Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Review: Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh

My Christmas reading list has really grown this year and that bodes well for my season of inspiration. I love the Christmas season. I like the baking, the music, the movies and the books.  Sometimes, though it can be a bit much. Keeping Christmas by Dan Walsh is the story of what happens when the kids leave the nest and find they just can't make it home for the holidays. Thanksgiving came and went for Judith and Stan. A quiet, long day full of gaps that were usually filled with tradition.  Stan missed the kids and grand-kids but Judith felt it more, especially the next day when Stan brought down the Christmas decorations.  That was just before he went fishing with his good buddy Barney.

Keeping Christmas: A NovelWhen he came home later with his catch of three bass, Judith was just as he left her. There were no ornaments on the tree and no decorations set around the house.  Judith always went all out with Christmas decorating the day after Thanksgiving.  Then again, she usually enjoyed doing this with the kids.  The box he had once labeled Ugly Ornaments was filled with all the ornaments Judith and the kids made together. Thinking to cheer her up, he went through them with her but she still didn't move to place them on the tree he had set up for her.  Nor did she get to it the next day.

Stan tried several things to help his wife cope with the loneliness she experienced without the kids bustling around the house that weekend. Without any promise of them coming home for Christmas either, he finally discovers the gift that could snap her out of her depression.  In the meantime, Judith finds strategies to help her make changes to her life with the help of Betty, Barney's wife.  For so many years, Judith put her life into the lives of her children.  Since they were all living at least two states away, she was feeling pretty lost.  The love and friendship she is surrounded with in the story is inspiring.

Dan Walsh nails this story! I recommend Keeping Christmas be added to your Christmas reading pile. By far it is better than a sugar coated television movie riddled with commercials. It is a meaningful story that could be told by many a couple whose kids have left to start their own family traditions. I found myself reaching for the tissues at the end because the story really touched my heart.  I could see this book written into a movie but I am afraid that like so many others before, why not skip the movie and just pick up the book. In fact, pick up two copies. One to read and one to give as a gift!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Christmas Joy Ride Is A Ride Into The Spirit Of Christmas!

The Christmas Joy Ride
I was anticipating a good book when I received my copy of The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson  from Revell. I have had the pleasure of reviewing other books by Melody, including The Christmas Cat last Christmas season. I had a hard time putting this book down. It hooked me right at the start. My husband was traveling last week so it was the perfect time to get into a good book.  I had nobody to cook for or entertain except our two cats and myself

Joy is a resilient 85-year old widow who takes her RV out of storage and loads it up for a trip on Rout66. Her spunk is inspiring and contagious enough to inspire her unemployed neighbor Miranda to join her on the trip. After selling her home she is moving from Chicago to Arizona into an assisted living facility near her sons could be devastating to some, but not for Joy.  After the RV is loaded, Joy and Miranda boldly paint and decorate the RV for Christmas.   A satisfied Joy is ready to hit the road. A puzzled Miranda cannot imagine little Joy driving the big bus but soon sits back for the Joy Ride when she realizes this is not the first time Joy has driven that larger than life RV.

This journey has a few stops along the way that will warm your heart for Christmas. Joy is such an inspiration it would be wonderful to be just like her.  Selling a home and moving from Chicago to Arizona and an assisted living facility near her sons could be devastating but Joy is not going quietly. I do not want to spoil any surprises for the readers, just recommend that you go get a copy of The Christmas Joy Ride and read it or give it as a gift.  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Reviewing Christmas in Vermont!

Christmas in Vermont is a heartwarming tale of love, laughter and discovery. Jack Reynolds is an ex-Marine visiting his home town of Woodstock Vermont at Christmas time.  His visit will be a mere two weeks as his girlfriend Melissa expects him to come to Miami to spend Christmas with her family, announce their engagement and accept a high paying job at her father's firm.  A tall order for someone who loves Christmas in Vermont.

 Hope Caldwell is new to Woodstock, having accepted a temporary job as a substitute third grade teacher at the local school.  She heard first hand about this beautiful hamlet from a Marine who saved her life when they were both injured during a school bombing in the middle east.  He kept her conscious by telling her all about his home in winter, summer, spring and fall.

