~The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson~ I love this book! If you’re feeling down in the dumps or grumpy this Christmas season, grab a copy of this beloved Christmas tale. The Herdsman children, all six of them, are not the most well-behaved children. In fact, they are the town juvenile delinquents, and when they show up to church after being told the church has snacks, they take over the children’s Christmas play. Having never been to church before, or hearing the Christmas story, they have a unique and unconventional take on the story. This is sure to be a disaster, until the worst Christmas pageant ever turns into the best. This endearing book always puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart. You don’t have to be a kid or have kids to enjoy this children’s book.
~Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson~
This is a fun little Christmas story. Joy Jorgensen, an 85-year-old blogger, is being moved into an assisted living facility near her sons, but before she goes she plans a trip to spread Christmas joy. Instead of taking the scheduled flight Chicago to Phoenix, she decides to travel in her motorhome down route 66. Taking along her neighbor Miranda as a sidekick, Joy follows her detailed plan, stopping off along the way to spread Christmas cheer to contest winners chosen through her blog, Christmas Joy.
This is a sweet, short book about spreading holiday cheer and love. A light, feel-good read. In one part of the book, a character plays Santa to try to convince a disbelieving child. Being blessed with children who happen to be black and white, literal thinkers, we never tried to convince our children that Santa was real. If that idea bothers you, be forewarned. I enjoyed this little novella, and look forward to reading more of Melody Carlson’s Christmas books.
~Skipping Christmas by John Grisham~
What’s Christmas without the Kranks? This short novel has become a Christmas tradition for many. Who hasn’t, at one point or another, wanted to forgo the whole crazy holiday furor. I chuckled through the familiar story of the Kranks and Luther’s decision to skip Christmas for one year and go on a cruise instead. I enjoyed this short, humorous tale. It was interesting to read this departure from the types of novels I usually associate with John Grisham. Light hearted and fun, this one got me in the holiday spirit.
~First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen~
“No matter how hard you try, you can’t make someone love you. You can’t stop them from making the wrong decision. There was no magic for that.”
“It had taken her a long time to realize that a prison sometimes isn’t a person at all. Sometimes it’s simply a door you assume is locked because you’ve never tried to open it.”
“The right men make all the difference in the world. But the wrong men do, too.”
“Maybe you don’t have to be lead into the future. Maybe you can pick your own path. Maybe you don’t fall in love. Maybe you jump. Maybe, just maybe, it’s all a choice.”
First Frost is a delightful read. As with all of Sarah Addison Allen’s books, this story is infused with a bit of magic. This novel is a sequel to Garden Spells, but can be read as a stand-alone.
Each of the Waverley women has a unique talent. Sydney can do magic with your hair, giving her clients a “do” that does much more than empower them. While a good haircut can work wonders, Sydney’s are extra special. Claire has a special talent for cooking. Her candies are becoming famous, the special ingredients promoting happiness and well-being. Bay, Sydney’s daughter, has the gift of knowing where things belong. For instance, she knows that a certain boy belongs with her, but he is not receptive to that idea.
All of the Waverley women get agitated and tense while waiting for the first frost, the only time the apple tree in the backyard blooms. The anticipation of the season’s changing stirs them up.
This book is satisfying and sweet. Sarah Addison Allen’s storytelling is beautiful and unique.
I especially enjoyed the idea of an over protective apple tree that throws fruit at the suitors and husbands of the Waverley women.
Sarah Addison Allen’s stories are unusual, having that special something, and so easy to fall into. Her novels have never failed to capture my interest.
~Pretty is As Pretty Dies by Elizabeth Spann Craig~
Myrtle Clover loves to solve mysteries when her son, the police chief, isn’t getting in her way. The retired schoolteacher, an octogenarian, considers herself to be a clever sleuth, and can’t pass up mysteries even when she’s been warned off. This is the first book in the Myrtle Clover cozy mystery series. In this book, Parke Stockard, a local realtor who is not at all well liked in the community, has suffered a fatal blow at the church altar while tampering with the flowers. I read these cozy mysteries out of order, but it wasn’t difficult to go back and fill in with the ones I missed. The main character is full of spunk and attitude. All the supporting characters are just as enjoyable to read about. These cozies make me chuckle. I get a kick out of Myrtle showing displeasure with her police chief son by putting out garden gnomes. The neighbors can tell how irritated she is with him by how many gnomes decorate the lawn. In fact, it’s quite common for her yard guy to be unable to cut the grass due to a plethora of garden gnomes, so he has to weed eat around them.
If you’re looking for a good cozy, I recommend this series.
~The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls ~
12-year-old Bean and her older sister Liz are abandoned by their mother and, left to their own devices, decide to go to search out their Uncle Tinsley, lifelong resident of a small town in Virginia. This is the first time the girls have met their uncle, who turns out to be a bit of a recluse and eccentric to boot. Having nowhere else to turn, they end up staying in the dilapidated mansion that has been in the family for generations. The setting and the storytelling is authentic to the 1970s.
Bean is smart and funny, and a thoroughly enjoyable character. I do tend to like coming-of-age stories. This audiobook was read by Jeannette Walls herself and I always enjoy listening to an author read their own work. I thought this was a good weekend read.
~Like A Watered Garden by Patti Hill~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I know I say this too often, but this book really is one of my favorites. This is an inspirational Christian read. It was published in 2005, but remains at the top of my personal list of best loved Christian inspirational novels. Mibby has lost her husband and is trying to find her footing. This isn’t an easy thing to do, especially with the twists and turns in her story. She’s working to get her small business of designing gardens going while at the same time raising her 13-year-old son on her own. Mibby’s a real woman. She has a pear shaped figure and uncooperative hair. She has a next-door neighbor who dispenses comfort with words of wisdom and sugary home-baked goods. She kind of reminds me of some people I know. It makes me wish for the company of a good friend. I love all the characters in this book.
I don’t generally like characters that cry, but Mibby gets a pass because the scenes are so well done. Her crying fits are honest. None of that fake stuff here. I love a character who finds comfort in prayer, sugar laden snacks, and in the occasional indulgence of a good ugly cry.
It isn’t a fast, action-packed book, but I liked the flow. The pacing seems perfect to me for this kind of book. Is it strange that I find a story about grief comforting even from the beginning? This is the first book in a three-part series and I would like it very much if Patti Hill would write some more of Mibby’s story.?
~The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“We read to know we are not alone. We read because we are alone. We read and we are not alone. We are not alone.”
This is one of those books that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to tell someone about it.. The book is a beautiful story about second chances, life, and love. Recently widowed AJ owns a bookstore on Alice Island. He is drowning in grief and isolates himself more and more. Then something happens to change his life. I was touched by the novel. It reminds us that life is full of the good and the bad. “In the end, we are collected works. He has read enough to know there are no collections we are each story is perfect. Some hits. Some misses. If you’re lucky, a stand out.”
There’s no magic in this novel, but somehow to me it felt magical.
The book contains some language, tragedy, and a bit of misbehavior, but it is a beautiful and life-affirming work. I find myself quite enamored with it. I suspect that if you are a book lover you would enjoy this one. It makes me want to go visit a bookshop.
~Finish by Jon Acuff~ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Wrestling the perfectionism beast is one of my most time-consuming past times. This little book is full of great advice and I highly recommend it to anyone who struggles with the disease of unfinished projects. I love John Acuff’s writing style. His personality comes through on the pages. I am sorely tempted to buy this book as Christmas gifts for the procrastinators on my list. This one is well worth the read. I immediately began to implement his advice, even before I was through reading the book. The encouragement and advice in Finished has inspired me and my production has increased so I can say this book worked for me. I am sure I will be needing more of those first draft notebooks.
~The Aspie Girl’s Guide to Being Safe with Men by Debi Brown~⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It’s sad such a book has to be written, but it is a hard fact that people on the spectrum are some of the most vulnerable. The characteristics of autism make those with ASD easy targets. It’s hard to stay safe when you can’t read body language and you don’t understand social interaction well. This book is written by a woman on the spectrum to young women and girls on the spectrum. It is not bogged down by technical jargon but rather reads like a conversation imparting sisterly advice. At the same time, it is well organized. Much of the information contained in this book are things girls are assumed to instinctively know or pick up from their friends. This does not happen for people on the spectrum. Even if a person has been instructed about the topics in this book, having the unwritten safety rules organized and written out is a good idea and would probably be helpful. If you care about a young lady on the spectrum I feel purchasing this book or one like it is needed and money well spent. This small volume is easy to understand and written in a friendly, sensitive, accessible style. This is a book about sexuality and staying safe in sexual relationships from a female aspie perspective. Have the conversation.
This is the first book I have seen on this specific topic. I haven’t seen one for guys yet. If you have please let me know in the comments.