Feel-Good Festive Reads
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
I’m slowly but surely getting more festive. The copious amounts of mince pies I’m eating are definitely helping (the baby is clearly craving them, what else can I do?!) A lot of my reading tends to involve thrillers, but when it’s Christmas, it’s time to get a little more cosy and cheery with my reading!
I’ve read a few festive books over the last few weeks, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite festive reads, perfect if you’re looking for a feel-good book this Christmas!
Coming Home to Glendale Hall (Victoria Walters)*
Beth Williams hasn’t been home for ten years. When she fell pregnant at sixteen, knowing that her family would never approve, she ran away from the imposing Scottish estate that had been her home, building a new life for herself and her daughter hundreds of miles away.
But when her father begs her to return home to see her gravely ill grandmother, Beth is apprehensive at the thought of seeing her family again. With her daughter Isabelle, now a feisty ten-year-old, in tow, she plans to cut her visit as short as she can while fulfilling her duty.
Beth has worked hard to leave her past behind her, living in London with Isabelle and working hard to be the best single mother she can be. Returning to the Glendale Hall estate means facing her strict and unaffectionate mother, formidable grandmother, as well her teenage boyfriend, Drew, who doesn’t know that he has a daughter.
But Beth is about to discover that everyone has their own version of the past, and the true story she thought she knew for the last ten years might well be a very different one to the truth. Will Beth be able to find it in her heart to forgive her mother and grandmother (and herself) for what happened ten years ago? Or will she end up running away all over again?
Ahhhh this is the first festive book I’ve read this year and it was so lovely and heartwarming. It’s a well-written, lighthearted read, and I really enjoyed it. The characters in it are charming and relatable, and I loved seeing them develop throughout the story. I liked reading about Beth and Izzy’s relationship, and how Izzy and Drew interacted. I loved the storyline about the family trying to bring the community of Glendale together, I thought this gave the book a lot more depth. There aren’t any big surprises in the story, and I was pretty sure I knew how it would end, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading.
Coming Home to Glendale Hall made me feel all warm and cosy, which is exactly what you want from a good festive read – the perfect book to read while curled up in a big cosy chair with a mug of hot chocolate.
If you want to know more about Vicky and her novels, you can read my interview with her!
*I was kindly gifted a copy of Coming Home to Glendale Hall by the author
A Dog Named Christmas (Greg Kincaid)
When Todd, a developmentally challenged young man still living on his parents’ Kansas farm, hears that a local animal shelter is seeking temporary homes for its dogs during the holiday week, he knows exactly what he wants for Christmas.
Animals are Todd’s first love, and his persistence quickly overwhelms his father’s objections to befriending a canine, a reluctance that proves to have a painful origin.
The family takes in a very special animal, and the shelter’s Christmas adoption programme soon grows larger than anyone had hoped. By the story’s end, Todd, with the help of a dog named Christmas, has taught an entire community the transformative power of goodwill and shared love – a lesson for all seasons.
When Todd learns about a program a local dog shelter runs called ‘Adopt a Dog for Christmas’ – the idea being that families take in dogs at the shelter for a few days over the festive period, he is incredibly persistent in his desire to take in a dog. Initially Todd’s father is against the idea, and flashbacks throughout the story explain why. Todd is drawn to a particular dog, who he decides to name Christmas, and he encourages other members of their hometown to participate in the Adopt a Dog for Christmas program. It’s a really heartwarming read. It is quite predictable but that’s no bad thing. It’s a really lovely story, and it’s not a very long book, so it’s ideal for a cosy winter evening read. I’d definitely recommend the book, and it made me want to give my dog a huge cuddle!
One Christmas Star (Mandy Baggot)
Emily’s flatmate has moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.
Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround. Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.
Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show. As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…
This is another charming festive read. I enjoyed it, and there was much more depth to it than I expected. I warmed to the character of Ray, and I liked Emily and her friends. I really liked the way she worked with the children at her school, you could see how much she cared, although there were a few instances that I thought were a little unbelievable with regards to one of the boys – I know it’s a feel-good festive read, but the suggestion of child abuse frustrated me that nothing was actually done. Aside from that, it was a lovely read – suitably predictable, filled with Christmas cheer and cheese, and I had Christmas songs in my head for days after reading it.
Wishes Under a Starlit Sky (Lucy Knott)
From the outside, Harper Hayes looks like she is winning at life.
She has an amazing job as a script writer, a wonderful house, an awesome best friend and an incredible husband. Yes, life seems to be pretty, dare she say it…perfect?
But life is about to throw more than one spanner in the works of Harper’s picture perfect existence and at the busiest time of the year too.
As Christmas approaches, Harper will have some soul searching to do to decide if there really is such a thing as the happily-ever-after she writes about.
This book is filled with cosy moments, delicious food and overwhelming positivity. It is mainly set in Colorado, though there are a few chapters in London as well. I loved the descriptions of beautiful, snowy Colorado, it made me immediately want to jump on a plane and spend Christmas in a winter wonderland. The book isn’t really a romance novel like I’d initially thought, it’s more about learning to love life and yourself and being comfortable with who you are, which I loved. It jumped around quite a lot – one moment it was Christmas Day, the next paragraph was New Year’s Eve, which did get a little confusing at times, but there is a lot going on in the story, so I do understand why it moved quickly. It’s full of cheesy, feel-good festive cheer, and it’s a really lovely read.
You can read my interview with Lucy here!
It Happened on Christmas Eve (Kirsty Greenwood)*
The top three reasons why I do not like Christmas are as follows:
- It’s super cheesy
- Everyone drinks boiled red wine that tastes like air freshener and pretends they enjoy it
- Last year the man I was in love with decided that Christmas Day was a perfectly decent time to reveal that he did not feel the same way about me
So you can see why, on Christmas Eve, it’s totally reasonable for me to just want to get home from work as soon as possible, close the curtains, eat my weight in noodles and watch horror movies until the whole thing is over. My boss, Marcy, has other ideas. Her son Adam broke his leg ice-skating and now she needs me to accompany him on his last minute Christmas errands around Notting Hill where we live. It wouldn’t be half as bad if Adam wasn’t the most irritatingly confident, annoyingly enthusiastic Christmas-giddy man I’ve ever encountered. And, well, a whole lot sexier than I expected he’d be…
This is a really charming novella from Kirsty Greenwood. It only took me a couple of hours to read and I really enjoyed getting lost in the story. The whole story takes place over just a few hours, and although it was easy to guess where it was going, I felt all cosy and festive while I was reading it. It’s such a descriptive book, and a perfect feel-good read for Christmas.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book by the author
What are your favourite books to read over the festive period?