I know what you're thinking, "Wait, Christmas has come and gone. Why is she reviewing a couple of Christmas books now?" The fact is, that with Christmas on a Friday, probably more of us had to work right up to the big day than would have liked. That meant that all those fun Christmas books I had waiting to be read didn't get touched until I flew out last Wednesday. Honestly, I enjoyed reading these books the days surrounding and just after Christmas, and now want to pass them along in a quick double review! The two books I read this year were, The Christmas List by Richard Paul Evans and The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson.
Synopsis & Review: Richard Paul Evans is famous for his The Christmas Box series. I was one of those kids who received his books for many Christmases along the way, and have almost everything he's ever written. The funny thing is, all of them were gifts, and I might not have picked them up had someone not given them to me. Why? I can't really say, but I somehow thought these were too short to really have a story I could sink my teeth into. I'm happy to say, I was wrong.
In The Christmas List, we find a "what if" story that asks what you would do if you woke one morning and found that you were reported dead, and your obituary was posted in the newspaper. For real estate, businessman, James Kier, this is his reality. In the process of divorcing his wife, who is dying of cancer, and putting people out of their homes and properties around Christmas, nothing seems too low for Kier. The depths of his selfishness and greed can make your blood run cold, until Kier reads his own obituary and reads the comments posted in the online comments following it and realizes what he's become.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. The story felt developed enough that I genuinely cared about the various characters we were introduced to. I liked the redemption built into the story, and the way Evans showed how one man tried to turn a disastrous life around. This was a great, subtle Christmas "spirit" novel. (For more information, see The Christmas List.)
Synopsis & Review: I understand that Melody Carlson, author of The Christmas Bus, has actually written many Christmas themed novels. This was my first, however, and it was cute. While this second novel played a bit more obviously on Christmas story themes, such as the Mary & Joseph story with a young expecting couple that have rolled into town in an old rickety bus, it was still a fun read. In Christmas Valley, the little town there plays on every bit of Christmas that they can to draw tourism. For the owners of The Shepherd's Inn, this would be an interesting holiday, as their own children would be unable to come for Christmas. In exchange, they have opened up their inn for any wayward travelers who needed a place to stay for the holidays.
In a faintly obvious mixing of tales, The Christmas Bus is a story about sharing Christmas with everyone, including those who might not be quite so lovable or even likable! There are the lonely, the homeless, the expecting, and the scrooges in this story, all interacting with one another to make one memorable Christmas. I did enjoy this short little novel, even with its faint predictability. As a quick Christmas read, it was fun to revel in the spirit a little longer. (For more information see, The Christmas Bus.)
Well, there you have my double review for the holiday season! If you're interested in a short Christmas book for the coming year, you might give either of these a try.
I read both of these books on my Kindle and count for the e-book Reader Challenge!