Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cheryl's Seasonal Favorites

To celebrate Christmas, I have put together a short list of seasonal favorites that I've reviewed here. These favorites are a mix of genres, so hopefully you'll find something to enjoy.

In this mystical, magical tale a father unfolds the story of Klaus, whose parents died when the Black Death came to their village in 1343. Little Klaus was adopted by the Worshipful Guild of Foresters, Carpenters, and Woodworkers, where he would become a master at his craft. His work would be well-sought after and his generosity led to his sharing his toys with children at Christmas.

Despite the fact that Klaus finds love with his beautiful wife, Anna, his life is not easy. Rolf Eckhof is jealous of the master woodworker and is determined to sabotage his good work. Eckhof's jealousy leads to an epic battle between good and evil on a frosty Christmas Eve.

A beautifully told story that is destined to become a Christmas classic.

Purchase here!

Johnny and his beloved brother, Tiger, are still dealing with the loss of their mother when their Navy Commander father is transferred to a military base in Michigan. Plagued by illness since birth, Johnny along with Tiger and the commander must survive the difficulties of military life from their hunter's cabin on Lake Huron. Luckily, kind and elderly Mrs. Pennington is there to help out. But when the commander is called away before Christmas to fulfill his secret mission for the U.S. Military, the boys pray to St. Nicholas for their father's safe return. Can the love of St. Nick save a life and reunite a family?

A truly remarkable Christmas tale, For the Love of St. Nick is a must read for those who hold family and Christmas close to their hearts.

Purchase here!

The Viet Nam conflict is in full swing, but Frank McRae still lives in the past, tormented by his nightmares of fighting the Japanese in WWII. Even worse, Frank's family is being torn apart. His wife Maggie, the love of his life, is being tortured by ovarian cancer. The thought of losing her is devastating and he urges her to continue the fight. His son, Mike, goes off to Viet Nam, where God knows what could happen to him. Actually, Frank knows all too well.

When Frank learns that Mike has fallen in love with Thi Nhuong, despite Maggie's pleas and his daughter Julie's urging, Frank disowns his son. If there is a God, where is He? How could he let such horrible things happen?

This is a deeply emotional, heart-wrenching book. And yet, it is such an inspiring story of hope and how God's grace touches all of us, that you can't help but feel uplifted by the time you're done reading.

One Holy Night is destined to become a Christmas classic as moving as Max Lucado's The Christmas Child. This book would also be wonderful on film.

This book has been revised since I read it and also has a new cover. You can purchase it here!

After her siblings and parents are murdered in gang-and drug-related violence in Mexico, Isabella Alcantara's grandfather begs her to flee the country with her husband, Francisco. Her abuelo uses his life savings to hire a "coyote" to take a very pregnant Isabella and Francisco across the border. The young couple soon finds themselves alone in the desert and without a penny.

Miriam Nelson lives on a small farm along the Arizona border. Her faith is put to the test when her husband, a border patrol agent, is murdered in a skirmish with drug smugglers. Now the sole support of their son, Davey, the only help she has is her mother, whose health is in question.

As Isabella's due date arrives, she finds herself alone without any idea of how she will care for her baby. Their paths destined to collide, these two women soon discover a common yearning that binds them together.

Outstanding! A modern-day nativity story that blends a ripped from the headlines situation, a crisis of faith, and a grandfather's intercession. Don't be surprised if reading A Christmas Journey Home becomes one of your family's holiday traditions.*

Purchase here!

* I limited myself to sharing one book by an author. Kathi Macias has several wonderful Christmas novels.

This book opens five years after the actual death of Ebenezer Scrooge. Bob Cratchit, patriarch of the Cratchit family and Scrooge's former clerk, now owns Scrooge and Marley. In the years since Scrooge's death, Bob's generosity has run amok; not only leaving him the unwitting victim of shysters and the Cratchit family distanced from each other, but Bob's poor management skills have left Scrooge and Marley teetering on the verge of ruin. Scrooge makes a ghostly appearance to Cratchit, warning him he will be visited by three spirits.

In as much as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is an indictment on capitalism, A Christmas Carol 2 is a humorous commentary on what happens when money is handed over to people or causes without first applying good judgment and common sense. The three spirits aim to show Cratchit the error of his ways and how even though his intentions are admirable, his actions often create more problems than real help. Readers find sprinkled throughout this tale, characters from other Dickens books and numerous footnotes about these characters or supposed conversations between Dickens and his publisher.

Definitely worth a chuckle or two.

Purchase here!

Joy, Laura, and some of the other wives in their knitting group feel their husbands don't appreciate the time and effort that goes into making Christmas special. From entertaining to shopping for gifts, from mailing out cards to decorating their homes, these women do it all. But this year they are sick and tired of not being able to enjoy the season and fighting to get their husbands to understand they need some help.

When Joy decides to go on strike for Christmas she has no idea what she's started. One after another, women from the knitting group join her, and once the local newspaper gets wind of the story, letters of support roll in and create an environment in the town of Holly where women and men are choosing sides. As the husbands learn exactly what it's like for their wives to create the perfect Christmas, the wives struggle not to interfere and make sure it is done the right way. And Rosemary Charles--the local reporter covering the story--has a bet with the newspaper's photographer that the women will win.

This is one of the funniest holiday stories I've ever read. But On Strike for Christmas is more than a book about a battle between the sexes. It is about love, understanding, compromise, and friendships. It was also turned into a movie for Lifetime.

Purchase here!

In the St. Nick of Time finds Kay Sullivan Lynch returning to the Chicago Police Department, much to the dismay of her family. She's not sure it's the right move for her either, but the widow needs to make a life for her and her children so they can move past their loss.

Captain Flynn Dowd transfered to the CPD to escape his own troubles. He hasn't thought about having a woman in his life for a long time, but beautiful and dedicated Detective Lynch sets his pulse to racing. When Sidewalk Santas collecting to feed the hungry are dropping dead all over Chicago, Kay and Flynn are hard pressed to find a motive or MO. They do however, find a strong mutual attraction they can't deny.

Racing against time, Kay and Flynn try to connect the pieces of this strange murder mystery, while exploring their feelings for each other. Will the Lynch children's opposition force Kay to choose between her family and her man?

A sexy, suspense-filled mystery that concludes the award-winning Sullivan Boys series. The strength of this series has always been its characters. K.M. Daughters creates wonderful, complex characters whose stories you want to follow. I would recommend all of them.

Purchase here!

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