Sunday, December 4, 2016

25 Days of Christmas Books - Day 4

Day 4:

Today is my mom's birthday! So in honor of her, today's post is about the famous Christmas poem "The Night Before Christmas."

My mom used to read this to me every year at Christmas, and it was one of the first things that I learned how to "read." (Mom thinks I just memorized it!)

According to Wikipedia (, this poem was originally published in 1823 as "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," and there was some dispute about who the author actually was. It definitely is one of the most widely-known poems in America, and some say that it contributed greatly to the tradition of Santa Claus becoming as big as it is.

What I like best about the poem is how the great meter and how well it flows. Some poems (especially the rhyming in children's books these days...) don't stick to the meter, and it really bothers me! "The Night Before Christmas" is one of those that has such a good meter to it that it gets stuck in my head....and sometimes not even at Christmas time...!

If you are looking for a good hard cover book copy of this poem and you find one, please let me know! It seems as if it is rather difficult to find the full poem in a children's book form these days. I found one at a dollar store a couple of years ago, but it is a paperback. Most of the hardcover copies I found on Amazon had been edited in some way, and for me, the original is just the only way to go!

Reading this poem has become one of our Christmas Eve traditions, and I look forward to it every year!

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight-
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

25 Days of Christmas Books - Day 3

Day 3:

Repost from December, 2010.

(Still one of my favorite Christmas books of all time!)

Book Club Review -- "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"
For our December book club, we kept it simple and decided to read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson. I first read this book when I was a kid, and I have read it many times over the years of my childhood. This was the first time I had read it as an adult, and it was just as good as I remembered.
This story is about a rambunctious (okay, just plain mean…) family of six kids, the Herdmans, who constantly terrorize their town and its people. No one ever expected to see them show up at church, but they do, after a promise of refreshments. And then they get mixed up in the Christmas Pageant…
As a child, I thoroughly enjoyed this simple book. I thought it was funny and sweet. As an adult, I still enjoyed it, but I of course found so much more meaning in it. This story is funny, charming, and right on the mark with its account of the true meaning of Christmas and the reality that no one should be counted without hope.
I give “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”…….. 5 BookWorms!!!
And here is the comment that my husband left on the original post:
We read this book together and I really liked it. I had never read it before, so it was neat to here the story that Sara already knew. After reading it I really did some thinking about our Christmas traditions and what they mean. It was neat to hear the Christmas story from the perspective of someone who has never heard it before. Most of us know the Christmas story, but how many of us actually stop to think about it and what was really going on? I know that I seldom do. When you think about it from the perspective of someone hearing for the first time, especially a child, the whole story takes on wonderful new meanings. I can't wait to read this story to Isabella some day. I agree with Sara that everyone should read this book and read it every year. A great read for young and old.
What was your favorite Christmas book as a child?

Friday, December 2, 2016

25 Days of Christmas Books - Day 2

Day 2:

This is a repost of a book I reviewed in December of 2011.

About the book:  In this Berenstain Bears® Living Lights™ lift-the-flap book, the Bear cubs search for their collection of beautiful Christmas figures for their Nativity scene.

Thirteen fun lift-the-flaps reveal the many places that Mama has hidden these family 'bear'-looms.

About the authors:  Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear books in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too. Though Stan died in 2005, Jan and Mike continue to create the delightful Bear adventures from their family home in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks much like the sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country.

My Take:

I don't know about you, but the Berenstain Bear books were among my very favorites when I was growing up. I still have several of these books, and my daughter loves them as well.

So, I was excited to get a Berenstain Bear Christmas book to review! And so was my daughter. On top of it being a Christmas book and a Berenstain Bear book, it is also a lift-the-flap book, which my daughter really enjoys.

This particular book doesn’t have a lot of story to it, but it is still a really cute book. The Bears search all over their house to find the different pieces of their Nativity scene. (This kind of reminds me of my own search every year for Christmas decorations in the basement…but not in a fun way!) Each piece is hidden behind a flap, and my daughter (she’s 2 ½ ) delighted to find all of the pieces to the manger scene. ***Wow - how time flies! My daughter is almost 8 now!***

I really appreciate that there are many Berenstain Bear books out there that include God and biblical truth in them.

When I asked her what she liked best about the book, my daughter said, “All of the pictures.” On the last page, she said, “They are playing with the manger scene!” I am not sure if she was excited about that or if she was afraid they were going to get into trouble for playing with it!

Since this book is simpler than other Berenstain Bear books, I would recommend it more for preschoolers. It is a nice, fun book for the Christmas season.

I will give The Berenstain Bears Get Ready for Christmas ... 3 ½ BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

25 Days of Christmas Books!

As you can probably tell, I've been a little bit busier this year, and I haven't posted to my blog as much as I would have liked.

To get me back on track and hopefully ramp up for a new year of getting back to the books, I'm going to be hosting a 25 Days of Christmas Books here on the blog.

To get us started, I'll repost the review of one of my favorite Christmas books of all time. Not only does the story take place at Christmas, it also takes place right in my backyard in Lafayette, Indiana! I absolutely adored taking a look back at Lafayette during the 1940s, especially since so many of the spots still exist today.

25 Days of Christmas Books

Day 1:

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime  
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories,
filled with the wonder of Christmas
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America's involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.
In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements---until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God's providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ's birth and His plan for a future?

Purchase a copy:

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and is a speaker and blogger. 
Website, Facebook, Twitter

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction.
Website, Facebook, Twitter

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.

My Take:
When I found out that two of my favorite authors were teaming up with a new-to-me author to write a book of three historical romance novellas taking place at Christmastime, I was so excited. Add that to the fact that the stories were to take place in my hometown, and I was literally jumping up and down!

Sarah Sundin has quickly become one of my favorite historical fiction authors over the last few years that I have been doing book reviews. Her attention to the historical details is the best, and she always writes a story in which the characters experience a tremendous amount of growth. I also enjoy reading books by Tricia Goyer, and her “Big Sky” series is one of the best I have ever read. Cara Putman is an author who is new to me, but I was excited to find out that she lives in Lafayette, Indiana! (OK – so I technically live in West Lafayette, but it’s just right over the river!!!) 

I think one of the best things about this book was how each story fit together with the others. You could tell that each was written by a different author, but the book as a whole was seamless. It is just amazing to me that three authors with varying styles could come together and create three stories that fit together so nicely.

I don't know if I could say which of the three novellas was my favorite. I liked the detailed setting of Lafayette in Cara Putman’s White Christmas,  I appreciated the growth of the characters in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and I adored the right-in-the-thick-of-things storytelling in Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. But if I had to choose -- I think I liked Cara Putman's story the best. It set up the rest of the book so well, and her detailed description of Lafayette really sold it for me.

On the whole, this book was really good, and it was perfect for Christmastime. I will admit that I am a bit biased towards it since I live in West Lafayette. I know that fact affects my review and rating at least a little bit. These stories are very much on the romantic side and could even be considered hokey by some. While there are some realistic components and excellent historical details, the stories are definitely fiction. Of course everything is wrapped up nicely with a big Christmas bow at the end. But isn't that what we all want with a collection of Christmas novellas anyway?!

Where Treetops Glisten has all of the things that I love about Christmas stories – a great setting, interesting characters, and the warmth and love of the holiday season.
I will give Where Treetops Glisten … 4.5 BookWorms*


 *Extra half rating given because of the setting of Lafayette, Indiana! J
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."