Holiday Reviews: In a Holidaze and Season of Joy

Posted December 18, 2020 / Book Reviews, Review Roundup / 1 Comment

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I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.

Holiday Reviews: In a Holidaze and Season of JoyIn a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Genres: Adult, Holiday, Contemporary
Published by Simon and Schuster on October 20, 2020
Also by this author: The Unhoneymooners, Twice in a Blue Moon, The Honey-Don't List
Format: Audio/eARC (336 pages) • Source: Scribd, Publisher
GoodreadsAmazon Barnes & Noble
four-half-stars

THE INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

Story

I’ve been lucky that there have been a few books this year where I was like “yup this is exactly what I needed.” I’m one of those people who didn’t hop on the Christina Lauren bandwagon until they started writing more rom-com style books, and I’ve enjoyed most of them. Somewhat mixed, but always quick and easy reads. This is easily one of my favorites!

This featured a Groundhog Day-style story where Mae keeps returning to the beginning of the trip to try to find out what will make her happy. Can she save the cabin? Will she take a shot at Andrew, her childhood friend and longtime crush? I’ll admit that I usually prefer more “restarts” when I read these books. I won’t say how many times she looped back to the start for spoiler reasons.

The big group of people who come to this cabin on a yearly basis were lovely – Mae’s parents (now divorced) and her parents’ college friends, plus all of their kids. There’s somewhat of a SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY vibe with a brother-based “love triangle” (not really, IMO) that I also loved. Benny, their parents fun single friend, was a great confidante for Mae and I loved him. I could have read a lot more about this chosen family! I think that’s one of the main areas where the book was lacking – I wanted MORE of the holiday feels, as discussed below, and more moments with everyone together. I just loved the concept. The romance was wonderful for me too.

Wintery Setting & Holiday Feels

This is a classic example of if a book is a “Christmas book” or just a “book that happens to take place around Christmas.” I think it’s somewhere in between. Mae and her big “family” head to their cabin at Christmastime every year and she DOES relive the days a few times, including wintery activities, but it didn’t feel like the central story. A snowy Utah cabin around the holidays with snow creature building and wintery scavenger hunts definitely brought some holiday spirit out.

Overall

I’ll admit that this was a bit surface-level and could have used even more development around the chosen family and them spending time together, as well as the deeper motivations/feelings of Mae. I totally got where she was coming from and her slight obsession with Andrew (that was a lot sometimes, but settled in the second half) but just wanted more stories from their history too. Lots of great family feels and memories at their cabin. I adored the ending too. Overall, the high rating is because this was not perfect, but perfect for ME at the time.

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I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.

Holiday Reviews: In a Holidaze and Season of JoySeason of Joy by Annie Rains
Series: Sweetwater Springs #6
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Holiday
Published by Hachette on October 13, 2020
Also by this author: Christmas on Mistletoe Lane, Springtime at Hope Cottage, Snowfall on Cedar Trail , Starting Over at Blueberry Creek, Sunshine on Silver Lake, Reunited on Dragonfly Lane
Format: eARC (432 pages) • Source: Publisher
GoodreadsAmazon Barnes & Noble
four-stars

Fall in love with this heartfelt holiday romance between a down-on-his-luck Christmas tree farmer and a woman with plans to bring the merriment back to their town.

Tis the season for love

For single father Granger Fields, Christmas is his busiest and most profitable time of the year. But when a fire devastates the Merry Mountain Tree Farm, he fears the season won't be holly or jolly unless he can convince free spirit Joy Benson to care for his two rambunctious daughters. Yet while Granger wants to focus on saving his business, Joy seems determined to shake up his family's Christmas with her festive ideas and merry making.

Joy is counting down the days until she can open her own art gallery. Babysitting Abby and Willow will help her reach her goal, and when inspiration strikes, Joy convinces Granger that her craft classes can bring even more holiday cheer to the farm. As crowds return and Joy's creative side flourishes, life with Granger and his girls begins to feel like home. But with Christmas coming nearer, can Joy convince Granger to open his heart again? Or will their newfound happiness be as fleeting as the newly fallen snow?

Story

I love Sweetwater Springs – this series of books is one of my very favorites. I love diving back in with a new release from Annie Rains! When I delayed reading this (thanks, 2020) after the pub date, I was happy to join in with the #SeasonOfJoyForever readalong this month.

Granger, the single dad owner of a tree farm, and Joy, the local artist, kick off a cute yet hesitant relationship in SEASON OF JOY. Joy agrees to help watch his daughters after school and teach them art lessons but they fall for each other quickly, a little nervous to start a relationship after their past romances fizzed out in heartbreaking ways. Granger’s ex wife left the family with post-partum depression after their second daughter and you learn a little more about Joy’s story as you keep reading.

I don’t want to get into what happens but I definitely saw the “conflict” coming from a mile away. A few chapters were frustrating but unfortunately understandable – as is the case in most romances!

Wintery Setting & Holiday Feels

I’d been looking forward to Granger’s story because he owns the tree farm in town. Throughout the course of the story, they add more and more festive activities and crafts to their operation. It made it feel so Christmassy! I could totally picture the farm and all of the fun holiday activities there – feels like a New England kind of thing 😉 Sweetwater Springs has multiple holiday events in the town too that definitely added to the Christmas cheer.

Overall

Overall this is another solid installment in the Sweetwater Springs series! I really loved the Christmas tree farm setting and learning about Joy’s artwork. The two were a nice match and Granger’s daughters were (mostly) pretty cute. The tension was logical when the time came for it and I understood where everyone was coming from. I’m giving this a pretty high score on the holiday cheer-o-meter specifically because no place is more festive than a tree farm!

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