Can you tell that my life at work is slowing down?? How many days in a row is this??
Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough. Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it! Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up. For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.
Christmas at Holiday House by RaeAnne Thayne – 4*
Thayne has become another go-to romance author for me. Her books are super low-angst and just have pleasant characters and reasonable situations. In this one, Abby (a registered nurse) agrees to go stay with her friend’s grandma, who recently took a fall down the stairs. Abby, a widow with a young son, is getting ready to move from one state to another and has several weeks off around the holidays, so it all works out. Once she arrives at Holiday House, she finds out that the grandma was planning to have this huge Christmas tour fundraiser, and finds herself getting involved in decorating and organizing the event. The synopsis makes it sound like the grandma’s grandson, Ethan, is kind of a jerk about the whole thing, but actually the level of concern he showed for his grandma made perfect sense – he’s just worried that she’s overdoing it to the determent of her health. Nothing crazy in this one, but an enjoyable story with likable characters.
The Quiet Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott – 3.5*
This is actually a collection of three short stories, all of which were perfectly fine but trended towards Alcott’s moralistic side with some heavy-handed lessons. However, they were all short, easy reads, and kind of an interesting look at the time they were published.
Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie – 4*
This one isn’t remotely Christmasy, but it was December’s book for the Agatha Christie club. Like most of Christie’s books, this one was a reread for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I did also have to look up the basics on playing bridge, because it’s a huge part of the plot. In the beginning, Poirot meets a rich, self-indulgent fellow who, through the course of the evening, tells Poirot that he enjoys collecting rare things. Some of his collections consist of information and knowledge rather than items, including, according to him, at least four people he knows who have successfully murdered someone. This fellow gets the brainy idea that he will have a dinner party. To it, he invites the four supposed murderers, along with four detective-types – Poirot, Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle, and Mrs. Oliver (writer of detective stories). After dinner, two tables are made up for bridge. The four suspects play in one room while the four others play in another. Meanwhile, the host sits by the fire and enjoys himself. But at the end of the night, he’s dead. There was a lot of fun in this one, the obvious fact that one of these four people murdered him, the delving into everyone’s backstories to try and find out if they really had committed a murder in the past, the complicated connections between them. Other than the fact that I kind of needed to know how to play bridge for some of the plot points to make sense, this was an excellent read.
Starry Night by Debbie Macomber – 3.5*
Macomber is one of those authors whose books always sound like I’m going to enjoy them but then when I actually read them, they just don’t quite hit the spot. Starry Night was one of those – not a bad story, exactly, but just a little too melodramatic. It’s painfully obvious what the Big Drama is going to be later, to the point that I was dreading it so much that it was hard for me to enjoy the story. The whole thing is the female MC wanting to interview the male MC, who’s this crazy recluse. After they get to know each other, despite knowing that interviewing him could literally change the entire course of her career, the dude still refuses to let her publish an interview with him, to the point that it really felt like he was just being a jerk for no reason, which meant I didn’t really like him all that well. This wasn’t a bad one-off read, but it did kind of cement to me the fact that Macomber just isn’t an author for me.
One Charmed Christmas by Sheila Roberts – 3.5*
This one was a 100% mixed bag that I struggled to rate. Catherine, an older widow, is disappointed because her adult children and their children have decided to go other places for the Christmas holidays. This was the first part that immediately didn’t make sense – everyone literally acted like there were zero other options for a time to get together and celebrate Christmas. Maybe it’s just because I grew up in a family with multiple Christmas get-togethers, but there are other options besides Christmas morning?? You could get together before they go out of town, after they get back from being out town, like literally any time?? It wasn’t like they all lived far away and couldn’t make the trip – they live in the same town, but are going to travel away for Christmas. I was so confused! Catherine is all sad and disappointed that she won’t be there when her grandchildren open their gifts… so why not open them some time when she is there?!?!!? Catherine also spends a lot of time blaming herself because the Christmas before this one was the first one after her husband died, and he died right before Christmas, so basically last year’s Christmas was super depressing. And instead of being like “oh wow I was going through literally the hardest time of my entire life so maybe my jerk-face kids should have been a little more understanding” she spends all this time going on about how she ruined their holiday and no wonder they don’t want to spend this one with her. Oh my gosh. ANYWAY so her best friend convinces her to go with her on a cruise through the Christmas villages somewhere in Europe, like Germany or somewhere, up some famous river, I don’t remember. Catherine goes and so we also meet all these random people on the boat and all their little stories, most of which were perfectly fine, but there were other weird things. Like the one girl is in her 20s and is a hypochondriac so she’s decided the best thing she can do is marry a doctor. She meets this doctor old enough to be her dad on the cruise and decides she should marry him. Okay… except then this literally perfect man (young, hot, kind, sweet, and freaking OWNS A CHOCOLATE COMPANY) really likes her and keeps trying to date her and she keeps blowing him off so she can keep flirting with the old guy?? I’m sorry, this felt 100% unrealistic and also kind of dumb. In the end, I liked a lot of the characters and enjoyed the overall story, but there were also so many ???? moments that I kept almost DNFing it. Not a terrible read, but definitely not one I want to revisit!