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December 5, 2022

3 Very Different Christmas Stories for Your Holiday Reading

by Donna Huber

I love the holiday season and I start gobbling up holiday stories as soon as I'm done gobbling up turkey on Thanksgiving. I recently finished up three Christmas books that were pretty different from one another. One I didn't know was a Christmas book until I started reading it, so it wasn't on my Christmas reading list.

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Flight by Lynn Steger Strong

book cover of literary fiction novel Flight by Lynn Steger Strong
November 2022; Mariner Books; 978-0063135147
audio, ebook, print (240 pages); literary fiction

I didn't realize Flight was a Christmas story until I started reading it. It is set at Christmas but it isn't your typical Christmas book. Three siblings and their spouses gather for their first Christmas since their mother died. Anyone who has attended a family gathering will identify with one or more of the characters.

I had some trouble keeping the couples straight in the beginning even though we are introduced to them as couples in the first chapters. I even had some trouble remembering which ones were siblings. But I eventually got it straight in my head. 

Most of the chapters are long with a number of section breaks where we kind of hop from character to character (mostly the female characters). The book is written in third person so you aren't having to keep up with truly changing points of view, but we do get the perspective and inner thinking of individuals through the "hopping". 

If you aren't big on Christmas stories, then this would be a great one for you as it really could be any large family gathering. It is more of a family drama/slice-of-life type of story. The theme of motherhood and the focus on mothers is prevalent in this book. 

Obviously, there are issues for the siblings as they deal with the first Christmas after their mother's death. But Kate and Tess have children while Alice has suffered a number of miscarriages. Tess and Kate take different approaches to motherhood. Kate is a stay-at-home mom while Tess is a high-powered lawyer. Alice is a social worker who works in family and children services. The reader gets to see different thoughts and views on what it means to be a mother.

In addition to the siblings and their spouses, there is a side story of a young mother and her child. Alice is this woman's caseworker. While these two characters are more of a plot device, they also give a different perspective on the theme. 

If you are looking for more of a thought-provoking literary novel to read this holiday, then you should pick this one up. It is a short read, but it is not a quick read. There is a lot going on between the lines that require some digesting.

Buy Flight at Amazon

A Christmas Deliverance by Anne Perry

book cover of Victorian cozy mystery A Christmas Deliverance by Anne Perry
November 2022; Ballantine Books; 978-0593359105
audio, ebook, print (224 pages); cozy mystery

The last couple of years, I have read Anne Perry's Christmas novellas. There is something about a Victorian Christmas that gets me into the holiday mood. 

A Christmas Deliverance features a young doctor who runs a clinic for the poor who live and work around the Thames River. A horrible horse and cart accident occurs near the clinic and Dr. Crowe rushes to save the life of a woman who is pinned under a cart. She must stay at his clinic for a few days as she recovers and they spend a lot of time getting to know one another. Months after she has recovered he sees her on the corner with a man. They are arguing and the man slaps her. Crowe again rushes to her aide and his learns this man is her fiance. Crowe cannot understand why she intends to marry this man who she clearly detests. 

This book is lighter on the Christmas aspect than the previous two I've read. Since I read these stories to get into the Christmas mood, I was a little disappointed. 

I think this would have been better as a short story, rather than a novella. There is a lot of repetition. Some of it is necessary to show Crowe's worry and uncertainty surrounding his actions in regards to investigating the possible arson and insurance fraud at Ellie's father's warehouse. But some of it just felt like it was there to fulfill a word count. 

I really liked the characters. Most of the story is focused on Crowe, but we also get a few scenes with his apprentice Scuff. And there is the waif of a girl who Scuff and Crowe take in. She is probably 4 or 5. My heart broke a little when she offered her kitten as payment for Crowe stitching up a cut on her finger. The kitten is probably the only thing she has. it is her best friend. Thankfully Scuff recognizes the true cost to the girl and with sensitivity to her pride and dignity offers her a solution - she must also stay at the clinic to look after the kitten for them. This gives the child a safe place to sleep, food, and maybe more importantly a purpose as she helps around the clinic. She is adorable.

The Christmas Spirit by Debbie Macomber

book cover of Christmas novel The Christmas Spirit by Debbie Macomber
October 2022; Ballantine Books; 978-0593500101
audio, ebook, print (240 pages); holiday fiction

You may have read Susan's review of this book last week. I always look forward to Debbie Macomber's Christmas book. 

The Christmas Spirit is everything I expect from her Christmas story, yet it still had some unexpectant aspects.

One of the unexpected aspects was that the main characters are two guys who have been best friends since their school days. Pete is a paster and Hank runs a bar. Usually the Christmas stories I read feature a female protagonist. I really liked this unexpected twist. They are great characters. 

The plot is a familiar trope, but one that is a lot of fun. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? Well, Pete and Hank think the other has the easy life so they decide to switch places. It is just days until Christmas, one of the busiest times for both of them. What could go wrong? More importantly what will go right?

There are definitely a few cute moments - a mule gets loose on the square, a biker gang interrogates Pete. There are also a number of touching moments. All the things fans of Macomber's Christmas expect and love.

This book has a vibe similar to her Mrs. Miracle series instead of the romantic comedies she sometimes writes. I enjoyed and appreciated this unexpected aspect. While there is a bit of romance, it is nowhere near the focus of the plot and I again appreciated that as I read way too many holiday romances this time of year. 

I highly recommend this book if you are looking for the typical feel-good Christmas story. It gave me all the good holiday feels that I want in a Christmas novel.

Buy The Christmas Spirit at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

Looking for more holiday reads? Check out our 25 Days of Christmas Reading on Facebook. We are featuring free and discounted holiday stories as well as the Christmas books we've reviewed.

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