Tag Archives: Holiday books

Book Review: “Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul”

This week’s reading selection kept to our “Month of Holiday” theme for the month of December, but approached it in a pretty different way. The book for this week was a collection of stories addressing a more mystical side of life (and Hot Chocolate is totally appropriate for this month’s theme), and is entitled Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul by Arielle Ford.

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Okay – I’m not one for being inspired by the “inspiring” stories of others. I read ONE Chicken Soup for the Soul book, and it was not really my cup of tea. I have a hard time finding any kind of inspiration from other people’s experiences, and it leaves me rather empty. I’d rather spend my time reading some great historical fiction. This book, however, piqued my interest.

Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul includes 101 stories from people of different backgrounds, religions, races, countries, and upbringings, who have all had experiences with the otherworldly. This book included some pretty amazing stories – some unbelievable, some really heartwarming, and still some rather touching! My favorite story was one of a man who had a 4 year old girl who was interested in Egypt. He received an invitation to do a guest speech in Egypt, and was told to bring his family. He was given a business sponsor who also had a young daughter (5). When the two girls saw each other, they ran into each others’ arms, hugged, and both said, “I’m so happy to see you again.” These young girls had never met.

This story inspired some really poignant feelings in my heart and soul, because I believe in soul mates, and I don’t think they are necessarily romantic soul mates, simply people who have been in your past life, and who are now present in this life. This book was full of these kids of amazing experiences, which kept me reading into the late hours of the night.

My favorite aspect of this book was that you could never really get bored – each story was only a page long (maybe 5 tops), and every one was different! It was wonderful to hear from people from different countries who all had different belief systems, and yet they all had these otherworldly experience. For me, this shows how we are all cosmically connected, regardless of our backgrounds, distances, or beliefs!

I would recommend this book for anyone with an open mind. I will probably be passing this one on to my mom, who I know will appreciate it. It’s good for some light reading, and interesting even if you only have a few minutes at a time to read (because you can fit in one or two stories at a time). I probably won’t be picking up many more “inspiring” books, but I’m glad I read this one. That was the point of this book challenge – to expand my reading horizons!

Are you a fan of these kinds of “personal inspiring stories” books? Do you believe in otherworldly experiences? Have you ever had an otherworldly experience?

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Week 16 Reading: “Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul”

So sorry for the late post. My family and I had a VERY BIG weekend. Friday my husband and I went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Saturday I went with my family and my friend Anna (and her family) to a beautiful Christmas event at a historic home (the Royal Governor’s mansion in North Carolina – Tryon Palace), and Sunday my two little girls had a Christmas recital. They are such great little ballerinas, and I was such a proud mom.

With all that excitement, I forgot to write about this week’s reading, which is the 16th of our “52 Books in 52 Weeks” challenge.

This week, we are keeping with December’s “Month of Holiday” theme by picking up something a little out of the ordinary. The selection is Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul: 101 True Stories of Angels, Miracles, and Healings by Arielle Ford.

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This book is a collection of stories about… well… angels, miracles, and healings. I found it in the “New Age” section of my local used book store, when trying to find something about how Yule (this Saturday!) inspired Christmas traditions, but no such luck. As I said at the beginning of this month, there was a woefully small amount of books embracing any other religion besides Christianity in this town (but what should I expect, here in the Bible Belt), and I had a hard time finding any “Holiday” related books that weren’t about Christmas.

I saw this book, and thought “Hot Chocolate is holiday related,” and that thought – coupled by my desire to at least attempt to acknowledge there are other holiday celebrations going on this time of year – lead to me buying this one. The $4.88 price tag didn’t hurt, either.

I’m not really one for the …For the Soul books. I never really feel all that inspired to read other people’s inspiring stories, but this one kind of piqued my interest in that it involves the mystical soul. Besides… hot chocolate is a lot more enticing than chicken soup (in my opinion)

I hope you’ll read along with me as we tackle this interesting book. Listen – it could be a MAJOR flop… it could be boring as can be, but I’m excited to give it a chance!

Happy reading!

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Book Review: “‘Twas the Night After Christmas”

This week we finished our second book of December’s “Month of Holiday” themed books, with Sabrina Jeffries’s paperback romance novel, ‘Twas the Night After Christmas.

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Okay, as I’ve said before, I am NOT a fan of romance novels. I find them tedious, ridiculous, and poorly written. I think trashy romance novels are a waste of reading time – why would I read a book with a cast of poorly-developed characters, who have a lot of sexual tension that boils over into a very brief, very disappointing sex scene? Why? For that very brief, very disappointing sex scene, I guess.

‘Twas the Night After Christmas was a story about a British earl during the last 18th Century who has been estranged – by suspicious circumstances – from his mother. He receives a letter that his mother is gravely ill, and decided to visit her before her death. When he arrives, he realizes it was just a clever rouse from his mother’s companion, the stereotypical “lonely widow with a child, who doesn’t understand how beautiful she is, and has, despite her previous marriage, never gotten in touch with her passionate, sexual side.” The two have an instant sexual attraction, despite the fact that they hate each other (… who possibly would have guessed?). They both need to overcome their fatal flaws – the Earl, his pride, the widow, her lack of self esteem – to realize that their attraction goes beyond the sexual. Blah, blah, blah.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I really wasn’t too impressed by this book. The characters are generic – attractive sex-god with a chip on his shoulder, virginal woman who doesn’t know her self worth, meddling old woman who wants to see everyone happy – and the “romance” is pretty basic. I did enjoy a few of the little twists Jeffries included in the plot, and I liked her few references to historical moments that were taking place at the time of this book (the publication of Twas the Night Before Christmas, for example).

