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Book Review: Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop 

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

USA Today bestselling authors Shelley Shepard Gray, Rachel J. Good, and Loree Lough celebrate the spirit of the season, the warmth of simple traditions, and of course, the joy of holiday treats, with this faith-affirming collection of three connected holiday novellas about the Christmas surprises in store for those who work and shop at a charming Amish bakery.

As the most joyful holiday draws near, three couples discover the recipe for love includes faith, hope, and the sweetest blessings…

A CHRISTMAS CAKE FOR REBECCA by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray
When carpenter Aden returns to Lancaster after twenty years away, bakeshop owner Rebecca is dismayed to find he’s still as handsome and kind as ever. He broke her heart when he left the community back then. Will a holiday emergency provide a second chance at love, this time forever?

BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER by USA Today Bestselling Author Rachel J. Good
When a lonely widower with a sick daughter and a new cake decorator meet at the bakeshop, they discover they were once childhood playmates. But as each of them helps the other care for family, their neighborly kindness inspires a gift that only love could make possible…

THE CHRISTMAS CUPCAKE by USA Today Bestselling Author Loree Lough
A builder who never learned to read believes he must hide his fond feelings for a kind schoolteacher. But after they run into each other at the bakeshop, she offers to teach him–and as Christmas approaches, each of them learns a lesson about the great gift of love…

Publisher: Kensington Books

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 3.5 Stars/I more than liked it

A Christmas Cake for Rebecca

I am a big fan of Shelley Shephard Gray’s work and when I found out that she was a contributor to Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop I knew I had to read it! After being separated for many years, Aden and Rebecca are reunited through the circumstances of life. When Aden sees how hard Rebecca works at her shop, Rebecca’s Porch, he offers to help any way he can. Through Aden’s help, Aden and Rebecca’s relationship and the feelings they had for each other are rekindled.

Ms. Gray’s A Christmas Cake for Rebecca is sweet, while predictable at times. The predictableness is easy to overlook, because it is a Christmas story and Ms. Gray’s writing is so good. The description of Rebecca’s famous Christmas cake is mouthwatering. I loved the characters and reading A Christmas Cake for Rebecca.

Best Christmas Present Ever

Rachel J. Good is a new author to me. Ms. Good’s story Best Christmas Present Ever has made me a fan. Best Christmas Present Ever centers a round Christian, a widow taking care of his daughter, Johanna, who has cancer, and Lizzie, a young down-on-her-luck Amish woman who has moved back home to take care of her ailing Aunt. The primary setting for the story is Rebecca’s Porch, just like it was in the previous story, A Christmas Cake for Rebecca. While getting to know one another, Christian and Lizzie realize they were childhood best friends (which actually surprised me a bit).

I really liked Best Christmas Present Ever. Like the story before, it was predictable in some parts (but not the childhood best friend part–at least to me), but the story was sweet and Christmassy enough to overlook it. I enjoyed that the story had included characters from A Christmas Cake for Rebecca. I loved how caring, sweet, and understanding the characters were with one another and genuinely cared for the people around them. I love that Christian and Lizzie did not realize that they had grown up together until halfway through the story–it was a pleasant surprise as the reader.

The Christmas Cupcake

Loree Lough’s The Christmas Cupcake is a sweet story that centers around Asher and Tessa. Tessa is the school teacher for her Amish community and Asher is a furniture builder. Tessa has a rough home life that hardly anyone knows about and Asher has trouble reading and writing. After bumping into one another at Rebecca’s Porch, they start getting to know each other. As Asher does his best to protect Tessa and Tessa teaches Asher to read and write, their friendship and feelings deepen.

In The Christmas Cupcake, real life issues (abuse and illiteracy) are more center stage than the previous stories and Rebecca’s Porch is not a major part of the story like it had been in the previous stories, in my opinion. I appreciated how The Christmas Cupcake dealt with real life issues, in the midst of a seasonal story, and it was still able to have an uplifting ending. I enjoyed reading about Asher and Tessa and am happy with the story’s outcome.

Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop (as a whole):

I really enjoyed Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop as a whole. Each story was a really nice read that I could escape into. I know I said that it was predictable in some parts to me and that is true, but I don’t see that as a bad thing necessarily. When I read a Christmas read, I want to know that everything will be wrapped up in a tidy bow and will have a happy ending. I want to be able to escape into a Christmas read and destress. Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop did that for me.

