Thursday, November 29, 2018

Comfort and Joy Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: Comfort & Joy  
Author: The Christmas Lights Collection: Alana Terry, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig  
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance, Cozy Mystery, Suspense, Christmas  
Release Date: October 16, 2018

The third-annual Christmas Lights Collection is pleased to present: Comfort & Joy–four Christmas Novellas. From contemporary romance to cozy mystery and suspense, this diverse collection celebrates the comforts and joys of Christmas.

Click here to purchase your copy!
My Review

This is a fun collection of Christmas novellas. The stories are entertaining and it's a good way to be introduced to new authors.

Terry is not afraid to address serious issues. She tackles a cult like church where the pastor preys on teen girls in Frost Heaves. While the major characters were crafted well, my favorite was Dez. She's a smart girl with wisdom and insight far beyond her few years. This is a good romantic suspense dealing with spiritual and physical abuse.

Shiloh gives readers pure romance in Deck the Shelves. I found an interesting exploration of a men's accountability group included. There was quite a bit about men making friends and getting together, something we women are so good at.

Swanson's The Christmas Glory Quilt will appeal to readers who like sewing. There is much included about materials such as how they hang and swish. There is information about what it means to be an entrepreneur and starting a business. Readers also learn quite a bit about dyslexia and Swedish Christmas celebrations.

Havig has crafted a fun story in The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, taking place in a small American town trying to be very British. Mitchell has inherited a house there. To retain it, he must enter a ghost story telling contest. He is a story teller but is also deathly afraid of ghosts. And there seems to be one in the house. My favorite character was Lauren. She is young, intelligent and home-schooled. She's bound and determined Mitchell like her older sister. We just hope a romance blossoms before the ghosts scare him away.

As is often the case with story collection by a variety of authors, the writing styles and quality differ. While each one is unique, I enjoyed them all.

About the Authors

Alana Terry: Pastor’s wife Alana Terry is a homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second. You can find her at

Toni Shiloh: Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. You can find her at She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.  

Cathe Swanson: Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years, and the long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again. You can find her at

Chautona Havig: Amazon bestselling author of the Aggie books and Past Forward, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave desert where she uses story to connect readers to the Master Storyteller.

Guest Post from Chautona Havig

Why Do So Many Christians Love to Celebrate Christmas?

“We don’t celebrate Christmas because we were ordered to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We were never commanded to celebrate His birth.” Something about that statement didn’t sit well with me, but I was honest enough with myself to admit that it might be because I happened to love Christmas, and the idea of not celebrating it didn’t sit well with my twelve-year-old mind. No, I didn’t go in for the Santa thing. I never had. As later my children were taught to say, Santa wasn’t “invited to our family celebration.” But still, the family, the joy, the music, the spirit of the thing moved me. So, I did what I always did when I didn’t understand something. I asked Dad. “Why do we celebrate Christmas?” If I recall correctly, Dad took a sip of coffee and watched me for several long seconds before he said, “What is Christmas?” Ever the teacher, Dad had to put on his Socratic robe and make me work for it. I answered. “What we call the day Jesus was supposedly born. His birthday.” “Okay. So, we celebrate Christ’s birthday on Christmas—on Christmas.” “Yes.” He gave me that slight smirk that always meant something good was coming. “And what did God do when His Son was born?” Dad stumped me there. I blinked. “I don’t know.” “He sent out the biggest birth announcement ever known to man—a star, angels, music.” Then Dad continued his leading questions. “He…” I got it. “Celebrated the birth.” “Yes.” Sometimes Dad was a man of few words.

But I couldn’t be satisfied—not yet.

“So, why do we give presents to each other if it’s Jesusbirthday? Isn’t that backward?” “Isn’t all of Christianity backward to the fallen mind?” When I didn’t answer, he smiled again. “What does Christ say about doing things for others?” It wasn’t word-for-word Scripture—not even close. Just as he would have prompted again, I remembered Jesus’ story of the man who was fed, clothed, and given a drink. “When you do things for others, it’s like you’re doing them for Jesus.” Dad shrugged then. “Maybe it’s just justification for continuing a beloved tradition, but it brings me joy to give you gifts. And Christ had something to say about how fathers love to give good gifts to their children.”

That brought me back to the original question.

“What about the fact that we’re told to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus? We aren’t told to celebrate the birth. Does that make it wrong?” This time, Dad’s jaw hardened. I saw it twitch, and prepared for a blasting. After all, I had kind of argued with him. I hadn’t meant to, but I could see how it might be taken that way. “Chautona,” he said, “don’t ever put rules on yourself that God hasn’t. We may not be commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth, but we aren’t forbidden, either. We have God’s example to emulate, and we have this truth.” His voice gentled when he saw he’d startled me. “We would never have been able to celebrate Christ’s death if He had not been born. If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.”

What does all that have to do with Christmas novellas (or “noellas” like I prefer to call them)?

Well, people ask me all the time. “Why do you write so many Christmas books? Why do these Christmas collections? Why focus so much on the birth of Jesus and the trappings of cultural Christmas when it’s inferior to the “big thing”—the Resurrection?” Dad’s answer is mine. Because it points to it. It draws attention to it. And because Christmas is one time of year—the only time of year in which you can walk into almost any building in America and still hear praises sung to God at some point. They slip in between love songs about giving away your heart at Christmas and rocking around Christmas trees to “Jingle Bell Rock.” And even the more “secular” versions that aren’t an outright praise to God like “Silent Night” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” sometimes throw in Jesus anyway because they can’t quite leave out, “Merry Christmas” in some place or another. So maybe our Christmas books are inferior to what “Easter” books could be. Maybe they are. But if Christmas trees, caroling, and “ghost stories” keep Jesus at the forefront of someone’s mind in October, November, or December, then I think that’s a pretty cool thing. Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thanks for coming.

Blog Stops

A Diva’s Heart, November 29
Multifarious, November 30
Bibliophile Reviews, December 1
Britt Reads Fiction, December 1
Vicky Sluiter, December 2
Remembrancy, December 2
Among the Reads, December 3
A Reader’s Brain, December 3
KarenSueHadley, December 4
Inklings and notions, December 4
Quiet Quilter, December 5
Lots of Helpers, December 5
Simple Harvest Reads, December 7 (Mindy Houng)
Mary Hake, December 8
Janices book reviews, December 9
Carpe Diem, December 10
Bigreadersite, December 10
Kat’s Corner Books, December 11
Texas Book-aholic, December 11
Aryn The Libraryan, December 12
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novella collection through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

This book did not grab me at all. The biggest problem might well be the author's writing style. Vast pages of prose uninterrupted by dialogue or action. A conversation would be described in prose form, as if someone was telling you about an overheard conversation. That might be one reason I never felt attracted to the characters. I felt like I was hearing about them second or third hand. I found myself skimming after a while, the prose was so long and tedious often uninterrupted by paragraph breaks.

The plot was boring. A photographer flies to Paris to meet his parents and sister for a family time celebrating the father's birthday. Nothing really interesting happens until after a fifth of the way into the book. The author seems to have a sexual orientation agenda too. I had to convince myself to keep reading. I would have stopped except that I did agree to review this book.

I rarely give such a low rating on a novel but this was was particularly uninteresting. The story line never grabbed me nor did I ever feel engaged with the characters. The author's writing style of present tense prose was almost painful to read. I would have preferred some dialogue from time to time. I found the ending to be unsatisfactory. One does learn quite a bit about cameras and photography and what happens in Paris when it rains so much the city floods.

You can read an excerpt here.

My rating:2/5 stars.

Tatiana de Rosnay is the author of more than ten novels, including the bestselling Sarah's Key. She lives in Paris with her husband and their children. Photo by Charlotte Jolly de Rosnay.

St. Martin's Press, 240 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

This novel is a well crafted study in deception. I was a little confused at the start but then, so was Andy, the main character of the story, when she abruptly finds out her mother is not who she had thought. Who her mother really is and how that information is revealed forms the plot.

The narrative shifts from the present day to the 1980s and an anarchist group. Slaughter deftly reveals information layer by layer as we, along with Andy, learn the truth about Andy's mother.

The plot is complex, as are the actions of Andy in the modern day and those of the anarchists decades ago. The actions of the anarchists were so convoluted I had trouble believing they could, in fact, successfully plan and carry them all out.

The characters were really different. Andy was not a strong person and made lots of mistakes. The anarchists were all people I did not like at all.

This is a novel for readers who like a complex plot and do not mind unlikable characters.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Karin Slaughter is the author of eighteen novels with more than 35 million copies in print. You can find out more at

William Morrow, 480 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Friday, November 23, 2018

How to Face Constant Conflict as a Christian by Daniel Whyte III

Whyte reminds us that Christians strong in their faith will experience persecution and conflict. He explores several teachings of Jesus to encourage us. He writes about being sheep in the midst of wolves and being wise as serpents and harmless as doves, for example (Matt. 10:16).

This little book is full of encouragement for Christians facing persecution. It does lack practical strategy, however. For example, Whyte writes, “...always remain committed to following Jesus Christ.” (81/382) And elsewhere, “...we must choose to be peaceful in the midst of pain.” (94/382) Great encouragement but no practical strategy is offered to help readers carry it out. No verses are given to memorize or meditate upon. No prayer strategy is offered. Encouragement is given but it is up to the reader to find out how to be and do what Whyte suggests.

Whyte includes an invitation to salvation at the end of the book. I was happy to see it but did find it a bit odd since the book is clearly identified as being for believers who are willing to suffer for their faith.

This would be a good book for Christians who only need some encouragement to remain faithful in the midst of persecution. Readers who need a practical strategy to grow in this are will need to look elsewhere.

Food for thought: “The world may beat us up now, but it will bow before Jesus later.” (272/382)

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Daniel Whyte III is the author of over twenty books. He has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five countries. He is the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry, and president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry. He is heard each week on his several radio broadcasts. He has a Bachelor's degree in theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor's degree in religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master's degree in religion and a MDiv from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife have been married for twenty-five years and have seven children. You can find out more about Whyte and listen to his radio broadcasts at You can find out more about the ministry at

Torch Legacy Publications. 74 pages.

I purchased this book at the request of the author while it was offered at no cost. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Lost Christmas Memories by Dana Mentick Blog Tour

About the Book

Book: Lost Christmas Memories  
Author: Dana Mentink  
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense/Christmas  
Release Date: November 1, 2018  

A witness with amnesia Can she trust this Gold Country Cowboy with her life? Tracy Wilson witnessed a murder—but after a head injury, she can’t remember what she saw. Now someone plans to silence her for good, and only cowboy Keegan Thorn believes her. With a killer after her at Christmas, Tracy is running out of time to remember…and falling dangerously hard for the cowboy who could break her heart.

Click here to purchase your copy!

My Review

I enjoyed this novel. It started out with action that drew me in to the story right away. Tracy's life is in danger from the beginning and it doesn't stop until the end. Besides a good dose of suspense, there is much in the novel about family dynamics. Keegan had been abandoned by his birth father and is full of hurt and resentment. He can't get along with his half-brother either. We wonder if his care and concern for Tracy's dire situation will help him heal and consider reconciling with his estranged father. We know it could only happen with the Lord's help.

This is the last in the Thorn family series, Keegan being the youngest of the brothers. I have not read the others in the series yet enjoyed this one. I recommend it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over thirty five titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House. Dana was thrilled to be a semi-finalist in the Jeanne Robertson Comedy With Class Competition. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the nutty terrier, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet. You can connect with Dana via her website at

Guest Post from Dana

Writing this book was bittersweet for me. It was lovely to finally be able to tell youngest Thorn brother Keegan’s story, but I sure am sorry to say goodbye to this series! It was such fun to write about these four kinsmen and the family bonds that held them together through all manner of murder and mayhem! Here at Mentink Manor, we have recently sent a bear cub away to college for the first time. It feels like I have lost a limb now that my Boo Boo is gone! Fortunately, we will enjoy having her home for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Though it won’t be a cozy country Christmas like it is for Keegan (we live in a city of 80,000 here in Northern, CA) we will be thrilled to have all our family home to celebrate together (Mama Bear, Papa Bear, two cubs, a naughty terrier, and a senior citizen box turtle!) I hope you enjoy this last installment in the Gold Country Cowboy series. I am sending along our best wishes for a blessed holiday season, from our Mentink household to yours!

Blog Stops

Christian Bookaholic, November 22
Among the Reads, November 22
Inklings and Notions, November 23
Blogging With Carol, November 23
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 24
Moments, November 25
Simple Harvest Reads, November 25
Genesis 5020, November 26
SusanLovesBooks, November 26
Remembrancy, November 26
Kat’s Corner Books, November 27
Pause for Tales, November 27
Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 27
Quiet quilter, November 28
Book by Book, November 29
A Rup Life, November 29
Older & Smarter?, November 30
Have A Wonderful Day, November 30
Cafinated Reads, November 30
KarenSueHadley, December 1
Lighthouse Academy, December 1
Daysong Reflections, December 1
Bibliophile Reviews, December 2
Bigreadersite, December 3
Texas Book-aholic, December 4
Carpe Diem, December 4
Godly Book Reviews, December 5

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy of this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

In Dog We Trust by Beth Kendrick

This is a fun novel for lovers of chick lit and dogs. Jocelyn is a good character. It didn't take long for me to get interested in her. Her frustrating love life is a mess. I kept rooting for her to find the kind of nice guy she deserved. And Bree is a great companion for Jocelyn. I love their smart dialogue and quips.

There is nothing really deep in this novel, just a light and funny romance. You will learn quite a bit about dog breeding and showing. You'll have a fun romp through two sides of society in a Delaware beach resort town, the rich who spend the summer and the others who serve then drinks and wash their linens. You'll experience different situations of courtship and marriage. You'll read of faithful friends and money seeking enemies.

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a lighthearted and humorous adventure through the love life of a sweet caretaker of a few rambunctious dogs. Discussion questions are included so this would be a fun novel for a ladies reading group.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Beth Kendrick is the author of thirteen women's fiction novels. Although she lives in Arizona she loves to vacation at the Delaware beaches.

Berkley, 338 pages. This book releases January 8, 2019.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.