Twelfth Night, edition 2: Christmas Story Mini Reviews

Happy Twelfth Night! Last year on January 5th, I shared the first edition of Christmas Story Mini Reviews. This year I’m finally getting around to sharing my thoughts on some of the Christmas stories I read in 2019!

Title links will take you to Goodreads for full book info.

Christmas at Whitefriars by Elizabeth Camden (novella)

A delightful Christmas novella all about fellowship and romance! I enjoyed the setting and charming history that went with it, and the awkwardly shy hero paired with the pleasant heroine who had to overcome a few things herself (loved how that was portrayed!).

The Royally Yours novella collection

It’s perfectly sweet collection of 4 Royal romances set in a quirky Christmas town! I want to visit Tinsel, too, and sample scones, stay in an inn, and visit the library. 🙂

One Royal Christmas by Melissa Tagg ~ It was royally adorable with a bookish king & a more-adventurous-than-she-realizes heroine. I especially liked the book note aspect 😉

The Reluctant Princess by Betsy St. Amant ~ Princess + celebrity charm, nostalgic traditions, sarcasm & things that define a person.

A Royal Wonderland by Liz Johnson ~ A Christmas decor competition, a reluctant prince, and a small town girl learning to overcome her regrets all make up this sweet story of the season with a SWOONY romance, apples and scones, and one well used ladder!

A Tinsel Holiday by Ashley Clark ~ The cutest “what if” a situation like the classic Roman Holiday were only the beginning? Her story plays on characters who have an established friendship and makes for a fantastic romance.

Christmas at the Circus by Joanne Bischof (short story)

A darling little short story that “catches up” with beloved characters and shows sweet Christmas moments in their lives. I especially liked the glimpses of Holland and the surprise for Ella!

Mistletoe Menagerie by Janine Rosche (novella)

This is a darling story with a surprising amount of depth and emotion. I laughed along with the characters, related to the pain and grief in their hearts, and rejoiced in their moments of friendship and the beginnings of romance. I might have a favorite new zoo animal, too: GIRAFFES!

I am looking forward to more from Janine Rosche’s pen in 2020!

Welcome to Wishing Bridge by Ruth Logan Herne

Though not 100% intended as a Christmas novel, it does take place over the Christmas season. I’m totally counting it!

I really enjoyed the audiobook of this story! I feel like I want to visit Wishing Bridge now. The cast of characters was vibrant (a broad cast, but it never felt too big), the narration was spot-on (I really like Erin!), and the endearing characters have real-life problems, emotions, and triumphs over the course of the story. I especially liked the themes of overcoming, sacrificial love, and hope. I am excited to revisit Wishing Bridge in the next book in the series!

Thank you to the publishers of Royally Yours and Christmas at the Circus for the review copies. These are my honest reviews.

Did you read any Christmas stories this year? Do you read them into January?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read for the First Time in 2016

It’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday at The Green Mockingbird

At first consideration, I didn’t think I had read 10 NEW authors this year because I tend to gravitate to favorite authors I know I will enjoy. Upon looking through Goodreads, however, I found I had read more than 10 new authors in 2016. I’ve listed below my favorites, in alphabetical order (because who could ever rank them!!??), and my corresponding book(s) review(s).

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read for the First Time in 2016

1. Pepper D. Basham

Pepper D. BashamLet me just tell you now: you need to read Pepper’s books. As of last week, I have read all 4 of her published works and cannot wait for more. She conquers both historical and contemporary romance with the same determination to communicate messages of God’s grace and Christ’s love with her characters.

The Thorn Bearer

The Thorn Keeper

A Twist of Faith

2. Rachelle Rea Cobb

Rachelle ReaWhile I might have been a little late in discovering fellow blogger Rachelle Rea Cobb’s historical series, I hope I made up for it by devouring her series this year. I was also privileged to participate on her special launch team for book 3. This is a series not to miss if you’re a fan of history, gripping drama, fantastic romance, or stories of redemption.

The Sound of Diamonds

The Sound of Silver

The Sound of Emeralds

3. Melanie Dickerson

The Beautiful PretenderAfter hearing about Melanie’s skill at transforming fairytales into clever retelllings with an inspirational bent, I had to try one of her stories for myself. Everyone was right! I will be reading more of her books in the future.

