When Muriel Sterling released her new book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, she felt like the queen of Christmas. She’s thrilled when the new tree she ordered online arrives and is eager to show it off—until she gets it out of the box and realizes it’s a mangy dud. But rather than give up on the ugly tree, Muriel decides to make a project out of it. As she pretties up her tree, she realizes there’s a lesson to be learned: everything and everyone has potential. Maybe even her old friend Arnie, who’s loved her for years. Except, she’s not the only one seeing Arnie’s potential…
Meanwhile, Muriel’s ugly-tree project has also inspired her friends. Sienna Moreno is trying to bring out the best in the grouchy man next door, who hates noise, hates kids and hates his new neighbors. And while Olivia Claussen would love to send her obnoxious new daughter-in-law packing, she’s adjusting her attitude and trying to discover what her son sees in the girl. If these women can learn to see the beauty in the “ugly trees” in their lives, perhaps this might turn out to be the happiest holiday yet.
Review: I have enjoyed returning to Icicle Falls again and again but I am disappointed that this is the last book in the series. There seems to be more stories to tell and an epilogue could have tied up all the loose ends but alas it wasn’t to be. I did enjoy the recipes at the back of the book and may give a couple of them a try.
It was nice to be reunited with many of the characters I’ve come to know but Muriel was not at her best in this story and that was disappointing. She was definitely putting a damper on the holiday season except for the ugly tree scenario she spun that seemed to help others out by putting a more positive spin on their thoughts and actions. I enjoyed that each chapter started out with a quote from her newest book, A Guide to Happy Holidays, and some of them really gave me pause. Sienna and her son were a nice addition to the town and I liked her and her son’s interactions with Tim but also with his daughters which I didn’t expect. The ex-wife left a lot to be desired though and his uncle and Sienna’s neighbor definitely did a one-eighty in his outlook on life. Olivia and her family had their trial and tribulations with Meadow joining their family but I liked that Olivia really tried to get to know her and be there for her.
There was a lot of holiday spirit – both Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also sadness, hurt, frustration, anger, upset, fear, tears, happiness, laughter, family and friends, friendship, kindness and in some cases love. Chocolate and food as always played a major role as did many of the small businesses in town. The story flowed smoothly for the most part but their wasn’t the usual depth to the characters. There were a few happily-ever-afters or potential ones in the offing.
I’ve always enjoyed reading this author’s books. I look forward to reading what she pens next!
Favorite Quote: Leo was in no hurry to settle down, and Sienna understood why. They had enjoyed a Hallmark-movie kind of day, a veritable ice-cream sundae of fun, their two families blending perfectly. The cherry on top had been seeing Leo’s archenemy get a dose of the humiliation he’d been doling out. Ah, yes, a very satisfying day.