May The Books Be With You: A “Star Wars” Book List

Few forms of media have garnered the pop culture following that is the “Star Wars” fandom. Having spanned almost fifty years of tales from a galaxy far far away, it has been the obsession of fan boys and girls alike. Now that the last three movies of the so called ‘Skywalker Saga’ have wrapped up in the “Star Wars” universe, we thought that it could be fun to wax nostalgic and speculate about what kinds of books some of the characters from the saga would like to read. 

Luke Skywalker: “Dune” by Frank Herbert

“Dune” seems to have a lot that might appeal to former farm boy turned Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. The first is obvious: it’s about a chosen one who, against all odds, seemed to fulfill a role that wasn’t meant for him. Paul Atreides is a boy who trains as a Bene Gesserit, a social force within the “Dune” world that gives its followers superhuman abilities. Along with that, as the “Dune” books go on, Paul has to ultimately face the consequences of his rise to power thanks in part to these superhuman abilities, which leads to heartache, sacrifice, and guilt on his part. And the final point is perhaps one that Luke would have the hardest time with: so much sand! While Luke doesn’t hate sand as much as his father, Tatooine was a desert planet that had harsh conditions and harsh creatures, just like Dune itself.

Leia Organa: “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth E. Wein

Leia may have been raised as a princess, but she was also a military leader, politician, and spy for the Rebel Alliance, not to mention attuned to the ways of the Jedi. Her devotion to the Rebel Alliance at such a young age is why I think that she would absolutely love the book “Code Name Verity”. Taking place during WWII, spy “Verity” is taken by Nazis after her plane crashes in enemy territory, with her best friend and compatriot Maddie having to find a way to save her. The espionage and harrowing spy stuff is sure to be something Leia would see herself in, and unfortunately so are the torture scenes that “Verity” has to endure at the hands of her captors. But like Leia, “Verity” is dedicated and strong, and won’t break that easily. Both “Verity” and Leia have the guts and the strength to help take down Empires.

Han Solo: “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King

It was surprisingly difficult to come up with a perfect book for Han Solo. How do you find a book with enough layers to incorporate all that makes up this great character? There’s the sense of adventure, the loner tendencies, the buddy drama, the gruffness to cover a heart of gold, the “yes, he definitely did shoot first.” But I finally settled on “The Gunslinger,” leaning rather heavily into the cowboy/loner side of Han’s character. Roland, too, starts out on his own mission, tracking down the mysterious Man in Black. But as he goes, he finds himself gathering others around him, that begin to worm their way into his small sphere of things he cares about. Like Han, he begins to learn that perhaps being out only for yourself and your own mission isn’t always the best route.

Rey: “Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson

On the other hand, there are a bunch of stories, especially in YA now, of young women following their own “Chosen One” paths. But after going through many lists, “Mistborn” seemed to be the best fit. It’s main character, Vin, is a young woman who has grown up on the streets, surviving through sheer will and scrap. That’s until she gets caught up with a rebel crew who are looking to take down an evil empire. And, of course, Vin too discovers that she has great power within her and, over the course of the book trilogy, she grows to be the strongest fighter in the group and a de facto leader. They each start off taking care of only themselves and soon find the fate of entire worlds resting on their shoulders.

Kylo Ren: “And I Darken” by Kiersten White

Kylo Ren was another toughy as his redemption comes only after sinking all the way to the bottom and can only end in tragedy. He’s not an anti-hero, even; he’s just a villain for much of it, even if there are bits you can sympathize with. So, finding a book with a character who is similarly torn between loyalty and love to family and their own ambitions was hard. But “And I Darken” fits the bill. It’s a fictionalized story of Vlad the Impaler, the thought-to-be origin of the Dracula legend, but re-imagined as a young woman, Lada, who early in life recognizes brutality as her only way forward in a world that will only put obstacles before her.

