Six Reasons British Books Are the Best

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that American readers have long been fascinated with stories featuring their British cousins. Here, I’m talking about historical romances (though I’m sure modern-day Brits are just as dreamy). Whether we’re going all the way back to the streets of Victorian London or to the noir England of Agatha Christie, there are reasons we’re drawn to books set across the pond.

One: Tidbits of Interesting History

Those of us who grew up in the States have probably been well-educated in the (relatively short) timeline of our own country. Not to say it isn’t interesting, but there’s very little that surprises me anymore.

But The Captain’s Daughter taking me backstage behind the real workings of Gilbert and Sullivan’s famous operas? That I’d never thought of, and everything from the dangers of Victorian London to the life of an actress to the new spotlight technologies was a learning experience for me.

In the same way, did I know what a coaching inn was before reading The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill? Not a clue. But the daily routine of the inn and the threat to its survival intrigued me (and, of course, the parade of characters with secrets who came in and out).

Two: Pretty Dresses

Let’s be honest: Victorian and Regency gowns are the best.

Would we want to wear them every day? Of course not. (One word: corsets.) But it’s fun to admire the images on the cover or the descriptions in the text. And if there’s a ballroom scene? Count me in. Inherent drama plus women in beautiful dresses…what more could you want?

Unless of course you’re the Duke of Riverton from An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter. Then your thoughts might be more like this:

Of all the social events that played out in London, balls made the least sense to Griffith. They were always massively crowded, so the chances of seeing the person you actually wanted to talk to that evening were small, unless you’d arranged a meeting prior. Talking was difficult, what with the music and the people coming in and out of conversations in order to join the dancing.

And for a man who was looking to court, they made even less sense.

With gemstoned bodices and jeweled hair clips scattering the light from the multitude of candles, the finery in the room was enough to blind a man. Even the plainest of women could look exquisite with such trappings, and when the artificial beauty collided with natural beauty, men tended to lose their wits as well as their sight.

Griffin frowned. How could a man possibly form and know true feelings and opinions in an environment like that?

But either way…pretty dresses and dancing equals drama.

Three: High Levels of Intrigue

It’s been a while since there was a war fought on American soil. Believe me, I’m not complaining, but this rules out many classic suspense plots for the twentieth century. But in England, with each of the major World Wars, you have an entire history book full of content for thrilling plots. Observe the “hook” of these two novels:

Rosemary Gresham is offered the challenge of a lifetime in pre-WWI England: pose as a librarian and determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. (A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White)

British nurse Evelyn Marche spends her days at the hospital during WWI, but her most carefully guarded secret is that she spends her nights carrying out dangerous missions as a spy for a resistance group. (High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin)

Neither story would translate well in, say, New Jersey or Oklahoma in the early 1900s. British settings give us the chance for spies and nurses and soldiers and a whole cast of compelling characters.

Four: Nobility and Social Status

Here, my friends, is one area that our friends across the pond have us beat: the titled upper class. Lord and ladies, dukes and duchesses, and even the occasional prince are fascinating to read about.

There’s inherent tension in class differences and the endless social standards created because of them. Nothing makes a page-turner like a compelling internal conflict between needing to make an advantageous match or marrying for love (An Inconvenient Beauty, Kristi Ann Hunter) or the pressure of knowing others might not approve of the wealthy gentleman falling for the lovely American visitor (The Drew Farthering mysteries, Julianna Deering). The greater the obstacle to romance, the more I want to find out what happens next.

Five: Character Drama

Adaptations of Jane Eyre or Jane Austen or any of the original miniseries created by the BCC and others can be very well done, but it’s usually easier to connect with characters in novels because you can hear their thoughts and are fully immersed in a world you can imagine yourself. Books can go into more depth than a typical movie, and with series, authors can continue the relationship you’ve developed with the cast over months or even years.

