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It Won’t Be Christmas Without You–white Christmas in England

It Won’t Be Christmas Without You

by Beth Reekles

It Won't Be Christmas Without YouCara and Eloise are twins in Beth Reekles’ It Won’t Be Christmas Without You. The author never tells if they are identical twins or not, but they are certainly different in personality. Cara is a workaholic, driven to earn an early promotion. She feels she has always had to work extra hard to achieve grades and jobs. Eloise is a teacher and success in school and in finding her first job comes easier for her. She, however, always feels lacking in the friendship department.

This year Eloise’s world is turned upside down as their parents announce that they will take a beach vacation on what is Eloise’s favorite holiday, Christmas. Cara decides she may opt out of their traditional celebration also in favor of working. The conflict in the book revolves around the tension between the siblings as they move closer to December 25. Both of the twins become involved in romantic relationships with likable young men. 

The chapters move along a timeline which is a countdown to Christmas. It was a quick read, but I never felt fully invested in the characters. I was more of an outsider looking in on the action. I enjoyed learning about some mentioned British foods: roasties, bacon sarnies, and the sweet treats of individual, packaged mince pies, Celebrations, and Roses.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to HarperCollins (One More Chapter) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: General Fiction (A), Romance

Notes: Contains a lot of British Vulgarisms

Publication:   August 30, 2019—HarperCollins (One More Chapter)

Memorable Lines:

Wow. She’d actually done it. She’d gone for the blackmail card. Guilting her twin with her own broken heart.

But it did mean she was lacking in experience when it came to relationship problems. Like what to do when you think your boyfriend is lying to you. (Google wasn’t very helpful, when she asked it.)

The burn on the back of her forearm she’d got an hour ago was still red and angry, so she slapped a little Savlon on it. Salon would cure everything that a good cup of tea couldn’t, she was convinced.

Except Christmas.

Nothing could fix this Christmas.

Sacred Holidays–fun holidays with a Godly focus

Sacred Holidays

by Becky Kiser

Sacred HolidaysI’ll admit it: I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. My efforts to achieve a Norman Rockwell holiday a la Pinterest are integrated into the midst of a mishmash of emotional chaos and wonderful childhood memories. Sacred Holidays caught my eye as I realized Becky Kiser had written a book dealing with some of the issues I and many others have with the holidays. She aptly subtitles her book Less Chaos, More Jesus. This is in many ways a reference book designed to be adapted to the reader’s choices about holidays. it should be written in and referred back to during the year and over the years.

First, Kiser talks to the reader about her own journey at simplifying the holidays and putting the focus on Jesus. She stresses the need to change your mindset about the holidays before you begin, in the second part, to baby step your way through individual holidays and decisions about how and why you choose to celebrate the way you do. Lastly she addresses “common struggles” people face. She discusses how to have a Jesus focus without losing the whimsy that makes a holiday special for both children and adults. Other topics include grief during the holidays, realistic expectations, and budgets and generosity. She talks openly and honestly about the Santa Claus dilemma for Christians. Spoiler alert: there is no one right answer! It’s a decision you need to prayerfully make for your family. 

As a reader preparing to review the book, it seemed top-heavy with Scriptures, BUT if I were studying a particular holiday trying to ferret out the traditions I would most like to choose for my family, I think they would be valuable. What appeals to me most about this book is the emphasis on creativity. Readers bring to the table traditions they might want to continue, but they can also use suggestions from the book or create new traditions all on their own.  The place to start your planning is probably not the 50 pins you scored on Pinterest last night. Simplifying and being able to say “no” are key tools in making memories for your family’s holidays.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to B & H Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Christian, Crafts & Hobbies

Notes: This book is not just for families, but can be used by singles equally well. It is for those with and those without kids. 

Publication:   October 16, 2018—B & H Publishing Group

Memorable Lines:

Holidays can be especially tricky to navigate as a Christian—wanting to celebrate and focus on Christ yet being pulled into the chaos or whimsy of each holiday.

Let’s stop living life in survival mode, constantly on the defense, a victim of our schedules and the expectations of others. Instead, let’s live sacred—holy and set apart—with our holidays having less chaos, and more Jesus.

I am better for the choices I’m learning to make. I am doing exactly what I feel most called to do, and it’s because I am learning to say no to all the little good things that may not be my best things.

So let’s take our eyes off of what everyone else seems to be doing and focus more on what God says we should be doing.

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