Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

"Christmas in Destiny" Excerpt

 To celebrate the release day for "Christmas in Destiny" by Toni Blake, I have an excerpt from the book, courtesy of the publisher! Enjoy! And keep your eyes peeled for my review coming soon!

"Christmas in Destiny"

By Toni Blake
Publisher: Avon Books
Oct 25, 2016
Source: Sent by publisher

Summary: (from Goodreads)

“Go to Destiny. There’s something waiting there for you.”

Shane Dalton’s new life is waiting in Miami, complete with fast cars and faster women. But first, he’s heeding his father’s dying words and stopping off in Destiny, Ohio. The detour wasn’t supposed to include a busted pickup and a blizzard. But Candice Sheridan, the cute redhead who reluctantly offers shelter, could prove a pleasant diversion. Trouble is, she thinks Shane’s bad news. And he’s pretty sure she’s right . . .

Candice had her trust broken once before. Yet something about Shane won’t let her stay away. By Christmas, he’ll be gone. Until then, she’s itching to stop playing nice and safe . . . and try being a little naughty for once.

As their holiday romance heats up, Shane uncovers a shattering secret and Candice is preparing to face heartache once again. But there’s no better place than Destiny—especially at Christmastime—for two lost souls to find the gift of sweet, surprising love . . .


From CHRISTMAS IN DESTINY by Toni Blake. Copyright © 2016 by Toni Blake. Reprinted by permission of Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Bang. Bang. Bang.
Candice’s eyes sprang open as the jarring noise jolted her awake.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
What on earth? She briskly sat up, trying to get her bearings in the dark.
The sound came again. Louder this time. And as she sat there in bed, the room lit only by the deluge of white outside, she realized someone was beating on her door in the middle of the night. Which seemed almost impossible given that the weather outside was more than a little frightful.
Her heart beat rapidly as the relentless banging continued. Even while she dragged herself out of bed and headed toward the stairs, her sleep-addled brain whirled. As a woman who lived alone in an isolated area, she didn’t particularly want to answer. But what if it was Jenny or Mick—what if something was wrong with their little boy?
Flipping on the dim porch light, she made out a shadowy male figure and concluded it was Mick.  The fact that he was out in this weather, at this hour, filled her with worry.  So she flung open the door.
Then gasped.  It wasn’t Mick. 
It wasn’t Mick at all. 
She didn’t know who this was – but he looked horribly out of place, and a little bit scary.  “Wh-wh- …” Words failed her in her fright.
The tall, dark stranger regarded her through piercing blue eyes.  “Look, I know it’s late, but my pickup spun out and I hit a snow bank around that last bend.”  His voice was deep and his tone unapologetic as he pointed over his shoulder in the general direction of the road.  “Can’t get a signal on my cell, so need to use your phone.”
Strangers didn’t just show up on porches in the middle of the night in Destiny, and she simply stared at him as if he were a ghost standing at her door in the blowing snow.  The scary kind, with a lock of dark hair dipping over his forehead, a thick shadowy stubble on his chin, and even a little scar near his right eye.  Though she wasn’t sure if ghosts bothered to knock.
“Who are you going to call?” she managed to ask.  Then blinked repeatedly.  It was an unfortunate habit of hers – blinking when she was nervous.
He arched a critical brow as a cold wind blew around them, his expression implying that maybe he thought she was still half-asleep.  “A tow truck,” he said, enunciating, as if the answer was obvious.
But he was clearly uninformed about something she thought obvious.  “Have you seen the roads?  A tow truck won’t come out here when it’s like this.  I don’t know how you got any truck out here tonight.  And we don’t have a tow truck in Destiny anyway.”
His eyebrows both shot up then, though his voice came out sounding almost matter-of-fact as he said, “Tell me you’re kidding.”
“I can’t.”
A heavy sigh left him as he muttered, “Jesus Christ.”
Since she was pretty sure he wasn’t making a Christmas reference, she ignored that and went on.  “Someone will have to come from Crestview,” she explained.  Then blinked and added, “But I’ll try to call anyway.  Just in case.  Wait here.”
After which she shut the door on him.  And locked it.  In a near blizzard.  Which didn’t exactly feel kind or charitable, but a woman had to protect herself.  And as for calling – despite what she’d told him, she’d decided it was worth making sure, worth a try, to get the scary stranger off her porch as efficiently as possible.
She rushed to the phone and dialed briskly.  And promptly heard a recording on the other end, saying what she already knew:  Meffler’s Towing was closed due to inclement weather and anyone in need of a tow should call back after the storm.  And they were sorry for the inconvenience.  “Me too,” she whispered to no one, hanging up.
Then she steeled herself and walked back to the front door.  Unfortunately, when she opened it, he was still standing there.  Looking cold and a little snow-covered since the snow now even blew up under the roof that covered her porch.
She just shook her head.  “They’re not answering their phones until the snow stops.”  Only then it occurred to her to ask, “What on earth are you doing out here in a blizzard anyway?”
“Got lost,” he said. 
And as he shifted his weight from one snow-covered work boot to the other, she noticed for the first time that his coat was too thin for the weather, and she thought of him trudging from around the bend in a foot of wet snow and for some crazy reason wondered if his feet had stayed dry.  She also wondered what kind of person was out in the country this late at night in this kind of weather.  Escaped convicts and serial killers came to mind. 
“Made a wrong turn looking to find a room for the night,” he said, “but I’m guessing a motel’s gonna be pretty hard to come by here, too.”
She nodded, sorry for both of them to have to deliver the bad news.  “The Half Moon Inn is miles away.”
As another heavy sigh left him, she began to realize – almost against her will – that underneath all the scary, that he was also maybe … kind of hot.  His voice was deep and a little raspy, and the thin coat he wore didn’t hide broad shoulders.  There was something visceral about him – she could somehow feel his very maleness.  And that was when he narrowed his blue gaze on her and said, “Looks like you’re stuck with me then.”

