Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Books: Twelve Quick Picks for Your Busy Holiday Season...And, Sharon's Advice for the Holidays!

Christmas Books: Quick Picks for your
busy holiday season.
Twelve Christmas Books: 
Quick Picks for a Busy Season!

Book Review by
Sharon Powers.

     Welcome to this week's posting of Sharon's Love of Books. The books selected this week are a true potpourri. Some of the books I selected because they looked interesting, some I got for free from various e-book sources, some are classics, some are brand new stories. I give you these books in the hope that you take a few minutes for yourself during the holiday season to treat yourself. The books, for the most part, are short and you can easily devour them before Christmas. A few are good enough to be given as gifts to someone special. Let's take a look at the wide range of selections I've picked for your perusal and enjoyment.

You can purchase The
Christmas Bus by Melody
 Carlson from Amazon by
clicking on this link.
BOOK: The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson. This little novella centers around Edith Ryan. Her adult children are not coming home for Christmas, so she opens her B&B (AKA, The Shepherd's Inn) up for Christmas reservations. The available rooms fill up and when a very pregnant Amy and her husband Collin show up there's no room left in the Inn. The couple's "Christmas Bus" breaks down outside the B&B and Edith and her other boarders take things in hand...what they didn't count on was trouble-making Myrtle (one of the boarders). The story is a sweet and modern re-telling of the birth of the Christ child and the joys and tribulations of Christmas. 

I give this first book a thumbs up and rate it at 4.5 stars (out of 5). Currently it costs $3.99 (e-book), $6.00 (hardcover), and $1.55 (used); I got this book as a free Amazon download in October 2009. Amazon reviewers rated this 176 page novella 4.3 stars out of 5 (150 Reviewers). I found this story very enjoyable and if you only get one Christmas book this year, you couldn't do better than to select this one.

The Night Before
Christmas
 by Clement
Clark Moore.
ISBN: 1-40372-947-6
BOOK: The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. This widely-known and loved story about Father Christmas is a poem that was first published in 1823. It is the story about Santa Claus visiting a family with his pack of toys, going down the chimney and filling the children's stockings. As Santa and his eight reindeer leave, Santa wishes everyone a "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night." This lovely story has been beautifully presented in this book with Christmas fun facts (for example, about Christmas cards, trees, mistletoe, Virginia's Letter to the Editor of the New York Sun, and Santa sightings by "NORAD"), a "Naughty & Nice List," Christmas crafts, a cookie recipe, a passport, and the last page has a beautiful pop-up of Santa. Of course, the poem is included and is beautifully presented. This book is high in quality and would make a wonderful gift to any child as a Christmas keepsake...or, I might add, for the child inside us adults, too. My daughter gave me my copy and I have treasured it for many years!

I rate this book 5.0 stars out of 5. Many different versions of The Night Before Christmas exist. I recommend this verson--just click on the link to go to the Amazon website. Also, the Amazon Kindle Edition is free, but I recommend the hardcover edition for $8.00.

The Bite Before Christmas
by Jeaniene Frost
.
BOOK: The Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost. This paranormal romance anthology showcases two popular series: Lynsay Sands, The Argeneau Family Series and Jeaniene Frost's, Night Huntress Series. The first novella, "The Gift," features a charming story about Teddy Brunswick, Police Chief of Port Henry. Teddy gets his own story after having been a supporting character in other Lynsay Sands novels. When Teddy's cabin gets snowed-in he meets a young, beautiful and neighbor whom he immediately feels attracted to. Will he be able to get past the fact that he is so much older than her...or is he really older than her?

"Home for the Holidays," the Jeaniene Frost's story, takes place after One Grave at a Time. Cat invites friends over to help celebrate Bones birthday and, of course, stay to be part of an old fashioned Christmas. Complications arise--and what would be a Night Huntress story without lots of violence?

I rate this book 4.0 stars out of 5. On Amazon, it is also rated 4.0 stars by 109 Reviewers. Currently, it costs $5.69 (e-book), $8.00 (hardcover), and $.73 (used mass market paperback). This book would be attractive to fans of the authors or series; this book is for readers of paranormal romance, with of course, the twist added: vampires at Christmas.

Christmas at Pebble Creek
by Vannetta Chapman
.
THE BOOK: Christmas at Pebble Creek by Vannetta Chapman. Christmas at Pebble Creek is a story about an Amish community and a young woman who must learn that God knows our needs even before we do and that we must trust that He will provide for those needs. Grace Miller, a teacher, goes through changes in her life, loss as well as joy before she finds her way.

