Heartwarming Holiday Stories

In Christmas from the Heart by Sheila Roberts, Livi Berg is stunned when her charity’s biggest sponsor sends a frosty email with the news that they’re not sending a donation to Christmas from the Heart. Guy Hightower, running a family business with his brothers, regrets the email, but not his lavish lifestyle. When his sports car breaks down outside Pine River, Washington, Livi gives him a ride to her friend’s auto repair shop. Guy gives a fake name and is absorbed into village life while his car is repaired, even helping to judge a fruitcake contest. Predictably, Guy falls for Livi and Pine River, but hesitates to reveal his true identity in this cozy, heartwarming romance.

In Christmas Cow Bells, the first in a new cozy mystery series by Mollie Cox Bryan, Brynn MacAlister is settling into Shenandoah Springs, Virginia, along with her three cows. Brynn is a cheesemaker, getting ready for the farm market shop set to open soon in an old church. When her neighbor Nancy is critically injured in a fire at the old church, Brynn is as uneasy as her cow Petunia, and starts investigating, with help from Nancy’s teen grandsons and other local farmers. This is an appealing, very gentle mystery just right for holiday reading, especially as another cow, Buttercup, is rehearsing for a holiday pageant.

For more holiday reads, see my December book display of heartwarming holiday stories. Up next in my to be read pile is Owl Be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews, in which blacksmith Meg and her extended family get snowed in at a Virginia inn hosting an ornithology conference.

Happy holiday reading!

Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

Two coworkers unknowingly connect on a dating website and start chatting online daily. Merry Knight is a data entry temp at a Seattle firm, saving money to finish college. Due to a human resources mistake, her name tag says Mary. Jason Bright, nicknamed Jay, is a vice-president in his uncle’s firm, and isn’t very nice when asking data entry staff to work overtime or take down holiday decorations. Jay/Jason was a lonely rich kid sent to boarding schools and summer camps; his cousin Cooper is his only friend. Merry/Mary lives with her parents and adores her 18-year-old brother Patrick, who has Down Syndrome. Merry’s love for Christmas is contagious, but things go badly when the online pair agree to meet in person. I enjoyed the narration of the audiobook by Em Eldridge, with alternating chapters from his and her points of view, but it was confusing telling Mary and Merry apart. Light and cozy, this is a charming holiday read.


I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, by Alan Bradley

Meet Flavia de Luce, an 11-year-old chemist and amateur sleuth. She lives at Buckshaw, a stately old house in England with her father, a stamp collector, spiteful older sisters Daphne and Ophelia, and Dogger, Buckshaw’s butler/handyman/gardener. Motherly Mrs. Mullet comes in daily to cook and clean. The year is 1950, and Colonel de Luce, struggling to make ends meet, rents out Buckshaw to a film company over the Christmas holidays. The famous Phyllis Wyvern and crew move in. Lead actors Phyllis and Desmond agree to put on a show for charity, and act out the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet for the residents of nearby Bishop’s Lacey. A blizzard strands the villagers, who camp out in Buckshaw’s vast foyer.

In the meantime, Flavia is busy concocting a sticky trap for Father Christmas, whose existence is denied by her sisters. When she finds a strangled body, Dogger and Flavia assist Inspector Hewitt in solving the murder. Sometimes Flavia seems too smart for her age, although emotionally she is just right, but she is always good company. This is the fourth book in an award-winning mystery series beginning with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, but is my favorite to date. Happily, the author is contracted for five more titles. I have listened to the whole series on compact disc, and really enjoy Jayne Entistle’s narration. For more about Flavia, visit the author’s website, or view the book trailer.