Cover Image: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas

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Read Review Rejoice's The Old Lace Shop by Michelle Griep: This darling story of second chances for a couple who were separated by Bella's father in his quest for power. I loved how Mrs. Griep was not afraid to tackle subjects that are even now still somewhat taboo. I highly recommend you try this novella out!
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Dickensian Christmas Novellas

This is a collection of three romantic Dickens-inspired Christian Christmas novellas. The author has a way with description; she makes you feel as if you are right there in Victorian England, sometimes its more seedy underbelly. Even the titles of the tales echo Dickens’ titles, even if the themes aren't directly related to those original titles. Some stories even reflect the social consciousness of Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell (who was his protege). All in all, I found these stories to be excellent Christmas reads, reminding you gently of some important themes of the season, like second chances, goodwill, and redemption.
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Lovely tales a book that brings us back in time.Historical fiction so well written full of romance atmosphere.Characters that come alive enjoyed every page.#netgalley#barbourpublishing.
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Loved this novel! I always love Michelle Griep, though, so I'm not surprised. This collection contains three short stories that will warm your heart and get you in the Christmas spirit.
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I love this collection of novellas, the mystery keeps the reader guessing.  These will be added to my Christmas book traditions!
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I received an ARC from Barbour Publishing, Inc. via NetGalley, this review is my personal opinion.

Great collection, all do not a huge fan of Christmas story, however, Michelle Griep did a great job. We have three lovely stories of a second chance, faith and love and of course a bit of mystery. It will be hard to stop after you start reading this book. A great choice for those that love historical fiction.
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12 Days at Bleakly Manor:

An intriguing story, filled with the personality of Charles Dickens, and with the mysterious plot twists of Agatha Christie. The perfect combination!

When a cryptic invitation arrives, twenty-five year-old Clara Chapman, has a decision to make. To spend the twelve days of Christmas at a home she's never heard of, by an unknown solicitor. Why would she choose to do this? For a hefty sum of money, which she desperately needs.

What she doesn't know is that others are expected at Bleakly House too, including none other than her fiancé who left her at the altar. Yet what he's been through in the past nine months is more grueling than Clara could have imagined. Ben Lane is looking for redemption and freedom, and he can only hope that the miraculous Christmas riddle of Bleakly Manor will save him.

It reads like a perfectly delightful Victorian novel, with some Gothic type elements (things going awry in that great big manor). Which of the manor's visitors would purposely be sabotaging the holiday event?

“The mysteries are starting to pile up in a great heap, are they not?”
- 12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Chapter 13)

Faith: There are some excellent elements of faith brought in, and I can love the book all the more for it.

Romance: It is kept mostly very sweet – just one particularly passionate kiss. But I really loved how even though it's a romance story, there's still so much adventure and puzzles to keep you busy with the rest of the plot too.

Cons? Almost none. There are a couple of phrases that used several times, which seemed a bit too repetitive for me.

Bottom line? The chapters just flew by with all the Victorian jargon and very British traditions. It was all too wonderful while the story lasted.

A Tale of Two Hearts:

I do love this story! I think my expectations of it overshadowed the plot by a little bit though... I was expecting another mysterious novel, like the first book in the series (which has much more of an Agatha Christie-esqe plot, in which I was fully enamored). In book two, I found the story, while intriguing, to be more romance-driven (not quite so much my taste, but I liked it anyway).

I still greatly enjoyed this volume, especially the Victorian setting, the faith-based plot, the Dickens references, and the love for books so vividly displayed!

The Old Lace Shop:

Lovely holiday story, which I was swept away in. Bella, now widowed, has escaped from an abusive marriage, due to her husband's merciful death. He can harm her no longer. As she pieces together a new life for herself, she decides to keep ownership of one of his business endeavors, Nottingham Lace and Hose. What a shocking decision for a British woman of 1855! Her business partner is especially flabbergasted at the change of hands. (Although to his credit, he takes Bella under his wing.) It helps -- or perhaps distracts -- these co-owners, seeing as how once upon a previous time, they were an couple... Will sparks fly yet again?

