Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Christmas Delights ~ a new Anthology


Two more delightful books have been released in the Moments series. Previous ones are Divine Moments, Christmas Moments, and Spoken Moments. These are being widely acclaimed as memorable and life-changing. First of the recent is Precious, Precocious Moments. In this book from 45 authors run the gamut of emotions including laughter, love, loss, acceptance, forgiveness, grief, longing, despair, joy, thankfulness, and courage.

Their stories tell of adults teaching children, children teaching adults and, best of all, the awareness that God does indeed know and care, and if we seek him we find him because he is waiting for us with open arms, ready to show us the beauty in life…often, through a child.

Thanks and gratitude to the contributors, who receive no payment, and all royalties go to Samaritan’s Purse, which provides spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.

Contributors are: Carolyn Barnum, Robin Bayne, Shirley G. Brosius, Elsie H. Brunk, Rob Buck, Mirjam Budarz, Joann Claypoole, Autumn Conley, Tracy Crump, Greg Dodd, Susan Dollyhigh, Susan Engebrecht, Sandra Fischer, Virginia Foreman, Connie Gatlin, Janice Green, Lydia Harris, Judith Hensley, Karen Hessen, Julie Hilton, Helen Hoover, Thomas Kienzle, Ann Knowles, Christina Krost, David Lehman, Yvonne Lehman, Veronica Asay, Emily Marett, Diana Matthews, Beverly McKinney, Vicki Moss, Diana Owens, Carole Anne Pearson, Debbie Presnell, Joey Rudder, Jessica Satterfield, Karen Sawyer, Kevin Spencer, Ann Tatlock, Kevin Thompson, Carol Weeks, Cindy Wilson, Steve Wilson, Jean Wilund, and Felicity Younts.

Today I received this comment, “It’s after midnight and I just got my hands on a copy of More Christmas Moments and can’t stop reading it. I love everything about this book from the cover to the content. So special!”

More special are those who contribute just to share their stories, expecting nothing in return. Well… not expecting, but knowing we just can’t give without God blessing us mightily. What a privilege to touch the hearts and lives of others.

1. Little Foxes, Yvonne Lehman, 2. The Christmas Truce, Dan Balow, 3. Trashing the Christ Child, Sandra Discher, 4. Santa and the Meaning of Christmas, Diana Leagh Matthews, 5. A Fresh New Christmas, Elsie H. Brunk, 6. At Birth, Charlotte Adelsperger, 7. Falling in Love, Linda Landreth Phelps (as told to her by Fran Fahn), 8. A Husband’s Devotion, Rebecca Carpenter, 9. I Heard Him on the Roof, Carole A. Bell, 10. Mustard Seeds and Cheap Perfume, Bernadean J. Gates, 11. Christmas Legacy, Debbie Presnell, 12. Unexpected Guests for Christmas, Geneva Cobb Iijima, 13. An M&M Christmas, Theresa Jenner Garrido, 14. The Sparkling Bow of Joy, Janet Perez Eckles, 15. When the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Isn’t, Julie Arduini, 6. The Light, Larry C. Hoover, 17. Picture Perfect Christmas, Barbara Latta, 18. Year-Round Celebration, Nate Stevens, 19. A Flash of Red, Dee Dee Parker, 20. Poor Baby Jesus, Susan Dollyhigh, 21. Christmas Presence, Annmarie B. Tait, 22. Plug-ins, Carlitta Cole-Kelly, 23. The Story, Sondra Kraak, 24. Christmas Potpourri, Joann Claypoole, 25. An Unexpected Christmas Gift, Joyce Heiser, 26. Gwen’s Silent Night, Susan Simpson, 27. The Christmas Tree Brooch, Joni Vance, 28. What a Gift!, Dianna Derringer, 29. Christmas Came, Charlotte Adelsperger, 30. Counting Southern Treasures through the First Noel, Vicki H. Moss,
31. A Pure and Simple King, Ann Tatlock, 32. Plan a Silent Night, Lydia E. Harris, 33. Provision in a Time of Need, Marybeth Mitcham, 34. Sunshine for Christmas, Lisa Braxton, 35. Christmas Caper, Karen R. Hessen, 36. Healing of a Christmas Memory, Cathy Baker, 37. Jesus in a Barn, Kimberly Rae, 38. Favored by his Death, Cindy Sproles, 39. Steeped in Christmas Tradition, Victoria Hicks, 40. Make Peach with the Past, Sheryl M. Baker, 41. My Favorite Gift, Carol Graham, 42. The Warmth of Christmas, Autumn J. Conley, 43. The Last Doll, Dianne Matthews, 44. The Birth that Saves, Emme Gannon, 45. Finding Baby Jesus, Marybeth Mitcham, 46. Are You There, Lord?, Ann Greenleaf Wirtz, 47. Ghost of Christmas Past, Simon Wilson, 48. Seeking Christmas, Edie Melson, 49. Come Dance with Me, Dr. Rhett Wilson, 50. Am I Good Enough?, Andrea Merrell, 51. Suzy Snowflake and the Blue Christmas Turned White, Vicki H. Moss, 52. From My Heart to Theirs, Esther M. Bailey, 53. You Are Christmas, Joann Claypoole,
54. Setting Goals, Yvonne Lehman

THANKS to each of these for GIVING


Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Erynn Mangum's Paige Alder Series ~ Reviewed

Erynn Mangum
  • Age Range: 12 and up 
  • Series: Paige Alder (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: TH1NK (May 15, 2013 thru April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612912982

From book one: Page Torn

Paige Alder’s life is suddenly busier than she can handle. With no time for laundry and lucky to grab a cheese stick for dinner, it’s all she can do to get a precious few hours’ sleep. But when she meets attractive and thoughtful Tyler, will there be time for love?


