#BiteSizeSaturday – Christmas Edition: an ex-con, a giant plot hole, theft, murder and mayhem under the Christmas tree, hohoho 🎅🏻

Hi and welcome to Bite Size Saturday, the Christmas edition! As I told you at the beginning of the month, I love to do some seasonal reading, but I don’t like my reads too fluffy, fuzzy or cosy (ICYMI). This year, I came prepared and found myself some non-festive festive reads. Did they comply with my requirements? Let’s have a look!

Stealing Christmas by Paul Heatley is about two guys, Teddy and Bud, who’ve been sacked from their jobs, Teddy for being an ex-con, and his friend Bu who is considered guilty by association, and Teddy reckons that if people treat him like a bad guy, he might as well behave like one. Hence his plan to rob their former boss and the company’s higher-ups on Christmas Eve, while they’re all at the company’s Christmas party. One more job, and then skip town and move on to a better life. However, Teddy and Bud are not the only Grinches at large this Christmas…
The blurb compares Teddy and Bud to the goons from Home Alone, and so I thought I wouldn’t care for them at all. I was wrong. Sure, breaking and entering on Christmas Eve, and getting away with all valuables, including the presents, effectively stealing Christmas, is a wicked thing to do, but I felt like there are some extenuating circumstances and the men have some redeeming qualities to boot, and I couldn’t help but like them.
Festive? Yes! Set on Christmas Eve, there’s presents, carollers, snow, decorations, singing Christmas songs in the car, …
Non-festive? Yes! Theft is just the beginning!
Verdict: this is the perfect non-festive festive read, super quick and lots of fun, recommended! Note that it’s only 99p on Kindle or read it for free through Kindle Unlimited!

The 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro is the 19th instalment in the Women’s Murder Club series. Usually I try to read series in the right order and I haven’t read any of the previous books but I really wanted to read this for Christmas so I decided to give it a whirl anyway. I didn’t feel like I was missing much, or anything at all, really, in terms of background stories or continued storylines. Perhaps I shouldn’t draw conclusions based on one book in a series comprising 20 books (so far), and the 19th one at that, but I have a strong feeling that this series doesn’t go very deep, and that each instalment just focuses on a different case or event or adventure or however you want to call it. This book focuses on Detective Lindsay Boxer, who is trying to solve a case at Christmas. What exactly that case entails, who knows, even having listened to the whole thing I couldn’t tell you. Yes, let’s face it, the plot is flimsy at best, with a feel-good case for journalist Cindy Thomas (another member of the Women’s Murder Club) and some syrupy bits thrown in to distract the reader from the gaping plot hole…
Festive? Yes! Christmas trees, gift shopping, leaving out cookies for Santa, …
Non-festive? Yes! There’s murder and mayhem.
Verdict: I loved the narrator, January LaVoy, who performed all the voices perfectly, female, male and kids, definitely one of the best narrators I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to and I loved the setting in San Francisco at Christmas, but alas, little else. This rather short audiobook took me quite a while to get through because at one point I just couldn’t care less about the characters or the plot and I had to force myself to pick up where I’d left off. (Note that it has an average rating of 3.93 on Goodreads, so obviously lots of people disagree with me.)

In conclusion, if you’ll allow me to get on my soapbox for a minute here, I’ve read one wildly popular and one fairly unknown non-festive festive story and in my honest and humble opinion, the latter is the superior story by far. By very, very far. So if you’re in the mood for a non-festive festive read, I highly recommend you go indie this Christmas 😊

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