Colors of Christmas by Olivia Newport



MY REVIEW:

“Colors of Christmas” contains two individual novellas centered around the Christmas season. Both stories are heart-warming and encouraging portrayals of hope for those who might not be inclined to celebrate due to personal pain or disappointments.

“Christmas in Gold” features Astrid who has been forced by an accident to move into an assisted living community. Her new life is vastly different from what she is accustomed but Astrid is determined to make the best of it. She quickly makes a few friends but is especially drawn to her physical therapist who obviously needs encouragement. This lovely story illustrates so well how our own suffering prepares us to minister to others who need hope to overcome the burdens they carry.

“Christmas in Blue” features Angela who is still grieving the death of her best friend and would rather just sleep through Christmas. When she finds herself in charge of the annual town Christmas celebration, everything that could go wrong does. With the help of faithful friends and a little boy, somehow they manage to pull it off. I especially enjoyed the chapter about the Blue Christmas church service on December 21 and the meaningful scriptures and comments made by the pastor. The Christmas Eve service near the end was also especially touching.

“Colors of Christmas” is an excellent book to prepare your heart for the true meaning and hope of the season.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

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Christmas in Blue
Angela just wants Christmas to be over. Instead, she finds herself in charge of the town’s celebration, and everything goes from bad to worse. Can she rescue Christmas for the town—and herself?

Christmas in Gold
When eighty-year-old Astrid moves into an assisted living community and meets a young woman on the brink of despair, she resolves to stir up Christmas hope one more time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. Her husband and twenty-something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

GUEST POST FROM OLIVIA NEWPORT:

We All Have a Story

I’m younger than most of the people I exercise with. It started when I had a lot of pain in my feet and needed low-impact classes with the option of sitting down and learned I didn’t have to be a senior citizen to take their classes at my gym. Then I discovered how tough most of them are. Years later, though my feet are better, these are still my people.

A couple of years ago, while we waited for the younger and allegedly-but-not-really-tougher crowd to clear out of the group exercise room so we could invade it, a woman I would not have guessed to be 80, because she could out-cardio and out-lift me any day of the week, mentioned she had been widowed since she was 39. And she’d been widowed the first time at 19. And she’d grown up in Germany while Hitler was intent on destroying Europe and life was not easy.

Then the changing of the guard happened and I was left with my mouth gaping. I knew I had to hear this story. The next week after class, we went across the parking lot to Culvers for lunch and I scribbled notes on the backs of a pile of brown napkins while Astrid talked. Later she let me read the account of her life that she had written herself.

Astrid faced so many tragic circumstances, but she would be the first to tell you that God was with her even before she knew how to call on him. Many people with her life story would have found plenty of reason to wallow and stagnate. But not Astrid. Truly she is one of the most hopeful people I know.

Her story was the beginning of Colors of Christmas, which includes two stories. Astrid’s is “Christmas in Gold,” and the other is “Christmas in Blue.” Astrid inspired me to write about hope for a time of year when the Christian message resounds with hope yet so many people struggle to grasp hope for themselves. I pray these stories will help many recover a sense of hope afresh.

Olivia Newport chases joy in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

BLOG STOPS:

Books N Baubles, October 17

Christian Bookaholic, October 17

Bukwurmzzz, October 17

Janices book reviews, October 18

Singing Librarian Books, October 18

Moments Dipped in Ink, October 18

A Simply Enchanted Life, October 19

G.O. & D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, October 19

Bigreadersite, October 19

Reader’s cozy corner, October 20

Have A Wonderful Day, October 20

Reflections from my bookshelves, October 20

Blogging With Carol, October 21

Just the Write Escape, October 21

Zerina Blossom’s Books, October 21

A Greater Yes, October 22

Mary Hake, October 22

Daysong Reflections, October 22

A Baker’s Perspective, October 23

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 23

Baker Kella, October 23

Smiling Book Reviews, October 23

The Fizzy Pop Collection, October 24

It’s Storytime With Van Daniker, October 24

Remembrancy, October 24

Carpe Diem, October 25

autism mom, October 25

Bibliophile Reviews, October 25

A Reader’s Brain, October 26

By The Book, October 26

The Power of Words, October 26

With a Joyful Noise, October 27

Pause for Tales, October 27

Splashes of Joy, October 27

Jeanette’s Thoughts, October 28

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, October 28

Karen Sue Hadley, October 28

Reading Is My SuperPower, October 28

Vicky Sluiter, October 29

To Everything a Season, October 29

Pursuing Stacie, October 29

Just Jo’Anne, October 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, October 30

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 30

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away a grand prize of a Christmas Bundle Bonanza which includes 7 Jumbo rolls of Christmas wrapping paper, 2 sets of stick-on gift tags, 2 packages of Christmas cards and envelopes, 2 collections of Christmas novellas—18 stories in all, and a signed copy of Colors of Christmas!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
https://promosimple.com/ps/c319

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Devil in the Dust by Cara Luecht



MY REVIEW:

With a setting in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl during the early 1930’s “Devil in the Dust” is a powerful story of both desperation and hope, avarice and sacrifice, and the basic human will to survive.

The author’s words pulled me immediately into the story. I could hear the never-ending wind and feel it’s dry heat on my skin. I could taste the dirty grit in my mouth and feel the hot earth beneath my bare feet. It was easy to understand the hopelessness that permeated the small town as well as the choices made by the characters. Her characters are strong ones who tell their story well. Pastor Peter and his wife Lillian do what they can to help their flock but feel helpless as they can do little to relieve the suffering. Emma Owen sacrifices her own needs to care for her children in the absence of their father who left on business and never returned. Jessie Owen does all she can to help her family but dreams of a better life. And then there is the stranger who seems to offer hope but may not be who he seems.

The drought had taken a toll on the once thriving small town and farming community. Income lost and the inability to even grow food for their hungry families forced many to leave and those who stayed wondered from day to day just how long they could hang on. And then there were those claimed by death. In the midst of these desperate conditions a shiny new car rolled into town driven by a man with plans to take advantage of the situation. It was little wonder that young Jessie was charmed by his polished appearance, kindness, and generosity. Could this stranger be the answer for the Owen family?

I thoroughly enjoyed “Devil in the Dust”.  It is a story that brought a brief part of my American History classes to life and helped me view it through the eyes of those who lived it. I gained a new appreciation for the blessed life I live in a snug house with more than enough food for my family.

Cara Luecht is a gifted author. If you have not read any of her books, “Devil in the Dust” would be a good place to begin.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Click to purchase

June 1933

Their small Oklahoma town is dying. Lillian remembers how acres and acres of wheat once waved under jewel-blue skies. Now the dirt stretches across the flat land as far as she can see.

Emma’s husband is missing. She keeps house, keeps her five children fed as best as she can, and keeps smiling as her hope fades. But when the days stretch to weeks, she faces the possibility that he will never come home. Left with the likelihood of losing their farm, and the ever-present pangs of hunger, she is forced to consider opportunities that, under normal circumstances, she would never contemplated.

Jessie, Emma’s oldest daughter, completes her tasks as if numb. Forced to wear her mother’s shoes to avoid the humiliation of bare feet, she watches the dead, dirt road for signs of life.

And then he comes.

His new car and shiny shoes and generous way with gifts and money catch Jessie’s eye, much to the dismay of her mother … and much to the concern of the minister’s wife, Lillian. He’s too smooth, too willing to help, and much too eager to spend time with a girl less than half his age. But who is to say he is not the miracle they all prayed for?

Click here to purchase your copy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award winning author, Cara Luecht, lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband, David, and their children. In addition to freelance writing and marketing, Cara works as an English Instructor for a local college. Cara graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently, Cara is studying for a Masters of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary.

GUEST POST FROM CARA LUECHT:

Why I wrote Devil in the Dust.

One Sunday after church, we decided to go to lunch with another family. We hadn’t had the opportunity to get to know this couple well, but the conversation was amazing, we laughed until we almost cried, and I’m pretty sure the restaurant manager was glad to see us go.

On the way out, the topic grew more serious, and I mentioned something that worried me. It was maybe a sentence—I was not baring my soul—but the woman with whom we had spent the last couple of delightful hours stopped, blinked, and put up her wall-of-a-Christian-smile. In an instant, I knew I had been judged as negative. You see, for many Christians, the mantras of “the battle is already won,” “faith will get you through,” and the largely American “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” have drowned out the quieter mandate to care.

