One Paw Up for Nick and Noel’s Christmas Playlist by Codi Hall 

Let me begin by saying this book is atrocious. However, it was everything I needed to stay sane while my cat was dying and after we had to put her to rest. Lil Bootz, my editorial assistant, was quickly taken away from us by this horrible monster called congenital kidney failure, and I’m not processing any of this well. That is why I can’t listen to anything but brainless fluff until my world uprights itself again. Thankfully, Codi Hall helped stop the downward spiral by giving me 10-plus hours (soooooo many hours) of excessive push-and-pull romantic shenanigans with mean-girl antics and frat-daddy bro-banter. Like I said, it’s atrocious, yet oddly cathartic. 

Here’s what I liked: The brainless storyline that took zero brain cells to follow. While my mind kept torturing itself with the things I should’ve done differently to save my Lil Bootz—or the things I wish I did on her very last day—I missed out on some of the story unfolding between the hapless young lovers. Yet that’s totally OK because most of it was filler and repetitive dialogue that totally should’ve been edited out. Winning! Also, I have to admit that some of the dialogue—even the bro humor—made me chuckle just a bit. The best part of this book, or I should say audiobook, are the multiple narrators—absolutely stellar work! Brooke Bloomingdale sounds so much like Brittany Pressley (my all-time favorite narrator), and her narration really saved the whole audiobook. 

Here are my questions: 

Why is Gabbie supposed to be likeable? 

How is Gabbie, the best friend who plays “Switzerland” between Noel and Amber considered to be a good person in this book? I get that she’s getting married, and the bride should get her way, but isn’t it just plain cruel to ask your very bestest friend in the world to “play nice” and coordinate excessive bridesmaid activities with her high school bully??? Amber is nothing more than the cliched sadistic mean girl who will stop at nothing to sabotage and humiliate Noel. Everyone is aware of this, but yet Gabbie does the whole “can’t you just play nice for little old me and my wedding” thing, putting Noel in a position of failure. Ugh. I can’t. 

Where is the music? 

Given the title and cover depicting a playlist theme, you would think this book would be steeped in symbolic musical references and musings about artists and lyrics. Nope! The whole playlist theme is just a gimmick to catch readers’ eyeballs, and it worked for me because I’m a sucker. I mean, yeah, there were a few scenes where Nick or Noel would interrupt something by dropping each other a Spotify song, but that’s kind of it. The author summed up the plot-points at the very end (not a spoiler, I promise!) by reading off the songs on their Christmas playlist as a way of saying “Oh yeah, don’t forget that this is a ‘playlist’ music-themed book.’” Big eye-roller, I know. 

What’s with the anti “girly girl” vibe? 

Apparently, we are all supposed to like Noel because she’s sooooo not into girly things. She’s a tomboy who just likes to hang with the guys, which makes her so very special and unique from the rest. All the other girls with their painted nails and accessorized outfits are just a dime-a-dozen, but not our rough-and-tumble, Noel! Y’all, this trope needs to end. There’s nothing wrong or unlikable about enjoying makeup, spa days, shopping and all the fun, frilly things we like to do to spoil ourselves. Noel is just so very special because she doesn’t care about diamonds or eyeshadow, but she’s also a big drag who sets impossible standards for herself and others. It’s tragic that she lost both of her parents at a young age, but is it really logical to avoid getting hurt again by swearing off marriage or any romantic relationship ever? If you’re nodding, I’m just going put it out there that talk therapy is a good thing. If you’re actively setting up barriers that keep you from living your best life, get some professional help! 

What’s with the false advertising? 

First off, if you’re looking for a festive, Christmassy setting, find another book. There really isn’t a hint of Christmas in this thing until the very end. Also, PLEASE NOTE that this is not a G-rated Hallmark romance with fade-to-black love scenes. I’m totally fine with all the swear words, but the pornographic scenes were not my cup of tea. I’m in grieving right now, so this is NOT what I want…now or ever. I’m just not into X-rated books unless if it involves the Black Dagger Botherhood, so no thanks. 

Will I read a book by this author again? 

I’m going to say no for now. I do love the mindless entertainment that keeps my brain and heart from shattering. However, I’m not really a fan of gimmicks and descriptive sex scenes that don’t involve vampires or werewolves. That said, my Audible Plus account gives me these things for free, so maybe I’ll give this author one more shot down the road. I mean, you can’t argue with free, right? 

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