**spoiler alert** This book was a sweet, sappy, cute Christmas read. It was pretty basic holiday fluff—meaning, the prose was certainly lacking for or**spoiler alert** This book was a sweet, sappy, cute Christmas read. It was pretty basic holiday fluff—meaning, the prose was certainly lacking for originality, variation in adjectives and turns of phrase. I have to blame the editor, who had to suggest (or insist) on using such repetitive adjectives such as "lovely" and "maudlin", as well as not knowing how to properly use a comma or how to proofread for typos or missed punctuation.
I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half, mainly because I didn't care for Zach's "schorphenic" commitment-phobic personality, as well as all his childish hangups with his parents, especially his mother, and his parents' several-years-ago divorce, which has apparently taught him that love doesn't last, so why try? I also didn't like that the last part of the book was spent on the fire at Zach's mother, stepfather and stepsisters' house, rather than on romantic goings-on with Zach and Merilee. I especially didn't care for the "in the very last seconds of the last chapter" Zach just showing up at Merilee's apartment and just starting to make-out with her and then offering her the lame excuse that "he's taking a chance on her". It's implied that they have sex, which kind of seems like a soap opera/TV movie cliche to me; they've barely had any "real" dates, since Zach pulled away every time Merilee made a good effort to show her interest in him.
The other thing that bothered me about this book—and I tried to not let it bother me and suspend my disbelief, but it was hard—was Zach himself. There seemed to be no escaping that Zach was a character created by a woman who thought she knew how a man would behave, what he would think and say. There was one point when Zach thinks (or says) the word "maudlin", a word to me always seems to a standard word in chick-lit or mass-marketed chick-lit masquerading as a mystery or a drama. I just can't imagine big, beefy fireman Zach uttering or thinking a word like "maudlin"–it just wouldn't be in his vocabulary.
To be completely honest, I only picked up this book because of the Christmas movie on Hallmark this past 2014 season (also called "The Nine Lives of Christmas", which I found to be cute and adorable and appropriately romantic without being too over-the-top sappy. (The movie's plot varies from the books; several very good changes, in my opinion, were made to give the plot and the movie itself a fresher, better updated and more romantic feel.) I enjoyed watching the movie more than reading the book, but still, the book was a pretty fun read. I did really like the sections that were from Ambrose's point of view, like the opening chapter, Ambrose's trip to Pet Palace to see the "Santa Monster", and the disaster scene following Ambrose's gift of bird feet to Zach. ...more
This book read like fiction, with effortless simple yet descriptive prose, telling the story of a family from Vermont who spend their Decembers in ManThis book read like fiction, with effortless simple yet descriptive prose, telling the story of a family from Vermont who spend their Decembers in Manhattan, selling Christmas trees. The main focus of the book is the story of Ellie—the eldest of the three Romp children (and only girl), eleven years old at the time the story takes place, eleven and already seeming on her way to becoming an adult—and Billy, her father, with whom she is very close (though not so much that December).
I felt that this tale is one of those subtly inspirational ones, told with family values at its heart, but fortunately lacking any preachy tone that maybe some other inspirational stories—especially the ones involving faith of any kind—may have.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and I am sad that it was such a fast read because it was so good. I would love to read more about this family and all of their endeavors and successes. ...more