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2016-19 Activities & Challenges > 2018 Fall Flurry of Holidays Challenge -- December Reviews and Discussion

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message 1: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Please post reviews for any Christas/Hanukkah/winter/etc. themed books that go along with the month of December here. If it is not obvious as to why you selected your specific book for December, please include a sentence or two about the connection.

Each review you post will earn you a participation point that can be used in future voting for the monthly tags.

Don't forget to also cross-post your review to the appropriate thread for books that fit or do not fit the monthly tag to rack up even more participation points.

Still struggling with deciding what to read? Check out our discussion thread.

message 2: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments I missed out on a Fall Flurry read for November but I’m planning on giving a Christmas book a whirl. Nicole, you are my expert!

message 3: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Susie wrote: "I missed out on a Fall Flurry read for November but I’m planning on giving a Christmas book a whirl. Nicole, you are my expert!"

Oh, Susie. I don't think my Christmas books are your type of book! lol. But, have you read the standard classic A Christmas Carol by Dickens? I actually think it is quite good.

Or, have you read the more irreverent The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore? That one was also good!

If you really want to go full out, cheesy Christmas Romance, then go with An Ex for Christmas, but be warned that I look forward to reading your scathing review! lol

message 4: by Theresa (last edited Dec 01, 2018 08:54AM) (new)

Theresa | 7407 comments Other Christmas reading options outside the cozy mystery or romance genres (which frankly dominate the market) are:

Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days - stories of the holidays revolving around food - I gave this 5 stars

Merry Christmas, Mr. Baxter is a collection of vignettes capturing NYC at Christmas and while set in the 1950s, still applicable today. Another 5 star rating.

The Virgin Mary's Got Nits: A Christmas Anthology - a collection of short essays and remininsces of the holidays in England. Funny and touching - another 5 star rating by me.

On my TBR is Madeleine L'Engle's The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas and Immoveable Feast: A Paris Christmas.

And you can always check out the Christmas chlldren's books for Madeleine, Babar, and Eloise, Or the one beloved by my family How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

message 5: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8619 comments Nicole R wrote: "Oh, Susie. I don't think my Christmas books are your type of book! lol. But, have you read the standard classic A Christmas Carol by Dickens? I actually think it is quite good. ..."

Oh, I wish you all were in Calgary with me! I'm not a big Dickens fan myself, but I have a friend who, for about 3 or 4 years now, puts on multiple shows where he narrates it from memory! His wife plays harp and he's all dressed up in the style. I've only gone once (the first year), but he does an amazing job!

message 6: by Theresa (last edited Dec 01, 2018 10:10PM) (new)

Theresa | 7407 comments Lock, Stock & Jingle Bells by Donna Kauffman 2 stars

My first official December contemporary Christmas romance, and the 2nd of the Hamilton Family Novella Trilogy. I had read the 1st, Unleashed, at Thanksgiving when I needed a Christmas holiday fix.

Holly, whose birthday is Christmas Eve, has unexpectedly been left her mother's Christmas Shop when her parents suddenly retire. Taking leave from her advertising job in London, Holly returns home to deal with the shop over Christmas. And of course connects with her high school crush, finds an old diary, and reveals an old Hamilton family secret, the one hinted at in Unleashed. There is plenty of sexy steamy heat, even if the whole Hamilton Family Secret is almost an afterthought.

Oh and Trevor and Emma, the couple from Unleashed, make a return appearance.

Fun read but disappointing for 2 reasons - Holly seems strangely wimpy and uncertain for a supposedly highly successful artistic director in the cutthroat advertising biz, and this bothered me. And I belatedly realised I had read this before - about 10 years ago when first published in an anthology. It did not hold up so well on a reread. But I will be reading the 3rd and last if only to see the repercussions of the revelation of the secret.

message 7: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2502 comments I just started “A Very Regency Christmas” by Julie Johnson (three novellas). Abandoned at chapter 3. Cosy would be fine. Dreadful writing is beyond me 😔

Moving right along ...

message 8: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments Cosy and dreadful sounds...dreadful!

message 9: by Theresa (last edited Dec 02, 2018 09:13AM) (new)

Theresa | 7407 comments Naughty but Nice by Donna Kauffman - 3 stars

Charming end to Kauffman's trilogy of Christmas novellas loosely connected by a Hamilton Family secret. Liked both Griffin, the Irish businessman, and Melody, the cup cake baker, and their steamy romance. Definitely will not look at decorating bags and frosting roses the same way again!

