Sunday, December 2, 2018

Christmas Reading List 2018

Silent Days Holy Night by Phyllis Clark Nichols ~ Review

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock ~ Review

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson ~ Review

The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson ~ Review

His Law is Love by Rebekah Morris ~ Review

O Come All Ye Faithful and Other Short Stories by Faith Blum ~ Review

The Christmas Scrapbook by  Philip Gulley ~ Review on Goodreads

The Snowflake by Jamie Carie ~ Review on Goodreads

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Christmas Duet Blog Tour with Stories by Rebekah Morris and Faith Blum

Rebekah Morris and Faith Blum have teamed up for a fun Christmas Duet Blog Tour! Why Christmas Duet? Because both books have titles that have to do with a Christmas song! Be sure to check out all of the blog posts as well as the giveaway.

His Law is Love

My Thoughts:
I've been reading Rebekah's books for a number of years. I think that His Law is Love is my favorite yet. I stayed up too late to read another page! The characters and the plot of this book was so engaging, I'd like to see Rebekah expand this book into a full-length novel with these characters. One of my favorite Christmas reads this year. Short and attention grabbing.  

Book Description:

Will hate and fear drown the song of Christmas love?

Amelia is eagerly anticipating her first Christmas in the west, but she soon finds that her brother-in-law's worry and her sister's exhaustion reach far deeper than the cares of a ranch and a family. A rash of fires and cattle thefts is plaguing the area, and the three young orphans they've sheltered are under suspicion from their prejudiced neighbors.

As hostilities mount, Amelia seizes every opportunity to help and encourage, but how much can one girl do? Will Reverend Brown win the community over to the true spirit of love? And will help arrive before everything they hold dear is destroyed?

Book Excerpts:

            “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Ware,” Matt said, bowing slightly. “I hope we will be seeing more of you. There aren’t many young ladies around here and very few as lovely as you are.”
            Amelia felt her cheeks grow hot but hoped it wouldn’t be noticed. “I don’t know if I’ll be in town much, I’m afraid,” she replied, glancing down the street.
            “That’s a pity,” Nick said. “Where does your sister live?”
            “At the Macy ranch.”
            A sudden silence filled the street. Had she said something wrong or strange?
            “Have you been to the ranch yet?” Matt asked at last.
            “No, I’ve only just arrived.”
            The young men seemed visibly relieved. “Then perhaps you can talk some sense into your brother-in-law and sister.”
            Amelia raised her eyebrows. Sense? What were these men talking about?
            “They’ve taken in some half-breeds, but everyone knows they can’t keep them.”
            “Why not?”
            “The whole town is against it. All Indians do is cause trouble, and there’s been talk,” Matt took a step closer and lowered his voice, “that the half-breeds have connections with some other Indians who are burning barns and stealing cattle.”
            “Indians can’t be trusted, Miss Ware,” Nick put in. “It’s sad to say it, but it’s the truth.”

            Her attention was arrested by the minister’s deep baritone voice. “Christmas is only a little more than two weeks away, and at this time of year I am reminded of the words of my favorite Christmas song.” He stepped to the side of the pulpit and began to recite the words, but before he had reached the third line, the melody rolled from him and filled the church.
             “Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
            Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
            A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices,
            For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;”
             A thrill–was it of hope?–raced through Amelia, and she caught her breath as the voice seemed to shake the rafters of the church as the minister launched into the refrain.
            Not a sound was to be heard when the minister, having finished the first stanza and chorus resumed his place and looked around on his congregation.
            “Have you fallen on your knees before the King lately? Have you realized that your soul is not the only soul to have worth? Is not the soul of your neighbor worth as much as your own? Did not our Savior come to save his soul too? As this holy night, this night divine, approaches, let us remember why Christ came.”  

Author Bio:

Rebekah A. Morris is a homeschool graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author and a passionate writing teacher. Her books include, among others, Home Fires of the Great War, The Unexpected Request, Gift from the Storm, the Christmas Collection series, and her best selling Triple Creek Ranch series. Some of her favorite pastimes, when she isn’t writing, include reading, playing with her seven nieces and nephews, and coming up with dramatic and original things to do. (Sometimes with the nieces and nephews!) The Show-Me state is home. 