The timeline of the plot is categorized monthly, from September to December. This is something fresh, something you don't see in every novel. I liked it! Plus, it gave our heroine and hero enough time to truly get to know each other -- working at the factory every day together.

"November is a melancholy month, the gloomy space between summer past and Christmas future."

Michelle Griep is a wonderful writer. I thoroughly enjoyed all the books in her Once Upon a Dickens Christmas collection.

Love this quote! (so meaningful and true!):

"Either your faith will move mountains, or your doubt will create them."
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I enjoyed this page turning book. It was well written. Glad that I read it. Will be checking other books by this author.
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Michelle Griep is a completely new author for me to read, and I'm looking forward to the next book I can find by her!  For Dickens enthusiasts or anyone who likes historical fiction of the Dickens era, these stories are sure to please.  Plus, they take place at Christmas, which makes them perfect for reading in front of a cozy fire with a hot drink nearby.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for furnishing me with an ARC of this book for this, my honest review.
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"My mother— God rest her—always told me to think of eternity, then live backward from that. Such a view has a way o’ whittlin’ down our current troubles to a size we can crumple up into a ball and toss aside.”
Do you love the classic dickens stories? This is a good addition to your library and a treasure. Full of similar hard times and strife in cruel times, where humanity triumphs. The first story is a fabulous mystery that will keep you guessing to the last. A second chance coin threads it's way through all of the stories. Of course with these authors you can't go wrong. Curl up with this book as soon as you get a chance. You'll love it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and NetGalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

"We are all different.We all bear one cross or another. And because of it, do we not each face our own particular cruelties?”
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12 days at Bleakly Manor

Rating 3 stars.

I'm a bit in too minds about this.  I did like this story and the mystery behind why everyone was at the manor as well as the accidents etc.  It made for an intriguing read.

The characters though, except for Ben and Clara, were a bit too creative for my numbers brain and I struggled a lot to follow the other characters' part in communication.

I enjoyed seeing how Ben and Clara had to learn to forgive and look for the truth between all the lies told them and their story had a satisfying ending.

A tale of Two hearts

Rating 4 stars.

This was my favourite of the collection.  

William and Mina were lovable characters, who had to learn the lesson of no matter what the intention, to go about in a dishonest way, even to save someone's life, is not the best way.  I loved William's uncle, he was very interesting and the villains in this story was greatly described that you really dislike them from the start.

The Old Lace Shop

Rating 3.5 stars.

Firstly, what I found strange with this specific novella in the collection, is that we suddenly went from third person perspective to first person perspective, which took some time getting used to.

I enjoyed this story more than the first, but not as much as the second.  The "love tension" between Bella and Edmund made me wonder what or when things will develop between them which made me continue reading.  The "traitor" angle was also interesting and I was quite surprised at the end.  I loved Bella' generous and caring heart to those struggling and how she wanted to whatever she can to help them.  

There were certain things which was overlooked/cleared up/accepted too quickly for me but otherwise an enjoyable read.
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I actually read these one at a time and enjoyed each one. It would be hard to say which is my favorite. Reading a romance book would ever be my choice. But when it is combined with other aspects including mystery., I find them very readable. Then throw in a historical setting and I am hooked. Michelle does a great job of mixing all of these aspects.  I look forward to reading more of her books.

I appreciate the publisher and Netgalley providing a copy of the book for my review.
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While written in modern day English, this delightful book hearkens back to a Charles Dickens' novel and a game of Clue. Intrigue, well developed characters, twists and turns, lost love, unrequited love, thievery, mishap and death abound in this novel. The author keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Very well written. The descriptions of the places and areas of London are well done. They make the reader feel in familiar surroundings. Ms. Griep has done a wonderful job of developing her main characters and has you cheering them on (or not) in their endeavors. It is set in the mid 1800's in London. An intriguing Christmas story to be sure. Happily I find that this is volume one in a series by Ms. Griep. She has been ever so kind as to whet your appetite by include an excerpt of Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #2.
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This book features three holiday-themed novellas with a strong romantic element. The three novellas are, "12 Days at Bleakly Manor," "A Tale of Two Hearts," and "The Old Lace Shop." Each one is also available to purchase separately.

