Comfort & Joy
by Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, Alana Terry
Publication Date October 22, 2018
Genres: Christian Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Clean Romance
Setting: Alaska, New York, Minnesota, Midwest Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 18-24, 25-34, 35-60
Written for: Adults
The third annual Christmas Lights Collection is pleased to present the 2018 collection, Comfort & Joy
Four heartwarming stories to fill this Christmas season with comfort and joy.
Alana Terry- A missing child. A single mom. An Alaskan trooper. There's more to fear this winter than just the cold.
Toni Shiloh- Can a bookstore owner looking for swoon-worthy romance and a mechanic hesitant to trust his heart find love that will last?
Cathe Swanson- Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish homestead, and a family mystery. What more could you want from a Minnesota Christmas romance?
Chautona Havig- When Mitchell Bogaert's inheritance involves a ghost story, that's bad enough. His Christmas is looking ghastly on more than one score, though.
For more about each book, read below for each title's synopsis.
Alana Terry:Frost Heaves-- A single mom. An Alaska state trooper. And more to fear than just the cold …
When Jade’s daughter turns up missing, all suspicions point to the cult Jade escaped from when she was just a teen.
Are members of Morning Glory retaliating against Jade’s child? Or are their intentions even more sinister than simply revenge?
A fast-paced thriller set in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness from award-winning Christian suspense author Alana Terry.
Toni Shiloh: Deck the Shelves -- Kendall Jackson is the proud owner of Heartfalls’ bookstore, The Cozy Shelf. Her life is one straight out of the pages, except she’s missing that leading man. Although she has a crush on the handsome auto mechanic, Quinton Hendricks, Kendall wants an old-fashioned type of romance—the stuff swoon-worthy romance books are made of. But Quinton seems to need a little prodding.
Something about Kendall sparks hope in Quinton Hendricks that love could be his again. Only being abandoned by his ex-wife has made him cautious to the point of non-moving.
Can two people hesitant on second chances find love as they Deck the Shelves?
Cathe Swanson: The Christmas Glory Quilt -- Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse and a hidden family heirloom. What more you could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance?
Penny Anderson has a dream – she’s going to be an exclusive bridal gown designer, and she won’t held back by dyslexia, a rural location or the doubts of others.
Brian Michaels has waited seven years for Penny to see him as man instead of just a childhood friend. Can he work up the courage to speak before the tall, dark and handsome business consultant sweeps her off her feet?
Aunt Violet is interested in only two things: Genealogy and quilting. As she chronicles the family history in a series of patchwork quilts, she comes to peace with her own past.
Chautona Havig: The Ghosts of New Cheltenham-- Mitchell Bogaert hasn’t done much with his life in the four years since college, to which his negative-digits bank account and credit score will attest. So when news of an inheritance from a man he hasn’t seen in years arrives on the same day as his eviction notice, Mitchell considers the odd terms of the will to be a no-brainer.
Sure, he’ll move into a building in the tourist village of New Cheltenham.
I would like to thank Chautona Havig for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
The four stories in this collection are all very different from each other. Starting with intense suspense set in Alaska, moving to a bookstore in a small town in New York, then to a dyslexic dress designer in Minnesota, and finally, to a small town somewhere in the Midwest with a ghost story, this collection has a little something for all Christmas novella lovers.
If you have followed many of my reviews, you may have noticed that I don’t “do” ghost stories. Or anything else eerie or very scary. You can blame it on my getting traumatized by the Oompa Loompas when I was a child if you want. Or just chalk it up to the fact that I’m a bit of a wimp. Either way, you’re probably right.
So, I saw this anthology was going to be on a blog tour, saw Chautona Havig’s name and therefore didn’t read the description of the stories. I’ve found that I don’t need to with her books. Afterward, I realized that her contribution was a ghost story! My heart sank and I thought, “A Christmas ghost story? Really??” So I did what any conscientious book tour host does in a situation like this. I read the first three stories and then procrastinated. For a few weeks! My excuse was that I didn’t want to start reading it when I would have to be reading it at night. Then because I didn’t want to read it too early in the morning. Finally, this morning, I laughed at myself, reminded myself that I trust this author and picked up the book again.
For those of you who are not into ghost stories, don’t worry. Chautona Havig writes for readers like us. Somehow, she managed to write a story about a plasmaphobic (afraid of ghosts) storyteller who is forced into participating in a ghost storytelling contest and experiences ghostly visitations without making it scary. To me, at least. How’s that for talent?! This is a fun romantic story with some important spiritual lessons about judging and forgiveness.
I won’t highlight all the stories but can’t write this without mentioning Deck the Shelves by Toni Shiloh. I have read several other stories by her and have liked them a lot, yet this one just gripped my heart. It was incredibly beautiful and touching. Deeply moving and warm and cozy. Those were some of the phrases I jotted down as I read.
Each chapter begins with a famous quote. Considering the method in which Kendall and Q, who are both quite shy, decide to express their interest in one another, it was absolutely perfect.
A drawing illustration (sorry, couldn’t not say that!) activity was used to teach a spiritual lesson and it was poignant. The entire story was so honoring to the Lord. This is now my favorite story by this author!
For those who are not fans of heavy suspense, do be aware that the first story is exactly that, intense suspense. It was well written, just not my preferred subject matter. Nevertheless, if you like your stories a bit gritty and a little grim, this one might be your favorite in the set.
- the rating is based on my favorite story of the collection, Deck the Shelves
Why Do So Many Christians Love to Celebrate Christmas?
by Chautona Havig
“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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