Review: Three Christmas Book Reviews (The Christmas Wish, Christmas at the Chalet, Cupcakes for Christmas)

A trio of reviews follows… Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Wish is a story of new beginnings. When Esme’s finds she can’t take her grandmother on a trip of a lifetime to see the Northern Lights in Lapland, Esme goes alone. Loved the quirky trip-mates, the little obstacles Esme overcomes to find herself again, and Esme’s newfound friendships, bound under snowflakes and starry skies.

Buy THE CHRISTMAS WISH

Cupcakes for Christmas is ostensibly about a baker, her shop, and a new special someone who comes in to buy cupcakes. But really it’s about the fear of loneliness and sadness that may drape over people during the holidays. While the story wasn’t a sad one, we see through Olivia’s eyes the challenges that Christmas brings for some. We also see how acceptance, love, and the Christmas spirit can help bridge the gap between two lonely hearts.

Buy CUPCAKES FOR CHRISTMAS

Ever wanted to spend Christmas at a chalet? Here’s your chance. Anita Hughes transports you to the land of snow and apres-ski in the Swiss Alps. Wedding gown designer Felicity, her assistants, and her models spend a week among the jet set in St Moritz – and you’re along for the ride. This is a fun, superficial, exciting, bright read. I loved the snowy settings, the wedding gowns, and the glitz and glamour on the slopes. I didn’t love all the reminiscing and flashbacks, but I did like the side story of re-uniting a bride’s parents.

Buy CHRISTMAS AT THE CHALET

-calliope

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Review: Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

Loved this nice, sweet Christmas story about Josie the chef from Seattle. Josie finds fun, adventure, and romantic interest Palmer while she’s spending some time in Alaska. Though she’s scheduled to go home to Seattle, the fates intervene – and Josie is held in Alaska for longer than she planned.

Palmer and Josie were lovely characters and it was fun to see their relationship develop. I also really liked seeing what Josie was going to cook up next – I guess you could say that I have that in common with cranky but lovable Jack!

Solid, uplifting Christmastime read.

-calliope

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Review: The Light Before Day by Suzanne Woods Fisher

The saga continues! Siblings Hetty and Henry love their home on Nantucket, but it all goes topsy turvy when their stern grandmother leaves them her fortune upon her passing – with stipulations, of course.

It was fun to read about how Henry and Hitty wanted to spend their inheritance – and eye opening to watch progress create division among the islanders. I also enjoyed watching that progress – from muddy paths to cobblestone streets, from no safety protocols to lightships and fire supplies. As usual for the Nantucket Legacy books in this series, I learned a few things about the Quaker religion, and how non-Quakers were drawn in to the light and spirituality they saw in the Friends.

My favorite parts of the book were the tender moments between couples who didn’t even consider themselves couples – but as the reader I could see the love between them.

Engaging and entertaining historical fiction, with comedy, tragedy, and a happily ever after.

-calliope

Buy THE LIGHT BEFORE DAY

Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

** minor spoiler alert ** Oh boy…I almost stopped reading this book and didn’t get past my annoyance until about 35%. I’m thankful I stuck with it, but honestly, the parents and the way they were portrayed almost did my head in. I am still considering going back and forth each day and bumping my review back and forth from a 1 star to a 5 star. I just do not believe any person would act like these parents did. I can understand their lack of affection. Even how they seemed to not even want a child in the first place. I can even understand them being neglectful and seemingly uninterested. However, I still can’t believe that anyone would talk as they did (example – show up at a police station after your 14-year-old has just been part of a kidnapping, continually interrupting a police officer to correct him that it’s not your real child but an adopted child and then after doing that several times, interrupting him once again to explain how you wouldn’t mind “doing” a member of the royal family even if she was older than the normal type you liked, all the while never once showing any concern over the kidnapping). You have not only the father acting like this, but the mother as well.

I just found myself not finding these portrayals in any way true to life and it made me want to quit the entire book. I really don’t understand why they were portrayed as such. It would not have changed the book at all to have them as ‘normal’ disinterested, neglectful, self-centred people.

Once the story moved on from the parents (for the most part) I loved every word. I’ve read other novels that have tried to explain the sexual environments in the past to not be completely shocked by the horrors I read in this book. However, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t angry. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel for the characters in this book. I have to say that, unlike some others, I 100% felt that I saw the reasoning behind Cyril’s choices and the paths he decided to take.

But damn, I was so angry. Life is so fucking unfair (as quoted a few times in this novel).

