Nissa Kealoha helps control Santa’s image—his brand. An Image Specialist with Claus & Company, she helps promote his positive image and deflect anything negative. This year, Nissa finds herself counting the days until she can return to the Greater World to goose holiday donations and remind people about the good Santa represents. Until a man on a mission threatens her holiday plans.
Professor Ryan Palmer possesses the perfect voice in the perfect body. And he uses that perfection to launch an anti-obesity campaign against, of all people, Santa. Or as he sees it, Santa’s image. Ryan thinks the mythology of Santa eating cookies and drinking eggnog contribute to the obesity epidemic—one he hopes to help reverse.
Nissa must stop Ryan from tarnishing Santa’s image, but when they meet, sparks fly—the magical, person-of-your-dreams kind of sparks. Can Nissa keep her objectivity? Can Ryan let himself believe in the impossible? Can they find their own kind of Christmas magic together?
“Grayson’s clever, humor-tinged writing is absolutely delightful.” —Booklist
Julka is part of Santa’s Advance team, but she’s spending her days inspecting rooftop entrances for the Big Night. And she’s traveling with an annoying elf who just happens to be on double secret forever probation.
She hates her job. She wants excitement. She wants to explore the Greater World. She wants romance.
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A mystery story about a grown man, an attorney, alone on Christmas Eve, who can’t allow himself to believe in Santa Claus. But someone keeps eating the cookies. Every year. Just like it happened when he was a kid.
Maybe Santa Claus really does exist. Or maybe, just maybe, all this skeptic needs to understand is where the jolly fat man lives.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Punishments for elven crimes vary. So, when Rolf finds himself serving time as a toy on a mantel during the Christmas season, Rolf figures he got off easy. But when a lonely child asks him to deliver a message to Santa, he realizes his rehabilitation comes with a price—one he might not be prepared to pay.
The masterful Kristine Kathryn Rusch puts her trademark twist on this heart-warming Christmas tale.
“Rusch’s short fiction is golden.” —The Kansas City Star
Alone for Christmas, Michela longs for the past, the future—anything but the present. The present holds pain, loneliness, longing, loathing. The present offers nothing but ghosts and nightmares about deeds that cannot be undone. To see her son again, Michela must face her ghosts on this Christmas Eve night—even if by doing so she becomes one herself.
[Rusch’s horror stories are] horror in the same way that Robert Bloch’s Psycho is—horror of the soul.
She calls herself his luck, but Grif Petrie doesn’t feel particularly lucky. Alone on Christmas Eve, he haunts a casino like he always does. Then he meets Alli, and even though she tells him she has come to Vegas for someone else, he spends time with her—and wins at craps, which never happens. Her presence creates a weird lucky magic. And magic always comes with a price.
Rusch is a great storyteller.
Boz got his job on the colony ship The Beautiful Dreamer because he’s a competent introvert. He enjoys the fact that he’s spending years completely alone, monitoring the passengers passing the time in cold sleep.
So when he wakes up one morning to Christmas carols, he gets scared. Very scared. Who has joined him on the ship? And why torture him with Christmas cookies and mugs of hot cocoa?
He needs to find out—and soon.
A justice of the peace, a pregnant bride, reluctant witnesses, no real family. What hope does this couple have? They’re eighteen at the most, marrying on Christmas Eve Day.
Who will believe in them? Who will care?
Maybe they’ll find someone, an unexpected someone, someone who understands.
Eleven-year-old Christopher always spends Christmas alone.
This year, he’s going to change that. This year, he’s going to make his parents stay home. Everyone tells him he’ll ruin Christmas, but he doesn’t care. He wants a good Christmas, and he’ll do anything to get it.
A classic Christmas story that first appeared in Boy’s Life Magazine.
Ruby had the idea—help the magic users in New Orleans survive Hurricane Katrina. Pretty charitable for a tiny cat.
Winston thought he knew why. The southeast asia tsunami scared her, made her realize her home on the Oregon Coast was vulnerable to natural disaster too.
But when her offer of help turns into a rescue, Ruby watches helplessly as other familiars move into her little house. And Winston expects her to rebel, because she is, afterall, a cat…
Six-year-old Tommy Ulrick saw Santas enter the Sutter house on Christmas Eve, the night the house got robbed. Tommy said Santa stole. No one believed him, thinking robbers dressed as Santa emptied that house.
But Tommy believed. And when Tommy turns thirty—after losing family and friends—he decides to prove once and for all that the Jolly Old Elf is one evil s.o.b. Tommy just doesn’t expect the J.O. Elf to threaten him—or to make good on the threat.
Turns out Santa takes that naughty or nice list very seriously. Very, very seriously.
Christmas stories abound, but hardly anyone writes stories based on Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day. This collection of five stories has two Christmas stories, “Boz” and “Loop,” but it also has a Thanksgiving story, “Pudgygate,” a post-Christmas story, “Disaster Relief,” and a New Year’s story, “Millennium Babies.” The stories run the gauntlet of genres, from fantasy to mystery to humor to science fiction. The collection also features a Hugo-award winner and two of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s most popular recurring characters.