This free, short e-romance (G-rated) also includes a few homey recipes for readers (like chicken and dumplings). I rate this book 3.0 stars out of 5. Amazon readers rate this book 4.2 out of 5 stars (79 Reviewers). While the story is sweet and centers on the Christmas season, characters are not fully developed and the story is really too short to get any kind of emotional involvement with the people in the book. If you like stories by Vannetta Chapmann or about the Amish, you will enjoy this sweet and simple story.

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens.
BOOK: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This story by Charles Dickens is the quintessential Christmas story. The story is about a cold, stingy, humbug of a man who is visited by three ghosts (the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet To Come) who in the end change Scrooge's mind and heart about life and Christmas. The e-book edition is free for download from Amazon. Other versions of the story, in paperback may also be purchased ($5.85 for paperback at Amazon). 

This heart-warming story is loved by many...why not grab this 112 page bargain book and read it yourself before Christmas? You have time...it is a short and easy read, and most of all you'll feel good after having read the delightful story. I rate this book 4.5 stars out of 5. Amazon readers rate this book 4.7 stars out of 5 (444 Reviewers).


Wolfsbane and Mistletoe
by Various Authors
(An Anthology).
BOOK: Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (An Anthology) by Various Authors. The themes of Christmas and werewolves are central to this popular anthology. At Amazon it receives a 4 star rating (out of 5), 71 customer reviews. I, too, rated this book at 4 stars out of 5. I was really surprised by this book, because, generally, I don't care for anthologies. This book was fairly well written and very enjoyable. I picked it up for a little light holiday reading in 2010, but think it is worth a look for anyone who likes werewolf stories. A number of very famous authors have contributed stories to this anthology. 

The stories and authors included are as follows: Gift Wrap by Charlaine Harris; The Haire of the Beast by Donna Andrews; Lucy, at Christmastime by Simon R. Green; The Night Things Changed by Dana Cameron; The Werewolf Before Christmas by Kat Richardson; Fresh Meat by Alan Gordon; Il Est Ne by Carrie Vaughn; The Perfect Gift by Dana Stabenow; Christmas Past by Keri Arthur; SA by Joe Konrath; The Star of David by Patricia Briggs; You'd Better Not Pyout by Nancy Pickard; Rogue Elements by Karen Chance; Milk and Cookies by Rob Thurman; and, Keeping Watch Over His Flock by Toni L.P. Kelner.

The Gift of the Magi
by O. Henry.
BOOK: The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. I have read this classic Christmas story quite a number of times, first reading it when I was in high school; I reread it again in preparation for doing this blog post. I have to tell you up front, I simply love this wonderful little Christmas story by O. Henry. The Magi were wise men who brought gifts to the Christ Child at his birth. The Magi in this story are the two characters on which the story focuses. If you haven't read this lovely story, do not wait. Run to your favorite book vendor, get it and devour it. I won't give away the punch line, but you will be touched by the married couple who struggle through difficult times and face Christmas with all the love in their hearts. The spirit of Christmas will fill your heart after you read this lovely little story. I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

You can buy the story in paperback for about $3.50, and hard cover for about $12.29, but why do that? If you have an e-reader (i.e. a Kindle), you can get this lovely story for FREE! at Amazon (just follow the link under the book cover image). How about that? Get yourself something for free and use the money you save to buy a present for someone else, or even better...make a donation to a wonderful charity of your choice!

The Santa Society
by Kristine McCord.
BOOK: The Santa Society by Kristine McCord. This Christmas story is all about Christmas, but not as you know it. A secret society exists, its ranks filled by families belonging to the society. Santa is a . . .? Realtor? When the Realtor helps Erin to list her home for sale, he starts falling for her in a big way. It isn't long and Erin is immersed into the clandestine society and the Realtor's chaotic life. Along the way, Erin discovers secrets about her own family; who her father and grandfather were, and why violating the society's laws may spell the end to Christmas.

Oh, what a lovely, surprising story. Did I say it is a surprising story? Utterly, utterly charming and wonderful. I purchased this book for this Christmas season because I liked the title--I paid the grand total of $ . 99 for the book on Amazon. If you want something a little different for your Christmas reading, this book will fill the bill and leave you smiling at the end. I rate this book at 4.5 stars, Amazon readers rate it at 4.7 stars out of 5 (36 Reviewers).

The Christmas Lamp
by Lori Copeland.
BOOK: The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland. This Christmas quick pick is short and sweet, so you can read this little story post haste. Nativity, Missouri faces financial difficulties and is about to go under. A consultant is called in and immediately cancels all the town's Christmas celebrations angering everyone for his ending of the traditional events. Roni falls for Jake Brisco (consultant) and soon everyone is making the best of things and finding the true spirit of Christmas.

A good effort by the author, and I do love the cover art, but the abrupt love relationship between Roni and Jake was less than convincing. And, while it is always good to find the true meaning of Christmas, this story was just not as good as the others in this blog post. I rate this story 3.5 stars out of 5, Amazon readers rate it 3.7 out of 5 (20 Reviewers). I got this story for free from Amazon in 2009, but currently, the Kindle Ed. is listed for $7.99, the hardcover at $6.00 and audio edition at $13.95 from Audible.com.

The Christmas Contract
by Jan Romes.
BOOK: The Christmas Contract by Jan Romes. I purchased this Christmas book a couple weeks ago for this Christmas season. The premise surrounds a wealthy philanthropist who makes a contract with his granddaughters. He wants the young women to be married by Christmas (and no premarital sex). In turn, the triplets (Joy, Christi, and Noelle) will get the money they need to buy the restaurant they have been trying to buy. Three fabulous men fall for the beautiful trio, but just who are these hunky guys? Is there something else here that lies below the surface of the contract? 

I am always looking for a bargain in books, and I got one here. I paid $.99 for the Kindle (e-book) version and loved that I saved dollars on the purchase. Something I loved even more was how surprised I was that the book was so good and the story so enjoyable. This is a quick read at only 146 pages...just long enough to enjoy without a huge time commitment.

Dark Hunter: An Insider's
Guide
 by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
BOOK: Dark Hunter: An Insider's Guide by Sherrilyn Kenyon: The focus story is Dark Hunter Christmas. Only one of the stories in this book is Christmas related, but I list it here, because I really LOVED the little story. The stand alone story is about Gallagher who has been suffering because of the loss of his family. He is morose and finds the holiday season sad and lonely. He leaves the party and wanders the streets, but soon Simi catches up with him and teaches him about the true meaning of love and family. I love the Simi.

My favorite quote from the book is as follows: [Simi tells Gallagher] "We have three kinds of family. Those we are born to, those who are born to us and those we let into our hearts. I have let you into my heart so the Simi is your family and she won't give you up. If you are sad right now then I'm thinking your family is still in your heart too and they are taking up so much room that you haven't any room for anyone else....[Then, Gallagher said,] 'I can't give them up.' [Simi replied,] 'And you shouldn't. Ever. No one should ever forget those they love. But your heart is an amazing thing. It can always expand to take in as many people as you need it to. The people who live there, they don't go away. It's kind of like a house. You just make room for one more person and then another and another and another....Somehow there's always space for more.'" [Kindle location 402 of 1074, Kindle Ed.]

Christmas on Main Street
by Multiple Authors
.
BOOK: Christmas on Main Street by Various Authors. An anthology of romance for those who can't spend a lot of time reading. You can chunk your reading, picking up one story at a time; of course, the other good thing is that the stories are all related to Christmas...who doesn't enjoy a little romance and love at Christmas time? I bought this Kindle e-book (with 11 stories) for $.99 before Thanksgiving in order to start my Christmas reading. Again, it is a bargain book, but who doesn't like saving money at Christmas time and still treating yourself at the same time?

The stories included are as follows: (1) The Christmas Wish by Tori Scott; (2) Her Christmas Cruise by Mona Risk; (3) A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming by E. Ayers; (4) The Christmas Con by Jill James; (5) Small Town Glamour Girl Christmas by Stephanie Queen; (6) The Christmas Gift by Pepper Phillips; (7) A Potters Wood Christmas by Leigh Morgan; (8) A Baby for Christmas by Susan R. Hughes; (9) A Light in the Christmas Cafe by Kristy Tate; (10) What if...this Christmas by Kelly Rae; (11) A Smoky Mountain Christmas by Carol De Vaney.

I rated this book 4.0 stars out of 5; Amazon readers rated the book 4.4 stars out of 5 (14 Reviewers). This book was published on November 15, 2013, so this book has only been out a little while.

