27 December 2010

Grace: Review & Christian Fiction Book Club Discussion

Book: Grace: A Christmas Sisters of the Heart Novel
Authoress:
Shelley Shepard Gray
Publisher:
Avon Inspire
Formats:
Paperback, Audio, eBook
Goodreads:
Grace: A Christmas Sisters of the Heart Novel
Genre:
Christian Fiction, Christmas

My summary: It was suppose to be a peaceful family only Christmas for the Brenneman's at their B & B (Bed & Breakfast). But a man running from his memories and a young unwed pregnant woman are about to check in.

My say: Grace is a wonderful holiday tale about opening your heart and home to those God sends your way. It is full of lessons on grace and forgiveness. Plus, it features a sweet modern day Joseph and Mary.

My star rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My recommendation: I highly recommend this one to all fans of Christian Fiction.

My favorite part: I loved how this story was really two love stories at the same time.

My favorite character: Anna (a minor but fascinating character) who became Amish after hiding out in their community and falling in love with an Amish man.

My favorite line: "Regret will only make you lose sleep, not solve the problem."

My cover thoughts: I am ready to check in!


My kiddie-o-meter:
While this novel is delicate and lovely, it does mention some ugly things that happened to several of the characters in their pasts; such as rape, physical abuse, and death.


My Christian Fiction Book Club Discussion Q & A: Grace was the Christian Fiction Book Club pick for December. After reading the novel, each member picks one discussion question to feature and discuss in a blog post. This is mine.
(SPOILER WARNING! Please highlight to read)
Question: Melody never wavered in her decision to keep her baby. Was this the right choice? Would you have blamed her if she wanted to give it up for adoption?
Answer: I don't believe there is a right or wrong. It depends on the situation and what the person can handle. I was inspired by Melody's unwavering determination to love her child despite how it was conceived. Talk about grace.

What are your thoughts?

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say:
How do you practice or add grace to your life?

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

25 December 2010

Yackety-yak: Merry Christmas!


"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~Norman Vincent Peale

My darling sugar pies I hope your Christmas is magical, blessed, and full of glee! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Credits: This positively gorgeous print is courtesy of the incredibly talented Audrey Eclectic. Please visit her shop Folk Art from the Prairie.

24 December 2010

Mrs. Miracle | Book Review

Authoress: Debbie Macomber
Pages: @352 Publisher: Avon
Formats: eBook, Paperback, Audio
Goodreads: Mrs. Miracle
Genre: Romance, Christmas, Adult Fiction

My summary: Seth and Reba both had their hearts broken 4 years ago. One was left a widow and one was cheated on. But Mrs. Miracle is going to work her magic.

My say: Call Me Mrs. Miracle was so precious, I was tickled pink to go back in time and visit Mrs. Miracle's debut. Mrs. Miracle is a little heavier but it is still loads of fun.

What I liked: All the heavenly magic.

What I didn't like:
  1. Not enough Mrs. Miracle! Call Me Mrs. Miracle gives us more time with the darling angel than this one.
  2. A bit more heart break in this one.
My star rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My verdict & recommendation: Fans of Christian Fiction will prefer Call Me Mrs. Miracle. Non Christian Fiction fans will prefer Mrs. Miracle.

My favorite part: More quick quotes and words of advice open each chapter. Like this gem: "Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death."

My cover thoughts: Doesn't it make you want to run out and decorate?

My kiddie-o-meter: There is some minor occasional cursing and one sexy necking session with some groping.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My notes: Another foodie score! This one is also peppered with some yummy Macomber recipes.

My final say: Is there someone in your life that you wish Mrs. Miracle would visit?

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

22 December 2010

News Flash: Best Blog of 2010 Nomination

It appears my blog has been nominated for The Reader's Choice Best Blog of 2010. That means one of you gals is officially my Christmas angel. Thank you thank you thank you! I encourage everyone to head over to Mindful Musings, peruse the list of amazing blogs, and cast some votes.

Update: I tied for 7th place (my lucky number) for the Top Ten Blogs (started before 2010)! Thank you to Natalie of Mindful Musings for hosting this poll, to everyone who voted for me, to my amazing followers, and to the gals who share the 7th spot with me: Parajunkee's View, I Swim For Oceans, and A Life Bound by Books.

