hectic. Still, I am working through my Christmas books and any that don't get read this season will be waiting for me next November... or maybe I will decide to have a Christmas in July reading fest!

As I have stated before on this blog, I love the Love Finds You books. I have yet to read one I did not enjoy, so I was thrilled to see a Christmas version in my local bookstore (I have since seen 2 or 3 other Christmas ones!).  One thing I enjoyed is this book, which contains 2 stories, has one that is Historic Fiction and one that is Contemporary.

An Appalachian Christmas happens shortly after the end of WW2.  I have to say this was a very different story... different in a good way.  Very original. So often stories are the same plot with different settings, but not so this one. Very original and good.  Julia Mayfield is reluctantly fulfilling her sisters death bed wish that her in-laws should meet their grandson.  Julia finds Mistletoe, KY to be buried in the Appalachian mountains and set back in time.  While she cannot imagine ever living in such a setting, Julia is drawn to the people and their simple way of life... especially to David Armstrong, a WW2 vet with a past as shadowed as Julia's.

Once Upon A Christmas centers around Holly Goodnight who was left of the doorstep of The Little Towne of Bethlehem Shoppe 20+ years ago on Christmas Eve.  Holly and her adoptive father never speak of that night or who her parents might have been. Then Van Keaton shows up and all that changes. A novelist, Van has gotten wind of Holly's story and wants to use it as the basis for his next novel.  Sparks fly as the two work together to flesh out the details of Holly's life.  Sparks ignite a flame of jealously in Owen Quigly, Holly's life long best-friend.

Both are delightful stories set against the backdrop of the Christmas season.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'll Be Home for Christmas & One Golden Christmas by Lenora Worth (Christmas Book 5)

I should probably call this Christmas Book 5A & 5B... or maybe even 5 & 6 since these are 2 full novels once published separately, but now in 1 book. But I will stick with calling it Book #5.

Both are sweet Christmas stories.  In I'll Be Home for Christmas, recently widowed Myla Howell finds herself homeless and stranded... but not alone. She has her 2 children and she has her Lord... and He sends Nick Rudolph in answer to her prayer for help. Now Nick does not consider himself an answer to prayer. Not on speaking terms with the Father right now, Nick is just doing what anyone would do in his shoes.. helping someone in need. But one act leads to another and before he knows it Myla is working for him and her children are fully entrenched in his home and heart.  It just be that Myla and her children are the answer to Nick's unspoken prayer.

One Golden Christmas carries the reader to Marshall, Texas where Leandra Flanagan finds her self... back home, where she swore she would never be... jobless... and in charge of the town Christmas Pageant.  In the process, she enlists the help of local carpenter, Nate Welby and finds that it is a package deal. Not only does she get Nate, but his 3 children too... and one of them has been wishing and praying for a new mother.  Leandra does not fit the bill.. no way.. she is only in Marshall for the holidays, then back to Houston to jump back into the rat race and get her career on track once again.  Or so she thinks.

Again, 2 really sweet Christmas stories that provide a delightful bit of entertainment and escape during the holiday rush!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson (Christmas Book 4)

Another fun Christmas read!  Betty's world us changing. Many in her neighborhood have died or moved away.  New folks move in, but everyone seems to be too busy to speak much less to get to know each other.  Her rear neighbor, Jack, is especially troublesome. Ever since he moved in things have gone from bad to worse. He rarely speaks and when he does it is to respond to a complaint, usually from Betty. His house is a mess ... an eyesore.. and Betty is tired of it.

Then Avery shows up.. her slightly grown, troubled granddaughter who is on the lamb from home.  What is Betty to do with a mixed up kid?

Add to the mix a scruffy dog who seems to belong to no one and everyone and you have the makings of a funny and sweet story with lots of lessons to be learned.

As believers, we are to love each other .. love our neighbors.. love our enemies.. and to consider others over ourselves.. but that loving is often easier said than done.  Betty is learning that first hand.  And God, who works in mysterious way, uses a worn out fence and a scraggly stray to teach her.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson (Christmas Book 3)

A Melody Carlson Christmas book is in my stack pretty much every year.  I have never been disappointed by them and look forward to meeting new characters each year.  Christmas at Harrington's was no less than what I expected.... a wonderful journey into a different world to see Christmas from a new perspective.

I know many readers love their Kindles and Nooks etc. and others refuse to even look at such a device. I leaned a bit toward the refusers side until I was given a Kindle for my birthday this past fall. I still prefer a book in my hand, but I have grown accustomed to the Kindle and love, love, love the fact that I can adjust the font size when my eyes are tired!  I also love that so much is available free!  Christmas at Harrington's was a freebie a few weeks ago and I snatched it up!

