Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giveaway! Let Me Introduce You to My Favorite Author

Angela Hunt at A Life in Pages is my favorite author. She writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected. With over three million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books to novels.

Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. In 2007, her novel The Note was featured as a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Here's her latest:

They Dared to Dream of Love

In the land of Pharaoh, Tuya has always been a slave. As a little girl, she was sold as a playmate to a wealthy child who became her best friend. But as she approaches womanhood, beautiful Tuya is betrayed and cast out. Now she belongs to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh's guard.

Yet her heart is owned by handsome Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers. Proud, arrogant Joseph dreams of freedom, of his own household, of Tuya as his queen. Shared dreams will sustain Joseph and Tuya through the deepest of sorrows and most unbearable of separations…but is it God's will to make the dream their destiny?

My Review:
The story of Joseph as told in the Bible is a familiar one; I've read it many times. So I first thought that this book wouldn't appeal to me. I should have realized that anything Angela Hunt writes is going to be GOOD. She takes the biblical account and using her attention to detail, fictionalizes it so that I end up thinking, "Yes, it could have happened like this." It just makes sense!

Her ability to weave information gathered from what must have been a massive research project, and create twists and turns so that readers always "expect the unexpected" just amazes. You may ask, "How can there be surprises in a well-known story?" Ah, you'll have to read it to see for yourself.

If you would like to purchase a copy, click here


Angela Hunt is graciously providing me with two (2) copies of Dreamers for this giveaway!
  • Winners are restricted to the United States. No PO Box mailing addresses, please.
  • I must have a way of contacting you, so be sure to leave your email address in code in your comment
  • (Please do not ask me to look it up!)
  • I'll close the comments at 6 PM EST December 7th and pick the two winners. I will contact the winners via email to get their mailing information. The winners will have three days to respond. If I do not hear from them within three days, I will select another winner(s).
  • If you're interested, just say so in a comment with that all-important email address in code.
    Example of email in code: yourname[at]hotmail[dot]com

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday - Recommended Gifts

My friend Amy is the host for Faith 'n Fiction Saturday. If you're interested, check it out here.

Today's question is: As you may know, I launched a campaign to encourage people to buy books for the holidays (you can visit that site here) and there are some fantastic blogger who have really contributed a lot of great ideas into the blog. I hope you check it out.

But now it's your turn to share some ideas! What books should be others be buying for Christmas? Do you need any gift help? You can handle this topic in two ways....either make a list of recommended books to give as gifts this year OR ask a question about what book you should get someone. (for whom you have been unable to think of a book gift for).

Keep it about books!

My Answer:
I've always found that the men in our lives are the most difficult to buy for. My recommendation for every man is Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom by LTG (ret.) William G. Boykin. Here's what I wrote:

My husband and I are very different people. I am an avid reader; he would tell you that he hates to read. Nevertheless, when this book came into our home, he picked it up. (Trust me, that's unusual.) He turned a couple of pages, and when I gently suggested he take a look at it, he began to read! He did not stop that first day until he got to sixty-some pages.

The following day, he picked it up and read some more! As we drove down the street one day, he began to tell me about this man's life. I asked, "If this were made into a movie..."

"I'd go see it!" he exclaimed, interrupting me.

On another day, he stated, "This man is a machine! You can't believe the things he's done!" Well, he finished reading the book! Yep, he read all 350 pages, and he loved it.

Obviously, this is a compelling read. Covered are Noreiga's arrest, and the tracking of Escobar, the Colombian drug lord. Boykin tells the truth about Delta Force's involvement during the Waco, Texas fiasco and clears up the "false story" from CIA agents that the news agencies reported. It's a man's story, made for a real man's enjoyment. Buy it for the guy in your life; he'll read it, even if he's a non-reader

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Treasury of Miracles for Friends: True Stories of God's Presence Today by Karen Kingsbury

From the bestselling author comes a heartwarming collection of true stories to remind readers that God is present in every friendship. Outside the family circle, no one is as important as a dear friend. A friend is there throughout the years, in good times and bad. And unlike family, friends are there because they want to be and not because they have to be. In her latest collection, Karen Kingsbury explores the miracle of friendship with the same unerring focus given to the previous books in this series.

Included in the collection are stories about long-lost friends having miraculous reunions; conflicts in friendships that had wondrous resolutions; and life-saving situations where a friend shows up without reason at just at the right moment-all demonstrating God's role in the healing power and the hope that comes with a true and steadfast companion.

My Review:
Within 146 pages, this collection of eleven true events are "fictionalized for the purpose of this book" to demonstrate the unexplainable occurrences involving friends. It reminds the reader that God is always our friend. Well written, it's a good idea for one special friend to gift to another. Expect to need a tissue.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - Thankful

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Global economy isn’t exactly doing well. There’s war. Starvation. All sorts of bad, scary things going on.

So–just for today–how about sharing seven things that you’re thankful for?

This can be about books, sure–authors you appreciate, books you love, an ode to your public library–but also, how about other things, too? Because in times like these, with bills piling up and disaster seemingly lurking around every corner, it’s more important than ever to stop and take stock of the things we’re grateful for. Family. Friends. Good health (I hope). Coffee and tea. Turkey. Sunshine. Wagging tails. Curling up with a good book.

So, how about it? Spread a little positive thinking and tell the world what there is to be thankful for.

My Response:

1. My Lord, Jesus.
2. My husband, Johnny. We celebrated 50 years of marriage this past July.
3. My children, Debi and Allen and their spouses. (They both have happy marriages.)
4. My grandchildren: Lauren, Brittany, Caeli, Zachary, Jenna, Ara, and Pierce.
5. My freedom. Included in that would be the fact that I live in America--in the beautiful state of Florida.
6. My abilities to hear, see, feel, smell, and touch.
7. My ability to read, think, and play with this computer. (Included in that thought is my Blogging Buddies--YOU!)

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Treasury of Miracles for Women: True Stories of God's Presence Today by Karen Kingsbury

Few things are as powerful as the love of a woman for those others in her life. Love is enduring, forgiving, understanding and unending. So often, it is the one certainty in our lives, as is the love God has for His children--a thousand times over.

This is a collection of poignant and true stories about ordinary women touched in extraordinary ways. Within its insightful pages are unexplained miracles, answers to prayer and angelic encounters--all of them centered around women--women who are sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. Whether it is through the gentle nudge of maternal conviction or the true sacrifice of self, each story in this extraordinary treasury reveals that God is at work in our lives. Each one reminds us how precious and close to heaven is the heart of a woman and that, even as we love, so we are loved.

My Review:
Fifteen short stories about critical times in the lives of women are contained between the covers of this 162 page book. Keep the tissues handy. A must read for all Kingsbury fans. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Treasury of Adoption Miracles: True Stories of God's Presence Today by Karen Kingsbury

Bestselling author Karen Kingsbury--herself an adoptive mother--offers an inspiring collection of true stories to remind readers that God is present in every adoption.

Adoption has become increasingly prevalent, with recent statistics showing that about one out of every ten Americans is an adoptee. There’s something about this gift of love that is truly miraculous--that someone would willingly give a life to someone else so that they might have a family. This book is filled with true stories about adoption. As someone who adopted three boys herself, Karen knows firsthand the wonder and joy of adding to one’s family. Here, she details miraculous stories of adoption, giving readers glimpses of the love and new beginnings as seen through the eyes of the men, women, and children involved.

My Review:
There are twelve stories within these 156 pages, each one telling about the miracle of adoption. It's Kingsbury at her best, especially when she tells her own true story of how she and her husband, with a family of three, came to adopt their three sons from Haiti. This book would make an excellent gift for any family opening up their home to an adoptee. Get out the tissues; this one's a tearjerker.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Emilie Gayarre grew up in luxury, but when she left it all to help save two friends, she discovered her life was a lie. There is a stigma attached to her birth that could steal any hope for a happy future. She is content living in relative obscurity until the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, comes to her Florida key.

Caleb is seeking to redeem for the shadows in his family past, but they continue to haunt his naval career. When he meets Emilie, there is no denying the attraction, but if her mixed race heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk.

You may buy a copy here.

My Review:
Set in 1836, this historical romance is the sequel to Beloved Castaway. Emilie returns to her father's sick bed and is shocked to learn that Elizabeth,the woman she always thought was her mother is not her parent. Rather, her father tells her that Sylvie, his concubine, a slave, is her mother. Emilie wrestles with this truth as she plans to return to her teaching. The author does a good job of portraying the feelings of a young lady receiving such a shock.