19 December 2010

A Simple Christmas | Petite Book Review

Book: A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate The True Holiday Spirit Author: Mike Huckabee
Pages: 205 Publisher: Sentinel
Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audio
Goodreads:
A Simple Christmas
Genre: Memoir, Christmas, Adult Non-Fiction

My summary: 12 Christmases & 12 lessons on patience, sacrifice, loneliness, family, traditions, crisis, hope, stability, limitations, transitions, faith, and rewards.

My say: A Simple Christmas is a slowly simmered memoir. Huckabee takes the reader back in time to share the lessons he has learned along the way about the true meaning of Christmas. Some chapters were slow but some chapters moved me to tears.

My star rating: 3 stars

My recommendation: This would be delightful for anyone that enjoys Christian non-fiction or memoirs.

My favorite quote: "True faith is forged in the furnace, not the showroom."

My favorite characters: His wife and his uncle Garvin.

My cover thoughts: So cute. I love seeing old photos of people.

My kiddie-o-meter: While it is definitely clean, Mike does talk about all the funny things he did as a kid. So if you don't want your little ones picking up any ideas, keep this one for the grown-ups.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say: I love the style of this book. It made me think back to my favorite Christmases. What was your favorite Christmas?


Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

18 December 2010

An Amish Christmas | Book Review

Authoress: Cynthia Keller
Pages: @256
Publisher: Ballantine
Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audio
Genre: Christmas, Contemporary Fiction
Excerpt: Click here to read an excerpt of An Amish Christmas

My summary:

Meet Meg:
List maker
Stay-at-home mom
Wife of James

Meet James:
Working dad
Family money manager
The reason his family is about become penniless....

After finding themselves completely broke, Meg, James, and their 3 children are forced to pack what they can fit into the one car they actually own and head to Meg's parents in New York. But a car accident leaves them stranded in the Pennsylvania countryside. Luckily an Amish family takes them in and they learn some priceless lessons in family, friendship, and material goods.

My say: This story sucked me in rather quickly. I felt for Meg. One day she was a happy suburban mom the next day she has to sell everything and head for the hills with her screaming teenagers, frightened 9 year-old, and the man who brought ruin on them with his lies.

This story is SO different from the average Amish tale. It is about being stripped down to nothing and seeing that your family and your life still have value. It reminded me that sometimes really beautiful things can come out of life's tragedies.

My star rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My recommendation: This book is a very cool rarity. A book that discusses the Amish without being Christian Fiction. Making it perfect for anyone interested in learning more about how the Amish live.

My favorite part: Her time cooking and learning with the Amish women.

My favorite character: Her son Sam.

My cover thoughts: I like it but I don't think it adequately captures 5 regular people suddenly being submerged in Amish culture.

My kiddie-o-meter: Clean and refreshing.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say: The way Meg forgives James is downright impressive.

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

17 December 2010

The Snow Globe | Petite Book Review

Book: The Snow Globe
Authoress: Sheila Roberts
Pages: 166 Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Goodreads: The Snow Globe
Genre: Chick Lit, Romance, Adult Fiction
My summary: 1 magical snow globe finds 3 friends in need of a miracle.

My say: This one was like roasted marshmallows; sweet, light, and delicious but lacking in depth and volume. If the story was longer and more fleshed out, I think I would have enjoyed it more.

My star rating: 3 out of 5 stars

My recommendation: Perfect for fans of chick lit or romance who want something light and magical.

My favorite part: Getting to see inside the snow globe that shows you your future.

My favorite character: The baker gal.

My cover thoughts: This cover is SO pretty! The snow and snow globe are textured and glittery.

My kiddie-o-meter: While there is no sex or foul language, there are some icky relatives who drink too much.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say: If you had a magical snow globe, what would you wish for this Christmas?

