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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

October 25, 2021

4 More Books to Add to Your Christmas Reading List

by Donna Huber

There's just about two months left until Christmas and there are so many Christmas books to read. Have you started on your list yet? There are have been plenty of Christmas stories hitting shelves this month. Here are four that I've enjoyed.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Dreaming of Christmas by T. A. Williams

Dreaming of Christmas
October 2021; Saga Egmont; 9788726869903
audio (7h 59m), ebook, print; holiday

Do you dream of a European Christmas vacation? Even if you can't jump on a plane this December, you can travel to perhaps the most Christmasy place on Earth - the Austrian Alps - in the pages of T.A. William's holiday romance Dreaming of Christmas

A year has passed since Zoe's boyfriend of ten years dumped her on Christmas Eve. It's been a rough year both personally and professionally. She isn't really looking forward to this Christmas yet when an old university friend suggests a reunion by inviting his flatmates for an all-expense-paid trip to a small Austrian village. Though it means her ex Grant will be there (and probably with his new girlfriend), she feels like it's just the holiday she needs.

Dreaming of Christmas is a cute rom-com. Zoe's host Billy was a geeky, shy computer major in university. Now he's a billionaire mogul. The luxury hotel they are staying at - yep, he owns it. And he has had a major exterior makeover, but Zoe soon discovers he is the same sweet, shy Billy on the inside. All her friends appear to have been successful - personally or/and professionally. Yet, she soon discovers their lives are messy behind closed doors. Apparently, Zoe was a sort of Agony Aunt to the group and finds herself in that role once more as they unburden themselves on her. And there's Grant who is apparently regretting what he gave up. Will Zoe go back to what is familiar or give a new romance a chance?

The characters are all fun - they kind of make me think of the TV show Friends. There's a cute kid and an adorable dog - everything you need for a great Christmas holiday. I really wanted to be there with them. I listened to the audiobook so it was kind of like I was there with him. 

Anne-Marie Piazza did a great job with a rather large cast of characters. I didn't have any trouble telling the characters apart as she gave them all unique voices. 

The romance is light and the focus is largely on the group of friends reconnecting. Of course, there are romantic complications - Grant wanting to get back with Zoe, yet not really giving up his cheating, scheming ways. And there's Billy. The chemistry between him and Zoe is undeniable but what about the woman he's sharing a suite with?

This book definitely put me in the Christmas mood with its descriptions of the snowy mountain village, the lavishly decorated hotel, and the fun the group enjoy - ski adventures, decadent dinners, Mozart concert, and a Christmas ball. So if you are having trouble getting into the Christmas mood this year, I recommend picking up this book.

Buy Dreaming of Christmas at Amazon

Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber

Dear Santa
October 2021; Ballantine Books; 978-1984818812
audio, ebook, print (272 pages); holiday romance

One of the highlights of my Christmas reading is reading Debbie Macomber's newest Christmas book. Dear Santa is a heartwarming tale with a bit of nostalgia to it.

Lindy is looking forward to her two week vacation in her hometown. It has been a rough few months. At her new job, where she feels she has to prove to her co-workers every day that she deserved the job, she has been working extra hours on a proposal for a big client. The long hours, while exhausting, were also a welcome distraction after discovering her boyfriend had taken up with her best friend. While upset about the breakup, she is more devastated about losing her best friend since college. 

Of course, a mother knows when something is wrong with her child. So with a few Christmas cookies, she gently coaxes Lindy to unburden her. Her mother's response is a little trip down memory lane by pulling out a few of the Santa letters Lindy had written as a child. The first one when she asked Santa for a daddy. There was no man for Mom under the tree but a few hours later a UPS driver who her mother remembers from high school delivers a late present. Then there is a letter where Lindy asked for a little sister - 9 months later she has a little brother which she decides is better than a sister. And then there is the letter where she asked Santa to give the boy at school who has been picking on her a lump of goal - the child's famly moves away shortly after the holidays. While Lindy enjoys reminiscing she has no idea why her mother brings it up now. Her mother suggests she write to Santa again since her wishes seem to always come true. Lindy, of course, thinks that's crazy but when she can't sleep she writes her three with wishes in a letter to Santa - 1. a new best friend like she had in grade school, 2. a great guy like her adopted father, and 3. success with the work project. 

From there Dear Santa becomes a serendipitous story of friendship, love, and deciding what really matters. It is definitely a sweet read that pulled at the heartstrings a time or two - I was misty-eyed on more than one occasion. If you need a reminder that Christmas is a magical time, then pick up this book.

Buy Dear Santa at Amazon

Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan

Christmas by the Book
October 2021; G.P. Putnam's Sons; 978-0593331248
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); holiday romances

This is my favorite Christmas book so far this year. It was so refreshing to have a book where the main character isn't being dumped by a long-term boyfriend. Christmas by the Book, Ryan's first book for adults, is perfect for any bookworm. Also, it appears that this book was first published last year under the title The Six Tales of Christmas, which is also a very good title for this book.

Simon and Nora own an independent bookshop in the Cotswolds. Like many small businesses, and particularly bookstores, they are struggling. The shop had been Nora's mother's and she can't face the possibility of losing this last connection to her mother. But dodging phone calls and burning the tax collector's letters isn't going to keep this from being their last Christmas not only in the shop but also their home which is in the flat above the store.

But when an elderly man comes into the shop looking for a particular book about the first world war for his grandson who is battling leukemia. It just happens to be one of the first books Simon and Nora bought as a married couple and possibly the oldest book in the bookshop. This book had become a symbol of hope and that every book was meant for someone. With the book finally having found its home, it sparks an idea. Simon decides to do a little random act of kindness and asks the bookshop's social media followers to nominate someone they think needs a little cheering up during the holidays and they will select six to receive a free book. While they wait for the midnight deadline for the nominations, Simon and Nora select the six "Christmasy" books they will send out - among them Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Philip Van Doren Stern's The Greatest Gift. 

There are plenty of references to books as people come in looking for gifts and their own reading material. But there are some fun "coincidental" references but I won't ruin them for you. But seriously all the bookish talk made my heart happy.

Simon and Nora are very much a part of their community so we get to see a lot of the locals. Ryan writes them in full color and it makes you want to be part of the village. While Simon and Nora are the main characters, the story isn't focused on only them. We get a closer look at life for the 6 recipients of the random acts of kindness. While Simon and Nora didn't know which book they sent to which person, you would have thought the book was handpicked specifically for that person. Now you aren't just invested in Simon and Nora's struggle, but also you are rooting for these 6 people. 

Between the book references and the wonderful characters, I found myself with a silly little smile of delight through most of the book.

If you are wanting a heartwarming story but aren't really into the holiday romances that are abundant this time of year, then you definitely want to get this book. And if you have any bookish friends on your Christmas list, then you should get them a copy too.

Buy Christmas by the Book at Amazon

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar

Christmas at Frozen Falls
October 2021; Saga Egmont; 9788726700039
audio (10h 20m), ebook, print; holiday romance

Sylvie's finance decides he can't go through with the wedding. Since he's a pilot, he jets off to leave Sylvie with all the wedding plans to cancel. One of those plans - their Christmas honeymoon in Mauritius. It happens that Sylvie's best friend Nari is a travel blogger and talks her into still going on a trip. Instead of the sunny beaches of the African island though, they exchange the tickets for a place that couldn't be more different. They decide on Lapland, Finland. It's then that Sylvie remembers Stellan the Finnish exchange student she fell in love with during university - unfortunately shortly after she told him she loved him he caught a flight home without even saying goodbye.

This is probably the least Christmasy, Christmas book I've read so far. Other than being set at Christmas and elves at the airport, there really isn't much Christmas mentioned. So if you are more interested in a wintery romance, this would be a good book for you to pick up. 

I broke my rule about books with animals and started to worry when it is hinted that something happened to Sylvie's dog Barney. If you are like me and cry when books have animals, then let me assure you that it isn't too bad. We don't experience the problem first hand and it is more about making us hate her ex more. And it gives Sylvie and Stellan something to reconnect over. 

While the ebook and print editions came out in 2019, it's now being published as an audiobook. (Funny, I had never heard of publisher Saga Egmont before and now this is my third or fourth book from them.) While the audiobook is well done (just like the others I have listened to from this publisher), I did have a little trouble with the characters' accents. I thought Sylvie's friend's name was Mary but then I noticed in the Goodreads description that her name is Nari. When narrator Helen Duff is reading the narration I didn't have as much trouble with her accent. I also didn't have trouble telling the characters apart when they spoke.

Since I read Christmas romances more for the Christmas magic than for the romance, I wasn't as thrilled with this book. But it is a solid story that any romance reader will enjoy.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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  1. Christmas By the Book sounds really good! I always recommend the Year Round Christmas cozy mystery series by Vicki Delany. LOVE Them.

    Lauren @