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Take a Look at the Five and Ten

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Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law boyfriend. But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past. From beloved New York Times bestselling, multiple-award-winning author Connie Willis comes another enchanting science fictional Christmas tale and screwball comedy, Take a Look at the Five and Ten. Readers in the need for a dose of Willis’s humor and heart will want to curl up with this novella for the holidays.


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Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful Ori’s holidays are an endless series of elaborately awful meals cooked by her one-time stepfather Dave’s latest bride. Attended by a loose assemblage of family, Ori particularly dreads Grandma Elving—grandmother of Dave’s fourth wife—and her rhapsodizing about the Christmas she worked at Woolworth’s in the 1950s. And, of course, she hates being condescended to by beautiful, popular Sloane and her latest handsome pre-med or pre-law boyfriend. But this Christmas is different. Sloane’s latest catch Lassiter is extremely interested in Grandma Elving’s boringly detailed memories of that seasonal job, seeing in them the hallmarks of a TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memory. With Ori’s assistance, he begins to use the older woman in an experiment—one she eagerly agrees to. As Ori and Lassiter spend more time together, Ori’s feelings for him grow alongside the elusive mystery of Grandma’s past. From beloved New York Times bestselling, multiple-award-winning author Connie Willis comes another enchanting science fictional Christmas tale and screwball comedy, Take a Look at the Five and Ten. Readers in the need for a dose of Willis’s humor and heart will want to curl up with this novella for the holidays.

