December 2021 Grown Up Book Reviews

December 2021 Grown Up Book Reviews

December 22, 2021
by
Brittany the Book Lady

This was a great month for reading! I opted for mostly light, holiday, or atmospheric wintry seasonal reads! Have you read any of these books? 

Under the Whispering Door - TJ Klune

Short Summary

What really happens after we die? Is it really the end for us? Is there life and redemption after death? Can there ever be a second chance for us if we find ourselves full of regrets after our deaths? No one can ever really know until we experience it for ourselves, but through Klune’s imagination, we can ponder one possibility in this tale.

In this book, you will find fantasy, grief, heartache, character growth, all packaged up in a unique love story with queer representation. All along the way, you will be wondering if there will be a happy ending. You’ll have to read this one to find out!

Overall review

As much as I enjoyed The House in the Cerulean Sea, I knew I would enjoy Under the Whispering Door as well. TJ Klune did not disappoint! I loved this one even more. This will be unlike anything you’ve ever read!

Thanks to @netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Overall rating - 4⭐️

One Day in December - debut by Josie Silver

Short summary

One day in December, Laurie locks eyes with a handsome stranger while on the bus. She truly believes it’s love at first sight and spends the next year searching for this mystery man. She finally reunites with him at a holiday party when her best friend Sarah introduces him as her new beau, Jack. This heartwarming story will take you on a twisting life journey over several years to Laurie, Jack, and Sarah finding happiness. But where will they each find their happy ending? You’ll have to read to find out.

Overall review

This one was light, a bit predictable, entertaining, and heartwarming. It’s the perfect to cozy up with for the holiday season.

Overall rating - 3.5⭐️

Winter Street - Elin Hilderbrand (Book 1 Winter Street series)

Short summary

This book is chock full of family drama around the holidays. Preparations are being made for the annual Christmas party at the inn and then Kelley catches his wife kissing (the man who plays) Santa at their inn. Chaos ensues! And all of Kelley’s grown children have dramas of their own that they are dealing with. Kelley’s ex-wife and very successful news anchor, Margaret comes to town to see what she can do to try to patch things up a bit at the Winter Street Inn. Will this story be wrapped up in a pretty bow and all of the dramas be resolved by the end of the holidays? You’ll have to read to find out!

Overall review

This heartwarming story had me hooked from the beginning, and I loved the backdrop of the holidays for the storyline. I’ve been craving all of the holiday reads for the Christmas season and this one was different in a good way! A little heavier than the other ones I’ve read, but in all of the right places! I’m looking forward to reading the next 3 books in this series!

Overall rating - 4⭐️

A Season for Second Chances - Jenny Bayliss

Short summary

After 26 years of marriage, Annie and her husband separate, and with good reason. Their nest is empty and there haven’t been sparks in their marriage for a long time. Annie heads to a quirky seaside town to start over. She takes on the role of guardian in a quaint seaside home and she follows the aging longtime property owner’s “almanac” caring for the place and following along with all of the town’s holiday traditions and festivities. She is restless and can’t leave behind her entrepreneurial spirit and you’ll love seeing how she embarks on some new business ventures and the neighbors embrace her with welcome arms! Will she find love again in this season of second chances too?

Overall review

This has been my favorite holiday read so far this season. I loved that it was light and seasonal, with great winter vibes. I found myself rooting for Annie’s personal growth, business ventures, and victorious new lease on life. Light romance enters the book around halfway in and while it’s present, it’s not the focus of this book. Annie’s growth is. She finds herself and builds her own personal strength. She learns what she wants. You’ll have to read to see if she gets all that she wants and deserves in the end. I highly recommend this book! If you don’t catch it before Christmas, it will still make a fabulous seasonal/wintry read!

Overall rating - 4.5⭐️

The Holiday Swap - Maggie Knox

Short summary

Twins Charlie and Cass Goodwin return to their twin swapping roots and swap to help save Charlie’s career after she gets a concussion in a freak accident on reality baking show and give Cass the escape she’s looking for from her life and her newly minted ex. Will each be able to save face for their sister or will disasters abound? Will anyone notice that they have swapped places? As one could probably expect, it is way more complicated to swap places than they ever imagined, especially when some new love interests enter the mix!

Overall review

I didn’t know what to expect coming into this one, as I had read some really mixed and some very poor reviews, however I really enjoyed this one! I enjoyed the baking theme and the twins’ quaint mountain town! Such great atmosphere! It wasn’t super heavy, but it sure was seasonal and light and just what I was hoping for to get into the holiday spirit this year! I love how everything wrapped up in the end in a neat little bow!

