Archives for December 2011

The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman

The Christmas Cookie Club
written by Ann Pearlman          
published by Atria Books


Why did I pick this book: I read this book a few years ago and decided to read it again. (Plus I really wanted to read something while I was waiting for My Nook to charge. And yes, I know it doesn’t take that long but I really wanted to be reading!)



Did I enjoy this book: Yes. It was good. I love the idea of a “Christmas Cookie Club” and someday I may start one. Who knows?!? If I do, it will be because of this book. 


I enjoy reading about all the different ladies from very different walks of life and going through different life changes, circumstances, etc.


The one part that I skip is the history and research about various ingredients at the end of each chapter. These sections are a few pages long but not needed in the book. They slow down the rhythm and flow. That’s why I skip them. I also skip the recipes. Someday, though, I’ll have to try a recipe and post about it on my recipe blog. Hmmm….


Would I recommend it: Sure.


Will I read it again: Maybe not next Christmas…but probably the one after.


About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS: This story begins with Marnie and her preparations for her annual Christmas cookie club. Marnie is the “head cookie bitch” and this is basically her story. Marnie tells the stories of her 11 close friends – the other cookie bitches – throughout the party. The club has rules — every one has to make thirteen dozen cookies and package them in something other than a paper plate with cling wrap. They also bring along food, a bottle of wine, a copy of the recipe, and a story to go along with her cookies.


Marnie is a widow with two grown – and pregnant – daughters and a much younger lover. Her eldest daughter, Sky, is anxiously awaiting news about whether this pregnancy is going to last and whether she will have a healthy baby. (Sky had suffered quite a few miscarriages and a stillbirth prior to this pregnancy.) Tara, Marnie’s other daughter, is eighteen, unmarried, and pregnant due within weeks. 


Each of Marnie’s friends has a story and they all interconnect at some point. We meet Charlene, who lost her son in a accident; Rosie, who is stuck in the middle of her two friends; Juliet, living a double life; Laurie, a new adoptive mother at her last Christmas cookie club party; Alice, who had to miss the party and send her cookies because of her current circumstances; Jeannie, two friends have deeply hurt her and she is trying to move past it; Allie, a therapist, a good friend, and a someone who also has a much younger lover; Sissy, Marnie’s co-grandma to Tara’s soon-to-be-born child; Vera, who has a secret past that very few people know about; Tracy, who also sends her cookies because she is on vacation; and Taylor, who announces the new direction of her life at the party.


Everyone has a story. Everyone has a past. Everyone needs a friend. Everyone needs cookies. Don’t we all?


If you have read it, let me know what you think!!!

The Forgetful Bride by Debbie Macomber

The Forgetful Bride
written by Debbie Macomber       
published by Mira


Why did I pick this book: It was included as a bonus “book” in the Trading Christmas book. 



Did I enjoy this book: Not really. It had some cute moments but the protagonist sucked. She was a twenty-seven or so “junior high” girl. All she cared about was her boss – who she claimed she was madly in love with – even though he barely noticed her. In fact, he had no interest in her at all. 


Then there was the ruggedly good looking construction worker, who also was able to dress up in a nice suit and fancy car. Of course, this is a guy from her past that she “married” when they were kids. He still loved her and called her his “wife.” 


It was a pathetic story and I’m surprised I even finished it. 


Would I recommend it: No. I don’t know if this author’s other non-Christmas books are like this one…. If so, I won’t read those. This was just awful.


Will I read it again: No.


About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS: Caitlin Marshall is a stockbroker in Washington. When she was 8 years old, her brother’s friend – Joseph Rockwell – wanted to kiss her. She made him “marry” her before she would kiss him. 


Fast forward eighteen years and “husband and wife” reconnect at her office where he is doing some construction work. Joe, the husband, tries to woo her and steal her away. Cait is reluctant because she is so in love with her boss and she “knows” that her boss loves her too – he just doesn’t know that yet. 


blah blah blah — happily ever after


If you have read it, let me know what you think!!!

Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Trading Christmas
written by Debbie Macomber       
published by Mira


Why did I pick this book: I have enjoyed most of Debbie Macomber’s Christmas books that I have read in the past. I just saw the Lifetime Original Movie based on this book so I thought I would read it. 



Did I enjoy this book: I did. It was a sweet story that I read every free chance I got. I wanted to know the end, even though I saw the movie. I laughed out loud, my heart fluttered, it was good and made me smile.


Would I recommend it: If you are a fan of this author, or a fan of light chick-lit books, then yes. I would recommend this book as a good Christmas read that will make you smile and warm your heart.


Will I read it again: Probably next Christmas.


About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS: Emily Springer is a widowed mother of one daughter who is attending Harvard University while Emily is still in her hometown of Leavenworth, Washington. When Heather calls to tell her mom, Emily, that she isn’t coming home for Christmas because she has too much studying, Emily decides to be spontaneous. She swaps homes with Charles Brewster – a Harvard University history professor and author – for the Christmas holiday. 


Charles thinks he is going to the prison town of Leavenworth, Kansas, and that he will be able to avoid all things Christmas. Boy was he ever wrong. Leavenworth, Washington is like Christmas central, complete with period costumes, decorations, and cookies.


Faith Kerrigan, a divorcee, is Emily’s best friend. After hearing how upset Emily is that her daughter won’t be coming home for Christmas, Faith decides to surprise her friend by coming to visit. 


When Faith arrives at Emily’s home, she finds Charles…not Emily. While Emily is in Boston, she meets Ray Brewster, Charles’s older brother. Meanwhile, Emily’s daughter is not in Boston but on her way to Florida on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle.


Relationships form. First impressions are not as they seem. Happy endings abound. 


If you have read it, let me know what you think!!!

On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts

On Strike for Christmas
written by Sheila Roberts
published by St. Martin’s Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I’ve read this book before and wanted to read it again. I also just watched Lifetime’s movie adaptation and I forgot how the book went.

Did I enjoy this book: I did but not as much as the first time I read it. The first time I got a big kick out of it. I laughed out loud and nodded my head in agreement. This time, some of the striking women just irritated me. I felt like some of the men…Christmas decorations and family traditions don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to be exactly how the woman wants it. I do agree with the end…it should be about compromise and helping each other do the things that make your Christmas special together…not relying on one person to do it all.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is Joy’s family Christmas when Bob comes in. I really wish the author would have further developed this story segment. That would have been great!

I also enjoyed Glen’s adventures with his two young children. That was entertaining and I could see the scenes…especially the picture with Santa segment.

everyfree4

Would I recommend it: Yes. It is a cute Christmas read.

Will I read it again: Probably next Christmas.

chrissysig


About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS: Joy Robertson loves the holidays, entertaining, partying, and people. Her husband, Bob, likes a much more quiet setting and more subdued atmosphere. After having to leave her family’s Thanksgiving celebration early because of her husband, Joy decides to show Bob what it really takes to make the holidays special in an attempt to make him want the same holiday experience as she loves and expects each year.

Bob, however, has other plans. Once his wife goes on strike, he helps his fellow man by giving some quick and easy tips to get through the holidays and to make his wife realize that the holidays don’t have to be exactly as she wants them. He includes some advice such as going online to have a “personal shopper” buy your gifts, wrap and ship them to you for the holidays. He also advises the men to purchase the baked goods that their wives usually make from scratch from their local bakery. And precooked dinners from local caterer or restaurant are just as good as homemade.

Soon the other women in Joy’s knitting group join the “cause” and go on strike on Christmas. Each woman experiences different struggles with their husbands and how they take over the Christmas planning, decorating, and other holiday preparations.

If you have read it, let me know what you think!!!

 

efchappy

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson

The Christmas Wedding
written by James Patterson             
published by Little, Brown & Company


Why did I pick this book: This was another new Christmas book I thought I would try.



Did I enjoy this book:  I did read it every free chance I could get but it just wasn’t great.