I went home chased by the feeling that, somehow, I didn’t measure up. And for a time, I dredged that place of overthinking, attempting to float a reason out of that murky pond where insecurity hides.

Of course, I came up with nothing, and decided to put my efforts into deciding what my next novel would be. Unfortunately (or fortunately), at this stage, every little life experience has potential for use.

While I had been undecided on theme, I knew I wanted the setting for the novel to be in the dustbowl in the 1930s. I began researching, and I realized the scope and human impact of this disaster was much larger than I had remembered from history class. More importantly, it lasted an entire decade. For a decade, people dealt with hunger and drought and death from breathing in the ultra-fine soot. Children were lost. Families abandoned their farms. People survived on rations of canned government meat…and that’s when they were lucky. Many felt cursed.

Life was hard. I imagine that smiles were rare, even in the church.

I started thinking about what it would take for a community to survive devastation on this scale. I considered the kind of people who make up a town: merchants, teachers, police, farmers, and ministers. And while merchants and teachers, along with everyone else, would feel the change brought on by the slow death of a drought, for a minister it would be different. A minister’s purpose is to bring people the good news of the gospel. Technically, their job would stay exactly the same, except every phrase they spoke would shift in meaning because the context—the lives of those sitting in the pews—had changed so dramatically.

Growing up as the child of a pastor, I have some knowledge about how a minister’s home works. And in all my research I was left with one question: How could a minister preach every Sunday to a congregation of people who had lost everything with no hope for improvement anytime soon?

I moved my research to the Bible, and when I did, I came across the story of Lazarus. I have heard and read this story countless times, but in the light of trying to puzzle out what a pastor might do in a situation where it looks like all has been lost, I realized something about the story that I had never considered. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he cried with Lazarus’ sisters. He shared in their grief even though he knew it would end. He stayed there with them in that moment of sorrow.

I came to the conclusion that during times of suffering, our responsibility to others should look nothing like that drought-of-a-Christian-smile that I met outside that restaurant. Rather, it should emulate Jesus’ example. When we make Christianity only about victory, and turn faith into a wish book, we strip it of its most powerful message: hope. Not eternal hope, but the hope of not being alone. More often than not, we lack the ability to change someone’s circumstances. What we can do is come up alongside someone and help carry their burden even if only for a few minutes. Christianity is not a way to avoid suffering, it’s about finding meaning through the suffering.

I wrote Devil in the Dust as an exploration of what it means to be a Christian while standing in the midst of a desert. Told through the voices of three women who endure the quiet shame of poverty, Devil in the Dust is a story about what happens to faith when everything goes wrong.

BLOG STOPS:

Zerina Blossom’s Books, October 10

Reading Is My SuperPower, October 11

Connie’s History Classroom, October 11

The Fizzy Pop Collection, October 12

Genesis 5020, October 12

A Reader’s Brain, October 13

Blogging With Carol, October 14

Bukwurmzzz, October 15

A Baker’s Perspective, October 16

Books n Baubles, October 17

Inklings and notions, October 18

Mary Hake, October 19

Pause for Tales, October 20

Bigreadersite, October 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 21

Karen Sue Hadley, October 21

Daysong Reflections, October 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 23

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and signed copy of Devil in the Dust!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
https://promosimple.com/ps/c201

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Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey



MY REVIEW:

I’m not sure how she does it but Dani Pettrey continues to up her game with each and every novel. I loved here Alaskan Courage series and so far each installment of her Chesapeake Bay series has been better than the previous one. “Blind Spot” has taken things to another level.

One thing I really like about this series is the group of friends, all in different branches of law enforcement, who work together. Wives and girlfriends are also involved in the cases at some level too. I enjoy seeing the featured characters from the previous books having an actual role in the story and not just a cameo appearance. In “Blind Spot” the reader is treated to more than one exciting case, each with a critical time frame. Declan and Tanner are racing against time to stop a possible terrorist threat that could kill many but clues are hard to come by. Griffin and Parker have another case to solve, the unexpected murder of an old mentor. It too takes some unexpected twists that adds to the intensity of the plot. And by-the-way, the gang did finally learn a bit about their missing friend Luke but that’s all I have to say about it.

