Awesome deal from Amazon.com!!!

I know I haven't been around for the past couple of months, and won't be for the unforeseen future. I hope to post a more detailed explanation at some point.

Anyway, I just had to come post this absolutely AWESOME deal Amazon is offering. If you click HERE, you can purchase a $20 Amazon.com gift card for ONLY $10!!  50% off! That's unheard of!

I've already bought mine, but wanted to share it with my best blogger buds. If this is something you're interested in, hurry on over and get your gift card. This special offer ends early tomorrow (Thursday) morning.

I miss y'all so much! *BIG hugs!*

Happy Reading :)



Glitter Graphics

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!!



Still around!

Hello friends!

Yes, I'm still alive and kicking, but don't have much spare time to even read right now, much less blog.  I really miss y'all, and hope everyone is doing well.  It's been crazy hectic around here for the last few months.  Hubby has been having to travel for work quite a bit lately, so that leaves me all on my lonesome to take care of things here at home.  It's really been cutting into my precious reading time.  :(  He just this evening got back from a 3-day trip to New York, where it was 16-17 degrees, and snowed most of the time he was there.  I was totally bummed to not have been allowed to tag along (as it was a business trip) -- I would have loved to try and meet up with Renee and a few other friends up that way.  Maybe one day!  *fingers crossed*

Well, it's almost Christmas -- again!  I simply can not believe how quickly 2010 has flown by -- it just blows my mind!  It seems like just last week I was starting my part-time job, which I still love, btw, and planning our summer vacation with my family.

Another reason I haven't been posting any reviews lately is that I was getting really burned out on Christian Fiction romances, and decided to take a much needed break.  I've been mixing it up by reading some secular romances, plus, I've finally decided to test out the very popular "vampire" craze.  Nothing deep and dark for me though, just some lite, comedic, chick lit -- thank you very much!  ;)

Of course, I've read a few Christmas-themed romances already, but not nearly as many as I'd planned on reading.  Maybe I can get to more of those come January.  I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, as well as, a Happy New Year.  I'm telling y'all now, jic I don't get a chance to post again before the end of the year!

*yawn*  My eyes are starting to cross, and I can hardly keep them open -- I guess that means it's time to head to bed.  I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend.

*Hugs & Kisses*


My Review: A Tailor-Made Bride -- Karen Witemeyer

by Karen Witemeyer

Historical / Christian Fiction / Romance

Bethany House Publishers
Copyright 2010

Back Cover:

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected. 

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man? 

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have foreseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

What I thought:

It was a real pleasure getting to know the folks of Coventry, Texas -- and I already miss them! 

The romantic tension between J.T. and Hannah is the main focus of the book, but some of the other townsfolk added an extra spark to the story.  I especially loved Ezra Culpepper, a lonely old gentleman Hannah takes under her wing, and Tom, J.T.'s friend/helper at the livery.  There are lots more, but those 2 stood out especially.

When J.T. learns the new business that's opening up across the street from his livery will be a dressmaker, he is beyond annoyed.  He had plans for that particular building, but will have to find another way to be a Good Samaritan.  He has a soft spot in his heart for the people in his town, and will do anything in his power to help them out -- especially when it comes to women and children.

Hannah and J.T. have not seen eye-to-eye from day one.  She can't figure out what she's done to get J.T. so riled up, but she sure plans to find out.  It's very worrisome for her to constantly be wondering what will set him off next.  Hannah quickly becomes friends with J.T.'s sister, Delia, who helps her immensely in understanding what makes J.T. tick.

If you haven't had a chance to read Karen's debut release, be sure to pick up a copy as soon as you can -- you don't know what you're missing!  I'm already looking forward to reading her next book, Head in the Clouds, though it will not be continuing the story of the wonderful folks of Coventry, Texas.  However, Karen does have Bonus Material posted on her website, for those of us who wanted to find out more about Hannah and J.T.'s happy-ever-after.  Check it out!

*Thank you to Karen for sending me a copy for review.  In no way did her kindness influence my thoughts on her book.*


Waiting on Wednesday

Jill @ Breaking the Spine hosts a weekly event that spotlights 
upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.
Be sure to drop by her blog to see what books others
are looking forward to reading.  :)

Releasing MAY 2011 from Revell Books!!!