SHARON'S UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR CHRISTMAS

Commitment to do one thing today.
1. Drive safely and courteously;

2. When you are out shopping, be patient and smile;

3. Give a donation of money or time to your favorite charity;

4. Exercise a bit every day, and don't over eat--you'll feel better for it (take care of yourself);

5. When asked what you want for Christmas, tell them you would like a donation in your name given to your favorite charity; and don't forget to keep your expectations for the holiday in check, you will be happier;

6. Forgive someone you've been harboring resentment towards--this, by the way, includes forgiving yourself for mistakes you've made;
7. Say a prayer or two for those less fortunate than you and think about and appreciate the good in your own life;
8. Take a little time for yourself and relax a bit--you'll be less likely to feel unappreciated or resentful;
9. Tell the people in your life that you love them, give them lots of hugs and tell them you appreciate them;
10. When you want to correct or criticize someone, DON'T (this may be hard, but is often the best thing you can do);
11. Give everyone you meet a little compliment--this little gift costs nothing and makes everyone feel better;
12. Don't forget to read a little something every day...your heart will be happier if you pick something inspiring.

Not everyone is happy at Christmas. Don't criticize, and
don't be judgmental...be patient and kind.
One last thing: Not everyone is happy at Christmas time or through the holidays. I know people who are ill and others who have lost family members...so, if someone looks glum, or doesn't respond to your smiles and holiday wishes, be kind and try to be understanding--don't be judgmental. You never know what another person is going through in their personal life; they may be suffering inside. Don't be offended if someone doesn't return your smiles and cheer, and don't say something you could regret later. Be as kind and patient as you can.

OK. It is time to wind this up. I hope you have enjoyed today's post about the twelve Christmas book quick picks; please join me next time for another book review. May your whole holiday season be joyous and filled with the true meaning of Christmas. I send you all the love my heart holds. I hope you find a little love for yourself down in your heart and remember that you are precious.

Until next time...
White Rose.
...many happy pages of reading!

Sharon.







REFERENCES
_________________________________________________________
https://www.google.com/search?q=Christmas&espv=210&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=d-SjUuTvKsPyoAT7pIHYDA&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1181&bih=816#es_sm=122&espv=210&q=Christmas+books&tbm=isch&facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=5gJuQ4NkFAseLM%3A%3B-yrKf7nG7npn6M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F10000161.tbpcontrol.co.uk%252FShopImages%252F10000161%252FXmasbooks.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fcogitobooksonline.tbpcontrol.co.uk%252F%3B360%3B300 - Christmas Quick Picks; http://www.amazon.com/The-Christmas-Bus-Melody-Carlson/dp/B002PJ4FP0/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0 - The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson; http://www.amazon.com/Night-Before-Christmas-Clement-Clarke/dp/1403729476/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386519881&sr=1-1&keywords=1403729476 - The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore; http://www.amazon.com/Bite-Before-Christmas-Lynsay-Sands/dp/B00D08Q5XK/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1385013350&sr=8-1 - The Bite Before Christmas by Jeaniene Frost; http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FQQ1A8Y/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title - Christmas at Pebble Creek by Vannetta Chapman (Amazon); http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Carol-Charles-Dickens-ebook/dp/B0084BMUFA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386543081&sr=1-1&keywords=a+christmas+carol - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; http://www.amazon.com/Wolfsbane-Mistletoe-Charlaine-Harris/dp/0441016332/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1386544895&sr=1-1 - Wolfbane and Mistletoe by Various Authors; http://www.amazon.com/Gift-Magi-O-Henry-ebook/dp/B0082Z3S3G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386547707&sr=8-1&keywords=the+gift+of+the+magi - The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry; http://www.amazon.com/Santa-Society-Kristine-McCord-ebook/dp/B00FLK0W70/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386550646&sr=1-1&keywords=the+santa+society - The Santa Society by Kristine McCord; http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Contract-Jan-Romes-ebook/dp/B00FV2LTAW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386550818&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Christmas+Contract - The Christmas Contract by Jan Romes; http://www.amazon.com/The-Christmas-Lamp-A-Novella/dp/B005Q6X9AG/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0 - The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland; http://www.amazon.com/Sherrilyn-Kenyons-Dark-Hunter-Insiders-Guide-ebook/dp/B003WUYQFK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386551250&sr=1-1&keywords=Dark+Hunter+Insider+guide - Dark Hunter: An Insider's Guide [Dark Hunter Christmas: Gallagher's Story] by Sherrilyn Kenyon; http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Main-Street-E-Ayers-ebook/dp/B00GCPPALG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1385013545&sr=8-2&keywords=CHRISTMAS+on+main+street - Christmas on Main Street by Multiple Authors; http://www.amazon.com/One-Snowy-Night-Before-Christmas-ebook/dp/B0062F89HI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1386563687&sr=1-1&keywords=One+Snowy+Night+before+christmas - One Snowy Night Before Christmas by Pamela Fryer; https://www.google.com/search?