Have you read Christmas at the Amish Bakeshop? What did you think of the stories?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Shelley Shepard Gray | Rachel J. Good | Loree Lough

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Book Review: The Wish Book Christmas

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Amazon:

Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab—since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 5 Stars/A favorite of 2021

Lynn Austin’s The Wish Book Christmas is one of the best Christmas reads I have ever read. What drew me to the book was the historical setting and the Sears Christmas Wish Book itself. The book takes place in the 1950s and is a follow-up to Ms. Austin’s book, If I Were You. (If I Were You is still on my TBR list, but I did not feel entirely lost while reading The Wish Book Christmas.) The Wish Book Christmas center’s around Bobby and Harry, the young sons of Audrey and Eve.

Bobby and Harry are obsessed with the Sears Christmas Wish Book and want everything that’s in the Wish Book (for boys that is). I remember when I was a young girl myself, writing down everything in the girls section and giving the list to my family in the late 80s-early 90s. It was nice to be swept up in the nostalgia and memories of Christmas past while reading the book.

Besides the nostalgia and the time period, what I loved most about the book is the Message woven throughout. Audrey and Eve do not want their sons to become greedy and expect to get everything they have asked for. Inspired by the Christmas Story from the Bible and the boys’ role in the Christmas Play as Wise Men as reference, Audrey and Eve come up with plans of ways for them to give back to their community.

At first, it’s a rough go, but once the boys get the hang of it, they don’t want to stop giving! Bobby and Harry then understand what the True Meaning of Christmas is: Jesus. Audrey and Eve also learn lessons of God’s Forgiveness and Grace and His Giving Nature. The grownups in their circle of friends and family are blessed by Bobby and Harry’s giving and are impressed to give themselves.

The Wish Book Christmas is a sweet Christmas read that helps to remind us what the True Meaning of Christmas actually is and what Jesus gave us. I highly recommend The Wish Book Christmas. The Wish Book Christmas has definitely become one of my favorite reads that I wouldn’t mind reading again (which is rare for me) and is one of my favorites of 2021.

Have you read The Wish Book Christmas? How did you like the book? Do you have a special Sears Christmas Wish Book memory?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Learn More About:

Lynn Austin

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Book Review: Jesus Came for Me: The True Story of Christmas

Image Curtesy of New Growth Press

Synopsis from New Growth Press

Jesus came for us. Because Jesus was born at Christmas, we can know that he is with us always. This board book by author Jared Kennedy helps toddlers and preschoolers understand the true meaning of Christmas in a personal, memorable way.  

Jesus Came for Me is part of The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible series. For children ages three to five, this beautifully illustrated book begins with the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth to Zechariah and ends with the visit of the wise men. Jesus, our great God, was born as a little baby, and his birth is good news and great joy for all people—including your child! 

Help your little one know that Jesus is always present, and he helps us believe and wait for him. Because of the compelling content and modern, vivid illustrations, children will live in the joy of the greatest truth of all: Jesus is with us! 

This conversational book simply tells the story of the gospel and invites children to respond. Jesus Came for Me helps toddlers and preschoolers celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.

Publisher: New Growth Press

Source: Purchased from New Growth Press

Leslie’s Review: 4 Stars/I really, really love it

Jesus Came for Me: The True Story of Christmas by Jared Kennedy is a fun book to read at Christmas time to your little ones. Mr. Kennedy has written the book so that young ones can understand the Christmas Story. I loved that Mr. Kennedy went beyond just telling that Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Shepherds, and the Wise Men, but also included (briefly) parts that usually get left out when telling the Christmas Story to toddlers. In Jesus Came for Me, kids will be introduced Elizabeth and Zachariah (which is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas Story) and to King Herod.

I also loved how Scripture References were sprinkled throughout the book along with questions to help your little one understand. The questions also help to see where the child is in comprehending the story which could lead to important conversations about Jesus. The pictures are adorable as well. (I loved how they showed how Zachariah couldn’t speak–too cute!) I believe Jesus Came for Me is a great way to introduce young ones to the Christmas Story in a understandable way.

Have you read Jesus Came for Me: The True Story of Christmas? How did your family enjoy the book?

Learn More About:

Jared Kennedy | Trish Mahoney

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Book Review: The Story of the Christmas Cow

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Synopsis from Amazon:

Most of us are familiar with the Christmas story-Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, the angels in the night sky, and, of course, the birth of Jesus, the Savior of all mankind. Yet in The Story of the Christmas Cow, you will experience the joy, excitement, and unforgettable peace of this Christ-centered holiday through the eyes of the Christmas Cow. Within the pages of this captivating children’s tale, author Ray Berilla shares one cow’s adventure from Mary and Joseph’s pasture to the stable that welcomed the Son of God into the world. After being forced to stay behind when her donkey friend was chosen to carry Mary to Bethlehem, the Christmas Cow finds the courage to follow her masters to join the donkey for an experience of a lifetime. Although she faces tests, trials, and challenges along the way, the Christmas Cow presses onward to her goal, believing in her heart that something wonderful awaits at the end of her travels. Discover the power of following your dreams in this lively, heartwarming book that will inspire you and your child through beautiful reminders of God’s goodness, the purpose of faith, and the wonder of Jesus Christ. The Story of the Christmas Cow is an uplifting holiday classic that will bring encouragement to the whole family all year round.

Publisher: Xulon Press

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 5 Stars/A favorite of 2021

The Story of the Christmas Cow by Ray Berilla has quickly become one of my favorite Christmas books of all time. In the vein of The Donkey No One Could Ride, The Story of the Christmas Cow tells the story of a cow that is owned by Mary and Joseph. After Mary and Joseph’s Donkey brags to rest of the animals that he his going to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph, the Cow that Mary and Joseph own decides to sneak off and follow them. The long, arduous journey about does the Cow in and her perseverance helps her reach her destination and goal.

The Story of the Christmas Cow is a uplifting and heartwarming story that helps tell the true Christmas Story. It reminds the reader not to give up and to keep going after what the Lord has laid on their hearts to do. The illustrations are elegant and complement the story well. I really enjoyed the Message in the book too. This is a perfect Christmas read to read with the family during this special season. I highly recommend this book and believe it would be a great book to implement into your Christmas festivities, not only this year, but for years to come.

Have you read The Story of the Christmas Cow? What did you think of the story? What’s your go-to Christmas story book to read each year with your family?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Learn More About:

Ray Berilla

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Book Review: A Christmas in the Alps

Image Curtesy of Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads :

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who’s on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone’s family’s clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

For anyone who is wearying of staying home, Melody Carlson invites you to spend Christmas with her in the beautiful French Alps this year. So pull on your mittens, tie your scarf tight, and prepare yourself for a magical mountain holiday.

Publisher: Revell

Source: NetGalley

Leslie’s Review: 4 Stars/I really, really love it

Melody Carlson’s A Christmas in the Alps is a perfect, cozy read for the festive season. Ms. Carlson takes you on a picturesque trip to the French Alps as the main character, Simone, is on a quest to find her great-grandmother’s family treasure. Simone, who takes the trip begrudgingly and at a friend’s urging, meets Kyle on the plane. Throughout the trip, Kyle and Simone’s paths keep crossing and in the process Kyle assists Simone in her quest to find her great-grandmother’s family treasure.

I am not a newcomer to Ms. Carlson’s books-especially her Christmas stories-and when I heard about A Christmas in the Alps I knew I had to read it. Ms. Carlson’s eloquent writing makes you feel as though you are in the French Alps yourself, walking along it’s streets and through the places with Simone and the people she meets. While the plot is somewhat predictable in some parts, it still leaves the reader engaged. A Christmas in the Alps is a sweet and pleasant read for the festive season. If you are looking for a good read to help you escape the hustle and bustle (if only for a little bit) then A Christmas in the Alps would be an excellent read and you won’t be disappointed! I highly recommend it! (I also think it would be a AWESOME holiday movie!)

Have you read A Christmas in the Alps? What did you think of it? Do you agree that it would be a good holiday movie?

I would like to thank NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book. All thoughts and opinions in this review are my own.

Learn More About:

Melody Carlson