Christmas Read-Alouds Everyone Can Enjoy

Hi Friends,

Reading aloud is such a wonderful way to bring family and friends closer and share a special experience together. We homeschooled our five children, and reading aloud was always one of my favorite parts of the day. We read the Bible aloud, and we often read historical fiction or award winning childrens’ books to compliment what we were learning. We also have a special collection of Christmas books that we bring down each December to enjoy together.

Here are some of our favorites:

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan ToomeyThe Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechoski

“Christmas is pish-posh,” grumbles Jonathan Toomey, the best wood carver in the valley. He’s a Scroogelike recluse; but he has a gentle grouch, and it turns out that he hides a sad secret. He is transformed, not by Dickensian ghosts, but by an eager seven-year-old boy and his widowed mother who ask him to make carve a Christmas creche. The spirit of Christmas heals a sorrowing woodcarver’s heart in this splendid edition of a holiday classic. Lynch’s beautiful illustrations, in shades of wood grain, are both realistic and gloriously romantic, focusing on faces and hands at work before the fire and in the lamplight. This is wonderful read-aloud story that even young children will enjoy. Amazon link.

christmas-on-jane-street-billy-romp-hardcover-cover-artChristmas on Jane Street by Billy Romp

The warm, wonderful, real-life tale of the family that brings the Christmas spirit to life on a street corner in Manhattan. Every holiday season for nearly twenty years, Billy Romp, his wife, and their three children have spent nearly a month living in a tiny camper and selling Christmas trees on Jane Street in New York City. They arrive from Vermont the day after Thanksgiving and leave just in time to make it home for Christmas morning—and for a few weeks they transform a corner of the Big Apple into a Frank Capra-esque small town alive with heartwarming holiday spirit.

Christmas on Jane Street is about the transformative power of love—love of parent and child, of merchant and customer, of stranger and neighbor. The ideal Christmas story, it is about the lasting and profound difference that one person can make to a family and one family can make to a community. Amazon link.

An Edwardian ChristmasAn Edwardian Christmas by John L. Goodall

This small book is a treasure! It is all illustrations with no text, but each page follows the story of a family visiting wealthy relatives in a large country house during Edwardian times. Depicted in loving detail, is Christmas as it was at the beginning of the twentieth century, indoors and out, above stairs and below, as seen through the eyes of a boy and girl. My favorite illustrations are of the family walking to church by starlight, and everyone gathered to play games on Christmas Day. It was first published in 1978, so you may want to look for a used copy online.

Peter Spire's Christmas!Peter Spires Christmas!

This is also a wordless picture book by the Caldecott Medal-winning artist of Noah’s Ark, and it contains more than ninety full-color paintings capturing the spirit and joy of Christmas through the delights of three young children. My children all loved this when they were young, and it can be enjoyed by preschoolers through adults.  First published in 1996, you will also want to look for a used copy online.

Some of the other books in our collection include:

Esther’s Gift by Jan Karon, A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg, The Christmas Cross by Max Lucado, A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingles Wilder, A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, Mary’s First Christmas by Walter Wagerin Jr., Christmas at Long Pond by William T. George, The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado, Christmas by Jan Pienkowski, Santa Are You For Real by Harold Myra, The Nutcracker, A Three Dimensional Story Book Illustrated by Michael Welply, The Christmas Stories of George MacDonald, Mele Kalikimaka, Christmas in Hawaii by Julie Mehta, and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Do you enjoy reading aloud? Can you add a favorite Christmas story to our list?

Books Like Downton Abbey

 

Main-Image-Downton-Abbey-Series-4
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hi Friends, Are you a Downton Abbey fan? I’ve enjoyed the series, and I loved visiting Highclere where Downton Abbey is filmed. Here’s a list of inspirational novels set in the same time period, the early 1900’s in England and the US. Happy Reading!
 
 
 
 

GovernessFINAL_HAT_CVR-11)    Edwardian Brides Series, by Carrie Turansky

Book 1: The Governess of Highland Hall 

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Promise me This2) Promise Me This, By Cathy Gohlke

Michael Dunnagan survived the sinking of the Titanic, thanks to the courage of Owen Allen, and promised to help Owen’s family, his younger sister, Annie, in England and the rest of the family living in New Jersey, since Owen could not. Michael started to communicate to Annie through letters, but her anger over her brother’s death was steeped in each of her responses. Eventually, Annie begins to lay aside her anger and their letters become friendlier. Michael saves up enough money to bring Annie to America just as WWI breaks out in Europe…then all communication with Annie ceases!

