Monday, November 9, 2015

Fiction Book Review: Every Girl Gets Confused by Janice Thompson

Book Description:
Katie Fisher and Brady James may be a match made in heaven, but that doesn't seem to guarantee them a happily ever after accompanied by angelic choirs. In fact, the sounds being heard at the bridal shop where she works are on the contentious side lately, as a bride- and groom-to-be try to mediate the growing rivalry between their basketball-obsessed families in the middle of play-off season. On top of that, Katie's parents are nagging her to get out of Dallas and come home to tiny Fairfield where her former boyfriend Carson is waiting for her, ready to rekindle their relationship. Oy vey! What's a girl to do? And will she ever be able to wear that gorgeous wedding dress she won?

My Review:
Thompson's second book in the series A Brides with Style Novel is as funny and enjoyable as the first one. One of the things I like about the series is the inclusion of several generations of Katie's family and the folks who work in the bridal shop. The interaction between the younger and older characters leads to some humorous and insightful scenes. Aunt Alva is my favorite yet I relate to Katie who contemplates what's best for her in her young life. Where should she live, who should she date, what should she do for a living? The tension between Katie and Brady threads throughout the book and adds to the sweet romance. If you enjoy romantic comedy, you'll love Janice Thompson's, Every Bride Gets Confused.  The series is a fun and relaxing read.  

Read more about Janice Thompson.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Children's Book Review: Goodnight, Manger by Laura Sassy, illustrated by Jane Chapman

Book Description:
Goodnight, Manger, written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by New York Times bestselling artist Jane Chapman, tells the story of Mary and Joseph as they try to lull Jesus to sleep in the noisy stable after his birth. It's bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew a manger could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels' joyful hosanas, and three kings bearing noisy gifts, it's just too loud. Until Mama finds a way for everyone to work together to shepherd Baby into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars. With sweet, rhyming text in the style of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Goodnight, Manger offers a unique twist on the classic manger tale, deftly weaving together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime with the special magic and wonder of the manger story.

My Review
Laura Sassy's light-hearted rhyming text will delight little ones and encourage a giggle or two. Goodnight, Manger brings an interesting mix of characters to the stable. I love the angels Jane Chapman created. Her colorful illustrations bring the story to life. The cover is beautiful. In the book the wise men come to the manger. Although this works in the book, the Bible shows that they came much later. But that's a minor detail to a delightful telling of a night in the manger for baby Jesus. This would be a perfect story to read to children on Christmas Eve. 

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Let the Trees Sing!

1 Chronicles 16:33-34
Let the trees of the forest sing,
    let them sing for joy before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Several times this week I've notice how beautiful the autumn skies are. One afternoon white wispy clouds floated against an azure blue sky. Walking into work I've been greeted by majestic pinks, reds, and dark blues painted behind the shadow of trees as morning wakes. Yesterday evening orange streaked across navy blue as the sun went to sleep for the day.

God is the most amazing artist. Just looking at his creation brings joy to my soul. I'm thankful for the natural world around me. Not a day goes by without me noticing something God has created. Walking out of work yesterday, I spotted holly bushes, with the crimson berries hiding among the waxy green leaves. Beautiful!

As Thanksgiving approaches I want to share some of my thankful moments. I would be remiss if I didn't include the wonder of nature and the artistry of the Creator.

I'm thankful for the changing seasons, the woods, the lakes and ponds, the ocean, the incredible array of flowers, the trees, the animals; all of the amazing life that exists around me. Praise God for all he's made.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Children's Book Review: My Christmas Stocking: Filled with God's Love by Crystal Bowman, illustrated by Claudine Gevry

Book Description:
What happens on Christmas Eve while children sleep? "Their stockings are filled up with candy and toys, and happy surprises for good girls and boys." A kindhearted man hid a gift in a stocking, long ago. He did it to "remind everyone of the Gift that God sent." Christmas stockings help us remember God's love.

