So, This Is Christmas by Tracy Andreen

So, This Is Christmas Book Cover


Goodreads: So, This Is Christmas
Series: So, This Is #1
Age Category: Young Adult
Source: Library
Published: 2021


When Finley Brown secretly updated her hometown’s official website to make the town look more impressive to the students at her fancy new prep school, she never imagined that anyone would book a stay there. But her classmate Arthur does–and he is expecting the perfect Christmas experience from Christmas, Oklahoma. Too bad the parade with the dancing goats and the opportunities to feed reindeer were made up! Now Finley has to provide Arthur and his aunt with the holiday of their dreams, or risk Arthur revealing the deception to their classmates.

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So, This Is Christmas reads pretty much like a Hallmark Christmas film, so I was not surprised to learn at the end that Tracy Andreen actually writes screenplays for Hallmark. From the enemies to lovers trope to the small-town Christmas experience, the elements of a familiar, feelgood story, are all here. Andreen does try to modernize the formula a bit by focusing on the pressures of growing up in a town where everybody knows everybody, as well as by introducing a lesbian romance. But, rest assured. There are very few surprises here. Just cheesy Christmas comfort.

Reviewing So, This Is Christmas actually feels a bit difficult because, really, what you see is what you get. If you like watching Hallmark Christmas movies, you are getting that–just in book form. Yes, the main protagonists are teens instead of adults and, instead of seeing a big city woman learn about the charms of a small town, we see instead someone who grew up in a small town come to appreciate it. But it’s the same. Finley and her crush go on a reindeer sleigh ride, make cookies, attend the holiday parade, and do all the other elements probably on your Hallmark Christmas movie Bingo card–all before breaking up over a misunderstanding, only to reunite once more in time for the annual Christmas party.

What I liked about this book is that readers actually get to see a few romantic relationships in various forms, across generations. So while teenage Finley and her crush Arthur are the main couple undergoing the standard holiday romance, there is also the evolving relationship of Finley’s parents–people in their 30s who might be considering a divorce. And there’s the romance of a lesbian couple, with one partner out to everyone and the other hesitant to make the relationship public. Romance does not happen only one way, despite what the movies say. Romances grow, change, die, and reignite once more. The path to true love never did run smooth.

So, final verdict? If you love a comforting romance where everything is predictable and everyone is happy in the end, this book is for you! It provides the right amount of holiday cheer and romantic hope to keep one’s heart light. It’s the kind of comfort read we all probably need now and then. No thrills. No suspense. Just a bit of Christmas magic.

4 stars

Klaus (2019 Netflix Original Movie)

I love Christmas movies, and a heart-warming animated film that gets right to the spirit of the Christmas season is an enormous treat.  If you’ve been sitting on the fence about seeing Klaus, I highly recommend it as a movie that will likely be added to the catalogue of films you watch year after year.

The one thing that baffled me a bit about Santa as a child is that there are so many versions of “how Santa came to be,” from movies to books to what random adults are willing to tell you.  Klaus piles on to these versions, even as it’s clearly set in an imaginary world.  So part of me wonders what child me would have done with the idea that Klaus’s version of Santa might not be our version of Santa, while part of me realizes I would likely have been sucked into the story as much as I was as an adult and not overthought the issue.

Because once I got past the fantasy world aspect, a place where postmen are well-trained and apparently venerated (by most people, not all) and where two feuding clans live in perpetual battle in an isolated icy town while a mysterious woodsman lives nearby with a house full of enchanting toys, I was completely charmed.  The world-building is impressive, the plot is engrossing, and the characters easily capture readers’ hearts in spite of any flaws.

Protagonist Jesper starts out spoiled and doing the right things for obviously wrong reasons, but his character arc and his blooming friendship with Klaus make him a character to root for.  And I love that this story is ultimately not just about Klaus or Christmas but ultimately about friendship—the ones that can grow between the feuding families, as well.

Not all of the animated Christmas movies I liked as a kid stand up to rewatching as an adult.  Klaus hooked me first as an adult, and I can imagine myself watching it again and again.


Let It Snow (2019 Netflix Original Movie)

I haven’t read the book for Let It Snow, but I went into the Netflix movie assuming there would be a bunch of short stories based on works by YA authors, as in the 2008 novel.  Thus, I was interested to see how the stories would be woven together into a single coherent narrative—something I think the filmmakers succeeded at in some places and failed at in others.

