Merry and Bright

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Macomber, Debbie. Merry and Bright. New York, USA: Ballantine Books. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Merry took the temporary office position in hopes of it eventually becoming a permanent position. Known in the office as “Mary” (vs. the correct spelling of “Merry”), Merry accepts her family’s gift of a membership in an online dating service. Hooking up with Jayson online, much to her chagrin, Merry soon realizes she knows Jayson in another area of her life but with a different character than he appears to be online. Realizing she has done the same, Merry/ Mary must come clean but at a cost. With humor, heart, heartache and hearth, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, delights with another tradition, her newest annual Christmas book, Merry and Bright.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
So looking forward to this author’s Christmas story each year, I enjoyed the cleverness of this one as well as the sweetness, sadness, and sauciness. Clean, quick and light for this time of year, Debbie Macomber satisfies again. As a favorite author of mine, I enjoy both her Christmas books and certain series of her books. Perfect for a cozy evening of hot chocolate, a snuggly blanket, a sleepy puppy and this seasonal story, I am now more ready for the upcoming season. Let it snow!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

 

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Keeping Christmas

Walsh, Dan. Keeping Christmas. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
keepingchristmasSpending their first Christmas as empty-nesters alone, Stan and Judy Winters are struggling to make it through the holidays. Depressed and unable to imagine decorating or celebrating without her children at home, Judy mourns in loneliness while remembering tradition through the handmade ornaments of years past. Making the biggest sacrifice, Stan hopes to deliver happiness to his wife at a time she needs it the most.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
A quick read full of seasonal emotions, Keeping Christmas emphasizes the importance of family, traditions and selflessness. With a deeper Christmas message, author Dan Walsh writes another spirit-filled novel just in time for Christmas. Though not as strongly developed as many of his other books, the quickness and thematic plot work well this time of year. As a fan of Christmas-based stories during this season, I am glad I read Keeping Christmas, especially from an author I admire. I look forward to spending next Christmas season reading yet another Christmas novel written by him. (Love the cover of this book-perfect!)

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Keeping Christmas from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

Dashing Through the Snow

Macomber, Debbie. Dashing Through the Snow. NY, USA: Ballantine Books. 2015.

SUMMARY:
dashingthroughthesnowWanting to get home to Seattle to surprise her mother for Christmas, Ashley Davison appears down on her luck with no rental car, no airline ticket and only a bit of cash. Needing to arrive in Seattle for a job interview, Dash Sutherland takes the last rental car, appears in a hurry and has the means to obtain what he is after…and has a conscious which allows him to include Ashley in his plans. Through a snow storm, an orphaned puppy, a rental car issue, blowing snow, complete embarrassment, security problems and an affected heart, Dash and Ashley may be set up for the adventure of their lives…all in time for Christmas.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
What a perfect time for another Christmas story. Fun, humorous, heartfelt and seasonal, Dashing Through the Snow delivers a quick, light read for a busy time. From New York Times and USA Bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, this Christmas novel includes a bit of a mystery, humorous banter, a sweet adopted puppy, and a fast-paced romance. As a stand-alone shorter book, it was just not quite what I expected though from a favorite author.  (A few minor words and inferences may be offensive to some.)

RATING:
3.5 (out of 5) pennies

All Is Bright

Coble, Colleen. All Is Bright: A Hope Beach Christmas Novella. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
allisbrightRun off the road and thrown into the ocean, Delilah Carter almost suffers the same fate her parents did years ago. In the midst of planning a wedding for her friends at Tidewater Inn, Delilah experiences another scare when she starts to receive threatening phone calls and is attacked again. Helped by the local sheriff, Tom Bourne, Delilah is faced with a difficult decision…does she continue with the wedding or save herself?  Mystery, previous Hope Beach characters, and romance all mingle together around the Christmas tree…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read previous works by Colleen Coble, though not any in the Hope Beach series, I was unable to connect characters from this novella yet enjoyed it perfectly as a stand-alone. Just in time for the season of Christmas-themed novels (a favorite of mine), I was happy to start the time with All Is Bright. A quick read which caused me to definitely consider this author’s other series, I will continue to seek works by her. Absolutely a novella to read this time of year!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of All Is Bright from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Mr. Miracle

Macomber, Debbie. Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. 2014.

SUMMARY:
miracleHome for the holidays, Addie Folsom decides to stay home in Tacoma for good this time. Enrolling in the local community college for a high school credit she missed, she meets her middle-aged teacher, Mr. Harry Mills. Unknown to Addie, Harry Mills is actually an angel on earth still in training with a mentor looking over his shoulder. Soon enough, Harry finds human behavior and emotions may be more intense than he anticipated. With a mission to help Addie get her life back on track and perhaps find a bit of neighborly love, Harry (Mr. Miracle) experiences a few surprises himself…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
As a favorite author, especially of her books containing angels- Shirley, Goodness and Mercy- I was excited to read Debbie Macomber’s newest edition, Mr. Miracle, which follows on the footsteps of Mrs. Miracle. Definitely a sweet charming story, this book is sure to follow as a Hallmark Channel movie. Full of faith, romance, and humor, Mr. Miracle was just as expected…delightful!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

