Tuesday, December 9, 2014

30 Days of Christmas - Day 8 - The Ride Home for Christmas by Amy Stephens

Today's selection is a newly released novella and the author generously provided a copy for review. I feel like I need to review a children's book next just because I've gone several days without doing so now. I'm even getting this review written while my children are awake because I finally succeeded in talking them into having an all day movie marathon so I could shirk my parental duties and read. On to the review.

Genre: NA Romance/Holiday
Published: December 6, 2014
Pages: 76
Ages: 15+
(That's my estimate)


Katie Karlisle took advantage of a scholarship offer and moved twelve hours away from home to attend Dalton University. She hated leaving behind Austin, her boyfriend of four years, but they both knew it was the best decision for her education and for their future. They’ve continued their long-distance relationship without any issues other than Katie misses Austin terribly. 

It’s now the middle of Katie’s second year at Dalton and she’s getting ready to come home for the Christmas holidays. She’s looking forward to seeing her family and spending time with Austin. 

On the morning Katie leaves to go home, snowy weather conditions are expected and she hopes the bus she’s taking is able to get her back home safely. 

Barely making it to the bus station in time, the only seat left is next to an older, rough looking gentleman Katie learns is named Jack. Jack and Katie eventually warm up to one another and Katie is shocked when Jack starts telling her more about his past and why he’s traveling this holiday season. 

Katie updates Austin each time the bus makes a stop and as the road conditions get worse, Austin is fearful of Katie continuing to travel on the bus. He tries to talk her into finding a hotel room for the night but Katie, not only is limited on cash, doesn’t want to leave her new friend Jack behind. And, she just wants to get home to Austin. 

Suddenly, Katie begins to feel uncertain about everything-- the weather, the bus, her companion Jack and herself. Did she make the right decision to stay on the bus or is this ride home for Christmas one that she will remember for the rest of her life?


There were several elements of this story that resonated with me. One, the main character's name is Katie, my name is Katie. I think this one is pretty obvious. Two, Katie goes to college several hours drive away from her hometown and her high school sweetheart because of a full tuition scholarship. I did the same thing, although by my sophomore year we were no longer dating. Three, on the way home for Christmas, Katie sits next to a man named Jack on the bus. No, that never happened to me, but my brother's name is Jack. Four, Jack has a son who was in the Army and deployed to Iraq. My husband was in the Army and served two tours in Iraq. There is one other element of this story that resonated with me, but I can't share it with you unless you read the book and then message me, because it would be a pretty big spoiler. At this point, in spite of the claims otherwise, I'm pretty sure the author basically stole info from my life to use in her story. Okay, not really, but there are a lot of coincidences for a single novella.

Even though Katie is a very common name, I rarely ever find books with a Katie as a main character. I guess we're just too boring and dependable to make good MC's, I'm okay with that though. Anyway, when I do find a book with a Katie MC, I tend to automatically relate more. It's certainly easier to put myself in her shoes because everyone is already calling me by name. Once you add all those other facets of my life, I was sucked right in. The author was clearly writing about me, even though she wasn't, maybe. This Katie even acts in a way that I like to think I would act if I were to find myself in a similar position. 

While I enjoyed the book because I was pretty much immediately a part of the story, I found myself getting jarred out of the story by spelling and grammar errors more often than I would have liked. I might not have had a fully edited copy of the book, so that might be the reason for that (this is the reason why I don't really like ARC's because they are usually not completely edited and I really am a stickler for grammar and spelling). The ending also felt forced and unnatural. While the dialogue through most of the story flowed, at the end it seemed very stilted and awkward. And the epilogue was more a list of Katie's future than a brief description of it. It was a little awkward too. 

Overall though, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because I was immediately drawn into the story, it was touching, and I can't count off a full star for the spelling and grammar errors since I don't know if I had a finished copy of the book or not. But you should all go buy the book and read it, and then message me to find out what the fifth life coincidence is because I really want to tell some people. - Katie 

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