30 review for Take a Look at the Five and Ten

  1. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    A motley collection of tenuously connected relatives is forced to gather for holidays each year. From the point of view of the narrator Ori, who is the daughter of a woman who was married to the host several wives ago, “ you can see why I start dreading Thanksgiving dinner some time in July.” At each of these dinners, Grandma Elving (it doesn’t matter whose Grandma she is) recounts the story of the Christmas season of 1960, during which she worked at Woolworth’s. Lassiter is the date of one of t A motley collection of tenuously connected relatives is forced to gather for holidays each year. From the point of view of the narrator Ori, who is the daughter of a woman who was married to the host several wives ago, “ you can see why I start dreading Thanksgiving dinner some time in July.” At each of these dinners, Grandma Elving (it doesn’t matter whose Grandma she is) recounts the story of the Christmas season of 1960, during which she worked at Woolworth’s. Lassiter is the date of one of the relatives. He is a neuroscience student studying exceptional, highly detailed memories just like Grandma Elving’s. The theory is that such memories are caused by repressed trauma. He proceeds to make Grandma Elving his prized test subject and enlists Ori’s help in ferreting out the trauma. I don’t like Christmas and I don’t read Christmas stories, but I found this novella to be completely charming. Maybe my reaction was due in part to nostalgia. By the end of the book I sure was missing Woolworth’s and snow and Christmas lights. I think the book may have damaged my brain. This is a lovely little story. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Connie Willis is one of my favorite authors. I really enjoy how she can blend lots of historical details and research with truly comical situations, as in To Say Nothing of the Dog. This novella captured that style on a smaller scale, even if the historical details are the memories of an old woman at Christmas time, rather than time traveling historical researchers. This short story (about 120 pages) is sweet and engaging, and very Christmasy. It's like a cozy peppermint latte in book form. I lau Connie Willis is one of my favorite authors. I really enjoy how she can blend lots of historical details and research with truly comical situations, as in To Say Nothing of the Dog. This novella captured that style on a smaller scale, even if the historical details are the memories of an old woman at Christmas time, rather than time traveling historical researchers. This short story (about 120 pages) is sweet and engaging, and very Christmasy. It's like a cozy peppermint latte in book form. I laughed a couple of times, and I wanted to see where the story went next. I really liked Ori, Lassiter, and Grandma Elving. It's a cute and quick read, and the Subterranean Press book looks gorgeous (love the cover art). If you like Connie Willis's holiday fic, and you're in a holiday mood, you'll love this one. Thanks to Netgalley for the copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    This one is a classic Connie Willis romantic comedy novella centering around her favorite holiday, Christmas. There's a lot of miscommunication and running around, good-natured (mostly) disagreement with quirky relatives, and, though the actual scientific content is rather slight, an interesting plot and a bit of a mystery. The mean girl comes out second to the nice girl narrator, the sweet old lady is vindicated, and it's a happy seasonal story lacking only a Dickensian blessing. It's Connie Wi This one is a classic Connie Willis romantic comedy novella centering around her favorite holiday, Christmas. There's a lot of miscommunication and running around, good-natured (mostly) disagreement with quirky relatives, and, though the actual scientific content is rather slight, an interesting plot and a bit of a mystery. The mean girl comes out second to the nice girl narrator, the sweet old lady is vindicated, and it's a happy seasonal story lacking only a Dickensian blessing. It's Connie Willis and it's Christmas, so one knows that they lived happily ever after. It's a well-written story, not great or deep, but it just makes you smile and feel good. Willis has written quite a few excellent Christmas-themed stories (collected in Miracle and Other Christmas Stories and then its expanded version, A Lot Like Christmas), and this is another fine one. For many years Connie Willis has been one of the first things that springs into my mind as soon as I see Santa riding the float in front of Macy's before the Lions take the field on turkey day, right up there with Chevy Chase fixing the newel post with his chainsaw, Snoopy winning first place in the decorating contest, and reading Clement Moore to the kids. Happy holidays, y'all.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    Jingle bells, jingle bells...what? too early? Well so was this book. I am the first person reviewing this and quite prematurely too, I recommend saving this one until December. This is one of the two relatively slim Christmas themed volumes from the Subterranean Press that have just turned up on Netgalley. Wish I knew just how Christmas themed, I’d have saved it for December. For an October read it still had a certain charm, but not quite enough of one. It reminded me of the movie Last Christmas Jingle bells, jingle bells...what? too early? Well so was this book. I am the first person reviewing this and quite prematurely too, I recommend saving this one until December. This is one of the two relatively slim Christmas themed volumes from the Subterranean Press that have just turned up on Netgalley. Wish I knew just how Christmas themed, I’d have saved it for December. For an October read it still had a certain charm, but not quite enough of one. It reminded me of the movie Last Christmas (also watched out of time in July), the same sort of romantic silliness. In fact, it’s very easy to imagine actress formerly known as Khaleesi mugging and stumbling her way through this one as Ori, the main protagonist. Ori has a stepgrandmother who never quits talking about a magic winter of 1960. Might she have a traumatic repressed memory that’s to blame? Do you remember Woolworth’s stores? The discount chain empire before the wealth divide got so dire, that there was no place for it in the market of exclusively high or low end goods. Well, Grandma Elving has never forgotten it, it’s etched into her memory in the sort of fine detail once usually reserves for revenge plots of sex fantasies…and of course, this isn’t that sort of a story. This is a heartwarming quaint story about the power of joy. And it features a hasty snowflake romance just in time for Christmas. From a charmingly grandmotherly looking author a story about a charming grandmotherly character. It’s suitable for the season, but outside of it, doesn’t really do much, the charm is fairly vapid, much like a romcom. Seems pretty light for a press with a name like Subterranean, doesn’t it. But at any rate, it reads so quickly, maybe 45 minutes or so, that you won’t mind it either way. Great cover. Thanks Netgalley.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    This is a light romcom novella. I read is as a Buddy Read for December 2020 at SFF Hot from Printers: New Releases group. The protagonist, Ori, each year has to endure meeting of assorted relatives, connected to her via multiple marriages of her once step-father. Among them are Grandma Elving, who tells the story of her work at Woodworth in the X-mas of 1960 and Sloane, step-daughter by the current marriage. The later each time comes with a blond and tall boyfriend, each time different. This tim This is a light romcom novella. I read is as a Buddy Read for December 2020 at SFF Hot from Printers: New Releases group. The protagonist, Ori, each year has to endure meeting of assorted relatives, connected to her via multiple marriages of her once step-father. Among them are Grandma Elving, who tells the story of her work at Woodworth in the X-mas of 1960 and Sloane, step-daughter by the current marriage. The later each time comes with a blond and tall boyfriend, each time different. This time her boyfriend Lassiter is a medical student, who investigates TFBM (traumatic flashbulb memories) and he sees in Grandma Elving a great case study. Ori and Lassiter drive Grandma Elving around to find what is the trauma behind her memories, slowly warming to each other. It is a nice Christmas story, nothing spectacular but a cozy romantic piece,. Great for this time of year.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Super cute and fun - just a great little Christmas treat.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    If I didn't already love Connie Willis, this novella would do it! Take a Look at the Five and Ten is just what we need right now...an old-fashioned heart-warming Christmas story. Grandma Elving's reminiscences of working at Woolworth's at Christmas circa 1960 took me back to my childhood and the "dime store" that was an Aladdin's cave for kids in the 60s. Penny candy, nylons, table linens, lipstick, embroidery silks, baby clothes...you could buy just about anything at the "dime store," and it wa If I didn't already love Connie Willis, this novella would do it! Take a Look at the Five and Ten is just what we need right now...an old-fashioned heart-warming Christmas story. Grandma Elving's reminiscences of working at Woolworth's at Christmas circa 1960 took me back to my childhood and the "dime store" that was an Aladdin's cave for kids in the 60s. Penny candy, nylons, table linens, lipstick, embroidery silks, baby clothes...you could buy just about anything at the "dime store," and it was not to be compared to the "dollar stores" of today. I hadn't thought about those stores in years! Grandma Elving's full-sensory memories are wonderful, and the little bit of a love story thrown in is just a great Christmas bonus.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ab

