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Cozy Christmas Shorts from Gemma Halliday Publishing

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Cozy Christmas Shorts from Gemma Halliday Publishing Cozy Christmas Shorts by Gemma Halliday, Leslie Langtry, Kelly Rey, Jennifer L. Hart, Gin Jones, T. Sue VerSteeg, Traci Andrighetti, Anna Snow, Jennifer Fischetto, Janel Gradowski
Series: Tahoe Tessie #1.5, Greatest Hits #8, Amelia Grace #2.5, , Franki Amato #2.5, Southern Pasta Shop #1.5, Working Stiff Mysteries #2.5, Culinary Competition #2.5, Helen Binney Mysteries #3.5, Jamie Winters #1.5, Gianna Mancini Mysteries #1.5
Published by Gemma Halliday Publishing on September 5, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Anthology, Cozy Mystery, Christmas
Pages: 544
Format: eBook
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11 holiday themed cozy mystery short stories by New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors! Short holiday bites perfect for enjoying while waiting in holiday lines or binge-reading over a cup of hot cocoa.

This LIMITED TIME collection includes the holiday short stories from some of our most popular series:

Baby It's Cold Outside (Tahoe Tessie Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday & Sue VerSteeg

Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Greatest Hits Mysteries) by Leslie Langtry

Sleighed at Castle Rock (Amelia Grace Rock 'n' Roll Mysteries) by Anne Marie Stoddard

The Blonde Before Christmas (Barb Jackson Mysteries) by Anna Snow

Rosolio Red (Franki Amato Mysteries) by Traci Andrighetti

Christmas Al Dente (Southern Pasta Shop Mysteries) by Jennifer L. Hart

Ornamental Danger (Working Stiff Mysteries) by Kerri Nelson

Christmas Canapés & Sabotage (Culinary Competition Mysteries) by Janel Gradowski

A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death (Helen Binney Mysteries) by Gin Jones

Motion for Mistletoe (Jamie Winters Mysteries) by Kelly Rey

Christmas, Spies & Dead Guys (Gianna Mancini Mysteries) by Jennifer Fischetto

This was my last Christmas read for the season. Like most anthologies, it has its ups and downs. Each of these short stories fits into a series, but the only series I had read before is the Southern Pasta Shop mysteries. I will say that each story gave a good feeling for the main character and style of mystery and I’d like to read more of a few of them.

Most of the mysteries were cute and fun, but I did have a few favorites. I didn’t really hate any of them, but there were a couple that I wasn’t fond of.

Favorites:

“Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas” by Leslie Langtry – The Bombay family may be assassins, but they are funny, pragmatic, inventive and really care about each other. And I loved the spin they took with And Then There Were None.

“A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death” by Gin Jones – Helen, the main character, seems like an interesting lady, even though she’s one of the people who seem to attract murders. I loved some of the descriptions of the gingerbread houses and even though the mystery was wrapped quickly and maybe too easily, it was a short story so that’s forgivable.

“Motion for Mistletoe” by Kelly Rey – I just loved the characters in this one. And the bit of Christmas magic.

Least Favorites:

“Rosario Red” by Tracy Andrighetti – Grandma’s missing and of course her granddaughter the PI comes home to investigate. I just didn’t like where the plot went, it all seemed a bit silly.

“Sleighed at Castle Rock” by Anne Marie Stoddard – This one actually took place in the summer, with a “Christmas in July” theme. I didn’t care for the characters and the mystery was blah.

Overall, this collection was a good Christmas read. The mysteries are light and easy to read and I liked the little sparks of romance in several of them. They are short stories, so the plots are not overly involved and a couple are barely mysteries, but I enjoyed it.

 

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod

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Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod
Narrator: John McLain
Series: Peter Shandy #1
Published by Audible Studios on November 6, 2012
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Christmas
Length: 7 hrs 42 mins
Format: Audiobook
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For years, Professor Peter Shandy has been badgered by Jemima Ames, Assistant Librarian and Annual Chairperson, to decorate his campus home for the Grand Illumination which is Balaclava Agricultural College's main fund-raising event. Now he can hold out no longer.

Goaded to madness, he buries his small brick house under an avalanche of plastic reindeer, flashing lights, and fake Santa Clauses. Hooks up an amplifier blaring "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth," locks the switches at "on", and escapes to sea on a tramp steamer.

