The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole (2021)
Meg returns home to Chicago after her father's passing to manage his apartment building. Although at first she is reluctant, the tenants, a handsome handyman, and a magical dress might change her mind. If you're looking for a Christmas book that's mostly wholesome and features some romance and magical realism, Courtney Cole's books are for you. In this one, Meg must contend with an aging, but historic, apartment building and its many older tenants. She needs money to complete needed repairs, but there's also her on-hold dream of working in the fashion industry. I liked watching Meg figure out her new situation, and the cast of characters surrounding her are lovely. There are so many feel-good moments and the spirit of Christmas is present on every page. You'll definitely be rooting for Meg and her tenants. 4 stars
One Christmas Morning by Rachel Greenlaw (2023)
Eva has thrown herself into work following a devastating Christmas a few years ago, but this year she's visited by the ghost of her grandmother, urging her to take stock of her life. Eva then begins reliving Christmas morning over and over again, each time waking up as someone different at the party she's attending. Oof, I have not been having good luck with holiday stories this year. This was yet another overly heavy, disappointing read for me. I did enjoy the time loop aspect, and the way Eva woke up as someone different each day was a great twist. It helped her get to know the people around her and see herself in a new light. But, Eva was a hard character to root for. I didn't really understand why her store was so important that she spent three years ignoring her loved ones for home decor. I understood she was grieving, but I don't think the author did a good job explaining the tragedies Eva had suffered - making the reader wait for a reveal that was fairly obvious. The story was just too heavy, too sad, and what little hope we get at the end wasn't enough for me. 3 stars
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