Christmas Ever After

September 29, 2020


Christmas Ever After
by: Karen Schaler
396 Pages

Author Riley Reynolds is desperate to salvage her career. Her last book didn't do well and, if things don't change, she's looking at being dropped by her publisher. So, the woman who has sworn off Christmas for most of her life has been told to write a Christmas book. Her publicist uses questionable tactics to make this happen. So, the girl who doesn't do Christmas is going to host a Christmas Camp. Since her publicist tells everyone listening that she's Miss Christmas, it makes perfect sense. Things get off on the wrong foot and she must do what she can to salvage not just her career but the Camp. She can play along for a few days with her fans, right? But.... what are her ex-boyfriends doing there?

Karen Schafer has quickly become part of my Christmas reading traditions. She releases a new book themed around Christmas each year, and I devour it. This one, I felt, fell a little flat. Rather than making the days at the camp, and it's Christmas-themed activities, the book spends most of it's pages on prepping for the camp. I'm used to the Camp time being the focus of the book, with everything else being a supporting story line. This time around, it's flipped.

This particular Christmas Camp isn't like the others in previous books. This Camp centers around Riley. The attendees are fans who paid to be there- with the focus on Riley's Christmas traditions. No one- not even Luke- knows she doesn't do Christmas anymore. Things get a little hairy when, amongst the guest list, are blasts from her past with intentions on becoming her future. Misunderstandings run rampant in this book- mostly at the hands of her near-do-well publicist, Mike. 

You learn why, as a child, Riley loved Christmas and why those days abruptly ended. You get an up close look at her life and how it became the way it currently is. You see her slowly open her heart and mind to the possibility of letting Christmas back into her life. You see her focus shift from just saving her career, but making sure others involved get what they want, as well. 

Riley and Luke, the manager of the Inn, get off on the wrong foot. He's left scrambling to clean up a mess she made when she storms out of an interview about the Christmas Camp. Riley and Luke both have reasons for needing the Christmas Camp to be successful, so they have to work together to make it happen. The road isn't always smooth, but they tread the path, nonetheless. It doesn't take long before she's having to think fast to live up to false expectations her publicist promises. 

While Christmas Ever After isn't my favorite book in this series, it was still a good read. I connected with Riley, Luke and several of the other characters. Despite being a slower read than it's predecessors, it was still a cozy read to get get lost in. No one will find the basics of the story unpredictable, but you don't buy it thinking they will. Karen Schafer gives you what you are expecting: a heart-warming story around Christmas. She delivers another book showing the magic and wonder of the Christmas spirit. 

The Christmas Swap

September 1, 2020


The Christmas Swap
By: Melody Carlson
176 Pages

Emma Daley's parents have been living in Africa for the last several years. So, rather than spend her Christmases alone, she's been spending them with her friend, Gillian Landers. This year, Emma is looking forward to a relaxing Christmas- away from the bickering of the Landers family and Mrs. Landers' constant complaining. Gillian, however, talks her into spending Christmas with them since her father has done a Christmas house swap. Instead of spending Christmas in Arizona, they're going to have a White Christmas in Colorado. Not ever having seen snow in person, Emma can't pass up the invitation.

West Prescott's family has decided to spend Christmas in the desert of Arizona. So, against his wishes, he swaps homes with  the Landers family. However, his vacation finds him home and discovering something he never thought he'd find.

This book is a quick, cute holiday read. I thought it would be reminiscent of The Holiday, but it really wasn't. West forgets something at his house that he goes back for, but isn't able to get away before the Landers family arrives for their stay. I had a hard time liking Mrs. Landers. She pretty much complained about everything from the start. Gillian is a spoiled product of a wealthy family, so she's used to getting what she wants. Emma is an awesome character with her head on her shoulders, but it's hard to understand why she's close enough to spend multiple Christmases with Gillian since they're complete opposites. The book does address this, but you still don't quite get it. 

I think the main issue I had with the book lies with Gillian. From early on in the book, you understand she's a pampered, privileged woman. Later in the book, she adds manipulator and liar simply to get what she wants. And she does this with her friend. I wasn't expecting her to be as conniving as she was and with who she was. 

Overall, this was a cute read. I wouldn't add it to my favorite holiday reads list, but it was a nice little read. I would recommend getting it from the library over buying it. I don't think it was worth the $17 price tag because I  don't see myself ever rereading this book. 


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