Edited to say: As of December 21, this set is no longer available. If you want to read these books, they are still available individually.
I really enjoy being an advance reader. Not only do I get to read books for free, I get to read them before they are published—and tell people about them! The latest one I got as an advance reader copy is the boxed set Christmas Lights. I’m not sure why it’s called a “boxed set” when it’s on Kindle, but I guess it just means you get four books together, in this case. Here is my review of the set, which will be available on Amazon until sometime in January. I noticed that the set is just $1.16–certainly a bargain!
Christmas Lights is a collection of four Christmas novellas. They are all very clean, as far as romance and language go. I enjoyed the opportunity to read this book in advance of publication, although due to family circumstances I was not able to write my review in time.
The first book in the collection is The Heart of Joy by Vikki Kestell. Apparently, it is a addendum to a series titled A Prairie Heritage. Maybe it would have meant more to me if I had read that series; as it is, I wasn’t very impressed. It struck me as pretty much just romance, with nothing else to add value. Like I said, though, if I had read the series it would probably have been fine. Basically, Joy, a young widow, must decide if she can allow another man to capture her heart several years after her husband’s death—or if anyone she loves will inevitably be hurt.
The second book is Snow Angels by Cathe Swanson. I really enjoyed that one. The main character is another young widow, dealing with guilt from her husband’s death. She starts a project to help a homeless man find a job and get some self-respect, only to discover that everything she believes about him needs to be rethought. I loved the thoughts about not allowing grief to overshadow your entire life, and I loved the humor towards the end of the story.
Trip the Light Fantastic by April Hayman is the third book. I’m sorry, but I didn’t get a lot out of it. I thought that was because I had just started reading the book when my son suddenly died, and that maybe that was why the story didn’t make sense. When my daughter had the same reaction, though, and I read about someone else who also thought the same thing, I decided maybe something needs to be clarified in the story. I’m not sure what, though. As far as I can tell, the main character, an FBI man who desperately wants to make one more arrest for the year, is set up in a situation to force him to take a break. I couldn’t quite get the point of the story, though.
The last book is Christmas Stalkings by Chautona Havig. Anything by her is sure to be great, and I was not disappointed by this one. The main character is another widow, this time middle-aged—that makes three out of four novellas in this collection with a widow as the main character! Wendy is also rather crazy about her seven cats, and one of her obsessions is putting up a Christmas tree each year for each cat. This year, however, mysterious things start happening when she does; someone is entering her house and moving things. The police can’t solve the mystery; will Wendy be able to?
I also have longer reviews of two of the books, which will be available as stand-alone books after the collection is no longer around.
When Cathe Swanson asked for advance readers for the novella she wrote for the Christmas Lights collection, it sounded interesting. I was not disappointed! I found Snow Angels very funny at times, heart-breaking at others, and Lisa Marsh all-too-familiar at still other times.
Lisa was roped, unwillingly, into helping serve Thanksgiving dinner at the local community center in Chicago. Dealing with crowds of people was difficult for her at the best of times, but when Pete, a scruffy man with a horribly-looking beard accosted her, asking for potatoes, when she was serving turkey, she couldn’t handle it. Then, a few days later, she was asked to look at his foot when he arrived in the emergency room in the hospital where she worked as a podiatric nurse—and he looked even worse!
Lisa’s sister-in-law challenged her to do some sort of project in memory of her late husband, something out of her comfort zone, which would help other people. They came up with a perfect project: Help Pete find a job and make him into a respectable citizen! So, Lisa set to work, not realizing who he really was. You’ll have to read the story to learn the rest, and watch Lisa gain a new compassion for others and humility as she tries to help people.
Cathe has done a very good job with this, her first published book. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in her Great Lakes series, and not only because they are set near my home area.
Christmas Stalkings is purely a fun book! I enjoyed reading quotes from it as Ms. Havig was writing it, and hoping I’d get a chance to be an advance reader. I wasn’t disappointed! As with all of Chautona’s other books that I’ve read, the action starts right away and the characters seem very real.
Wendy Nabity is known in Fairbury as the crazy cat lady. She has seven cats in her house! And not only that, but she puts up a Christmas tree for each cat every year. Each tree, of course, is custom-designed for that cat, and she can’t wait each year to get all the trees put up. This year, though, as she starts putting up her trees, mysterious things start happening. It’s obvious that someone is entering her house and moving things around. Who could it be?
Peter Windish lives on one side of her. He’s nice—might even be thinking about asking her out on a date! Can she get him to help her solve her problem? Neal Kirkpatrick, on the other hand, lives on the other side. He is probably the intruder. How can she prove it and put a stop to the invasion of her house? The police don’t seem able to help her. What is a woman to do?
I’m not sure how well you’d like this book if you hate cats, although I happen to know that the author doesn’t like them. How she pulled off a story about a cat-lover so well, I’ll never know. There were some very funny parts in the story. The climax is absolutely hilarious. I wish I could tell you about it—but it would spoil the story. Let me just say, it involves killer cats and a broken bathroom door.
If you like light Christmas fiction, try out Christmas Stalkings. You won’t be disappointed. It’s a short book, too, more like a novella than a full-length book. This was a fun, easy read. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, New Year’s Revolutions, when it’s finished.
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