“12 Days of Christmas” Celebrate Lit Book Tour, Review, and Giveaway

My Review:

The 12 Gifts of Christmas by author Lena Dooley is a 240 page Christian fiction book published by Whitaker House.  This contemporary romance is different from most of the books I have read by author Dooley.  Normally I pick up historical fiction.
This is the whirlwind romantic tale of Malcom MacGregor and Alanza Cantalamessa. He is a successful Texas business executive from a wealthy family.  A descendant from the Scottish MacGregor Clan, he is a perfect hero.  Alanza Cantalamessa, the daughter of a wealthy gourmet pizza restaurant owner, is the woman he has fallen in love with while eating lunches at her family’s restaurant.  It is love at first sight for each of them.  Both characters are nice looking, mannerly, polite, wealthy, and Christian.  However, they aren’t totally relatable or realistic.  Parts of their characteristic are great, but others I cannot fathom.
Author Dooley’s leads are just perfect, too perfect.  Readers will want to be friends with them or maybe even switch places with them for a while.  It is rare these days to find a man with a heart for God like Malcolm’s.  That causes him to be dedicated to family and friends, too.  Malcolm even asks Alanza’s parents if he may date her.  Wow!
I was actually surprised when I received this book because I did not expected it to be a contemporary romance especially set in Texas.   The majority of the author’s books I have read have been historic.  I was so intrigued by Alanza’s family’s gourmet pizza restaurant that I wanted to go there. The descriptions were spot on.   I could envision the quaint place and wanted to taste the pizzas.
For the most part I found this to be a predictable story.  There was a monkey wrench thrown in to make it interesting.  It goes along smoothly and fast.  I loved that there was prayer in it.  Malcolm prayed for a wife, specifically Alanza.  There are worship services, missions, and prayer.  I love Christian books where I don’t need to search and search for the message.  The message is clear in this fiction.  We need to pray, trust God, and listen to His guidance.
I would recommend this sweet, love at first sight romance to anyone that enjoys Contemporary Christian Romance.  It gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me.  I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own honest opinion.
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About the Book

The 12 gifts of Christmas
Book Title: The 12 Gifts of Christmas
Author: Lena Nelson Dooley
Genre: Christian Romance/ Christmas
Release date: September 4, 2018
Malcolm MacGregor is a descendant of Scotland’s Clan MacGregor and a successful young businessman in Fort Worth, Texas. Alanza Cantalamessa works at a gourmet pizzeria owned by her Brazilian artist mother and her Italian Poppa. Both of them are smitten with each other but Malcolm is too reserved to do much more than make small talk—until a promotion at work that will send him away to Australia for six months. It’s December and he has to do something—fast.
Praying about the situation, Malcolm decides to give her twelve gifts leading up to Christmas. Their families and friends think they are moving too fast. And a gold-digger who tossed Malcolm aside in the past has now decided he’s the man of her dreams.
Can Malcolm and Alanza overcome their obstacles before he has to go abroad? Or is it really not meant to be?
Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Leena DooleyMulti-published, award-winning author Lena Nelson Dooley is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, her local chapter in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, the Christian Authors’ Network, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. Her forty-plus books have sold more than 875,000 copies. Lena’s books have appeared on the CBA, ECPA, and Publisher Weekly bestseller lists, as well as some Amazon bestseller lists. She also writes a popular blog, A Christian Writer’s World, that features other authors’ books. The blog received the Readers’ Choice Blog of the Year Award from the Book Club Network.
Lena is a three-time finalist in the Carol Awards ACFW contest. Her 2010 release, Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, won the 2011 Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in publishing Western Fiction. Her next series, McKenna’s Daughters: Maggie’s Journey appeared on a reviewers’ Top Ten Books of 2011 list. It also won the 2012 Selah award for Historical Novel. The second, Mary’s Blessing, was a Selah Award finalist for Romance novel. Catherine’s Pursuit, released in 2013, was the winner of the NTRWA Carolyn Reader’s Choice contest, took second place in the CAN Golden Scroll Novel of the Year award, and won the Will Rogers Medallion bronze medallion. Her book, A Heart’s Gift, won RWA’s Faith, Hope, and Love Readers’ Choice Award in July 2017.
Lena is also the host of The Lena Nelson Dooley Show on the Along Came a Writer blogtalk radio network. She has experience in screenwriting, acting, directing, and voice-overs, and currently serves on the board of directors of Higher Ground Films. She has been featured in Christian Fiction Online Magazine, ACFW Journal, Book Fun Magazine, Charisma Magazine, and Christian Retailing.

