14 Dec 2013


The fifth, sixth and, wait for it, seventh books read for this years Christmas Spirit Challenge (Details on my sidebar). This can only mean one thing (Drum roll please) as well as Visions of Sugar Plums with this trio of books by KATIE FLYNN bought for me as a present last Christmas I've achieved Christmas Tree level.


(For book description click on book title.)

FIRST SENTENCE(Chapter 1: March 1936): "Look out, Nick! Help, help, I'm slipping! Oh, dammit, look what you've made me do!"

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 58): "We are the new poor," his mother had said at Christmas with a rueful smile, when he noticed that the big oil painting of a long dead Frobisher relative was gone from the large entrance hall.

MY THOUGHTS: Not knowing what the book was about, given the cover and title of In Time For Christmas you would presume it was a Christmas novel and thus ideal for a seasonal reading challenge, right?

Yes, both myself and the person who bought the book for me thought so as well but how wrong we were.

Following two sisters (Addy and Prue) and their counterparts twins (Giles and Gillian)  throughout the mid 1930's and World War II. Putting aside my disappointment that this wasn't a Christmas story per se, I was disappointed with just about every aspect of it.

Perhaps not the best introduction to this authors work (it's the first of Ms Flynn's books I've read). With its unconvincing characters - I thought Addy and Prue (children at the beginning of the story) with their 'middle aged' speech and ways particularly inconceivable - and a plot that was plodding, monotone and largely depressing I didn't find this a good read be it a seasonal one or otherwise.

(For book description click on book title)

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1: July 1934): Hetty Gilbert wandered slowly along St Domingo Road, trying to look completely casual, completely indifferent, but when she reached the library she could not help turning towards it and staring at the imposing doors with the big glass panels with the gold writing upon them.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 305): "Did you see the mistletoe?" he asked, still holding her in his arms. "You must know that a fellow can kiss a girl - any girl - underneath the mistletoe at Christmas time! ....."

MY THOUGHTS: Another case of what looks and sounds ('It was only a mistletoe kiss, Miss Preece told herself, stepping out into the icy December evening and locking the library doors behind her. A mistletoe kiss means nothing, everyone knows that; but this did not quench the warm glow inside her....') like a Christmas read being anything but. 

Still, at least this was a marginally more enjoyable read than the last book and given that its largely about main character Hetty's love of books and relationship with librarian Miss Preece it should appeal to all bibliophiles out there.

(For book description click on book title)

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1: October 1945): When Miss Jensen came into her classroom, the Lawrence twins were fighting.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 50): Cuddled close, both girls examined their trophies, not needing their eyes to tell them what the stockings contained. 'Paperback book, a bag of humbugs, a tin whistle - don't you dare blow it, Joy, or you'll wake the whole perishin' street - and an orange,' Gillian said.

MY THOUGHTS: Another novel from Katie Flynn that despite its cover (with its scattering of glitter it really is very pretty) and tagline of 'Their first peacetime Christmas must be special' is hardly a festive read.

Whilst I'm still of the opinion the books are unimaginative - all set in Liverpool during the war/shortly afterwards, two out of the three featuring a parent who is a widow/widower (in another the parents are in fact an aunty and uncle), twins with the name Gillian, day trips to Llandudno, even the mention of gingersnap biscuits - I did think that this with its plot line of a young girl newly blinded in an accident the best of the three, the exploration of how Joy and her twin, Gillian's, relationship changed quite interesting.
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Kelly said...

Like you, I would certainly have expected these to be Christmas stories given their titles. What a disappointment they weren't.

Good for you for giving this author a second (and third) chance considering you weren't impressed with the first novel. I'm not sure I would have.

Suko said...

Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts about these books. I'm sorry they did not meet your expectations.

Brian Joseph said...

Too bad that the books were disappointing.

Perhaps this is a bit of overindulgent marketing in that they are titled and embossed with a Christmas themes that do not seem to be always there. Do you think that you might have gotten a little more out o them had you not gone in with expectations not tied to Christmas?

Tracy Terry said...

Festive reading or not aside, I think I would have been disappointed anyway Brian though perhaps not quite as much. Then again ..... Hmm, badly written with unconvincing characters and so many similarities I think it safe to say the lack of Christmas only slightly contributed to my overall disappointment

chitra said...

Hi PW,
My good friend. I am here to say hello.
Last few months were hectic at work and home too.
Missed all of you. Hoping things would be smoother and better for me.
See you!!

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

Oops! I have read a few of Katie Flynn's earlier books and actually quite enjoyed them, as easy to read, don't have to think to hard stories.

I haven't read any of her work for ages and I certainly wouldn't ever pick up a book specifically aimed at the seasonal market.

I have certainly read worse authors, but I am sorry that you were so disappointed with the Katie Flynn trio. Still, at least you managed to attain 'Christmas Tree' status by struggling through them!

From a thoroughly cold, wet and windy Sunday in Somerset, enjoy the rest of your day,


Naida said...

That's too bad these disappointed, the last one doesn't sound too bad though. Thanks for the honest thoughts on these not so Christmasy reads.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

All three of these books look very Christmasy to me! I would have bet money that they were about Christmas! Sorry you didn't enjoy them more, but I am glad the last one was better than the others. :)

Nikki-ann said...

My Mum is a fan of Katie Flynn, so I'll have to see if she's got these. Thanks :)

Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Tracy, I don’t think I’ve read anything by Katie Flynn, and yet the name is very familiar. I do read an awful lot so perhaps I have read something but forgotten. A mistletoe kiss does appeal to me. I like anything set around books and libraries, if I see it in the local library/book shop, I will read it, but will give the other two a miss.

Literary Feline said...

Hmm Everything about the covers and book titles scream Christmas to me. Shame they weren't better books all around. At least they got better as they went!

Maria Behar said...

Oh, my gosh!! These books sound utterly depressing and boring! I would have been just as disappointed as you at discovering that these are really not Christmas stories.

Thank you for your very informative reviews! I will definitely avoid these books.

Also, thank you for visiting my blo and commenting on my own reading challenge review!! Merry Christmas!! : )

Maria Behar said...

P.S. And of course, thanks for complimenting my blog! : )