    I love Connie Willis, and actually had no idea she dabbled in Christmas-y fiction! Color me pleasantly surprised when I saw this book pop up. This is the perfect read for those who appreciate science fiction and Christmas things, but are not on board with the relentless Hallmark schmaltz available in the holiday-read genre. It perfectly captures the frustration of family at holiday dinners, the relentlessly repeated memories of some of the older among the crowd, and the pure nostalgic joy of sno I love Connie Willis, and actually had no idea she dabbled in Christmas-y fiction! Color me pleasantly surprised when I saw this book pop up. This is the perfect read for those who appreciate science fiction and Christmas things, but are not on board with the relentless Hallmark schmaltz available in the holiday-read genre. It perfectly captures the frustration of family at holiday dinners, the relentlessly repeated memories of some of the older among the crowd, and the pure nostalgic joy of snow-globe like Christmas memories and feelings. This book gives you all of that but layers it under a scientific study of memory. For anyone looking for a holiday read that is more complex than formulaic holiday Hallmark movies, but still gives you the nostalgic Christmas feels, this little book is for you. Perfect for reading in an hour by the fire, warm cup of cocoa, snow outside, and the smell of holiday cookies in the oven.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A Christmas novella from one of my favorite authors. Willis is a sci-fi author in the classic sense, and especially with her short fiction tends to pick one idea or concept and really focus on it. In this case, it’s traumatic flash bulb memories, the phenomenon where moments of extreme trauma get burned into one’s memory in unusually vivid and unusually long-lasting detail. While I do, as a rule, adore Connie Willis, this one felt a little bit phoned in. Cute and fun story, but not one of her be A Christmas novella from one of my favorite authors. Willis is a sci-fi author in the classic sense, and especially with her short fiction tends to pick one idea or concept and really focus on it. In this case, it’s traumatic flash bulb memories, the phenomenon where moments of extreme trauma get burned into one’s memory in unusually vivid and unusually long-lasting detail. While I do, as a rule, adore Connie Willis, this one felt a little bit phoned in. Cute and fun story, but not one of her best.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kate Zdenek

    On the surface, this novella is a holiday romantic comedy. But underneath, there is a strong message. Everyone in the family is tired of listening to Grandma repeat the story of the time she worked at Woolworth's. They ignore and disregard her and her story until Sloane’s newest boyfriend takes an interest. I think the author is trying to shed light on the way many people get caught up in the trappings of fame, fortune, and fads and forget that there is more to life. Simple pleasures and love ar On the surface, this novella is a holiday romantic comedy. But underneath, there is a strong message. Everyone in the family is tired of listening to Grandma repeat the story of the time she worked at Woolworth's. They ignore and disregard her and her story until Sloane’s newest boyfriend takes an interest. I think the author is trying to shed light on the way many people get caught up in the trappings of fame, fortune, and fads and forget that there is more to life. Simple pleasures and love are the most important. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here are me honest musings . . . The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book: 1. Connie Willis wrote the doomsday book and it was seriously one of the best books I have ever read; 2. It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and 3. I now try to read all the Connie Willis I can get me hands on. I requested this not reading the blurb because ultimately I know it Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here are me honest musings . . . The cover drew me in and three things convinced me to read this book: 1. Connie Willis wrote the doomsday book and it was seriously one of the best books I have ever read; 2. It is a Subterranean Press book and they do great work; and 3. I now try to read all the Connie Willis I can get me hands on. I requested this not reading the blurb because ultimately I know it will be a good read.  So imagine me surprise to find out that this was a holiday tale.  I am not a holiday person and only care to pillage the baked goods.  So I had a small moment of dismay about the holiday aspect.  I needn't have worried.  This story was lovely. Ori dreads spending the holidays with her family.  Her step-dad's latest wife and her daughter are horrible.  The other issue is Grandma Elving.  She worked in Woolworth's during Christmas in 1950.  And loves to talk about her time there ad nauseum and in detail.  Everyone dreads hearing about Woolworth's and Ori gears up for survival mode.  Only this holiday is different.  Sloane, the current wife's daughter, has brought her most recent boyfriend, Lassiter, to dinner.  And he actually wants to hear all about Woolworth's. Lassiter is studying TFBM, or traumatic flashbulb memories.  He thinks Grandma Elving has one.  So Ori is dragged into helping Grandma Elving participate in a scientific study. which ultimately changes Ori's life. This story is heartwarming and lovely.  I adored Ori and I really adored Grandma Elving.  The descriptions of Woolworth's were so vivid and alive.  I actually spent time trying to figure out if I was remembering ever being in Woolworth's meself or if the imagery was so strong that I just felt like I had.  This reminded me of being a child when Christmas actually did feel magical.  Back then I loved seeing the department stores decorated, riding around neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights, and watching Christmas movies.  Seriously if Connie Willis can make this grouchy grinch forgo a bah humbug and smile with nostalgia then ye know it be an excellent story.  Arrrr!  So lastly . . . Thank you Subterranean Press!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Harrison Schweiloch

    Take a Look at the Five and Ten by Connie Willis I love Connie Willis. She is my favorite living author. She may be my favorite of all time. I still remember the first book of hers that I read - I got a copy of Doomsday Book from the science fiction book club when it came out on the 90s. It took my breath away. Her books make me laugh and make me cry and I wish I hadn’t read them all already because reading one off her books. for the first time is a singular treat. I have had the pleasure of meet Take a Look at the Five and Ten by Connie Willis I love Connie Willis. She is my favorite living author. She may be my favorite of all time. I still remember the first book of hers that I read - I got a copy of Doomsday Book from the science fiction book club when it came out on the 90s. It took my breath away. Her books make me laugh and make me cry and I wish I hadn’t read them all already because reading one off her books. for the first time is a singular treat. I have had the pleasure of meeting her twice at conventions and I treasure those moments. So I was thrilled when Subterranean Press and NetGalley approved me for an eARC of Take a Look at the Five and Ten, her new holiday novella. I had already preordered a hard copy from Subterranean, but I was happy to read it early! I didn’t just read it - I devoured it! It was so good! It had all the hallmarks of a great Connie Willis story - scientist just trying to get some data, two people falling for each other who don’t realize it, irritating relatives, and people who genuinely love Christmas. As a Non-Christian married to a Christian person, I have a very nuanced and off view of Christmas. But I love how Connie Willis loves Christmas unashamedly and how she infused her love and joy into all of her works. I cannot recommend this enough.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wayne

    Well this was my introduction to Connie Willis, and will definitely need to track down more books by her. A Christmas tale, that was really enjoyable. Great characters and a great story. Plus, I love novellas as introduction to authors, as they are quick reads, and definitely let you know if you will enjoy the author, And I definitely enjoyed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lou Jacobs

    And yet, another gem from Connie Willlis. She provides in novella length another delightful, heart warming and humorous Christmas tale. Featured is a dysfunctional, amalgam of somewhat related family members interacting during the holiday season. Our main protagonist is Ori who finds herself invited to a slew of never ending holiday dinners ... starting with Thanksgiving and culminating with a New Year's Eve buffet.. At age eight her mother was briefly married to Dave .... and he still considers And yet, another gem from Connie Willlis. She provides in novella length another delightful, heart warming and humorous Christmas tale. Featured is a dysfunctional, amalgam of somewhat related family members interacting during the holiday season. Our main protagonist is Ori who finds herself invited to a slew of never ending holiday dinners ... starting with Thanksgiving and culminating with a New Year's Eve buffet.. At age eight her mother was briefly married to Dave .... and he still considers her, his daughter., and hosts these endless gatherings. Dave has been married more than six times, and has always made poor choices ... including her mother. Usually in attendance are the usual suspects. Aunt Mildred, actually a great-aunt of Dave's second wife and Grandma Elving, the grandmother of his fourth wife. Aunt Mildred is forever pointing out the failings of the younger generation and the vast superiority of the "good old days" . Her speeches always turn into lectures and she seems to complain about everything. While Grandma Elving cannot be deterred from telling the same story in which as a young woman she worked at Woolworth's in downtown Denver one Christmas. It seems that anything in the conversation prompts her to spew forth this same tale in florid detail. Dave's current wife is the obnoxious Jillian ( another poor choice) ... whose baggage includes the stuck-up daughter, Sloane. Every year Sloane is accompanied by her present boyfriend, who is always blond, tall and going to either law or medical school. Her present day boyfriend is Lassiter, who is even blonder and taller, and going to med school.... and is actively involved in a research project regarding memory. At this year's dinner, Lassiter is enthralled with Grandma Elving's never ending story and prompts her for even more details. There is method to his madness. His research project involves TFBM ... Traumatic Flashbulb Memory, and he feels that her story has all the earmarkings of this phenomena and enlists her aid as a participant in the project. This also engenders the need and commitment of Ori .. which may have a secondary effect? Connie Willis weaves a delightful narrative in almost a screwball comedy atmosphere to reflect on family. friendship, love and joy and happiness. A wonderful and charming story that all will enjoy in the spirit of Christmas. Thanks to NetGalley and Subterranean Press for proving an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My Boss was pushing this on me after I asked her what she was reading and she couldn't stop going on and on about how wonderful this was. I gave into peer pressure and am here to say... Do it. Read this book, you will thank me and my Boss for it later. Seriously, it is novella length, so not a huge time commitment, though by the end you will have turned into the MOR NOW Monster and it is SWEET and we are technically still in the Christmas season, so you need to get this in now before it is too la My Boss was pushing this on me after I asked her what she was reading and she couldn't stop going on and on about how wonderful this was. I gave into peer pressure and am here to say... Do it. Read this book, you will thank me and my Boss for it later. Seriously, it is novella length, so not a huge time commitment, though by the end you will have turned into the MOR NOW Monster and it is SWEET and we are technically still in the Christmas season, so you need to get this in now before it is too late for a sweet and uplifting Christmas read. I refuse to spoil this for you, other than to repeat what I have heard others say about this author and the praise is all worthy. I would have liked a BIT more showing the love interests together, BUT she does some amazing stuff with just a few scenes. So, short, sweet, Christmas with a really adorable and lovable older woman, some mean step family members and an MC to root for. What more could you possibly want? 5, this gave me ALL the feels, stars. Highly recommended! My thanks to NetGalley and Subterranean Press for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Denice Langley

