Genre: Holiday - Christmas

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe

December 30, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Short & Sweet Reviews 2 Comments

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott
Published by Tally Hall Press on 1868
Pages: 635
Genres: Classics, Historical Fiction, Holiday - Christmas
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn't be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they're putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there's one thing they can't help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

“I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”

Can you believe it? The last person on Earth has finally read Little Women! Okay, I’m kidding, I’m sure I wasn’t the last one to read it but sure feels like it. But yes, this was my very first time reading it and I’m glad I did even though it was a bit of a struggle because 18th century works of fictions and I don’t often get along real well. But despite my apprehension View Spoiler » this one really won me over in the end. I learned to appreciate it for what it’s meant to be: an old-fashioned yet authentic tale of a close knit family, and in particular four very different young women, struggling to find their place in a difficult time in history. It’s not a glamorous tale of silk gowns and ball rooms, but rather an accurate interpretation of how life really was for Louisa May Alcott and her three sisters, as well as all the other women coming of age in the 1800s. It makes you appreciate family, life itself, and presents under the Christmas tree. And NOW, I can finally watch the movie.

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Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeSkipping Christmas by John Grisham
Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris
Published by Random House Audio on November 6th 2001
Length: 3 hrs and 42 mins
Genres: Holiday - Christmas
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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five-stars

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded malls, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on Hemlock Street without a rooftop Frosty; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences–and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

In my opinion, this is the Christmas book. Forget A Christmas Carol or anything else resembling wholesome Christmas stories, Skipping Christmas is a destined classic. What can I say, the concept of skipping Christmas entirely and going on a cruise instead just speaks to my Grinch-y soul.

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This year I opted to re-read the audiobook version which is narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris who portrays Luther Krank perfectly in all his deadpan humorous glory. When I first discovered this novel, many, many years ago… I almost glanced over it because “John Grisham? Isn’t that the guy that writes legal thrillers?” Yep, he sure is, but apparently he also has a humorous side. Many of you have likely seen the film adaptation Christmas with the Kranks which is all sorts of hilarious (especially with the book lacking that sidesplitting scene after Luther gets botox), but this short novel is an amusing way to spend a few hours surrounded by Christmas cheer as you contemplate an alternative to it all.

Short & Sweet – Little Women, Skipping Christmas, Christmas at the Comfort Food CafeChristmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson
Series: Comfort Food Cafe #2
Published by HarperImpulse on September 23rd 2016
Pages: 209
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

Little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

‘They are perfect together, and it’s only their pasts holding them back.
Which, I suppose, is a sentence that could be applied to all of us, in some way or another.’

Becca Fletcher has always been known as the wild child of the family: drugs, alcohol, one night stands, you name it. She’s turned over a new leaf after a tragedy strikes her sister’s family and she realizes that it’s time she became someone that can be depended on. And now that same sister is asking her to come visit her for Christmas. She hates Christmas, but she just can’t say no to her sister.

The little town of Budbury is a charming little seaside village where everyone is friendly and looks out for one another. It’s the kind of quaint place that is only found within the pages of a story, but it doesn’t stop you from wishing such a place really existed. This is a fun Christmas time read but admittedly the Christmas theme took a backseat to the romance. Becca’s sister has been trying to set her up with the cute Irish boy named Sam since this past summer and when she visits, they finally meet in person for the first time. I appreciated Becca’s honesty with her past problems and not wanting to jump into anything (like a bed) too quickly and was up front and honest with him about this. She didn’t beat around the bush and gloss over her problems or make any sort of excuses, so for him to continue to doggedly pursue her despite her insistence they take things slow was a bit problematic for me. Granted, this all works out like your typical storybook romance is supposed to and was undeniably cute once I got past my awkward feels about the whole thing.

Christmas + cutesy romance = two peas in a pod.

