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.

 

 

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Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP REVIEWS: HOLIDAY EDITION (PART II) – Merry Ex-Mas, Tender Hearts, and The Mistletoe Inn (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.

merryexmasMerry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts

The holidays aren’t quite that merry for some of the women in Icicle Falls: Cass’s daughter is engaged and wants to get married this Christmas and have her father (Cass’s ex) and his new wife stay at Cass’s house, Charlene’s ex-husband waltzes back into her life with apologies and a renewed love for her, and Ella is trying to get used to being divorced which is hard when you still live with your ex. But, all is not what it seems and it will take the spirit of the holiday to help the women sort out truth from fiction. I love how this story shows the struggles of three women trying to find the Christmas spirit when it would be easier just to let it remain lost. This book has a nice balance of holiday setting, holiday theme, and the angst that can make us want to give up trying to maintain  holiday cheer for those that we love (and who sometimes create our trying moments).

tenderheartsTender Hearts by Gail Delaney

Billy and Erin met while they were both in Hawaii on vacation. Erin was sure their time together was only a vacation fling and not true love so she slipped out of Billy’s room–and life–only to find she needed to venture back into his life since they created one together.

This story takes place over many months, ending during the Christmas season. This was one of my favorite books as the characters felt real and had a great chemistry together, even when they were at odds with other. The issues they were trying to overcome came across as natural rather than obstacles created so the couple could struggle with being together. The ending was beautiful and poignant, a perfect Christmas story ending. (Currently, it’s one of my favorites.) I don’t normally add disclaimers but I wanted to let readers know this book does have some heartbreaking scenes of a very ill baby which might be hard for some readers, especially during the holiday season.

the mistletoe innAnd last is another holiday movie review, Mistletoe Inn (A Hallmark Countdown to Christmas Movie)- This movie is based on the book The Mistletoe Inn by Richard Paul Evans. Kimberly finds herself single just in time for the holidays when her boyfriend dumps her because she isn’t serious (like him!) about her writing. Kimberly has dreamed of being a writer but seems to allow her insecurities to hold her back from her dream. She finally decides to prove her ex wrong by going to a writing retreat that takes place in the Mistletoe Inn around Christmas time. I love a good romance, especially a Christmas one, and this one also throws in writing. I understood Kimberly as I struggle with some of her insecurities and being desperate for others approval. The holiday setting was perfect. I loved her love for Christmas (another thing I had in common with the heroine) and also how the famous (but never before seen in public) romance writer compared writing to decorating a Christmas tree. I hadn’t thought I’d come away with some good writing advice from the movie! This was a heartfelt Christmas movie and I thought the characters had a wonderful chemistry together. It was just what I love in a Christmas movie: small-time angst, getting to know and trust yourself and others, and love being realized and born during the holiday season.

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part II): The Reading Group: December, All Was Calm, and Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to West Virginia

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 had some unexpected holiday plans pop up at the end of last (couldn’t turn down seeing Moana with my two favorite little people) so I didn’t get around to posting more holiday reviews. And then yesterday, I conducted the great holiday gift hunt of 2016 which resulted in my husband finding the missing gifts in the living room where I had been wrapping. The only place I hadn’t torn apart searching for the missing movie gifts. (Next time, it’ll be the first place I look though I’m hoping there isn’t one.) On to the reviews for Part II of my holiday reading.

reading-group-decemberThe Reading Group: December by Della Parker: This book is set during the Christmas holiday and features Grace, a member of the reading group. The holiday season isn’t very happy for Grace as her family is struggling through a lot of hardships, but Grace doesn’t want to damper anyone else spirits so bears the burden alone. This story is about what happens when the facade Grace has constructed cracks. I don’t want to give the plot away, but there is a light in the dark for Grace and her family, and she sees the holiday spirit come alive.

all-was-calmThe next book in this edition is All Was Calm by Julie Carobini. This is a cozy mystery set during Christmas time. Tasha’s friend is on the suspect list when the owner of the camp she works for dies and it doesn’t seem the police are looking at anyone else so Tasha is on the case for the truth. I loved reading about the camp and the small town where Tasha now lives. Reading the descriptions of the normally, quiet town made me wish I had a trip planned in a mountain cabin resort (even though I’m not big on cold or snow). There were also many sweet moments between Tasha and her boyfriend which helped give the book a holiday feel.

santas-sleigh-on-its-wayMy last book for this post is Santa’s Sleigh Is On It’s Way to West Virginia by Eric James. Every year, I try to read a new to me children’s or middle grade book. I saw this one at Sam’s Club, and since it had West Virginia in the title, I had to get it. I absolutely love this book. It has the perfect balance of rhyme in the narration and the illustrations are delightful. I love how the story incorporates so many of the cities in West Virginia. (Note: The book is available for every state.) Currently, this is my favorite holiday read of the season.

