Review: Two Christmas novellas- Forever Christmas & My True Love Gave to Me by Christine Lynxwiler

November means Christmas reading, so I hunkered down the past couple nights with two novellas in my Kindle’s “Christmas” folder. 

These charming and heartfelt stories felt like full-length novels in that the characters were many and varied, the plots had time to twist and meander a bit, and the main characters were wonderfully developed. 

In Forever Christmas, Kristianna tries to live out her own authentic life, fighting through family pressures and a stressful romantic past. I loved that Kristianna’s best friends never wavered in their love and loyalty to her. I enjoyed Kristianna’s fun dates, her surprise gifts, and the relationships she had with the quirky townspeople. Although saving her town of Jingle Bells from corporate intrusion was top of mind, Kristianna eventually got the message that working together for a solution is more effective than cutting off your nose to spite your face. 

In My True Love Gave to Me, loving wife and mom of two Penny has had it up to here with her newly-unemployed husband’s moping. But when he finally does something to snap out of it, she’s not truly on board with that either. The plan? A family RV trip. The reaction? Horror, as you might guess. However, in the spirit of a good Christmas story, the lessons are in the journey. Lynxwiler gives us an entertaining road trip where relationships are strengthened, trust is built, and true love abounds. 

Both novellas have a Christian perspective, with a mentions of “God’s plan” and positively describing other characters as Christian. They both have a happily ever after, too. 

You’ll be glad to know my Kindle’s Christmas folder is full of myriad holiday novels. These were only the tip of the iceberg! 

-calliope 

Buy MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME
Buy FOREVER CHRISTMAS

Review: A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt 

This quick and easy holiday romance was cute, but not as satisfying as I’d hoped. Maybe its brevity precluded some of the depth I’ve come to appreciate in cozy romance novels. 

Anna heads to the Cotswolds from New York City, hoping for a respite from the pressures of life: relationships, work, and family. What she finds is no room at the inn, and a second-rate offer by the innkeeper’s cousin Colin. Colin is a happy go lucky guy who forms an attraction for Anna. 

I won’t spoil it, but when two roads diverge in a yellow wood, Anna and Colin don’t have too many choices: they fall for each other or they don’t… someone moves halfway around the world or someone doesn’t. 

This is book one in a series, and it definitely seemed like an introduction. I wanted more substance, some subplots, and a more memorable hero. But it was charming and well-written, and a nice way to familiarize readers with a new setting… especially for the price ($2.99). Here’s hoping book two hits me right in the heart! 

-calliope

Buy A COTSWOLD CHRISTMAS

Review: Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

Today I saw someone wearing Christmas socks, despite the unseasonably warm weather we are having, so I thought it would be appropriate to review a Christmas book today! 

Penny lives alone and creates beautiful ice sculptures in solitude … until Henry and daughter Daisy start renting out the annex, and Penny feels compelled to be social. The quirky characters quickly connect with each other and make for a pleasant, predictable romance. 

But it all seemed a bit contrived. My eyes rolled at the cliched tropes and the running into each other too many times to be serendipitous. I like my chick lit light and fluffy, but with enough substance to draw me in and make me believe it’s real. 

If you need a quick Christmas romance in between serious reading, the price is right here at $2.99, but don’t expect substantial character or plot development. 

-calliope 

Buy CHRISTMAS AT LILAC COTTAGE

Review: Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes


This is how you know we muses (and Pegasus) post honest, unbiased reviews, folks: 

There I was reading this lovely story, not remembering the title or author, but impressed with the writing and basking in extravagant descriptions of Parisian food, shopping, and architecture. I thought, “Wow, this book reminds me of Anita Hughes’ novels. Everything is so luxurious and magical. The romance is subtle, slow, and authentic.” 

And I kept reading, enjoying the serendipitous meetings of Isabel and Alec. Balconies, cobblestones, gardens, restaurants. I loved the magic of the fortune teller and her adorable daughter. Mathieu was the PERFECT wingman, and Bettina the perfect wicked stepsister. 

I just couldn’t get enough. 

After a satisfying happily ever after I finally checked the title and author. 

Christmas in Paris. Anita Hughes. BOOM. 

Mais, oui, I should have known. 

-calliope

Buy CHRISTMAS IN PARIS

Review: Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber


A book about a blogger! With a meet-cute. And a smart, handsome, buff, broody guy in the same apartment building who likes Starbucks. Come on now, who isn’t signing up to be the girl in this girl-meets-boy?! 

THIS is my kind of Christmas chick lit. You’ve got your possibility of snow, your peppermint latte, some chicken soup, a job at Macy’s, struggles with a Christmas tree… I couldn’t have asked for even one more perfect scenario in this book. 

Twelve Days of Christmas is about, yes, falling in love, but more importantly, figuring out that the way to change a relationship is to become a better person, not try to change the other person. And telling the truth. That always helps. 

I really had so much fun reading this novel. Macomber put obvious effort into character development, authentic dialogue, and a natural trajectory for a growing romance. It’s chick lit, but it’s GOOD chick lit, complete with excellent writing, fun characters, and witty remarks. 

Enjoy! 

-calliope

Buy TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Review: The Amish Christmas Kitchen by Long, Baker, Beckstrand

This book is a collection of three novellas that center around Amish kitchens at Christmas time. 

Baking Love on Ice Mountain introduced Clara, who managed to bake up a storm even while grieving … and moving on. I enjoyed this well-written story and the mountain setting, as well as the wisdom of the older people being passed down to the next generation. 

The Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill is by one of my most favorite authors, Jennifer Beckstrand. Beckstrand didn’t disappoint, bringing her signature silly grandparent pair Anna and Felty to Katie’s life, ready to be matchmakers once again. I loved that they maintained a sense of humor even when the wrong boy was trying to court sweet Katie – for the wrong reasons… her triple chocolate cakes! 

The Special Christmas Cookie contained a fun twist on one of my favorite tropes – governess/nanny/tutor falls in love with guardian of a sweet child. Problem was, the writing was sloppy. Many repetitive paragraphs and pages should have been cleaned up during editing – especially when it came to telling (in addition to the already sufficient showing) how independent and strong Jonathan wanted to be. 

The three authors send a common message with these novellas: loneliness can be overcome by taking a step forward. Each novella had a character that suffered loneliness because he or she was afraid to reach out. Once they could extend themselves, they found a brighter, more joyful season waiting for them. 

And at the end of each novella, you’ll find a recipe waiting for YOU. 🙂

-calliope

Buy THE AMISH CHRISTMAS KITCHEN

Review: The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson

This is a charming story of five book club friends whose main connection is friend Abby. When Abby dies, the remaining four need to find a way to carry on. Abby provides that guidance from some angel gifts she’s left for them. 

I was disappointed in the beginning of this book because I could sense the “setting up” of the plot… a little contrived or overplanned. However, by the middle, I loved the direction Carlson took the four women – it seemed natural and authentic. Seeing the women use Abby’s Angels to help them grieve and then use their talents to help others warmed my heart, and it will warm yours, too. 

-calliope

Buy THE CHRISTMAS ANGEL PROJECT

Review: Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant


Millie and Dylan. Jasmine and Rich. Spencer and Tori. The future in-laws, the cousin, the pub owners…  

Book Two in the Honeybourne series takes a look at three couples and the ever changing dynamics of their lives. This book engaged me more than the first in the series, and I liked Millie and Dylan even more. Spencer and Tori illustrated the ups and downs of wedding planning, and Jasmine and Rich the ups and downs of an established marriage. With all that’s going on in Honeybourne, sticking with the one you love requires lots of talking, alone-together time, and Millie’s special baked goods. 

I always like a bit of British chick-lit, and this one hit the spot. The happily ever afters were right on. Maybe it was Jasmine’s lightheartedness, maybe it was Spencer’s romantic side, or maybe it was just Millie’s magic! ❤

-calliope

Buy CHRISTMAS AT THE LITTLE VILLAGE BAKERY

Review: Auntie Claus by Elise Primavera

Auntie_ClausIn the spirit of the holidays, one of my absolute favorite books to share with young children is the delightful story of Auntie Claus.  Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  But the youngest readers won’t get it right away, keeping the magic going until almost the very end.

Little Sophie has always adored her glamorous but eccentric aunt. There’s just something not quite right about the woman known as Auntie Claus.  Most intriguing to young Sophie is her aunt’s annual “business trip” right around Christmas every year.  When Sophie’s curiosity gets the best of her, she finds herself in for the trip of her life.  Along the way, though, she discovers more than she bargained for.  Most importantly, she finds out what the true meaning of Christmas is.

Kids will enjoy the magic of the story, and the trip to the North Pole is nothing short of amazing.  Older readers will love the puns and references to Christmas sprinkled throughout the story.   Add this one to your shopping list!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Auntie Claus deluxe edition

Review: The Ghost of Mistletoe Mary by Sue Ann Jaffarian

  
Jaffarian’s Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery series is ostensibly cute, but actually delves into some pretty heavy social issues. It’s always nice to have some substance, even when you’re expecting a cozy mystery. 

Jeremiah Jones is a former cop, current private investigator, who uses his extra sensory perception to communicate with spirits of dead people. One of those people is Granny Apples, who acts as a fly on the wall to help him catch bad guys. 

In this episode, Jeremiah tries to find a missing woman while helping the homeless, the down and out, and those trying to turn away from the criminal edge of society. 

You’ll read about a caring agency who helps people get back in their feet, a shootout led by drug dealers, a double-cross that almost seems legit, and the first step in healing for a few key characters. 

I enjoyed this gritty look at Southern California. I appreciate the blessings that people bestow upon those in need. Granny’s ghost provides some much needed comic relief, and lightens up an otherwise dark look at life on the streets. 

-calliope

Buy THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY