Books · Reviews

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part III): A Very Meryton Christmas, A Family for Christmas, and All I Want For Christmas

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas, books, and movies that I can during this time frame.

Between traveling during November and December and editing a book, I didn’t get as much reading done this holiday season as I like. I’m hoping next–or rather this–holiday  season year I’m able to indulge more in my passion of reading Christmas/holiday themed stories. Here are the last three books I read this year:

a very meryton christmasA Very Meryton Christmas by Olivia Kane. This Christmas tale features Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth isn’t happy to find out that Mr. Darcy, who hasn’t been kind to her, will be in Netherfield Park during the holiday season, she is despondent, fearing his presence will ruin Christmas for her. At first, she vows not to spend any time where she might run into and later allows the Christmas spirit dictate her treatment of Mr. Darcy. This was a lovely story set during the Christmas season and also filled with the spirit of the holiday.

 

a family for christmasA Family for Christmas by Mona Ingram. With the holiday season about to start, Maddie finds herself without a job. Instead of her being let go putting a damper on her life, she uses it as a springboard to start a gift-wrapping and shopping helper business. This book had plenty of Christmas spirit and I enjoyed getting to know both couples (dual romance story) and the niece of the heroes in the story. There was plenty of angst Christmas angst, meaning not anything traumatic…unless you count the fact the niece is an orphan but her parents death happen off-screen and not during the story.

I love both of the couples in the book, though I do wish that each had their own book as I’d have loved to have more time to spend with each couple. The story was heartwarming and very reminiscent of a Hallmark Christmas movie…so if you enjoy those movies, you’d like this story.

all i want for christmasAll I Want For Christmas by Sheila Roberts. Susan Carpenter, aka Suzi Christmas delights her town with the over-the-top Christmas display she erects in her front yard every year–except for one of her neighbors and the new landlord of the house next-door. Suzi’s love of Christmas starts to lose it sparkles when she finds her light display threatened by those that wish Christmas wasn’t so bright.

When Luke Potter, the landlord, loses his renters because of an obnoxious Christmas display, he teams up with his godfather who also happens to be a neighbor who dislikes the lights as much as him. It isn’t long before Luke, aka Scrooge, regrets his decision but finds himself unable to veer from his bah humbug path.

This was my favorite book this Christmas season. I loved how Susan fought for what she believed in and kept her Christmas spirit alive even though at times it dimmed a little, nothing kept Susan down, especially when it came to sharing the joy of the holiday with her family and town. I’m off to see if there’s a story featuring Luke’s brother as I grew to like all the characters in the story…well except for the grinchy neighbor.

 

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Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews– Holiday Edition (Part II): A Wish for Christmas, Four Days of Christmas, and The Man Who Invented Christmas

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas, books, and movies that I can during this time frame.

A Wish for ChristmasA Wish for Christmas by Michele Brouder.

In a wish for Christmas, we meet India Ramone, a single mother who also helps her grandfather take care of her younger brother (early teens). India is juggling work, caring for family, and trying to come up extra cash for Christmas. The last few years has been tough on the whole family and she wishes to make things a little brighter for those she loves. India takes a job as a temporary personal assistant to a billionaire…a difficult and demanding  man who rather Christmas just goes away.

John Laurencelli does everything he can to avoid Christmas, including ignoring his sisters and nephews. No one seems to understand that the holidays that are a merry time for everyone else just brings painful memories back to him. But, his new assistant has a way of making him see the holiday as less about him and more about others.

This story is a sweet love story that takes place around the holiday season and I love how India opens up John eyes through just being herself, even extending forgiveness when others might not have done so. While reading the story, I couldn’t help but smile as I got caught up in the couple’s growing relationship and in the Christmas spirit. The book brought to mind a Hallmark Christmas movie (which I love).
Four Days of ChristmasFour Days of Christmas by Emma St. Clair.

This is a clean (no sex scenes) romance story that takes place around Christmas time. To earn some extra money for law school, Natalie takes a job as an elf at the booth where children get their photo taken with Santa. Natalie isn’t thrilled with her elf costume but is intrigued by the kindhearted Santa. I don’t want to give too much away (especially about the subplot) so won’t mention the other guy in the story. I do wish there had been more about the developing relationship and less story devoted to the subplot, to me it took away from the sweet, Christmas feel of the story. There were some funny moments, sweet and tender moments, which all added up to a nice read.

the man who invented christmasThe Man Who Invented Christmas.

When the movie came out last year, it didn’t play in the theater near us so I’ve been waiting for it to come out on DVD (on Amazon Prime video which is how I saw it). I love the Christmas Carol, have read it a few times and have watched–and own–several different versions of the movie. (My favorites are the ones with Patrick Steward and Scrooged).

Saturday, my husband and I sat down and watched it. Being a writer, I loved seeing how the characters came to exist and watching them follow Charles Dickens around while he wrote the story. I laughed during the scene where he was coming up with Scrooge’s name, I could relate as I can’t get a character to come alive if they don’t have the right name, sometimes even changing during the midway point of writing the book and then having to use the find and replace function.

It was interesting to see how he come up the story, and how some of the lines were inspired by people. I have to say I was a little surprised to learn the people who inspired the character of Scrooge (or at least what I took away from the movie). I don’t want to give it away for those who haven’t watched so I won’t mention any names.

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews– Holiday Edition (Part I): Blue Christmas, The Christmas Wedding, and Christmas Chronicles

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas, books, and movies that I can during this time frame.

Editing a book and having two trips in November and one two-week trip in December has me a little behind in my holiday reading. The reason I’m behind has more to do with one of the trips (Disney!) “required” a lot of crafting time as I personalized shirts for my family for the trip. Eight shirts for four days took a lot of time. But, the pictures for my scrapbook will be awesome. Well, anyway…time to focus on the purpose for this post–holiday reviews.

Blue ChristmasThe first review for the year is Blue Christmas: A Snow Valley Romance by Lucy McConnell.

The Christmas season is Paisley Hackett’s busy time of the year. She is in charge of Snow Valley’s Hospital fundraising drives and a lot of the activities that bring in money are held over the holiday season. Paisley throws every ounce of herself into her job, but still makes sure she finds time to participate in holiday outings with her brother, his wife, and two children. When she spots an attractive guy at the tree lighting ceremony, she is surprised to discover it is someone she knew in high school. Grown-up Clay Jett is much different than his teenage age and Paisley is intrigued by the changes.

Clay Jett arrived back in town to redirect his life, trying to find a balance between being a sought after producer and having a life that was more than music. He remembers Paisley and while she tries to ignore the sparks between them, Clay wants to see if they can be fanned.

I enjoyed this sweet romance set during Christmas time. I loved that the couple were getting to know each better during Christmas events around the town. There were times I thought Clay was a little too heavy-handed in trying to immerse himself back into the town that he had left–and in doing so tried to take over some elements of Paisley job. Paisley wasn’t a pushed over and refused to allow anyone, even the guy she was interested in, to walk over her. Go Paisley!

The Christmas WeddingThe next book is The Christmas Wedding by KL Ramsey. This is a steamy romance that ends around Christmas Day.

Lorna Sanders has spent a lot of time helping others, including stepping up to raise her niece after the girl’s parents died. Lorna has been content in her life though sometimes her heart still yearns for romance, love, and her own children. When Jonathan Sawyer enters her world, she is intrigued by the man and while she fantasies about time with him, knows it won’t work because of an age difference and a voice in her head saying she’s too old for her dreams to come true.

I enjoyed getting to know Lorna and Sawyer. Sawyer (Jonathan) wasn’t a man who gave up though Lorna wanted him to, but I was glad that he wasn’t too pushy. Sometimes heroes can be a little too forceful in pursuing the heroine and I was happy to see that wasn’t the case here. The couples romance progressed through the months and wrapped it around the Christmas season. It was a fast paced read so if you’re short on time this holiday season, this the book is perfect to indulge in some reading. It’s not overly Christmas (for those that don’t like too strong of a Christmas theme) but has enough of the spirit and setting for those, like me, who want those aspects in a story.

Christmas ChroniclesThe Christmas Chronicles, a Netflix original movie. I love Christmas movies and was excited when I saw the trailer for a new one coming out this year. And I’ll admit I was intrigued about watching Kurt Russell play Santa Clause (and I’ll admit I loved his Santa Clause). Teddy and Kate are trying to get through the first Christmas without their dad. Teddy is sullen and seems to want the holiday just over, while Kate is trying to find the magic again. While watching old family movies of past Christmases, Kate sees Santa’s hand and blackmails her brother into helping her catch Santa in the act. Things don’t go quite as planned and Kate and Teddy end up “helping” Santa complete his mission of delivering all the gifts on Christmas Eve.

I loved this movie and it will be on my “watch to start the season” list. Usually, I don’t like holiday movies that are about a parent dying. But while the event explains the reason for the children’s behavior, especially the son, the movie doesn’t center around it. I loved the holiday spirit of the movie and the message. And Santa’s new look was awesome and how it was addressed. The humor was a great mix of sarcastic, heart warming, and laugh out loud…occasionally leaning toward cheesy camp–but that is what I love most about holiday movies…the fun. The ending (especially the very end) was perfect. I hope A Christmas Chronicles II is the new works!

