Catching Up, Pt. 1--Christmas Reading

Back in mid-December I purchased a half dozen or so Christmas-themed books to read over my Christmas break. I was also the happy recipient of a gift from Angie of two Christmas novellas when I left a comment on her blog. I had a few other books TBR that coincidentally took place around Christmas. It was fun to have the holiday hopping up all over the place while I read. So here are a few of the more memorable ones:

The Down Home Zombie Blues / Linnea Sinclair

Given the positive response on several reader blogs it can hardly be a surprise that I liked it, too. Frankly, I haven’t read anything by Ms. Sinclair yet that I haven’t liked. Her books are fast-paced adventure stories with great touches of humor in spots. Best of all her heroines are strong women who are in charge. What I particularly admired about this book was the way we were looking at present-day Earth through the eyes of an alien. We learn about Jorie’s world indirectly as she puzzles through “odd” human behavior. I love this style of writing which shows rather than tells. Clearly there will be a sequel. Sadly, we’ll probably have to wait at least a year for it. Her website doesn’t say. Oh, and the Christmas connection? Minor in that the book takes place during the holidays.

To Do List / Lauren Dane

This is one of the Samhain novellas that I mentioned came from Angie (I haven’t read the other one yet). This is a friend-to-lovers story about Belle who comes home for Christmas and hooks up with long-time friend Rafe. Belle is a successful lawyer who has pretty much sacrificed any personal life in order to achieve her career goals. As a result she’s nearly cut her family out of her life as well as her old friend Rafe. Belle has to figure out what she wants. It’s pretty obvious that she decides to chuck the high-power legal practice for one that’s saner in order to be with Rafe. So while this book goes just where you expect it to, it does it very well. It’s nicely written with well-drawn characters. I do have one quibble, though. Belle has a conflict with another attorney in her firm. I’d have liked to see him get his comeuppance. But the rest of the story was great. Thanks, Angie!

The Christmas Carrolls / Barbara Metzger

Barbara Metzger is one of those authors who has a very distinctive voice. I love, love her books. She has an extensive backlist of traditional Regencies that I’d eventually like to get my hands on. Since this one is a 1997 release re-issued electronically by Belgrave House I have high hopes that I will indeed get them all someday. Anyhow, this one is actually more like three connected novellas. Lord Carroll has 3 daughters whom he loves and wants to see settled into happy marriages like his own. Each part tells the story of one of the daughters. But woven throughout is the story of the repercussions from a serious mistake Lord Carroll had made several years earlier. His mistake threatens his relationship with his daughters and his wife. Part of the book takes place near one Christmas and ends during Christmas a year later. The theme of forgiveness is told in context of Lord Comfort’s mistake and the Christmas story itself. I loved how Ms. Metzger wove it all together with her trademark humor and obligatory dog.

Patterns of Love / Robin Lee Hatcher

I wish I could remember who recommended this one. Since it is an American historical, most likely it was Kristie(J) or Wendy the Librarian. This was an interesting story of a Swedish immigrant in turn of the century Iowa. Inga is the oldest of 5 sisters. Their father is a pastor in a small farming community. Inga is tall and plain, in sharp contrast to her prettier sisters. Dirk is a local dairy farmer who runs a farm originally started by his now-deceased brother. Dirk is trying to keep it together for his two young nieces. With Dirk’s mother dying, he needs someone to watch the girls and care for his mother. Inga volunteers to help and goes to live on the farm. Both Dirk and Inga believe their dreams have passed them by, and this story of new dreams and new hopes is a lovely one, perfect for the holidays. The book takes place over a lengthy period of time, but a significant portion of it takes place at Christmas. But here’s the best part---Inga’s a quilter! Hence the title “Patterns” of Love. Inga’s quilts tell the stories of her loves and her sorrows. I borrowed the original version of this from the library. Apparently it’s been re-written for the Inspirational market and is to be re-issued again later this spring. If I stumble across it, it may be worth picking up, but I thought it was just wonderful the way it was originally written.


  1. Dear Phyl,

    I am commenting today to see if you might be interested in receiving a complimentary review copy of Kristin Hannah's upcoming novel, FIREFLY LANE.

    Best friendships are one of life’s great rewards. These friendships celebrate triumphs and provide support in times of adversity. Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey, the main characters in New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah’s new novel FIREFLY LANE (St. Martin's Press; on-sale February 5th; hardcover), know all about the power of this close bond and the hard work it takes to stay strong for each other when everything seems to be falling apart.

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    Please contact me for a review copy, to request an interview with Kristin Hannah, or if you have any questions or comments. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

    All best,
    Anna Jarzab

    Anna Jarzab
    Marketing Assistant
    The Book Report Network
    250 West 57th Street, Suite 1228
    New York, NY 10107
    (212) 246-3100


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