Christmas Book Picks 2018

I received a complimentary copy of the first book on this list for an honest review.

It’s that time of year again! I share my Christmas Book Picks before Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. in case any of my blog readers would like to procure and read a title or two from the list during the holiday season. I very much hope you will. 🙂 You’ll find them listed in the order I read them.
*And to the authors of my Christmas Picks, if you’d like a little gift for making the list, see the bottom of this post.*

The Christmas Star: A Love Story by Robert Tate Miller

Christian Fiction/Contemporary Fiction

★★★★ from me

Paul, a husband and father with a crumbling life, lands back in time with shepherds who’ll travel to see the newborn Christ. I usually dislike making comparisons between creative works, but here and there, this novel reminded me of four different movies I like. That includes two of my all-time favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life and The Nativity Story. This sobering tale is saturated with the meaning of Christmas and the hope, redemption, and beautiful light that meaning brings. If you feel drawn by the winking white light of the star on the book cover, go with that feeling.

Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes

Christian Fiction/Biblical Fiction

★★★★ from me

A young couple’s love must bear the weight of the ages… Countless people are familiar with the biblical story of Mary and Joseph. There’s depth and an almost painful beauty to this fictionalized account, with distinct characters and their different motives coming into play. It shows how flawed human beings might react when what they “claim to believe” may no longer just be an ideal concept—a nice, safe distance away from reality. I see why so many people have enjoyed this inspiring classic over the years.

Red Boots by Kate Willis

Fiction/Short Story

★★★★ from me

An old shopkeeper has a chance to bring joy to a young heart. There’s a touch of whimsy to this tale, with a pair of boots “listening to the voices” of the shop’s shoppers and “the cash register’s song” filling the atmosphere. Sure, it can be easy for such a quick and pleasant read to be all holiday schmaltz, but the ingredients of a little regret and a dash of sacrifice make this dessert more than a Christmas popcorn ball. If you enjoy stories that give you a Gift of the Magi kind of feeling, check this one out.

The Candy Cane Caper by Cynthia Blair

Young Adult Fiction

★★★★ from me

Christine and Susan Pratt, teenaged twin sisters, set out on a Christmastime adventure to save a children’s hospital in danger of shutting down. This is the sixth book in the Pratt Twins series, but you can enjoy it even if you’ve not read the previous books yet. Chris and Sooz aren’t teenagers who only deal with what they go through because something happens to them. They’re proactive girls who make stuff happen. Plus, this fun, wholesome YA read has the bonus of being ultra Christmassy.

With Love from Miss Lily: A Christmas Story by Jackie French

Historical Fiction

★★★★★ from me

Sophie, a hospital director in war-torn Europe, is in for an unexpected Christmas. I stepped into a series mid-river when I picked up this short tale, sandwiched between two novels I haven’t read yet. But even without all the background information, the heart of this tale paints a poignant, compelling picture. It’s an account of resistance, of espionage, and of the sharp ingenuity that comes to the fore when ordinary people find themselves in the darkest, most critical of circumstances. An impactful, hopeful holiday story indeed.

Ms. Ely’s Christmas Wish: A New Life Tabernacle Short Story by LaShonda Bowman

Christian Fiction/Contemporary Fiction

★★★★★ from me

Seeing that some of her loved ones are moving on with happy lives, it might be time for Orella Ely to start her own new life elsewhere. Now, if this “short story” isn’t actually on the low end of a novella, I’m sure it’s at least a novelette. And it’s a beautiful tale. Not a sugary-Christmas-corny kind of beautiful, as Ms. Ely isn’t a sugary, sweet-old-granny type of heroine. But her sauciness and snap add some kick (and humor!) to this read. The story managed to break my heart in places without becoming depressing, and I liked how I couldn’t predict every turn the story took. I’d be happy to go back to read more about Ms. Ely earlier in the New Life Tabernacle series and to treat it like “prequel” reading.

_______________

There you have ’em—my picks for the year. Christmas is now officially kicked-off!

