Friday, December 28, 2018

My Top Picks of 2018


I read a LOT of books in 2018 (around 300, according to Goodreads). It was hard to narrow down my list of favorites for the year, but here goes. If you've read any of them, leave me a comment and let me know which book and what you thought of it.

These are my top five fiction and nonfiction picks (in no particular order):


Fiction






















Nonfiction


























Sunday, December 23, 2018

Inspire Catholic Bible



My review...

I own the original Inspire Bible and the Inspire Praise Bible, so I was excited to see the Inspire Catholic Bible. It’s the only Catholic coloring and creative journaling Bible, and this NLT translation is officially authorized for use by Catholics.


Starting with the packaging, this is a beautiful Bible, though it is definitely geared toward females. The cover is a gorgeous metallic rose gold flexible, leather-like cover. The edges of the pages feature butterflies and flowers, also in pink (mainly). There is a ribbon bookmark and elastic closure band, which are very useful. At the beginning of the Bible, there is a section that explains the concept of Inspire, as well as information on the New Living Translation. 


There are over 450 illustrations, and many pages contain two-inch-wide lightly ruled margins, perfect for taking notes or adding your own illustrations. The font is 8.65, which is a bit larger than the font in some jounaling Bibles. THE NLT version is quite easy to read and understand. However, the pages are quite thin, even when compared to the other Inspire Bibles. I found that taking notes with a pen created a bit of ghosting on the other side of the page. As a result, I would suggest using colored pencils, or perhaps crayons, for coloring. Other mediums (markers, paint, gel pens, etc.) could bleed through. (I didn’t try these other mediums based on how the pen showed through just in taking notes.) 




Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.


Friday, December 21, 2018

"Mind Games" by Nancy Mehl


I'm ending the year with a bang for my final Friday Reads post of 2018.

Book blurb...

Kaely Quinn's talents as an FBI behavior analyst are impossible to ignore, no matter how unorthodox her methods. But when a reporter outs her as the daughter of an infamous serial killer, she's demoted to field agent and transferred to St. Louis.

When the same reporter who ruined her career claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely's, the reporter's ulterior motives bring his claim into question. But when a body is found that fits the poem's predictions, the threat is undeniable, and the FBI sends Special Agent Noah Hunter to St. Louis.

Initially resentful of the assignment, Noah is surprised at how quickly his respect for Kaely grows, despite her oddities. But with a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else--including Kaely herself--is killed.


My review...

If you’re a fan of shows like Criminal Minds or FBI (or just love a good psychological thriller), then you’ll want to add this book to your TBR pile.

This is the first book in a new series, and the suspense starts from the prologue. The poem from the killer after Kaely adds a nice “creep” factor to the story. Vivid detailing pulls the reader in, and the twists and turns keep the reader guessing. Procedural details are on point, and it’s obvious Mehl did her research, which makes her serial killer even more disturbing. Kaely Quinn is a multilayered heroine, and I look forward to reading more of this series.

There is a Christian element, as well as a romantic one, but neither is overwhelming. The suspense is definitely the star.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.


About Nancy...


Nancy Mehl is the author of more than thirty books, including the DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE series. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband,Norman, and their puggle, Watson. To learn more, visit NancyMehl.com.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Writing Prompt Wednesday


If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

Your main character receives an enchanted Christmas ornament.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Dead Sea Rising" by Jerry B. Jenkins


My review...


I enjoyed the Left Behind series, so I was excited to read the latest from Jenkins.

Nicole Berman is an archaeologist waiting to hear back on her request to dig in Saudi Arabia. She is sure there’s a secret waiting to be uncovered that can alter what people believe about religion and history. Her plans change after her mother is attacked, and an investigation ensues as to whether or not it was a murder attempt. Could it be connected to Nicole and her potential dig?

Terah’s son Abraham is born, and the readers see him battle between the God his rulers follow and the God his wife believes in. He struggles to make life-altering, and sometimes painful, decisions.

I found the premise interesting and the mystery solid. Characters are well-developed. I like the timeslip feel of the book, though there wasn’t as much of a connection between the two time periods as is normal in books of this genre. Chapters alternate between Biblical and present day, though a few chapters are flashback chapters to Nicole’s father’s time in Vietnam. The present-day story line seemed to progress much more than the Biblical one, and I found it easier to connect with and a bit more interesting. Many chapters were short, which kept the pace of the story active. The various time periods set up things for the next book. I’m interested in how Jenkins will bring everything together, and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the FaithWords blogger program, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Monday Motivation




"Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people."
— Anne Lamott



Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

"Daily Readings from All Things are working for your Good" by Joel Osteen



My review...


If you feel that your faith is being tested or you’re experiencing setbacks in life, then this may be a good devotional book for you to read. Osteen wants to remind the reader that God can, and will, use struggles and challenges for His good, to pull us closer to Him, and to move us toward the person we were created to be.

Each reading begins with a scripture verse (from a variety of translations), followed by the daily devotion. This is a 365-day devotional, aligned with the calendar. There is no ribbon bookmark, as is common in books of this nature. The book is a bit smaller than average, so it is easy to put in a purse or bag and take along on your daily travels. However, the small size and font could prove a bit tricky for some readers. I've read a number of devotional books from Osteen. This one was not my favorite, but I still found it to be full of helpful and inspirational readings.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy as part of the FaithWords blogger program, but I wasn’t required to leave a positive review.




Friday, December 14, 2018

A trio of journals from Ellie Claire



It's almost a new year, which is a great time to pick up a new devotional journal. Ellie Claire has  three options to choose from.


This devotional begins with a beautiful, brightly colored cover. The devotions feature God's creation, including nature in all forms. It's a 365-day devotional journal, running January to December. Each one features a verse, devotion, prayer, and space for journaling. The pages complement the cover with flowers and peacocks. I find it somewhat calming to read this, as I was taken in with the descriptions (such as "A creek runs through my neighbor's field..." and "Fireflies glittered in the pasture surrounding my daughter's home...") If you feel closer to God when you're outside, this is a devotional journal to check out. A ribbon bookmark is also included, as is an elastic band for closure.




This is a yearly devotional journal which contains inspirational quotes from popular Christian worship songs or hymns at the beginning of each devotion, followed by the message, a Bible passage to read, and a prayer. I love worship music, so I was excited to see lyrics used with the devotionals. (Note: You do need to have access to a Bible, as the verse referenced is not provided with the devotion.) There are numerous lines to use for daily journaling. The pages have flowers which complement the cover, and a bookmark and elastic closure band are included. 

Examples of the inspiring quotes/lyrics:
  • "And with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with all my strength." from "Love the Lord" by Lincoln Brewster
  • "I'm pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed." from "Trading My Sorrows" by Darrell Evans
  • "His banner over us is love, our sword the Word of God." from "Faith is the Victory" by John H. Yates





The focus of this journal is on peace, and that starts with the cover, which is beautiful and peaceful to look at. The focus is on the fact that God  is the only source of true peace, and He wants to give it to us, as well. The daily devotions in the 365-day devotional journal follow the standard format (verse, devotion, and prayer), along with lines for journaling. The edges of the pages match the coloring of the cover. In a world full of chaos on a daily basis, I like that this devotional focuses on helping the reader find (that sometimes elusive) peace. A ribbon bookmark and elastic band for closure are included.


Monday, December 10, 2018

"Silent Days, Holy Night" by Phyllis Clark Nichols ... and a GIVEAWAY! (JustRead Tours)

Silent Days Holy Night blog tour

Let's all get in the mood for Christmas with this blog tour and giveaway for Silent Days, Holy Night by Phyllis Clark Nichols, hosted by JustRead Tours.

ABOUT THE BOOK

silent days, holy night Title: Silent Days, Holy Night  
Author: Phyllis Clark Nichols  
Publisher: Gilead Publishing  
Release Date: October 30, 2018  
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Christmas  

The sounds of Christmases past echo through a silent house...  

Everyone in town knows Emerald Crest, the green granite mansion atop the highest hill: the legendary, lavish Christmas festivities that used to light up the nights— and the silence that followed when the parties abruptly stopped many years ago. And everyone has heard whispers about the reclusive, mysterious master of the manor, Henry Lafferty the Second . . .

When eleven-year-old Julia Russell steps into the great house for the first time and meets Mr. Lafferty, the entire course of her life is altered. She meets a man who is nothing at all like the rumors she’s heard from neighbors and classmates. He’s kind and extraordinarily talented—he also happens to be deaf and uses a wheelchair. And when she overhears a secret about him, Julia decides it’s time for the town to bring Christmas back to Emerald Crest—an act that will change them all forever.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | CBD | Book Depository


Link to my review

AUTHOR Q&A

Q:  Can you tell me how you came to write this story?
A:  In my work in cable television programming, I had opportunities to meet high-profile politicians, leaders of national organizations related to health and disabilities, but the most interesting people I met were differently-abled people who were doing extraordinary things with their lives. Their lives taught me about focus, living life fully, fulfilling your purpose in life, and life-defining moments. I wanted to write a story that would incorporate some of those themes.