Overall rating - 4⭐️

Winter Stroll - Elin Hilderbrand (Book 2 Winter Street series)

Short summary

Family drama abounds in the second book of the Winter Street series! Kelley is single and on great terms with his ex wife Margaret who has pulled out all the stops to help save the winter street inn. Mitzi is back in the picture after realizing her mistake leaving Kelley for Santa Clause last year. Patrick is in jail and his wife Jennifer struggles to single parent their 3 boys. Ava has her own romance challenges to deal with! Margaret and Drake are getting more serious and may be taking things to the next level. Kevin and Isabelle have a new beautiful baby Genevieve who they are set to have baptized and it’s going to be a big family affair! All are hoping for good news about Bart, Kelley and Mitzi’s son who has been missing for over a year in Afghanistan.

Overall review

I’m fully enjoying this series that is riddled with just the perfect amount of family drama while also keeping me in the holiday spirit! I’m most invested in Ava and Margaret’s storylines with the big decisions they need to make in the near future! I hope to finish this series before this month’s end!

Overall rating - 4⭐️

The Younger Wife - Sally Hepworth

Short summary

Tully and Rachel’s father is getting married again, this time to someone who is old enough to be their sister. To complicate things further, their mother is still married to their father, and in a dementia facility. They are determined to get to the bottom of things. Do they really know their father as much as they thought they did? What secrets does their mother have hidden that she can’t communicate anymore. Why does Heather really want to marry their father. It turns out she has some secrets of her own. They are all dealing with their own personal battles while also coping with this turn of events.

Overall review

I love Sally Hepworth’s domestic drama/thriller books and so I had to get my hands on an ARC of this book.

Thanks so much to @netgalley for letting me read this one ahead. I finished this one so quickly! It was unputdownable! I would highly recommend this one!

Overall rating - 4.5 ⭐️

Verity - Colleen Hoover

Short summary

Struggling writer Lowen is given the opportunity of a lifetime to “co-author” the remaining books in a best-selling series by big time author Verity Crawford who has been in an accident and cannot write. She takes the job and part of her assignment is to sort through all of Verity’s notes and outlines in her office to get a sense for the characters and the series so she can continue it. She stumbles upon a printed manuscript labeled autobiography that it seems nobody was supposed to find. Lowen becomes curious and reads what ends up salacious details of her and her husband Jeremy’s sex life as well as horrifying details about her own thoughts and actions. As Lowen reads deeper and deeper she also finds herself falling for Jeremy herself. She grapples with whether or not she should share the manuscript with him. If she does, will he ever view his wife the same again?

Overall review

From page one, this book absolutely gripped me and like many others, I finished it in half a day. For me, it lived up to all of the hype with unexpected twists and turns along the way. Creepy, thrilling, salacious, ominous. I would highly recommend this one! Colleen Hoover has done it again! I’m growing to adore her books!

Overall rating - 4.5⭐️

Hunting Party - Lucy Foley

Short summary

“Locked room” mystery with a whodunit feel. A group of friends, or maybe a better word for it is “frenemies” reunites annually for their New Year celebration. This year, Emma, in a desperate attempt to finally be accepted by the rest of the group, goes all out and books a holiday weekend in a private hunting lodge in the Scottish highlands and they get snowed in. Being in close quarters for days, tempers start to flare and unresolved issues and feelings surface. And then, there is a murder…and one of them must have caused it. 

Overall Review

I had my skepticisms coming into this book because I had seen mixed reviews, but thought I’d give it a shot since it seemed to have the wintry atmospheric vibe that I was looking for. While somewhat entertaining, this one wasn’t anything super special. I’m writing this review a few weeks later, and I had trouble remembering all that happened and had to look up some details to refresh my memory and share my thoughts and opinions on this one.

Overall Rating - 3.5 ⭐️

Shiver - Allie Reynolds

Short Summary

A group of pro snowboarders comes together for a long overdue reunion on a resort in the French Alps, a place that has history for this group, a place where the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia disappeared. Milla receives an invite from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go, and so she drops everyone to attend. The group realizes that they don’t REALLY know who brought them here and why. What really happened to Saskia on the fateful day when she went missing?

Overall Review

I chose it for the wintry atmosphere. I had trouble getting into this one and relating with all of the competitive snowboarding talk and the dual timelines. It was easy to get a bit lost on what was happening, especially when listening to it via audio. This one was somewhat entertaining while I was in it, but not super memorable for me. I am writing this review a few weeks later and had to look up some key details.  

