The Wish Book Christmas by Lynn Austin

Happy Publication Day-September 7, 2021-Reviewed for Historical Novels Review, November 1, 2021 Issue

If I Were You is inspirational historical fiction set in London WWll and post-war America. It is a prequel, although The Wish Book Christmas may be read as a stand alone novel.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009) While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek(2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. 

From the bestselling author of If I Were You comes a nostalgic and endearing holiday story that reminds us that sometimes the most meaningful gifts are the ones we least expect and don’t deserve.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Christy Award winning author Lynn Austin shows readers that “it’s better to give than to receive.” The Wish Book Christmas is a “wiseman’s” gift to readers as Austin unwraps the true meaning of Christmas through this follow-up to characters in her World War ll novel, If I Were You. In December 1951, Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are sharing a house with their five-year-old sons in postwar America. Harry and Bobby discover the Sears Christmas Wish Book and become obsessed, wishing for toys from every page. How will two single moms provide toys but also lessons on giving from the heart? In this stand-alone novel Austin expertly provides the background of Audrey and Eve’s earlier lives that led to feelings of unworthiness, insecurities, and self-doubt in 1951.  She lovingly weaves one “unexpected, undeserved, unbelievable” gift from over 2000 years ago with another gift that will change the hearts and lives of Audrey and Eve. This is a “curl up by a crackling fire with a cup of cocoa” book; a reminder of postwar America in the 1950’s and “the reason for the season.”

This is the 1950 version of the Sears Wish Book!


God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen By Rhys Bowen

Publishing October 12, 2021 – Reviewed for Historical Novels Review Magazine, November 1, 2021 Issue

A Royal Spyness Mystery Series-#15

Lady Georgiana Rannoch, amateur sleuth and professional member of the British Royal family, solves crimes in 1930s England. https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/series/BQG/a-royal-spyness-mystery/

Rhys Bowen, a New York Times bestselling author, has been nominated for every major award in mystery writing, including the Edgar®, and has won many, including both the Agatha and Anthony awards. She is the author of the Royal Spyness Mystery Series.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

” Georgie is back and hanging the stockings with care when a murder interrupts her Christmas cheer in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling Royal Spyness series from Rhys Bowen.

Rhys Bowen continues the Royal Spyness Mystery series with God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen, set on the fringe of the royal Sandringham Estate, Christmas 1935. Newly-weds, Darcy and Georgianna O’Mara are settling into married life and Georgianna is planning her first Christmas house party. As Georgianna is writing letters and putting an advert in The Lady for a new cook to help the bumbling Queenie, all the plans go awry. Darcy receives an invitation for them to spend the holiday with Lady Aysgarth, his Aunt Ermintrude, AND that Queen Mary, in residence at Sandringham, is looking forward to a visit from Georgianna-practically a royal summons!

Rhys Bowen’s readers are off on an adventure of merry making and mystery as the cast of quirky and famous guests arriving at Lady Aysgarth’s Wymondham Hall continues to surprise and dismay Georgianna. For “royal followers” the guest list includes the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson so processing into dinner in order of rank is a must. When Lady A’s companion Mrs. Short, realizes there are thirteen guests at table, she admonishes the group that this is bad luck, and a death is imminent. Rhys Bowen’s use of foreshadowing is a perfect eyebrow raising moment for the now leery guests. A series of unfortunate “accidents” peeks the holiday drama and keeps readers second guessing along with Darcy and Georgianna as they meet surreptitiously to strategize and solve the royal mysteries. Proper hunts, a “paper chase”, ‘sardines’ and royal names like “Cookie” and “Shirley Temple” add to the royal celebrations. Even royal granddaughters, Lilibet and Margaret are at Sandringham for holiday snowman building and ice skating. Meanwhile, Queen Mary and readers are counting on Georgianna to figure out “who dunnit!”  

Setting: Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, England


Christmas in Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Happy Publication Day October 26, 2021

Happy Publication Day! Sheltering in Place is OVER-Christmas in Peachtree Bluff is available now!

In the newest installment of New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey’​s Peachtree Bluff series, three generations of the Murphy women must come together when a hurricane threatens to destroy their hometown—and the holiday season in the process.


Kristy Woodson Harvey is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including Under the Southern SkyFeels Like Falling, and The Peachtree Bluff series. Kristy is the cocreator and cohost of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. She blogs with her mom Beth Woodson on Design Chic, and loves connecting with fans on KristyWoodsonHarvey.com. She lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband and son where she is (always!) working on her next novel.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Meteorologists are reporting that the “storm of the century” is bearing down on the coastal Georgia town of Peachtree Bluff. Fourth in the series, Christmas in Peachtree Bluff, opens with the matriarch, a true Southern lady, Ansley Murphy, waiting for her daughters, Sloane, Emerson, Caroline, and families to arrive for Thanksgiving Day. Kristy Woodson Harvey does an excellent job of providing the details and backstory on each of the daughters and other characters from the first three books in the series.  Through memories and storytelling readers come to empathize and settle into the traditions and history of homes known as Murphy Row, all a short walk from the marina on the beach. Charming descriptions add a holiday thrill and chill to strolling and shopping the boutiques with twinkling lights and wreaths on streetlights in the square. The saga continues amidst family secrets uncovered, mystery mixed with legends, and the angst of a teenager dealing with a divorce. The safety of the entire Murphy family and the cherished holiday traditions of Peachtree Bluff are in jeopardy as Hurricane Pearl gains intensity. In the face of adversity readers are reminded of the importance of family, forgiveness, and faith.

Fans of KWH, new and old, will treasure the blend of holiday traditions, suspense, and surprise in Christmas in Peachtree Bluff.

Official hurricane season is June 1-November 30. With plenty of warning, Peachtree Bluff fans are sheltering in place and bracing for Pearl- “coming ashore” October 26!


Once Upon A Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Published October 19, 2021: Highly Recommended: 5 STARS-A beautiful gift to readers of C.S. Lewis

Watch a beautiful trailer for Once Upon a Wardrobe: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/once-upon-a-wardrobe

This link will take you to many videos of Oxford, The Kilns-C.S. Lewis’ home, and more: https://www.patticallahanhenry.com/videos-and-podcasts

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“Once upon a wardrobe, not very long ago, and not far away” in the town of Oxford, England, Megs Devonshire followed the winding, icy path to The Kilns, the home of the famous author, C.S. Lewis. His newest book The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, was hugely popular, and her brother George was obsessed with the land of Narnia.  Megs was desperately hoping to find the courage to speak to Mr. Lewis and ask, “Where did Narnia come from?” Desperate because her 8-year-old brother, George, didn’t have long to live and he wanted to know. Megs, an introverted physics student ruled by logic and equations, not fairy tales, was boosted by her deep devotion and love for George. Mr. Lewis or Jack, and his older brother, Warnie, welcomed Megs into their common room with worn leather chairs, books piled high and a roaring fire and tea to warm her. Thus, Megs begins frequent visits to The Kilns and walks about the woods with Jack and Warnie as her questions lead to accounts of the death of his mother at age 9, the horrible Wynyard School, and his time in the army at The Somme -all told by the genius with wit; Jack wants Megs to just listen and take notes later. This quest to find the beginnings of Narnia will lead to much, much more-for readers, for George, and Megs.

As Megs returns to George’s sickbed to retell the stories shared by Jack and Warnie, George and readers are anxious for her to keep sharing. Megs is becoming quite a storyteller and readers realize that through stories one can see ‘reality from new angles.’ Megs is enthralled, becomes distracted from her exams, and finds herself in the Bodleian Library searching for Phantastes, a fantasy novel by Scottish writer George MacDonald, that Jack claims “baptized his imagination!” A lesson Megs learns from George is that all fairy tales have a bad part, a scary part-just as in real life. George is helping Megs to cope with his illness as much as she is helping him by sharing Jack’s stories.  Patti Callahan weaves history through Jack’s life stories so Megs finds out about Operation Pied Piper, when in 1939 children were brought to The Kilns from London to escape The Blitz. This novel shines a glowing lantern of compassion on Clive Sterling Lewis and his efforts to comfort the children with his stories and a home along with his deep empathy for their parents during this time of separation. (Children coming from London to live with a professor, sound familiar?)

The only gift George wishes for this Christmas 1950, is a trip to Ireland to visit Dunlace Castle. Will his wish be granted? Will he find out where Narnia came from? Come along on this “Grand Adventure” to find answers and see if you hear “the lion’s roar” as Patti Callahan unravels mysteries of the universe and the magic of hope in Once Upon A Wardrobe-an outpouring of love and enlightenment.


