Category: Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Hero’s Best Friend: an Anthology of Animal Companions {edited by} Scott M. Sandridge

Posted Sunday, 20 May, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a reviewer for Tomorrow Comes Media and Seventh Star Press – whilst I participated on the blog tour in [2014] for this title, I was unable to read the stories for review until this year [2018]. I received a complimentary copy of “Hero’s Best Friend” direct from the publisher Seventh Star Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What originally drew me into wanting to read this lovely anthology:

Hero’s Best Friend

What I appreciate the most about this particular collection of stories is having each of them capture the essence of a genre-bending sphere of literary delight! They are representative of their actual genres, but they sound as though they give a bit more than what those branches of literature might usually encompass at the very same time! I love fiction that takes on new meanings and new depths, whether I am soaking into a book, a short story, or even whilst immersed into the latest Doctor Who episode I am discovering for the very first time! I find that the series is the epitome of ‘genre-bending’ and brilliance of execution on captivating a person’s attention at the jump-start beginning!

Sandridge and I share a common ground for appreciating animal companions, as his top three choices match my own, as I quite literally rented “Benji: the Hunted” from the rental shoppes so often they nearly gave me the VHS tapes for free! I say ‘nearly!’ as they never could seem to get permission from corporate to do so! Oy! I was simply captivated by Benji, for the same reasons I loved “The Adventures of Natty Gann” in which Natty’s companion is a wolf; “The Neverending Story” who as the wickedest dragon on the planet! (another film in common, he mentions this elsewhere on the tour!); the Mountain Family Robinson trilogy where Crest protected the family; previously I have mentioned my affection for “Pete’s Dragon”; and many others I am failing to draw to memory today! What I appreciate about Jack London is his ability to get your heart attached to a wolf in a way that is different than Natty Gann but is a bit similar to “Due South”; a tv series which features a deaf wolf who takes interest in protecting a Mountie!

From our beginnings of noting animal companions and animals in fiction, we differ a bit on our paths after childhood because I am suspecting the video games are not the ones I’d personally play myself! I’m always going to have half a step and foot on the family and children side of the ledger, not only because I’m a future foster-adoptive Mum, nor even because I’m an Auntie at present, but because I tend to like the innocence in stories for younger generations. I’d wrap myself into a family film far quicker than I would an intense video game! I am a gamer, a title I apparently acquired at three, as I’ve been playing games on the computer since I first started using one! Wayy back when Atari was all the rage and long before Nintendo or the ability to borrow my neighbourhood friend’s Sega Genesis so I could play with Sonic, the quirky hedgehog!

The best news of all, no matter how we gather our passions for animal companions, nor where we wander to find the companions that mean the world to their masters, we each have our own ‘coveted niche’ in the genres we appreciate reading and watching! And, I for one will always celebrate the uniqueness of our individual passions if we can sometimes draw a common thread towards each other and celebrate the love of story-telling which ignites a fever pitch passion for our imaginations!

-quoted from my Spotlight on behalf of Hero’s Best Friend

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Hero’s Best Friend: an Anthology of Animal Companions {edited by} Scott M. SandridgeHero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions
by (Editor) Scott M. Sandridge, Herika R. Raymer
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Enggar Adirasa
Source: Direct from Publisher

How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!

Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice-from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.

Whether you're a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you! So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero's Best Friend.

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1937929510

Also by this author: , Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, Gifts of the Magi

Series: Anthologies from Seventh Star Press


Also in this series: Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy, , A Chimerical World, Hero's Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions


Genres: Fantasy Fiction


Published by Seventh Star Press

on 12th February, 2014

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 472

Published By: Seventh Star Press (@7thStarPress)
Available Formats: Trade paperback & Ebook

Genres: Short Story | Fantasy | Animals in Fiction

Converse on Twitter: #HerosBestFriendAntho & #7thStar

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Stories inside: Hero’s Best Friend:

Joy Ward: “Toby and Steve Save the World”

Frank Creed: “Dusk”

Cassie Schau: “The Hunter’s Boy”

Steven Donahue: “Grit”

Jason Cordova: “Hill 142”

Herika R. Raymer: “Dook”

Essel Pratt: “Brothers”

Lisa Hawkridge: “Ezra’s Girl”

S. H. Roddey: “Look What the Cat Dragged In.”

Steven S. Long: “The Wolf Sentinel”

Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum”

Cindy Koepp: “The Hat”

Ian Hunter: “Scarheid in the Glisting”

Steven Grassie: “The Masterless”

David Wright: “Wind of Change”

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage”

Nick Bryan: “The Violet Curse”

Lillian Csernica & Kevin Andrew Murphy: “The Restless Armadillo”

Douglas J. Ogurek: “Stuck on the Squigglybounce”

Sheila Deeth: “Passage”

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

About (Editor) Scott M. Sandridge

Scott M. Sandridge Photo Credit: Stephen Zimmer, taken on a book convention floor.

Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, freedom fighter, and all-around trouble-maker. His latest works as an editor include the Seventh Star Press anthologies Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions, and the two volumes of A Chimerical World, Tales of the Seelie Court and Tales of the Unseelie Court.

Photo Credit: Stephen Zimmer, taken on a book convention floor

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Sunday, 20 May, 2018 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Action & Adventure Fiction, An Editor Point of View, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Anthology Collection of Stories, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Convention, Bookish Discussions, Fantasy Fiction, Genre-bender, Imaginarium, Indie Author, Indie Book Trade, Reader Submitted Guest Post (Topic) for Author, Science Fiction, Seventh Star Press, Short Stories or Essays, Speculative Fiction, The Writers Life, Tomorrow Comes Media, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Writing Style & Voice

Blog Book Tour | “The Pearl Sister” (Book No. 4 of the Seven Sisters series) by Lucinda Riley CeCe is an artist on a journey towards self-identity whilst embracing the truth about her sexuality and her bi-cultural heritage.

Posted Thursday, 1 February, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 4 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I’ve known about the Seven Sisters book series for quite awhile now, however, I haven’t had the proper chance to dig into the series – therefore, when I was approached by the publisher to considering being on the blog tour this February, I decided it was time to borrow the books via my local library! Although, as a member of the blog tour I was receiving the fourth release “The Pearl Sister” for my honest ruminations, I decided to back-read the entire series ahead of soaking into the newest installment – my personal preference is to read serial fiction in order of sequence; even if sometimes I find myself bungling the order, I love to see how the writer has set the stage for a series which becomes progressively engaging! To start at the beginning is the best way to see how they laid down the foundation for both the series, their writing style and how the characters first make their entrances into our lives.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “The Pearl Sister” direct from the publisher Atria Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On how I felt after I read the third installment of the series:

I admit, I was thankful this sister’s story led to a happier restitution in regards to her birth story as Maia and Ally had quite a reckoning of truth awaiting each of them as they unravelled theirs. For Star though she had more to learn not just about her origins but about herself – she truly had finally found the time to focus on who she was inside and out. I think this was the main purpose behind why Pa Salt hadn’t let his daughters take these adventures until now; they weren’t ready to seek out the truth of their past because they weren’t yet ready to take a critical look at their lives. Each of them were coming-of age to the brink of where they could honestly understand themselves better and recognise the beauty of why Pa Salt raised them on Atlantis.

Inspired by Flora and encouraged by her own heart to learn the truth of her own blood-line, she forged ahead even without understanding how she could resolve the past. The interweaving layers of this one are emotionally thicker due to the overwhelming angst of what all the women in Star’s family had to endure; straight down to her own Mum! You truly feel for these women – who through each generation had to continue to overcome such intense odds! The beautiful part about having Beatrix Potter in the story is how what I had known about her was lovingly etched into Flora’s back-story; a person who encouraged a woman to live and to seek out love no matter the costs or fears of heartbreak. After all, to love is to risk and without risk we are each only half alive! And, this was truly what allowed Star to be set ‘free’ – by researching her ancestral line, she unexpectedly found herself, found purpose in her life and allowed herself to ‘fall’ for the first time in love with someone she never felt she’d feel attracted too because she never gave herself the freedom to ‘live’ away from CeCe.

Each of these novels is a lift of joy to be reading – especially for those of us who are considering Adoption and for having a family of adopted children in our futures. They are such beautiful tomes of adoptive joy bursting through the past and the present – I can imagine they would be beloved reads for all adoptive families and lovingly would find a place in their family libraries! I know one day I shall have the full set on my own bookshelves awaiting the day to be shared with my own children. As these are stories boys and girls should read who are seeking forever families and find their adoptive parents gave them a home they never knew they could have whilst encouraging them to remember who they are and who their families were prior to their second chapters beginning anew.