Purchase Here:

CHRISTMAS IN DESTINY – https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062392602/christmas-in-destiny#

Connect with Toni Blake:

Website -http://www.toniblake.com/

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"An Heiress for All Seasons" Review

"An Heiress for All Seasons"
by Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: Nov 4, 2014
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

When a holiday blizzard brings together a pair of reluctant lovers, the result threatens their reputations … and may cost them their hearts.

Feisty and independent American heiress Violet Howard swears she'll never wed a crusty British aristocrat. Will, the Earl of Merlton, is determined to salvage his family's fortune without succumbing to a marriage of convenience.

But when a snowstorm leaves Violet and Will stranded and alone, their sudden chemistry will challenge good intentions. Seized by a desire that burns through the night, they'll toss reservations aside in favor of the heat found in each other's arms.

Will their passion survive the storm? Will they realize they've found a love to last them through all seasons?
My Review:

My favorite thing about this book is that it's advertised as a Christmas novella, and it actually is very Christmas-y! All the snowy scenes are just perfect! It makes you want to snuggle up in front of the fire with a blanket and pretend you're at a holiday house party, too!

That being said, I didn't love the romance in this one. On one hand, I loved that Will was totally into Violet and let everyone know how interested he was. He didn't hide his feelings at all. It was so cute to see the meddling mamas so proud of their successful match-making. On the other hand, when Violet and Will were alone together, he came on way to strong for my liking. He was almost creepy and always seemed to be invading her space.

Another problem that I had with the story was that it was too short! I personally love novellas, especially holiday novellas, so I'm used to a shorter story and I think it can be done really well! But this story needed more time to really get to know the reasons why they loved each other. The ending was a little too abrupt, and I couldn't believe it was over already!

Main Characters: 3/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: This is a short, fun holiday read. Plenty of snow, but not quite enough substance.

Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Steampunk: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol" Review

"Steampunk: Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol"
by Charles Dickens, Illustrated by Zdenko Basic
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Release Date: Sept 23, 2014
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Find on goodreads.com.
Summary from Running Press:

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol tells the time-honored tale of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, whose encounters with the ghosts of Jacob Marley, Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come lead him to examine his bitter existence. Haunting steampunk illustrations by acclaimed artist Zdenko Basic accompany the original story, transforming this Christmas classic like never before. Images of steam-powered machinery, a chilling industrial London, and ornate mechanical gears come together as Scrooge travels through his life on Christmas Eve night.
Additionally, Charles Dickens’ celebrated short stores, “The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton” and “A Christmas Tree” are included and paired with equally enchanting steampunk illustrations. Those of us who cherish each holiday with Dickens in our hearts—the man who has linked the Christmas spirit with love, forgiveness, and charity—will treasure this rare collector’s edition for this Christmas and many to come.
My Review:

I've read a few of the Steampunk versions of classics illustrated by Zdenko Basic, and I think this book may be my favorite one. The Dickens story just translates so well into a steampunk world, and the supernatual elements are so well depicted in a fun and eye-catching way. Of course, it helps that I already love this classic story!

I love the way that Ebenezer is depicted in a 'normal' way, while the three ghosts, Marley, and other characters that Ebenezer meets are depicted in a more cartoon-like way. Their features digitally exaggerated, they have huge smiles, and it just adds to the fun, over-the-top dreamlike feeling of the story.

Two other short stories by Dickens are also included as a lovely bonus!

Bottom Line: This would be a lovely gift to fans of both the classic Dickens story and lovers of the steampunk genre itself.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"The 12 Days of Christmas with Six Sisters' Stuff" Review and Giveaway

"The 12 Days of Christmas with Six Sisters' Stuff"
By Six Sisters' Stuff
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date:
Sep 30, 2014
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars


Summary from Goodreads:

New for the holidays, 12 Days of Christmas with Six Sisters’ STUFF mixes memoir and lifestyle into a creative cookbook, showing how food communicates love and is a way to connect and share family traditions. The authors are the bloggers behind SixSistersStuff.com which has 3.2 million unique visitors each month, connecting with a wide spectrum of readers who relate to the sisters, each at a different stage of their lives from college-bound to raising active families.

In this book the Six Sisters share their stories and expertise for making a memorable holiday season with practical tips, delicious recipes and great ideas as we share with them and their families the traditions and joys of Christmas. Includes recipes, projects, and ideas along with full-color photographs and easy-to-follow instructions.

12 Christmas Cookies
12 Days of Christmas for Your “True Love”
12 Family Traditions
12 Christmas Brunch Recipes
12 Sanity-Saving Christmas Tips
12 Christmas Party Ideas
12 Spectacular Christmas Treats
12 Ways to Give Back
12 Gifts for Neighbors
12 Quick and Easy Family Dinners
12 Homemade Christmas Gifts
12 DIY Christmas Decorations

My Review:

This book gets an "A" from me for the Christmas cookie and dessert recipes alone! Each cookie recipe looks more delicious than the previous one! The Eggnog Cookies are a must-try for me, as well as the Cherry Cheesecake Cookies. And the Santa Claus Cookies are just too cute not to try! Some of the cookies and treats even use boxed cake mixes to cut down on time in the kitchen. I know some readers aren't that keen on the pre-processed mixes, but all of the recipes aren't from boxes, there is a good mix of different types of recipes. One refreshing thing about all of the recipes in the book is the small list of ingredients for each item. Yay! I don't have to buy a ton of things I won't use again or haven't even heard of before!

To me, the stars of the book are the recipes. The tips for the Christmas season are fun, especially the 12 Days of Christmas for Your True Love, where the Sisters give tips on how to modernize the classic 12 Days of Christmas. For instance, a dozen donuts on the 12th day. Too cute! However some of the other holiday decorating and sanity saving tips are bit repetitive of others that I have seen on blogs and in magazines. The tips are still fun, but the real gems are the easy recipes and the delicious looking full page photos of the food! Yum!

Bottom Line: This is another great installment of the books by the Six Sisters, I can't wait to try many of the Christmas cookie recipes!

About the Sisters:
The Six Sisters, Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Stephanie, Lauren, and Kendra, started their blog in 2011 to keep in touch after they moved out of their house and started lives and families on their own and in just a few years it has become one of the top blog sites for women with millions of visitors each month, sharing stories of family, recipes and tips for running a home. The sisters live in the Southwest and Midwest.

