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Each year new Christmas stories are added to long time favorites. Books and stories are part of loved Christmas traditions for most of us. Some of the stories that capture our hearts at this season are based on real experiences and some are sheer imagination. Whichever is the case, they all touch on some aspect or lesson learned from the greatest story of all, the miracle of our Savior’s birth. Faith, overcoming great odds, kindness, giving, sacrifice, humility, and most of all love, are the building blocks of the season’s stories. Whether Christmas stories are part of the lead up to Christmas or gifts for loved ones, here are some, but not all, of this year’s finest.
A MIRACLE FOR ANN by Sara Fitzgerald
Kate and Nate are very much in love and the parents of a two-year-old daughter they love with all their hearts. Little Ann isn’t like other children and after extensive testing they learn she is autistic. Their research and the information given them by her doctors tell them her best chance to live a normal life depends a great deal on early treatment and education. The problem is the special school she needs to be enrolled in costs $25,000. Nate works two jobs and Kate needs to be home with Ann so there’s little chance they can raise such a large sum of money. Their faith is tested as they struggle with extended family problems and their desire to give Ann the opportunity that matters so much to her future development.
A Miracle for Ann is a short book, but the characters will touch the reader’s heart. The physical and financial struggles and sacrifices the parents make for their child are realistic and familiar to parents who likewise face the challenge of raising a beloved child with developmental problems.
Sara Fitzgerald was involved with getting SB57 passed by the Utah Legislature in 2006 to require insurance companies to include autism in their health coverage policies. She writes about autism from the personal perspective of being the mother of an autistic daughter. She, her husband, and daughter live in Utah.
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A MIRACLE FOR ANN by Sara Fitzgerald, Sold by Amazon Digital Services, 42 pages, paperback $4.49, Available for eReaders.
CHRISTMAS BY ACCIDENT by Camron Wright
Carter is stuck in a job he hates which involves examining wrecked vehicles and writing up reports on the damage for an insurance company. He longs to express himself creatively and when he discovers a photo of the driver of one wrecked car, he gets carried away with writing the accident report. His wordy, purple prose gets him fired. His last task for the insurance company is to deliver a letter to the driver of that car informing her there will be no compensation since the policy payment hadn’t been made and her insurance has lapsed. When he stops at the bookstore where Abby works, he is annoyed by a display of Christmas books she set up. He dislikes Christmas and considers Christmas books overly sentimental and sappy. It occurs to him that there wouldn’t be so many Christmas books if they didn’t make money and since he’s now unemployed he decides to write a sappy Christmas book.
Abby was raised by her uncle who is keeping a big secret from her. He is dying of an incurable disease. Since he never married or had children, but raised Abby since she was three, he plans to leave his book store and the proceeds of a large insurance policy to his niece. When he meets Carter, his plans start to include more than leaving a fortune to Abby.
The story begins with an accident which is the catalyst that sets the story in motion. Another accident sets off the conclusion. In-between Carter sees a different side of Christmas, miracles, and love. At times Wright’s story is as sappy and overly sentimental as Carter’s summation of Christmas books. Other times he conveys the simple joys of faith, kindness, and concern for others in a tale that fits our day and won’t soon be forgotten.
Wright is the recipient of several awards for his previous full length novels; The Rent Collecter, The Orphan Keeper, The Other Side of the Bridge, and Letters for Emily. He lives in the Salt Lake Valley.
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CHRISTMAS BY ACCIDENT by Camron Wright, published by Shadow Mountain, 225 pages, hard cover $15.29. Also available on audio and for eReaders.
A CHRISTMAS COURTING (A Regency Christmas Collection) by Jennifer Moore, Chalon Linton, Jan Geigle Johnson, and Heidi Kimball
For those who enjoy Regencies, four Regency authors have joined forces to create a collection of novellas set during a Christmas Season of that era. Jennifer Moore starts off with Love and Joy Come to You, a story of a couple grieving for loved ones who have passed away who find love and comfort as they observe the familiar traditions of the holiday season.
Jennifer Moore has a BA in linguistics from the University of Utah She and her family live in northern Utah.
Next comes A Christmas Courting by Chalon Linton. Keturah’s family is stuck in London for the holidays due to her father’s committee assignment. She longs to be at her family’s country estate celebrating Christmas with her neighbors, particularly Christopher Shepherd. When she hears the young man will also be in London, she is thrilled until she learns he is in town to court and propose to his future wife. The young woman’s identity is a carefully kept secret and Keturah is certain her heart will break as the man she adores declares himself to another woman.
Chalon Linton has published two full length Regency novels and two novellas in Christmas anthologies. She lives in Southern California.
The third entry in this quad of Regency novellas is Mistletoe Memories by Jen Geigle Johnson. Patrick, Duke of Montrose, has loved Lady Alice Tarrington since childhood and assumed they would marry after Alice became an adult, but while he is away on grand tour he learns she is planning to marry another man. He doesn’t know a weasel in an attempt to better himself through her family and fortune faked a compromising situation, then left her waiting at the altar with her reputation ruined. Can she forgive him for not coming to her rescue?
Jen Geigle Johnson loves adventure and is a history buff. She has two full length published novels to her credit.
Rounding out the foursome is Second-Chance Christmas by Heidi Kimball. Francie made the biggest mistake of her life when she turned down her best friend, Gerard’s proposal of marriage. Four months later seeing him paying attention to another woman, she is consumed with jealousy. Living on neighboring estates they’ve always shared the holidays, but this year is different. Not only has she lost her best friend, but the one man who holds the key to her heart.
Heidi Kimball is a new author whose first full length novel will be released in March of 2019. She is married and the mother of three daughters.