The Beautiful Pretender

4. Ruth Logan Herne

392151Ruth seems like such a sweet person! I enjoyed one of her recent releases for the first time this year in conjunction with SLB Tours.

More Than a Promise

5. Liz Johnson

where-two-hearts-meetLiz’s contemporary romance series set on the idyllic Prince Edward Island was a treat! It’s not to be missed. I’m anxious for book 3!

The Red Door Inn

Where Two Hearts Meet

6. Jenny B. Jones

I'll Be YoursAnother author I kept hearing about in the young adult genre, one I don’t visit very often. though that might be changing with such discoveries as Jenny (and the next on the list, Amy….)

I’ll Be Yours

7. Amy Matayo

the-thirteenth-chanceAmy is such fun! I reviewed her latest release and have since added a few more of her novels to my collection to be read soon, hopefully.

The Thirteenth Chance

8. Dani Pettrey

Cold Shot by Dani PettreyI know, I know, I haven’t read anything from Dani until this year. I *need* to read her Alaskan Courage series because it is totally my type of series. I just know I need some dedicated time because I have a feeling I’ll want to binge-read it. Anyway, I really loved the start of her new action/mystery/romance series and look forward to book 2 early next year!

Cold Shot

9. Kathleen Rouser

kathy-rouserKathleen contacted me concerning her new release from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, a small-time publisher, and I’m very glad she did! She is a delightful person, as evidenced in my interview post, and her novel is equally as delightful in depth of story and character.

Rumors and Promises (and interview)

10. James L. Rubart

the-long-journey-to-jake-palmerThe synopsis of James’s newest release, combined with the stunning cover and previous praise of his novels, made me eager to read this one. I knew it would be different than the norm, and I was happily correct. Fans of contemporary drama, stories of purpose, and even slight fantasy in a C.S. Lewis-like vein will enjoy James’s latest release.

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer

 

Well, have you read any of these books or authors before? Which is your favorite? What new authors have you discovered recently? I’d love to hear your comments and recommendations!

Review & Behind-the-Scenes: “More Than a Promise” by Ruth Logan Herne

1218071_origToday is my stop on the Singing Librarian Books Tour for a recent release from Ruth Logan Herne, a new-to-me-author. Her new novel, More Than a Promise, can be classed as a realistic contemporary drama/romance about finding happiness in chaos, the hope in family, and long-sought healing through faith. Read on for my review, 10 awesome behind-the-scenes facts, and a giveaway!

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7274318Genre: Christian, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Franciscan Media
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Number of pages: 292

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“My Three Sons”… Naughty sons, at that!… meets “Sarah, Plain and Tall” in this delightful marriage of convenience story that shows how amazingly inconvenient love… and life… can be!

Widower Matt Wilmot is in trouble. His boys are causing chaos and wreaking havoc, his former mother-in-law is threatening to sue for custody, his father just had heart surgery and their family company is liable for a huge balloon payment on a loan his father took out to expand the business the previous year. But rain and illness took their toll, and Matt is having a rough time spinning multiple plates in the air. 

But when he discovers Elle Drake next door, a woman with a wonderful hand at managing errant boys, cranky relatives, and frustrated men… Matt’s world suddenly tips back into a more normal orbit. And when drastic measures are required, it’s the girl next door who’s there to save the day.

Elle Drake wanted nothing more than to create beautiful pottery and have a family, but when her millionaire husband publicly dumped the renowned artist for another woman, Elle moves back to Cedar Mills to start anew, the spinster artist with her big potting shed. But when her to-die-for good-looking neighbor thinks marriage is a good idea, Elle figures he’s either crazy, desperate or right.

But a marriage of convenience can become its own conundrum, and when life takes sudden turns, can this marriage become all that they bargained for? And maybe more than a promise?

Purchasing Links:
AMAZON | B&N | CHRISTIANBOOK.COM

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First, let me just address the Wilmot children! They are a hoot. Ruth fabulously captures their vibrant – and contrasting – personalities. My favorite parts of this dynamic were the moments of sheer honesty from the kids, especially Randy, the notorious middle child and instigator. In his case, bluntness resulted in some hilarious and insightful conversations!