Oh and a lovely wrap up of the Hamilton Secret story, with an epilogue letting us briefly revisit all 3 couples from the 3 novellas in their happily ever afters. Bonus: I had not read this one before, unlike the other two in the trilogy.

The trilogy is really about each separate romance. The family secret loosely connecting them all was not deeply explored, basically being used as a way to connect the 3 romances rather than be the heart of the trilogy. This is where the short page count of the novella I think hurt the story - only enough time to develop either the romance or the mystery in the page count, not both.

message 10: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8846 comments Hanukkah With Sprinkles on Top

Its really nice to read a holiday inspired children's book you've never read before. This one especially, because like some others that are our favorites - it had a really special lesson inside. In this tale, a young girl gives food to a hungry man, who later it turns out helps at their synagogue. They become friends by the end of the book, and the girl learns a lot about the importance of giving, and what you get in return.

Happy First Night of Chanukah Everyone!

message 11: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Okay, technically I read these in November. But everyone knows that my Christmas season starts Thanksgiving Day, so I am going to post them here. Plus, I do not get Participation Points since I am an admin so....

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis
3 stars -- Review here

Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas
2 stars -- Review here

A True Cowboy Christmas by Caitlin Crews
3 stars -- Review here

message 12: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas by Maisey Yates
4 stars (don't judge me for this high rating)

Where has Maisey Yates been all my life?!

Ugh, my sappy little heart loved this book. I cried. Like legit tears rolling down my cheeks. Over the sappiest, most contrived dialogue ever. While I finished this book while sitting next to my beautiful Christmas tree. I am even drinking Holiday Spice tea.

I almost cannot stand myself.

Grant Dodge lives on his family's tourist ranch—Get Out of Dodge (come on, that is adorbs. He works hard, cares for his family, but is alone. That is until he finds a women, apparently homeless, sleeping in one of the abandoned cabins on the property. His wonderful family offers McKenna Tate a job and a place to live, not realizing that it was not mere chance that brought her to Gold Valley. But while she searches for the family she never knew, she might just find love.

And by "might," I mean she does. She and Grant have steamy sex and fall in love. That is not a spoiler. I mean, look at the cover of this book. It does not end in a holiday tragedy.

But, I wasn't expecting to LIKE the book so much. Their storylines were not as straightforward as one might expect. I mean, they weren't complicated by any stretch of the imagination, but I actually felt like these characters had actual shit they were dealing with. It was a nice little added depth. A shallow depth. Like "no diving" depth, but it was there.

And, even so, I had to roll my eyes because, once again, we have a 30-something virgin. But this time, it was the guy! AND, the first time he and McKenna have sex she declares it the best of her life. Whoa. This completely unbelievable break from reality is apparently where I draw the line.

Despite the virgin lore this book propagates, I will be adding all of Maisey Yates's future holiday books for my TBR. And, I might even pick up some non-holiday ones during my mindless beach read season.

message 13: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3391 comments That sounds like fun, Nicole!

I picked up Mrs. Miracle this weekend.
I am only a little of the way through, but I am pretty sure there will be no steamy sex.

message 14: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Meli wrote: "That sounds like fun, Nicole!

I picked up Mrs. Miracle this weekend.
I am only a little of the way through, but I am pretty sure there will be no steamy sex."

No, Debbie Macomber does not do steamy sex! lol.

message 15: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 2215 comments Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan
3 stars

On a small island in the North Sea off the rugged coast of Scotland, the residents of Mure are preparing for the upcoming Christmas season. Flora, the baker at the local restaurant, has just found out that she is pregnant. Although she is quite happy with her news, she is not so sure the father, Joel, will agree with her. He is a lawyer with a lot of emotional baggage. Although they are compatible and seemingly in love, Joel has a difficult time with commitment. Flora wants to find the right time to tell Joel, but that time just doesn't seem to arrive.

