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20 Books For Christmas Review #3: A Cherry Cola Christmas by Ashton Lee

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My Interest

I read the earlier books in this series and enjoyed them. Author Ashton Lee used to sell to libraries and actually knows what librarians do!

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Map showing Mississipi

The Story

In Book 4 of The Cherry Cola Book Club series we learn that our beloved Cherico, Mississippi is hitting the skids. Crime is up! The construction on the longed-for new library is slow, and businesses are fixin to leave! Is Councilman Durden Sparks having a change of heart? Can Maura Beth believe him? What does a Country Western Star eating at the Twinkle have to do with it all? Best of all, will Cherico get the Christmas miracle it needs to survive?

My Thoughts

My one negative thought is that Christmas was an afterthought. There is very little that is really Christmas-y here, except the idea of the rebirth and salvation of the town (thought his is not a Christian book series).

It is very hard to review a series without spoiling it for newcomers. You can read this as a stand-alone, but it would be best to read at least the first book to really get to know the characters. Thankfully, the author does not overburden readers with reminders of all that has gone on in previous books.

I enjoy this series because I am a librarian and because I live in a small town. The wiley (aka crooked) councilman and his henchmen are intentionally “over-the-top” to proivde a little giggle here and there, but Maura Beth faces the real world strugge of keeping the library open and making people see that libaries are not an anachronism. She uses the library to build Community while helping the community. The members of the Cherry Cola Book Club who meet at the library and have the literay food extravaganzas are a wonderful crew. The books they read in each installment of the series may be ones that are very familiar, but the fun they have with them adds to the enjoyment of reading this seires

A Cherry Cola Christmas by Ashton Lee

 

My Reviews of the Previous Cherry Cola Book Club Books

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The Wedding Circle (Cherry Cola Book Club book 3)

The Reading Circle (Cherry Cola Book Club book 2) by Ashton Lee.

The Cherry Cola Book Club (Cherry Cola Book Club book 1) by Ashton Lee

If You’d Like Another Cozy Series….

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If you like The Cherry Cola Book Club, check out Waltzing at the Piggly-Wiggly by Robert Dalby

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20 Books for Christmas Review #2: A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

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My Interest

I’m trying to holly-jolly myself into the Christmas spirit, so I decided I’d read some nice Christmas stories. Plus, a “vicarage” sounds so classy, so “Escape to the Country.” An Aga-saga! (There is an Aga–of course there is? Where would Charlie’s basket go. The has to be an Aga). And Charlie? He has to a Lab.

Map showing Cumbria. Aga photo from Aga twitter

The Story

The Holley sisters (don’t go there, just don’t–it’s a Christmas novel, ignore it) all have Biblical names (well, of course they do! Their father is a Vicar! Ignore it). The four sisters are all done with school and in their early to late twenties. Anna is a “legal librarian” (in all my years as a real life law librarian in real life law firms, I was never called a “legal librarian” since it connotes there being an “illegal librarian,” but what do I know?) back home in Manchester. Now she is home to the village of Thornthwait for Christmas for the first time in about a decade. Her parents promise “big announcements.” 

While escaping most of the parishgathered in her parents living room busy Hoovering up the minced pies (which I’ve never tasted) and the mulled wine (so wildly different than so many American churches –especially those who gave us Prohibition back in the 1920s) she meats a decent guy when she seeks refuge in a local pub (ditto–very different from some of the American clergy families who’d be run out of town for that). He “gets” her and her whole social anxiety thing. He gets it. In fact, he likes her. You couldn’t say “love at first sight,” but maybe, just maybe there’s a chance??? [No spoliers]. Even more remarkable, she likes him, too. His lopsided smile. (But, why does she keep biting her lip? I picture a blood bath, but I think it’s supposedly endearing?)

The next day Anna learns this great guy, Simon is his name, is the new Curate (aka Assistant Pastor) in her father’s parish (aka Church). What should she do?

My Thoughts

I loved this little book! Not only was religion treated with decency and belief not scoffed at, but becoming an Anglican Priest (minister who can be married–not a Catholic Priest) was treated as the respectful, decent, helping profession the clergy truly is. Not one red state-ish joke or GOP-reference (of course the book IS set in Cumbria in the UK (“England” to Americans) but still. I’ve grown so used to Christianity being seen as evil and phobic that it was a joy to read this.

I liked Anna’s very real-world personality, too. In her late 20’s she does not have double-digit “intimate” partners or 5 former live-in boyfriends, but nor is she a prude, a Judger, or anything else. Not a falunted purity ring to be found. She’s a wonderfully normal woman with a career and, of course, some secrets. Simon, too, has not spent his 20’s hopping in and out of bed with strangers or near-strangers. He even owns his privilidge appologizes for going to a public school (i.e. private prep school) reassuring Anna it was a day school. He, too, has secrets beyond just being her Dad’s new youth group wrangler (or whatever curates are stuck doing in the UK).

I loved that her Mom loved what she did all those years as a clergy wife. I loved the sister’s confession, I loved Charlies lazy woofs and thumping tale! I’d love to know this family. Thank goodness it is a series! I will be tuning in for more.

My Verdict

My other #20BooksForChristmas reviews:

Book # 1 A Mackenzie Yuletide by Jennifer Ashley

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20 Books For Xmas Review #1: A Mackenzie Yuletide and Some Fun Christmas Book Challenges and Readathons!

 

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Christmas stories, “between-the-numbers” novellas, Halloween or Hogmanay ghost stories–all are great features in series fiction. This little “Yuletide” novella features a titled Lady who rides astride–on an early motorcycle! A jewel thief, a ghost, a  host of brothers and cousins all living in one huge highlands castle and much, much, more.

My Interest

I found this book, like so many others, trolling through the available e-audio books on my library’s various e-book collections.

The Story

The various young Mackenzie cousins are hunting a supposed ghost in their midst. Meanwhile, their Uncle Ian has a great gift for his beloved wife this Hogmanay. Too bad a thief gets it first. But will Lady Violet ride herd on the thief in the snow of the highlands on her motorcycle? You betcha!

My Thoughts

I’d never heard of the series, and sadly, would likely have passed it up entirely if this book hadn’t been so short! Wow–what I would have missed! This is a loving family, loaded, living in a castle, and enjoying their lives–at least in this little go round. Even better, unless I missed it being distracted in traffic, the author got the titles right! If this series is entirely available on audio, I may just start at book one and give it a listen!

My Verdict

3.5

A Mackenzie Yuletide by Jennifer Ashley

Christmas Book Challenges and Readathons

 

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Christmas looms! Halloween is in less than a week, so the stores are quickly turning red and green. Thanksgiving? You mean the day “Black Friday” starts? Yeah, whatever….Christmas, Baby!

Well, in my quest to read seasonally this year, that means I’ll be getting in a few Christmas books this year! If I’m going to read or listen to them why not look for a challenge or readathon to go along with them, right?

Some of the Christmas Books I May Enjoy This Year

 

I may read them all or I may pick totally different books!

#HoHoHoRAT HoHoHo Readathon Nov 18–30th

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The #HoHoHoRAT is going to get us in the Christmas Spirit! In and around all the November -athons going (see this post: November–the busiest reading month) we can take a break and enjoy a nice little Christmas book! Hosted by The Caffeniated Reviewer, this readathon features a GRAND PRIZE! Challenge schedule and Grand Prize widget will post on Thursday November 18th at/by 8 am (EST). I have one nice, short Christmas book to start off with, already to go! Read the rules and sign up here.

 

20 Books For Christmas Reading Challenge: October 1–December 31, 2021

 

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Blogger Tea and Cake For the Soul hosts this 20 book challenge from (which I learned of VERY late!) from October through the end of the year. Read 10, 15, or 20 books. You can read all about it here.

 

Need Book Recommendations?

20 Boooks host blogger Tea and Cakes for the Soul has a a ton of great recommendations linked at the bottom of this post.

Cindy’s Book Corner has a bunch listed here.

Carla of Carla Loves to Read loves Holiday Books–check out her list.

Do you know of other Christmas or Holiday-themed readathons or reading challenges? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post. I can always update my list and re-post it to help get the word out.