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Thursday, December 24, 2020

2020 Holiday Reads

Holiday reads + Cup of Wassel = Precious Downtime 

  Jennifer Chiaverini  ISBN: 9781101984796 Holiday/Historical Romance
In 1860, a writer's family begins to celebrate Christmas. Yet, there is such political unrest and all joy of the season isn't or can't be embraced. One moment in time can change the course of many. If you have ever read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow you will discover an "insider's" view into his word crafting.

Sophia, struggles with the new direction of her school and her music department. With a spectacular Christmas program concluded, she must take a renewed look into what her future will look like for her students... for her career. Will there be a location change? She chose to stay in her position, in her church, and end an engagement that would have moved her away from those she loved. Now what?

Lucas has only known Sophia for three years. He knew she needed a friend. Is this time for him to extend a hand during her struggles? Could an offering, a cup of coffee and friendship, bring about a perceived promise? Or a wasted opportunity?

With the shadow of a Christmas classic, Chiaverini masterfully blends the pen of Longfellow with the dilemma of Sophia's acceptance and choices during this Christmas season. Two periods of time; two lives on a journey during critical seasons; one choice made; and another... a choice in which inspiration from a poem will once again ring out truth's wisdom in another's life. Beautifully crafted!

 Debbie Macomber  ISBN: 9780399181283 Holiday Romance
Palmer is an "Alaskan man." Ponder is in the wilderness, far removed from most of civilization. The only time that "new" people are in town is when the Caribou Lake Lodge is open. So, Palmer has no clue what to do his feelings for a certain young "chef" that joined the staff at the lodge. By the end of October, he will need to consider just what will happen if Josie heads back to Seattle.

Jack is the lodge's hunting guide, he's as old as the "scenery," and just as ornery as the wildlife! If you ever had a friend who can be brutally honest, then Jack is the man. In his opinion, Josie is the cook that makes a "moose stroganoff" like no other. Palmer had better not let her leave!

Josie has only been in Ponder for six months, her longest time away from home and her mother. Her life in Seattle had given her such valuable training as a Sous-Chef. There were so many opportunities and valuable experiences for her in Seattle. Now that the lodge was closing, she has been offered "the" career opportunity of a life time. Of course, nothing really compares to the beauty of Alaska. The friends she has made, the hikes, the grandeur of the land, and Palmer. Yet, Seattle is her career making move. She has never experienced an Alaskan winter and without the lodge being open what good is being a chef without the visitors? Working with Chef Anton just isn't an opportunity to pass on... right?

Yes, this is a delightful winter adventure. Yes, this novel has settings that creates a slow-down and enjoy the moment scenery. Yes, there is a romance with a chance of a lifetime. Yes, there are conflicting heart choices. And... yes, oh yes, there are the most hilarious conversations.

Nothing could be better for a quick Holiday read...

 Jennifer Chiaverini  ISBN: 9780062841131 Holiday/Realistic Fiction
The Elm Quilters have a new dilemma, a winter storm has ruined the church's roof, the hall was to host the Christmas Boutique, now what will the ladies do? Who is responsible? Just what could the quilters do at a time such as this?

The Christmas Boutique is a "staple" for their community. With its home-baked goodies, seasonal crafted gifts, and beautiful quilts to comfort any heart and home... what will the community do with out the funds the boutique earns? The decision of a new location for the event will bring everyone back to the Elm Creek Manor. Not just those attending the event, the quilters and their best quilts will be active in pulling the boutique together.

The stories behind those quilts, the struggles and the hopes, every stich has its own story... this book is a fond return for those who have been a fan of earlier books. It is an endearing discovery of these characters in Elm Creek. It is a "cozy" read for any book lover who reads with a cup of hot chocolate and a quilt. It is a novel about life unfolding... a "stitch in time!"

Whether you've read any of the other Elm Quilt titles, this is a "heartening" novel that brings about the truth in "crafting" friendships.

Cookies and Cheer (Clipston):
Alyssa is working at the Ronks Bakery for Denise. Even though Denise, an Englisher, bought the bakery from the previous Amish baker, she has continued with the Amish traditions. Denise has worked for her for so long. Now she gets to put her window designs into reality. This Christmas theme will be her best display, as long as Denise approves of its design. Has Alyssa taken on too much for this holiday season? Can she overcome her guilt about this season's overflow of chaos for Denise? How should family, the truth  of Christmas, and her time factor into her life?