Jennifer Delamere’s new London Beginnings series, which introduces us to the romances of three orphaned sisters, is a great example of this, or Roseanna White’s Shadows Over England that traces the exploits of a streetwise “family” of talented thieves. Once you’ve read one, you’ll be eager to find out how the other characters end up. When fictional characters feel like real people, the authors have done their jobs, and even the best costume drama can rarely beat a well-written novel.

Six: Accents

And here, I’m talking specifically about what a good British accent does to the attractiveness factor of your average hero.

“But wait,” you say, “it’s not possible to actually hear any difference in speech while reading.” I beg to differ. Not only do you hear a swoon-worthy voice in your head as you go along, but the word choice and phrasing of British heroes have just a little something different that makes their dialogue—especially the declarations of love—special.

Allow me to demonstrate.

“Darling, the longer I know you, the more certain I am that we were meant for each other. I will wait for you if you like. If you insist, I will let you go. But I will always love you. No one I have ever met has charmed me and challenged me, soothed me and nettled me, or fit so perfectly into my heart and life as you. If you leave me, I will not die.” He swallowed hard. “But I don’t think I will ever be quite whole again.” (Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering)

Just try to tell me that a cowboy or motorcycle dude could have pulled that off. (I didn’t think so.)

Whether you’re in it for the romantic rogue spy or the dashing duke, there’s a British-set novel for you. Pour a cup of tea (of course)…and happy reading!

If you’re a fan of British books, to celebrate sweeping country manors, crowded and dangerous London streets, and, of course, debonair and handsome heroes, Bethany House is hosting a giveaway of six of our British-set books. You can enter here!

Any other reasons I should add to this list? What draws you to British-set books?

10 Problems Only Bookworms Understand

We’re shaking things up a bit at the office this month! Our fiction publicist, Amy Green, is usually the one behind these blog posts, but I was given the opportunity to write this one. I’m Rachael Wing, the editorial and publicity intern here at Bethany House Publishers for the summer. I started reading at the age of four and have been buried in my “to-be-read” pile since then, always finding new books to add. I’ve been passionate about Christian fiction since I started book reviewing two years ago and am thrilled to now be working directly with authors and their manuscripts at my dream workplace.

As fellow bibliophiles, we’ve all picked up on some bookish habits over time yet we’ve learned to embrace them as who we are. Here are some that I admittedly relate to:

1. Owning more than one copy of your favorite book(s)

You have to own the hardcover because of how much prettier it is than the paperback (and the pages are nicer too), but you also need the ebook because you may get the urge to read it one more time and so you must always have access to it.

2. Keeping a book with you at all times

There’s a book in your bag, a few in your car, and multiple apps on your electronic device—you never know when you’ll need one! Everywhere you go, you remember to have a book with you in case you have a long wait or are stuck in an awkward situation.

3. Trying to figure out what book a person is reading without appearing to stare

Admit it. We’ve all done it. You’re walking down the sidewalk and see someone sitting on a bench reading. You try to be subtle when you glance at their book but someone always ends up notice that you’ve slowed down or turned your attention elsewhere. At that point, you give up and stop or bend your head to make out the title.

4. Being careful about spending money on essentials but splurging on books

You always go the cheap route when it comes to buying groceries, cleaning supplies, and clothes. You’ve even considered if paying the electric bill for the month is necessary because you can read by candle light, right? Though, when it comes to buying books money usually isn’t an issue. You can definitely afford to pay the extra money for the hardcover copy and you may as well buy the rest of the books in the series since you’re already there.

5. Solving a plot twist before it’s revealed and feeling like Sherlock Holmes

You knew that character was suspicious from the beginning and then they say something that supports your suspicions—you’re convinced they’re the murderer! Then their true identity is revealed and for a second you wonder if you chose the wrong career path because you’d make an excellent detective.

6. Having mixed feelings about starting a book you’ve been anticipating to read

You really want to read this new release but then you realize if you start it now, you’ll never be able to read it for the first time again! Then, you will reach the end and the entire experience will be over and you will fall into book separation depression. So, you decide to hold it for a little while and then read as slowly as possible so you can enjoy every word of it.

