5 stars, aliens, Anne Renwick, Book Review, Cecilia Dominic, fairy tales, fantasy, Genie Davis, Grace Draven, historical romance, Melanie Karsak, Mimi Matthews, Pauline Baird Jones, romance, scifi, Steampunk, Victoria Alexander
‘Tis the season. Christmas is almost here. If, like me, you reside in the northern hemisphere, you are likely experiencing cold weather and maybe even snow. The stories I am featuring this week are about this season. When looking for books to feature this week, I found that Christmas and holiday miracles or winter and snow-bound settings can be found in so many books. And while I have read many of those books, there are so many more to read. I invite you to share your favorite seasonal stories in the comments.
Today, I am sharing reviews of books that have a setting that takes place on or around Christmas. Newly read this year is Grace Draven’s Sunday’s Child.
Review of Sunday’s Child
This is a lovely story about a woman who’s life revolves around two things: her autistic son and her job. With little or no social life, Claire is stepping out of her comfort zone when she goes to lunch with Andor, the charming, attractive co-worker. Andor is actually an elf in exile who met Claire when she was a child and Andor was assisting St. Nick’s make his rounds one Christmas evening. Sunday’s Child is all romance with just a little bit of Will They Be Able to Get Together? The presence of St. Nick and the timing of the story add the Christmas element that make this the perfect short novella to read this time of year.
Note: this story was also published as part of the duology All the Stars Look Down by Grace Draven and Elizabeth Hunter.
About Sunday’s Child by by Grace Draven
The holiday season has arrived, and museum archivist Claire Summerlad envisions a lonely Christmas for herself and her autistic son… until she meets a mysterious new co-worker who seems strangely familiar
The memory of a Christmas past is brought back to life when Andor Hjalmarson is introduced to the woman he once called Sunday’s Child. A thousand years of exile has made Andor a nomadic wanderer, but is a future with Claire possible with a centuries-old punishment hanging over his head?
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In past years, I have reviewed other books with a Christmas theme. I am sharing all or part of my original review. Some of these I purchased for myself and some were provided to me by the author or publisher. All of my reviews are my honest option. If you are interested in purchasing any of these books, please click on the book cover to go to Amazon. Note: Use of these links supports this blog and is very much appreciated.
Hauntings and Humbug by Melanie Karsak
Melanie Karsak has put her own twist on one of my all time favorite stories: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The original story’s paranormal and time-travel elements are tweaked with steam, automatons and considerable charm in Hauntings and Bumbug.
This time the main characters are female and though the old grouch is not exactly evident, Ebony Scrooge is not a happy woman. Enter the spirits. We all know the story. So, no surprises here. But as someone who has read the original over and over again, I truly appreciated Ms. Karsak’s thoughtful deference to the classic tale while introducing the feminine perception.
Goblins and Snowflakes by Melanie Karsak
Goblins and Snowflakes is the part charming, part creepy retelling of The Elves and the Shoemaker. The charming part is the actual fairy tale retelling. The creepy part pertains to the goblins who provide the magic to make the fairy tale. The novella length story is perfect for a couple hours of escape to the quaint village of Twickenham for a little adventure and a little romance. Every time I read another of Ms. Karsak’s steampunk fairy tales, I want to read more. Within Goblins and Snowflakes are some ties to other characters in Karsak’s steampunk stories, notably for me, the beginning of the Red Cape Society of the Steampunk Red Riding Hood series. Despite those ties, Goblins and Snowflakes is a standalone and can be enjoyed in all types of weather.
A Snowflake at Midnight by Anne Renwick
We start with a librarian. That gets my attentions. Add a botanist (gardener). Yep, I like the sound of that. Then add a cold, snowy holiday setting, a warm, lush greenhouse, a little danger and a lot of romance. What a lovely story that is perfect for this time of year.
Like other books in Anne Renwick’s steampunk stories, the elements of science, technology and the Queen’s agent Mr. Black are all present in A Snowflake at Midnight. An intelligent woman competing with men in academia along with a man who appreciates her intelligence are also common traits in the steampunk stories. This is one of my favorite series!
I love this addition to Renwick’s Elemental Steampunk Tales!
Mission Nutcracker by Cecilia Dominic
The opening chapter at the Tinkerer’s Ball, where we first see Fiona and Devon attempting an awkward conversation, also introduces the life-sized creepy nutcrackers abducting the attendees at the ball. The tone was set: weird, sweet, frightening, promising and fantastical.
Mission: Nutcracker is not particularly festive. While it does take place around Christmas, it really is creepy, detracting from the holiday spirit. But the theme reminds us of a beloved favorite holiday tale. So why not take a break from the holiday madness to read this book. On the other hand, Mission: Nutcracker can also be described as Holiday Madness!
A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
This fun tale begins with the heroine and hero deciding to break off their courtship. Apparently they just don’t suit. The unusual beginning to the story had me from the first page. When Sophie Appersett, in a very unlady-like action, talks Edward Sharpe into a second go round, the real romance begins. I was delighted by the earnest efforts of the unconventional Sophie as she made an effort to get to know Edward. I smiled at Edward’s surprised reactions to Sophie. As they became friends, and then more, against the background of the family drama the entertainment factor just kept going up.
Fa la la la la!
If you want to brighten your holiday season, deck your bookshelf with this charming Christmas romance by Mimi Matthews. This little novella will warm your heart and bring a smile to even the Scroogiest of humbuggers.
Same Time, Next Christmas by Victoria Alexander
At first, I did not like Portia, Lady Redwell. She seemed to have an annoying case of that upper class superiority thing going on. When Fletcher Jamison came into the picture, even Portia – and I – relaxed a bit.
Portia and Fletcher are entertaining characters. They play well off of each other, arguing and agreeing, fighting and apologizing. Neither has been quite truthful with the other, but they have decided to treat this as a getaway. What happens in Italy, stays in Italy. They relax and enjoy each other’s company even though there is no indication that the relationship will ever continue.
But it must, because ‘Next Christmas‘ is part of the title.
Same Time, Next Christmas is enjoyable, light reading with a heartfelt story line that will make you smile.
Open with Care by Pauline Baird Jones and Genie Davis
This duology includes Scifi Christmas stories by two authors. Other than Christmas, there are several things that two stories have in common. The first is that both are set in Wyoming in the winter. Their descriptions of Wyoming weather in December had me feeling the chill as I was reading.
Both books have aliens. Aliens that are visiting Earth and have made contact. An unusual gift is the third commonality. I really can’t tell you more. Except to say they are the gifts are miraculous! Also, both books are about time travel of a sort.
And finally, both stories are magical, and full of holiday spirit and Christmas miracles!