Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” —Groucho Marx

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh--A Review

SYNOPSIS:

Dan Walsh is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, a church he helped found 23 years ago. Walsh lives with his family in the Daytona Beach area. This is his first novel.

Can a gift from the past mend a broken heart?

Ian Collins is an old man without his son. Patrick Collins is a young boy without his father. On his Christmas list are only three items. He wants the army to find his father. He wants to leave his grandfather's house. And he wants the dusty wooden soldier in Grandfather's attic--the one he is forbidden to touch.

Set in December of 1943, The Unfinished Gift is the engaging story of a family in need of forgiveness. With simple grace, it reminds us of the small things that affect powerful change in our hearts--a young boy's prayers, a shoe box of love letters, and even a half-carved soldier, long forgotten. This nostalgic story of reconciliation will touch your heart.


FROM MY PERSPECTIVE: 

Dan Walsh never disappoints with his writing or his stories.   He deveoped a family of strong characters with Ian Collins being the heartless grandfather who experienced a heart wrenching change and finally became what every little boy dreamed his grandfather would be....loving.   Patrick coming to live with his grandfather was the catalyst which lit the fire to melt the ice in Ian's heart.   Patrick had a sad story and his story touched the hearts of not only his social worker, Miss Katherine Townsend and the next door neighbor, Mrs Fortini, as well.   All of these characters were so very real and so very well developed.   Each was easy to perceive in my mind's eye.

This was a sweet story about reunion and forgiveness.    It was about love at it's worst and it's best.  It was frightening as a blizzard swallowed young Patrick and hid him from the ones who cared most for him.  Fortunately he was rescued by ansuspecting hero Ezra Jeffries, the epitome of doing the right thing.

I thoroughly loved this tale of love from an author I truly admire and respect.  And what better time than Christmas to forgive one another and begin  anew!

I rated this a 5 Wink read.

 

Disclaimer:  I read for my pleasure.   I may receive ARC copies for review purposes, but I am not compensated for my reviews .  I like to read and I like to share my reviews.   I post my thoughts without prejudice or bias.  The words are mine and I write reviews based on my humble opinion.  I will admit, I seldom meet a book I don't like.  I purchased a  copy of this book for my personal collection.

 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gooseberry Island Campaign--Pay it Forward--Promo

Hello,




I'm excited to announce that my publisher and I will be 'paying it forward' with Gooseberry Island this holiday season (details below).

Our hope is to give away as many copies of Gooseberry Island as possible!




Thanks so much!



Steve Manchester



 
Exciting updates from authors of The Story Plant
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A special request

 

Let's get viral.


Steven Manchester's next book will be out on January 6, 2015. Voted one of the Must Read Books of 2015 by Cyrus Webb PresentsGooseberry Island is sure to be the next hit from one of our #1 bestselling authors. The book looks at the budding relationship between Lindsay and David, who have to deal with David's deployment overseas and his recovery from the trauma he witnessed in the service of his country.

PTSD is one of the biggest problems facing soldiers as they return from war. As an experienced veteran himself, Steven Manchester understands that. That's why, during the promotion of this book, Steven and The Story Plant are going to be working toward helping returning veterans. And we need your help to do that.

From now until January 31, 2015, we will donate $1 to the Wounded Warrior Project for every copy of Gooseberry Island that is pre-ordered and sold. All you have to do is email us a copy of your receipt and we will make the donation. In addition to that, we will also donate a copy of the e-book to returning soldiers, one donation for each copy sold.

Here's the really important part - we need your help to spread the word about this campaign! Tell your neighbors, tell your family members, tell the person working the checkout line in the grocery story. Just tell as many people as you can and ask them to help spread the word too. We want this campaign to go viral! Let's do something good this holiday season and celebrate those who protect and serve our country!

You can read more about Gooseberry Island at our website. It is available for sale atAmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKobo, and IndieBound.

Curious about Wounded Warrior or want to make your own donation? Visit their websitehere.
 