Lorna is Flora's best friend and is desperately in love with the town doctor, Saif. Saif is a Syrian refugee who lives on the island with his two young sons Ib and Ash. They were separated from Saif's wife when the fled the war zone and Saif has been waiting two years for the news that she has been found. In the meantime he feels quite attracted to Lorna who is his son's teacher but wants to remain faithful to a wife he may never see again.

Finton, Flora's brother, and his husband Colton live in a huge estate in Mure. Colton is a multi-millionaire who fled the US as the estrangement with his family grew deeper and more hurtful. They could not accept Colton's lifestyle but he has now found true love with Finton. Colton is dying and his time seems to be quickly running out. When one of his brothers arrives in Mure it is not certain whether Colton will welcome him or shun him.

These three stories are the basis of the novel. They all play out in both expected and surprising ways. It was enjoyable as is, but on audio - so good! I don't know if the reader, Sarah Barron, is a native Scot, but what a lovely voice she has.

message 16: by Hebah (new)

Hebah (quietdissident) | 675 comments Nicole R wrote: "A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas by Maisey Yates
4 stars (don't judge me for this high rating)

Where has Maisey Yates been all my life?!

Ugh, my sappy little heart l..."

Heh. Your review made me smile. I'm glad it was such a fun read for you.

message 17: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7407 comments Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin - 4 stars

Christmastime in White Cliff Bay, and Penny is about to welcome her first tenants into the attached apartment to her isolated home up on the hill above the town. Penny, who suffered 8 years earlier a very painful and public dissolution of her first serious relationship, has recently begun to feel her isolation and disengagement from the locals. Plus she has zero romantic options. The story opens with her eagerly awaiting her tenants imminent arrival, eager and hopeful that a close friendship will evolve.

I can't really say more without ruining one of the huge plot twist that happens in the first few chapters. Suffice it to say that I was thoroughly charmed by Penny, her town, and her tenants. It has all the elements I wanted in a Christmas romance: hot chocolate making, cake baking, Christmas tree decorating, sudden snow storms, cozy fires, some moderate but lovely steamy sex, humor (as in Penny's real name!), and a huge lovable dog named Bernard. It also is at times unconventional - Penny is a professional ice sculptor, and both teenage pregnancy and sexual harassment are key issues in the plot but not in the expected way.

This is is British author, with a setting in a town on the English coast, meaning there are plenty of Britishisms... jumpers, something is 'rubbish', and what is described as being rented out by Penny is an 'annex' attached to her house. This puzzled me a bit at first but after reading the description I finalky figured out they are describing what I would call a house with and attached mother-in-law apartment. All this just helped immerse me into the fantasy.

I was enchanted! Loved it, felt myself smiling often as I read, but especially during the epilogue. I will absolutely be reading more Holly Martin romances!

message 18: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7866 comments Nicole R wrote: "Meli wrote: "That sounds like fun, Nicole!

I picked up Mrs. Miracle this weekend.
I am only a little of the way through, but I am pretty sure there will be no steamy sex."

No, Deb..."

Well cross her off my list of "If I ever desire" (silently screams NO!)a romance novel"

message 19: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6004 comments Joanne wrote: ""Meli wrote: "I picked up Mrs. Miracle this weekend.
I am only a little of the way through, but I am pretty sure there will be no steamy

Well cross her off my list of "If I ever desire" (silently screams NO!)a romance novel"..."

Oh, there's romance .... Just no steamy sex. Kinda like a Hallmark movie.

message 20: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6004 comments So, I usually spend my birthday reading Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory but THIS year ...

Christmas Camp A Novel by Karen Schaler
Christmas Camp – Karen Schaler – 3***
As I read this, I kept thinking it was remarkably like a Hallmark TV movie I had seen last week. No matter, really. The movies are still fun to watch, and the schmaltzy Christmas romance books are fun to read.
LINK to my review

message 21: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6004 comments And yet another birthday read for me ...

The Christmas Scrapbook (Harmony, #5.5) by Philip Gulley
The Christmas Scrapbook – Philip Gulley – 3***
This little novella is book 5.5 in the Harmony series featuring Quaker minister Sam Gardner, his wife Barbara, and the Friends of the Harmony meeting house. I love the gentle stories of one man’s efforts to make a difference in his community. The results of his efforts are predictably hilarious. But also impart a lesson about faith, tolerance, love and the spirit of Christmas.
LINK to my review

message 22: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3391 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Joanne wrote: ""Meli wrote: "I picked up Mrs. Miracle this weekend.
I am only a little of the way through, but I am pretty sure there will be no steamy

Well cross her off my list o..."