This trio of ARCS was sent to me a long time ago from the publicist and I've just been able to get to them. Is a late review better than no review? I'm going to just say yes .

Paige is young. 

At my mid-century mark I am more inclined to think like a mother figure than a girlfriend. But, I enjoyed Paige's coming of age story, broken into three novels, very much. 
Author Erynn Mangum writes with wit and paints very sympathetic and endearing characters. My favorite characters are Layla and Tyler. However, I don't know that I would want to be Layla's maid of honor. Just sayin.

Paige's world is in turmoil over a several month period and she has a lot of growing up and maturing that she is forced to do. The sweet relationship she has with her youth pastor friend is a really excellent picture of the mentoring and discipling that happens when the spiritually mature love, accept and help the ones who are quite there yet. 

If you need a chick-lit type series that is more about spiritual growth and less about fashion, here's a great one to start with. This would also be a safe clean read for teen girls who devour books. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Travis Thrasher's Wonder ~ Reviewed

By Travis Thrasher
Dec. 2014


As the town of Appleton is rocked by the death of a teenager, the high school year begins under a dark shadow. Brandon continues to pursue Marvel while trying to discover what she believes will happen to her. It’s easy to fall more in love with her. It’s easy to forget she thinks God told her she will have to sacrifice herself to save others. But Brandon can’t forget about the shapeless evil that seems to watch him around corners and seep through the streets of his town. Strange things start to occur to Brandon. He starts looking for clues about the dead student, thinking this might be related to whatever evil Marvel is talking about. He also continues to battle against the guys picking on a nerdy senior named Seth Belcher. Marvel falls in love with Brandon, and he truly accepts her faith even though he doesn’t understand what to make of it. Something is growing in the darkness. Something is coming. Will Brandon be able to stand up against the malice that draws ever closer? Will he be able to save Marvel from the horrors to come?


Do you love cliffhangers? Like dangling off a five mile sheer rock edge by your fingernails? Oh yeah, and there's a gorilla jumping down on your fingertips, just trying to get you to plummet to your death? Yeah. Well, if that gets your heart racing in anticipation, then this is the book for you. Sheesh. I CANNOT WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON THE NEXT BOOK IN THIS SERIES! YES, I AM SHOUTING.

Okay, now that my adrenaline rush has leaked out all over you, let's talk Wonder. This is the second book in the Marvella series by author Travis Thrasher and whoa, baby. The building action. The tension. The sweet relationship developments. It's got it all and it's even better than the first book, Marvelous.

The story revolves around the hero, Brandon. He’s a senior in high school who’s dealing with a drunk father who beats him. As if that weren’t enough, there are a few unsolved murders in the area, and his best friend ends up missing. See what I mean about conflict and tension?

As always, Thrasher turns some sweet phrases and makes the reader see the mundane in new and fresh ways. Yes, it's creepy in parts and you won't want to read it in the dark on Halloween, but that's the allure of Wonder. Do it. Buy it. Read it. You know you want to.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ace Collins's The Fruitcake Murders ~ Reviewed

The Fruitcake Murders by Ace Collins
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (October 6, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426771894


As Christmas 1946 draws near, thirty-something marine officer-turned-homicide detective Lane Walker has his hands full. Three men with seemingly no relationship to each other have been murdered, including the powerful District Attorney. The only connection between the crimes? The weapons: twenty-year-old unopened fruitcake tins manufactured by a company that is no longer in business.

While some foods may be to die for, fruitcake isn't one of them! This heaping helping of murder will be no easy task for Walker, and he certainly doesn't need the determined and feisty Tiffany Clayton, the political reporter for The Chicago Star, getting in the way.

Employing witty dialogue and historical accuracy, The Fruitcake Murders offers equal parts murder, mystery, and mayhem in a perplexing whodunit set in the days just after World War II.


If you like your festive baked goods with a little spice you can cozy up with the Fruitcake Murders for your Christmas holiday read. Told in alternating points of view the story contains hardboiled and crime drama feel blended with classic movie flair. 

A tough femme fatale journalist and haunted detective work together to find the killer who leaves an ancient fruitcake behind at each scene. The unfolding story is tragic and compelling. Definitely a different twist for fruitcakes but an engaging one.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer 

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Cynthia Ruchti's An Endless Christmas ~ Reviewed

An Endless Christmas: A Novella
Cynthia Ruchti
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Worthy Inspired (October 13, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1617955876


On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.


