Happy 2018: The Goals

I had a lovely holiday with my boys, especially the son who is at peak holiday season magic at five years old. I almost read all the Christmas books on my Kindle and I did Christmas and now I am so very, very done.

Now I am engaged in the three week long dance between my husband and myself where I ask him daily to get the tree down and back in the shed, and he says he will, and he doesn’t until I do it myself and either leave it in pieces near the door or I bag it up and put it in the shed myself, invariably in the wrong place.  I asked him to do it yesterday on a day off, he said he would, and I am writing this by the twinkling white lights permanently lacing the metal branches.

I didn’t understand resolutions until I had real free time and I was not a student stuffing work and homework in every crack not consumed with class schedules.  When I could read most of the year and take on craft projects that I had the time to work on consistently.  Having less of that time as a parent has actually helped me to really use and appreciate what time I can snatch even more.

So now I like to start my year with reading and writing and crafting and training goals.

And one of those goals will have to be less reading.

Reading Challenges:

BookRiot Read Harder 2018:  I am increasingly finding that this is the perfect challenge for me.  Even though this year it is making me read comics again and I am not going to care for comics that much no matter how many times they are listed, not only did I like a majority of the categories, I already have books on my TBR that fit them.  I have been meaning to read The Master and Margarita forever.  So forever that I recommended it to a friend and then used ONE WHOLE audible credit on it, an honor reserved for books I abandon or just am so intrigued by I can’t wait for a sale.  And then I find that it fits like three categories on the 24 book list.  I do one book per category as 24 books is about a quarter of my yearly reading haul so I can handle that, so I will have to decide where it best fits in.  Similarly for the Octavia Butler books that I own but have not read.

Read Down 2018:  I wavered somewhat on this one last year with doing challenges, what with library books, crazy ebook deals and the like, but I did chew down a good part of the classics I had had forever, and I am still going to try to take out my TBR with my challenge, as much as I can.  I can’t commit to a book buying ban, even though the deals should be slowing down into the New Year, but I will continue to be prudent.

Writing Challenges:

12 Short Stories in 12 Months:  Last year I did a Facebook group that turned into its own separate site, 12 short stories in 12 months, hosted by writers write teacher Mia Botha.  It’s out of South Africa, and it is free, and last year I and 29 other people completed 12 short stories throughout the year with a deadline and a prompt.  I recommend it to anyone looking to have a deadline, experiment, challenge themselves, and be part of a group.  Comments people leave are mainly supportive on stories.  I have slacked on commenting so as I do it this year I am planning on being more consistent with leaving feedback.  But absolutely this will be done again and I am considering forcing myself to experiment genres with it, instead of doing contemporary.  It has gotten my wheels turning, for sure.  I would try for writing a short story a week if I didn’t have other things to do with my spare time.

More  Reading for Writing (which might mean less fiction to be discussed in blogging):  This entails reading the books I have on writing, the nonfiction books I have that I want to use in some ideas I have, reading more publications that I might want to submit to, eventually, things of that ilk.  I mentioned at the end of last year I have to slow down the novel/fiction binge, especially knitting while listening to a book which is legit one of my favorite things ever in the known world.  But if I want to type up some stories I hand wrote last year, get more stories drafted, write up some things I have outlined on cards or in my notebook, work on more projects related to writing, then my default for a free chunk of time can’t always be turning on my latest book and picking up my needles.  I know.  I really know how to party.  This could mean less frequent posting, like every other week, but then I have figured out the next two posts after this to give myself a few weeks to read my 2018 Snow Read, so I have not moved my brain out of my fiction binge yet completely.

Just Get More on the Page:  I see contests springing up with the New Year, and I look at them and think, I don’t know if I have written enough to really have something to compete with.  I should have done the last contest with All About Writing and I might toss my hat in the next one, but really, I just need to write to have material to consider, to edit, to submit.  I have not made a plan to write more outside the deadlines for 12shortstories.  I have yet to figure this out.

My time is also eaten with crafting and training for competing, and I should train for something, if I don’t have to work extra with my husband’s possible layoff.  But trust me, no matter how busy I get, I will never give up novels again.

Comments/likes/shares are welcome!


Happy New Year! The Reading Challenge specs

So, reading challenges.  This is the third year I have been using them to shape my quest to be well read.  And it has done that.

Now that the 2018 lists are out, my motivation to make plans on what to procure and read to meet these has started.

And I am realizing that there will be overlap now that I have done a few of them.   I have already read celebrity memoirs and tackled books I hated/abandoned in school (there were not many, that is how uncool I am when it really comes down to brass tacks), but they are rearing their ugly heads again on the new wave of challenges.

Which is just as well, because I am considering BookRiot’s 2018 list, but what I need to be doing is focusing more on getting writing done.  Not even getting it out there, just getting it done.  Reading more specifically for writing:  reading journals I might want to submit to, reading the best examples of the genre, reading books on writing, reading books that will help me inform me into writing.

But I got the whole freaking 2017 challenge done.  This is amazing not because of the amount of reading, only 24 books of the 85+ I made it through this year, but the amount of reading what I didn’t want to read.  I like books without pictures.  I like books about white people problems.  I can only do so many books that break my heart.  And these challenges want pictures and want me to think outside my world.  What!

BookRiot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge:

A Book About Sports:  Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube:  Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North,  Blair Braverman

A Debut Novel:  The Book of Speculation, Erika Swyler

A Book About Books:  The Book Thief (finally!), Markus Zusak

A Book Set in Central/South America:  The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende

Read a Book by an Immigrant or a Central Immigration Narrative: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (also finally), Junot Diaz

Read An All Ages Comic:  Angry Birds Transformers

Read a Book Published Between 1900 and 1950:  The Green Mouse, Robert W. Chambers

Read a Travel Memoir:  Eat, Pray, Love (I can’t believe I still had not read it yet either), Elizabeth Gilbert

Read a Book You’ve Read Before: The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes

Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location:  Death in Saratoga Springs, Charles O’Brien

Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location: Soy Sauce for Beginners (Also a personal Read Down): Kirsten Chen

Read a fantasy novel: The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss

Read a nonfiction book about technology: Forensics, Val MacDermid

Read a book about war: A God in Ruins (Also a Read Down), Kate Atkinson

Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,  Benjamin Alire Saenz

Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country: The Complete Persepolis (Also a personal Read Down), Marjane Satrapi

Read a classic by an author of color: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Nora Neale Hurston

Read a superhero comic with a female lead: Storm, Vol 1:  Make it Rain, Greg Pak, Victor Ibanez and Matteo Buffagni

Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey (From Daniel José Older, author of Salsa Nocturna, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, and YA novel Shadowshaper): A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin

Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean, author of ten bestselling historical romance novels): Drawn Together, Z.A. Maxfield

Read a book published by a micropress. (From Roxane Gay, bestselling author of AyitiAn Untamed StateBad Feminist, Marvel’s World of Wakanda, and the forthcoming Hunger and Difficult Women): A Tender Industrial Fabric, Tony Altman

Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng, author Everything I Never Told You and the forthcoming Little Fires Everywhere): Interpreter of Maladies (Yeah for real I had not made it to this one either); Jhumpa Lahiri

Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. (From Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery series, including The Unquiet DeadThe Language of Secrets, and the forthcoming Among the Ruins): King of a Hundred Horsemen, Marie Etienne

Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi, author of sci-fi novel Ascension): The Sellout, Paul Beatty

With it all listed out before me like this, I am realizing how many modern classics I was able to knock out this year, like Oscar, like Eat Pray Love, like The Book Thief.  I feel particularly good about that. I think I made it to discussing most, if not all of these on the blog as we got through the year.

They all brought me something new, like reading challenge books are meant to do, but I have not thought up any awards, any specific ways in which some books stood out this year and apart from the others.

Your reading challenges from 2017?

I have to think over what my 2018 is going to look like before I craft that post.  This year I also did a half marathon, two sprint triathlons, wrote 12 short stories, did a ten day writing challenge and knitted many of the things.  My craft projects need a good craft down.

Comments/shares/likes are always appreciated!

Happy New Year!

Just a Few More Christmas Reads on the Eve

I just did not want to post end of year specs on Christmas Eve.    I mean, it’s Christmas Eve!  We have already begun to dip our toes into holiday magic!

I am trying to stay on top of my bills this holiday season so that is a bit of the magic to me!  And it was a process deciding what treats were to be made for what this season.  A fun process.  An I-Think-I-Have-A-Pinterest-Problem process.

Plus, free shipping day ended up being an issue for this girl buying stuff for herself because she hates paying shipping.  I even got myself a knitting book from Barnes and Noble because they let me combine a coupon with free shipping! Nearly unprecedented.

