Four Holiday Books to Get You in the Christmas Spirit

It’s no secret that I LOVE embracing all that the Christmas season has to offer. (Hello, viral book ornament post.) One way that surely gets me into the spirit each year is lining up all of the Christmas books I plan to read. Today, I’m sharing four holiday reads from HTPbooks that will have you baking cookies and singing carols in no time!

This line up includes some of my favorite holiday tropes: snowed in, family drama, second chance romance, grumpy/sunshine, big city/small town, and SO MANY more. Sprinkle in some Christmas magic and a cozy setting and I’m sold!

Snag these books to finish out your holiday TBR, trade in a book swap, or give as gifts to your mom, sister, or friend! These books are the perfect choice for all of your Christmas book lovers!

Holidays in Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Holidays in Virgin River by Robyn Carr: Spend Christmas in your favorite cozy town, Virgin River, with these two adorably sparkly stories. In Holidays in Virgin River, you’ll read Under the Christmas Tree and Midnight Confessions. This book doesn’t stop at a cozy Christmas story, there’s a New Year’s Eve party with plenty of holiday magic.


Celebrate the holidays with this special edition containing 2 fan-favorite stories from the Virgin River series. Includes exclusive recipies inspired by the Virgin River characters.

Under the Christmas Tree

With snow falling over the redwood forests, secluded Virgin River is the ideal place to spend the holidays. Each year, the close-knit community gathers in the town square to decorate and light a massive tree. Carols are sung, hot chocolate is shared—and this year, a surprise is about to bring two special people together. When the townsfolk discover a box of adorable puppies under the town’s Christmas tree, they call on local vet Nathaniel Jensen for help. But it’s his budding romance with Annie McCarty that really has tongues—and tails—wagging!

Midnight Confessions

In Virgin River, holiday kisses don’t end with Christmas—there’s still the New Year’s Eve party at Jack’s Bar to attend. Locals and newcomers alike find themselves eager for that special countdown…and that midnight kiss.

As the townspeople gather, two lonely revelers decide the best balm for their broken hearts might just be each other.

Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery

Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery: This is the second book in the Wishing Tree series, but you can jump right into this sugary, heartfelt story without missing a beat. Big city gal, small hometown romance tropes have me putting this one at the top of my stack! Also, can we please take a moment to admire this *literal* sugar cookie sweet cover?!


From #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery comes a witty and heartfelt story of two friends who unexpectedly find the person-and the place in which-they belong this Christmas.

With twinkling humor and heartfelt Christmas spirit, two friends find love in a town called Wishing Tree…

Until Camryn Neff can return to her “real” life in Chicago, she’s in Wishing Tree to care for her twin sisters. She’s not looking for forever love, not here. But handsome hotelier Jake Crane is a temptation she can’t resist, so she suggests they pair up for the season. No golden rings, no broken hearts. At his side, she sees her hometown through Christmas-colored eyes. The cheer is cheerier, the joy more joyful. She thought she had put her future on hold…but maybe her real life was here all along, waiting for her to come home.

New in town, River Best is charmed by Wishing Tree’s homespun traditions and warmhearted people. When she’s crowned Snow Queen, she’s honored but wary. Dylan Tucker, her king, seems like the stuff of sugarplum dreams, but she can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something big. As they perform their “royal” duties—tasting cookies, lighting trees—Dylan’s good humor and melty kisses draw her to the brink of love. But she can’t let herself fall until she uncovers his secret, even if her lack of faith means losing him forever.

All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne: You know I love a matchmaking trope and add in a grumpy/sunshine pair and I’m sold. This book takes us back to Hope’s Crossing, where Sage Mcknight is tasked with redesigning the home of a pro baseball player. Her hard work isn’t going to go unrecognized and thanks to the quirky locals, a sweet match is sure to be made!


Return to Hope’s Crossing this Christmas in New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s latest heartwarming story of matchmaking at the holidays!

Sage McKnight is an ambitious young architect working at her father’s firm who takes on her most challenging client in Mason Tucker. The former pro baseball player is still healing from the physical and emotional scars after a plane crash left him a wheelchair-using single dad, and he’s determined not to let anyone breach his emotional defenses. Sage knows her work on Mason’s new home in Hope’s Crossing is her best work yet, and she won’t let her grumpy client prevent her from showcasing her work personally.

With Sage’s gift for taking broken things and making them better, the matchmaking talent of the quirky locals and a generous sprinkling of Christmas cheer, Mason doesn’t stand a chance against the power of this magical holiday season.

Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan: Co-workers to lovers, trapped at home, and family drama all over Christmas?! This story sounds like the makings of a future movie. The Miller siblings are traveling home for Christmas, all with their own secrets, hoping to avoid their nosy family’s questions. Desperate to keep her job, Lucy Clarke arrives at the family home to deliver a business proposal to Ross. She’s mistaken for his girlfriend and by the time the confusion is cleared up, they’re snowed in. Soon, sparks ignite!


What happens if the only Christmas celebration you want to attend is one you haven’t been invited to? USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan delights with this hilarious and heartwarming Christmas cracker of a novel!

A family gathering

This Christmas the Miller siblings have one goal—to avoid their well-meaning family’s endless stream of prying questions. Ross, Alice and Clemmie have secrets that they don’t intend to share, and they are relying on each other to deflect attention.

An uninvited guest

Lucy Clarke is facing a Christmas alone and the prospect of losing her job. Unless she can win a major piece of business from Ross Miller, the season promises to be anything but festive. She’ll just deliver her proposal to his family home and then leave. After all, she wouldn’t want to intrude on the Miller family’s perfect Christmas.

A Christmas to remember

When Lucy appears on the Miller family’s snow-covered Highland doorstep, she’s mistaken for Ross’s girlfriend. By the time the confusion is cleared up, they’re snowed in—she can’t leave, even if she wants to! But does she want to? As secrets spill out like presents from an overstuffed stocking and the chemistry between her and Ross ignites, this is going to be either Lucy’s worst Christmas ever or the best mistake of her life.

These new release titles from HarperCollins are the perfect selections to gift this holiday season, but don’t forget to treat yourself to some Christmas magic too! These titles all have my stamp of approval!

Connect with me on Instagram and Facebook for more content like this! Happy Reading!

Your Next Holiday Gathering Should Be a Favorite Things Party

White Elephant who? Out with the tacky junk, in with the raindrops on roses and balloons on bookcases. Here’s why my new tradition is a Favorite Things Party!

I’ve wanted to host a Favorite Things party for a long time and my dream finally came true last week when my friends came over for a Christmas party with a twist. I had to explain to all of them what a Favorite Things party entailed, but by the time I was finished, they were SOLD.

One thing about me is that I live for a vibe. To help bring a little extra Christmas charm to the night, my friend Vivian from @shopjoyza was so kind to donate a balloon arch! In addition to local installs, she offers custom 6-ft DIY Balloon Garland Kits that can be shipped all over the country! Her balloons are distinctly different from the ones you’ll find in party stores. They are thick, quality material that will last up to three months indoors!

Although the kit comes with detailed instructions (seriously, anyone can do it!), she’s local and brought over a custom kit with classic Christmas colors so I could learn in-person! We had the best time making it!! Definitely recommend an air pump like this one or this one to speed the process along.

Check out her website and Instagram for more amazing custom creations and kits! Keep @shopjoyza in mind next time you need balloon decor! Tell her I sent you! 🙂

I also bought a record player and two Christmas records to play during the party. I’m obsessed with the coziness of hearing old tunes come through such analog technology. Do I sound like a superficial millennial? The vibes, man, the VIBES. 

Everyone brought a food dish of some kind and I offered two large-batch drinks: a Blood Orange Margarita and a non-alcoholic Apple Cider Sangria. Both were hits! I’ll share recipes soon!

Okay- on to the party!! Here’s how you play the Favorite Things Game.

Favorite Things Game:


  1. Set a price range for your item (we chose $5-$10).
  2. Decide how many items you want everyone to bring (we chose 5).
  3. Each person then buys five of the same item within that price range.
  4. You don’t need to wrap the items!
  5. Write each person’s name on small pieces of paper five times (or the same number as items bought) and collect in a bowl. Don’t forget to add your name too! (I made a table in Google Slides so that I could type a name once and copy/paste. Saved me time and the names looked nice and fancy!)

At the party:

  1. Collect all items on a table with easy access.
  2. One at a time, someone shows the item they chose and explains why they like it. 
  3. That person draws five names (or the same number of items bought) and those people each get to take home the item! 
  4. If a name is drawn twice or if the person who brought the item’s name is drawn, replace the name and draw again. 
  5. At the end of the night, each person will leave with five of their friends’ favorite things! 

Not required for the game, but I purchased paper gift sacks and labeled them with each guest’s name so they would have a place for their items and bags wouldn’t get mixed up throughout the night. 

We gave items like, fuzzy socks, facial toner, small bottles of wine and spirits, body scrubs, car coasters, coffee gift cards, earrings, cross-stitch ornaments, and earrings!

