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.
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This is a fun collection of Christmas novellas. The stories are entertaining and it's a good way to be introduced to new authors.
Terry is not afraid to address serious issues. She tackles a cult like church where the pastor preys on teen girls in Frost Heaves. While the major characters were crafted well, my favorite was Dez. She's a smart girl with wisdom and insight far beyond her few years. This is a good romantic suspense dealing with spiritual and physical abuse.
Shiloh gives readers pure romance in Deck the Shelves. I found an interesting exploration of a men's accountability group included. There was quite a bit about men making friends and getting together, something we women are so good at.
Swanson's The Christmas Glory Quilt will appeal to readers who like sewing. There is much included about materials such as how they hang and swish. There is information about what it means to be an entrepreneur and starting a business. Readers also learn quite a bit about dyslexia and Swedish Christmas celebrations.
Havig has crafted a fun story in The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, taking place in a small American town trying to be very British. Mitchell has inherited a house there. To retain it, he must enter a ghost story telling contest. He is a story teller but is also deathly afraid of ghosts. And there seems to be one in the house. My favorite character was Lauren. She is young, intelligent and home-schooled. She's bound and determined Mitchell like her older sister. We just hope a romance blossoms before the ghosts scare him away.
As is often the case with story collection by a variety of authors, the writing styles and quality differ. While each one is unique, I enjoyed them all.
About the Authors
Alana Terry: 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: 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: 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.
Chautona Havig: 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.” “Yes.” 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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