Christmas at Rose Hill Farm

Fisher, Suzanne Woods. Christmas at Rose Hill Farm: An Amish Love Story. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
WoodsPreparing for her Amish Christmas wedding at Rose Hill Farm , Bess Riehl soon receives a surprise she wasn’t expecting…she is engaged to Amos Lapp yet may still have feelings for Billy Lapp, Amos’ cousin who left the Amish community years earlier without any explanation. When a rare rose is discovered at Rose Hill Farm, Billy arrives to identify it with strong intentions to leave immediately; however, his heart may just have another purpose to pursue…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Being unfamiliar with many of the characters from the Rose Hill Farm Amish community, I was still able to follow the story quite easily. In fact, I plan on returning to Rose Hill Farm now to meet the other neighbors in the community. Well written with a few unexpected surprises yet true to the Amish storyline, I enjoyed Christmas at Rose Hill Farm, particularly at this time of year. I especially found the cover to be very appealing, reminiscent of the story found within.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Christmas at Rose Hill Farm from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

The Christmas Cat

Carlson, Melody. The Christmas Cat. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell Publishing. 2014.

SUMMARY:
catGarrison Brown, insanely allergic to cats, must find suitable homes for his recently deceased Grandmother’s six (yes, six) cats. With initial interviews, home visits and follow-up appointments necessary, Garrison wonders if he will ever place all the kitties. With a surprise “insurance” check included when each cat is settled into a loving home, Garrison soon finds himself attached to the Maine Coon, Harry. And could it be? His new neighbor, Cara, may be just the perfect home for Harry…what would Gram think?

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Having read each of Melody Carlson’s Christmas novels each year, it has almost become a tradition to anticipate the next one. With a few cats myself as well as a mom with plenty of her own, I was excited to read The Christmas Cat. Truly an adorable, faith-filled, sweet Christmas story, I was not disappointed. Melody Carlson had me with the stunning cover and kept me reading to the end. Especially heart-warming was the dedication to Harry, the Maine Coon cat, who found the author in the middle of winter and worked his way into her heart…aaww! I look forward to next year’s Christmas book addition to my tradition!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Christmas Cat from Revell Publishing for my honest review*

A Simple Christmas Wish

Carlson, Melody. A Simple Christmas Wish. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell. 2013.

SUMMARY:
simplewishDue to an unforeseen event, Aunt Rachel Milligan and her niece, Holly, are about to spend their birthdays and Christmas in a very unexpected manner. Finding themselves in an Amish Ohio homestead, Rachel must deal with her own selfishness as well as the stirrings of her own heart. Through family secrets, regret, heart-break and jealousy, Rachel and Holly learn the true meaning of Christmas.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Another short Christmas story from Melody Carlson…true to the style and deeper meanings I have come to anticipate at Christmas time from her. Short and sweet yet moving at the same time, it has become almost a tradition for me to read a Christmas story from this author. I enjoyed the Amish customs, a family’s forgiveness and even a brief romance all in one read. I am already looking forward to next year’s new Christmas novel.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

One Imperfect Christmas

Johnson, Myra. One imperfect Christmas. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. 2009.

SUMMARY:
oneimperfectGraphic designer, Natalie Pearce, has problems with balancing her work, marriage, rebellious daughter and her own mother. When her mother suffers a stroke, Natalie must also deal with the “if only” emotions as well as the guilt and anger which require seeking God’s guidance. Natalie must now navigate through unforeseen circumstances…everything considered, definitely not the most ideal/ perfect Christmas that was hoped for…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
“One Imperfect Christmas” was an interesting read as it could be relevant to many lives. Definitely not a light Christmas story, this book was more realistic in looking at Christmas through the lenses of people requiring God’s grace in many situations. Though enjoyable, this book did tend to slow a bit in certain spots; however, the message was good (God has a plan even with the hard and difficult times in life). Living with regrets is never easy but the author, Myra Johnson, did a nice job with it. Well written for a debut novel; I look to reading more of her works.

RATING:
3 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of One Imperfect Christmas from Abingdon Press for my honest review*

The Christmas Quilt

Chapman, Vannetta. The Christmas Quilt (Quilts of Love). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. 2013

SUMMARY:
quiltA sequel to “A Simple Amish Christmas”, Annie and Samuel are revisited in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Life is busy for them as the Christmas season approaches. Added to the hustle now is Annie’s friend, Leah, who is expecting her first child. Not having an easy pregnancy, troubles in her marriage and a few surprises, Leah needs Annie more than ever. Hoping to finish the crib quilt before Leah delivers, Annie discovers the quilt may mean more than originally expected…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
I really enjoyed the visit once again to Samuel and Annie. Weaving the story around a quilt actually worked very well, interspersed with different scripture lessons. Though I liked the prequel to this story, I adored this book even more. Once again learning a few of the Amish words and customs, I turned the pages quite quickly while being immersed in this truly delightful Christmas story. There are several books included in the Quilts of Love series which work just fine as stand-alone-reads.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Christmas Quilt from Abingdon Press for my honest review*