 

Books · Reviews

SRP Review:Drop Dead Ornaments by Lois Winston

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

drop dead ornamentsDrop Dead Ornaments features Anastasia Pollack, a mother of teenagers and an editor for a craft magazine who finds herself drawn into a murder investigation when her son’s girlfriend’s father is accused of the crime.

Anastasia is a take-charge woman with a heart for her family–even her ex-family members who don’t (in my opinion) deserve her kindness. But, that trait is what makes Anastasia who she is and why I adore her so much. She knows these annoying family members flaws and deals with it the best she can. I love how the book not only focuses on the mystery but also what else is going on in the heroine’s life.

What I like best about Anastasia is how she balances her quest for justice with the needs and fears of her family. She has gotten herself into some huge scrapes in the past that have placed her life at risk and is doing what she can to assure her family she take her safety into consideration…though she can’t turn her back on someone in need. I also enjoy how Anastasia has a respectful “professional” relationship with the homicide detective. I sensed that while they both annoyed the other, they didn’t consider the other one an enemy.

I can’t wait to read more of her adventures and the progress of her relationship with her family and her boyfriend.

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SPR Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part V): A Christmas Mourning, Miss Kane’s Christmas, and Montana’s Secret Santa

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

This last week or so has been busy with holiday preparations between crafting gifts and our annual ornament exchange party we had on Saturday. I’m trying to catch up on my reading and reviewing. For this week, I have three wonderful short stories that will get you in the Christmas mood, and are perfect to read when your time is short.

achristmasmourningA Christmas Mourning by Laura Bradford

This is an unusual Christmas in that the story actually takes place during the summer but is about an event that happened at Christmas time twenty-six years ago. I thought a Christmas themed story that wasn’t  taking during the holiday season was a nice twist. Jakkob lost a treasured item of his mother’s when he was a child and carries that disappointment even as an adult. It was a tangible link to her past and he fills as if he took it away from her. Claire is heartbroken for Jakkob and decides to search for the missing treasure to return it to Jakkob in hopes it will heal him and the rift between his family.

I don’t want to give too many details and give the story away. This story had so much Christmas spirit and heart even though it takes place in the summer. The search for the missing Christmas heirloom was the center of the story and also connected to the relationships of the characters. The ending was pure Christmas love that could love one a little teary. This is one of my favorite reads this year.

misskane'schristmasMiss Kane’s Christmas by Caroline Mickelson

Three days before Christmas, Carol, Santa’s daughter, is being sent on a mission to change the mind of Ben who is planning on ruining Christmas for all children–by having his next writing project about how Santa is a lie published. Carol is certain she can sway Ben from not only ruining the Christmases of millions of children in the future, but the current one for his children. Her immediate goal is to ensure that Ben’s two children have a Merry Christmas even though their dad is doing everything he can to avoid it by eliminating anything Christmas related from their house…no decorations, Christmas cookies, music.

But what happens when a crazy for Christmas woman and a Christmas avoider start to have tender feelings for each other? Who will win out in the battle of how to celebrate or not celebrate the holiday season? And what will happen when Ben finds out Carol’s love for Christmas and Santa isn’t because she’s a little crazy, but the daughter of Santa? This was a sweet Christmas story (a little fast paced at times) that shows how children’s joy at the season can give an adult a different perspective on the holidays. Not to mention how people’s hearts can be a little more open to love–and Christmas magic.

montana secret santaMontana Secret Santa by Debra Salonen

Krista finds herself in quite the quandary when her partner, on doctor’s advice, needs to take it easy during the holiday. One of the ways for her partner to lose some of her stress is to hand it over to Krista–being a member of the Montana Secret Santa program. While Krista believes in the program, she’s not that interested in being on the board and being responsible for other’s Christmas as she isn’t quite that fond of the holiday herself–thanks to her dysfunctional family. But, she agrees in order to help out her friend and business partner…and it doesn’t hurt that a hunky newcomer is also joining the board.

Jonah returned to his hometown after selling his company to relax and figure out what he wanted to do next with his life. He finds himself not only roped into dog sitting for his parents, but also taking over as the president for the Secret Santa, a task he’s not too interested in until he discovers the sexy woman his dog charges nearly trampled was also on the committee. Maybe helping out the non-profit wasn’t such a terrible idea after all. He did have plenty of time on his hands.

I really enjoyed Montana Secret Santa. Naturally, it contained both a holiday theme and setting as it’s set during a very cold Christmas season in Montana. I loved that the story revolved around a group who has set out to make Christmas better for members in the town. The romance between Krista and Jonah blossomed from their volunteering with the non-profit and in the process getting to know each other. There was some Christmas angst at times, a little over the top reactions from Krista, but the to-dos on the list during the holiday season (added onto the normal everyday tasks) can make anyone lose it. Especially when the added stress of complicated family relationships. I can definitely see this as  Hallmark Countdown to Christmas movies. This is one of the list of one of my favorite holiday reads for this year.