It is 1878 and the Caldwells and Wainwrights have been feuding for decades. Still, Sarah Caldwell has misgivings when her father pressures her into distracting a ranch hand while he and her brothers rob the Wainwright place. When it becomes clear that hand is actually Cord Wainwright, Sarah realizes she needs to lay low. But Cord spots her in town and, with the sheriff away, makes a citizen's arrest, dragging her off to the Wainwright ranch until the sheriff's return. As the feud boils over, Cord and Sarah make a most inconvenient discovery--they are falling in love. Can they betray their families for love? Or will their families betray them?

Against the beautiful and wild backdrop of the Rocky Mountains comes this sweeping saga of romance, betrayal, and forgiveness from beloved author Kathleen Morgan.


My Review: Love Me Tender -- Janice Hanna

Love Me Tender
(When I Fall in Love)
by Janice Hanna

General Fiction / Romance / Christian

Summerside Press
ISBN:  9781609360177

Back Cover:

Debbie Carmichael determines to salvage her family's restaurant, Sweet Sal's Soda Shoppe, from financial ruin when her father's health fails. Help is in sight when teen heartthrob Bobby Conrad agrees to perform at a fund-raiser concert. But just two weeks before the highly publicized event, plans fall through and Bobby can't come. Enter Johnny Hartman, a young, unknown singer.

Debbie soon realizes the twists and turns leading up to the concert have been divinely orchestrated. But is it the dreamy Bobby Conrad who ultimately steals her heart...or the tender Johnny Hartman?

What I thought:

Love Me Tender was different than any romance I've read to date.  It was my very first experience reading a book in this particular era -- and I found it to be quite interesting.  I would love to read more about the Carmichael family, at some point, if Janice decides to make this the start of a new series.

The year is 1957.  The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand are all the rage.  New talent is showing up left and right.  Johnny Hartman comes to Los Angeles, California to follow his dream of becoming a famous singer.  He feels that God is leading him to witness to others through his amazing singing ability.  After his very first audition, Johnny meets Jim Jangles, who quickly becomes his agent.  Johnny moves in with Jim, his wife Theresa, and their son, Toby -- they become his away-from-home family.  Toby adds a comedic aspect to the story, as he is always trying to talk his Dad into letting him audition for small parts in commercials, singing auditions, plays, etc.  He's a real pistol!

Debbie Carmichael lives in Laguna Beach, California, with her family.  She helps run their family restaurant, Sweet Sal's Soda Shoppe.  Debbie comes up with a great idea to help her family out of their financial dilemma, brought on by her father's ailing health.  They should invite Bobby Conrad to perform a benefit concert at the Soda Shoppe, and take donations instead of selling tickets. Debbie, her sister, Becky Ann, and their friends work very hard to get the news of the upcoming concert out to the public by posting flyers all over town.  The women in Laguna Beach go gaa-gaa over Bobby, and are beyond excited that he will be singing for them!

When Debbie and Johnny meet for the first time, sparks seem to fly between them.  Johnny falls for Debbie almost immediately, but she's still hung up on her teenage crush, Bobby Conrad.  The more time they spend together, Debbie starts to see Johnny in a different light -- maybe she should listen to her heart this time.

Due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict, Bobby Conrad isn't gonna be able to perform the concert!  Debbie, Becky Ann, and their friends are just devastated -- what are they gonna do? -- and on such short notice.  Thankfully, Debbie comes up with an iffy plan, and prays really hard that the folks of Laguna Beach will be happy with Bobby's replacement, Johnny Hartman.

To find out more about Janice Hanna Thompson, stop by her website, or blog to find out what she's been up to.

Click HERE to read an interview with the stars of Love Me Tender!!

*A sincere "thank you" to Janice for providing me with a copy of her book for review!*


My Review: Emily's Chance -- Sharon Gillenwater

(The Callahans of Texas, #2)
by Sharon Gillenwater

Christian Fiction / Western Romance

Revell Publishing
ISBN:  9780800733544

Back Cover:

Emily Rose may be in the tiny West Texas town of Callahan Crossing for the moment, but it's just a rung on her ladder to success. Her work at the Callahan Crossing historical society will look good on her ever-growing resume as she attempts to break into the prestigious world of a big city museum curator. 

Little does she know cowboy and contractor Chance Callahan has decided that he can convince her to stay -- both with the town and with him. As he helps Emily restore the town's history after a devastating fire, he also helps her uncover her own hidden worth and the value of love.