7. Smelling your new books

You crack open your new book and the smell of paper and ink that wafts in the air is the definition of pure happiness. Then, you bury your face in the pages for the full book-smelling experience. Who cares who is watching? It’s one of the greatest things about opening a new book!

8. Owning a wide array of bookmarks but never using them

You have a whole collection of bookmarks that you love but you never use because you’re either afraid of using them and losing them or you simply just forget. Instead you have receipts, gum wrappers, recipe cards, or whatever you can get your hands on in the moment to mark your place…but you never dog-ear a book!

9. Talking about fictional characters as if they’re real

You’re chatting with one of your friends about your weekend and you recall a funny story that happened to another friend. Only to realize after the fact that this “friend” was in fact a fictional character in a book you recently read. Oh well. You’re as close to your fictional friends as your real friends, anyway.

10. Telling yourself “just one more chapter” when you should really be sleeping

You have to be up in five hours but you remind yourself that whether you were reading or not, you’d be awake either way, because your mind is racing trying to figure out what is going to happen next! Will you regret it in the morning? Probably. You remind yourself that you can always drink another cup of coffee with extra shots of espresso and all will be well.

Don’t be ashamed if you relate to one or more of these. There’s nothing wrong with any of these situations, because reading is one of the best hobbies you can have. You are given the chance to time travel and live multiple lives in various eras, countries, and lifestyles anytime and anywhere you want. There isn’t a hobby that compares to reading, so enjoy your bookish lifestyle and try to make a dent in that TBR stack that’s waiting for you!

What are some other “bookworm problems” you have experienced?

The Five Stages of Dealing With Your TBR Pile

Any experienced reader knows the lingering stress of the TBR (To-Be-Read) Pile. As someone who is a reader and also works for a publisher that contributes to lengthening many such piles, I want to reassure you: you are not alone. I’m here to walk you through the process, show you there are others all around you dealing with TBR pile shock, and help you and your Goodreads profile find peace.

Stage One: Denial

I can do this, you think, staring down that list of books the way Rocky/Karate Kid/that quarterback in Remember the Titans faced their respective opponents. Determination. Focus. One page at a time.

(Did I have to look up a list of underdog sports movies? Yes. My greatest athletic achievements are literary triathlons, which consist of reading a book, discussing the book, and explaining why the book was better than the movie.)

Yes, you have a daunting TBR pile in front of you, but it can and will be conquered, you assure yourself, even as the list fills a thick binder. Even as you add three books for every one you check off. Even as you hear the faint but unmistakable sound of your high school math teacher lecturing on statistical probability and laughing at your baseless optimism.

But the more you stare at the list of books you want to read, promised your friends you’d read, and feel an obligation to read to better yourself as a person, reality sets in: your TBR pile may be getting out of control. Which triggers…

Stage Two: Anger

Suddenly, interfering tasks like housework and sleeping seem irritating and unnecessary, all taking up valuable reading time. You may find yourself lashing out in anger at bosses for expecting you to be present at your job, family members for having conversations with you, dust for falling, and anything else that distracts you from a page-turning read. This is normal.

Well, not exactly normal, but we’re book nerds. We have different standards. Continue reading

Inside Bethany House: Fun with Grammar!

To prove how nerdy we are here at Bethany House, I could tell you about the time a cake arrived to a work celebration bearing the word “Congatulations,” and how one of the editors had inserted the appropriate letter complete with proofing mark, using frosting stolen from one of the decorative rosebuds.

I could mention the number of charity pamphlets, flyers, and yes, even an out-of-order bathroom sign that have been marked up with red pen within the Bethany House walls.

I could even link to the article that was circulating around editorial last week to add fuel to a heated debate on the Oxford comma.

But I figured I’d ask a few co-workers some grammar-nerdy questions and share their answers with you instead. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite punctuation mark, and if so, what is it?

Elisa, editorial: My favorite punctuation mark is the em dash—it’s so versatile! My runner-up might be the period. It’s not fussy and packs plenty of meaning. It’s also very hard for people to misuse, which makes my job easier.