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

12 December 2010

Where Angels Go | Petite Book Review

Book: Where Angels Go Authoress: Debbie Macomber
Pages: 304 Publisher: Mira
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audio
Goodreads: Where Angels Go
Genre: Romance, Adult Fiction, Christmas

My summary:
3 Christmas prayers
3 Quirky angels
1 Perfect holiday story

My say: I am quickly becoming a Debbie Macomber fan. From the moment Gabriel parted the clouds to show the angels their assignments, I was thrilled and fascinated. This story is sweet, clever, fast paced, and chocked full of frothy fun holiday cheer.

My star rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My recommendation: Perfect for anyone seeking holiday merriment.

My favorite part: The angels misbehaving.

My favorite character: Gabriel of course!

My cover thoughts: I would love to visit this town.

My kiddie-o-meter: As clean as angel wings.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say: Do you make Christmas wishes or perhaps special Christmas prayers?

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

11 December 2010

Christmas at Harrington's | Book Review

Book: Christmas at Harrington's
Authoress: Melody Carlson
Pages: 167 Publisher: Revell
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Christian Fiction, Christmas

My summary: Lena justs wants a chance at a new life. So when she is offered a job playing Mrs. Santa, she grabs it and becomes the best Mrs. Santa anyone has ever seen. But sadly her past is about to catch up with her.

My say: I didn't read the full synopsis ahead of time so I was pleasantly shocked about her past and I felt for her rather immediately. Godly people have hurt Lena, but this Christmas godly people are about help her start over. Lena learns to forgive and stand up for herself. I loved this beautiful story that reminded me of the magic of forgiveness and compassion.

My star rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My recommendation: If you like Christian Fiction, skip the official synopsis and pick this one up.

My favorite part: Lena's adorable answers (while playing Mrs. Santa) regarding Santa's whereabouts and day-to-day responsibilities.

My favorite character: Cassidy the sweet teen (volunteer elf) who believes in prayers, dreams, and Mrs. Santa.

My favorite line: "Check your history books," she told him. "Santa Claus and Jesus have enjoyed a good long relationship for centuries."

My cover thoughts: Another perfect Christmas cover. I can totally see my self doing this. Can you say, big kid?

My kiddie-o-meter: Clean but expect mentions to infidelity and robbery.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say: Lena's life is changed because complete strangers give her a chance. Have you ever given a complete stranger a gift?

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

10 December 2010

Call Me Mrs. Miracle | Book Review

Book: Call Me Mrs. Miracle
Authoress: Debbie Macomber
Pages: 253 Publisher: Mira
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audio
Genre: Romance, Christmas, Adult Fiction

My summary: He stopped celebrating Christmas when his mother died many years ago. She is still feeling the burn of her last break-up and feeling very alone this Christmas. But fate, her nephew, and Mrs. Miracle are about to change everything.

My say: I now know why Debbie Macomber is a best seller. Call Me Mrs. Miracle is down-right delightful. It isn't Christian Fiction, but it is infused with faith, angels, magic, and the miracles that can happen around Christmas. The story moves at a nice pace that allows the reader to delight in a snow covered New York City Christmas and romance.

My star rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My recommendation: I would recommend this one to anyone seeking some holiday spirit.

My favorite part: The kiss that followed the carriage ride through Central Park.

My favorite line: I LOVED the quick quotes and words of advice that open each chapter. Like this gem, "People are like tea bags - you have to drop them in hot water before you know how strong they are."

My cover thoughts: Beautiful! It makes me want to go window shopping.

My kiddie-o-meter: As clean as fresh snow.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My notes: Foodie score! This one features a variety of recipes from Fried Chicken to Sugar Cookies.

My final say: In the story, Holly is desperately trying to save enough money to buy her nephew the gift he so desperately wants for Christmas. Have you ever gone to an extreme measure to buy someone you love a Christmas hot ticket item?

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

05 December 2010

A Simple Amish Christmas | Book Review

Book: A Simple Amish Christmas
Authoress: Vannetta Chapman
Pages: @277 Publisher: Abingdon Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Christian Fiction, Christmas

My summary: Annie Weaver has spent her rumschpringe becoming a registered nurse. But when a family emergency brings her home, she fears condemnation for her education. What she finds instead is understanding, her place, and love in a very unexpected place.

