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.

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Craft Projects

It’s the time of the year when I plan out–and hopeful start –the Christmas gifts and decorations I want to make. So far, I have five on my list (four I’ll mention as one is gift that I think she reads my blog). I’m debating on a sixth but with a book in progress, tax training to complete, and wanting to spend time just enjoying the holiday season, I don’t want to become overwhelmed. I enjoy crafting and don’t want a long must-make-list to turn it into a chore.

ornament-for-christmas-project-postProject One: Christmas Ornaments for our ornament exchange party.

Last weekend, I attended a wonderful craft day and learned to make this ornament. It was a fun and simple process, and even better I have most of the supplies on hand. All I need are some plastic ornaments, but I couldn’t pass up this fabric ornament-materialwhen I went in search of supplies for Project Two. I think this design will make an awesome Christmas decoration. The only problem will be I’ll probably want to keep them instead of adding them to the ornament exchange.

 

harry-potter-fleece

Project Two is one that was a request: Harry Potter Fleece tie blanket. I had made one as a birthday gift and my daughter requested I make another one as hers has been permanently borrowed by a very adorable little girl.

She hopes that gifting one to the borrower will mean she’ll get her blanket back. To make sure that happens, I bought the exact same fleece and will make it the same size. I’m a little concerned if I make it in a child size that  the little one will want to keep the larger blanket.

mermaid-tale-blanketAnd that isn’t the only blanket I’m making this year. For Project Three, I’m crocheting a Mermaid Tale Blanket. I have started it and am halfway done with the first section of the tail (the main body–the easy part). I’m hoping when I get to the fins, it goes as smoothly. I’ve only made basic blankets and I’m hoping I can decipher the pattern enough to have it look like a mermaid tale.

The final project on my list (that I’m going to talk about) are gift tags. I made some cute ones last year for a giveaway and am planning to do the same this year–and keep some for myself. I really enjoyed making them especially since I can use my Cameo and/or Cricut Explore Air 2 (which is on its way to me) to cut them out.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like

homicidal holidays cover…holiday reading time. I love reading all year-long, but have to admit my favorite type of books are holiday themed books in any genre. From Thanksgiving until January 1, the only types of books I read are those with either a holiday theme or holiday setting (preferably winter holidays). It’s something I start anticipating in the beginning of October.

Considering my love of holiday books, it was a thrill for me to help choose the stories for the Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays Anthology. I loved reading stories set during many different holidays, especially ones not usually featured in books like Groundhog Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. I must say all of the stories are wonderful and range from cute to a little on the dark side but no matter the mood of the story, they are all well-written and cleverly crafted.

Right now, I have a few books on my TBR pile and I’m already trying to figure out which one I will read first. I’ll probably go with the one that has the closest due date (some are print library books, others ebooks from the library, and other ones are ones that I have bought). But as any avid reader knows, one is always on the lookout for a perfect read. The perfect, and what could be my favorite read of the year, is out there but I might not have heard about it yet so please feel free to add in the comments any suggestions. And there might be others readers also who are on the lookout for some wonderful holiday reading.

Here are some links of holiday books that I have read in the past years. Maybe one of them will become a favorite holiday read for you.

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/srp-review-holiday-edition-i-the-killer-wore-cranberry-the-perfect-christmas-and-christmas-in-bayeux/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/srp-review-holiday-edition-ii-blue-christmas-bah-humbug-and-the-christmas-singing/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/srp-reviews-holiday-edition-iii-lakeshore-christmas-decorating-for-christmas-and-christmas-with-hope/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/srp-review-holiday-edition-iv-harlequin-holiday-collection-the-dos-and-dont-of-holiday-parties-and-hurry-less-worry-less-at-christmas/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/srp-review-holiday-edition-part-1-a-christmas-story-let-it-sew-and-never-noelle/

https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/srp-review-holiday-edition-part-ii-mistletoe-magic-where-angels-go-heartache-motel/

SRP Review Holiday Edition (Part II): Mistletoe Magic, Where Angels Go, Heartache Motel

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.

I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas Eve and I’ve only had three books reviewed for this holiday reading season. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago I somehow tweaked the muscles in my shoulder and neck and reading (having to hold my neck down a little) is what causes the most amount of pain. I’m starting to feel better so have been able to increase my reading time. Here are some of the books I have been able to get through in the last few weeks:

Mistletoe MagicMistletoe Magic by Melissa McClone

This was a sweet Christmas romance story. Caitlin finds a tiny kitten and takes it to the vet to get it checked over…and unexpectedly runs into someone from her past. This was a heartwarming short-story that takes place on Christmas Eve. There was minimal angst in the story (which was wonderful as some days I want touching, funny stories) and it just wrapped itself around me. Both the leads were likable and I found myself rooting for them. If you need a quick dose of holiday magic, this short story would be perfect.

Where Angels Go by Debbie Macomber.Where Angels Go

This story is about three ambassador angels going down to Earth to each answer a prayer is set during Christmas time.I usually love Debbie Macomber’s Christmas stories…not that I thought this one was horrible…but I found the sadness of one of the three storylines overwhelming for me. I knew going into the book that one of the resolutions was possible, but I held out hope. All three of the stories connected at the end, and I wish the stories weaved together a little bit throughout the book. Also, for the one situation in the story I found it was left unfinished and would have loved to see the actual ending. (If I mention the details, I’m afraid I’ll give the story away).

Heartache MotelLast of my reviews for this editions…and definitely not least is Heartache Motel by Terri Austin, Larissa Reinhart, and LynDee Walker. These are three short stories featuring different heroines which are set around Christmas time (but not the same Christmas) at the Heartache Motel in Memphis.

This anthology includes the stories Diners Keepers, Losers Weepers by Terri L. Austin, Quick Sketch by Larissa Reinhart, and Dateline Memphis by LynDee Walker. I want to go to Memphis during Christmas time after reading this anthology, though I’d pick a different motel to stay at. Each story in this book had its own voice, even though all three contained humor, mystery, and a strong, sassy heroine. I loved how the setting and time frame was a true part of the stories and not a gimmick. These three mysteries wouldn’t be the same if they were someplace else or at a different time. And, I must admit I’d love to get one of Cherry’s holiday wear creations. I’m one of those people who actually adore and wear Christmas theme sweaters.

SRP Review Holiday Edition (Part 1) – A Christmas Story, Let it Sew and Never Noelle

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.

A christmas storyA Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd 

A Christmas Story is one of my favorite holiday movies. The season doesn’t seem complete until I watch it one time (or an entire day…usually my go to “wrapping presents” movie). I enjoyed the book but as it was a compilation of articles, it didn’t have the beginning-to-ending story flow like the movie. Some of the events in the books were changed to fit into the time frame the movie takes place (Christmas time). I had to “get over” the fact that the book wasn’t like the movie and enjoy the stories as themselves rather than parts of the movie.

It was a great book to start my holiday reading as the humorous tone, and images of the movie playing in my head, put me into the holiday frame of mind.

Now on to my next reading choice…a Christmas mystery.

let it sewLet It Sew by Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Let it Sew is part of the Southern Sewing Circle series. This cozy mystery takes places in a charming town called Sweet Briar. I enjoyed the characters and the setting. As I prefer “lighter” (not graphic) stories during the holiday season, this book fit right into my reading needs. It was a smoothly written story with endearing “real” characters. Not everyone got along all the time, but when their traditions are threatened the members of the sewing club band together.

This story was set over the holiday season and it had  mix of mystery drama and holiday angst. There was a nice balance of both so neither overshadowed the other.  I will admit that I preferred the mystery side of the story over the holiday angst one. I don’t want to give away any of the story, so I’ll just mentioned that when the holiday issues impacted children negatively I find myself talking…very loudly…to the book. It was heart tugging and I like the theme that is revealed at the end…I don’t want to mention what it is as it might give away the story. And I must admit, now I want to go make cookies and stockings.

Never NoelleMy next, and last read for this edition, is Never Noelle by Pam Andrews Hanson. This is a Christian/inspiration romance set around Christmas time. Along with the hope of rekindling a past romance, there is some family angst between the hero and his father, the pastor of the church where the heroine works. Sometimes family angst in holiday stories can get a little “over the top” and be so intense a story can have a dark mood about it (what I steer away from during my holiday reading time). I liked how the family issue was handled in Never Noelle. It was heart tugging but didn’t overwhelm and leave me feeling melancholy. It was natural and handled in a very respectful way. I loved seeing the preparation for the holiday events and how it brought people together. If you enjoy a sweet holiday romance then this is would be a good book for you.

SRP Holiday Reading Search is on…

Santa Sees YouIt’s that time of year again for me…my annual reading and watching time (besides the Voice) of holiday fare. For some reason this year, I’m itching to start my holiday reading and movie matching earlier. I haven’t started my reading yet, but I have indulged in a few holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime. I must say, I prefer the Hallmark movies as they fit my personal criteria better for what makes an awesome holiday movie.

I like my holiday angst to be have a light, humorous tone and center around “holiday issues”. I don’t mind some heavy issues, but nothing too heart-breaking (Christmas Shoes in all its forms is not on my list). If I’m going to cry at the holiday, I want it to because my heart was touched by kindness and generosity. It’s a weird quirk of mine that from the week of Thanksgiving through January 6, I want ‘holiday drama’. 

‘Holiday Drama’ are those aggravating issues and situations which only happen around the happiest time of the year–the time of joy, love, and togetherness. The angst over not being invited…or being invited… to the Christmas event of the year, deciding to pare down the holiday madness only to be confronted by those not agreeing with your choice, the neighborhood war of yard decorations, greedy shopper buying the entire stock of the hot item, the Scrooge and the Christmas fanatic running into each other and love wants to blossom…and there’s enough drama to last the whole season long.

As my quest is now beginning, I’d love to hear from anyone with suggestions. And since there are those readers who love more angst filled drama in their holiday reading, please let me know about any of those titles. I’d like to have a holiday reading suggestion list for readers to browse. (Authors, feel free to leave a comment with the title of any holiday/Christmas story you’ve written)

If you go to the Holiday category of my blog, you can find the mini reviews of my holiday reads from the past two years.

Now, off on my search….

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition III – Lakeshore Christmas, Decorating for Christmas, and Christmas with Hope

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.

During this month, 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.

The holiday season is winding to a close. I’ve been able to find time for reading, but not so much for reviewing. A good and bad thing. It means I’ve been enjoying choices so much I wanted to jump into the next one rather than pausing to write a mini-review. The bad news is trying to catch up and finding the notes I made. I have a habit of putting things in ‘safe places for later’ and totally forgetting the location of the safe place.

Now on to my reviews:lakeshore christmas

Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs. A couple of my favorite holiday (and general) book elements were in this story; Christmas time setting, a librarian as the heroine, and a love of Christmas by one character and the other who dislikes it. I love these types of holiday stories where the hero and heroine are at opposite ends of the spectrum and land up coming together in the end. I loved the fact that the hero had been a child star made famous by a holiday movie and how that factored into his dislike of the holiday. At times, I kept debating which movie the author had in mind when writing the story. This is a contemporary love story and has a part that is a little steamy (very tastefully done). Lakeshore Christmas was one of those stories that had me totally immersed in the setting and the town. I’d lose track of time and didn’t want to put the book down. I wish I could visit Lakeshore next holiday season. There was one element of the story I found myself a little disappointed in as there was no ‘announcement’ from the characters about something they discovered or suspected, but as I thought about it was the perfect ending. I checked this book out from the library but will probably go buy a copy as I know I’ll want to read this again.decorating for christmas

Next is Decorating for Christmas by Kasey Rogers. It does seem a little strange to read this in the middle of the holiday season, but I had a decorating plan for our house this year. I’ll admit this year’s decoarting was pretty similar to last year’s except for the addition of my ‘Finding Nemo’ tree. I thought I give this a read to prepare for the after Christmas sales and see what I’d need to pick up for next year. I do love and enjoy decorating for the Christmas holiday season. I liked how the author used themes and gave you ideas on how to incorporate it throughout your house. While I like using themes in certain locations, I can’t see myself doing my whole house in one theme. For one, I’d have to buy a lot more stuff (and we have plenty on hand already) and even though I loved some projects and they’d work in a room of ours, the thought of using tools to build holiday decor kind of scares me. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to give it a try.

ChristmasWithHopeFreebieCoverArtThe last book I’ll be talking about in this post is Christmas with Hope by Anne Patrick. Anne Patrick is one of my favorite suspense authors and I was thrilled to pick up this free read from Desert Breeze Publishing. Christmas with Hope had one of the most unusual Christmas settings I’ve read. It takes places in Iraq and the heroine and hero are soldiers serving in the war. It’s a bit of an intense story at times because of the setting and the realness the author gives us with details, but I enjoyed seeing a romance bloom in an environment with danger lurking around the corner. I was glad I stepped outside of my ‘holiday reading comfort zone’ as I enjoyed ‘seeing’ how Christmas would likely be for those serving our country in a war environment.