Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old skinflint. He hates everyone, especially children.
But at Christmas three ghosts come to visit him, scare him into mending his ways, and he finds, as he celebrates with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and their family, that geniality brings its own reward.

I find it strange reading these books so late when the stories have so often been ingrained in my fellow readers lives for years. I think a lot of this also comes from my family not being massive film buffs as I grew up!

However, I still adored this story coming into it now. Although I have grown up being familiar with the story itself, I don’t remember having ever watched a movie adaptation or reading any version, other than Marley’s Ghost by David Levithan.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.”

I’m so glad I’ve read this in the run-up to Christmas. Every time I sat down to read it, often on a night with my fairy lights behind me, I felt like I was being wrapped in a warm blanket and taken on a Christmassy journey. Over and over, this story warmed my heart.

I couldn’t help but smile at the pages every so often as I followed Scrooge on his story. Considering we have such a short time to get to know these characters, I quickly sympathised with Ebenezer and loved seeing how he reacted to each ghost as the book progressed.

“The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

I can definitely see myself re-reading this every Christmas to get in the mood. Dickens’ writing is so atmospheric and beautiful, and this is just a lovely thing to pick up on a winters night. It reminded me of snow and starlight.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: My True Love Gave to Me – Various Authors

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On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

As this book is full of little stories, I’m going to review them all separately! This was such a fun read and it was perfect for the festive season.

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell – 5 out of 5 stars
Let’s start this on a high! I’ve read this short story before and it’s honestly brilliant, 26 pages flies by with this year-by-year tale. It’s so simple but focuses on the characters which I adored, the ability to build characters in such a short amount of time is incredible. Perfect for New Year, as it’s set on New Year’s Eve hence the title!

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – 2 out of 5 stars
Honestly, this one really didn’t do it for me. The only real positive is that it did have a Christmassy feel, but otherwise it was downright confusing and a little weird. I’m all for a little weird, but I just didn’t know what was going on. At all.

Angels in the Snow by Matt De La Pena – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so cute! I’m all for Christmas fantasy, but adorable festive contemporary romance is where its at. This story is one of Shy and the girl upstairs over Christmas, and it manages to not only be cute but be raw and honest and kind of beautiful in such a short amount of pages.

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – 4 out of 5 stars
This story was so overwhelmingly Christmassy! You can’t get much better than a story set in the North Pole for Christmas, surrounded by elves. I liked the protagonist, Natalie, who was the only human to ever live in the North Pole. It made such a unique story which was so fun to read!

It’s a Yuletide Miracle… by Stephanie Perkins – 5 out of 5 stars
Perkins does it again! I remember this from Summer Days and Summer Nights – if anyone can write an amazing short, it’s Perkins. This story was unique, with likeable characters and a beautiful backdrop. I would read a whole book about these two happily.

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – 4 out of 5 stars
I always find levithan a little hit and miss, but I really enjoyed this story! It’s about a guy called Connor who asks his boyfriend to dress up as santa to keep Christmas magic alive for his little sister. It was a really cute contemporary with a cast of different characters who I enjoyed reading about, however I do feel like too many conversations with different characters were fitted into a very short story!

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – 3 out of 5 stars
I’m really not sure how to feel about this one. Build up a quirky contemporary with a group of friends and a New Year’s party on a trailer park, throw some drama in and then sprinkle it with magic. I think the magic was my main issue, because it just felt forced and like a last minute edition. It threw the story off kilter and threw me off too. Very weird.

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – 4 out of 5 stars
Contemporary romance definitely suits festive short stories better than contemporary and a weird mix of fantasy. I’m still holding out for a full on fantasy though? Anyway, Forman really brought out holiday cheer with carol singers and pie and a little twist with Hannukah which I loved! It’s the story of (surprise) Sophie Roth, a college student who isnt yet home for Christmas. Its about new discoveries and making mistakes, and although it wasn’t perfect, I damn well enjoyed it!

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I can’t say I disliked this story, it was Christmassy enough and enjoyable. But I just found it strange and I felt so disconnected to the characters! It followed a guy who had to do community service for a church at Christmas, which was an interesting concept but it just wasn’t all there for me!

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten white – 5 out of 5 stars
Yes! I didn’t think I would find another story to match Stephanie Perkins, but this one sure did. It follows the story of a girl who lives in Christmas, CA and their Christmas traditions. It was heartwarming, heartbreaking and heartfelt. All in 40 pages.

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – 4 out of 5 stars
Another story, another Christmassy town ! I really enjoyed this one too, although it lacked the depth that made me love Welcome to Christmas, CA so much. Still a unique and heartwarming tale of a girl trying to escape her life and ends up finding a family of her own.

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – 2 out of 5 stars
This was so weird?? I don’t even know what was going on? I stand by the fact that fantasy doesn’t work as well as contemporary in these kinds of situations usually – world building just isn’t possible in 30 pages. I didn’t properly understand the world or the story, therefore I didn’t enjoy it. The pages were used to explain the town rather than the characters, and I related only to the protagonist. It didn’t feel Christmassy either! It did have a satisfying ending, however.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it was perfect to start the New Year with. Although the stories are very mixed, it’s great to give new authors a chance with books like this one. Sure, I didn’t enjoy a few but that’s bound to happen. And I loved a number of stories enough to rate this book highly! I’ll definitely be giving some of these a re-read next Christmas.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

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So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Meh. Unfortunately this book was very mediocre. I had fun reading it, sure, but it really didn’t impress me. Weirdly, I read the sequel, Twelve Days of Dash and Lily before the first book! It’s the only series I’ve ever read backwards, but I don’t think it particularly mattered too much.

I found Lily a bit whiny in this one too – but actually not so much! I just saw both characters as flawed, genuine 16 year olds, and that was okay. They had their qualms and struggles, but it displayed teenage angst accurately.

“You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here’s a hint – ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn’t just the women. It’s the great male fantasy – all it takes is one dance to know that she’s the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face.”

Unfortunately, I also didn’t feel particularly festive during this one? I was thinking back to when I’ve read other festive books, and I feel like this one could have had a little more…oomph. I wanted Christmas trees on sale on corners. I wanted Gingerbread houses. I wanted MORE SNOW. Snow flurries in Central Park and with ice skating and UGH just more.

I think part of the problem was the fact that this book took place both before and after Christmas, as I felt more festive at the start of the story. I just wish I’d seen Christmas day with their families, and I know that decision was obviously part of the plot, but I would have liked just one family Christmas scene to make me feel like it truly included that special day.

“And right away you know – this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don’t want a very long courtships. They want to know immediately.”

Overall, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this book. It was a fun read with moments of hilariousness and also moments that touched my heart. It did have the bits of Christmas that sparkled, and I enjoyed reading both characters stories. I thought it was brilliant that Dash made a great bookworm and relatable character for us readers. I had fun, but that was all unfortunately!

★★★
3 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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