Thursday, November 24, 2016

Book Review, Blog Tour, and Giveaway: "Christmas Lights by Vikki Kestell, Cathe Swanson, April Hayman, & Chautona Havig

About the Book


Four novellas in a variety of genres—that’s all they are. Just four stories to quiet your heart and soul as you embrace the beauty of the Christmas season. Inside, you’ll find Vikki Kestell’s historical romance and a reminder that the Lord’s plans are always just what we need. You’ll be introduced to Cathe Swanson’s unlikely romance about a woman who sets out to do one good deed and is drawn into the lives of a cast of eccentric elderly people. You’ll meet April Hayman and her southern madcap mystery featuring an FBI agent, a con artist or two, and a few eccentric elderly people of her own. And you’ll find Chautona Havig’s Christian fiction novella that blends comedy, suspense, with a garnish of romance.
In the hope that through these Christmas stories your heart will be lightened and brightened, we offer you this collection. Merry Christmas! And a happy, light read!

The Heart of Joy (Vikki Kestell): Joy Michaels, grieving mother and widow, resides in an aging but remarkable Denver home known locally as Palmer House: a most extraordinary refuge for young women rescued from prostitution. Joy and her mother, Rose Thoresen, share the responsibilities of ministering to and mentoring the young women who live under Palmer House’s roof.

But now Joy faces an agonizing decision: Remain true to the memory of her first love or open her heart to the possibility of new love? And she wonders, “Can true, enduring love happen twice in a lifetime?”

Snow Angels (Cathe Swanson): When Lisa Marsh is roped into serving Thanksgiving dinner at the local community center, she meets lively teenagers, stubbornly independent veterans, eccentric elderly people, and one particularly rude and scruffy homeless man named Pete. She sets out to find him a decent job and make him respectable—whether he likes it or not—but her small project of helping Pete snowballs into an extraordinary Christmas ministry. And the vagabond can be very charming when he wants to be...

Trip the Light Fantastic (April Hayman): Lance “Trip” Devereaux is an FBI agent tasked with the nearly impossible job of tailing and, hopefully, arresting Landry Crawford, the wiliest conman east of the Mississippi River. But during his investigation, things go horribly wrong for the klutzy G-man. Will Trip nab his man in time for Christmas? Or will he be left out in the cold?

Christmas Stalkings (Chautona Havig): Wendy Nabity is known for her superfluity of cats and her “seven-tree obsession” every Christmas—but when strange things happen around her house, it appears someone is out to get her! Revel in comedy, suspense, and a garnish of romance.

My Thoughts
"The Heart of Joy" by Vikki Kestell:
I felt a little lost as to what was going on with Joy's missing son, but discovered that Joy was introduced in a book called "Joy on This Mountain", so I am guessing I would have known what happened if I had read it first. I liked Joy and Edmund and their desire to follow God's leading. The story didn't flow as well as some for me.

"Snow Angels" by Cathe Swanson:
I enjoyed reading this story. I was a bit confused at first when Lisa mentions Lee as I had no idea who he was.  There was a nice Christian thread running through the story and Lisa, in particular, grows a lot from the beginning of the story. It was interesting to read about the ministries offered at the community center in the book.

"Trip the Light Fantastic" by April Hayman:
This story wasn't what I expected in that it wasn't a romance. It had moments that made me think of the old Laurel and Hardy movies with Trip's clumsiness. There is a small hint of romance towards the end of the book, but that is not the main emphasis. I'm not sure what genre I'd classify this story. I liked Trip and was glad that he found the peace he was looking for.

"Christmas Stalkings" by Chautona Havig:

I think this was my favorite story in the book. I understood Neal's behavior almost right away, but wasn't 100% about who Wendy's home invader was, although I had a little bit of an inkling. I'm not really a "cat person", but I enjoyed Wendy and her interactions with her feline friends. I'm glad to know that there is a "sequel" to finish the rest of the story. I have a feeling it will have more romance in it.

I have not read anything from any of these authors and it is always fun to find new authors. I also like collections of novellas as you can read them faster if you don't have as much time.

About the Author

vikkiVikki Kestell is the author of the acclaimed inspirational series, A Prairie Heritage—a compelling saga of family, faith, and great courage. Vikki’s contribution to this collection, The Heart of Joy, asks, “Can true, enduring love happen twice in a lifetime?”

catheimageCathe Swanson: Author of contemporary mystery and romantic suspense, Cathe brings us Snow Angels – an entertaining companion novella and introduction to her upcoming Great Lakes series.

april-portraitApril Hayman: Author of Heirlooms of Deception series, debuts with a novella featuring mystery, humor, and “divine intervention.”

chautonaChautona Havig: Author of the Amazon bestselling Aggie’s Inheritance, Past Forward, and HearthLand series, Chautona brings humor, stalkings, and stockings to this collection.