And it was turned into a Hallmark movie, so exactly like a Hallmark movie :)

Pretty saccharine, but I knew what I was in for... will post review hopefully in a couple weeks.

message 23: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7866 comments Book Concierge wrote: "And yet another birthday read for me ...

The Christmas Scrapbook (Harmony, #5.5) by Philip Gulley

The Christmas Scrapbook
– Philip Gulley – 3***
This little novella is book 5.5 in the Harmony series featur..."

Happy belated birthday!

message 24: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7407 comments Home for Christmas by Holly Chamberlin

I give this 4 stars! This is a lovely read for Christmas time! It's not really a romance even though it has been marketed as one. The romance in it is tangential, not the focus, much as romance is introduced in mystery or fantasy stories. Some might call it Chicklit but in truth, it's contemporary fiction addressing relationships during Christmas.

It is a contemporary story about a woman coping with the imminence of an empty nest as her daughters reach adulthood and start making their own plans for future Christmases. Divorced mom Nell has gone overboard with Christmas this year, seeing it as the last one she will have with her daughters before Molly sets up her own home with her longtime boyfriend and Felicity opts to spend the next one with her dad and his glamorous wife skiing in Switzerland. Underlying feelings of panic and fear are driving Nell to bake enough Christmas cookies to feed the whole town and buying out the local craft store. All is in service to Nell's goal of creating the most perfect Christmas ever for her daughters, the ultimate proof that she is their mom.

Of course there is family drama to be resolved, tears to be dried, but also the renewing of an important past relationship. Through it all, Nell gradually comes to terms with the changes that are inevitable and takes the first steps to becoming an individual again, not just a mom. By Christmas Day, the prospect of an empty nest isn't quite so daunting given the promise clearly evident in her family's future.

In spite of the marketing as a romance, this is in truth a contemporary novel addressing family traditions as the transition is made from a family with young children to one of adults. And even without any steamy sex or long lustful kisses, I enjoyed this a whole lot.

message 25: by Joni (last edited Dec 05, 2018 02:21PM) (new)

Joni | 622 comments Reindeer Boy by Cassandra Jean


Since Quincy was a young girl, she has always had the same dream on Christmas Eve. In this dream, she sees a young boy at the Christmas tree...and that is all she knows of the dream. But each morning, she wakes to a foil wrapped present under the tree with her name on it.

Fast forward to Quincy's high school years, she is still having the same dream. But this year is different. On Christmas morning, she runs toward her living room and her dad opens his door and Quincy runs smack into it.....leaving a "bump" on her forehead. Quincy also receives her traditional foil wrapped gift.

After the New Year and school starts back up, new kids transfer to her school. The first new "kid" is Cupid. Quincy soon gets to rest of Cupid's friends.......Comet, Donder, Blitzen, Dancer, Dasher, Prancer, Vixen and Kris Kringle!!!! And they all live together on 4131 Polar Drive. There is so much more.....I could keep going. :) I don't want to tell the whole story........

Imagine, teen manga/graphic novel meets Santa's reindeer in human from. I really enjoyed this quick read.

message 26: by Amy N. (new)

Amy N. | 256 comments Joni wrote: "Reindeer Boy by Cassandra Jean


Since Quincy was a young girl, she has always had the same dream on Christmas Eve. In this dream, she sees a young boy at the Chris..."

I just put this on my tbr. ^_^

message 27: by annapi (new)

annapi | 5068 comments Lark! The Herald Angels Sing by Donna Andrews - 4 stars

Meg is directing the rehearsal of the Christmas pageant when she discovers a baby in the manger with a note accusing her brother Rob of being the father. Investigating who left the child leads her (of course) to something much more serious than she realized, and it's all tied in with their town's rivalry with neighboring Clay County, where criminal activity may be happening.