It kind of jumped around a lot and I didn’t like the main character as much as I wanted to.  I wanted to see how it would end and who Gaby picked for her husband. (That is what kept me reading…that and thinking – well, wanting – something more out of the book.)


I did enjoy Mike’s humor, Gaby’s quick-thinking and honesty, and the fun of the surprise groom. But most of the characters were not developed and I just didn’t care about them. I wanted more.


Would I recommend it: Eh…probably not. But I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. 


Will I read it again: I don’t know.


About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS: Gaby Summerhill is getting married…on Christmas Day…but she isn’t revealing to whom…not even to the three men that proposed to her. 


Gaby is the widowed mother of four grown children and living her life to its fullest. She wants her children and their spouses home for Christmas. She sends them videos and keeps the suspense of who the groom is to be going throughout the videos. The three possible grooms also help her plan and prepare for the wedding. 


The reader is granted a glimpse into each child’s life. Lizzie and Mike have a daughter. Mike is going through treatment for brain cancer. Claire and Hank have three children. Hank is a pot-smoking loser and Claire just sticks with him. Their eldest son is in trouble at school and in general. Emily and Bart are the New York City go-getters. She is an attorney with a big firm and he is a neurological resident. And last is Gaby’s son, Seth and his girlfriend, Andie. He is an aspiring author who works as a receptionist. Andie is a children’s book illustrator. (We didn’t learn much about any of these characters beyond this brief description.)


Gaby has a great life despite the loss of her husband three years ago. She works as a teacher, she runs a soup kitchen of sorts making breakfast every day for the homeless, and she has great friends that stand by her and want to see her happy.


Gaby is proposed to by three men…all of whom she loves in different ways and has known for years and years and years. She brings her family together for this special day.


If you have read it, let me know what you think!!!

A Plain and Simple Christmas by Amy Clipston

A Plain and Simple Christmas
written by Amy Clipston             
published by Zondervan


Why did I pick this book: I always pick a few new Christmas books each year to read. I read another of this author’s Christmas books and enjoyed it. So, I thought I would read this one as well. 



Did I enjoy this book: I did but it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. It was very predictable.


The characters were likeable. I thoroughly enjoyed that Anna Mae’s husband wasn’t anti-Amish. So often in these books, when an Englischer marries an Amish girl, that man wants the woman to disconnect completely from her upbringing. Kellan was not like that at all. And he stood up to Anna Mae’s father, the bishop. (I enjoyed that scene.)


Would I recommend it: If you like this author, then go ahead and read it. But this should not be your first book by this author. You may not want to read anymore by her.


Will I read it again: I don’t think so. But who knows…maybe I’ll need a good, uplifting story next Christmas. 


About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS – Well, it does contain spoilers because I’m going to reveal the ending. So don’t read the third and fourth paragraphs if you don’t want to know the end: This is the story of Anna Mae and her husband Kellan. Anna Mae left her family and the Amish community for her true love, Kellan McDonough. Anna Mae was shunned for her choice to leave. Now, three years later, she is expecting her first child and longs to reunite with her family for Christmas. 


Anna Mae begins the process of reunion by writing to her brother David’s wife, Kathryn. They used to work together at Kauffman’s Bakery. Kathryn goes against her husband’s wishes and helps to bring Anna Mae and Kellan home for Christmas. (David thought it would be too stressful and, frankly, disastrous for Anna Mae to come home for Christmas.)


Of course, Anna Mae comes home and her father is none too happy to see her. He, as the Bishop, makes the shunning even worse. However, Anna Mae’s mother is so thrilled to see her daughter that she also defies her husband in order to spend time with her daughter. 


After a very stressful Christmas Eve, Kellan decides that it is time to go home with his pregnant wife. Of course – and here comes the very predictable part – Anna Mae goes into labor before they even get far from her parents’ house. They are in a blizzard. She gives birth and the family is reunited. Everyone is happy and plans are made for a spring visit to Baltimore. Who didn’t see that end coming????