Rose Tico: “Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

Rose Tico was definitely done dirty in “The Rise of Skywalker”, as she was basically erased from the narrative altogether. But what people love about Rose is that she is optimistic and filled with hope, even in the darkest times. This is why I think she would enjoy “Pollyanna”. Pollyanna is an orphan girl who has to go live with her uptight aunt, and while those around her are somewhat cold and dour, Pollyanna is filled with joy and optimism. She has a knack for spreading this joy wherever she goes, and instills it in those around her. And when tragedy strikes, it becomes a question as to whether she can persevere and continue to find that optimistic sense of the world. Given that Rose grew up in poverty and lost her sister during the fight against the First Order, one would think she would give up. But she never does.

There are so many other characters that we haven’t touched upon. What books would you recommend to those characters, or the ones that we covered? Tell us in the comments!!

Serena’s Favorite Reads of 2019: Picks 5 through 1

Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! For me, the word “favorite” is an important part of this list. As I go through the last year’s worth of reading, I often found that some books would strike particular chords within me more deeply than others, even if, quality-wise, another book might be stronger. Of course, this just makes it all that much harder to put them in any order. But here it goes! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, ten to six. And since it’s the end of the reading year, don’t forget to enter our “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!”

36510722#5: “Gods of Jade and Shadow” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“Gods of Jade and Shadow” Review

I’ve only read two books by Moreno-Garcia, but both have made my top reads list. And yet, they are completely different stories! It’s truly impressive how versatile of an author she is, combining beautiful imagery, new magical systems, and jumping between cultures and time periods. This fairy-tale like story is set in the Jazz Age and travels from a small village in southern Mexico up through the country. One thing that really stands out about Moreno-Garcia’s work is the page time she devotes to her villains who are just as fun to hate (while also somehow still sympathizing with?) as her protagonists are to love. This book was gorgeously written and so unique and fresh with its setting. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for an original, non-European fairytale fantasy.

40698027#4: “A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World” by C. A. Fletcher

“A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World” Review

This book wins the award for “most recommended” read of 2019. I’ve given it as a gift to numerous people and recommended it to countless more. Not only is it a quality book in its own right, but its the perfect blend of so many genres that I think it appeals in some way to almost any reader. Thus, perfect gift book. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale but focuses much more heavily on the personal journey of the main character in search of a beloved, stolen away dog. Throughout the journey, more comes to light about the world itself, what went wrong, and how people are living now. But at its heart, it’s a very human tale and not so bleak as to be gut-wrenching or hopeless feeling, as many post-apocalyptic stories tend to be. If you have a reader in your family and you’re looking for a great Christmas book gift, this is a good option!

43575115._sy475_#3: “The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern

“The Starless Sea” Review

I think this is the most recently read book on this list, so it’s also one of the ones that’s still the most on my mind as I write. A couple of weeks past my first read now, I can remember fewer of the details of the exact plot of this story, other than it being a young man’s adventure into whimsy, sparkles, and shadow. More clearly, I remember the overpowering feeling of want that this book imparted. I wanted to be in this world so badly, wanted it to be real, even if I never went there. Beautiful rooms devoted to reading and stories. A magical kitchen that knows your every whim. And cats winding in between your legs as you traverse. Morgenstern’s return to writing was a triumph and this book was a masterclass.

36621586#2: “The Winter of the Witch” by Katherine Arden

“The Winter of the Witch” Review

It’s always particularly satisfying when a trilogy or series finishes and you now can rest assured that no, nothing will be irreparably screwed up or simply fall flat on its face there at the end. Even better are those series that seem to only gain steam as the go along, and that’s what I feel happened with this trilogy. “The Winter of the Witch” picks up immediately where the last book left off and yet, somehow, none of the predictions I had then turned out to be right. Maybe some vague ideas, but the paths that were traveled and the ultimate destination were completely unexpected. I love this series so much. I now own the complete set and will likely read them again soon as they are perfect winter reading material, in my opinion. If you’ve been reading this series so far and somehow missed this one (or were a bit gun shy about endings, I understand that!), never fear, this one was completely satisfying!

42201395#1: “Sorcery of Thorns” by Margaret Rogerson

“Sorcery of Thorns” Review

And lastly, this lovely book. For me, “Sorcery of Thorns” was the complete package. In every way, this is the exact type of book I most love. The main character was spunky, a bit foolish, loved books, and followed the call to adventure. The love interest was quippy but flawed, and, most importantly, only slowly developed into even being a love interest. The magic and world were uncomplicated, yet fully realized and detailed. There was adventure around every corner, action, female friendships. And, oh yes, warrior librarians and sentient books. As I was going through some of my top-rated books from this year, I always kept flipping back to this one based purely on the enjoyment I took in reading it. And really, there is no higher praise for a book than that: bringing sheer, unadulterated joy to its reader.

