December Reading Round Up

It’s a bit late, but I’m talking about all of the books I read in December. I hope you still have some holiday spirit in you because there’s A LOT of holiday books in here!

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Ben’s Bakery and the Hanukkah Miracle by Penelope Peters

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance (M/M relationship)

  • Format: ebook

  • Rating: 4 stars

Quick Summary: Former hockey star and perfect Jewish son, Adam, takes his pee-wee hockey team to Boston for a tourney and meets Ben who owns a “Kosher-Style” bakery.

Well, this was completely adorable and a fast read! (Less than 300 pages, read it in one day.) It was a last minute download and I chose it as my “warm and fuzzy” book for the ‘Tis-the-Season-a-Thon. Which was completely perfect because between the adorable romance, the match-making middle school hockey players, and ALL OF THE BAKED GOODS (Seriously, you’ll get super hungry reading this book. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.) this was absolutely a great warm and fuzzy read.

It’s also an own voices book about Hanukkah which was awesome!

You’ll like this book if you also enjoy: m/m romance, contemporary romance, hockey, bakeries, own voices, Hanukkah, flings turned into relationship, father-son relationships, duty vs. heart trope

Content Warnings: flashbacks to an injury, references to a past car crash

Snow in Love by Kasie West, Aimee Friedman, Melissa de la Cruz, and Nic Stone

  • Genre: YA Romance Anthology

  • Format: Library Paperback

  • Rating: 3.5 Stars

Quick Summary: Four YA romance novellas by popular authors which take place during the holiday season.

This was the pick for the ‘Tis-the-Season-a-Thon as the group read, and it came in from my library the day the read a thon started so it was perfect timing!

It’s a really quick read - less than 300 pages! I finished it in one day and it was fun. The first two stories by Kasie West and Aimee Friedman were my favorites though. All four were pretty predictable, but still cute. I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think this will be an anthology I’ll return to year after year like some others I’ve read. I’m all for predictable/cheesy holiday stories, but they didn’t have quite the creative edge I’ve seen in some other books.

You’ll Like this Book If you Also Enjoy: Hallmark movies, the book My True Love Gave to Me, short stories/novellas, road trips, terrible holiday jobs, childhood sweethearts, coming out stories, stuck in an airport

Content Warnings: References/discussion of racism

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, and Joanna Shupe

  • Genre: Adult Historical Romance Anthology

  • Format: ebook

  • Rating: 5 stars

Quick Summary: Four popular historical romance authors share holiday novellas. All featuring a duke and inspired by a classic Christmas story.

This was the book I read for the ‘Tis-the-Season-a-Thon challenge of “a book with red or green on the cover.”

The first novella by Tessa Dare was completely perfect - which I predicted. I’d only read one Tessa Dare book before this one but I loved it so much that I had complete confidence this would be no different. Inspired by Meet Me in St. Louis (one of my faves!) and full of her classic humor, wit, and feminism with a dash of swoon.

The second novella was by Sarah MacLean and oof it was definitely a change from Dare’s story! It was inspired by A Christmas Carol and OH GOODNESS THE FEELS AND THE ANGST. But I still loved it.

The third novella was by Sohpie Jordan and a take on Home Alone. So much fun! And definitely the steamiest out of the four stories.

The fourth one by Joanna Shupe I cannot for the life of me figure out what classic holiday story it’s inspired by! If anyone knows, please tell me. In spite of that, it was still cute. I didn’t like it as much as the other three, but not enough to bring it down in my rating.

Are these stories realistic? Probably not. Are they super historically accurate? Probably not. Do I care? Nope. Overall - this was wonderful and I’ll be adding it to my pile of holiday books to return to in Decembers to come.

You’ll like this book if you also enjoy: historical holiday romance, novellas, anthologies, anything by any of these authors, snowed in trope, hidden identity trope, dukes, classic holiday stories and retellings

Content Warnings: none that come to mind

Frozen by LA Casey

  • Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

  • Format: ebook

  • Rating: 3 stars

Quick Summary: Neala and Darcy have been enemies from childhood and the tension reaches it’s peak when they’re vying for the same doll they want to give to their niece and nephew.