 Guest Post from the Authors

The Christmas Lights Collection formed in the spring of 2016 with the idea of bringing four novellas together with one unifying theme: light. After all, each author in this collection has one primary focus in life: Jesus.  And in the book of John, He is called the “Light of Men.”
We thought we’d share what inspired our novellas and pray that these books are a delight and encouragement to all.
The Heart of Joy:  This novella is a spin-off story from Vikki Kestell’s Prairie Heritage series and features one of her most beloved characters, Joy Thoresen, from book three, Joy on This Mountain. After three years of widowhood, Joy mourns not only the loss of her husband but the child someone has kidnapped as well.  Only her faith sustains her through difficult days.
Vikki’s goal in writing is to provide FaithFilledFiction to Christians, and this novella is no exception. She worked to show that even amid our sorrow, the Lord brings good, hope-filled gifts to us even when we think we’re not ready for them. She also desired to fill in small, time-veiled gaps in Joy’s story.  The Heart of Joy puts the finishing touches on Joy’s story.
Snow Angels:  The idea for Snow Angels came to Cathe in slow increments. The idea of using homeless veterans originally prompted research into homeless shelters and programs, but the scope of those became too much for a novella. Still, those characters had stories Cathe wanted to tell, so she continued her research and became increasingly concerned with the plight of homeless veterans—particularly the women. For some reason, we often forget that women serve, get PTSD, and end up on the streets just like the men.
Cathe wanted to combine those realities with other misconceptions that often blind us to the person behind the façade. She wanted to demonstrate how people in otherwise normal lives also can be thrust into situations that trigger PTSD and how those people work through it. Of course, with such a heavy topic, Cathe chose to write the story with a liberal dusting of humor to lighten the mood as you read.
As her debut novel, Cathe introduces readers to characters we’ll see more of in her Great Lakes series and paves the way for her upcoming novel, Baggage Claim,releasing in early 2017.
Trip the Light Fantastic: April has been working on a mystery surrounding, of all things, Shakespeare’s inkwell!  So, when she was invited to be a part of the Christmas Lights Collection, April decided to do an introductory novel to her Heirlooms of Deception series and Lance “Trip” Devereaux was “born.”
April admits to loving another character, Landry, just a little bit more than the others. Yet, he could never be a main character. He’s too much of a rascal and a mastermind, so he works best from the shadows. While this book wasn’t about him directly, it could be about someone similar—someone who works in the light but has lost his way and needs help from God and some new friends. Trip the Light Fantastic is a sideways introduction into a character that April hopes will entertain readers for more books to come.
April set her series in Mississippi where her grandparents lived, so the books are rich in southern manners, mannerisms, and manors!  Well, there’s one plantation belonging to her irascible but charming con-artist.  Watch for a book set at the Crawford house in Spilled Ink, releasing in December 2016.
Christmas Stalkings: A couple of years ago, Chautona was on a Facebook group and a young woman admitted to having seven Christmas trees.  Intrigued, she named it the “Seven Tree Obsession” and wondered what kind of character would have seven trees—and why.  Well, the more she thought about it, the more interesting it became. After all, what would happen if ornaments got moved around when she wasn’t looking?  Who would do that?  Why?  And what could she add to complicate it?
So, when the opportunity to do the Christmas Lights Collection came, Chautona decided she wanted to do that story.  It seemed easy enough to contain into forty-thousand words.  HA!  But she got in her car, turned on her trusty voice recorder, and in the three-hour trek to her ACFW meeting, she schemed, plotted, and laughed until her sides ached at the ideas she came up with.  Half never made it into the book, of course, but that’s okay. Chautona has a prequel/sequel planned for it.  Lord willing, New Year’s Revolutions will release on December 31.  It’s the “Paul Harvey” version—the “rest of the story.”
While Christmas Stalkings does stand alone, Chautona wanted to explore Neal’s side of things a bit.  So she is. It’ll be the fastest “write-to-publication” she’s ever done, but she just had to try.  So, for NaNoWriMo, Chautona is off to try to figure out what’s up with Neal and why he’s such a crusty curmudgeon.  He’s too young for that!  And maybe, just maybe, he’ll embrace a “new life” in the New Year.

Blog Stops

November 15: Bibliophile Reviews
November 16: blogging it out
November 17: A Reader’s Brain
November 17: Blogging With Carol
November 19: Daysong Reflections
November 19: Splashes of Joy
November 20: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
November 20: Christian Bookaholic
November 21: Bigreadersite
November 22: A Greater Yes
November 23: Back Porch Reads
November 24: Blossoms and Blessings
November 25: A Path of Joy
November 26: Bukwurmzzz
November 28: Once upon a time
November 28: Carpe Diem


To celebrate their tour, the authors are giving away a $25 Amazon gift card! Click the link below to enter. Be sure to comment on this blog post to claim nine extra entries in the giveaway!

"Christmas Lights" is available in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 2268 KB
  • Print Length: 600 pages
  • Publication Date: October 15, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01LW32SEI

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received. 


Deanna S said...

"Christmas Stalkings" by Chautona Havig was my favorite too :)

Chautona said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed Stalkings! I hope you enjoy the prequel/sequel as much as I am enjoying writing it. Feel fee to zip me an email and request a free copy when it releases. :)

Caryl Kane said...

Excellent review, Becky! I LOVE Christmas stories.