This giveaway is tour-wide contest provided for my readers by the publisher. The publisher is responsible for the running of the Rafflecopter and the prizing, I am simply posting the Rafflecopter with permission from the publisher! Contest ends 10/17, please see Terms and Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget for details! Thank you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition" Review

"A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition"
by Lee Mendelson with Reminiscences by Bill Melendez

Publisher: ItBooks

Release Date: Oct 22, 2013

Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
No holiday season would be complete without watching Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang give a forgotten tree a little love, recite the Christmas story, and sing "Silent Night."

For nearly fifty years, since first airing in December 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been one of America's most beloved television shows and is a holiday television staple. Every year millions of fans tune in to the Emmy-winning Christmas special featuring Vince Guaraldi's iconic jazz score and Charles Schulz's Peanuts characters as they remind Charlie Brown, and all of us, of the true meaning of Christmas.

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition is a lushly illustrated tribute to the beloved television classic that takes readers behind-the-scenes of the Peanuts holiday special. It includes the script of A Charlie Brown Christmas, more than two hundred full-color pieces of original animation art, Vince Guaraldi's original score and publication notes for the songs "Christmas Time is Here" and "Linus and Lucy," and a look at the making of the feature from producer Lee Mendelson and original animator, the late Bill Melendez. The two share their personal memories and charming reminiscences on the Christmas special and reflect on their three decades of working with Peanuts creator, Charles M. Schulz.

A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition is a delightful and fitting salute to the holiday special that never fails to deepen your love of Christmas, touch your heart, and give you hope.
My Review:

This beautiful book is a must have for fans of the television special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." The book not only gives us a behind the scenes look at Charles M. Schulz and the actual making of the animated special, but we also get to read the actual script from the show, illustrated with scenes from the special. For a fan of the show, it's truly something special.

I loved to see the vintage advertising for the original special, and the vintage record covers. Images like this are pieced in throughout the book, along with vivid black and white photos of the actual making of the film. There are also original storyboards to enjoy, along with full page sheet music from the special. I was very impressed with how much memorabilia from the film is included in the book.

This would be a wonderful gift for a family member or friend who watches this special every year as part of their Christmas tradition. It's great to see so in depth what an impact this little tv special made on all of us!

Bottom Line: A beautiful book that includes a little bit of everything about "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It's a must have for fans!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Free Ebooks for Kindle and Nook: Christmas Edition!

Hi, everyone!

I've found a few great Christmas and holiday ebooks available for free for Kindle and Nook!

"A Charlie Brown Christmas" by Charles M. Schulz
(not free for Nook)

"Jingle All the Way" by Tom Shay-Zapien
This story interacts with the Hallmark Story Buddy- Jingle!
(Not free for Nook)

"A Kiss for Midwinter" by Courtney Milan

(Not free for Nook)

"Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift" by Jennifer Ashley

"A Partridge in a Pear Tree" by Amanda McCabe
(Not free for Nook)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!!

Hurry and grab these while they are still free!

"A Simple Christmas Wish" Review

"A Simple Christmas Wish"
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: Sep 15, 2013
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
Rachel Milligan is caring for her seven-year-old niece, Holly, at her home in Chicago when she receives devastating news: Holly's parents have been killed in a plane crash. Because Rachel is Holly's only known relative, she assumes that she will be her beloved niece's guardian. However, custody is awarded to Lydia, a distant aunt who happens to be Amish. Just a week before Christmas, Rachel takes Holly to the Amish community in the hopes of persuading Aunt Lydia to relinquish custody. Instead, Lydia sets out to teach Holly to live according to the Amish way. As family secrets emerge and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs.
Combining an Amish family saga with the anticipation of Christmas cheer and the promise of a budding romance, this newest Christmas story from beloved author Melody Carlson is sure to please.
My Review:

I really enjoyed the Christmas story, even though I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started to read it! I didn't know that the book would start with a tragedy, or I might have steered clear. Rachel's brother and sister and law were killed in a plane crash, leaving Rachel's niece Holly as her only family. It was a little strange to me, because it didn't seem like Rachel was really that sad about the plane crash. But I suppose she was just staying strong for Holly. But soon, Rachel learns that she must send Holly away to live with another aunt who is Amish. How will she stay strong when she is losing all she has left of her family? And what is right for Holly?

This story is an interesting twist on the Amish tale we are used to reading, since we see things from the oustsiders' points of view. Holly's other aunt, really wasn't very nice to Rachel at all, and Holly was supposed to instantly be used to this completely different way of life. I honestly felt scolded right along with Rachel when Holly's Amish grandmother told her how selfish Rachel was being for wanting to keep custody of Holly. I had been pulling for Rachel to retain custody for the whole book, was I selfish, too? You'll have to read the book to see what happens, but after that, I sure didn't know what to expect or where it was going.

The romance between Rachel and Holly's uncle, who had his own views about the Amish even though he was born in the community, was quite cute. He was very likable right from the start, and even though the romance certainly took a backseat to the family drama, it was a lot of fun to see the little sparks fly between the couple.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line: This is a nice, short holiday story, that mixes some heavy subjects with uplifiting Christmas cheer.

“Available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Christmas at Harmony Hill" Review

"Christmas at Harmony Hill: A Shaker Story"
by Ann H. Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: Sep 15, 2013
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
It is 1864 and the nation is still torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child. She has been working as a laundress with her husband's army unit, but when the army gets orders to march south to Tennessee, Gideon insists Heather go home to have their child under safer conditions. Heather agrees, but returns home to another kind of devastation--deaths in the family and a father who refuses to forgive her for marrying a Yankee. With nowhere else to turn, Heather seeks refuge at the Shaker village of Harmony Hill, where her great aunt Sophrena lives. There, after many peaceful years at Harmony Hill, Sophrena is having doubts about her Shaker path. Both women are in need of love and forgiveness--whether given or received. With Christmas coming, can the miracle of new life fill their hearts with unexpected joy?
Ann H. Gabhart's many fans will be thrilled to return to Harmony Hill at Christmastime for this stirring story of healing and hope.
My Review:

This book is a difficult one to review. It was actually a difficult one to read, so much turmoil happens in the book, and there is an overall tone of melancholy. I'm also not sure how I feel about the way that the Shaker people are portrayed in the book. However, I found myself telling my fiance the entire plot of the book, so I think I must have enjoyed it more than I realized. The plot itself was quite exciting, and I found myself intrigued at the way that all of the pieces to the puzzle fit together by the end.

I have visited the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, which inspired the somewhat fictional village of "Harmony Hill" in the book. I love this place, and if you ever get the chance to visit there, please do!! It was lovely to imagine the story happening in this setting, I could totally visualize it in my head. However, it was tough for me to think about these stern and rigid people living in the beautiful and peaceful village that exists today. There was one female elder that just really rubbed me the wrong way. She was so mean to Heather, who just needed help. I would have liked for more of the Shakers to have been portrayed as kind people, such as the doctor, even if they didn't believe it the same things we believe in. I'm sure the author has done her research on the way the Shakers really were, but I just have preconceived, romanticized notions of how I would like them to have been.

The end portion of the book really had me turning the pages as fast I could. That was when everything started to come together and all of the characters really learned about what it means to forgive.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5

Bottom Line: The book isn't the typical holiday story, but the overall message of forgiveness is one we can learn from.

“Available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight" Review

"Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight"
by Grace Burrowes

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: Oct 1, 2012
Source: ARC sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
No one would ever guess that Lady Louisa, the most reserved of the Duke of Moreland's daughters, had published a book of racy poems under a pseydonym on a dare. Before she can buy and destroy all of the copies, a dastardly fortune hunter seeks to compromise her reputation by revealing her secret identity at a holiday ball.

Before she can be publicly ruined, close family friend Sir Joseph Carrington saves the day by offering to marry Louisa. As he recites poetry to her, waltzes with her by starlight, and showers her with lovely kisses, they both begin to discover that their match may be the best Christmas gift either has ever received...

My Review:

I love this author's books, and this was a wonderful addition to a fantastic series! I love that her characters don't fit the mold of broody alpha male and oh so innocent debutante. Her characters are rich and varied in their personalities and emotional depth.

Another great aspect of Burrowes' writing is that she puts in these great little details that may seem insignificant at the time, but later they will come into play in a big way. You really need to pay attention to every word or you will miss something very important. This extra effort is really the icing on the cake for these wonderful stories.

Joseph is so sweet, in a way that we don't often see in historicals. He's so quiet, and content as a pig farmer, but don't think he isn't strong. He protects those he loves, and his sense of honor is outstanding. I really liked that this wasn't a 'jump into bed' type of story. That really would have been out of character for both Joseph and Louisa. The way their romance formed slowly and 'properly' was just right for them.

Louisa's big secret of the poetry she has written was a little overblown, just because I don't think Joseph would have ever given it a second thought. It wouldn't have been important to him, but unfortunately Louisa didn't realize that. Joseph's secrets were more intriguing to me, and they came together slowly, like pieces of a puzzle.

Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 5/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5

Bottom Line: Another great addition to the Windhams series! I loved seeing my old favorite characters back in action, and it was great getting to know the new characters better too!

Free Ebook for Kindle and Nook! Nov 29

Hi everyone! 

There is a great Christmas ebook available for free for Kindle and Nook!
Grab this sweet holiday book while it is free!

"The Christmas Dog" by Melody Carlson

I can't wait to read this! How cute is the cover? :)

"Christmas Roses" Review

"Christmas Roses"
by Amanda Cabot

Publisher: Revell
Release Date: Sep 1, 2012
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
Celia Anderson doesn't need anything for Christmas except a few more boarders, which are hard to come by in this small mining town. She certainly doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a wandering carpenter finds lodging at her boarding house, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle to get roses during a harsh Wyoming winter. But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles . . .

Amanda Cabot invites readers to cozy up with a romantic, heartwarming tale of the greatest gift of all--love.

My Review:

This is a sweet Christmas novella, I really enjoyed the story. The author's writing really pulls you in to the story, and you get to know the characters even in the short amount of pages. I really like these old fashioned Christmas stories, and this one really fit the niche nicely for me.

I thought Mark was very sweet, he was always so helpful without ever looking for credit. Celia was a different kind of strong. She was so strong in learning to run a boarding house after her husband passed away, and taking care of her baby all by herself. But she was never stubborn and she always asked for help when she needed it.

The secondary characters were great as well, which to me shows what a good writer Cabot is. She made me want to get to know the whole town, and find out everyone's personalities.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Setting: 5/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 4/5
Writing: 5/5

Bottom Line: A sweet Christmas novel with great characters and a lovely romance.

"The Christmas Pony" Review

"The Christmas Pony"
by Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell
Release Date: Sep 1, 2012
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:
Eight-year-old Lucy Turnbull knew better than to wish for a pony that Christmas in 1937. Her mother had assured her in no uncertain terms that asking for a pony was the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the only extra mouths they needed at their boarding house were the paying kind. But when an interesting pair of strangers comes to town, Lucy starts to believe her Christmas wishes might just come true after all.
The queen of the Christmas novel, Melody Carlson pens another magical tale of expectation and excitement as one little girl dreams big and the impossible becomes possible.

My Review:

I can't resist a book with a horse on the cover, so I couldn't wait to read this! The book is a really sweet Christmas story, told from an eight year old's point of view. She sees the world through such innocent eyes, you can't help but like her story.

The book is a shorter novella, so it can be read without the stress of a 400 page book during the holiday season, which is great. The story was a bit different than I thought it would be. When I read the description, I thought that it might be on the sad side, but it wasn't. Lucy and her mother's boarding house had a really nice feel about it, even as they struggled financially during the Great Depression.

I can see this book being made into a sweet holiday tv movie. I do think that the characters of George, and especially Mama, could be fleshed out a little more. George was just such a sweet heart, but I would have liked to have known more about him. Veronica was the perfect nemesis, and I really appreciated that even though Lucy admired her glamour so much at first, she was smart enough to catch on to her true nature quickly.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Setting: 5/5

Uniqueness: 4/5
Cover: 5/5 (Love it!!)
Writing: 4/5

Bottom Line:
A light, sweet holiday read.

"Season for Surrender" Giveaway and Excerpt

As part of the "Season for Surrender" tour, I have the first excerpt from the book and a giveaway for an copy of the book, autographed by Theresa Romain!


