In Pursuit of Happiness

by Kimberly P. 

It was recently brought to my attention that I obsess over death and destruction. I enjoy horror and dark fantasy (including grimdark fantasy which, for the record, sometimes gets a little too gruesome for my tastes), and spent the previous October reading all things serial killer.

To be fair, my coworker was not wrong.

But I can frolic with kittens, puppies, and happy endings, too!

In an effort to restore some semblance of balance to my dark world, I accepted a challenge:

Devote an Entire Month to Happiness.

Happy reading*. Happy movies. Happy music. And with the holidays gearing up, what better way to “celebrate” than watching wholesome Hallmark Movies?

In the past, I’ve avoided Hallmark movies like the plague. This year, I (begrudgingly) dived into the company’s seasonal repertoire–and loved it.

Pumpkin Pie Wars


Just in time for Thanksgiving, I managed to get my hands on this delightful and uplifting movie about ancient enemies, tasty pies, and blooming love. I confess, during the first twenty minutes, I kept hoping they’d slip in a murder, but alas, twas not to be.

I did, however, develop a sudden craving for pie.

Christmas Under Wraps


Ordinarily, I touch nothing Christmas-related until after Thanksgiving (it’s only respectful to the turkey I’m about to gobble!), but I couldn’t resist this movie. Like the main character Dr. Lauren Brunell, I’m a notorious planner, so I can understand her dismay when, after years and years of hard work, her carefully laid plans are dashed, the love of her life leaves her, and she’s left wondering what to do with her life.

Unlike Dr. Lauren Brunell, I don’t think I could salvage the ashes of my career by picking up and moving to a remote, small town in Alaska. As she trades in heels and surgery for flannel and general practice, Dr. Lauren starts to realize that her new town–and its friendly people–are not quite what they seem . . . and maybe there’s more to life than what you can plan.

A Wish For Christmas


I’m a naturally shy person. I could definitely empathize with Sara as she navigates working with a toxic boss and coworkers who don’t appreciate her. When a mysterious Santa grants her Christmas wish for courage in the face of adversity, Sara starts confronting the people who take advantage of her–and lands a huge promotion.

But there’s a caveat. She only has enhanced courage for 48 hours.

With a big presentation in Seattle on the line, has Sara bitten off more than she can chew?

Angel of Christmas


I truly enjoyed this movie featuring a disillusioned writer, a charming artist, and a Christmas mystery. When Susan finally secures a chance to become a staff writer, she knows this is her last opportunity to escape her unfulfilling role as copy editor. The only problem? She has to write a Christmas story, and Susan finds the holidays cheesy.

But when she inherits a family heirloom–a beautiful wooden angel carved by her great-grandfather–she decides to unearth its story–and discover that there might be more to “Christmas magic” than she originally assumed.

I may or may not have cried at the end.




I’m still watching Hallmark movies, and have compiled a list of some of the ones I’m currently enjoying. Do you have any favorites–Christmas or otherwise? Share them with me in the comments below!

*Full disclosure: I cheated. I’m currently reading Turkey Trot Murder by Leslie Meier. Yes, there is death, but it’s off camera and nowhere near as gruesome as my normal reads. That has to count for something, right?

Don’t judge me.

But if you’re looking for a great Thanksgiving-themed murder mystery that grapples with current issues (opioid addiction, anti-immigrant sentiments, and changing values), then join me in helping protagonist Lucy Stone figure out who killed Tinker Cove’s most cantankerous public figure.

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17 responses to “In Pursuit of Happiness”

  1. A Looney says:

    Only six Hallmark movies have non-white romantic leads (as of 2017): three films with Catherine Bell (“Good Witch: Spellbound,” “Home for Christmas Day” and “Christmas in the Air”), who is half Iranian; one movie with Julie Gonzalo (“Falling for Vermont”), who’s from Argentina; and two movies with Alexa PenaVega (“Destination Wedding”), one of which also starred her husband Carlos PenaVega (“Enchanted Christmas”), both of whom are Hispanic.

