Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 Holiday Reading Challenge Wrap Up

All About {n} has been hosting a Holiday Reading Challenge for the past month.  Initially I thought that I would read a few books as a nice break from other reading.

My book club had decided to read Tinsel by Hank Stuever for December, so I knew I would have that book at least.  I thought that I could find a few good choices at my public library, but when I went before Thanksgiving no holiday books were out.  Then I remembered that my mom has read holiday books in the past.  Over Thanksgiving, I borrowed from her 5-6 books that were holiday themed.

I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of holiday books.  I think it is the predictable nature of the plots and sometimes the unrealistic settings.  Even with these misgivings, I was willing to get in the holiday spirit and try to read holiday books again.

The first book I picked up was Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark.

At the start of the lighthearted fourth yuletide mystery from the bestselling mother-daughter Clarks (after 2004's The Christmas Thief), Randolph Weed, "self-styled commodore," launches his newly refurbished boat, the Royal Mermaid, from Miami with a "Santa Cruise" to raise money for charity and reward 400 "Do-Gooders of the Year." Meanwhile, Weed's greedy nephew, Eric Manchester, has made a secret $2 million deal with escaped felons Bull's-Eye Tony Pinto and Barron Highbridge to keep them hidden aboard the Royal Mermaid until it reaches Fishbowl Island, where they can make trouble out of federal jurisdiction. Fortunately, there are plenty of Do-Gooders to foil the bad guys, notably the mystery mavens of the Oklahoma Readers and Writers group and sleuthing philanthropist Alvirah Meehan. Full of mystery-lite cheer but lacking in style and substance, this collaboration is never quite buoyant enough to really deck the halls for fans of the Clarks' superior solo efforts.- Publishers Weekly
This book was like Love Boat combined with Murder, She Wrote.  The plot was an interesting story but it was easy to see where the authors were going.  A few chapters from the end, the authors told the story from the perspective of a minor character which didn't fit with the tone of the rest of the chapters.

The next book was Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah. 
It's the last day before Christmas vacation, and Joy Faith Candellaro, a Bakersfield, Calif., high school librarian, is still fretting over finding her husband, Thom, in bed with her sister, Stacey. Although divorced nearly three months—and urged by everyone to move on with her life—Joy just isn't joyful. She's trying, though: she buys a Christmas tree and plans to get herself something spectacular to put under it. Too bad that Stacey's waiting in her driveway with a wedding invitation and the news that she's pregnant with Thom's child. Enraged and betrayed, Joy drives off—and ends up at the airport, holding a ticket to Hope, Canada. What will she do when she gets there? Who cares? All she knows is that life has to be better elsewhere. What happens next is Hannah's version of a Christmas ghost story, as Joy encounters a father and son whose own misery gives her a new perspective. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love) fans will enjoy this fare, but from the subtle-as-a-50-pound-fruitcake irony of Joy Faith's name to a plot twist that necessitates hanging disbelief on the mantel alongside the Christmas stockings, it may be a bit too much for the more skeptical to swallow - Publishers Weekly.
What I liked about this book was that the main character was a librarian.  Also there was a decent plot twist between the two parts of the book.  I did think it was a little strange that Joy wasn't hurt more after the initial plane crash.  I felt how Joy found Danny & Bobby at the end was a little far fetched. The ending was good, but the author could have continued the story for a few more chapters to give the reader more feeling of how Joy, Danny & Bobby moved on together.

The final books were two short story collections headlined by Fern Michaels Comfort and Joy and Snow Angels.  I liked the stories by Fern Michaels and Marie Bostwick.  The other stories were okay, but very "fluffy".  I felt at some points that I was reading a Lifetime Movie. 

"Comfort and Joy" by Fern Michaels. Angie and Josh disagree on everything until they face the truth, encouraged by the loving relationship between his father and her mother who have found each other; that they need to look deeper inside each other's heart.

"A High-Kicking Christmas" by Marie Bostwick. Because she broke her foot, Rockettes dancer Kendra agrees to direct a Yuletides play in Maple Grove, Vermont; she never expected to co-star in a personal production with Pastor Andy and his daughter Thea.

"Suzanna's Stockings" by Cathy Lamb. As she lies in a coma, Suzanna's spirit overhears learning things about her family and friends that make her understand what caring truly is.

"Family Blessings" by Deborah J. Wolf. With her mother's mental state rapidly deteriorating from Alzheimer's, Kacey and her family struggle with celebrating Christmas.

"Snow Angels," by Fern Michaels. Following the death of his wife, Olympic skier Max Jorgensen became a recluse; that is until three angels, Grace Landry and her two little girls, seek shelter from a storm.

"The Presents of Angels" by Marie Bostwick. Former Rockettes dancer Kendra Loomis is happy to be pregnant and loves her husband, the town pastor Andy, and her teenage stepdaughter Thea, but she has doubts about Christmas in Maple Grove Vermont rather than Rockefeller Center.

"Decorations" by Jana McMahan. After her husband Randy dumps her, Michelle Duncan starts over caring for her mother in Asheville and working at a Christmas store with no thought of men until she meets her sculptor neighbor Baxter Brow.

"Miracle on Main Street" by Rosalind Noonan. On Christmas Eve NYPD cop Joe Cody works a drug overdose case that depresses him even more than the fact he and his wife Shelia cannot afford much for their kids for the holidays; he wishes for a miracle and gets one as he learns what a true gift is.


  1. I like Kristin Hannah's books - I might need to check out Comfort and Joy next year!

  2. Colleen - I must admit that Kristin's book was my next favorite after Tinsel

  3. Congratulations on completing the challenge, especially since you don't really like that type of book. Nice summary post, too.