Lena Markham's life has been on hold... in purgatory if you will... and now she is off for a fresh start... alone... with no job and less than $100 to her name, which has been tainted by lies and betrayals.  So when she is offered the job of playing Mrs. Santa Claus at a locally owned department store, she is shocked... but she takes the job.  Over time she grows to love it and the children and the new friends she is making... maybe, just maybe this new season of life will be better... truly a fresh start from all the hurt and hardship she has known in life... a time for Lena to discover who she is and where she wants to go.

Then the past comes rushing in like a storm and knocks Lena down... hard... beating her with everything it can... and yet in the midst of that storm, Lena meets the one who is able to calm the raging sea or if he chooses to let it rage, He calms His child by holding her in His arms.

Lena's life does change... in a much different and better way that she ever imagined.  And as she changes, so do others who see her.

Christmas at Harrington's is a reminder of all the second chances God gives us... of His love... of all the blessings He bestows on us and the privilege He gives as He calls us to be His hands and feet.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy (Christmas Book 2)

I fell in love with Mary Connealy's writing earlier this year.  She is one of the reigning queens of Cowboy fiction. When I saw Cowboy Christmas I knew I had to read it!  Sidenote: While we all know you shouldn't judge a book buy its cover, it is difficult not to with Connealy's books. She has some of the best covers out there!

Elijah Walker's heart has been crushed... beyond repair or so he believes.  So when Annette Talbot shows up in Ranger Bluff, weak and needy, he is determined not to be taken in by her charms.  But there is something different about her... something that causes a need to protect to rise up inside him... and he knows if he leaves her alone his Ma would tan his hide.  So to the rescue he comes... time and time again it seems.

Annie is just as stubborn as Walker.. determined to stand on her own two feet no matter how shaky they are and to bear whatever cross the Lord gives her... the more difficult to bear the better!

Both Annie and Walker need forgiveness and healing and maybe, just maybe, they will find it as they help each other through hardship, fear and hurt.

Excellent book... as all I have read by Connealy have been. Definitely one of my absolute favorite writers these days.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Their First Noel by Annie Jones (Christmas book #1)

I have read several books bu Annie Jones and enjoyed them all. Her works are fun and delightful to read.  In Their First Noel, Southern baker Corrie Bennington heads north to Vermont to enter and win a gingerbread house contest... and maybe, just maybe, to find a bit of who she is. Her plan is to recreate an old inn.. not just any old inn, but the inn where her estranged parents met and fell in love many years ago.

Once she arrives in Mt. Piney, she learns that the inn is closed and in the process of being restored. Determined to press forward, Corrie enlists the help of the owner, Andy McFarland.  What neither anticipates is a wish sent "prayer-ward" by Andy's little sister and her determination that Corrie is the answer.

There's a lot more in the air than sugar, spice and sawdust in the Inn... and Corrie and Andy are caught up in the magical mess of it all.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

Each year I pull out my copy of Preparing by Jesus to read from Dec. 1 - Jan. 7. It is a wonderful devotional book to help shift my focus to the true reason for the season... our Lord Jesus Christ... and to not only focus on His birth many years ago, but to ponder His return.

If you are wanting a devotional to read during this Advent season, I highly recommend this one!

I did a bit of a review on it here:

I have started grabbing these up whenever I find them used or at bargain price. I have given the to my family and friends.  Great book... great gift!

Tis the Season....

For a number of years now I have had a tradition when it comes to reading during the Holiday Season.. I only read Christmas stories from Thanksgiving to New Years.  I collect books throughout the year... rarely paying much for them if anything. I swap books on Paperback Swap (a wonderful site!), I snatch them up at used book sales and I get them from my mom. She subscribes to Love Inspired and passes her books onto me when she is done with them. :-)

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I pull my Christmas books from here and there and see what all I have. There are usually 8.. 10 .. maybe even 12.  Well this year I found a tad bit more than expected...

22! Plus there are 10 on my Kindle (so far!).  I will either be reading past New Year's or have a nice head start on next year. Now there was a time when I could knock out 32 books in 6 weeks... but life has gotten so much fuller and busier and my time for reading has dwindled.  So I don't expect to have these done in 2011.  But I plan to make a valiant try!

In fact, I have knocked out 3 since Turkey Day and am in the midst of #4.  So be watching for Christmas Reviews to pop up on the blog soon!