Meanwhile, Caleb Spencer, hates his mother's side of the family because they were pirates. He wants to forget that there's any part of him that is Benning. When challenged on the high seas, though, the Benning in him comes through. Once again, the author does a good job writing this character in a believable manner.

Romances are not my favorite genre, and the ending is predicable. However, if you like historical romance novels, this is one for you to enjoy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Treasury of Christmas Miracles: True Stories of God's Presence Today by Karen Kingsbury

This collection of true stories from bestselling author Karen Kingsbury celebrates the mystery and wonder of Christmastime.

A chance encounter that changes everything . . . help that appears from nowhere . . . kindness when it's least expected . . . We've all experienced miracles in our lives. Now Karen Kingsbury has collected a series of real-life stories about people whose lives were changed by the mystery and wonder of Christmastime. In each of these stories, Karen brings undeniable proof of God's presence in our lives. And with an uplifting voice, she gives us a joyous reminder of the true meaning of Christmas: the greatest miracle of all is opening our hearts to love.

My Review:
Fourteen short stories about unexplainable happenings at Christmas time are contained between the covers of this 143 page book. There's a Reader's Group Guide of twenty questions in the back. Kingsbury fans will be pleased with this collection of gems.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Read Your Own Books Challenge

I am adding another reading challenge to my 2009 year list.

MizB at Reading Wise is hosting a reading challenge called RYOB 2009 or Read Your Own Books in the coming year.

My goal will be to read six of my own books that are sitting neglected on my shelves. I made the number small because I am busy reading and reviewing so many other titles.

The rules for this challenge are very simple:

* set a goal for how many of your OWN books you’d like to read in 2009.

* read from your own collection between January 1st and December 31st, 2009.

You don’t have to create a list beforehand (’cause we all know that our reading preferences change as the year progresses), and you can even read books that come into your possession (that will be yours to keep) during the year!

Some other helpful hints:

- you CAN overlap with other challenges.

- eBooks and Audiobooks count AS LONG AS they are from your own collection.

If you're interested, please click on the link above.

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday - Dream Movie

My friend Amy is the host for Faith 'n Fiction Saturday. If you're interested, check it out here.

Today's question is:
We've been blessed to finally start seeing some of our favorite Christian books come to life on film. So far, these have been largely low budget films, but they generally get the heart of the books across. But my question for you is...if you had an unlimited budget, what Christian fiction book would you like to see made into a film? Who would you cast in the main roles? Would you have a preference on director? Any songs you'd like to see on the soundtrack?

My Answer:
This is a tough question for me. My mind is swirling with the many titles of books I've enjoyed. To "fit" into a movie, characters should be well developed, and the plot must have some unexpected twists and turns. I'll give three recent reads: Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin, The Face by Angela Hunt and The Rook by Stephen James.

Until We Reach Home is a story of three sisters from Sweden who flee their home country to come to America. When they arrive, they do not find the easy life they dreamed about, but a life of hard work and deprivation. Austin is well known for her strong characters and involved story lines.

The Face by Angela Hunt is a story involving a birth defect wherein a baby is born without certain facial features (the nose, the mouth, the ears). Surgeries provide make-shift features, and the child is reared in a CIA facility, where she grows up to provide valuable expert help in the computer lab. In essence, she's a slave. It's a John Grisham-type of novel and would make a gripping film. Hunt is well known for her unexpected tales.

The Rook by Stephen James is a FBI thriller, with a web of intrigue and a killing device that would cause the film to be a R-rated. That means I wouldn't go see it, as I steer clear of those! However, the public would love it. I loved this Stephen King-type book.

Sorry, but I can't name actors, directors, or music as my brain is dead at this time of the morning and my knowledge in these areas is limited.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Tutu Ballet by Sally O. Lee

Ms. Berry, the ballet teacher, is given a talented group of students. The students do not always do what Ms. Berry instructs them to do. What will Ms. Berry do? A ballet emerges that suits the talents of her students, and it is the best ballet ever. It is a story about tolerance, patience, creativity, teamwork, and love.

