I love the Lisbeth-Zwerger-version I own and I think the P.J. Lynch one will be great, too (all of his books are). But Sonja Danowski's cover looks reI love the Lisbeth-Zwerger-version I own and I think the P.J. Lynch one will be great, too (all of his books are). But Sonja Danowski's cover looks really exceptional. So I crave that edition most, although I haven't seen the rest of the illustrations, yet....more
*** Some things I am going to say might be counted as spoilers if one believes that a romance like this offers a selection of potential outcomes inste*** Some things I am going to say might be counted as spoilers if one believes that a romance like this offers a selection of potential outcomes instead of just one. *** At nineteen Anna was more self-confidant* than most of the girls she knew at her age. It wasn't because she was pretty, although she was. [...] Anna's self-confidence however had nothing to do with the good looks she seemed unaware of and stemmed entirely from her friendship with Lindsay. [...] She realized that if Lindsay could see the positives in her, they had to actually be there. Palim-palim. WRONG! This is a case of a foolish, practically life-long crush on a utterly worthless recipient that made the poor guy see everything around her in a heavily photoshopped blur of softness and peachy colors. But later more about this. (*spelling according to the Kindle edition)
Apart from the obvious risk that presents itself by buying self-published fiction by an unknown author "This Christmas" offered so much potential to become just the novel I needed at the end of last December: It is YA contemporary fiction (don't focus on the main characters' NA-compatible ages. I guess, they are already 19 and 20 because the story wouldn't work if they still lived at home during the school year. They act very, very young, and hints at their respective past affairs do not firmly exclude sex, but they also do not really manage to diffuse the permanating air of immaturity surrounding the awkward couple), it has a romantic plot that happens around Christmas time (I love those - theoretically, when I manage to find one that isn't too silly), it deals with childhood friends on the brink of falling for each other (one side is as obvious as it gets, the other side doesn't do love, but has a fortnight-rule for her own romantic involvements copied from her mother's misunderstood set of attachment rules) and it is supposed to be written in a point of view that swings back and forth between her and him (I would have enjoyed that, but the reality of the undecided, unfocused points of view in this book made me feel nauseous, because I never knew in whose head of the cast I might land next and how much insight the narrator would randomly choose to grant me this time).
Alas, the hoped for pleasure was not to be, partly because of the bad writing, the too obvious ending, really stupid parts in the setting and - high above everything else - Anna. Anna is a regular pain in the ass.
I concur: Whether you deserve to be loved should not depend on your IQ or your attention span. But showing a deficit in both does not necessarily result in being hazardous to other people's possessions and well-being. Bubbly and blond college student Anna is already out in the hall with her luggage when she spontaneously invites her rich and Hawaii-bound roommate Danielle to accompany her home for the Christmas holidays in her family's snow-coated manor house. She doesn't think of informing Danielle about the many pets that will rush at her without restraint, she doesn't tell her that she, her mom and her brother share a house and a household with another family - a platonic friend of her mother's and his daughter and sons, and she doesn't spend a second on the fact that she will have to entertain her guest and spend some time with her, which she would otherwise have used differently. No. She laughs and dances and smiles mischievously until she is irritated and pretty jealous and wishes Danielle to vanish into thin air. Anna is so brazenly oblivious to other people's needs and feelings, and so utterly uninterested in the well-being of everybody but herself that it hurts. She is constantly pouting, throwing herself at someone's neck, borrowing stuff without asking, shrieking indignantly or ratting someone out on a sudden whim. She is clueless, brainless, naive and immature and so beautiful and charismatic, that spending much thought on clothing or much time on basic personal hygiene (i.e. Anna is a toothbrush borrower) is completely unnecessary. Usually her friends - especially Lindsay - love her unconditionally anyway and quickly forgive and forget everything that the destructive tornado called Anna has left in her wake. Lindsay's disappointment is only short-lived even when Anna leaves a party using the beloved truck he had been saving an eternity for, bumps into every tree and mailbox on the way home and parks it on the summit of a huge pile of horse dung: "Are you quiet because you are too mad to talk or because everything is fine and you feel silly for over reacting*?" she asked. [...] Lindsay threw himself back into the couch cushions. [...] "Anna, what were you thinking? I mean, it's not just the truck ... although, uh! It's my truck! And you put like three dents in the bumper! But, you just left without saying anything! I looked all over for you, I was worried." Taken aback [...] Anna began to stammer, "I'm sorry ... I just needed to get out of there [...]." It has to be pointed out that after this "talk" Anna tries to borrow the truck a second time, but luckily Lindsay has put his keys out of her reach just in case. (*spelling according to the Kindle edition)
Never have I encountered a heroine as vapid and unconcerned as Anna. She has the attention span of a baby squirrel and gets distracted by everything. I my opinion Anna suffers from some kind of manic disorder, which, if addressed properly, would be fine, because it would put everything into a workable frame. But Anna's mental problem is never, ever mentioned and therefore not qualified to earn her bonus sympathy points.
