How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake Book Review

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Title: How To Stuff Up Christmas
Author: Rosie Blake
Pages: 324
Publication date: 5th November 2015
Publisher: Corvus

About the book
Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone...

Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.

But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?

Continuing on with the Christmas books (because, why not?!) and I figured that since I've had How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake sitting on my shelf for well over a year now, I should probably pick it up. The story sounded fun from reading the blurb and I'm all about light-hearted, cosy Christmas reads at the moment.

I wanted to love this book more than what I did, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but there was just an overwhelming urge of 'alright-ness' throughout reading this book. I wasn't not enjoying it, but I also wasn't in a mad rush to read the next chapter either.

The book started off on a strong note and I thought the conversations were written really well and I was eager to find out what Eve would get up to, but as the book went on, everything just kind of fell a bit flat and nothing much of anything really happened and on the very few occasions that something did happen, it was all very predictable. I guessed straight away who the picture was on Liam's (Eve's ex fiance) phone and I guessed from Greg's early chapters what was going on his life (every now and again there would be a chapter thrown in concentrating on Greg's point of view whenever he and Eve had spent time together - which I actually did quite enjoy).

That's not to say that the writing of the book wasn't done well, because it was - I liked both Eve and Greg as characters, and I loved Eve's sister, Harriet - but the grand reveal of the mysterious woman on Liam's phone and the 'secret' surrounding Greg's life, which I presume were both supposed to be omg-what-the-hell moments, were just very anti-climatic and bit lacklustre due to already having guessed both of them from very early on. When Greg's 'secret' was revealed, I also thought it was far too under-explored and bit rushed. The same can be said when the grand reveal of who the naughty photo is of on Liam's phone - it was all very last-minute and added no real tension to the plot as Eve's reaction was a bit underwhelming.

Also, the 'love' element between Greg and Eve felt like a bit of an effort at times. They had barely learned a thing or two about each other before spending the day together and then deciding that a kiss was too much and they should't see each other ever again. It was all just very odd and a bit wishy-washy and not at all convincing - that's probably where the biggest downfall in this book comes from for me. I've read a lot of books in this genre, so me guessing major plot points isn't too much of a disappointment, but I did expect more in terms of development in the relationship between Greg and Eve and unfortunately it wasn't there.

I also feel like Greg was a very under-developed character and I wanted to know a lot more about him that we didn't ever get to find out. Why was he a vet? What was his and his brother's childhood like? What was his previous relationships like? I feel like if we knew these things about him, he would have been a much more solid character. It wasn't that he was a badly written character, but I feel like the author could have done a lot more to make him a really tangible character that readers could root for. 

There were aspects of the plot that were well executed though, such as the pottery classes and the houseboat scenes, these did give all the cosy feels. Marmite injected some much needed canine cuteness into the story too and I found his little personality to be one of the highlights of this book. I also adored the relationship between Eve's mum and dad too - her mum's embarrassment at her dad's choice of clothing did allow for some funny moments. As I mentioned above, I also loved Harriet as a character, there was just something so sassy and empowering about her that made me want her to be included more throughout the book.

Overall, How To Stuff Up Christmas was an enjoyable festive read and I finished it rather quickly, but it wasn't one I was itching to pick up. The houseboat and village settings were cute and gave me all the Christmas vibes that you want from this kind of book and I enjoyed the recipes at the beginning of the chapters - I thought this added a cute little extra to the book. I'd recommend it if you want something you can fly through with cute, festive scenery, but don't expect a whole lot of development from the main characters.

Verdict: ★★★

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