Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Christmas Wrap

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I am ALMOST ready for Christmas.  Jams are done (by the skin of my teeth they all sealed properly), shopping is done, and now all that’s left is the mountain of wrapping and packaging to do.

We’re crazy in my family about the wrapping.  Everyone has a theme each year, and it’s possible to tell who gave you the gift without looking at the card at all.  My aunt goes for funky, natural, and shiny, in browns and blacks for the main bits, but with the strangest and most delightful ribbons attached, everything from lacy glitter orange to natural stuff printed with reindeer.  She hand-makes her tags, too. My sister usually sticks with white craft paper, but goes CRAZY on the bows.  She also usually has some sort of natural topper wedged between.  Last year was maroon, the year before was blue and sparkly.  My mom goes all out festival with novelty prints of which no two are the same, and large tags that give you a clue as to what’s inside, if you can figure out who it’s from (a drill from “Norm,” a cookbook from “Julia”).  I am usually a craft paper girl like my sister, but the colors change.  Last year was white paper, and brown ribbon printed with “Merry Christmas” in red.  The year before was red paper, black baker’s twine, and mini clothespins with trees attached.  The year before that was brown paper with red and white bows.  I usually have the wrapping before I have the presents.

Not so this year.  I have no wrapping paper yet, and I’m not sure what everything will end up looking like.  This is the first time ever that I’m so late.  I’ll be heading out tonight to figure out what I can find.  Whatever else happens, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with gigantic red bows, though.  In velvet, if possible.

In other news, I have been doing this thing called 750 words where you write 750 words a day and it gives you prizes and puts your writing through an analyzer just for fun when you’ve finished.  I’ve been noticing that I clock major introvert when I’m writing about life.  But when I write fiction, it tracks as extroverted.  I don’t know what that says about me or my work.  It probably says something, though.  Anyway, I thought it worth noting.

I hope your Christmas is shaping up to be as good as mine seems to be.

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A Reading Challenge Wrap

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The year is feeling old, old, and I am looking at all the posts I need to post to wrap up the end of this year.  The season of introspection is upon us.  Let’s dive head in.

I would like to all remind you of a reading challenge I accepted last January.  Here is the original post so you can refresh your memory: https://caseykins.com/2016/01/15/a-reading-challenge/.  I read all books but one and then gave up completely.  Why, you ask?  The one I didn’t read is a classic I never made time for.  It’s because I pondered a million classics and none of them seemed to be something I wanted to delve into.  I have made time for all the classics I care about, and slogging through something I was sure would be depressing just seemed like too tall an order. I don’t know.  I stopped enjoying the challenge when I thought too much about it, so I decided that reading should not ever be anything except enjoying and I gave up.

All other books, though, I have blogged and completed.  You can find the reviews for them using the search box on the left, if you want.

Here is what I ended up with:

  • A book you bought long ago, but still haven’t read – The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black
  • A book with a character who is similar to you – Emily Climbs, by L. M. Montgomery
  • A non-fiction book on something you’ve always wanted to know more about – Steering The Craft, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • A book by a female author – Lizzy and Jane, by Katherine Reay
  • A book you never got to read in 2015 – The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey, by Rinker Buck
  • A book that will be a complete mindfuck – Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman
  • A book filled to the rim with magic – Daughter of Witches, Patricia C. Wrede
  • A book you’re scared to read when it’s dark out – The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater
  • A book of which you liked the movie, but haven’t read the novel – Pitch Perfect, by Mickey Rapkin
  • A book that makes you want to visit the place it’s set – Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater
  • A book that’s on fire – Mine Till Midnight, by Lisa Kleypas
  • A book that makes you want to be a villain – Silver on the Road, by Laura Anne Gilman
  • A classic you never made time for – Never Read (I’m a delinquent)
  • A book that shows a different point of view – Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape, by Peggy Orenstein
  • A book with short stories – A Knot In The Grain, by Robin McKinley
  • A book that involves a lot of mystery – The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
  • A book about a person who inspires you – My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, by Dick Van Dyke
  • A book that makes you want to be a hero – The Sword of Damar, by Robin McKinley
  • A graphic novel – The Graveyard Book part 1, by Neil Gaiman
  • A book of poetry – Good Poems, American Places, by Garrison Keillor
  • A book by an unfamiliar author – Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowel
  • A book published in 2016 – The Raven King, by Maggie Stiefvater
  • A book with a dark and mysterious cover – Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  • A book from a random recommendationalist – Witches of Lychford, by Paul Cornell
  • A book with a surprising love element – Shakespeare’s Wife, by Germaine Grier
  • A book with lots of mystical creatures – English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs
  • A book that reminds you of another season – Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
  • A book no one wants you to read – My American Duchess, by Eloisa James
  • A book you own that is the most beautiful thing you’ve seen – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Illustrated Edition, by J. K. Rowling
  • A book that makes you a complete mess – Emily’s Quest, by L. M. Montgomery
  • A book you started but never finished – Aspects of the Novel, by E. M. Forster

