Tag Archive for: holiday reads



I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and that your week is off to a good start.  My birthday was this weekend so mine was pretty good even if I have reached the age where I’m kind of done with getting older, haha.  Anyway, today I’m back with the next round of my 2022 holiday ARCs that are already out in the world.  It still feels weird to be reading Christmas books while I’m also still reading spooky season books, but every store I went to this weekend is already starting to put out their Christmas merchandise right alongside the Halloween candy so I guess it tracks that the holiday books would start hitting shelves too.  Anyway, on to the books!


Holiday Reviews: ONE LAST GIFT & ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMASOne Last Gift Goodreads

Author: Emily Stone

Publication Date: October 11, 2022

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


One Last Gift by Emily Stone is a heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story about love, loss, and how to move forward after the death of a loved one.  Stone’s last novel Always, in December was one of my favorite reads last year so One Last Gift was a highly anticipated read for me this year.

The story follows Cassie and Sam, who are both mourning the unexpected death of Tom, who was Cassie’s big brother and Sam’s best friend. Cassie and Tom were extremely close because their parents died when they were kids and they basically raised each other. Cassie is absolutely devastated by Tom’s death and doesn’t know how she’ll be able to go on without him in her life.  Sam is also devastated and overcome with guilt over his friend’s death, especially since the fatal accident took place on a trip Sam should have been on with him.

What makes their grief even worse is that Cassie and Sam can’t even turn to each other to mourn Tom’s death because their own relationship has been strained to the breaking point.  Years ago, Sam was Cassie’s first crush and in recent years, she thought they had come to care for each other as more than friends.  This leads her to make a move that Sam then awkwardly rejects, creating tension between them that they’ve never fully moved beyond.  Cassie is angry and embarrassed, so when she learns that Sam should have been on the trip with Tom, she holds him responsible and lashes out at him. This part of the story just broke my heart for both of them because it’s pretty clear that they have feelings for one another, so it just hurt to see Cassie freeze Sam out and I longed for them to reunite and for Sam to redeem himself in Cassie’s eyes.

While the loss of Tom makes for a heartbreaking read, his last gift to Cassie is what makes it such an uplifting one.  Tom had a long-standing tradition of creating a scavenger hunt for Cassie every Christmas.  She would have to solve and follow all his clues in order to find her gift from him.  It was great fun and Cassie looked forward to it every year.  Even though Tom dies just before Christmas, it turns out he had created this year’s scavenger hunt for Cassie before he left.  At first Cassie doesn’t want to do it, but once she finally feels like she’s ready, the hunt offers Cassie a way for her to have Tom in her life one more time and a way to finally process her loss and move forward, and to open her heart to the possibility of love where she least expects to find it.

One Last Gift is a beautiful and poignant story about love, loss and family that will have you reaching for the tissues along the way but that will ultimately leave you with a smile on your face.  4 STARS



Holiday Reviews: ONE LAST GIFT & ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMASAll I Want for Christmas Goodreads

Author: Maggie Knox

Publication Date: October 4, 2022

Publisher: Penguin Group – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.


All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox follows Sadie Hunter, an up and coming country music singer who has come to Nashville to participate in the popular Starmaker singing competition and hopefully finally get her big break.  This is her second time coming to Nashville and Sadie has decided that if she doesn’t get her break with this contest, then it’s time to give up on her dream of singing professionally.  I really enjoyed Sadie’s character.  She’s a dreamer but she’s also a realist about her chances of winning.  I especially loved her relationship with her grandmother, who is Sadie’s biggest fan and cheerleader.  It was sweet to watch their interactions, and Gran’s unconditional support of Sadie’s dream.

I’m also always up for a good underdog story so I was immediately invested in having Sadie be successful in this endeavor, especially when it becomes clear that her primary competition comes in the form of Max Brody, who is nothing short of Nashville royalty and thus has contractually been guaranteed to make it through to the final round.  I found Max a little tougher to love at first, just because of his entitled status, but he grew on me pretty quickly, especially when we finally get to see him behind the scenes interacting with his adorable little dog, Patsy Canine.