This was just the ticket to start off my December holiday season reading. I love Meg's adventures, and this one was full of fun and mischief as usual. I loved the ending, when Meg's solution to the problem involves just about the entire town of Caerphilly thwarting the bad guys with an overdose of Christmas spirit. Looking forward to the next book!

message 28: by Amy (last edited Dec 05, 2018 06:32PM) (new)

Amy | 8846 comments Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Herschel and the Chanukah Goblins - Just discovered last year, this is my new favorite Chanukah tale, competing only with like three of them. Because I read it last year also, and reviewed it, and I am not adding it to my reading challenge. Just getting the point here for the re-read in the holiday spirit.

Herschel must outwit goblins and save both Hanukkah and the town! Does he do it? Of course! With ingenuity, smarts, and charm! Shows us that a little light grows and grows and with a little chutzpah (spirit) and belief in the self, anything is possible. he defeats the King of the Goblins, saves the village, and Chanukah, and eats a pickle or two during the holiday. Great book - and new to me!

Now reading a chapter Chanukah book with my 8 year old, the Very Best Hannukah gift, and this one counts, its 102 pages, and I can't remember what the gift is. I thought it was a bicycle, but after having read chapter one, I now suspect its a puppy! My 8 year old was delighted that the main character has the first and last name of a kid in our Hebrew School class, who he hangs with at the pool in summer, and the main character, like him and the friend is 8 years old! Chanukah miracle. I said we would give the book to him when we were done!

On deck for us in case anyone was curious, is Christmas in Cooperstown, (from the Ballpark Mysteries Series) and Christmas in Camelot) from the Magic Tree House Merlin mission series.

message 29: by annapi (new)

annapi | 5068 comments A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry - 3 stars

Perry's Christmas novellas always seem to fall a bit short for me. I love her Victorian novels, but these novellas that feature secondary characters from her novels never seem to be quite as good.

This one features characters from the William Monk series - Squeaky Robinson, the ex-brothel owner who now is the bookkeeper for the women's clinic that is run by Hester Monk and Claudine Burroughs, and Worm, the orphan street urchin that was unofficially "adopted" by them and now lives at the clinic. Worm sees a beautiful woman being taken against her will by two men, and turns to Squeaky for help in finding her to offer their help. Naturally her story turns out to be more complicated, involving a robbery from two years back.

These Christmas shorts always seem to be more about setting an atmosphere and painting a picture rather than telling a story, or at least it seems to me there is a bit more description, sometimes confusing at that, than I prefer. Then again, it is in keeping with the literature of the time period so maybe the author does that deliberately. The story felt a bit contrived, and almost an afterthought or mere background to the character development of Squeaky and Worm. Good enough for 3 stars.

message 30: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 7407 comments Tied Up with A Bow by Sheila Connolly - 2.5 stars

A novella set at Christmas in the tiny Irish village of Leap, part of the author's County Cork mystery series, it really was a sweet story with a good - and even funny - ending actually 'tied up with a bow'. Something is being constructed across the road from Maura's pub, a 'Thing' that will be revealed after church on Sunday and hopefully will add some holiday decor to the village. Maura decides to hold a raffle for people to guess what it is before the unveiling. While heading out to check things out more closely and confirm details of the unveiling, Maura notices a young boy sitting on the bench outside her pub. One thing leads to another and Maura and her pub become entwined with the boy and his mother and their story.

This story was just not all that well written - far too many repetitions of character dialogue and thoughts (in a mere 100 page story!), too many efforts to imitate an Irish brogue in writing, and for the longest time I thought Maura was a 50-something grouch but ultimately determined she had to be a 20-something young woman. Or maybe the fact I've not read any of the series and thus am unfamiliar with the characters and their backgrounds hindered my reading? In truth, that should not have mattered as the core story was not about the village or its denizens, but about a mother and son who end up in the village at Christmas. And I still don't know what the thinking was behind the sculpture's image.

