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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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.

 

 

SRP Holiday Review Edition (Part I): Do You Believe in Santa, Bella’s Christmas Bake Off, and Get Yourself Organized 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.

I’m so excited! It’s the time of the year where I pull out all my holiday themed books (and sweaters…yes, I’m one of the people who wear them and I don’t care that it’s a no on every fashion list) and settle into to do some serious reading. I seem to read more at this time of the year than any other. If you have any suggestions for titles (adult, young adult, children books) please let me know as I can never have too many holiday books.

do you believe in santaThe first book for this year is Do You Believe in Santa? by Sierra Donovan. Stories with a Christmas theme or setting are my favorites. Every year, I look forward to diving into these types of stories as the happiness and goodwill melt away all my cares and contribute to my enjoyment of the holiday season. What I enjoy most about holiday stories is the magic weaved into them through details of the setting, atmosphere, and the love-of-Christmas embraced by the characters. Do You Believe in Santa? fit perfectly into my holiday reading needs.

From the first introduction of Mandy and the store she works in, I knew I was in for a magical time. I loved seeing Mandy as a little girl and knowing that as an adult, she still embraced—and found a way to make a living—from her love of Christmas and Santa Claus. The only thing missing in Mandy’s life is true love. It’s hard for her as the eligible bachelors in town, remembering about her defense of Santa, don’t take her seriously or want her to change.
When a new man arrives in town, Mandy decides to step out of her comfort zone and agree to a date. The romance is written in a sweet and honest way. (I had started to type an example but deleted it, not wanting to spoil the story.) I loved seeing Mandy show him her town, and her love for the holidays, and watching Jake fall under the spell of Christmas. Do You Believe in Santa? kept the Christmas spirit throughout even though the majority of the book took place before the holiday season.

bella's christmas bakeoffThe next book was Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson.  Amy is blissfully baking away and looking forward to Christmas when her husband arrives home and announces he’s leaving her. The timing comes as a shock to Amy, though not the news itself as she knows their marriage has been on the rocks for a while, but how could he leave her before the holidays. I thought the same thing. Why tell her then when he knew how much the holidays meant to his wife? Then again, why would a man who’d run around on his wife care about her love of a particular season?

Amy turns to her favorite holiday program to try and gain back some of her positive and happy feelings of the holidays, even though it does bring some bittersweet memories as the host was her childhood best friend Bella. The girls had a falling out, which Amy caused, and the friendship never recovered. It is one of the regrets of Amy’s life. When watching the show, Amy learns that the recipes Bella uses were Amy’s mother. A war is now on. With some maneuverings, Amy wins a contest and be spending some time with her former best friend. Amy plans on using the time to right her wrongs, have Bella’s wrongs righted, and maybe with the Christmas spirit in the air some hearts and minds will open.

I’ll admit I was a little worried if the book would fulfill my holiday reading needs. While the book has some heavy moments and painful pasts for the characters, it never took over. When I’m in a holiday reading mood, I want a book that will refresh my spirit, make me a little teary because of love and goodwill not sorrow. I want a story that will showcase the best of the holiday spirit: love, second chances, wonder, happiness, and of course scenes showing Christmas in all its beautiful (and sometimes dysfunctional) wonder. Bella’s Christmas Bake Off fulfilled all my needs.

get yourself organized for the holidaysAnd the last book for this part of my holiday reviews is Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp. I like planning and am always on the lookout for ideas on how to improve upon my current methods. And since Christmas is my holiday love and I go all out–decorating, baking, movie watching, reading, clothing, etc– I figured a book just on organizing for the holiday was a perfect read for me. I even started a holiday planner to keep notes of everything I need to do, want to do, and should be doing as in my quest to get it all in, I sometimes miss something that gives me a little pang of regret.

The one thing that the book advises doing, and that I’m having trouble with, is downsizing the must-do list. I don’t know if I can, or even want to give anything up. Except for the holiday season (okay and book launches), my life is pretty tame and one day rolls into the next. For the holidays, I like feeling that every day is special and I have something fun and different to do. The one take-away I do keep in mind is not to let my plans overwhelm my family. I make sure that I have some must-dos holiday-specialness activities that I can do on my own…reading, watching movies, crafting. Something that gives me the feeling I need and doesn’t make the holidays something my family comes to dread.

The way the book is organized made it very easy for me to include those specific ideas into my Christmas planner so I could spend more time decorating the planner rather than trying to make sure I included all the categories I’d need.

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 I: Christmas Letters, One Imperfect Christmas, and The Christmas Lamp

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 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’m a little behind in my holiday reviewing, though not in my holiday reading. I’m taking a little break from editing and writing to bring you the first batch of holiday stories. I hope you find one to add to your reading list.

christmas lettersChristmas Letters by Debbie Macomber is a romance novel set during the Christmas season. A quick, easy read that gave me the feel good feeling I so enjoy in books this time of year. The heroine writes Christmas letters during the holidays for extra income. She makes people’s lives sound more interesting and the troubles they face not sound as hopeless. I picked up the book thinking her job would be the main point of the story, an interesting take on a seasonal job, but it’s actually the hero’s job that causes the conflict. The hero is a renowned child psychologist who has some strong ideas about how to rear children and isn’t fond of Santa Claus. I love the exchanges between the couple and how they worked to get to know each other without their differences being the only way they defined each other. The holiday spirit is alive and well in the book. A sweet read that had me smiling and falling into the season.

one imperfect christmasMy next read was One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson. The story is set from a few days after one Christmas until the following Christmas day. It follows the full year for the heroine who is devastated by her mother’s stroke. The cover looked cute and cheerful, and with it being a book I downloaded on my Kindle no blurb to read, so I wasn’t expecting a heart-breaking family drama type of story. At first I didn’t find the heroine very likable, but she grew on me. The author did a good job of showing how a person’s personality and outlook could change after a traumatic event and how coming back to themselves took. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story did end on an upbeat note…for those like me who prefer a cheerful tale around the holidays. It’s about a family trying to stay together as they fall apart and how the holidays can be a stress and a healing within a family.

the christmas lampThe last book for this first edition of holiday reviews is  The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland. This is a contemporary romance tale set in a town called Nativity where Christmas is the town’s identity and biggest draw. The small town struggles when a new highway diverts traffic away from them and the holiday shoppers forget to stop there. The heroine finds herself at odds with a business consultant who arrives to help them find ways to save money. She sees his cost-cutting measures, eliminating some of the town’s Christmas traditions, as ripping away the heart and soul of the town rather than a means to save it. This was a lovely story with a nice message about remembering traditions without having them become the only meaning of Christmas.

 

If you have a favorite Christmas/holiday story please leave the title in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for another book to add to my growing collection.

Annual Holiday Reading Search

In a few short days, it’ll be the start (the start for me anyway) of the holiday season. Turkey. Present shopping. Putting up the Christmas tree. Present shopping. House decorating. Present shopping. Cookie baking. Putting a limit on the present shopping. Along with all that fun, comes my favorite and most anticipated activities of the year. Holiday entertainment. From Thanksgiving day until January 6, I indulge in Christmas music, Christmas movies, and reading holiday themed books.

My favorite topics for holiday books are rekindled romances, the loner finding those who want to make him or her a part of their family, and the ones centered around ‘holiday drama’. I like my holiday angst to be have a light and humorous tone. I don’t mind some heavy hitting issues, but nothing too heart-breaking. If I’m going to cry at the holiday, I want it to because my heart was touched by kindness and generosity. During the rest of the year, give me the heavy themes, the life-altering, heart-wrenching books but from the week of Thanksgiving through January 6, I want ‘holiday drama’. It’s a weird quirk of mine.

‘Holiday Drama’ books are based on those perplexing and aggravating issues which only come up around the happiest time of the year–the time of joy, love, and getting together with family members. The angst over not being invited…or being invited…to ‘the’ cookie exchange party of the year, deciding to pare down the holiday spending and activities only to be confronting by those not agreeing with your choice, or the holiday planner/baker/shopper/decorator having enough and going on strike. Throw in the neighborhood war of banning blow up yard decorations, greedy shopper buying the entire stock of the hot item to sell for a fortune on an auction site and there’s enough drama to last the whole season long.

Because of our cruise vacation last week (AMAZING trip, I’ll share pics and stories later), I’m gathering my holiday reading a little later than usual. Fortunately, a wonderful friend sent me a suggestion and I’d love to get some more. I have a few favorites…Orphaned Hearts was added to my favorite list lat year… and am always on the search to add to my collection.

To grow my collection, I’d love to hear what holiday books you love reading.