Hello bookies! I hope everyone’s been transitioning smoothly into the New Year so far! Yes, yes, I know we are over a week into 2019 but I’m only just starting to really get back to reality after a very long, but necessary, winter break. My last few weeks have consisted of relaxation, family time, catching up with friends, wedding planning, and even getting a new job! Wooo! So I definitely can say it’s been a little hectic for me, but despite the chaos I’ve still been working on my Winter Bookworm Bingo challenge!
If it’s been so long that you’re thinking to yourself, “bingo? what bingo?” then I definitely wouldn’t blame you. Here’s a refresher for those who want to follow a long and challenge yourselves in the new year with me!
So far, I’ve officially checked off four boxes on my reading challenge, and although I would consider myself being a little behind on my challenge, I had such a lovely time with my family and friends this break, that I will cut myself a little slack for now. With that being said, here are my four boxes I have checked off, the one in progress, and the next two on my list.
1. Female lead: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Winter Bookworm Bingo was off to a phenomenal start with this Christmas Carol hilarious and heartwarming retelling. Everyone knows the story- Scrooge, an old and greedy, uptight man, gets visited by three ghosts and has to promise to become a better person to all of his peers. What Dickens did not necessarily imagine was a seventeen-year-old girl with a massive Instagram following and daddy’s money that has made her a capital B Brat. Cynthia Hand shows us that not just greedy older men are capable of being Scrooges, but so can pretty young women and handsome young men be in serious need of a ghostly wake up call.
I might have a different spin on this one too, I listened to it as an audiobook, which I highly, HIGHLY recommend. The voice acting for Holly was spot. on. As a California girl myself, I’m pretty used to the dramatized valley girl vocal fry, but Holly’s was excellent. I truly believed this actress was Holly Chase, a former brat turned ghost, living out her days at a secret organization for other Scrooges. Please do yourself a favor and listen to this hilarious treat of a narration.
All in all, the Afterlife of Holly Chase warmed by heart, broke it, and then warmed it up again. I didn’t expect myself to be rooting for this comedically awful teenager and her crush, but boy was I wrong. Cynthia Hand has the perfect teenage voice down to a science, along with the angst, love, and uncertainty that comes with being on the brink of adulthood. What I’m saying is- this is not just a book about ghosts and Scrooges- it’s about second changes, forgiveness, compassion, coming of age, and love. Did I also mention it’s also hilarious?! Seriously. I was laughing out loud. Five riveting magnifying glasses for my first Winter Bookworm Bingo square.
2. Recipe: traditional Christmas fettuccine!
Ok so obviously this wasn’t a book to be read and checked off, buuuut I wanted to challenge myself to read and perfect a recipe for Christmas dinner. I made my family’s traditional fettuccine like all good Italians eat on Christmas, and it was a hit! I even made it again for my family’s New Year’s Eve dinner. Yes I am definitely giving five stars (magnifying glasses) for the classic fettuccine recipe!!!
Anyone else have a cultural dish you like to make around the holidays?
3. Heartwarming read: One Day in December by Josie Silver
I had a whole different kind of review planned out for One Day in December, but I really feel like it is a hard book for me to review. Yeah, I read it in two days. Yes, it was compulsive. Yep, I needed to know the ending. But did I genuinely, truly enjoy it? The jury is still out on that one, folks.
Half of my mixed feelings come from the fact that I’ve never read a romance novel and I don’t usually read “chick-lit” or heartwarming stories. I prefer my romance to be in Hallmark movies and Lifetime originals, but I think I’ve learned that’s the only place I really like to be entertained with sappy love stories with predictable endings- on TV.
The other half of mixed feelings come from the content itself. I found this book to be a compulsively readable and entertaining character study. I loved how the book spanned 10 years of friendship, relationships, family issues, and of course love. I thought this time line worked especially well in this book, and genuinely was touched by some events within this passage of time. I also laughed out loud a few times, which never hurts either!
On the other hand, this book was predictable and sappy. I know that works for a lot of people, and I LOVE predictable and sappy Lifetime movies, so I totally understand the draw. Like, I don’t watch Hallmark or Lifetime to have my heartbroken and the couple not actually get together in the end. So I respect the need for this in a book too, just maybe not my personal cup of tea. Or as the British say, “cuppa.” I also felt this book was a little problematic, and I don’t want to get too into spoiler territory here, but I definitely had to knock off a star from my enjoyment level on this one. I’ll stick to thrillers!
4. Cover with mainly blue, white, or silver: The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
Oof, this most recent book in my challenge thus far was a little rough for me. I’ve honestly been avoiding reviewing it because it’s been days and I still can’t gather my thoughts on this one. A couple chapters in, I definitely knew what would happen. Halfway through, I knew what would happen AND I hated the main character, Emily. I’m not really one to DNF, but I’ll be honest, this time I solely didn’t DNF because I needed to know if I was right from the beginning, despite how much I loathed Emily.
I was right, by the way. But I guess I shouldn’t blame the author for me being too addicted to thrillers that I can spot hidden foreshadowing a mile away. I actually did like the authors writing style, and I didn’t think the plot or ending was horrible. I just simply could not stand another minute of Emily’s pathetic and pitiful inner monologue. I screamed more than once reading this, and mind you, this is coming from someone who has yet to hate even the most awful of main characters in my reading career thus far. I will say though that I was really desperate to know what happened, so I can’t lie that it definitely captivated me for awhile. I think this is why I had a hard time reviewing this one, it’s such a touch balancing act of weighing my intrigue vs. my hatred to result in an appropriate rating.
With that being said, I really do give Sandie Jones credit for making me SO passionately angry at a book. I didn’t rate this one low because I thought it was boring and forgettable, I rated it low because I was so mad at the main character for such being a pushover, wishy-washy, doormat of a woman. So in that regard, an infuriating low rating > boring low rating, in my opinion. So congrats on the two magnifying glasses for making me utterly pissed off for a week, but I guess that’s still better than making me utterly bored.
5. Summer setting: Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard
You know when you start a book and immediately know you’re going to love it, no matter what the ending? That’s a rare feeling for me, but I’m definitely feeling that way about a third through. I’m absolutely enthralled by the characterization and writing style, but I won’t get too ahead of myself. More to come on my next update!
Next up on my list:
6. Book gifted: Nightfilm by Marisha Pessl
Thanks Emily! So excited to read this one!
7. One word title: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
My fiance has been begging me to read it for months- it’s up next I promise!