Book Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Roomies by Christina Lauren

Roomies by Christina Lauren
Rating: 5 stars

Holland is a 23 year old living in New York with an MBA in Creative Writing that she doesn’t know what to do with. While she tries to figure out a direction for her life, she works for her uncle at a broadway theater. She has a major crush on an amazing guitar busker that she goes out of her way to watch and listen to every single time he plays in her closest subway station. Her infatuation is so deep that basically everyone she knows teases her about it. Near the end of his first run of an extremely successful musical, her uncle is suddenly in desperate need of a solo musician. Holland immediately drags him to see the busker and they officially meet Calvin, the Julliard taught Irish musician who has been living in NYC illegally for the past four years. In order to bring him into the show Holland hatches a crazy plan to marry Calvin to help both him and her uncle.

This book is definitely about the unique relationship that buds between Holland and Calvin. But it’s also about how much Holland struggles to find her own identity. She basically lives as a side character to the most important people in her life and finds that she’s pretty lost internally. From a career perspective, I felt that was incredibly relatable to both me and so many people I know. You go to school and have your dreams. And then you realize real life is pretty dang hard and you get lost on the way to making those dreams come true. Holland had so much passion for helping those she loves, but needed to learn how to also love herself.

I really enjoyed this book. I think I expected it to be more of a fluffy romance going into it, but it really had a lot of heart. Holland may have been working a dead end job that she really had no ambition for, but her priorities with putting her family first were honorable and sweet. She definitely had trust issues with Calvin’s intentions, but he was good through and through. They had a lot of ups and downs, but really learned how to communicate and fight to the end for what they both truly wanted. It was a sweet read.

Book Review: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Rating: 4.5 stars

Abby is a 17 year old teenager who is completely in love with her best friend Cooper. She confessed to him a year before and he was so shocked that she played it off as a joke. She didn’t want to lose their friendship and decided to continue on as if the words were never spoken. This summer she finds herself alone with Cooper as their two other best friends are out of the country and unavailable. They spend all their time together and her feelings continue getting stronger. In the meantime, Abby is working at museum and trying to get her paintings into an art show that would guarantee her a spot at a creative winter camp. The man in charge of the show, also her boss, tells her that she doesn’t have enough heart and her paintings are too one dimensional. This forces Abby to write a list of all the things she could do over the summer to grow her heart and produce paintings worthy of the opportunity.

One of the reasons I really enjoyed this book was due to the witty and sarcastic dialog between almost all of the characters. Abby lives with her mom and her grandfather and her dad is fighting in Iraq. Her mom is nearly agoraphobic, but also a loving and supportive member of the family. But her grandpa is hilarious and plays a huge role in her life. The friendship between Abby and Cooper is light and fun, but it’s hard to understand how Cooper can treat her so wonderfully and still not return her feelings, or at least acknowledge them. I liked list they created to grow their hearts and the adventures that took them on. It was a tender hearted yet laugh out loud kind of book that also brought to commiserating tears.

Overall, this is one of Kasie West’s bests. I love all of her books, but this one felt particularly delightful. I highly recommend it.

My Favorite Books of 2017

I’ve been more than a little obsessed with reading every top books of the year list I’ve been able to find online these last few weeks. Sometimes I think I might like reading about and finding amazing sounding books more than I like actually reading. You can never be disappointed in a book if you’re only hearing about how great it is! But don’t worry – reading will NEVER not be a part of my daily life. 🙂 It’s just terribly exciting to know how many amazing books are out there waiting for me to discover!

This year’s list of favorites is another eclectic mix of genres and writing styles. YA continues to be at the top of my list because I often find it delightful and tingly, without all of the hardship and realism that comes with adulting. I’m also discovering how much I enjoy memoirs. Basically, I fall in love with any book that completely manipulates my emotions to the extreme. I love books that make me cry and books that make me laugh out loud. I crave books that I can’t put down and yet want to read as slowly as possible to savor every delicious word. I don’t read a ton of literary fiction, so my top book list looks a lot different than most of the more official lists out there. But I’m confident that just about any one of these books would be loved and adored by most. So check them out!

