Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: Review of “Chocolate Cream Pie Murder” by Joanne Fluke

Hello friends!  I’m on a roll with my reading this week.  For my fifth book of the year, I dove back into cozy mystery mode!

I’m a longtime reader of the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke.  Have you checked this one out?  Set in small-town Minnesota, this series centers around bakery owner Hannah, her assorted friends and family, and, as in any good cozy series, her tendency to discover murder victims.

A few months ago, I read and reviewed Christmas Cake Murder.  This holiday novella was set mostly as a flashback to Hannah’s earlier years, when she was just opening her bakery, The Cookie Jar.  It was so much fun to see a younger Hannah in this story, along with her mother and sisters.  Fans of this series, however, were all atwitter over the last couple of books prior to that.  (The rest of this review will contain some spoilers if you’re not caught up in the series.)

You see, a longtime love triangle between Hannah and her two would-be suitors (handsome sheriff Mike and fun-loving, attentive Norman) was suddenly swept aside when she married Ross, someone she’d known in college!

It was scandalous… not only was all of Lake Eden, Minnesota dumbfounded to discover that Hannah wasn’t choosing either of their favorite sons, but it was astounding to see readers who were firmly Team Mike or Team Norman enthusiastically band together… in hating Ross!  Fans thought that not only was Hannah with the wrong man, but that Hannah had become a shadow of her former self.

But then, with the last “in-sequence” book, Raspberry Danish Murder, we find out that Ross has disappeared!  At the end, we discover that Ross is not at all the man Hannah thought he was… and that he has gone back to his WIFE! (A different wife. That he’s still actually married to. Not Hannah. Wow.)

Which, with a mix of sympathy for Hannah and glee that Ross is gone, brings us to the present, and to the next book in this series, Chocolate Cream Pie Murder!

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Some minor spoilers may lie ahead, but I’ll try not to reveal too much!

As the book opens, we find Hannah faced with the difficult task of telling her fellow Lake Edenites that not only is Ross gone, but that it appears she was never legally married to him at all.  Mike and the sheriff’s department (with assistance from Norman and others) have been looking for Ross, and everyone wants to see some kind of justice for the man who not only hurt Hannah, but outright betrayed and deceived her.

Eventually Ross turns up, nastier than ever, wanting money that he’d set aside.  After Ross threatens Hannah, she ends up under constant watch by Norman, Mike, and others.  To top it all off, the town is trying to plan a TV special about movies filmed in the area (bringing some other old friends to town), one of Hannah’s neighbors is attacked, and finally, a murder victim is found *in* Hannah’s condo!

As the saying goes, it takes a village, and in this case, it takes Hannah and many of her loved ones to set this mess to rights!

I’m delighted to say that I really liked this book.  Above, I mentioned some less-than-stellar reactions to recent installments of the series.  In addition to fans hating Ross, many readers felt that the writing and dialogue in the past few books hadn’t been up to the standard of earlier titles.  Plus, most of us longed for the spunky, independent Hannah of old.

And readers, we got her!

This book was a definite step back toward the series we all know and love.  Not only did Hannah seem to be herself again, the book was also a much smoother read than the last few.  Sure, there were still a couple of over-explained conversations (and I personally found there to be one too many episodes of the cat racing game), but overall… I was *invested* in the writing and the results!

It was refreshing that after years of the love triangle, and the ill-fated relationship with Ross, romance didn’t play a big role in this book.  I feel confident it will return, but while you could see that both Mike and Norman still care very much for Hannah (and she for them), it was nice to see Hannah come back to herself.

In the end, Hannah finds some closure on her doomed marriage and the whole mess with Ross, solves the murder case, and still manages to come up with some new cookie and candy recipes for Valentine’s Day!

Speaking of the recipes, I usually just skim over them… but some of them really caught my attention this time.  If you read cozies partly for the food ideas and discussion, I think you’ll really want to check out some of the offerings in this book!

All in all, this is a welcome addition to the series, and I’m giving it a solid four stars.  And… based on Hannah’s last words in this book (I did suspect that might be coming, based on a few hints sprinkled throughout), I will be anxiously looking forward to the next installment.  Now I only have to wait a year for it.  Sigh.

Find Chocolate Cream Pie Murder at:

Amazon      Barnes & Noble

Well, while I certainly plan to keep mixing it up with my reading choices, I’ve enjoyed my detour back into Cozy-ville… and I think I just might stay here for a bit!  Let me know what great books are on your list lately, and especially if you’ve read any great new cozy mysteries.  They are indeed perfect for a winter curled up with a cup of hot tea or coffee!  Happy reading!

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a complimentary digital review copy of this title.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: Review of “The Only Woman in the Room” by Marie Benedict

“Here’s looking at you, kid!”

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

“After all, tomorrow is another day!”

Don’t you love old Hollywood?  The stories, the witty writing, the glamour?  I’ve always enjoyed it, though I confess I haven’t seen as much early Hollywood work as I’d like.

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Hedy Lamarr in her 1941 movie Ziegfeld Girl (photo courtesy of IMDB)

One person I’ve always been fascinated by, but somehow knew little about, is actress Hedy Lamarr.  She starred in many movies from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, alongside such leading men as Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable.  But not just a pretty face, the intelligent Lamarr had a complex backstory and is now well known as not just an actress, but also as a scientist and inventor.

So, when I heard about a new historical fiction book covering the life of Hedy Lamarr, I thought it sounded intriguing!  A woman with an accomplished acting career, who also invented an amazing technology and opposed the Nazis in her free time?  Sign me up!

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Today, I’m reviewing The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict.  If you follow book blogs and lists, you’ve likely heard of this title… it’s been getting a lot of buzz in the last month or so!  Here’s a description of this book:

She possessed a stunning beauty. She also possessed a stunning mind. Could the world handle both?

Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich’s plans while at her husband’s side, understanding more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she knew a few secrets about the enemy. She had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis…if anyone would listen to her.

A powerful novel based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist whose groundbreaking invention revolutionized modern communication, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece.

So did this title live up to the hype for me?  (Note:  please be aware there may be spoilers past this point!)

The novel opens with a young Hedy on stage, catching the attention of Fritz Mandl, a well connected power broker and munitions dealer in 1930’s Vienna.  As he pursues her, Hedy and her parents realize that in a precarious political climate, the association with this man may keep them safe, so she agrees to marry him.

In part, it does.  But Hedy’s new husband quickly turns from Prince Charming to the Dark Lord.  Between shady political dealings, his controlling nature, and the wrath directed against Hedy for the slightest perceived misstep (the novel does deal, although not in graphic detail, with spousal abuse), Hedy realizes her mistake and makes plans to leave.  Meanwhile, she bides her time, spending her imprisoned hours studying and learning about anything she can get her hands on.

After a false start or two, and learning much more than she bargained for about Hitler, Mussolini, and the horrifying politics of that time and place, Hedy makes it out and escapes, via England, to America.  En route she meets a Hollywood mogul and negotiates her way to Hollywood stardom.

Once word starts coming of how bad things have gotten in Europe, Hedy is overcome with guilt that she got away, and that she was neither able to help her family nor to share the details she knew.  So she dedicates herself to a project, designing a scientific development to overcome issues with torpedo technology, and plans to share info with the US government to help them defeat the Nazis.

After finishing, my thoughts are that I liked this book… but I didn’t *love* it.

I really wanted to.  The subject is fascinating, and the many different lives Lamarr lived throughout her time were amazing!  I really enjoyed the first part of the novel, where Hedy met and married Fritz, the transitions through their married life, and her escape.  And the descriptions of old Hollywood were fun.

Once World War II began in earnest and Hedy’s focus shifted, I found the novel less compelling.  Hedy was obviously very intelligent, and there were references to her studying and to her conversations with her father on many subjects.  But it was a bit of a stretch that those scenarios were enough to provide a base for the fact that she nearly single-handedly came up with such brilliant new technology.  Also, it was clear that Hedy had some survivor’s guilt, but the constant self-berating for not stepping up to contribute to the Nazis’ defeat… well, that part was a little overdone in my opinion.  It seemed to demand too much of the book’s focus to the exclusion of other things (like the adoption of her son and subsequent custody battle, her marriages, even how her mother finally managed to get visas into other countries).

The idea that Hedy (alongside her friend George) came up with this military technology is awesome, but I’m sure that the implication of the military rejecting the invention largely on the basis that it was developed by a woman is far from the whole story.  And honestly, I could have done with less in-depth detail on the technical aspects of her designs.  I’m sure some people found the explanations fascinating, but I felt like they distracted me from the flow of the story, and I ended up skimming over them.

I could have overlooked a lot of this, but then the book ended so abruptly.  It left me wanting more, and not in a good way.  I guess I was just looking for something different in this title. Still, I’m giving it three solid stars for the depiction of a legend.

The author is well respected and it’s obvious she put in a lot of research for this book…. I see from other reviews that not everyone had the same issues with it that I did, so if you’re a historical fiction fan, or interested in Hedy Lamarr, it’s definitely worth picking up to explore for yourself!

Get The Only Woman in the Room at:

Barnes & Noble      Amazon 

So, what do you think?  Have you read this one?  Did it make you want to learn more about Hedy Lamarr?  Maybe check out a couple of her movies?

This was my fourth book of 2019 so far, and I’m really pleased with the variety of what I’ve read… hoping to keep that up!  Next on my list, I have a couple cozy mysteries, a Kate Morton title, and a couple of suspense novels.  Looking forward to telling you more about them!  Hope your 2019 book list is off to a great start… happy reading!!

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a complimentary digital review copy of this title.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Book Notes, Reading List

Book Notes: “I’d Rather Be Reading” by Anne Bogel

Sometimes a book comes along that just “gets” you.  One where the content just speaks to you.  Where you’re reading and find yourself continually nodding your head in agreement with the words on the page.

Readers, I just finished my first book of the year… and it was definitely that kind of book!

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I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel is a tiny little gem of a book.  It’s under 150 pages, but it packs a punch for anyone who lives the life of a reader.  This is a series of essays and recollections by Bogel, who very much lives the reading life herself.

If this book sounds familiar, it’s either because you’ve been hearing about it EVERYWHERE lately, or because I’ve already mentioned it in a couple of posts, including my recent Happy Bookish New Year Tag!

When I found myself stopping to snap quick pictures of some of the paragraphs because I really wanted to go back to them later, or wanting to share a few choice snippets on social media while I was reading… I knew this book was a keeper!  Like this part, in a chapter entitled “Bookworm Problems” that I somehow found rather relatable:

“You have more books than shoes.  You have more books than bookshelves.  You do some quick math and realize how much money is tied up in your book collection.  You suspect your books equal the gross domestic product of a small nation.”  (p. 71)

I mean…. I guess some people might see that as a problem?  I call it doing my part to stimulate the economy.  (No need to thank me, just my patriotic duty.)

Another part I enjoyed, and found absolutely hilarious, was her observation in “Bookseller for a Day” that one of the largest parts of a job in any bookstore is solving elusive customer mysteries.  Such as:

“I forget the title, but it was published last week, and it’s by a woman.” (p.109)

Friends, I spent four years working in a bookstore, and I can tell you without hesitation that a shift is not complete without getting some sort of question along those lines!  (And that may have been one of the more specific of those type of queries.)

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My practiced & professional response to: “I can’t remember the title, but it was blue.”

If you’re not familiar with Anne Bogel… well, we all should be, but I wasn’t either until recently.  In addition to being a published author, she also has two other sources of wisdom for bibliophiles:  Her website, called Modern Mrs. Darcy, and a podcast called, simply enough, “What Should I Read Next?”  She blogs about books, literary characters, home and family, and personality types, and it’s all quite fun.

I’d Rather Be Reading is the first of Bogel’s books that I’ve read (another called Reading People is on my list), and you guys, I think I just found my new author BFF!  We’re of a similar age (okay, I’m a *couple* years older), we both love reading and education (we’ve both spent some time in the homeschooling world), and I recognized my own past in a lot of her stories.  And neither of us can keep quiet about books!

The writings in these pages brought me a wave of nostalgia, talking about book series from the past (Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley High, fellow Gen-Xer’s?), along with trips to the library and summers spent reading.  But Bogel’s words also inspired me to continually stretch my reading… to read different genres, revisit the classics, and re-read old favorites with a more mature eye and mind.

If you’re a book lover, and you’re looking for the perfect quick read to start your year of reading off the right way, this is the perfect book to pick up!  It won’t take you long to go through it, but if you’re like me, you’ll want to keep it on hand and revisit it for inspiration in the years to come.  You can find it through these links:

Get “I’d Rather Be Reading” at…

Barnes & Noble      Amazon       Local Indie Shops

And while we just got through the holiday gift-giving season, keep this title in mind when you need a little gift down the road for a reader in your life.  It’s a perfect little gift book with a very pretty cover!

I give I’d Rather Be Reading five inspiring and nostalgic stars!  It sets the bar just a bit high for the year, but… isn’t that a good thing?

So what are you reading as your first book of 2019?  Is it inspiring, funny, thrilling, or emotional?  Whatever it is, I hope it’s wonderful… let us know in the comments!  Here’s wishing everyone a delightfully bookish year… happy reading!

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “One Day in December” by Josie Silver

Here we are, friends… down to the final hours of 2018.  And in the earliest hours of today, December 31st, I finally hit my Goodreads goal for the year!

I’d been trying to think of the perfect book on which to end this crazy year… then a few days ago, it came to me.  There was one book that nearly everyone else had read already.  It had been hyped like crazy, being offered as a Book of the Month selection, and featured by Reese Witherspoon in her Hello Sunshine Book Club!  And honestly, what better month to read a book with the word “December” in the title?  So the choice was simple:  my last book of 2018 would be Josie Silver’s One Day in December!

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Here’s a quick overview of the story:

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

I have to say, I picked up this book expecting a fun, slightly agonizing love triangle with some quirky young people.  On the surface, sure, that’s what it is.  But it’s so much more.

One Day in December follows the lives of our main characters over nearly a decade, and it explores not only each of their characters quite well, but also all of their relationships with one another.  We see Laurie go from a carefree girl just out of college, to a thirty-year-old who has to come to terms with some hard truths.  We see how timing can change the entire course of a journey.  And we see what can happen when you don’t admit your real feelings, sometimes even to yourself.

While the book is a romance, it’s also a study of the friendship of two women.  In this regard, though the two storylines are very different, it reminded me a little of Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  The themes are similar… how do friendships survive over time with distance, differences, and betrayals?  Laurie and Sarah had a relationship that was close and delightfully in sync… until it wasn’t.  Their story explored themes of trust, growth, and forgiveness, and I found it to be just as important as the romantic entanglements in the book.

And as for those romantic entanglements?  Well, I wouldn’t go into this expecting a quick happily ever after.  I won’t tell you who everyone ends up with at the close of the story.  But rest assured, it’s a long and winding path to get there.  Hearts are broken, relationships are tested, and everyone is a very different person from who they were in those first few pages.

“You tread lightly through life, but you leave deep footprints that are hard for other people to fill.”
 ― Josie Silver, One Day in December

One of the things I enjoyed about the structure of this book was that it was dated and divided by time period, with one touchpoint always being Laurie’s New Year’s Resolutions.  I hadn’t known that going in, but it really made for a delightful way to see her growth over the years, plus it made this the perfect book to read as the calendar flips over to a new year.

If you haven’t picked up this gem, I’d recommend you add it to your list.  In fact, if you’re staying in for New Year’s, make a quick e-book purchase… it’d be a perfect read for a night in!  Big night on the town planned?  Grab the book anyway… you’ll want something perfect for a quiet day curled up on the sofa tomorrow.  (Oh, just get it anyway… I promise you’ll want to read it soon regardless of your plans or the date on the calendar!)

Get One Day in December:      

Amazon       Barnes & Noble

One Day in December is endearing, heartbreaking, and satisfying.  I give it five stars full of big feelings!  Have you read this one?  What did you think?

If you’re looking to add to your reading list in 2019, click back and look at my other Book Notes posts over the past few months.  Or, check out my Happy Bookish New Year Tag for a sneak peek at what I’ll be reading in the coming year.

I’m so grateful to have you all on this journey with me.  Thank you for hanging out here… I look forward to sharing 2019 with you!  Happy reading!

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “The Christmas Company” by Alys Murray (with author interview!)

Hello, friends!  Do you know one of my favorite things about December?  ‘Tis the season not only to be listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies, but also to be reading all kinds of lovely Christmas books!  I’ve already read and reviewed some holiday themed cozy mysteries, and now… it’s time for something a little different.

Recently, I told you about a couple of Hallmark Publishing Christmas titles that I was looking forward to reading.  Not only did I get to read my first one, but I was also able to talk with the author of this lovely book!

I can’t wait to share this story and conversation with you, so read on to find out more…

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 


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The Christmas Company by Alys Murray is a delightful story about a small town in Texas with a really BIG Christmas spirit… so big, in fact, that a branch of a local company is solely dedicated to the holiday and to the huge Christmas festival hosted each year by the community.  There’s decorating, caroling, festivities… and yes, even a reenactment of A Christmas Carol each year!  That is, until… (cue ominous villain music)… a real-life Scrooge comes to town and unceremoniously rips it all apart.  You see, the Christmas Festival just isn’t… profitable.  Well, then.

Kate, a hometown girl and employee of The Christmas Company, isn’t going down without a fight.  She launches a campaign to win over Scrooge (who is actually named Clark) and to get to the bottom of why he hates this holiday so much, and why he doesn’t appear to care about another living soul.  Along the way, this standoff slides into a pair of people truly trying to understand one another.  But will the whole situation be too much to overcome?

I found this story truly heartwarming.  The author, Alys Murray, paints a vivid picture of Christmas in Miller’s Point.  The holiday turns this tiny town into a Victorian Christmas village straight out of a Dickens novel.  The references to A Christmas Carol and the parallels of this book to that classic story were enchanting… it made me want to revisit that title as well.  And I loved optimistic, forge-ahead Kate… she’s exactly the person you’d want in charge of saving Christmas!

And talk about a town you’d want to visit over the holidays!  Miller’s Point sounds like the perfect place to spend Christmas, and the festive and descriptive scenes made me wish the little village were a real place to go have a sleigh ride and a hot chocolate!

I happen to have “met” Alys, the author, on social media (again, that Twitter writing and blogging community is awesome!)…. so I asked her if she’d be willing to chat and answer a few questions for me and for everyone that loves The Christmas Company!  She was happy to oblige, so here are some of her thoughts on writing, Christmas, and more!

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Alys Murray, author

When did you start writing, and what brought you to it?

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl! I was an avid reader and I think it’s very natural for avid readers to want to write their own stories, so all throughout my childhood and teenage years, I filled countless notebooks with books and stories. It’s been with me all of my life!

But my professional writing career began my sophomore year of college, when I took a play writing class. I wrote a play I was very proud of and that got some buzz, and it was the first time in my life that I thought I could actually make a go of writing professionally! Up until then, I didn’t know that I could ever write something good enough that people would want to read it, but after so many people enjoyed my play, I thought that maybe I should give writing a try! 

The Christmas Company is set in a little town that cherishes its holiday traditions.  Are you, like your character Kate, “all in” on Christmas, and did you grow up with a lot of traditions of your own?

I’m definitely a Christmas gal like Kate! I’ve always been a huge fan of the holidays and we had so many traditions that have followed me throughout my entire life. Some of them are even in the book! Clark’s Christmas Candle from his mother is a Christmas tradition of mine, and Kate telling the stories behind the ornaments as they decorate the tree is based on another family tradition of mine. 

Also, my father used to always put out a small Dickens Christmas village on our front table. As soon as I saw Bob Cratchit’s house and the cute little London street lamps on a bed of fake snow, I knew it was Christmas! 

How did you come to publish your novel with Hallmark?  Were you a Hallmark fan before?

I was absolutely a Hallmark fan before! Two days into writing The Christmas Company, I was scrolling through Twitter and saw that Hallmark was looking for novels for their new publishing house. In my heart, I just knew that once The Christmas Company was ready, I had to send it to them! A few months later, I was signing my publication contract! 

What is something that you’d love to tell us about your main characters, Kate and Clark?  (Spoiler alert!)

I would love to tell you (and this is only for those who have read the book because I don’t want anything to be spoiled!) that Clark might just be planning a very special Christmas engagement for Kate at next year’s Christmas Company festival…

 

What are you most looking forward to over the Christmas holidays?

I now live full-time in London, and this will be the first Christmas I ever spend in London! My fiancé and I have planned to go out on Christmas night and ride around London on our bikes, seeing the sites and Christmas lights while everyone else is inside having their Christmas dinners. It will be so beautiful to see London this way! I can’t wait! 

In The Christmas Company, you reference Dickens and A Christmas Carol throughout the story. Are you a big fan of Dickens? Would you say your writing is influenced by the classics? What are some of your favorites? 

Yes! I’m a huge fan of Charles Dickens!  When I was a kid, instead of going into ‘Time Out’ when I was in trouble, my dad would sit me down in a chair with a very big book (usually Great Expectations), and make me read a full chapter before I could get back up and play.  The problem was that I started to love these old books that my dad made me read!  My favorite Dickens is probably Oliver Twist, but that’s probably also because I’m a big musical theatre nerd and love the musical! I think my writing is influenced by the classics, especially female writers like Fanny Burney and Elizabeth Gaskell.  Elizabeth Gaskell wrote my favorite classic novel in North and South, and while Clark is, of course, inspired by Scrooge, I also found a lot of inspiration for Clark in the hero of North and South, Thornton.

I love all of this information… it puts me in a Christmas mood even more!  Many thanks to Alys for the interview… and for writing such a fun story!

You know what would be really fun?  Give this book as an early gift to a couple of friends… then meet for brunch and talk about the story, along with all your favorite holiday memories and traditions.

Better yet, plan ahead for next year’s book club… read both The Christmas Company *and* A Christmas Carol as your December titles (no worries, they’re both quick, easy reads!) and use them together to spark wonderful Christmas-themed discussion with your group.  (Try this beautifully illustrated edition of A Christmas Carol!)

If you’re looking for a sweet, uplifting Christmas story (for yourself, or to give as a gift)… well, it would be hard to find a better option than The Christmas Company.  I give this book five festive stars!  Highly recommended for anyone who believes in love, community, and the spirit of Christmas!

Get The Christmas Company:  

Amazon   Barnes & Noble


In the next couple of weeks, don’t forget to peek at my previous reviews of Christmas themed titles for great cozy books to curl up with once all your shopping is done.  Happy reading, friends!

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December on my blog will bring lots of fun content… I’m participating in #Blogmas which is a big deal in the blogging world, as well as Bookending Winter through Bookend Events.  Look for gift guides, Christmas book recommendations, holiday favorites, and more!

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