My Review:
What a fun read this would be for most little girls, but especially for one who dreams of becoming a ballerina. The vocabulary stretches for a child of 4-8, but that's a positive aspect of the book. The character of Ms. Berry, like any good teacher, thinks of a way to encourage her diverse dancers to work as a group and an outstanding performance is the result. Teamwork and cooperation are the themes.

The book is illustrated in soft pastel shades that any child would enjoy. The font should be cleaner for early readers' comfort, but overall I give this one an A.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - Honesty

I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.

Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

My Response:
I review books, and if you read my reviews, you will know that I am honest. I give my opinion of the work--simple as that. I will add, though, that I recognize that an author has put his time and effort into the title; no one should be treated badly, even if the job is not done well. Therefore, I do look for the good things. I state the weak points, but highlight those good points so that readers can make their own informed choices.

I have had interactions with authors, but always been on a professional level. I do not feel the need to define the job of reviewing by establishing disclaimers. My integrity cannot be bought for the price of a book!

What's your take on this question?

Check out my giveaways on my sidebar!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Giveaway! The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips by Stephen Baldwin/Mark Tabb

When Officer Andy Myers met Loraine Phillips, he had no interest in her son. And he certainly never dreamed he'd respond to a call, finding that same boy in a pool of blood. Even more alarming was the father standing watch over his son's body. Myers had never seen a man respond to death-particularly the death of a child-in such a way. When the father is charged with murder and sentenced to death, he chooses not to fight but embrace it as God's will. Myers becomes consumed with curiosity for these strange beliefs. What follows is the story of the bond these two men share as they come to terms with the tragedy and the difficult choices each one must make.

You may buy a copy here.

My Review:
This is an unusual read for several reasons! First, the author is a celebrity. Having seen Stephen Baldwin on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, I was quite excited to have the opportunity to read his first work of fiction. Written in conjunction with Mark Tabb, this murder mystery with a twist is an enjoyable book. Secondly, this purported Christian fiction contains profanity--quite a bit of it--which is why the following disclaimer was sent out:
The statement from FaithWords is:
Normally, it is not the policy of FaithWords to include foul language in our fiction titles. The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips has dialogue which reflects the heart of the main character. His transformation and ultimate conversion to Christ throughout the book is key to the story and the author’s intention was to make that transformation clear. We apologize if this inclusion offends our readers. We are committed to publishing fiction that depicts the power of Christ’s love in even the darkest life and situation. Harry Helm, Associate Publisher, FaithWords
Thirdly, my observation is that the profanity and adult themes contained in the novel are not attributable to only the main character. Other characters speak with profanity too, and some of the adult themes are spread amongst them throughout the story.

Fourthly, although this is not a book of humor, I laughed out loud when I read the Santa scene. I can't tell more without revealing secrets, but it's funny. I bet you'll laugh too at the Santa part.

The characters are believable. The story is believable. And, (sigh) the dialogue is believable. I must say that it's a good story, and I enjoyed it. If you think you'd like a free copy, I have some good news! I asked Hachette Book Club, and they have agreed to allow me to offer one copy of this book as a giveaway! Here's the drill:

* Winners are restricted to the US and Canada. No PO Box mailing addresses, please.

* I must have a way of contacting you, so be sure to leave your email address in code: you[at]yourmail[dot]com Please do not ask me to look it up!

* I'll close the comments in one week at 6PM EST November 26th and pick the winner. I will contact the winner via email to get their mailing information. The winner will have three days to respond. If I do not hear from him/her within three days, I will select another winner.

* If you're interested, leave a comment with that all-important email address IN CODE.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giveaway! Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual: For Everyone from Beginner to Pro by Bobbi Brown

This is the book that Bobbi Brown's fans have been waiting for: her twenty-five-plus years of makeup styling experience distilled into one complete, gorgeous book. Bobbi looks at everything from skincare basics to every aspect of facial makeup--from how to find the right color and type of foundation for any skin tone to how to apply every detail of eye makeup (Brows, Eye Liner, Eye Shadow, and Eye Lashes) no matter your eye color and shape. Of course there are never-before-seen tips on blush, bronzer, lip liners, and lipstick. Bobbi looks beyond the face with informative chapters on "Hands and Feet" and "Body Skin Care." Each chapter has thorough step-by-step basic directions for makeup application and easy-to-follow photographs and line drawings, along with Bobbi's expert, yet assuring, advice. Plus, there's a groundbreaking section of the book that will be of special interest to women who've wanted to know how makeup stylists do what they do: the top beauty secrets only these artists know, essential equipment to keep on hand, how to break into the business, and how to work with photographers and celebrities.

Breathtaking photos of the finished faces-from everyday looks to exotic runway style-along with advice on putting it all together for every woman, make this a book like no other.

My Review:
This is one of those yummy books with glossy color pages that smell good! Everything you need to know about makeup is included in this volume from equipment to the "Ten-Step Guide to Perfect Makeup." Tips for advanced makeup care for fashion shows, television, and photography have a chapter all to themselves. The history of makeup in chronological order and "Who's Who in Makeup" are two delightful surprises at the end.

The generous folks at Hachette Book Group are allowing me to host this book giveaway for five (5) copies!
  • Winners are restricted to the US and Canada. No PO Box mailing addresses, please.
  • I must have a way of contacting you, so be sure to leave your email address in code in your comment: you[at]yourmail[dot]com (Please do not ask me to look it up!)
  • I'll close the comments at 6PM EST November 25th and pick the five winners. I will contact the winners via email to get their mailing information. The winners will have three days to respond. If I do not hear from them within three days, I will select another winner(s).
  • If you're interested, just say so in a comment with that all-important email address in code.

Giveaway! Get Positively Beautiful: The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Gorgeous by Carmindy

According to a recent study, only two percent of women describe themselves as "beautiful." The media instructs women how to "look ten years younger," "cover up wrinkles," or "get fuller, plumper lips." And even makeup products play off womens' insecurities, promising to conceal perceived flaws, define cheekbones, or make eyelashes fuller and longer. The underlying message? That there's something inherently wrong with the way women look and that they have to spend time, money, and energy keeping up with all the ways they should 'fix' themselves.

In this book, makeup artist Carmindy from TLC's hit program What Not to Wear shows you how to change your mindset from negative fault-finding to a positive beauty philosphy. You learn how to find and focus on your best features and how to combat negative thoughts about your appearance. Carmindy demonstrates easy makeup techniques for eyes, brows, lashes, lips, cheeks, and skin, and how to adapt looks to different weather conditions and "beauty moods."


My Review:
This comprehensive book is every woman's dream for how to properly use make-up. Chapters include tips for each separate area (eyes, skin, lips,) along with separate chapters for tools and travel. I especially like the before/after full size color photos and tips chapter called, "Everyone Loves a Makeover." A shopping guide is located at the end.

The generous folks at Hachette Book Group are allowing me to host this book giveaway for five (5) copies!
  • Winners are restricted to the US and Canada. No PO Box mailing addresses, please.
  • I must have a way of contacting you, so be sure to leave your email address in code in your comment: you[at]yourmail[dot]com (Please do not ask me to look it up!)
I'll close the comments at 6PM EST November 25th and pick the five winners. I will contact the winners via email to get their mailing information. The winners will have three days to respond. If I do not hear from them within three days, I will select another winner(s).
  • If you're interested, just say so in a comment with that all-important email address in code.

  • Monday, November 17, 2008

    White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter

    Abandoned by his father, Will Henderson was raised by an Amish couple. Now he's about to marry Karen Yoder but is having second thoughts. Can Will overcome the bitterness of his past in order to secure his future? Karen can't break through the barrier her fiance has suddenly constructed around his heart. When she seeks the advice of an old boyfriend, Will begins to see green. Has he already lost his chance for happiness? When an accident threatens Will's life, the strength of blood ties is tested. Will a recipe for White Christmas pie contain the ingredients for a happily-ever-after?

    My Review:
    Although my grandparents lived in Pennsylvania, and I have often visited there and seen the Amish riding in their horse and buggy, I never have read an Amish Christian Fiction book before this one. I knew that Wanda E. Brunstetter has a reputation of being an expert on Amish literature, and so I looked forward to this new experience. I'm glad I had the opportunity. This is a lovely Christmas time story.

