Is it just me or did Christmas day sneak up on us like a red-and-green-tinseled panther? Somehow CeeCee and I got too busy to share all of our festive holiday reads with our lovely readers. Heck—we didn’t even have time to get a dang tree! But somehow in between the hellacious mall excursions and holiday happy hours, we made time to get through a huge pile of seasonal mysteries…and maybe even a romance or two because Christmas brings out the sap in us.
So here’s some books that are sure to warm your soul and maybe even give you the goosies!
Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett
The gist: The story follows the life and death of Jacob T. Marley, a terrible, awful, repugnant man who took his love of money to a sick and twisted level. On his deathbed, he has an epiphany that changes the course of his afterlife. He then goes on a quest to save Scrooge’s soul.
The verdict: If you’re going to read just one book during the yuletide season, let it be this one! Hard-core Dickens fans, have no fear! This Christmas Carol spin-off is very true to the original masterpiece. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that Mister Dickens came back from the grave and wrote it himself! Perhaps he did and is using a pseudonym? Either way, this is a wonderful tale about hope, redemption and the everlasting power of human kindness. I especially love this quote:
“Are spirits so involved in men’s lives? Marley asked.
Mankind is involved in men’s lives. We only help them know how.
…Jacob, all around you, every day, as you walk the miles of earth, there are calls to your spirit and to all others’ spirits as well. They come from your fellow beings and from life itself: the way the sun highlights a tree, a bird song lilting across the morning, the smell of flowers. All these are for your joy, but also for more. They call you.”
Death, Taxes and Mistletoe Mayhem by Diane Kelly
The gist: The story follows characters from two different mystery series. It starts off with Tara, and IRS agent who is tracking down a thief who’s making false claims about stolen jewelry. The others (my favorite!) is Megan, a mall cop and her goofy four-legged partner, Brigit. Together, they’re tracking down the perp and helping a broken-hearted Santa find love again.
The verdict: This fun little novella pretty much sold me on Diane Kelly’s books. The dialogue is snappy, the female crime-fighters are fun and feisty, and there’s even a dog thrown in the mix! Multiple narratives are woven throughout the chapters and Brigit even gets to partake in the narration. Miss Kelly writes a good whodunit, and I especially love the characters’ zany antics. Tara is clearly passionate about bringing tax fraud perps to justice—and she won’t hesitate to take down a sweet ol’ lady in an ugly Christmas sweater. Megan, on the other hand, isn’t as fearless. But with help from her goofy sidekick, she’ll muster up the courage to lay down the law. I especially loved the scene with the teenage shop-lifters. Hilarious stuff! Can’t wait to join them both on more adventures.
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
The gist: A burned out journalist goes on an epic coast-to-coast train trip to rejuvenate his writer’s soul. The journey is filled with twists, turns and derailments when his ex (the one that got away!) and current girlfriend hop aboard. What are the odds? Their linear routes soon get altered and their destinations take a different course. So many fun train metaphors!!!
The verdict: This is a heart-warming audiobook (expertly narrated by Tim Mathison) that I keep coming back to every December. I love how all the passengers turn from strangers to family members as the story progresses. They all have their own little quirks and agendas that come to a head in the final chapters. There’s theft, conspiracy, hidden secrets and—above all else—steamy (pun intended) romance! The Hallmark movie is cute, but of course the book is better. What I truly love about this book is the underlying message that life isn’t about getting from point-A to point-B. That we need to slow our roll and relish the short time we have on earth by being present and taking the time to get to know the people we meet. This passage sums it up:
“It’s been my experience that most folk who ride trains could care less where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way. You see, at every stop this train makes, a little bit of America, a little bit of your country, gets on and says hello. That’s why trains are so popular at Christmas. People get on to meet their country over the holidays. They’re looking for some friendship, a warm body to talk to. People don’t rush on a train, because that’s not what trains are for. How do you put a dollar value on that? What accounting line does that go on?”