As jumpy as Anna's focus is the point of view. The reader has to hop from Anna's to Lindsay's mind and sometimes to Danielle's or other side-characters' without warning and even mid-chapter or mid-scene. That Lindsay's feelings are an open book does not compliment the suspense arc of the story. At the end it drags and drags and drags until Anna is really, really aware of her own attachment and able to understand Lindsay's signals. There is a too long string of exchangeable scenes like of hogging the mistletoe for a kiss, strategically placed negilées at midnight fridge raids (Anna leaves all the perishable ingredients out on the counter to decay in peace and the kitchen as a whole in disarray - how cute! - afterwards) and frozen-pond-incidents that require undressing in the car and showering together. In a better constructed novel the latter would have had the potential to create a sexy atmosphere. In "This Christmas" brainless barbie didn't even allow the potential to raise its head.
Since I had vaguely mentioned stupid parts in the setting right at the beginning I want to elaborate quickly: There are fake obstacles placed into the couple's path. I.e. Anna's and Lindsay's living arrangements aren't very unusual or outrageous. In Germany at least it is deemed to be a very sensible thing to share a house with people you are not necessarily related to. There are a lot of recent housing projects with shared recreation or dining rooms, roof top gardens and so on - preferably for parties of different generations. But even if inhabitants match as their age is concerned, it does not make them siblings and sexually off-limits to each other. A second über-silly thing was that big, big mansion itself and its convenient implications for its owners: After Anna's dad died his great aunt gave his widow her much too spacious house so she didn't have to care about paying rent anymore. In order to show her gratitude to the universe Anna's mom started to take in stray animals (dogs, deer, goats, horses and so on) and care for them. At the same time the house gives her "the opportunity to stay at home with [her] kids and just do her photography on the side." Huuuuuh? How does owning a house free the inhabitant from having to work for her bread and clothing? As I understand feeding a couple of horses, dogs and deer is quite costly as well and keeping a huge mansion warm and dry and in good repair might be at least as expensive as paying for a moderately sized family apartment.
All that remains to say is that I am proud of myself for sticking to the book until its last page. It did not deserve the honor, but I was in a rather gracious mood. It had been Christmas time after all. ...more
Look at that cute cover! Read the enthusiastic praise by well-known German newspapers and radio stations! Feel my speechless disappointment:
The storyLook at that cute cover! Read the enthusiastic praise by well-known German newspapers and radio stations! Feel my speechless disappointment:
The story is supposed to be realistic and yet poetic: Well, yes, the first-person-POV bunny lives in a huge, grey Japanese apartment complex and its Daddy is stuck in an airplane. But Bunny is not supposed to go out and play in the snow until it stops snowing. So the book basically deals with Bunny and Mommy bunny hovering inside that bleak, greyish, dark apartment. They play cards, Bunny makes a forbidden trip to the balcony, Mama cooks and uses the phone. But WHY is it not possible to play in the falling snow in the first place??? This is not Antarctica. It's Tokyo.
The other thing that let me down were the supposedly masterful illustrations. The Bunny family sports red, glowing eyes - colorful dots in a dreary, boring world that presses down on my lungs - colorful dots that turn cutish figures into zombie-like creatures, who get to spend one short moment of happiness in a lonely concrete yard forming little ghosts out of snowy slush.