(Note: the em dash was recently discussed at the Bethany House lunch table, and many people spoke in glowing terms about how much they loved it and why. “It’s like a miniature cliffhanger,” “Sometimes I catch myself using three in one sentence,” and “Are we really discussing this?” were all actual quotes from the conversation.)

Noelle, marketing: For sure, the semi-colon. Correct usage for it is so little understood (even fully by me), but I somehow feel cooler attempting to use it. Only real grammar nerds try to use it over a plain old regular period. I am also a huge Dickens fan, and boy does he work those semi-colons.

Jessica, editorial: I really love parentheses. I use them a lot in casual, personal correspondence (reading my emails is basically like reading The Princess Bride). However, parentheses are not really allowed in formal fiction, so I have to fall back on my second favorite punctuation mark, the em-dash, which lets you sneak in parenthetical phrases without using parentheses. Score!

Is there a mistake you find yourself making over and over again?

Sharon, editorial: Hors d’oeuvres. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes wrong—but I always have to double check to be absolutely sure, because sometimes I transpose the e and the u. (And yes, I just looked it up before writing it here!)

Amy, marketing: I can never remember how to spell medieval. Also, I’m pretty sure I have yet to correctly format an ellipse, including on this blog.

Is there a grammar or usage mistake that is particularly painful for you?

Anna, marketing: YES! The Oxford comma should always be used. That’s all I have to say about that.

Jessica, editorial: This isn’t really a question of grammar, but one of my greatest editorial pet peeves is people referring to characters as “the man” or “the woman” instead of just using a pronoun. Especially when we know the character’s name! For example: “She opened the door to find Jake standing on her doorstep. Today the man wore jeans and a plaid shirt…” It’s SO AWKWARD. Just say “he”! Please! For me!

Elisa, editorial: I cringe when I see “apart” when the writer means “a part,” especially in situations where the writer is thanking people for the opportunity to be a part of something, because it comes across as being grateful for the opportunity to be standoffish.

Are there any grammar rules you don’t think should be rules?

Noelle, marketing: Let’s talk about smart quotes. They are like the Kim Kardashian of grammar—newsworthy for who knows why but always mentioned in copy editing. What’s wrong with my non-smart quote quotation marks and apostrophes? They get the job done.

(Note: If you want to know what smart quotes and straight quotes look like and why copy editors care, take a look at this explanation.)

Not something posted at Bethany House, thank goodness, but it still made me laugh.

 

Bonus round! Many of our editors save amusing typos from manuscripts and proposals. Here are a few collected by Charlene, a former acquiring editor for Bethany House:

She’d left the backpack containing her personal values in a locker at the Y.

When his wife died, he was housebroken.

Thank you for taking time to read my letter and your deep consideration on my behind.

There’d been a rumor she was loose and a maybe a trumpet.

Logan and his friends would drive to Pizza Ranch to gouge themselves on the buffet.

Our family is invisible if we stand together and believe the same things.

He ran across the street cat corner, still dogged by the man in black.

Even as a publicist, I see some funny ones. Here are two of my favorites:

  • A Facebook message with this query: “I had a dream about the raptor and I think it would make a great book.” (When I read this—it was early on a Monday—I was actually picturing a Christian dinosaur book for a second.)
  • A woman who spent three paragraphs criticizing the dress on the cover of one of our books as “horrendously inauthentic,” then ended with this: “Would you like to employ me to poof your cover designs for credibility prior to publication? I would do it for very low rates, just to keep from cringing in horror at most of your inept art.” I almost replied, “Thanks for the offer, but you might want to poof your email before sending.”

Needless to say, if we took a poll of Bethany House staff based on last week’s checklist, everyone would score pretty high, even those of us who don’t edit books on a daily basis.

Okay, grammar nerds out there, time for you to chime in! What grammar or usage error makes you cringe? Do you have a favorite punctuation mark?

