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Like A Hallmark Christmas Movie

30 Dec

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This would have been a great read before Christmas, snuggled up under a blanket with a cup of cocoa on the table beside me. It is a Christmas romance, a little light, set in a Christmas tree lot.

Publisher’s Summary: Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

It was an ok book, but it  got me thinking about a couple of Hallmark holiday movies. The first one, from 2005, also involves a romance that springs from a Christmas tree lot.

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IMDB Summary: Christy Byrne, a Christmas tree farmer, whose wife died four years ago, goes to New York with his children and meets Catherine O’Meara, whose husband died three years ago. Though their paths cross frequently, Catherine and Christy remain emotionally isolated until a compelling crisis draws them together and allows them to rediscover the faith, hope, and love of the Christmas season.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tuk1n9Tr4w

Catherine O’Meara is portrayed by Anne Heche plays who has quite a history in Hallmark holiday movies.

This year she stars in Looks Like Christmas.

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IMDB Summary: Two single parents battle for control of the Christmas holiday at the middle school their children attend and learn a lesson about the meaning of Christmas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emGhVobOL38

Two years ago, we saw her in One Christmas Eve. 

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IMDB Summary:A series of mishaps threaten a recently divorced mom’s attempts to make her two kids’ first Christmas “without dad” perfect.

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Literaryish Mothers

8 May

Heather Vogel Frederick is the local author of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series, which has its own Wikipedia page. The series of seven books, as you can surmise from the title, centers around a group of young girls and there mothers, who come together over books. The final book in the series, Mother-Daughter Book Camp  came out this week, just in time for Mother’s Day.

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Spend one last summer with the Mother-Daughter Book Club at camp in this bittersweet conclusion to Heather Vogel Frederick’s beloved and bestselling series.

After so many summers together, Emma, Jess, Megan, Becca, and Cassidy are reunited for one final hurrah before they go their separate ways. The plan is to spend their summer as counselors at Camp Lovejoy in a scenic, remote corner of New Hampshire, but things get off to a rocky start when their young charges are stricken with a severe case of homesickness. Hopefully, a little bit of bibliotherapy will do the trick, as the girls bring their longstanding book club to camp.

But, it all started with the first book.

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Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma’s already read every book in existence, and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month.

But what begins as a mom-imposed ritual of reading Little Women soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school. From stolen journals, to secret crushes, to a fashion-fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can’t help but wonder: What would Jo March do?

Then came the second book, in which our heroines read Anne of Green Gables.

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This year the mothers have a big surprise in store for Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan: They’ve invited snooty Becca Chadwick and her mother to join the book club!

But there are bigger problems when Jess finds out that her family may have to give up Half Moon Farm. In a year filled with skating parties, a disastrous mother-daughter camping trip, and a high-stakes fashion show, the girls realize that it’s only through working together — Becca included — that they can save Half Moon Farm.

The third book centers around Jean Webster’s classic Daddy-Long-Legs,  when the girls are in eighth grade.

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Could the book club break up? When Jess is offered an anonymous scholarship to a prestigious boarding school, she’s not sure that leaving home — and her friends — is what she wants to do. Meanwhile Megan’s grandmother comes for a long visit and turns everything in the Wong household upside down; Emma crusades against her middle school’s new uniforms; and Cassidy finds out there’s a big change ahead for her family.

Inspired by Jess’s unexpected opportunity, the book club decides to read Jean Webster’s classic Daddy-Long-Legs, and there’s an added twist this year when they become pen pals with the girls in a book club in Wyoming. There’s plenty to write to their new friends about, from a prank-filled slumber party to a not-so-secret puppy — and even a surprise first kiss.

In book four, they take on Jane Austen.

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Right before the start of freshman year, Emma’s family unexpectedly moves to England. The book club members are stunned – but thanks to videoconferencing, they can still keep the club alive, and they decide to tackle Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice . And when the girls try to bring Emma home by starting a bake sale, it becomes a thriving business: Pies & Prejudice. But when the plan they cook up falls short, they are left wondering if their club will ever all be together again..

Book five reads like a Hallmark Christmas movie.

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This Christmas season, join the girls of the mother-daughter book club for a variety of holiday-themed adventures! Becca, Megan, Emma, Cassidy and Jess have plenty of reading material to bring on their trips, too, because the book club is tackling the Betsy-Tacy series before their next meeting on New Year’s Eve.

But unfortunately, nothing goes quite as planned for any of the girls. On a Christmas cruise with their families, Megan and Becca fight over the dashing son of the ship’s captain. Cassidy and her family fly back to California to visit Cassidy’s sister Courtney… but when the West Coast causes homesickness for their former life in Laguna Beach, the family begins to question what state they should call home. And a disastrous sledding accident causes both Emma and Jess to completely change their holiday plans.

Between squabbles, injuries, and blizzards, everything seems to be going wrong. Will the girls be able to find their holiday spirit in time for Christmas?

Book six has a French flare.

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The book club says bon voyage to Concord and bonjour to France!

It’s a dream come true for Megan, who’s jet-setting to Paris for Fashion Week with Gigi. Meanwhile, back in Concord, Mrs. Wong decides to run for mayor, so Emma and Stewart team up to make her campaign a success. Jess and Cassidy are also hoping for victories, Jess in the a cappella finals with the MadriGals and Cassidy in the national hockey championships with her teammates. In the midst of it all, the girls – along with their Wyoming pen pals, who drop in for a visit over Spring Break – dive into Charlotte Bronte ‘s classic Jane Eyre. Some real life romance follows, as Becca may have found a Mr. Rochester of her own. And then there’s the matter of a certain wedding. The book club girls, their families, the British Berkeley brothers, and even Stinkerbelle will be attending the ceremony, which means there might be some bumps before the bride waltzes down the aisle….

Whether you are looking to start your own mother-daughter book club, or just want a fun series to read, these would be a great place to start.

 

My favorite Christmas Eve tradition

24 Dec

My favorite Christmas Eve tradition is watching A Christmas Carol, the 1951 movie featuring Alastair Sim as Mr. Scrooge.

This is, in my opinion, the very best of the many versions out there, and is very faithful the book in word and spirit. I will turn off all the lights and watch it, snuggled in a blanket and sipping some hot cocoa or tea.

For a fun, but less traditional version, you can’t go wrong with The Muppet Christmas Carol featuring Michael Caine as Mr. Scrooge and Kermit as Bob Cratchit.

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas Eve. Remember….there’s only one more sleep ’til Christmas.

 

 

Better than a Hallmark Movie

5 Dec

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Last week, Skyping with my sister, we laughed to discover that we were both reading My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories written by Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White.

Now, I love a good holiday tear-jerker and Christmas With Holly  is a cult classic within the basset hound community.

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But I would turn off Christmas with Holl to read these stories. The blurb says, “If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES”.  But this book is no Hallmark Christmas movie. The stories are edgier than Hallmark would ever dare to be, yet still carry the hopes of the holiday season. Magic, humor, reality all mingle together to make a great collection of stories.

So, for a few hours, turn off the Hallmark Channel and pick up My True Love Gave to Me.

Alexis’ 16th birthday

5 Jul

Yesterday, my niece Alexis turned 16. For her birthday this year, I sent her two books:

Girl in Reverse by Barbara Stuber

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and  We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

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I’ve sent her a lot of books over the years. In today’s post, I’m going to try to remember some of the books I’ve given her or shared with her.

One of the first books I remember giving her was  Farfallina & Marcel by Holly Keller.

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It is the story of a caterpillar named Farfallina and a gosling named Marcel who are really good friends until things change.

A few years ago, I brought Divergent  to read on the plane as I was on my way to visit my niece ( and her mom & dad). She had already read it, and let me borrow her copy of Insurgent  to read on the way home.

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When she was in 2nd or 3rd grade, Alexis loved Nancy Drew. When I went to her house we played Nancy Drew. She of course got to be Nancy, I was a Bess/George combo. That year I gave her Harriet the Spy  and a spy/detective box. I filled a box with all the tools Harriet carried and added a few extra things I thought might come in handy.

On my recommendation, Alexis did an English report on The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim.

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I hope you have someone, or several someones, you talk with about literature.

 

Thanksgivukkah

27 Nov

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Thanksgivukkah is a pop-culture portmanteau neologism given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day of the of  Hanukkah on Thursday, November 28, 2013″. That’s the Wikipedia definition. I had to include it because I loved seeing ” portmanteau neologism ” in a sentence.

There is an abundance of holiday books out now. Here are two that encompass the ideals of Thanksgivukkah.

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From the dust jacket: Old Bubba Brayna can’t see or hear very well. When a bear arrives at her door, lured by the smells of her latkes, she thinks it’s the rabbi. They light the menorah, play the dreidel game and eat the latkes. Before he leaves, Bubba Brayna gives the bear the scarf she knit for the rabbi. And then the rabbi shows up! Author Eric Kimmel and illustrator Mike Wohnoutka serve up a great Thanksgivukkah story.

Less traditional is Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown and illustrated by Stacy Schuett.

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From the dust jacket: Hanukkah in Alaska is unlike anywhere else.Snow piles up over the windows. Daylight is only five hours long. And one girl finds a moose camped out in her backyard, right near her favorite blue swing. She tries everything to lure it away: apples, carrots, even cookies. But it just keeps eating more tree! It’s not until the last night of Hanukkah that a familiar holiday tradition provides the perfect—and surprising—solution.

Have a safe & happy day, however you spend it.

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