How poetic, how minimalistic, how artistic! But how enjoyable? Not very much. But that's just my own, unprofessional opinion. ...more
Around the 11% mark I noticed that I couldn't stand all that super merry stuff like the marshmallow soup, the polar bear teacher (called Mr. Polar BeaAround the 11% mark I noticed that I couldn't stand all that super merry stuff like the marshmallow soup, the polar bear teacher (called Mr. Polar Bear - or PB) or Santa's personal, South-Pole-born penguin kitchen chef (called Chefy) and the overload of cutish Christmas nonsense any longer. Merryment class hadn't been my my favorite subject in school after all. Plus heroine Candycane - Mr. Claus' daughter who is accutely aware of her famous and self-loving dad's shortcomings -, her current boyfriend, the ambitious half-elf Tinsel, and the festive arrangement of side-characters, like naturally busy dental hygienist Sugar Plum, were already working on my nerves like toffee on a crumbling tooth.
Nice idea, over-enthusiastic execution (I should have already heeded the this-is-way-over-the-top warning, when I first saw "author's" name)....more
I hope I'll carve out some time to review, but I have to say this is how a fairytale retelling should be in my opnion. Thank you so much, Teccc, for pI hope I'll carve out some time to review, but I have to say this is how a fairytale retelling should be in my opnion. Thank you so much, Teccc, for parting with your copy. It would have taken ages - or maybe forever - until I decided to finally buy it....more
***3.5 stars altogether***. After the first nothing-is-actually-happening chapter I was almost ready to throw the towel, but resolved to go on reading***3.5 stars altogether***. After the first nothing-is-actually-happening chapter I was almost ready to throw the towel, but resolved to go on reading, because Anna had delighted me and Lola had entertained me to a satisfying degree.
After the 30% mark it got definitely more interesting and offered a lot more pull. Suddenly problems popped up on paradise and the sibling-stuff hinted at at earlier points of the plot got more prominent and held identification potential. Also I cannot really complain about a lack of heartthrob. Josh didn't particularly wow me as a person, but the chemistry was unmistakably there.
That said, I'd like to mention two thoughts concerning the trip to Barcelona:
1) I know, that this is a rich kids story about Americans thriving in a posh boarding school with hotel-style breakfast. But somehow I resent a little that a romantic weekend of fictional American teenagers can only be prefect when it is located in an expensive hotel and shows the lovers not having to think about trivial things like taxi fares or entrance fees, room service or spontaneously acquired umbrellas. For instance the entrance fee to the Sagrada Familia including the elevator to the top, where you can see the mentioned dove-decorated Christmas tree, costs an arm and a leg. And still Isla and Josh seem to have enough pocket money to plan their next trip - to costly Switzerland, right the weekend after the next - without the bread-earners in their families noticing their expenses.
2) There is that scene in which the narrator explains about European students and their living at home instead of moving out into dormitories, in order to save money. This is given as the reason for a young Spanish couple having sex in a shrubbery of a public park densely populated with tourists. Well, I cannot speak for Spain. Maybe it's different because a lot of families are catholic, but in my experience in my country, students who stay at home do not really have to fear having a reduced/monitored sex-life. On the contrary: I have never heard of anybody having to resort to backseat-sex or other things we see in US movies. To illustrate my point: Not long ago two of my colleagues each reported at lunch that their teenaged offspring had announced their first boyfriend/girlfriend would soon stay over on a regular basis. And what did those parents do? Buy larger mattresses for their son's/daughter's room, of course.
I close my non-review with a question: What the hell happened to Josh's damaged tendons? In the beginning Perkins made it seem as if there was a disability looming ahead that would cripple the love interest's career options and thus his shot at having a fulfilling, artistic existence in a life-changing way, but apart from some ouchy moments at cuddly-times that initial scare turned out to be a dead alley that wasn't meant to be walked. Did anybody else feel cheated/mislead on purpose? Or did you put it down as a forgotten thread that the editors overlooked when cleaning up?
Pre-reading assessment: Ahh, Isla. The petite redhead? I am looking forward impatiently....more