Book Review: ‘The 12 Terrors of Christmas’ by Claudette Melanson

A great holiday read for anyone more interested in “boo” than “ho ho ho”… but definitely not for kids.

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What if your most basic assumptions bout Santa turned out to be wrong?

Is he just a jolly old fat guy who delivers presents, or is there much, much more to his story?

Claudette Melanson presents a somewhat different version of Santa in these twelve stories, which are well-crafted and well told. There is some lovely connectivity between the stories, which is sometimes quite overt and at other times sneaks up on the reader and takes them by surprise.

This is a great holiday read for anyone more interested in “boo” than “ho ho ho”.  Do take the title seriously, though: this book is definitely not for kids, as there is some quite graphic content.

‘The 12 Terrors of Christmas’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Twelve Tales of Christmas’ by Jane Jago

A highly recommended Christmas short story collection.

Jane Jago is a gifted writer who creates vivid and believable characters and drops them into situations that the reader finds engaging and relatable.  Many of these stories are laced with Jago’s trademark wit, while others are quite sobering.

‘Twelve Tales of Christmas’ delivers varied and excellent short stories, each set at Christmas time, each with its own theme and messages.

These well-written stories are entertaining and thoughtprovoking at the same time, long enough to fully engage the reader, and short enough to be enjoyed in snatched breaks in the very busy pre-Christmas season. 

This collection comes highly recommended, and has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy on Amazon

Book Review: ’Santa’s Chair’ by Randall Allen Dunn

An enchanting Christmas story with a classic feel.

Not everyone believes in Santa, but Henry Burrows wants to. In the time-honoured tradition of great Christmas stories, though, things aren’t always so straightforward. 

‘Santa’s Chair’ is the story of Henry’s visit to a city department store to see Santa and the magic that can happen when a young child believes. 

This is a delightful and well-written story that can be read and enjoyed in less than half an hour. It’s a good story for any age, and would be great to share as a family during the pre-Christmas season. It has the feel of a classic story, and definitely has the potential to become one. 


‘Santa’s Chair’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Swan Princes: A Christmas Tail’ by Maggie Lynn Heron-Heidel

An excellent 21st Century retelling of an old tale.

This novella is a contemporary retelling of the classic Swan Lake story.

The well known story has been cleverly recreated in a contemporary setting and style, with a variety of great characters that have been developed very cleverly and with good attention to detail.  The best stories have characters that you love and others that you love to hate, and this book does not disappoint. 

It’s great to see this story being given new life in a way that is is well-written and very enjoyable. It blends mystery, fantasy, romance and magical realism quite seamlessly to deliver a story that is very engaging and delivers some strong lessons about family, loyalty, and the power of love. 

‘The Swan Princes’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘The Christmas Will’ by A.S. McGowan

An enjoyable historical fiction with mystery and a hint of romance.

Set in Chicago and Boston in the 1860s, ‘The Christmas Will’ is the story of Ester Woods, who rises above prejudice and discrimination only to have it follow her. It is a story that explores the lot of women in pre-Civil War America, where men made the rules and women bore the consequences, yet it is also a story that celebrates the free thinking women who stood up against such strictures and embraced their intelligence and talents, and who dared to hope for more than just being someone’s wife. 

As an Australian, I found some of the grammar and word choices awkward, although I know that the author has followed accepted patterns of American English, so I was determined to not allow it to detract from the story that was being told.  I would, however, encourage the author to have non-Americans among her editorial team or beta readers, so that matters of local usage are less distracting for readers who are accustomed to more international patterns and usage of English.

 This is an enjoyable read. I do appreciate the way in which the author has blended elements of historical fiction and  mystery to make the story complex and intriguing.


‘The Christmas Will’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn.

 Find your copy here

Book Review: ‘Saving Cecelia’ by Elle Botz

A poignant, powerful story.

Elle Botz Saving Cecilia'This story is not long but it sure packs a punch. It is powerfully emotive, not only in the writing but also in its messages about caring for those we love and maintaining our relationships with family beyond what is merely convenient or, worse still, shallow tokenism.

‘Saving Cecilia’ is the story of Cee Cee and her grandmother, Cecilia, and the love between them that endures despite the ravages of grief, time and Cecilia’s dementia.

I found that I could identify strongly with Cee Cee, having cared for my own mother during her own battle with that soulless disease, and having experienced many of the same anxieties and sorrows that Cee Cee did. Her character was very honestly and thoughtfully developed, particularly through her relationship with Cecilia and her thoughts and responses to the events and other characters of the story.

This is a story that everyone from mid-teens and older should read, because at some time in our life, most people will know a Cecilia or a Cee Cee if they are blessed enough to not actually become them.
Acorn Award I Golden

‘Saving Cecilia’ Has been awarded a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy here.

Series Review: The ‘Christmas Miracle’ series by R.M. Gauthier

A novella series that mystery lovers will not want to miss out on!

This series of mystery novellas by R.M Gauthier is lighthearted and refreshing, although not without complications and moments of tension.

Each of these short stories provides a lovely diversion from a busy day or week by drawing the reader into the fictional world of Christmas Town, where the spirit of the festive season lingers all year round. Each is short enough to read in one sitting, but long enough to conveniently put down at the end of a chapter and resume reading later.  They’re great stories for all year round, and certainly not limited to the seasons in which the titular seasons occur.

The main character, Jack, is well developed and quite likeable. The air of mystery that surrounds his arrival in town over summer is intriguing, and definitely hooks the reader into the story.  Gauthier cleverly plays on the unresolved questions he brings with him, drawing the reader further into the story at the same time as further entangling Jack with every development and surprise in the plot.

Charlotte is an intriguing character – she appears to be open and easily read, but there is always an understanding that there’s much more to her than meets the eye. As Jack is surprised to discover, she’s just the person to keep him guessing and on his toes.

Other characters enjoy more development as the series progresses, so the reader also has opportunities to see more of  Bill, Christian and Hope as they appear in the successive stories.

These novellas are a change of pace for R.M. Gauthier, who has also been featured on this blog as the author of the more psychological mystery thriller series featuring Landon Miller.Acorn Award I Golden

All of Gauthier’s books are available on Amazon, and are free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

The Christmas Miracle Series is available in a boxed set, or as individual titles.

This is definitely a Gold Acorn series that mystery lovers will not want to miss out on!