My say: A Simple Amish Christmas is exactly what it promises to be; a simple, sweet, Amish story that takes place near Christmas time. What I didn't expect, is to actually connect with Annie and her love interest Samuel. They both have strong fierce feelings, thoughts, and insecurities that made them easy to relate to. I enjoyed my time among Annie and her kin. This is a lovely story that reminds us to focus on what is important and to allow God to work our gifts for good.

My star rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My recommendation: I don't normally read Amish CF. But this was the most delightful Amish tale I have ever read. Therefore, I would recommend this one to all Christian Fiction fans. Even those who don't normally read Amish stories. Annie's a great strong educated woman. From the beginning she appreciates her people but also learn knows how to stand up for herself.

My favorite part: The goosebumps they would get when they accidentally touched. *le sigh*

My favorite line: "The knowing is easy. It's the doing that gives us trouble."

My cover thoughts: This cover is perfect for the story. However, I can't imagine how cold those buggies must be?

My kiddie-o-meter: Crystal clear

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say: I wish they had Amish camp for people who wanted to temporarily experience Amish ways. I would SO sign up.

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

04 December 2010

Christmas Letters | Petite Book Review

Book: Christmas Letters
Authoress: Debbie Macomber
Pages: 269 Publisher: Mira
Formats: eBook, Hardcover, Audio
Goodreads: Christmas Letters
Genre: Christmas, Romance, Adult Fiction

My summary: Katherine hates parenting guru Dr. Wynn Jeffries. She fervently believes he is single-handedly ruining children across America with his ridiculous best selling techniques on child rearing. The man wants to bury Santa for Pete's sake! Thanks to his book, her once adorable nieces are now total terrors. Little does she know that fate is about to bring these two very opposite souls together.

My say: This story is pure fun! Several scenes had me laughing out loud. I loved watching these two completely different people fall for each other. The humor and love/hate tug-of-war make this a must read for anyone seeking a light Christmas escape.

My star rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My recommendation: Perfect for anyone in need of some romantic holiday cheer.

My favorite part: The bad kitty scene.

My favorite character: Her kooky amateur psychic neighbor and friend LaVonne.

My cover thoughts: Isn't it beautiful? Don't you want a cup of hot cocoa right about now?

My kiddie-o-meter: No sex or foul language.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say: Did you know writing a Christmas letter that surmised the passing year use to be a tradition? I had no idea! Is this something you do? Or do you know anyone that still does it?


Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com

03 December 2010

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball | Book Review Mini

Book: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball
Authoress: Donita K. Paul
Pages: 226 Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Formats: eBook, Hardcover
Genre: Christmas, Christian Fantasy, Christian Fiction Romance
Tagline: "Mischievous matchmakers, two special tickets, One unlikely couple"
My summary: Cora and Simon are both lonely souls until they wander into a bookshop of matchmakers.

My say: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball is a sweet balanced treat. While there is a heavy dollop of faith there is also a rich mix of magic. Rarely does a book offer faith and magic together and this book is definitely magical. From the secret ticket that mysteriously finds it's way into their shopping bags to the old-fashioned costume romance ball, this book oozed magic.

My star rating: 3 stars

My recommendation: If you're a fan of CF and need a bit of holiday candy, definitely pick this one up.

My favorite part: The costume ball.

My favorite character: Simon's little sister.

My cover thoughts: I adore this cover. It is everything a holiday cover should be.

My kiddie-o-meter: This one is clean as a whistle.

My holiday cheer meter: Low Medium High

My final say: Have you ever been to a big old fashioned costume ball?

Review Copyright © of Tales of Whimsy.com
First Entry in the
Christmas Christian Fiction Reading Challenge.

01 December 2010

The 2010 Whimsy Christmas Bonanza!


"It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle-belling
And everyone telling you
Be of good cheer
It's the most wonderful times of the year..."

Lovelies! Can you believe it? It is finally Christmas time. I can barely contain my excitement. I adore Christmas and in turn adore Christmas books. They remind me to enjoy the season and the things that really matter. So in honor of this joyous holiday, Whimsy is going all Christmas for the month of December.