First sentence of 12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Christmas or not, there was nothing merry about the twisted alleys of Holywell. Clara Chapman forced one foot in front of the other, sidestepping pools of. . .well, a lady ought not think on such things, not on the morn of Christmas Eve—or any other morn, for that matter.

Clara Chapman has had a hard time of it since she was jilted at the altar, and her family's fortune stolen. Destitute and living on the charity of an elderly aunt, she's getting by--barely. One holiday season she's offered a unique second chance. Travel to Bleakly Manor to spend the twelve days of Christmas with a mystery host and mystery guests for  five hundred dollars.

Clara isn't the only guest in need of a second chance. Each guest has had a second chance extended to him/her. Though each chance looks differently. For one prisoner, Benjamin Lane, that second chance is freedom. There's a catch once they arrive, however, only one guest will have his/her second chance granted. And there are some guests who will do just about anything to get what they want.

This one definitely has a dark, mystery vibe to it as well as a romantic one....for Benjamin Lane is the one who "jilted" Miss Clara...

First sentence of A Tale of Two Hearts: In the tiny back courtyard of the Golden Egg Inn, Mina Scott lowered her copy of David Copperfield to her lap and lifted her face to the October sun. Closing her eyes, she savored the warmth and the first line to a new adventure, as was her wont whenever Miss Whymsy stopped by and lent her a book. Though she no longer stared at the page, the shapes of the words lingered, blazed in stark contrast to the brilliance against her lids. What a curious thought, to be one’s own hero—for the only hero she wanted was William Barlow.

A Tale of Two Hearts reminded me of Georgette Heyer, which is a great compliment, in my opinion. I really loved this one! William Barlow has a dilemma. He needs a wife to help "prove" to his uncle that he's changed his lifestyle, settled down, and left his gambling ways behind him--far, far behind him. There's almost a deadline. Uncle Barlow will be choosing his heir soon--and it's between him and his cousin (who is married.) Can William Barlow find a woman willing to pose as his wife for an afternoon tea?! Perhaps. Mina Scott is the innkeeper's daughter. These two have grown friendly--though not inappropriately so--over the last year. She may be just the one to impress his uncle...

Will these two fall in love for real over the holiday season?!

First sentence of The Old Lace Shop: I have long abhorred black. It is a great abyss, sucking in the colours of the rainbow and wringing the life from them. The moniker of death. This year I will celebrate Christmas with holly and laughter and a large stuffed goose instead of dark looks and criticism. Too many years have I spent shut away in a stagnant town house without a morsel of cheer. No more. Today I’m free, finally and completely my own person, leastwise once I sign all the paperwork.

If A Tale of Two Hearts reminded me of Georgette Heyer, Old Lace Shop reminded me of Elizabeth Gaskell. Ivy is a widow who is looking for a new beginning. She's happy--more than happy--to sell all of her husband's businesses and holdings. But there is one--an old lace shop in a Northern manufacturing town--that she wants to keep for herself. She's the majority shareholder holding 51 percent. Who should turn out to be her business partner but an old love, a Mr. Edmund Archer. Can these two learn to work together and make a success of it?

Is this one my favorite in the collection?!?! Perhaps.

I enjoyed all three stories or novellas. I did. I don't think it was really necessary to try to force a connection between each story and the actual Charles Dickens. Instead of being cute, charming, felt a bit forced.
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A wonderful collection of three short stories with a Victorian Christmas theme about 2nd chances. An echo of Charles Dickens as well. The first was my favorite, as it also had an Agatha Christie theme as well. Easy reads and fun echos of Dickens’ work, with plenty of quotes and echo scenes. Highly recommend this book and author, especially if you are a fan of Charles Dickens and Victorian traditions.
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This was a well written book and the stories are charmingly fitting with the theme. If you are a fan of such stories then you will enjoy these and the characters as well. You will find a historical fiction book featuring love, mystery, redemption and a second chance at life that is wholesome. It is nice to read around the holidays to have a little story, or three, to read to bring the holidays to life and provide a connection to the traditional time of Christmas.
The book includes “12 Days of Bleakly Manor” is a Christmas love story with a little mystery. “A Tale of Two Hearts” about a man and his two nephews and he must decide who will get his inheritance. These nephews have been rivalries for most of their lives and this does not help. Who will deserve the inheritance? The next story has deception in “The Old Lace Shop” about a woman in 1855 London. She is part owner of a lace manufacturing business. This is the time of poor work conditions and a story of second chances, maybe. You will enjoy going back in time when reading these stories.
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Three fun historical novellas set in Victorian London. All were fun, quick reads. Super enjoyable!