Q:  What is the key takeaway from the book?
A:  There are two themes that run like interwoven ribbons through the book. The first is the idea of life-defining moments. The main character, young Julia, has a life-defining moment when she meets Mr. Henry Lafferty the Second and the second. And the second theme is that one small act of kindness can make a big difference.

Q: So true! Which character is most like you and why? And was it intentional?
A:  I would probably say that young Julia is most like me, and it was not intentional. There seems to be a bit of me at each of the characters, but as a child, I was inquisitive like Julia. And when I set my mind to something, there was no stopping me — a stubborn streak that has served me well and caused me some pain. God is still working on that part of me.

Q:  I understand about the stubborn streak! Did you base Emerald Crest on an actual mansion?
A:  Emerald Press is entirely fictional, but it was a magical place to spend my time writing the book. I actually sketched out a floor plan, designed the space, and decorated the rooms. I knew the scene from every window, and I knew the hollow sounds of its halls, and then the splendid evening when Christmas returned to Emerald Crest.

Q:  What would you be doing if you weren't an author?
A:  I've always wanted to write since I was a teenager, but my career path took a different direction. Finally in my retirement, I got my dream job. So, if I were not writing, I'd be more involved in community service, and I'd be leading more mission trips to Central America.

Q: What advice you have for new authors?
A:  Read the classics, and write, and read some more, and write some more. Learn what you can about the changing publishing business and always be honing your craft.

Q:  Great advice. What can you tell me about your current project?
A:  "The Rockwater Suite"  series is my focus right now. The first book, Return of the Song, was released in September with four more to follow. The second book, Freedom of the Song, will be released this spring. The third book is finished, but I'm ready to start the fourth in the series. I was able to take a trip to Austria this past summer to do much of the research I needed to do, so I'm sitting on G, waiting on O to GO with book four after the holidays.

Q:  What is something about you that would surprise your readers?
A:  I think it might surprise my readers to know that I enjoy fishing. There is just something about sitting on the bank with my pole in the water that is restful and at the same time exciting. I always anticipate getting a bite and catching the big one, but if I don't catch him, I still have been outside enjoying God's creation.

Q:  What book do you wish you'd written and why?
A:  I wish I had written Gone with the Wind. It is set my home state of Georgia, and people are still reading it nearly one hundred years later.

Q:  Do you have any writing rituals?
A:  Sitting down in my writing chair with a cup of tea and opening my laptop and I move into my right brain in a few seconds. I suppose there's nothing unusual about that.

Q:  What writers have inspired you?
A:  George MacDonald is a master storyteller of an age gone by, and I have all of his translated books on my shelf. If C.S. Lewis says that he would never have written anything had it not been for the work of George MacDonald, that I thought it wise that I read George MacDonald. His work is captivating, and every book is a tutorial. He packs more theology in his yarns than preachers do on Sunday morning. And I thoroughly enjoy the works of Maeve Binchy her art of character development.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions, Phyllis. I'm sure readers will enjoy getting to know you a bit better.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phyllis-Publicity750x1000

Phyllis Clark Nichols’s character-driven Southern fiction explores profound human questions using the imagined residents of small town communities you just know you’ve visited before. With a strong faith and a love for nature, art, music, and ordinary people, she tells redemptive tales of loss and recovery, estrangement and connection, longing and fulfillment . . . often through surprisingly serendipitous events.

Phyllis grew up in the deep shade of magnolia trees in South Georgia. Born during a hurricane, she is no stranger to the winds of change: In addition to her life as a novelist, Phyllis is a seminary graduate, concert pianist, and cofounder of a national cable network with health- and disability-related programming. Regardless of the role she’s playing, Phyllis brings creativity and compelling storytelling.

She frequently appears at conventions, conferences, civic groups, and churches, performing half-hour musical monologues that express her faith, joy, and thoughts about life—all with the homespun humor and gentility of a true Southern woman.

Phyllis currently serves on several nonprofit boards. She lives in the Texas Hill Country with her portrait-artist husband.  

CONNECT WITH PHYLLIS: website | Facebook | Twitter

silent days, holy night giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive (US only):
  • a print copy of Silent Days, Holy Night by Phyllis Clark Nichols
  • a print copy of Sleigh Bells Ring by various authors
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight December 10, 2018 and last through 11:59pm December 17, 2018. US only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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Saturday, December 8, 2018

"MissTaken Identity" by Kimberley Woodhouse ... and a GIVEAWAY (JustRead Tours)

Banner_MissTakenIdentity_Blog

Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for MissTaken Identity by Kimberley Woodhouse, a novella included in The MissAdventure Brides Collection, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

ABOUT THE BOOK

the missadventure brides collection Title: MissTaken Identity  
Collection: The MissAdventure Brides Collection  
Author: Kimberley Woodhouse  
Publisher: Barbour  
Release Date: December 1, 2018 (print)
Genre: Historical Romance  

Love Is One of Life’s Greatest Adventures

Seven daring damsels don’t let the norms of their eras hold them back. Along the way these women attract the attention of men who admire their bravery and determination, but will they let love grow out of the adventures?  

MissTaken Identity by Kimberley Woodhouse
1883 Texas 
Headstrong, bubbly, accident-prone Abigail Monroe is on a quest for adventure away from society’s expectations. But her pursuits are unexpectedly thwarted when she is arrested by a handsome Texas Ranger.  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | CBD | Book Depository


EXCERPT– MissTaken Identity – Kimberley Woodhouse

“But Miss Abigail, this has got to be the craziest idea you’ve had.”

Abigail Monroe raised her eyebrows at her maid. At twenty-four years old, she was used to hearing that her servants called her crazy behind her back—because, let’s face it, in the past she’d done some crazy things—but she was older now, and none of them had been bold enough to say it to her face since her parents’ passing. “It is not crazy. It is simply. . .eccentric.” She held up a pair of brown leather chaps and eyed them for size.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

aboutkim

Kimberley Woodhouse is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifteen fiction and nonfiction books. A popular speaker and teacher, she’s shared her theme of “Joy Through Trials” with more than half a million people across the country at more than 2,000 events. Kim and her incredible husband of twenty-five-plus years have two adult children. She’s passionate about music and Bible study and loves the gift of story.  

CONNECT WITH KIM: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram





misstaken identity giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY

Kimberley Woodhouse is giving away:
  • (1) grand prize of a Kindle Fire (US only)
  • (3) 1st prizes - a print copy of The MissAdventures Brides Collection (US only)
That's a total of FOUR winners! Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight December 4, 2018 and last through 11:59pm December 11, 2018. US only. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
cropped-justread-logo.png

Friday, December 7, 2018

Christmas Novel Roundup


Christmas is quickly approaching. If you're looking to get in a few great reads beforehand (or gift them to someone else),  I thought I'd help you out with a list of Christmas-themed novels. Happy reading!


This Year, Christmas Comes Just in Time

As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating your resume by New Years if she loses her current case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill when she's in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.

The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can't say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn's biggest concern now is paying his rent, but half the time Callie doesn't remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on a wild-goose chase to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.

When Finn meets Sydney, he's quite sure she's never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission driven by delusions? he's going to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie's Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it





Someone's sweet on revenge…

Christmas is Bailey King's favorite time of year. For her first Yuletide in Harvest, Ohio, the former big-city chocolatier is recreating a cherished holiday treat: peppermint combined with melted white chocolate. But her sugar high plummets when her former boyfriend walks into the candy shop she now runs with her Amish grandmother. New York celebrity chef Eric Sharp and his TV crew have arrived to film an authentic Amish Christmas. Bailey's not about to let her beloved town — and Swissmen Sweets — be turned into a soundbite. Unfortunately, she gets more publicity than she bargained for when Eric's executive producer was found strangled to death — and Eric's the prime suspect.

With Bailey's sheriff deputy boyfriend out to prove Eric's guilt, her bad-boy ex tries to sweet-talk her into helping him clear his name … and rekindle their romance to boost ratings for show. Now, between a surplus of suspects and a victim who wasn't who she seemed, Bailey's edging dangerously close to a killer who isn't looking to bring joy to the world — or to Bailey — this deadly Noel…





Angels are all around us — especially at Christmas!

