Category: Balance of Faith whilst Living

#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.

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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!

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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 LibraryThing

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

Blog Book Tour | “A Season of Love” (anthology) by Carla Kelly

Posted Sunday, 12 November, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

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

Acquired Book By: I have been a blog tour hostess with Cedar Fort for the past three years, wherein I took a brief hiatus from hosting before resuming August 2016. I appreciate the diversity of the stories the Indie publisher is publishing per year, not only for fiction and non-fiction but for healthy eats within their Front Table Books (cookbooks). I appreciate their dedication to writing general market, INSPY reads and LDS focused stories across the genres they publish.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Season of Love (anthology)” direct from the publisher Sweetwater Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I personally *adore!* anthologies – short stories have something special inside them – they are the shorter versions of narrative I truly love to tuck inside because you can live a full life within them! They might be smaller than novels, but each writer attaches us into their thresholds in a different place of entry – generally, I’ve read more Science Fiction, Fantasy & Cosy Horror short stories and novellas – but with this anthology, I am returning to my roots – of reading Regency Christmas shorts for the Christmastide Season!

It is one of my favourite holiday seasons – giving way to beautifully lovely Romances and the tenderness of cosy comforting stories which give you a lift of joy to be reading as the weather turns chill ahead of Winter’s firm grasp on our climate patterns — it is the time to tuck into holiday reads, feel the warmth of the Season and be carted away into a Romance happily revolving round all the festive bursts of happiness you enjoy celebrating every year!

Being a collection of shorts by a beloved author is a double-blessing – as I have been finding my readings of Ms Kelly’s novels to be quite wicked brilliant! I know I shall one day be collecting the rest of her stories – as each one is a treat to read. I delight in her descriptive narratives and I love how her heroines are full of strength, even if they do not always feel they have the fortitude to right the stars of their circumstances, they find the courage whilst they are sorting out the details! They give you a lot to chew on whilst you read their stories – something I appreciate. This collection simply felt fitting to be reading right now – as the timing could not have been more perfect!

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Blog Book Tour | “A Season of Love” (anthology) by Carla KellyA Season of Love
Subtitle: A Christmas Anthology
by Carla Kelly
Source: Direct from Publisher

Join master romance writer Carla Kelly in this joyful celebration of the most wonderful time of the year. Set in Regency England, these Christmas tales will take you from dangerous adventures on snowy roads to cosy little cottages filled with holiday mischief.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 978-1462119820

Also by this author: Softly Falling, Summer Campaign, Courting Carrie in Wonderland

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Short Story or Novella


Published by Sweetwater Books

on 10th October, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 320

Published By: Sweetwater Books (@SweetwaterBooks),
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFort)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Stories by Carla Kelly I’ve read:

Softly Falling | my first Carla Kelly story | (see also Review)

Summer Campaign | (see also Review)

Courting Carrie in Wonderland | (see also Review)

Converse via: #ChristmasRomance, #HolidayReads, #Anthology, #ShortStories + #CarlaKelly

About Carla Kelly

Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for Borrowed Light, My Loving Vigil Keeping and Softly Falling.

Photo Credit: Marie Bryner-Bowles, Bryner Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Sunday, 12 November, 2017 by jorielov in 19th Century, Anthology Collection of Stories, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Brothers and Sisters, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, England, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Scotland, Short Stories or Essays, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, the Regency era

#NonFiction Book Review | “31 Men of the Bible: Who They Were and What We Can Learn from Them Today” by Holman Bible Staff (via B&H Publishing)

Posted Sunday, 15 October, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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

Acquired Book By: This marks my entrance into the B&H Publishing Blogger programme which I had attempted to start participating in last Autumn, shortly ahead of November. I was enthused by their support of book bloggers and the choices we had of books to review – as similar to the format for Blogging for Books, you can pick and choose the frequency of your participation as well as the types of stories you want to receive. They mostly feature works of Non-Fiction – from Religious Studies to Self-Help or Reflection. This review marks my ‘return’ as a blogger for B&H Publishing and begins my path seeking out the collective works they are publishing. I received a complimentary copy of the “31 Men of the Bible” direct from the publisher B&H Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this particular title was of interest to read:

On Thursday, the 12th of October, I shared my first review by B&H Publishing: ‘Dancing Through Life’ by Candace Cameron Bure which was requested ahead of the Bloggers Program being active through this publisher. Last year, I requested my first book to review as a new blogger attached to the program ‘31 Men of the Bible’ as a continual reading queue of getting to know the ‘people’ of the Bible through collective works of hearing their stories – either in Narrative Non-Fiction, Biblical Historical Fiction or Topical Subjects in Christian Non-Fiction wherein I would learn more about these individuals who lived an epoch ago.

I’ve been focusing on the ‘women’ moreso than the men, as you will read my murmurings of those readings thus far afield on my ruminations of ‘Successful Women of the Bible’ (by Hachette Books) and ‘Scripture Princesses’ (by Cedar Fort Publishing). I also have a follow-up to the title by Hachette Books called: ‘Successful Leaders of the Bible’ which I will be sharing lateron this month. What inspired me to read this collection of ‘stories’ is how this text felt comparatively researched – where the knowledge of who the men were and their relevancy to today’s audience would be rightly justified. I think one of the hardest bridges to cross in our world of faith is understanding how these people lived and what they experienced as the time between ‘their reality’ and ours is as wide as the Grand Canyon temporally speaking!

I reached out to B&H Publishing ahead of publishing this review, to update them on my status of the two books I had from them and to explain the girth of time which had elapsed since I contacted them. The past year has been a unique one as you dear hearts kindly are aware of – but to put into a concise explanation and explain why I couldn’t fully finish these books sooner than now took a bit of time to work through. I wasn’t even sure if I could say in the Blogger Program and was most relieved when I received their reply – they said simply to start ‘anew’ if I paraphrase their fuller response, which was overwhelming kind of them! Therefore, after I posted this review, I hopped back into their Blogger Portal to see what I could find – as my second choice as one of their bloggers! Here’s to new beginnings!

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#NonFiction Book Review | “31 Men of the Bible: Who They Were and What We Can Learn from Them Today” by Holman Bible Staff (via B&H Publishing)31 Men of the Bible
Subtitle: Who They Were and What We Can Learn from Them Today
Source: Direct from Publisher

31 Men of the Bible features 31 profiles of important men in the Bible. Each profile includes the related scripture reference, character summary, and application questions to help the reader discover who these men were and what we can learn from them today.

Featuring a full-color interior with illustrations on every page and a unique concise format, this book can be used for daily study or carried in a briefcase or backpack for reading on the go. Features Include: 31 profiles of important men in the Bible with life application questions.

Full-color interior with illustrations on every page. Ideal for daily study or reading on the go. Concise format that is easy to carry and fits well in a brief case or backpack. Study tool that provides a greater understanding of important men in the Bible.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781433644450

Genres: Art & Art History, Biography / Autobiography, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Religious Studies & Biblical History, Self-Improvement & Self-Actualisation, Spirituality & Metaphysics


Published by B&H Publishing Group

on 1st October, 2016

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 144

Published By: B&H Publishing Group (@BHpub)

Available Formats: Hardback, Ebook and Audiobook (Digital & CD)

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Posted Sunday, 15 October, 2017 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Brothers and Sisters, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Lessons from Scripture, Memoir, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, Non-Fiction, Siblings, Vignettes of Real Life

Non-Fiction Book Review | “The Mother God Made Me To Be” by Karen Valentin

Posted Friday, 13 October, 2017 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 Hachette Books and their imprints, where I started reading titles by FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords & Center Street.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Mother God Made Me To Be” direct from the publisher FaithWords (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I have been purposely seeking out titles like this one:

As you might have noticed, every so often I focus on stories of motherhood & mumhood – which can be seen on the reading schedule I have for #20BooksOfAutumn (previously known as #20BooksOfSummer) as well as the stories you’ll find in my Story Vault. I take an active glance at emerging Fiction & Non-Fiction for stories of motherhood as I’m a Prospective Adoptive Mum (which I talked a bit about whilst reviewing ‘Red Thread Sisters’). I enjoy finding wicked good real and fictional stories which focus positively on Adoption &/or Foster Care whilst appreciating motherhood from more traditional angles as well.

When I first read the synopsis for this memoir, I felt led to read it because something about this woman’s story felt it was meant for me to read it. You might know what I’m talking about – readers have a built in sixth sense about the stories they feel motivated to read. This is one of those for me – in truth, every story I’ve blogged about these past four years I felt were ones I should be reading at one point in time or another – as being a book blogger is a walk of faith in of itself. Yet, on a personal note – I felt inspired by the small bits of this mother’s journey I knew about ahead of reading her fuller story and I wanted to be fully engrossed inside the rest of it. This is why I requested this for review – because I felt inspired even before I opened the book to the first page!

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Non-Fiction Book Review | “The Mother God Made Me To Be” by Karen ValentinThe Mother God Made Me To Be
Subtitle: My journey from newlywed, to mother of two, to single mom - trying to heal - and become the mother God made me to be.
by Karen Valentin
Source: Direct from Publisher

Karen lived an adventurous single life but longed for a family of her own. After years of maintaining her vow of purity and waiting for a man who shared her Christian faith, she fell in love with her best friend and co-worker. They married. She bore two sons. They divorced.

With humor, honesty and raw emotion, Valentin tells her story of wrestling between God's will and her own, with visions of happily ever after. In the midst of her weakness and grief, she experiences God's strength and restoration like never before. Through her family and friends, mission workers, the pastor of Graffiti Church, and her two beautiful boys, God turns her ashes to beauty and her sorrow into joy.

THE MOTHER GOD MADE ME TO BE contains a discussion guide for book clubs and church groups.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781455539871

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Memoir, Motherhood | Parenthood, Non-Fiction, Self-Improvement & Self-Actualisation


Published by FaithWords

on 5th September, 2017

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 192

Published by: FaithWords (@FaithWords)
an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (@HachetteBooks) via Hachette Nashville

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Hardback & Ebook

Converse via: #NonFiction, #INSPY, #Christian

About Karen Valentin

Karen Valentin

KAREN VALENTIN is an American born writer who is proud of her Puerto Rican heritage. Her books--ranging from narrative, to YA fiction and children's--have been published by Doubleday Religious, Judson, Harlequin and JustUs/Kensington. She is a graduate of Fordham University and taught English as a second language in France. An avid traveler who speaks English, Spanish and French, she resides in New York City with her two little boys.

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Posted Friday, 13 October, 2017 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cliffhanger Ending, Equality In Literature, FaithWords, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Journal, Life Shift, Memoir, Mental Health, Midwife | Midwifery, Mother-Son Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Non-Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Siblings, Sociological Behavior, Vignettes of Real Life