-quoted from my review of The Shadow Sister

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBlog Book Tour | “The Pearl Sister” (Book No. 4 of the Seven Sisters series) by Lucinda Riley CeCe is an artist on a journey towards self-identity whilst embracing the truth about her sexuality and her bi-cultural heritage.The Pearl Sister
by Lucinda Riley
Source: Direct from Publisher

Synopsis on the backcover:

CeCe D’ Apliese has always felt like an outcast. But following the death of her father - the reclusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe - she finds herself more alone than ever. With nothing left to lose, CeCe delves into the mystery of her familial origins. The only clues she holds are a black and white photograph and the name of a female pioneer who once traversed the globe from Scotland to Australia.

One hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, a clergyman’s daughter, abandoned her conservative upbringing to serve as the companion to a wealthy woman travelling from Edinburgh to Adelaide. Her ticket to a new land brings the adventure she dreamed of… and a love that she had never imagined.

When CeCe reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, and her soul reawakens. As she comes closer to finding the truth of her ancestry, CeCe begins to believe that this untamed, vast continent could offer her what she’s always yearned for: a sense of belonging.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1501180033

Also by this author: The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Shadow Sister

Also in this series: The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Shadow Sister


Genres: Adoption & Foster Care, Biographical Fiction, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA Fiction, Time Slip and/or Time Shift, Women's Fiction


Published by Atria Books

on 23rd January, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 528

 Published By: Atria ()
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

I *love!* finding videos by authors who love to engage with readers about the inspiration behind their stories – this truly is a wonderful way to find yourself immersed even further into the settings as by catching small glimpses of the characters your reading about – you start to re-align what you’ve read with what they are seeing with their own eyes whilst feeling thankful the author took a very immersive path into the heart of this book series!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Seven Sisters Series: of whom are Maia, Ally (Alcyone), Star (Asterope), CeCe (Celeano), Tiggy (Taygete), Electra and Merope – the series is based on the mythology of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades – interestingly enough, this is a constellation in close proximity to Orion*.

The Seven Sisters : Maia’s Story (Book One) | (see also Review)

The Storm Sister : Ally’s Story (Book Two) | (see also Review)

The Shadow Sister : Star’s Story (Book Three) | (see also Review)

The Pearl Sister : CeCe’s Story (Book Four) | *my stop on the publisher’s blog tour!

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook, Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #SevenSistersSeries

#whoispasalt ← I advise not visiting the second tag on Twitter as it tends to reveal a few things ahead of reading the stories themselves.

About Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley Photo Credit: Boris Breuer

Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including Hothouse Flower and The Seven Sisters. Her books have sold more than ten million copies in over 30 languages. Lucinda divides her time between West Cork, Ireland, and Norfolk, England with her husband and four children.

Photo Credit: Boris Breuer

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 1 February, 2018 by jorielov in 20th Century, 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Adoption, Ancestry & Genealogy, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Films, Childhood Friendship, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Fathers and Daughters, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, History, Immigrant Stories, Inheritance & Identity, Inspiring Video Related to Content, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Library Find, Library Love, Life Shift, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Modern Day, Multi-Generational Saga, Orphans & Guardians, Passionate Researcher, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Single Fathers, Sisterhood friendships, the Nineteen Hundreds, Time Shift, Unexpected Inheritance, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

Book Review | “The Shadow Sister” (Book No. 3 of the Seven Sisters series) by Lucinda Riley Star takes after my own bookishly geeky soul – she is a late bloomer who finally found her niche of passion and the freedom to live as her authentic self!

Posted Thursday, 1 February, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Borrowed Book By: I’ve known about the Seven Sisters book series for quite awhile now, however, I haven’t had the proper chance to dig into the series – therefore, when I was approached by the publisher to considering being on the blog tour this February, I decided it was time to borrow the books via my local library! Although, as a member of the blog tour I was receiving the fourth release “The Pearl Sister” for my honest ruminations, I decided to back-read the entire series ahead of soaking into the newest installment – my personal preference is to read serial fiction in order of sequence; even if sometimes I find myself bungling the order, I love to see how the writer has set the stage for a series which becomes progressively engaging! To start at the beginning is the best way to see how they laid down the foundation for both the series, their writing style and how the characters first make their entrances into our lives.

I borrowed the third novel in the Seven Sisters series “The Shadow Sister” in hardback edition from my local library via inter-library loan through the consortium of libraries within my state. I was not obligated to post a review as I am doing so for my own edification as a reader who loves to share her readerly life. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

On how I felt after I read the second installment of the series:

As Star starts to reveal a bit of herself away from CeCe, we see an inverted woman who is introspectively private about herself – even around Ally, she holds back from sharing too much of what is currently on her mind. You feel for Star, truly, because for whichever reason she has chosen to keep mute about things which her sisters’ wish she would be more open about sharing with them. They would like to help her if she would only allow them into her world – I know her story is going to be one of the more interesting ones to read – to see what hides behind the silence but for now, I, chose to take Star at ‘hallo’ just like her sisters Maia and Ally. After all, sometimes you have to wait for people to disclose what they want to say in their own timing of disclosure. I do love seeing how the ‘next’ sister in line of the sequences to be read makes her own ‘entrance’ of sorts within the current time-line.

As Ally intuits more of the back-history of Anna’s life, she starts to realise a part of her own spirit was put on ‘hold’ over the years – the pursuit of her own musical interests, as she shares a passion for the flute just like Jens before her except she opted to take to the open sea instead. There was a reflection by Pa Salt which made quite a bit of sense when he was talking about how to encourage our children and how it is a fine line which route we give a loving nudge for them to take-on as their main thread of interest – especially if the child in question has multiple interests or passions. Ally, up until this point in her life hadn’t really taken a critical look at her personal life – of seeing if the choices she had made in her career of sailing was truly sustaining her happiness or if the absence of a relationship was giving her second thoughts. By the time she had met Theo, it felt like any missing piece of her life was finally found; which of course, made the course she was on to walk that much more despairing to read.

My heart surely was rejoicing watching all the pieces of Ally’s past knit back together in the present; she had a lovely tapestry of ancestral history co-merging into her living reality. The layers in which her past had influenced her present is quite interesting to see intersect, but personally, I loved how the secondary characters of Celia and Thom had such an impactful presence on her current life. Of course, having grown used to the process now well-established in the series, I knew I had to shift my own heart to focus on Star; as she was revealling a portion of what she needed to impart to us about herself in the ending chapter of The Storm Sister. As she did this, I mused to myself some of the clues I was picking up from past chapters were re-alighting to mind – of what Star hadn’t said or wasn’t willing to disclose might now have their day to shine a light on how the one sister no one felt they knew for sure was the one sister who intrigued me the most to become acquainted with next!

-quoted from my review of The Storm Sister

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBook Review | “The Shadow Sister” (Book No. 3 of the Seven Sisters series) by Lucinda Riley Star takes after my own bookishly geeky soul – she is a late bloomer who finally found her niche of passion and the freedom to live as her authentic self!The Shadow Sister
by Lucinda Riley
Source: Borrowed from local library (ILL)

Synopsis on the Inside Flap:

Star D' Apliese is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father - the elusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star's leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a new journey.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England's picturesque Lake District - just a stone's throw from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter. But when circumstances carry her into the home of one of Edwardian London's most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel, she finds herself a pawn in a larger game, forced to choose between passionate love and duty to her family. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for...

Star's voyage of discovery takes her deep into Flora's remarkable story, and into her own past. But the more she uncovers, the ore Star begins to question herself and her place in the world. What is her purpose? Where is her home? And will she finally step out of the shadows of her sisters and open herself up to the possibility of love?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5994-4

Also by this author: The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Pearl Sister

Also in this series: The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, The Pearl Sister


Genres: Adoption & Foster Care, Biographical Fiction, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Epistolary | Letters & Correspondences, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Time Slip and/or Time Shift, Women's Fiction


Published by Atria Books

on 18th April, 2017

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 512

 Published By: Atria ()
{imprint of} Simon & Schuster (

I *love!* finding videos by authors who love to engage with readers about the inspiration behind their stories – this truly is a wonderful way to find yourself immersed even further into the settings as by catching small glimpses of the characters your reading about – you start to re-align what you’ve read with what they are seeing with their own eyes whilst feeling thankful the author took a very immersive path into the heart of this book series!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Seven Sisters Series: of whom are Maia, Ally (Alcyone), Star (Asterope), CeCe (Celeano), Tiggy (Taygete), Electra and Merope – the series is based on the mythology of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades – interestingly enough, this is a constellation in close proximity to Orion*.