I just don’t know. I didn’t cry at all during the reading of this novel, but I sure wanted to time and time again. For whatever reasons I was reminded time and time again of Patrick Gale’s ‘A Place Called Winter’. Two totally different stories, but both made me ache with loneliness and despair at the unfairness of so much…Both are books which I found almost poetic in the writing style and absolutely hauntingly beautiful in both word and story

There is so much of me that wishes I could say this book was just over the top with bad things happening. That one thing after another happened to Cyril and it was just too much to be believed. But I can’t. It all felt so genuine. Hence why my heart is broken when I read books like this…and I want to cry, not just for the characters, but for myself…and all of humanity…so many people just have to make other’s miserable no matter that it’s nothing to do with them… #loveislove

Until next time…
Urania xx

Buy it now The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Review: A Miracle on Hope Street by Emma Heatherington

Everyone loves a Christmas miracle, and though agony-aunt columnist Ruth Ryans has advised many a citizen on how best to obtain theirs, she has no hope for her own. It all started when Ruth’s dad died, and her zest for life, her job and her friends kind of just went kaput.

But a couple of pals unexpectedly lift her up, and Ruth muddles through the letters for her column, realizing that the loneliness of her readers jibes with her own. She tries reaching out to others – and it works, nudging her out of her own head. There’s one big hurdle — finding her mom — and that thread carries throughout most of the book, providing a backbone for the subplots.

This is a feel-good book that gives hope to people missing their loved ones — without being contrived or syrupy sweet. I pegged the ending way back in the mid to early chapters, but that’s okay, because a happily ever after is a happily ever after… and that’s what I’m looking for 6 weeks before Christmas!

By the way, you’ll meet the most beautiful people in this book. My favorites are Gloria – what an angel – and Nicholas, the pianist. They spread joy far and wide, and Emma Heatherington is wonderful for writing them.

-calliope

Buy A MIRACLE ON HOPE STREER

Review: The Reckless Club by Beth Vrabel

First, apologies for not writing this the first week of October when The Reckless Club was first released. You or your kiddos have waited too long already to read this book. Perfect for middle schoolers, The Reckless Club is a tweenage-appropriate glance at The Breakfast Club, with the extra twists and turns you’d expect from kids this age.

Beth Vrabel did a great job writing varied characters who have personal quirks that showed me a little bit of their souls. And better yet, the kids got a glimpse of each other’s souls, what made them tick, what made them hurt, and what made them better people.

In this world of divisiveness, where people say things on social media that they would never say to someone’s face, we need commentary on the benefits of seeing each other as human beings. The Reckless Club takes that stand, shining a light on the real people underneath what other people see as a drama queen, a nerd, an athlete…

This book reminded me not to judge until I’ve walked a mile in the other person’s shoes. It would make a great Christmas gift for any middle schooler you know, or their teacher.

-Calliope

Buy THE RECKLESS CLUB

Review: Calypso by David Sedaris

If you’ve read a Sedaris book and hated it…well…you won’t like this one either…I also have to ask why the hell not? Do you take life too seriously?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Sedaris takes life way too seriously, hence why he is so bitter and so very snarky.

I lost track how many times I laughed out loud during this one. Despite all the laughter there was some serious issues going on in this one. I come from a family that isn’t really what you would call close. I am not so daft as to not realise that the lack of family bonding I’ve had hasn’t affected me a great deal with my “grown up” issues. So whilst reading this, I just have to marvel at all the times Sedaris and his family attempt to be a family, despite the fact that they often don’t seem to feel that closeness…or perhaps that closeness is why they continue to reach out to one another. Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious that Sedaris has a close bond with some of his siblings, however I often get the feeling that with others, meh, not so much…Maybe because of his age he makes those attempts and I still have a few years to get it right myself…after all, Sedaris also makes it clear that for many years of his youth he was out of touch with everyone on the planet, including himself!

However, I don’t think that’s it. Maybe my wires are completely severed and beyond repair…but alas, Sedaris in all his snark makes it pretty clear to me that it’s a choice I make…just like it’s a choice he makes to continue on…even though both of us might feel like it’s not really a choice at all…

See, I guess this isn’t a review, but it’s just the musings that reading the book has brought me to…

Regardless of all of that, if you love Sedaris even a little bit, you should hurry up and get to this one…

Why? ***Skip to the end if you’re easily offended*** Well, because honestly, now I can’t wait to to tell some to shove their fist up me arse and give my shite a good wanking off…you too, might need this ultimate insult information as well one day…

Honestly, maybe I shouldn’t post this review on my blog now…but dang it, after I picked my jaw up off the floor I almost fell down with the laughter at this ultimate insult..don’t we all need some honest to god outrageous and inappropriate belly laughs such as this from time to time…and Sedaris, as always, is happy to provide them for us…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it here Calypso by David Sedaris