Monday, December 29, 2014

Year End Book Reviews

Shelley Wilburn
I love reading. A story that can keep my attention, affect my emotions, and make me believe the characters are my friends is a keeper in my book (no pun intended). I also love to be able to write about the books I read. That's why I'm so excited to be writing this today because the books I'm writing about are jam packed with many such stories.

I don't normally write reviews of more than one book at a time. But since we're almost to the end of 2014, I wanted to write a snippet about all of them to get interest flowing. They're all beautifully written books. In addition, nearly all of them are written by many of my writer friends making the stories precious treasures.

Christmas Treasures

One of the books I was so blessed to read is aptly named Christmas Treasures, A Collection of Christmas Short Stories. It is a Christmas anthology of short stories that fourteen different authors contributed their talents to, to come up with a wonderful collection of inspiring holiday stories.

Of course, if you're anything like me Christmas isn't the only time to read Christmas-themed stories. I love reading them all year round. Any time you can read about faith, hope and love, whether old, new, hoped for, fought for, or otherwise is inspiring.

Take for instance, Linda Glaz's story, Part-Time Job. Gwyneth can't bring herself to tell her daughter Isabella that her daddy wouldn't be coming home for Christmas. She couldn't tell her that he had gone missing, taken from the civilian barracks in Afghanistan in the night. Who knows whether he was even still alive?

Brady couldn't bring himself to appear on his own doorstep in his condition. Why would his family only want half a husband, half a daddy back? Now that he limped and only had one arm, after a horrific accident, how could he even be the man they once knew? He decided to get a part-time job away from them, then later on send divorce papers to Gwyneth.

Of course things take a different turn when Brady's part-time Santa job lands him in the department store where his mother-in-law has brought his daughter to see Santa. What will happen if Gwyneth discovers it's really her missing husband underneath that Santa suit? Will she still love him? Will she still accept him? Will Brady be able to be a husband and daddy again?

Stories like this and more are what you will find in Christmas Treasures. You will be kept on your toes, your heart will beat with anticipation, you will wonder whether or not love will win in the end, and quite possibly you'll experience all of the above. Each short story is beautifully written. Some have historical settings while others are set in modern day. Each story is also love and faith inspired. Some are with a twist of humor, all are with a sweet presence of God woven into the lives of the characters.

Find Christmas Treasures at the following link:

Christmas Treasures features the talents of Patty Wysong, Joanne Sher, Linda Glaz, Karla Akins, Elaine Stock, Christina Rich, Karen Wingate, Karen Campbell Prough, Donna Hubbard Scofield, Karlene Jacobsen, Kathleen Rouser, April Straugh, Anne Garboczi Evans, and Susan F. Craft. The book is a wonderful collection of stories that anyone will enjoy.

The Festive Bride

The Festive Bride is another wonderful book I had the privilege of reading. Written by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, this lovely book is Book Nine of a series called The 12 Brides of Christmas. Not to worry though, even though this book is ninth in a series, each book is it's own story, written by a different author and can be read individually without the worry of missing out on a story line.

The Festive Bride is set in Southern Illinois in 1886. I loved that since I'm from Southern Illinois and it was fun imagining my area in that era. Of course, watching the lives of Roy Gibbons, his two young daughters, and Alma Pickens unfold was interesting and entertaining. Being that Roy is a widow and Alma has never been married, yet they find themselves attracted to one another, I wondered how these two would find love. Or would they even find it at all?

In the Festive Bride, Alma's father makes a marriage deal with Roy to marry his daughter Alma. Shocked that her father would arrange her own marriage, Alma puts some stipulations on the deal including courtship and a holiday wedding, that Roy must fulfill before the wedding. Will Roy be able to accomplish them before the wedding date? Will Alma learn to love Roy, or better yet, will she be able to love and accept Roy's two very young daughters? Will she be able to be a mother to them? Alma wasn't even sure whether Roy shared her belief in God. Would he be able to measure up?

After some mishaps and misunderstandings, along with a couple of humorous antics, I wondered if Roy would be able to convince Alma that marrying him would benefit them all. But I also wondered whether or not Alma and Roy would be able to fall in love within the short amount of time they were given before their Christmas wedding date.

With the help of two very rambunctious little girls and the magical blessings of Christmas, the Festive Bride is a wonderful Christmas love story of the combining of a family. It's just how God would work a miracle for a lonely widower who is afraid to love again, two little girls who need a mommy, and one spinster who desperately wants to marry and have a family.

Diana did a wonderful job of weaving this story. The Festive Bride is one you'll want in your collection. I truly enjoyed reading it.

You can find it on Amazon at the following link:

Raspberry Kisses

Raspberry Kisses by Cecelia Dowdy caught my attention when I read the sample of a chapter on Amazon. I bought the eBook and decided I would give it a try. I'm usually hesitant about reading an author I'm not familiar with. However, I also love to support authors which led me to pick up and read this scrumptious book.

Raspberry Kisses is Book One in The Bakery Romace Series. In this book, Rhea's bakery is failing. Since losing her pastor husband a couple years ago, Rhea opened the bakery to fulfill her dream of owning her own business. Along with sales going downhill, she's also about to lose her apartment because of the misdealings of her sleazy landlord. Trying to figure out what to do, Rhea's overdramatic, unstable, identical twin sister Raven offers to step in and loan her the money to pay her rent and get her out of some debt. Except the loan comes with a stipulation; the only way Rhea will get the loan, she must attend a Christian Single's Retreat to spy on Raven's love interest to find out why the man won't return Raven's calls. Rhea's sister is blackmailing her.

Martin Lane is an associate pastor in his father's church, trying to finish his seminary degree while also leading a ministry of feeding the homeless. He is also seated to take over the senior pastor position when his father retires. However, a very stubborn member of their church has taken it upon herself to ruin Martin before he can even begin. Not only that, but his sister has scheduled him to be one of the speakers at the Christian Single's Retreat.

When Rhea and Martin meet it's attraction from the beginning. Martin at first mistakes Rhea for her twin sister, but is quickly corrected when Rhea explains. Rhea doesn't want another relationship with a pastor after tragically losing her pastor husband. She also doesn't want to hurt her sister. She needs that loan money. Martin has never been interested in Rhea's sister and must tell her. But he also has secrets that not even his own family knows about. Can they both move beyond their issues to find love?

When Martin offers to help Rhea make her bakery a success she's reluctant, but finds Martin's ideas worth listening to. Can she look past him being a pastor? Martin is falling for Rhea, but can he trust her with his deepest secret? Can he get Rhea to fall in love with him. Will he even get the senior pastor position at his father's church? What will happen when Rhea's twin sister finds out they are attracted to each other?

Raspberry Kisses is a very busy love story. With twists and turns on every page, will Martin reveal his secret past? Will Rhea get over her late husband and be able to move on? Will her bakery succeed? Many questions will be answered in this scrumptious story.

Find Raspberry Kisses at the following link:

Follow the links given in each review for Christmas Treasures, The Festive Bride, and Raspberry Kisses. Trust me when I say that you won't regret reading any of them. They're well written and very affordable. They are a definite must have for your collection.

I'll be reading and writing reviews throughout 2015. Be on the lookout for them and remember, always support an author!


Elaine Stock said...

Shelley, what a heartfelt blessing to wake up to this morning. Thanks so much for your sweet words for Christmas Treasures. You are a treasure!

Diana Lesire Brandmeyer said...

Thank you Shelly for reading the Festive Bride. I'm honored you included it in your year-end reviews.

Shelley Wilburn said...

Elaine and Diana; You both are most welcome. I will always reiterate, I love to support other authors. You both made it easy by writing wonderful stories. Keep it up!

Cecelia said...

Thanks so much for featuring my novel, Raspberry Kisses, on your blog! I appreciate it! I hope the Lord blesses you richly in 2015!

Shelley Wilburn said...

Cecelia, you are very welcome! Keep writing great stories!

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