Maybe I’m being too harsh on paperback romances. I tend to stay away from them because I feel like I’m looking for MORE out of my reading time than a generic plot, and two disappointing sex scenes. As pointed out by my lovely friend Alyssa (who is a big romance novel fan), that’s kind of the point of these books. They are light, they are easy to read, they have enough romance to live vicariously through without overwhelming our lives…

If you’re a fan of romance novels, you’ll like this book. Jeffries is a pretty decent writer (as if I could judge… I’m a reader, not a writer), and she has a way of making you stay involved in the story, even if you’re not too fond of it. If you’re looking for something “hot and steamy” this holiday season, I would recommend this book. The story is predictable, but Jeffries throws in enough “supporting” plot twists to keep you interested. This one was not for me, and this book will be making its way into a package to my friend Alyssa (meaning: I’m not keeping it on my shelf, or reading it again).

What do you think? Am I being too harsh on the genre as a whole? Have you read this book, and think you can defend its honor?

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Week 14 Reading: “Holidays on Ice”

Well I’m super excited about this week’s book! It is the first of December’s “Month of Holiday” books! A comedy and a memoir from a very funny man, David Sedaris, who’s books I really enjoy reading! This week’s book is “Holiday’s on Ice.”

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The book is a group of short stories by Sedaris, memories about his holidays growing up. It is bound to be funny, and the artwork on the cover (a lovely glass of something alcoholic) hints that Sedaris had interesting family experiences during the holiday! I am really looking forward to getting some laughs from this book!

If you chose to read along and pick up this VERY skinny book, please don’t persecute me! It is finals week and I have three MAJOR essays due! I’ll be writing approximately 20 pages of research paper for my classes, and I purposely chose a small book so I could focus on my papers instead of on trying to make my way through a huge novel. I also chose this book specifically because I think it will provide some much needed comic relief from my hectic and stressful week.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without being hectic or stressful, now would it?!

I hope you’ll join me this week to enjoy the comedic stories by Sedaris! I have previously read (well, listened to on an Audio Book) his book Me Talk Pretty One Day, and my husband and I were laughing out loud hearing Sedaris himself read his very funny book! I can’t wait to pick this one up, and I hope we can be laughing out loud together!

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December Reading List

Hello everyone! Sorry for releasing this later than usual, but this one was a little tricky for me to put together. December’s theme for our “one book per week” challenge is “Month of Holidays.” My intention was to find books that would cover all the holidays in the month of December, but it was hard to find books to represent any holiday other than Christmas. I was a little ashamed that the book store had three aisles dedicated to Christian books and Christian fiction, but half a shelf dedicated to Judaism, and perhaps three shelves dedicated to “Eastern Religions.” I checked the comedy section and found plenty of books by Jewish authors, but nothing holiday related. I found tons of books online, but nothing downloadable, and nothing I wanted to pay $25 for.

So… I pieced together a list as best I could, and hope no one feels left out this month!

Dec 1 – 7 – Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris

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I am a big fan of Sedaris, who writes comedic novels about his life. In this book, Sedaris tells short stories about his family holidays in his youth, which will probably be hilarious and exceptionally entertaining! This will be a fun one to read along with, and I hope you can find it at the book store or the library (it has also been made into an audio book, so if you’re busy prepping for the holidays, this one will keep you entertained on your long drives). I’ll be honest – this book is short. I picked it for this week because I have three major essays due this week, and need to be able to spend my time focusing on my finals for my classes, rather than reading for pleasure. This one should be a good relief from the tension of finals week!

 

Dec. 8 – 14 – ‘Twas the Night After Christmas – Sabrina Jeffries

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I came across this one during a late night visit to Target with my husband. The store had put out their Christmas books, and I don’t think I’ve ever really paid attention before, but… there were shelves and shelves of trashy paperback Christmas books!! We had fun picking up the ones with the most ridiculous titles and reading excerpts aloud in the store, and we decided ‘Twas the Night After Christmas had the best potential to induce both giggles and blushing. I am not a huge fan of trashy paperback novels (oh, I’m sorry… “paperback romances”…) but I am doing this challenge to expand my horizons, and pick up books I never would have before. The cover alone was reason enough to know this was a winner (the most skin showing in Target’s aisles). I hope you can find it at the library or used book store – if not, you can get it on sale at Target or Walmart.

 

Dec. 15 – 21 – Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul – Arielle Ford

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Like I said before, I had a hard time finding books to represent other religions at this time of year, and this one was one way I could do that. This book takes short stories from people of all walks of life – different religions, backgrounds and countries – who have had experiences with angels, miracles and healings. I always find this time of year to be very magical, and I think a cup of hot chocolate is a great way to support our mystical souls during the holidays! This one might be a total dud, but it also might be enlightening and inspiring! I found it for $2.50 at the used book store, so … extra bonus!

 

Dec. 22 – 28 – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

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Well, I couldn’t get through the holiday season without picking up this classic! I have never read it before – although I have seen about 100,000 movie adaptations (slight exaggeration). The week of Christmas is the best time to read this book, and I look forward to reading Dickens’s classic novel! I hope you’ll read along with me this week!

 

Dec. 29 – Jan. 4 – I Am Regina – Sally M. Keehn

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This one isn’t really holiday related, but I added it because, well, I am Regina! My birthday is December 31 and falls in the middle of this week, so I wanted to take the chance to read a book with my name in the title! This historical fiction novel is technically for children, but involves some pretty adult themes (a young girl’s family is killed by Native Americans, she is kidnapped and forced to live among them). I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and finishing out 2013 with a good book!

So there you have it – December’s “Month of Holidays” reading list! I hope you have time to get your books from the library or used book store (or download your ebook), and will join me for at least one book this month!

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