If you’re interested in this year’s Christmas Book Picks giveaway, simply comment on this post to be entered to win a paperback copy of The Christmas Star by Robert Tate Miller (list price $12.95.) Be sure to request the giveaway book in your comment. Any comment that does not request the giveaway book will be taken as a much appreciated friendly comment and won’t be entered in the giveaway. 🙂
Giveaway begins on Friday, November 2, 2018 (4:00 AM, PST) and ends on Friday, November 16, 2018 (11:59 PM, PST) to give the winner time to read the book before Christmas!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents and mailing addresses only in the contiguous U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. Entrants must be 18 years of age or older. One randomly determined winner will be notified by email on Saturday, November 17, 2018. If the winner does not respond by Sunday, November 18, 2018, a different entrant will be selected. Add p[dot]prospects[at]live[dot]com to your address book to ensure that a giveaway notification isn’t sent to your junk mail/spam box. For additional giveaway terms, see the Blog Giveaways and Giveaway Privacy information on my Policies page. Entering the giveaway indicates your agreement to the terms.

~~~

You can get your reading started by picking up free Kindle copies of Red Boots and With Love from Miss Lily. Be sure to double-check the price before downloading!

 

And check out a romantic comedy that ties right into the holidays: The “She” Stands Alone. It’s available as a standalone (Ha! She stands alone! 😀 ) and also as part of a collection, Inspiring Love: Three Romantic Reads.

______________

Congratulations, authors, and thank you for writing your books! If I’ve selected yours as a Christmas Pick this year, you’re welcome to a complimentary medal to display on your website, blog, social media—wherever you wish. Click the image below and contact me to receive a full size PNG medal. (The lined watermark will be removed, of course, and the medal will include the year on it, 2018.) Thanks again!

 

The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom by A. E. Hotchner

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom by A.E. Hotchner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Aaron is right outside when a jewelry store robbery goes awry, resulting in murder. Although Aaron sees the real culprit bolt from the scene, Aaron’s father is the one the cops come and take to jail. It’ll be up to the “detectifying” of an almost-thirteen-year-old boy to prove his father’s innocence in The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom by author A. E. Hotchner.

Now. I should tell some of you, don’t be fooled by the young protagonist and the lads on the vintage book cover and think this is a children’s book or something. Readers from Aaron’s age to the age of the author—who’s around a hundred years old—are bound to enjoy this tale.

An old-fashioned historical mystery it is, steeped in its Depression-era St. Louis setting, but it’s not driving hard to be super-mystery-ish the entire time. During the first quarter, it kind of reminded me of reading one of those slice-of-life classics my teachers would’ve assigned back in school.

Then, gradually and all of a sudden, I was all in. Aaron is such a mix of maturity and innocence, of inexperience, sharp wits, and relevant, real-deal principles. (You ought to hear this kid talk about his soul.) He narrates in a distinct, blunt voice, saying what’s on his mind as it comes to him, and he’s also funny without necessarily trying to be.

I’d be having a bit of a laugh, and then, just like that, Aaron, his memories, and his next “happening” would break my heart. Then warm my heart. Then get my heart all pumped, like, “Yeah, you tell ’em, kid! You show ’em! Get it, Aaron!”

I suspected I’d find this novel delightful and entertaining, but I didn’t expect all the substance, poignancy, and hope that comes along with it. I also didn’t expect to have tears in my eyes twice or thrice, including at the end of the story, but, well. That happened.

____________
Note to my blog readers: this book contains a scene of bloody violence and a minimal amount of profanity/crude language.

 

Ace Carroway and the Handsome Devil by Guy Worthey

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Ace Carroway and the Handsome Devil by Guy Worthey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The adventures of World War I veteran and ace pilot Cecilia Carroway continue in Ace Carroway and the Handsome Devil by author Guy Worthey.

At this point in the series, much of what I could say would be spoiler-ish for anyone who’s not read the previous books yet. So a big point of my posting such a review is to tell readers: check out the other books in the series, then read this one, too.

Now! I will say it took a few chapters before I grasped a sense of this story’s direction. Once I caught on, though, I ate up this book as I did the previous two. I got such a kick out of seeing the whole motley gang back together again. (I mean, not “gang” as in “gangsters,” though this book does include some of those 1921 gangster types.) Besides Ace, my favorite of the bunch may be Sam. “Sahib. You should be more polite… Also, do not leave your solar plexus unguarded.” He just says the darndest things sometimes.

