Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander (review by Kristi)

Christmas at Carnton

About the bookRecently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. With the bank threatening to evict them, she discovers an advertisement for the Women’s Relief Society auction and applies for a position—only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity– and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?

Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women’s Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.

Set against the backdrop of the real history of Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.

Publication Date:  October 3, 2017

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

 

My reviewI have to start by saying this is one of the prettiest book covers I’ve ever seen. I love the candles in the windows. I always think candles in windows look so warm, inviting and homey and that’s exactly what this book is. A story that is as easy to slip into as your favorite pair of slippers. To me, this is a perfect story.

The characters in this book are so genuine and impossible not to like. Aletta, Jake, Andrew, Tempy, and Mrs. McGavock felt like old friends to me. I couldn’t pick a favorite because I liked them all. Each had their own distinct personality that drew me to them. I can’t wait to read more about them in future books.

I enjoyed the story told in this book. While the tone of the story is somewhat sad there are enough light and humorous parts that it didn’t bring my mood down to read it. I liked how the author included the topic of slavery in a way that was thought-provoking while not being too much or overpowering the story. Hearing Tempy discuss being bought in such a matter of fact way made me stop and think of what it must have been like to be a slave and have no power over one’s own life. Through the author’s eyes in the telling of this story, it was easy to grasp the hardships of war and the toll it took on families and the soldiers themselves. All of this was done in a way that added to the depth of the story and was never distracting. The author brought history alive in such a way that I would now like to visit the real Carnton home.

This was a really nice story and one that I took my time reading. Even though I was anxious to see how it ended, I wanted to fully enjoy the story at a slow pace. This is the first book in a new series from this author and I am impatiently awaiting the next book. I want to read more about these characters and their lives. This is a book for the keeper shelf and one I highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the authorTamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers in the inspirational historical fiction genre. She and her husband live in Nashville, Tennessee, not far from the Southern mansions that serve as the backdrop for six of her award-winning novels.

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My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah by Angie Dicken (review by Kristi)

Utah

About the bookSchoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him.  When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Rock. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.

Publication Date:  November 1, 2017

Publisher:  Barbour Books

 

My reviewThis book was simply a chore for me to read. Yes, a chore. It took me five days to read the entire book and it three of those days to make it through the first sixty pages. I struggled to finish the book and had to force myself. If I wouldn’t have been reading this as a reviewer I would have simply quit reading and never thought twice about it. But when I agree to review a book I make sure I read the entire book to give a fair rating and review. As much I as tried to like the book I couldn’t.

This story started out really slow for me and I kept hoping the pace would pick up a bit. Unfortunately, it didn’t. It remained slow with the best parts taking place in Salt Lake City when Leanna was away from Alex. I enjoyed Leanna and Bethany’s interactions and wanted more of the story to involve these two characters. The storyline really didn’t seem to go anywhere fast and there was a lot of repetition making the story seem even slower and longer.

The chemistry between Leanna and Alex just wasn’t as developed as I thought it should be. It was almost nonexistent at times. I really didn’t care for these two characters together. Other than Bethany there weren’t any characters I really enjoyed. Believe me, I tried to find more to like but it just didn’t happen.

Some people may enjoy this story. Looking at the reviews that others left it seemed an enjoyable read for most. For me however, it just wasn’t my cup of tea and is not a book I can recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

On Eagles’ Wings (Wyldhaven #2) by Lynette Bonner (review by Cathy)

On Eagles' Wings

About the book:

 

Boardinghouse owner Dixie Pottinger has done her best to avoid the attractive Dr. Griffin. But now that her mother-in-law is sick and he’s going to be coming around more to care for her, Dixie knows she must inform him about her past. She works up her courage and feels great relief when she finally tells Dr. Griffin that she’s a married woman…maybe…if her husband, Steven Pottinger, survived the bullet put into him before she fled.

Dr. Flynn Griffin can’t believe he’s been having feelings for a married woman! His honor requires that he immediately put those feelings to rest. As for the man who had abused Dixie so badly that she retreated into hiding… If he was still alive, he better never show up in Wyldhaven, because Flynn had plenty of ideas on how to teach the man lessons in gentlemanly conduct.

Little does Flynn know that Steven Pottinger is about to become his patient. Gravely injured by an accidental gunshot, Steven lies on the brink of eternity. Never in all his life has Flynn been tempted to break his Hippocratic Oath.

Until now.

Take the next stagecoach to Wyldhaven,
where the coffee’s perked hot,
the sheriff likes his apple pie fresh from the oven,
and adventure invariably waits just around the next river bend.

 

My review (5-stars)

This books starts off with a jaw dropping revelation from Dixie  when she  shares  a secret with Dr.Flynn Griffin, that ultimately tests their relationship and sets up a fantastic storyline.    I have to confess to being sad and a bit shocked at some of the things that Dixie and her mother in law experienced at the hands of a person they loved.

I loved the first book in the series and was so excited to reconnect with Charlotte and Regan.  They are still my favorite characters by far.  She’s an energetic schoolteacher, he’s the sheriff of the town that has had some  problems and they are adorable together. They both have a wry humor that made me chuckle several times throughout both books.

There are several returning characters from the first book that I have grown fond of, so I was very happy to catch up with them.  Each one has something that I really like and I want to find out more about them.

Ms. Bonner creates characters that are fun,  hardworking, interesting, and kind.  Then she places them in a town where friendships are strong and people genuinely care about each. I absolutely loved this book and am eagerly anticipating the next one in the series.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy.  All opinions are my own.

