Bite Sized Books // Let’s Get Festive

13 November 2018

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I am not a person who gets excited about the festive season early (I’m grouchy about the fact I have to do my Christmas shopping in November to avoid the crowds) and I most definitely frown and grumble at those folks putting their Christmas decorations up in November! Like, it’s ridiculous, just stop. Right now. It’s excessive and you will be fed up of them before Christmas hits.

That being said… I have read two festive reads so far and I am judging myself here. But Christmas in book land starts early, ok? The festive releases come out well before Christmas so folks have time to review and you can learn what to arm yourself with for the festive season. We’re starting early so you don’t have to.

Published: 1st October 2018

Source: Netgalley

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

My Rating:
A Christmas story that packs a punch...

It's Shelby Yule's job to make sure the office Christmas party was a success. That means no dodgy Kris Kringle presents, no one gets too sloshed, and there are definitely no dance floor injuries. Never did she think she'd have to worry about the shy new guy, her inappropriate crush, starting a fight.

Adam Tide can't help it if his job as the lead coder means he has a better relationship with his project management software than his human colleagues, but that doesn't mean he's unaware of Felix, head of HR, and the way he treats Shelby. Adam has suffered a whole twelve months of Felix being a dick and after one over–warm beer he just can't take it anymore.

Decking Felix lands Adam in the Emergency Room, and likely the unemployment line, but since Shelby's New Year's resolution is to go after what she wants most, there's still a chance this season will be jolly.

This was an adorable novella. How was it so short yet felt like it will packed so much in there? I knew I would adore this simply because it was Ainslie Paton writing it and everything she writes seems to tick my reading boxes. But normally a novella can feel lacking in some way. I normally find there isn’t enough story or the characters feel a bit flat because they’ve not had a chance to fully develop sure to the word limit. It was not so with this one. In fact, if anything my biggest complaint was it was too short!

Shelby works in HR at a tech company and Adam is a more recent hire (he’s only been there like a year) and she’d hoped for a chill calm Christmas party with the usual antics of someone getting too drunk and a few folks regretting their dance moves the next day. Instead, she ends up sitting in the emergency room with Adam who got into a fist fight and she wants to figure out what on earth happened considering he punched her boss.

Let me tell you, I was impressed we not only gradually got the story of what happened with the party but also the past several months between this pair and from two perspectives! I was impressed and wow, did I want to hug the pair of them for being so damn cute. I mean, Adam was adorable (if a little reckless) and Shelby was the sweetest. I could relate to a woman wanting to do her job but having an asshat of a boss she had to manage and allow to think was more important and better at his job than he was. I was so there for her boss being punched in the face as he most definitely deserved it. Dude was a menace.

I don’t want to spoil things but seriously, if you’re feeling lacking on Christmas cheer read this and then you’ll want to give it a big old hug when you finish. It’s that kind of book.

Published: 16th October 2018
Source: Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
My Rating:
From USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle, Dear Santa is a heartwarming Christmas story about finding your passion for life and love.

Angela Carson wants nothing more than to be the third-generation to run her family’s holiday store, Heart of Christmas, successfully. They’ve weathered over sixty tourist seasons, major hurricanes, and urban sprawl, in their old decommissioned lighthouse. But the national chain that set up shop in their small North Carolina town of Pleasant Sands may be more than Heart of Christmas can survive.

Encouraged by her niece to ask Santa for help through the Dear Santa app, Angela gives in and lets the words fly in a way that, if Santa were real, would no doubt land her on the naughty list. What’s the harm when it’s just a computer-generated response?

Geoff Paisley has been at his mother’s side running the mega-chain Christmas Galore for the last ten years. When his mother falls ill, Geoff promises to answer the Dear Santa letters in her stead. Soon he realizes the woman he’s been corresponding with on Dear Santa is Angela. How could the woman that grates his every last nerve in person have intrigued him so deeply through those letters?

When Geoff reveals that he’s her Dear Santa, will Angela be able to set aside their very public feud to embrace the magic of the holiday and possibly find true love?

This was essentially a Christmas retelling of You've Got Mail. From the rival businesses (and the bigger one putting the smaller more friendly and people-oriented one out of business) to the guy arriving at the girl's house when she's sick. Whilst I did enjoy such a Christmas themed retelling... I'm not totally certain it improved upon the original tale seen in that film. I suppose the only major difference is there were far fewer exchanges between the pair in the book. They end up interacting on an app, Dear Santa, and then exchange a couple of emails and so that part of it was not as significant, instead they have far more face to face time. It was a cute read and I did enjoy it, though, but yeah, all it really did was make me want to rewatch the film.

The book wasn't terrible. In fact, despite reading it in early November (when it most definitely is not Christmas yet and far too early for folks to be getting excited!) I did still find myself enjoying this bit of festive fun. I felt all excited for the Christmas baked treats and decorating the tree and even the dreaded prospect of Christmas shopping (which I most definitely need to start). The book definitely had the festive season captured within its pages, something which not all festive reads easily achieve.

I think it was just all the similarities between it and You've Got Mail which bothered me. I recently saw a blogger explain how they categorise retellings and for me this is one which was easy to spot due to the similarities and, for me, was a little too close to the original so when familiar events occurred it jarred me out of the story as my brain went back and compared it to a scene in the film. I adore You've Got Mail, a Christmas themed version set in a small town in South Carolina is not a bad thing and I did enjoy Angela and Geoff's tale of going from enemies (on Angela's side) to friends to something more. The gradual shift from the antagonistic to the friendly was lovely. And I was just as heartbroken as Angela as she slowly had to accept the end of her Christmas store because she loved that place but it was lovely seeing her move on to the next part of her life. It did bother me one major part in her new direction though but it’s a spoiler, but let’s say she didn’t have total control over her future choices, instead they almost got decided for her and it frustrated the hell out of me. I would have preferred it if she had been approached and made her own choices without external influences.

There were parts which bothered me outside of the retelling similarities too, like the fact that I felt like some side characters never got to have their chance to shine, and that I definitely felt like there were story elements were not explored enough (both of them had family stuff I would have liked to explore more) but I will not grumble because a book which can give me a festive buzz in November is nothing to be sniffed at. I am a notorious grump about Christmas, I love it, but I do wish people would stick to December being it, I hate those folks counting down in July.

And these are my Christmas reads. I loved the novella far more and maybe I’m just a person who doesn’t want a full-fledged Christmas book, who knows? What are your favourite festive reads?
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