Book Review: Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle

Posted October 3, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger, Uncategorized / 44 Comments

Just Like Magic
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

by Sarah Hogle
Publication Date October 4, 2022
Published by Penguin
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Genres: Fiction / Holidays, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Reading Challenges: 12 Books of Christmas 2022

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

The holidays were never her thing, until she accidentally conjures the Holiday Spirit...before her very eyes.

Bettie Hughes once knew the comfort of luxury, flaunting a collection of designer purses and an enviable dream home in Hawaii. That was before she lost all her money. Long obsessed with her public image, Bettie boasts an extravagant lifestyle on social media. But the reality is Bettie is broke and squatting in Colorado, and her family has no idea.

Christmas, with its pressure to meet familial expectations, is looming when Bettie plays a vinyl record of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” backward and accidentally conjures up Hall, the Holiday Spirit, in the form of a charming and handsome (if offbeat) man. Once the shock wears off, Bettie knows she’s stumbled upon the greatest gift: a chance to make all her holiday wishes come true, plus a ready-made fiancé.

But as some of Bettie’s wishes lose their charm, she finds herself thrown off-kilter by Hall’s sweet nature. Suddenly, grumpy Bettie is finding her heart merry and light. But the happier she gets, the shorter Hall’s time on earth grows. Can Bettie channel the Christmas spirit and learn to live with goodwill toward all men? Or will her selfish ways return as soon as the holidays are over?

Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle is a family drama with a bit of magic and some romance.  I really enjoyed this, but, it did take a bit to get into it.  

Bettie Hughes is broke.  She’s so broke that she’s living in a dead woman’s apartment, afraid the authorities will find out about her squatting.  She’s used to luxury and still pretends to have a luxurious lifestyle on social media, but the truth is, she doesn’t have a cent to her name.  She can’t go to her wealthy parents as they were the ones who cut her off.  

One drunk evening, she plays a Mariah Carey Christmas album and spills her drink on the vinyl record and she ends up playing “All I Want for Christmas” backward and conjures up a Christmas Spirit named Hall (short for Holiday).  Hall can perform magic and he can make all her dreams come true (as long as it’s not against the magic regulations).  

Bettie takes Hall to her parent’s Christmas week and they pretend they are engaged.  Bettie soon finds Hall’s holiday spirit to be less annoying over time and she eventually grows to appreciate Hall, her family, and the holidays much more.  

This book started off a bit rough for me.  I didn’t like Bettie at all, she’s selfish and self-absorbed and downright annoying.  And when Hall appeared, I didn’t like him much either.  He’s too much holiday, too fake, and too cringeworthy.  Then when the story moved to Bettie’s family house, I didn’t like most of her family either. However, once Hall started to interact with Bettie and her family, I warmed up to everybody.  The author is very skilled at making these unlikeable characters very likeable, and I loved them all.  I guess that’s the “magic” of Christmas, an author can turn unlikeable characters into charming, characters that I loved.  

So, my advice is to hang in there, this is a wonderful story, and watching these jaded, cynical characters learn to love Christmas, and love each other is just the heartwarming story I wanted for the Holiday Season.  

I highly recommend Just Like Magic to anyone who enjoys Christmas stories.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Sarah Hogle

Sarah Hogle is a mom of three who enjoys trashy TV and provoking her husband for attention. Her dream is to live in a falling-apart castle in a forest that is probably cursed. Her novels are You Deserve Each Other, Twice Shy, and Just Like Magic.

Book Challenges:

Just Like Magic counts towards my 12 Books of Christmas Challenge.

Have you read Just Like Magic? Do you think you’d want to?

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 12 Books of Christmas 2022

44 responses to “Book Review: Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle

  1. Okay, I will add this one to my Christmas reading list! It does really sound like a book that might be good for the Christmas spirit.

    Great review Wendy. (As always….)

  2. I’m glad you ended up loving it. I have a love hate relationship with DNFing books because I’m afraid they’ll end up like this book and turn out great. But, I also hate waiting to love a book. I guess we just have to balance.

    • If I had not known the author, I might have DNF’d this one. But, I’ve read other books by her and enjoyed them, so I was able to give this one some time to get better.

  3. Glad you hung in and ended up enjoying this read! It sounds fun, I like holiday stories with a little magic involved. Nice review!

  4. Jenny+McClinton

    I think that would put me off too have unlikeable characters, but then if you end up liking them then I guess that is the purpose of starting like that, great review 😊

  5. It’s kind of unusual for this type of story to have unlikable characters, even if it’s just for the first part of the book. Very interesting. Excellent review!

  6. Joanna @ TheGeekishBrunette

    Great review! I love seeing all of the Christmas themed books already.

  7. Accurate portrayal of the fakeness of social media–even when people are not trying to be fake, they put forward a positive front. The story sounds amusing. I guess it is the contrast between before and after that makes it important for the characters to be unlikable at first. Good review!

  8. I admire you for hanging in there with this book since it didn’t sound like a lot of fun initially. I’m glad it turned around for you though. A great review Wendy!