There was a lot to love in this book, especially when Sadie and Max are forced to work together as a duet and it becomes clear that the two of them have pretty amazing chemistry, both on and off stage, so much so that the show’s producers decide it would be fabulous for ratings to have the two of them pretend to date.  I love a good fake dating story so I was totally on board for this ruse since I was hoping it would lead to more.  I really enjoyed watching Max and Sadie get to know each other better.  Most of my favorite scenes between them actually take place outside of Nashville. When Nashville gets to be too much for Max, he retreats to Banff, a snowy small town in Alberta, Canada.  Sadie follows him because they have to write a Christmas song together and are on a tight deadline, and it’s here in this magical little town that the sparks really fly between them.

While I enjoyed the story overall, there were some things that somewhat hampered my enjoyment, the number one thing being miscommunication. It seemed like almost every scene between Max and Sadie ended up with some miscommunication that could have easily been avoided.  There’s a huge moment in particular where Sadie decides to keep a secret from Max about her grandmother. It made no sense to me for her to keep the secret and it ended up sending her relationship with Max into a downward spiral because he assumed the worst.  And speaking of assuming the worst, Max is the king of seeing something, jumping to incorrect conclusions based on no evidence whatsoever and making an ass out of himself.  He does this on numerous occasions and it made me want to just slap him silly.  I’m all for creating a bit of drama and tension and a “will they or won’t they be able to get through this?” vibe, but I got pretty tired of it here.

Even with my frustration with the miscommunication, however, I still enjoyed this story overall.  If the premise of a reality singing competition being a catalyst for romance appeals to you, definitely check out All I Want for Christmas3 STARS

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 New Holiday Reads for Your TBR


op Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is actually Memorable Things Characters Have Said (quotes from book characters that have stuck with you), but I wasn’t feeling it so I decided it would be fun to share some of the great holiday fiction that has come out this year.  If you love holiday reads as much as I do, you’re going to want to put these titles on your reading list. I’ve read and loved two of them so far, A Holly Jolly Diwali and Christmas in Peachtree Bluff, and look forward to diving into the other eight this holiday season.  🙂


10 New Holiday Reads for Your TBR


1. THE CHRISTMAS BOOKSHOP by Jenny Colgan “When the department store she works in closes for good, Carmen has perilously little cash and few options. She doesn’t want to move in with her perfect sister Sofia, in Sofia’s perfect house with her perfect children and her perfectly ordered Edinburgh life. Frankly, Sofia doesn’t exactly want Carmen there either. Her sister has always been sarcastic and difficult. But Sofia has yet another baby on the way, a mother desperate to see her daughters get along, and a client who needs a retail assistant for his ailing bookshop, so welcoming Carmen might still have some benefits for everyone. At Sofia’s behest, Carmen is thrown into the daily workings of old Mr. McCredie’s ancient bookshop on the streets of the old dark city. Can she use her design skills to revamp the store and bring it back to popularity in time to benefit from Christmas shopping traffic? Can she choose between bad boy literary rock star Blair and quiet Quaker student Oke? And will she heal the rift with the most important people of all: her family?”


2. THE CHRISTMAS ESCAPE by Sarah Morgan  – “It was supposed to be Christy Sullivan’s perfect Christmas getaway—a trip to Lapland with her family and best friend, Alix. But facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, Christy desperately needs time alone with her husband. Her solution? Alix can take Christy’s little daughter to Lapland, and they will reunite there for Christmas Day. It’s a big ask, but what else are friends for? There’s nothing Alix won’t do for Christy. But Christy’s request to save Christmas is giving Alix sleepless nights. She knows something is wrong, but for the first time ever, Christy isn’t talking. And even the Arctic temperatures in Lapland aren’t enough to dampen the seriously inconvenient sizzle Alix is developing for Zac, a fellow guest and nemesis from her past. As secrets unravel and unexpected romance shines under the northern lights, can Christy and Alix’s Christmas escape give them the courage to fight for the relationships they really want, and save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?”