So even though I was amused at times, this is a good read for whiling away a commute but that's it.

message 31: by Lyn (last edited Dec 06, 2018 05:37PM) (new)

Lyn (lynm) | 313 comments The Quiet Little Woman: A Christmas Story by Louisa May Alcott (4 stars) was wonderful and charming. The book contains three stories written by Alcott that were published in magazines and forgotten about until put together into this book.
The first story, The Quiet Little Woman is the story of an orphan who finds love in a new home. It was exactly what you would expect from Alcott.
Tilly's Christmas is the second story. It is the story of three girls walking home from school discussing what they would do if they found a purse full of money in the snow. They are overheard by a well off neighbor who answers a Christmas wish.
Rosa's Christmas is the third story. It's a little different. This story is built around the myth that animals can talk for an hour starting at midnight on Christmas morning. Rosa tells her life story to Belinda.
All three are quite charming.
Some background of the stories, an Alcott biography, and information on how the book came to be published is also included.
Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to all you Alcott fans.

message 32: by Hebah (last edited Dec 07, 2018 08:57AM) (new)

Hebah (quietdissident) | 675 comments Holidays Are Hell - 2.5 star, rounded up for Goodreads purposes

This collection was, to my pleasant surprise, not limited to Christmas stories--the tales included Solstice, Christmas, New Year's, and Thanksgiving respectively. I wasn't familiar with the worlds of any of the authors in this collection, but afterwards, I'm adding Kim Harrison and Marjorie Liu to the list of authors I might check out eventually. Harrison's solstice story of a witch realizing the strength of her powers in spite of the weakness of her body hints at a stubborn, resourceful heroine I wouldn't mind reading more of. Marjorie Liu's story of a woman trained to be little more than a weapon encountering her match in a necromancer was one that hinted at a unique world and interesting conflicts, plus the setting of Shanghai was an interesting difference from other paranormal fantasy romance I've read.

The other two stories were pretty underwhelming. Sands' Christmas fare just felt silly and tonally out of step from the others, complete with a soliloquizing bad guy who just... spills all his plans, literally, all of them at multiple points in the story. And the use of shapeshifting abilities took turns for the frankly bizarre. The Thanksgiving entry by Vickie Petterson involved what is clearly some intricate Zodiac-based worldbuilding that was accessible enough for a new reader, but it just didn't grab me.

This was a step out of my comfort zone in both holiday content (I get bombarded by quite enough holiday spirit from retail and advertising and music...) and genre (I prefer urban fantasy or straight-up romance over paranormal romance). Overall, not bad, but not great.

message 33: by Theresa (last edited Dec 07, 2018 11:30PM) (new)

Theresa | 7407 comments Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Goose by Stephanie Laurens - 5 stars!

*Sigh* This was well-nigh a perfect Regency Christmas romance! It had it all - decorating a grand home with holly and ivy, mistletoe kisses, skating parties, carol singing, live village nativity, and young love leading to the alter. All was delivered with Stephanie Laurens' deft hand drawing memorable characters and liberally sprinkling humor throughout the dramas and mishaps lending excitement to the season.

It is the start of the Christmas season in 1810, and the recently widowed Lady Osbaldestone is settling into the dower house in a small English village. She is one of the grand dames of London's haute ton and someone familiar to all who read Laurens' series as a beloved periphery character. She is expecting to spend Christmas with her daughter's family, but a case of the mumps has 3 of her young grandchildren taking shelter from the contagion with her for the holidays. On top of that, the village's flock of geese have disappeared, threatening to leave the entire village without any Christmas goose to grace each villager's Christmas dinner. While looking for the flock, Lady Osbaldestone and her grandchildren do a little matchmaking as well.

Unusually for Laurens there are no hot bedroom scenes between the young lovers, a soldier disfigured by injuries sustained at Talavera, and the young woman managing her brother's estate until he comes of age. But no really is not needed.

This is the first of a series of Christmas stories with Lady Osbaldestone as the main character. I can't wait for more!

message 34: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8846 comments The Very best Chanukah Gift

The Very Best Hanukkah Gift by Joanne Rocklin

This is the best Chanukah chapter book for kids that I have ever read. Its actually so beautifully done!

The name of the title character is the same name as a kid my kid knows from Hebrew School - and guess what, the main character is 8, just like them. Spent a frustrating ten minutes in vain trying to find the family to catch up with them tomorrow, to give them the book on the last day of Chanukah.

Its really just so sweet - filled with everything right.

message 35: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Cowboy SEAL Christmas by Nicole Helm
3 stars

The cheesy Christmas romance novels just keep on rolling! And, I continue on in my cowboy theme this year as well.

Look, we all know the set up by now: guy, girl, a ranch, some friends, Christmas, some kind of obstacle to overcome. From there it is really just plug and play.

[Gabe] and [Monica] have started and live on [Revival Ranch], a therapy ranch for soldiers returning from war, with their friends [Jack and Rose] and [Alex and Becca]. [Christmas is approaching], and will the spirit of the season bring [Gabe and Monica] together to overcome [his lingering issues over his childhood] and her [overprotectiveness of her son following the death of her husband]? [Gabe, Alex, and Jack], after having served as SEAL's, help each other believe there are still reasons to hope, and love.

Seriously, I bet I can make that same write up work for my next cowboy Christmas read! lol. Challenge accepted.

***Fair warning to our modest PBTers who prefer not to read about sex. You should stop reading my review now. For everyone else, read on***

So, in my last couple of books, I ranted about the virgin trope. We had a female virgin, then a male virgin, and another book included people who had literally not had sex in a decade.

I have my issues with this. Not that there is anything wrong with saving yourself for marriage (though these people didn't do that, they just seemed to save themselves for hot sex with a totally ripped man. Actually, on reflection, nothing wrong with that either) or that there are not people out there who are virgins into their 30s, I just think it is not all that common. So, choosing it for a theme that appeals to a broad audience is to me.

Maybe virgins are the target audience and I just tipped my hand that I am NOT a 36-year-old virgin.

Either way, this book (and the next book I am going to review) have waded into another confounding trope: women who are not virgins but have never experienced oral sex.

Now, I am sure this is also something that some women can relate to. I am sure that it is not unheard of for someone to have been previously married, but did not venture into this realm.

They have my sympathy.

But, aside from just this odd mentality that women should not want, ask for, or enjoy oral sex (you get yours, girl!), I think the part that really has me huffing out a feminist sigh is that this trope seems to be designed to appeal to MEN.

It seems like MEN would be the ones who would most want to be able to give a woman something that no other man had given her. And, if you eliminate the virgin trope, then oral sex it is. And, the double standard is just glaring. HE has gone down on women but wants to be the first to go down on this love of his life.

Yeah, okay.

Oh! And all of these women seemed to have performed oral sex on men in their past. Soooo, lots of giving and not receiving? I mean, I guess 'tis the season.

And, I already have my NEXT rant picked out for my next review (which I am writing as soon as I am done with this one).

So, the book was entertaining. I liked the greater cast of characters. But why can't we just have two characters who have a past sex life that they are not ashamed of/jealous of but still have great sex together?

That settles it: I am going to write a cheesy Christmas romance in my spare time. One that hurts my feminist heart a little less.

message 36: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde
4 stars

I guess I will start with a mini-recap. As if the individual plot of these books really makes a difference.

Mark was injured in Afghanistan on Christmas Day and blames himself for the death of fellow soldiers. After extensive rehab--both mentally and physically--he goes in search of the family of one of his fallen brothers in an attempt to find forgiveness and absolution. But when he gets to the tiny Texas town of Twilight (damn, I love a good alliteration) he finds himself face-to-face with a woman he dreamed above the Christmas before. Small wrinkle: she is the sister of his fellow fallen soldier, Naomi.

Who wants to bet that the spirit of Christmas brings them together so that love heals both of their wounded hearts?!

Okay, on to my new favorite feature of these reviews: my rant about the sex.

****You have been warned if you want to stop reading***

In my last review, I railed against the oral sex virgin trope. This time, the author really doubled down and not only had Naomi ever been gone down on--despite being in an ELEVEN YEAR relationship--she had never had an orgasm.

Okay, first things first. Naomi had WANTED her previous boyfriend to perform oral sex, but he told her it wasn't really his thing. Look, I am all about couples doing in private what they want, especially when they openly communicate about it and mutually decide what is and is not going to happen in bed. This could include adventurous things that require a safe word all the way down to agreeing to missionary-only. But if you WANT something in your relationship and the other person just flippantly shuts you down then shame on both of you.

Next: Naomi was 27 and never had an orgasm. Like not just never had one with her boyfriend of 11 years, but had never had one at all. Not even by herself. Quite honestly, I think that if that were truly the case, that your body would be in danger of just having spontaneous nocturnal orgasms. For real. This is a thing, you can look it up. But google smartly and with care.