What I thought:

Another keeper from Sharon Gillenwater!!

After first meeting the Callahans of Texas in Jenna's Cowboy, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Emily's Chance.  Now, I'm impatiently waiting to see what takes place in Megan's Hero (due out 6/1/2011) -- it sounds like another touching story.

We very briefly met Emily Rose at the end of Jenna and Nate's story, when Chance helped her haul boxes out of the Callahan Crossing Historical Museum during the wildfire that destroyed so many homes and businesses.  Emily's Chance picks up shortly after.  The people of Callahan Crossing are still trying to clean up their town, and rebuild their lives after such devastating losses.

Chance realizes right off the bat that he's fallen head-over-heels for Emily Rose, and feels that she is God's choice for his wife -- now he just needs to be sure Emily feels the same way.  He discovers that it won't be as easy as he thought, once he begins to realize she has quite a few issues from her childhood that seriously cloud her vision of her worthiness to any man.

I'm not a huge history fan, so there were a few slower parts (for me personally), but the overall story is heartwarming.  I especially like how Chance is so patient with Emily, as she tries to come to terms with her insecurities, and his willingness to sacrifice things in his own life just to help her achieve her personal dreams.

It was such a pleasure to catch-up with the Callahan family again.  I really enjoyed getting a peek at how Jenna and Nate's marriage is progressing, as well as, seeing Zach again.  He's just the sweetest little boy ever!  I also loved watching Dalton and Lindsey's tentative relationship start to grow -- they're gonna make such a cute couple.  :)

Be sure to check out Sharon's website to find out more about her books -- you'll be so glad you did!

Click HERE to read my review of Jenna's Cowboy (The Callahans of Texas, #1).

Available October 2010 at your favorite bookseller from 
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

*Compliments of Donna @ Revell Publishing -- thank you!*


My Favorite Cover

by Lisa Wingate

Release date:  1/1/2011

Christian Fiction / Contemporary Romance

Bethany House
ISBN:  9780764208218


Adventure is the last thing on Andrea Henderson's mind when she moves to Moses Lake. After surviving the worst year of her life, she's struggling to build a new life for herself and her son as a social worker. Perhaps in doing a job that makes a difference, she can find some sense of purpose and solace in her shattered faith.

For new Moses Lake game warden Mart McClendon, finding a sense of purpose in life isn't an issue. He took the job to get out of southwest Texas and the constant reminders of a tragedy for which he can't forgive himself.

But when a little girl is seen with the town recluse, Mart and Andrea are drawn together in the search for her identity. The little girl offers them both a new chance at redemption and hope—and may bring them closer than either ever planned.


FIRST Wild Card: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball -- Donita K. Paul

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer and Staci Carmichael of Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a review copy.***


Expertly weaving together fantasy, romance and Biblical truths, Donita K. Paul penned the best-selling, fan-favorite DragonKeeper Chronicles series. After retiring early from teaching, she began a second career as an award-winning author and loves serving as a mentor for new writers of all ages. And when she’s not putting pen to paper, Donita makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys spending time with her grandsons, cooking, beading, stamping, and knitting.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458997
ISBN-13: 978-0307458995


Christmas. Cora had been trying to catch it for four years. She scurried down the sidewalk, thankful that streetlights and brightly lit storefronts counteracted the gloom of early nightfall. Somewhere, sometime, she’d get a hold of how to celebrate Christmas. Maybe even tonight.

With snowflakes sticking to her black coat, Christmas lights blinking around shop windows, and incessant bells jingling, Cora should have felt some holiday cheer.

And she did.


Just not much.

At least she was on a Christmas errand this very minute. One present for a member of the family. Shouldn’t that count for a bit of credit in the Christmas-spirit department?

Cora planned out her Christmas gift giving in a reasonable manner. The execution of her purchasing schedule gave her a great deal of satisfaction. Tonight’s quest was a book for Uncle Eric—something about knights and castles, sword fights, shining armor, and all that.

One or two gifts purchased each week from Labor Day until December 15, and her obligations were discharged efficiently, economically, and without the excruciating last-minute frenzy that descended upon other people…like her three sisters, her mother, her grandmother, her aunts.

Cora refused to behave like her female relatives and had decided not to emulate the male side of the family either. The men didn’t buy gifts. They sometimes exchanged bottles from the liquor store, but more often they drank the spirits themselves.