This was my pick for “holiday themed” challenge for the ‘Tis the season a thon. Which… all of my books were holiday themed so take that as you will.

The concept of this book was great. It was like the movie Jingle All the Way but set in Ireland and with romance. Besides, a good hate-to-love story is always fun. I also really liked how the book is called Frozen and the doll they are trying to get for the kids is from a fictional animated movie called Blaze about a princess who can make fire.

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The execution was good, but not my favorite. I liked the shenanigans and tension, but didn’t really fall for and get invested in the characters the way I normally would.

You’ll like this book if you also enjoy: enemies to lovers, childhood friends, big families

Content warnings: reference to past sexual assault

Once Upon a Winters Eve (Spindle Cove 1.5) by Tessa Dare

  • Genre: Adult Historical Romance

  • Format: ebook

  • Rating: 5 stars

Quick Summary: On the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas Ball, and the day before Violet is to return home to find a husband, a mysterious stranger crashes the party and goes right to Violet.

It’s Tessa Dare… of course I loved this book. I’ve now read one of her novels and two novellas and all three have been five stars.

I was hooked and drawn into Violet’s character right away, I loved figuring out the mystery of the mysterious man, and seeing our original couple from the first book in the Spindle Cove series was wonderful.

I’ll probably end up binge reading the remainder of the Spindle Cove series once we get into the new year.

You’ll like this book if you also enjoy: mystery, historical romance, whirlwind one night stories, scorned lovers, forbidden/secret lovers, feminist romance

Content warnings: our hero has some injuries and references to past torture

A Christmas Brothel by Ava Stone, Kate Pearce, Jane Charles, Virginia Heath, Deb Marlowe, KC Bateman, Elizabeth Essex, Amanda Mariel, and more

  • Genre: Adult Historical Short Story Anthology

  • Format: ebook

  • Rating: Did not finish

Quick Summary: It’s Christmas Eve in Canterbury when a sudden snow storm hits and the only place in town that has room is the local brothel.

This book was… not what I expected. Honestly, this should have just taken place at an inn. Save for a few references to the madame and seeing one of her girls here and there, and on occasion we’d have a character blush at where they needed to spend the night, this set of short stories could have taken place anywhere. Changing those details wouldn’t have changed anything in the stories.

I mean, it takes place in a brothel, and yet it was the cleanest most wholesome thing I read all month. Which is fine - just not what I expected. There wasn’t even a fun Pretty Woman scenario or anything! Maybe if I had known this going into it, I would have enjoyed this book more. It’s like you go into your fridge and see something labeled as “milk” but when you drink it, it’s actually orange juice. There’s nothing wrong with orange juice. Orange juice is great! But when you’re expecting milk, it’s not a great experience.

And the stories were too short for my taste. They just didn’t go deep enough for me to really enjoy them.

It was fun to see some of the stories overlapping though and I love the concept. Maybe I’ll try it again later.

Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri

  • Genre: Adult Fantasy

  • Format: Library Paperback

  • Rating: 5 Stars

Quick Summary: Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of a governor with magic in her blood and her powers become noticed by the Emperor’s most feared mystics.

OH GOODNESS THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD. It was the only book I read this month which wasn’t holiday focused or a re-read because I’d gotten it from the library and needed to return it. I’m so glad I read it though!

Even the back of the book description doesn’t do it justice because there’s so much more to it than just magic blood. I loved the setting and the magic system and the way religion was used. This looks like it’s going to be action packed and violent, and parts of it are. But the best part was the characters. I COMPLETELY fell in love with them. They made me swoon and cry and I need more of them in my life. It was a bit more of a slower/quieter fantasy, but still compelling.

You’ll Like This Book if You Also Enjoy: Folklore/inspiration from India, slow burn romance, arranged marriage, “chosen one” fantasy trope, use of religion, family focus

Content Warnings: violence, death, parental abandonment, references to torture

Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay #4) by Jill Shavis

  • Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

  • Format: ebook

  • Rating: 4 Stars

Quick Summary: Colbie is a best-selling YA author on the brink of burn out and runs away to San Francisco where no one can reach her or knows her pen name when she runs into sexy-nerd business man Spencer.

This was so cute and swoony! I loved how our heroine was a YA author battling writers block, and Spencer was such a great hero who was this awesome nerdy guy. Although, I think she totally should have fired her agent cause… NOPE. He was the actual worst ever and I thought back to the different publishing podcasts I’ve listened to and I’m pretty sure all of them would have been like “FIND A NEW AGENT.”

This book is great if you want a Christmas but not Christmas read. It takes place in December and it talks about Christmas, but it’s definitely not about the holiday either. I could easily see it taking place at another time of year if needed, but having the holiday backdrop was a nice perk.

Reading it also made me curious about the other books in the series as well, especially since I read one of the novellas last Christmas, so I’ll be on the look out for book 1.

You’ll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: flings turned to relationship, nerdy heroes, wealthy heroes, close friend groups, San Francisco, Holiday Books

Content Warnings: messed up families, homelessness, financial struggles, agents behaving VERY badly

Love Rekindled at Christmas by Eveylen Issacs, Elizabeth Kysian, Diana Lloyd, Eve Pendle, and E. Elizabeth Watson

  • Genre: Adult Historical Romance Anthology

  • Format: ebook

  • Rating: 3 stars

Quick Summary: A series of regency romances about those who fell in love then were separated only to be reunited again at Christmas.

The first novella was… not great. So much so that I considered DNFing the entire book because while they were all different authors, I wondered if it was a sign of the quality of the other novellas. However, I stopped reading the first one and gave the second a try. It was SO MUCH better and super adorable.

The third was… cute. Not as cute as the others, but enjoyable. (A fun take on “truth or dare” though.)

The last one was… exactly like the previous two and I couldn’t take it anymore and stopped reading.

I get all of the novellas having similarities because they all have the same theme. But, you can do several different takes on that theme. As I read, each story felt roughly the same and didn’t have much variation. You could argue that most romance books follow similar plots, but this was too much. If I’d read each one individually and not one right after the other, I might have enjoyed them more.

You’ll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: historical romance, novellas, former lovers reuniting, single parent love stories, characters with more “experience,” holiday romance

Content Warnings: snowed in, miscarriage, loss of a spouse, loss of parents

Joy to the Earl by Nicola Davidson

  • Genre: Adult Historical Romance

  • Format: ebook

  • Rating: 3.5 Stars

Quick Summary: Right as Jack Reynolds finds out he’s an earl, he gets into a carriage accident leaving him with amnesia and in the care of the scandalous “wicked widow,” Rosalind.

There was a lot about this novella I was excited about - particularly how our hero had a disability from birth. Yet… it fell a little flat for me. It was a fun quick read for right before Christmas, but it would have benefited to be a bit longer as it all felt rushed. While most romances are more of the “whirlwind” variety, this one didn’t totally convince me it was TRUE LOVE FOREVER. I liked the couple, and they were fine together. But I didn’t completely believe it. I mean, they were in each others pants before they even had a full conversation. Which, for some people that’s fine, but for me it’s not my cup of tea. (Only a few can pull that “hook up to romance” plot line for me. The Holiday being one example.)

The disability representation was fine. Not amazing. It had a lot of the “woe is me no one loves me cause I’m SO DEFORMED.” Which, is a fine and valid story line, particularly depending on the society/time period you’re writing about. It’s just that… we ALWAYS hear that story and I’m ready for something else.

However, Rosalind’s daughter was the best.

You’ll like this book if you also enjoy: hook-up to relationship, disability rep, single moms, historical romance, amnesia, whirlwind romance, holidays

Content Warnings: amnesia, prejudice against the disabled as well as sexually active women, worst parenting ever, loss of loved ones


Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohen and David Levithan

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Quiet Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

The Night Circus by Erin Morgentern

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas


What did you all read in December?

Like what you read? Consider buying me a coffee.