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Advent Day 18 *plus* Literary Friday: The Bark Before Christmas and The Christmas Promise

Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy Advent Season, My Lovelies!  This year on my Advent Calendar I want to share Christmas traditions from around the world along with a daily scripture reading.

My friend Barbara posted this fun tradition from Iceland on our book club page on Facebook.  The information is from Free Range Learning's FB page:

In Iceland, books are exchanged on Christmas Eve, and you spend the rest of the night reading. People generally take their books to bed along with some chocolate. How cozy and wonderful does that sound?

I think I love this one!  This is the *perfect* tradition for Literary Friday, and I want to adopt it! Plus I happen to have the perfect recipe for hot chocolate.  Just click on the featured post at the top of the sidebar!

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John 17:25-26

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”


This week I read The Bark Before Christmas, a Melanie Travis mystery, by Laurien Berenson, and The Christmas Promise by Donna VanLiere. 

from Goodreads:

“If you like dogs, you’ll love Laurien Berenson’s Melanie Travis mysteries!” —Joanne Fluke, New York Times bestselling authorMelanie Travis has her hands full with her two young sons, a part-time job, and a half dozen Poodles to her name. But even with the busy holiday season approaching, she still has time to sniff out a Christmastime killer…

There’s nothing lovelier than Christmas in Connecticut, but Melanie can scarcely find a moment to enjoy the festivities. With her youngest son approaching toddlerhood, she’s decided to return to her old job at Howard Academy, a posh private school attended by the children of Greenwich’s well-heeled gentry. Balancing work, motherhood, and the hectic dog show circuit takes some fancy footwork, especially when the headmaster taps her to be the chairman of the school’s Christmas Bazaar.

The Christmas Bazaar is Howard Academy’s biggest and most important fundraiser, so Melanie feels the pressure to make it a huge success. She even enlists her longsuffering sister-in-law Bertie to help with the Santa Claus and Pets Photo Booth. But everything goes awry when a prize show dog goes missing and Santa turns up dead. The dog’s owner is one of the school’s most perfectly pedigreed alums, and she enlists Melanie to help find the purloined pooch. But just as Melanie starts pawing at the truth, she digs up a sleighful of sinister secrets that leaves everyone feeling less than merry…

The prize show dog that goes missing just happens to be a Westie named Kiltie.  Y'all know how much I love that breed, and Kiltie's owner, Sharon, is a horrible person.  She keeps her Westies far away from the house in a kennel.  Westies need their people!  I hated that part of the book, and I seriously considered giving the book one star because of it!

But this is truly a cozy Christmas mystery although the main character Melanie lives an exhausting life which is made even more complicated when she's held responsible for Kiltie's disappearance.  I did enjoy many of the characters, and Melanie's aunt who's a guru in the Standard Poodle show world, is so much fun!  I really did love her, and I'd read more books in this series just for this one character.  

One interesting side note is that the death/murder of the Santa Claus seemed less important than Kiltie's disappearance.  Or maybe it's just me....

Have you read any of the Melanie Travis mysteries?  I'd love to hear from you!

from Goodreads:

Each Christmas we are given a promise from heaven.  And each year on earth we make promises to each other. 

This is a story about how a promise from one person to another shows us the true meaning of faith, remembrance, and love.  Seven years ago Gloria endured a family tragedy that almost shook her faith entirely.  Each Christmas she places a card in an envelope on her tree, restating a promise she made to her husband before he died.  Now, having moved from her small town and all the painful memories it held, she is building a life by caring for people in need.  Whether it's a young mother who can't pay her electric bill or a family who needs some extra food, Gloria always finds a way. Miriam is a thorn in Gloria's side.  Miriam is a constantly critical, disapproving neighbor who looks with suspicion at all the good things Gloria does. When a twist of fate makes them roommates instead of neighbors, it's the ultimate test of patience and faith. 

Chaz has a good job as head of security at Wilson's Department Store, but each night he returns home to an empty apartment. He longs for a wife and family of his own but realizes that the life choices he's made have alienated him. He befriends a young boy whose mother has fallen on hard times, giving him a chance to have a life he thought impossible.In The Christmas Promise, the lives of these characters collide and we learn that even as we move ahead, the past is never far behind. And when we are forgiven much, we love much. 

In this warmly humorous and deeply poignant story, we are reminded that the Christmas Promise is the promise of second chances.

This is one of the best Christmas books I've ever read.  Gloria is a mother after my own heart: She never gives up on her son, and she doesn't succumb to grief and despair.  Instead she tirelessly helps others in dire need.  Everything she does is in response to a Christmas promise she made many years ago.

Chaz's story was so touching.  He is one of the most developed characters I've ever read which is amazing considering it's a fairly short novel.  I would love to read another book about him!  Scripture says that a little child shall lead them, and the love of Donovan, the child of a co-worker, led Chaz out of a very dark place.  

I am impressed how VanLiere weaves several story lines together to merge into one Christmas miracle.  Christmas is a time for hope, redemption, and new beginnings.   The Christmas Promise reminds us how prayer can not only change our circumstances, but can change us, too.  I will probably read this book again.  It's definitely one for the keeper shelf, and it is my newest Christmas tradition.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. I love reading Christmas books this whole month. I'll put these on my list to read. I have The Christmas Shoes in my stack already! Merry Christmas sweet friend. Hugs, Diane

  2. The book The Christmas Promise sounds so interesting. I may have to look for it at our library. Blessings to you and yours, xoxo,Susie

  3. I think I like that Icelandic tradition! It sounds like every night at my family home. We never had a TV, and after supper we all read till bedtime.

  4. Melanie Travis is a new mystery series for me, and I love mysteries and animals so I'll be on the lookout for this one.

  5. Oh the little dog on the cover looks like it could be yours. What a sweet Iceland tradition. I reread A Christmas Carol every year, and usually watch It's a Wonderful life or the old Heidi movie with Shirley Temple. Merry Christmas to you and your family. xoxo Su


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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