Festive Fictions: Holiday Book Reviews
This Christmas, Emily Merkle (call her Mrs. Miracle!) is working in the toy department at Finley's, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than…Jake Finley, the owner's son. For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means just one thing to him—and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat. Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly's widowed brother is in the army and won't be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley's, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to afford it. Fortunately, it's Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others—and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking! This Christmas will be different. For all of them.
Debbie Macomber is, as it says on the back of this book, the official storyteller of Christmas. A multiple New York Times bestselling author, Debbie weaves tales of family, friendship, romance and the simple things in life. If you ever thought your Happy Place could be inside of a book, chances are you'll find it in a Debbie Macomber novel. This is a stand-alone sequel to her previous holiday story, Mrs. Miracle, which follows the delightful elderly spitfire Emily Merkle - nicknamed Mrs. Miracle - as she waltzes into the lives of others and drastically alters their Christmas plans. I actually enjoyed this story a bit more than the previous one, perhaps because it takes place amidst the bustling streets of New York City (it's Mrs. Miracle on 34th Street!) and there's no place more magical than Manhattan at Christmastime. This year circumstances brought me a very unconventional Thanksgiving, but curling up with this book made for a memorable and very festive holiday. It was such a joy to read. Call Me Mrs. Miracle was also made into a television movie for the Hallmark channel this year! It premiered on Saturday night and it was completely adorable, although quite different from the book. It will be airing throughout the month on Hallmark so keep your eyes open for it!
I had never read anything by Mary Balogh before this and now I'm wondering just why that was. This was a terrifically charming book with a very cozy winter setting. The verbal sparring between the two main characters reminded me of Darcy and Lizzy, sparking with chemistry and obstinacy on both sides. In a way similar to Pride and Prejudice the main characters of this book spend a lot of time at odds with each other and the misunderstandings seem to pile higher and higher as the story goes on...but the way the characters are able to overcome so much is quite endearing. I think if it had been a longer read the misunderstandings could have led to a good deal of frustration for the reader, but as it is it's a perfect read for a cozy weekend by the fire.
I loved this book! I think I read it in a day's time, staying up until the wee small hours (3am, to be exact) to finish because I simply couldn't leave these lovely characters for a moment. I've never read Lisa Kleypas before, and I intend to read much more right away. This is the fifth and final book in Lisa's Wallflower series, but it stands on its own. To my understanding, the previous Wallflower books must be read in order, but here the previous four heroines - The Wallflowers, as they call themselves - are secondary characters and it actually served as a fun introduction to all of them. I'm quite excited to go back and read each girl's individual story now, but here they all had me biting my lip to keep from laughing outright. I was reminded of the spunky villagers from Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford in a few scenes. The romantic leads - Rafe and Hannah - were strong characters with fantastic chemistry. There were readings of A Christmas Carol, a holiday ball, a Christmas tree decorating party (complete with an incident involving a toupee and a catapult - you must read this book!), sleigh rides, match-making, love letters, a rendezvous in the library...all manner of things that come together to make for a delightful holiday Regency romance.
The original Mrs. Miracle - which was also made into a Hallmark movie, and I should add that Emily Merkle is portrayed in both films by the wonderful Doris Roberts of Everybody Loves Raymond - is a heartwarming little Christmas story. It's a "You'll laugh, you'll cry" sort of novel, as many are that we label "heartwarming", but it maintains a light feel, due I'm sure to the bouncy Emily Merkle and the shenanigans of two young twin boys.
The Perfect Christmas is a romantic comedy of a novel. It was my introduction to Debbie Macomber and remains my favorite of her books. The main characters and their budding romance are all so unconventional, which makes for a fun and refreshing read. Although I read it last December I can still recall some scenes with perfect clarity; the whole thing played out much in the way of a Lifetime (or, dare I say it, a Hallmark) movie. It's lovely, festive and - as with any Debbie Macomber novel - full of warm wishes, valuable lessons and happy endings.
And there you have it, a rather lengthy compilation of books that will undoubtedly warm your heart and surround you with the delight of the holiday season. If anyone happens to read any of these on my recommendation do let me know what you think!