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

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Review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman 

Faithful is a good YA novel with some realistic grit and an excellent rendering of teenage emotion. Hoffman perfectly describes adolescent/young adult self-centeredness — being egocentric without knowing it — the feeling that no one understands you and you’re the only one going through so much pain. 

Hoffman has a terrific way of harnessing the overwhelming despair Shelby feels without making the book contrived or too angsty. I believed in Shelby as she looked for ways to save herself – some destroyed her further, but some were steps toward healing. Hoffman beautifully illustrated a realistic message of HOPE – there’s a way out and something better waiting, but it’s up to you to grab a hold of the ladder rungs. In Faithful, Shelby achieved more than she ever bargained for: she found her savior, and became one to someone else. 

*This novel is not appropriate for teens under age 15 due to brief and infrequent but graphic and vulgar descriptions of sex.* 

-calliope

Buy FAITHFUL

Review: Rhythm & Clues by Sue Ann Jaffarian 

These Odelia Grey mysteries satisfy me so. Jaffarian includes much more than just the crime and sleuth aspect; some of the books focus on Odelia and her attorney boss Mike Steele. Others give us strong subplots involving Odelia’s friends on the police force. This latest in the series includes rock stars, bodyguards, and the delicate relationship between a strong daughter and her strong mother. 

While rock legends don’t do it for me (and so I was a little bored with that part of the plot), Odelia unraveled murders with her signature stubbornness and throwing caution to the wind. I loved the middle-of-the-night meddling, the saving grace of Odelia’s formerly criminal friends, and the comic relief that reminds me of Stephanie Plum. Much to my delight, Jaffarian also surprised me in Rhythm & Clues with my most favorite part of any book ever: the hint of a romantic happily ever after.

 *Vroom vroom*

Can’t wait for the next one. 

-calliope

Buy RHYTHM & CLUES

Review: Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie


Even though I REALLY enjoy books about books, I cringe a little whenever I start a new one. I half expect camp and contrivance, as much as I hope it gives me a protagonist who loves reading and writing as much as I do. 

I had nothing to fear with Love Literary Style. Gillespie wrote a perfectly entertaining and thought-provoking account of Laurie Lee, novice romance novelist, and her meet-cutie Aaron Mite, fancy schmancy highbrow lit fic writer extraordinaire. Their ups and downs totally work.  The author talking to the reader via the characters is ingenious. Aaron Mite’s longtime girlfriend is bizarre … and maybe a necessary foil so Aaron could really find himself. 

The best thing Laurie Lee did for herself and her relationships was also my favorite part of the book: finding an expert to help improve her writing. He gave her so much more, and she knew it and appreciated it. I also ADORED the ending — a happily ever after, of course — and Gillespie wrote this one with aplomb. 

I read an advance copy, and there was an error (alluded instead of eluded) in a scene that references a famous movie. Reading incorrect vocabulary gets under my skin in general, but I kind of couldn’t believe I read this in a book about writing books. Fortunately, Gillespie’s lovely epilogue made me forget all about it. She tied up all the loose … ends; and that made it easy to grin and … bear it. 

-calliope 

Buy LOVE LITERARY STYLE