The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

Happy Publication Day! September 28, 2021

A novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances…”

-Publishing for Christmas reading and gifting on September 28, 2021-

MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 novels. She and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, GA, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide—both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels, and both available to rent through Tybee Vacation Rentals. In between cooking, spoiling her grandkids, and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Get wrapped up in magical new beginnings, glistening snow on an old farmhouse, and friendly small-town connections in MKA’s Christmas novella, The Santa Suit. Ivy Perkin’s world has turned upside down and she’s “cashed in all her chips” to buy an old farm away from the city lights and traffic of Atlanta. As Ivy unpacks, she finds a box with a Santa suit and a special letter tucked into the pocket; “Please bring my father home safely from the war.” Ivy begins a search to find out the “rest of the story” and in the process begins to soften and trust new acquaintances, Ezra the realtor and Phoebe from the county courthouse. The charming townspeople and their outgoing, helpful ways share bits of wisdom and readers learn the value of opening your heart and home, trusting your instincts and being true to yourself. Sorting through photos of children on Santa’s lap and vintage Shiny Brite glass ornaments, Ivy’s hurt feelings, and fears get tangled in the strings of bubble lights and garland, as she prepares her “new” old farmhouse for Christmas. So many lose ends: The Langley Sweet shop survival, Phoebe’s cyber fiancé, and the Santa letter! As the whole town and surrounding communities pack the streets for the annual Christmas Stroll, readers will receive a gift from MKA wrapped in love and topped with a satisfying big red bow. Ivy’s neighbor reminds readers, “You’re never too old to have a new friend.” Accept The Santa Suit by MKA as the perfect uplifting holiday read.


Christmas with the Cornish Girls by Betty Walker

Publishing November 25, 2021

A heartwarming tale of sisterhood in wartimeIt’s 1941, and Christmas is approaching in St. Ives…

To Pre-Order: https://www.harpercollins.com/products/christmas-with-the-cornish-girls-the-cornish-girls-series-betty-walker?variant=39649409368098

Betty Walker lives in Cornwall with her large family, where she enjoys gardening and coastal walks. She loves discovering curious historical facts, and devotes much time to investigating her family tree.

She also writes under other names! She writes thrillers as Jane Holland, romance as Beth Good, and YA fantasy as Victoria Lamb. (Goodreads)

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Christmas is coming to Cornwall, England, no matter the war and air raids. Betty Walker continues The Cornish Girls Series with an attentive, warm-hearted glimpse into the lives and struggling relationships of Lily and Eva as they move from the top-secret listening post in Porthcurno up the coast to Symmonds Hall in St. Ives. Walker creates excellent backstory of the personalities and past of each character, so readers feel connected without reading Book #1, Wartime with the Cornish Girls. (Though a great read and highly recommended!)

Symmonds Hall is staffed by two doctors and several rule abiding nurses. Next door is an orphanage run by the Treverricks, whose “parenting” techniques are highly questionable. A love triangle, the orphanage, and the children in the Treverrick’s care become a personal challenge for Nurse Rose. Betty Walker’s focus deftly shifts back and forth from developing adult relationships to the orphans’ tenuous situation.

With December 1941 approaching, Lily is tasked with organizing the annual Christmas party! Lily’s and Eva’s days are filled with a wheelchair bound patient, a burn victim, a pregnant visitor, and orphan rescue missions! Meanwhile, it’s an emotional relief to be involved in Lily’s party preparations-dicey at best, with paper chains and rationing.

Christmas with the Cornish Girls reminds readers “that when things are at their darkest, love comes along to light the way.”


A Christmas Legacy by Anne Perry


Thomas and Charlotte Pitt’s former maid takes a new job as Christmas approaches—but not everyone in the household may survive the holidays in this tension-filled novel from bestselling author Anne Perry.

A Christmas Novella Coming November 2, 2021


Anne Perry is the bestselling author of fifteen previous holiday novels, as well as the bestselling William Monk series, the bestselling Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, the new Daniel Pitt series, five World War I novels, and a work of historical fiction, The Sheen on the Silk. Anne Perry lives in Los Angeles.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Anne Perry’s annual holiday offering, A Christmas Legacy, is certainly a special gift for readers and fans of period dramas set in 1900, London. From Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Series comes now married, former maid Gracie Tellman with her own story.