 

 

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

SRP Review Holiday Edition (Part III): The Gift, Mistletoe and Murder, and Home for the Holidays

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.

The end of the year is upon us and with that I’m winding down in my holiday reading. I’ll have one more edition of my holiday reviews before I reenter the world of non-holiday stories. the giftThe first book for this edition is The Gift by Lisa Mondello. I really enjoyed this book. The plot had a wonderful blend of a Christmas setting and a Christmas spirit theme that I enjoy (and prefer) in holiday books. Neither the holiday setting or theme was heavy-handed, and the two elements worked perfectly together. I loved how Allison and Derek meet and how their conflict naturally stemmed from the first encounter, though I do wish Allison had been more forthcoming I understand why she kept the knowledge to herself. I would’ve like for Allison to have her own ah-ha moment in the book instead of it just being Derek, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book. It was a lovely read and stirred up my Christmas spirit.

mistletoe and murderThe next book was Mistletoe and Murder by Laina Turner. This is a cozy mystery short story and is set during Christmas time. The heroine Presley goes home for the holidays and agrees to help an ex-boyfriend discover the truth behind some financial shenanigans going on at his business which then evolves into having to track down a murderer. The mystery element is the strongest one in the story. Presley has a charge-forward, look back later personality which lands her in trouble and in humorous situations. I enjoyed getting to know her.

home for christmasThe last book for this edition is Home for Christmas by Melissa McClone. This was my favorite holiday read (so far) this year. It had the perfect balance of Christmas spirit/heart and Christmas setting. I loved Rachel and Nate. Rachel was a heroine who was equal parts spunky and vulnerable which made me connect to her immediately and wanted me to see her happily-each-after happen. Nate was strong and protective, and yet had a soft side to him that was endearing. The couple played perfectly off each other and I loved how their romance played out.

The Bar V5 ranch was perfect for a Christmas setting. The descriptions had me longing for snow (and I usually don’t look forward to it), and made me wish I could take a vacation there. It felt so real to me. The Christmas spirit was so alive in this book and made it so enjoyable to read. I took my time reading this story as I wanted to stay at the Bar V5 for awhile as it was such a heartwarming place. Yes, I know I’m gushing but it’s the way this book made me feel when I was reading it. The last scene had me releasing a long, satisfied sigh as it tugged at my heart. I can’t wait to read another story about the Bar V5 ranch.

 

 

Books · Holiday · Reviews

My Favorite Holiday Books

When the holiday season arrives, I live to immerse myself in it by also reading and watching holiday themed and setting books and shows.  I usually wait until Thanksgiving before settling in for holiday reads, but when the mood calls for it, I have been known to read one … or two … earlier to start brewing the holiday spirit. Here are some of my favorite reads that I’ve featured on my holiday reviews:

  1. homicidal holidays coverChesapeake Crime Homicidal Holidays. Okay, this one is cheating a little bit as I helped choose the stories for this anthology. It was such a thrill for me to do so as I love holiday books and devote from Thanksgiving to Jan 1 to reading nothing but holiday themed and setting stories. In this anthology, it’s not just the Christmas season that’s written about but 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.

 

Heartache Motel

2. 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. After reading this anthology, I want to go to Memphis during Christmas time 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.

  1. call me mrs. miracleCall Me Mrs. Miracle. I’ve read both of the Mrs. Miracle books, and this one is favorite. Call Me Mrs. Miracle, the second book featuring Mrs. Miracle, had more of a Christmas story line as part of the plot centers around a toy store at Christmas time and a little boy’s Christmas wish. Like with Mrs. Miracle, there is also a Hallmark movie based on this book. I will also admit there is one element of the book that I like a lot better in the movie than I do in the book and wish it was the same. I don’t want to give it away so won’t say anymore. It didn’t change the story much, but to me it made the Christmas spirit come through more in the movie than in the book. This book left me a little teary-eyed (which is hard to do) and has moved up the list as one of my favorite holiday reads. It had the right amount of emotion, plot, holiday setting and Christmas magic feeling to make it a perfect holiday read for me.

lakeshore christmas4. 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 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.

5. bahhumbugBah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks. This book would make a great Hallmark Christmas movie. I could just picture this story on the television. I loved how the author weaved a serious issue with funny moments. The hero isn’t a Christmas guy and once the reader knows why he and his family just go through the motions, your heart will ache for them. I love how the heroine kindly, and with sass, pulls him into the Christmas spirit. The hero at first comes across rough and tough but his tender side springs up pretty fast. I loved the banter between the hero and heroine, ‘watching’ them together always made me smile. I will admit this book has one of my pet peeves (won’t mention so I don’t give away the story), but the author made me love these characters so much (hero and heroine plus the supporting cast) that I didn’t care.

Books · Holiday · Reviews

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/