Book Review

Gooseberry Island: "Mr. Manchester handles [PTSD] with great compassion.  He brings to life the hardships that are suffered by our returning servicemen.  His characters have depth and the story is compelling.  It is not only a novel, it helps to inform the reader of the difficulties experienced and the silent life and death struggle that goes on every day around us." -From Book Bug Blog
 

Book Review

Gooseberry Island: "I’ve said it before – Steven Manchester has a very definite style of his own. His books all display beautiful descriptive writing, poignancy, and include an inspirational message, and this one will simply warm your heart." -From And The Story Unfolds
 

Book Review

Gooseberry Island: "This author did a wonderful job with this novel showing how war can change a person and how so many of these military people die of suicide and bringing to life the many hardships along with disorders(PTSD) that are suffered by many of our returning military men and women." -FromArlena, Goodreads member
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My review for this wonderful story will be posted on January 2, 2015.   And please help us pay it forward!

The Christmas Boquet by Sheryl Woods--A Review

Ho! Ho! Ho!   Only seven more days til the little round guy in red makes his appearance!    My grandkids are getting so excited!   As Christmas has evolved into this big commercial thing, I am grateful for the true meaning of Christmas and truly seek the goodwill between men.

SYNOPSIS:

When it comes to family and Christmas, #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods always looks to the O'Briens for a little holiday magic... 

For the very driven medical student Caitlyn Winters, catching the bridal bouquet at a Christmas wedding has set off a chain reaction that she's sure is more curse than blessing. Not only has she fallen in love with family medicine resident Noah McIlroy, but an unexpected pregnancy threatens her well-laid plans for the future. It doesn't help that Noah—with a whole lot of help from her O'Brien relatives—is completely on board with the prospect of marriage and happily-ever-after. 

It takes a whole lot of patience, love and family persuasion to help Caitlyn realize that she can still have everything she ever wanted, including a home in her beloved Chesapeake Shores and a man who understands all of her dreams.


FROM MY PERSPECTIVE with Spoiler Alert:

Everyone knows I love a good Christmas story.    Why Else would I be so into writing a Christmas Blog for 25 or 26 days of December?

I was so excited to read Sheryl Woods's The Christmas Boquet.  I thought it would never be released, but finally the day came, and I held the hardback in my hand and I turned to the first page.    Unfortunately, it took me days to read a book that I thought could be read non stop in one.    Why would that happen?    Was I too hyped on anticipation?   Had I built it up in my mind that there was no way it could live up to my expectations?   Well, I don't think that is what happened.    Here's the deal, the female protagonist, Caitlyn Winters, was a character, I just could not connect with.

Now I liked the male protagonist, Noah McIlroy.   He was patient and sweet and really loved Cait.    When she shared her unexpected pregnancy with him, he showed all the signs of true caring and happiness.   Cait on the other hand, did not want to accept this new reality.    Throughout the book, I just wanted Noah or one of her O'Brien relatives to beat some sense into her head.    Yes, she had a well planned future and having a baby didn't really work into her perceived timeline at all.   She wanted to help children in Africa, that was her dream.    But her own little bundle of joy didn't seem to matter til near the end of the book.   It was painful for me to support this line of reasoning from a main character.

Naturally, all's well that ends well, so eventually Cait overcame her doubts and the grip she held on her life plan and she saw the benefits of marriage to Noah, her true love and the birth of their baby in wedlock.  I was glad I had continued to read the story through to the end, but I was never anything but annoyed with Cait Winters.   Noah however, should have been inducted for sainthood!

I rated this book a 3 WINK read.   It just wasn't a slam dunk for me.




Disclaimer:  I read for my pleasure.   I may receive ARC copies for review purposes, but I am not compensated for my reviews .  I like to read and I like to share my reviews.   I post my thoughts without prejudice or bias.  The words are mine and I write reviews based on my humble opinion.  I will admit, I seldom meet a book I don't like.   I borrowed this book from my mother's personal collection.  


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December Kiss byKatie Mettner--A review

It is with great joy I bring to you today's review of December Kiss by Katie Mettner.


Synopsis:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 

It’s nearly Christmas in Snowberry Minnesota, but Jay Alexander is feeling anything but jolly. Stuck in the middle of town square with a flat tire on his worn out wheelchair leaves him feeling grinchy. 

December Kiss has only been in Snowberry for a few months when she happens upon this broken down boy next door. His sandy brown hair and quirky smile has her hoisting his wheelchair into the back of her four horse Cherokee. 
When a December romance blooms Jay wants to give December just one thing for Christmas, her brother. Will Jay get his December Kiss under the mistletoe Christmas Eve?

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE:

I hadn't planned to read another of Katie's books for this year's December blog, but she offered a copy and I could hardly resist with this one last date open.   What an enjoyable afternoon I spent with this Christmas read!

Jay Alexander was the youngest of the Alexander brood, Dully's youngest brother.   He had special circumstances as he was born with spina bifada and spent his days in a wheelchair.....a very old and dilapidated untrustworthy wheel chair.   December Kiss was an RN at Providence Hospital in Snowberry Minnesota.   Their chance meeting and the romance that followed was a delight.

Katie Mettner writes spicy Christian romance stories about individuals who may endure special circumstances, but rise above all of it in their dreams and desires.   This story slowly revealed the painful truths in both Jay and Decembers pasts.  Although, they could have been driven forever apart, they strengthened their friendship and a budding romance began to build.    There was just one occurence of intimacy, that was not too explicit and I appreciated that.   The storyline was realistic and two people who had been wounded by their pasts, found peace with one another, strength together and joy.

This was the kind of Christmas story I could enjoy wholeheartedly.   It was not rushed and flowed smoothly from start to finish.    I gave a rating of 5 winks to this read.


Disclaimer:  I read for my pleasure.   I may receive ARC copies for review purposes, but I am not compensated for my reviews .  I like to read and I like to share my reviews.   I post my thoughts without prejudice or bias.  The words are mine and I write reviews based on my humble opinion.  I will admit, I seldom meet a book I don't like. I received a complimentary copy from the author or the author’s representatives in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Christmas Cottage by Mignon Ballard--A Review



SYNOPSIS:

Christmas has always been a special time for Meredith Enright. Born on Christmas Eve, she celebrates the holiday with joy, filling her home with seasonal music and the fragrance of fir and pine. But this year, her jam cake is still warm from the oven when Meredith receives the shocking news of her husband's sudden illness while on a business trip to Atlanta. Alone and frightened in the ICU waiting room of an unfamiliar hospital, Meredith is befriended by a kind volunteer who accompanies her to the facility's chapel where they wait together through the long night. During her vigil, Meredith remembers a Christmas from her childhood when her mother was seriously injured in an automobile accident. In her despair, she relives the memory of that long-ago Christmas when she was sent to spend the holidays with her childless Aunt Martha. Aunt Martha worked for a large department store in Knoxville, but lived in a remote area outside the city. Because she was gone during the day, she asked bland Mrs. Boggs to stay with Meredith. Worried about her mother and missing her family, eight-year-old Meredith has only a stuffed bear and her brother's much-loved clown doll for company until she meets Lucinda and the loving family who live in the Christmas Cottage deep in the woods behind Aunt Martha's house. The memory of that Christmas brings to Meredith a renewal of hope and joy as she faces the outcome of her husband's illness.

FROM MY PERSPECTIVE:


Do angels walk among us?   The synopsis pretty well tells the story without clarifying who the kind volunteer in gray is.  The story is sweet and well told.  It is about the fear of losing someone you are forever connected to and about the people  or 'angels' who help you through those times.


This story had me invested in it and the outcome immediately and I really enjoyed reading of Meredith's earlier trauma with her mother's accident and then later her concerns about losing her husband.   It was definitely a heart-wrenching story with a lovely ending.


I rated this read 4 Winks!




Disclaimer:  I read for my pleasure.   I may receive ARC copies for review purposes, but I am not compensated for my reviews .  I like to read and I like to share my reviews.   I post my thoughts without prejudice or bias.  The words are mine and I write reviews based on my humble opinion.  I will admit, I seldom meet a book I don't like.   I purchased this E-Book for my personal Kindle collection.


Monday, December 15, 2014

All I Want for Christmas is You by Lisa Mondello--A Review

Only ten days til Christmas folks!    Are you in the spirit?   Hard to believe the last month of the year is already halfway over, but thenwe have no control over how fast the time escapes us!

All I Want for Christmas is You was a one sitting read and this reader was immediately involved.   You'll see why below, so read on!

