Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe

I have never read one of Jenny Colgan’s books and I was on the hunt for something Christmassy! I had actually just purchased Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner and this one was recommended to me!

This book follows our main character Issy, her best friend Helena, the staff at her cupcake shop, and her boyfriend Austin.  I really loved the characters and the cute setting of her cupcake shop, as always there will be no spoilers in this review.  Issy is totally and completely happy with how things are going in her life, there are a few hiccups here and there and nobody is perfect but she’s happy.  She lives with her boyfriend and his younger brother in their family home and gets to do what she loves most for a living.  However, as it nears closer to Christmas everything starts to fall apart with her and Austin, can they save their relationship when faced with the road bumps life throws at them?

I actually hadn’t read the first one (nor did I know there was a first book) and I don’t really think you need to.  For the first half of this book, however, it really got on my nerves the way the author flip flopped between so many different point of views and didn’t warn you beforehand either!  Sometimes i’m okay with this when it’s done well but honestly it was just confusing.  Not to mention sometimes pointless, like focusing on the point of views of random people that weren’t even part of the story. BUT eventually it kind of grew on me and I enjoyed getting the full picture.  It actually kind of reminded me of the narrator from the show Pushing Up Daisies (if you’ve ever seen that, which most people haven’t but I highly recommend it!!).

The plot was adorable, I really enjoyed all of the characters and how well rounded they became over time (read: my reading through the book). Each character struggles with their own issues surrounding the holiday and you’re introduced to new characters towards the middle of the book which is kind of cool. I like how each character played their own role in the main character’s life too.

In terms of holiday-ness I would say A+! It was very very Christmassy, and I LOVED it. Especially Colgan’s descriptions of New York around the holidays, I could just picture it all in my head so clearly.

If you’re looking for a cute, holiday, chick-lit read I would definitely recommend this.

– K

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My True Love Gave to Me

I absolutely love Christmas!! Whenever it’s around this time of the year I get my Christmas tree out, start playing the holiday music, and switch all of my reading over to holiday stories! This book came out last year but I didn’t see it until about a month ago and picked it up as my first holiday read to get me in the Christmas spirit!! Boy did it work.

So this book is a collection of twelve stories from twelve authors: Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins (who is also the books editor/put-together-er), Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White. I love books like this every once and a while because you can discover new authors or try out ones you were curious about.

These stories were mostly about love but dealt with friendship, family, struggle, and triumph. I loved how different each one was and the variety in characters, not to mention genres! As you can tell, there is quite the mixed bag of authors here and each story is so different and not necessarily without magic 😉 So, because each one is so different, I thought it best to give a quick little review of each! As always, no spoilers!

 

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell 

I really loved this one.  I have been wanting to read a story by Rainbow Rowell for a while and I haven’t read a contemporary piece in a while so this was a wonderful start to the book! It was cool because it flipped through years a bit but all on the same day, New Years Eve.  It was a tale about love and growing up and friendship. I recommend it! It actually takes place on New Years Eve though so it wasn’t a super holiday type book for me personally.

 

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link

This one was very different but quite intriguing.  It was my first read by Kelly Link and I loved her imagery throughout.  The story surrounds family mostly and the struggles with being less fortunate than those who mean so much to you. I won’t reveal if this one was about magic or not because I thought the suspense surrounding it was part of the fun!

 

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña

Another story about poverty (sort of) and loss.  It was good but I found it dragged on a bit long and was one of my least favourite stories in the book.  I did like the focus on race differences and overcoming grief, all the while  looking at dealing with being away from home for the first time at university.

 

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han 

This was the first real holiday story! Taking place at the North Pole with elves and Santa and everything.   I liked the idea of learning how to fit into a place that you love and care for so much.  The North Pole setting and the fantastical characters were a fun idea but it was another one of my least favourites just because it again seemed to drag on and the plot wasn’t that great (in my opinion!).

 

It’s a Yuletide Miracle Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins

AHH! I absolutely loved this one. It was festive and adorable and had romance but other struggles too.  There were layers to this one and all kinds of neat little details, plus I just absolutely loved the plot Stephanie Perkins wove.  I would have loved to read this as a full length or even a novella, especially since it ends on a bit of a cliff hanger!

 

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan 

I think fans of LGBTQ books will really love this one! It was quite cute and revolved around family and the struggles with new relationships around Christmas.  It focused on a young couple and their families. I didn’t particularly like it only because I find it hard to relate to characters so different from me (I know it’s awful, I miss out on so many good books!). I do recommend reading though!

 

Krampuslauf by Holly Black 

Oh classic Holly Black, and I loved it.  It actually takes place during Krampuslauf in November and then into New Years Eve, ironically skipping over Christmas. I liked how it focused on two different characters, one dealing with relationship issues and the other (the actual main character) dealing with money and aspiration-type issues.  It had a bit of magic and a bit of romance, I loved the ending and I really enjoyed the overall feel of the story.

 

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman

Another one of my faves. I really liked the topics that this one dealt with: religion, class, race, and of course love and friendship! She tackled all the big topics and nailed it. It was such a cute little adventure and felt very holiday! This one takes place during Hanukkah and Christmas and Sophie’s first semester at university.

 

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire 

I was just meh on this one. I liked the story, thought it was cute and definitely Christmassy, but I just didn’t connect with the characters or the plot.  It’s the 20th Anniversary of the town’s nativity play and our young main character/prankster comes into his own. This one does have a little romance, but is mostly about personal growth.

 

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White

This one was cute, not a favourite but I really enjoyed the characters, the winding plot, and just the overall idea!  It takes place in a restaurant (mostly) in a town called Christmas and revolves around the power of food and memories.

 

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter 

I really really loved this one! I actually teared up a little bit towards the end, it was a bit of an emotional read and involves our main character fleeing to anywhere but where she’s expected to be. I loved the location of a small town in Oklahoma (read: house miles away from their neighbour) and the loving characters.  In this story you read about grief, friendship, and the meaning of family and love. It wasn’t very holiday-y but it was a really sweet and interesting read.

 

The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

This is why we love Laini Taylor. I am absolutely in love with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series  and i’m always hoping she’ll come out with another series (I know she has the other series before this one but I want a new one with the same feel as the DoSaB).  This story was mystical and dark and interesting! It wasn’t as holiday feeling as I would like, actually aside from the end there’s no real reference to the holidays.  I don’t really want to say much about this one in terms of plot though since I think going into it blind is part of the magic!

 

I hope you all enjoyed this review 🙂

P.S. When you’ve finished the book, check out the characters on the cover, it’s the coolest little detail!

-K