Joanne makes her home the perfect place for Christmas so her grandchildren will always remember the holiday. She puts her Christmas cards on the banister, but this year, she doesn’t want to add her father’s card.
She’s not sure it’s from him. He’s been in a coma since Thanksgiving, yet the card came in mid-December. And the letter inside gets longer every time she looks at it. Her father always made up fantasy worlds, but now Joanne feels like she’s living inside one—and she wants to leave.
On the first Christmas since her husband Tyler died, Amelia goes to the lab to revisit their research. After all, what could it hurt? One little leap into the past, just to touch an old memory. To see him one last time. Only time travel isn’t easy. Nor is it straightforward. And it holds more surprises than Amelia ever imagined.
From the moment of her birth, Brooke Cross was a loser. Conceived to win a First Baby of the Millennium contest, Brooke came five minutes late. Her mother never let her forget it.
So Brooke, estranged from her mother, became a history professor and tries to live in obscurity. Until Professor Eldon Franke recruits her for a study of Millennium Babies, a study that will change her life.
Winner of science fiction’s prestigious Hugo Award.
Dusty’s Cleaning specializes in cleaning houses where horrible things happen. Suicides, murders, Dusty’s seen them all. But she can’t forget the scene at the Moorhead House.
When she gets invited to a party by the house’s new owners, she gets to revisit a horrible crime, and figure out what exactly went wrong. Chosen as one of the top ten stories of the year by the readers of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
According to Officer Nick Mantino, Nutball Season runs from Halloween to Christmas.
This Christmas season, he has more than his usual number of nutballs. First, there’s the geezer who thinks he’s been cast in Miracle on 34th Street. Then there’s Mrs. Billings, who has told everyone she’ll shoot Santa if he lands on her roof. Mrs. Billings has scared the local children, and Nick Mantino must investigate. What he finds in Prudence Billings’ house scares him too—and makes him wonder if he hasn’t just joined the lists of candidates for Nutball of the Year.
Imagine a dinner party in a English country manor with an American cook named Bubba making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, waiters from Cal Tech, British royalty, a cat named Pudgy, and a thief. Honestly, what could go wrong?
The man who calls himself Matt Sturtz only connects with other human beings at Christmas. He takes a job as a mall Santa, and marvels that no one checks his resume, or his identification for that matter.
But this year, something goes wrong. Something he won’t stand for. Something he must stop. No matter how much it costs him. No matter what goes wrong.
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Think about it: Santa sneaks in during the dead of night. He steals cookies, drinks some milk, maybe tracks ashes all over the living room. Yeah, he leaves presents, but maybe that’s just a cover for more nefarious behavior. Who knows…besides Santa himself?
The darker side of Santa shows up in two of the Christmas stories in this collection, “Doubting Thomas” and “Rehabilitation.” Real criminals—the scary kind—make an appearance in “Snow Angels” and “Substitutions.” And just to add a bit of the proper Christmas sentiment, “Nutball Season” closes the volume—with a not-so-sinister Santa, a little boy, and a cop stamping his feet in the Christmas snow.
The ten stories all appeared at Christmas time. Kristine Kathryn Rusch, called one of the best short story writers of her generation, has compiled ten of her best favorite Christmas stories into one volume.
These stories run through a variety of genres from fantasy (“Nutball Season,” “Doubting Thomas,” “Substitutions”) to mainstream (“Stille Nacht”) to science fiction (“Boz,” “Loop,” and “A Taste of Miracles” to mystery (“Rehabilitation,” “Snow Angels,” “The Moorhead House”). Some are dark, some are funny, and all touch upon the holidays in one way or another.
Bobbert got his name from his little sister Sarah. He likes her okay. But she can be annoying, like when she wants to make snow angels at the Christmas tree farm. Bobbert wants to cut the tree himself. He has a knife, but Dad won’t let Bobbert near the trees. Bobbert has to watch Sarah. That’s when Bobbert learns how important knives can be…
Christmas—a time of family, tradition, togetherness. But what happens to a single mom when her parents are dead, and her daughters worry that Santa, like Daddy, won’t show up?
Is the magic of Christmas an illusion? Or will that magic appear on Christmas morning, under the tree, like all the other gifts of the season?
Silas has worked for Death in Nevada for 150 years. He gets Christmas and Christmas Eve off. Only this year, his substitute finds him in a Las Vegas casino.
His substitute, who is little more than a boy, a boy whose task terrifies him. If the boy finishes the task, he’ll have a permanent job. If he doesn’t, a dozen kids will live in agony.
Silas hates the choice. He wants to tell the boy, That’s the job. Get used to it. But he can’t. Because it’s Christmas, and the boy is all alone…
Hayes loves the Earth to the Moon route on Christmas Eve. It pays triple. But Trish, his companion on this Christmas Eve flight, has another perspective on the holidays. One that mixes history and the future and the meaning of Christmas all into one.