Audiobook Review: (X2) Santa Cruise & The Secret of Snow

Published September 28, 2021

Author: Fern Michaels

Narrator: Susan Bennett

Audiobook Length: 9 hours 16 minutes

At Ridgewood High, Amy, Frankie, Rachael, and Nina formed a deep bond. Now, fifteen years after leaving school behind, they’re back for a reunion, laughing, reminiscing, and chatting how much has changed—and how much hasn’t. Nina, once the star of every school play, moved to Hollywood and landed a recurring role on a sitcom. Amy, fondly known as “the brains of the operation,” is now a Silicon Valley bioengineer. Outgoing and compassionate, Frankie works for a New York publishing house. Rachael, always the most boy-crazy of the crew, married—mostly to please her parents—but is now divorced. All four are strong, successful, and somehow, still looking for the right partner. But Frankie has an idea to help solve that: a singles cruise for the holidays.

In late December, Amy, Rachael, Frankie, and Nina gather in Miami, ready to board their state-of-the-art cruise ship. The entertainment options are endless, the food is to die for, and the passenger list includes hundreds of eligible men. The highlight of the week will be a magnificent New Year’s Eve celebration with multiple theme parties, dancing, and fireworks. The ladies are happy to give Cupid a helping hand here and there—hanging mistletoe in elevators and cheering each other on through speed-dating events and shore excursions. Holidays—like the path of love itself—don’t always go exactly as planned, but over the course of one festive, unforgettable week, all four will set sail on surprising new adventures.

Find It On: Goodreads / Amazon

** Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon, and I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through my links. It’s a nice way for me to continue my love of books and feed my reading addiction.**

Santa Cruise takes four high school friends who are now in their mid-30s embark on a cruise to the Caribbean from Miami. Frankie who used to dream of singing now works for a New York publishing house. Amy lives in Silicon Valley as a bioengineer. Nina lives in Hollywood and has a recurring role on a sitcom. Rachel is now divorced and runs a dance studio. While there were moments these characters read as teenagers, there were others where they seemed to be women in their 50s. I have met many some women who act like this in the real world, they are usually one or the other and rarely both. For me, it just seemed that the author had a difficult time deciding how mature/immature to make her characters.

As the cruise, which is mentioned in the title, does not begin until around the forty-ish percent mark, it did throw off the pacing for me. I would have preferred less backstory and planning for the cruise and instead have some of it integrated into the actual cruise portion. The novel also takes so long to get to the cruise, and to do anything else in the story, as everything is described in a huge amount of detail. Everything from apartment design to clothing to how much each staff member is tipped just seemed to be a bit much. Details are nice as they help the reader picture everything, but I think briefer ones could have gotten the same point across without distracting from the story. There are some side stories with families, with other cruise passengers, and with romance, so there is a lot that feel rushed since a lot of time is spent on mundane details. Overall, I love the concept, but I think the execution did not quite get there.

Published October 26, 2021

Author: Viola Shipman

Narrator: Nancy Peterson

Audiobook Length: 11 hours 25 minutes

Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist who knows only sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is being replaced by an AI meteorologist, which the youthful station manager reasons “will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract.” The only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is one in a famously nontropical place—her northern Michigan hometown.

Unearthing her carefully laid California roots, Sonny returns home and reacclimates to the painfully long, dark winters dominated by a Michigan phenomenon known as lake-effect snow. But beyond the complete physical shock to her system, she’s also forced to confront her past: her new boss, a former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy; more keenly, the death of a younger sister who loved the snow; and the mother who caused Sonny to leave.

To distract herself from the unwelcome memories, Sonny decides to throw herself headfirst into all things winter to woo viewers and reclaim her success. From sledding and ice fishing to skiing and winter festivals, the merrymaking culminates with the town’s famed Winter Ice Sculpture Contest. Running the events is a widowed father and chamber of commerce director, whose genuine love of Michigan, winter and Sonny just might thaw her heart and restart her life in a way she never could have predicted.

Find It On: Goodreads / Amazon

** Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, including Amazon, and I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase through my links. It’s a nice way for me to continue my love of books and feed my reading addiction.**

The Secret of Snow follows meteorologist Amberrose Murphy who left Michigan to pursue her dream in Palm Springs, California. She reinvented herself with the stage name Sonny Dunes. Now at 50 she finds herself replaced at her job by an AI, which now leaves her to figure out the next step. Luckily, her hometown of Traverse City is willing to hire her, but this means facing the memories she was running away from, and she will be living with her mother again. As Sonny rediscovers winter after living in sunny California, the reader slowly gets to know everything from her past.

The story follows Sonny’s emotional journey although there is a romance between her, and a handsome widower named Mason. Usually, I love the romance to be more front and center, but the set-up of having it in the background did work in this story. Sonny is going through a lot as she usually runs away from problems, so this was an exploration of her growth and healing from her past. I do wish though and even if the romance wasn’t meant to be the focus that there was a little more to connect the two together as I did not quite believe them. The writing itself was great, although there were moments where things did not occur naturally. Overall, this was an enjoyable story, but needed a little tightening up to flow more organically for me.

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