Needless to say “Blind Spot” was a definite page-turner that I couldn’t put down. Unfortunately that means that I found myself at the end much too soon. As most readers of suspense series can guess, the cases were resolved but there are still unanswered questions that must be addressed in the final book of the series. So now we all have to wait for “Dead Drift” in July 2018 to learn the rest of the story.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by the author. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Wrath is Coming. But They Don’t Know Where–Or When.

“The wrath is coming” were the final words that FBI agent Declan Grey heard the suicide bomber say. Now Declan is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after or when the threat will be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation’s best clue leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw for assistance. She’s sought justice for refugees and the displaced around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. As they work together to uncover the mounting threat, the tension between them also includes a spark she can’t deny–and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything more can develop, they find themselves in a race against time to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photo Credit: © Michael Pettrey Photography

Praised by New York Times bestselling author Dee Henderson as “a name to look for in romantic suspense,” Dani Pettrey’s novels have sold more than 300,000 copies. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance novel. Her novels stand out for their “wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters” (Publishers Weekly), “gripping storyline[s],” (RT Book Reviews), and “sizzling undercurrent of romance” (USA Today).

Dani’s adventure-focused Alaskan Courage series climbed the CBA bestseller lists, with Submerged staying in the top twenty for five consecutive months. The five-book series also won multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award, two HOLT Medallions, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others. She turns her attention to crime and law enforcement in her home state of Maryland in her new Chesapeake Valor series, starting with Cold Shot, which Library Journal called, “a harrowing and thrilling ride.” For more information about her novels, visit danipettrey.com.

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Cherished Mercy by Tracie Peterson



MY REVIEW:

I have long been a fan of Tracie Peterson’s novels and was quite happy to have the opportunity to review “Cherished Mercy”. As it is the final book in a three book series, I decided to purchase the first two books and actually had a chance to read the series in order. Time constraints have prevented me from writing reviews for the first two thus far but I was blessed to have the background provided by “Treasured Grace” and “Beloved Hope”. It was also fun to learn more of the history of the area of Oregon where my daughter and her husband have lived for the past two or three years.

The youngest of three sisters, Mercy had experienced hardship and tragedy as they traveled to and settled in Oregon Territory. Held hostage by Indians during the earlier attack on the Whitman mission, Mercy witnessed tragic death and brutality at the hands of the natives but her faith has helped her to forgive during the years since the attack. Tensions are still high between the white men and the Indians in the Rogue River Valley but Mercy feels led to accept the plea for help from an ailing family friend despite possible danger.

This final chapter in the Heart of the Frontier series featuring the Flanagan sisters was one I didn’t want to put down. From the historical facts to the gripping situations to the growing love story between Mercy and Adam, I wanted to know it all. I liked Mercy’s strong character and her compassion for the Indians although she found herself in great danger. Adam was a low key yet admirable hero who made sure to protect Mercy and Faith even though he tried to convince himself they had no future together. The trials and tribulations they experienced kept the plot moving right along until its satisfactory ending.

As always I had a great time learning a bit more history through the wonderful writing of Tracie Peterson. I can’t wait for her next series.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

As Oregon Territory teeters on the brink of armed conflict, one woman strives for peace.

Mercy Flanagan survived the Whitman Massacre as a child, and now her heart’s cry is for peace between the native peoples and the white settlers inhabiting Oregon Territory. Unfortunately, most of the settlers want the tribes removed from the land completely, one way or another.

At the request of family friend Eletta Browning, who is experiencing a difficult pregnancy, Mercy travels south to the Rogue River Valley to help. At the Browning Mission, she meets Eletta’s brother-in-law, Adam. Despite her attempts to befriend him, Adam seems determined to focus on ministering to the local tribes and keeps her at arm’s length. Why is he so intent on pushing her away?

When tragedy strikes and tensions in the territory reach the combustion point, Mercy is pushed to the limit of her strength. She and Adam will have to rely on their faith in God and on each other in order to make it out alive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana. Learn more at www.traciepeterson.com.

Kill Zone: Ten Deadly Thrillers – Kindle Edition



MY REVIEW:

I preordered “Kill Zone” shortly after it was offered for presale (back in July I think) and have eagerly awaited its appearance on my Kindle. What could be better than a nearly 1200 page ebook filled with suspense novellas by ten different authors, many of them my favorites. At the moment, my calendar is pretty full of commitments to review other books so I haven’t had a chance to dig into it as I’d like but I did take the time to read “Malicious Intent” by Jordyn Redwood. If all the others are as good, the $0.99 I paid will be a tremendous bargain. It alone is worth what I spent.

“Malicious Intent” is the prequel to Ms. Redwood’s Bloodline series and features the first case that Brett Sawyer and Nathan Long worked together. The clever plot features a suspense author under suspicion for several murders that mimic her best-selling novels. All the evidence points to her but she is also receiving threatening notes from a stalker. The story will have its readers on edge as they attempt to maneuver through all the plot twists and surprises woven through this gripping novella. I refused to stop reading until I reached its end. I loved this faith-based suspense and would recommend the entire ebook based on this one novella. Don’t wait too long and miss the great deal on it now.

“Kill Zone” is still on sale for $0.99 but the price will soon rise so grab a copy while you can at this price  – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B073QZYY6W/



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Espionage, hacking, police procedural, international crime and intrigue, covert action, spy, secret police, revenge, snipers…and so much more! Ten brand-new, never-before published novellas of suspense, intrigue, and thrills from ten bestselling Christian thriller authors, all packed into this one anthology. KILL ZONE is available for a limited time only. Read new stories by:

  • Rick Acker
  • Christy Barritt
  • Patricia Bradley
  • Braxton DeGarmo
  • Luana Ehrlich
  • Heather Day Gilbert
  • Heather I. James
  • Robert Liparulo
  • Jordyn Redwood
  • Jan Thompson

SECRETS

NEW from Bestselling Author Rick Acker
Everyone has secrets. Silicon Valley billionaire Scott Sherman’s could forever change three women’s lives—and possibly much, much more.

THE WRECKING

NEW from Daphne du Maurier Award-winning, Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Christy Barritt
A car crash on a lonely road turns into a nightmare for Andie Meadows when she’s abducted by a serial killer. When the killer begins his terror again years later, she’s the only one who can help the FBI find him before he strikes again.

REVENGE
NEW from Inspirational Readers Choice Award-winning, USA Today Bestselling Author Patricia Bradley
Murder becomes a case of mistaken identity at a remote drug rehab. An old threat resurfaces, and Andi Hollister finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer.

TEN SECONDS TIL…

NEW from Critically-acclaimed Author Braxton DeGarmo
An explosion kills three well-known thugs, and Detective Seamus O’Connor and the Major Case Squad are called in to assist with the investigation. When additional bombings target criminals who have escaped justice, the hunt begins for a vigilante. But as O’Connor begins to close in, the hunter becomes the prey.

ONE STEP BACK

NEW from Award-winning Author Luana Ehrlich
When CIA intelligence officer Titus Ray attempts to recruit an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran, he puts himself in the crosshairs of the Iranian secret police and triggers a series of events leading to deadly consequences.

UNDERCUT

NEW from Grace Award-winning, Bestselling Author Heather Day Gilbert
When Marine sniper-turned-lumberjack Zane Boone finds himself in the crosshairs of vengeful terrorists, will he be able to protect Molly McClure and save his own heart in the process?

BURN TIME

New from Award-winning, Critically-acclaimed Author Heather I. James
Charlotte finds herself at the end of a prison term for committing a felony against a man who deserved it. Upon her release, she finds that he is coming after her. Not for revenge but because he believes she has something of his, something that could put him away for life and topple a criminal enterprise.

FULL DRAW

NEW from Bestselling Author Robert Liparulo
After a lifetime of obsession, a vast fortune, and countless murders, Anton Talisen is on the brink of unleashing a powerful, ancient secret against mankind. Hutch has three days to stop him.

MALICIOUS INTENT

NEW from Critically-acclaimed Author Jordyn Redwood
Bestselling thriller author Lexie Sloan’s life upends when people close to her wind up dead, mirroring the plots of her award-winning novels. Is she the killer? Or is someone out to frame her?

ZERO SUM

NEW from USA Today Bestselling Author Jan Thompson
She opens a case she cannot close.
If he helps her solve it, he will die.

FBI Special Agent Stella Evans finds the last surviving computer consultant who holds the key to destroying a terrorist organization’s global network, but Cayson Yang may not live long enough to dismantle the computer system.

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