December 12, 2019 · 3:36 pm
Back to Christmas
By Dennis Canfield
The Krumwerth family is in deep trouble but they don’t even know it. Why you ask? Because they are on Santa’s naughty list for what will be the third year in a row. And everyone knows that that means they got on each other’s last nerve with bad behavior for the last time. After three years on the naughty list in a row, you are destined to be on it for all eternity. No more Christmas spirit and no way to get back on the nice list.
The head sorting elf, Marmel, gives Santa the bad news. But Santa is a compassionate man, he wants Marmel to give the Krumwerth’s one last chance for redemption, even though Marmel thinks it is futile.
The family is comprised of twelve-year-old Amanda, her younger brother Patrick and her always busy parents. All four of them are plugged in to electronics and tuned out of each other’s lives. Marmel appears to Amanda foretelling their future of hating Christmas due to landing on the forever naughty list. She is afraid, but what can a kid do to save Christmas? With the help of Santa’s younger brother RC, Marmel just might be able to help the Krumwerth Family and save himself while doing so.
Written as a children’s book, Back to Christmas brings the spirit of Christmas to all ages. Canfield reminds readers that the true gift of Christmas is the love, hope and charity surrounding the season, not the newest electronics or gift cards from the mall.
The characters are true to life and fun. Especially the elves and Santa’s younger brother. I would love to have some of his magic green cinnamon to help me wrangle penguins and get where I am going faster.
This adorable Christmas tale should be on everyone’s bookshelf or wish list. It will undoubtedly become a Christmas classic. Be sure to read the book before the movie (which will be fabulous) is optioned for the big screen.
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman
December 12, 2019 · 9:47 am
The House on Maple Street
By Heidi Slowinski
Student Hillary Altman procrastinated until two weeks before school started to find housing. Fueled by waning options and a tight budget, she was excited to see two signs as she cruised around the small town. “Maple Street Boarding House” read the sign by the curb and a hastily written “room for rent” in the window made her stop. The creepy landlord almost made her change her mind, but the charm of the home overrode her anxiety.
Settling in with the other boarders came easily, but she avoided Keith, the landlord. Evelyn, an older woman that actually worked at the college Hillary was to attend, is diving into the layers of the history of the Maple Street home and shares the fascinating facts with the other boarders. Dr. Immerman also works at the college as head of the history department. Then there was Robert. Hillary met him on the day she moved in and became infatuated with the handsome man who seemed rather shy. He doesn’t join them for dinner in the evening and, as a matter of fact, none of the other tenants have seen or talked to him. In addition to the boarders, Beatrice takes care of the home. She cooks and cleans for them and is related to Keith, the landlord.
Shortly after moving in, Hillary encounters a woman and her young son in the home. Apparently, Keith has a family. Sadly, Hillary overhears the fights and sounds of abuse from Keith’s rooms. No one else seems to know anything about it but she is determined to help, even if it puts her in danger.
The House on Maple Street on the surface is a well-done mystery. As the pages unfold, the reader is pulled into a story that is multi-layered with a delightfully surprising ending. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, I was surprised to find out I was totally wrong even though all the clues were there for me to see. Kudos to Ms. Slowinski for creating an unexpectedly spectacular twist in the final chapter.
This is the first book written by Ms. Slowinski. It is exciting to find a new author that jumps out of the gate to lead the pack. I highly recommend The House on Maple Street. This fast-paced book engages the reader immediately and is must read for anyone who loves a mystery.
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. https://reedsy.com/discovery Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman