21 December 2015

Bite Sized Books: My Favourite Festive Reads

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I’ve been planning to type this post properly for at least a fortnight. I have wanted to have a nice Christmassy post up after seeing everyone doing their Blogmas posts and I have felt extremely jealous. Sadly life keeping me away from my laptop, and the fact I haven’t felt in the festive mood have really hampered my progress on this one. Luckily for me, my Christmas party for work instantly made it feel like Christmas so I absolutely need to type this all up for you now before that festive feeling fades as I’ll still be at working until 12:30 on Christmas Eve.

Now, normally, my Bite Sized Books feature is a bunch of reviews, but this time it’s more of a recommendation feature for me. I do not read a lot of seasonally appropriate books. I am not the kind of person who changes what they read with each season. I don’t want to grab a beach read when summer hits, or want to read something dark and scary when Halloween approaches, I simply read whatever takes my fancy. Sometimes, though, you read a book and instantly think ‘I wish I had read that book in x season’ because it brings up a feeling that seems appropriate for that time. I remember I read Morgan Matson’s ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ this time last year and I instantly yearned for summer. Well, I decided that for this Christmas I would look back on the books I’ve read that gave me that same yearning for the Christmas season. Much like seeing Christmas specials for my favourite TV series does.

There is not a single thing which makes books feel Christmassy to me, but I think the main thing I look for is quite simply the mention of Christmas in some way. These are the books which do it best for me, and a few I’ve contemplated reading each year at Christmas.

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My True Love Gave To Me Edited by Stephanie Perkins

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ...This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

I read this book when it was released last year and was completely unsure. I had read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and was not as enamoured as every other YA reader on the blogosphere, so you may question why I would want to read a collection edited by her and the answer is simple… because I loved, at least, half of the authors included in this book. I had never been a short story reader before this collection and I am so glad everyone was talking about it last year because I honestly adored it.

I had a little mini review written up for each of the stories in this book and completely intended to publish a review last year, but then Christmas came and went I didn’t have the time (are you noticing a theme with my Christmas’s?) so I want to tell you why you should read this now. This is not all contemporary YA reads, my favourite stories in the collection are actually some of the more fantastical ones. I adored The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link with the mystery and the originality of the story, and I obviously adored The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor for it’s darkness and the amazing story. The romance helped as well. And it was Holly Black’s short story, Krampuslauf, which made me search out her other books and is also to blame for me being eager to watch Krampus at the cinema.

Those stories stand out in my mind, but then so did the contemporary reads by authors such as Kiersten White, Rainbow Rowell and Matthew de la Pena. Every single short story in this collection is fantastic and gets you excited for Christmas. I will be reading these once more in the run up to Christmas and you should all read them as well if you haven't already. I know Christmas reads aren’t for everyone, much like Christmas films, but I loved them.

Recommended For: YA Readers and anyone who enjoys a good romance, in whatever form it takes.


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Hot Toy by Jennifer Crusie

Previously published in the anthology Santa, Baby, HOT TOY is now available as a standalone e-story for the first time!

Mayhem ensues under the mistletoe as a determined shopper grabs the very last hot toy action figure off the shelf, only to find herself plunged into the middle of a real-life spy game and in the arms of a sexy secret agent...
This is another short story, although a standalone one, and is one I requested off of NetGalley a few weeks back for no other reason that Jennifer Crusie wrote it (did you know she’s my favourite?) and I am so glad I am so easily swayed by seeing a favourite author’s name on something.

This is  a ridiculous little romance story set at Christmas involving the kind of romance and drama you expect to see from made for TV Christmas films… but it’s better than that. This may be my own bias, but this is such a fun absurd story for Christmas. It is the perfect short escapism read for Christmas day when things have gotten a bit crazy with the family gathering, normally the sleepy hours after Christmas dinner when everyone has eaten too much and are napping on the sofa, you can take those quiet hours to escape into this book and simply enjoy. Or maybe that’s just what I crave on Christmas.

Recommended For: Romance readers and those in need of some Christmas escapism


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Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
Okay, so I have already reviewed this book recently and I’ve already mentioned that it made me think of Christmas, and it makes me think of Christmas for one very obvious reason, it’s set in the days leading up to Christmas and is all about Georgie being separated from her husband and children at Christmas. It’s a beautiful book and it will really make you want to cuddle up to your loved ones this Christmas, even if they are being their most obnoxious on Christmas day. This book will remind you that it’s the little things that matter and it reminds you to think about others as well as ourselves (it’s sometimes easy to get lost in your own dreams that you forget about other people’s).

You know, that, and Rainbow Rowell wrote it so it’s a dream to read she does write the best books. I won’t go any further telling you why you should read, you can read my review for that one, but it is a good Christmas read.

Recommended For: Those who like to read something a bit more serious at Christmas and fans of good writing.


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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
This is another book which surprised me with making me think of Christmas and it doesn’t make me think too much of Christmas, but more Autumn and the run up to Christmas. It’s basically a book that goes all the way up to Christmas and once I finished I both needed the next book in my hands (like, so much) but also I wanted it to be Christmas to get wrapped up in cozy jumpers and drink hot chocolate and all those good things. Also, Christmas cookies, I really needed Christmas cookies.

This is just a sweet YA duology (the second book is just as good and really wraps this story up well) and I really enjoyed it. I think I expected something a bit more serious, at times, but I didn’t care that this book didn’t get more serious than it did because I liked it the way it is. It’s a sweet fake romance book and is another escapism book for Christmas, but in this case, it’s a fluffy book for you to escape into.

Recommended For: YA fans, those looking for a fluffy read to escape into, preferably whilst in your cosiest pyjamas wrapped up in a blanket and with a mug of hot chocolate to hand.


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Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother - a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career - if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes - and mouth - are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.
I didn’t actually think of this book on my own, it was one I stumbled across when trying to select out some other Christmas reads for you to check out and I felt like hitting myself for not thinking of it on my own.

Christmas may not be mentioned in the blurb, but this first novel in the Lucky Harbor series is set around Christmas time. These three sisters come together at their mom’s old inn and attempt to renovate it together, although they each have their own ideas with what they will be doing with it once it is renovated. It is a book that has the perfect little family scenes with these sisters together, and it is a book that has a Christmas tree playing a very central part in their bonding experiences together. At university we had a Christmas tree at our flat which we all decorated together in a rather similar way, although we did try to make our own decorations as well, turns out paper snowflakes are difficult to make when drunk (who knew?) and so it wasn’t the prettiest of trees, but it was ours.

I don’t have much to say about this book I haven’t said before, but I absolutely love Jill Shalvis and this is a perfect book both for Christmas, but also for any who are thinking about checking her books out.

Recommended For: Anyone looking for a steamy romance set during Christmas.


Now, I intended to show a few more books for you all, which I know to be Christmas themed but I haven’t read myself… but then I thought why bother? I would much rather hear from you about what books you recommend for Christmas than tell you about books I’ve never read so cannot vouch for.

What are your favourite Christmas Reads? Do you have books you like to read at Christmas or are you more like me just reading whatever takes your fancy?

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