A Season For Second Chances

  • AUTHOR: Jenny Bayliss
  • TOPIC: Novel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Loved, loved, loved! She just made me want to jump into the novel and take her place. Loved the story, the characters, the narrative. A perfect ending to the year and to my Christmas time reading.

Annie had enough. She caught her husband cheating on her with one of the waitresses of the restaurant they own, on the banquette! After sulking for weeks, she stumbles upon an ad: someone is looking for a temporary house sitter, and offers free rent. When she reaches the location, she immediately falls in love with Willow Bay and the owner Mari, and she decides to accept, leaving her whole life behind. While the neighbors welcome her in open arms, her ex Max doesn’t stop making attempts to get back together…but she has something else to focus on: herself. Unable to stay still, she reopens the cafe that was always housed in Saltwater Nook, much to everyone’s happiness. The only one against it is John, Mari’s nephew, who is still set on selling the property and relocating Mari to a safer place for her age. But Annie is falling in love and what was once a cafe, becomes a bistro and slowly a large part of the community, to the point which Annie takes on all of Mari’s old traditions, from Halloween to Christmas, and starts to become a profitable business. She hence decides to fight her ex Max to her her half of everything to be able to buy Saltwater Nook…because she finally found where she belongs.

Christmas for Beginners

  • AUTHOR: Carole Matthews
  • TOPIC: Novel

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I usually love her novels but for me, this one fell short. It was a tiny bit festive, but it simply didn’t grab my attention so much as other books of hers did in the past.

Molly owns Hope Farm, and her life is simple: her farm, her animals, her work with kids in need and a handful of friends. What is not so simple, is her long distance relationship with a famous soap opera actor Shelby and the fact that his teenage son Lucas lives with her on the farm. This year, she has been convinced to organize an open day fair to raise awareness for her cause and funds for the farm. Things are tight since all her support is coming from Shelby, who is present mainly with his wallet but little else. Throughout the organization of the event, while she seeks for his support, he ventures further away for work to pursue his career, leaving her behind to deal with it all, along with Lucas that he barely speaks to or gets along with, who is going through a tumultuous first love relationship that affects him deeply. Luckily the town’s Mayor becomes an unexpected exceptional help, and as an ex farmer himself, forms a very strong bond with Molly. Just when Christmas approaches and Molly has a pregnancy scare, Shelby decides to leave for the US with the dream of making it in Hollywood, and that is when Molly will have to decide what it is worth fighting for, and which kind of life is really meant for her.

The Mistletoe Pact

  • AUTHOR: Jo Lovett
  • TOPIC: Festive Novel

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I really liked the start of the novel, and I really wanted to love it. I did like it, but I just found that they have dragged the whole story for way longer than necessary and than sprinted the too-cliché ending very rapidly. Shame.

Evie and Dan have known each other their whole lives, and on Christmas Eve 8 years prior, they made a pact: if they weren’t married by 30, they would marry each other. And it happens, but not as planned. Totally drunk the night before Evie’s 30th, they find themselves married at a Vegas chapel, and all they can think of when they wake up is…annulment. The story continues in a back and forth throughout the years, where they individually acknowledge the feelings they have for one another, but never act upon it, too scared to lose their friendship, or because one or the other was currently in a relationship with someone else. Both burnt by childhood experiences with less than commendable fathers, they are afraid to hurt and be hurt. But don’t worry, happy ending will be waiting around the corner.

The Christmas Bookshop

  • AUTHOR: Jenny Colgan
  • TOPIC: Festive Novel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How much I loved this one! How can I not adore a novel that takes place at Christmas, and in a bookshop! Jenny never disappoints.

When Carmen looses her job, she has little choice: she has to move in with her sister, in her perfect house with her perfect children, and even accept a job that she found for her. Tragic! At first, the job as a sales assistant in the bookshop seems an impossible feat: the place is not making any money, has no Christmas atmosphere and only offers books no one reads. But as the days pass by, ideas flow, people are met, opportunities arise, and Carmen is able to transform the shop in the best looking one in the street, a profitable business and a new helm of the community. On a personal note, spending more time with her sister opens Carmen’s eyes to her reality, bringing them closer to one another. And by occasionally looking after her kids, she realizes that she finally found a place where she belongs. Love is also no stranger in this novel. Carmen’s heart with have to chose between a famous and obnoxious, but funny and successful writer, or a Brazilian Quaker professor…who will make Carmen’s heart beat the most?

Always in December

  • AUTHOR: Emily Stone
  • TOPIC: Festive Novel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A definitely festive novel with an unfortunate unexpected and sad ending. But all in all, a great read.

Josie lost her parents as a child, due to a car accident on Christmas Eve. Ever since, she has never been able to return to the place where she grew up, or celebrate the festivities as everyone else. This is set to change while riding to post her special letter ( Christmas wishes that she writes yearly to her beloved parents ), because she collides with a stranger, Max, who is bound to change her life forever. Overcome by guilt about the accident, Josie invited Max for a drink, and with one thing leading to another, they spend together many days celebrating the festivities, something they both always avoided entirely. Just when Josie starts to think that this could be the start of something real, Max disappears without a goodbye. But fate comes to rescue, as over the course of the year, they continue bumping into each other in the most unexpected places…but every time something comes in between, despite the fact that the strong feelings they experience, are impossible to erase. Exactly a year after meeting, just when they are both ready to confess to each other and to themselves their love, something unexpected and devastated happens. This will not put Josie at ease, but will at least explain why Max spent a full year running away from her.

A Lighthouse Christmas

  • AUTHOR: Jenny Hale
  • TOPIC: Festive Novel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This novel really hit home. There were so many similarities between the story and my personal life and the experience I had to go through just a short few months ago. I loved it even more because of it. Just as I always love anything Jenny writes.

When Mia’s beloved grandma passes away, she needs to leave NYC to the seaside village where grandma Ruth was running the lighthouse. Mia’s family is one of strong women, but she is always the one holding it all together and her mom and sister always rely on her a lot. But when she is faced with having to part from her childhood memories by selling the lighthouse, it’s hard for her to keep it together. Luckily, she finds an amazing ally in Will, the real estate agent who is facilitating the sale, and together with her family, they start working through grandma’s belonging the way she would do it: with fun, wine and laughter. She arranges for a company to come and refurb quickly and stage it for sale, at the same time dealing with her almost ex-husband who is giving her pressure to organize the Christmas event for the successful PR company that they run together. The Lighthouse refurb is so beautiful that Mia decides to host the company party there itself, using the event as a charity stunt to help Will’s sister keep her bakery afloat. But an unexpected discovery while sorting grandma’s belongings is threatening to destroy all of Mia’s plans: the sale, the party and the new life she was planning to start for herself. But hang on tight, as there is a fantastic happy ending waiting for you!

The Santa Suit

  • AUTHOR: Mary Kay Andrews
  • TOPIC: Festive Novel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Another perfect holiday read, that kept me glued to the pages throughout. There is everything you wish for: love, family, community, Christmas, magic and hope.

Recently divorced Ivy took a decision: she needs a change of scene and life. So much so that she buys an old farmhouse without even seeing it first. And is she in for s surprise when she arrives! The house is still full of everything from the previous owners and needs more than a little refurb. Luckily she meets Ezra, who without a flinch seems to always have an answer for all her worries, and helps her out every day with one thing or the other. While sorting through the belongings, she finds a beautiful old Santa suit, and discovers a note inside left many years before: the silent prayer of a little girl to Santa to get her father back from war from Christmas. Touched by the note, Ivy sets on a personal quest to find out more about the note, all the while making friends in the community and helping so many people around her without realizing it. A truly unexpected Christmas miracle will deliver to her not only the solution to her quest, but also a home and a second chance at love.

The Holiday Swap

  • AUTHOR: Maggie Knox
  • TOPIC: Festive Novel

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book. It was cute, festive, romantic, the perfect Christmas time read.

When celebrity Chef Charlie Goodwin has a small accident on set, she looses consciousness, and with it, also her sense of taste and smell. Knowing she is in a dire career turning point trying to win the helm of the next baking reality show against her nemesis, she reaches out to her identical twin Cassie for help: they need to swap for a week, like they used to do as kids. Cassie has just finally gathered the courage to break up with her long term boyfriend, and accepts happily the change of scene. On top of it, running every day the family bakery can be repetitive, so the swap takes place. Living in each other shoes it’s an eye opener for both sisters, and also comes with its complications. Trying to keep up the show is tricky, and slowly both of them let their own personality take over: Cassie by standing up for herself on set and Charlie by getting rid of the sister ex-boyfriend once and for all. Romance is added to the mix when both sisters unexpectedly fall in love with someone while in each other’s shoes. Conflicted about their feelings and if they should come clean or not, they also start thinking about their future: are they really happy with the life they are leaving? But don’t worry, a fantastic happy ending is waiting around the corner of this great read!

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