3. DEAR SANTA by Debbie Macomber – “Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up–but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter’s spirits.  Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she’d wished for as a young girl may be just the inspiration Lindy needs. With Ellen’s encouragement, she decides to write a new letter to Santa, one that will encourage her to have faith and believe just as she’d done all those years ago. Little does Lindy know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishes to unfold before her in miraculous ways. And, thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic–especially an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate–Lindy ultimately realizes that there is truly no place like home for the holidays. In Dear Santa, Debbie Macomber celebrates the joys of Christmas blessings, old and new.


4. THE HOLIDAY SWAP by Maggie Knox  – “A feel-good, holiday-themed romantic comedy about identical twins who switch lives in the days leading up to Christmas–perfect for fans of Christina Lauren’s In a Holidaze and Josie Silver’s One Day in December.

All they want for Christmas is a different life. When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell–both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie’s identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family’s bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won’t get the memo that they’re over. With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven’t done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician’s assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins’ identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?


5. A HOLLY JOLLY DIWALI by Sonya Lalli  – “One type-A data analyst discovers her free-spirited side on an impulsive journey from bustling Mumbai to the gorgeous beaches of Goa and finds love waiting for her on Christmas morning.  Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She’s always stuck close to home, in case her family needed her. And she’s always dated guys that seem good on paper, rather than the ones who give her butterflies. When she’s laid off, Niki realizes that practical hasn’t exactly paid off for her. So for the first time ever, she throws caution to the wind and books a last-minute flight for her friend Diya’s wedding.  Niki arrives in India just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, where she meets London musician Sameer Mukherji. Maybe it’s the splendor of Mumbai or the magic of the holiday season, but Niki is immediately drawn to Sam. At the wedding, the champagne flows and their flirtatious banter makes it clear that the attraction is mutual. When Niki and Sam join Diya, her husband and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper. Free-spirited Sam helps Niki get in touch with her passionate and creative side, and with her Indian roots. When she gets a new job offer back home, Niki must decide what she wants out of the next chapter of her life–to cling to the straight and narrow like always, or to take a leap of faith and live the kind of bold life the old Niki never would have dreamed of.”


6. THE MATZAH BALL by Jean Meltzer  – “Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she’s hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach. But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah’s not magical. It’s not merry. It’s not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel’s determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy—Jacob Greenberg. Though Rachel and Jacob haven’t seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah—and Jacob—in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze. 


7. NICK AND NOEL’S CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST  – “Nick Winters and Noel Carter have known each other their whole lives. After years of shared family holidays, working together on the Winters’ Christmas tree farm, and being each other’s safe haven, they wouldn’t dream of crossing the line from friends to something more….But when Nick comes home for the holidays after serving overseas and finds that his long-term girlfriend has decided to get her stocking stuffed elsewhere, Noel is there to pick him up and show him that instead of a Blue Christmas he can still have a Wonderful Christmastime without his cheating ex.  A night on the town and an impulsive kiss later has Noel thinking that perhaps this year they’ll be rockin’ around the Christmas tree as a couple, but only if the ghost – er rather – girlfriend of Nick’s Christmas past doesn’t decide to haunt their holiday…. “


8. CHRISTMAS IN PEACHTREE BLUFF by Kristy Woodson Harvey  – “When the Murphy women are in trouble, they always know they can turn to their mother, Ansley. So when eldest daughter Caroline and her husband, James, announce they are divorcing—and fifteen-year-old daughter Vivi acts out in response—Caroline, at her wits end, can’t think of anything to do besides leave her with Ansley in Peachtree Bluff for the holidays. After all, how much trouble can one teenager get into on a tiny island? Quite a lot, as it turns out.  As the “storm of the century” heads toward Peachtree Bluff, Ansley and her husband, Jack, with Vivi in tow, are grateful they’re planning to leave for the trip of a lifetime. But Vivi’s recklessness forces the trio to shelter in place during the worst hurricane Peachtree has ever seen. With no power, no provisions, and the water rising, the circumstances become dire very quickly…and the Murphy sisters, who evacuated to New York, soon realize it’s up to them to conduct a rescue mission. With the bridges closed and no way to access Peachtree Bluff by land or air, they set sail on Caroline’s boat, The Starlite Sisters, determined to rebuild their beloved town—as well as their family.

In “pitch-perfect tones” (Publishers Weekly) and written with her signature Southern charm, New York Times bestselling author Kristy Woodson Harvey explores the magic of Christmas, the power of forgiveness, and the importance of family in a tale that reminds us that, no matter the circumstances, home is always where we belong—especially during the holidays. ”


9. THE SANTA SUIT by Mary Kay Andrews  – “When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.  At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold? Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.


10. A SEASON FOR SECOND CHANCES by Jenny Bayliss  – “Annie Sharpe’s spark for life has fizzled out. Her kids are grown up, her restaurant is doing just fine on its own, and her twenty-six-year marriage has come to an unceremonious end. Untethered for the first time in her adult life, she finds a winter guardian position in a historic seaside home and decides to leave her city life behind for a brand-new beginning.  When she arrives in Willow Bay, Annie is enamored by the charming house, the invigorating sea breeze, and the town’s rich seasonal traditions. Not to mention, her neighbors receive her with open arms–that is, all except the surly nephew of the homeowner, whose grand plans for the property are at odds with her residency. As Christmas approaches, tensions and tides rise in Willow Bay, and Annie’s future seems less and less certain. But with a little can-do spirit and holiday magic, the most difficult time of her life will become…a season for second chances.”


* * * * * *

Question:  Do you enjoy holiday reads?  Have you read any of these yet?

2018 HoHoHo Readathon Sign Up Post & TBR List


Even though I’ve been saying I’m going to cut back on the number of challenges and readathons I participate in, the HoHoHo Readathon, which is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer,  is one that I enjoy too much to give up.  It’s so much fun and it really helps get me into the holiday spirit.  I’m a bit last minute getting this part together but I have finally decided what books I’m going to try to read for the readathon.  Here’s my sign-up post, complete with my Christmas/Winter-themed TBR list as well as the rules for the readathon in case anyone else is interested in signing up.


My 2018 HoHoHo Readathon TBR List



2018 HoHoHo Readathon Details and Rules


It’s time to sign up for the Sixth Annual HoHoHo Readathon hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer.  Gather up your favorite cocoa, comfort foods, holiday music and books and join in the fun! For this event books and audiobooks with holiday or winter themes count.  You can participate for a day or cozy up by the fire and hang out every day. The more you participate the more entries you will earn for the Participant Giveaway.

The event will be longer this year after feedback from last years Twitter Party. It all begins on Friday November 9th and ends at 11:59pm on Sunday November 18th. We will have a Twitter party on the 18th at 3:30 pm (EST)


  • Link-up (it is not necessary to link to goal post, just link to the account/blog you will be using)
  • Before or on November 9th post a goals post to your blog.  If you do not have a blog, declare your intentions on social media and link to this page, then create a shelf on Goodreads with intended books) Be sure and link back to Caffeinated Reviewer. If you do not have a blog or Goodreads account and wish to participate you could use Instagram or Facebook. Contact me if unsure.
  • It might be a good idea to a friend, like or follow me on whatever social media site you use so we can see your progress. Just mention Ho-Ho-Ho so I can follow you back.
  • Grab the image and share! Tell your friends, post the image and link on social media using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google + or Instagram. Be sure to include a link to this page, so others may join.
  • Participate in at least one challenge to be eligible for grand prize
  • Read/listen to as many Holiday or Winter themed books as you can. (Winter can be new years setting, snowstorm etc. If you are unsure contact me)
  • Tweet your progress using #hohohorat
  • Twitter Party! Sunday, November 18, 2018, at 3:30 pm (EST) #hohohorat Come chat about the books you have read. There will be prizes.
  • Challenge schedule and Grand Prize widget will post on November 9th at/by 8 am (EST)
  • Read-a-thon starts on November 9th 12:01 am (your time zone) and ends on November 18 at 11:59 pm (your time zone)
  • Challenges will be open from 8 am (EST) on the 9th and stay open until Nov 18th at 11:59 pm (EST)
  • Grand Prize Raffle will be open until November 19th at 11:59 pm (EST) to allow you to submit entries.
  • All winners of challenges and the grand prize will be notified by November 20th.