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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12 Days at Bleakly Manor

OH where do I start...I was so enthralled in this story. It kept me guessing and surprised the whole way through.

I loved Ben Lane. He had so many challenges and was so wrongfully accused. To be branded would be so hard knowing you are marked for life. But Christ also brands our hearts and marks us as His own when we accept Him. I loved how Ben was so adventures and forgave Clara so easily once he knew she did not know.

Clara was such a special character. She had lots of characteristics we all face. She knew rejection and not feeling good enough. Jesus showed her that in Him she was loved and complete.

This story is one that I will definitely read again and can see myself reading every Christmas!

A Tale of Two Hearts:

LOVED this story!! 

Mina is someone I wish was real so I could be friends with her in real life. I identified with her so much! She was kind, compassionate and caring. She loved books and dreamed BIG dreams.

Will was as handsome as ever and he wanted to regain his honor and good name. Maybe he went about it a little wrong but his heart was in the right place.

I honestly did not want this story to end! It was a beautiful Christmas Story!

I did love how this story and 12 Days at Bleakly Manor did connect a to find out how.

The Old Lace Shop

This story was very well wrote! It kept you turning the pages to find out what happened next.

Bella had endured so much but came out of it stronger and more determined.

Edmund had so much fear that he allowed it to keep him shut in. But God has a way of breaking down our barriers.

This was a beautiful story.

I highly recommend this book. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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I could not finish this book. Early on in the first story, there were unrealistic descriptions given about the time and place settings that I could not overlook. This made it difficult to go through the remainder of the book as my perspective of the authenticity of the setting had been skewed, and the story could not pull my thoughts away from the descriptive discrepancies I had noticed.
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I have enjoyed all three tales in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.  They can each be read on their own, but why would you want to read just one of these charming novellas.  12 Days at Bleakly Manor is a well-crafted and entertaining novel.  It is short, but it is packed full of action and intrigue.  The mystery was delightful (see if you can figure out the culprit in this one) and the characters interesting.    I like the Christian beliefs expressed in the story (compassion, prayer, faith, forgiveness, second chances, God is in control, trust, and hope).  The Christian theme is light, but the point is gotten across.  In A Tale of Two Hearts, Michelle Griep brought London in 1853 to life with her descriptions of the clothing, language, literature as well the architecture, cobbled streets, the inn and the insides of the buildings as well as the class stations of the characters.  I especially loved the imagery of Purcell’s where they had tea with Uncle Barlow.  A Tale of Two Hearts has delightful characters.  I especially liked Uncle Barlow and Miss Whymsy.  They are two charming people who have a touch of whimsy.  There are some good life lessons included in the story.  Second chances, forgiveness and Christian charity being the main themes.  Every one of us has needed a second chance at one time or another.  The book is told from William and Mina’s point-of-views giving us different perspectives.  It is always fascinating to see how different men think from woman.  There are references to Charles Dickens work scattered throughout the story.  The Old Lace Shop is a well-crafted story with a good flow.   I thought the characters were developed and realistic for the time period.  Bella arrives in Nottingham and is surprised to see blind women outside begging for assistance.  She soon learns that they lost their eyesight making lace.  The kindhearted Bella wants to find a way to help them plus she has other improvements in mind for the factory much to Edmund’s dismay.  We see the importance of faith and prayer.  How we need to rely on God and turn our worries over to him. All three stories are captivating, but 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is my favorite.  If you enjoy historical stories, you will not be disappointed with Once Upon a Dickens Christmas.  It was interesting to see how Dickens came into play in each novella.  I like how the author gave us three diverse yet complimentary tales.  Once Upon a Dickens Christmas contains three engaging novellas that will put you in the mood for Christmas.
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