Millie Foster, housemaid at the Harcourt estate, reports to her friend Gracie Tellman that cakes, pudding, and chicken are going missing; none of the staff says a word, because all are afraid someone will be ‘sacked’; and right before Christmas! Gracie, now married to an Inspector, trades places with Millie to discover what’s happening. As the mystery unfolds readers are treated to the now familiar pecking order of the “downstairs” staff due to six seasons of Downton Abbey!  Anne Perry slowly builds suspicion and casts doubt on the Harcourts and the servants; between conversations with butler, Mr. Denning and housekeeper, Mrs. Jenkins, along with love secrets shared between Mrs. Harcourt’s lady’s maid, Nora and Walter, Mr. Harcourt’s valet. Perhaps most endearing is bright, red headed Archie, the footman, that Gracie encourages to learn to read so he can “go anywhere…, anywhere real, or not real.” Readers learn along with Gracie that facing challenges and struggles brings people together. At the end of A Christmas Legacy there is great “satisfaction in realizing that kindness is noticed.”

Return to the origins of the Victorian-era sleuthing couple with the first three mysteries in the “unfailingly rewarding” New York Times–bestselling series (The New York Times Book Review).


Come Tomorrow by Tess Thompson

Come Tomorrow (Castaway Christmas Book 1) Expected December 1, 2020 One chance meeting. A single act of kindness. Can young soulmates find each other in adulthood, or will hidden truths tear them apart?

Tess Thompson Romance…hometowns and heartstrings.
USA Today Bestselling author Tess Thompson writes small-town romances and historical romance.

She started her writing career in fourth grade when she wrote a story about an orphan who opened a pizza restaurant. Oddly enough, her first novel, “Riversong” is about an adult orphan who opens a restaurant. Clearly, she’s been obsessed with food and words for a long time now.
With a degree from the University of Southern California in theatre, she’s spent her adult life studying story, word craft, and character. Since 2011, she’s published 20 novels and 3 novellas. Most days she spends at her desk chasing her daily word count or rewriting a terrible first draft.
She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her husband, the hero of her own love story, and their Brady Bunch clan of two sons, two daughters and five cats. Yes, that’s four kids and five cats. 

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

Sometimes, when I was feeling sorry for myself, I would think that if I only had a book to read, a story to fall into and escape my problems and worries, then I could bear all this.” Luci Quick

Readers everywhere can relate to Luci’s sentiment during these anxious days of the pandemic and political stress. Come Tomorrow is a “rags to riches” story of a young girl, Luci, left with her new born sister and drunken father, living in poverty at the edge of the forest surrounding the grounds of the enormous manor of the Ford family. Fourteen-year-old Wesley Ford, and his faithful yellow lab, Atlas, are the answer to Luci’s prayers when Luci and Wesley’s paths cross one fateful Christmas Eve. When Wesley is confronted with the desperate, stark living conditions Luci and her baby sister must survive; he makes a promise to Come Tomorrow– with a basket of food. Readers will come to love Molly, the housekeeper, and her husband, Dax, the groundskeeper, as the couple becomes an integral link in the survival of Luci and Wesley. Will Luci learn to fend for herself and baby Sadie and what will happen to Wesley and his sister, Lily, as they are whisked away to boarding schools? Secrets and lies are slowly uncovered as this story of new- found love, soul mates, best friends, and the true meaning of giving unfolds over the years.

The “perfect cottage setting” in the snow globe on the cover will draw readers into Wesley’s world; one that looks so perfect from the outside and is his solace and hope for the future. Readers will want their own snow globe to shake, swirl and stare into-dreaming of a peace-filled, quiet life. The genuine love and devotion of Wesley’s lab, Atlas, is an additional warm hearted, loving gift for readers.

Add Tess Thompson’s Come Tomorrow to your reading stocking on December 1st. Five “stocking stuffer stars!”

A Christmas Gathering by Anne Perry

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Anne Perry (born Juliet Hulme) is a British historical novelist. http://www.anneperry.co.uk/about

Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The English countryside at Christmas-sounds glorious to some, but not to Lady Vespasia and her new husband, Lord Victor Narraway. The invitation to Cavendish Hall is of obligatory nature, so no real cheer and anticipation are involved. Max Cavendish and wife, Amelia, have invited a select group of guests for Christmas Day. The events leading up to Christmas Eve will add quite a bit to the usual anxious excitement that surrounds the holiday. Anne Perry’s annual Christmas novella will be a treat to the Downton Abbey fans; butlers, footman, changing for dinner and the after dinner “withdrawing room”-are all here. Lady Vespasia and Victor, recently released from duty as the head of the Special Branch, will treat the reader to some Christmas secrets, strolls through the elaborate gardens, a meeting in the orangery, and even attempted murder. So for the mystery lovers and followers of Anne Perry, don your dinner duds, and ring the bell for the cognac to be served; add The Christmas Gathering to the silver tray. GR

