One Way or Another by Kara McDowell (2020)
Paige's anxiety makes it difficult for her to make decisions, but a freak accident allows her to experience both of her Christmas vacation options - spend it with her best friend (and crush) Fitz in the mountains or visit New York City for the first time. I enjoy books that have parallel storylines like this - it's interesting to see how fate plays a role in our lives. Will Paige's outcome be the same no matter what she picks? I thought Fitz was a great friend and I could see why Paige liked him, although I thought the book went a little overboard on romance in this book. It seemed like Paige's life revolved around Fitz, and there was also a secondary storyline with Paige's best friend, who's ready to settle down with her boyfriend at age 18. But overall, a cute holiday read, especially being able to visit NYC at Christmas time! 3.5 stars
In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren (2020)
Mae is spending a traditional Christmas vacation with her family and close friends. The trip hasn't gone well, and on the way home, Mae asks the universe to show her what would make her happy. Suddenly, Mae finds herself reliving the week over and over again, although no one else seems to notice. It's up to her to figure out how to break the loop, fix everything, and maybe find romance. I loved the Groundhog Day concept, although I was expecting at least a couple more iterations of the week. Watching a years-in-the-making romance bloom between Mae and Andrew was so sweet, and family friend Benny as the voice of reason was a total delight. Having the whole story take place over a short period of time in one location definitely hampered the character development a bit, but I loved this "found family" and all their holiday traditions. This book was the perfect addition to the holiday season. 4 stars
All About Us by Tom Ellen (2020)
Ben's marriage to Daphne is a little rocky, and his old friend Alice (the woman he always felt was "the one that got away") has recently gotten in touch. Ben finds himself at a bit of a crossroads when a chance encounter with a strange man leaves Ben 15 years in the past, on the day he met his wife and decided not to pursue a relationship with Alice. Will he make the same decisions when given another chance? I think it's more accurate to say that this book is a retelling of A Christmas Carol. Ben visits more than just that one night 15 years ago, as he is transported to other past December days where things both big and small happened in his life. This book was both heartwarming and heartbreaking, as he is able to do things differently but also not change them. And it's about more than romance; Ben's relationships with his parents and friends are also explored. I loved seeing Ben realize the things that are most important to him, making this the perfect holiday book. 4.5 stars
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