SYNOPSIS:

Santa Claus is going to have a rough season... Lauren Alexander is raising her daughter alone. Abandoned by her family for her decision to keep her daughter Kristen, she has done a pretty good job for the last six years. Or she thought she had. That's why she is crushed when little Kristen gives up her wish for a toy or goodie and instead asks Santa for a present for her mother. But delivering Daddies isn't Santa's bag.
But this Santa has a plan...
Kyle Preston knows what it is like to be abandoned too. Luckily he found the support of loving adoptive parents and has turned himself into one of the most successful Real Estate developers in town.
Building a house is easy. Building someone's trust is a whole other story. But a little Christmas magic can make all the difference in the world.
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE:
Ok, the only thing I did not like about this Christmas Story was the cover of the book.   Here's my rant, does it bother anyone besides me that the cover can be beautiful, but not match the characters in the book at all?    Lauren is an ash blonde and Kyle is like viking blonde...a true Nordic in appearance, so why are they displayed as brunettes on the cover.    I never really get this?!?!?!
But that was my only dislike.   Because I believe in fiction and even insta love can happen in fiction.   The story happens between Thanksgiving and Christmas and it begins with a little girl giving Santa her Christmas wish and car trouble in the parking lot when the mall has closed.   Being the mall Santa and the CEO of the mall, Kyle Preston is the only one around to help a damsel in distress.
This Christmas tale is about a 200 page read, and it moves quickly.   Lauren had raised her daughter without assistance for 6 years and she didn't trust men.   Her own father abandoned her in her hour of need and her baby's father walked away the night the babe was conceived.   Why would she ever allow a man to enter their lives only to be wounded and disappointed when the going got tough and he walked away?
Kyle had been abandoned by his father in a court renouncement.   He was eighteen when his parents adopted him and aided him in turning his life around.   He was strong by the adopted parent's love and support and he had learned to trust and love in response.   He recognized himself in the mother and daughter duo he met in the mall.  And he was bound and determined to rescue them.   And then he fell in love.
The characters really were believable and Kyle's family was just charming.  It was awesome to see Lauren face her fears and take one step at a time in finding true love.   And it was magical what one little girl received in this delightful tale of Christmas and dreams come true.   This was a real Christmas treat.
I rated this a 5 out of 5 Winks read.

Disclaimer:  I read for my pleasure.   I may receive ARC copies for review purposes, but I am not compensated for my reviews .  I like to read and I like to share my reviews.   I post my thoughts without prejudice or bias.  The words are mine and I write reviews based on my humble opinion.  I will admit, I seldom meet a book I don't like.  I purchased this for my personal kindle library.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Snow Daze by Katie Mettner--A Review




SYNOPSIS:

*Spicy Christian Romance dealing with real world issues such as sex and disability. This is an adult content book*

Trapped in an elevator with a handsome stranger is the perfect ‘meet-cute’, but Dr. Snow Daze has no interest in being the heroine of the next romance novel. Since her last ‘knight in shining armor’ turned into a nightmare, Snow hasn’t even looked at another man; one look into the alluring eyes of this stranger told her one thing, he was a guaranteed complication. When Dully Alexander comes face to face with his very own snow angel he knows he will do anything to be her hero. With a good old fashioned Minnesota blizzard raging outside, a crackling fire inside, and whispered secrets on the couch, can Dully convince Snow she deserves her happily ever after?


FROM MY PERSPECTIVE:

I love Christmas stories.   I enjoyed Snow Daze but  had some issues with it as well.   It is a short Christmas story and reads extremely fast.   So the first issue comes in with the insta -love romance between Dr Snow Daze and Dully Alexander, special education teacher.   Being a short story, I guess it has to be insta-love or you'd end up with a full fledged novel.   The other issue I had was that the story was written in Snow's POV and also in Dully's POV.    Personally, I like a story told from one POV or the other.   I dislike the confusion with the shift in characters POV unless it is specified by chapters.  But that is a personal preference I'm sure.

I did thoroughly enjoy the character of Dully.   He was a character who knew his mind and his heart and he set about to win Snow's heart and make her his. 

The story was sweet and enjoyable, but I think it could have been developed with a tad more length, rather than feeling so rushed.

I rated this a 3 WINK read.   If you enjoy insta-love, this may be a quick little romance you would enjoy.

 

Disclaimer:  I read for my pleasure.   I may receive ARC copies for review purposes, but I am not compensated for my reviews .  I like to read and I like to share my reviews.   I post my thoughts without prejudice or bias.  The words are mine and I write reviews based on my humble opinion.  I will admit, I seldom meet a book I don't like.  I purchased a  copy of this book for my personal collection.