If you have read it, let me know what you think!!!

Naomi’s Gift by Amy Clipston

Naomi’s Gift: A Novella
written by Amy Clipston             
published by Zondervan


Why did I pick this book: I always pick a few new Christmas books each year to read. 



Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy it. I was glad that I did not need to read the series that this book is based on prior to reading this book. That would have been disappointing.


This was a quick read and, as with all of the Amish books I have read, left me with a happy feeling at the end of the book. 


These books are such sweet love stories. You truly care about the characters and whether or not the right people will end up together.


Would I recommend it: If you like to read Amish stories, then, yes, I would recommend it.


Will I read it again: I’m not sure yet. I may next Christmas…especially if I read the Kauffman Amish Bakery series by this same author.


About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS: Naomi King has been burned twice in the relationship department. Sadly, she has been labeled as one who chases after men, even though she had her heart broken by two men in her community. 


Caleb Schmucker is a young widower with a sweet seven year old daughter, Susie. It has been two years since his pregnant wife was killed in an accident at Christmas. Now, Caleb has returned from Ohio to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to visit his sister and extended family for Christmas. 


Caleb’s sister, Sadie, is quite meddlesome and overprotective. She tries to fix Caleb up with one of her friends. Caleb isn’t that interested because her friend isn’t interested in his daughter. However, Caleb does find himself with feelings for Naomi. They get closer together. 


Will Caleb move back to Lancaster County? Will he and Naomi end up together? Will their be healing of both Caleb and Naomi’s hearts?




If you have read it, let me know what you think!!!

Review: The Christmas Train by David Baldacci (Chrissy’s review)

The Christmas Train
written by David Baldacci
published by Grand Central Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I read this book every Christmas. It is easily one of my all-time favorite books ever. Also, this is my book group’s selection for the month of December. (I suggested it.)

Did I enjoy this book: I did. I always do. It is definitely a book that I read every free chance I get. This book has love, adventure, criminal activity, near tragedy, and it takes place at Christmas time. What more can you ask for?

The snake incident towards the end of the first half of the book always gives me a big chuckle.

The author has a good way of depicting his characters in this book. Not everyone is who they appear to be. That adds so much to this story that seems like it should be simple. Tom meets some interesting characters: Agnes Joe, a rather large woman who is one of my favorite characters especially when she elbows Tom right onto his back; Regina, a sweet woman who works for Amtrak on the Capitol Limited; Misty, the eccentric fortune teller; Father Kelly, the retired priest; Gordon Merryweather, the loud obnoxious attorney; Herrick Higgins, the laid off Amtrak train engineer; Roxanne, a loud and wonderful train worker on the Southwest Chief who is also one of my favorites. This is just a few of the many characters that formulate this story.

The only downside of this book is long descriptions about the train engines, the history of Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain), and the detailed weather information for they are sometimes too long and not needed. These tend to make the book drag on those parts. But once you get past those, all is good. (They are short passages, but drag nonetheless.)

The revelation at the end is my absolute favorite. I never see it coming. Even though I have read this book every year, it still gets me by surprise and gives me the biggest smile.

everyfree5

Would I recommend it: Yes, absolutely.

Will I read it again: Every Christmas!

chrissysig

About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS: Tom Langdon is a seasoned war correspondent who is now writing non-war related pieces. After an unfortunate experience with airport security, he is relegated to non-air travel for two years within the continental US. FUN! So, he decides to take a train ride across the country to visit his girlfriend for Christmas. And on this ride, he is going to write a story. Shocking, considering he is a writer.

The first leg of the trip, on the Capitol Limited, takes Tom Langdon from Washington, D.C. to Chicago. It starts as a fairly uneventful trip until he realizes that his ex-girlfriend..the one that go away…is on board the same train. Not only that, but her “boss”, the legendary film director Max Powers, forces the two ex-lovers to join forces in writing Tom’s story and Eleanor’s movie script about a train ride across the country. Of course, Eleanor is none too happy to see Tom. And Tom realizes the mistake he made letting Ellie out of his life.

