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review 2020-05-28 14:00
The Elf
The Elf: A Christmas Horror Short Story - I. Clayton Reynolds

by I. Clayton Reynolds

 

This was a short Christmas Horror story with an interesting twist. I should mention trigger warnings but how to do so without spoiling the twist?

 

It starts out much like an old Twilight Zone episode. There is an elf decoration with evil doll aspects and a little girl who is blind seems to hear it speak and describes things she cannot see because the elf saw them. Standard creepy stuff, but it doesn't go where I expected.

 

I thought it was very well done and the surprise ending caught me off guard, unpleasant though it was. A good one for those who like Christmas Horror and don't mind when things get icky.

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review 2020-05-26 16:38
Review ~ Great read!
Eve of the Storm - Marc Sanderson

Book source ~ Purchased

 

Leonard Stark hasn’t left his house in years. He’s tried. Boy, has he tried, but he just can’t do it. Christmas is nearly upon him when one morning he sees a figure on his old porch couch. Bundled up against the cold and rain he doesn’t know if the person is a man or woman, young or old. When he hears a knock at his door he panics and tells whoever it is to go away. But the voice is persistent. She (he’s pretty sure it’s a she) pleads to use his bathroom before moving along. Leonard finally gives in and it’s the biggest step he’s taken in a long time. Little does he know that it’s Eve’s biggest step, too.

 

This is quick read that will both wring your heart and warm it. Leonard and Eve have been through some pretty rough stuff, but their tentative friendship grows in a very short time. Maybe because they both desperately needed someone to believe in them. Sometimes, it only takes a small gesture to pull someone back from an edge you would never have known about and everyone’s story is worth hearing.

Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2020/05/eve-of-storm.html
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review 2020-05-24 14:56
The Christmas Cookie Plate
The Christmas Cookie Plate: 50 Years of Award-Winning Cookie Recipes From The Russell Kitchen - Julie Schoen

by Julie Schoen

 

I don't normally read much of the introduction to cookbooks but go straight for the recipes. This one was an exception as the author's story about her mother and grandmother's talents for baking was actually very interesting. I also found myself actually reading through the recipes rather than picking and choosing a few of especial interest as I usually do.

 

I found myself saying "I'm going to have to try that," on many of the first recipes, though the bulk of them were pretty standard and there were an inordinate number using coconut, which I do like but not in everything! I started reading too close to Christmas this year to do some trials for my holiday baking, but I'll be trying out some of these recipes through the year and I expect some, like candy apple cookies, will make it into next year's holiday baking plans.

 

A lot of the recipes use ingredients only available in the U.S., and one was even made from a German Chocolate cake mix only available in the U.S., so they aren't all the treasured family recipes that the introduction would lead me to believe. Still, a few of them look really good.

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review 2020-05-24 14:54
The Chimes
The Chimes - Charles Dickens,Penguin Books LTD,Geoffrey Palmer,Geoffrey Palmer

by Charles Dickens

 

This was the first of Dickens' Christmas stories and predates A Christmas Carol by a year. It was also adapted to a stage play.

 

It's rather typical of some of Dickens' earlier writings where there is a lot of dialogue with too many characters and it can get confusing as to what's going on, but the main character is Toby Veck, who has an interesting experience in the bell tower.

 

As Dickens stories go, I can't see myself reading this one again and I don't think it holds a patch on A Christmas Carol, but it's one more ticked off my list.

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review 2020-05-24 14:46
The Cat in the Christmas Tree
The Cat in the Christmas Tree - Peter Scottsdale

by Peter Scottsdale

 

This is written for children, and as such some of the dialogue isn't quite realistic but more of a cleaned up version like you often see in children's books. The plot holds together reasonably well and the magical transition was very good.

 

There were some good messages about learning to respect the property of others and not bullying, however, I have an issue with a few other messages that come across.

 

First of all, the father is in total charge of the family and the mother doesn't argue when he threatens to get rid of the cat. This gives a bad impression of relationship dynamics as well as of a father's role. To me, he's totally evil and his wife should divorce him and keep the cat so her son will be happy!

 

My other issue is with calling the cat bad for jumping into the tree. Really? You bring a real tree into a home with a cat and expect him not to jump into it immediately? The author is a cat lover and owner so he should know better than that! Also, when the cat is destroying things he shouldn't or biting, why aren't the parents making any effort whatsoever to teach him parameters? Cats do learn, and not by whining at them that they shouldn't do that as if they understood every word. (Secretly I do believe they understand every word but that's another matter.)

 

All things considered, the story has some brilliant elements from a Christmas magic point of view, but I would not buy it for a child because of these unacceptable messages about fathers and cat discipline.

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