I read several Christmas stories earlier this month on the Kindle. All books I downloaded free from Amazon either last year or this year. I think I read one a day and enjoyed them all. I choose a variety so I wouldn’t get bored by reading the same plot from one to the next. All the books I chose did resemble Christmas stories and Christmas movies I was familiar with, but maybe with some new twists. I had a lot of fun with my Christmas reads this year.
A Dixie Christmas by Sandra Hill
I choose this book because I was familiar with the author and her Viking series and it looked fun. I did not realize it was two stories Blue Christmas and Jinx Christmas. The first story was funny and enjoyable. Clayton Jessup arrives in Memphis to sell off a hotel he had inherited from his father. Antics begin immediately when he is not happy with a family setting up a manger scene. He approaches them to tell them to get off the property and after a slip and fall ends up in the care of Annie Fallon.
I loved the portrayal of the characters. Stuffy Clayton Jessup realizes he is at the mercy of Annie and her family and surprisingly things begin to happen. The setting in Memphis was a lot of fun bringing that country feeling into the story. Also, the history of Elvis was surprising as a tie in to the story. Kind of made you wonder.
Jinx Christmas was just too short. Not enough time to set up the story and really have time to get to know the characters or setting.
Verdict: I’m going to give the book three stars. The first story is worthy of four stars, but adding the extra story which was really too short to be worth the read drops the book review to three stars. The book was free and the writing fine, and the first story is definitely worth the time.
The Santa Shop by Tim Greaton
The summary really peaked my interest.
From Good Reads: A homeless man's journey from despair back to life and Christmas. Secrets revealed lead to an emotional and magical holiday. The perfect present: hope between two covers. Skip Ralstat is a man so steeped in grief and despair that life seems no longer possible. After the death of his wife and child, Skip blames himself. He has given up his friends, his job, and even his home. Now, homeless, he survives on the mean streets of Albany. He knows it can't go on, that life must end. But will it. Come join him on his most unusual road to redemption. The salvation of one life...lies along this road. Let the healing from "The Santa Shop" begin.
Not the story I expected. The story of Skip being homeless was very sad. Yet, at the beginning of the book I really wondered where the story was going. Through his travels, he ends up in a small town with a lot of mystery. Even though Skip is at the lowest low in his life, he does still maintain some morals and the story makes you realize we need to be kind.
Verdict: I gave this book five stars. It was unique and kept my interest. While it was a short story, it was long enough to explore all aspects and not leaving you with the feeling that you were missing something. I would say out of all the Christmas books I read this year, this was my absolute favorite. If you are only going to read one Christmas story, I would recommend this story.
The next two are from the same author, Melody Carlson. I have read other books (non-Christmas themed) of Melody’s and found them varied in enjoyment. I really enjoyed both of these Christmas books by her.
Christmas at Harringtons
Summary from Good Reads: Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life after false accusations landed her in prison, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret? This tender story about fresh starts will charm readers as all of Melody Carlson's Christmas offerings do. Full of redemption and true holiday spirit, Christmas at Harrington's will be readers' newest Christmas tradition.
The Christmas Bus
Summary from Good Reads: The people of Christmas Valley always celebrate Christmas to the fullest extent. The mayor plays Santa, every business is holiday themed, and there's a nativity for the kids each Christmas Eve. This town knows Christmas. But this year nothing goes according to plan. Shepherd's Inn is full of strangers, Mad Myrtle is causing problems, and a young couple with a baby due any minute rolls in to the middle of town in their Partridge Family-style bus. It's hardly the holiday Christmas Valley wanted--but it may be just what they need. This charming novella is sure to become a new Christmas tradition for readers who love a great holiday story.
If I had to choose which one I enjoyed more, I would choose Christmas at Harrington’s. I liked this book because it was not typical. Being released from prison and trying to start a new life, Lena sure finds herself continually at ground zero. Lena meets some wonderful people in the town an older lady, her son with some reservation, a younger woman and her daughter, and the owner Harrington’s and her daughter . They all bring enjoyment to her life and her to them in reverse. My favorite was the store owner’s daughter and the younger woman’s daughter.
Verdict: I gave this book four stars. Very well written, short, but not too short, and very well paced.
Verdict for The Christmas Bus: I would give it 3 ½ stars. It did seem to how its slow moving parts, but overall a great read. I want a Christmas Bus. I know my daughter would love one too.