Finally, Naomi was the preacher's daughter. Complete with gold cross necklace. And Mark was living in the rectory. Compete with Jesus paining on the wall It was a little awkward at times. Was it supposed to add a sense of the forbidden? Even I am not such a heathen as to get it on at a church under a painting of Jesus. You are just asking for everlasting flames.

But, despite the fact that my feminism is pushing back to the surface a bit, especially with these stereotypical female sex tropes, I actually liked the book (Back, you feminism! Back, I say!) I liked Mark. I liked Naomi. And I liked Twilight, Texas. I thought Mark's story from the war was heart-wrenching and, while it definitely told the less heavy side of PTSS, it was a reminder of what too many people deal with.

Bottom line: I am still not sick of cheesy Christmas romances yet! And I am moving on to the next one!

message 37: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8846 comments You’re on a roll, Nicole!

message 38: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8619 comments Lyn wrote: "The Quiet Little Woman: A Christmas Story by Louisa May Alcott ..."

I'd like to remember this for next year's Fall Flurry! Wonder if I will..?

message 39: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8619 comments Shelving done to here.
Dec 8/18

message 40: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8619 comments Wow, it's only Dec 8, and these are our Fall Flurry stats for the past 3 years:
fall-flurry-of-holidays-2016 (72)
fall-flurry-of-holidays-2017 (83)
fall-flurry-of-holidays-2018 (99)

So, with 3 weeks still to go, we are way past the last two years already!

message 41: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2502 comments Lady Osbaldestone’s Christmas Goose, by Stephanie Laurens

Cross posted from the ‘other books’ thread:

message 42: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3391 comments Nicole R, this begs the question; is the perfect Christmas Romance with good realistic sex out there? And if so, will you find it!?

I have faith (in Santa) to bring it to you this season, so if you do find it please let me know!

I am still chipping away at Mrs. Miracle because I also started A Little Life which is getting a lot more of my time. But Mrs. Miracle definitely has no sex, oral or otherwise :)

message 43: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6004 comments Nicole R wrote: "The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde
4 stars
Compete with Jesus paining on the wall .."

Probably my favorite typos of the year ...

Oh and I totally agree with your feminist rants on the sex! Brava!

message 44: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Meli, maybe I will just write it 😉

message 45: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Hahahaha, BC! I didn’t even catch that 😂

message 46: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3391 comments The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah / 5 stars

I picked this book for Fall Flurry because it had winter in the title.
Winter is actually the protagonist, but it does take place through fall and into Winter.

I loved this book and highly recommend.

Full review here:

message 47: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3391 comments Nicole R wrote: "Meli, maybe I will just write it 😉"

Yes, love that idea!

message 48: by Hebah (new)

Hebah (quietdissident) | 675 comments Nicole R wrote: "The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde
4 stars

I guess I will start with a mini-recap. As if the individual plot of these books really makes a difference.

Mark was injured..."

I applaud your feminist rants.

message 49: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte | 1596 comments Got the first of the Christmas/December cheesy romance books read! Started with On A Snowy Night: The Christmas Basket\The Snow Bride by Debbie Macomber which is two stories... The Christmas Basket and The Snow Bride.

My review:

So cheesy but a fun, light read.

message 50: by annapi (new)

annapi | 5068 comments Love and Christmas Wishes: Three Regency Romance Novellas by Rose Pearson - 2 stars

I had hoped to find an easy, relaxing Christmas read, but was sadly disappointed by this. Most Regency romances are contrived so I was able to tolerate that enough to finish it, rolling my eyes all the way through, but combined with insipid dialogue, stupidity on the part of the protagonists (another staple of the genre), and a slow, slow pace with stilted prose almost as though English might be a second language to the author, can't make me give this more than 2 stars. The author also assumes her readers to be so clueless as to miss the plot hints given that they were overly repetitive, about as subtle as whacking you on the head with a two-by-four. Its only saving grace was that each of the three novellas was by definition short, although in my opinion it would have benefited by being shorter still. It wasn't the worst I've read - those I don't bother to finish - but I'm not going to read another by this author, that's for sure!

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