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

 

An Unexpected Christmas: Stories of Holidays Wrapped in Miracles, Mishaps, and Mischief by Daphne Tarango

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.

An Unexpected Christmas: Stories of Holidays Wrapped in Miracles, Mishaps, and Mischief by Daphne Tarango

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

The circumstances don’t have to be perfect in order for Christmas to be just right. Daphne Tarango and a bundle of co-authors share stories of Christmases that came together in ways they didn’t anticipate in An Unexpected Christmas: Stories of Holidays Wrapped in Miracles, Mishaps, and Mischief.

I found this book listed as fiction, but I wouldn’t call it that. Instead of fictional short stories, this is actually a collection of true, inspirational memoirs with some of the people’s real identities disguised. While that isn’t exactly what I was looking for, I enjoyed this fairly quick read anyway.

Some of these accounts delightfully surprised me, particularly a few of the deft, poignant moments and excellent endings, and “A Christmas Racket” is one of my favorites of the bunch. I also got a kick out of the flair of Latin American heritage included. The book does have some punctuation and letter case errors, but they’re not excessive.

Here’s a good read for anyone who’d like a collection of short holiday accounts with faith woven in.