Monday, November 26, 2012

A Winter Wonderland

A Winter Wonderland is an anthology written by authors Fern Michaels, Holly Chamberlin, Leslie Meier, and Kristina McMorris. 

A Winter Wonderland by Fern Michaels

Angelica Shepard left New York for Christmas in Colorado to relax and unwind--but an out-of-control snowboarder almost had her laid to rest. When she wakes up in the hospital, all she remembers is the handsome angel who saved her...

A Winter Wonderland is the shortest of the four stories. I found it to be a nice story, which I liked, but a little different from what I expected. The description of the story did happen, it just wasn't the way Angelica, an off-off Broadway actress, and Parker North, a trauma surgeon, actually met. To me it seemed as if part of the story was missing. It goes from Angelica not wanting to have anything to do with Parker, to them complicating how they were going to make their relationship work with her being in New York and him in Colorado. I felt that the story seemed to be rushed to get to the end, I wish that it could have been longer.

The Joy of Christmas by Holly Chamberlin

Not all happiness is good for you--or that's what Iris Karr thinks when she decides to move away instead of marrying her sweetheart Ben. Even years later, living with that decision isn't easy--until a familiar face comes to call her home for the holidays...

This was a hard book for me to read. I wish I was able to connect to Iris’ character but I found it hard to do. I do feel really sorry for her because she loved her mother so much and her mother died on Christmas Eve. I can understand why she doesn’t like the month of December. She comes off as being hateful and resentful at times. She tends to say mean and ill-spirited things and then immediately knows she shouldn’t have said those things.

Bonnie, Iris’ mother was sick most of Iris’ entire life. Bonnie would get better and then have another relapse. Bonnie made a dying request of Iris about a month before she passed away. Iris refused to grant her mother her dying wish, thinking it would keep her alive. Shortly after her mother’s death, Iris turned her back on anyone and anything which reminded her of her mother and any semblance of happiness.

With the help of her surrogate mother, Bess, her good friend, Alec, and her mother’s spirit, Iris is finally able to come to grips with the past and put it behind her for a better and brighter future.

The Christmas Thief by Leslie Meier

 Elizabeth Stone is ready for a white Christmas in Tinker’s Cove, Maine--until a fancy Yule ball at the Florida hotel where she works dumps snow on her plans. The sponsor’s jewels have gone missing and the police are asking about her ties to a cute mystery guest. Good thing Elizabeth’s mother, Lucy Stone, flew down to surprise her. ‘Tis the season for a little investigating. 

Since I had never heard of Leslie Meier before reading this book, I was surprised to find a Christmas mystery in this anthology. If you are a fan of Ms. Meier, then you already know the name Lucy Stone. Lucy Stone has starred in over eighteen of the author’s cozy mystery novels. The Christmas Thief is a short story about Lucy’s daughter, Elizabeth.

I will admit that when I first started reading this book, I could NOT believe Elizabeth Stone. I understand she’s from a small town in Maine, but she now lives in Palm Beach, Florida.She really shouldn’t tell a complete stranger that her family is over 1,700 miles away and where she lives, just because he’s attractive. After getting over my initial thought that Elizabeth had lost her mind, I did start to like the book. I don’t know what part Miss Julia Tilley has played in other Lucy Stone mysteries, but Elizabeth and her mother definitely needed her help here. I found Miss Tilley to be no nonsense and very skilled for a ninety-year-old woman.

I loved that the book kept me guessing up until the very end. If you are new to reading Leslie Meier, like I am, this is a good book to get you started on. From my understanding, Elizabeth first appears in Mistletoe Murder which was written in 1998. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

The Christmas Collector by Kristina McMorris

Estate liquidator Jenna Matthews isn’t one for Christmas nostalgia. But when one grandmother’s keepsakes suggest a secret life, unwrapping the mystery leads Jenna--and her client’s handsome grandson--to the true heart of the holiday spirit.

This is another one of those books that could have taken place anytime of the year. The message behind the story has nothing to do with Christmas, the holiday spirit, good will towards man, blah, blah, blah. The Christmas Collector is more about realizing there isn’t anything wrong with a person having possessions that they hold dear and cherish. It’s a story about being proud of your past and the accomplishments you’ve made; even when those accomplishments at one point in time are frowned upon. This is a story of lost love and being able to realize that you shouldn’t conform to the way people or society tells you that you should. The Christmas Collector is a story of first love and taking chances, even when those chances could lead to heartache.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “In different ways, we all have voids to fill. Holidays, for a lot of people, can bring those feelings out even more. The best thing we can do is to fill our lives with things that matter, like...turning a favorite hobby into a job, or finding a person you’re crazy about. Even if none of those things come with guarantees.”

While this is my least favorite book out of the four in this anthology, I’m glad that I read it for the message it conveyed.

Rating: 3 1/4 (Overall I liked this anthology. Some books more than others.)
Release Date: Available Now
Book Length: 481 pages
Source: NetGalley
Purchase through: Amazon

Links to author websites:

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