180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 Seconds by Jessica Park

This list isn’t in any particular order, but I will say that this was my all time favorite of the year. Perhaps favorite of all time? It made me cry over and over again. For beautiful and tender and joyous reasons! It’s the kind of book that will restore your faith in mankind because it is just so GOOD. Read it.

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

This is an extremely powerful memoir that you’ll have a hard time believing is actually true. It reads like a novel and is completely fascinating. You’ll follow the childhood of Ruth and her family as they struggle heavily in a Mormon polygamist colony in Mexico. It’s heartbreaking yet uplifting. It’s an amazing book that I will never forget.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

This book almost wrecked me. It followed my favorite trope of characters writing letters to each other while not knowing who the other person is in real life. But it’s deep. And so heavy. Which maybe doesn’t appeal to a lot of people! It’s probably not what I’d want to hear in a recommendation. But it’s also beautiful and lovely. You can read my whole review on it here.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

So give me any book where the main characters fall for each other both through anonymous letter/email writing and in person and I’m probably going to adore it. I liked this one because Bailey was actively trying to slueth out her mystery man, going so far as to move across country to where he lived, without telling him. It was a lighter read, but had great character development that left me truly rooting for the best of each person.

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Historical fiction is not my favorite. Fiction is that spans multiple generations is also something I actively avoid when picking out a book. But this one? It has both and was incredibly captivating. It’s a story about the Romanov family during the war and a young soldier named Dmitri who was immensely in love with the daughter Tatiana. You follow Dmitri, as well as his great-granddaughter who is trying to piece together his secrets with very few clues to go on. It was a great read.

Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys

Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys

Last year Sepetys’ book Between Shades of Gray was also one of my top reads. Both explore things that happened during WWII that I was completely unaware of and never heard about in a single history lesson. This is about a ragtag group of people who walk across Germany trying to catch their freedom on a boat across the Baltic Sea. It’s harrowing and heavy, but will stay with you for a long time.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

I don’t read many mysteries, but when I do they always surprise me. This was a really great one about a woman who is known for finding missing children. Chapters alternate between her and the eight year old girl she is looking for, who has been lost for three years. It’s surprisingly imaginative and hopeful despite the dreary circumstances that bring them together. Truly a fantastic book. Read my full review here.

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover for the win! Again! Her books are all my favorites. This one strayed from her typical romance a bit and revolved more around a dysfunctional hodgepodge mix of a family. The characters were highly flawed, but incredibly relatable. Her books always give me all the feels and this was one of the best. Full review here.

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

The theme of this book is about how much stock you put into your own physical beauty (or lack of) and how it shapes you as an individual. It’s a beautiful story about friendship, love, and loss. The characters were all amazing. If you can get past the third person point of view which was a little odd, this book is amazing.

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

This is my third time writing about this in the last week or two, but it was truly one of my favorites of the year. It was just so incredibly delightful! It was also exciting that I never would have found it if I weren’t wandering around Barnes and Noble one night. My window shopping trips through bookstores can sometimes result in a treasure! I mean, this isn’t the great American novel by any means. But it was a really fun and laughter filled Christmas book that I look forward to reading again next year!

And that’s my list! I guess I actually kept it to my top ten! What have been your favorites this year??

What I Read: November and December 2017

Well, my plans to write individual book reviews immediately following every book I finished ended up getting the best of me. In theory I’d still like to do it, but it’s maybe something I don’t quite have the time for right now. I don’t want to stop with my monthly posts, though! I love reading, I love hearing about what other people are reading, and I want to share what books have mattered most to me. With my sewing craziness at the end of November and early December I didn’t have any time to write out my November book post. So this is going to be a long one!

