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.

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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.

 

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP REVIEWS: HOLIDAY EDITION (PART III) – Better Off Thread, Nurturing That Spark, and Trouble Under the Mistletoe

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.
betteroffthreadBetter Off Thread by Amanda Lee
The Christmas season is upon Marcy and her friends and she’s busy at the Seven-Year Stitch helping customers get ready for the holidays, but not so much that she can’t take some time off to help her friend Captain Moe by being an elf to his Santa Claus for sick children at the hospital. With Angus along for the adventure, Marcy arrives at the hospital to find that Captain Moe isn’t all too happy with the hospital administrator who is later found murdered–and Captain Moe is the now the suspect.
Since this is a mystery, it can be hard to say that a book has Christmas cheer as a murder is involved but this story has plenty of Christmas atmosphere and joy. The murder isn’t gruesome and while there are threats and dire happenings (it is a murder mystery) those parts of the story don’t overwhelm or take away from the Christmas theme and setting of the story. I don’t like to give away too much of the plot, but for anyone and for anyone concerned about children being in jeopardy since the crime took place in the hospital and started with Captain Moe and Marcy entertaining sick children, I’d like to reassure that no children come to harm.I loved seeing how Marcy interacted with her customers and “watching” her create Christmas ornaments and gifts. All the pieces of the story (mystery, romance, Christmas) flowed together and complemented each other perfectly. This was a great Christmas mystery that not only gave me the Christmas feels but also got me in the crafting…which is good since I have some presents to make.nurturingthatsparkNurturing That Spark by Sandra Sookoo

All Morgan wants is a lovely Christmas holiday with her niece, and what she gets is a teenager more enamored with her electronic devices than creating special holiday memories with the aunt who loves her. Morgan believes the perfect solution is a holiday vacation in a rural spot with limited internet connection. What she gets instead is a sullen teen–and could it be possible a love of her life?

Carter is a single father who’s used to it being him and his son and is happy with his life but wouldn’t mind a someone special to add into his family. Out on his park ranger rounds, he meets Morgan and can’t deny the instant spark between them. But can two people really fall in love in a short amount of time? And were their differences too much for a solid relationship ever to be built on?

Nurturing that Spark had a Christmas setting and theme in the book. Morgan wants a connection with her family, holiday memories and love that they can build on, and she runs into problem after problem trying to get her niece on board. The harder she tries, the more the teen rejects her ideas and plans. I felt bad for Morgan because she wanted so much to create the perfect holidays and her niece didn’t seem interested. I liked seeing the interaction between Morgan, her niece, Carter and his young son and how they created a family holiday from two small families who both had felt they were missing something. I loved that Morgan’s spirits picked up as she started finding hope in having the type of Christmas experience she wished for. There is some family angst, but nothing too dramatic that takes away from the holiday-feel-goodness that I cherish in holiday stories.

troublemistletoeTrouble Under the Mistletoe by Rebecca Barrett

Trouble the cat and Billie Dean, the human he’s staying with, are having a rather mundane Christmas Eve until the man Billie Dean loves and who went was deployed overseas is now back in town. But something isn’t quite right about the business dealings going on in Billie Dean’s father’s dealership and Trouble is determined to find out the truth.

This short story has a holiday setting, a mystery, and a sweet romance wrapped up into it. Trouble is definitely the star and I loved his voice. It had just enough angst in it to feel the characters concerns and worries without it taking over the holiday feels of the story. It’s the perfect length when you’d love to read a complete story but don’t have much time for reading.

 

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part I) – Twelve Days of Christmas, A Christmas Wish (Hallmark Movie), and Double Deck the Halls

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.

Happy Holidays! This year, I feel the need to start my holiday reading and viewing early. I don’t know what it is (okay I do but I don’t want to mention it and poke a hole in my happy bubble) so I decided to jump right into the entertainment that always cheers me up and boosts my spirits–Christmas/Holiday reading time. I’m going to shake things up a little bit this year by also including some reviews of Christmas/holiday movies (mainly Hallmark). As always, if you have suggestions and want to share your favorite holiday reads and movies, leave a comment. Now on to the reviews,

twelve days of christmasTwelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber.