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A Christmas Courting by Jennifer Moore, Chalon Linton, Jan Geigle Johnson, and Heidi Kimball. Published by Covenant Communications, Soft cover $15.99 Also available on CD and for eReaders.
CHRISTMAS SPOONS by Cindy A. Christiansen
Danny returns home at last from the war. He’s ready to put the fear and loss of dear friends behind him and move on with his life. His homecoming isn’t what he expected, however. His warmest welcome comes from his dog. His parents have spent his G.I. pay, his father expects him to spend his time working on the farm, his mother calls him greedy for asking for a few bucks, and his younger brother is dating the one girl he feels drawn to. He’s an adult now and wishes to make his own way and have the freedom to make his own decisions. When friends making plans to elope to Las Vegas, then travel to Salt Lake City, invite him to go along to be best man, he sees a way out of his dilemma.
Louise has lived with one relative after another since her parents passed away. Stuck living with an aunt and an uncle she is afraid of, she escapes to friends’ homes at every opportunity. The uncle is abusive to her and to his wife, yet is looked up to and respected by most of the townspeople as a leading citizen. Reaching her breaking point, she runs, hoping she has enough funds squirreled away to purchase a bus ticket to Salt Lake. In her flight she runs into Danny making his way to his friend’s home and changes her plans. She accompanies him to Las Vegas where they decide to get married too.
With little beyond the clothes they were wearing when they ran away, little money, and only a locket given her by her grandmother, they search for jobs and struggle to build their marriage and chart their future. Their first Christmas together forges a new beginning based on love, faith, and hope.
Cindy A. Christiansen has published a long list of novels and short stories. She, her husband, and their two children live in Utah.
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CHRISTMAS SPOONS by Cindy A. Christiansen, Published by Dragonfly Spirit Books, 97 pages, soft cover $5.99. Also available for eReaders.
A TOWN DIVIDED BY CHRISTMAS by Orson Scott Card
It starts with two unlikely post doctorate students assigned to work together on a genetics project in a small North Carolina town. Spunky is personable, smart, enthused about the project, and willing to do the “people” work. Elyon is strictly math and science. He’ll do the computer portion of the assignment. Elyon hires Jozette to cook and clean for him and gets more than he bargained for. Eggy, short for Egbert, is the town’s only alderman who also acts as mayor since the town doesn’t have any other government officials. He befriends Spunky and assists her in gaining the cooperation of the town’s people. Good Shepherd, North Carolina, is known for an odd peculiarity. There are two churches of the same denomination across the street from each other. One has a bell tower and the other has a large clock tower. On Christmas Eve they both present a nativity pageant at the same time, using the same script. For 87 years the town has been split between the two congregations that were once one. It seems the split came about because two baby boys were born on the same day a couple of weeks before the pageant and it was the custom to use the baby born closest to Christmas as the Baby Jesus in the pageant. The last born had complications and the pageant organizers thought it best not to expose him to the cold and chose the other baby for the role which seemingly upset half of the town.
Just as the characters all have odd names, the entire story is quirky and amusing. Some of the punch lines take a moment or two to sink in. Some of the details of the story are a bit on the suggestive side, but not explicit. The romances are predictable and many readers will figure out the questions raised by the story in short order, but will love the story as told by a master story teller anyway.
Orson Scott Card is known for his science fiction though he writes other genres as well. Some of his work is published under various pseudonyms. He has been the recipient of many prestigious awards and has pursued a number of professions other than writing including editor, professor, and critic. He was born in Richland, Washington and currently calls Greensboro, North Carolina home.
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A TOWN DIVIDED BY CHRISTMAS by Orson Scott Card, Published by Blackstone Publishing, 144 pages, Hard cover $8.67. Also available on CD, Audio, and for eReaders.
THE SHELTER OF HIS ARMS by Jewel Adams
Lani is rebuilding her life after her husband dies in an accident. Instead of sorrow, she experiences relief to be free from the emotional and physical abuse her unfaithful husband heaped on her. A year has passed and she realizes she is in love with a man who has always been her friend, but years of abuse has left her feeling damaged and unworthy of being loved in return.
Chrispin has been in love with Lani for years, but kept his feelings a secret because first she was another man’s wife and second he’s too old for her. Will they ever reach a point where they are ready to express their feelings to each other. Can Christmas make the difference?
The Shelter of His Arms is a brief romantic novelette featuring biracial main characters and explores the healing process following domestic abuse.
Jewel Adams and her husband Sean are the parents of eight children and are grandparents to a growing number of grandchildren. She is a motivational speaker to both youth and adult groups as well as the author of over forty published works. She calls Utah home.
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THE SHELTER OF HIS ARMS by Jewel Adams, Published by Jewel of the West, 24 pages, Available for eReaders.
Books make great Christmas gifts for all ages. A few new books which aren’t Christmassy, but would make great stocking stuffers or gifts are included below:
NEPHI’S HANDBOOK FOR A HAPPY LIFE by Alicia Banta
This small book is a collection of quotes from Nephi in the Book of Mormon along with a few other prominent individuals. The book is beautifully illustrated and perfect for those who want a quote a day to ponder or who are seeking to relate scriptures to our current day and time. It’s also a handy resource for anyone asked to present a scriptural thought in a Church class or Family Home Evening.
I SPY FOR LDS KIDS, MORE COLOR BY NUMBERS FOR LDS KIDS, MORE MAZES FOR LDS KIDS by Alyssa Naylor
Activity books are enjoyed by all ages and these three are fun and challenging. Whether used to keep a young child quiet during Sacrament meeting or entertained during long car rides or airline flights these notebook size books only need the addition of pencils and/or crayons to provide hours of quiet entertainment. Their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints themes also aid in deepening understanding and remembrance of scriptural stories.