I won a Smashwords copy of Christmas Lites II, several years ago. I kept meaning to read it and then it would get re-burried in my TBR. But this year, I made sure it was part of my Christmas Reading Challenge.
Join us this Christmas season as authors from across the globe unite to spread holiday cheer and raise money for a very important cause. You will delight in the various stories these authors have created in order to take you on a journey from inside their heads and into your heart. Fairy tales, mysteries, journeys with zombies and monsters, vampires, angels, trips to the North Pole and much more await inside the covers of this book. All proceeds from the book are being donated to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Not only will you get a taste of the spirit of the season, but you will do so knowing you did your part in helping a very worthy cause. Merry Christmas!
These are all really short. There are 20 stories here, in a 197 page book (including front and end-matter). That’s, an average of less than 10 pages apiece. So, I’ll just give each a couple sentences as review—basically just my general thoughts—and then finish with my overall thoughts on the collection.
Santa’s Ninja Elf: Hunter’s Revenge, by Lizzy Ford
This was super cute in a silly, don’t think too deeply about it sort of way. I liked it.
A (Not) Very Neighborly
Christwitchas, by Patti Larsen
Cute, with a conversational tone. But I’m not sure I got the point. I expected it to culminate into something and it never did. Still cute though.
A mermaid for Christmas, Nichole Chase
Cute, but maybe a little too cutesy for my. Though I liked getting to see the perspective of Christmas in the islands.
Ugly and the Prince, by Monica La Porta
This one I didn’t like at all—problematic in too many ways. The implication that women can be beautiful or intelligent, but not both (or that learning and/or intelligence is something you receive in exchange for beauty). The implication that a woman (or person) can’t be loved it they’re not physically attractive. The ending that makes her lack of physical attraction acceptable only because it can’t be seen. The suggestion that the love of a man is enough to ease her into society, while nothing she did on her own was. Most old fairy-tales are problematic, if you really think about them, but new ones don’t have to be.
The Light of Truth, by Lynn Rush
Meh, I wasn’t thrilled to find such a blatantly religious story included. And it tried to cram too much into too few pages.
A Fading House, by EC Stilson
Meh, not enough to it to really accomplish what it set out to and the God bit felt unneeded.
The Hunt: Vol II, by Amy Eye
Meh. Fine, but prosaic.
Wishmaster 2000, by JG Faherty
This reminded me of a Christmas Goosebumps story. I imagine my kids might like it, but it was a little juvenile for me.
The Christmas Parrot, by Vered Ehsani
Not so much a story as a small vignette that happened to have Christmas tacked on to fit the anthology. It did remind me to go check if my daughter’s chameleon had water though.
Rent-A-Christmas, by Kimberly Kinrade
This is a short in The Forbidden Trilogy world, and while it was follow-able I didn’t appreciate not knowing the rest of the series. Beyond that, I thought it super sappy (too sappy for me), but not bad.
The Locket, by JA Clement
This one packs quite a lot of worldbuilding into a short story (enough that I have to wonder if there isn’t a longer work somewhere that it ties into). It was pleasant, but more a vignette than a story.
Joseph, by Melynda Fleury
Literally just the birth of Jesus from Joseph’s perspective. Far too religious for me.
Table Five, by Misty Baker
A sweet little reminder to do nice things.
Momma’s Last Christmas, by Cassie McCown
Sad, but one of the best stories in the collection. It creates such a sense of place without ever telling where it is.
A Monstrous Christmas, by Frank W. Smith
I didn’t particularly care for this one and if “frank W. Smith” is male as the name infers, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. The idea that deep-level contempt can be erased by a single kindness is farcical and the characters little bit of later self-awareness did nothing to overcome my dislike for them formed in the beginning of the story.
The Loving Dead, by Angela Yuriko Smith
I really liked the beginning of this and was kind of ‘meh’ on the second half. But, overall, it was pretty good.
Merry Christmas, You Guys, by S. Patrick Pothier
This felt like a Halloween Horror – Christmas mash-up. But I found it amusing all the same.
Accidentally Smitten, by Tricia Kristufek
I was pretty ‘meh’ on this one. I thought the guy felt a little skeevy, so I didn’t really feel the spark. But I understand what the author was going for.
The Rise of Rae, by Trish Thawer
This story was a fail for me. I didn’t understand what giving her the ostracizing name had to do with her eventual destiny. And the whole thing just felt a little too generic-fairy tale to me. Plus, the fairy grips an iron door handle, which threw me for a loop since fae are traditionally thought to be allergic to iron.
Someone to Love, by Addison Moore
Weird. The writing was pretty but the story was weird.
The Unicorn Who Saved Christmas, by Elizabeth Evans
Very childish…as in it is a children’s story, not as a criticism.
All in all, none of these blew me away but none seemed too horrible either. I do wish, at the collection level, the editors had decided to make it a religious anthology or avoided including explicitly religious stories. Yes, I know Christmas = birth of Christ, etc. But most of these stories are fairly agnostic, such that those that were explicitly about God or Jesus stood out and felt out of place to me. On the whole, it’s a fine collection of short stories.
Come back tomorrow. I’ll be reviewing Merry Elf-ing Christmas, by Beth Bolden.