The Seven Sisters : Maia’s Story (Book One) | (see also Review)

The Storm Sister : Ally’s Story (Book Two) | (see also Review)

The Shadow Sister : Star’s Story (Book Three)

The Pearl Sister : CeCe’s Story (Book Four) | Synopsis *forthcoming review 1st of February, 2018!

Available Formats: Hardcover, Audiobook, Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #SevenSistersSeries

#whoispasalt ← I advise not visiting the second tag on Twitter as it tends to reveal a few things ahead of reading the stories themselves.

About Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley Photo Credit: Boris Breuer

Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including Hothouse Flower and The Seven Sisters. Her books have sold more than ten million copies in over 30 languages. Lucinda divides her time between West Cork, Ireland, and Norfolk, England with her husband and four children.

Photo Credit: Boris Breuer

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Thursday, 1 February, 2018 by jorielov in 20th Century, 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Adoption, Alice Keppel, Ancestry & Genealogy, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Beatrix Potter, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Films, Childhood Friendship, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, England, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Fathers and Daughters, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, History, Immigrant Stories, Inheritance & Identity, Inspiring Video Related to Content, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Library Find, Library Love, Life Shift, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Marriage of Convenience, Modern Day, Multi-Generational Saga, Orphans & Guardians, Passionate Researcher, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Single Fathers, Sisterhood friendships, the Nineteen Hundreds, Time Shift, Unexpected Inheritance, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

#ChristmasReads Book Review | “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” a collection of Historical Short Stories (Vol. 3) by Guideposts Books (2014)

Posted Monday, 18 December, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: Long before I was a book blogger, I was an active blog commenter on a variety of blogs – especially group author blogs such as The Word Wenches, Heroines Heroes & History as well as visiting INSPY Fiction authors I enjoyed getting to know such as Julie Lessman (following her on her blog tours), Debbie Lynne Costello (of whom I met through HHH), Brenda S. Anderson (the author of my beloved Coming Home series) and a few others of whom I enjoyed getting to know throughout the book blogosphere. My commenting days grew numbered the more I started to focus on developing my own blog here at Jorie Loves A Story – which is in part why I am re-focusing myself in the New Year 2018 to re-take up the joy of commenting on blogs (per a commenting challenge).

Whilst I visited all these lovely authors – many of whom write between Historical & Contemporary INSPY Fiction of a variety of sub-genres or threads of interest – my path happily kept crossing with Ms Costello. I enjoyed getting to know her as a fellow writer and cheering for her whilst she worked on having her dreams of being published could be realised. In [2014] a blogger hosted a bookaway for the anthology “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” which includes her short story “The Letter”. I was overjoyed when I learnt I had won the book – as I personally love reading Christmas stories! Due to a variety of reasons – I was never fully able to focus on reading this lovely collection until December, 2017.

Although, I did win a complimentary copy of “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” Vol. 3 direct from the author Debbie Lynne Costello I was not obligated to post a review. I decided to share my thoughts after reading the stories within this collection for my own edification and to share those thoughts with my readers who might enjoy the same kinds of stories. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I love reading Christmas stories & Short Stories in INSPY Literature:

I am starting to garnish a collection of ‘bride’ short stories & novellas as my parents love to surprise me with INSPY anthologies – I have quite a lovely stack of them to read throughout 2018, whilst also marking the year I get to return to focusing on making a dent in my reading queue for my own *70 Authors Challenge* which is about celebrating INSPY Literature overall!

The main reason I love reading short stories – irregardless of the genre or literary style is because you get to gather a proper sense of a writer’s sensibility and their personal take on the craft of writing stories. To me, short stories and novellas are little kernals of insight towards undestanding the larger breadth of a writer’s career – you get to tuck into these little shorter stories first, as a preview of what you will find in their longer stories whilst appreciating the respite for enjoying shorter fiction, too! I love stories – in all forms, shapes and sizes, but one thing as you might have observed is I truly love ANTHOLOGIES. (as previously blogged about during the A to Z Challenge; despite having reviewed a fair amount of anthologies since then!)