But instead of reviewing the year, which we certainly will do once the presents are opened and the feasts are consumed and the holiday glitter fades to a soft, contented glow.  I can’t wait to see my son’s excitement over his gifts tomorrow and his excitement to give out the gifts that he bought for others for the first time this year.

I have two more Christmas choices on the docket today, if by chance you are still looking for a Christmas novel to read, even into the New Year.  The first book I talk about is not about Christmas but gives me the feel good spirit of Christmas, coming together, connection, and love.

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A Man Called Ove, Frederik Backman

My father asked me to choose his Christmas books this year.  He had no particular requests so he said, “have you read anything that you think I might like?”

Well, I was not sure about that one.  He can be finicky and he has not my guilt about abandoning a book that is not working out for him.  He read Mr. Mercedes until the character and plot line he liked died and put it down because there was nothing, in his mind, left to read for.  Even more grievous was his inability to love All the Light We Cannot See.  He may not have finished it. I look too much like him to question my mother about my paternity after that trick, but it was called into question.

This is not to say I have not had some success:  we read The Sellout together this past summer, because we like to read Man Booker prizewinners and like I reviewed, The Sellout was hysterically funny.

I had not read A Man Called Ove but it was so heavily endorsed and for lovers of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a book my aunt gave to my father and which might be his favorite book of all time. I mean the man is 74 and he has been a reader his whole life, so his favorite book to top those piles is a real honor.  The themes and characters resonated with him so deeply that he left the room to cry through the end of it.

Anyway, I wanted to read Ove, so I sent him this one, which came before the other two, and then I listened to it while he read it, and we loved it.  He’s an initially unlikable character whose solid character is built up through the telling of his life story. Backman is awesome at holding his cards to his chest.  The surprises and the little twists are meted out at decent intervals. While I have been enjoying my unapologetically light Christmas books, I might miss some of the art of the way literary fiction tends to unfold. I had bubbling questions about how this man ended up married but with no children, married despite his rigid and unsociable style, the fact he was abandoned from a young age by the deaths of two beloved parents.  It’s a heart wrenching story of a man whose wife dies and he is forced into retirement, and just wanting to be with her back and desperately missing having his own purpose in life, plans out ways to kill himself.  He is continually foiled by the purposes he still has but of which he is unaware.  It is funny and heartwarming and is about love and purpose in unlikely places, people coming together, people supporting each other despite not always agreeing, people loving together.

Yes, I did read it simultaneously with my father at Christmas time, but this book is about the spirit of love that I think Christmas is meant for, more than the fact I read it with him at this time.  Fifteen plus thousand reviewers on Amazon can’t be, and weren’t, wrong.

P.S. The other two books I sent were The Best Small Fictions of 2017 and Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  I have sent him a few flash fiction collections in the past and they generally win.

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Starry Night, Debbie Macomber

Another library audiobook raid.  This one was a classic romance. Just a genre romance for Christmas.  Now, this season has been a decided departure from the classic Christmas reads of last year into the lighter stuff, and this fits.  Goodreads reviewers agree that if you need a light and fun holiday book, Macomber is your girl.  And clearly she does it well, as she is prolific and well known.

That said, this plot was very uncomplicated. It was not an unhealthy romance, although there was one part where I was a little testy with the male protagonist making demands of her when she did not owe him diddly.  Not a diddly thing.  I don’t want to get too much into it, just a writer looking to change her career is given an assignment to interview a reclusive author in Alaska and ends up getting stranded in his cabin for 48 hours in the middle of nowhere and they fall in love.  And then she has to return to her separate world and he has to figure out his demons to see if they can make it work.

I am glad I have been reading more romance.  It is helping me get over some of my reservations about the genre.  Life does not always require the heavy tomes.

That said, I am craving a snow read for January.  I have a couple being considered.  The Luminaries and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell set the bar a little high on the snow reads, though.  I was thinking about The Goldfinch before it becomes a movie, but undecided still. People seem to be really divided and love it or hate it and I have to decide if I want to give it a chance to get me through the 8-10 weeks of winter hell following Christmas.

That also said, if I want to do more writing in the new year I have to slow down on the novels.

I Pause in Making Christmas to be Well Read

So, in addition to the Christmas books that adorn my posts of December, I am also working on finishing the one reading challenge I made it through this year.

I considered doing Modern Mrs. Darcy but she wanted a book about modern issues and that was the last thing I wanted to read, which is pretty dramatic for me, as the books I talk about today were struggles but I made it through them.  I don’t want to read about our mad president, I don’t want to read about climate change and all the other mismanagements that will keep me up all night for the anxiety.  I would rather struggle through books I barely understand than increase my awareness of how screwed up everything is.  Argh.

Next week I shall bestow upon you all the list of everything I read for Book Riot’s Read Harder, but the ones I am discussing today are the last ones that made it under the limbo pole to count toward this year’s challenge.

A Nonfiction Book about Technology:


Forensics, Val McDermid

I spent most of the year hemming and hawing over what to read for my book about technology as it threatened the sweet place in the sand where I bury my head. There are so many books out there about the internet and how everyone knows everything about you and I doubt there is much I can do about that other than giving up the convenience of my online endeavors, like my deep and abiding love of Amazon.  We are in the middle of a Christmas season and I didn’t want to comb stores for the Lego set I wanted for my son.

Also I need a distinct human interest element to any book about technology. I want people’s stories and how they have changed through time, not something dry on this is how this works. Some people like that, but not me.

I noticed that this gem had been waiting on audio all along in my audible app, just waiting to be discovered.  And it is narrated by a woman with a Scottish accent because McDermid is Scottish herself!  Perfect. It is a primer on the technology used to detect whodunit, complete with famous historical vignettes. I would love to write and research historical fiction like she does and if I did I would absolutely want to make something separate out of my research.

I believe the many reviewers who reported that if you watch enough TV crime shows, much of these topics you already know something about, but I have not done a lot of crime solving TV in awhile.   So I liked it.  It was perfectly tailored to my level of ignorance, and talked about the differences in justice systems around the world, which was a nice touch.

Runners Up: Thunderstruck, Erik Larssen, The Wright Brothers, David McCullough

A Collection of Poetry on a Theme Other than Love:

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King of a Hundred Horsemen, Marie Etienne

I refused to rate this on Goodreads because I didn’t understand it.  There are some brave souls on Goodreads who must have a different, or any understanding at all, of this collection, who rated it, but I needed academic help.  I read it.  The last segment of poetry about birds resonated and made sense but I wandered through the rest.  She very possibly could be brilliant, people who know something about something think she is, so I am in no position to refute that even if I find her work inaccessible.  Does this help my reader understand how little I wanted to read a book about modern issues facing our world? That I would get through a hundred pages of translated poetry I didn’t understand?

I love Mary Oliver, and Stanley Kunitz, and Roald Dahl, and the poetry collections I have on my shelves but this was tough.   I needed context, the old Gothic classrooms and an PhD student at my alma mater to get me through this.   But I did it.  There you go, Ausma Zehanat Khan, author that made me do it!  Anyone who has a better understanding is welcome to help me out here.

Also, thanks to BookRiot for posting about possible fit ins for this category.  It would have been a challenge to even find a  book that would qualify.

A Book Published by a Micropress:

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Tender Industrial Fabric, Toby Altman

This was Roxane Gay’s brainchild and I do love me some Roxane, especially on the Twitter, but I didn’t understand this one either.  There were more stanzas and pieces that made sense that I could hang on to, like some descriptions of grief, sexuality, love and nature.

This looked to me like an artistic labor of love, even though it was somewhat lost on me, which I don’t even like to admit, because I think I am missing out a little here by not getting it.  I don’t know.  My father is a poet and where I get my love of writing and he has always seemed unapologetic about not understanding a poem, even if The New Yorker took it, but really, I have a deep and abiding fear that everyone else really does know more than I do sometimes.  And I am missing out.  Even as it is sitting next to me for this review I keep reopening it and hoping the magic will beam out at me, like it got over its shyness. Naw.

But probably all micropresses and their projects are, by definition, labors of love.

All right, so the roundups continue next week with what I did for BookRiot.  I could have really binged to make it through Popsugar too but I have done slightly more writing this year.  And that is the ultimate goal whilst there is available brain space. A limited commodity.


Comments/shares/likes are welcome!!!

It’s a Chick-lit Christmas!

I hope everyone is in full swing of making Christmas or their own holiday of love and light.  It has not felt very Christmas where I am yet, with no snow and it has been mild.  We had a bonfire on both days of the weekend and were cleaning the yard.

