Cozy up with these four books
Four books to read this holiday season

(Photo by Sidney Robison)

This holiday season was the first time I sought out winter-themed books. I usually gravitate toward summer or fall books, so, this was new for me. Here are a few books that have romance and some mystery. 

A Winter in New York by Josie Silver

This story follows Iris, who moves to New York City. After losing her mom, she is determined to make a fresh start in her life. While roaming the streets, she spots a familiar door to a gelato restaurant resembling one in her mother’s pictures. Iris starts investigating, and she meets Gio Belotti, who works at the restaurant and tells her it is in danger of closing. Iris offers help, and she finds herself slowly falling for him. 

To start off, I enjoyed this book a lot. I liked how the story focuses on love, loss and grief. The author went into extreme detail on these emotions. The witty banter between Iris and Gio was my favorite part. There were different perspectives discussing the past and what was currently happening in the book. I liked how the story would flash back to Vivi’s mom and the memories with her. Overall, I really enjoyed this read, and it was the perfect holiday read. 

The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan 

This story is about the Maple Sugar Inn, a historic and beautiful hotel that is always fully booked during the holidays. Hotel manager and single mom Hattie Coleman is trying to juggle all of the busyness. Suddenly, her three friends show up to host a book club, and Hattie sees they are having emotional trouble. The four of them try to improve each other’s lives and start a new chapter. 

I admired all of the characters in this book. I liked how all the girls would talk about the book they were reading in detail, and how they each connected with one another. Although the story felt drawn out at times, I thought it, overall, went by quickly when I read it. There was strong storytelling and a great tone overall. 

The Afterlife of Holly Case by Cynthia Hand

On Christmas Eve, Holly Chase was visited five years ago by three ghosts who told her how selfish she was and told her to change her ways, but she didn’t and suddenly died. She is then recruited for “Project Scrooge” as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past. Holly remains the same age, 17, every year, and watches her family and friends live on without her. 

I really liked the concept of this book. It was interesting to see how Holly dealt with being unable to connect with her family because she was on the other “side.” It gave me A Christmas Carol vibes while reading it. It was also a very light story and not too much of a heavy read. I was fully immersed in the story. 

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan 

This book is about Mordecai Tremaine, who is invited to spend Christmas in Sherbrooke. As he arrives, he sees that there is tension among all the guests. At midnight, the guests find that there is a dead body under the tree. It is up to Mordecai to find the culprit and to prevent someone else from getting killed. 

Although the plot moves slowly, and the excitement is scarce at times, I was always engaged in the story. I found all the characters and their pasts to be very interesting. Several possible motives among the guests kept me in the dark until the last chapter. With older mysteries, it is easier to spot the killer early on, but watching the way the author fits all the pieces together is still fun. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel, it was full of mystery and suspense.