The heroine in this story, Julia, loves the holiday season, actually she loves being cheerful and bubbly all year round. It’s who she is and can’t imagine anyone wanting to go through life in a sour mood and not acknowledging people–like her neighbor Cain. When he takes her newspaper by mistake (or maybe even deliberately) it’s not the action that pushes Julia over the edge but his lack of remorse and refusal to apologize. She vents to her best-friend and is given the idea of killing Cain with kindness. Since Julia needs an idea to blog about for the end of the year, she agrees. It doesn’t seem to work at first, but over time Julia finds the kindness magic working on Cain–and surprisingly on herself. This was a heartwarming holiday story that fits nicely into the spirit of the Christmas season. At times, I found Julia a little over-the-top in her actions, but as I got to know her more, I understood what was driving her. It was the perfect, sweet Christmas romance to get my seasonal reading off to a happy start.

a christmas wishA Wish for Christmas (A Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Movie)- Sara is the type of friend and co-worker everyone that I know would love to have: conscientious, friendly, helpful and agreeable…but sometimes too helpful and agreeable to where she is taken advantage of. After an idea of hers is stolen by her boss, Sara makes a wish that she was braver. How I understand that! There are many times in my life that I wish I could’ve stood up for myself more or been honest when asked directly about how I felt about something, or if I could do something for someone, I’d say yes because I didn’t want to disappoint or upset the other person even though it meant giving up something I wanted to do. Well, with the help of Santa, Sara is finally able to speak her mind. What I loved most about this movie, (there are two things but one involves Sara) is that even though Sara is tougher she never loses her niceness. She is able to stand up for herself without being rude or mean about it. I have read/seen other books/movies with this theme and the heroine usually has a huge chip on her shoulder and what she says and does is quite mean. Not in a Wish for Christmas Wish, the spirit of the holidays (kindness, love, thinking of others) is still there while Sara learns she can be both strong and kind. The other thing I loved about this movie was Molly. When Sara tells her best friend how she’s been taken advantage of her, instead of Molly throwing a fit and ending the friendship, she realizes Sara is right and apologizes and changes her behavior. This is one of new favorite Christmas movies of this season (so far). I don’t know if it’s because of the “realness” of the characters or the message that strong doesn’t equal mean or selfish and you can look out for yourself while still caring and doing for others.

doubledeckThe last review for this edition is Double Deck the Halls by Gretchen Archer. First, I must say isn’t that about the cutest holiday cover you’ve ever seen? I know I love it and wish there was an ornament for it…but I digress. This is a short crime caper story in the Davis Way universe but features Granny Dee as the point of view character. The story is set around Christmas Time where Granny is visiting her granddaughter and two great-granddaughters for the holidays…and to play in a slot tournament. I don’t want to give away too much lets just say that a Christmas personality that one usually trusts is up to some horrible shenanigans and Granny Dee must save the day. It was an enjoyable story, cute, not too much angst (how I love my holiday reading) and the perfect “size” to get in some needed holiday themed reading if you only have a short amount of time (like waiting in long lines, baking cookies, etc.).

Stay tuned for more holiday reviews of books…and a few movies. I’m always eager to add to my holiday book and movie collection so please share! Happy Almost Holidays!

Books · Holiday · Reviews

Top 10 Reads of Christmas Past

Since 2011, I have posted holiday reviews on my blog. Usually, I start the week of Thanksgiving and end the first week of January. I’m starting early this year as I’ve found a need to read some cheerful books to pick up my spirits. The last year has been a little stressful at times and I want to be in the right frame of mind for the approaching holiday season.

To start off my holiday reviewing season, I’m going to list my Top 10 holiday reads from 2011-2016. The reviews for my Christmas past reads can be found by clicking on the category tags and selecting reviews.

Happy Holiday Reading!

Top 10 Reads of Christmas Past

  1. On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts
  2. Orphaned Hearts by Shawna K. Williams
  3. Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
  4. Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs
  5. Santa’s Sleigh is on its Way to West Virginia by Eric James
  6. Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks
  7. Lowcountry Bordello by Susan M. Boyer
  8. Home for Christmas by Melissa McClone
  9. All I Want for Christmas by Nora Roberts
  10. Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews · Uncategorized

SRP Review: Holiday Edition (Part 1): An Island Christmas, A Christmas Bonus, 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 and books that I can during this time frame.