My Review:
If you hang stockings in your home at Christmas, My Christmas Stocking is the perfect book to tell children where the tradition started. This is a sweet board book that tells the story of St. Nicholas and ties in his love for Jesus and his desire to share that love. I appreciate the books that retell the true life of St. Nicholas and emphasize the giving instead of the getting. 

Stockings are still a big part of tradition for my children and grandchildren. This will be passed on to my youngest grandchild on Christmas this year.

The bright, happy illustrations add merriment to the story and will attract a toddler's attention. And I like how the book is in the shape of a stocking.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

FictionBook Review: The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson

Book description:
Miranda did not put adventure on her Christmas list, but thanks to her eighty-five-year-old neighbor Joy, that's exactly what she's getting this year. When Joy tells Miranda that she plans to drive an old RV decked out in Christmas decorations from their Chicago neighborhood to her new retirement digs in Phoenix--in the dead of winter, no less--the much younger Miranda insists that Joy cannot make such a trip by herself. Besides, a crazy trip with Joy would be more interesting than another Christmas home alone. Unemployed and facing foreclosure, Miranda feels she has nothing to lose by packing a bag and heading off to Route 66. But Joy has a hidden agenda for their Christmas joyride--and a hidden problem that could derail the whole venture.

My Review:
I thoroughly enjoyed The Christmas Joy Ride. Not your typical holiday tale, this book is an adventure in the true spirit of Christmas giving. Melody Carlson writes with humor, reality, and whimsy. Joy is one of the most delightful characters I've read. After raising daughters, I appreciate seeing the growth and changes in Miranda as she takes on challenges and conquers fears. Take a break from all the craziness of Christmas and read The Christmas Joy Ride. It will refuel your tank.

I received this book in exchange for a fair review.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than two hundred books with combined sales of more than six million. She is the author of the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, Christmas at Harrington's, and The Christmas Cat. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Twenty-three Years

My husband and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary yesterday. Yep, we got married on Halloween. Not because we love the holiday, but because that particular Saturday fell between basketball and football seasons, and Tim was a coach. Our kids enjoyed throwing candy corn at us (for both of us, it was a second marriage.) Let me tell you, those sweet little pieces of candy hurt when they're hurled through the air.

After 23 years of crazy, raising kids, working jobs, moving several times, we chose to have a quiet dinner and a movie celebration. We reminisced a bit and ate an enjoyable dinner. Then we went to see a movie, The Intern. Robert DeNiro plays an older retired gentleman who takes an internship in a hip young company. Anne Hathaway plays the young, up and coming CEO and founder of the company. Without giving away the plot, I'll just say I enjoyed watching a movie that gives value to the older generation. 

We enjoyed a lovely day, then got to set the clocks back for an extra hour of sleep. 

Fiction Book Review: Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

Book Description:
For the first time since their children were born, empty nesters Judith and Stan Winters spent Thanksgiving without the kids, and it's looking like Christmas will be the same. Judith can't bring herself to even start decorating for the holiday; her kids always hung the first ornaments on the tree, ornaments they had made each year since they were toddlers. Sure, the ornaments were strange-looking--some were downright ugly--but they were tradition.

With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan's only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments . . .

My Review:
When I started reading Keeping Christmas, I almost closed the book. The story hit too close to home. But I'd promised to review it, so I opened to the page I stopped on and kept reading. I'm so glad I did. Dan Walsh has written a heart-warming story about the empty-nest years of life. I appreciate that Judith's husband and friends don't discard her emotions, instead they rally around her to try and help. With a few surprises and lovely holiday scenes, this short novel is a sweet, humorous read just in time for Christmas.

I received Keeping Christmas in exchange for a fair review.

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of several books, including The Unfinished Gift and The Restoration Series with Gary Smalley. He has won three Carol Awards, and three of his novels were finalists for the RT Book Reviews Inspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for twenty-five years. He lives with his wife in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel. Learn more at