Her adult ambition had been to develop her own traditions for the season, ones that sprouted from the Christianity she’d discovered in college. The right way to celebrate the birth of Christ. She avoided the chaos that could choke Christmas. Oh dear. Judgmental again. At least now she recognized when she slipped.

She glanced around Sage Street. Not too many shoppers. The quaint old shops were decked out for the holidays, but not with LED bulbs and inflated cartoon figures.

Since discovering Christianity, she’d been confused about the trappings of Christmas—the gift giving, the nativity scenes, the carols, even the Christmas tree. Every year she tried to acquire some historical background on the festivities. She was learning. She had hope. But she hadn’t wrapped her head around all the traditions yet.

The worst part was shopping.

Frenzy undid her. Order sustained her. And that was a good reason to steer clear of any commercialized holiday rush. She’d rather screw red light bulbs into plastic reindeer faces than push through a crowd of shoppers.

Cora examined the paper in her hand and compared it to the address above the nearest shop. Number 483 on the paper and 527 on the building. Close.

When she’d found the bookstore online, she had been amazed that a row of old-fashioned retailers still existed a few blocks from the high-rise office building where she worked. Truthfully, it was more like the bookstore found her. Every time she opened her browser, and on every site she visited, the ad for the old-fashioned new- and used-book store showed up in a banner or sidebar. She’d asked around, but none of her co-workers patronized the Sage Street Shopping District.

“Sounds like a derelict area to me,” said Meg, the receptionist. “Sage Street is near the old railroad station, isn’t it? The one they decided was historic so they wouldn’t tear it down, even though it’s empty and an eyesore?”

An odd desire to explore something other than the mall near her apartment seized Cora. “I’m going to check it out.”

Jake, the security guard, frowned at her. “Take a cab. You don’t want to be out too late over there.”

Cora walked. The brisk air strengthened her lungs, right? The exercise pumped her blood, right? A cab would cost three, maybe four dollars, right?

An old man, sitting on the stoop of a door marked 503, nodded at her. She smiled, and he winked as he gave her a toothless grin. Startled, she quickened her pace and gladly joined the four other pedestrians waiting at the corner for the light to change.

Number 497 emblazoned the window of an ancient shoe store on the opposite corner. She marched on. In this block she’d find the book and check another item off her Christmas list.

Finally! “Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad, Books,” Cora read the sign aloud and then grasped the shiny knob. It didn’t turn. She frowned. Stuck? Locked? The lights were on. She pressed her face against the glass. A man sat at the counter. Reading. How appropriate.

Cora wrenched the knob. A gust of wind pushed with her against the door, and she blew into the room. She stumbled and straightened, and before she could grab the door and close it properly, it swung closed, without the loud bang she expected.

“I don’t like loud noises,” the man said without looking up from his book.

“Neither do I,” said Cora.

He nodded over his book. With one gnarled finger, he pushed his glasses back up his nose.

Must be an interesting book. Cora took a quick look around. The place could use stronger lights. She glanced back at the clerk. His bright lamp cast him and his book in a golden glow.

Should she peruse the stacks or ask?

She decided to browse. She started to enter the aisle between two towering bookcases.

“Not there,” said the old man.

“I beg your pardon?” said Cora.

“How-to books. How to fix a leaky faucet. How to build a bridge. How to mulch tomatoes. How to sing opera. How-to books. You don’t need to know any of that, do you?”


“Wrong aisle, then.” He placed the heavy volume on the counter and leaned over it, apparently absorbed once more.

Cora took a step toward him. “I think I saw a movie like this once.”

His head jerked up, his scowl heavier. He glared over the top of his glasses at the books on the shelves as if they had suddenly moved or spoken or turned bright orange.

“A movie? Here? I suppose you mean the backdrop of a bookstore. Not so unusual.” He arched an eyebrow. “You’ve Got Mail and 84 Charing Cross Road.”

“I meant the dialogue. You spoke as if you knew what I needed.”

He hunched his shoulders. The dark suspenders stretched across the faded blue of his shirt. “Reading customers. Been in the business a long time.”

“I’m looking for a book for my uncle. He likes castles, knights, tales of adventure. That sort of thing.”

He sighed, closed his book, and tapped its cover. “This is it.” He stood as Cora came to the desk. “Do you want me to wrap it and send it? We have the service. My grandson’s idea.”

Cora schooled her face and her voice. One of the things she excelled in was not showing her exasperation. She’d been trained by a dysfunctional family, and that had its benefits. She knew how to take guff and not give it back. Maintaining a calm attitude was a good job skill.

She tried a friendly smile and addressed the salesclerk.

“I want to look at it first and find out how much it costs.”

“It’s the book you want, and the price is eleven dollars and thirteen cents.”

Cora rubbed her hand over the cover. It looked and felt like leather, old leather, but in good repair. The book must be ancient.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“Which?” the old man barked.

“Which what?”

“Which part of the statement am I sure about? It doesn’t matter because I’m sure about both.”

Cora felt her armor of detachment suffer a dent. The man was impossible. She could probably order a book online and get it wrapped and delivered right to her uncle with less aggravation. But dollar signs blinked in neon red in her mind as she thought how much that would cost. No need to be hasty.

Curtain rings rattled on a rod, and Cora looked up to see a younger version of the curmudgeon step into the area behind the counter.

The younger man smiled. He had the same small, wiry build as the older version, but his smile was warm and genuine. He looked to be about fifty, but his hair was still black, as black as the old man’s hair was white. He stretched out his hand, and Cora shook it.

“I’m Bill Wizbotterdad. This is my granddad, William Wizbotterdad.”

“Let me guess. Your father is named Will?”

Bill grinned, obviously pleased she’d caught on quickly. “Willie Wizbotterdad. He’s off in Europe collecting rare books.”

“He’s not!” said the elder shop owner.

“He is.” Bill cast his granddad a worried look.

“That’s just the reason he gave for not being here.” William shook his head and leaned across the counter. “He doesn’t like Christmas. We have a special job to do at Christmas, and he doesn’t like people and dancing and matrimony.”

Bill put his arm around his grandfather and pulled him back. He let go of his granddad and spun the book on the scarred wooden counter so that Cora could read the contents. “Take a look.” He opened the cover and flipped through the pages. “Colored illustrations.”

A rattling of the door knob was followed by the sound of a shoulder thudding against the wood. Cora turned to see the door fly open with a tall man attached to it. The stranger brushed snow from his sleeves, then looked up at the two shop owners. Cora caught them giving each other a smug smile, a wink, and a nod of the head.

Odd. Lots of oddness in this shop.

She liked the book, and she wanted to leave before more snow accumulated on the streets. Yet something peculiar about this shop and the two men made her curious. Part of her longed to linger. However, smart girls trusted their instincts and didn’t hang around places that oozed mystery. She didn’t feel threatened, just intrigued. But getting to know the peculiar booksellers better was the last thing she wanted, right? She needed to get home and be done with this Christmas shopping business. “I’ll take the book.”

The newcomer stomped his feet on the mat by the door, then took off his hat.

Cora did a double take. “Mr. Derrick!”

He cocked his head and scrunched his face. “Do I know you?” The man was handsome, even wearing that comical lost expression. “Excuse me. Have we met?”

“We work in the same office.”

He studied her a moment, and a look of recognition lifted the frown. “Third desk on the right.” He hesitated, then snapped his fingers. “Cora Crowden.”


He jammed his hand in his pocket, moving his jacket aside. His tie hung loosely around his neck. She’d never seen him looking relaxed. The office clerks called him Serious Simon Derrick.

“I drew your name,” she said.

He looked puzzled.

“For the gift exchange. Tomorrow night. Office party.”

“Oh. Of course.” He nodded. “I drew Mrs. Hudson. She’s going to retire, and I heard her say she wanted to redecorate on a shoestring.”

“That’s Mrs. Wilson. Mrs. Hudson is taking leave to be with her daughter, who is giving birth to triplets.”

He frowned and began looking at the books.

“You won’t be there, will you?” Cora asked.

“At the party? No, I never come.”

“I know. I mean, I’ve worked at Sorenby’s for five years, and you’ve never been there.”

The puzzled expression returned to Serious Simon’s face. He glanced to the side. “I’m looking for the how-to section.”

Cora grinned. “On your left. Second aisle.”

He turned to stare at her, and she pointed to the shelves Mr. Wizbotterdad had not let her examine. Mr. Derrick took a step in that direction.

Cora looked back at the shop owners and caught them leaning back in identical postures, grins on their faces, and arms crossed over their chests.

Bill jerked away from the wall, grabbed her book, rummaged below the counter, and brought out a bag. He slid the book inside, then looked at her. “You didn’t want the book wrapped and delivered?”

“No, I’ll just pay for it now.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like to look around some more?” asked Bill.

“Right,” said William. “No hurry. Look around. Browse. You might find something you like.”

Bill elbowed William.

Simon Derrick had disappeared between the stacks.

William nodded toward the how-to books. “Get a book. We have a copy of How to Choose Gifts for Ungrateful Relatives. Third from the bottom shelf, second case from the wall.”

The statement earned him a “shh” from his grandson.

Cora shifted her attention to the man from her office and walked a few paces to peek around the shelves. “Mr. Derrick, I’m getting ready to leave. If you’re not coming to the party, may I just leave the gift on your desk tomorrow?”

He glanced at her before concentrating again on the many books. “That’s fine. Nice to see you, Miss Crowden.”

“Crowder,” she corrected, but he didn’t answer.

She went to the counter and paid. Mr. Derrick grunted when she said good-bye at the door.

“Come back again,” said Bill.

“Yes,” said William. “We have all your heart’s desires.”

Bill elbowed him, and Cora escaped into the blustering weather.

She hiked back to the office building. Snow sprayed her with tiny crystals, and the sharp wind nipped her nose. Inside the parking garage, warm air helped her thaw a bit as she walked to the spot she leased by the month. It would be a long ride home on slippery roads. But once she arrived, there would be no one there to interrupt her plans. She got in the car, turned the key, pushed the gearshift into reverse, looked over her shoulder, and backed out of her space.

She would get the gift ready to mail off and address a few cards in the quiet of her living room. There would be no yelling. That’s what she liked about living states away from her family. No one would ambush her with complaints and arguments when she walked through the door.

Except Skippy. Skippy waited. One fat, getting fatter, cat to talk to. She did complain at times about her mistress being gone too long, about her dinner being late, about things Cora could not fathom. But Cora never felt condemned by Skippy, just prodded a little.


Once inside her second-floor apartment, she pulled off her gloves, blew her nose, and went looking for Skippy.

The cat was not behind the curtain, sitting on the window seat, staring at falling snow. Not in her closet, curled up in a boot she’d knocked over. Not in the linen closet, sleeping on clean towels. She wasn’t in any of her favorite spots. Cora looked around and saw the paper bag that, this morning, had been filled with wadded scraps of Christmas paper. Balls of pretty paper and bits of ribbon littered the floor. There. Cora bent over and spied her calico cat in the bag.

“Did you have fun, Skippy?”

The cat rolled on her back and batted the top of the paper bag. Skippy then jumped from her cave and padded after Cora, as her owner headed for the bedroom.

Thirty minutes later, Cora sat at the dining room table in her cozy pink robe that enveloped her from neck to ankles. She stirred a bowl of soup and eyed the fifteen packages she’d wrapped earlier in the week. Two more sat waiting for their ribbons.

These would cost a lot less to send if some of these people were on speaking terms. She could box them together and ship them off in large boxes.

She spooned chicken and rice into her mouth and swallowed.

The soup was a tad too hot. She kept stirring.

She could send one package with seven gifts inside to Grandma Peterson, who could dispense them to her side of the family. She could send three to Aunt Carol.

She took another sip. Cooler.

Aunt Carol could keep her gift and give two to her kids. She could send five to her mom…

Cora grimaced. She had three much older sisters and one younger. “If Mom were on speaking terms with my sisters, that would help.”

She eyed Skippy, who had lifted a rear leg to clean between her back toes. “You don’t care, do you? Well, I’m trying to. And I think I’m doing a pretty good job with this Christmas thing.”

She reached over and flipped the switch on her radio. A Christmas carol poured out and jarred her nerves. She really should think about Christmas and not who received the presents. Better to think “my uncle” than “Joe, that bar bum and pool shark.”

She finished her dinner, watching her cat wash her front paws.

“You and I need to play. You’re”—she paused as Skippy turned

a meaningful glare at her—“getting a bit rotund, dear kitty.”

Skippy sneezed and commenced licking her chest.

After dinner, Cora curled up on the couch with her Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad bag. Skippy came to investigate the rattling paper.