Kyle was taken by surprise when Alyssa showed up at his father's metal shop. Here she was asking him, to help her, with a Nativity themed "cookie-cutter" display for the bakery. Cookie cutters, of course he can create these designs. Could this be the opportunity he has been waiting for? Would Alyssa agree to a few "innocent" outings? Just how much is he willing to do for Alyssa, is there a limit when life enmeshes with the world's fast-paced Holiday rush? Will commercialism continue to overshadow his participation in Alyssa's life?

Loaves of Love (Wiseman):
Katie is filled with a joy that she is accomplishing so much for her mother's bakery. Now that her mother is recovering from a medical procedure, Katie is the only baker, shop-keeper, and employee getting her family's generational pies and baked goods into the hands of their loyal patrons, as well as all visitors. For Katie the largest obstacle is the wood stoves that she must bake with. It takes so long to fill orders. Is it possible that a current "boy friend," has an unbelievable gift that might provide an answer to her baking needs? Even though her mother would not approve, there is not any real reason not to upgrade the wood stoves... or is there? What would be the real cost of her decision? Is there any hope in something "more" with Henry? Will Katie face the music?

Henry has known Katie their entire lives. Their families have always been close. They even share the same birthday. Henry has never really allowed himself to ask Katie to do anything beyond their church socials. With the promptings of his family, he hopes that this is the day that he would ask Katie to go with him to diner. Today would be the day! Who is this stranger that seems to know Katie? What is their relationship? Has he missed his opportunity with Katie?

Clara is a friend of Henry's sister. After an initial "re-introduction," Clara is hoping that there just might be a chance to re-new a promising friendship with Henry. Every outing leads Clara into a hopeful relationship that appears to have so many blessings. Until, that one dinner in which they stop by the bakery for desert. What really is happening between Henry and Katie? Should she help Katie with her baking? Katie seems to have too many "men" trying to pull her into so many directions, obviously she should offer a helping hand. But then what?

*A quick moment to ponder... Often, while reading a beautiful nugget of inspiration occurs. Here is a beautiful idea for this season of giving: "There are many biblical mentions of the number twelve in the bible... So, each year my husband and I would get twelve loaves of bread from different bakeries... we would ask God to point us in the direction of those He wanted us to offer up extra blessings... 'Loaves of Love' we called them."

Melting Hearts (Fuller):
Mattie has arrived in Birch Creek to help at her Aunt's bakery. Working in the bakery is a joy, as is lodging with her Aunt and Uncle. Yet, when she discovers that they have also invited the man who is building an addition onto their house to stay... well life couldn't be so cruel, or could it? Exactly how will Mattie be in their home with a man that caused her best friend such distress? What do you do when you feel that someone's choices of cruelty should be held accountable, not invited into your home. She has given her word to be of help, she won't back out on that promise. Should she accept Peter's offer of a truce? Could she keep the truce, given the friendship she has with Lizzy? 

Peter has been offered a job, with lodging, with Carolyn and Atlee. It is a great opportunity to be helpful and return a kindness. That is until he arrives at the bakery and hears Carolyn calling to Mattie? Her name "sets his teeth on edge." Merry Christmas... will the next few weeks be an eternity? At some point, he will need to make peace with Mattie. He hoped Lizzy would have told her the truth by now, unfortunately this situation might get dicey before Lizzy clears up her lies. Can you change someone's understanding with kindness? After all, Mattie and grew up knowing him, couldn't she see past the falsehoods?

Cakes and Kisses (Irvin):
Ambrose is a man blessed with many talents, as well as a pure heart. At thirty he lived in Jamesport, the town he was born in. He may have lacked the desire of his heart, yet his life was good. He found contentment with his life, his home, and those in his community. Just about the time his cousin arrives, Ambrose learns that his home could be taken by the bank. Will he accept the help he is offered? At his age, is it possible that he could learn to read? How much responsibility could he take care of? As a "simple man," could he hope in a future beyond his front porch?

Martha works at the Sweet Tooth bakery, she has always had a place in heart for Ambrose. His smile always brought a smile to her face. She knew that God had a plan for her, yet in these trying times all she could do is pray that God's will would be done. Could it be possible that, in some "great" moment, God's will would bring her the blessing she is hoping for? How can she balance her desire to help Ambrose with her deepest desire of love for a man who isn't ready to accept anything beyond friendship?

It is a rare read that brings "goodness" to your heart. This story is one of reflection, for when we think of falling in love... in these days... many seek appearances and financial security. I wonder, which life is richer? A marriage in which two pure hearts are united or a marriage in which two hearts are seeking all the world can offer?

*Only through the opportunity as a book reviewer and the Fiction Guild did I discover the joy of opening a box of books that would introduce me to the lives within Amish Romance. 
I will cherish every moment of inspiration and goodness that these authors have given. 
Thank you Fiction Guild for recognizing the hopes of your readers!
"I received this book, An Amish Christmas Bakery, from the Fiction Guild for this review."

golden,star,christmas,favourite,bookmark
 It's beginning to look like... Holiday moments with a cup of goodness!
Every title has just the right measure sweetness for gifting.

So many books to explore:

MrsK's to-read book montage

Heartbreak Creek
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Each Little Bird that Sings
The Saturdays
Emily of Deep Valley
Roxaboxen


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MrsK's Reading Bio

Reading is important! No questions asked, not even a blink of the eye from any student I grew up with. On the first day of the First grade, we were given our first books. Day two we all read aloud, round robin of course. Day three we were place in our first basal, now known as a lit circle group. Books were so important, publishers designed new curriculum so that every student was reading by the end of the first week. These early readers had images that looked like what we could see in the classroom, beyond the classroom, even on the big screen. Reading is important, throughout history every generation has believed that “Reading” opens up the world for endless possibilities.

I adore the 1950’s Dick and Jane books. Actually, most reading specialists and experienced (45+) educators believe that every student learned to read with Dick and Jane. Since these books are being re-issued, I have heard many parents, grandparents, and students claim that Dick and Jane stories of repetition does teach students to read.

Early influences from my mother influenced my desire to read. I would watch her read and we would go on “secret” excursions to the library. The library became my playground. I owned every book I could carry home, of course they needed to be taken back to their home after visiting with me for a week or two. My first book that I could pull off of the library shelf and read was, Father Bear Comes Home. I only saw my dad on Sundays for a few hours. I would pull this beginning reader off of the library shelf every week. Every week I would try to read the first chapter. Every week I got further in the story. My mom would let me check it out, only if I could read it myself (She didn’t like the illustrations therefore she didn’t want to take time to read it to me). One day, I pulled the book from the shelf and when mom came to get me from the children’s corner, I realized that I had read the whole story. I ran to the check out desk and the Librarian KERCHUNKED the checkout card. My mother, brother and neighbors read. My teachers read. We all read aloud all day long in school. The Priest read aloud every day at mass, even in Latin. Everybody in the Doctor’s office read. People on the bus read. Dad’s waiting in their cars as the Mom’s and children grocery shopped, read. In fact, once you could read and write, Sunset Magazine considered you a reader and sent you mail every day.

Reading is important; I’ve spent my life reading. I’ve traveled around the world and into space through books. My favorite genre is whichever book I have open at the time. Children’s Literature is my passion. Book clubbing is one of the best past times, especially if food is involved. In fact my friends of old are in a book club and we are about to embark on a beach trip to “read” and discuss our newest selection.

My “home-run” book story has helped every student find his or her own “home-run” reads. Every year, I have shared my, Father Bear Comes Home, and every year my students have brought in their “home-run” books. That’s the “diving board” into our Lit. Studies.

In “Growing Up Digital,” Tapscott’s insights into the new generations enthusiasm for the Net reminded me of my generation’s enthusiasm for reading, movies, TV, parties and our driving permits. The Net-Generation, as Tapscott describes, “are learning, playing, communicating, working, creating communities, and enforcing a social transformation.”
N-Geners are interactive “techies” who are always looking for a way to “work it” verses the TV Generation of “Baby Boomers” who started out looking for “how it works.” Reading development is tougher today, society moves too fast to invest their “non-working” free time into a book or even “home work.” Since I stepped into my own classroom, I have seen students being told to read, being forced to read, and threatened into reading. Homework is not any longer the vehicle for students to gain their future lifestyles or careers with. Yet, the Internet does create an enthusiasm for learning. Since I have been enrolled in these courses, I have used the computers in every subject. My students are using the newest technology in the classroom because I am giving them investigative sites to use as they learn from each other and books. I agree with Tapscott, in order to bridge the gap with this up and coming generation we must “live and learn with them.”


FTC Required Disclaimer: I receive these books from the publishers. I did not receive monetary compensation for these reviews. These reviews have been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

2014

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