Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Yes, Carol...It's Christmas - My Review

As the top salesperson for Pfunn Party Supplies, Carol Frost doesn’t exactly know how to have fun herself these days. Though she wasn’t always such a humbug. Once upon a time, she was famous for hosting Christmas parties that were filled with everything from laughing guests and luscious hors d’oeuvres, to artfully iced sugar cookies and creatively decorated Christmas trees. To top it off, she even wrote a bestselling book that became the authoritative tome on Christmas party entertaining at the time—The Complete, Total, Ultimate, Everything-You-Might-Possibly-Want-to-Know Guide to Hosting the Best Christmas Parties Ever.

Yet that was long ago, before her life changed and she stashed her tinsel and twinkle lights away once and for all. And while Carol soon learned to settle for her boring but comfortable existence, an old friend knows that Carol isn’t really living up to her potential. An old friend who . . . well . . . now enjoys her eggnog in the afterlife, you might say. To goad Carol into going back to her former party-hosting ways, said friend sends three of her specter pals to pester Carol. Then, much to Carol’s annoyance, she is visited by the Ghost Hosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future on a plane filled with plenty of holiday revelers. And though Carol only wants to be left alone, the Ghost 
Hosts have other plans. Instead, they take her on an adventure that wasn’t exactly on her itinerary . . . or printed on her ticket stub. From that moment on, Carol’s life will never be the same. Provided, of course, she survives the jingle-bell rollercoaster of a ride and makes it home in time for Christmas . . .

CINDY VINCENT, M.A. Ed., was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper novels and the Daisy Diamond Detective series. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and an assortment of fantastic felines.

Christmas books are some of my very favorite books to read, and I try to read a couple each December.  However, I find that I need to start earlier and earlier each year, in order to read at least one!  Does anyone else feel the same way?  The holidays are lovely, but they can be crazy and hectic.  That is why it is so nice to sit down, relax, and open the pages of a Christmas story. 

My friend Cindy Vincent has written the perfect book for the holidays, because her story is based on the beloved tale A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  The Victorian era of literature is my favorite--Dickens was a part of this literary time period—so I was very excited to see how Vincent created her Christmas book against the backdrop of a Dickens classic. 

Carol lives in a world that does not seem to slow down.  She has so many responsibilities that take all her time and energy.  Yet she knows she is the only one who can accomplish the to-do list that marks every moment of her day.  She is living off the steam from the previous day, and unfortunately, she has also let the past define her present.  Will her life every change?  Could things really be better?  Even though Carol highly doubts this to be possible, an unexpected ride in the sky just might change her mind. 

If you enjoy a bit of intrigue in a story, you will love this book.  And if you love Christmas tales, you will love this book.  I highly recommend adding this novella to your Christmas reading list this year.  Let me know some of your favorite Christmas books in the comments below.  Happy reading and Merry Christmas!  

This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the author for my copy.

1.  Growing up, can you tell us about one of your favorite Christmas memories?

It’s really hard to pinpoint just one special memory, because I have been blessed with so many!  But a favorite moment-in-time happened when I was about eight or nine years old.  One of the parents in the neighborhood organized a group of grownups and kids to go Christmas caroling.  After a couple of practice songs, we all took off, walking as a group.  I remember the night was pretty chilly, and I had on the whole winter ensemble—coat, hat, scarf, and mittens.  It was enough to keep me warm so I could enjoy the fresh, crisp air on that clear night loaded with stars.  The group went from house to house, and I thought it was the most fun thing in the world to ring the doorbell and wait for someone to answer, whereby the entire group would belt out the next song on our list.  As a kid, I remember singing my heart out, and I knew every verse of every one of those Christmas carols.  I’m sure I probably didn’t sound as great as I thought I did back then—Ha!—but it was so much fun, I didn’t care.  I felt like we were spreading Christmas throughout the whole neighborhood.  Afterward, we gathered at someone’s house where we had hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.  It was one of the most fun nights of my young life.

2.  Christmas is truly one of the most wonderful times of the year, yet what was what the inspiration behind writing a Christmas novella?