Overall Rating - 3.5 ⭐️

Just Haven’t Met You Yet - Sophie Cousens

Short Summary

Laura is off on a business trip to the Channel Islands to write an article about her own parents’ epic romance. The trip isn’t off to the best start as she dumps the contents of her suitcase on the ground, scattering tampons everywhere, in front of the most attractive man she’s every laid eyes on. Then she makes the mix up of a lifetime and grabs the wrong suitcase after the flight. The silver lining - the suitcase she picks up is full of items that could only belong to the man of her own dreams. She is determined to meet this man and return the suitcase, but this task is proving more difficult than she had hoped. She is on the Islands on assignment so she enlists the help of cab driver Ted to retrace the footsteps of her own parents on research while keeping her mission to meet the mysterious suitcase owner as a side-project. Laura and Ted become fast friends on their adventures together and connect by revealing some of their own past. She learns that her parents’ story isn’t all that she had thought it was and maybe she needs to change her own perspective on love to find what she’s looking for, her very own happy ending.

Overall Review

While super predictable from the onset, I found the premise of this book to be an interesting take on a romance novel and was excited about the travel and cultural component of this tale. A great meet-cute. I would recommend this light romance and note that there will be a few heavier moments and surprises in this one as well. 

Overall Rating - 4 ⭐️

Winter Storms - Elin Hilderbrand (Book 3 Winter Street series)

Short Summary

Mitzi comes around and has realized her mistake leaving Kelley for George, the former Winter Street Santa Clause. Being with George full time isn’t what it was cracked up to be. She returns to the Winter Street Inn and Kelley takes her back and then later suffers but survives from a health scare. While gearing up for Patrick to return from jail, Jennifer finds herself battling her addiction to pills that she’s acquiring from Kevin’s ex, Norah Vale, someone she couldn’t stand back when she and her brother in law were still together. Will  she be able to kick the habit before Patrick returns? Margaret becomes privy to info about Bart who is still missing in action in Afghanistan. Ava is dating two men at once and is struggling with who to choose - she decides to swear off men, take a new job, and move closer to Margaret and Drake in New York. Kevin has started a new business and he and Isabelle are gearing up for their wedding at the Winter Street Inn, but the storm of the century is looming.

Overall Review

This was the original final book in the Winter Street series before Elin was persuaded to continue it with Winter Solstice. I love how relatable the characters are in this series. Everyone has their own troubles and challenges that they are trying to overcome. It reminds us that no one is perfect and we aren’t alone in the challenges that we are facing in our own lives. I really have enjoyed this holiday series and I like that it’s heavier than the other “Hallmark in a book” and rom-com holiday options out there for this time of the year. While the series has a festive vibe, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. 

Overall Rating - 4 ⭐️

Winter Solstice - Elin Hilderbrand (Book 4 Winter Street series)

Short Summary

Bart is safe and sound and home from Afghanistan, but he is not the same and is grappling with who to be after all that he has experienced. Margaret is closing in on her retirement from broadcasting and reflecting on her time working and the sacrifices she has made to accomplish all that she has during her career. Ava may have finally found the man of her dreams, but choosing him may mean some new challenges for her, as well. Patrick is getting back on his feet after serving his time in jail and trying to find his way back into his career. Jennifer has a new opportunity to consider, but taking the opportunity, while it could be life-changing, will mean having to be publicly vulnerable about her own shortcomings. Kevin and Isabelle have expanded their family again and are finding their way in a new business venture, while enjoying married life. Kelley has fallen incredibly ill and Mitzi is torn up, taking up smoking again, and making some tough decisions about her own future and the future of Winter Street Inn. What will become of the Inn and the Quinns? 

Overall Review

This is the final book in the fun, festive, and drama-filled Winter Street series, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m a bit sad to see the series come to an end, but I do appreciate how Elin tied it all together in the end. Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, at the same time. No one person is perfect and no family is perfect, either. This book and entire series may lead you to shed a few tears over the pull of the characters and how relatable some of their trials and tribulations may be. It was the perfect series to dive into in the festive month of December.  

Overall Rating - 4 ⭐️

Did you enjoy this blog post? Would you like to see more bookish content? I invite you to also connect with me over on Instagram at and on my Goodreads account.

Brittany the Book Lady

Growing up I was first introduced to Usborne Books and More at a young age when my mom had purchased books for our family. Since then, I've fallen in love with the books and the company's mission to promote literacy throughout the country.​

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