Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Audio Book Review: Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle

Genre: Adult Fiction/Fantasy/Audio
Pub. Date: October 4, 2022
Publisher: Putnam
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Bettie Hughes once knew the comfort of luxury, flaunting a ridiculous collection of designer shoes and a stealthy addiction to CBD oils. That is, until her parents snipped her purse strings. 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 a drunk Bettie plays a vinyl record of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” backwards and accidentally conjures Hall, an unexpectedly charming Holiday Spirit in the form of a 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 the wiles of magic lose their charm, Bettie finds herself set off-kilter by Hall’s sweet gestures. Suddenly, 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 come back as soon as the holidays are over. From the author of Twice Shy comes a sprightly Christmas novel, a rollicking romp through the absurdity of family holidays and the hope of new love."


Bettie Hughes has grown up in a highly competitive and highly successful family; after all, her grandmother is famous. On social media, it appears that Bettie is living a luxurious life, but in reality, she is broke, thanks to investing in just about all the wrong start-ups. While feeling sorry for herself and slightly intoxicated, she plays a record of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" backwards and she somehow summons the "Holiday Spirit" in human form. He is an attractive, yet very naive adult man who goes by Hall. Much to Bettie's delight, he is here to not only put her in the holiday mood, but also grant her wishes. At first, Bettie does what everyone expects her to do. She wishes for a lot of materialistic things as well as gifts to impress her family, but the more time she spends with Hall, she realizes that isn't what it's about, especially at Christmas. While visiting her family for Christmas, Hall poses as her fiancé and she thinks this will certainly shut her family up. But slowly Bettie not only changes her behavior, but she finds she is also falling for Hall. What will happen when his time here is over? Sarah Hogle's Just Like Magic is pure holiday fun.

At first Bettie drove me nuts in Just Like Magic. She is vapid, conniving, and way too materialistic for me to connect with her, but slowly she evolves as the story unfolds. Before I knew it, I was rooting for her to not only find the true meaning of Christmas, but to connect with her family. Her slowly blossoming relationship with Hall was cute, albeit a bit unbelievable in that Hall is very naive (think Buddy the Elf!), so this seemed extremely unlikely. Hall, while very charming, was also a bit flamboyant, so this made the attraction seem a bit skeptical, especially for someone like Bettie. Nonetheless, I was invested in the story and wanted to see how it would end for Hall and Bettie, a very unlikely duo.

The aspect of Just Like Magic that really kept me flipping the pages was the laugh-out-loud moments and outlandish scenes. I was surprised by how funny this novel was at times, especially when Bettie wants revenge on her ex-boyfriend. 

I listened to the audio version of Just Like Magic, which was well done with the exception of Hall. The narrator was a bit overly whiny for him to the point where he sounded a bit like a Valley Girl circa 1990. Once I got passed this overly showy and sing-song voice for Hall, I was able to enjoy the story a bit more.  

So, if you enjoy your holiday reads with a touch of fantasy and some laugh-out-loud moments, give Hogle's Just Like Magic a try this holiday season. One thing is for certain, I can guarantee it will put you in a cheery mood for the holidays.  Have you read Just Like Magic? Is it on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.   



  1. Hogle's books have been hit or miss for me, but this does sound like a cute holiday story!

    1. This is the first novel I've read by Hogle. It was cute in an over the top kind of way. Very fun for sure! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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