Guest Post from Lena

She took the pan off the burner, dropped tiny marshmal-lows into the waiting over-sized mugs, and filled them with the fragrant hot chocolate. “Do you want to drink it here, or would you rather go in the living room? The sofa is more comfortable.”
“Whatever you want to do.” His honeyed tone wrapped around her like a warm blanket.
She handed a mug to him, picked up her own, along with coasters and two napkins, and headed into the living room. He followed.
Alanza’s Best Hot Chocolate
Ingredients:
4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
3 tbls. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 dark chocolate bar
1 can real whipped cream
Maraschino cherries
Instructions:
Heat milk over medium to low heat, stirring constantly until milk starts to bubble slightly (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, mix sugar and cocoa together until well blended. When milk is ready, gradually add in sugar, cocoa, and honey, stirring constantly. Put heat on low and add shavings of chocolate bar and vanilla. Continue stirring until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and pour into mugs. Add whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and cherries on top, as desired.

Blog Stops

The Power of WordsOctober 9
Among the ReadsOctober 10
A Diva’s HeartOctober 10
Baker KellaOctober 11
Britt Reads FictionOctober 13
Texas Book-aholic, October 13
Susan Loves BooksOctober 14
Splashes of JoyOctober 15
Creating RomanceOctober 16
Bigreadersite, October 16
Mary Hake, October 17
Maureen’s MusingsOctober 18
Bibliophile ReviewsOctober 20
Pause for TalesOctober 20
More Of HimOctober 21
Carpe DiemOctober 22

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Lena is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbuck’s Gift Card and a surprise Christmas gift!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

 

Find a Book Friday: Dare to Begin Again Celebrate Lit Tour

Dare to Begin Again by author Rosalinda Rivera has an enticing pink cover with a lovely bouquet of flowers and says “Let God Write Your Best Future”.  Okay, I’m in.  This 184 page by Whitaker House had me with its cover.  Then when I learned the DARE stood for Decide, Allow, Rise, Enjoy there was no putting this encouraging book down.
After an introduction there are sixteen chapters with different topics.  All of these are relevant in today’s life.  Dream Again, Forgive Again, Risk Again, Trust Again, Heal Again, and Love Again are just a sampling of what you will explore.   There is a story, a God lesson, Bible tie in, closing with “I DARE YOU TO…”. Author Rivera encourages readers at the end to DARE to whatever the chapter title is.  Dare to Hope, Begin, Forgive, or Listen.
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I enjoyed the author’s writing style.  It was easy to see this book has been well thought, researched, and organized.  The author has a smooth style of writing and her words seem to just flow.  Her stories and experiences are transparent and written to help readers.  She provides encouragement, scripture, and food for thought.  Author Rivera gives many positive, inspiring suggestions that stayed with me.  “Stay positive and don’t allow negative thoughts to enter.”  Another favorite is “Don’t let your past hurts, disappointments, and rejections hold you down.”  Both of those stuck with me and had me nodding in agreement.
This book reminds readers that God is with us and for us.  He has a plan for our future.  She says to keep moving forward with determination and God,  It is an upbeat, positive book.  There is a lot of cheerleading to uplift readers but not a lot of instruction on how to exactly accomplish your goal.  That is more implied or left to readers.  She does give some guidance but not an abundance.
Author Rivera has written a God glorifying book filled with ideas, support, inspiration, scripture, and experiences to help readers.  It is really a wonderful book.  Any readers club, small group, or individual read would highly benefit from reading it.  I highly recommend it and rate it 5 out of 5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. These are my own honest opinions and review.

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About the Book:

Book Title: Dare to Begin Again

Author: Rosalinda Rivera
Genre: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Woman’s Issue
Release date: September 4, 2018

We all have struggles and challenges in life. Whether they are of our own making or not, things don’t always work out. Sometimes, we just give up on our dreams and goals. But it doesn’t have to be that way! God is a God of new beginnings, and throughout the entire Bible, we read about people who were stuck, disappointed, and faced impossible situations—people God freed. Rosalinda Torres Rivera challenges us to Dare to Begin Again. Using stories from her own life, other people, and biblical times, Rosalinda offers inspirational, down-to-earth advice on beginning again. Each chapter tackles a different issue where you may be “stuck”—such as an inability to forgive, trust, or hope—and examples of people who overcame similar challenges. Practical tasks at the end of each chapter walk you through a DARE challenge (Decide, Allow, Rise, Enjoy) to help you move closer to a fresh start. Rosalinda is the daughter of Victor Torres, an ex-gang member from Brooklyn, New York, and his wife, Carmen, founders of the New Life For Youth ministry. She has seen more than twenty thousand people get out of tough situations and turn their lives around. “They’re people whose tales of transformation prove God is still at work,” she says. “He’s written and re-written their life’s chapters—and He’s willing to do the same for you.” It takes a commitment, but with the help of God, inspiring, true stories, and practical applications, you can Dare to Begin Again.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Rosalinda Torres Rivera is the executive director of New Life For Youth, one of Virginia’s largest residential facilities helping to rehabilitate people from a life of addiction. She has been reaching out to families in crisis, poverty, and hopelessness for over twenty-five years. Using her business skills, Rosalinda developed a model of social enterprise to sustain the non-profit New Life For Youth by creating businesses that train thousands of young people in job skills and leadership.

47B0BEFA-8F9F-45A2-914D-4E00541D43D9She is also the president of New Life Enterprises, the founder of Mercy Moms Home, a place for single mothers to find hope and healing, and the founder of Bella Women’s Ministry in Richmond, Virginia, which hosts annual conferences for over five hundred women.
Each year, Rosalinda is a featured presenter at various events nationwide. She has ministered throughout the world and has traveled to over twenty-two countries. From the White House to the local community, she has been nationally recognized for her impact in bringing hope to the hopeless.
Rosalinda was appointed to the Board of Governors of the National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives, headquartered in Washington, DC. Style Magazineselected her as a “Top 40 under 40” leader for her impact in Richmond, Virginia.
In 2018, the Valentine Museum in Richmond will feature the work of her family as one of the city’s first Hispanic families to impact Richmond in the non-profit sector.
Rosalinda is the daughter of Victor Torres, an ex-gang member from the streets of New York, and his wife, Carmen, the founders of New Life For Youth and pastors of New Life Outreach International Church. She served as an associate producer on Victor, a movie about her father’s journey from drugs and gangs to Jesus and redemption.
Rosalinda and her husband, Carlos, have three children: Alana, Gabriel, and Victor.

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Minding the Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Welcome to the Minding the Light tour with Celebrate Lit.  I am thrilled you found my stop.  Minding the Light by author Suzanne Woods Fisher is an intricate, beautiful, touching historical tale filled with emotion and inspiration.  History buffs will swoon over this jam packed detailed story that was so expertly researched.  Readers that like to learn about different sects will enjoy hearing about Quakers.  Romance readers will get their fix, too.  Yes, this is a book for everyone.  Minding the Light is Book Two in author Fisher’s Nantucket Legacy series, but it could easily be read as a stand alone.  However, you won’t want to miss Book One which was spectacular, too.  Definitely read them both.