Sometimes Christmas cheese oozes into Christmas movies and books. I mean I get it, the whole point is to give folks that warm rush of feelings that make for peace on earth and glad tidings.

However, Cynthia Ruchti has avoided this common problem. Her novella is full of rich and real characters and warmth and joy that comes from the real heart of the holiday. The basic plot line is a nice little twist of boy meets girl, falls in love, screws up and heads right to happily ever after. We enter into the story as Micah asks Katie to marry him in front of his whole family and Katie's reaction isn't princess perfect. The rest of the holiday goes further south as Katie's fears and insecurities wrestle her into certain future unhappiness.  I think fans of Ruchti, love, and Christmas will delight in Katie's surprise and and joy at discovering that real can be messy but kind, scary but safe and loud but loving.

This novel was provided to me for review purposes. I am in no way obligated to give it a stellar review. I happened to like it quite a bit.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, November 02, 2015

Eva Marie Everson's Five Brides ~ Reviewed

Eva Marie Everson
Paperback, 453 pages
Tyndale Fiction
May, 2015
ISBN: 978-1414397443


One dress, five women, a lifetime of memories.
Five single, fiercely independent women live together in a Chicago apartment in the early 1950s but rarely see one another. One Saturday afternoon, as they are serendipitously together downtown, they spy a wedding dress in a storefront window at the famous Carson, Pirie, Scott & Co. After trying it on―much to the dismay of the salesclerk and without a single boyfriend or date between the five of them―they decide to pool their money to purchase it. Can one dress forever connect five women who live together only a short time before taking their own journeys to love and whatever comes happily ever after?


This novel captivated me and created a deep sense of nostalgia—for a time period I’ve never lived in.  I’ve always enjoyed stories that capture a sense of relational connectedness and community, and to me, that’s what made this novel so heart-warming. It takes a gifted writer to craft a novel with five key and distinct characters. Ms. Everson drew me deeply to each character and the time period in which they lived. 

The story begins in a hotel room in London, England in 2015, with a bride waiting for a special wedding dress—a wedding dress with a rather enchanting history. In the following chapter, the story behind this dress begins to unfold. But the greatest stories are not about the dress but instead, the women who purchased it, the growth they experienced, the challenges they overcame, and the bond they shared. 

The novel quickly time-shifts to 1951, Chicago. In this historically rich city, five women roommates, living at a time when women were still fighting for the right to work and receive equal pay, pushed against societal expectations to find independence. I loved experiencing old Chicago, and the author did a great job of fully immersing me in setting. 

As I said previously, all the characters captured my heart, and I’ve been trying to determine which female I enjoyed most. Though they were all memorable, I greatly admired Betty and feel she was the unifying thread of these special female relationships. A strong and confident socialite raised in luxury, she valued her independence so much, she was willing to lose everything in order to be true to herself. She became the voice of reason to the other women in the story and continually, but gently, pointed them toward strength, self-respect, and self-discovery. 

The other women had similar stories of finding themselves, and, of course, true love. Some had to learn the hard way, and it was painful watching them travel down a road of self-destruction. But in the end, their relationship to one another, symbolized by a beautiful and shared wedding gown, remained intact and carried them through, ultimately bringing out the best in each of them. 

I really loved this story, much more than this review indicates because I find myself struggling to explain just what it was that captivated me so.  But I think it was the special bond these women shared. In our fast-paced, technologically driven culture, relationships can be so fleeting and surface level. It was refreshing and endearing to read about relationships that withstood the test of time and distance. And perhaps that’s why this story created such a sense of nostalgia, carrying with it the reminder that relationships matter. 

I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves women’s fiction, historical fiction, and romance.    

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dan Walsh's Keeping Christmas ~ Reviewed

Keeping Christmas
Dan Walsh
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Revell (September 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800721195

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 they were strange-looking--some could be called downright ugly--but they were tradition. A tradition she's heartbroken to miss this year.

With Judith refusing to decorate the bare spruce tree in their living room, Stan knows something must be done. And his only hope for saving the holiday is found in a box of handmade ornaments. 

Fan-favorite Dan Walsh invites readers to enjoy this nostalgic Christmas story that celebrates all of our most cherished seasonal traditions, especially the importance of family. Readers will join in remembering the things that make their own Christmas season so special.


Dan Walsh is back doing what he does best, writing sweetly inspirational fiction that touches home with so many folks. 

In Keeping Christmas we go along for the bumpy ride of what to do when what you knew changes drastically.  Judith and Stan have faced their first Thanksgiving alone since becoming a family. All three of their grown children have moved away and, as many families face, the budgets are too tight to head home for the holiday. As Stan enjoys the minimal fuss and bustle, Judith slowly sinks into a depression. 

When they find out none of the kids can afford the trip back for Christmas it's all Stan can do to attempt to pull his wife out of her funk. Fortunately, a few good friends help and slowly Judith begins to feel a small stirring of hope again. 

This is one of those books that will appeal to those who snap up Walsh's books. Those seeking a warm, fuzzy, feel good read will likely adore the story as well. It's short and sweet enough for a cozy weekend read. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer