Cover Image: Christmas Presents

Christmas Presents

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Member Reviews

This was a really quick read. I enjoyed following the different character perspectives, especially the young woman that originally gave the statement that put Evan in prison. There were some fun twists too, all around a great read.
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Christmas Presents isn’t the usual feel good holiday story. Instead, it’s a twisty, suspenseful story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s a novella, not a full length novel. It’s worth the read if you want a short mystery with some Christmas thrown in.
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Christmas suspense with a smidge of romance just in time for the holidays...

Madeline is the sole survivor of a deadly attack by sadistic Evan Handy, who killed her best friend, Stephanie, and is suspected in the disappearance of two of her other close friends, all in the same night. Rescued by her lifelong friend, Badger, Maddie has spent the years since the attack just trying to move on with her life. But one visit from true crime podcaster and author Harley Granger opens that chapter of her life up once again. With additional women missing ten years later, Harley is convinced someone else was involved in the attacks that night, leaving Maddie reliving that terrible night to try to find the truth. Someone else out there knows what happened ten years ago -- and isn't ready to let the past go just yet...

Thoughts: This was a gripping yet quick Christmas suspense, especially if read in the days leading up to Christmas when the book takes place. It's a bit longer for a novella, but the plot moves fast and I was almost surprised to find I'd reached the end so soon. The ending as a whole was satisfying, but the big reveal isn't that shocking if you pay close enough attention to details. And while the slow-burn romance is sweet, it's almost completely one-sided until the very end of the story, which was a bit too rushed and weak for me. But I liked the character development and interactions, the suspenseful scenes told from a victim's POV, and the way that Lisa Unger packs a lot of plot into a shorter story.

**Thank you, NetGalley and publisher, for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.**
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More of a 3.5 star for this one. It’s super short and it was thrilling. I predicted the end really early on but I still enjoyed the ride to get there. The ending was a bit too clean for me and I would have liked a little more detail on the answers.

Otherwise, it wasn’t a bad read and it went by really fast. If you need to read just one more book before the end of year, read this one.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this read.  The book was a good read just like  Lisa  Unger’s previous novels.  This was fast and easy to read and interesting.
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If Lisa Unger writes it, I'm going to read it. Plus I like to mix this up when it comes to my holiday reads so this novella came into my hands at just the right time. If you're looking for a quick, fun, murdery christmas read, you'll want to grab this one!

Madeline is a bookstore owner with a traumatic past she'd rather forget. A determined crime podcaster intent on doing a story on the gruesome crime, Madeline is the sole survivor of. Other women have since gone missing but is there a connection?

I loved the snowed-in setting and the past and present colliding. Lisa Unger's writing is always my cup of tea. For all my avid psychological thriller readers, I did figure out a key twist fairly early on but I think that's just the price we pay for reading the genre so much. It did not take away from the enjoyment factor though because I enjoyed the story so much.

Thank you Netgalley and Penzler Publishers, for gifting me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!!
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This book felt like it was rushed out and needed another round of edits, which is not an issue on Lisa Unger’s part, but is frustrating when there’s multiple typos/typesetting issues and the spelling of a character’s name changes mid-book. Plot wise, I do think this was quite obvious. There were two possible suspects. It was also too short for certain relationships to be believable. That said, it did keep me engaged and reading and I would be interested in reading one of her longer books.
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A fast-paced, entertaining read from one of my favorite authors. I loved the Christmas setting and the homage to Unger’s earlier works. Lots of twists make this a page-turner.
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I really liked the writing, plot, and characters in this book, and read it in one sitting. It was a little predictable and didn't feel very Christmas-y. But I enjoyed it for a quick read.
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This is so not your typical feel good Christmas read. But it has everything I love! Christmas, serial killers, quick read, and a mystery!
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I love a good holiday thriller and this was a fun mystery! This felt a little long and I lost some steam in the middle but some good twists overall.
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A great Christmas novella for fans of Unger. While not entirely original, it was a perfect read for wanting something a little darker during the winter season.
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In the same vein that declared Die Hard a Christmas movie, Christmas Presents is a Christmas thriller. It takes place during the holidays, there are some presents, and a rather creepy form of Santa. But, this is not a Christmas book. lol it’s not about getting into the spirit, family togetherness, or any form of merriment. Nope, it’s missing girls and murder. lol
  I actually really liked this book. The story had hints of darkness but never went completely dark. The main character, Madeline, is very likeable and I think would make a great character for several more books. The plot was great, it was fast moving, with lots of suspenseful moments. 
  I do recommend this for those that are looking for a quick thrill, not necessarily a holiday read.
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A deliciously dark mystery for the holidays. We don't get a lot of mysteries around Christmas time. So I'm always excited to read when we do. And this was a wonderful surprise!

I know this one is listed numerous times as a novella, but it is over 200 pages. It packs a punch - a true crime podcaster has come to a small town to re-open the wounds of the families and friends left behind after a murder and 2 missing teens years before.

I loved the main character. She's a small town book shop owner preparing for the busy holiday buying season. But she's also the only survivor of the night where her friend was killed and others went missing. I liked the style of getting multiple POV - the author/podcaster and the bookstore owner - because it gave us both what was happening now and what happened the night of the murder.

Even with such a short amount of pages, the characters really grew on me. I loved getting to know them, how they were all surviving and making ends meet, and I'm sad I part with them here. There was maybe a hint at the end that the Podcast will keep going. Does that mean we might get more? I'd definitely read it!

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
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Loved this! I didn't figure it out. Well hidden breadcrumbs and I am delighted to admit I was wrong! A quick read and not too scary or stabby for this festive time of year. Highly recommend!
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Christmas Presents was a total gift for the holiday season.

Unger has quickly become one of my favourite thriller writers, I was hooked after the ARC of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six. It's rare that I come across a thriller that truly surprises me anymore, and I love Unger's narratives and characters because I can't predict what happens next,

Christmas Presents is the perfect November read as we gear up for December. I found it quick, captivating, and a super fun read I would highly recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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What a thrilling Christmas mystery!! Enjoyed the dual timeline of high school days and current around 30 year old Maddie and her local friends. Very relatable characters. Interesting plot with unexpected ending. Thoroughly developed characters for sure that made it easy to see the story unfolding in your head. Also some mild romance. And a cute book store setting for part of the story. Definitely recommend!!

Thanks to Netgalley and Pendleton Publishers for my electronic advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own!
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Thank you to Penzler Publishers, Mysterious Press, and Netgalley for the gifted copy of CHRISTMAS PRESENTS by Lisa Unger!

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS is set in the days leading up to the holidays. Madeline is a young woman who spends her time running a successful bookstore, taking care of her father, and trying to forget her past. Madeline's best friend was murdered by Evan Handy and he was suspected of doing much more. Madeline was his only survivor and her father was obsessed with the case until he had a stroke that left him unable to care for himself.

Harley is a true crime podcaster and true crime author intent on getting answers to what happened, no matter what it takes. When he is in town, he begins to look into the cold case of Evan Handy and he has questions, dragging Madeline and her friend Badger back into the thick of it. Though Evan is in jail, more young women have gone missing, including a young woman named Lolly lost recently.

I really liked the idea of a thriller set at Christmas, where Christmas isn't the main focus. As someone who doesn't tend to want to do a TON of holiday related reading, this seemed perfect. Having it from an author I've enjoyed a lot in the past was also a plus.

Overall I found this to be a pretty typical thriller. It definitely gave me some questions about what was going on and I was interested to get to the answers, but I wouldn't say I was fully hooked. It is a fairly short book, but even so it was a little too easy to put down and took me a bit to get through. There were some twists I didn't fully guess, but I think that had I put more thought into it, I likely could have figured it out. Looking back at the book's full synopsis on Goodreads, I think it hints at too much and if I had read that before the book, I would have figured it out faster.

Overall, this was an entertaining and quick "holiday" read.
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★★★★★ 5/5 stars

It’s days before Christmas & Madeline Martin is busy running her bookstore, The Next Chapter Bookshop. This time of year brings back terrible memories of a tragic time she’d rather forget, but she’s forced to relive it all when a true crime novelist walks into her store asking questions for his podcast. Instead of opening Christmas presents, they’re opening up a cold case.

My Thoughts
This was such a hit for me, maybe one of my new favorite thrillers! Pairing a wintery, holiday setting with a deeply unsettling & suspenseful plot, this book was exactly what I was looking for. The descriptions of being a bookstore owner were so perfectly cozy. Also, all the little tidbits of how carefully she wrapped the gifts sold in her store were so fun for me because gift-wrapping is my most favorite thing about the Christmas season. There was even a tiny bit of romance which I loved! This contrasted with the grim, brutal events that take place. I liked the way the ending came together, like it was wrapped up in a nice bow. 

If you’re like me & are looking for something holiday themed that’s not a Christmas rom-com, I highly recommend this one!

Read if you:
* Ever dreamed of owning your own bookshop 
* Really love wrapping Christmas gifts 🎁 
* Love true crime, missing persons & cold cases
* Enjoy a quick read that really packs a punch
* Like reading about relatable characters
* Had a high-school boyfriend you look back on and cringe
* Need some Christmas suspense 

Thank you to Lisa Unger, Netgalley & @mysteriouspress for the opportunity to read this arc ◡̈
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I enjoyed this book. It was a fast read. I really enjoyed the characters. I like Madeline and her book store. I also enjoyed the happy ending. I would read another book by this author.
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