If you’ve read Debbie Macomber before, consider MERRY AND BRIGHT a typical Macomber Christmas read: sweet, clean, family oriented, and pretty predictable. I happen to like predictable stories, and this one had all the comforts you’d expect from a loving family at Christmastime.
Merry is a kind, compassionate, maybe overly sensitive homebody who would help a stranger in a New York minute — and more than once, she did.
Jay is a good guy overwhelmed with work, and taking out his frustrations on his fellow man (and woman). When Jay starts spending more time with Merry and his friend Cooper, his eyes are opened to how his values don’t match up to his behavior.
So, in between the parts where the characters are getting to know each other and themselves, there’s a little bit of morality teaching – mostly about being compassionate. Sometimes it took me out of the story a little, but it was a nice reminder that kindness doesn’t cost me anything, and that it might mean the world to sometime on the receiving end.
Well, I’ll be. Not a non-fiction fan here. I can count on one hand the number of non-fiction books I’ve ever loved… EVER! And I don’t like war books, either. Too much death and heartache. But when certain book friends rave about a book because it affected them so much, I sit up and listen. Plus this book was on sale for $2.99 when I bought it. 🙂
That’s the backstory. The main story is: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK.
City of Thieves is about two guys who normally wouldn’t be friends, thrown together for a week-long hunt for eggs during the German siege on Leningrad. It was a cold week for those young men. They almost die several times. They daily encounter other people’s death. And they fail over and over at finding eggs.
But they find something else. They find humanity in desolation and desperation. They find friendship. They find courage. One of the men finds humor in everything (thankfully, because I frankly needed the comic relief). The other finds love.
And that’s the best part of the whole thing… That LOVE can be found even in the wasteland of hate and war. That there’s a love story here FLOORED me and satisfied me to no end. Oh and it’s a TRUE one. TRUE love. Sigh.
As for the eggs: they can be had for a small wager, but they are no prize.
Books can make you feel many different things. They can make you feel sad. They can make you feel melancholy. They can make you feel passionate about something. And sometimes books can be just plain fun. This one definitely falls into that last category.
What happens when evil fairy tale characters have a change of heart? They start a reform school for other fairy tale characters gone bad, of course. There’s a mishmash of favorites and familiars in this story. We meet Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, the Evil Queen, and a cast of others.
Our protagonist, however, is a simple commoner, the Shoemaker’s daughter, Gilly. Being one of many children in a poor family, she resorts to theft to help her family make ends meet. But when she’s caught in the act one too many times, off to reform school she goes. The school is run by Flora, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, under the premise of helping wayward souls find their way back onto the right path. But things aren’t what they seem, and Gilly finds herself right in the middle of it.
This one’s a fun read, safe and enjoyable for all ages. It’s full of magic and myths with a good dose of humor thrown into the mix. I’m definitely looking forward to more in this series!
I’ve loved Trista Sutter’s warmth and authenticity since I first saw her on The Bachelorette. I don’t watch the Bachelor franchise anymore, but it satisfies me to see the first Bachelorette marriage succeed.
Happily Ever After isn’t about finding happiness, or filling yourself up with something new to make yourself happy. It’s about taking another look at the life you have — the life you choose each day — and appreciating all of it: the rough, the easy, the sad, the joyful, the frustrating, and the tragic. We can’t see the full picture of our lives, because so much of our own life hasn’t happened yet. But Trista helps the reader look back at some of the bad times in order to see how they’ve contributed to the good things we have in life today.
I have had experiences like that: being upset and jealous that my dad helped the neighborhood children (who didn’t have a dad). I didn’t have a lot of time with my father when I was young. When I did, I wanted him all to myself. But when he was home, he took the time to help fix bikes, pump up soccer balls, and smile at these three girls who didn’t have a father figure in their lives. I resented it.
Fast forward 30 years when my father passed away, and those same siblings came over to shovels the snow from my mother’s huge driveway… In their words to repay my family for what my father gave them so many years before. Who knew that would come full circle?
That’s the kind of memory that Happily Ever After evokes. Not seeing the blessing right away doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Okay, so Happily Ever After takes it one step further: we need to be actively GRATEFUL for the people and events in our lives, trusting that things really do happen for a reason. Trista makes a case for writing thank you notes, letting your children make a mess once in a while (be thankful for their creativity and joy!), and putting in the effort to maintain friendships.
Trista’s anecdotes are entertaining. She tells of the ups and downs in her life with sweetness and peace. Her joy and honesty translate through the pages. Read Happily Ever After and be uplifted.