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Book Review – The Perfect Present by Karen Swan

December 25, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 1 Comment

Book Review – The Perfect Present by Karen SwanThe Perfect Present by Karen Swan
Published by Pan on November 8th 2012
Pages: 531
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Christmas at Tiffany's

four-stars

Haunted by a past she can’t escape, Laura Cunningham desires nothing more than to keep her world small and precise - her quiet relationship and growing jewellery business are all she needs to get by. Until the December day when Rob Blake walks into her studio and commissions a necklace that will tell his enigmatic wife Cat’s life in charms.

As Laura interviews Cat’s family, friends and former lovers, she steps out of her world and into theirs – a charmed world where weekends are spent in Verbier and the air is lavender-scented, where friends are wild, extravagant and jealous, and a big love has to compete with grand passions.

Hearts are opened, secrets revealed and as the necklace begins to fill up with trinkets, Cat’s intoxicating life envelops Laura’s own. By the time she has to identify the final charm, Laura’s metamorphosis is almost complete. But the last story left to tell has the power to change all of their lives forever, and Laura is forced to choose between who she really is and who it is she wants to be.

Laura Cunningham is a jewelry maker specializing in beautiful charms, lives with her long-term boyfriend Jack and has a secret side to herself that she’s desperate to keep contained. When she’s commissioned to create a personalized charm bracelet for Rob Blake’s wife Cat, Laura ends up immersed in their lives and subsequently awakens a part of herself that she’s struggled to keep dormant.

So the not so great. The enigma of Laura’s past took up the vast majority of The Perfect Present and made it less straight forward than you would think. It was engaging at first and gave her an air of intrigue but this was such a long story that the desire to learn her secret became a need rather than a desire after a certain point. The mystery unfolded near to the very end of the story and could have definitely been given more page time in order to fully explain everything so as to make Laura’s actions throughout the story much more plausible.

Now the good. Karen Swan has managed to create a multi-layered character in Laura Cunningham. She remained a complete mystery throughout the entire tale (which is both good and bad as you’ll see below) which was infinitely important in a 500+ page story. In addition to Laura’s character, there is a full cast of characters which Laura has to interview in order to complete the commissioned job and each of them were given a solid back-story. Kitty was by far my favorite and was the most realistic and likable one of the bunch. The men were all the brooding sort but it was never taken too overboard. I also loved that this was a far from perfect tale and there wasn’t technically a happy ending, or at least not the type of happy ending that you would have gone in expecting.

After reading Christmas at Tiffany’s I was desperate to get my hands on more of Karen Swan’s work. Tiffany’s was A+ and one of my most favorite stories of the year. Perfect Present wasn’t an enthralling but was still enjoyable and was far from your typical chicklit type tale which I appreciated. Taking place throughout the month of December including Christmas day so this was the perfect time to read this story. This is now my second read of hers and I will either need to have more of her stories shipped from the UK or hope that US publishers pick up her stories… or both would work too. 🙂bonnie blog signature

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Book Review – Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor #1) by Lisa Kleypas

December 24, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 0 Comments

Book Review – Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (Friday Harbor #1) by Lisa KleypasChristmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Friday Harbor #1
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 26th 2010
Pages: 211
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted
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three-stars

ONE LITTLE GIRL NEEDS A FAMILY
One rain-slicked night, six-year-old Holly lost the only parent she knew, her beloved mother Victoria. And since that night, she has never again spoken a word.

ONE SINGLE MAN NEEDS A WIFE
The last thing Mark Nolan needs is a six-year-old girl in his life. But he soon realizes that he will do everything he can to make her life whole again. His sister’s will gives him the instructions: There’s no other choice but you. Just start by loving her. The rest will follow.

SOMETIMES, IT TAKES A LITTLE MAGIC…
Maggie Collins doesn’t dare believe in love again, after losing her husband of one year. But she does believe in the magic of imagination. As the owner of a toy shop, she lives what she loves. And when she meets Holly Nolan, she sees a little girl in desperate need of a little magic.

…TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE
Three lonely people. Three lives at the crossroads. Three people who are about to discover that Christmas is the time of year when anything is possible, and when wishes have a way of finding the path home…

When six-year-old Holly’s mother dies in a car accident, her Uncle Mark is named her guardian. Holly is devastated and hasn’t spoken in the six months that she’s lived with him. To top it off, Mark just found Holly’s letter to Santa where she was asking for a new mommy. Wandering the local shops in town, the two go into a toy store where the store owner Maggie gets Holly to finally come out of the shell she’s created around herself which sets in motion an attraction between Mark and Maggie.

The story felt incredibly rushed with only 224 pages and extremely large font but it was nonetheless still a quick and entertaining Christmas read. I would have loved for the story to have more detail and back-story and I especially wanted more build-up as far as the romance went though. The connection between Mark and Maggie was instantaneous which wouldn’t have been as problematic if Mark wasn’t already involved in someone. I would have been able to enjoy this short and sweet tale if we weren’t dealing with the dramatic aspects of the love triangle. Having Mark be a single guy connecting with a very motherly character would have sufficed.

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor reads much like a story that should be included in a Christmas anthology but it’s the start of Kleypas’ ‘Friday Harbor’ series. I enjoyed it enough to continue the series but hope those future installments are further fleshed out. Definitely, a worthy Christmas read for those looking for a sentimental albeit predictable story to get quickly absorbed in. (And there’s also a Lifetime movie adaptation of this to check out!)

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Book Tour Review – Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

November 20, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Book Tour, Read in 2014, TLC Book Tours 6 Comments

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen SwanChristmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan
Published by William Morrow on October 28th 2014
Pages: 592
Genres: Chick-Lit, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
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Also by this author: The Perfect Present

five-stars

In the wake of a heartbreaking betrayal, a young woman leaves the Scottish countryside to find her destiny in three of the most exciting cities in the world—New York, Paris, and London—in this funny and triumphant tale of fulfillment, friendship, and love.

Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now, her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna and Christmas at Tiffany’s in 2011.

Cassie married at an incredibly young age, at only twenty years old, to an older man and her first love. She never got to experience life or travel the world but she was content and satisfied with her life despite all that. After discovering that Gil, her husband of ten years, had betrayed her, Cassie leaves immediately and doesn’t look back. She devotes the next year of her life to doing what she never did before: discovering who she is and what she wants out of this life to make her truly happy.

I could go into some serious detail about this book but it’s all Spoiler-ville and it’s one of those stories that you definitely need to experience firsthand. And what a wonderful experience it was. I’ve been in dire need of satisfying this deep-seated craving for a fluffy read for months now (especially after the 13 horror novels in a row I read for October). Suffice it to say, Christmas at Tiffany’s satisfied my craving completely leaving me with the goofiest grin on my face, all sorts of feels and looking incredibly similar to Sally:

Christmas at Tiffany’s is primarily about Cassie and the dissolution of her marriage, however, even though she’s the main focus there was still the most amazing cast of characters with their own stories as well. Between her trips to New York, Paris and finally London she meets all sorts of new people that color her life and make her realize how much she’s been missing all this time. Cassie was my absolute favorite though and her story was one of heartbreak and I so loved to see her transform and overcome it all.

Don’t let its massive size put you off because this is one story you will not want to have end. Any book that can keep me completely wrapped up and absorbed for 580 pages, STILL leave me wanting more and even make me want to start it all over as soon as I read the final page is certainly impressive. Also, sure, it’s chicklit or contemporary romance or whatever you want to call it, so it was slightly predictable and cliché. (I mean seriously, I wish I had fancy rich friends I was just able to crash with for 4 months at a time in different glamorous cities around the world.) You know pretty much from the get-go who she’s going to end up with but the pages in-between that happening were far from being mere filler. This wasn’t just a story about finding love again, it was about living life and learning from your experiences. It was about finding new passions, about truly opening your eyes to everything and exploring this wonderful world we live in. It was all the things. *sigh* And I’ve just decided this gets the full 5 star rating from me. This was such an incredibly feel-good book that has left such a lasting impression on me I can’t seem to think of anything else. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is an absolute must read. I can’t recommend this one enough.

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This post was a part of the Christmas at Tiffany’s blog tour.
Click the button below for a complete list of tour stops.

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