The Redemption of Evalisa Trooge: A Christmas Carol Story by Lauren M. Flauding

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Redemption of Evalisa Trooge: A Christmas Carol Story by Lauren M. Flauding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Victorian Village thrives every year at Christmastime, even though its owner—tightfisted, bitter, friendless Evalisa—hates the holiday. In fact, she plans to sell the village to Past, Present, and Future Investments this Christmas and go off to live in seclusion, with cash as her companion. But she has no idea what the holiday has in store for her in The Redemption of Evalisa Trooge: A Christmas Carol Story by author Lauren M. Flauding.

Yes indeed, I read this story through the eyes of a Christmas enthusiast and a longtime fan of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You do have to appreciate that classic to fully appreciate this modern take.

I’ll admit, I often steer clear of retellings of classic fiction because I’m disappointed if the adaptations don’t do justice to the originals. I figure, if you’re going to butcher or water down a story that’s already standing the test of time, why come out with a weaker version of it?

So I’m happy to say I found this book to be downright delightful. It’s a little old-fashioned in its style in places, aspects that would’ve felt overdone to me if I didn’t know the story is a reflection of an oldie-but-goodie.

Some of the events are a bit rushed, and, no, not everything that happens is the most realistic. But the account of Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t all about realism either, so, hey. This would have been an absolutely stellar read for me if not for the number of errors I ran into, especially where dialogue tags and some punctuation are concerned.

Nevertheless, I found the story itself to be an entertaining, humorous, touching twist on a timeless tale I’ve loved for years. Even with no previous knowledge of Flauding or recommendations from other readers, this is one of my top, surprising finds among holiday reads.

 

The Pink Lemonade Charade by Cynthia Blair

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Pink Lemonade Charade by Cynthia Blair

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Teenaged twin sisters Christine and Susan Pratt are thrilled to be going on a spring tour of Washington, D.C. with their schoolmates. The highlight of the trip will be their chance to meet young members of a ballet company from Moscow. But when Chris’s new Russian friend, Natasha, asks for help to defect to America, the twins undertake their most dangerous caper yet in The Pink Lemonade Charade by author Cynthia Blair.

Well, now. This seventh Pratt Twins book is the fifth for me. So I was prepared for the excess of italics and exclamation points, plus the pretty corny flair to it all.

This isn’t the only book of the series to have a modest share of flat moments. But it’s the first where I got to thinking the real story here could have been told in significantly fewer pages, though it’s not a long book as it is. Some short stretches here and there feel like filler.

Nevertheless, this is still a good old-fashioned, fun YA read. Certainly the most serious situation I’ve seen Chris and Sooz in. (Hahaha, “Sooz in.” Susan! And the italics and exclamation point are mine this time. You’re welcome.)

While I wouldn’t recommend that real-life teens face something like the former Soviet Union’s KGB on their own, I still can’t help but to like the Pratt sisters as heroines. They’re plucky, they’re thinkers, and they’re doers. This adventure gets rather touching, with a standout, powerful display of true, empathetic friendship in action.

Six more books follow this one in the series. We’ll see if I go on to watch the twins finish up high school and advance to the postsecondary phase of their lives.

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Here’s my review of Book One in the Pratt Twins series, The Banana Split Affair.

 

The Candy Cane Caper by Cynthia Blair

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Candy Cane Caper by Cynthia Blair

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Teenaged twin sisters Christine and Susan Pratt are spending Christmas in Vermont with their grandparents. The quaint, snowy, picturesque location has the girls all full of holiday spirit. But they find out the local children’s hospital may be forced to shut down because someone has been embezzling the hospital’s funds. It sounds like a case for the sisters to solve in The Candy Cane Caper by author Cynthia Blair.

This is the sixth book in the Pratt Twins series and the fourth one for me. I picked it up because 1) I’ve enjoyed the other books I’ve read in the series so far, 2) I stay on the lookout for wholesome YA fiction that isn’t dark, since I wouldn’t say it’s the easiest to find, and 3) I stay on the lookout for Christmas reads that aren’t romances, since holiday romances are easy enough for me to hear about without looking out for them.

Another fun read in the series, with the added bonus of being ultra Christmassy. Yes, as I expected, the style is old-fashioned (which I like) and pretty corny, with too many exclamation points and such. The mystery is a simple, obvious kind of case, and unlike the sisters’ Banana Split, Hot Fudge, and Marshmallow schemes I’ve read before, the Candy Cane’s “caper” doesn’t begin until more than halfway through the book.

Still, it’s one of the Pratt twins’ more serious adventures. Plus, I appreciate how Chris and Sooz are consistently such proactive girls. They think, they plan, and they take action. They’re not teenagers only dealing with what they’re going through because something happens; they make stuff happen.

The going’s been good, so I plan on reading at least one more book in this thirteen-book series.

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Here’s my review of “at least one more book” in the Pratt Twins series, The Pink Lemonade Charade.

 

Marshmallow Masquerade by Cynthia Blair

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Marshmallow Masquerade by Cynthia Blair

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

…their joking conversation was about to launch the most daring, most intriguing, most delicious prank of the Pratt twins’ mischievous career.

Teenaged twin sisters Christine and Susan Pratt, both baffled by boys, relish the thought of figuring out what makes boys tick. So Susan proposes that Chris disguise herself as a boy for a week and do some investigating in the camp of the opposite sex in Marshmallow Masquerade by author Cynthia Blair.

And what do marshmallows have to do with this? Well, it makes sense when you read it.

This is the third Pratt Twins book I’ve read since my preteens. After reading the first two books in this series, I expected the relatively simplistic, corny style here.

In fact, this one may be the corniest I’ve read so far. So many exclamation points, an overuse of italics, and cheesy, dramatic declarations that would drive me to facepalms if not for my glasses being in the way. A macho guy with overdone chauvinism, a big buffoonish bully who wants to beef and brawl over nothing, and a good guy who’s practically bursting with all of his, well, goodness.

I could go on, and possibly confuse you all as to why I’ve rated this book with five stars. But as is always the case with me, I don’t have to think a book is perfect to find it amazing.

There’s just something so downright fun about the Pratt sisters’ adventures. Also, like the first book in the series, this tale ties in meaningful points worth thinking about. Biological vs. traditional (made-up) differences between guys and girls. Gender-based assumptions we make about people’s likes and dislikes without knowing those people as individuals. The games guys and girls play with each other, sometimes without a second thought, and the emotional effects those games can have. I didn’t even have to fully agree with all of Chris’s and Sooz’s conclusions for their sentiments to get my own wheels turning.

In a way, this particular story is more Chris’s than Susan’s. But it’s yet another Pratt Twins tale I absolutely ate up.

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Here’s my review of the next Pratt Twins book, The Candy Cane Caper.