So there’s my complete list! What were your top five reads of 2019?

 

Kate’s Favorite Reads of 2019: Picks 5 Through 1

Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! Like past years I won’t be including re-reads, and I also realized that sometimes my opinion of a book could change and evolve after I had read it, so some surprises may be up near the top. And since it’s the end of the reading year, don’t forget to enter our “Twelve Days of Christmas” Giveaway! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, ten to six. 

43263388Pick Number 5: “Trace of Evil” by Alice Blanchard

“Trace of Evil” Review

This procedural mystery perfectly combined a can do female detective, the baggage that she carries, and the secrets and dark sides of a small town. I loved Natalie Lockhart, the detective who is determined to solve a number of missing persons cases and who is pulled into the murder of her colleague’s wife. Blanchard created a realistic and relatable main character, and created a mystery that is sure to suck in fans of thrillers, especially if said fan also has a love for stories about witches and witchcraft. So, basically me. “Trace of Evil” kept me guessing and kept me interested, and I cannot wait to see where Natalie Lockhart goes next!

35887567._sy475_Pick Number 4: “On the Come Up” by Angie Thomas

Goodreads Info

This is the second book on this list that didn’t make it to the blog, and I’m thinking that I will need to start making exceptions for Angie Thomas. “The Hate U Give” was the book that became an instant YA phenomenon (and made it onto my list the year it came out), and “On the Come Up” was a fantastic follow up. Bri is an aspiring rapper who has dreams of following in her father’s footsteps. He was an up and coming performer when he was murdered. But Bri’s mother would prefer that she focus on her studies. And when her mother loses her job and some very real threats of homelessness and hunger start to loom, Bri becomes more determined to become famous to she can help her family, no matter what. Thomas has once again written a gritty, heartfelt, and emotional story, and it solidifies her as an incredibly talented author.

43263680Pick Number 3: “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo

“Ninth House” Review

This book took me by complete surprise this year, as I’ve had an on and off appreciation for Leigh Bardugo’s books over the past few years. I picked up “Ninth House” on a whim, and ended up being completely enthralled by it. Alex Stern is part of the Lethe House, a group at Yale that keeps an eye on the other Secret Societies, as the use of magic and rituals has gotten out of control in the past. Alex is a fish out of water at the prestigious school, but the offer of a free ride in exchange for her talent to see ghosts seems like a good deal. But, obviously it’s not as easy and uncomplicated as all that. Bardugo creates a fun twist to a familiar setting, and weaves in the themes of privilege and entitlement into her supernatural dark fantasy. Definitely the best horror/dark fantasy of the year for me!

29225589._sx318_Pick Number 2: “Bloom” by Kevin Panetta

“Bloom” Review

This is an example of a book that I gained more and more appreciation for as more time passed. When I initially reviewed “Bloom” by Kevin Panetta, I gave it some high praise, but held off on giving it my highest rating of a ten. Looking back, I really don’t know why I did that, because whenever I think of it I burst with joy. The love story between two young men that centers in a bakery is sweet and gentle and it was such an enjoyable graphic novel that I keep thinking about it months later. The anxious and big dreamed Ari meets his match in the low key and loyal Hector, and their slow building relationship has ups, downs, joy, and heartache, and I loved following every moment of it. On top of that, the illustrations by Savanna Ganucheau are done in such away that conveys the overall heart and gentleness of this story that they complement it completely. I loved “Bloom”, and imagine I’ll revisit it again and again.