It was everything he said it was and more, especially once they found each other again by chance at a simple party at his family home.  This is a poignant story of coming home and finding a reason to stay.  In making a difference to lives of friends and neighbors who needed him most, Jack Reynolds created a web of good works by doing small, thoughtful acts of kindness that had a huge impact on his community. Come to Vermont with me by reading Christmas in Vermont. If you are like me, you will want to catch the next plane out to visit with the wonderful people in Woodstock.  I checked out their website and the December calendar sounds like a  bit of Christmas heaven!  I am looking forward to my next book by Bryan Mooney and I expect it too will be a good read!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Vendetta....A Harrowing Story That Will Keep You Turning Pages!

Vendetta Coming in September 2015!

I stayed up again the other night to finish a  page turner called Vendetta by Lisa Harris.  I purposely waited a day or two to begin the book because I knew once I started a new book by Lisa I was bound to get hooked right away and find every excuse to get back to it every chance I could.  The book didn't disappoint and when I had 35 or so pages left past midnight I pressed on to find how the story would end.

Nikki Boyd is  on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force and has a particular reason for her commitment to her new job.  Her own sister disappeared in front of her school while waiting for Nikki to pick her up.  Now a case that is all to similar captures the attention of Nikki and her team of experts, taking them on the hunt through the Smoky Mountains National Park. 

This case, though, begins with social media and the profile of an unsuspecting teen. A young girl who is lonely and seeking friendship and understanding meets a young man who is perfect, just the right age and as an added bonus, his pictures prove he is good looking and a model brother.  What more could a girl ask for and why not agree to meet him for a hike while visiting at a remote cabin?
Vendetta is the first book in the new Nikki Boyd Files series.  The story is a good lesson on privacy, trusting social media and how important your teen knows how to safeguard themselves. The world we live in can be sinister and while I am an optimist, we can learn a thing or two to stay safe.  Lisa Harris tells the story like it is and I admire that about her writing.  She develops her characters well and her plots are thoroughly researched and carried out so that the reader is transported into the midst of the case. My heart sped up at times, tears fell at times and if the author's goal is to get the reader to become thus engaged in her book, Lisa Harris has accomplished just that!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veteran's Day

The Eleventh Hour on the Eleventh Day in the Eleventh Month we celebrate the Armistice signed by the allies Germany signifying the end of battle on the western front of World War One.  Here in the United States we celebrate it as Veterans Day while in England and Canada they call it Remembrance Day.  It is our day to honor those who served our country. 
In my family, four of my brothers served in the United States Army and three of them were paratroopers! Our oldest brother Donald was not a paratrooper but chose the Army as his career.  After thirty years he stayed connected to his many friends as a very active member of the V.F.W. He had three tours of duty in Vietnam. Our second paratrooper, James served in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries.  I am happy to say that all returned home safely to live full lives.

My sister decided to join as well since she wanted to see the world and the Army allowed her to do just that with time in Germany, where she met her future husband.  She made the most of her free time by traveling as much as she could in Europe and to this day still has the travel bug. 

My late Father-in-law served in the United States Marine Corp for six years in the Pacific during World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart. He was part of the Elite Radar Battalion.  My husband followed his father many years later into the corp.  He credits the discipline for making him the man he is today.

I am so proud of my family members who served our country and want to take a moment to just say Thank you.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Reviewing....Murder At the Courthouse!

Murder-at-the-CourthouseIf you are looking for that story of a crime most inconvenient look no further than between the covers of  Murder At The Courthouse.  A.H. Gabhart's latest novel set in the heart of the south begins as slowly as the old lady who mistakes a body for a drunkard asleep on the courthouse steps. What follows picks up to be a page turner that kept me up past my bed time on Wednesday night!

You'll get no spoilers from me but this first in the new Hidden Springs Mystery series kept me guessing close to the end. It wraps up to a neat ending of a web of deceit nobody in Hidden Springs could have imagined.

Former Columbus police officer Michael Keane has returned home to Hidden Springs for a quieter lifestyle. That all changed when a deputy finds the identity of the corpse who died on the courthouse steps. that identity leads Michael on search fare greater than he bargained for.

A good plot with good characters in a sleepy little town make for one good book. Add this one to your list, I think it will be a hit.