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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Book Review - Cinder Bella ('Tis the Season Book 3) and Always Noel ('Tis the Season Book 4) by Kathleen Shoop


When all seems lost, a Christmas miracle walks in… 

Albany, Oregon 
December, 1937 

Despite the lingering Depression, Albany, Oregon is lit up for Christmas. The entire town is bright with hope ushered in with the holiday season. But Jane Scott’s dream for the perfect Christmas is ruined. She’s accepted to the University of Oregon, yet denied the scholarship that would allow her to attend. On top of that her boyfriend, Jack Arthur, stands her up just when she needs him most. Faced with not earning a teaching degree she wonders if she could be happy living life as her mother has—as a woman contented with all things domestic. As each day seems darker, Jane’s strength and faith is tested. 

Feeling as though everything she had counted on is fading away, she flounders for an anchor. Little by little the Scott family Christmas traditions and a benefactor’s encouragement remind her of what the season is all about, what she is all about. Can plans for a new job pay enough for tuition? Does Jack’s mysterious absence mean the end of their future together? Is a Christmas miracle on the way?
 


Our book review
A nostalgic read that transports you back to festive times in 1937 with ease. Even though this quaint town is going through hard times it doesn't stop their Christmas spirit and the act of giving. I could almost smell the cinnamon in the air with Kathleen Shoop's continuous art of detail in her writing.

Jane was a lovely character to follow, ambitious, focused, and a loving person but on receipt of a letter her dreams of becoming a teacher stand in tatters and you can feel her sadness and desperation, along with her added worries that I won't spoil for you. But don't despair a Christmas miracle is there to enjoy!

A lovely short read that's bound to get you in the festive mood, with the added bonus of having my favorite historical family, the Arthurs, in the story, and if you haven't experienced them yet you definitely need to read The Letter Series.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Also available...
The Christmas Coat ('Tis the Season Book 1)
ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARD- FINALIST
Two days before Christmas, ornery Elliot Ebberts is tasked with school drop-off even though distracted by an important real estate transaction. In the holiday carpool chaos his extravagant, lucky coat goes missing. In a panic, he searches for his coat, tracing its path as it passes through the hands of good people in dire situations. 

Meanwhile, his plan to WOW his wife Libby with an ostentatious gift reveals Elliot’s shallowness to the world and mortifies his entire family. Is it too late for him to rediscover the meaning of Christmas, to remember who he is without all the trappings of the job that defines him? Can Libby and their children ever forgive him?





The Tin Whistle ('Tis the Season Book 2)
Inspired by a true story... 

1854 
Jacob Gusky wakes up hoping Santa has arrived. And he has... but not for Jacob, one of two Jewish boys living at the Boys’ Home of Manhattan. When a friend gifts him a tin whistle, Jacob learns the power of giving, the joy in receiving, and hears what he considers to be the sound of happiness. 

1881 
Recently widowed and completely out of options, Frannie takes her daughter Molly to the Home for the Friendless. “You’ll be back before Christmas?” Molly asks. Frannie gives Molly half a quilt square and keeps the other, choking on her reply. 

Now a happily married father of three, Jacob Gusky owns Gusky’s Grand Emporium, Pittsburgh’s first premier department store. After unearthing the tin whistle from the orphanage, he is reminded of what it felt like to have nothing, and decides to make a difference in the lives of others no matter their faith. But with so little time before Christmas morning, can he even begin to give the orphaned children of Pittsburgh what he knows they need? 

When giving is more important than receiving...


Cinder Bella ('Tis the Season Book 3)
She never had anything. 
He lost everything. 
Together they create a Christmas to remember. 

December, 1893
Shadyside, Pennyslvania 

Bella Darling lives in a cozy barn at Maple Grove, an estate owned by industrialist Archibald Westminster. The Westminster family is stranded overseas and have sent word to relieve all employees of their duties except Margaret, the pregnant maid, James the butler, and Bella. Content with borrowed books and a toasty home festooned with pine boughs and cinnamon sticks, she coaxes the old hens to lay eggs--extraordinary eggs. Bella yearns for just one thing—someone to share her life with. Always inventive, she has a plan for that. She just needs the right egg into the hands of the right man. 

Bartholomew Baines, a Harvard-educated banker, is reeling in the aftermath of his bank's collapse. With his friends and fiancé ostracizing him for what he thought was an act of generosity, he is penniless and alone. A kind woman welcomes him into her boarding house under conditions that he reluctantly accepts. Completely undone by his current, lowly position, and by the motley crew of fellow boarders who view him as one of them, Bartholomew wrestles with how to rebuild. 

With the special eggs as the impetus, the first meeting between Bella and Bartholomew gives each the wrong idea about the other. And when the boarding house burns down a week before Christmas it’s Bella who is there to lend a hand. She, Margaret, and James invite the homeless group to stay at the estate through the holidays. But as Christmas draws closer, eviction papers arrive. Maple Grove is being foreclosed upon. Can Bella work her magic and save their Christmas? Is the growing attraction between Bella and Bartholomew enough for them to see past their differences? Only time will tell and only if time doesn’t run out before they all have the Christmas of their lives.

Our book review
A heartwarming story that will have you overflowing with festive spirit. Kathleen's heartfelt story transports you back in time to a harsh winter in Pennyslvania, in the midst of  a financial crash, and depression, that serves as a reminder that the magic of Christmas can be felt, regardless of what you have in life. Bella is the centre of the story, her positive love of everything in life is quite contagious, and is joined by a group of people from all walks of life who find themselves in dire need of help and support, they have absolutely nothing yet have everything they could have wanted.

Bella asks does riches in life involve money, are they important? I think you will find the answer among these pages, for sure!

Our rating
'A heartwarming'
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About Kathleen Shoop
Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. Kathleen coordinates Mindful Writing Retreats and is a regular presenter at conferences for writers.

I adore writing historical fiction (The Letter series, After the Fog and Donora Stories) but am having a blast writing romance like Home Again, Return to Love and Tending Her Heart (Endless Love series). Thank you so much for the time you take to read.

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Sharon Martin
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