Friday, January 11, 2008

Holiday Reads

I'm not usually one to do holiday books. Not that I have anything against them, I don't. It's just such a busy season with reading time spread thin. This year was different, for some reason. Maybe because I didn't write over Christmas and New Years. Whatever the reason, I rather enjoyed the three, no wait, make that four, holiday stories that I read.

I'll give you a brief run down:

A Simple Gift by Karyn Witmer.
This was a large-print edition hard back. The gigantic font made reading it quick work. I would label it as women's fiction. The romantic twist was between a long-time married couple. After their daughter leaves without warning and shows up back in thier home town more than a year later with a baby, but won't speak to them, it is a struggle for the couple to keep their marriage together and regain a sense of family. The horticulturist in me liked the "simple gift" theme of a Christmas cactus, whose cuttings had been passed down by the women of this family for generation after generation as a sort of passage of acceptance.

The Christmas Thief by Marry and Carol Higgins Clark.
A cozy, entertaining mystery. Also a zip to read. An elderly lottery-winner-turned-amateur-sleuth and an elderly P.I. join forces to help solve a case involving an 80-foot blue spruce and a hidden fortune in jewels. I would rate this book PG. I plan to pass it on to my grandma. I think she'd enjoy it too.

Holidays are Murder by Charlotte Douglas:
This is a Next trade paperback and a Maggie Skerritt mystery. I liked this 40-something detective, Maggie Skerritt. She seems real. She has problems at work, and issues with family, holidays and men. Of course she solves the Florida-based murder case, and in the end she gets her love life in order too. What more could a detective ask for? Or a reader for that matter. This book now lives on my keeper shelf.

Blackberry Winter:
Bummer here is, this was the first holiday story I read this season and I all ready passed it on to someone else, so I can't tell you right off hand who wrote it. It was also a Next trade paper back. It was about a daughter and her dying mother's relationship, a trip to the past, via a small mountain town, and secrets long buried finally revealed.

I enjoyed each of these books, and the fairly novel concept -- for me anyway -- of reading Christmas stories in December and January. Each was made a more special experience because my mom bought the books for me three years ago when I was having pregnancy difficulties. I couldn't get them read before January of that year -- Mom also gave me many books that weren't holiday themed -- so I shelved them for when the time was right. My mom passed away a year and a half ago. I missed her like crazy this Christmas, so the time was definitely right for me to peruse these stories.

How about you? Do you read holiday-themed books? If so, does it matter what time of year you read them? Did you read any this season? Care to share a brief review? Reading these stories made me think about someday writing a Christmas manuscript of my own. Have you ever written a holiday book or short story? Do you have any plans to write one in the future?


Karen Duvall said...

Danita, I've neither read nor written a holiday story, but I wouldn't be opposed to doing either. In fact, reading Christmas-themed books during the holidays would be a great way to get into the spirit. I'm usually stressing over gifts for the kids, finances, whose house hosts what this year, etc., that the spirit of the holidays gets lost in the shuffle.

I thought about my mom this year at Christmas, too. Though I hadn't spent Christmas with her her since the kids were little, we used to talk on the phone on Christmas day. We were very close and I miss her lots, and it's been about a year and half without my mom, too. So I totally get where you're coming from.

Lori Barber said...

Danita, great blog! Thanks for sharing your holiday books with us. I've jotted them down for future reading. Did you get the Blackberry Winter book at our Christmas party? I believe I held that baby in my hand and debated and debated over taking it. In the end I put it back down.

I do like holiday theme books and enjoy reading them over the appropriate holidays. I didn't get a chance to read one book over the holidays and I was given a holiday book as a gift this Christmas. I don't know whether to find time to read it soon or wait and read it next Christmas season. And you know, I've have toyed with the idea of writing a holiday book. I think it would be lots of fun.

How precious to have books your mother bought especially for you. I'm glad they helped to aid you in missing your mother. Holidays can evoke a sense of sadness for loved ones treasured and missed.

Paty Jager said...

MY, my, my, Miss investigative reporter is always full of questions! LOL That's what I love about you!

Let's see- I've read several Christmas themed books over the years. Some of my favorites are the McGregor family by Nora Roberts. Not sure why- but I read them at a time when I needed a boost in my life. And they made me smile when I finished them.

I've read seasonal stories out of season. I have had Christmas time come up in my stories, but the stories were never set around the holiday theme. I might some day.

And I'll never say never to writing any kind of book. I've learned my lesson there! LOL

Missing your mom will never go away. It's been 18 years and I still miss mine. When I'm with the kids and grandkids I always wish she could have seen them.

Cool blog, D-girl!

Alice Sharpe said...

There's a Christmas season in the book I'm writing right now which reminds me I need to stick a few Christmas trees and lights in the different scenes. Ack. It's like trying to remember not to leave a baby in the rain or something.

I've had holidays in books but I've not centered a story around them. And I've never really gone out of my way to read a book about Christmas at Christmas.

I can only imagine how much you guys miss your mothers. I know I will miss mine someday and seeing as she's 91, it likely there won't be that many years left. But at least I didn't lose her when she was too young to go like you guys did. My heart goes out to you.

If an idea pops up wearing tinsel and stars, I'll write the story. It might be fun.

Danita Cahill said...

Yeah Karen, I know what you mean. Another little book I partially read was "Simplify Your Christmas" by Elaine St. James. 100 ways to reduce the stress and recapture the joy of the holidays. The book was part of my white elephant gift from my Bunko group. We got a little carried away with spending this year -- thanks to the timely kicker check and all -- and I too started feeling like the meaning of the season was spinning out of control. I plan to hang onto this book and give it a read before next Christmas season so I can keep things in perspective.

Moms are great. I hope everyone who still has a living mother realizes that. Even the most annoying of their motherly habits become endearing in our minds once they've left the earth.

Danita Cahill said...

Lori -- ha! I'm the one who took the Blackberry Winter to our party. I was trying to remember who I gave it to. You should have picked it up. It was worth reading.

Thanks for the kind words about loved ones.

Danita Cahill said...

I'm glad you enjoy the questions, Paty and my natural curisoity is one of the reasons the paper hire me on. But questioning drives my hubby nuts. He thinks I am questioning him or his reasoning. Not at all. Just that curious nature thing. In fact, I feel compelled to fire a bunch more questions at you just to make you happy. Ha!

I keep hearing about Nora's McGregor series. I just might have to look into reading those. They sound good.

And yes, I think of my mom often with the kids. She loved kids, especially babies. She was a nurturing, involved Grandma.

Danita Cahill said...

Yes, Alice, tinsel that baby up!

The book I'm endlessly working on happens over Thanksgiving, but seeing as how the hero and heroine spend turkey day being ambushed and attacked by evil dogs, I wouldn't exactly call it a warm or fuzzy holiday read. Ha!

Christmas comes and goes at the end of the book too, but is not central to the plot or anything.

Cherish your sweet mum, for as long as you can. And thanks for your kind words to those of us who have lost ours.

Danita Cahill said...

You are welcome to have A Simple Gift if you'd like. I read it and enjoyed it but don't plan to hang on to it. My shelf space is limited, and the more books my friends publish, the more limited that space becomes...maybe it's time for another book case.

I'll bring it in a few months when I'm back in the action and able to attend meetings again.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I don't think I've read a holiday book before. And I've never had any real desire to write one. I would think a holiday book - with release dates being so limited - would be a hard sale unless you were an established author.

Glad you enjoyed the books your mother gave you, Danita. That was a nice gift and neat way to remember her.

Paty Jager said...

Well all, I'm sitting in the Anchorage airport. Not sure why, but my e-mail will download, but I can't send messages. Very disconcerting! Anyway it is 3 am here and I've added about 15 pages to my WIP while sitting here. The airport music, people snoring, and janitors going about their business has been very productive for me!

Danita Cahill said...


I agree. Release dates would be limiting on a holiday book. And yes, it seems like most who write them are established authors. Kind of a fun break, maybe, in between other books. Like Janet Evanovich and her Plum Crazy books. I haven't read them, but I believe they are holdiay themed and written in between her regular Stephanie Plum series.

I read in an interview that she used to just write one of the Plum series a year. Now she's added the Metro Girl series and writes one of those a year too, plus the Plum Crazies to tide fans over the holidays.

From one book to three a year. That's how I'd like to get established someday -- slow and steady, until I'm quicker and steady.

And yes, Mom's gift books were a wonderful present this Christmas -- even three years later.

Danita Cahill said...

I've traveled a lot, Paty, and I've had layovers, including a 6-hour layover in the south Korean airport -- made me nervous being that close to North Korea -- but I've never had to suffer through an all nighter.

I imagine the people watching was entertaining, and you with your new laptop could just write what you saw as you saw it...

Have a great trip! We'll miss you.

Genene said...

Sheesh! How did it get to be Saturday without me checking in to the blog all week? Guess 2008 is going to pass as quickly as 2007 did!

I don't usually read holidays stories at Christmas intentionally. If I have time to read and they catch my eye, I'll read one. Otherwise I just grab what looks interesting no matter what the timeline.

Thanks for the rundown of holiday stories you read, Danita. I might grab one to read over Valentine's day. LOL! How nice that they were gifts from your mom that eased you missing her this Christmas.

The story in my December 2008 release starts in the fall and ends at Christmas (well, all but the epilogue). I didn't write it with the thought of having it released at Christmas, but the publisher said it was a "feel good" story that would make it a good holiday release. There are hints of angels throughout the story and part of the story takes place right before Christmas -- the kidnapping of the heroine's children, who are rescued on Christmas day. So I was very pleased Awe-Struck decided to release it in December. I have promotion and contests planned to play up that angle.

Danita Cahill said...

/cool, Genene, you'll be our first author with a holiday-themed book. Now I know I'll have at least one to read next Christmas!