Thursday, December 20, 2012

This Book Room: Christmas Edition 2012, Part 2

You can read Part 1 in this series right here!

After her husband, Shep, loses his latest job, Jennie Davis is grateful to be in a car en route to beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Shep has inherited a house from a distant cousin, along with the cousin’s long-established bicycle shop. The move gives Jennie, Shep, and their two children a welcome chance for a fresh start.

While Shep dives into his new venture at the bike shop, Jennie carefully restores their broken-down house. She loves being a stay-at-home mom but yearns to find some fulfillment outside of her family—particularly as they struggle financially. On morning walks, she forges a friendship with her Amish neighbor, Mattie Fisher, who opens up about her modest way of life. Mattie’s unswerving good character in the face of adversity encourages Jennie to seek practical solutions to her own difficulties. A passing remark by Jennie’s son transforms desperation about their finances into inspiration, leading her to embark upon a candy-making enterprise.

Soon, Jennie’s newfound purpose collides with Shep’s growing stress at work and long-simmering tensions between husband and wife rise to the surface. As the holiday season approaches, their family is challenged as never before—until an unexpected visitor arrives to give Jennie the greatest gift of all.

My thoughts: While Jennie, at times, annoyed me, this story was incredibly uplifting. I loved how the family slowly came together again. A lot of families are facing brokenness right now: change of lifestyle, death, illness, etc. Jennie pulled herself up by her bootstraps, though. If you're feeling like there's nothing you can do to help your family's situation, read this book.

Christmas in Icicle Falls... Between Yuletide traditions, winter sports and mistletoe hanging everywhere, Christmas is the best time of year in Icicle Falls, Washington. But this year it's not so merry-for three of its residents, anyway.

Cass Wilkes, owner of the Gingerbread Haus bakery, was looking forward to her daughter, Danielle's, wedding...until Dani announced that she wants her father, Cass's ex, to walk her down the aisle. Seriously? And, since every B and B is full, it looks like he, his trophy wife and their yappy little dog will be staying with Cass.

Her friend Charlene Albach arrives at their weekly chick-flick night in shock. She's just seen the ghost of Christmas past: her ex-husband, Richard, who left her a year ago, running off with the hostess from her restaurant, Zelda's, to start a new life (and restaurant) in Seattle. Now the hostess is history and he wants to kiss and make up. Hide the mistletoe!

And bring out the hot buttered rum, because the holidays aren't so easy for Ella O'Brien, either. Ella, who's newly divorced, is still sharing the house with her ex while they wait for the place to sell, and they are still fighting over all the things they fought over when they were married. The love is gone. Isn't it?

But Christmas has a way of working its magic. One of these women is about to rediscover love, another is going to remember what's important in life and the third will find a new dream in the new year. Merry Ex-mas, ladies!


Additional notes: This is the second book in the Life in Icicle Falls series. You can read my review of the first book here. The next book in this series is due out in 2013.

My thoughts: First, the cover of this book is so much fun. I love it! This story was really interesting to read on several levels. 1 - I love Sheila's writing. It's fun and the characters are so relatable. 2 - All the different story points were so on key. I felt like I had lived each story line in some way, and Sheila got each one just right. Jack and Ella's story just reminded me not to care what others think and life for yourself {and God}. I cannot wait to read the next book in this series!

There's something truly magical about Christmas. Filled with remarkable true stories of the kindness of strangers and the blessings of answered prayers, this collection with its small miracles truly captures the spirit of the season.These stories of hope, faith and joy are a moving tribute to the true meaning of Christmas and remind us all that the greatest gifts in life can't be gift wrapped.

My thoughts: Okay. This review won't be so glowing as the others. I really struggled with whether I liked this book or not. I enjoyed a select few of the stories. Most of the stories didn't hit me in any way. One in particular stands out, I remember I liked a couple others, and the rest just missed me. I ended the ones I didn't like with, "Huh?" Some of them just didn't fit with this book theme! The good news is that the book is short and the stories are easy to read {if you ignore the fact that some of them just plain don't seem to make sense}. I wouldn't gift this to anyone or give it a permanent spot on your bookshelf, but you could check it out from the library and give it a whirl.

Marva Fergusen has a very personal Christmas tradition that happens every December 26th. As an aging widow, the tradition means more to her now than it ever has. Her newest neighbor, nine-year-old Charlee Alexander, loves Christmas too. But her family has fallen on hard times and things get worse when Charlee becomes critically ill. Then, on December 12th, Charlee makes a wonderful Discovery. A mysterious note is delivered that promises twelve days of gifts and stories that will reveal the truth behind the beloved Christmas song "The 12 Days of Christmas." As the days go by, the gifts hint to a possible lost lyric. Was there once a thirteenth day of Christmas? And if so, could it's magic change - or save - a life? Filled with laughter, tenderness, and hope, The 13th Day of Christmas invites us to see how an old Christmas favorite can become a true Christmas miracle.

My thoughts: First things first - this book was amazing. Seriously. You must read it. I laughed. I cried. Well, really, I sobbed. For various reasons, not all of which I can share with you at this moment. But I can tell you this: the characters in this story will embed themselves into your heart and soul. You will want to pray for them, bake them cookies and buy a fun apron {you'll have to read the story to know what I'm talking about with the apron thing!}. If you are looking for a great Christmas gift to give or read yourself, you found it.

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