    An early Christmas present to yourself! The younger members of an extended family group will almost always grow weary of listening to grandma's stories of her youth, but they are missing some of the best times in family history. When all you have to give is your wonderful memories, be sure to share them with those who would appreciate and cherish them. Family dinner at her one time step father's home is a trying experience. Just trying to figure out which wife's family the person sitting next to An early Christmas present to yourself! The younger members of an extended family group will almost always grow weary of listening to grandma's stories of her youth, but they are missing some of the best times in family history. When all you have to give is your wonderful memories, be sure to share them with those who would appreciate and cherish them. Family dinner at her one time step father's home is a trying experience. Just trying to figure out which wife's family the person sitting next to you belongs to can often serve as the evening entertainment. When Grandma starts telling her story of working at Woolworth's AGAIN, most ignore her AGAIN. But could her memory be more than just her annual holiday story? The journey through Grandma's favorite memory is a wonderful experience meant to be shared. Read this short story and share it with your holiday gathering....on Zoom or not....and you will make everyone smile.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    This is archetypal Connie Willis: light science fiction, adorable rom-com between people you want to root for, department stores, Christmas, historical fiction and miscommunications. Honestly, it reads a little like "we forced an artificial intelligence to read the entire oeuvre of Connie Willis and then it wrote this" -- it bears a striking resemblance to parts of Time Out as well as Bellwether. But I'll still read everything Connie Willis writes: it's adorable, funny and wholesome. By the way, This is archetypal Connie Willis: light science fiction, adorable rom-com between people you want to root for, department stores, Christmas, historical fiction and miscommunications. Honestly, it reads a little like "we forced an artificial intelligence to read the entire oeuvre of Connie Willis and then it wrote this" -- it bears a striking resemblance to parts of Time Out as well as Bellwether. But I'll still read everything Connie Willis writes: it's adorable, funny and wholesome. By the way, yes, I was annoyed to pay $30 for a 115 page novella, but the book is a gorgeous slip of a thing with embossed inner covers and a color illustration on photo paper, so I'm pretty sure I'll get over it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    My Kindle recommended this to me after I finished reading A Lot Like Christmas, and the description intrigued me enough that when I couldn't find it at any of my libraries I actually paid real American dollars for it. Whoa. And it was definitely worth the $3 I paid and I hope that this will be included in a future edition of A Lot Like Christmas. My Kindle recommended this to me after I finished reading A Lot Like Christmas, and the description intrigued me enough that when I couldn't find it at any of my libraries I actually paid real American dollars for it. Whoa. And it was definitely worth the $3 I paid and I hope that this will be included in a future edition of A Lot Like Christmas.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Happy

    Fabulous Easy to read without too much extra writing that Connie Willis is so famous for. The story flowed beautifully. A very sweet story. Warns the heart. Very interesting too!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Galloway

    Well how about that — I actually read a Christmas story on Christmas. (I’m typically more of a watch Krampus or Rare Exports type 😏). This was utterly sweet and the character voice was perfect. I love Connie Willis’ scientific romantic comedies more than just about anything.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    A short & sweet love story perfect for getting into the Christmas season and reminding ourselves that there are happy things out there as well, even if we can only get them in Connie Willis' books. This being a novella, it's hard to review it without giving the whole plot away. Our protagonist Ori is a modern-day equivalent of the Austenian "poor relation" at her strange family gatherings (strange because the family is a quilt made up of Ori's various step-siblings, second-aunts-twice-removed, an A short & sweet love story perfect for getting into the Christmas season and reminding ourselves that there are happy things out there as well, even if we can only get them in Connie Willis' books. This being a novella, it's hard to review it without giving the whole plot away. Our protagonist Ori is a modern-day equivalent of the Austenian "poor relation" at her strange family gatherings (strange because the family is a quilt made up of Ori's various step-siblings, second-aunts-twice-removed, and a former stepmother's grandmother). These holiday dinners are awkward and usually require a lot of inner peace, which Ori seems to have in abundance. At any rate, she manages to endure Grandma Elving's endless catalogue of memories about Christmas at Woolworth's in the 50s. The worst part is having to sit through her step-sister Sloane's parading of her latest med school or law school boyfriend. But to Ori's surprise, Sloane's latest medical-student-boyfriend Lassiter does the unimaginable: he takes an interest in Grandma Elving's ramblings. Ori becomes entangled in a medical experiment that hinges on discovering exactly why Grandma Elving feels compelled to go over that one Christmas in such minute detail. What mystery hides behind all those tree baubles and candy canes? Willis makes this kind of tight writing look easy. A compelling mystery here, an unlikely trio there, and voila! Instant holiday perfection. If you're going to pick up a fun Christmas tale this season, it should be this one. Recommended if you like stories with relatable character interactions, deceivingly cunning grandmothers, and that beautiful feeling of comfort around Christmastime. Thank you to Subterranean Press and Netgalley for sending me a free eARC of this book exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristenelle

    This was a quick, pleasant Christmas read. It was nice. Haha... I don't know what else to say. It wasn't groundbreaking or incredibly good. It was nice. The annoying characters were very annoying. I was rooting for the nice characters. Sometimes the nice characters frustrated me with not acting like I would. But all around it was nice to read. Sexual violence? No. This is a spoiler. Don't look. Unless you've already read it or don't care. Sexual violence is mentioned as a possibility of a trauma This was a quick, pleasant Christmas read. It was nice. Haha... I don't know what else to say. It wasn't groundbreaking or incredibly good. It was nice. The annoying characters were very annoying. I was rooting for the nice characters. Sometimes the nice characters frustrated me with not acting like I would. But all around it was nice to read. Sexual violence? No. This is a spoiler. Don't look. Unless you've already read it or don't care. Sexual violence is mentioned as a possibility of a trauma that may have happened to one of the characters. But there isn't any sexual violence. So... Other triggers? I don't know. Not really? Dysfunctional family.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    This is a very cozy Christmas story that I think will appeal to fans of contemporary romance as well as to fans of contemporary science fiction. While I am sure Willis' science in this book is sound (she always does such great research) there isn't a major focus on the science part in this novella. The bigger focus is on the characters and their relationships and growth. I really appreciate the way Willis can write fiction about science this way. As with her novel Bellwether, this story isn't "sc This is a very cozy Christmas story that I think will appeal to fans of contemporary romance as well as to fans of contemporary science fiction. While I am sure Willis' science in this book is sound (she always does such great research) there isn't a major focus on the science part in this novella. The bigger focus is on the characters and their relationships and growth. I really appreciate the way Willis can write fiction about science this way. As with her novel Bellwether, this story isn't "science fiction" in the way the genre is usually thought about. There are no robots, no time travel, no faster-than-light spaceships. There are scientists, and it is fiction. I really love the way this story works, though. It's "cozy sci-fi" in the same way that there are "cozy mysteries." It's a perfect read for the Christmas holiday: sweet and nostalgic without getting syrupy or over-the-top.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This little story about finding joy where you were certain there could be only trauma. It’s exactly what I needed. Side note: I’m heartily sick of the wicked stepmother trope, but I forgive it here where it’s actually an ex-stepfather’s fifth or seventh or ninth wife or something, plus a motley assortment of other “relatives” from his other failed marriages, lol.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley. "Take a Look at the Five and Ten" is a wonderfully cozy holiday novella featuring many of Connie Willis' favorite tropes. If you have read much of Willis' work before then this story will feel comfortingly familiar. Ori, our narrator, starts the story off by bemoaning the endless stream of awkward family holiday dinners she's forced to attend every year. One of the main features of these dinners is Grandma Elving, and her endless recitation of details about t Electronic ARC provided by NetGalley. "Take a Look at the Five and Ten" is a wonderfully cozy holiday novella featuring many of Connie Willis' favorite tropes. If you have read much of Willis' work before then this story will feel comfortingly familiar. Ori, our narrator, starts the story off by bemoaning the endless stream of awkward family holiday dinners she's forced to attend every year. One of the main features of these dinners is Grandma Elving, and her endless recitation of details about the Christmas of 1960 when she worked at Woolworth's. She loves to tell this story, and any tiny thing can set her off. This year one of the cousins has brought her boyfriend Lassiter to dinner. Lassiter happens to be working on a neuroscience study about extremely detailed memories that may be hiding trauma. He is fascinated by Granny Elving and immediately recruits her as his prize test subject. Granny Elving turns around and immediately hires Ori to accompany her to these appointments, and the story unspools from there. Of course since this is Connie Willis there is a lot of repetitive detail used for plot development, and a ramping up of energy around both the research project and Ori's growing feelings for Lassiter. In tone the story most resembles a screwball comedy from the golden age of Hollywood. It is light, fluffy, and a lovely little reflection on nostalgia and family. Try this if you're looking for something short and sweet, with a nice holiday atmosphere.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paula Lyle

    Connie Willis obviously loves Christmas. I love Christmas and Connie Willis. Those of us old enough to remember the many versions of a five and dime store will revel in the descriptions of what they were like and how they made us feel. Warm and cozy. I received an eARC through NetGalley.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Angie Boyter

    A quintessential Connie Willis Christmas Story. Perfect for the holiday season. PS it has a special delight if, like Grandma, you can remember Christmas in 1960.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kateblue

    Cute, quick, happy. Nice story for Christmas.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Sullivan

    Another fun Christmas novella in classic Connie Willis style.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC copy of this book. Quirky extended families, holiday seasons, and a little romance. This novella will make you laugh, make you smile, and make you cringe at times at how badly family can sometimes treat each other. This makes for a very nice holiday read.

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