Reviews Are For Readers – BOOK NEWS

“Reviews are for readers, not authors.”

You may have heard this phrase going around lately on bookstagram and booktok. This idea all stems from the drama surrounding author Piper CJ — an author who recently attacked a book reviewer (Rachel of @readswithrachel) for leaving a 2-star review on Piper’s novel. Part of the reason this drama escalated is because of the attack on the reviewer. Not only did Piper CJ make a reaction video mocking @readswithrachel’s other reviews, Piper’s fans began mass-reporting @readswithrachel, which has led to the wrongful takedown of her tiktok page.

I won’t go into it more because there is a lot of controversy about Piper CJ and her books, but you can find more about the specific drama on booktok and youtube.

I agree that Reviews Are For Readers, Not Authors. This just means that book reviewers are writing their reviews to inform readers of their opinion and promote books that they enjoy; reviewers are not writing reviews to impress authors. This also means that authors should stay out of reviewer spaces, especially if they can’t handle criticism of their work.

Not everyone is going to like everything that they read. And that’s okay. Whether you read and review for academic or recreational purposes, it’s sort of like keeping a reading diary, and reviews can be used as a space to collect your own thoughts about a book.

But the book community is based on transparency and communication. Some book reviewers do have larger audiences, and review books to inform other readers. Reviewers don’t want to lie or mislead people with their reviews, and they want to promote and talk about books they enjoyed and found valuable.

The goal of low-star reviews isn’t to hurt the feelings of authors, the goal is to provide readers with informed choices and descriptions of books. Readers don’t want to waste their money supporting books, authors, or publishers that don’t align with their beliefs. Readers don’t want to spend their free time or hard-earned money on content they don’t enjoy or support. Reviewers don’t want to promote books they don’t enjoy or can’t support.

I also just want to say really quick that it is unethical and against the FTC guidelines to offer or accept payment for reviews. The Consumer Review Fairness Act protects consumers’ ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products, services, or conduct in any forum – and that includes social media. There are many ways bookstagrammers, booktokers, and booktubers can make money, but paid reviews is not one of them. Book reviews are meant to be honest opinions, and if an author can’t accept criticism of their work, then they need to get thicker skin.

And that’s why Reviews Are For Readers.

Pod by Laline Paull

Pod by Laline Paull

Release Date: February 7

Laline Paull returns with an immersive new novel about the ocean world as told through the eyes of two different dolphin pods: spinner dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins.

Ea is more than just a spinner dolphin. Ea is different. In this story, she has an identity. She has an acoustic disability that makes her unable to spin like the other dolphins in her pod, and she is ultimately on a journey of self-understanding and acceptance. As her inner struggles become more complex, she must also grapple with the changing of her world when she is uprooted from everything and everyone she knows. When catastrophe befalls her family and Ea knows she is partly to blame, she decides to make the ultimate sacrifice and leave the pod.

The ocean is a place of peace and calm. Until ocean demons and pollution threaten the oceans’ way of thriving. As Ea ventures into the vast, she finds danger lurking everywhere. The ocean itself seems to be changing; creatures are mutating, demonic noises pierce the depths, and entire species of fish disappear into the sky above.

I would describe it as scientific fiction, but I wouldn’t exactly call it sci-fi… I would call it cli-fi (climate fiction) because, though it is the story of dolphins, it is also the story of the whole ocean, and how the careless and cruel actions of humans put entire ecosystems at risk.

A diverse cast of sea creatures from dolphins and whales to pufferfish create an incredibly unique POV. Writing the main characters as dolphins and other marine animals draws comparisons between animals and humans, suggesting that we’re all the same— we, all of us are living beings.

This is a musical story, full of sound and space. Because dolphins use sonar, sound and music are strong themes in this book. Beautiful imagery and stunning ocean settings make this a perfect blend of reality and fiction. I loved how musical prose is woven so intricately with scientific fact, and I love this author because she has an amazing way of educating readers about the ocean while entertaining them at the same time.

TW: rape, sexual assault, death

Thank you so much to Pegasus Books for sending me an early copy to read and review. I love Laline Paull, and this is a new favorite of mine!

2023: The Year of Jane Austen

I talked about my attempt to finish reading all of Jane Austen’s books a bit in my last post, and how 2023 is going to be my new Year of Jane. This year, I plan to read all of Jane Austens works, including rereading my old favorites, as well as some of her lesser-known and unfinished works. There are roughly enough to fill in a whole year if I pick one book a month. So here is a rough sketch of my yearly plan, though it may shift a bit here is my generalized reading schedule. And if you would like to join along for discussions and group reads, come join the Jane Austen Book Club today!