In other Christmas news, I was feeling grateful yesterday that the kitten has never tried to climb the tree.  And then I came home last night to find that she had pulled several of my favorites off the branches and had strewn them around the living room.  Luckily they weren’t the ones with extreme sentimental value, and only one was worse for the wear, but I’m seriously going to have to think about anti-cat measures.  Chasing her away only works when I’m at home to supervise.  Jennyanydots: the reason we can’t have nice things.

Christmas jam is probably in the works this weekend, too.  I’m giving it out as presents this year, so that’s all I’ll say.  Flavors a tasty, tasty mystery.

We are racing toward the finish line.  I hope your season is looking as festive as mine is.

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Oh Horrid Night Housekeeping

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This is just a super-quick blog entry to let you all know they’re hosting a discussion of my short story tonight over on FunDead publications’ Facebook page, here.  I’m excited to hear what everyone thought, so I hope you’ll join in if you’ve had a chance to read it.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it because you haven’t yet procured a copy, FunDead is also hosting a giveaway on Instagram.  Just share a picture of your Christmas tree with the hashtag #ohhorridtree and you’ll be entered to win.

This has been a Horrid Night PSA.  Happy reading!

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Oh Christmas Tree

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I put the Christmas stuff up last weekend, but it never quite feels complete until the tree is in the house.  Brian and I bought the tree yesterday afternoon – a huge Nordmann fir from Home Depot that is bushy and beautiful in all the right ways.  We fell in love with it because the needles are this deep but fluffy green, silver underneath.  The branches are strong enough for heavy ornaments like the Noble fir, but it’s a little bushier like the Douglas fir.

I think we bought too big a tree, though.  We waited in line for the guys to cut the bottom off the trunk and then slip it through the doughnut of orange netting, but it wouldn’t go through the hoop.  It took 2 burly guys in orange aprons to tug the thing loose until it flopped free onto the black macadam of the parking lot with a swish.

We usually put the tree in the trunk, but it wouldn’t fit this time.  Luckily a 3rd Home Depot guy taught us how to tie it to the roof.  We don’t have a rack or anything and it wiggled up there every time I turned a corner driving home.

“That makes me so nervous!” I said to Brian.

“What does?”

“The way it wiggles up there.”

“The way what wiggles up there?” he asked.

“The Christmas tree!”

“There’s a Christmas tree on the roof?” he sounded shocked.

“There’s a Christmas tree on our roof,” I said, patting his knee.

He kept “forgetting” about it all the way home until I was laughing and cringing whenever I’d turn.

When we set it up in the house we realized it’s so big it blocks the entry until you almost can’t get through.

I’m still in love with it, though.  I can’t wait to see what it looks like with all the lights I bought on it.  Because we’re in one of those years where, of the 12 strands of lights in the box, only 1 strand isn’t half burned out.  I went to Target and bought twice as many lights as I thought I’d need so we’re covered, no matter how much girth the tree can boast.  Challenge accepted, Nordmann.  Challenge accepted.

 

I’m a crazy person about the lights, and that’s my task tonight.  I always wrestle with the tree to wrap a strand directly around the middle trunk before wrapping again from the outside.  It gives the tree a depth of twinkle that is unmatched.  It also, however, gives me sappy hands, needles up the nose, and scratched forearms.  Brian refuses to help anymore because he thinks it’s WAY not worth it.  But I’ll be enjoying my twinkling tree for another three weeks at least, baby.

The Floof, miss Jennyanydots, is on board with the tree too.  She likes to hide in things and jump out at you to attack.  Brian calls under the bed her murder cave because of the dust ruffle, and how many of his toes currently have puncture marks.  She’s already co-opted the tree for the same purposes; a yuletide murder cave of Christmas cheer.  Somehow, when the bible mentions making a joyful noise, I don’t think they meant growling cats fighting beneath the festive bows.  But that’s what we’ve got happening in my living room.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at home.  In some ways I’m pleased.  In others, it makes me even more panicked that I haven’t done any Christmas shopping yet…

Also, have you noticed yet that it’s snowing on the blog?  My favorite thing of the season ever!

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Christmas Romance, Nano Wrap-Up

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Hello! As promised, it is December 1st and I am back with a vengeance. Well, maybe not a vengeance. But with bells on. I have problems sustaining vengeance, and I never have problems sustaining glee.  I miss blogging when I don’t do it.

Today I’m going to write about Christmas romance novels, after I tell you that I won Nanowrimo. Yay me!! That’s number 6. This year was easier than last, mostly because I planned better and didn’t freak out when I got stymied after writing the beginning. I just went on to write the middle and end in no discernible order whatsoever like I usually do. No existential crisis about it first this time. Now if I can just get some of those rough drafts finished, I’ll be feeling even better about myself. That’s a task for next year.

The verdict on subject matter?  I think I’m capable of writing a romance novel.  Now we just have to figure out if I can edit one.  Brian has refused to be a beta-reader on the grounds that he’ll never be able to keep a straight face.  Fair enough.

Speaking of Romance Novels… I have been binge-reading Christmas romance novels in the hopes that somewhere there are good ones out there. Here’s a quick list of what I’ve completed so far, and how I felt about it. In order of read-worthiness, in case you’re interested in joining me.  I was pleasantly surprised, I have to say.  After last year, this one could be considered a rousing success.  Several things were very readable, and a few were outright good.

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The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig: There’s no sex in the book, but it still manages to be exactly perfect in all ways. It starts with a Christmas pudding on which a secret message has been written, and evolves into this perfect novel of romance and intrigue that is not only Christmassy, but also sweet. Bonus points for a hero who isn’t very smart but still manages to be hot, quippy, and funny all at the same time. And for Christmas pageants and yule log rituals. This was my favorite read this season.

Married for Christmas by Noelle Adams: A contemporary that’s a little bit religious in nature. I didn’t mind it, though, because it wasn’t rampantly so and it is a Christmas novel. With a pastor as the main character. The two of them didn’t feel goody-goody, they felt like real people in a marriage of convenience, and the issues they were both dealing with were real and serious. It was also the hot and bothered kind, the first one I’ve read this season.

A Christmas Kiss by Elizabeth Mansfield: This one and the above are probably tied for enjoyment.  There’s also no sex in this book, but it ended up being one of my favorite historicals this time around. The premise is that, though a confluence of misunderstandings, the duke’s family thinks that their oldest son is engaged to this girl even though he’s not. And the duke totally starts to fall in love with her, but won’t do anything about it because he thinks he’s usurping his son’s girl. The heroine is AWESOME, and the antics that go on in the house are great. There’s lots of Christmas goodness to recommend it, too. But just know that it’s a lot more sweet and funny than it is hot and bothered.

A Family for Christmas by Noelle Adams: I can’t say exactly why I didn’t enjoy this book at all as much as the first Willow Park book (above), but I didn’t. I think that it just was too far outside my own experience to be relateable. The main character is a missionary who basically just wants to be in India, where she feels her new life is waiting. And eventually she falls in love with her husband and all, like we all knew would happen, but her inner journey isn’t one I identified with. Still, a solid book with lots of Christmas goodness. And I do think it might be the thing for some people. It was well written with a solid story arc.

All I Want for Christmas by Nora Roberts: It’s a novella, so it’s short. And contemporary. There wasn’t really anything I can put my finger on that was wrong with it, but there wasn’t anything extra to be excited about either. The kids are cute, the love interest sweet with the usual “brokenhearted previously” trope to keep the two (very) temporarily apart. It was totally fine. A solid novel with many nice Christmas touches. But honestly, I’ve already forgotten that I read it.

His Mistress by Christmas by Victoria Alexander: I just… I hate to be so disparaging. But this novel rubbed me in ALL the wrong ways. He’s so passive about her that it starts to feel like he doesn’t know what to do with a woman, even though he’s supposed to be this fancy experienced explorer with a girl in every port. She tells him he’s extraordinary every time he opens his mouth in those exact words. They fall in love in two seconds without ever spending any real time together. He’s supposed to come into some big inheritance, which turns out to be his father’s beat up watch and not actually a thing. The sexual tension wasn’t present. While it did have plenty of Christmas trappings, that’s it’s only saving grace. I’d skip.

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In Preparation for Christmas

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I have several things today, mostly in preparation for Black Friday.  Christmas is coming fast, and I’m trying to remind myself of that so I don’t leave it all to the last minute like I usually do…

The first thing that’s coming up is that the anthology I’m in is ready WAY sooner than they thought it would be, and is going live on Amazon this weekend.  Yay! You can get it here if you’re interested.  And if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s even free! Anthologies make good Christmas presents.  Or can get you in the mood for buying a ton of Christmas presents. Just saying… Also, my hard copies have not come in the mail yet.  So you can have the (semi)exclusive version even before the author gets hers.  What’s not to love about that?

Second is that I have waded into the murky and often cheesy-in-a-bad-way genre of Christmas Romance again.  Ever the optimist that there’s actually good stuff in that sub-genre, I suppose.  But I hope to have a post of things I thought were worth it soon for you to peruse if you want.  From last year, I recommend the Christmas Ladies collection by Grace Burrowes, and An Affaire Before Christmas by Eloisa James.

Christmas shopping is about to be in full swing.  If you’re like me, you’ll probably buy all the presents in the 2 weeks before the event and then spend that last week wrapping furiously.  If you’re shopping for someone bookish, here’s a few other things I can recommend.

Know your special someone’s favorite book?  Check out Out of Print.  They have everything bookish clothing printed with classic cover art, from James Bond to Harry Potter, and their shirts are SO SOFT.  I have the Little Prince one and the American Gods one, and I practically live in them on the weekends.  I’m currently drooling over Bunnicula and may need to splurge.

Go for a bookish candle.  You can get several that smell like your favorite characters and places here, or you can light a candle to your favorite writing saint here. The writing saint one comes with a hilarious poem on the back, too.  Well worth it.

It’s a well-known fact that you can never have too many bookmarks.  And they’re an easy thing to buy because duplicates don’t matter!  Pick your favorite and run with it.  Make your own.  Get creative.  My favorite right now?  These awesome magnetic ones from Happy Hello Co on Etsy.  They have all kinds fun and adorable bookmarks, everything from Eleanor and Park to a smiling pancake.

Is your reader also a writer?  Fancy pens and blank notebooks are always a good buy.  Moleskine just came out with a BEAUTIFUL limited edition Harry Potter notebook that I’m dying for.  But they also have Game of Thrones, Avengers, Toy Story, The Beatles, The Hobbit, Hello Kitty and a bazillion others.  Even their plain ones are perfection.  Moleskines take ink beautifully, are the perfect size for toting around, and are generally an obsession of mine.  I almost always have at least two stashed in my purse.  You can bet your writer will be happy to get one.

It’s well known that caffeine and books mix beautifully.  Consider getting a bookish mug for your booklover.  An Etsy search for “Book mug” brings up some awesome ones.  And it turns out that there is no really one stop shop I could find for this item.  Still, the favorite one I found was this Penguin Classic homage.

And, of course, gift cards to Barnes and Noble and Amazon are always appreciated.  My opinion of Kindle Unlimited?  Okay if you’re into romance, and getting better all the time for other genres.  But is it worth that hefty price tag yet?  Maybe not.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and the start of Christmas.  I’m counting down the days to the end of Nano with both terror and relief.  And planning to put the Christmas stuff up this weekend, if I get a few spare seconds to rub together.

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Oh Horrid Night

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It seems a little bit anti-climactic in the face of the world burning right now in America, but I got some good news yesterday.  The Christmas anthology I’m in is officially an official thing, titled Oh Horrid Night, and featuring 210 awesome pages of frightening short stories.  It will wend its way to you on December 3rd.  And what better time is there for escapism than this particular holiday season?

You can pre-order on amazon here, and if you have Kindle Unlimited it’s even free!

We also have a Goodreads page.  If you’re on Goodreads, shelving it as “to read” can help us out.  And, on another note… I officially have a Goodreads author page. (!!!) I look so fancy and professional, you can hardly believe it (did I just ruin the aura of professionalism?). If you’re interested in that, too, it’s here.

That’s all for now.  I may seem chipper, but I’m definitely still processing the results of the election this week.  I can’t be nice or reasoned about it right now, but I would expect a blog post about it at some point when my thoughts are more together.

Keep your chin up.  With some serious love for you all,

~Casey

 

 

 

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Good News/Some Magic

It’s funny how bad news and good news come in exactly the same way.  I saw the email from Fundead Publications in my inbox and I didn’t want to read it at first in case it was the “no” that everyone else has been sending me.  But I saw the theme of their anthology months ago and knew my story was all but made for it: a Gothic Horror Christmas.  That sort of serendipity doesn’t come around that often.

If you didn’t guess already, the email was a YES!!!!!!!! My story, “There Must Have Been Some Magic,” will appear in their Christmas anthology, up for sale in late November (or maybe early December).  I’m not only excited to be included with such a talented group of writers, but I’m also thrilled that this is my first professional sale in which goods are exchanged.  🙂 New Year’s Resolution met!

The story is an odd mashup of street urchin meets horrific Frosty The Snowman/Pied Piper monster at an 1814 Frost Faire.  I’m very proud of it, and can’t wait for you to read it.

That’s all.  You may now go back to your regularly scheduled weekend.  I’m enjoying my tea with extra sugar in celebration.

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2015 Wrap Up

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I am officially off work as of this afternoon, and very excited about it.  Christmas Eve is at my house.  There will be ginger cookies, powdered sugar snowballs, wassail, a heap of presents, and much merrymaking.  There may even be ukulele carols.  I don’t have to return to work until the 4th, which means that Brian and I get to adventure all over the place.  We have a train trip planned to San Juan Capistrano for the day, and I’m sure we’ll do other things as well.

This also means that I may not update until the new year.  Which then means that I should do the end of year wrap up thing now, right?

Right.  Here goes.

First, I want to say thanks to everyone who is following along with this thing.  The blog has grown in HUGE leaps and bounds this year, and it’s all because of your interest.  Every time I log in and look at my stats, I get warm fuzzies in my cold, cold heart (just kidding about the cold heart).  But seriously, you are full of awesome and you make me smile.  Thank you for reading.

I consider this thing not just a blog about bookishness, but also a blog that charts the efforts of a burgeoning writer (in the hopes that what I’ve learned might help someone else).  In that spirit, I want to look at my writing goals for last year.  I don’t think I ever wrote the official goals down on the blog, but I have them in my personal journal.  Here they are:

  1. Read 100 books (via Goodreads)
  2. Have a novel ready to shop around
  3. Make $1000 from my writing in any capacity
  4. Get 5 stories published, have 1 paid for

Those were all pretty lofty.  I tend to think lofty.  I know I won’t make the goal, necessarily, but I also know that by reaching for it I will accomplish more than I would have normally.  The only problem with these is that they failed to take my writing habits into consideration, making them impossible.  I didn’t even write 5 short stories in 2015, let alone get them published.  Here is the breakdown of the outcomes:

The Goodreads challenge is the only one I hit.  I’m currently in the middle of book 109, with another week of vacation left.  I’ll make 110 easily, and maybe more.

My book isn’t ready for publication, nor even for beta-reading.  The structure of the last half of it is SUCH a mess.  All the parts are there, they’re just in the wrong order and not detailed enough.  Some of the beginning also needs to be re-written.  Brian and I know the world so well that we don’t always get that the description of some things are unclear to newbies.  I do have a pitch letter and the first draft of a synopsis, which is the next part of things, and made immense strides towards getting it finished.  I am very close, and still plugging along.  But I didn’t meet the goal.

I had 1 thing published this year.  If you count the fact that Bewildering Stories also added that story to their Quarterly Review you could argue that it was published twice, although that’s a stretch.  I shopped a lot of stories around, got some really heartening rejection letters, and all-around had a great experience.  But you can’t say I made that goal at all.  No stories were paid for.  What I am proud of is that I have done slightly better this year than last.  The Wages of Sin was up and readable for a total of 15 days.  Plenty of Fish got much more attention than that.

This year, I’m prepared to be a little more realistic.  And I think I have a better idea of what realistic looks like.