I have taken a significant chunk out of my own holiday duties other than deciding what I am going to bake, other than the chex mix of my childhood.  Not the things in bags with the bagel chips in them.  While bagel chips are good they have no place in the chex mix of my childhood.  Not even since they seem to have crept into the online recipes which is entirely blasphemous.

Christmas is actually getting so close my husband is tempted to get into his new socks before I wrap them.

The love of Christmas reads rolls on.  End of year posts are also looming, but I had some sweet holiday reads for the car trip home to see my friends the weekend after Thanksgiving, a personal tradition I have had since before I had my baby.  Now that I have my baby he decorates for Christmas with his father while I am gone.  Win win.

Also briefly I have noticed that last year I was tackling the classic Christmas stories, reading all of the Dickens and Washington Irving and this year I am like, chick lit Christmas!  Algernon Blackwood has a Christmas tale that I need to read because I really like him but it wouldn’t fit in the parade of light Christmas books.

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Christmas Bliss, Mary Kay Andrews

So my cheapskate behavior around audiobooks has led me to library lends, which leads me to the more popular authors.  And I have been on a streak of the light stuff, so why not use a chance to get to know more of the more popular writers?

This one claims to be #4 in the Weezy and Bebe mysteries, but there was only one tiny mystery and it was not the entirety of Bebe’s plotline. It ended long before her bit of the plot was over with her pregnancy and her fiance.  So if you want a mystery, this is not really it.

But I can see why Bebe and Weezy are ongoing characters because they are both very fun, with antiquing and trying to pick the right man to marry this time.  It is also a humorous look into the South, with its social gatherings and status.  Does not make me want to move there but I can appreciate their love of a cheese ball for celebrations.  And those Christmas cookies sounded exquisite.

There is a piece of this that involves NYC at Christmas, spoiler alert, which puts it in common with my next read, which is all NYC at Christmas.  Low tension, mostly fun, goodreads agrees that it is quick. Won’t take you away from wrapping and keeping the true chex mix recipe alive and well.

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Angels at the Table, Debbie Macomber

The other audiobook of hers from the library is taking FOREVER to be available.  Whoever has it clearly does not know the appropriate speed with which to consume an audiobook.  Another first time experience with a popular author and it was just what I expected.

Angels checking out NYC on New Years accidentally bring together a couple too soon, and, as happens in romance novels, they manage to mess things up between each other with a little ‘help’ from the angels before they have a chance to get their relationship off the ground.  I think if you just want something feel good, low on family dysfunction (Christmas Bliss even had more family dysfunction than this one with an oppressive old school Southern matriarch making women grit their teeth) and not like insurmountable issues that make characters compromise themselves to make the relationship work, then this is it.  None of the romances I have read involve people compromising themselves for others, thankfully.

Angels are tops in my love of supernatural beings, not more so than in my love of witches, but I like the idea of the boundless goodness of angels, even some well-intentioned shenanies, like these angels get up to.  It’s Hallmark Channel Christmas, which I had a grad school roommate first expose me to.  I saw a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie drinking game, and I would so rock that.

The end of the year reading roundup is looming!  I don’t know if I have more Christmas reads to wrestle for posts. You will just have to be left in suspense.






Christmas Reads 2017 part 2

Christmas has thrown up in my house and in the world around me.   I worked Black Friday to come home to an erected tree with twinkling lights and ugly ornaments I made with my son as a Thanksgiving craft and lights strung around my porch.  I know my husband just did it because our son loves it and there are only a few magical Christmas years ahead for our little family.  So we will enjoy it, exhausting as it is, while it lasts.

In keeping with this, the two Christmas reads to kick off December are both heavy on the family.  Lots of grown up siblings entangled in the dramas of their own lives.  Perfect and fun if that is your thing.

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The Christmas Wedding, James Patterson

Also, this is my first James Patterson book.  I have mentioned before I am trying to be better about giving a chance to the super popular authors whose work sells in Wal-Marts and in impulse buy lanes and end up in the donated books in the box in the break room.  Trying to reduce my own prolific snobbery. So this one can break the seal on that.

And break the seal it did.  It is about a widow who asks her four grown children to return on Christmas to attend her surprise second wedding with an unknown groom.  There is the usual family drama to keep things interesting, but this is a heavily Christmas-y, heart warming Christmas tale, I think done pretty well with a man writing from the point of view of an older woman who has raised four children.

It was exactly what it promised to be.  The sweet diversion of a book just under five hours with some drive time and walk time in there.  There was enough family drama without it being too nerve wracking and intense. I have to admit I was not completely on edge about who the bride was going to choose because the story was more than that, and I cared about other plotlines just as much as her little story about choosing one of three men who had all asked her and were waiting to be chosen.  And it felt more solidly Christmas related than the Holly Martins that I very much enjoyed that I reviewed last week.  Maybe because this story was more American?  Don’t know, but I am glad the library had it on audio for me to borrow.

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Winter Street, Elin Hilderbrand

I had bought this one last year for the parade of Christmas reads and did not get around to it.  Was apparently reading about too many other wet panties, I guess.

This one was very similar to The Christmas Wedding in that it had to do with a grown up family coming together for a rare adult sibling Christmas.  The drama in this one is actually around a stepmother leaving a father and their son serving in Afghanistan who all the kids are worried about, as well as the ex wife.

Every sibling has their own story, their own love story or professional story, and you get to hear everyone’s piece: about how the family was started and how it changed over time to make the characters in the story giving each other sensible adult gifts and fervently wishing the best for one another.

This is actually the first in a series and I might read more of the series as I go.  I did like it, it was fun without being overdone.  I love the stories of families.  I think it is why I work with them professionally, and I think about how characters in stories become who they are because of how they started off in a family.  Another recommend.  It has some love stories but it’s about all kinds of love.

Next week is more Christmas reads.  I will be attending a Santa breakfast and doing all sorts of holiday related stuff with my son.

Thinking about what my reading in the new year is going to look like and what my goals are for 2018.  Also, I have like a read and a half for Read Harder to make it through.  I swear I am still working on it. The last two categories I am reading might kill me.


Christmas Reads: Because Thanksgiving is Over

My best friend is a firm believer that there is no Christmas until Thanksgiving is over.  This is because he is not a parent and he loves Thanksgiving infinitely more than he loves Christmas.

I don’t have the luxury of a statute of limitations.  If I don’t get a head start Christmas is even more exhausting than usual.  I have wrapped gifts downstairs and I have to get to PetSmart because my son asked Santa to be sure he brought things for the dog, so I have to keep the magic alive.

Christmas seems to be a falling in love season.  The first time I fell in love was the fall, but I get why seasonal Christmas reads have been focused around a couple finding love in the holiday of love and light.

And I have to admit the ones I discuss today helped me give romance novels a bit of a break. I want romance novels to end in healthy relationships, and both of these books end in healthy relationships where people are growing together as people.  And while there was sex, it wasn’t erotica.  And no wet panties. I don’t like discussions of wet panties.

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Christmas Under a Starlit Sky, Holly Martin

So both of these Holly Martin books are set at Christmas, but Christmas does not feel as central to the plot as other holiday romances I have read.  Otherwise, though, I like her settings of remote British Isles that are vacay spots.  Vacay spots do increase the festivity rating of a book.

This one had more conflict in it than the other one I am reviewing.  There are two plotlines where the resolutions are drawn out longer.  I looked and it was written later than the other one, which makes sense that there are two distinct plot lines with the conflict heaped on, in contrast to the other.

One couple is trying to make something work after a breakup because the guy moves away to be an actor and another is trying to figure out if they can take a chance on love when it might turn long distance and they are both healing from other failed relationships. Both involve how to manage the long distance thing and I like that it does not always work out that the couple feels that their true place is home.  I get annoyed with authors who end romances with home being where people belong and not on their adventures.

But I liked the characters, I like that the women did not have to be movie star beautiful and they are competent and hard working and feel fulfilled by their work already.

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Christmas at Lilac Cottage, Holly Martin

I could definitely see that this was an earlier novel of hers, but sometimes a little less conflict is a good thing and it’s relaxing.  I like that her books involve family themes and wanting to be part of families.  I like finding Mr. Right instead of Mr. Right now or Mr. Wish FulFilment.  I mean these guys were good looking but they weren’t bad boys at hear and I have never been into bad boys. I like something easy and seasonal and fun.

This was just one plot line about a woman finding her place in a ready made family and the conflict was centered around that more than it was around poor behavior from the guy.

I would recommend both of these for curl up Christmas reads as a break from holiday bustle.  She has a lot of books out for low prices on Kindle, and they are series, so that makes it even easier to binge.


Happy kickoff to Christmas!  More holiday reads next week.