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This is the story of dashing sea captain Reynolds “Ren” Macy.  Six years ago, Ren sailed out leaving his bride in pursuit of whale oil.  Unfortunately he returns home to grief, but there are also surprises.  The road ahead is difficult for Ren, and it will cost him quite a lot. However, the transformation he made throughout this book was downright inspiring to anyone of any time period.

It is also the story of Daphne.  She is the heroine, a strong, compassionate Quaker, who happens to be engaged to Ren’s cousin and business partner.  Daphne faces hypocrisy among peers, friends, and elders.  However, she remains steady and true to herself and her beliefs.  A great romance is told here.  Her character is extremely relatable and likable.  She quickly became my friend and I was invested in her life.  It takes a great writer to pen a good friend.

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Another character is Mary Coffin Starbucks.  We become acquainted with her through her journal entries in this novel.  While Mary Coffin Starbuck is a real person, her journal was completely made up for this story.   Mary was an important figure in Nantucket history.   It is interesting seeing the island’s earliest days through her eyes. I loved the journal even though I knew it was fiction.

Besides the main storyline there were subplots that were fascinating, also.  This book has a lot of things going on in it.  It is extremely well written, well researched, and well planned.  I adore reading historical books where I glean things from them.  This was a treasure trove for me.  Besides the facts about Nantucket there was a wealth of information about Quakers, too.

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Author Fisher has a delightful writing style that brings her well described characters to life.  Her descriptive wording transported me to Nantucket to a time and place I had never been.  I could almost hear the sounds of the ocean and smell the salty air.  The dialog between characters flowed effortlessly and was one of my favorite parts of the books.  It was fascinating reading well known surnames throughout the book.  This is a book that was hard to put down until the end!

In this captivating novel, I was given food for thought.  Things to think about long after I had finished the last page.  How do I handle adversity and disappointment?  Is my faith strong enough? The author made me realize that we all deal with issues no matter in what era we are born.  Hypocrisy has been around since the beginning of time and romantic problems will always exist along with disappointment and bad decision making.  We all sin and fall short of how we hope to live, but Jesus is always there to guide us.  The Lighthouse shining the way.  He is the true Light of the World.  My favorite thing for a Christian novel is to have a Christian message.  This one gets an A+ for that.

I highly recommend Minding the Light for anyone that enjoys historical Christian romance.  This was a wonderful book.  You won’t be disappointed.  It would really be a great book club read because there are so many things to discuss.  It definitely gets a 5 out of 5 star rating.

Please read the sections below.  There is a giveaway and some really neat facts about Nantucket provided by our gifted author.  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you will return.

Thanks to CelebrateLit for making it possible to read and review this beautiful story.

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About the Book

Book Title: Minding the Light

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: July 3, 2018

FIsher_MindingtheLight(2)Six long years ago, Captain Reynolds Macy sailed away from his bride, looking forward to the day when he would return to Nantucket Island with a ship’s hold full of whale oil. But when that momentous day finally arrives, Ren soon discovers that everything has changed in his absence. Everything. “Is nothing on this island as it appears to be?” he whispers in despair.

Unlike most islanders, bold and spirited Daphne Coffin doesn’t defer to Ren as an authoritative whalemaster, but sees through his aloofness to the aching heart beneath. She encourages him to return to his Quaker roots and “mind the Light,” finding solace in God and community. As Ren becomes the man she believes him to be–honorable, wise, faithful–she finds herself falling in love with him.

But how can she, when her heart is spoken for? Tristram Macy is Ren’s business partner, cousin, and best friend–and Daphne’s fiancé. Love always comes at a cost, but when is the price too high?

Suzanne Woods Fisher welcomes readers back to the Quaker community on Nantucket Island for this riveting love story, full of unexpected moments.

About the Author

suzanne woods fisherCarol-award winner Suzanne Woods Fisher writes untold stories about inspiring people. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction, ranging from Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World to the historical novel Anna’s Crossing.

Guest Post from Suzanne

8 Curious Facts you Probably Didn’t Know about Nantucket Island

This beautiful island, thirty miles off Cape Cod, is steeped in history. Here are just a few interesting reasons to add a visit to Nantucket to your bucket list.

1) During the first half of the nineteenth century, Nantucket was considered to be the wealthiest port in the world…all because of whale oil.

2) Petticoat Row is a 19th century nickname for a portion of Centre Street between Main Street and Broad Street. Many shops on Nantucket were run by women while the men were off to sea in whaling ships for years at a time. Quakerism, with its emphasis on equality, provided working women with community respect, value and esteem. The next time you’re visiting Nantucket, be sure to stop by the Petticoat Row Bakery for a morning glory muffin.

3) The use of laudanum (opium) was described by a visiting French as prevalent among the women of Nantucket. Loyal Nantucketers vehemently denied his claim. However, in the 1980s, construction workers digging to Nantucket’s sewer lines found heaps of opium bottles buried in the ground.

For centuries, laudanum was considered to be not only harmless but beneficial. Its very name in Latin is landare, which means to praise. Other names for it: Mother’s Helper (to sedate children), Sea Calm (for seasickness). It was used for all kinds of ailments, from sleeplessness to menstrual cramps to treatment of chronic pain, and available without prescription up until the twentieth century, when it was found to be highly addictive.

4) Nantucket Cent Schools were a carryover from England and the cost was exactly what the name implied. In New England they were kept by refined, thrifty women who often taught their own or their neighbors’ children until they were old enough to enter schools of a higher grade. I came across a story of a boy whose mother stuck a penny in his mouth each day so that he would remember to pay the teacher.

5) Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville in 1851, was based on a true-life event that occurred in 1820 to the Nantucket whaleship Essex and her crew. You can find out more about this ill-fated voyage if you visit Nantucket’s awesome whaling museum.

6) Speaking of…the whaling museum on Nantucket Island is called the Peter Foulger Whaling Museum. Peter Foulger was one of the early settlers to the island, and could be considered a Renaissance Man: inventor, surveyor, teacher, missionary to the Wampanoag Indians. And his grandson was none other than Benjamin Franklin.

7) Nantucketers were, for the most part, related to each other in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. The prosperous island was settled by a small group of families, with less than a dozen surnames: Coffin, Macy, Starbuck, Bunker, Hussey, Gardner, Mayhew, Swain, Barnard, Coleman, Worth, Mitchell. Those names are still common on the island.

8) There’s a good reason those surnames sound familiar to you—many of those early settlers had descendants who started business empires. Recognize these? Macy (retailer) and Folger (coffee).

Blog Stops

Carpe Diem, July 3

Livin Lit, July 3

midnightbookaholic, July 3

The Avid Reader, July 4

Margaret Kazmierczak, July 4

The Power of Words, July 4

A Baker’s Perspective, July 5

Blossoms and Blessings, July 5

A Reader’s Brain, July 5

Just the Write Escape, July 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 6

Bibliophile Reviews, July 7

Mary Hake, July 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 7

Texas Book-aholic, July 8

Simple Harvest Reads, July 8 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Janices book reviews, July 9

Captive Dreams Window, July 9

Book by Book, July 9

Back Porch Reads, July 10

Reading Is My SuperPower, July 10

Splashes of Joy, July 10

The Morning Chapter, July 11

Vicky Sluiter, July 11

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 11

Among the Reads, July 12

proud to be an autism mom, July 12

Two Points of Interest, July 12

Abbas Prayer Warrior Princess, July 13

Tell Tale Book Reviews, July 13

Blogging With Carol, July 13

Truth and Grace Writing and Life Coaching, July 14

Maureen’s Musings, July 14

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 14

Godly Book Reviews, July 15

Inklings and notions, July 15

Bigreadersite, July 15

Connie’s History Classroom , July 16

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 16

Pause for Tales, July 16

Have A Wonderful Day, July 16

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card to five winners!!

Be sure to leave a comment on one of the blog stops for 9 extra entries into the giveaway. Click link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d1c4/minding-the-light-celebration-tour-giveaway