It was the night after Christmas and all through the kitchen, not a dish was left dirty, not even a saucepan . . . Okay, maybe that doesn’t quite rhyme, but I think you get my drift!  The idea for Yes, Carol . . . It’s Christmas! came to me a couple of years ago on the night after Christmas, when my husband and I had just finished eating dinner.  We’d decided to do it up right and eat in the dining room, using our new Christmas china.  And just as I finished drying the last plate that night, I started reminiscing about a fun Christmas party we’d hosted, and from there I started thinking about Christmas parties in general.  Then I started to wonder, if someone was an expert at hosting parties and they were in the middle of a Christmas Carol-like situation, what ghosts would visit them?  That’s when it dawned on me that it wouldn’t be just any old ghost in that case, but instead it would be a “ghost host.”  From there, the story was born.

But I also wanted Yes, Carol . . . It’s Christmas! to be more than just a spoof on A Christmas Carol.  I wanted it to be a tale about picking up the pieces and getting back to doing what it is that you love to do, something that uses your particular God-given gifts.  Because we can all get sidetracked from our calling when bad things happen to us, bad things that are beyond our control.  Sometimes it can be pretty hard to get back up, scars and all, and return to our intended road.

3.  Baking is one of my favorite things to do at Christmas.  Do you have any recipes for Christmas treats you would like to share?

Here’s a fudge recipe that I got from a neighbor years ago.  Not only is it delicious, but it’s perfect for passing out to your friends!

Fantasy Fudge

3 cups sugar
1½ sticks of margarine
2/3 cup of canned evaporated milk

Combine these three ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Boil for another five minutes on medium heat, still stirring.  Remove from heat and add:

12-ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Stir until these are melted.  Then add:

7-ounce jar Marshmallow Cream
Lots of broken, slightly crumbled walnuts
1 tsp. of vanilla

Stir these in and pour into a greased 8x8 pan.  Let cool and cut into individual pieces. 

Thanks again, Heather, for hosting me here today.  I wish you a very special Christmas this year.  When you look up at the stars in the sky this Christmas, think of that bright star that shone above Bethlehem, and know that God loves you now and always!  Merry Christmas!

Put together your own best-ever Christmas party with this fun “party in a box” giveaway! Enter for a chance to win a package with the following prizes: a signed copy of Yes, Carol…It’s Christmas! by Cindy Vincent, two Betty Crocker sugar cookie mixes, two cookie cutters, a four-pack of sprinkles, a strand of Christmas lights, and two glass ornaments. Due to shipping costs and varying international laws, this giveaway is open to US residents (age 18 or older) only. Void where prohibited. Good luck!

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  1. My best Christmas ever was when I got my first kitten. I had her for 18 years. I still think of her every day, (

    1. My puppy dog lived to be 18 years old too. I miss her so much, and like you, I think of her every day. Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

  2. I remember the Christmas I left a few gifts on the doorstep (anonymously of course)for a little boy who wouldn't have gotten anything. It warms my heart to think of him enjoying them.

    1. That's a wonderful idea! Good for you! Happy reading and Merry Christmas!

  3. Thank you so much, Heather, for sharing your review and this fun interview with Cindy! :) Some Christmas reads I really enjoyed: A Cliche Christmas by Nicole Deese (I'm thinking I might need to re-read this one!), One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg, and Bespoke by Amanda Dykes.


    1. I will definitely have to look up those books. Thanks for the recommendations! You are most welcome--Merry Christmas!

  4. Thank you so much, Heather, for another wonderful review! It is always such a joy to reconnect with you! I hope and pray that you have an especially fantastic Christmas this year. An uplifting and encouraging person like you deserves extra special blessings! Please stay in touch. Merry Christmas from me!

    1. Thank you so much Cindy! I appreciate your kindness so much--I wish the same for you! Merry Christmas!

  5. One of my favorite Christmases was the night I had to sleep in my sleeping bag next to the Christmas tree. Our bedroom was being remodeled and we had to sleep on the floor of the living room. I thought I had Santa caught for sure. On Christmas Eve, we heard a crash coming from our bedroom. We all got up and the window was broken. Also, a brand new kitchen set was there in the room. Dad said, "See Santa knew you were sleeping out there. Too bad the reindoor broke the window." I believed for many years after that.

    1. That is an awesome story! What a great childhood memory. :) Merry Christmas and happy reading Debra!