Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Christmas Prayer - My Review

This new Christmas book by Wanda Brunstetter was the perfect quick read for the holiday season.  I try so hard to read as many Christmas books as I can throughout the month of December, so it is always nice to include novellas like this into my to-read list.  This particular story is set in the American West during the middle of the 1800’s.

A wagon train is being set up, so that people from the East can forge a new life in an exciting but unknown terrain.  Cynthia Cooper is one such person who has decided to make this journey with her fiancé and mother, but she is still hesitant about her decision.  Will they survive this type of perilous travel?  And will she ever find peace in her heart to move forward as she believes she aught, or will her mind override her actions? 

There are so many characters making the journey with Cynthia, and each one has their own set of baggage and stories to tell.  Yet each individual makes the ride more interesting for Cynthia, and she does her best to engage with every person.  Some of the plot change will be surprising for the reader, and the quick resolution might be to fast for some.  However, it is important to remember that this is a novella; therefore, the climax comes quickly, and so the character’s endings must be tied up rather swiftly.  If you enjoy a shorter read though, then this book is for you. 

Have you read any other books by Brunsetter?  I own several of her books, but this was the first Christmas book I have read by her.  As always, please recommend some of your favorite books in the comments below.  Happy reading and Merry Christmas! 

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Barbour Publishing for my copy.

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 a 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?

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards.

Wanda’s ancestors were part of the Anabaptist faith, and her novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her books are well-read and trusted by many Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.

When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties. Wanda enjoys photography, ventriloquism, gardening, bird-watching, beachcombing, and spending time with her family. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

To learn more about Wanda, visit her website at:

Friday, December 7, 2018

First Line Fridays

Happy December everyone!  How is everybody's start to the season?  Have you checked any Christmas festivities off your list yet?  I'm actually a little bit ahead this year--I've already baked cookies, wrapped some presents, and sent some Christmas cards, and I even saw the Nutcracker this year too!  :) 

What are some of your favorite Christmas activities or traditions?  Please let me know in the comments below.  As always, happy reading and Merry Christmas! 

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from: 

  A Timeless Christmas 
by Alexis Stanton


And the first line is...

"Megan Tucker paused to tuck a wayward strand of her curly hair into her bun, covered by her small cap, before grabbing her small candlestick from a diminutive, hand-carved table."  

Happy reading and happy Friday!   

Let me know your first line in the comments & then head over to Hoarding Books  to see who else is participating! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

After the Rain Cover Reveal

Genre:  Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance, Christian
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Publication date: February 4, 2019
A heartfelt, emotional story of the beauty and pain found in picking up the pieces and starting over after disappointment.

Brandy Bruce is a mom, a wife, a book editor, an author, and someone who really loves dessert. She’s the author of the award-winning novel The Last SummerLooks Like Love, and The Romano Family Collection. Brandy, her husband, and their children make their home in Colorado.

Giveaway details: (1) Winner will receive thier choice of a print (US only) or e-copy (International) of The Last Summer.
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Friday, November 30, 2018

First Line Fridays

Happy almost December everyone!  Christmas is just around the corner, and I am so excited!  This month means spending time with family and friends--friends that unfortunately I do not get to see very often.  It is always lovely to reconnect this time of the year, and obviously, we catch up over a cup of hot tea.  :) 

As far as traveling for the holidays, do any of you travel much?  Or is your family close?  Whichever the case, I wish you safe and happy travels...and happy reading of course!

Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Today I am going to post a line from: 

  A Yuletide Regency  
by Regina Scott, Sarah M. Eden, Jen Johnson, 
Annette Lyon, Krista Jensen, and Heather Moore  

And the first line is...

Always Kiss at Christmas 
by Regina Scott 

To all those who hold Christmas in their hearts, and to the Lord, the author of Christmas 

Rose Hill, Surrey 
Christmas Eve, 1802

"If she couldn't win an offer at Christmas, there was no justice in the world." 

Happy reading and happy Friday!   

Let me know your first line in the comments & then head over to Hoarding Books  to see who else is participating! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Yes, Carol...It's Christmas - My Review

As the top salesperson for Pfunn Party Supplies, Carol Frost doesn’t exactly know how to have fun herself these days. Though she wasn’t always such a humbug. Once upon a time, she was famous for hosting Christmas parties that were filled with everything from laughing guests and luscious hors d’oeuvres, to artfully iced sugar cookies and creatively decorated Christmas trees. To top it off, she even wrote a bestselling book that became the authoritative tome on Christmas party entertaining at the time—The Complete, Total, Ultimate, Everything-You-Might-Possibly-Want-to-Know Guide to Hosting the Best Christmas Parties Ever.

Yet that was long ago, before her life changed and she stashed her tinsel and twinkle lights away once and for all. And while Carol soon learned to settle for her boring but comfortable existence, an old friend knows that Carol isn’t really living up to her potential. An old friend who . . . well . . . now enjoys her eggnog in the afterlife, you might say. To goad Carol into going back to her former party-hosting ways, said friend sends three of her specter pals to pester Carol. Then, much to Carol’s annoyance, she is visited by the Ghost Hosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future on a plane filled with plenty of holiday revelers. And though Carol only wants to be left alone, the Ghost 
Hosts have other plans. Instead, they take her on an adventure that wasn’t exactly on her itinerary . . . or printed on her ticket stub. From that moment on, Carol’s life will never be the same. Provided, of course, she survives the jingle-bell rollercoaster of a ride and makes it home in time for Christmas . . .