    • Kimberly P. says:

      I have noticed a lack of diversity (particularly leads) in many of Hallmark’s movies. I am excited that this year’s 2018 Countdown to Christmas has three films featuring diverse leads. I hope to see a greater variety from them in the future.

      • A Looney says:

        Thanks for the info; I actually found FIVE 2018 Countdown to Christmas Hallmark movies airing this Holiday Season with diverse leads (African American and Hispanic):

        Christmas Everlasting
        Premieres: Saturday, November 24 8pm/7c

        A Majestic Christmas
        Premieres: Sunday, December 2 8pm/7c

        A Gingerbread Romance
        Premieres: Sunday, December 16 8pm/7c

        Christmas Made To Order
        Premieres: Sunday, December 23 8pm/7c

        A Midnight Kiss
        Premieres: Saturday, December 29 8pm/7c

        I too am excited!

      • Kimberly P. says:

        Wow–thank you for letting me know. That’s surprising. I’m pleased that it was higher than I originally thought. And I’m eager to watch them.

  2. Susan C says:

    Not a big fan of murder or detective novels so I will take the hallmark movies if they aren’t too smaltzy. Currently reading Barbra Kingsolvers latest and a book about homesteading “we took to the woods” with Jim Lynch waiting in the wings. More local authors would be nice.

    • Kimberly P. says:

      I agree that more local authors are always great. I’ve just finished “The Proving” by Beverly Lewis and was surprised I enjoyed it so much that I stayed up to the wee hours to finish it (I’m paying for that now!).

      Since I finished that book so quickly, I’m currently deciding whether to dive into local author Debbie Macomber’s “Some Kind of Wonderful” an interpretation of Beauty & the Beast [], or her latest Christmas themed novel, “Alaskan Holiday” [], or “16 Lighthouse Road” the beginning of her Cedar Cove, WA series [].

      Decisions, decisions!

  3. Carol Saulsbury says:

    My favorite holiday movies are If You Believe (it’s not a sickly-sweet story) and the Mark Morris Dance Group’s version of the Nutcracker, called the Hard Nut.

  4. Erin L. says:

    The biggest sin of Hallmark movies for me is the predictability. Especially the Christmas romance ones. That said, I do have one I actually liked. “November Christmas” was a well done “Gold Crown” Hallmark movie that had emotional content (but not too much tear jerking) and no predictable romance.

    • Kimberly P. says:

      Since this is my first foray into the Hallmark world, I was curious if the predictability was appealing to folks? For me, it took a while to get used to the fact I could tell what was going to happen a mile away, but once I just let go and enjoyed them (despite?) their occasional campiness, I found myself getting into it. But I really, really liked November Christmas! Thank you for reminding me! I can’t believe I forgot to add it to my list. Now I’ll have to check out “Gold Crown” also.

  5. Lindsey A. says:

    I’m excited to see the comments above recommending diverse Hallmark movies because I was starting to wonder if they even exist! I need to check those out. I will admit to enjoying the deliciously cheesy “Northpole” with Tiffani (Amber) Thiessen.

    • Kimberly P. says:

      So am I! After seeing some of the same actresses and actors in multiple movies, I was really curious so started looking for a more diverse cast in their Countdown to Christmas series. . . Glad that it exists and is growing (*fingers crossed*)

  6. Kathy S says:

    Last year my bookclub started a discussion after a long series of very dark and depressing literary fiction, about whether high quality literary fiction also had to be dark and depressing. So we spent about a year searching for lighter, happier books that were also high quality literature, and it was danged hard!

    • Kimberly P. says:

      I’ve always wondered about that, also. The books that really stick with me long after the last page tend to usually be dark and depressing or at least very bittersweet at the end. . .

  7. Zachary Lewis says:

    Hallmark movies are my secret delight!

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