Greg Bennett hates Christmas. Divorced, almost friendless, and about to lose his business, he has no time for what he considers sentimental nonsense. It takes three irrepressible angels to show him the truth. Shirley, Goodness and Mercy shall follow him — until he learns what Christmas is all about. Those Christmas Angels come down to earth again to respond to Anne Fletcher's prayer request. She wants her son, Roy, to meet a special woman — and the angels contrive to throw Julie Wclcoff in his path (literally). Another Christmas, another angelic rescue. The three  heaven-sent messengers reunite a divorced couple, bring peace of mind to an elderly man, and grant a little boy's fondest wish. Because there is always joy Where Angels Go. Three classic stories of hope and seasonal chair from Debbie Macomber, Official Storyteller of Christmas!





This Christmas could be her last…Unless Covert Operations shield her. 

Prosecutor and single mom Melinda Steele thought her nightmare ended when her abusive husband died, but now someone wants her dead by Christmas. Navy SEAL turned security operative Noah Cason needs her to get justice in his sister's disappearance, but first you'll have to keep her alive. And his mission shifts from difficult to almost impossible when Melinda reveals who she suspects is really after her.





As Christmas nears, John Baxter makes a bold gesture — he invites a stranger to share Christmas Eve dinner with his family. But not just any stranger. This woman is the recipient of his daughter Erin's heart. John knows the invitation will impact each of his adult kids and their families. But will they choose to embrace their guest? And how will the woman's presence affect his granddaughter — the one who feels the loss of her mother most keenly?

Kendra Bryant, John's surprising guest, has been given a second chance at life, but at great cost to the Baxter family. Maybe meeting them will instill some much-needed peace into her life. And maybe Christmas Eve dinner will even help heal Kendra's failing marriage.

Meanwhile, Maddie West's job at the local theater has her working alongside an amazing guy. But Maddie knows she has to keep him at a distance or risk exposing a secret she's hidden for years. In a moment of faith, she sends up a desperate prayer for help. What happens next leaves Maddie — and the entire Baxter family — shocked at God's perfect grace and timing.





With no memory, who can she trust?

Robin Hardy survived an explosion in her university lab — but her memories are gone. With danger lurking behind every Christmas tree, she needs shelter from the attackers she can't identify. She'll trust fellow professor Toby Potter to safely hide her away. But when his secrets come between them, the truth could mean the difference between life and death this holiday season.





After her grandmother's death, Sammie finds herself thinking about the Christmas Coin and all the sweet memories attached to it. She decides to take a trip back to her grandmother's house in Holly Hamlet, Vermont to find it. With the impending sale of the house, all Sammie wants as a keepsake of her grandmother is the coin and the story that she still holds close to her heart. With fifty years of possessions tucked inside the house, she realizes she has her work cut out for her. When the little girl next door innocently mentions the Christmas story, Sammie realizes that Ally could be the key to her finding the Christmas coin. As the weekend goes by, Sammie becomes attached to Ally, and subsequently her single father Jack. Her plans begin to change more than she could have imagined.

Jack Stevens had heard about the impending arrival of his neighbor Mary Holt's granddaughter. Seeing her bright red hair and immaculate red Mustang, he knows a woman like that is just making a quick stop to get whatever it is she came to Holly Hamlet for. But as he and his six-year-old daughter Ally spend time with Sammie, he begins to see her in a different light. As he finds himself inviting Sammie to join he and Ally in their Christmas traditions, he worries about his little girl. She's already had one woman walk out on her life. Sammie had told him she was only in town for a day or two. Seeing his daughter's attachment to Sammie, and ignoring his own growing feelings for her, he's worried about Ally's heart breaking when Sammie leaves town.

Will a decades-old tradition and the sparkle of Christmas work its magic on two people who both need a gift that can't fit under the tree?





Beloved, bestselling author of Amish fiction, Wanda E. Brunstetter takes readers on a journey in 1850 along the California Trail.

Only the brave — or foolhardy — would attempt a cross-country journey late in the season. Three wagons meet up in Independence, Missouri, in April 1850, and their owners decide to keep forging ahead despite many setbacks and delays. December finds them in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when a sudden snowstorm traps them, obscuring the trail.

Cynthia Cooper is traveling with her mother and the man she has promised to marry. But as Christmas is upon them and they are hunkered down in a small cabin, she is forced to reevaluate her reasons for planning to marry fellow-traveler Walter Prentice. When a widowed father heading to a California ranch and gold prospector both show an interest in Cynthia, she weighs her dreams for marriage alongside her responsibility to care for her mother. Can love win over her timid heart?





