Bright Lights, Big Christmas
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
To Be Published: September 26, 2023
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: August 20- September 3, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
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.
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!
Author: Sarah Ready
To Be Published: September 25, 2023
Audiobook: 14 hours 3 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened To: August 17-24, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Jillian Nejat is the only dating and relationship expert on the planet who is incapable of speaking to men. If they’re living, if they’re breathing, it’s game over.
With her bank account at zero, her career a dumpster fire, and her dating life in a ten-year slump, she moves into a tiny, dirt-cheap NYC apartment. Unfortunately, the apartment is already occupied: Daniel (no-last-name) is a sexy, shirtless, six-pack wielding heartthrob who is also…dead. He isn’t living. He isn’t breathing. He’s a ghost. He’s also the only man on the planet who Jillian can talk to.
Soon, Daniel’s convinced that it’s his afterlife mission to resurrect Jillian’s love life. He knows, if he helps her fall in love then he can move on. Jillian agrees. The last thing she needs is a Lothario ghost haunting her living room. But then, one practice date leads to another, one confession leads to more, and suddenly Jillian fears she’s falling for the one man she can never have.
This is another romance that I overall enjoyed! And I just didn’t know how it was going to end as we have so many turns! How could it be a HEA (Happy Ever After) when one is dead and a ghost and the other is alive? I didn’t know if we were going to have an ending like the movie Ghost or something else. I had some ideas in my head, and one went along the way the book did, with some differences! We definitely had character development with both Jillian and Daniel with part of it being Jillian not being able to talk to men at all. I wasn’t really a fan of that as it wasn’t really resolved other than she wasn’t able to talk to men then suddenly she was able to. That could have been left out with her just being extremely shy. It seems longer for a romance novel at just over 450 pages/ 14 hours for the audio, but it kept moving the whole time! Jillian is a huge Star Trek nerd and there were references throughout the novel, so if you know Star Trek at all, you will catch them. But if you don’t know a thing about Star Trek it will go over your head. The narrators (it is mainly Sarah Naughton narrating) did a very good job portraying the characters. There was some spicy to the story. I’d say a 2 out of 5 on the spice level. This is my second Sarah Ready novel I have listened to this year, and I think I will keep a lookout for her with other novels she writes!
Many thanks to the publisher for granting me an alc to listen to and review!
Forgive Me Not
Author: Jennifer Baker
Published: August 15, 2023
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 30-August 19, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
All it took was one night and one bad decision for fifteen-year-old Violetta Chen-Samuels’ life to go off the rails. After driving drunk and causing the accident that kills her little sister, Violetta is incarcerated. As a juvenile offender, her fate is in the hands of those she’s wronged—her family. With their forgiveness, she could go home. But without it? Well…
Denied their forgiveness, Violetta is now left with two options, neither good—remain in juvenile detention for an uncertain sentence or participate in the Trials, potentially regaining her freedom and what she wants most of all, her family’s love. But the Trials are no easy feat and in the quest to prove her remorse, Violetta is forced to confront not only her family’s pain, but her own—and the question of whether their forgiveness is more important than forgiving herself.
Forgive Me Not is a YA novel with a bit of dystopian touches that shows the problems the juvenile justice system (and also our adult system) has in regards to sexism, racism, classism, and more.
We have two povs: Violetta and Vince. They are siblings and Violetta (also called Letta) made a huge life changing error: She did some underage drinking and driving. There was an accident and she killed her seven year old sister in the process. Therefore Letta is in detention. The chapter’s from Letta’s pov include how many days she has been in detention. Vince’s pov shows how many days since Letta has been in detention. This was we have two povs: The ‘victim’ and the ‘offender’.
In this world that both Violetta and Vince live in, underage offenders serve in detention while they await their sentencing. This sentencing comes from the victim/ family of the victim. The choices the victim’s side has:
Serve hard time upstate
‘The Trials’ where the offender has to prove themself.
In Violetta’s case she is the offender and her family is the victim with the loss of her little sister. With the two povs we get to see both sides of the story: ‘offender’ and ‘victim’.
There are so many issues dealt with in this story. In addition to the issues with the justice system which we see extreme injustices with one particular character we also experience drug use/abuse, peer pressure, LGBTQ representation and a variety of family dynamics.
Vince seems to be the ‘dream child’ to his parents, but he is far from perfect himself with a variety of problems of his own. Some of these issues are left open even though we do have a reasonable conclusion.
I highly anticipated ‘The Trials’ and what was going to happen. The family of the ‘victim’ chooses the type of trial(s) the ‘offender’ goes through but not what the Trial is made up of. Everyone’s Trial is different and had no idea what to expect for Violetta. This is where the dystopian elements come in to play. Could this possibly be what juvenile offenders deal with in the not to distant future?Overall, this is a powerful book that will be the cause of discussions and more. Will Violetta’s family be able to forgive her for what she did? Even more so, can Violetta forgive herself with the decisions she made that changed so much.
Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy to read and review via Bookish First.[Top]