Books · mystery · Reviews

Review: The Discombobulated Decipherers by Julie Seedorf

DISCOMBOBULATED large banner 640 (1)

Thank you for stopping by The Self-Rescue Princess today. Today, I’m doing a holiday review of the Discombobulated Decipherers. The reviews I write are a little different as I like to focus on the heroines, or as the case is during the holiday season, I comment about the holiday spirit in the story.

discombulatedThe Discombobulated Decipherers is a fun, quirky story with plenty of holiday charm. The main element of the story is the mystery, who killed Ernest the elf, but it always maintains its lighthearted feel, perfect for readers who prefer to read less angst during this time of the year. The reader can follow along with the characters as they try to uncover the puzzle of who killed Ernest and also if an item they keep stumbling upon has anything to do with the murder, or with the history of the town. (I don’t want to inadvertently give a spoiler so am not mentioning the item.) The holiday season is important to the story so it really lends to the atmosphere of the book. The mystery and the holiday aspect of the story blended together perfectly, and I don’t think either would’ve worked without the other which is something I really enjoyed about the book.

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part IV)–Getting in the Spirit, Christmas Spirit, and With Love, Christmas (Hallmark Movie)

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

gettinginspiritGetting in the Spirit: Naughty and Nice in Sapphire Falls by Erin Nicholas

Levi Spencer had a huge wake up call about his reckless behavior when a car accident could’ve ended his life. To help him accomplish his new calmer life style, he takes his brother up on the offer to visit Sapphire Falls for the holiday season and agrees to let his brother set him up with a nice, sweet, country girl for the Christmas formal.

Kate wants nothing more than one happy Christmas. When she was growing up, her parents ran from it and as an adult she’s had one disastrous Christmas after the one. Her friend Phoebe (Levi’s brother’s wife) tells her the way to get her wish is to come to Sapphire Falls, a place that knows how to do Christmas, and to sweeten the deal, Phoebe will set her friend up with a sweet country boy for the Christmas formal. How could Kate turn down that offer? The only small issue is that Phoebe and her husband will be away for a few days when Kate first gets there, but the town and the country boy will take care of her.

But there is a little mishap and Levi and Kate match –and when this couple finds their way to each other, Christmas turns into a very steamy holiday. The Christmas setting is perfect. I want to go to Sapphire Falls for the holidays, and I do like how the background of Christmas heightened the feelings of romance and blossoming love between the couple. Getting in the Spirit is the first part of the couple’s romance and there are two other stories to follow. Disclaimer: For those who like sweet romances please note this is a steamy story.

christmasspiritChristmas Spirit by Morgana Best.

Prudence has traveled all over as medium sharing the impressions she the dead reveal to her to their loved ones. Her world is turned upside down when she sees her first ghost, a detective who was murdered and needs help from the only person who can see him–Prudence.

Prudence had arrived home, planning to get some rest before preparing for the arrival of her relatives who were visiting for Christmas and instead finds herself being drawn into a murder investigation. Prudence finds the holiday season a little depressing since her divorce and an estrangement with her daughter so the investigation allows her to focus on something else.

This story is set during Christmas time but the holiday itself doesn’t feature a role in the story besides the added stresses that time of year can bring, especially to those who feel alone. The mystery aspect is the stronger element in the story so if you prefer stories where Christmas time isn’t the focus, this is the read for you.

With Love, Christmas Key ArtWith Love, Christmas (Countdown to Christmas Hallmark Movie)

Melanie finds a great amount of joy in everything to do with the Christmas season, her co-worker Donovan feels the opposite. What is she to do when she draws his name in the Secret Santa exchange–and also is teamed up with him to work on an ad campaign to run during Christmas? Her answer is discover why he’s so Bah humbug about the holidays and show him what there is to love about the season.

This is one of my favorite movies of the season. I love the sweet chemistry between the couple and the way they fell in love seemed natural and I could see it happening in real life. I enjoyed how they were getting to know each other through not just working together but in Melanie’s Secret Santa emails. I love how their differences were worked out for the couple even though they hadn’t realized that they were smoothing out the areas that could keep them apart. The holiday setting and theme really added to the romance and I don’t think this particular story could take place during any other time of the year. This is one of those Hallmark Christmas movies that increases my Christmas spirit. I’ll be honest here and admit one of my dreams and goals is to write a Christmas story that has this much Christmas heart and spirit.