I did end up reading quite a few great books in the last two months. I also probably stopped reading more books than I have in the rest of my life put together. I want to be able to set aside books that aren’t keeping my attention because I KNOW there is definitely something better out there. But it’s so hard to let go! FOMO is real. I’m still tentatively thinking I might go back to a few of these, but we’ll see. My To Be Read pile is gigantic and growing every day.

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer

Finding Fraser by KC Dyer
Rating: 3 stars

I happened upon this book by accident at Half Priced Books one day. I thought it looked hilarious and picked it up as a gift for my Outlander loving mother-in-law for Christmas. But I really like to read books before I gift them, so I can give a solid recommendation (hopefully). Finding Fraser is the story of Emma, who decides to quit her job and journey through Scotland on a mission to find her own real life Jamie Fraser. She blogs throughout the journey, gaining and losing followers and support. I loved reading about all her adventures in Scotland. But I lost a lot of respect for her when she found a man who was so obviously wrong for her and treated her like crap. I have a hard time loving a book when a character is just so DUMB! I also got a little irritated with Emma talking about how she was such a good writer when her blog posts were never detailed and usually only a couple of sentences long. That does not make a writer great! In my opinion. 🙂 But overall, it was a light and funny read and would probably be appreciated by anyone dreaming of their own Jamie Fraser!

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
Rating: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this book about a chef/owner of her own restaurant and an acclaimed and often hated food critic, both of whom keep their identities secret and develop a friendship that deepens over time. I love that it was set in Milwaukee and a lot of the places they visited and talked about were familiar to me. But maybe I’m way too judgemental of characters, but it really bothered me how Lou was always talking about what she’d wish her restaurant could be, but she didn’t do ANYTHING to actually create that dream. If you’re not going to take the risks then don’t complain about it not working out. Maybe? It’s definitely inspiring as you follow Lou’s journey about discovering who she is and what she truly wants out of life.

Full review here.

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre
Rating: 5 stars

This is an incredibly sad yet devastatingly beautiful story about a woman who killed her husband, lost her daughter, and has given up all hope in connecting with anyone ever again. She’s a world famous romance author, but also a total recluse, at only 32 years old. She is suddenly diagnosed with brain cancer and giving three months to live. Before she dies she wants the truth of what happened to her little family to be out there for the world to see. Swiftly losing her own ability to make a book happen so quickly, she is forced to beg her writing nemesis to come on as her ghost writer. The respect and finally friendship that develops between characters is so tender and inspirational. It’s not an easy read as it’s shrouded in grief and sadness. But it was a wonderfully written book.

Full review here. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (audiobook version)
Rating: 4.5 stars

I rated this book highly because I think it’s important, not because I necessarily enjoyed reading it. (Listening, in this case.) It’s a tough book. It will force you to think about black neighborhoods, gangs, police brutality, and undeserved death. Things I don’t particularly enjoy in my reading life because that’s not an escape. That’s reality. And it sucks, for a lot of people. It’s a fascinating book as you listen to Starr struggling between her thug life neighborhood where she lives and the mostly white private school with white boyfriend and white friends in another city. Starr witnesses the death of one of her best friends and spends the entire book learning to fight for his justice and what is right. I think this is a powerful book for anyone to read, but I particularly enjoyed the audio version because it had such a strong voice.

Full review here.

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
Rating: 5 stars

I think being stranded on a deserted island is pretty much a great premise for any book, even if it’s been done many, many times before. This one felt a little different with only two survivors of a plane crash and people that absolutely hated each other for a very, long time. But they slowly start to depend on each other, and try to make the other one smile, and build a beautiful and engaging relationship with each other. Without all the distractions. Just the two of them, their words, and nothing else on their tiny little island. Despite their circumstances they find a level of happiness that is rarely achieved. I loved this book. It was definitely a slow start, but better and better as it went on.

Full review here.

I'd Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare

I’d Rather Be Reading by Guinevere de la Mare
Rating: 2 stars

I don’t have a lot to say about this book, other than don’t waste your time. It had so much potential of being a beautiful coffee table book filled with book art, library and bookstore photographs, etc. Instead it’s a tiny little book with “essays” that were mostly pretentious and highly biased to classic literary works of fiction being the only books worth reading. That really rubbed me the wrong way! This book was a huge disappointment.

Full review here. 

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karine Yan Glaser
Rating: 4.5 stars

I find myself highly intrigued by middle grade books lately. I think it’s the cover art. Who are these people doing cover art for middle grade books and why aren’t they also working on adult or YA books?! Every book is so beautiful! Anyway, I’ve already written about this book twice on my blog. It’s wonderful. And not just for kids. I think any adult would thoroughly enjoy it too. It’s about a family with five children that are fighting to save their home at Christmastime. It’s sweet and endearing and a wonderfully uplifting book.

Full review here.

Copycat by Alex Lake

Copycat by Alex Lake
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is an intriguing thriller about a woman who is one day told there’s a copycat account for her on facebook. This quickly spirals into full out stalking which leads you to wonder if you’re dealing with something that’s actually happening or the narrator is indeed unreliable. It was a satisfying book, but not entirely memorable. Fast paced and interesting, but I was not particularly happy with how things ended. I’ll be curious to see if there’s a sequel.

Full review here.

Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber
Rating: 3.5 stars

Merry is an overworked temp who is barely getting by with the high demands of her job, a difficult boss, and a family that depends on her for so many things. Jay is that demanding and difficult boss who has a very lonely  and isolated personal life. They are both talked into joining a dating site where they become interested in each other – without knowing who they are in real life. It’s a sweet holiday romance. Not too deep, but nice and light for Christmastime.

A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans

A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans
Rating: 4 stars

This is a modern day retelling of Joseph and his many brothers that were jealous and hated him and sold him away. It was definitely interesting and held my attention to the end. I’m starting to realize that so many of Richard Paul Evans’ characters have a lot of similar characteristics. They are all such upstanding and likeable men. Which is why his books are so wonderful reading. This one wasn’t particularly Christmassy, but I enjoyed reading it during the season.

What Light by Jay Asher

What Light by Jay Asher
Rating: 3.5 stars

Sierra’s family owns a Christmas tree farm in Oregon and every year they spend the month of December selling their trees at a town in California. This year Sierra meets a boy, Caleb, who seems troubled and distant, but continues to come back day after day buying trees for other people. They form a friendship that develops into more. This book is darker than I expected it to be. But I guess you can expect that from Jay Asher? But it was also full of sweet gestures. The annoying characters in the book – Sierra’s parents. They fell in love working at this very Christmas tree lot, but do everything in their power to stop it from happening to Sierra.

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff
Rating: 5 stars

I loved this book! Timing probably had a lot to do with it. I kept starting books that felt so slow and cliched and fluffy. I was also stressed to the limit personally and was desperately craving a book to drag me out of it. This was the cure! This delightful YA Christmas novel is about a Secret Santa exchange between a group of students working on their school newspaper. The characters cheat and conspire with each other, trying to make their crushes each fall in love with them. I thought JD was an absolute delight and he was a huge part of the book. Character interaction makes books so much more exciting! This is going down as one of my favorite books of the year simply because it brought me so much joy!

Full review here.

Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider
Rating: 3.5 stars

Charlotte is at the airport waiting to head back to England after a semester abroad in New York and a breakup with a boy she thought she loved. Anthony is at the airport about to pick up his girlfriend from college, only to find out that she’s cheating on him. With a bunch of snow cancellations, Charlotte and Anthony end up spending the entire night together, wandering around New York and going on a myriad of adventures. And it all takes place on Christmas Eve. Overall, this book felt fairly unbelievable, but was still entertaining. It’s hard to get behind a romance that happens in such a short time – and so immediately after breaking up with other people. But they have a very realistic future ahead of them, so their happily ever after felt inevitable.

