Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary ebook copy of this title which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
A quick, fun, holiday-time read that is clean and a bit off the beaten trail. This was a fun read for me and I really enjoyed the setting of an out-of-the-way resort. That brings a lot of small-town America comfort to the story. With the relationship between Alexis and her grandmother I found a comfort and joy that brought to mind many times spent with my own grandmother. This is the story of a vlogger who is considering a change of business and needs the advice of a trusted source. That is her grandmother and she finds out that her grandmother is considering a major change herself- to resort owner. Teaming up with her grandmother, the real-estate agent, and eventually the whole town, they bring the Christmas spirit to all around. It was a fun, simple read that didn’t take more than a couple of days to read but it brought me much joy.
TITLE: America’s Favorite Christmastown by Dawn Klinge Publisher: Independently Published Release Date: November 22, 2022 Genre: Christmas romance/contemporary/novella (Clean)
Life can sure throw some curve balls but what we do with them is what matters. Bitter or better is a phrase that often comes to mind and this book is all about “better.” How do you handle the rough parts and how do you come out of it?
Samantha was destined to be a teacher but a breast cancer diagnosis changed that. At 23, all her plans were derailed. She heads to the property that Ted, an old family friend, left her after his passing. She is determined to deal what she has to and get her life back on track. But God through Ted had other plans.
Cole is struggling to get himself back to wherever it is he is supposed to be after his song-writing partner and girlfriend left him for a rising country music star. His family’s electrical business is still there but does he really want to burden himself with all that past? Can he let go of the anger and uselessness that is holding on? Visiting Ted, not knowing he had passed away, brings Cole right into the midst of God’s plans for him.
From the get-go, this book drags you right in and doesn’t let you go. The story is one that so many of us can relate to, even if we haven’t experienced these exact situations the characters go through. We recognize ourselves in them and that really makes this story come alive. I read it in under a day because the storyline just wouldn’t let go. I felt it. I felt the emotion, the stirring, the angst, the worry, the heartache, the wonder. It is all there. You won’t regret the time spent with Christmas at Whispering Creek.
Title: Christmas at Whispering Creek
Author: Barbara M. Britton
Publisher: Pelican Book Group-White Rose
Release Date: November 30, 2022
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance
All Samantha Williams wants is to use her teaching degree to instruct a classroom of second graders. With a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of twenty-three, and failed reconstruction surgery, Sam finds herself without a job and temporarily living with her parents. This isn’t the life Sam expected. When a family friend dies and leaves Sam a house and land in Whispering Creek, Tennessee, Sam must decide if leaving Wisconsin for Southern living is in her lesson plans.
Nashville native, Cole Donoven, left his family’s electrical business to write country music. When Cole’s song writing partner and girlfriend dumps him for a country music star, Cole abandons Nashville to hold up in Whispering Creek and compose one more song. The last thing Cole expects to find in the sleepy small town is a deceased friend, estate squabbles, and a Northern beauty. Will the chaos in Whispering Creek help create a bestselling song for Cole and possibly help him find a life-long collaborator?
(1) winner will receive a Christmas at Whispering Creek book box filled with books and goodies!
Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight December 6, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on December 13, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. International prize, ebook only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast, Wisconsin. She writes Christian Fiction from Bible Times to modern day USA. Barbara has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.Connect with Barbara by visiting barbarambritton.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops! Some of the stops include excerpts so be sure to visit.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.
Keep reading for a giveaway and how to enter.
Christmas and baking – two of my favorite topics for stories! Bentonsport – A Christmas Story by Lisa Schnedler fits that bill. Add to it that you get a time slip (I think that is what people are calling it now when the character slips into a different time period for a while) and this is an engaging, fun book.
When I picked up the story and began, I knew I would enjoy it for the topic but the writing is well done, making it an even better read than I expected! I found that it was difficult to put the story down because I wanted to know more about Thomas’ story, did he find what he was supposed to when he went forward in time? Did Sarah ever figure out what she wanted? Did Thomas figure out how to ask questions without giving away his history? Did he give away his history? Did Sarah discover the truth? How did the story turn out?!? I wanted to know and kept reading until I could find the answer to my next question.
I can happily recommend this book for some light enjoyment mixed in with baking, history, and well-developed characters. With the holidays right around the corner, this will be the perfect fit.
Title: Bentonsport – A Christmas Story
Series: Bentonsport #1
Author: Lisa Schnedler
Publisher: Scrivenings Press
Release Date: September 27, 2022
Genre: Clean Romance/Christmas/Time Travel
What if you found the love of your life right in your hometown—in another century? Bentonsport—two different eras in one special town, two lonely persons, and one miraculous Christmas…
For Bentonsport Academy Headmaster Thomas Barton, Christmas emphasizes his loneliness. He has given up hope of discovering a woman to share his heart and life and plans to return to his hometown for the holidays. But when his friend’s preposterous prophecy comes true, he finds himself having traveled not by train, but through time, from 1869, to Bentonsport today! Now he must navigate a modern world for the two weeks before Christmas and discover what he was sent to find.
Baker Sarah Peterson has everything she wants in the small historic town of modern-day Bentonsport—everything but a man with whom to share her dreams and future. And, in a town of under fifty residents, where’s she going to encounter a soulmate? But when Thomas walks into her bakery, seemingly odd and out of place, but handsome and charming, she finds herself hoping something special might happen this Christmas. Suggested Purchase Links (do not benefit me): Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | BookBub
(1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card & bookmarks.
Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight October 10, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on October 17, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US/CAN. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Lisa Schnedler writes cozy romances. She has lived in Bentonsport, Iowa, for more than 25 years, the setting of her latest series. A certified Christian Life Coach, Lisa has a Christian life planning ministry, Branch Living, to help Christians live out their God-given purposes. This ministry includes retreats, classes, a website, blog, and podcast. She is president of a health system in Wisconsin. She is a pastor’s wife, mother of three, and grandmother of six.
Connect with Lisa by visiting lisaschnedler.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.
Disclosure: Many thanks to The Manger Mission for providing this product/product information for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.
Nativity sets are such a common and joyful part of the Christmas tradition for us. We enjoy having a number of these out each Christmas season and having a variety of styles. One thing we noticed when our girls were young is that playing with the nativity set is something they did almost daily and really enjoyed. We kept a kid-friendly nativity set where they could reach it and play whenever they wanted. The Manger Mission: A Family Christmas Tradition written by Kristin Vazquez and illustrated by Hannah Santi is just such an activity set with a hardback storybook to go with it.
The Storybook – The Manger Mission
This is a lovely little storybook about about 6″x6″. This hardback book is a fairly muted color scheme of teal, gold, grays, and white. It matches they activity set beautifully. The story introduces the three wise men, modeled on the story from the Bible found in Luke that tells of an unknown number of men, also unnamed, who traveled to Judea to find the king that was foretold in prophecy from the Old Testament. (This Bible account is noted at the end of the story.)
The story is of the three wise men recounting their journey to see the newborn Christ while they are being moved daily by the children of the home for their yearly reenactment of that journey with a nativity set.
The illustrations, of course, are modeled on the activity set. In the story, the three wise men figures are taken out of the box and are excited to start their yearly reenactment to get to the manger where Jesus lay. They talk about the different places the children place them, each day a little bit closer to the destination of Jesus’ manger. It is a sweet little story.
The Activity Set
The activity set contains 12 pieces. Each piece is comfortable suited for a child’s hand and is a piece of shaped wood. They wood is painted and the covered with a protective coating. They are coordinated with the storybook. The pieces include:
Joseph and Mary
3 wise men
a shepherd (mine had 2 but the purchase site shows 1)
This is a fictionalized story that is based on the Bible, though it does incorporate a lot of the tradition of man. This includes giving names to the wise men, likely based in a denominational tradition, and noted a specific number of wise men, again based solely on tradition and not the Bible account. That does not men this is not an incredible activity set that can bring a lot of meaning to your family. This daily motion of the wise men can start at any time during the holiday season if you would like to use it that way. It could also be just a beautiful, fun activity set for the children to have fun with.
The story is fine but I did not find it super engaging. If my children were still in the age range for this, we would read the story at the beginning and then just have the activity set for the girls to play with whenever they wanted. Whatever works for you family would be just right.
This is a beautiful, engaging activity set that can add a lovely tradition to your holiday season or a play time for your children or grandchildren. It is definitely worth investment. Do remember that they are painted wood, though, so a teething child or one who likes to chew on things could damage the pieces.
This is a recommend from me. My girls are even excited to have this new nativity set to add to our collection this year and they are 17, 15, and 12. 🙂 Visit https://www.themangermission.com/ to purchase your own set or one for a gift and start a new tradition.
Many people think of the holidays and their mind immediately thinks of the taste and smell of peppermint.
Red and white
Minty tastes and smells
And I’ll admit that much of Christmas does tend to have been enveloped by peppermint. We have read books about candy canes, studied gingerbreadhouses that are decorated with candy cane or peppermint drops, and made nutcrackers decorated with candy canes.
We have a nutcracker that is the peppermint nutcracker, holding peppermint drops. He’s a definite favorite.
We have candy canes on our tree and as part of some of our ornaments.
When I was growing up, I had a holiday countdown that had one mini candy cane tied to each day. I know I will have it but have not come across it this year. The girls wanted me to put it up but I just haven’t found it.
But, for me, cinnamon is as much a smell and taste of Christmas and holidays as peppermint, if not more. We have made suckers in our family for much longer than I have been around. It is one of our long standing traditions.
Bizcochitos are yummy cookies that tend to have a bit of a cinnamony smell to them and since they are a staple of the holidays in New Mexico, it is a cookie that I love to smell baking. Of course, I love to eat them, too.
Cinnamon sugar nuts is another favorite to make. We make them any time but that cinnamon smell just permeates the house and makes it smell like the holidays.
Cinnamon candles, cinnamon brooms, cinnamon pinecones – these are all smells that bring me right back to the holidays at my parent’s house, tucked up by the fire watching the snow come down. We don’t get to enjoy that this year but the cinnamon smell will take me back there. And my middle girl made me cinnamon sugar nuts today while I was doing the grocery shopping so I came home to that beautiful smell of the holidays.
Happy holidays. Merry Christmas!
Blessings, Lori, At Home.
This post is being linked up at the Homeschool Review Crew December Challenge. Head over to read more posts about what peppermint brought to mind for other bloggers. Merry Christmas and may you have plenty of beautiful tastes and smells this holiday season.
So, what to do for December for the Book Club? I know – we are already over a week into December. The theme is celebrations and I have tried to focus that down and bit and have been completely unsuccessful. So you know what? I’m going to share a number of books that we read this month. For years, we have wrapped 24 children’s books about the holidays and unwrapped one each night. I’ll share those with you at the end of the month or you can follow along day-by-day on the Instagram or Facebook page. I post those (almost) daily.
For myself, I am reading a number of holiday short stories and books that I have downloaded to my Kindle. Again, I did this years ago but have never ready them. So I am doing that this year. I started Dicken’s A Christmas Carol last night. Previous to that I had looked up some of the short stories like The Gift of the Magi, The Birds’ Christmas Carol, and The Christmas Cake. I will be reading others. Most of these are free to download since they are in the public domain. An excellent way to do some enjoyable holiday readying.
The other thing I am doing this month is reading with my youngest. We are going to work hard on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe next week as part of our holiday studies. Something different. And of course, we will include some baking of some sort.
What are you reading and doing this month for celebrations?
Memory comes rushing at us in all directions sometimes and I think the holiday season is one of those times. We find memories in all sorts of places and things – a song (or a complete series of songs), an experience, a decoration, a smell, or more. Some of the things that bring back the most memories for me, and makes new memories every year that I cherish, is our ornaments.
Our tree goes up when everyone is home and can help. We get it up and check lights. Getting the lights on is always an adventure and we laugh and enjoy it. Then we bring out the ornament box. We have ornaments from when At Home Dad and I were tiny wee ones and we have ornaments that we have bought since last Christmas. Each ornament is a memory – a place visited, a time together, someone we love, a book we enjoy, and it just goes on and on. It is too hard to name a favorite ornament and we are constantly adding to them.
Every year we add an ornament for the girls and try to make it something special. We add the girls’ initials and the year to each ornament added to the collection. This makes each one special.
When At Home Dad and I got married, we were blessed with two boxes of Christmas ornaments – one from each of our parents of ornament from different times of our childhoods. Many were handmade. Some were purchased. All were special and each year the girls ask about each one and enjoy hearing the recall of the time or place. I love sharing that, too. We will be passing the girls’ ornaments onto them when they are adults and decorating their own places. A tradition too special to skip.
Both of these books are available from New Growth Press.
A Better December: Proverbs to Brighten Christmas by Steven Estes
Many of us know just how insightful the book of Proverbs in the Bible is to our daily lives. But have you ever thought about how much it applies to the holiday season? to Christmas time?
Me, either. But Steven Estes did. And his humorous application of the Proverbs to the holidays is a joyous read. This is a short 80-ish page read and is broken into chapters focusing on things like gifts, children, longings, others, and disappointment. Each of the chapters seems to be right on target for so many of us as the holidays can
If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the holidays, the commercialism, and the “stuff”, take a peek at this book. The insights will help you grab hold of what is important, what is necessary, and the joy that should be fueling our holidays. As we are brought into “Someone greater than Solomon is here”, the beauty of the plan of God is revealed and Jesus is introduced. This easy to understand transition is the perfect way to introduce Jesus to those who don’t yet know him.
The pen-and-ink drawings that add whimsicality to the book. This neat little book would be a great one to share with others this holiday season.
Prepare Him Room by Marty Machowski
Are you looking for a series of family devotionals to guide you through the season approaching Christmas? Some folks call this time Advent. I didn’t grow up using that term and we don’t use it with the girls but the time approaching Christmas is still a time that hearts tend to be open to hearing more about our Savior. This book is a series of family devotionals for the 4 weeks of Advent to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Broken into 4 weeks, this series of studies looks at the prophecies the foretold Christ’s coming and the fulfillment of those prophecies. Each week has three family devotionals and a chapter of a Bartimaeus story that unfolds one week at a time, concluding in week 4. Each family devotional includes a list of supplies needed (so you can be prepared ahead of time), a warm-up activity, reading the prophecy scripture, and a written out series of thoughts about the prophecy. Another section is titled Talk About It and it related to the scripture read. There is at least one carol included in each devotional for some singing and you can get a companion CD if you wish. Then there is a family activity to close the devotional.
The time required for each devotional will vary depending on if you choose to use all of the activities and how much discussion you include. You may even wish to include a significant amount more scripture to really bring the impact of the message home to your family. In this case, you will need to go digging and that will take some additional time but I find that when we open up that kind of discussion with the girls, we all learn a whole lot more and can understand scripture more.
This is a simple way to add some meaningful Bible time to you holidays.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to put something up outside your home to share the joy of the season.
It doesn’t matter if you just put up a single strand of lights or just a few candy canes that could only be seen during the day. It doesn’t matter if you were the brightest house in the nation (really, that house the won The Great Light Fight was right here in our city and it was BRIGHT!!!) or the one that felt dwarfed by what others did around you.
Each thing you put up brightened someone’s day or night. It brought smiles, even if you didn’t see them. It helped someone find a bit of joy.
Perhaps that joy came just when it was needed most or perhaps it topped off the best day of the year. Perhaps it was seen by someone traveling across the city or across the state. Maybe even across the country.
Whatever it was and however it occurred, your efforts made a difference and I want to say thank you.
We don’t always recognize that what we do for ourselves can affect others but your holiday decorations? They did. And I just want to say a great big huge