Friday 2 December 2022

Festive Review Catch Up! Merry 'n' Bright, Winter Nights and Cupcakes


Yep, I'm still catching up with reviews... It kinda happens when you don't really post any for over a year but I deliberately saved these ones to share during the festive period.
Twinkly lights, snow, cake, gifts and falling in love... Festive reads are delightful. 

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

Merry Smith is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

Merry and Bright was a wonderfully sweet festive read! I loved watching Merry and Jayson get to know each other both irl and online. The book was low drama and low heat but full of festive feels!
It isn't too long, nor is it too short, and I found it perfect for curling up under a blanket and escaping reality for a few evenings...

Falling For Christmas by Kate Hewitt

Glamorous city girl Hannah Ford wasn’t thinking when she walked out of a Christmas party and drove three hundred miles into a snowstorm; she just needed to escape. Thankfully local carpenter Sam Taylor comes to her rescue, and the unlikely pair are forced to spend a snowed-in Christmas together.

All Sam planned for Christmas was to get drunk alone. The holiday has always been something to be endured, until Hannah tumbles into his life, making it magical. Now Hannah and Sam have a chance to have a Christmas together… and make it the best one either of them have ever had.

But can one night out of reality turn into something that’s lasting and real?

Audiobook: 3hrs 37min - Narrator: Summer Roberts

This is a snowed in holiday novella that's good for passing some time but it wasn't all that memorable.
The characters were likable enough but the spark between them was lacking. The story was low heat, they both had a load of baggage, and it didn't hit all the festive happy buttons I'd have wanted... But it had a happy ending that made me smile! All in all, I don't think I'd read any more in this series but it was enjoyable enough to amuse.

Eight Winter Nights by Liz Maverick

Last year, Rachel Bacharach met the man of her dreams at a Hanukkah party — and then her outgoing best friend Tamara swooped in and “called” Oz Caplan for herself. It’s a typical outcome for the dependable, bookish Rachel, who is never able to extinguish the spark she immediately felt for Oz. But being secretly in love with her best friend’s boyfriend all year hasn’t been easy.

As this year’s party approaches, Oz and Tamara break up. It’s a worst-case scenario when Oz asks Rachel to help him write Tamara love letters to win her back in time for their Hanukkah anniversary. Rachel’s been writing love letters to Oz in her journals for a year; she knows all the words he would need. But will Rachel be able to hide her true feelings from Oz any longer? And might this year’s party finally be Rachel’s chance to trust her heart and put everything on the line for love?

Audiobook: 2hrs 55min - Narrators: Eva Kaminsky and Jason Clarke

I listened to this one on audio and really enjoyed it! The narrators brought the story to life and at just under 3hrs listening time it was perfect for consuming in a single evening.

The story itself was fun... A classic case of unrequited love that isn't really unrequited. Add a meddling friend and an injury to the equation and you have a forced proximity, friends-to-lovers, tale that will make you smile.
I loved that the story is set over the eight days of Hanukkah and how it flips back and forth between the past and the present. It brought the characters to life and added some depth to the tale which is hard in a novella length story.

My only complaint is that I hated that Oz had dated Tamara (aka the meddling best friend) and was still, in theory, hung up on Tamara/getting over their break up at the start of the book. I hated how Rachel stepped aside that day in the past and let the man of her dreams go because she felt like she couldn't compete with her best friend. I feel like Oz should have noticed that Rachel was his person without screwing her bf for a year! Anyhoo... I guess my personal gripe isn't the point. The point is that I still really enjoyed the story despite really having a major gripe over elements so I recommend folks give it a listen!

Christmas At Carly's Cupcakes by Jessica Redland

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is a cosy heartwarming tale of friendship, family, putting the past behind, and embracing the future.

It’s Christmas in Whitsborough Bay. With fairy lights connecting the shops and caf├ęs on either side of the cobbles, Castle Street seems magical. And in such a magical place, surely Christmas wishes can come true.

Carly Travis, owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, has two Christmas wishes this year. Her first is for her younger sister, Bethany, to focus on the positives in her life, including her Christmas wedding, instead of writing herself off as a failure. Bethany's attempts at cake-decorating aren't going to win any awards, but she’s certainly great with customers. Carly’s second wish is for her best friend, Liam, to come home for Christmas.

When Liam calls to say he’s been granted leave from the army, Carly makes a third Christmas wish. It’s the one she’s made every year since she was a teenager and, if she’s really brave, could this be the year when it finally comes true?

With Liam coming home, the shop having its best year yet, and a wedding to look forward to, it’s shaping up to be the best Christmas ever for Carly. But for Bethany, things are starting to unravel …

Audiobook: 5hrs 57min - Narrator: Emma Swan

This wasn't a festive romance so much as a women's fiction, family drama, set at Christmas with the added bonus of two long-term best friends finally getting together after loving each other forever but being too terrified to lose each other if they admitted it. 

I loved the snow, the cupcakes, the wonderful festive feel of this book... I enjoyed the romance elements... Carly and Liam were made for each other and I was furious with them for not pulling their head out their asses much earlier but relieve and so happy when they finally did!

The family drama with Carly's younger sister Bethany got a little much but I was happy with how it played out and Bethany's future husband was a gem so that was an unexpected cherry on top of a pretty good listen.
The narrator did a good job of bringing the characters to life and making each distinct so kudos.

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