Elle and Matt, and the problems they face, and very relatable. Learning to trust God with full control over your life, for instance, is a daily surrender of yourself to His will and purpose. I was rooting for Elle as she learned to open herself up to love and realize a long-lost dream. And, I was rooting for Matt as he dealt with lingering grief, learned to share his burdens, and found joy again. By the end, I was elated with their journey I felt like I witnessed as a part of their crazy famly.

From the very beginning, this story drew me in with a combination of humor and heart. The realness of the characters, their resounding struggles and possibility of finding happiness and healing, were beautifully blended. If such heartfelt stories are the norm from Ruth, as I’ve heard, I’m eager to read more by her pen!

While you’re here, be sure to enter tie GIVEAWAY for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of More Than a Promise!

Special thanks to Singing Librarian Books for a review copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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392151Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves God, her family, her country, dogs, chocolate and coffee! A country gal with a heart for the big city, Ruthy likes nothing more than to write the kind of books she loves to read, and she’s even more happy that now she gets paid to do it! She’s been married for a Very Long Time and she and her husband Dave live on a small farm in upstate New York where lake effect snow buries them on a regular basis in winter. But that’s all right… it gives her more time to write!

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10 Facts from Ruth!

1. I have friends in the excavating business, and a comment they made once a long time ago, about how some folks figure they’ve got plenty of money, and put off paying them… so that became the reasoning behind the financial difficulties that raised up to trip up the company

2. Somewhere there are three boys who were the original three little boys who came into church SO RELUCTANTLY about six years ago, and inspired this book… and I hope they’re all well and happy!

3. The Polish aspects of Elle’s family were inspired by a wonderful wedding reception I attended years ago, where the ladies of St. Stanislaus’s Church did a Thanksgiving dinner, pass the plate at each table kind of meal, and it was marvelous! Wonderful turkey and stuffing, puddles of gravy and delicious cranberry sauce and homemade pickles. I love church dinners!

4. And at that same wedding, I made the wedding cake, drove it hours to the reception and a layer CRACKED…. Luckily I had made an extra layer (just in case!) and I took the broken layer out, slipped the extra layer in, frosted, decorated and used real red roses to give a “cascade” effect, and NO ONE KNEW A THING!!!!! Yes!

5. The three boys were actually based on two brothers and a sister I’ve had in daycare/after school care for years… Amos is based on Casey, when she was little, and my readers see Casey on my facebook page, on my blog, and in Yankee Belle Café because she’s my “mother’s helper” now and helps on the farm in the summer. And she’s ALMOST DONE WITH HIGH SCHOOL so you can see that life has moved on since I wrote “More Than a Promise”, LOL!

6. Sarah, Plain and Tall is one of my favorite children’s stories, and I used that premise to write an adult version in “More Than a Promise”. If you’ve never read “Sarah, Plain and Tall”, you should… it’s just a wonderful marriage of convenience story set in the early 1900’s. I love it!

7. I love heroes that work with their hands… and guys with big equipment are as happy as little boys with Tonka Trucks until they break! And then they are GRUMPY. If you’re wondering about farmers, insert “tractor” for “backloader” or “grader” and you get the same result! And don’t talk to these men about weather!!!!! EEEK!

8. I love the church setting in Cedar Mills. The fun of older Catholic churches is how the church may reflect the ethnicity of the immigrants who came here with nothing, but pooled together to explore and expand their right to practice their faith freely. Neighborhoods were often defined by these beautiful churches and the congregations that flocked there weekly and daily.

9. I’m always amazed at how pockets of art can bring mass appeal. I wanted Elle’s work to be that way, based on a Thomas Kincade-type fame. Her longing and love came through her work and appealed to the masses, the “you and me” types. But there’s a downside to some of that because “true artistes” often find fault with commercial art, and abandon their friendships. Is it jealousy? Or disregard?

10. And finally… The spray-painted dog is a real thing. It happened a long time ago, and it wasn’t one of my kids (although it could have been!) and it took a long time for that dog’s fur to grow out. But… it did. Eventually!

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Click to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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April 11–cherylbbookblog | A Holland Reads
April 12–Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance | Reading Is My SuperPower
April 13–Buzzing About Books The Power of Words
April 14–Smiling Book Reviews | Singing Librarian Books
April 15–Katie’s Clean Book Collection | Colorimetry | The Green Mockingbird
April 16–Just Commonly Red Headed Book Lady

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