Every December we attempt to read a holiday themed book to get us into the holiday spirit - here’s a few we’ve read through the years and what we’ve thought about them when we read them. Please send your suggestions!
Currently Reading: December 2015
(Dash & Lily #1)
by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own."
December 2014My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories
by Stephanie Perkins, Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Pena, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link...
"If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love."
Carrie: Book 2.2 stars
((I’m not a fan of contemporary books, and I think reading an anthology like this really shows that.))
Midnights by Rainbow Rowell 3 stars. Was just 'eh.' Didn't capture my attention, but didn't bore me either.
The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link 2 stars. Was on the boring side. Couldn't tell what time period it was until said 'internet.' So it had that sort of charm to it. But I have to admit
Angels in the Snow by Matt dela Pena DNF.
Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han 4 stars. Cute story with a human girl and elves.
It's A Yuletide Miracle Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins 4 Stars. I think this one might be my favorite. Loved it.
Your Temporary Santa by David Leviathan 2.5 stars. Meh, was boring. I just couldn't bring myself to care about anything.
Krampuslauf by Holly Black 4 stars. Cute story about friend and believing and magic.
What the Hell Have You Done Sophie Roth by Gayle Forman DNF. Blah.
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire DNF. Blah blah.
Welcome to Christmas CA by Kierstan White DNF.
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter 4 stars. My second favorite story of the group.
The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor 4 Stars. My third favorite one in one respect, and my favorite in another. (It's FANTASY!)
Steph: 3 stars
Midnights by Rainbow Rowell (so sweet and adorable!)
It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins (cute, romantic, and strangely relatable)
Krampuslauf by Holly Black (very funny and cool. different from what I expected but in a good way)
Welcome To Christmas, CA by Kiersten White (just the right balance, though it did border on overly saccharine in the end)
Angels In The Snow by Matt De La Pena (just no. you stupid stupid boy. and your stupid stupid plot. no)
Beer Buckets And Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire (so cliche and everything is really convenient)
In the middle:
The Lady And The Fox by Kelly Link
Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan
What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth by Gayle Forman
Star Of Bethlehem by Ally Carter
The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor
As you can tell by the lengths of the respective lists, I ended up giving the book 3 stars (rounded down from 3.5 because I guess I'm feeling kind of grinchy? lol). Most of them were kind of 'meh'. Enjoyable enough, but overly cutesy/predictable/boring depending on the particular story.
Tisha: 4 stars
Best:Midnights, What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth (I loved Russell), Welcome to Christmas, CA, Star of Bethlehem was probably the most predictable, but I loved it anyway.
Worst: The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer (I skimmed this one to be honest) & Angels in the Snow was cute, but Steph and I have talked about how illogical it was.The Lady and the Fox was just a little boring, especially after how cute Midnights was.
In the middle: Polaris is Where You'll Find Me, Your Temporary Santa, Krampuslauf, Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus
I loved the characters of Marigold and North in It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown
All in all I really liked the collection. I'll probably read it again at Christmas time.
Holidays on Ice
by David Sedaris
"It's hard to describe David Sedaris to those who've never read him. Mixing autobiographical details with sharp sarcasm and social commentary, Sedaris can probably best be described as a '90s version of brilliant humorist Jean Shepherd (who did his own scathing take on the holiday season with the film A Christmas Story). Sedaris' essays and stories are at once hilarious, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. His new anthology, Holidays on Ice, collects three previously released stories and essays and offers three brand-new ones; all revolve around Christmas. P"SantaLand Diaries," which originally appeared in "Barrel Fever," leads off the collection and may be Sedaris's best-known work. A laugh-out-loud-hysterical look at Sedaris's experiences working as an elf in SantaLand in Macy's, the story is a wickedly funny slicing-and-dicing of the holiday season and the good cheer that supposedly accompanies it. His dark humor is exactly what you need when you're getting sick of all the fuss about Christmas."
Tisha: 2 stars
I think I liked The Cow and the Turkey the best because I actually laughed out loud. SantaLand Diaries and Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family were interesting.
Carrie: 1 star
Not my cup of tea at all. It was rather depressing and read like a diary entry...except I didn't know or care enough about the characters to follow the stories. Even the dash of humor in it couldn't win me over. And certainly not a book I'd choose to read as a holiday time book.
Tracy: 2 stars
He's witty, I'll give him that but didn't like his style of writing except Santaland. I mean there's funny and then there's self indulgent nonsense. Babies in a dryer? Selling kids to pedophiles? Random rant about dead bodies? I get that it's satire but it didn't read as legitimate just an excuse to shock the reader for the hell of it. I will say that Santaland is great. Skip the rest.