Uncle Eric. Uncle Eric used to recite “You Are Old, Father William.” He said it was about a knight. But Cora wasn’t so sure. She dredged up memories from college English. The poem was by Lewis Carroll, who was really named Dodson, Dogson, Dodgson, or something.

“He wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” she said. “There’s a cat in the story, but not as fine a cat as you. He smiles too much.”

Skippy gave her a squint-eyed look.

Cora eased the leather-bound book out of the bag. “The William I met at the bookstore qualifies for at least ancient.”

She put the book in her lap and ran her fingers over the embossed title: How the Knights Found Their Ladies.

She might have been hasty. She didn’t know if Uncle Eric would like this. She hefted the book, guessing its weight to be around four pounds. She should have found a lighter gift. This would cost a fortune to mail.

Skippy sniffed at the binding, feline curiosity piqued. Cora stroked her fur and pushed her back. She opened the book to have a peek inside. A piece of thick paper fell out. Skippy pounced on it as it twirled to the floor.

“What is it, kitty? A bookmark?” She slipped it out from between Skippy’s paws, then turned the rectangle over in her hands. Not a bookmark. A ticket.

Admit one to the Wizards’ Christmas Ball

Costumes required

Dinner and Dancing

and your Destiny

Never heard of it. She tucked the ticket in between the pages and continued to flip through the book, stopping to read an occasional paragraph.

This book wasn’t for Uncle Eric at all. It was not a history, it was a story. Kind of romantic too. Definitely not Uncle Eric’s preferred reading.

Skippy curled against her thigh and purred.

“You know what, cat? I’m going to keep it.”

Skippy made her approval known by stretching her neck up and rubbing her chin on the edge of the leather cover. Cora put the book on the sofa and picked up Skippy for a cuddle. The cat squirmed out of her arms, batted at the ticket sticking out of the pages, and scampered off.

“I love you too,” called Cora.

She pulled the ticket out and read it again: Wizards’ Christmas Ball. She turned out the light and headed for bed. But as she got ready, her eye caught the computer on her desk. Maybe she could find a bit more information.

What I thought:

One of the things I love most about the Christmas season is collecting Christmas-themed romances to read while snuggled up in front of a crackling fire, with a hot cup of cocoa nearby.  I was so excited when I saw Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball offered for review by FIRST Wild Card Tours, and requested my copy right away!

Well, let me tell you, it wasn't at all what I expected.  It's unlike any Christmas romance I've ever read.  I knew going in that it would be different -- Donita K. Paul is known for her Science Fiction/Fantasy novels -- I just didn't realize it would be so "magical".

The story revolves around Cora Crowder and her boss's boss, Simon Derrick.  Cora lives alone with her calico kitty, Skippy.  She has trouble "finding" her Christmas spirit, due to her very dysfunctional family, whom she left behind as quickly as she could.  Cora has her own Christmas traditions that she looks forward to every year, and has never felt inclined to accept other's offers to spend the holidays with them.

Simon, on the other hand, thrives on love for his family.  He is the breadwinner for his close-knit family, which includes his Mother, Aunt Mae, Granddad, and his precious sister, Sandy.  Simon has always had a hard time finding a suitable date, so he's kinda given up on looking -- until he meets Cora.  There's just something about her, and he can't seem to get her out of his mind.

My favorite character is Simon's sister, Sandy.  She's twenty-four, and has Down's syndrome, which makes her very endearing.  Sandy and Simon's relationship was a blessing to see!  She does her part to get Simon and Cora together.  :)

*A sincere "thank you" to Waterbrook/Multnomah for providing my copy for review.*


Waiting on Wednesday

(Husbands for Hire, #1)
by Kelly Eileen Hake

Release date:  3/1/2011

Christian Fiction / Historical Romance

Barbour Publishing
ISBN:  9781602607606


When three landowning women put an ad in the paper expressing their desire for healthy, hard-working husbands-for-hire to help them set up and run a sawmill, they never dreamed their tiny town would be overflowing with proposals from bachelors who responded promptly...and in person! 

Out of this logjam of potential suitors, which one will Evelyn Thompson choose? 

Jacob Grainger trails his brother's murderer to Hopesfall where, to keep his true intentions secret, Jacob pretends to court Miss Evelyn Thompson.

Will this lumberjack-turned-bounty-hunter find himself falling for the enterprising female?