40538634Pick Number 1: “Highway of Tears” by Jessica McDiarmid

“Highway of Tears” Review

My number one pick book of 2019 was also one of the hardest reads of the year. Albeit necessary. True crime is incredibly popular right now, with numerous books and podcasts and TV shows dedicated to the subject, and one of the worst cases in the history of Canada is the disappearance and murders of dozens upon dozens of Indigenous Women along Highway 16. “Highway of Tears” is a detailed and compassionate examination the disappearances and murders, the society and Government that has enabled racism and prejudice that adds to the unsolved status of the cases, and a heartbreaking story of many of the victims, stories that otherwise have fallen by the wayside. This was an emotional and important read, and I cannot recommend it enough, even if it will leave you feeling devastated.

So there’s my complete list! What were your top five reads of 2019?

Serena’s Favorite Reads of 2019: Picks 10 through 6

Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! For me, the word “favorite” is an important part of this list. As I go through the last year’s worth of reading, I often found that some books would strike particular chords within me more deeply than others, even if, quality-wise, another book might be stronger. Of course, this just makes it all that much harder to put them in any order. But here it goes! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, ten to six. And since it’s the end of the reading year, don’t forget to enter our “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!”

39603796#10: “The Wolf in the Whale” by Jordanna Max Brodsky

“The Wolf in the Whale” Review

This was one of a few books to make this list that were complete surprises for me. It was the debut book for the author and one that had very little buzz when I first received an early copy. But boy, did it blow me away. With its unique setting of early civilization in the North American Arctic region, its compelling and complicated leading character, and the sparse, but fantastic, use of mythology and fantasy elements, this book was firing on all cylinders the entire time. The story definitely had some dark themes, and it handles a love interest with a controversial past in what I thought was a smart manner. There was a lot of crying on my part, but this unique, confident fantasy novel definitely stuck out to me when looking back over the year.

44059557._sy475_-1#9: “The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan” by Sherry Thomas

“The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan” Review

I love fairytale retellings. This is a mixed blessing, as I see it. On one hand, there are a ton of them, especially recently. On the other hand, because I feel compelled to read them all, I end up being disappointed quite a bit. And “Mulan” has been one of those stories that has served up nothing but disappointment for a while now. And then this book came out and did every. single. thing. I wanted. It takes enough elements from my limited knowledge of the original tale to remain familiar, but also brings in new portions of the story that make it feel refreshing. It’s definitely not Disney’s “Mulan,” but that’s also a good thing in this case. The love story is sweet, the action is exciting, and the story addresses a wide range of themes including bravery, honor, and family. If you’re looking for a good fairytale retelling, or, like me, had been waiting for THE “Mulan” version that would really hit home, definitely check this one out!

35839460#8: “The Kingdom of Copper” by S.A. Chakraborty

“The Kingdom of Copper” Review

This book came out in the early part of this year, way back in January. And I’ve been waiting this whole, long time for the next one! And it’s still not here! But I shall work on patience and maybe just go re-read this one in the mean time. The first book in this trilogy impressed with its complicated world-building and engaging main characters who must tread almost impossible lines of grey. Here, all that was excellent from the first book was simply expanded upon. It was also one of the smartest uses of a time jump between books that I’ve read in a long time. I was truly surprised by the direction the book went and the very real ways our main characters had both changed and stayed the same between one book and another. It also ended on one heck of a cliff-hanger, so, yeah. Back to the fretting until…oof, June.

28876#7: “Temeraire” series by Naomi Novik

“His Majesty’s Dragon” and “Throne of Jade” and “Black Powder War” and “Empire of Ivory” Reviews

It seems like every year I end up with at least one favorite that isn’t just one book but a series of books that I’ve blown through over the year. And this year it was Naomi Novik’s “Temeraire” series about dragons during the Napoleonic Wars. I’ve been a fan of Novik’s for a while (in fact, I think her most recent novel, “Spinning Silver” was my top pick last year), but I’d always held back on reading this book because of its weird premise. I mean…dragons in the Napoleonic Wars. But silly me! It’s been awesome so far. I’ve been blowing through the series way too fast for my own good, but I find everything about them so engaging that its hard to stop myself! I love the language of the books, reading like great historical fiction. The action is exciting, new, and shockingly, incredibly believable. And on top of all of that, the characters of Temeraire and his captain, William Lawrence, are an incredible duo whom you can’t help but fall in love with. I’ve already read the next in the series, so that review should be up soon! But if you, like me, love Novik’s other books but haven’t checked this series out yet, definitely give it a try!

36524503._sy475_#6: “The Bones Houses” by Emily Lloyd-Jones

“The Bones Houses” Review

I love books like this. Not only this story in particular, but books that come out of complete nowhere and blow me away. I literally knew nothing about this story when I requested In fact, looking at the cover, I was suspicious that this was going to more a “Kate book” than one for me, so if anything, my expectations were on the negative side. Oops! I loved this lovely fairytale story (sort of a retelling of “The Black Cauldron”??). For one thing, it’s a standalone, which automatically shoots it forward in my rankings. But on top of that, it perfectly mixes whimsy and horror, all while exploring topics like loss, grief, and family. The romance is sweet, and the two main characters are each strong and compelling. There’s also a fantastic goat. If you haven’t heard of this one (it seems to be flying below radar, sadly), get thee to the library or bookstore!

So that’s ten through six. Next time I will give a countdown of my top five. What have been some of your favorite reads of 2019?

Kate’s Favorite Reads of 2019: Picks 10 Through 6

Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! Like past years I won’t be including re-reads, and I also realized that sometimes my opinion of a book could change and evolve after I had read it, so some surprises may be up near the top. And since it’s the end of the reading year, don’t forget to enter our “Twelve Days of Christmas” Giveaway! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, ten to six. 

41837243Pick Number 10: “Lock Every Door” by Riley Sager

“Lock Every Door” Review

It took a lot of mulling and hemming and hawing to decide which book was going to be the first to make the Top 10 of 2019. But the book that eventually got the honor was Riley Sager’s “Lock Every Door”, which means all of Sager’s books have been in my Top 10 in the years that they’ve been published. This book got the spot because it was compulsively readable, it had some delicious homages to the creepiness of the Dakota in New York and “Rosemary’s Baby”, and kept me guessing for a majority of the time. Sager still finds ways to surprise me and I greatly, GREATLY look forward to his books every year, and “Lock Every Door” was a wicked and paranoia inducing thriller that will make you question if you’re actually safe in your own home, and if perhaps someone is watching your every move.

38225791Pick Number 9: “Two Can Keep A Secret” by Karen M. McManus

“Two Can Keep A Secret” Review

Karen M. McManus is well on her way to becoming a YA mystery guru, with her debut “One of Us Is Lying” becoming a runaway hit and it’s sequel “One of Us Is Next” coming out early next year. And between those was the (as of now) standalone “Two Can Keep A Secret”, a YA mystery involving missing people, a small town with secrets, and intrepid twins who are new in town. “Two Can Keep A Secret” sucked me in and made sure that I was fully invested in twins Ellery and Ezra and their transition to the town of Echo Ridge. Ellery and her love interest Malcolm were some of the best YA characters I read in 2019, and their romance and tangentially shared traumas that involve a notorious tragedy came together and wove a story I was completely obsessed with. I still think that fans of adult thrillers would find a lot to like in McManus’s books, and “Two Can Keep A Secret” would be the perfect place to start!

42527866Pick Number 8: “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei

“They Called Us Enemy” Review

Being a “Star Trek” fan I was of course very interested in reading Takei’s graphic memoir about his time in an interment camp during WWII, and “They Called Us Enemy” became one of the best graphic novels I read in 2019 because of it’s scary timeliness. Takei recounts a traumatic and disgusting part in American history where American citizens were imprisoned because of their race and ethnicity, and he gives it a personal and vulnerable spin. Takei’s story is combined with how Executive Order 9066 came to be, and gives a comprehensive and easy to follow history lesson of one of our nation’s greatest shames. Given that there are internment camps along the border now in 2019, it goes to show that perhaps history isn’t so hard to repeat. “They Called Us Enemy” is necessary reading, and one of the most powerful memoirs of the year.

