What a way to end an incredible reading year! I ended up reading & listening to a lot more than I thought I would this time of the year, but a holiday season without any travel plans or sporting events left me with quite a bit of extra time on my hands. I’m so glad I was able to spend that time reading/listening to such entertaining books! Click the links for the standalone reviews of each title.
There were several books in the running for the best of the month, but ultimately my most favorite read in December goes to The Plight Before Christmas by Kate Stewart. Between the witty banter, steamy romance, and family dynamic, this one was a homerun. So many laugh out loud moments and the romance was about as steamy as it gets. I couldn’t put this one down and will most definitely pick it back up at the start of every holiday season. I loved this one SO much! If you liked The Family Stone, I think you’ll love this one, too. 5 out of 5 stars.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Tender is the Flesh, by Agustina Bazterrica would be my second favorite read of the month. Definitely a HUGE departure from the sugary sweet holiday fluff. This one is morbid and grotesque, disgustingly vile and stomach churning. But man, this one made me think. And the ending had me absolutely SHOOK. Still over here processing this one. This is NOT a book for everyone, but if you’re a fan of horror type themes, I think this is one you should read (and it’s only 200 pages so it’s quick!). 4.6 out of 5 stars.
The Afterlife of Holly Chase, by Cynthia Hand is the book I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. This one was full of so much unique and unexpected charm. A modern day retelling of a Christmas Story with a YA twist. I just loved everything about this one as different a retelling as it was. I will most definitely reread this every Christmas season. It was just plain fun and so wildly silly. Adorable! 4 out of 5 stars.
My least favorite book of the month was A Bookshop Christmas, by Rachel Burton. I didn’t totally dislike it, but compared to everything else I read this one just fell flat. If I’m being honest, it’s quite forgettable (in comparison to the others, of course). A cozy read with a Christmas backdrop and a bookish theme. If you love books featuring bookshops and whatnot, you might enjoy this one. 3 out of 5 stars.
The most overyhped book I read this month was The Bodyguard, by Katherine Center. I actually don’t think it’s fair for me to say it’s overhyped because if you really like a book then there’s no limit to how much you should hype it up. I should rephrase and say that for all the 5 star talk this one got, I was expecting it to be a more enjoyable book. It wasn’t that it wasn’t entertaining (because it definitely was!), but I think I was just unfairly expecting it to be something more than it was. This was a really cute, predictable, unbelievable rom com (just like I like them), but nothing extraordinary. If you enjoy rom coms with a fake dating trope, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. I wish I wouldn’t have read any reviews or seen all the BookTok posts before going into this one because I think I would’ve liked it a lot more had I gone in completely blind. 3.6 out of 5 stars.
The book with the most interesting premise this month goes to The One, by John Marrs. I’m a huge fan of sci-fi when it’s done really well and this one was so compelling! I absolutely loved the concept – five different POVs of people who take a DNA test to find their perfect, genetic match. I’d categorize this one as a sci-fi romantic thriller that’s way more thriller than it is romance or sci-fi. I just loved this one so much! If you’ve never read any sci-fi before, I think you should start with one. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and so happy you did! 4.5 out of 5 stars.
A Cross-Country Christmas by Courtney Walsh is this month’s “most likely to be adapted into a Hallmark movie”. This was such an easy, sweet read. Workaholic girl reluctantly goes on a cross-country road trip with her laid back childhood crush. If that doesn’t scream Hallmark, I’m not quite sure what does. This one felt like a cozy holiday hug. Such a charming little read with a lot more substance than I anticipated. I would absolutely recommend to anyone who loves a predictable Hallmark movie and needs a good dose of Christmas spirit. 4 out of 5 stars.
The Change, by Kirsten Miller is the book that was recommended to me the most. I was hesitant to pick this one up because of it’s length (around 500 pages), but I’m so glad a little extra time had me picking this one up. What a fun read! And would be great to add to your October/spooky season TBR. This one features strong feminist themes with a cast of unforgettable, badass women seeking to avenge the deaths of the teenage girls in their community. Goodness, what a ride! With a book this long I expected lots of lulls, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well paced it was. If you love a story with strong feminist themes, pick this one up and don’t let the length deter you! 4 out of 5 stars.
The book that made me cry the most this month was We All Want Impossible Things, by Catherine Newman. At it’s core, this one is about friendship and the ties that bind us together. This one deals with some pretty heavy content (terminal cancer, death, grief), but the dark humor and witty banter bring enough levity to the story to balance it all out so that it doesn’t feel like a big cloud of sadness. I was reaching for my tissues with this one, but for really sweet and tender reasons. If you can handle the subject matter or love realistic stories about lifelong girlfriends, give this one a read. 4.2 out of 5 stars.
The book with the best small town charm goes to Lovelight Farms, by B.K. Borison. This book is the first in a series of three. It was a really cute read with a fake dating trope, but I doh’t think I loved it enough to continue on with the next two books. I thought this was an easy to read, albeit completely unrealistic kind of romance. I’m not sad I read it, but it wasn’t my favorite. I do think it’s worth the read if you like a cozy, sweet romance. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The book that had the most potential, but ultimately fell a little short for my liking was Single and Ready to Jingle, by Piper Rayne. Girl loves Christmas, boy is an absolute Grinch. Boy and girl eventually fall in love. I loved the premise, but everything in between was a really slow burn with little payoff. In full transparency, I listened to the audiobook version instead of reading a physical copy and I think the narration skewed my experience. I honestly think I would’ve enjoyed this one WAY more in written form than having it read to me. I’ll probably give this one another shot next holiday season. If you love a fluffy, lighthearted rom com with all the Christmas spirit one can muster, I think you’ll like this one a lot. 3 out of 5 stars.
Now I’m ready to tackle a new year and can’t wait to see what 2023 rings in with reading. BRING ON ALL THE BOOKS!!!!
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