Winters in Minnesota start with dark afternoons and freezing cold temperatures and then lead us into feet of snow dropping. Black Friday is usually freezing cold and occasionally dangerous for the folks waiting outside. And, that cute New Year’s Eve outfit usually needs a few extra layers before we head out to celebrate! So, tuck yourselves into your flannel blankets, pick up a steaming or caffeinated drink, and settle in with a sweet story. These books are sure to warm your heart!
If you’re looking for a holiday or winter gift, this is a great place to start. The *starred* books are 2020 releases. Along with Vanessa (@nessas.lair), I made (and drank!) these fun beverages; if you want to know how to make them, check out Vanessa’s blog:https://nessaslair.com/home/recreating-winter-drinks Let’s get started on the recommendations!
My True Love Gave to Me: 12 Holiday Stories
Pairing with: Toffee Nut Latte
In “Midnights” by Rainbow Rowell, one of the 12 stories, Mags has to protect Noel from eating nuts, but what happens when their first happens after she’s eaten Chex mix? By the way, Toffee Nut Syrup tastes of toffee, but does not contain peanuts or tree nuts. I recommend ordering a drink and reading this sweet novel before New Year’s Eve.
The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Pairing with Spicy (Cinnamon) Mocha
Are you looking for an interesting twist on a classic? In The Afterlife of Holly Chase, Holly is visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways. She didn’t, and then she died. Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past. If you didn’t know, my favorite novel of all time is A Christmas Carol, and this adaptation totally does it justice. Try a little spice to your classic mocha and give this book a chance. I loved it!
Pairing: Snow in Love: 4 Stories
and a Snowball Frappuccino
In this sweet book, Kasie West’s story of a snowy road trip takes an unexpected detour when secrets and crushes are revealed. Amie Friedman’s tale of a Hanukkah miracle may just happen when a Jewish girl working as a department store elf finds love. Melissa De La Cruz’s Christmas Eve gets a plot twist when a high school couple exchange surprising presents. And, Nic Stone’s scavenger hunt amid the holiday crowds at an airport turns totally romantic. When you’re the snow leaves you stuck inside, this book with its great lineup of authors will keep you company!
Pairing: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Right before winter break, Griffin tells Sophie that he needs some space. Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. The plot is sweet, the family is adorable, and the food sounds amazing! Grab yourself an Italian soda, and you can pretend you’ve been adopted by these fantastic people.
Pairing: New Year’s Kiss by Lee Matthews
and a Cocoa Mock-Tini
Imagine the setting of Dirty Dancing only in the winter: family dinners, holiday activities, a little drama, and, of course, dancing! Tess and her opinionated older sister Lauren are spending the week after Christmas at the snowy Evergreen Lodge in Vermont. When shy, straight-laced Tess meets Christopher in the lobby, things are suddenly looking up. And when she decides to get out of her comfort zone and create a bucket list of things to accomplish before the New Year-like singing in public and skiing a black-diamond slope-Christopher is happy to help, even as he keeps a secret that could turn everything upside down. When the ball drops, will Tess and Christopher share a magical kiss-or will Tess start the new year off alone? Toast the New Year with a Cocoa Mock-Tini and this charming book.
Pairing: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
and the The Duo Cocoa Mocha
Every character has a “darker side” and a secret, but which one is the killer? Agatha Christie is known for her twisty-turny mysteries that throw you through a loop, and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is no different. While the book is set on Christmas Eve and Day, most of the focus is on a very bloody murder. If holiday spirit is not your type, then this book is for you. Add some dark (chocolate) to your coffee and dive into this thriller!
Pairing: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
What do you feed kids after a church pageant? Punch! I grew up reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in elementary school, and middle school teachers frequently pull out this book in December for homeroom reading. Cranberry Apple-Cider Pinch is a sweet combination to take you through this adorable and charming story
Pairing: *All I Want for Christmas* by Wendy Loggia
and Toasted-Marshmallow Latte
Bailey Briggs lives for holiday music, baking cookies, going on snowy sleigh rides,and wearing her light-up reindeer ears to work at Winslow’s bookstore. When Jacob Marley- athlete, player, and of questionable taste in girlfriends- walks in asking for gifting advice Bailey questions if he’s the one she will kiss this year under the mistletoe. Bailey’s favorite drink is the toasted marshmallow latte at a nearby cafe. After making this drink, we agree that it’s a good one!
Pairing: *Recommended for You* by Laura Silverman
and a Peppermint Mocha
Recommended for You is one of my favorite releases of 2020. If you’re looking for a holiday present for a teen, this is the book to get! Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape. When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan. Somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute , and he may be an eligible Jewish single, but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down. When work needs to get done, Shoshanna’s sweet friends bring her a peppermint mocha. If you can’t make it out in the weather or due to the pandemic Nessa has a perfect make-at-home recipe for you!
Pairing: *The Ice in Our Hearts* by BC Powell
and a Decaf Non-Fat Mocha
As much as we love the holiday season, there’s months of winter after New Year’s Eve (well at least in Minnesota there is.) This last book is set at the Winter Olympics, and we recommend reading when you’re crashing hard from the sugar and holiday buzz! Bryce is a snowboarding sensation but keeps his Type 1 diabetes a secret. Daria is a rising star in figure skating, a withdrawn teen from Russia with a tragic past. Primed to overthrow archrivals who dominate their sports, they’re both headed to the Winter Olympics. When two teens from halfway around the world meet, they discover an unlikely but undeniable connection. As they gear up for their final shots at medals, they help each other realize the greatest barrier to the top of the podium might be hiding inside their minds. Detox from the sugar and caffeine and order Daria’s Decaf Non-Fat Mocha.
There are so many different settings and holidays in these recommendations. With 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston being set in Louisiana, and the warm weather with hardly any snow makes me a little jealous. Recommended for You by Laura Silverman, in Georgia, it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas day, and they call it freezing. Ha! Cute. No one is getting stuck in the snow or concerned about the temperature and how long they spent outside, like Minnesotans. However, whether you’re from Mexico or Canada, I think we have a great book for you as well as drink pairing! What are you going to read this winter? Are you going to drink something warm and cozy or iced and cold? Let’s talk about it in the comments!