Tag Archives: holiday fiction

Oddball Ornaments Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Oddball Ornaments

Author: Terry Overton

Genre: Middle Grade Christmas Story

Release date: November 16, 2021

The ornaments in the attic are excited. It’s almost Turkey Day, and they know when they start smelling turkey, they’re going to be pulled down out of the attic and hung on a tree for the humans to enjoy. After all, Box Day is all about admiring the ornaments, isn’t it? But when Grandma joins them for Turkey Day instead of Box Day and brings a bunch of new ornaments with her, the Oddball Ornaments know something isn’t right. Determined to find out the source of Grandma’s sadness and what Box Day is really about, Nutcracker sets out on a quest to climb to the top of the tree to ask Angel about the true meaning of Christmas and discovers the truth is much more wonderful than they could ever have imagined.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Terry Overton is a retired university professor of educational and school psychology. She has an Ed.D. in Special Education and a Ph.D. in Psychology. Her professional experience includes teaching public school, teaching at the university level, and being a college dean. She has two children and six grandchildren. Her writing and publication experiences include textbook and journal articles in the fields of special education and school psychology. She seeks to answer God’s call to share the good news and grow the church by writing Christian books and devotionals. Her book Both Sides of the Border is a Firebird Book Award winner in the categories of Cross-Genre, Socio-Political Fiction, and Women’s Fiction. Both Sides of the Border also won the American Writing Awards in the Multicultural Fiction category, Social Change category, and a finalist for the Women’s Fiction category. Her book, America of We the People was awarded the Firebird Book Award for Socio-Political and Political categories. She and her husband live in the southern tip of Texas where they enjoy semi-tropical weather and spending time with their friends and family.

More from Terry

Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas was written one late fall while I looked at my own Christmas tree. I wondered, “If the ornaments could talk, what would they say? Would they even know why they were hung on the tree?” And that was how the book began. I played Christmas music and imagined a cast of characters like toys in Toy Story but ornaments and humans. It was such fun to write. I ran a few things by my regional experts (grand Angels) and they approved. It always means so much more when family are involved in my writing projects.

Not long after the book was out, the sequel was completed, and it will be released late summer 2022. “Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Forgiveness.”

I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!

My Review

A short but sweet children’s chapter book, Terry Overton’s Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas retells the Christmas story from the perspective of a small group of ornaments. Though not the first tale told about anthropomorphic objects during the holiday season, this one stands out for its succinct life lessons and for the unique incorporation of the reason for Christmas. I love Overton’s choice of “oddball” ornaments, which they themselves define as “unique, unmatched, or special ornaments, unlike any other.” In an era when bullying is far too common, demonstrating that being oneself—who God created each of us to be—is a blessing and should be embraced rather than seen as something to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, is crucial. Likewise, the theme of working together and reaching out to others both to give and receive help is essential.

Among the ornaments, Nutcracker serves largely as a main character due to his role in the story, leading the quest for answers when new ornaments arrive for decorating the tree and Grandma seems sad. The ornaments decide that Nutcracker should ask Angel, who is at the top of the tree, about the true meaning of Christmas. Overton manages to explain this concisely through Angel, revealing the egocentric view that we all have until we come to know the Gospel: “This was news to Nutcracker. His whole world was being turned upside down. He thought he knew everything. He thought he understood all about the decorating, the singing, the staring at the tree, and the boxes and all of the stuff in the boxes.” Angel tells Nutcracker that in order to truly understand and find the answers to the ornaments’ questions, he has to visit the place at the bottom of the tree, advising, “I have faith in you. I know that you can. But you must decide that you want to find out, and you must decide to climb down to see.” This hearkens back to Matthew 7:7-8: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Furthermore, this underscores the fact that Jesus must be personally experienced. The way in which Overton inserts Scriptural truths into the narrative naturally via inference is very fitting for a young audience and leaves room for adults to explain these connections if they are reading the book to or with children.