Band of Sister3) Band of Sisters, by Cathy Gohlke

Maureen O’Reilly and her younger sister flee Ireland in hope of claiming the life promised to their father over twenty years before. After surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor, Colonel Wakefield, has died. His family, refusing to own his Civil War debt, casts her out. Alone, impoverished, and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to obtain employment in a prominent department store. But she soon discovers that the elegant facade hides a secret that threatens every vulnerable woman in the city.

Love at Any Cost4)  The Heart of Sanfrancisco Series, By Julie Lessman

Book 1 Love at Any Cost 

Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart. When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself bucked by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can’t buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man?

With delectable descriptions and a romantic sensibility, bestselling author Julie Lessman brings the Gilded Age to life in this sumptuous new series. Readers will faithfully follow Lessman to the West Coast for more romance, passion, and surprising revelations found in Love at Any Cost.

Dave to Love Again5) Book 2: Dare To Love Again

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.

Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he’s a fraud just like all the rest of the men she’s cared for. Does she dare love again?

The lushness of the glorious Gilded Age beautifully showcases Lessman’s passion as a writer in this engaging love story written with humor and heart. From the glamour of San Francisco’s Nob Hill to the seedy gambling dens of the Barbary Coast, Dare to Love Again is a journey to find a love that never fails. Fans will love revisiting the world of the cousins McClare, and new readers will seek more of Julie’s passion-filled novels.

Bees in the Butterfly Garden6) The Gilded Legacy series by Maureen Lang

Book 1: Bees in the Butterfly Garden

Raised in an exclusive boarding school among Fifth Avenue’s finest, Meg Davenport has all she’s ever needed . . . but none of the things she’s wanted most, like family or dreams of a future that include anything other than finding a suitable match. So when her distant father dies, she seizes the chance to throw etiquette aside and do as she pleases. Especially when she learns that John Davenport wasn’t the wealthy businessman she thought, but one of the Gilded Age’s most talented thieves.

Poised to lead those loyal to Meg’s father, Ian Maguire knows the last thing his mentor would have wanted is for his beloved daughter to follow in his footsteps. Yet Meg is determined, and her connections to one of New York’s wealthiest families could help Ian pull off his biggest heist yet. But are they both in over their heads? And in trying to gain everything, will they end up losing it all?

All in Good Time7) Book 2: All in Good Time

Dessa Caldwell has a dream: to open Pierson House, a refuge for former prostitutes in Denver’s roughest neighborhood. But after exhausting all charitable donations, Dessa still needs a loan, and nearly every bank in town has turned her down. Her last hope hinges on the owner of Hawkins National Bank.

Henry Hawkins has a secret: though he owns the most successful bank in town, his initial capital came from three successful raids on Wells Fargo coaches. Now he’s the most eligible bachelor in Denver, but to protect his criminal past, he’s built a fortress around his heart. Not even the boldest matchmaking mother can tempt him . . . until the day Dessa Caldwell ventures into his bank requesting a loan.

Though he’s certain her proposal is a bad investment, Henry is drawn to Dessa’s passion. But that same passion drives her to make rash decisions about Pierson House . . . and about whom she can trust. One man might hold the key to the future of her mission—but he also threatens to bring Henry’s darkest secrets to light. As the walls around their hearts begin to crumble, Henry and Dessa must choose between their plans and God’s, between safety and love.

Glamorous Illusions8)  The Grand Tour Series by Lisa T. Bergren

Book 1: Glamorous Illusions

When Cora Kensington learns she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king, her life changes forever. Even as she explores Europe with her new family, she discovers that the most valuable journey is within. The first book in the Grand Tour series takes you from the farms of Montana through England and France on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awakening, and self-discovery.

9) Book 2: Grave Consequences

For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future—her very life—depends on the decisions she’ll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her newfound family takes her through Austria, France, and Italy, an unseen enemy trails close behind. Meanwhile, a forbidden love continues to claim her heart, putting everyone’s plans in danger.

And as Cora stays one step ahead of it all, what might need the most protection is her own heart, torn between the dramatic pursuit of a dashing Frenchman and a man who has been quietly staking claim to her affections all along. Love has dangers all its own. She must escape the bonds of the past and discover the faith to make the right choices, as each one has grave consequences.

Glittering Promises10) Book 3: Glittering Promises 

Hounded by journalists chasing the beguiling story of the newest American heiress, Cora fights to remain true to her past, reconcile her present, and still embrace her future. But as Will struggles with her newfound wealth, she begins to wonder if their love is strong enough to withstand all that threatens to pull them apart.

Complicating matters is the stubborn pursuit of Pierre de Richelieu and the increased demands on her time and attention. Cora must stand up for what she believes—regardless of how that might challenge current family and cultural norms—in order to remain true to who she really is.

And as she glimpses the end of the tour, Cora knows it’s time to decide Who and what defines her … and who and what does not.

Heiress11)   Daughters of Fortune Series, by Susan May Warren

 Book One: Heiress

The beautiful heiress daughters of newspaper magnate August Price have been given everything their hearts desire. But what if they want only to be loved–without an enormous price tag attached? When one daughter pursues a desirable marriage, she secures for herself a comfortable and glamorous life. But among the duties of privilege, will she also find the happily-ever-after she seeks? Her sister rejects the trappings of wealth, choosing instead to build a new life on the still-untamed frontier. Will she find happiness in independence or discover that she’s left her heart behind in New York’s glittering society? Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, each woman discovers that being an heiress just might cost her everything–including the chance for true love.

Baroness12) Book 2: Baroness

Lilly and Rosie, daughters of an empire coming of age in the roaring twenties, can have anything they want…except freedom.  Expected to marry well and to take the reins of the empire, they have their lives planned out for them.  But, Lilly, Esme’s daughter longs to return home to Montana, to adventure outside the confines of New York City.  And Jinx’s daughter Rosie dreams of the bright lights of the newly emerging silver screen.  But following their dreams – from avant garde France, to Broadway, to the skies in the world of barnstormers and wing-walkers will take all their courage.  And if they find love, will they choose freedom or happily ever after?

Duchess13) Book 3: Duchess

When her country needs her, will she have the courage to surrender her glittering world and her one true love?

The golden age of Hollywood is in the business of creating stars. Rosie Worth, now starlet Roxy Price, has found everything she’s wanted in the glamour of the silver screen. With adoring fans and a studio-mogul husband, she’s finally silenced the voices—and grief—of the past. Her future shines bright…until the fated Black Friday when it all comes crashing down. When Roxy loses everything, she finds herself disgraced and penniless. Her only hope is to join forces with Belgian duke Rolfe Van Horne, a longtime film investor. But Rolfe is not who he seems, and he has other plans for Roxy and her movies—plans to support a growing unrest in Europe, plans that could break her heart and endanger her life.

Ashton Park14) The Danforths of Lancanshire Series

Book One:  Ashton Park by Murray Pura

Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park. The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William’s and Lady Elizabeth’s three sons are all in uniform–and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.

As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.

Readers will follow Ashton Park’s charming upstairs/downstairs characters through the perils of war and the affairs of the heart with relish.

Beneath A Dover Sky15) Book 2: Beneath a Dover Sky

The second book in the series transports the reader back in time to 1924 as Sir William—recently named Lord Preston—celebrates his sixtieth birthday at the Danforth summer home in Dover. Although the ravages of World War I are in the past, new threats loom as a man named Adoph Hitler publishes a book called Mein Kampf. Is he a danger to Europe? And what of Lord Preston’s growing friendship with an up and coming political leader named Winston Churchill? On the home front, one of the Danforth daughters, the recently widowed Catherine, sells her home in Belfast to spend more time at Dover—where she finds herself annoyed at the impertinent German theologian her father has befriended. The entire Danforth family faces many changes as illness and tragedy strike. Young Edward finally makes his move into the political arena while Michael and Libby welcome a new family member. Readers will be captivated by the upstairs/downstairs interplay as they once again savor this compelling saga of the well-loved Danforth family overcoming obstacles by placing their trust in the God who has always been faithful.

More books like Downton Abbey:

Downton Abbey Read Alike Poster_2

 

 

 

 

Read Part 2  – More Books Like Downton Abbey.

Amanda Dykes contributed to this post. To learn more about Amanda check out her website.

 



She Does Good Hair by Terri Gillespie

She Does Good HairHi Friends,

Today I am celebrating the launch of a wonderful new eBook, She Does Good Hair, by Terri Gillespie

Here is my 5-Star review:

What a great story! Terri Gillespie has created characters that step off the page and into your heart. She Does Good Hair is a modern Ruth and Naomi story featuring Shira, a successful stylist with all kinds of issues, who inherits her aunts rundown salon with the provision that she must keep on the three stylist who work there. But those stylists are not so sure they want to work with Shira. There’s drama and romance and some wonderful lessons to take to heart. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry and I think you’ll be very glad you downloaded this wonderful novel! I highly recommend it!

Terri is hosting several fun events to celebrate the launch of She Does Good Hair.

Terri GillespieOnline Chat with Terri Gillespie

Grab your copy of She Does Good Hair and join Terri for a live author video chat on Thursday, October 3rd at 8:00 PM EDT (that’s 7:00 Central, 6:00 Mountain, & 5:00 Pacific)!

Terri will be hosting the chat and Q&A, as well as announcing a grand prize winner at the end! There will  be plenty of fun giveaways during the course of the party! Follow this link to register for this fun event.

Terri's book launch party

Book Launch Party

On Saturday, Oct.5, 3:00 – 5:00pm Salon Bella Gente, is hosting a fabulous event to celebrate one of their clients’ newest eBook, She Does Good Hair, by Terri Gillespie! Prizes, complimentary blow drys, refreshments, and some surprises! Bring your KINDLE, iPod, laptop, or smart phone to download this wonderfully funny and endearing novel.Here is the link to RSVP and see the details!

She Does Good Hair Prize

Grand Prize Giveaway

SHE DOES GOOD HAIR GIVEAWAY! Participants in the Release Day, Salon, and Chat Events are automatically entered into the big giveaway! The winner will receive the official SHE DOES GOOD HAIR tote filled with surprises–valued at over $75! Attendees to two or more events increase their chances of winning.

You can connect with Terri on Facebook, and you can learn more about Terri and her books here! 

When a Love Story Makes You Cry

 

My HOpe is FoundHi Friends,

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Joanne Bischoff, the author of the Cadence of Grace Series. I loved Be Still My Soul, and Though My Heart is Torn, books 1 and 2.  So I was thrilled when I received the manuscript for My Hope is Found, book 3, to read early for endorsement. It is wonderful! I highly recommend starting with Be Still My Soul so you don’t miss any of Lonnie and Gideon’s story!

 

Joanne is doing an awesome giveaway, and I am adding to it. Please read all the way to the bottom for details.

When a Love Story Makes You Cry, by Joanne Bischoff

Recently, I had the privilege of reading Carrie’s novel, The Governess of Highland Hall, for endorsement. My husband and I were heading to St. Louis for the 14th annual Christy awards, and having Carrie’s manuscript in hand, I packed it in my suitcase for some in-flight reading. When we and all the passengers were buckled into our seats, I was immersed in the story that Carrie was so beautifully weaving. I’m a nervous flyer, so I get a bit of anxiety when the plane lifts off—so my solution was to keep my nose in her book as we sped down the runway.

There’s a tender, beautiful scene that takes place in the gardens on the great estate of Highland Hall… and in that moment, just as the plane was gearing up to lift into the air, I had tears in my eyes. I’m quite certain I looked like the nervous flyer that I was, but the tears had nothing to do with the liftoff and everything to do with the pages before me. I love it when a book does that. When a book hits our heart in such a way…that the tears come.

Joanne BischoffFor those of you who know me, I write Appalachian Romance and one of the things I always try to pour into each story is an emotional connection between the reader and the characters. But tears and…romance? How can that be?

Love takes on so many shapes and forms. It has the ability to move us in incredible ways. Stretch our hearts taut with yearning—in the way that only love can. Because of this, love stories can at times, make us cry. I often think that books should come with a little secret pocket to hold a few Kleenex. That and a small box of dark chocolate! For extra emotional support, of course. As an author, it’s been so special to receive notes from readers who have been reading the Cadence of Grace series and hear them share the emotions they experienced. Here are a few snippets:

“Oh, you should have warned me that I would need a tissue…BOX! I am about half way through the book and half way through a box of tissues…I am excited to see how this all plays out.”

“I’m sitting at my son’s baseball practice reading chapter 20 of book 2 with tears rolling down my face. Amazing writing!”

“How long does it take to read a 334 page novel? Between working, sobbing, preparing meals, sobbing, jumping up in reckless abandon because I’m flooded with emotion and sobbing some more… Thank you, thank you!”

There’s just something about being a girl. And the fact that sometimes…we just need a good cry. A bit of angst. That will they won’t they—it’s good for the soul—love story cry. But how can a love story break your heart? How can it still be a romance?

How can it still satisfy?

It satisfies because as women we understand the chase. The depths that yearning can take us to. The unknowing if it’s all going to work out, all the while hoping that two people can find one another. Love—it’s a beautiful thing. We see it played out in scripture, the greatest love story of all time. We reach for an inspirational romance because as the tears roll down, we hunger for victory. It’s the knowledge that hope and love are laced throughout, growing stronger with each turning of the page. It’s what has our nose in the pages, the phone ringer set to silent, a few Kleenex on hand, and a full, full heart.

Have you read a love story recently that’s tugged at your heartstrings?

***

Thanks for visiting us on the “A Book For Every Reader” blog tour! Leave a comment below to be entered to win not one but TWO books! One of Joanne’s and one of mine. Also, to enter in the grand giveaway prize which includes some country goodies and an e-reader, simply hop on over and fill out the entry form: http://www.joannebischof.com/extras/blogtour/

You’ll also find the official details. Winners will be drawn on September 28th and contacted via email. Thank you for joining us!

Christy Award-finalist and author of The Cadence of Grace seriesJoanne Bischof has a deep passion for Appalachian culture and writing stories that shine light on God’s grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, folk music, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life.

Thanking Readers Who Review

Surrendered Hearts, by Carrie Turansky

Surrendered Hearts, by Carrie Turansky

Hi Friends,

Today I wanted to say thank you to all my reading friends who take time to post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and other websites. I appreciate your feedback, and I believe it helps other readers decide if they might enjoy the book. I’m convinced positive reviews can really help boost book sales., so keep them coming!

I recently lowered the price of Surrendered Hearts to free for a few days on Amazon, and it was downloaded by 35,000 more readers. It’s exciting to think of so many people having an opportunity to read that story of healing and redemption. Offering a novel free like that helps me connect with new readers. And I hope some of those who enjoy it will want to read my other novels. It also brings in a new wave of reviews. Surrendered Hearts now has over 80 reviews, and most of those are 4 and 5 stars. That’s so encouraging!

Surrendered Hearts is set in beautiful Vermont

Surrendered Hearts is set in beautiful Vermont

Thanks very much! Here are a few of the most recent reviews For Surrendered Hearts:

“This book, along with its author, deserve more than five stars but that is the limit on here. Those who have lost their faith or believe they never had it, just need to open their minds, hearts and mouth to God and give Him the chance to prove His love for them . . . Every scar we have can never beat the ones Jesus bore for our sins and Jennifer just had to take a leap to faith and God let her know that He is ALWAYS with us.” From June

“Everything is described so vividly, I could clearly visualise it. The combination of a small town, reclaiming faith and love is truly amazing. I loved reading this.” From Rissiepit

“I downloaded this book when it was free on Kindle, and it was the best download I have made this year! I could really feel God’s influence in this heart warming story which I devoured in a couple of days. I loved Jenn’s transformation not only on a spiritual level but also dealing with the scars she had from the gas fire. As a “new to me” author, Carrie has won me over with her story and very believable characters. I plan on reading more of her books.” Kate

Blessings and Happy Reading,

Carrie

 

 

A Little Help From My Friends

 

Surrendered Hearts, by Carrie Turansky

Surrendered Hearts, by Carrie Turansky

Hi Friends,

Have you read a good book lately? Did you share that info with anyone? Friends recommending books to friends is one of the key ways readers discover new authors and books. Creating a buzz through word-of-mouth promotion is every author’s dream. So next time you enjoy a book . . . please spread the word!

Here are several ways you can get that word out online:

Continue reading