 

The Sound of Rain by Sarah Loudin Thomas (review by Cathy)

The sound of rain

About the book:

In the Dark of the Mine, In the Face of Rising Water,
In the Shadows of the Hills, Faith Will See Them Through

Judd Markley knew he could never set foot underground again. The mine collapse that nearly killed him and claimed his brother’s life meant leaving West Virginia forever. Although that hard Appalachian world was all he knew, he put it behind him and headed for the open sky of the thriving town of 1954 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Larkin Heyward’s life in the beach town is uncomplicated, mostly volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more and being more–maybe moving to the hills and hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she’s never even met someone who’s lived there–until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father’s timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a hurricane that changes Myrtle Beach forever, Judd’s and Larkin’s dreams pull them in divergent directions. It will take a significant sacrifice to keep them together–or maybe, it will take a miracle.

 

My review (5-stars)

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author and I’ve heard such good things about her,  so of course I had to find out for myself.   Everything that I heard is spot on!

I felt a connection to the characters immediately and I loved the 1950’s time period.

Larkin and Judd have different life styles, he’s a West Virginia miner and she’s a volunteer at a  Myrtle Beach local hospital.  He is used to dark days in the mines and she’s used to dancing at the Pavilion.  They are as different as day and night and yet they both want some of the same things in life.

As a couple, they are adorable.  Judd is such a gentlemen and pretty serious.  Larkin takes life as it comes and has a great time no matter what.  I loved seeing her mature throughout the book.

The story has several characters that I really liked in Myrtle Beach and the Appalachians. The interactions between Lark and the people she meets in Kentucky were realistic and sweet.  I look forward to reading more of this authors work.

This is a wonderful and well written book that I recommend.    .

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

One Christmas in Winter by Bell Renshaw (review by Cathy)

One Christmasin Winter

About the book:

Reba Farwell is finally getting a chance to live out her dreams. Sent to Winter, Montana to direct filming for a crucial, on-location shoot, she knows the next two weeks will make or break her career. And she could definitely use a break. As if that isn’t enough, she’s got a secret that none of her crew knows. All she’s asking for is two weeks of small town, Christmas beauty and a little bit of on-camera sizzle.

Five years ago, Hoyt Bradley’s heart and future shattered in one fell swoop that landed him back in Winter. Thankfully, making lemonade—or his father’s famous lemon meringue pie— out of lemons is what he does best. Running Bentley’s Diner has filled the gaps left in the wake of his heartbreak, even if it hasn’t healed him completely. Not wanting to relive memories of his rocky start in the film industry, Hoyt does his best to steer clear of the dreaded film crew, but Winter has a way of bringing people together.

After one fateful delivery and a score of icy bad luck, Reba finds herself in a bind and at the mercy of what Winter can offer. Will she pull the film together in time to salvage her name as a director? Or will the sparks flying off-camera create more of a distraction than she knows how to handle?

Come visit Winter, Montana in this Christmas Novella where the Christmas lights are always on and the snow falls most frequently when loved ones share a kiss.

 

My review (4-stars)

The title of the book caught my attention, making me curious to read it and I’m so glad that I did! The  town of Winter sounds like the kind of town that I’d like to visit, with the local coffee shop, the local diner and the locals, themselves.  I liked the Bradley family so much because they reminded me of my family, close-knit and being there for each other.

Reba was a character that was interesting to me although it took me awhile to warm up to her.  I gradually started to like her and understood her need for secrecy.  When things go awry from the beginning of her film, I felt so bad for her, making me see that she wasn’t such a bad person.  She’s ambitious which is a trait that I like.

This novella reminded me of  Hallmark Christmas movies that I normally don’t watch, but I honestly could see myself watching one based on this book.   If you’re looking for a fast and fun read, I recommend this one.

I received a free ecopy of this book and was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber (review by Kristi)

merry and bright

About the bookMerry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

Publication Date:  October 3, 2017

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

 

My reviewThis book is classic Debbie Macomber! After not really enjoying the past couple of books by her I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this story. It was a quick and easy read.

Everything about this story was perfect. The characters, the situation they found themselves in, and the pace of the story were just excellent. Once I started reading this story I really didn’t want to put it down to go to bed. The story pulled me in and I just couldn’t get enough of these characters. There were moments that made me smile and even chuckle out loud. This book is a perfect Christmas read.

Fans of Debbie Macomber will enjoy this book. This would also be a great introduction to those not familiar with her work. This is a fun read and one that could easily be read more than once without becoming boring. Definitely one for the keeper shelf.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the authorDebbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thirteen of these novels hit the number one spot.

In 2017, Macomber’s all-new hardcover publications include If Not for You (March), Any Dream Will Do (August), and Merry and Bright (October). In addition to fiction, Macomber has also published two bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, numerous inspirational and nonfiction works, and two acclaimed children’s books.

Celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas”, Macomber’s annual Christmas books are beloved and five have been crafted into original Hallmark Channel movies. Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

Macomber owns The Grey House Café, which also features a gift shop and a Hallmark Gold Crown store inside. It is located in the Village Square campus, which also serves as Debbie’s corporate headquarters.

She serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove series.

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My Hear Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna’s Choice by Angie Dicken (review by Cathy)

Utah

About the book”

 

Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Rock. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.

 

My review (4-stars)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book just as much as I have enjoyed the other books in the, My Heart Belongs series.  This one sheds light on the discrimination of a Greek family, which  is a bit different from the other books that I’ve read in the series.

I liked this authors writing and her characters are wonderful.  This is the first book that I’ve read by Ms. Dickens and I look forward to more of her work.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley.  I was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions are my own/