The Christmas Angel by Abbie Farwell Brown

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 Christmas Angel by Abbie Farwell Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

“You are so unimaginative!… You judge the tale finished while the best has yet to be told.”

Those are two of my favorite lines from the classic, Christmas-Carol-esque tale The Christmas Angel by author Abbie Farwell Brown. Here we find a bitter, lonely old woman occupying herself on Christmas Eve with earnest tasks: burning toys in her fireplace and conducting covert little experiments on the public to prove to herself that the Christmas spirit is a humbug.

Oh, I didn’t eat it up quite like the Dickens classic this fantastical work resembles in different ways, but I still found it worth the time. I got a little nervous at the appearance of two Jewish boys in the story, wondering how the author would handle them in this tale from 1910—and a Christmas tale at that. But I breathed easier after while. What’s more, my heart nodded in agreement with one character’s sentiments about people who supposedly know so much better than others and wind up miserable.

This old-fashioned read is a fairy tale, but its messages ring true, and not just for Christmas.

 

No Match for a Good Story by Rachel Kovaciny

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.

No Match for a Good Story by Rachel Kovaciny

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

We are never so close to death as when we are bringing forth life, and well I knew it.

A blizzard is coming on the Nebraska frontier, and midwife Emma Owens is helping her step-daughter, Rosalind, give birth to her first baby. But when the new mother’s courage and strength sink dangerously low during the long hours of labor, Emma takes to telling stories to get Rosalind through it in No Match for a Good Story by author Rachel Kovaciny.

I’m quite pleased with how much I enjoyed this short read. I appreciated Emma’s voice and style. She’s warm and motherly, quick and lively, and clearly a woman of the West, but she doesn’t come off as an overdone Western caricature.

And the stories within this story are nicely handled: just snippets of accounts until fuller details are needed, but still not so many details as to stall the main story or take it off track.

A truly well-written holiday tale about the power of storytelling and the miracle of life.

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Once Upon a Western Series

 

All is Bright: A Hope Beach Christmas Novella by Colleen Coble

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.

All Is Bright by Colleen Coble

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Delilah Carter, manager of the Tidewater Inn, has been busy planning a Christmas wedding for her friends, but someone runs her off the road and into the ocean one night. She tries to downplay it as a mere accident afterwards, but she isn’t really buying it, and neither is Sheriff Tom Bourne, the man who’s been harboring feelings for Delilah in All is Bright: A Hope Beach Christmas Novella by author Colleen Coble.

I’ve not read any of the Hope Beach novels, and this book includes a lot of characters whose stories I’m sure have already been told. While I figured the brief mentions and appearances of those characters would have been meaningful to me if I’d read the other books, I was only interested in Delilah and Tom’s story here.

Even with the darker thread of suspense running through this, much of the story was an easy read for me. Because it’s clear that Delilah and Tom have got some background together, the development of their relationship doesn’t come off as rushed or as if their strengthening emotions are popping out of nowhere.

Now, the critical point of danger in the story is a rather obvious setup, more convenient than believable. But the best part of the story for me concerns an awesome Christmas gift that warmed my heart along with the characters.

And, yes, the Christmas lights and the homey feel captured on a softly bright evening on the book cover got me to read this novella.

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The Hope Beach Series

All is Calm: A Lonestar Christmas Novella by Colleen Coble

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.

All Is Calm: A Lonestar Christmas Novella by Colleen Coble

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

After witnessing a murder, Lauren Everman seeks sanctuary at the Bluebird Ranch during the Christmas season. Brendan Waddell is also staying at the ranch to recover from a gunshot wound he sustained during his Special Ops work. And he’s got reason to suspect Lauren in connection with the murder she witnessed in All is Calm: A Lonestar Christmas Novella by author Colleen Coble.

I haven’t read any of the novels in the Lonestar series, but I didn’t have to before reading this standalone book. In keeping with its lovely cover of twinkling nighttime stars and Christmas lights, the story includes holiday warmth, affection, faith, and peace.

The unfolding suspense was what I liked most about this story, as the plot turned out to be a little more involved than I was expecting. However, I tend to prefer a sharper style in suspense reads. Some parts here didn’t feel the most natural or original, especially concerning the romance, and I’m not convinced when a dangerous scene seems contrived—when a character walks into or remains in an obviously hazardous situation instead of getting out of there or calling for help.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this fairly quick read overall. It was my first time trying this author, and I plan to do so again.

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The Lonestar Series