35133922Pick Number 7: “Educated” by Tara Westover

Goodreads Info

Ah ha, the first book of my Top 10 of 2019 that didn’t make it onto the blog due to time and theme! But I would be remiss if I left the fantastic “Educated” off my list. This memoir tells the story of how Tara Westover went from a fundamentalist and abusive home where her education and worth were thrown by the wayside, to becoming an incredibly educated and  independent woman free from her toxic family’s influence. “Educated” is a story that I couldn’t put down and read in one night, and Westover’s deeply personal tale was hard to read at times (from her mentally ill father who isolated the family, to her complicit mother,  to her abusive older brother and the violence he heaped at her), but at the same time it was completely inspirational as she did everything she could to escape. There’s a reason this was such a runaway hit. If you haven’t read “Educated” yet and were mulling it, do it. DO IT.

60931Pick Number 6: “Kindred” by Octavia Butler

“Kindred” Review

The speculative fiction/historical fiction/science fiction epic from Octavia Butler was the stand out book club pick of the year for me! I had always meant to read “Kindred” but hadn’t gotten around to it, but when we picked it for the club it was finally time. This story of a black woman sent back in time to an Antebellum plantation has been hailed as a classic of sci-fi, and it’s commentary on race, racism, and privilege is still resonant in the decades after it was first published. Butler isn’t afraid to tell violent truths about slavery in America, and she also finds ways to show how it still continues to haunt society in the 20th Century, and beyond (which she probably hadn’t intended, and yet here we are). “Kindred” is a hard read, but it’s excellent, and necessary if you want to see what speculative fiction can achieve when it comes to commentary on society.

So that’s ten through six. Next time I will give a countdown of my top five. What have been some of your favorite reads of 2019?

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

Happy holidays fellow book lovers! And in honor of this time of year when presents  giving is everything, we’re hosting our third annual “12 Days of Christmas” Giveaway. But, tricky us, it’s actually two giveaways, each one comprised of six books from our preferred genres. Read on to see what books are included in each prize package and enter for your chance to win! Both giveaways are open to U.S. residents only and end on January 4.

Serena’s Prize Package

“Jane, Unlimited” by Kristin Cashore (My review)

“To the Waters and the Wild” by S. C. McGrath (My review)

“Song of the Crimson Flower” by Julie C. Dao (My review)

“Flamebringer” by Elle Katharine White (My review)

“The Shadowglass” by Rin Chupego (My review)

“The Unbound Empire” by Melissa Caruso (My review)

Click here to enter!

Kate’s Prize Package

“Before She Knew Him” by Peter Swanson (My review)

“The Hunting Party” by Lucy Foley (My review)

“The Last Astronaut” by David Wellington (My review)

“Searching for Sylvie Lee” by Jean Kwok (My review)

“Last Things” by Jacqueline West (Goodreads Info)

“Joyland” by Stephen King (Goodreads Info)

Click Here To Enter!

 

Fa La La La Films: Our Favorite Christmas Movies!

We’re in December now, and both of us are looking forward to cozying up on the couch with some yummy cookies, some holiday beverages of various kinds, and some great books. But it wouldn’t be the Christmas season without some Christmas movies! So we thought we’d take a break from books and share with you our favorite Christmas films.

Serena’s Picks

mv5bnjrkogewytuty2e5yy00odg4ltk2zwity2iymzuxogvhmtm1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndk0mdg4ndk40._v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_“Miracle on 34th St.”

I think I’ve highlighted this movie before around Christmas, probably in our “Not Just Books” posts. But it’s impossible to list three of my top Christmas films without including it. It’s so perfectly imperfect with almost all of the characters being believably flawed, but still Kris Kringle is the only true Santa Claus ever, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a yearly tradition for me to watch this movie while I wrap presents. This often results in the present wrapping itself taking way longer than necessary as I’m so often distracted. But what do I care! Anyone who isn’t moved by the part where Santa sings with the Dutch girl is hard-hearted. There, I said. it.

mv5bmty4njq5ndc0nl5bml5banbnxkftztywnjk5ndm3._v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_“Love Actually”

Yes, yes, sappy, overly sentimental “Love Actually” makes the list. But sometimes, you just want to have a good cry around Christmas when all the stress (normal stress, but also now somehow extra stress to STOP BEING STRESSED AND BE MERRY!) really starts to build up. And this movie is the perfect, saccharine flick to hit the spot. Plus, there’s no arguing with the stellar cast. Colin Firth is, obviously, always a favorite even though his story here is arguably one of the less compelling. And watching Alan Rickman be a sleaze who cheats on the wonderful Emma Thompson (who does that!?!) is delightfully hateful. And Liam Neeson is again the most wonderful father ever. So yeah, yeah, cheesy it may be, but I love it.

mv5bztcxnzgzzjmtyzzizc00mme1ltg3mzqtzdaxmtyyzwe4mdnhl2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtqxnzmzndi40._v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_“You’ve Got Mail”

This is a seasonal film, obviously, taking place over an entire year and feeling appropriately festive for each and every one of those seasons. But some of the major changes happen during the winter months, and Meg Ryan has some lovely monologues about Christmas and how hard the holiday season can be when we’re also missing those we love who can’t celebrate with us. For me, this makes it a great Christmas movie. Plus, to counteract all of the crying from “Love Actually,” this film has a lot of laughs and is my favorite Ryan/Hanks film. Yes, more than “Sleepless in Seattle” due to the simple fact that the two have much more screen time together in this movie.

Kate’s Picks

mv5bm2nlmdqzmdktntmyzs00mjbjlwi0mmetmzgzzdm2ztvknze1xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntuymze4mzg40._v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_“Scrooged”

I’ve talked about this movie before on this blog, but it remains my be all end all Christmas movie. This is the one Christmas movie I watch at least twice during the season, and the one that on Christmas Day my husband and I watch with mimosas and Christmas cookies. It’s an update of the “Christmas Carol” story, starring Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a cynical and bitter TV executive who has no love for Christmas and all the love for power. As you can imagine, he is visited by a number of ghosts to teach him the true meaning of Christmas. And let me tell you, everything about this movie is delightful. Murray is fantastic (naturally), but the supporting cast is also awesome, including Alfre Woodward as his assistant Grace (Bob Cratchit), Karen Allen as Claire (Belle), and Carol Kane as the Ghost of Christmas Present. It’s witty and dark and weird, and it still has one of the most emotional and touching endings of any Christmas movie, bar none.

mv5bnwe4otnim2itmjy4ni00ztvilwfizmetzgeyngy2zmnlmziyxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymdu5ndcxnw4040._v1_“The Nightmare Before Christmas”

I’m solidly on the ‘this is a Christmas movie’ side of the argument. I mean, sure, it stars a skeleton and has other ghosts, ghouls, and creepy things, but they are CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has had a special place in my heart since my childhood, with catch songs, spooky imagery, and a sweet romance weaved into a heartfelt Christmas tale. For the unfamiliar, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King and King of Halloween, has been feeling ennui about his role in the October holiday. So when he stumbles upon Christmas Town and finds out about Christmas, he decides that he wants to be in charge of the Yuletide Cheer. As one can imagine, his interpretations are a little, shall we say, off, and Christmas may be wrecked thanks to his good, misguided intentions. The music is catchy, the claymation is still stunning, and the real hero of the story Sally Ragdoll (played by goddess Catherine O’Hara) really solidifies the story for me. A true must watch in our household.

mv5bowmynje0mzetmzvjny00njixltg0zjmtmwjhngi1ymvjytczl2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzc5mja3oa4040._v1_“A Christmas Story”

Obvious? I prefer ‘classic’. Before the cable channels started showing “A Christmas Story” on a loop every Christmas, it was a cult hit and one that my childhood home was quite familiar with. We had the VHS when I was a child, and it was a movie that my parents always enjoyed because their childhoods (though a couple decades past the time period of the film) had a lot of similarities to Ralphie’s. Ralphie is a kid growing up in pre-WW2 Indiana, and all he wants for Christmas is a Red Rider BB Gun. That particular Christmas season for him involves tongues stuck to lamp posts, bullies, foul mouthed fathers, and a saucy lamp, and the anecdotes all come together to tell a very funny, and also very charming, story of youth. While there are many scenes that stand out as fantastic, my favorite (perhaps bolstered by my Mom’s love for it) involves a crabby department store Santa who literally kicks a child down a slide. Mean? Maybe. But hilarious. And the fact that generations of people can relate to Ralphie’s stories shows just how timeless some of the themes are.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Let us know in the comments!