That Gift! by Sheryl Fawcett

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
_______________________

That Gift! by Sheryl Fawcett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some husbands have a knack for selecting perfect Christmas gifts for their wives. A certain husband in 1983 has no such knack, and his wife, though grateful, is rather disappointed in his holiday surprise for her. Thirty years later, he may have finally improved on that old gift—or he may have not—in That Gift!, a Christmas tale by author Sheryl Fawcett.

I often say that I’m not big on book blurbs, that I usually only skim them or skip them altogether before reading the book. In the case of this short story, I’m quite glad that I only skimmed the description’s first line or so and did not read the rest of it beforehand, particularly not the Goodreads one. I feel that it all but gives away the story’s “aha moment,” and I found it more enjoyable to discover the “aha” for myself, rather than have the blurb essentially hand it to me ahead of time.

But anywho, enough of that!

I got such a kick out of the title and cover, here: cute, fun, and catchy without being too silly, and it’s all very much on theme. The tale itself is the kind of delightful holiday goodness that’s right up my alley.

There was a minute or two when I felt like the story might be stalling, but those minor details do give a good sense of the husband and wife’s family life. In all, it was similar to reading another Christmas short I’m pretty fond of; I wish the story here hadn’t literally mentioned it, as doing so felt too “obvious,” but that’s likely nit-picky of me.

A quick, meaningful, and satisfying dose of holiday warmth, this is!

A New Beginning by Rosie Goodwin

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
_______________________

A New Beginning by Rosie Goodwin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A church graveyard may be a place most associated with endings. But a springtime visit to the resting place of loved ones has something else in store for a widowed mother, a widowered father, and their two dogs in A New Beginning, a short story by author Rosie Goodwin.

Well! A most pleasant piece of flash fiction if I ever read one. That is, I’m pretty sure it’s flash fiction. I didn’t count the words or anything.

But it certainly is a charming, nostalgic kind of story about memories and second chances. I find it refreshing to read about seasoned characters who have experience and much to remember, but life can still give them more to look forward to.

There was a spelling and capitalization issue with one of the dog breed names, as well as a few minor issues with apostrophes, but they didn’t ruin the reading.

It’s worth taking a few minutes for an inspiring little pick-me-up like this.

Christmas Book Picks 2016

christmas-book-picks-3

I received complimentary copies of some of the books I mention here in exchange for honest reviews, which you’ll find in the posts I’ve linked to.

The time has again arrived! I share my Christmas Book Picks before Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. in case any of my dear blog readers would like to procure and read a title or two from the list during the holiday season, which I sincerely hope you will. 🙂 You’ll find them listed in a pretty eclectic order.
*And to the authors of my Christmas Picks, if you’d like a little gift for making the list, see the bottom of this post.*

_____________________

zuzus-petalsZuzu’s Petals, A Dream of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ by Karolyn Grimes and Karen Deming

Children’s Fiction

from me

That’s right! It’s thee Zuzu from my all-time favorite Christmas film, It’s a Wonderful Life. This children’s picture book is by Zuzu herself–that is, the woman who played the role of Zuzu Bailey in the movie, actress and author Karolyn Grimes. It’s an inspiring story from Zuzu’s point of view, and it includes the Bailey family and the people of Bedford Falls as it draws a parallel to the movie’s message about the power of kindness. The illustrations by co-author and illustrator Karen Deming are just beautiful, and I highly recommend this book both to current and soon-to-be fans of the iconic and classic film.

lit-advent-candles-hi

________________________

Winter LightWinter Light by Robin Maderich

Contemporary Romance

from me

While Luke only suspects he’s met Allie before, she hasn’t forgotten their one moment on the ice… This small-town romance takes place in fictional Connor Falls, Pennsylvania. I particularly appreciated how the plot doesn’t always take the most predictable route. The book is an excellent example of solid storytelling in short fiction, and I’d recommend it to fans of sweet romance who’d enjoy a quick Christmas read with warmth, deep emotion, and memorable light.

lit-advent-candles-hi

________________________

The More the MerrierThe More the Merrier by Liwen Y. Ho

Contemporary Romance/Short Story

from me

 Blind dates don’t help Alyssa, but is a “fake date” with her guy-friend Barry any better? Having enjoyed other romances by this author, I just dove right into this one without knowing what it was about ahead of time. This read is short, sweet, romantic (even a little hot), Christmassy, and not just a straight shot to Happily Ever After without believable conflict. I even had some real giggles and a moment or two of eyebrow raising–in a very good way. I’d recommend this fun splash of Merry to any fans of sweet romance.

lit-advent-candles-hi

________________________

The Spinster's Christmas

The Spinster’s Christmas by Camille Elliot

Christian Fiction/Regency Romance

from me

Yes, as sweet as its fitting cover is, don’t think this novel is all sweetness and holly and heart-flutters and nothing more. Miranda Belmoore and Captain Gerard Foremont are in for a Christmastide unlike anything they expected. What could easily have been a nice but flimsy Regency tale is instead a rather gritty and passionate holiday story of danger and longing, with dashes of humor and irresistible grace. Regency, suspense, and romance fans alike would do well to partake of this story, particularly at “Christmastide.”

lit-advent-candles-hi

________________________

EvergreenEvergreen by Susan May Warren

Christian Fiction

from me

In light of their empty nest, John has got big plans for himself and his wife, Ingrid–and she’s not ready for any of it. It’s refreshing to read about couples who’ve been married for a while, who are still navigating the ins and outs of living an ever-unfolding life together. There’s depth to this story, a distinct understanding of the human experience, and the age-old Christmas Story is woven into this one in a way that’s real and relatable. For those who are familiar with the Christiansen Family series and those who are not, I highly recommend this warm, poignant, wise, and uplifting holiday novella.

lit-advent-candles-hi

________________________

Hang Your Heart on ChristmasHang Your Heart on Christmas by Heather Blanton

Christian Fiction/Historical Western Romance

from me

Amy Tate, the town’s new schoolteacher, puts a hitch in the plans of Robert “Dent” Hernandez, a vengeful U.S. Marshal. Here’s a gritty holiday tale if there ever was one. It’s got the danger and rough-edged intrigue of the West, but it still manages to be warm and sweet when it needs to be. I was touched by the message central to the story, that there’s more to life than death. It makes the Christmas theme here all the more significant and beautiful. And, hey, that Amy and her spectacles–whoo hoo for girls with glasses!

lit-advent-candles-hi

________________________

a-royal-christmas-weddingA Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

Christian Fiction/Romance

from me

So. A prince in Brighton Kingdom doesn’t plan on declaring his love for the American woman he once fell for, hmm? This novel is unashamedly a romance of fairytale proportions, one that I suspect fans of The Princess Diaries would enjoy. The story also makes way for some serious themes, including matters of faith and the tension between father/son respect and disagreement. Plus, the novel lays Christmas on thick, which I found absolutely delightful. How I’d relish being amid the festive sights and sounds of Brighton during the holiday season!

lit-advent-candles-hi

________________________

The Incense Road Trilogy by Tracy Higley

Star of Wonder Star of Night Royal Beauty

Christian Fiction/Historical, Biblical Fiction

overall from me

The stars have heralded the coming of a new world ruler, and there’s a dangerous race through the sands of Arabia to secure power. When I started this series, I was unprepared for the stirring adventure the story becomes, something bringing Aladdin and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark to my mind. There’s action, intrigue, and romance, but along the way, the focus of this journey naturally shifts as the ultimate search for a Savior takes precedence. I’d recommend this trilogy to anyone who’d like to experience the Christmas Story in a broader context, beyond a baby in a manger.

lit-advent-candles-hi

________________________

Those are my picks this year–and now Christmas is officially kicked-off! Entries for 2016’s Christmas Book Picks giveaway are now closed, but comments on the post are remaining open.

Evergreen  a-royal-christmas-wedding

the-she-christmas-banner-1

Now, why not start off your Christmas reading right away with a free copy of Star of Wonder from the Incense Road Trilogy by Tracy Higley? I got mine at Amazon.

Star of Wonder

Star of Wonder

______________

Congratulations, authors, and thank you for writing your books! If I’ve selected yours as a Christmas Pick this year, you’re welcome to a complimentary medal to display on your website, blog, social media–wherever you wish. Click the image below and contact me to receive a full size PNG medal. (The lined watermark will be removed, of course, and the medal will include the year on it, 2016.) Thanks again!

Rescued: An Allegory by Tracy L. Higley

war-books-2

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
_______________________

Four Silver Stars

rescuedRescued: An Allegory by Tracy L. Higley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The end of this hall glowed like fire…and she knew, as long as it had been since she had seen it, that it was the sun at the end of that hall. The sun and the air and…the knight.

So begins the release of a woman once imprisoned, now free to follow a wise and compassionate knight toward the kingdom and the King awaiting them in Rescued: An Allegory by author Tracy L. Higley.

It’s easy to identify with the journey in this short story, a rather simple illustration of the joys, the trials, the battles, and the assurance in a life of faith. The author takes a poetic approach to the tale, and some of the symbolism in the reading gave me a feeling much like I’ve had with The Chronicles of Narnia. Here’s a story suitable for ChristFic readers to take a one-sitting break with for a quick boost of encouragement.

Her efforts could earn her no more love because there was no more love to be had. She had it all…