My only criticisms of this story are really nitpicks on my part, and I’ll mention them briefly, but they do not lessen my overall enjoyment of this book. Because angels are not women, I did have a few qualms about Angel and her role, but obviously due to the nature of the story, her character is understandable. Also, there is mention of a Bible ornament that the characters should read, but it seems that they don’t, as Nutcracker continues to get the answers from Angel. Again, I very much enjoyed this story, and I do recommend Oddball Ornaments: The Story of Christmas.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, July 2

Inklings and notions, July 3

Lights in the Dark World, July 4

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 5

Girls in White Dresses, July 6

Older & Smarter?, July 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 8

For Him and My Family, July 9

deb’s Book Review, July 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 11

Mary Hake, July 11

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, July 12

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 13

For the Love of Literature, July 12

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 12

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 14

Blogging With Carol, July 15

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Terry is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1f7f2/oddball-ornaments-celebration-tour-giveaway

The Postman’s Lantern Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: The Postman’s Lantern

Author: J.C. Comerford

Genre: Christian Children’s Fiction, Christmas

Release date: January 8, 2020

During a devastating Christmas Eve snowstorm, John the postman arrives at his last stop, at the steps of the Frost family. Here, he rediscovers a stowaway letter in his mailbag, not for his route. It’s a letter from a hospitalized grandfather, to a very special grandson. John feels obligated to make the delivery. His unselfish act of kindness leads him, and then the Frost family, on an unforgettable journey across a seemingly endless track of farmland. Little does John know what he’s actually carrying. The lantern he carries becomes a mystery that guides their way through astonishing events. They finally arrive at the Evans house, where they find themselves before an extremely sick boy, a mother’s pain, and the mystical workings of God.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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John Charles Comerford grew up playing hard, on the streets and fields of Washington Township, New Jersey. He attended Our Lady of Good Counsel Grammar School through 8th grade. He then jumped across the street to attend Westwood High School, where he soon began playing guitar and composing songs at the age of sixteen. Writing short musical stories would soon turn into a more involved field of composition, as he later attended Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ. Here, he developed a desire to become a paperback writer. While attending college, he took a job with the US Postal Service as a mail carrier and is still delivering, thirty years later. He is still a performing musician and a recording artist on itunes. He now resides in Pawling, New York with his wife Bridget and his son Jack.

More from John Charles

I was just a little kid at the time. The temperature outside was 93 degrees. I had awakened earlier that day, because it was a Saturday. I wanted to catch some early morning cartoons, instead of lying in bed, waiting for my dad to give out chores for the day. I knew it was going to be a hot one, and I dreaded going outside.

Before long, there I was slapping paint on the side of my house. Soon after, I was weeding and watering the front lawn before it reached into the 90’s. At about 12:00, I went inside to cool off. I ate some lunch and relaxed a bit, listening to the “Boston Pops” my dad had put on.

From a calm and collective state of mind, I was suddenly burdened by the noise of my barking dog, at the front window. I went to the front door and opened it wide. As I looked up, the mailman was looking down. His face was dripping sweat, and his uniform was soaked. He had a big smile and said, “Too hot to play today.” He laughed a bit and handed me the mail. I heard my mom and dad yell out “Thank you, do you need a cold drink at all?” He said “I’m all set but thank you.” He moved on, while adjusting that full bag of mail that he was carrying around his shoulders.

It was then that I decided I would never become a mailman. God, no, not this kid. That was no easy job.

14 years later, I was working for the post office, with a packed satchel around my neck, and a can of pepper spray, to boot. I was now walking that mile, in my old mailman’s boots. Many times I’ve prayed to God for help and to keep me from dozing off in trucks that reached 120 degrees inside. I prayed for help from dog attacks that would occur five times a day at least. I prayed for help from the pain you feel when it’s 30 degrees to 20 below and you’re soaked from rain. Your fingers are ready to fall off after being soaked from the rain or as they burn to the bone.

So I wrote my book, seeking the world’s attention to the mail carrier’s integrity, and a forever caring attitude to those who patiently await their arrival.

My Review

With its beautiful cover and holiday theme, The Postman’s Lantern by J.C. Comerford immediately beckoned to me. It is just the kind of story that my mom would have sought out, with its peaceful cover art and its nostalgic feel. I appreciate that the author retains an old-fashioned ambience and sense of values, as expressed by the brothers’ care for one another and for their dog, Mick, and by their respect toward the adults. I also tip my hat to the author for unabashedly speaking about God through the characters and their prayers. The snowstorm and the frightening events that occurred during this short tale made the plot flow even more quickly, so that this book could be finished in one sitting. Also, the chapters are very brief, which is convenient for those who may only have a minute or two to read at a time.

So, why not a higher rating? I really struggle with rating this, because I wanted so badly to love this book. I believe that The Postman’s Lantern has great potential, but I think that the story needs some work for that potential to be fulfilled. Part of my issue, the lesser part, is that the book needs the attention of an editor. I support independent publishing and understand that not everyone has an English degree or can afford an editor; with this story, some of the errors were inconsistent, with the correct form used in one instance and not the next (e.g. the Evan’s house vs. the Evans’ house), so I think that more thorough proofreading would remove many such errors. The characters are mostly described as shouting or crying out, especially in the first half of the book, although this isn’t always the most appropriate descriptor. My biggest issue, however, is that the adult characters regularly take the Lord’s name in vain. In a Christian book, this is unacceptable to me. This story does not seem to be officially designated as a children’s book, but it reads like one that a family would enjoy together, which further concerns me on this point. If these issues were fixed, I think that The Postman’s Lantern could be a pleasant story to remind readers of the goodness of God and the magic of Christmas no matter the season.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 2 stars ♥♥

Blog Stops

Christian Bookaholic, October 7

Pause for Tales, October 8

For the Love of Literature, October 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 10

lakesidelivingsite, October 10

Lighthouse Academy Blog, October 11 (Guest Post from Marilyn Ridgway)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 12

Mary Hake, October 12

Girls in White Dresses, October 13

Texas Book-aholic, October 13

Inklings and notions, October 14

Vicky Sluiter, October 15

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 15

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 16

To Everything There Is A Season, October 16

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 17

deb’s Book Review, October 17

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 18

Cats in the Cradle Blog, October 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 19

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, October 20

For Him and My Family, October 20

Giveaway

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To celebrate his tour, John Charles is giving away the grand prize package for a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11fdd/the-postman-s-lantern-celebration-tour-giveaway

Christmas Carol Society Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Christmas Carol Society

Author: Rebekah Jones

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Christian Fiction

Release Date: October 30, 2019

Christmas Carol Society – How Do You Impersonate a Christmas Ghost?

The Christmas season has arrived. The members of the newly-formed Christmas Carol Society are beginning their weekly meetings. Charlie Baker finds the first meeting odd enough, but when the assignments start, he has to wonder why he allowed himself to get roped into attending. Miss Dartmoor tells her members to impersonate the Ghost of Christmas Past for their own personal Scrooge.

Just how does a mere human accomplish such an absurd task? Charlie tries to figure it out, but begins to see the Lord might plan for the assignments to have a deeper impact on him than he expected.

An impact that Charlie isn’t sure he wants to face.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Rebekah Jones is first and foremost a follower of the Living God. She started writing as a little girl, seeking to glorify her King with her books and stories.

Rebekah is an old soul in a young body (she’s not 12 —honest!) While her exact age is classified, her interests are not. Among them are reading a variety of books, singing, playing, and composing music, studying all manner of subjects, nannying an adventurous group of youngsters, and, of course, writing her books, poems, articles, and short stories. She writes a wide range of books from gentle children’s adventures to family sagas to murder mysteries.

More from Rebekah Jones

Christmas Carol Society is a book very near and dear to my heart. Partly because of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, which is among my favorites, and partly due to my characters. Especially, Charlie Baker.

Charlie is very special to me. He wants to hide in his tiny corner of the world, and give up. He wants to give up on a world that has hurt him tremendously or taken people he loved. He wants to push away any possibility of repeating the past; he doesn’t want to be hurt again.

Charlie doesn’t want to join the Christmas Carol Society. He doesn’t want to find a “Scrooge.” He doesn’t want to make new friends. He doesn’t want to do any of it.

He joins because he loves his cousin. He doesn’t do it for any other reason.

His father encourages him to do it right, if he’s going to do it at all. His cousin calls him out, when his Christianity is at odds with his behavior. And Albert, his would-be friend, just doesn’t give up on him.

In a sense, Charlie is a Scrooge – and yet, he’s not. He has to find a Scrooge of his own. And through it, he finds himself doing all the things that he really doesn’t want to do at all – and it’s a good thing. Painful sometimes, but good. Scary at times, but good.

The characters that the LORD uses to teach me the most, end up being particularly special to me. Charlie is one of them. In some ways, I relate to Charlie rather a lot, and writing this story drove me to prayer often, so I would know what to do next. I frequently wasn’t sure where the story would go. But I learned along with Charlie.

I hope that my readers will love Charlie Baker as much as I do, and that his story, along with the others in this book, will in some way bless and encourage my readers for the LORD’s glory.

To the KING be all the glory!

My Review

It’s easy to label someone a Scrooge or a villain. It isn’t as easy to remember beyond the stereotype to the human behind the label, even when we know A Christmas Carol back to front.

Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors, and A Christmas Carol is subsequently among my favorite holiday stories. Having come across countless adaptations in both film and literature, it would seem to be one of those tales that has become too cliched to hold up to the scrutiny of another retelling. However, Rebekah Jones has proven this to be false with her novel Christmas Carol Society, which I enjoyed just as much as (if not a bit more than!) the original classic.

A contemporary novel, Christmas Carol Society nonetheless exudes a timelessness supported by the author’s old-fashioned turn of phrase, which only enhanced my enjoyment of this tale. Jones has written a story that is easily identified with its Dickens namesake yet also distinctive enough to stand on its own. Protagonist Charlie Baker is a reluctant member of the Christmas Carol Society, an eclectic group of individuals tasked with emulating the spirits of Christmas for the Scrooge in each of their lives. Quirky characters make the narrative even more entertaining, yet at its core this story is poignant and thought-provoking. The author takes readers through a well-formulated literary analysis of A Christmas Carol through the eyes of her characters as events unfold. While some are clearly parallels to Dickens’ characters, others stand on their own merit. I feel that I identify the most with Charlie because of his introversion, faith, and quiet nature. Those qualities are challenged in Albert’s extroverted personality and serve as the basis for his own spiritual journey.

This variation on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is fitting for any season because its lessons are immutable. As Charlie remarks early on, “We aren’t God and only the Almighty can wholly change someone.” Throughout the course of the story, Charlie undergoes a transformation of his own as he learns things about himself and his approach to life: “I’ve come to realize that fixing him—or anyone else for that matter—isn’t my job. I’m not giving up, but my purpose is different. At the end of this, my hope isn’t that I’ll have fixed him, but that I’ll be a means of pointing him to the Savior.” We never know who is watching, so we need to imitate Jesus in everything that we say, do, think, and speak, being the light of Christ to those around us, be they Bob Cratchits or Ebenezer Scrooges.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 26

deb’s Book Review, August 26

Inklings and notions, August 27

Splashes of Joy, August 28

Mary Hake, August 28

For Him and My Family, August 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 30

Captive Dreams Window, August 30

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 31

Blogging With Carol, August 31

Just the Write Escape, September 1

Get Cozy Book Nook, September 1

She Lives To Read, September 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, September 3

Artistic Nobody, September 4 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Batya’s Bits, September 4

For the Love of Literature, September 5

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 6

Connect in Fiction, September 6

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 7

Emily Yager, September 7

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 8

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 8

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Rebekah is giving away the grand prize package of a copy of Christmas Carol Society, a copy of A Christmas Carol, and an ornament!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/ffb6/christmas-carol-society-celebration-tour-giveaway