Christmas stories at their heart are a delight to read because they embrace everything I love about the Season overall – secular or INSPY holiday reads are lovely to find because they talk about the things in life which sometimes are overshadowed by stress, woe and health crises – the joys, happiness and romance of a well-lived life where you can enjoy the blessings of Winter, the elements of a changing season and the festive cheer of Yule where everyone is getting ready to dress their tree, sort out their gifts for their Christmas morning surprises and curate their family traditions – from food, to games to home parties and the gathering of friends. It’s the time of year for Christmas Midnight Mass, candle light caroling and the smell of fresh trees lingering in the air whilst the twinkle lights make you smile every chance you see them.

Honestly what is not to love!? I do yield on reading Romances and/or Family Dramas – of finding all the goodness of the holiday but a bit of dramatic back-story as well threading into the stories I gravitate towards! A lovely romance is wicked awesomesauce no matter which time of the year you find it to read but Christmas, oh, Christmas is a delightful Season of it’s own. I sometimes wish we could ‘hold fast’ to the spirit of Christmas & Yule – long past New Year’s and into the middle bits of every year where the toils of life and the stresses of work nearly deplete the joys you try to seek out to re-balance your days.

Yes, Christmas is a special time of the year – and for me, that means a lovely array of new #ChristmasReads – INSPY and secular alike, dramatic or historical, contemporary or romantic – short, long, stand-alone, serial, part of an anthology or multi generational saga. All of them are appreciated which is why this year, I am thankful I can take more time to highlight the kinds of stories I love to be #amreading during this wicked sweet time of the year!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: The artwork for this series is wonderfully illustrated – these are pocket editions in hardcover which I also appreciate because you can hold them in your hands, curl inside the stories and feel yourself drift into the lives of the characters. Each writer had her own approach to play off the ‘theme’ of each volume but the illustrations which accompany the stories themselves I felt was a special ‘added’ treat! Isn’t this just lovely to look at and feel like your part of the scene!?

#ChristmasReads Book Review | “A Cup of Christmas Cheer” a collection of Historical Short Stories (Vol. 3) by Guideposts Books (2014)A Cup of Christmas Cheer, Vol.3
Subtitle: Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Past
by Debbie Lynne Costello
Source: Direct from Author

Although this collection has within it a total of eight stories - which are as follows:

* The Christmas Scarf by Liz Johnson
* A Bracelet for Christmas by Jacqueline Wheelock
* The family Quilt by Mona Hodgson
* Special Delivery by Susan Page Davis
* The Plum Pudding Phenomenon by Kae Noyce Tienstra
* Finding Something Precious by Pam Hanson & Barbara Andrews
* The Letter by Debbie Lynne Costello
* A Father's Gift by Keli Gwyn

I only have the synopsis to share with you about "The Letter" by Ms Costello as she gave me permission to share the Press Materials connected to this release featuring her short story.

A recent WWII widow receives a mysterious letter seeking reconciliation with her in-laws, but when she goes for a visit only her father-in-law seems to be interested in mending fences. But as the days pass mother-in-law and daughter-in-law learn a little about themselves and the true meaning of forgiveness.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Short Story or Novella


Published by Guideposts Books

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 233

Published by: Guideposts Books Page for this Series (@GuidepostsBooks)

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The volumes of this series which are available: *full list

NOTE: I look forward to gathering the rest of the series!

Tales of Faith and Family for the Holidays (Volume One)

Tales of Joy and Wonder for the Holidays (Volume Two)

Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Past (Volume Three)

Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Present (Volume Four)

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Get to know Ms Costello a bit better via her Interview on Ms Anderson’s blog!

Formats Available: Hardcover & Ebook

Converse via: #ChristmasReads, #INSPY &/or #ShortStory

+ #HolidayReads or #INSPY w/ #Christmas

About Debbie Lynne Costello

Debbie Lynn Costello

Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was about eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her family live in upstate South Carolina.

Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, her and her husband enjoy camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Monday, 18 December, 2017 by jorielov in 20th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Anthology Collection of Stories, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Cats and Kittens, Childhood Friendship, Debut Author, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Short Stories or Essays, Siblings, the Forties, the Nineteen Hundreds, The World Wars