It’s been cloudy and chilly, it seems for weeks. Nothing says “curl up with a good book, a blanket and a hot cup of tea” like perpetual clouds and chilly air. If you love a good cozy mystery, or a nice little romance, or even a ghost story of sorts, then you’ll enjoy this little collection of Christmas novellas .. or what my friend, Chautona Havig likes to call “Noellas”. Get your blanket and tea or hot liquid of choice and snug down for a really good read (or two or three!!).
About the Book
Book: Comfort & Joy
Author: The Christmas Lights Collection: Alana Terry, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig
Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance, Cozy Mystery, Suspense, Christmas
Release Date: October 16, 2018
The third-annual Christmas Lights Collection is pleased to present: Comfort & Joy–four Christmas Novellas. From contemporary romance to cozy mystery and suspense, this diverse collection celebrates the comforts and joys of Christmas.
1 – Frost Heaves – (definition: “upward swelling in soil or roads during freezing conditions, caused by water expanding as it turns to ice”) This novella is written by Alana Terry. She lives in Alaska, so she knows ALL about things having to do with frost, and snow, and ice. This novel is more intrigue than mistletoe and holly. It gets quite tense, addressing some hard issues like cultic, abusive “churches”, so don’t expect “jingle bells” and skipping reindeer.
The spiritual values in this story are great, providing a sharp contrast to the way people with evil intent can use “church” as a means to their own end. The little girl in the story caught my attention, she made me laugh.
2 – Deck The Shelves by Toni Shiloh – A true book lover’s dream, to own a quaint little book shop in an old Victorian style house, living surrounded all day and night by books. But you can’t make a whole story out of that, so add a little romance, with some shyness on the part of both parties, add a good measure of spiritual challenges and growth, and Toni Shiloh creates a cozy story for a cold day.
Each chapter begins with a quote from a famous author, which I like, because it ties in a theme for the chapter. The romance part isn’t sappy or what I like to call “electric cheese”. …. and another cute little child 🙂
3 – The Christmas Glory Quilt by Cathe Swanson – A story about quilting?? I had my reservations, but this was a very interesting story about a young woman developing a wedding gown business. Her heritage was still celebrated by her family, as well as her aunt, who made very special quilts. Interwoven into the story is the challenge of someone struggling with dyslexia, one of the many “hidden” issues that people struggle with quite regularly.
The story was sweet, in every way. I enjoyed reading about the start of a new business in a quaint little country home. And enjoyed learning about a family that celebrates their heritage, along with Christmas celebration. The concept of Aunt Violet’s special quilts for each family member, complete with a notebook that explains each square is beautiful. It was very interesting and I fear my comments here do not do it justice.
4 – The Ghosts of New Cheltenham by Chautona Havig – One of the lines in “It’s a Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is “There’ll be scary ghost stories” … so Chautona had to oblige. Imagine a guy with plasmophobia (fear of ghosts) moves into an old, creaky house, and has to live there for a year. Shortly after moving in, he has to participate and succeed in an annual Christmas story telling contest .. with the subject being ghosts!! This, of course, has to be done in order to receive an inheritance. Odd things happen … but apart from the odd things … there’s a nice young woman who lives nearby. Taking place in one of fictional Rockland’s suburbs with a very strong British vibe (completely olde London-type feel), this was a fun ride.
I enjoyed this story for the old style feel of the location and the mystery of what’s going on and what’s going to happen. Another young person captured my heart and was the kind of daughter I would loved to have had (even though she was a younger sister in the story). OH …. and there was a kitten, Pinkerton!!! Can’t go wrong when you add a cat!!
I received this book as a gift, I was not obligated to provide a review or compensated in any way, except enjoying a great read.
Click here to purchase your copy!
About the Authors
Pastor’s wife Alana Terry is a homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second. You can find her at alanaterry.com
Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. You can find her at tonishiloh.wordpress.com
She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.
Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years, and the long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again. You can find her at catheswanson.com
Amazon bestselling author of the Aggie books and Past Forward, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave desert where she uses story to connect readers to the Master Storyteller.
Guest Post from Chautona Havig
Why Do So Many Christians Love to Celebrate Christmas?
“We don’t celebrate Christmas because we were ordered to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We were never commanded to celebrate His birth.”
Something about that statement didn’t sit well with me, but I was honest enough with myself to admit that it might be because I happened to love Christmas, and the idea of not celebrating it didn’t sit well with my twelve-year-old mind.
No, I didn’t go in for the Santa thing. I never had. As later my children were taught to say, Santa wasn’t “invited to our family celebration.” But still, the family, the joy, the music, the spirit of the thing moved me.
So, I did what I always did when I didn’t understand something. I asked Dad. “Why do we celebrate Christmas?”
If I recall correctly, Dad took a sip of coffee and watched me for several long seconds before he said, “What is Christmas?”
Ever the teacher, Dad had to put on his Socratic robe and make me work for it. I answered. “What we call the day Jesus was supposedly born. His birthday.”
“Okay. So, we celebrate Christ’s birthday on Christmas—on Christmas.”
He gave me that slight smirk that always meant something good was coming. “And what did God do when His Son was born?”
Dad stumped me there. I blinked. “I don’t know.”
“He sent out the biggest birth announcement ever known to man—a star, angels, music.” Then Dad continued his leading questions. “He…”
I got it. “Celebrated the birth.”
“Yes.” Sometimes Dad was a man of few words.
But I couldn’t be satisfied—not yet.
“So, why do we give presents to each other if it’s Jesus’ birthday? Isn’t that backward?”
“Isn’t all of Christianity backward to the fallen mind?” When I didn’t answer, he smiled again. “What does Christ say about doing things for others?”
It wasn’t word-for-word Scripture—not even close. Just as he would have prompted again, I remembered Jesus’ story of the man who was fed, clothed, and given a drink. “When you do things for others, it’s like you’re doing them for Jesus.”
Dad shrugged then. “Maybe it’s just justification for continuing a beloved tradition, but it brings me joy to give you gifts. And Christ had something to say about how fathers love to give good gifts to their children.”
That brought me back to the original question.
“What about the fact that we’re told to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus? We aren’t told to celebrate the birth. Does that make it wrong?”
This time, Dad’s jaw hardened. I saw it twitch, and prepared for a blasting. After all, I had kind of argued with him. I hadn’t meant to, but I could see how it might be taken that way.
“Chautona,” he said, “don’t ever put rules on yourself that God hasn’t. We may not be commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth, but we aren’t forbidden, either. We have God’s example to emulate, and we have this truth.” His voice gentled when he saw he’d startled me. “We would never have been able to celebrate Christ’s death if He had not been born. If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.”
What does all that have to do with Christmas novellas (or “noellas” like I prefer to call them)?
Well, people ask me all the time. “Why do you write so many Christmas books? Why do these Christmas collections? Why focus so much on the birth of Jesus and the trappings of cultural Christmas when it’s inferior to the “big thing”—the Resurrection?”
Dad’s answer is mine. Because it points to it. It draws attention to it. And because Christmas is one time of year—the only time of year in which you can walk into almost any building in America and still hear praises sung to God at some point. They slip in between love songs about giving away your heart at Christmas and rocking around Christmas trees to “Jingle Bell Rock.”
And even the more “secular” versions that aren’t an outright praise to God like “Silent Night” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” sometimes throw in Jesus anyway because they can’t quite leave out, “Merry Christmas” in some place or another.
So maybe our Christmas books are inferior to what “Easter” books could be. Maybe they are. But if Christmas trees, caroling, and “ghost stories” keep Jesus at the forefront of someone’s mind in October, November, or December, then I think that’s a pretty cool thing.
Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thanks for coming.
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