"Season for Surrender"
by Theresa Romain

Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: Oct 2, 2012

Back Cover Blurb:

Alexander Edgware, Lord Xavier, has quite a reputation—for daring, wagering, and wickedness in all its delightful forms. But the wager before him is hardly his preferred sport: Xavier must persuade a proper young lady to attend his famously naughty Christmas house party—and stay the full, ruinous two weeks. Worse, the lady is Louisa Oliver, a doe-eyed bookworm Xavier finds quite charming. Yet to refuse the challenge is impossible—he will simply have to appoint himself Miss Oliver’s protector…

Louisa knows her chance for a husband has passed. But she has no desire to retire into spinsterhood without enjoying a few grand adventures first. When Lord Xavier's invitation arrives, Louisa is more intrigued than insulted. And once inside the rogues’ gallery, she just may have a thing or two to teach her gentlemen friends about daring…

Purchase here:

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Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest.

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The scene: At the end of a difficult Christmas day, Alexander, Lord Xavier, has come to the library of his country house for the solace of conversation with Louisa Oliver. But the conversation—and the solace—don’t go as he expected…

Her slim arms slid out, stretched forward on the table; then she folded them and laid her head down upon them. The lamp turned her skin golden, her hair the dark of ebony. The expanse of uncovered skin above the bronze silk back of her gown seemed endless and defenseless.
He wanted to run his hand over that skin, to test it and protect it and understand it. How could a woman with a knife-sharp mind have such satin-fine skin? The combination was devastating. There was no possible armor against it.
He watched the movement of her lips as she spoke.
“Alex, you trusted me with the truth when I first came to your house. I’ll do the same for you now. You come from wicked stock, perhaps, but that’s no matter. You have a—well, I needn’t describe your reputation to you. But it doesn’t matter, either. Nothing matters but the choices you make. Rumor and reputation will follow.”
His reputation. It felt like a manacle. “It’s not so easy as you seem to think. When I attended this morning’s service, no one could stop fidgeting and staring at me.”
She shut her eyes. “The effect of novelty, that’s all. The first time I saw a lion in the Royal Menagerie, it seemed wondrous and frightening. The second time, it was nothing more than an imposing creature tugged from its rightful element.”
Was this how she saw him—an imposing creature, caged?
Then . . . what was his rightful element?
“I see,” he said. But she was the one who saw. When her eyes opened, sweet and slow, her face like a sculpture on her folded arms, he felt as though she’d read his every thought.
And still, she’d pulled out a chair for him to sit at her side. That was a Christmas gift in itself.
He wanted to understand how she knew these things. How had she seen what he had just realized himself?
“Did you . . .” He trailed off. Shook his head. Began again. “The lion. You visited it twice, you said. Would there be any point to your seeing it again?”
Her mouth softened at the corners; the lamplight gilded the fine hairs that had pulled loose from her coiffure. “The lion wouldn’t know or care if I saw it again. My opinion of the lion does not matter to it. It simply is, itself.”
Xavier mulled this over. “You think it does not notice if the crowds thin around it? Or if the exclamations turn to jeers?”
“It might. But does that matter? It exists in the best way it can. There’s very little anyone can do—be they animal, vegetable, or mineral—to influence a crowd.”
No. That wasn’t so. He’d gambled his entire adult life on the idea of influence. “I disagree with you.”
Louisa unfolded herself. Lamplight played over the bronze sheen of her gown as she shifted, as her curves flexed into brightness and dark.
Xavier’s mouth went dry. He did not permit himself to shift and squirm in his seat.
She leaned back in her chair, her face passing into shadow. “You have the right. But I’m the one who saw the lion.”
He shook his head. “The ton. I know you’re talking of them. Do you truly believe they cannot be led?”
“Of course they can be led. You lead them every day, don’t you?”
Before his quick squeeze of relief had time to spin through his body, she continued, “But their passing attention is all they can give. The polite world as a group—you’ll hold its notice only as long as you fill the scandal sheets.”
Her fingers played on the arm of her chair. “A person is different from a group, though. Only make a connection with a person, and he or she will gladly look beyond the surface.”
“You assume I want that?” 

Read the next part of the excerpt on tour tomorrow, 9/25, at Book Lovin’ Mamas: http://booklovinmamas.blogspot.com/

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