Oh Come All Ye Faithful and Other Short Stories

My Thoughts: 
Faith Blum's writing is new to me. If not for this Christmas Duet Blog Tour, I may not have found her. O Come All Ye Faithful is a collection of Christmas short stories that will delight you in the time it takes to light the tree and drink a big cup of homemade cocoa. Although the circumstances are often bad, these stories show that God can bring good in our lives.

Book Description: 
Short stories with big problems to solve and interesting characters to do it. Feel good stories for winter days.

O Come All Ye Faithful
Edwin wanted to be home, but instead he crouched in a trench. The English on one side of No Man’s Land and Germans on the other. What a way to spend Christmas. Could anything make it better?

Peace on Earth
Emmie and Elana are estranged sisters, torn apart by an old boyfriend five years earlier. Will they survive a night in the same hotel room after a blizzard forces them together or will peace on earth go out the window?

Silent Night
Christmas decorating had never gone this wrong. Jenna had just started when a crazy, gun-waving woman, walks right in the front door and ties her up in her own Christmas lights. Will Jenna even see her family this Christmas?

The Gift Goes On
Four friends and a year to reflect on. The year had been good for Carlotta, but Priscilla, Remus, and Newton all had at least one trial through the year. A mysterious giver the previous year had helped them all out, though. What would this year’s gifts bring?

O Christmas Tree
Gareth loves Christmas. But more than that, he loves Christmas tree hunting. As the family prepares for their annual trip, Gareth can barely contain his excitement. But what are all the spray bottles for?

Book Excerpts:

Excerpt #1:

Edwin blinked against the dim light of the dawn. What had awakened him this time? A dull boom in the distance startled him. Distant or not, that boom was much too close for comfort. Who had fired their artillery and where? It was far enough away to not be a danger to him or his men, but if it was the Germans, that meant another company was getting artillery shells lobbed at them.
Not for the first time, Edwin wished he lived back during the days of King Arthur. Boulders catapulting toward him would be preferable to the devastation from a shell. He had always imagined boulders would be easier to see and move away from. If he couldn’t, then being crushed had to be better than shrapnel. He shuddered as memories of the army hospital tents came back.
The captain shouted orders to them and Edwin bit back a groan. Another day, another fight, another depressing… Wait, it was Christmas Eve. Not that it mattered, but being gloomy on this holiday was not something his sister would approve of. A smile flitted across his grim face. It didn’t stick, but that tiny seed of hope lifted his spirits just a little.

Excerpt #2:

As she approached the South Dakota border, black clouds billowed up out of nowhere. A shot of fear ran up and down her spine. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? Black clouds could mean anything. Emmie turned her CD off and radio on. She searched until she came across an emergency weather bulletin.
“A blizzard warning has been issued for this area; please seek shelter immediately. Repeat, a blizzard warning has been issued for the following counties: Butte, Custer, Fall River, Harding, Lawrence, Oglala Lakota, Pennington, and Perkins. Please seek shelter immediately.”
Emmie tuned out the weather forecaster. Blizzard? Just her luck. Was she even in one of those counties? She couldn’t take the chance. But what about her reservation in Rapid City, South Dakota? It didn’t matter. What did matter was her safety.
She pulled off the interstate at the next exit and drove into the small town. The snow had started to fall heavily and she slowed down, trying to see if there were any hotels or motels. She found one and breathed in relief.
As she entered the hotel, a light caught the edge of her vision. “No Vacancy,” the sign read. Great. Just great. Maybe she could still find a way to stay there. Or at least they would know where another hotel would be.
The hotel clerk looked at her with weary eyes. “Sorry, miss, we’re full up.”
“I saw that, but I’ve never been to town. I wonder if you could direct me to another place or even call ahead for me.”
The clerk leaned his elbows on the counter. “I wish I could, but the phone lines are down already. Keep driving and you’ll find something.”

Excerpt #3:

The Christmas lights corded tightly around Jenna’s ankles and wrists. The crazy woman had even plugged them in, giving her body an absurd prettiness considering the situation.
The gun-waving woman gave a slow, self-satisfied smile. “Oh, I must have been good this year. Santa has given me a lovely gift. Many of them, actually.”
Jenna closed her eyes. “Santa isn’t real.”
The woman glared at Jenna. “Of course he is. He’s always brought me either presents or coal. Every year, even when I have no one else around in the house. I was told by all the kids about those fairy tales of Santa not being real, but how does that explain how I always got a present even when neither of my parents had been in the house with me for weeks? Or as I got older and moved away and had no one living with me, I always ended up with presents under my tree.
“Why are you decorating so late in the season, anyway?”
Jenna’s eyes flew open at the question that came directly into her ear. “I… I recently moved out of my parents’ house and didn’t want to get anything unnecessary like decorations. I also thought Christmas would be at their house, but they decided to come here, so now I need to decorate.”
“When are they arriving?”

Was it a sin to lie under duress?

About the Author: 
Faith Blum is a small-town Wisconsin girl. She’s lived in, or outside of, small towns her whole life. The thought of living in a city with more than 60,000 people in it scares her, especially after some interesting adventures driving through big cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Faith currently resides in the middle of the state of Wisconsin with her husband and their cat, Smokey. She is blessed to be able to have writing as her full-time career with household work and cooking to do on the side. She loves to paint walls as long as she doesn’t have to do hallways or ceilings.

When not writing, you can find her cooking food from scratch due to food allergies (fun), doing dishes (meh), knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or spending time with her husband (yay!). She is also a Community Assistant for the Young Writers Workshop and loves her work there. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her on her website.

Now for the giveaway! Ends soon!


November 26
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Cover Lover Book Review – Book Spotlights

November 27
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight
Kaylee's Kind Of Writes – Two Book Reviews
Jaye L. Knight – Excerpts

November 28
Lit Aflame – Book Review and Excerpt
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections – Book Review of His Law is Love
Jenny Berlin – Excerpts

November 29
Frances Hoelsema's Blog – Two Book Spotlights
Rebekah Ashleigh – Review of His Law is Love and Book Spotlights
Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors – Book Review and Spotlight
Salsa And Tea – Author Interviews

November 30
Purely by Faith Reviews – Two Book Reviews
Once Upon An Ordinary – Author Interview and Book Spotlights
In the Bookcase - Excerpts

December 1
Books, Life, and Christ – Two Book Reviews
Maidens for Modesty – Two Book Reviews
Chosen Vessels – Two Book Reviews
Harvest Lane Cottage – Two Book Reviews
Jessica Greyson – Book Spotlights
Twin Thoughts – Book Spotlights
Heart of the Rose – Two Book Reviews
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight and Review

December 3
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway winner

Disclosure: I was sent a sample of this product for review purposes only. I was not compensated in any way. All opinions are my own based on my experience with this product. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Handmade Christmas... Ideas for Your Christmas List

I know it's getting late, but there's still time for handmade Christmas gifts. Here are some ideas to help, especially if money is tight. 

Homemade Gift Ideas

Paper Craft
~ decorated recipe cards (could add recipes and ingredients)
~ homemade greeting cards
~ scrapbook

From the Needles
~ tribbles
~ doll clothes
~ skirt
tablet stand
~ camera bean bag
~ key chain
~ Christmas stockings
~ hair baubles
casserole hot pad
~ drawstring bags
~ kitchen curtains
~ tote bag
~ pillow cases
~ crocheted twisty hair ribbons
tea towels
pacifier clip
earbud pouch
baby bib
~ tea wallet
pin cushion
~ socks
~ camera strap
~ Bible cover
mug rug
~ tissue holder

~ strap for guitar
~ ornaments
~ magnets
~ candles
~ soap
~ coasters

From the Kitchen
~ cookies
~ homemade vanilla
~ recipe scrapbook with photos or on large cards
~ bread
~ quick breads
~ homemade mixes
~ Clementines in a pretty gallon jar
~ jam

Acts of Service
~ all clothes ironed
~ clean out car
~ babysitting

Be creative! Your imagination and ingenuity can make a thrifty budget stretch far!

Happy Christmasing!