It’s holiday reading time! This year I’m a little behind schedule (two illnesses, multitude of Christmas gift crafting, writing book 6 in the Scrap This series, and preparing for the tax season is to blame) and I hope to get some more reading done now that two huge items on my to-do list are complete (mermaid tail blanket and tax courses). But I did manage to work in some reading time to save my sanity and give my overworked brain a rest.

an-island-christmasMy first book of the season was An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer. This book took place during Christmas time on Nantucket, and it also has a Christmas wedding. The Gordon family comes together over the holidays for a wedding and there is some meddling and doubts that might put a damper on the big day. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away so all I will say is that this was what I’d consider a perfect Christmas story–family angst (but not too heavy), wonderful descriptions of the holiday appearance of the town, family get together, and most of all a sweet holiday spirit where there are lessons learned and a great understanding and appreciation at the end. It was the perfect book to start off my holiday reading.

achristmasbonuscoverThe next book I read was The Christmas Bonus by Patty Froese. Millie agrees to help her boss, Andrew, with a work project over the Christmas holiday and finds herself swayed into staying with his family. There is plenty of family angst in the story, and one of the issues is very heavy but is handled in a way where it doesn’t take away the hope and spirit of the story. At first, everything seems simple in the characters lives but like real people, the reader starts to learn of the struggles each one faces. I loved seeing how over the holidays, a time usually spent with family, Millie and Andrew not only come to realize how well they do know each other, but also learn some important (if at times not flattering) things about themselves and realize their roles in some of the issues they are facing.

all-i-want-for-christmasThe last book for this edition is All I Want for Christmas by Nora Roberts. This was a cute, sappy, heart-warming Christmas story…think Hallmark Christmas movie…which means it was written just the way I love holiday stories. The story takes places over a few months time but the Christmas hope is spread throughout the book as it’s centered on the twins big gift for Christmas which they are keeping a secret from their dad. The one thing twins Zeke and Zach want for Christmas is for their single dad to fall in love so they can have a mom. I loved the antics of the twins and how the issue keeping the couple apart felt real but wasn’t too traumatic as to dampen the sweet spirit of the story. I found myself smiling while I was reading this book.

I hope to have another edition up by the end of the week. Now that I’m all done with my courses and test taking for the upcoming tax season, I have more reading time. I can’t wait until it’s time to turn on the Christmas lights, sit in the recliner, and let myself enter into the world of another book.

 

 

 

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP HOLIDAY REVIEW HOLIDAY EDITION (PART III): The Santa Shop, An Avalon Christmas, and A Victorian 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 and books that I can during this time frame.

This is my last Holiday Review Edition for 2014, I had wanted to post before 2015 but family activities took precedence. I was happy to get in a little more holiday reading this year than last, and hope that I’ll get even more holiday reading at the end of this year (though I really don’t want to ruminate long on this year ending as it has just begun).

the santa shopThe Santa Shop by Tim Greaton was a different type of Christmas/holiday read for me. I do my best to steer clear of darker stories around the holidays. I like the books I choose to be more light-hearted and have a humorous rather than serious tone. The Santa Shop, while not depressing or dark as in creepy way, it started off with a sad tone that grew more hopeful as the book went on. In a way, that is how the holiday season goes for some people, sad and stressful and growing into a more hopeful and restful time. I like how the book had a message without the reader receiving a lecture. Even when Skip was at the point of giving up total hope, he still clung to some and was able in his darkest hour to look past himself…and that to me is one of the true, loving spirits of the Christmas season.

After reading The Santa Shop, and I decided to go for something that had a little more of a happy tone and that built on the feeling of community that was in the end of the Santa Shop. I wanted to keep that feeling going. I read An Avalon Christmas by Darien Gee which is a collection of short stories that connect with each other through the town of Avalon.an avalon christmas The stories are a mix of longing, people searching for a connection, and of reaching out. The stories have a sweet spirit and all the point-of-view characters come away with a better understanding of themselves and their role in the world. All of the stories are set around Christmas time and show some of the holiday spirit that blossoms at that time of year.

 

 

a victorian christmasMy last holiday read of the year was A Victorian Christmas by Catherine Palmer. This book, like An Avalon Christmas, is a collection of short stories but in this book they aren’t connected. The stories are set in the Victorian times and are set at Christmas time. There is a strong Christian message in each story so for those readers who prefer non-religious holiday stories, this book might not be to your liking. For those readers who enjoy Christmas stories that reflect strongly the religious meaning of Christmas, this is a wonderful book and will be inspiring and uplifting.