I did like the idea that the various characters all live in the same small town and know each other by sight, if not necessarily by name, because watching how people’s lives intertwine and intersect even if they don’t know it is always a pleasure.  It gives a readers a sense that they’re part of something bigger and that there’s something fun and mysterious about their own lives, that they’re connected to others in ways they might not even realize. 

However, the fact that there were so many small stories going on in a single movie was also a bit of downfall.  I’m not necessarily a big fan of short stories in general because they often feel underdeveloped or just…underwhelming to me, and I got that here.  There were a few different pairs of characters with love interests going about their lives around Christmas, and it was clear that the whole point was that, well, they were going to end up as couples by the end of the movie.  This is the general plot of any romance, of course, but the development of each of these short stories simply wasn’t that engaging to me.  There is also the storyline of one young man’s quest to throw an epic party and the point is that, uh, he has a party.  Nothing particularly surprising or thought-provoking happens in most of the stories.

That said, it’s a cute holiday movie, and I think it will find its fans.  If you want something fairly light and Christmas-y, something that treats teens as real with complicated problems even as they’re doing slightly improbable things like meeting celebrities and adopting mini pigs, Let It Snow could be the movie for you.


Snow in Love by Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone, Aimee Friedman & Kasie West

Snow in Love


Goodreads: Snow in Love
Series: None
Source: City Book Review
Published: October 30, 2018

Official Summary

What’s better than one deliciously cozy, swoon-worthy holiday story? Four of them, from some of today’s bestselling authors.

From KASIE WEST, a snowy road trip takes an unexpected detour when secrets and crushes are revealed.

From AIMEE FRIEDMAN, a Hanukkah miracle may just happen when a Jewish girl working as a department store elf finds love.

From MELISSA DE LA CRUZ, Christmas Eve gets a plot twist when a high school couple exchange surprising presents.

From NIC STONE, a scavenger hunt amid the holiday crowds at an airport turns totally romantic.

So grab a mug of hot cocoa, snuggle up, and get ready to fall in love…

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“Snow and Mistletoe” by Kasie West

The plot of “Snow and Mistletoe” is predictable from the first paragraphs, but that won’t be a problem for readers who enjoy cute romances. (After all, a lot of romance is predictable in the sense that the couple is obviously going to get together somehow.)  I enjoyed the banter among the characters: Amalie (the protagonist), Sawyer, his two friends, and Sawyer’s older sister.  There were a good mix of personalities even with a small cast of characters.  I also liked the subplot abut Amalie’s pursuit of opera and her study abroad program.  I did think some of the dialogue was over-the-top and not something I can imagine many people actually saying, but I can overlook that.

“Working in a Winter Wonderland” by Aimee Friedman

I liked the premise of this story: a girl who wants a fabulous dress for her friends fabulous upcoming New Year’s Eve party gets a part time job as a Christmas Elf in a department store to help pay for it (nevermind that ‘s she Jewish and “more of a Hanukkah girl” herself!).  The details of the job were a little iffy for me, however, which made it harder for me to enjoy the story.  The protagonist gets the job immediately and it conveniently lasts only like two or three weeks, ending Dec. 24, but for some reason neither she nor her coworkers know what time their final shifts end on Christmas Eve, so three out of four have plans and just leave early. Also, apparently everyone was paid once, about Dec. 22, without any regard to whether or not they actually showed up for shifts the next two days. (Also, the implication is the store is open from 10 am to 9 pm, and these people work the entire time, but only get a 30 min lunch break, which is illegal.) Basically…this seems like a bad representation of what working in retail looks like.

I get that this isn’t the point of the story; it’s the romance and the character’s feelings of being a bit left out because Christmas isn’t really her holiday.  However, it bothered me since most of the story takes place in this weirdly run store.  If I ignore it, I think the romance is kind of lackluster because there’s not a lot of build-up, but there is a nice lesson about not judging people without really knowing them.

“The Magi’s Gifts” by Melissa de la Cruz

This is just a modern take on “The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, so if you’ve read the original, you know exactly where this is going.  I guess young readers who haven’t read the original may be taken by surprise and appreciate the irony, but “The Gift of the Magi” seems to be such a popular assigned reading in US schools that I think this isn’t really going to be new to tons of people.  The characters are cute, and the story’s well-constructed and features a bit of glamour and teenage drama.  Yet I can’t help thinking that, in an anthology that only has four stories, the fact that one of them isn’t all that creative is a bit of let-down.

“Grounded” by Nic Stone

This was a tough one for me. I liked the idea of the scavenger hunt through the airport and the idea that most (though not all) of the story was told through text messages.  I think some of the banter felt awkward to me, maybe because I didn’t really know either of the characters.  Ostensibly they know each other from childhood and last saw each other when they were 14, which was three years ago, but the story puts a lot of emphasis on how they haven’t spoken since then and are basically strangers; they wouldn’t even know what the other one looks like.  So they’re bantering like friends when I’ve just been convinced they’re not.  This also makes the relationship seem like instalove, and it seems odd to immediately announce to your family that you’re dating someone you just “met” and made out with like three hours ago.  I guess more emphasis on what good friends they were in childhood, rather than on the three year estrangement, could have helped this.

3 Stars Briana

18 Christmas Books to Curl Up with This Season

christmas books

Whether you’re young or young at heart, there’s a book for everyone to enjoy reading this holiday season!

Young Adult Christmas Books

Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

Carols and Chaos

A lady’s maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.

1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady’s maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He’s performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate’s holiday guests.

Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue. Full of sweetness, charm, and holiday shenanigans, Carols and Chaos is perfect for fans of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey.

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan

Dash and Lily

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Snow in Love by Melissa de la Cruz (and others)

snow in love

What’s better than one deliciously cozy, swoon-worthy holiday story? Four of them, from some of today’s bestselling authors.

From KASIE WEST, a snowy road trip takes an unexpected detour when secrets and crushes are revealed.

From AIMEE FRIEDMAN, a Hanukkah miracle may just happen when a Jewish girl working as a department store elf finds love.

From MELISSA DE LA CRUZ, Christmas Eve gets a plot twist when a high school couple exchange surprising presents.

From NIC STONE, a scavenger hunt amid the holiday crowds at an airport turns totally romantic.

So grab a mug of hot cocoa, snuggle up, and get ready to fall in love…

Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green (and others)

let it snow john green cover

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House (and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today’s bestselling authors – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle – bring all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

My True Love Gave to Me

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 by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year’s there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

my new crush gave to me

Charlotte Charlie Donovan knows exactly what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He’s the school’s star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor), and is about to be featured as One to Watch in a teen magazine basically, he’s exactly the type of guy Charlie s meant to be with. The only problem he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie is determined to be Teo’s date to the Christmas ball. And she has a plan: To rig the paper’s Secret Santa so that she can win his heart with five perfect gifts. But to do that she needs help. Enter J.D. Ortiz Teo s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He’s easy going, laid back, unorganized, spontaneous, and makes a joke out of everything the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he’s willing to provide insight into what Teo wants, so she s stuck with him.

Yet, the more time Charlie spends with J.D., the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

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Middle Grade Christmas Books

The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab

the angel tree

A heartwarming Christmas mystery and friendship story!

Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, a tree appears in the town square–the Angel Tree. Some people tie wishes to the tree, while others make those wishes come true. Nobody’s ever known where the tree comes from, but the mystery has always been part of the tradition’s charm.

This year, however, four kids who have been helped–Lucy, Joe, Max, and Cami–are determined to solve the mystery and find out the true identity of the town’s guardian angel, so that Pine River can finally thank the person who brought the Angel Tree to their town.

This is a heartwarming Christmas mystery, full of friendship, discovery, and loads of holiday cheer!

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

a boy called christmas
You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.Are you still reading?


Then let us begin . . .

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

Christmas After All: The Great Depression Diary of Minnie Swift, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1932 by Kathryn Lasky

christmas after all

At the age of twelve, Minnie Swift is living through one of the toughest times in America’s history, The Great Depression. She keeps a detailed diary over the span of one Christmas month. Reflecting the sadness but also the optimism that characterized the time, this is an intimate portrait of a Midwestern family’s days and nights, ups and downs, triumphs and losses. It’s the story of one family’s persevering spirit: The Christmas Spirit.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

best christmas pageant ever

Laughs abound in this bestselling Christmas classic by Barbara Robinson! The Best Christmas Pageant Ever follows the outrageous shenanigans of the Herdman siblings, or “the worst kids in the history of the world.” The siblings take over the annual Christmas pageant in a hilarious yet heartwarming tale involving the Three Wise Men, a ham, scared shepherds, and six rowdy kids.

Ralph, Imogene, Leroy, Claude, Ollie, and Gladys Herdman are an awful bunch. They set fire to Fred Shoemaker’s toolshed, blackmailed Wanda Pierce to get her charm bracelet, and smacked Alice Wendelken across the head. And that’s just the start! When the Herdmans show up at church for the free snacks and suddenly take over the Christmas pageant, the other kids are shocked. It’s obvious that they’re up to no good. But Christmas magic is all around and the Herdmans, who have never heard the Christmas story before, start to reimagine it in their own way.

This year’s pageant is definitely like no other, but maybe that’s exactly what makes it so special.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

how the grinch stole christmas

Dr. Seuss’s small-hearted Grinch ranks right up there with Scrooge when it comes to the crankiest, scowling holiday grumps of all time. For 53 years, the Grinch has lived in a cave on the side of a mountain, looming above the Whos in Whoville. The noisy holiday preparations and infernal singing of the happy little citizens below annoy him to no end. The Grinch decides this frivolous merriment must stop. His “wonderful, awful” idea is to don a Santa outfit, strap heavy antlers on his poor, quivering dog Max, construct a makeshift sleigh, head down to Whoville, and strip the chafingly cheerful Whos of their Yuletide glee once and for all.

Looking quite out of place and very disturbing in his makeshift Santa get-up, the Grinch slithers down chimneys with empty bags and stealing the Whos’ presents, their food, even the logs from their humble Who-fires. He takes the ramshackle sleigh to Mt. Crumpit to dump it and waits to hear the sobs of the Whos when they wake up and discover the trappings of Christmas have disappeared. Imagine the Whos’ dismay when they discover the evil-doings of Grinch in his anti-Santa guise. But what is that sound? It’s not sobbing, but singing! Children simultaneously adore and fear this triumphant, twisted Seussian testimonial to the undaunted cheerfulness of the Whos, the transcendent nature of joy, and of course, the growth potential of a heart that’s two sizes too small.

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Books by Classic Authors

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (A Holiday for Murder) by Agatha Christie

a holiday for murder

In Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the holidays are anything but merry when a family reunion is marred by murder–and the notoriously fastidious investigator is quickly on the case. The wealthy Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons–one faithful, one prodigal, one impecunious, one sensitive–and their wives return home for Christmas. But a heartwarming family holiday is not exactly what he has in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults and finally announces that he is cutting off their allowances and changing his will. Poirot is called in the aftermath of Simeon Lee’s announcement.


Alcott Christmas Treasury
Hines collects fifteen of Alcott’s novellas and short stories centered around Christmas.  Some selections include “The Quiet Little Woman,” a tale about an orphaned servant girl; “Rosa’s Tale” in which a horse granted the ability to speak; and “Bertie’s Box,” a story about charity and the meaning of Christmas.

Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker by E.T.A. Hoffman and Alexandre Dumas

The Nutcracker
Official Summary from the Penguin Edition: It wasn’t until the 1950s that seeing The Nutcracker at Christmastime became an American tradition. But the story itself is much older and its original intent more complex. This eye-opening new volume presents two of the tale’s earliest versions, both in new translations: E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker and Mouse King (1816), in which a young girl is whisked away to the Land of Toys to help her animated nutcracker defeat the Mouse King, and Alexandre Dumas’s 1845 adaptation, The Tale of the Nutcracker, based on Hoffmann’s popular work. Irresistible tales of magic, mystery, and childhood adventure, these timeless delights and fresh interpretations about the importance of imagination will captivate readers of all ages.


Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

The author best known for his Oz books tells the story of Santa Claus, set in a pagan world populated by nymphs and fairies.  All the questions you have about Santa, from why parents still buy their children toys if he exists to how he got his reindeer, are answered.


A Christmas Carol

Countless movies have made Dickens’ A Christmas Carol a holiday classic, but he wrote other season tales.  Everyman’s Library collects  A Christmas CarolThe Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man in one volume.


Christmas with Anne

Rea Wilmshurst collects two excerpts from Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Windy Poplars in this volume, as well as fourteen seasonal short stories including “Aunt Cyrilla’s Christmas Basket,” “The Unforgotten One,” and “A Christmas Inspiration.”


Letters from Father Christmas

This volume collects the letters Tolkien wrote to his children over the years, all of them ostensibly explaining Father Christmas’s life at the North Pole with the North Polar Bear.

What are some of your favorite Christmas Books?

The Princess Switch (2018): Netflix Movie Review


When Stacy De Nova, a baker from Chicago, travels to Belgravia with her friend/employee Kevin to take part in the annual Belgravian baking competition, she discovers that she looks just like Duchess Margaret, who is set to marry the Belgravian prince.  Margaret wants to know what it feels like to be a “normal person” and suggests the two secretly switch places for a couple of days, but things get far more complicated that the two could have guessed.

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Cheesy Christmas movies are very popular, as the Hallmark Channel knows very well, so it’s no surprise that Netflix has jumped on board to make some of their own.  This season sees the release of a sequel to their original film A Christmas Prince, as well as Princess Switch, a movie that stars Vanessa Hudgens playing both a duchess from the imaginary Belgravia and a professional baker from Chicago who look like one another and trade places for a couple days.

For full cheesy fun, I have to rate The Princess Switch highly.  It combines a lot of elements viewers love in these types of films: royalty, baking, switching places, shenanigans ensuing when the protagonists fall in love with the “wrong” people. There’s also the charming imaginary kingdom that goes all-out for Christmas and an adorable child who stars alongside the adult characters. Netflix seems to figure that you might as well smash all this together and get the ultimate fun, feel-good film, and they’re not necessarily wrong.

In terms of actual plot there seems to be less at stake in The Princess Switch than there could be.  There are a couple hiccups, but I wouldn’t say there’s a highly dramatic climax.  On one hand, this means the film doesn’t necessarily have the strongest narrative arc and things might feel a bit flat to viewers.  On the other hand, if you’re in the book to just watch something fun and positive, this is a great choice. There are times in my life when I really just don’t want to watch terrible things happens to characters, so keeping things relatively upbeat can be a nice change.

Finally, I think rating this as a Christmas movie is a bit more difficult.  On one hand, I have to admit Christmas is woven in. It happens at Christmas. Belgravia has a fun Christmas village the characters keep visiting.  All the interior settings are decorated.  People talk about Christmas spirit.  Etc.  On the other hand, something about it really did just feel like background scenery to me, and I think the Christmas feeling could have been more strongly infused.

So, should you watch this?  If you like feel good Christmas movies of this type, this will be right up your alley.  If you’re looking for quality cinema, maybe not.  This is fun and fluffy, and I enjoyed it, but I don’t think anyone’s claiming it’s great art.


The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab (ARC Review)

The Angel TreeInformation

Goodreads: The Angel Tree
Series: None
Source: Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Publication Date: September 30, 2014

Official Summary

A heartwarming Christmas mystery and friendship story!

Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, a tree appears in the town square–the Angel Tree. Some people tie wishes to the tree, while others make those wishes come true. Nobody’s ever known where the tree comes from, but the mystery has always been part of the tradition’s charm.

This year, however, four kids who have been helped–Lucy, Joe, Max, and Cami–are determined to solve the mystery and find out the true identity of the town’s guardian angel, so that Pine River can finally thank the person who brought the Angel Tree to their town.

This is a heartwarming Christmas mystery, full of friendship, discovery, and loads of holiday cheer!


The Angel Tree is a heartwarming story about a diverse group of children who come together in order to discover their city’s greatest and mysterious benefactor: the person who puts the Angel Tree in the town square each year and coordinates the fulfillment of the town’s wishes.  The book is a little bit mystery, a little bit friendship story, and a little bit tale about the magic of Christmas—a perfect blend that will keep readers flipping through the pages.

Though readers will be wondering along with the characters who sets up the angel tree (and will be given just the right amount of clues to attempt to guess along), the true stars of the book are the children.  There are a bunch of them, but each is complex and comes with a history, and the author manages to balance her fairly large cast well in a relatively short amount of pages.

Other reviewers have argued The Angel Tree is a bit dark and depressing—and they are not necessarily wrong.  Each child has his or her own bundle of problems, ranging from a sick pet to a burnt down house to absent parents and uncaring guardians.  However, I do not think this is inappropriate for a middle grade book.  For many children, such circumstances are a reality, and they deserve to see their lives reflected in a book and to learn how characters deal with dark times.  Also, the rough edges of the story are gracefully balanced by the magic of the Christmas tree and holiday giving spirit.  The people in this fictional town truly know how to care for each other.

The Angel Tree is a wonderful holiday read that highlights the magic of giving and of giving thanks.  It is never cheesy, however, and also takes time to talk about family and friendship and the importance of learning to look for every person’s story.  Recommended for anyone who likes a feel-good Christmas story with a bit of an edge and anyone who likes their characters real and complex.  There is something for both adults and children in this book.

Briana’s Book Picks!

I’ve been featured in two lists recently, selecting books I think you all should read!


Kate Hutchings, the Classics Editor at Riffle, collected some Christmas classics suggested by the top classics contributors on Riffle!  (Did I say “classics” enough in that sentence?)  You can find my pick, and the other suggestions, right here!


Traci from The Reading Geek has asked a variety of bloggers to name one of their favorite reads from 2013 and explain what makes it so fantastic.  Check out my contribution here!