Tag: Christmas

Audiobook Short Story Review: The Gift by Freida McFadden

The Gift
Author: Freida McFadden

Narrator: Alyson Krawchuk
Published: December 4, 2022
Audiobook: 1 hour 4 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Listened To: December 20, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Short Story Description:

It’s Christmas Eve and Stella Hansen is broke.

She is so broke that despite working two jobs, she can’t even afford a present for her husband on their first Christmas as man and wife. But then a mysterious storekeeper at a pawn shop offers Stella an intriguing trade.

Stella wants more than anything to buy her husband the Christmas gift of his dreams. But will it come at a terrible price?

The Gift is a gripping Christmas-themed thriller inspired by the classic O. Henry tale, The Gift of the Magi.

Jessica’s Review:

I wanted to share my review for this one before we got too far away from Christmas, so I am sharing it now!

Please note that this is not a full-length novel, but a short story. The book is about 50 pages and the audiobook (which I listened to) is just over an hour.  I knew this going in as it says right there on Amazon the pages/ how long this story is.  It is not the author’s fault if the reader does not notice that, and yes, I knew going in that it was short. I was ready for that as my commute is right at an hour and I knew I could get completely listened to then carry on for my work day!

The reader should also be aware that is inspired by that classic that we have all read in school: The Gift of the Magi, so we know the general direction this short story will go. But in McFadden fashion she has her own twist to it!

For me this short story was just average. The buildup was good, but the big twists didn’t shock me as I was hoping they would.  It was more of a ‘what goes around comes around’ in a way certain characters did not see coming.

The narrator was Alyson Krawchuk and I have listened to her before. Her narration was good, especially with the old lady portrayal!  

I’d love to see McFadden try her hand at more short stories, but with the ‘negative reviews’ as to the length of it (which again is mentioned if readers would actually… read ‘about the book’) I don’t think she will write more short stories.

If you enjoy McFadden books give it a try, but please realize that this is a short story!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Skipping Christmas
Author: John Grisham

Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris
Published: November 6, 2001
Audiobook: 3 hours 42 minutes

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: December 4-5, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars

Audiobook Description:

Imagine a year without Christmas. No crowded shops, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether. Theirs will be the only house on the street without a rooftop Frosty the snowman; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences – and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined.

A classic tale for modern times, Skipping Christmas offers a hilarious look at the chaos and frenzy that has become part of holiday tradition.

Jessica’s Review:

 I read Skipping Christmas many years ago and was only reading it again because it was December’s read for the book club I am in. As I started it, I remembered what was going to happen.  If you have seen the movie Christmas with the Kranks then you know what happens.  I had seen that movie once as well and just didn’t like it.  I remembered Jamie Lee Curtis and Tim Allen played the main characters so I pictured them as I was listening to this short audiobook. I also remembering not really liking the movie and the book was just average for me this time around.  It’s a lot of slapstick comedy ( I mean it is Tim Allen in the movie!).

Luther and Nora’s daughter has joined the Peace Corp and this is her first Christmas away from them.  Luther does the math and saw how much they spent last Christmas so he comes up with the idea of “Let’s just skip Christmas and go on a cruise!”. The book deals with the aftermath of that decision. And a lot of people make their thoughts clear on it. 

I just didn’t really think highly of this book. Not everyone celebrates Christmas so to each their own.  Just let the Krank’s do what they want regardless of what they have done in the past! And OMG, No Christmas party!!?!?!?  For shame!!!!

Regardless of how you feel, everyone (over)reacts to the Krank’s decision, with an unexpected twist that comes if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book; you see how everyone can come together to make Christmas something after all.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Christmas with the Kranks movie trailer:


ARC Review: Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

Bright Lights, Big Christmas
Author: Mary Kay Andrews

To Be Published: September 26, 2023
288 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To:  August 20- September 3, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

When fall rolls around, it’s time for Kerry Tolliver to leave her family’s Christmas tree farm in the mountains of North Carolina for the wilds of New York City to help her gruff older brother & his dog, Queenie, sell the trees at the family stand on a corner in Greenwich Village. Sharing a tiny vintage camper and experiencing Manhattan for the first time, Kerry’s ready to try to carve out a new corner for herself.

In the weeks leading into Christmas, Kerry quickly becomes close with the charming neighbors who live near their stand. When an elderly neighbor goes missing, Kerry will need to combine her country know-how with her newly acquired New York knowledge to protect the new friends she’s come to think of as family,

And complicating everything is Patrick, a single dad raising his adorable, dragon-loving son Austin on this quirky block. Kerry and Patrick’s chemistry is undeniable, but what chance does this holiday romance really have?

Filled with family ties, both rekindled and new, and sparkling with Christmas magic, BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CHRISTMAS delivers everything Mary Kay Andrews fans adore, all tied up in a hilarious, romantic gem of a novel.

Jessica’s Review:

I absolutely loved MKA’s last Christmas novel The Santa Suit when it came out in 2021, and when I found out she had a new Christmas novel coming out in 2023, I knew I had to read it! (Honestly… I have to read any and all of her books!) Like always, MKA delivered! She brings the Christmas spirit and Christmas joy to the reader no matter what month the book was read. I was honestly worried about starting this book in August that would it be too early for me to get in the Christmas spirit. But NO, it didn’t! I swear as I was reading, I could smell the pine trees of Christmas! All I needed was cold temperatures and some hot cocoa! (Which will be coming very soon!) We don’t usually get snow here in Georgia, but I found myself wanting that as well even though I was reading the book in 90+ degree heat!

MKA can truly write and just captures the magic of the Christmas season! Bright Lights, Big Christmas deals with the Tolliver family who live in North Carolina. Every year they bring their family owned and grown Christmas trees to NYC and sell them for enormous prices. They are well known in the area and this Christmas we have Kerry taking her father’s place to help her brother Murphy sell the trees. Kerry is going through some life changes and finds herself growing to love the people and the neighborhood.  And we get a little Christmas romance with a single dad and his utterly adorable son Austin! MKA also gives us a little bit of a mystery as well!

This is such a sweet, fun, and fluffy read to get you in the Christmas spirit! It deals with family, friendships, romance, and holiday cheer! You can’t help but become attached to these characters.  And we have Spammy the vintage camper that Kerry and Murphy are living in which ends up being its own unique character with its own history in of itself!

If you are a fan of MKA and/ or Christmas stories in general, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Bright Lights, Big Christmas when it comes out on September 26th!

Many thanks to the publisher St Martin’s Press for granting me an arc to read, review and highly enjoy!

Pre-Order Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK