Krampus by Billy McLaughlin

Author: Billy McLaughlin
Published: December 15, 2017
52 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: November 29, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Short Story Description:

Krampus is a festive short that tells the story of two brothers, Kramp and Kris who have been placed on opposite sides of Christmas folklore. For one hundred years they’ve been separated. Now they must come together to save Christmas.

Jessica’s Review:

Today is Krampusnacht, also known as Krampus Night. According to folklore, on the evening of December 5th, Krampus tags along with St. Nicholas. He visits houses all night with his saintly pal. While St. Nick is on hand to put candy in the shoes of good kids and birch twigs in the shoes of the bad, Krampus’ particular specialty is punishing naughty children. Legend has it that throughout the Christmas season, misbehaved kids are beaten with birch branches or can disappear, stuffed into Krampus’ sack and hauled off to his lair to be tortured or eaten.

Billy McLaughlin’s take on Krampus is a bit different from the original folktale.  Instead of being evil, Kramp is innately good and comes to be with his brother Kris who has lost his faith in humanity. Kramp must show Kris that not all hope is lost with humanity in the form of a little boy and his Christmas wish. 

This is a pleasant little Christmas story that needs to be read by all! 

Read more about the actual Krampus folktale here.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Words on Fire

Words on Fire
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: October 1, 2019

336 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

Danger is never far from Audra’s family farm in Lithuania. She always avoids the occupying Russian Cossack soldiers, who insist that everyone must become Russian — they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. But Audra knows her parents are involved in something secret and perilous.

When Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra’s parents insist that she flee, taking with her an important package and instructions for where to deliver it. But escape means abandoning her parents to a terrible fate.

As Audra embarks on a journey to deliver the mysterious package, she faces unimaginable risks, and soon she becomes caught up in a growing resistance movement. Can joining the underground network of book smugglers give Audra a chance to rescue her parents?

Kim’s Review:

I really love Nielsen’s books, especially her historical fiction series. She does such a great job of telling the stories of some of the forgotten heroes of history and she does it with respect and style. Unfortunately, this is not my favorite of that series. It’s not a bad book by any means, I just had some issues with it. I felt a disconnect with Audra that I didn’t want to feel. She wasn’t as likable as Nielsen’s other characters. She strayed into that “idealist” territory, where a lot of preaching happens but not a lot of common sense. Of course books are important and for many people in Lithuania under Russian Imperial rule, they were a lifeline to their language and culture. For some reason, it just felt shallow. In the shadow of big country with a stronger army, the resistance seemed ineffectual. There was no balance between passive and military resistance.

I know that the freedoms we enjoy today, of being able to drive to just about any store and buying any book we want, made book running then look like such a small thing. And that was my own shortcoming while reading this book. I just missed the emotions and feels that I got from her other books. I would still recommend this to history teachers and teens because there are excellent lessons to be learned. I personally felt distant from the story, and that makes me sad.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Never Have I Ever by L.V. Hay

Never Have I Ever
Author: L.V. Hay
To Be Published: December 12, 2019

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 12-24, 2019
Jessica’s Rating:  3 stars

Book Description:

Twenty years ago:

Four teenagers discover a new game. They add their own rules, going from sharing secrets to sharing firsts. And then it all goes spiraling out of control.


A woman gets a note through her door which chills her blood:

‘Never have I ever been punished for what I have done’

She thought this was over. But it looks like it’s her turn to play.

Because no matter how far it goes, you have to obey the rules of the game. And the game is never really over.

Jessica’s Review:

The book description and gorgeous cover is what pulled me to this book.  And then the protagonist Samantha (Sam) was a teenager in the 1990s like I was (though Sam is just a couple of years older than me.)   I identified with Sam on that part and enjoyed the 90s references that were used in the novel.

Now an adult and published author writing under a pseudonym, Sam and her family move back to her hometown then she starts receiving notes.  She and her friends played “Never Have I Ever” when they were teens and now that Sam is back, it seems like the game is continuing despite Sam not wanting to play. 

Over the course of the novel, Sam thinks she has it figured out and then the final act was significant to read: This is where the past and the present collide together to form the climax  of the novel and we finally find out what happened over 20 years ago. 

Though a good novel, a few parts of it did not work for me: Sam really was not that likeable and it was just hard for me to think of someone having a huge high school grudge 20+ years later.

I really did enjoy reading about the town of Ilfracombe. With Hay’s vivid descriptions I felt like I was in that town with Sam. I will be reading more from L.V. Hay in the future.

Many thanks to the publisher Hodder & Stoughton for granting me an arc copy.

Pre-order Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK