“Christmas in Sugarcreek” by Shelley Shepard Gray is a sentimental novel that has a touching yet sappy storyline that will appeal only to a female audience. Part of the “Seasons of Sugarcreek” series, this is a book that pays homage to the Christmas season. Taking place in an Amish community, the story follows Judith Graber, a young woman who always does what she is told but often forgets to take care of her own needs. But when bad boy Ben Knox starts to work in her family store, she starts getting ample amounts of attention from him.
A story of love and forgiveness, Gray paints a stirring picture of Christmas time and the magic it can have on people. — S.S.
"WRECK THE HALLS: Cake Wrecks Gets 'Festive'," by Jen Yates, Andrews McMeel Publishing, $14.99, 232 pages
From the author of the CakeWreck.com blog that features professional cakes gone unintentionally awry is this snarky collection of holiday-theme cakes in a picture book. Not to be taken too seriously, this book includes her signature sarcastic commentary on pictures of cakes that could make you smile. — C.R.
"THE CHRISTMAS CREED," by Ted Hindmarsh, Sweetwater Books, $12.99, 118 pages (f)
In this novel by Utah author Ted Hindmarsh, Dr. Alexander Pennington III is driving home for Christmas — in part to show off his status symbol of a car — when a blizzard forces him to spend the holidays with a sick widow and her three children. It also forces him to rethink his family selfishness. — C.R.
“The Gift,” by Cecelia Ahern is a story within a story about the gift of time. Lou has his priorities upside down — material wealth, fame and power first. His family relationships last. Feeling generous one morning, he offers a homeless man named Gabriel a job, and things begin to change.
The book contains frequent use of offensive language. Drinking and non-marital sex are integral to the story, although not portrayed as acceptable. — R.H.
"MARIAN'S CHRISTMAS WISH," by Carla Kelly, Sweetwater Books, $8.99, 298 pages (f)
In the Regency-era love story by Utah author Carla Kelly, unconventional Marian Wynswich is determined to enjoy this Christmas as it may be the last in their ancestral home. However when her brother brings friends to visit for the holidays, her determination to avoid love may be in vain. — C.R.
"THE WISE MAN RETURNS," by Kenny Kemp, Sweetwater Books, $16.99, 354 pages (f)
One of the wise men who sought out Jesus as a baby returns to Judea to seek his counsel and is surprised to learn he is not king. He follows the rumors of miracles and changed lives because of Jesus Christ as he searches for soul-healing answers. — C.R.
"MIRACLE OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR," by Susan Dean Elzey, Sweetwater Books, $12.99, 169 pages (f)
Sariah's daughter Hannah was born the night a new star was shown in the sky, but she is stricken with palsy. Through the struggles of raising her, Sariah knows she must have faith and hope as she seeks a healing miracle from Jesus. — C.R.
Max Fox is lacking in the Christmas spirit this year. He's out of work, has alienated his parents and he and his wife, Jenny, recently found out they cannot have children. An orphan girl comes to live with them for the holidays and changes everything.
This debut novel by Clint G. Cox of triumph over tragedy and adversity is well-written, despite some predictability. It is a satisfying read that reminds us about the importance of forgiveness, hope and charity.
— Stephanie Abney
"COMFORT AND JOY," by India Knight, Penguin, $14, 230 pages (f)
This is not the typical Christmas story. "Comfort and Joy" tells the story of Clara Dunphy and her rather unique collection of ex-husbands, friends and family as they all share the Christmas holiday and their opinions on a wide variety of topics. This book contains strong language and deals with a number of adult topics. Author India Knight tries to add some warmth by detailing the tumultuous relationships between the main characters. However, even with this it still falls way short of being a feel-good holiday novel.
— Steve Larson
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