Holiday Cookies

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der Nederlanden, Elisabet. Scott, Erin (photographer). Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season. USA: Ten Speed Press. 2017.

SUMMARY:
Professional recipe developer and food stylist, Elisabet der Nederlanden, shares fifty new and updated recipes for holiday cookies. Complete with beautiful photographs of each recipe as well as decorating tips and packaging ideas, Holiday Cookies showcases such favorites as Triple-Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Gingerbread Cookies along with Cinnamon-Sugar Palmiers and Espresso Thins. With personal introductions, lists of needed ingredients, and easy to follow directions for every recipe, the decorating section only enhances this special seasonal cookbook.

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though marketed as a holiday cookie book, I believe this fun cookie cookbook could actually be used year-round to make delicious cookies. Finding recipes to use any time of the year, I did appreciate the section on recipes for cookie exchanges. Perfect as the baking season approaches, I always delight in new cookie recipes for Christmas get-togethers, while my family enjoys the new creations for dessert. Coupled with attractive photographs, this is definitely a book which I will use this coming season and beyond.

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Holiday Cookies from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

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A Royal Christmas Wedding

Hauck, Rachel. A Royal Christmas Wedding: The Royal Wedding Series- Book 4. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 2016.

royalchristmaswedding

SUMMARY:
Volleyball champion Avery Truitt is going through a rough time. Helping her mom with the Barbeque place on the beach, having recently lost her dad, and receiving some disheartening news about her beloved sport of volleyball, Avery is also still nursing a broken heart over the Prince of Brighton Kingdom, Colin. With a sister already in Brighton Kingdom married to the king and experiencing a difficult pregnancy, Avery and her mom decide to visit for the Christmas season. With an old tradition rich in romance yet wrapped in peril, Prince Colin must decide if he could persuade Avery to meet him at the Pembroke Chapel on Christmas morning should he ring the bell, even though he broke her heart…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Loving the previous stories in the Royal Wedding Series as well as author Rachel Hauck, I knew I had to read this longer novella in the series. Visiting some of the previous characters, and of course, lots of princess glitter, it was a perfect start to the Christmas season and a good continuation of the story. With a beautiful cover, a good storyline and a bit of tradition, A Royal Christmas Wedding was well worth waiting for.

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of A Royal Christmas Wedding from BookLook Bloggers for my honest review*

Christmas Star Sapphire

Bridgeman, Hallee. Christmas Star Sapphire: A Novella Inspired by the Jewel Series. Winchester, KY: Olivia Kimbrell Press. 2015.

christmasstarsapphire

SUMMARY:
As kin to the powerful and successful Viscollis Enterprises, Madeline Viscolli is content to earn her graduate degree from a college in Alabama. Meeting a leader in the campus ministry, Joe Westcott, Madeline soon realizes that she and Joe have very different backgrounds, experiences and rules. Through the many trials, Madeline must come to accept that God’s timing may not match her own, especially in her relationship with Joe. With an appropriately titled novella, Christmas Star Sapphire shines brightly with faith, romance and hope…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Though never having read any previous books in the Jewel Sapphire collection, I certainly did enjoy and appreciate this novella inspired by that series. Full of faith, misunderstandings, romance, forgiveness and a few surprises, Christmas Star Sapphire is perfect for the season (although I did read it a bit later than the Christmas season). Complete with a reader’s guide and suggested luncheon menu, some of the included recipes were absolutely delicious. Author, homemaker, blogger, chef and coffee lover, Hallee Bridgeman puts God first in her life and hopes to be a blessing to others…such an example!

RATING:
4 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Christmas Star Sapphire from BookCrash and the author for my honest review*

The Sparkle Box

Hardie, Jill (author). Kornacki, Christine (illustrator). The Sparkle Box: A Gift With The Power To Change Christmas. Nashville, TN: Ideal’s Children’s Books. 2012.

SUMMARY:
sparkleboxExcited and intrigued by the shiny, glittery Sparkle Box on his mantle, Sam is already thrilled about all the Christmas activities. Being told that the box will be shared after it is finally filled only adds to the emotion of the season. While waiting, Sam and his family take several opportunities to help and serve others which accentuates for Sam how blessed he truly is in life. On Christmas morning when it is time to open the presents, Sam discovers who the Sparkle Box really is for…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Spectacular! A beautiful story complemented by extraordinary pictures, the Sparkle Box is a genuine gem. Full page painting-type pictures (reminds me of Polar Express quality) accompanies a text capable of starting a new tradition at Christmas, perhaps even throughout the year. Definitely gift-worthy, perfect for a Sunday School lesson and activity, as well as a book to be shared between adults and children, The Sparkle Box also boasts an actual Sparkle Box to assemble and fill. To inspire even more, the author includes the message to the reader…”You are the light of the world. Make it sparkle.” Beautiful!

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of The Sparkle Box from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

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

An Endless Christmas

Ruchti, Cynthia. An Endless Christmas. Franklin, TN: Worthy Publishing. 2015.

SUMMARY:
anendlesschristmas“She said NO!” Finding herself staying with her not-so-possible fiance for the Christmas week, Katie Vale doesn’t accept the marriage proposal from Micah Binder. Surrounded by his huge, loving family, Katie soon realizes there is more to this family than she originally thought. Forgiveness, heartache, faith, love, compassion, hope and the miracles of Christmas, all contribute to a deeper understanding of herself, family, mercy and Jesus…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Perfect for the Christmas season, I adore seasonal novels and novellas this time of year. A new author for me, Cynthia Ruchti will no longer be a stranger. Reminding me of Debbie Macomber, an author I read quite often, An Endless Christmas was full of many characters experiencing real-life, everyday situations. Though the responses to the situations were usually ideal, there was a life-like quality to the events and characters which warmed my heart. Complete with an adorably modern retelling of the Christmas story, this novella is suitable for hot chocolate, warm slippers, a cozy blanket, soft Christmas hymns, and perhaps even a few snowflakes!

RATING:
4.5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of An Endless Christmas from Worthy Publishing for my honest review*

Get Yourself Organized For Christmas

Lipp, Kathi. Get Yourself Organized For Christmas: Simple Steps To Enjoying The Season. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers.

SUMMARY:
organizedforChristmasReady or not, Christmas is going to happen! Stressful, busy, demanding, dread…all these emotions and thoughts can surround Christmas but do they really have to be a part of it? In her new book, author Kathi Lipp offers suggestions, encouragement and projects for shaping Christmas how it should be…full of faith, family and friends. With ideas for a clutter-free Christmas, quick tips to save time, early planning on gifts and decorations as well as thoughtful projects for special people, Get Yourself Organized For Christmas takes the agony out of Christmas, allowing everyone to focus on the important aspects and enjoy the time…

A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
Decorations are already displayed in the stores, Christmas music is set to begin shortly, and the malls are ready for Santa…no wonder Christmas has become a time of pressure, expectations and anxiety. Already a fan of this author, Kathi Lipp, I knew I was in for good advice when I requested her newest book. Simple, relaxed, thoughtful and focused¬† on faith, family, and friends was a priceless piece of guidance for Christmas. Absolutely a book I plan to pack away with my Christmas items each year and return to often for gentle yet necessary reminders.

RATING:
5 (out of 5) pennies

*I received a complimentary copy of Get Yourself Organized For Christmas from Harvest House Publishers for my honest review*