Ten Signs You’re a Grammar Nerd

Confession: I almost, almost put “Ten Signs Your a Grammar Nerd” as the title of this blog post. Intentionally. Just to see how many people came over to decry my atrocious abuse of the English language.

Better counsel prevailed, and instead I want to welcome you to Bethany House’s little corner of the Internet, where you can be surrounded by fellow lovers of proper usage and punctuation, with nary a stray apostrophe or comma in sight.

Not sure if you belong? Here are a few signs. You know you’re a grammar nerd when:

One: You have a favorite punctuation mark. Probably a least favorite one as well. And you are fully equipped to explain why to anyone who wants to know (and quite a few who don’t).

Two: You can spot errors everywhere—Facebook posts, graduation programs, flyers on the bulletin board, lyrics for your church’s worship music—and once you see them, you can never un-see them. Never.

Three: You feel the need to look up every oddly-specific rule before sending an email or posting a Facebook update (“Does the question mark go outside of the quotation marks in this case?” “Is it an en dash or a hyphen?” “Is that the British spelling, or am I just wrong?”).

Four: You have an opinion about the Oxford comma. In fact, you might be willing to challenge someone to a duel over it. (I’m not 100% sure how this duel would proceed, but I picture two people bashing each other with Chicago vs. AP style guides until someone capitulates.)

Five: You physically twitch when spellcheck underlines something that is perfectly correct.

Six: You sometimes have nightmares about sending a text without noticing that autocorrect mangled your message.

Seven: You have corrected errors on printed materials in public, occasionally to the point of defacing private property, without getting caught.

Eight: You own red pens that vary in style and thickness. After all, every occasion demands a different correcting tool!

Nine: You understand the punch lines for all of these jokes:

“Past, present, and future walk into a bar. It was tense.”
“What do you say when comforting a grammar nerd? There, their, they’re.”
“There are three things that I love: the Oxford comma, irony, and missed opportunities.”
“What’s the difference between a cat and a comma? One has claws at the end of its paws and the other is a pause at the end of a clause.”

Ten: You have located a mistake of some sort in this post and feel ridiculously triumphant about it. (I’m sure some exist. That’s why I’m in marketing, not editorial.)

Next week on the blog, I’ll share some grammar nerd stories from our editing and marketing team members here at Bethany House, including their pet peeves and a few rules they don’t think should really be rules.

How would you finish the statement, “You know you’re a grammar nerd when…”?

What to Do If You’re in Love with a Fictional Character

Hello, readers! As Valentine’s Day approaches, I’m happy to answer the following question I was sent through our Ask Bethany House survey.*

Heart inside a book

Dear Amy,

The heroes in my favorite novels are so perfect, I think I’ve developed a bit of a crush on several of them. My friends think this is a problem since they’re not “real.” (Who cares?) But I’ve found that ending every book is difficult for me, since I always have to say goodbye to a man of my dreams. Do you have any advice?

Yours Brokenheartedly,

Recovering Romance Reader

(If you need help deciding if this letter also applies to you, check out a post from last year: 10 Signs You are in Love with a Fictional Character.)

Ah, love. It can be a complicated thing, especially when the man you’ve fallen for is seeing another woman. And fictional. And two-dimensional…literally. He’s printed on a page.

But those details aside, I’m here to help you cope with that deep feeling of loss when you finish the last page of a heart-pounding novel. The following are just a few suggestions for moving on after a book boyfriend leaves you for the fictional heroine:

Start a fan club. You can interpret this in two ways. First, it can be therapeutic to giggle and sigh with other readers over the merits of your chosen hero. There might be some heated banter over who is the best fit for said fictional hunk, but all in good fun. Second, it might be helpful to actually have a fan nearby while reading to avoid swooning.

valentine2

Journal the angst. This can be on Facebook or a blog—just get it out there. Tell everyone about the books that stole your heart (or broke it). You can even start it, “To All the Books I’ve Loved Before.”

Eat chocolate. Does this actually help? Probably not. But I feel like a point on just about every how-to list should be “eat chocolate,” so there you go.