    In this romance novel, I learned a good bit about the Plain People. Will Henderson, the protagonist, is a well-developed character who is engaged to marry Karen Yoder. He was abandoned as a young six-year-old and wrestles with repressed hostility and jealous rages which he controls by shutting down and walking away. But can this be good for an engagement? I found the plot slowing down in the middle, but the end was satisfying.

    A dessert, White Christmas Pie, is an important ingredient in the story and is referred to often. There is a copy of the recipe that I can't wait to try. White Christmas Pie might become a Christmas tradition at my house! For fans of Wanda E. Brunstetter's writing, this will be an enjoyable one for you.

    If you would like to view a short video, click on the picture.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of White Christmas Pie, click here.

    If you would like to purchase a copy, click here.

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    The 2009 Pub Challenge

    I’m signing up for the 2009 Pub Challenge hosted by The rules are:

    1. Read a minimum of 9 books first published in 2009. You don’t have to buy these. Library books, unabridged audios, or ARCs are all acceptable. To qualify as being first published in 2009, it must be the first time that the book is published in your own country. For example, if a book was published in Australia, England, or Canada in 2008, and then published in the USA in 2009, it counts (if you live in the USA). Newly published trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks do not count if there has been a hardcover/trade published before 2009.
    2. No children’s/YA titles allowed, since we’re at the "pub."
    3. At least 5 titles must be fiction.
    4. Crossovers with other challenges are allowed.
    5. You can add your titles as you go, and they may be changed at any time.
    6. Sign up HERE using Mr. Linky.
    7. Have fun reading your 2009 books!

    I've already got five books lined up for January, and I'll add more to the list as I decide on them. Here's what I have so far:

    1. She's in a Better Place by Angela Hunt

    2. The Perfect Matchby Susan May Warren

    3. Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

    4. Sweetwater Gapby Denise Hunter






    Join in!

    Christmas Around the World by Chuck Fischer

    Master pop-up artist Chuck Fischer's most glorious creation yet this is the perfect holiday gift. Featuring France, Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, Great Britain, Italy, and the United States, every spread is packed with delights: a luxurious central pop-up image, plus removable booklets, pullouts, mini pop-ups, and more. The text illuminates unique Christmas traditions, gift legacies, and portraits of mythic figures, such as England's Father Christmas and Italy's La Befana. Like Christmas in New York, this one is destined to become a treasured keepsake and a bestseller for years to come.

    My Review:
    This pop-up book takes my breath away! It is not for children but rather is to be used as a family keepsake, to be passed down from generation to generation. This is a collector’s gift, a work of art. Each two-page spread tells the history and traditions of Christmas from around the world. There are hidden surprises like pullouts and mini booklets that are filled with information.

    The reader learns about Father Christmas, Boxing Day, and plum pudding in England, along with some authentic Victorian illustrations. The first nativity scene, presecio, or creche came from Italy, along with La Bafana, the Christmas Witch. From Germany came the Advent Calendar, the legend of Tannenbaum or Christmas tree, and Saint Nicholas. From France comes reveillon, a feast--late-night after midnight mass, Pere Noel, and pictures of the City of Lights, Paris, at Christmas. From Russia came the real Saint Nicholas and Baboushka. We learn that Scandinavia is where the Festival of Light continues. The decorations and the history of Santa are found in the pages about North America. Included in the back of the book is a box that pulls out and contains a Santa and sleigh that can pop together and be used as a stand-alone decoration!

    A fantastic book to own or to give!

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    For the Love of St. Nick by Garasamo Maccagnone

    Two California boys coping with the loss of their mother, find themselves uprooted when their father, a Navy Commander, is transferred to a base in northern Michigan. With the youngest boy continuously sick, the family must survive military life and the northern elements as they dwell in their little hunter's cabin on Lake Huron.

    When the boys' father must leave prior to Christmas to fulfill his secret mission for the United States Military, the boys are surprised by a chance encounter that saves a life and reunites a family. This tale of family and the magic of the season will soon become a Christmas classic.

    My Review:
    This tiny novelette is quickly read as it contains only forty-four pages. Catholicism is interwoven throughout this tale of two motherless boys, who depend on each other in their lonely existence.

    Unfortunately, it's full of gramatical errors along with a few misspelled words. The plot is sketchy; the characters are flat. For someone who would like to read a new Christmas miracle, this is your book. Note: contains some profanity.