It’s crazy to believe that it’s July already. Given that the Hallmark Chanel is doing Christmas in July and making me start watching Christmas movies now (making is a strong word, I am happily complying, there is no force involved) I figured why not do a Christmas in July Book edition? I have quite a few ARC of Christmas novels coming out in October so I am starting with the first three, which are all new books of writers that have previously done Christmas stories.
One last Gift by Emily Stone
Goodreads blurb: Sometimes the best gifts in life are the ones you don’t expect. Cassie and Tom lost their parents at a young age and relied on each other–as well as a community of friends–to get through it. Especially Tom’s best friend, Sam, who always made sure Tom and Cassie were surrounded with love. But now, twenty years later, Cassie has lost Tom as well. And in a way, she’s also lost Sam; over the years they’ve drifted apart, and now the man she always had a crush on is someone she doesn’t even recognize anymore. She’s never felt more alone. Then she finds an envelope with her name on it, written in Tom’s terrible handwriting, and she knows immediately what it is. It’s the first clue in the Christmas scavenger hunt Tom made for her every year; he’d promised her for months that this year’s would be the grandest one yet. At first, she’s too scared to open it–what if she can’t figure out the clues without his help? Or what if she does figure them all out, and her last connection to Tom is gone?
Tom’s clues set Cassie on a heart-wrenching and beautiful journey that will change her life–if she lets them. And as she travels from London to the Welsh mountains to the French countryside, she reconnects with old friends, rekindles a lost love, and most importantly, rediscovers herself. But once she’s solved the final clue, will she be brave enough to accept the gift her brother has given her–and the love it’s led her to?
This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out October 11th, 2022
My take: 4.75 out of 5. I loved this book so much. As with her previous book, Always in December, the tone is bittersweet and be prepared to have a kleenex box next to you. This is a full blown tears read, from happy to sad, you will go through all the emotions and all the kleenex. First of all the concept of Christmas scavenger hunts is amazing, and why have I never done this? I need to institute this in my life. Also I fell in love with all the characters, they are imperfectly adorable and you just want to root for them all. This is the ideal Christmas book, its a warm cup of cider, a fireplace and a cozy blanket during the snow in book form. A Christmas must read, trust me.
How much christmas: It is Christmas adjacent, and the premise is a Christmas Gift, But it is so much more than just a Christmas book, also most of the book happens outside of the Christmas season.
All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox
Goodreads blurb: True love wasn’t on their holiday wish list. When Sadie and Max are selected as contestants on the famed reality singing show Starmaker, each thinks they’ve finally gotten their big Nashville break. But then they’re paired up for duet week and stun the world with their romantic onstage chemistry. With fans going wild for #Saxie the network demands that they remain a duo on and offstage, or exit the competition. Faking a relationship until their final performance in the Starmaker holiday special shouldn’t be too hard, except for one small problem–Sadie and Max can’t stand each other. But with their dreams just within reach, they agree to the ruse. Will their fake relationship be exposed before they can win? Or might their phony connection turn real by the Christmas finale?
This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out October 4th, 2022
my take: 2.75 out of 5. i wanted to like this so much. I just didn’t . This is tending to the Lifetime movie and out of the Hallmark movie category altogether (if you know your Xmas movies you know what I mean). The premise was so good (even though there are plenty of Christmas movies with the exact one), the title is perfect I wanted to really like it but there was just a lot wrong with this. I was hate reading a little bit. First of all the characters are insufferable there is absolutely no communication and all their fights are so dumb, its one of my biggest book pet peeves. The characters were just not that engaging to me. Also I wanted more backstory on both, and there was too little to late. There was also a little of a disconnect between the two narrations and that lost me somewhat. Also Side note, the whole #saxie name makes no sense, who thought of that. Based on common occurrences it should be #maxie or #Sadix or #sadax, but that one tiny quirk in a book that I just could not get into. A cute but not fulfilling romance.
How much christmas: There is a bit of Christmas, but it is pretty Christmas light in general. a 3.5 out of 5 in terms of Christmas.
Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss
Goodreads blurb: Elinor Noel – Nory for short – is quite content running her second-hand bookshop in London. Forever torn between her working-class upbringing and her classmates’ extravagant lifestyles at the posh private school she attended on scholarship, Nory has finally figured out how to keep both at equal distance. So, when her oldest friends invite their school gang to spend the days leading up to their wedding together at the school castle, Nory must prepare herself for an emotionally complicated few days. The reunion brings back fond memories, but also requires Nory to dodge an ill-advised former fling. When she falls quite literally into the arms of Isaac, the head gardener with nothing but contempt for the ‘snobby prep school kids’, the attraction between them is undeniable. And as Nory spends more time with Isaac over the wedding festivities, she finds herself falling hard for the boy who used to throw mud at her and her posh friends. As Nory and Isaac explore their common ground, pressures mount on all sides and Nory must decide what kind of life she wants to live and what sort of love is worth the risk
This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out September 27th, 2022
My take: 3.5 out of 5. the 12 dates of christmas was light and cute so this one had promise. As with 12 dates this is a predictable but nice in My hallmark movie scale. It is still the traditional Made for TV Christmas story, but there was a little bit of confusion as to what it wanted to be. It was a little too convoluted to be just a Cute Christmas Romance, because you had the friends group storyline, the social commentary storyline, the wedding etc. However, there was so much to pack in and discover from the friend group, that that would have been a great book by itself if they had given more backstory. As it stands, I never got into the why they were friends as much, because I didn’t have the backstory, but it took a hell of a lot of story bandwidth. A cute and predictable Christmas story, it just could have been more.
How much Christmas: A sprinkling of holly and quite a bit of snow. It is not a Christmas story but it does happen in Christmas so its acceptable level of Christmas