My friends LOVED this game. We all agree that it’s way more fun than a White Elephant gift exchange. No stealing, you don’t have to struggle with ‘is it a serious or funny gift’, and no one ends up with junk they don’t want. 🙂 

We are going to make it a tradition! This was a wonderful way to spend some quality time together, and give gifts that have a little meaning!

I’d love to know if you host a Favorite Things party! Do you do anything differently? What are some of your favorite gifts? 

I’d love to hear from you! 
You can respond directly to this blog post or find me on Instagram!

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November Book Reviews: Books You Need to Read

… And a few you can probably pass up. November started slow and quiet and I’m thankful that I took the first half of the month to soak in the calm lull between Halloween and Thanksgiving. My month ramped up when I decided to write detailed instructions on how to make the viral book ornament. You can find that tutorial and free template download here. 

It didn’t take long before I was convinced to offer a few handmade ornaments in my Etsy shop. Although time consuming, taking on this limited project has aided some much relished audiobook listening.

Thanks to this extended reading opportunity, I read 11 books in November. Below are my thoughts on each of them, including which ones you should definitely add to the top of your list and suggestions on who to gift these to this holiday season.

Quick note: You can stay up to date on all of my ratings on Goodreads!

Let’s get to it! 

I use affiliate links in my blog posts. If these reviews lead you to buying any titles, I hope you’ll consider using my embedded links. Thank you for your support!

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Read the Synopsis Here

5/5 stars

I was shocked at how much I loved this story. I’d fully expected it to be a solid story, but nothing to write home about. I was so pleasantly wrong. The unlikely friendship between Tova and Marcellus (a giant Pacific octopus) gave me the coziest feels. Marcellus is extremely observant and insightful beyond human understanding. This is also a story of second chances and reckoning with the past. What a debut novel!! It reads as if Van Pelt is a seasoned writer. 

It’s a book that leaves you feeling as if you’ve been hugged. Hopeful and promising. 

This book is perfect for those that love a gentle character and witty humor!

Add it to your cart here:



The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

This was the perfect way to jump-start my holiday reading!! It’s been patiently sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year just waiting for holiday vibes to roll around. I knew it was the perfect read to pick up when The Bookcase Beauty Backlist Club chose cozy reads this month- and it lived up to my expectations! 

Put this one on your “right now” TBR. Don’t wait a year like I did! It was so much fun!

Add it to your cart here:



When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

This was a wild, entrancing story that I could not stop listening to! It was weirdly a mix of Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wison and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Women spontaneously turn into dragons en masse. Women hiding their traits for fear of being outcast. This story follows Alex, a young girl in 1950’s America who is navigating The Mass Dragoning of 1955. This story is a breath of fresh air! So original and mesmerizing! 

This book is for the reader who loves an empowerment story and the path to self-discovery. 

Add it to your cart here:



Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

My holiday reading continued with this precious friends-to-lovers romcom. This was sugar cookie sweet and exactly the kind of easy holiday listening I was looking for. I’m so glad this is the first book in a series of three (soon to be four). This will definitely be one I continue in December! 

This would make a great gift for a holiday book swap or book club pick!

Add it to your cart here:



The Cloisters by Katy Hays

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

Woah! This was fun! It gave me some National Treasurer vibes with a flair of magic and mystery. Lots of ancient artifacts and a deck of 15th century tarot cards that predict the future! Of course, with that kind of magic, there are those that will do anything to harness it. I was all in! 

If you’re looking to buy for an inquisitive reader, a fan of magical realism, or a history buff with a soft spot for fiction, you can’t go wrong with this one!

Add it to your cart here:



Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

Mad Honey was the Bookcase Beauty Book Club pick for November ‘22. I’m a huge fan of Picoult and was thrilled when the club voted to read her latest novel! This book had me feeling a range of emotions! There are chapters that feel soft and comforting, chapters that feel inquisitive and witty, and chapters that evoked anger in me. The story is told from three points of view, which seemed to fit the idea that two writers were collaborating on the novel- the perspectives are so clearly different and developed. You can definitely go searching if you’re looking for spoiler alerts, but I won’t share those here. I will say that Picoult is no stranger to taking on big social topics and examining them fully. 

Add it to your cart here:



The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Read the Synopsis Here

This book was recommended to me by my Mother-in-law, who read it with her group of high school students in a book club. They all loved it and I knew I needed to see what the fuss was about, especially after seeing it make the rounds on social media! This is the first in a series of three and I’m hooked! Money, mystery, love interests, and high-stakes games all make for an enthralling YA read. 

