Review: A Grosvenor Square Christmas

2017:98
3 of 5 stars
Published 2013

This was another free or cheap Kindle Christmas themed book that I decided to read for the Goodreads CanadianContent December challenge. It contains four short stories/novellas centred on an elegant house in Grosvenor Square, London where Lady Lucy Winterston holds a Christmas Ball every year and every year, there’s a love match made. We dip into four Balls between 1803 and 1830, late Georgian England.

In one story, there’s a reunion between a middle aged woman and a younger man who helped her escape the French Revolution. Their re-acquaintance exposes their long hidden feelings for each other. An established gentleman falls for a woman who only cares to be friends. Can he sweep her off her feet? (of course he can! this is romance, remember!). Conversely, a young woman is only regarded as a friend so she endeavors to change in order to sweep him off *his* feet. A young woman who has dreams might find one of them coming true. And a long term friendship might just change into love.

Little romantic bites, a racy scene or two, quick reads. I like a little romance though don’t really care for a full novel of Georgian bodice ripping. It’s fun in a short story, however. Well written, believable dialogue and that’s an important thing because sometimes these sorts of stories can be cheesy. These stories were cheerful, not cheesy, predicable of course but fun, too. I liked that one of the characters was older. I thought I wouldn’t like that one woman thought she had to change to get her man but you take that in the time period in which it’s set and it was a transition from a gawky teenager to an elegant young woman which would have happened anyway even if there were no specific man behind it.

Three of the four authors are American with an Australian topping off the list.

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Iceland Christmas Traditions: Happy Jólabókaflóðið


Apparently, Iceland is a country of writers. Up to 1 in 10 people have published a book which isn’t that strange considering Iceland has a long tradition of storytelling. These traditional stories are called sagas and tell the tales of the original settlers to Iceland. Modern Icelanders are busy writing and publishing books and it makes sense to me. What better way to fill those long, dark, Northern winter nights than writing (unless it’s reading!) The majority of books in Iceland are published this time of year, they call it the Christmas Book Flood (Jólabókaflóðið)  so it’s the best time to find new releases to give as gifts.

There’s an interesting piece on the BBC website here. It’s a few years old now but I have no doubt it’s still relevant. I like the idea of giving books as a special gift, with the subsequent evening snugged up under a warm blanket, hot beverage of choice in hand while savouring that new story!

Review: The Brands Who Came for Christmas – Maggie Shayne

2017: 97
3.5 of 5 stars
Published in 2000

I picked up a few free or cheap Kindle books as part of the Goodreads CanadianContent group challenge to read holiday themed books in December. This edition also has another book included. I haven’t decided if I’ll read that one or not.

This book is a light, frothy, typical romance novel. Man and woman meet, connect, then something happens and they are apart but they have a reunion and a happy ever after. Cliche plots, predictable endings, quirky and strong women characters, rich handsome men and beautiful women. This isn’t to say it’s a bad thing, but it does what it says on the tin. You know what you’re getting and you know how it will end.

Maya Brand is the oldest of five sisters raised by a single mother whose husband turned out to be someone else’s as well as hers. The family has to endure the bigamy scandal which, in this day and age, hugely annoyed me. It was hardly their fault, was it? Neither family knew the father had two families on the go. But Maya was the one that cared what other people thought and tried to be the perfect daughter, upstanding citizen, church goer, striving to be accepted. It’s an uphill battle when your family owns and runs the local saloon, one sister out in California modelling lingerie (!), another the bouncer at the bar and the rest helping their mother run it. Again, why it matters, I have no idea and the conservative mindset of the town nearly put me off altogether.

It was a dark and rainy night. Into the bar walks a scruffy looking cowboy who happens to be the third richest man in America (really?????) who doesn’t necessarily want to follow the route his family has laid out for him. (politics). He would like to meet a woman someday who wants him for himself, not for the power and money he could bring so when he and Maya meet and connect, he doesn’t use his real name. You can see where this is going, right? Circumstances being what they are, he ends up leaving town unexpectedly and she ends up pregnant. *SCANDAL*  Remember, now, she doesn’t know his real name but he’s the third richest man in America and is potentially headed into politics but she obviously doesn’t read the newspaper or see the news on television. He gets caught up in family matters and doesn’t get in touch with her again until his identity gets splashed all over the newspapers 8 and a half months later and someone anonymously gives him the heads up about his pregnant one night stand.

Things progress, there are hopes and doubts, shadows from the past, and a big, howling blizzard on Christmas Eve.

It’s very soapy. It’s predictable. It’s an easy read. It’s not badly written though it was a bit grating that most of the characters are “perfect”, strong, supportive, talented, protective, wise, grumpy. Grinch like hearts turn three sizes bigger. A life is saved, a family is reunited. And they all lived happily ever after.

 

 

Review: Miss Kane’s Christmas – Caroline Mickelson

2017:95
3.5 of 5 stars
Published 2012

This novella is a light and cheerful story that could easily be a Hallmark Christmas special. Ben lost his wife to cancer some years ago, though she was about to leave him anyway. He’s been bringing up his two children with the help of his sister ever since and refuses to celebrate the Christmas season. Santa has decided this must change, for the children’s sake as well as Ben’s. Santa sends his daughter Carol to rectify the situation. Carol is a bright young woman full of the spirit of the season and faces her challenge full on. I’m not sure Ben really knew what hit him! Of course, Ben is handsome and Carol is beautiful and it’s not really any surprise how it’s going to end up. Quick and easy to read, not too sugary, perfect for the novella format.

Review: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

2017: 94
Rating 3.5/5
Published 1902

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus – L. Frank Baum

You may recognize the author. He wrote the Wizard of Oz books but he also wrote other children’s books as well and this one is a lovely holiday book. I don’t know if there’s ever been a picture book made from the story but it would lend itself well to that. In any case, this book is about the life of the man that became the personification of Christmas even if he isn’t the “reason for the season”.

This book takes religion out of the holiday altogether and focuses on the Man in Red. The man who was raised by a wood nymph and protected by other other-wordly groups like the faeries and sprites and the Master Woodsman, Ak, himself. From the Forest of Burzee to Happy Valley, we watch as Claus grows up and develops a love for children, carving little toys to make them happy. His need to spread happiness to the children grows until he is the man we all know today, delivering toys around the world every Christmas Eve.

The book is a sweet, imaginative story, very positive, upbeat and cheerful and an interesting take on the myth behind the man.