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Happy Holidays! books… December 19, 2009

Posted by stacey in Fiction, Holiday Books.
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Oh, we’re rebels here at Rocky River Public Library! We’ve created our own genre: holiday books! I’m not sure this was our most shocking or boundary stretching discussion, but it was still darn helpful. It’s like reading an extra ten books all at once and that’s pretty handy for the time pressed librarian! In all honesty, not everyone in our group loves to read holiday stories but I think we all left the discussion feeling in a festive spirit and now we’d like to share that spirit with you…

Janet: Home for Christmas by Andrew Greely. Petey Pat Kane and Mariana Pelligrino have loved each other since grade school. Their first date was a double date for their senior prom. Petey Pat was the driver when his car was hit by another car. The couple in the back seat was killed. Troubled by guilt Petey Pat ran away and served three tours of duty in Iraq. During his last deployment he was severely injured and believed to be dead. During this time he went to heaven and learned from God that the purpose of his life was to love and protect Mariana. Petey Pat returned to life and soon married Mariana on Christmas Eve.

Chris: A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote captures the spirit of the holiday in simpler, gentler times. It’s 1930 and seven-year-old Buddy and his eccentric 60-year-old cousin, Sook, share touching moments as they enjoy their annual traditions: baking fruitcakes, chopping down the tree and decorating it with handmade ornaments, making gifts, and surprising one another on Christmas morning. What really sets this book apart is the wonderful writing; the details and images put forth by this masterful author are unforgettable. A heart-warming read for all ages.

Dori: Merry, Merry Ghost by Carolyn Hart. Bailey Ruth Raeburn, a fashionable and spirited ghost, is sent by Heaven’s Department of Good Intentions back to her hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma during the Christmas season. Her mission is to protect a young boy who has shown up on his wealthy grandmother’s doorstep, angering her other family members who begin to realize that he threatens their inheritance. When the elderly woman is shockingly murdered, Bailey Ruth takes it upon herself to help find the killer.

Rosemary:  Tidings of Comfort and Joy: A Tender Story of Love, Loss, and Redemption by T. Davis Bunn is an old-fashioned, inspirational Christmas tale. An aging grandmother shares a very personal and special memory with her dear granddaughter. When Grandmother Emily was a young woman she gave her heart to a pilot and followed him all the way to England during WWII. He was not the gentleman he pretended to be and abandoned her in England. This is the story of how Emily crafted a new life by giving of herself to others.

Ann: A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor. James Sparrow, rich Chicago entrepreneur, wants nothing more than to spend Christmas (a holiday he detests) in Hawaii, but instead is stranded in a North Dakota snowstorm. An over the top black comedy filled with quirky humor and a talking wolf.

Julie: A Christmas Beginning by Anne Perry takes Superintendent Runcorn (from the Inspector Monk books) out of London and into the wild beauty of northwest Wales. The quiet of his Christmas holiday is disrupted by a most unfortunate turn of events – murder. A well-crafted tale perfect for a cold winter’s eve by a roaring fire.

Emma: Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley suggests that some traditions should not be changed. Well-intentioned elder Dale Hinshaw talks Pastor Sam Gardner and the little Quaker congregation in Harmony into a progressive live nativity scene for Christmas Eve instead of the conventional service. The event becomes commercialized quickly and the Gospel meaning of Christmas is lost.

Megan: Ex-Mas by Kate Brian. To pay back her little brother for getting her grounded, Lila lets him believe Santa is in danger from global warming. Her plan to upset him backfires when Cooper and his friend Tyler take off for the North Pole to save Santa. Now Lila is stuck with her social outcast ex-boyfriend (Tyler’s older brother) on a roller-coaster road trip to find the boys before their parents find out they are missing.

Carol: Matchless by Gregory Maguire (author of Wicked) retells the story of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl.” In Maguire’s version, we also meet a young boy, Frederik and his mother, a seamstress to the Queen. They are poor and living in a fishing village and have only one match to help keep them warm on Christmas Eve. Frederik entertains himself by making a small town out of found object and populates the town with people made from his mother’s empty thread spools. This is his way of escaping the bleak reality of his life. One night he crosses paths with the little match girl, who unfortunately for her, has no escape from her depressing fate.  Christmas stories aren’t usually for me but this one had a great message in its beautifully illustrated packaging–while the living may yet find happiness, and the dead are not so far away.

Evelyn: Christmas Letters by Debbie Macomber. Debbie Macomber’s Christmas stories have the reputation for putting readers in the spirit of the season. Christmas Letters, written in 2006, is one of my favorites. Katherine “KO” O’Connor writes creative and cheery Christmas letters for people who aren’t up to the task themselves, making their lives seem more interesting, more humorous—even more dramatic. She often writes in a coffee shop where she happens upon Dr. Wynn Jeffries, the psychologist whose philosophy on child rearing called the “Free Child” method has turned her twin 5-year-old nieces into little monsters. Worse yet, Jeffries believes that children should not be exposed to the Santa “myth,” recommends that parents should “bury Santa under the sleigh.” When Katherine goes on a blind date with Jeffries hoping to change his beliefs, the battle for Santa begins with sparks flying. She wants to believe, and he views her letters as nothing but lies. As Christmas draws closer, they soon find they don’t want to stop arguing, or falling in love.

And I read: The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber. This is the author’s current Christmas story and it delivers a nice dose of holiday cheer. Cassie Beaumont wants to get married and start her own family, but she’s not having much luck on her own. Dr. Simon Dobson, a matchmaker, could be the answer to her troubles but only if she can successfully complete the three tasks he’s given her. Will Simon find the perfect match for Cassie? Or could it be that Cassie finds Simon his perfect match? In fact, could it be her?

Ah, another satisfying book discussion and still more to look forward too. That’s a gift in and of itself! Next time? We’ll be reading narrative non-fiction. Or you can think of the genre as non-fiction books that read like fiction, if that helps?

And from us all: Have a wonderful holiday season everybody!

—Stacey

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