If you have a teen or young adult that needs to reignite their love of reading, share this one with them. For the record, I’m 30 and fully enjoyed it!!

Add it to your cart here:



When in Rome by Sarah Adams

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

Ask me if I’ve read the Tiktok breakout book, The Cheat Sheet and my answer is still no… but after reading Adams’ newest release, I’m prioritizing it because When In Rome was magic! I don’t know if it’s just the colder weather or the time of year, but this story reads like a holiday romance- without the holiday. Does that make sense? Where everything is just so adorable and perfect and fun. There’s a mild amount of spice, keeping this one a sugary sweet celebrity-to-small town romance trope. Eeek it was wonderful! 

This book is perfect for the low-heat romance fan and readers that love buzzy books!

Add it to your cart here:



The last three books were just okay to me. All of them were three stars. I finished them. I can see who others will enjoy them, but they didn’t blow my socks off. Take my opinion with a grain of salt and don’t shy away from them if they sound interesting to you!

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Read the Synopsis Here

3/5 stars

The premise of this book had me intrigued- childhood best friends, storyline spanning decades, video game creation- it all sounds great to me! Ultimately, it fell kind of flat for me. I followed the story, but at the end just felt like I’d read a book. It hadn’t impacted me or left a lasting impression. I’ve also heard rave reviews! I’m always in favor of reading something to find out for yourself. 

Add it to your cart here:



The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

Read the Synopsis Here

3/5 stars

I think I’ve determined that Rachel Hawkins is just not the author for me. I wanted to love it, I really did! I wanted redemption for hating Reckless Girls so much, but this was just meh. The synopsis sounded promising: eerie, old house, unsolved scandalous murder, friends with hidden agendas. If you enjoyed her other books, definitely give this one a go! If you weren’t a fan of her previous books, this one will probably fall right in line. 

Add it to your cart here:



Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Read the Synopsis Here

3/5 stars

This was a “just okay” read. I heard others rave about it, so I was excited to finally pick it up. It, unfortunately, fell flat for me. If you’re a fan of underdog reads, you may grasp onto this one! 

Add it to your cart here:



If you made it all the way to the end, thank you! I’d love to hear from you. Have you read any of these? Are any of these books on your TBR?

Happy Reading!

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Demon Copperhead Five Star Cocktail

Where do I even start? I’m not even sure…I guess I’ll start with my deep love for Barbara Kingsolver’s writing. She wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Poisonwood Bible. I’ve read it multiple times and if you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably seen it pop up in recommendation stacks!

When I found out about Demon Copperhead, I could hardly contain my excitement. If you’ve never read Barbara’s writing (Barbara, because obviously I’m deeply and personally connected to her and we’re on a first name basis), it’s work that will swoop you up and place you within the mindset of the characters, as if you’re one in the same. She has such a unique ability to write with such a balance of raw clarity and beauty.

Demon Copperhead was the deep dive read I needed this year. I equate it with “the greats” of my reading history: 11/22/63, Betty, Pachinko, Shadows of Pecan Hollow, and, of course, The Poisonwood Bible. It’s a heavy-hitter and one you’ll sink down into.

The style of writing slowed me down more than I was expecting, as most of the dialogue between characters is being recalled to you by Demon. Most of the conversations are within the paragraphs, so there’s no skimming this one. All the better, honestly, it forced me to slow down and soak it all in.

It was perfect and painful and tender and honest. I just loved it all.

To celebrate my admiration of this book, I’ve paired it with one of my most-loved cold weather drinks, Austin’s Old Fashioned.

A few years ago, we discovered a speakeasy bar in downtown Fort Worth and started frequenting the establishment because of its calm atmosphere and absolutely phenomenal drinks. Our favorite was The Old Fashioned. The perfect balance between whiskey, bitters, and syrup. An Old Fashioned that’s too heavy on the bitters is… garbage.

Austin set on a mission to replicate this drink at home! After many attempts, he finally found the ratios he was looking for. It’s my favorite choice to cozy up with on a cold night!

Other Five Star Cocktail Recipes can be found here:

The Strawberry Basil Margarita

The Slow Burn

Other Five Star Recommendations can be found here:

Five Books To Read This Fall

Five Summer Romance Reads

Austin’s Old Fashioned

You’ll need:

  • 2 oz  Kentucky Straight Bourbon (we often use Buffalo Trace or Old Forester)
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 3 drops of Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel
  • Luxardo cherry + 1/2 tsp syrup


  1. Pour the bourbon, simple syrup, and three drops of bitters into a glass and stir for at least 30 seconds. You want it to be smooooooooth.
  2. Rim the inside of the glass with the inside of the orange peel.
  3. Squeeze the orange peel inside of the glass, releasing the oils into the drink. 
  4. Twist the orange peel and drop it in!
  5. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry + 1 tsp cherry syrup

The Old Fashioned is traditionally served at room temperature, which is why you want to use a quality bourbon. If you prefer yours chilled, add 1-2 ice cubes after preparing the drink.

I hope you love Demon Copperhead as much as I did! It was also Oprah’s Book Club pick for November!

Read it, make a drink, and send me a cheers! I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of the above!

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Get the Viral Book Ornament Directions!

Have you seen the viral book ornament video going around?! You know, the one that holds tiny books that look like confetti, representing all of the books you read this year?! It’s magical and not as hard to make as you may think.

Last year, I lost count of how many family and friends sent me the viral videos saying, “you should do this!!”

Honestly, what a beautiful way to document your reading through the year! This is one of those treasures that you get excited to look back on year after year.

I decided to take on the craft and have outlined the steps for you below with a free Google template for lining up your book covers! 

I’ve also linked all the materials you’ll need via Amazon. If you choose to make this craft for yourself, I hope you’ll consider using my affiliate links for your material purchases. 

Let’s get to it!

First, you’ll need these items:

Note: you can get all of these individually at your local craft store, but I chose to buy all of these items in packs so that I could have them for years to come. 

Note: I will have read ~100 books by the end of the year, which is why I opted for the 4″ ornament. If your reading total was 75 books or less, I think a 3″ ornament would be perfect!

You’ll also need a pair of sharp scissors, some decorative ribbon, and maybe a hot glue gun (personal preference!)

You can get all of these items and see all of my other Amazon favorites in my Amazon Storefront!


The most tedious part will no doubt be prepping your book covers. Pour a glass of something tasty and get to work! You’ll want to create two images of each cover, one for each side of the foam “book.” This will ensure that each book can be seen, no matter the facing side. 

Have no fear, I’ve got a template ready to go that will perfectly pattern your covers! Drop your email in the box below and your template will be waiting in your inbox by the time you finish reading this post!

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I discovered that the quickest way to pull images is to go to your Goodreads page, specifically your yearly Reading Challenge if you have one. There, you’ll see a list of thumbnail images of all of the books you read this year! These images are already small and will require minimal adjustment when you paste into your template. 

Start copying and pasting into your Google Slides template! 

Once you’ve correctly sized the fist image, copy it and paste to make the duplicate. This will save you a little time by not having to resize the second image. 

Once you’re done aligning your book covers, print them on your sticker paper and get cutting! 

Note: As I cut, I kept the matching covers together. I did not cut the duplicate covers apart until right before I stuck them to the foam. This will keep you from having to find n100 matching pieces.

If you want to be extra efficient (or if you’re a teacher and already have one of these at home), you can *cut* this time drastically by using a paper slicer

This tool has come in handy time and time again, even outside of teaching! I highly recommend having one at home for general use!

The next step is prepping your foam pieces. If you followed my book cover template, you’ll cut your foam into 6/8” x 1” pieces. (Again, that paper slicer is gold.) If you scaled your images down to accommodate a top-opening ornament, cut out one of the images and measure to find the size needed to cut.

Alternatively, you can place one sticker of each book cover onto the foam sheet and cut them out individually. Then, place the duplicate sticker on the back side.

Place book cover stickers on both sides of the foam and drop them inside of the ornament!

Once all of your books have been added to the ornament, close it up! 

Next, it’s time to add a ribbon to make a hanging loop. I can’t stand when an ornament hangs sideways because the ribbon has been threaded straight through the ornament. Here’s a trick to tying the ribbon in a way that will keep your ornament hanging flat. Fold the ribbon in half and thread the middle about an inch through the hole of the ornament. Then, loop the ends back through the middle section. After you’ve pulled it tight, you can tie the ends of the ribbon together to make a completed loop.

Dress it up by tying a bow with your ribbon. This is where you may want to use a drop of hot glue to keep the ribbon in place! (Note: if you plan to go back at a later date and add books read between now and the end of the year, you do not want to use glue yet.)

To go an extra step, add the year to your ornament with a small paint pen.

Note: As of writing this post, I have two months of reading left in 2022! I plan to add the books I read in November and December to the ornament in January. 

Was this blog post helpful?! I’d love to know if you use these steps to commemorate your own reading.

Please leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram and Facebook to show me your final product!

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