Yes, I know Christmas is over, and I know I'm really late posting these reviews. In my defense, my Christmas is only just over, and my Christmas tree's still lit. Our oldest son had to work over Christmas, so we kept the season going, just for him. Now he's gone, and the house will feel way too empty and quiet if I switch off the lights. So, for anyone still celebrating Christmas, or anyone looking for great short reads to keep the Christmas spirit alive... or for anyone who just enjoys reading short books, here are some quick reviews...
...and coffee ratings too, all the more meaningful to me since oldest son gave us the most wonderful coffee machine as a Christmas present!
Starting with a wonderfully evocative book set in the English/Welsh countryside, Under the Apple Boughs, by Peter Maughan. This isn't really a Christmas book--it's a collection of essays, beautifully presented, nicely tied together by character and place, and wonderfully bringing to life the quiet world of country life. Enjoy it with a fine cup of 4-star elegant coffee.
Emalyn’s Treasure, by Joy Ross Davis, isn't really a Christmas book either, but it's a pleasing story, set in Ireland in the 1930s, where a rich young woman isn't quite so insulated from the troubles as she might seem, and the scary stranger just might prove to be a generous friend. If you believe in angels, this story and the bonus, Olivia's Wedding, are both sure to please. Enjoy with a lively easy-drinking 2-star cup of coffee.
The war in Wishes and Promises, by Charlotte Holley, is far more recent. A young mother wonders how to tell her child that the much-loved father is dead in Afghanistan. But Christmas is coming. The child is talking to her Dad in dreams. And "Missing in action" doesn't always mean there's no hope. Enjoy this short story with a well-balanced 3-star coffee, maybe with a shot or two of dark intense flavors too.
A Ruby Christmas is a story with a huge number of authors, that somehow retains continuity of voice and thought so it feels like a single novel. Ruby travels the world in search of pieces for her father's Nativity scene. In the process she learns a lot about herself and her relationships, with God and with other people, and she grows up. A beautiful story, and an excellent resource too, this is one to enjoy with a well-balanced 3-star coffee
B. J. Robinson's A Ragdoll Christmas offers a brief collection of short stories and childhood memories with sensible lessons underlying them. The blend of fiction and fact leaves me wondering which is true and which imagined, but the stories hang together well, and the children feel very real. Enjoy this lively book with a lively 2-star cup of coffee.
For younger readers, JJojo’s Christmas Day, by Sujatha Lalqudi is beautifully illustrated and gorgeously designed, with great animal characters, all introduced in pictures, and the pleasing appendix of nicely drawn fruits for children to search for an name. The story tells of a young elephant learning to share. Share it with the kids and enjoy a mild crisp 1-star cup of coffee.
Mystery at Chances Hill, by Molly Harrison offers an enjoyable Christmas mystery for middle-grade readers. There's a touch of the usual awkward teen romance, but mostly the story is straight mystery, well-told, intriguing, and full of fun twists and turns. Enjoy it with a lively easy-drinking 2-star cup of coffee.
And finally, Bill Hiatt's Echoes from my Past Lives is a thoroughly intriguing and enjoyable middle-grade novella, smoothly told in the voice of a young teen trying to determine if his curious hallucinations mean he's going mad. The doctor's don't know what to do, but possibly an echoing voice from his family history might help. The story's complete, but the intriguing plot continues in a series which I'm hoping to start reading soon. Meanwhile, a bold dark 5-star coffee will go best with this one.
I read some longer books over my long Christmas too. But it's getting late. I'll post those reviews another day.