Steph: 2 stars
I only found one of the stories enjoyable (the Santaland one, perhaps because it's cynicism was somewhat balanced with some sweetness). But some others just really sucked. Mostly though the tone was a bit off for me. It was kinda depressing really, and maybe it's just because I haven't had the greatest year, but the book left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
by Louis May Alcott
Classic novel of 19th-century family life during and after the Civil War, in a household with four sisters. Alcott based the March family largely on her own real-life family.
Tisha: 5 stars
I had only read parts of the book the first time and absolutely love the movie (1994 edition: my second all time favorite movie, and I see a lot of movies lol) so it was nice to finally read the book in its entirety. Yes, it reads a little slow at times and boring in others, but its charm still lasts more than 200 years later. Alcott catches all the little things about growing up and moving into your 20s, there's tons of beautiful wording, and her transcendental advice makes you want to go out and make a better version of yourself.
Steph: 3 stars
I'd probably have been better off reading this at a younger age. It was a bit preachy for my tastes, particularly at the beginning. It would probably be great at teaching morals/virtues to kids though…
Tracy: 5 Stars
Carrie: 3 stars
Don’t hate me guys, but I not that big of a fan of Little Women. I thought it was a bit long and slower than the types of books I enjoy reading. That said, at the same time I did enjoy meeting these characters.
Let It Snow
by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
"Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses."
Tisha: 3 stars
I liked the first and second, but hated the third.
Steph: 3 stars
I wasn't a huge fan of this, but I certainly didn't dislike it.
The first story was by far the best, and it got my hopes up for the overall quality of the book. Sadly each story got progressively worse, and the third one was annoying, corny, and not a good end at all. I think my issue was that the characters in each story got less likable. Jubilee and Stuart were really cute, Tobin and Annie were alright despite being pretty stupid throughout their story, but then we end with Addie. Who I just did not like and who I think does not deserve her sappy ending. Also her story doesn't match the others... why did it suddenly begin to change genre and turn into a sort of paranormal romance thing?
Due to the sour ending, I think this book gets an overall 2.5, but it's Christmas and the first story was so likable that I will round it up :)
Tracy: 3 stars
Not bad. None of the stories were outright terrible and the teenagers were believable if not too believable. I do think the first story was the best with the rest getting progressively sappier. Still, for Christmas, Let it Snow is a good book for the season.
A Maine Christmas Carol
by Philip F. Harris
"A Maine Christmas Carol is more than a retelling of the Dickens classic.Set in Hallowell, Maine we find old Scrooge replaced by 16 year old TJ. Having lost his father in Iraq, TJ has turned to drugs in an attempt to cope with a world that he feels has spun out of control. TJ alienates himself from his family and friends and his father returns in spirit, like Bob Marley of old, in an attempt to steer his son from the path of self-destruction. As one reviewer says of the novel, "In the guise of the well-loved tale it reminds us of the effects of modern life-its drugs, wars and poverty-on its people. It gives us the hope and optimism that is much needed in our contemporary world."
Tisha: 1 Star
Steph: 1 Star
The fact that anyone has given this 5 stars, is incomprehensible to me. I wish I could get my money and my time back. It reads like poorly written fan-fiction.
The diction and word choice are inconsistent. The author should have committed to the modernization and not tried to tuck in period vocabulary and turns of phrases to recall the Dickens classic. None of the characters behaved in logical or appropriate manners, they flip flopped and changed personalities to suit the point of that particular passage. Not to mention that we were constantly told, rather than shown, character traits. The narrative constantly contradicts itself and can be confusing.
I can honestly say that I've read better fan-fiction stories (with the same Christmas Carol conceit), stories that put this one to shame. I'm not sure how this got published, it seems so unpolished. Even the editor didn't seem to care about it too much, because there are typos and unevenly spaced words and letters. In a soft cover book I paid $14 for... Like I said, I wish I hadn't wasted my time on this. Though it's my own fault, I suggested it for book-club. Maybe if I'm lucky I will realize that it was all just a 'nightmare caused by an undigested brownie'...
Tracy: 1 Star
This book reads like a bad fanfiction. Seriously how did it get published? The story goes that TJ is depressed and angry because of his father's death in Iraq a few years before the story takes place. He hates his mother because she works, Christmas, and life in general. One night before Christmas he is visited by his father, sister, and dead girlfriend. At the end he decides to embrace life.
The story is poorly written and contains every cliche possible. Cliches would be fine as the story is based on A Christmas Carol but my problem with it is that it lacks the magic and complexity of the original story.
Coming in December 2016
Hercule Poirot's Christmas
by Agatha Christie
"Motives for Murder: A fortune in uncut diamonds, hidden by an eccentric old man A woman's love, too freely given A business empire built on ruthlessness Each of them may have been a motive for the brutal slaying of wealthy old Simeon Lee. Coupled with Lee's family, each member of which hated him and wished to see him dead, they presented Hercule Poirot with a baffling challenge--one which the astute detective solved only through his uncanny ability to see "the little things."