During this first leg, Tom learns a lot about people and train travel. But while the train is a place where most people lose their inhibitions to an extent, it seems that it is also an ideal place for crime. A theft epidemic occurs and just about everyone on board is hit. Tom is also coaxed into being the best man for Steve who is planning on marrying his fiance, Julie, on the Southwest Chief. Steve’s parents do not approve of the marriage and at one point, when Steve is ready to call it off, Tom lays in to him with a speech that he could have said to himself when he let Eleanor get away.

The second leg of the trip, on the Southwest Chief, will take Tom from Chicago to Los Angeles. This leg is much, much more eventful. The thief also boards this train and more thefts occur. Eleanor, Max, Agnes, Misty, Father Kelly, and Kristobal are also on the Southwest Chief. Tom and his travel companions meet Roxanne, a member of the Southwest Chief crew. She is loud, a fantastic singer, and a great leader.

During this trip, a vicious snow storm is brewing and will hit the Southwest Chief’s path. Herrick Higgins is on board the Chief and he knows that the weather is not good and there will be trouble. The young couple, Steve and Julie, get married. Tom is the best man and Eleanor is the maid of honor. The wedding goes off without a hitch and it is a rocking good time thanks to Max and Roxanne.

While on the Raton Pass, the avalanche hits. Will they survive? Will the train plummet down the mountain side? What will happen to Tom and Eleanor?

I’m not going to spoil it for you. Read it…you will like it.

efchappy

Crossed (Matched Trilogy Series #2) by Ally Condie

Crossed (Matched Trilogy Series #2)
written by Ally Condie             
published by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated


Why did I pick this book: I read the first book and it left me wanting to know what happens next!



Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy this book but not until I got through the first half of it. For me, the first half dragged a bit. Once I hit the second half, I had to read it every free chance I got. I finished the second half in a little more than a day – which is a short amount of time considering the holiday and being a stay-at-home mom. 


The journey was interesting. There were “near misses”, or what seemed to be “near misses.” There were near death situations and a lot of death itself. There is sadness but happiness as well. There’s rebellion and more questions. There’s a little bit of everything in this book. And it left me wanting to know the end…of this book and of the trilogy.


The new characters – Indie, Eli, Vic, and Hunter – are great additions to the cast. They help to move the story along and provide motivation for some of the main characters actions. I felt that they were all reflections of the existing characters…a depiction of the different sides of Ky, Cassia, and Xander. 


Would I recommend it: I would because it is part of the series and you will want to know what happens.


Will I read it again: I will because the third book of this series isn’t due out until next November. UGH….why must I wait so long???


About the book – MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS (especially if you haven’t read the first book): The book begins with Ky’s story and each chapter alternates between Ky and Cassia. Ky is in the Outer Provinces “fighting” the enemy. Well, he is actually a decoy for the Society. He spends his days burying the dead after somebody — the Enemy? — fire at them. 


Cassia is at a work camp in the Tana Province that isn’t home. She is hoping to get to the Outer Provinces to find Ky. Her journey hasn’t taken off yet but it will. 


Xander is still her official Match. He truly loves her and tries to help her on her journey. However, Xander has a secret of his own. A secret that he hopes will change Cassia’s heart.


There is still word of the Rebellion. But where are they? Where is the Pilot? Cassia, on her journey to find Ky, learns more of the Rebellion and wants to join. She wants things to change. She wants the Society to be put in their place.


Ky is going through the motions every day just trying to survive. He sticks to himself and only has one ally…not friend but someone to connect with. He finds this in Vic. When he and Vic decide to run for the Carving, Ky decides to take Eli along with them much to Vic’s disapproval. 


Ky’s trip through the Carving as well as Cassia’s trip are interesting and sometimes have you on the edge of your seat. When they finally meet up, the resulting journey is not what was expected. Which direction will each of them go? 




If you have read it, let me know what you think!!!