The Perfect Love Song A Christmas Story by Patti Callahan Henry

Patti Callahan Henry is an American novelist. She is the New York Times bestselling author of fifteen books, including the historical novel, BECOMING MRS. LEWIS – The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis and also her June 2019, contemporary Southern fiction THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER. This novel is also reviewed here on The Grateful Reader.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

“The holiday season sometimes fills us with unrealistic expectations”-so true, isn’t it? The Perfect Love Song is a story of brotherly love, life-long friendships, finding true love; and even recognizing God’s perfect love through those He places in our lives. Patti Callahan Henry takes the reader on a magical Christmas journey; from the Southern Lowcountry in South Carolina, to Rockefeller Center in NYC, and over the ocean to Galway Bay in Ireland.

The main character, Kara Larson, is highly influenced and her young , “soon to be wed” life story, impacted by an elderly Irish woman, Maeve Mahoney. Maeve is from Galway, Ireland, and she willingly shares her wisdom on life and love relationships with Kara. Truly appreciated are the quotes at the beginning of each chapter from Maeve to Kara. Some are Maeve’s own; some Old Irish Proverbs. Either way, the story and the sayings will give the reader much “food for thought” to reflect and ponder during quiet, stolen moments during the coming Christmas season.

The Grateful Reader hopes your holiday expectations and romantic visions do come true. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present by reading The Perfect Love Song; and then relish the “joy of giving” in this season of God’s perfect love, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

“Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.” Old Irish Proverb

The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty, and friendship. The design and customs associated with it originated in the Irish fishing village of the same name in Galway. The ring, as currently known, was first produced in the 17th century.

The Legend of the Claddagh Ring-told by Gina Alward-https://thehereandwow.com/claddagh-ring/

The legend of the Claddagh ring dates back five hundred years to the fishing village of Claddagh, just outside of Galway city. The men from Claddagh would go out to sea to fish for food for their families, and back in this time, such a task posed many dangers. Currents were strong, the weather was changing, and the sea was bound to seduce the most deadly risk of all: pirates.

On one fateful day, a young man named Richard Joyce was fishing at sea with other members of his family. A Spanish pirate ship who was also sailing along the coast, captured poor Richard and his family and brought them to the North Coast of Africa, selling them all into slavery.

Richard, who was a silversmith and the youngest of his family members, was the most devastated. All of these men had left their loved ones behind, but Richard had only just met his one true love and now feared he would not live to ever see her again.

Years had passed since his captivation, and while some of his family members had died during these years, Richard continued to yearn for his love and remained hopeful of one day returning to Claddagh. To help keep his spirits high, Richard would steal tiny specks of gold from his slave masters each day while tending to their fire in the goldsmith shop. Throughout his years of hard labour, he slowly fashioned a ring from this gold, with a hope of someday returning to his village to present this ring to his beloved.

At last, Richard finally made his way back to Claddagh. Whether he escaped or was released from slavery, no one knows for certain. Needless to say, upon his return, he was thrilled to learn that his beloved had remained faithful to him throughout these daunting and gruelling years, waiting for the day that they could be reunited.

And it was on that day that Richard gave her his ring – the ring that is now known around the world as the Claddagh Ring.

The Claddagh design consists of a heart, held by two hands with a crown resting upon it. The heart symbolizes the love that Richard longed to share with his true love; the crown symbolizes their undying loyalty to one another; and the hands symbolize their friendship, which is, after all, the very foundation of all love. This design became very popular as an engagement or wedding ring, particularly in Galway, the Aran Islands, and Connemara, and in fact, the Claddagh design is featured in various types of jewelry and art all across the country.

How this ring is worn is also very important in Irish culture. If the Claddagh is worn on the ring finger of the right hand with the heart pointing outwards, it means the wearer’s heart has yet to be won. If the ring is worn on the same hand and finger, with the heart pointing inward toward the heart, it means the wearer’s heart belongs to another. If the ring is then worn on the ring finger of the left hand with the heart pointing outward, this indicates the wearer is engaged to be married, and if the ring is pointing inward on the same hand, it means the wearer is married.

Receive The Perfect Love Song and the Legend of the Claddagh Ring as a gift you will cherish and share for many Christmases to come. TGR