Category: Review

A Double Review of The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews


Today Kim and I bring you a double review of The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews!  You guys know we both will read practically anything she writes! We both gave The Santa Suit 5 stars and it also touched me in a personal way, which will be in my review. I listened to the audiobook while Kim read the physical book.

The Santa Suit
Author:
Mary Kay Andrews

Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Published: September 28, 2021
Audiobook/224 Pages

Book Description:

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.


Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars
Kim’s Review:

What a perfect way to start out the holiday season!! This is a Hallmark Christmas movie in book form … except it’s better than the movies! The best way to describe it is “feel good”. It’s not a long book, nor is it complicated with lots of drama or conflict. It’s just a sweet story that probably won’t happen in real life, but stirs up all those warm and fuzzy feelings you want around Christmas time. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was in tears by the end. My heart felt so big and happy that I wanted to tell Ivan that we should buy a fixer upper farm house in the country and keep it decorated all year long! I might just add this book to my annual Christmas reading list!

Jessica’s Rating: 5 Stars
Dates Read: November 9-12, 2021
Format Read: Audiobook
Jessica’s Review:

The Santa Suit is a cute novella that will get you all ready for Christmas!  As with many of her more recent novels, MKA has characters that deal with houses that are ‘fixer uppers’, this time newly divorced Ivy buys an older farm house called The Four Roses without seeing it.  Unaware of how much work needs to be done on the house until she sees it firsthand, Ivy finds herself overwhelmed as the previous owners left their personal possessions. This includes a Santa suit which she just can’t throw away. Inside the suit she finds a very old letter written by a little girl wanting her daddy to come from the war.  Ivy then becomes determined to find out what happened to the little  girl and her family.

Ivy becomes friends with a local girl who is engaged to a man she has never actually met, and she isn’t exactly how she described herself to him.   There is also a potential romance and starting over for Ivy.

This is an enjoyable Christmas tale without a complex story to it and everything wraps up nicely in a sweet and cute novella that we need after the last couple of years.  If you are a fan of MKA, do yourself a favor and read The Santa Suit this Christmas season!

The Santa Suit touched me personally, from when I was in middle school on, my own dad played Santa every Christmas. It was something he loved doing. Listening to the audiobook brought back those memories.

The Santa Suit is recommended!

Here are some pictures of my dad in action as Santa:



Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

#Diverseathon2021: Book Review: Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt

Lost Boys
Author: Darcey Rosenblatt

Published: August 22, 2017
288 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 14-23, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

It’s 1982, and twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country.

War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it.

Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to?

Jessica’s Review:

Lost Boys  is based off the real-life Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.  The specific year is 1982 and Reza is 12 years old and Iran sends their young boys off to war.  If they die, then they will be considered a martyr and Reza’s mother is more than happy to see him off.  Reza is conflicted to go but his best friend Ebi is very excited.  In Iran they have no freedoms, they can’t even sing or let alone listen to music without punishment.

Reza finds out the grim reality of war and finds himself separated from Ebi and in a POW camp. The boys there are treated in a range of ways from friendly with a teacher whom Reza bonds with over their love of music to being treated terribly by some of the guards.

I liked Reza and was rooting for him the whole novel.  I was hoping that he and Ebi would be reunited.  Lost Boys gives you an idea of what life was like in an Iraq POW camp without being graphic. I enjoyed this quick and easy read as I saw Reza’s growth over his time at the camp, but the end of the novel left too many unanswered questions.  The novel needed at least an epilogue or a follow up novel for the reader to get the whole story: When you become invested in characters, you need the whole story!

Despite the lack of conclusion, I would recommend the novel as it gives a US reader an experience of unfamiliar events at a time in the past with an unfamiliar country. And that has been the point of #Diverseathon2021: Diversifiying your reading this year by reading books with a certain type of character or places you might not normally read. And I would not have normally read Lost Boys.

 I am the host for this month’s prompt which is a book set in Iran. I am hosting  here and also on my Facebook page and Instagram.

**I am having a giveaway: A $20 e-gift card to the bookstore of your choice. All you have to do is read a book set in Iran and share what you thought about it on social media. **Be sure to tag me in some way so I see it!**  Previous Diverseathon hosts are welcome to join in on this giveaway.  This giveaway will last for the entire month of November with the winner being announced on my Instagram on December 1st: If you read fast then you still have time to get a book read and reviewed!

For full details on this year long read-a-thon, please click here.
And don’t forget about the awesome GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. Click the link here for that information.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

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Short Story Sunday: The Marriage Test by Suzanne Redfearn

The Marriage Test
Author:
Suzanne Redfearn

Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Published: November 23, 2021
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: November 23, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

From the bestselling author of In an Instant comes a heartfelt short story about one couple’s journey to discover if there really is a secret ingredient to happily ever after before their upcoming holiday wedding.

When Ava Barnes’s boyfriend, Justin, proposes after a whirlwind romance, the young couple embarks on a quest that will test their love. For generations, engaged couples in Ava’s family have traveled into the Everglades to retrieve the egg of the magnificent frigate bird in order to bake it into a marriage cake. Those who succeed live happily ever after, while those who fail are destined for heartbreak. With Ava’s beloved grandmother gravely ill, never has the marriage tradition meant so much. Ava’s dream is to pass the test so her grandmother can attend Ava’s holiday wedding to the man she loves.

So Ava, Justin, and their best friend Walton as a witness set off on a remarkable adventure that will challenge the true depth of their character and devotion. An emotional, heartrending journey of self-discovery, The Marriage Test turns out to be far more than any of them imagined.

Is there any test more challenging than a test of love?

Jessica’s Review:

The Marriage Test is a novella that takes place in December, but that is all in regards to a ‘holiday’ story. Justin proposes to Ava after a short romance.  Eva’s family has a long-standing tradition where engaged couples must go on a ‘quest’ of sorts to the Florida Everglades to retrieve a frigate bird’s egg and then they make their marriage cake (not their wedding cake). For generations, the couples who have succeeded have had long happy marriage while the couples who do not complete the quest or fail to attempt the quest at all fail at their marriage, which includes Ava’s parents. And Ava is determined to complete this quest. 

Ava and Justin prepare for their quest along with their friend Walton (who does not agree with the relationship) as a witness to the events.  We get to go into the Everglades with the trio and have a bit of an adventure.  For me, I was expecting more of the quest than what we got, so it was a little bit of a let down for me, but there is a reason to this.  The shortness of the quest and other signs point to you knowing how this story should go. 

This short story is a complete story and optimistic at the end. I really enjoyed the idea of couples going on a quest to prove their upcoming marriage along with the baking of the marriage cake. This short story shows how everything that is supposed to happen does.

Karissa Vacker narrates the audiobook. She is a narrator I enjoy, so her narrating the story was a pleasant surprise for me.  If you enjoy short stories that have a little bit of an adventure and romance, The Marriage Test will be one for you to read!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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