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 story 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 also 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, in order to help out her friend and business partner, she agrees…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 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. 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 of getting to know each other. There was some Christmas angst at times, a little over the top reactions from Krista, but the to-dos on the list during the holiday season (added onto the normal everyday tasks) can make anyone lose it. Especially when the added stress of complicated family relationships. I can definitely see this as  Hallmark Countdown to Christmas movies. This is one of the list of one of my favorite holiday reads for this year.

Books · Heroine Interviews · mystery · Uncategorized

SRP Heroine Interview: Winnie Johnson from Eclair and Present Danger

ECLAIR AND PRESENT DANGER    large banner640I’m excited today to have Winnie Johnson joining us at the Self-Rescue Princess.

ECLAIR AND PRSENT DANGERWinnie, please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

For as far back as I can remember, all I’ve ever wanted to do was bake.  The process of mixing ingredients together to make something delicious was pretty amazing all on its own. But when your creation got a moan of delight out of someone? That was the best. So you could say it was the realization of a lifelong dream when I opened my own bakery, Delectable Delights.

Things were going great until Nick Batkas, my bakery’s landlord raised the rent so high there was no way I could stay in business.

That is until I got word that my dear sweet neighbor, Gertrude Redenbacher named me in her will.

Yes, I admit I was imagining an envelope of cash—just enough to keep my dream alive.

But Gertie didn’t leave me money.

Instead, she left me her cat, Lovey (who loves everyone but me), and the vintage ambulance her late husband was restoring prior to his own death.

So yeah, good bye lifelong dream.

As you can imagine, I was rather down in the dumps when I left the bakery that last day, but I had to keep my emotions at bay until I made good on a promise to another late friend. You see, once a week, I make and deliver a peach pie to Bart Wagner, my neighbor across the street. He’s been having a tough time lately on account of losing his wife of nearly fifty years.

So I made the pie.

And walked it across the street and into Bart’s house.

I hated going into his house like that, but when he didn’t answer, and the door was unlocked, I went inside. You know, just to make sure he was okay.

That’s when I found him on the floor—dead, suffocated with one of his own pillows.

I have to do something, don’t I? About my bakery and Bart.

What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Bart and his wife, Ethel were my neighbors and my friends. Losing Ethel was hard. She was like a second grandmother to me. I promised her I’d look after Bart with a peach pie every week. And I was doing that. Just like I promised. But seeing him like that? Murdered in his own home? It made me mad (after I screamed, of course).

I live on a street of elderly people—elderly people I adore. And to see them afraid for their life because a murderer is on the loose, isn’t okay with me.

Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Um, no. I’m a baker, not a fighter.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Hmmm…

I would say my strength and my convictions go hand in hand. I know what I like and I don’t change that for anyone. I’m loyal to a fault (as evidenced by the cat who is now living with me) and I’m respectful of the fact that I need to bake. It makes me whole.

As far as my weaknesses, my confidence (in terms of dating) isn’t too high. I think I’m just content with the company my elderly neighbors and my best friend, Renee provide. Or maybe that’s just a cop out…

Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

For me, being a self-rescue princess means not needing a man to complete me. It means listening to my gut. And it means believing in myself and my abilities.

If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

Right now? I’d have to say that old song, Roll With It Baby by Steve Winwood. Because right now that’s exactly what I need to do in regards to my career, my life, and this promise I made to my friends that I will find Bart’s killer.

Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat? 

I wish I could say I get to hang up that hat, but I don’t.

Because next March (in Silence of the Flans), a student at the local college is going to be poisoned. And, seeing as how it’s one of my desserts she’ll be eating when she keels over, I kind of sort of need to get to the bottom of things if there’s any hope of keeping my Emergency Dessert Squad on the road…