About Books #29: Hope at Christmas

About Books #29: Hope at Christmas

So every year for the past couple of years, I’ve been promising myself that I was going to read all the Christmas books. I own quite a few of them, as a matter of fact. Only thing is… I’ve read hardly any of them. By and large, I by them, put them on my shelves. And there they stay. This year, however, I already read one. Now, it’s only the beginning of October – so I probably shouldn’t be longing for Christmas already. But, yeah. That’s where Hope at Christmas has me!

Quick disclaimer: I got the chance to read this book via Netgalley. All opinions are completely my own, though!

Story

A recently divorced woman and her daughter look for a fresh start by moving to a small town that embraces them in ways that only fate and the magic of Christmas can explain.

Sydney Ragsdale is divorced, but her husband is still calling the shots. In an attempt to shake free from his hold, she and her daughter, Ray Anne, head for tiny Hopewell, NC to the only asset her ex has no control over – a decaying farmhouse that once belonged to her grandparents. She finds solace at The Book Bea, the bookstore she’d loved as a child during her summer stays.

Kevin MacAlea, Mac to his friends, is the local high school history teacher and baseball coach. Father of a twelve-year-old son, he’s Hopewell, North Carolina’s most sought after bachelor. His young bride abandoned him and his son just before Christmas and has never come back. It has left his son bitter about Christmas which is hard for Mac who loves the magic of the season. He’s been the Santa here in Hopewell since the year Seth was born.
But when a catastrophe forces The Book Bea to close before the end of the year, everyone in the small town is feeling the loss. While Sydney is already off-balance by the bad news, her ex-husband breaks a promise to their daughter that sends Ray Anne running away. As Sydney tries to figure out what her next steps are she discovers all of the answers are right here in Hopewell.

Characters

First things first: Sydney’s ex is a bit (well, I say a bit…) of an idiot. Rather insensitive, at that. But I can’t help but admire the way Sydney handles that? That’s actually my general remark on all the characters in this book. “I can’t help but admire the way person X handles situation Y”.

That’s also probably the most negative thing I can say about this book – the characters are just a little bit Mary Sue. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it was the case.

(Oh, apart from Bea – Bea is awesome. I want a Bea in my life.)

Narration

Okay, so you know how I really love books? And Christmas? So basically, this could have been something I said:

The rest of this town seemed smaller than she remembered, but The Book Bea still felt as big and magical as ever.

(…)

There was beauty in that. The smell of books, knowledge, and old ink may have been in her imagination, but it all worked like some kind of happiness pheromone.

And sure, at times this book felt just like some sort of a lifetime, straight-to-television movie. But it’s very much aware of that:

It was a romantic gesture straight out of a Hallmark movie. Who wouldn’t love being treated like this?

Although it does still come with sayings like “Hope? You need to substitute every hope with believe.”

But if there’s one thing I absolutely love? “Christmas joy. I guess it’s like fairy dust.”

Oh, and Christmas carols. Because those are just the best.

They sang, and as beautiful as that music sounded from the front porch of that old mansion, it felt even bigger and more pure from right here in the middle of it.

I mean, there’s a reason I have a list of Christmas-songs I love for every holiday season I’ve blogged – all two of them :p

Overall: 4.25/5

You know that feeling, when it’s really cold out? And you’ve got your comfy clothes on, you’re cuddled up in the sofa with a nice cup of warm cacao or hot tea in front of the open fire? This book is that feeling, but in book-form. I found myself longing for Christmas so much – so that’s some sort of side effect I feel I should warn you for.

Apart from that? Read this one. Seriously, it’s such a fun, fluffy read, it’s so full with Christmas – clichés and all. I loved every second of reading this, and I cannot recommend it enough. (If you’re interested – you can find it on Amazon! (Affiliate link). Hope at Christmas will be published on October 10th!)

-Saar