Merry Christmas!


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Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf Wishes Readers the Merriest of Christmases.

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Mary Higgins Clark’s All Through the Night


All Through the Night by Mary Higgins Clark | LibraryThing

(A special shout out to Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer! Merry Christmas!)

Clark, M. H. (1998). All through the night. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.  9780684856605

Reasons for Reading : My mom likes reading little Christmas books. She also owns a few. Case in point: Mary Higgins Clark’s All Through the Night. As I’ve put off reading beyond the first page of the narrative until December 22, I hadn’t gotten very far with it. However, I quickly got into this yuletide suspense story.

Summary: A chalice is stolen from St. Clement’s. A baby girl is abandoned at the same rectory. Seven years later, lottery winner Alvirah and her down to earth husband Willy don’t take a holiday from sleuthing. As Sister Cordelia, Willy’s sibling, readies for the Christmas pageant at a thrift shop/after-school center, Sister Cordelia faces the inevitable shutdown of the shelter. The donation of Kate’s home seems to be just the Christmas miracle for which they’ve prayed. Then, the tenants from “the other realm” seem to destroy this. All three of these elements meet and Alvirah’s on the case to solve these mysteries before Christmas Day.

What I Liked:  I liked this book and I found it easy to read. I appreciated that this book wasn’t gratuitous as violence was “offstage.” Not much time was spent on details and that gave readers the freedom to create the appearance of settings and costumes. Also, I liked that characters didn’t shy away from their faith but they weren’t sanctimonious. Overall, the tone is heartwarming and leaves one with warm fuzzies at the end (I hope I didn’t just spoil this! 🙂 )

What I Disliked: Maybe this was just a little too neatly tied up. I would’ve liked a few red herrings in the book. Okay, one would’ve been fantastic. Another thing (just one of my latest quirks) is that I like it when writers set a book at a certain time. So, maybe a reader who discovers All Through the Night a decade from now won’t be disturbed so much about the lack of iPads or whatever other technology is out there. The author could say 1991 and 1998.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT – Christmas Lullaby – Tom Roush.avi – YouTube

Setting: New York City

You might also like:

  • The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo
  • Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber
  • What Child is This? A Christmas Story by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich
For more on Mary Higgins Clark’s All Through the Night, check out the following sites:

James Patterson and Richard DiLallo’s The Christmas Wedding


The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson | LibraryThing

Patterson, J., & DiLallo, R. (2011). The Christmas wedding. New York: Little, Brown and Co. 9780316097390

Reasons for Reading : As I worked towards reading sixty books, my mom recommended this James Patterson (and Richard DiLallo) book as a quick read. She borrowed the book from HCPL and finished it long before it was due. Also, I wanted to read a James Patterson book. Don’t worry, I still plan to try an Alex Cross soon 🙂 .

Summary: Fifty-something widow Gaby Summerhill and her estranged family haven’t reassembled since the services of her late husband. Gaby sends out a video to all four of her grown children, inviting them to her wedding which will be held in the barn on her Massachusetts estate. Guess what! It’s on Christmas Day (please refer to title). Who is the amazing Gaby joining in holy matrimony? Well, come and find out on Christmas, Gaby tells her kids. Also, we’re offered glimpses into the emotional upheaval within the lives of the Summerhill progeny – Claire, Emily, Seth, and Lizzie.

Review : I enjoyed this book – it was light without schmaltz. The characters were easily perceivable, identifiable, and even likable. The Summerhills are fun and altruistic. Oh, and, yes, it’s a quick, seasonal read. I urge anyone yearning to get into the yuletide spirit to read it.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Eartha Kitt with Friends Santa Baby – YouTube

Setting : Massachusetts, South Carolina, New York City, Boston

You might also like:

For more on James Patterson and Richard DiLallo’s The Christmas Wedding, check out the following sites:

Jonathon Franzen’s The Corrections


A nuclear family seemingly enjoys Christmas Dinner.

A nuclear family seemingly enjoys Christmas Dinner.

*1001 Books Book

Franzen, J. (2001). The corrections. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

 

When I saw this book in the 1001 Books tome and Arukiyomi’s review, I found myself drawn to the cover. The jacket offers the viewer a glimpse of a traditional late 1950s to early 1960s family gathered for a holiday meal. Looking closer, I saw part of a happy boy’s face and the full shot of another boy’s face; this one not so perky. In fact, he looked burdened with displeasure. Although the book is quite thick (about 600 pages), I read The Corrections pretty rapidly.

The Lamberts appears as the typical dysfunctional, American family in which each member seeks out some sort of fix for whatever ails him or her.  Published just before 9/11, the Lamberts of the Midwestern St. Jude want correction. Alfred Lambert, the father, now suffers from the isolating dimensia that is Parkinson’s Disease. His wife, Enid, is riddled with shame and anxiety.

They have three grown children; Gary, Chip, and Denise. All three kids live in the Northeast. Gary, the oldest, looks to be a successful Philadelphia banker with a wife and three sons. Yet, Gary may unravel due to possible clinical depression and paranoia egged on by his wife, Caroline.

Chip is Alfred and Enid’s second son. While Chip was on his way to tenure at a Northeast college, he was forced to resign after his affair with a student. Now, he writes and looks for correction in working for a Lithuanian mob boss. He feels his parents are the source of all of his problems.

The youngest is Denise, a beautiful and competitive chef in Philadelphia. She’s also a divorcee and under the constant pressure from Enid to marry a nice, young man. Enid believes Denise to be having an affair.

Enid wants desperately for all of the Lamberts to gather at their home in St. Jude for one last Christmas. Alfred is getting on in years and surely they will be moving to be closer to their children. Well, whether or not any of this happens is anyone’s guess . . .

One major theme in this socially critical novel is reflected by the title – correction. It argues that the next generation is to learn from the preceding one what not to do. As that old saying goes, “Learn from your parents mistakes.” I can buy this to a certain extent. Yet, as reviewer Arukiyomi said of this very book, I also find that Jesus’ death is the ultimate correction. Yes, there’s still need for atonement and redemption but this takes a more Divine Intervention if you ask me. However, I saw many of the characters turning to narcotics, alcohol, sex, etc, etc in order to treat the challenges they faced. Ultimately, I still debate whether or not the Lamberts really were “cured” in the end. Some appeared to doggedly accept their plights while others became satisfied without admitting they had problems.

I liked parts of this book. Even as much distance Gary, Chip, and Denise try to put between themselves and their parents (physically, mentally, emotionally) they are still tethered to Alfred and Enid. This is just life. Another thing which amused me was how Franzen referred to Chip’s former employer as D—- College.

I found much of it reminiscent of Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Both books have dysfunctional families with three children – the two eldest being boys, the youngest – a girl. While Tyler seems to keep a respectful distance when it comes to certain aspects in her characters’ lives, Franzen is much closer and much much more personal.

I found that Franzen firmly grasped the characters of Gary, Enid, and Chip. I didn’t know what to make of Denise. Not for the obvious reasons, but she seemed quite male. Alfred truly put the hysterical into hysterical realism.

Places: St. Jude, American Midwest, Philadelphia, New York, American Northeast, Lithuania, Eastern Europe

Three Out of Five Pearls