A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Campbell

A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Campbell

Publisher/Year: Anna Campbell, 2015

Format: E-book (Kindle)

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐



There’s a pirate in the manor house!

What is vicar’s daughter Bess Farrar to do when the dashing new earl, the man gossip paints as a ruthless pirate, kisses her the day they meet? Why, kiss him right back, of course! Now Lord Channing vows to claim the lovely firebrand, despite interfering villagers, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises mayhem–and a lifetime of breathtaking passion.

Pursued by the pirate…

Bess Farrar might be an innocent village miss, but she knows enough about the world to doubt Lord Channing’s motives when he kisses her the very day they meet. After all, local gossip insists that before this dashing rake became an earl, he sailed the Seven Seas as a ruthless pirate.

Bewitched by the vicar’s daughter…

Until he unexpectedly inherits a title, staunchly honorable Scotsman Rory Beaton has devoted his adventurous life to the Royal Navy. But he sets his course for tempestuous new waters when he meets lovely, sparkling Bess Farrar. Now this daring mariner will do whatever it takes to convince the spirited lassie to launch herself into his arms and set sail into the sunset.

A Christmas marked by mayhem.

Wooing his vivacious lady, the new Earl of Channing finds himself embroiled with matchmaking villagers, an eccentric vicar, mistaken identities, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. Life at sea was never this exciting. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises hijinks, danger, and passion–and a breathtaking chance to win the love of a lifetime.

What I thought

I know, I know…reading a Christmas story during Easter time…who am I? I don’t care, I will read Christmas stories throughout the year. And I really enjoyed this one! It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read or anything, but I enjoyed this quick read enough that I’ll probably add it to my Christmas reading list. I was actually impressed by what Anna Campbell did with this story in the space of this little novella. The writing flowed well, and the two main characters were pretty well developed for a novella. For the most part, this was just a sweet, romantic story with a little bit of steam. I loved the banter between the two MC’s and the “will they? won’t they?” aspect, and although there wasn’t a lot of conflict, sometimes I just want a sweet, mushy story to make me feel happy. And I would really love to see these two featured in a full-length story, not gonna lie. All in all, I was genuinely and pleasantly impressed with this little novella, and it’s a perfect little read if you’re looking for a cute Christmas-y romance.

Silver Bells by Luanne Rice

Silver Bells by Luanne Rice
Publisher/Year: Bantam Books, 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 298
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The enchantment of the holidays meets the pure storytelling genius of New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice as she presents readers with a special gift for the season and a Christmas favorite in the making…

On a quaint, snowy Chelsea street, librarian Catherine Tierney and a widowed Christmas tree seller from Nova Scotia will rediscover the magic of the season, in a chance encounter that leads to a holidays surprise of love and hope powerful enough to last a lifetime.

What I thought

Update – 2020

Still found this a charming, easy-to-read Christmas tale. While nothing remarkable, this book is a cozy and enjoyable read–perfect for some light reading during the holidays! I love the thought of Christmastime in NYC!

Initial review – 2010

There is just something about this semester that has me craving brain candy and sweet-and-sappy stories. This is obviously not going to become the next literary classic, but if you’re looking for a story to get yourself in the holiday mood, I recommend giving Luanne Rice a try.

This is one of the rare (and I mean very rare) occasions where I’ve seen the movie before reading the book. I actually had no idea that this book existed until I had watched the Hallmark movie adaptation. I liked the movie a lot, and quickly added it to my Christmas movie repertoire. I was then planning on checking this out of my library until I realized that I owned a copy. D’oh.

When I first started this, I wasn’t too sure about it. It just didn’t grab me like I had been hoping it would. Once I gave it the time to develop the plot a little bit, I started enjoying it immensely. I found myself looking forward to the little breaks I had in between homework assignments so that I could curl up with this. I eventually found myself surprised at how much they had changed or left out from the movie, even though that shouldn’t really surprise me.

The plot of the story always kept me interested, but be forewarned that it can get pretty cheesy. However, despite that, it was not predictable at all. The chronology of the book is completely different than the movie, so it even had me guessing from time to time. The only thing that I found a little predictable was the location of the silver bells, but it was easy to look past that.

This was such a heartwarming story, and one of my favorite parts about reading this book was that it completely transported me to NYC at Christmas time. I’m not quite as familiar with NYC as the author, so some of the streets and area descriptions were lost on me. I did get chills though when she described the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting. Rice really had a handle on the hustle and bustle of the city during the holiday season, and I enjoyed the escape from end-of-semester work that this book gave.

I also enjoyed each of the characters. Rice gives enough background to let the reader know her characters and to get a feel for the way that they would act. We know and understand why Catherine is haunted, why Christy can be hard on his son, and why Danny wanted to escape to NYC so badly. The dialogue was written effectively, too. It just seemed completely natural, which made it easy to forget that I was actually reading a book. I heard the voices perfectly, even down to the inflections of the words.

Overall, it’s the perfect book to curl up with if you’re in the mood for some cheesy holiday fun! It’s an easy read if you’re looking to take your mind off of some stress, and will be guaranteed to leave you with a smile.

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins
Publisher/Year: Abingdon Press, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 216
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Can the broken heart of a child be healed by an unexpected Christmas letter?

Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Every Christmas, the final decoration Marge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed, that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

However, a message delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery letter found in a Bible put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that the boy has never known.

What I thought

Something you need to know about me (which will explain A LOT): I LOVE Christmas. It is my absolute favorite holiday–so much so that I’m one of those weirdos who can listen to Christmas songs or watch Christmas movies or read Christmas books at any time throughout the year.

So right now, when I need literally anything that will bring me happiness, when I saw this come up on my list, I welcomed it with open arms. And turns out, its sentimentality was just what I needed. Reminiscent of It’s A Wonderful Life and with a bit (but not too much) of a Christian focus, I found this to be a sweet and simple tale of a WWII Christmas that will remind you of what this season is all about. Aside from its message about the importance of hope and faith, it wasn’t a very deep book, but I was okay with that. And the Christian message was simplistic without being preachy. My favorite character was Calvin, hands down. I will say that I found the ending 100% unnecessary, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a complete sucker for a cheesy Christmas miracle.

A super sweet, nostalgic Christmas tale was just the thing to make me feel better, and I really enjoyed this one! It has definitely earned a place on my shelves to be enjoyed during Christmases yet to come.

Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen

Bah! Humbug! by Michael Rosen
Publisher/Year: Walker Books, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 187
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Harry Gruber has the starring role in his school’s production of A Christmas Carol, but his work-obsessed father cannot seem to put his cell phone down long enough to watch. As the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future take the stage, Harry’s father must face some ghosts of his own. Will the story’s message of holiday love reach his distracted heart?

Acclaimed children’s book creators Michael Rosen and Tony Ross deliver a perfect gift for the whole family in this shrewd update of Dickens’s beloved tale.

What I thought

I am such a fanatic for all things Christmas that I can read and enjoy a Christmas book at any time of year. So when I received this last month and saw that it was a retelling of one of my favorite Christmas stories, I was pretty excited! I’ll be honest though, I think that this is a book that would be best enjoyed by its intended audience, aka kids. As an adult who has read A Christmas Carol countless times, I can’t say that this brought anything new to the table for me. However, I think this would be a great way to introduce young readers to Dickens’ classic tale. The script format makes this easily readable, and I think it would even encourage reading aloud. The illustrations are absolutely adorable and have a quirky quality that I loved. The storyline involving Harry and his family kept the story moving forward and offered a modern, if slightly predictable, take on Scrooge’s tale. I will say that I had the feeling that these characters were first introduced in another book maybe, as I couldn’t help feeling like I was missing something.

Overall, this was a quick and quirky take on A Christmas Carol that I think young readers would love. Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a free, finished copy!

Must Love Mistletoe (Holiday Duet #1) by Christie Ridgway

32950597 Must Love Mistletoe by Christie Ridgway
Publisher/Year: Christie Ridgway, 2011
Format: E-book
Pages: 242
Rating: 🌟🌟



Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Bailey Sullivan can’t stand Christmas, even though her family’s business is a store specializing in the perfect holiday. But now her hometown’s chief supplier of rooftop Rudolphs and treetop angels is in danger of going under–and it’s up to Bailey to save the shop.

She has it all planned: She’ll arrive on December 1 and be gone by Christmas. Plus there’s always spiked eggnog to ease the pain. But “Humbug” Bailey’s not the only one home for the holidays. Finn Jacobson, legendary local bad boy turned Secret Service agent and Bailey’s long-lost high-school boyfriend, is once again the boy next door. Only this time he’s all grown up, and the sparks are flying faster and hotter than ever!

Bailey believes in true love about as much as she believes in Santa Claus. But as the holiday draws closer, she’s starting to think about one thing she’d like to find under the tree…

What I thought

This was one of those books that just wasn’t for me, unfortunately. Honestly, I wish I liked it more than I did. I loved the general idea of the story, but for me, the execution just fell through. I stress that this is just my own opinion because I really didn’t think this was a bad book. I just thought it was okay.

I think part of the problem was that I found myself unable to really connect to the characters. Objectively, I knew that it was the bad boy/good girl, both with trust issues, thing between Bailey & Finn, but I thought how it actually played out was lacking. Half the time, I got the impression that they didn’t even like each other, it was just about sex, so the “falling in love” wasn’t believable.

My biggest issue was Bailey’s lack of character development. She had a chip on her shoulder for the entire story & I get it–she has HUGE trust issues. But she doesn’t change throughout the whole novel & yet has this epiphany right at the end? I’m sorry, but I didn’t buy it. Also, minor annoyance–I really, really, really did not like the nickname GND. I don’t really know why that bothered me so much, but it did.

I hate to sound so negative. There were some things I did like. As I said before, I really did like the premise. It was cute & romantic enough to put you in the holiday mood with some naughty bits on the side. I adored The Perfect Christmas, and it made me nostalgic for the days I spent working in a a “‘Tis the Season Shoppe.” Plus, the occasional humor really helped to lighten up some of the more dramatic parts.

Overall, for me this turned out to be an “okay” read. A few issues, mostly lack of connection, kept me from loving this. But if you are looking for a simply entertaining story with some angst to put you in a Christmas mood, this might be the book for you.

Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid


Christmas with Tucker by Greg Kincaid
Publisher/Year: Doubleday, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 180
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟




The sleeper hit of 2008, A Dog Named Christmas became a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie a year later, seen by more than twelve million people in the United States alone. Now, in Christmas with Tucker, Greg Kincaid brings back one of that book’s most endearing characters, sharing the moving story of George, a young boy dealing with the loss of his father, and the dog that comes into his life to offer him hope and a touch of courage.

It is the winter of 1962, and Kansas is hit with one of the worst blizzards in its history. It is during this cruel season that twelve-year-old George is called upon to endure more than even most grown men could withstand–the death of his father and the upkeep of the family farm that is his legacy.

When his mother and sisters leave for Minnesota, George has only his grandparents and the companionship of Tucker, an Irish setter, to help him persevere through these most difficult challenges. Can he find the strength to walk the road that leads to healing, find his true self, and ultimately become a man? A coming-of-age story for readers of all ages, Christmas with Tucker is a classic Christmas tale about a young man’s love for his dog, his family, and his farm.

What I thought

I’m a sucker for heartwarming, Hallmark-esque stories and especially those that take place during Christmastime. Christmas with Tucker fit that bill. Not only that, but I also love coming-of-age stories set during the ’60s/’70s, so this book was right up my alley. All in all, I really enjoyed this. Kincaid’s writing wasn’t anything fantastic, but I thought the story is what shone here. I actually teared up at the end. One of the things I particularly enjoyed was that this story wasn’t fluff entirely, it did have substance to it. I can definitely see myself revisiting this around Christmas, and I want to continue with the series. Sometimes predictable, sometimes sappy, and sometimes simply nostalgic, Christmas with Tucker is everything a good comfort read should be.