January: Pride and Prejudice

February: Sense and Sensibility

March: Sandition *season 3 of Sanditon premieres March 19

April: Emma

May: Mansfield Park

June: Love and Friendship

July: Lady Susan

August: Persuasion

September: The Watsons

October: Northanger Abbey and The Mysteries of Udolpho

November: Poems

December: Fanny Burney’s CamillaCecelia and Evelina, or Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda (all of which were some of Jane Austen’s favorite books)

Join my Jane Austen Book Club HERE!

Join my Jane Austen Book Club!

Join my Jane Austen Book Club!

For lovers of Jane Austen and Historical Romance, come join the Jane Austen Book Club today!

It is no secret that I absolutely adore Jane Austen. She is easily my favorite classic author, and Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite book. I even planned on finishing reading her entire works last year in what I dubbed “My Year of Jane Austen” … sadly I fell a few books short of my goal.

So, 2023 is my NEW Year of Jane. I plan to read the works I have yet to finish (Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey, as well as her unfinished works and poems), as well as re-read the ones I already know. Because with each reading I gain something new, and I will never be tired of reading Jane Austen. I would also like to read more fan fiction, and some of the books that were Jane Austen’s favorites in her life. So, If you would like to join me for a Year of Jane, this book club is for you!

This Jane Austen Book Club idea is something I have been playing around with for a long time, and I thought I would just go for it! And what better time than during my Year of Jane? In the club, I hope to suggest Austen-esque book recommendations, plan group reads and discussions, and hopefully connect with other Austenites and Janeites! If this is something you would be interested in, come join the club and suggest our next book!

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies by Michael Ausiello (now a major motion-picture)

“But there was another part of me that saw the installation as the defining metaphor for how Kit had confronted this entire year: with grace, courage, dark humor, and unquestionable fearlessness, right up to the end.” —Michael Ausiello, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies

This was the most heart-wrenching book I have read in a long time. It was also really beautiful. If you get a chance to read or watch the new movie—do it.

This moving biographical memoir centers around Michael Ausiello and his partner Kit Cowan, who was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of Neuroendocrine cancer. Though Kit and Michael did their best to fight the deadly disease, Kit’s struggle ended just 11 months after his diagnosis. This is the life story of Kit, and the love story of Kit-and-Mike, all wrapped up in a touching dedication to an incredible fighter—Kit Cowan.

Thank you @the.queerreader for sending me this book so we could buddy read without waiting for library holds 

 I can’t remember the last book that made me cry this much. I loved and hated every second of it 

Kit, you are amazing. Michael, you are amazing. Thank you for sharing Kit’s story—and your story—with the world.

Follow Michael on Instagram @michealausiello and buy Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies here, or stream the new movie today!

Friday I’m In Love TOUR

It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen but what if Mahalia had a Coming Out Party? Friday I’m In Love is a love letter to romantic comedies, sweet sixteen blowouts, black joy, and queer pride.

Mahalia Harris wants.

She wants a big Sweet Sixteen like her best friend Naomi.
She wants the super cute new girl Siobhan to like her back.
She wants a break from worrying–about money, snide remarks from white classmates, pitying looks from church ladies . . . all of it.

Then inspiration strikes: It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen, but what if she had a Coming Out Party? A singing, dancing, rainbow-cake-eating celebration of queerness on her own terms.

The idea lights a fire in her, and soon Mahalia is scrimping and saving, taking on extra hours at her afterschool job, trying on dresses, and awkwardly flirting with Siobhan, all in preparation for the Coming Out of her dreams. But it’s not long before she’s buried in a mountain of bills, unfinished schoolwork, and enough drama to make her English Lit teacher blush. With all the responsibility on her shoulders, will Mahalia’s party be over before it’s even begun?

A novel about finding yourself, falling in love, and celebrating what makes you you. 

Thank you to @knopfteen for sending me a copy of the book and teaming up with me for a great giveaway! Check out how to enter below:

GIVEAWAY
Enter to win a copy of Friday I’m in Love

TO ENTER
– follow @rosesandreviews (me), @camryngwrites@knopfteen, and @storygramtours 

– tag a friend you think will be interested

RULES
– Giveaway will end Jan 16th at midnight EST
– US ONLY
– not affiliated with Instagram
-must be 18 or have parents permission
-must be a public account to verify entries

#FridayImInLoveTour #FridayImInLove #CamrynGarrett #knopfteen #storygramtours

The Davenports by Krystal Marquis

The Davenports by Krystal Marquis

Historical Fiction – Chicago 1911

Wow!!! I LOVED this book. It is this author’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to see more from her in the future. It was sweet, exciting, and well-researched historical fiction. I would rank it very high up in my list of favorite historical fictions, actually. I really loved it. The story is loosely based on the C. R. Patterson family. It weaves a lot of important Black history into the story, and is one of those books you could read for fun while still learning a lot, though I would still say romance is central to the story.

SHORT SPOILERY SUMMARY: First, there is Olivia, who is looking for love and ends up in a love triangle. Helen wants to be a mechanic and is on a personal journey. She wants to be respected and valued for more than a pretty face, but things get complicated when she turns her sisters’ love triangle into a love square by falling for Olivia’s suitor. Amy-Rose works for the Davenports, and has big dreams of opening her own salon. And she falls in love with Olivia’ brother, who already has something going on with Oliva’s riches-to-rags BFF Ruby!!! SO. MUCH. DRAMAAA!

I loved Amy-Rose and her love story, hers was my favorite couple, easily! Helen was an awesome SFL and the chapters from her POV were my favorites overall. But, its hard to pick favorites because Olivia was also amazing!! I think Ruby was my least favorite, just because I got jealous-friend-vibes from her near the beginning and I couldn’t shake them off. But it left lots of room for her character to grow, so that was valuable.

I love when authors hide character traits within the characters’ names (the closest word I can find is ‘Euonym‘: a name well suited to the person, place, or thing named. I feel like there is a better literary device for this, if you know it please help me!). I thought it was clever that there was flower imagery in Amy-Rose chapters, gemstone imagery in Ruby chapters, and Olivia gets an olive-branch moment that is super adorable.

Overall I enjoyed Marquis’ writing style. Having four main characters can be a lot to juggle, but each perspective is so different that it makes it really easy to keep them separate in your head. The multiple POV also allowed readers to see the differences in class, the challenging of gender roles, and the difficulty of aquiring and maintaining wealth and status. There were places where I thought the grammar could have been better, and passages that I thought could be reworded for readability, but this copy was just an ARC and those things are usually fixed in final copies. I did think the story moved very fast, and because of the multiple POVs certain characters and relationships could have been fleshed out more. Also, more history!! I selfishly would have loved to this done as a series, but that’s just because I wanted more lol!

I also maintain that this could make a really great show or movie adaptation!

 Follow Krystal Marquis on Instagram @krystabelle_reads and @krystalmarquis on Twitter.

Thank you to Penguin Teen for sending me an ARC of this title. All opinions are my own.

#PenguinTeenPartner!

A Wicked Game by Kate Bateman

“Their three kisses would be just the beginning. He wanted all of her, body and soul.” —Kate Bateman, A Wicked Game

This was my first Kate Bateman book and right away I fell in love with this author’s writing style! It is the third book of the Ruthless Rivals series, but can easily be read as a standalone. A Wicked game was exciting, fast-paced, and steamy. Now I can’t wait to read more of this author!

It was a light and easy read, and it brought me back to a time when all I wanted to do was read harlequin resonances under my desk. This was a fun book to start the year with—romance, scandal, and smut, what more could you want!

𝕄𝕦𝕤𝕥 𝕣𝕖𝕒𝕕 𝕚𝕗 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖:
-Harlequin romance
-Rivalry & Revenge
-Old Maps

This was a pleasure to read! Two childhood rivals, one bet: three kisses. A rogue and a lady tease each other, constantly bickering, but in a tension-building way that is irresistibly hot.

An anonymous act of heroism from one leads to dangerous consequences for another. But not everything is as simple as it seems. Can their desire for each other overcome their desire for revenge?

Thank you to @macmillanusa and @stmartinspress for sending me an ARC of this title! All opinions are my own.

2022 Reading Wrap Up

Another year, another reading challenge met! I am very proud of myself for meeting my 100 book challenge. 100 books a year sounds like a lot, but its really only 2 books a week. I also count audiobooks, and it’s really easy for me to make that number when counting those. This is such a fun challenge for me and I love keeping track of all the books I read throughout the year. I use both Goodreads and Storygraph to track my stats (GR because it has more reviews, SG because it’s easier to use), and I love that Bookstagram and Booktok help me find so many great reading recs.

Looking back on my stats, I am proud that I kept my formats balanced (for the most part!), but for next year I would like to add an sub-goal addendum to my challenge: I want at least 52 of my reads to be physical books, and 52 to be audiobooks, for a total of 104. Also, I would like to read more e-books in the next year!

𝗗𝗜𝗗 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗣𝗟𝗘𝗧𝗘 𝗬𝗢𝗨𝗥 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟮 𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗗𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗚𝗢𝗔𝗟? Yes! I exceeded my 100 book goal and read 113 books this year, and I am very proud of myself

𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯 𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗗𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗚𝗢𝗔𝗟: 104+

𝗪𝗛𝗔𝗧 𝗦𝗘𝗥𝗜𝗘𝗦 𝗗𝗢 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗪𝗔𝗡𝗧 𝗧𝗢 𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗗 𝗜𝗡 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯? I hope to finish all of Jane Austen’s works in ’23

𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯 𝗙𝗜𝗩𝗘 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗥 𝗣𝗥𝗘𝗗𝗜𝗖𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡: Mortal Follies by Alexis Hall and Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

𝗕𝗢𝗢𝗞𝗦 𝗧𝗢 𝗥𝗘𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗗: Pride and Prejdudice, Flower Fables, and Honeycomb

𝗡𝗘𝗪 𝗬𝗘𝗔𝗥𝗦 𝗥𝗘𝗦𝗢𝗟𝗨𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡𝗦: for at least 52 of the books I read to be physical books and at least 52 audiobooks. Also, I’d like to read more e-books! 

💬QOTD: Have you met your reading goal? Any bookish resolutions going into 2023? 

Thank you to @mommas.library and @honeydukesbooksfor sharing this 2022 book tag!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore (1823) FULL TEXT

A Visit from St. Nicholas, more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas from its first line, is a poem first published anonymously under the title Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas in 1823 and later attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, who claimed authorship in 1837. The poem has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American” and is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. It has had a massive effect on the history of Christmas gift-giving.

On the night of Christmas Eve, a family is settling down to sleep when the father is disturbed by noises on their lawn. Looking out the window, he sees Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. After landing his sleigh on the roof, Santa enters the house by sliding down the chimney. He carries a sack of toys, and the father watches his visitor deliver presents and fill the stockings hanging by the fireplace, and laughs to himself. They share a conspiratorial moment before Santa bounds up the chimney again. As he flies away, Santa calls out “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas 

By Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

Copy of the poem hand-written by Clement Clarke Moore

Unboxing Penguin Teen YA Paperback Picks

Christmas came early for me this year! A huge thank you to Penguin Teen for sending me such an amazing book box! I can’t wait to show you all of the amazing books they sent me!!!

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Iris Hollow and her two older sisters are unquestionably strange. Ever since they disappeared on a suburban street in Scotland as children only to return a month a later with no memory of what happened to them, odd, eerie occurrences seem to follow in their wake. But now, ten years later, seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow is doing all she can to fit in and graduate high school on time. But then one of the sisters goes missing without a trace, leaving behind bizarre clues as to what might have happened, and Iris and Vivi are left to trace her last few days. They aren’t the only ones looking for her though. As they brush against the supernatural they realize that the story they’ve been told about their past is unraveling and the world that returned them seemingly unharmed ten years ago, might just be calling them home.

When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican question asker who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister, Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has long been denied.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Aza Holmes never intended to pursuethe disappearance of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Pickett’s son Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the feeling took root—that desire to look, to move closer, to touch. Whenever it started growing, it definitely bloomed the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. Suddenly everything seemed possible. But America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.

Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan

In this YA contemporary queer romance from the author of Hot Dog Girl, an openly gay track star falls for a closeted, bisexual teen beauty queen with a penchant for fixing up old cars. But while Morgan–out and proud, and determined to have a fresh start–doesn’t want to have to keep their budding relationship a secret, Ruby isn’t ready to come out yet. With each girl on a different path toward living her truth, can they go the distance together?

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn is the first of a two-book duology. It is a reimagining of the Arabian Nights and is about a teenage girl, Shahrzad, who, as an act of revenge, volunteers to marry a caliph, Khalid, even though she is aware that he takes a new bride each night and has them executed at sunrise, but then finds herself falling in love with him.

Dark And Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain

A teen girl disappears from her small town deep in the bayou, where magic festers beneath the surface of the swamp like water rot, in this chilling debut supernatural thriller for fans of Natasha Preston, Karen McManus, and Rory Power.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

In a fantasy world inspired by Ancient Rome, the story follows a girl named Laia spying for rebels against the reigning empire in exchange for their help in rescuing her captive brother; and a boy named Elias struggling to free himself from being an enforcer of a tyrannical regime. The novel is narrated in the first-person, alternating between the points of view of Laia and Elias.

Have you read any of these? Any votes for which I should read first?
They all look so good, I have no idea how I am going to pick just one to start with!!!

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry (1905) FULL TEXT

This is my all-time favorite Christmas story, and I wanted to share it all with you all this holiday season.

The Gift of the Magi” is a short story by O. Henry that tells the tale of a young husband and wife who long to give each other meaningful Christmas presents. The couple is constrained by their meager budget, so each gives up something they treasure in order to afford a gift for the other. Illustrations here have been borrowed from Sonja Danowski.

It is a darling little story and if you haven’t read it before this holiday season is the perfect time! Read the story (full text) below, and scroll to the bottom for more info and to discuss with me in the comments!

The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.” The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade. “Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends—a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do—oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again—you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”

Jim looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year—what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.