I dig it whenever an author has a knack for saying what I wasn’t expecting, like making a reference to “a rumpled trench coat [standing] there with an unshaven man inside it.” I appreciate the uncommon and old-fashioned flair to this story’s style, along with the fact that it’s not afraid to be a little, well…weird. I mean, come on—some mysterious man dashing about the city in a mask and a cape? For goodness’ sake! I dig it.

And as I’ve formed a habit of mentioning, Ace is one bad, bad chick. Even to the point where she borders on seeming too perfect, but then stuff comes up to show that she isn’t almighty or all-knowing after all. Ace needs help, and she has just the gang to help her! I mean, not gangsters…

But I already said that.

_____________

Here’s my review of the first book in the series, Ace Carroway and the Great War.

  

 

Christmas Romance Sale!

With the holidays coming up, now is a great time to stock up on Christmas romance reads! More than 60 clean romances are on sale for $0.99 each, now through November 18, 2018.
Enter the sale here!

 

Contemporary Fiction is a Real Genre

In the midst of other fiction genres—thrillers, mysteries, romances, and whatnot—it seems contemporary fiction oftentimes gets overlooked or left out.

“Contemporary fiction? Oh, you mean general fiction.”

Well, yes. But also, no. Contemporary fiction isn’t merely a general or nonspecific classification, and it certainly isn’t a throwaway category.

Granted, if I had to pick a favorite genre, historical fiction would likely be mine. As I think about the many historical novels I’ve read over the years, not all of them have been about an actual historical figure or event. A good number of the stories have been about purely fictional characters experiencing various facets of life during time periods in the past. Experiencing life in a historical setting doesn’t necessarily mean the characters are investigating a crime, or searching for true love, or discovering magical gates to lead them into different realms.

You can think of contemporary fiction as a bookend to historical fiction, if you like. Not every contemporary plot is about investigating crimes, searching for true love, discovering magical gates that lead to different realms, or other scenarios that reflect genres folks may identify more readily. Many contemporary stories are about fictional characters experiencing various facets of life in contemporary times. And life is nothing to sneeze at.

You may find a story about a brother estranged from his siblings, navigating the winding path to reconciliation. Or a woman tackling the challenges of opening a shelter for survivors of abuse. Or a man whose best friend is diagnosed with a terminal disease, so the two of them interrupt their regularly scheduled schedules to go and snap all the pictures they can on a road trip they’ve been putting off for years. No telling how many contemporary scenarios I could come up with.

And as for women’s fiction—

“Women’s fiction? Oh, you mean romance.”

Nope. I mean women’s fiction.

The romance genre is its own thing, and its rules are specific. The development of a romantic relationship must be the main focus of the plot, the story must have an HEA (Happily Ever After) ending for the couple, and other rules that adhere to the romance genre formula. Sell a “romance” novel where the hero and heroine shake hands, say goodbye, and go their separate ways in the end, or where nothing romantic happens until late in the story because the hero and heroine are busy with other matters and only just meet each other halfway through the book, and you’re gonna have a lot of miffed romance readers on your hands.

They’re not in the romance genre, but these two contemporary stories certainly have romance in their storylines.

But that’s beside the point. Finding someone to date or to stand at the altar with isn’t the only thing that happens in women’s lives, folks. 😀 Women’s fiction encompasses much more than that, with women’s growth and experiences as the focus. Their health. Their careers. Their rights. Their relationships with friends and family. The list goes on. And, yes, a women’s fiction novel can include a romantic storyline if it wants to, but it’s not necessary.

Of course, this isn’t to say that women’s fiction is restricted to the contemporary category. You can find historical women’s fiction. Fantasy women’s fiction. Again, the list goes on. But women’s fiction is indeed a big component of contemporary fiction, where characters experience so many of the ins and outs of modern life.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ll enjoy a good present-day mystery, or a present-day suspense story, or a present-day romance, or a present-day sci-fi adventure. But just because a present-day story may not be from one of those genres doesn’t mean the story is ambiguous or genre-less.

Contemporary fiction is a real genre.

A Few
Contemporary
Novels
I’ve Read