Book-stalk the hero’s friends. After all, they’re probably just as witty and charming and attractive, right? So find out if that author has written any other books. A reader can never give up hope.

Appreciate the real men in your life. Even if you haven’t yet found “The One,” once you’ve had a few day’s distance from the latest novel, you’ll find there are several advantages actual people have over their fictional counterparts. Becky Wade has compiled a list of some of those merits—enjoy!

Send the happy couple a congratulations card. Nothing helps you get over your lost love than telling the object of your affections that you enjoyed watching his journey toward a happily-ever-after. But where to address it, you ask? I’d suggest the book’s page on Amazon or Goodreads. Turns out, other readers (and authors) like to hear that you found a romance sigh-worthy. (Just be careful not to reveal the ending…after all, maybe other readers want to have hope they might get the guy instead of the heroine.)

Start a new book. Will this make the cycle continue indefinitely? Probably. But we’re readers, after all. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wishing you the best of luck, Recovering Romance Reader. We here at Bethany House understand your dilemma…that’s why we keep publishing books from authors who create the best fictional romances around!

One bonus recovery tip: admit your latest book crush in the comments below. Misery loves company!

*Okay, fine. No one actually sent me this question. But I can read minds—lots of you were wondering this, weren’t you? Admit it! (But never fear, the real Ask BHP post will come later this month.)

Eight Reasons Reading Should Be Considered a Winter Sport

No matter what the weather looks like where you are, here in Minnesota where Bethany House is located, we won’t be putting away our winter coats anytime soon. Maybe you live someplace warm (or, for our international readers, are having a summery start to the year). But if you’re getting a little tired of snow, here’s one way to make it more enjoyable: participate in the winter sport of reading.

Make Reading a Winter Sport

The picture that gave me the idea for this post. Fun, right?

What’s that you say? Reading is not actually a winter sport? Well, it should be. And here are a few reasons why.

One

There are a few people rugged and courageous enough to do regular outdoor things during the winter. The rest of us will be inside. Reading. And not getting frostbite or runny noses that could possibly turn into pneumonia. (Safety first!)

Two

“Reading isn’t active enough to be a sport,” you say. To which I say, come on, curling is an official sport of the Winter Olympics. It’s not like you really have to be breaking a sweat here.

Olympics

Three

Close your eyes and picture a scene that makes you think, “cozy.” Go ahead. Right now. There was someone reading a book in it, right? Maybe wrapped in a fuzzy blanket and drinking something warm by a fireplace. I feel like this is a universally recognized image of coziness and comfort, and what better time than winter to be cozy? Continue reading

Bethany House’s 2017 Reading Challenge

Welcome, readers, to our third annual reading challenge! Starting now, you have one year to read a book in all of the categories below. Bookmark the list, print it out, come back to it and check off each book as you finish them, whatever you want to do to keep track.

2017-reading-challenge-2

Now for the fun part: if you know of a book you’ve loved that fits into one of these categories, feel free to recommend it below. This can range from, “This is my favorite Newbery Medal-winning book” to “If you have blue eyes, check out this title!”

A few that come to mind for me: Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey has a crime scene at Gettysburg National Park. Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette is in first person. Most of Lynn Austin’s novels have biblical allusions in the title (like Refiner’s Fire or All Things New). Of course, you don’t have to recommend only Bethany House books. Even nonfiction is welcome. Share any five-star titles you’d love others to read.

Have fun! And we here at Bethany House wish you many great books in 2017!

Stranded in the Library: A Christmas Parody

If you haven’t ever wished to be snowed in at a library, you probably won’t relate to this carol parody. Then again, if you haven’t ever wished to be snowed in at a library, you probably aren’t reading a publisher’s blog.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas from Bethany House!

Stranded in a Library
(Sing to the tune of “Let it Snow”)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the library’s delightful,
By the light of my cell phone’s glow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

There are so many to get lost in,
Like the Brontës, Twain, and Austen,
Or Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Let it snow, let it snow, Edgar Poe!

When the plows come at last I’ll find,
That I’ll mourn for my reading cut short.
But just look what I’ll leave behind:
A classical tome blanket fort.

Maybe tragedy for a while,
‘Cause Euripides’s my style.
Or the long Russian tales of woe,
Let it snow, let it snow, Romeo!

As the storm goes on, I’ll get to it:
Harper Lee or C.S. Lewis,
Then Emerson and Thoreau,
Let it snow, let it snow, V. Hugo!

Oh, my TBR pile will grow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

christmas-post-2

And just a little teaser…next Thursday on the blog we’ll have our annual reading challenge! Stop by to see what categories are on our checklist this year.

Did I leave out any of your favorite classic authors? (Particularly if their names rhyme with “snow.”)

Christmas Book Title Fun

Every year at the Bethany House decorating party, I prank the nativity scene. This sounds significantly more sacrilegious than it actually is. When we set up the Holy Family surrounded by angels, I simply give the figures a miniature paper book I feel like they’d think was appropriate.

This year’s results are below.

nativity

It got me thinking—what book titles would fit well for all the cast of the first Christmas story? Could I outfit everyone with a Bethany House novel for them?

You can decide for yourselves by the end of the post. (Bonus—titles are linked if you want to read the book’s actual plot, which has nothing to do with Christmas in most cases. But they do make great gifts!)

There was really nothing I could pick for the angel Gabriel but The Messenger (Siri Mitchell). Too perfect.

Besides the nonfiction title in the picture above, I’d give Mary A Lady Unrivaled (Roseanna M. White) or Where Courage Calls (Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan) because agreeing to give birth to the Son of God took some serious bravery.

At first, I thought of A Most Inconvenient Marriage (Regina Jennings) for Joseph, but that seemed a little harsh, so I settled on A Bride at Last (Melissa Jagears) or Beyond All Dreams (Elizabeth Camden) since he got all of the angelic visions.

We had no sheep-related titles (though there are some on covers), but I felt The Shattered Vigil (Patrick W. Carr) described the shepherds well that night in Bethlehem.

For the wise men, I couldn’t decide between Chasing Hope (Kathryn Cushman) or A Shining Light (Judith Miller).

And speaking of that part of the story, how about King’s Folly (Jill Williamson) for Herod? Or we could just be blunt and go with Rules of Murder (Julianna Deering).

How about the little drummer boy? A Noble Masquerade (Kristi Ann Hunter), for sure…because he wasn’t actually in the Bible. Just in some manger scenes and that ridiculous song. I wish I could make this one into a Conspiracy of Silence (Ronie Kendig). But I digress.

Speaking of characters not in the nativity, once I started looking at my bookshelf, I just couldn’t stop, so here are a few bonus rounds.

For Ebeneezer Scrooge, Sins of the Past (Henderson, Pettrey, Eason) seems appropriate, or if we want to focus more on the happy ending, how about A Love Transformed (Tracie Peterson)?

Several came to mind for Santa Claus himself, but our icon has certainly made A Lasting Impression (Tamera Alexander). Runners-up were Undetected (Dee Henderson) for his stealthy present-distribution and Stranded (Dani Pettrey) for that most famous foggy Christmas Eve.

Which leads me to the inspiration for Rudolph’s titles: Shadow of the Storm (Connilyn Cossette) and No Other Will Do (Karen Witemeyer) basically sum up the story in two titles.

Finally, I’d give the Grinch Meant to be Mine (Becky Wade) for his thieving tendencies, and of course, A Talent for Trouble (Jen Turano).

Now, at first, I thought I had the perfect ones for Frosty the Snowman: Fatal Frost (Nancy Mehl) or Refining Fire (Tracie Peterson). Then I realized neither would do, since frost is decidedly not fatal to a snowman and fire is not particularly refining, either. The solution? Fire and Ice (Mary Connealy) captures the plot of his story well.

Your turn! I’m sure I missed some great opportunities here. Feel free to submit any additional titles you can think of for the characters above (or pick a Christmas character I didn’t mention).