Shipwrecked and conscience-stricken, he crawls back to face his irate colleagues, and finds Jemima Ames dead on his living room floor. Police and security guards say it's an accident; Shandy says it's murder. President Thorkjeld Svenson says he'd better find out the truth without wrecking the Illumination... or the next corpse will be Shandy's.

I had never read anything by Charlotte MacLeod until I read her story in Mistletoe Mysteries a couple of weeks ago. When I was looking for a Christmas mystery that I hadn’t read yet, I ran across Rest You Merry. Since her story in the collection had been fine, not one of my favorites but not one I disliked, and this is the first in a series, I decided to give it a listen. I’m glad I did. Peter Shandy is a great character and the way the holiday tied into the mystery was well-done. I don’t want to spoil anything but the way the murder was covered up was very Christmassy.

I loved the beginning. After being begged for years to decorate his house for the annual celebration/fundraiser, Peter finally does, and goes purposely way overboard and tacky –  and then leaves town. Perfect. Of course, he has to come back and face the (too loud) music earlier than he expected. He  finds a murdered woman in his house.

The mystery was okay. I guessed part of the solution early, but I really liked the reason behind the killings. Also, I love that Arsène Lupin was mentioned, since I just discovered his stories earlier this year.

The characters were my favorite part of the book. Peter is smart and funny and his romantic interest is just a little too perfect for him, but that’s okay. The president of the college kinda feels like a Viking, and most people seem to be reasonably afraid of him. The other professors and staff have their own quirks and habits. I’m actually looking forward to spending more time in this college town.

About Charlotte MacLeod

Charlotte MacLeod, born in New Brunswick, Canada, and a naturalized U.S. citizen, was the multi-award-winning author of over thirty acclaimed novels. Her series featuring detective Professor Peter Shandy, America’s homegrown Hercule Poirot, delivers “generous dollops of…warmth, wit, and whimsy” (San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle). But fully a dozen novels star her popular husband-and-wife team of Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn. And her native Canada provides a backdrop for the amusing Grub-and-Stakers cozies written under the pseudonym Alisa Craig and the almost-police procedurals starring Madoc Rhys, RCMP. A cofounder and past president of the American Crime Writers League, she also edited the bestselling anthologies Mistletoe Mysteries and Christmas Stalkings.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey

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Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey
Published by Carina Press on November 21, 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Christmas
Pages: 110
Format: eARC
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After a messy breakup, Leigh Holloway is ready to start her life over. Until her parents put the family home on the market and call her back for one final, memory-making Christmas. The last thing she wants to do is deprive her mom of the perfect holiday, so she'll lie her way through the visit and worry about her future in the New Year. Too bad the only bar in town is owned by a guy she seriously wronged in high school.

Leigh's best friend broke Croy Dawson's heart, and Croy knows it was Leigh's fault. They've never liked each other, but Croy isn't cruel: he'd never turn away a pretty woman in need of some family-Christmas fortification. He doesn't expect her to drink just enough candy-cane martinis to tell him her secrets—and he definitely doesn't expect to get caught up in her holiday madness.

Despite the surprising love and laughter, Croy and Leigh can't escape the truth: he can't walk away from his family obligations and she has a life and career to reboot. But anything is possible if your holiday comes with a twist…

Holiday with a Twist is just a sweet, feel-good Christmas romance. It’s light and fun and a perfect seasonal read for me. Leigh keeping her breakup and quitting her job a secret from her family is silly, but in all honesty I like when the “issue” between the two main characters in a romance isn’t a big deal that takes a lot to overcome. Croy and Leigh were friends forever, even if they haven’t talked to each other in years, and I like how they settle back in to the friendship. They’re a good couple. They know each other well, good and bad, and still fall in love. This is a novella, so the attraction is almost instant and the relationship evolve quickly, but I bought it.

Holiday with a Twist is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise! Love that! I don’t have to worry if it’ll work out or not, they promise it will. When I need a light romance, I tend to turn toward Carina Press – maybe that’s why. I’ll probably be picking up more of Shannon Stacey’s books. That’s another reason I like novellas, they let you try new authors without a huge commitment.

About Shannon Stacey

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and riding her four-wheeler. From May to November, the Stacey family spends their weekends on their ATVs, making loads of muddy laundry to keep Shannon busy when she’s not at her computer. She prefers writing to laundry, however, and considers herself lucky she got to be an author when she grew up.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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