MIRACLES AND MENORAHS by Stacey Agdern

November 11, 2020

Kindle

 


RETURN TO VIRGIN RIVER by Robyn Carr

November 4, 2020

RETURN TO VIRGIN RIVER by Robyn Carr. MIRA; Original edition (October 13, 2020). ISBN 978-0778388340. 320 pages.

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HAPPILY THIS CHRISTMAS by Susan Mallery

November 2, 2020

HAPPILY THIS CHRISTMAS by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (September 29, 2020). ISBN 978-1335081285. 352 pages.

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Hardcover

 

 


THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS by Lizzie Shane

October 30, 2020

THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS by Lizzie Shane.  Forever (September 29, 2020). ISBN 978-1538735879. 368 pages.

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IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren

October 24, 2020

IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren. Gallery Books (October 6, 2020). ISBN 978-1982123949. 336 pages.

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THE TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS by Jenny Bayliss

October 14, 2020

THE TWELVE DATES OF CHRISTMAS by Jenny Bayliss. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (October 13, 2020). ISBN 978-0593085387. 368 pages.

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CHRISTMAS ON REINDEER ROAD by Debbie Mason

September 30, 2020

CHRISTMAS ON REINDEER ROAD by Debbie Mason. Forever (September 29, 2020). ISBN 978-1538716960. 368 pages.

Kindle


THE CHRISTMAS DARE by Lori Wilde

October 27, 2019

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Twilight Texas, Book 10

From the publisher:

A jilted-at-the-altar bride reunites with her high school sweetheart in Lori Wilde’s sensational new Twilight, Texas Christmas novel.

Kelsey James always played by the rules and look where it got her—dumped and half-drunk in a poofy white dress, her Christmas wedding ruined. Then her best friend talks her into going on her “honeymoon” anyway, daring her to a “Christmas of Yes.”  It’s about time she lets loose a little, so Kelsey agrees to say “yes” to fun, to romance, and to adventure! And adventure leads her right smack into the arms of sexy Noah MacGregor.

Noah’s never one to say no to a risk—from leading his NBA team to victory to making Christmas cookies in Twilight, he’s up to the challenge! But a lot has gone on since they were teenagers, and he knows he has to take his time to make Kelsey dare to believe that what they feel is more than just the holiday magic that’s in the air . . .

 


I enjoy the Twilight, Texas series and this year’s Christmas entry is a good one. Kelsey is basically a psychologically abused daughter. She grew up with a mother that constantly belittles her, “gaslights” her, and in general, keeps her self esteem lower than a hole in the ground. The mom here reminded me a bit of my stepmother, in a slightly more exaggerated way (sorry, Helena, if you’re reading this, but it’s true.) So when Kelsey gets dumped on her wedding day when her fiance runs off with his best man, she is ready for a change.

Luckily, she has a best friend, Tasha, who is there to help her pick up the broken pieces and put them back together in a stronger, more independent way. Phase one of the process involves cashing in the honeymoon plans and taking Kelsey to Twilight, where she is reunited with her high school sweetheart, her first love, the one who got away.

This whole series is based on the first love is your one true love subgenre and Wilde does a good job with it. Personally, though, I had a hard time with Kelsey. She is a real dichotomy of controlled, strong campaign manager and weak, ineffectual woman. She wallows in self-pity, not because she was left at the altar, but because of her mother. Noah, her first love, understands her though. Their history is bumpy, to say the least, but he is on board in helping her gain control of her life. Finally.

These damaged characters make for a good story, and this was a one night read for me. The Christmas magic happens in Twilight, and I bought it.

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE CHRISTMAS DARE by Lori Wilde. Avon (October 22, 2019). ISBN 978-0062468314. 400p.

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FINDING CHRISTMAS by Karen Schaler

October 19, 2019

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From the publisher:

From the writer of the Netflix sensation, A Christmas Prince, and Christmas Camp, the Hallmark movie and novel, comes a heartwarming new Christmas story, Finding Christmas, showing how sometimes the detour in your journey is the path to true love.

With all the glittering decorations, twinkling lights, snow angels, gingerbread men and mistletoe, Christmas is Emmie’s first love.

This year, she can’t wait to share her favorite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. She thinks he’s “the one.” So when Grant’s hectic work schedule has him more “Bah Humbug” than “Ho, Ho, Ho,” Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his Christmas spirit. At the end of the journey, Grant will arrive at the charming town of Christmas Point where she’s planned a romantic weekend filled with holiday activities.

But Emmie’s plan backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy following her clues! Sam, a best-selling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever Christmas riddles are from his agent, who is trying to help him get over his epic writer’s block.

When he arrives at Christmas Point and finds the stunned Emmie, he immediately feels she’s someone special, but she can’t see beyond the fact that the wrong guy has shown up. Inspired by the small, charming town, Sam decides to stay and convinces Emmie to join him in a little holiday fun while she waits for Grant.

When Grant finally shows up, Emmie is disappointed to discover he’s not enjoying the activities she planned and can’t help wonder if he’s really the one for her. She also can’t get Sam out of her mind and all the great times they had together. With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her in the direction of true love…


I enjoyed the Netflix movie, “A Christmas Prince,” mostly because it felt new and more modern than the typical Hallmark channel Christmas romance movies. I haven’t seen “Christmas Camp” because I have been very turned off by how crappy the Hallmark movies have been this past year. It feels like since they started pushing a new movie every week, the quality, which let’s face it, was never great, has gotten even worse. I just couldn’t watch them anymore. But if I find the Christmas Camp movie, I’ll give it a try. Probably. Maybe. Who knows.

This book. I started reading it and put it down. A couple of times. The first five chapters or so are basically descriptions of Christmas decorations and I got bored. Fast. But I persevered because I kept hearing about this book (good publicity department!) Once the scavenger hunt kicked in, the story started progressing. It was entirely predictable, a generic Christmas romance, which I dont mind at all. I stuck it out for the happily ever after. Mostly because of what’s been going on in the news this week. I really, really needed a break, an entertaining read that required little to no thinking whatsoever. This book worked beautifully for my escape from reality, if only for one night.

I loved the meta touches – Emmie and her friend talk about watching “A Christmas Prince” and “Christmas Camp.” Cute, and it worked. Sam and Emmie were mostly developed characters, Grant nothing but a caricature of the overworked, ambitious lawyer.

If you, too, want a fast, easy read to escape your reality, give this book a try. There is no sex, and barely any kissing either, so suitable for a Hallmark movie. Which I’m guessing is where it’s headed.

10/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

FINDING CHRISTMAS by Karen Schaler. William Morrow Paperbacks (October 15, 2019). ISBN 978-0062883711. 384p.

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DACHSHUND THROUGH THE SNOW by David Rosenfelt

October 10, 2019

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An Andy Carpenter Mystery, Book 20

In my recollection, there has never been a bad book featuring Andy Carpenter and his assorted team of assistants. This novel is certainly not an exception to the rule. It does, however, go a step further and delivers a story that connects in every which way, and if not his best, is certainly among David Rosenfelt’s top novels.

The basic idea is the same; Andy has inherited a large sum of money and really does not want to work. He is married to Laurie, his true love, they have a son, and of course two dogs that he walks while he thinks. He then is faced with a case to prove someone is not guilty of the murder of which they have been accused.

The present volume is released in time for Christmas, and the holiday spirit permeates the book. Laurie has developed the custom of filling the wishes of children that are undoubtedly poor. A pet store near the Carpenter’s home normally puts up a Christmas tree and allows children to place their wishes on it, instead of having ornaments. Laurie takes the wishes and gets the children what they wished for, delivering it confidentially.

One of the lists is from a boy named Danny, who would like a coat for his mother, a sweater for his dachshund, and to bring home his father, who has suddenly disappeared. The first two wishes are easy to fulfill when the answer to the third one becomes suddenly apparent. Danny’s father is arrested for murder.

The crime is 14 years old and never solved, but the DNA of the possible killer was located on the dead girl’s body and around the scene.  Noah, Danny’s father, has no criminal record so that his DNA, which was that found, has never been identified. Unfortunately, Noah’s brother sends a sample of his DNA to a website that matches DNA with possible groups, and of course, Noah is identified and arrested.

Andy has to take the case because it was part of Danny’s wishes. While the normal banter between Andy and others takes place, the handling of the case in court is a lesson in the scientific handling of DNA as evidence in police work. This sequence does take the novel to an area that is beyond the norm in Rosenfelt’s work. A very well done novel.

10/19 Paul Lane

DACHSHUND THROUGH THE SNOW by David Rosenfelt. Minotaur Books (October 1, 2019). ISBN 978-1250237682. 352p.

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