I am one of those Christmas-crazy people. When November rolls around, I am already longing to listen to my Christmas CDs and watch It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf ad nauseam. Throw in a little mulled wine and gingerbread and life suddenly feels complete. So, of course, every year, I end up giving in to the urge to buy books set during the Christmas holidays, knowing that I won’t always be pulled in or get distracted/annoyed/you name it by a lack of proper plot and/or Christmas feeling. This year was no different. I bought three holiday-themed novels even though my inner critic said “Don’t do it!” The titles I bought? Holiday Chick, Over the Holidays and Holiday Affair.
The first book, Holiday Chick, didn’t speak to me. I read five chapters, was bored, tried to read one more. Was still bored. Ended up watching Star Trek (the original series) on TV4 Sci Fi instead. Who can resist young William Shatner as James Tiberius Kirk? I know I can’t–especially when I am reading a book that just doesn’t pull me in. It could very well be that I couldn’t get into it since I was still struggling with Nanowrimo and working lots of overtime. I will give it a second chance but I’ve already found another book I am more interested in so chances are I won’t read it again until just before next Christmas.
The second book, Over the Holidays by Sandra Harper, was much better. It tells the story of Vanessa and Patience, two sisters-in-law who have a very different take on the holidays. Throughout the book, we find out about Vanessa’s own unconventional experiences with the holiday season thanks to her mother (who wasn’t a stickler for tradition and always being on the lookout for a new husband). We also find out that Vanessa is having a bit of a midlife crisis and is seriously tempted by a playwright whose script she’s supposed to help strengthen. Then we have Patience, Vanessa’s sister-in-law, who adores Christmas but also goes a bit crazy every year trying to outdo the previous Christmases. Patience is dealing with her teenaged daughter and the reality of soon having an empty nest once her daughter leaves for college. The rivalry (and animosity) between the two women is something that I think most of us can relate to. And while I wanted a tad bit more Christmas spirit in Over the Holidays, I loved reading it.
Holiday Affair by Lisa Plumley is more your standard Christmas romance. Actually, I think it’s supposed to be that branch of chick lit that’s often called “mommy lit” but whatever it is it isn’t really my cup of tea. I guess it’s because it’s just a little too predictable. But maybe it’s just me having higher expectations of Christmas spirit. I think my main problem with the story is that all the characters sound exactly the same. And the male character says and thinks things that, for me, feel wrong–wrong in the sense that I cannot imagine any man saying or thinking those things. And if I can’t suspend my disbelief, it kicks me out of the story and then I lose interest.
So, of the three books, I would say that Over the Holidays is your best bet if you want something fun and not too heavy that will make you think about Christmas without being saccharinely sweet. I know I enjoyed it…