Will marriage save her family?

Bethany Martin has until Christmas to prove to the Amish community that she can raise her siblings — including her mischievous brother, without a husband. Then handsome newcomer Michael Shelter arise, winning over Bethany's siblings. He might be the answer to their prayers, but Michael has a troubled past. Can Bethany love a man with secrets … even if it's the only thing keeping her family together?




Rich with candlelit memories of another time, these old-fashioned works from classic authors invite you to a feast of Christmas nostalgia.

Stories and poetry have been part of the Christmas season for generations, reminding us that the heart of the holiday never changes. A Vintage Christmas is a unique collection of lesser-known Christmas tales, reflections, and poems from beloved authors across the centuries.

Discover the charming story from L. M. Montgomery about love and sacrifice in a a little log house. See Christmas through the eyes of a child in a New England Colonial Village with Harriet Beecher Stowe. Remember the reason Christ came to earth in the poetry of Anne Brontë. Share with your family the delightful letter Mark Twain wrote a Santa Claus to his three-year-old daughter.

This beautiful treasury takes us back to the fireside, simple gifts, and warm family moments of Christmases past as we cherish the timeless truths and joys of the season.

A Vintage Christmas includes stories from Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, L. M. Montgomery, and Selma Lagerlof, as well as poems from John Milton, Christina Rossetti, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anne Brontë, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.





Everyone in town knows Emerald Crest, the green granite mansion atop the highest hill, and the legendary, lavish Christmas festivities that used to light up the nights--and the silence that followed when the parties abruptly stopped many years ago. And everyone has heard whispers about the reclusive, mysterous master of the manor, Henry Lafferty the Second.

When eleven-year-old Julia Russell steps into the great house for the first time and meets Mr. Lafferty, the entire course of her life shifts. He's nothing at all like the rumors she's heard from neighbors and classmates. He's kind and extraordinarily talented--he also happens to be deaf and use a wheelchair. And when she overhears a secret about him, Julia decides it's time for the town to bring Christmas back to Emerald Crest--an act that will change them all forever.



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Writing Prompt Wednesday


If you're feeling stuck in your WIP (work in progress) or just want to shake things up a bit, here's something different to try today:

Your character has just received a special Secret Santa gift from a secret admirer. What is the gift, and who is the secret admirer?

Happy writing!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Are you looking for some gift ideas?




I've mentioned on more than one occasion that I adore devotional books, so I was excited to have the opportunity to review a trio of books from FaithWords. I'd highly recommend these books for gift ideas (even if it's a gift for yourself!). In this collection, there's a bit of something for just about everyone. I can't wait to use all three of these books during my 2019 devotional time 😊




Moore's devotional is different than any I've read, and I really liked that fact. As with many books, the readings are short, sweet, and on point. They begin with a Bible verse, have a message, and end with a short prayer. However, in this 365-day devotional, each day focuses on one key word. The words are simple, yet powerful, for instance: Relax, Seek, Stop, Belong, Doubt, Chosen, Hungry, Journey, Prepare, and Love.

This devotional allows the reader to look at common words in a different way. I particularly love how Moore finds a Bible verse using the word, and then she incorporates the word in the body of the devotion, as well as the prayer. The book itself is small and easy to hold, and the color/scheme of the pages complements the cover.
















 This is such a fun book! The cover is bright and cheery, and the illustrations and big, detailed, and easy to color. The pages are a bit thicker than some books, so you could use colored pencils, gel pens, crayons, and markers (though there may be a bit of ghosting with some of these). Bible verse are included with many illustrations, and each journal page contains numerous lines,a s well as a basic picture to color. There's a page at the front to list who the book belongs to, as well as a page at the end which says, "The End." (This would also make a nice book if you have someone in your life who's an aspiring author!)















I like Joyce Meyer, so I was excited to add this devotional to my collection. This is a powerful daily devotional that tackles a number of issues, including lack of confidence, self-image, and relationships. Each devotion begins with a Bible verse and ends with a prayer. The message contains practical tips and wisdom to address to those issues. The book itself is a beautiful pink leather cover, and a ribbon bookmark is also included. Each week begins with an intro with general encouragement for the week.

This book has been revised and expanded from an earlier edition. Some of the devotions do seem geared toward wives and mothers, so keep that in mind when picking this one up. (Most could be applicable to women, in general.)









Amazon purchase link for The Confident Woman














Disclaimer: I received complimentary copies from the publisher, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.