The Autobiography of Santa Claus – A Book Review

So I’m just gonna say it: This book is freaking adorable.

It really, truly is.

It follows the story of Santa Claus, from his humble beginnings as Nickolas the priest, to his later life as Father Christmas. It covers the course of about 1700 years so we get to see some of human history through his eyes. Which is fascinating!

His adventures take you all over Christendom, as Nickolas is a priest after all. And Santa does only go where the legend of Santa spreads. You watch as he encounters historical figures (most real, one or two not so much), places, and events. You see and experience these things through his eyes.

Now the book does shy away from some of the harsher realities that take place but also embraces others. Like the persecution of early Christians by the Roman empire. It’s not graphic though.

It’s very much a work of fiction but would stand up to some of the autobiographies I have read. It reads very much like a true story, and you find yourself getting swept up into the world of Saint Nickolas as a result.

I loved the way quiet way Nickolas moved through this world, just wanting to give gifts to those less fortunate than he. He was so determined to remain anonymous that he was well and truly shocked when gifts kept being given in his name.

His helpers are a ragtag bunch of interesting historical figures. From former slaves to warlords to priests to writers and many more! To give just one of them away would take the fun out of finding out for yourself.

You can tell Jeff Guinn, the author really did his research on various topics, religious beliefs, and peoples. He also happens to have a reference list in the back of the book just in case you wanted to doubt that he put in any research time on this book.

Cause he did.

And this book reads like a love letter to Santa Claus as a result.

To sum up, I truly loved this book. I thought it was well written and well researched. The characters were bright and vibrant. The world was colorful. The pacing was consistent throughout, which was nice. I can’t say it enough, I loved this book! 5 out of 5 stars.

November 2020 Book Haul

Well, so much for No Buy November.

Also, Amazon and Book Outlet were having sales so it’s not my fault. It’s theirs.

Though does it count if I don’t have the books yet? Because I don’t have the Book Outlet books yet. Those should count for December, right?

Right?

Dune by Frank Herbert

“Whoever controls the spice controls the universe”. It’s a classic sci-fi tale that is much beloved and I didn’t like it the first time I read it. So why, you may ask, did I buy it? Well, because one of my book clubs is reading it and I thought I might like it more now that I am older. So yeah, here’s to second chances!

From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars) by various

These are tales set in the Star Wars verse told by different authors. All feature a different and unique perspective, for example, the trash compactor monster. If I like it, I will probably purchase the sequel that just came out.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

The winter solstice is a time for celebration in Tova. Ships captain Xiala is hired to bring a man described as harmless to the city. I was hooked by the premise. Then I was hooked by the sale!

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

Alice escaped the Hinterland and is trying to live a new life without magic in it. But something’s stalking the Hinterlanders in New York. I’m excited to get my hands on it. The sequel to The Hazel Wood looks to be pretty good.

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Aurora was in cyro sleep for two centuries. When she wakes up the world has changed and she finds she may start a war. Can she and a ragtag crew of ne’er-do-wells stop it? This sounds interesting, so here’s hoping!

A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff

Orphaned, exiled, and hunted, Cerulia, Princess of Weirandale, must master the magic that is her birthright, become a ruthless guerilla fighter, and transform into the queen she is destined to be. I was on the fence with this one. But Book Outlet’s sale made me say yes. So yeah.

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

Csowre is supposed to be a sacrifice to the gods, but along the way there she meets a mage who will change her path. But the gods remember. This book sounds so cool. Doesn’t it sound cool?

Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse

A post apocalyptic story featuring a Navajo monster hunter. I’ll take it.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

After reading Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, I knew I needed to read more by this author. And this post apocalyptic tale sounds both terrible and wonderful all at the same time. I’m really hoping to enjoy it.

The Autobiography of Santa Clause as told to Jeff Guinn

Another book club pick. Jeff writes an article for his paper about Christmas and is soon whisked off to talk to someone to set the record straight. This seems like it will be a heart warming tale that I will love given my, well, mild obsession, with Christmas.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

When Casiopea accidentally freed the Mayan god of Death from a box in her Grandfathers house, she gets sent on quest to help him free his throne from his brother. I love a SFP (strong female protagonist) and this sounded right up my alley and the price dropped right before Thanksgiving, so naturally, I had to pick it up.

And there you have it. All the books I bought in Novemeber. Which is small potatoes to what I have been buying over the last few months. I’m not saying I have a problem, but I think I might have a problem.

Yeah, I have a problem.

A Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires- A Book Review

Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in. 

Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.

Holy cow. What a ride this book was.

I have to say, I was not expecting to enjoy that as much as I did. I mean, I had heard great things about this book, but that doesn’t always mean a book is good.

But this book was great. I mean really. I couldn’t put it down.

Except I did put it down because I didn’t want it to end. Anyone else do that?

There are some trigger warnings for this book, so be aware of that. A hazard for any vampire book these days it seems.

The characters where great. I mean really, the author does a great job of painting Patricia as a woman who is is both uncovering the truth and seemingly coming unhinged to the people around her.

The world building was strong. Grady Hendrix’s world of the North Carolina suburbs in the 1990’s was really well done.

I loved our villain. James was wonderfully written. He was both charming and creepy all at the same time.

And that ending. Oh my goodness that ending! I loved it!

At the end of the day I had to give this book 5 out of 5 stars. How could I not? It was brilliant.

The Vanishing Half- A Book Review

For this months book club we read The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

So let’s talk about this.

I had heard great things about this book before it came up as a book club book. So, I must admit, I might have had high expectations for actually reading it myself. I’m happy to admit this book mostly lived up to those expectations.

It did have it’s drawbacks for me. Spoilers ahead (sort of) so be prepared for those.

The first 47% of this book is told from one sister’s perspective. I know because I was reading it on my kindle. And that’s before it jumps into her daughter’s perspective. But then it jumps into the other sister’s perspective and then into HER daughter’s perspective.

We don’t see a lot from the one sister’s POV. We do see what happened to her and what she went thru for her life. It takes up a lot of emotional space if not physical.

And when I say emotional space, I mean emotional space. The sisters went thru some stuff. They would probably benefit from some therapy, if therapy was something that they did back in the day.

They would also benefit from some better communication skills with each other.

Just sayin.

I was also waiting for one thing to happen that never actually did. Which was annoying. But that was more me wanting there to be something more to the book.

I did find myself internally cringing at some points. Mostly at the horrific racism of the south in the 50’s. People were terrible. And that was part of the point I imagine.

Pacing was good. The flow never felt slow or forced.

Plot was fantastic. Really, A+ plot.

World Building was great. Britt Bennett paints a vivid picture of the past.

Character development was great. I did have some problems with one of the daughters. She never felt fully fleshed out, despite the book giving her a full life. It could also be that I just didn’t like her.

That may be it.

When all is said and done I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

My First Book Club

I joined a book club.

While this may seem small to you, it’s huge to me.  I’ve never been part of a book club before.

Which is very weird because I’ve always surrounded myself with people who loved books.  Apparently we just never got our act together and formed a book club.

So very, very weird.

I mean, I suppose I could start one with my friends now, but they live in a different city and we wouldn’t be able to get together once a month to talk about books.  That would make for a lonely book club.

So yes, I joined a book club.  And the first book I got to read for it was on last year’s TBR!

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman!!!

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What a terrible picture.  This is what happens when you take a picture after you have cracked the spine!   Anyway…

I’m so excited to go to my first book club meeting!  I can’t wait to meet all the other awesome ladies and talk about my first love!  Books!