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Books You Need To Read During the Holiday Break

This holiday break you may find yourself being bored constantly, also considering coming down from such a busy exam season. When things get a little dull, I like to pick up a book and read, and time flies fast while enjoying the perfect story. If you're in the same boat this holiday season, here are some suggestions to get you through the day.

*All ratings given are out of five.

1. Love and Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen

Photo from Goodreads.com

Genre: Romance

Goodreads Rating: 3.54

My Rating: 3.7 

Synopsis: Two young adults' paths happen to cross one day as they ride the same train to the same destination, but for two very different reasons. The entire story unfolds in about 24 hours while the two protagonists work against the world in desperate attempts to reach their destinations on time after their train breaks down. The journey takes them to people and places they never thought they would reach, and they learn a lot about each other, and themselves along the way.

What You'll Like: Love and Other Train Wrecks is an easy read. It isn’t hard to understand or follow, and I did not find it got slow or dragged on in any places. It also has a big plot twist—one that stares at you the entire time, but you still don’t see it until the author spells it out for you. I didn’t have to think too hard for this book, which makes it a great story to read casually over winter break. It’s also centered around winter, not Christmas, so if you’re looking for a break from all the Santa-themed paraphernalia, this is a good pick.

What You'll Dislike: The story may be a little too casually written. There are abbreviations like 'IMHO' or 'convo' in the narration, which may not bother some readers but can be a bit of a pet peeve for others. I also didn’t fall in love with Ammy’s character right away as she felt very generic. I don’t know when, but I did find myself liking her and rooting for her later on in the story. And, if the plot twist doesn’t catch you, then the story is relatively predictable and a little cliché. That’s what makes it a fun, cozy romance novel for some, and a redundant retelling of an overused trope for others. Depending on how you perceive it, this could make or break the story for you.

2. Pastels and Jingle Bells by Christine S. Feldman

Photo from Goodreads.com

Genre: Short story, Romance

Goodreads Rating: 3.91

My Rating: 2.5

Synopsis: When Trish runs into her childhood bully and realizes he doesn’t recognize her, she enacts a plan to get revenge for all the years of torment he put her through. When her plan falls apart, Trish finds herself trapped in a lie about her identity and faced with a growing crush on her former bully.

What You’ll Like: This is by far the shortest story on this list, which makes it great if you’re looking for something to keep you occupied on the car ride to Grandma’s house or while you wait for the Christmas ham to cook. It’s a cute little Christmas love story with adorable characters and a heartwarming ending, which can be a nice break from the hectic chaos of the holidays. Pastels and Jingle Bells is also one novella in a series where the stories aren’t really connected to each other, but the characters’ lives intertwine.

What You'll Dislike: Because it’s a short story, there really isn’t room for any plot twists, much character development, or any subplots. I found the characters to be pretty generic, and the ending, albeit cute, was predictable. If you just finished an emotionally-draining, thought-provoking thriller, this may be a nice reprieve. Otherwise, it can be quite dull and unimpressive.

3. A Baby for Christmas by Joan Kilby

Photo from Goodreads.com

Genre: Romance

Goodreads Rating: 4.14

My Rating: 4

Synopsis: It’s the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, and a very pregnant Mia has just driven her car into a ditch in the middle of a snowstorm. Scared, desperate, and in labor, she stumbles through the snow until she finds Will Starr, who ends up having a much bigger impact in both her life and her baby’s than either of them anticipated.

(Note: A Baby for Christmas is the second book in the series The Starr Brothers of Montana. Reading the first book of the series isn’t necessary to understand this one, but A Baby for Christmas does contain spoilers regarding characters in the book that precedes it, The Secret Son.)

What You’ll Like: Guy-helps-girl-deliver-baby-in-his-shed isn’t exactly a common trope, so if you’re looking for a romance novel that’s out of the ordinary but still ends on a happy note, this is a great pick. Like Pastels and Jingle Bells, this book is part of a series where the characters’ lives intertwine, so it’s a good pick for fans of that genre. Mia and Will were both multidimensional characters with complicated histories and development throughout the story. I found myself rooting for them both while still believing that they were realistic characters. Moreover, the integration of the Christmas theme comes very naturally and doesn’t feel forced or suffocating.

What You'll Dislike: I also wasn’t a fan of how one of the characters seemed to do a complete 180 degrees at the end of the book. Without any obvious reason, she just changed her mind about something that had been a very integral part of her character earlier on in the novel. I’m all for character development, but this came without reason and it seemed like her only reason for change was for the sake of the story ending. I also found the epilogue to be quite rushed.

4. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie

Photo from Goodreads.com

Genre: Mystery

Goodreads Rating: 3.93

My Rating: 4

Synopsis: A murder has occurred on Christmas Eve in the Lee household, and detective Hercule Poirot and some local police officers are dispatched to solve it. The problem is they have quite a few layers of family drama and secrets to get through before they can even hope to discover who killed Mr. Lee.

What You'll Like: This story has all the characteristics of a captivating detective story: multidimensional characters with complex backstories and interrelationships, plot twists, and a cool protagonist detective whose genius blows you away. While reading, I think I suspected every single character, except the character who ended up being the culprit. If you’re looking for a story with more action and less romance, I would highly suggest reading Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. This is also the twentieth book in the Hercule Poirot series, so if you’re a fan of his character and Christie’s writing, you’ll have no shortage of material to read.

What You'll Dislike: If you’re looking for a cute, cozy, casual story to keep you occupied while you wait for Christmas dinner to cook, you should probably look elsewhere. There is no cute love story in this book, and keeping up with detective Poirot takes quite a bit more brain-power than the other stories on this list do. It also isn’t very holiday-centered, despite taking place over Christmas, so if you’re really looking for a festive Christmas story, this probably won’t satisfy that craving.

 

So next time you find yourself bored alone at home, read one of these great winter and holiday-themed books. But, remember to go out every once in a while. Don't fall too in love with readinfg.

Renée Elson

Carleton '22

Renée is currently pursuing a degree in journalism and humanities at Carleton University. She is an avid writer and coffee drinker, and likes to spend her free time binge-watching Netflix.
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