So… in 2016 I will:

  1. Read another 100 books
  2. Have a novel ready to shop around
  3. Beat or match my previous record for published short stories (2) and/or be paid for 1 short story
  4. Write at least 20 days of each month

Right now, I’m expecting that I will complete everything but number 4, although I will hit 4 most months – I already do when I’m keeping track of my writing like a good girl.  It’s the making myself keep track that’s the problem.  I’ll report back next December and let you know how it goes!

Now go have a Jolly Holiday and consume more sweets than are good for you.  I’ll see you next year.

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News and Book Reviews: Christmas Romance

I had carefully crafted a thing on Romance Novels for Christmas that I wrote for today, but I got some AMAZING news last night that I want to share first.  Bewildering Stories has included my story in their “best of the quarter” list – the Quarterly Review.  I also received the Order of the Hot Potato.  Meaning that the honor of inclusion was hotly debated by the editors.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but I’m going with excitement that people are discussing my work.  🙂 Also, not bad for my first really published thing.

This was the nicest Christmas present.  Thanks, Bewildering Stories!

And now on to Christmas Romance:

Romance Ladies

I got it into my head that I wanted to read some Christmas Romance over the last few weeks.  The best part about this silly genre is that there are themed things all over the place. Christmas romance of the good kind is prolific if you’re just wanting a sweet falling in love story.  Isla and the Happily Ever After; Carry On; Landline; Dear Mr. Knightly; I could go on…

But what I wanted was a good ol’ Historical Romance Novel with all the tropes that are a part of that genre.  The hot men, the witty women, the tension, the manor houses, the Christmas decorations.  It turns out that this is a VERY hard thing to find.  There’s a lot of stuff out there, certainly, but I was having a hard time stumbling into the good stuff.  I read about a bazillion things, and I finally found some books that would keep my season steamy.  The list is below, so you don’t have to suffer through bad Christmas romance like I did.

I suppose I should also explain something.  I hate Novellas.  I know – blasphemy.  My former English professor would be aghast.  But the main reason I like romance novels is to live in another world for a while.  And “for a while” doesn’t tend to exist in novellas.  There are exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between.  So I also tried to avoid all short story collections and novella collections, although I didn’t do it completely.

Here is the list of what I read.  If you have any other suggestions, PLEASE send them along.

Buy Immediately:

Christmas Ladies: 3 Full-Length Holiday Regencies (Windham Series) by Grace Burrowes:  This is a collection of 3 Christmas novels that were all collected into one e-book.  They’re all full length (!!!) and very well done with plenty of Christmas goodness in with the romance goodness.  I LOVED the first one, and am in the middle of the second.  Best part is that they’re super-cheap right now.  You can’t beat the bargain, and the 3 novels will keep you occupied until Christmas comes at this point.

Worth it:

An Affair Before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses, Bk 2) by Eloisa James: I always love James’ stuff.  I don’t quite know why, but as soon as you delve into that first chapter you just know you’re in the hands of a master.  That was more evident to me after reading all the bad books before this one – it visibly felt like a relief to read the first paragraph.  The beginning of the book and the end are all the Christmas you could desire, but the rest of it takes place outside the season.  Still a fun romp and an excellent novel.

Mostly worth it:

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas: The story moved quickly and the ending felt too unfinished, but otherwise the book was excellent. Modern, so be warned.

A Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers, Book 5) by Lisa Kleypas: I mean, it features the trope where the guy keeps going even after the girl has said no.  And it does it repeatedly.  But otherwise this book was excellent, with Christmas tree decorating, some Dickens, and a well done story line.

Under the Mistletoe (Signet Eclipse) by Mary Balogh: A collection of 5 novellas.  They’re all good, but I’m not really sure why they decided to put all of these together.  In a lot of cases, the stories are so similar that they sort of blended into one another for me without distinction.  I would read The Best Gift and Playing House, and then forget the other 3.

Not worth it:

A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale:  I found myself cringing so often at the writing, and at the main character’s attitude toward things.  Like, your life isn’t complete unless you can have children and that’s your only aim in life?  Give me a break, kid.  Interactions between her and the hero also felt awkward and forced a lot of the time.  I did finish it in short order, so that’s saying something about the story arc itself, I think.  But I would skip this one in favor of something less maddening. Also a modern tale.

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