Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holiday Wishes - Austin, Mittman and Schramski

I'm falling so far behind on reviews, it's ridiculous. However, that also means I've managed to read a tidy number of books, so far this month. I'm happy about that. I'll try to keep my reviews short (if that's possible) in order to catch up.

Holiday Wishes by Kate Austin, Stevi Mittman, and Mary Schramski

Unlike a lot of readers, I do enjoy the occasional short or novella-length story; but, in general, I like to stick with known authors for shorter fare. My friend John Floyd, for example (whom I owe an apology for having to miss his signing - sorry, John!!!!), never lets me down because he's one of those rare writers who can tell a good story using a minimum of words. I don't seek out short stories, in general, apart from a few favorite authors. However, this one was sent to me as part of a mail-order subscription program that I keep forgetting to cancel because the "fool" part of "Bookfool" is sadly more accurate than I'd like to admit.

I honestly just wanted to read Holiday Wishes and get rid of it. Or, so the thought went. But, I was unexpectedly swept into the first story, "If I Make It Through December," by Kate Austin, in which accountant Heather James inherits a restaurant during the holidays and has no choice but to jump into managing the business. I'm not experienced with the restaurant business, but it seemed very authentic as far as the everyday problems that James had to deal with. The romance aspect was not entirely believable and a bit too neatly tied up, but I didn't care. I loved the characters and the story was nicely written.

The second story, "Who Needs June in December, Anyway?", by Stevi Mittman, was my hands-down favorite. The heroine is a single mom of two whose mother appears to have been kidnapped. But, Teddi Bayer knows better. Her mom is a nut case and Teddi is certain the "kidnapping" is a ruse to get her brother to come home for Christmas. Teddi comes from a riotous, dysfunctional family and the search for her mother is both touching and funny. I am dying to read more novels by Stevi Mittman and thrilled to find that Teddy Bayer is a recurring character.

The final story, "The Perfect Christmas" by Mary Schramski . . . was a quick read. That's about the only thing I can say I liked about it, as I found it predictable and flat. Having backed out of writing for an anthology, once, I can understand the difficulty of writing specifically for a book with a theme and a specific word count, so I'm going to just say, "Let's give this chick a break and hope her novels are better."

Coming up next: A review of Awakening by Kate Austin. Assuming my husband doesn't go through with making me shut down for the night. He's home and he looks really, really tired. I don't suppose he's going to like the fact that I've used the bed as a folding table. Okay, maybe I'll write a review of Awakening, tomorrow. We'll see how fast I can clean off the bed.

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