CINDY VINCENT, M.A. Ed., was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper novels and the Daisy Diamond Detective series. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.

Christmas books are some of my very favorite books to read, and I try to read a couple each December.  However, I find that I need to start earlier and earlier each year, in order to read at least one!  Does anyone else feel the same way?  The holidays are lovely, but they can be crazy and hectic.  That is why it is so nice to sit down, relax, and open the pages of a Christmas story. 

My friend Cindy Vincent has written the perfect book for the holidays, because her story is based on the beloved tale A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  The Victorian era of literature is my favorite--Dickens was a part of this literary time period—so I was very excited to see how Vincent created her Christmas book against the backdrop of a Dickens classic. 

Carol lives in a world that does not seem to slow down.  She has so many responsibilities that take all her time and energy.  Yet she knows she is the only one who can accomplish the to-do list that marks every moment of her day.  She is living off the steam from the previous day, and unfortunately, she has also let the past define her present.  Will her life every change?  Could things really be better?  Even though Carol highly doubts this to be possible, an unexpected ride in the sky just might change her mind. 

If you enjoy a bit of intrigue in a story, you will love this book.  And if you love Christmas tales, you will love this book.  I highly recommend adding this novella to your Christmas reading list this year.  Let me know some of your favorite Christmas books in the comments below.  Happy reading and Merry Christmas!  

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the author for my copy.

1.  Growing up, can you tell us about one of your favorite Christmas memories?

It’s really hard to pinpoint just one special memory, because I have been blessed with so many!  But a favorite moment-in-time happened when I was about eight or nine years old.  One of the parents in the neighborhood organized a group of grownups and kids to go Christmas caroling.  After a couple of practice songs, we all took off, walking as a group.  I remember the night was pretty chilly, and I had on the whole winter ensemble—coat, hat, scarf, and mittens.  It was enough to keep me warm so I could enjoy the fresh, crisp air on that clear night loaded with stars.  The group went from house to house, and I thought it was the most fun thing in the world to ring the doorbell and wait for someone to answer, whereby the entire group would belt out the next song on our list.  As a kid, I remember singing my heart out, and I knew every verse of every one of those Christmas carols.  I’m sure I probably didn’t sound as great as I thought I did back then—Ha!—but it was so much fun, I didn’t care.  I felt like we were spreading Christmas throughout the whole neighborhood.  Afterward, we gathered at someone’s house where we had hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.  It was one of the most fun nights of my young life.

2.  Christmas is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year, yet what was what the inspiration behind writing a Christmas novella?

It was the night after Christmas and all through the kitchen, not a dish was left dirty, not even a saucepan . . . Okay, maybe that doesn’t quite rhyme, but I think you get my drift!  The idea for Yes, Carol . . . It’s Christmas! came to me a couple of years ago on the night after Christmas, when my husband and I had just finished eating dinner.  We’d decided to do it up right and eat in the dining room, using our new Christmas china.  And just as I finished drying the last plate that night, I started reminiscing about a fun Christmas party we’d hosted, and from there I started thinking about Christmas parties in general.  Then I started to wonder, if someone was an expert at hosting parties and they were in the middle of a Christmas Carol-like situation, what ghosts would visit them?  That’s when it dawned on me that it wouldn’t be just any old ghost in that case, but instead it would be a “ghost host.”  From there, the story was born.

But I also wanted Yes, Carol . . . It’s Christmas! to be more than just a spoof on A Christmas Carol.  I wanted it to be a tale about picking up the pieces and getting back to doing what it is that you love to do, something that uses your particular God-given gifts.  Because we can all get sidetracked from our calling when bad things happen to us, bad things that are beyond our control.  Sometimes it can be pretty hard to get back up, scars and all, and return to our intended road.

3.  Baking is one of my favorite things to do at Christmas.  Do you have any recipes for Christmas treats you would like to share?

Here’s a fudge recipe that I got from a neighbor years ago.  Not only is it delicious, but it’s perfect for passing out to your friends!

Fantasy Fudge

3 cups sugar
1½ sticks of margarine
2/3 cup of canned evaporated milk

Combine these three ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Boil for another five minutes on medium heat, still stirring.  Remove from heat and add:

12-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Stir until these are melted.  Then add:

7-ounce jar Marshmallow Cream
Lots of broken, slightly crumbled walnuts
1 tsp. of vanilla

Stir these in and pour into a greased 8x8 pan.  Let cool and cut into individual pieces. 

Thanks again, Heather, for hosting me here today.  I wish you a very special Christmas this year.  When you look up at the stars in the sky this Christmas, think of that bright star that shone above Bethlehem, and know that God loves you now and always!  Merry Christmas!

Put together your own best-ever Christmas party with this fun “party in a box” giveaway! Enter for a chance to win a package with the following prizes: a signed copy of Yes, Carol…It’s Christmas! by Cindy Vincent, two Betty Crocker sugar cookie mixes, two cookie cutters, a four-pack of sprinkles, a strand of Christmas lights, and two glass ornaments. Due to shipping costs and varying international laws, this giveaway is open to US residents (age 18 or older) only. Void where prohibited. Good luck!

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