We'll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale

We’ll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale
Rating: 4 stars

Noelle is a single mother who desperately wants to save her family’s bakery that is about to close because Alexander Harrington jacked their rent up so high. She takes a position as a caretaker for Alex’s ailing grandfather. They all begin a journey to acceptance and forgiveness over things that have happened in the past. One thing that surprised me is that Alex was in no way a mean man. He’s set up like that at the start, but he is sweet and supportive and wants to help Noelle achieve her dreams. The entire story is a bit too much like a fairy tale, since Alex is a billionaire and can and does shower them with a ridiculous amount of gifts and splendor. But it’s fun and festive! I felt like there was way too much going on in this book, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans
Rating: 5 stars

Tried and true author, he’s always a favorite! His newest Christmas release was about a man – an author of romance novels – who was trying to come to terms with his past after the passing of his estranged mother. As he’s cleaning out her hoarder house, he meets Rachel, who is trying to figure out the mysteries in her own past. This is a fast paced and intriguing read about learning how to feel worthy of love, no matter what your past circumstances.

Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller
Rating: 5 stars

If you’ve ever been intrigued by the idea of a bullet journal, but were quickly overwhelmed by all the information available online, this is an awesome comprehensive guide that will simplify the bare bones of getting started and give you ideas for how to really make it a daily and worthwhile part of your life. I’ve tried bullet journaling in the past and gave it up because it made me feel inadequate in comparison to how many beautiful pictures I’ve seen online. But I really do love planning, organizing, and writing things down to remember in the future. I’ve been mulling the idea of starting another bullet journal in the new year and this was just the book to help me. It was so exciting reading such short chapters of inspiring reasons why dot journaling can not only be a place to write your to do lists, but also a memorable keepsake of all aspects of your life. I read through the book in a day and immediately got started setting up my next journal.

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Making Faces by Amy Harmon
Rating: 5 stars

Fern is a late bloomer with unruly red curls, freckles, braces until she was 18, and thick glasses. Bailey is her cousin and best friend who has a degenerative muscle disease and is well acquainted with the idea of his own death. Ambrose is the gorgeous muscular small town wrestling hero who convinces all of his friends to join the Army with him and comes back home alone and disfigured. These three characters are constantly interacting and growing and facing loss and heartache mixed with love and hope. The third person point of view really threw me at the beginning of the book. I wasn’t sure that I’d like it until about a third of the way in when it suddenly became a beautiful and engaging story. There is so much heartache and apprehensive and grief tied into this book, but it comes together with so much love and faith in each other. Be prepared, the final part of the book will wreck you. But it’s so worth it. I read this in a day and completely fell in love with it and all of the flawed yet ultimately beautiful characters.

Book Review: My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff
Rating: 5 stars

I’ve fallen behind on my book reviews. 🙁 I’ve fallen behind on all of my blog posts the last few weeks. Sewing deadlines have taken over my life. I finally finished those and now I’m on to wrapping and baking and getting everything ready for Christmas. So I’m making the decision to skip writing in depth reviews on the last few books I’ve read. But I wanted to start back up again with this book I finished today because I loved it! And if you’re looking for a lighthearted and sweet holiday read, this would be perfect.

Charlie (Charlotte) is co-editor of the high school newspaper and an overachieving perfectionist to a tee. She has zero tolerance for people breaking the rules or being late for anything. She develops a crush on the school’s most popular star student and athlete, Teo. She decides to rig the paper’s Secret Santa exchange so she can get Teo gifts that prove how perfect they are for each other. The only problem is that Charlie has no idea what Teo likes. So she solicits help from Teo’s cousin J.D. – also known as the most annoying person in the world. J.D. has been a constant headache to her as the paper’s photographer and is late to every meeting, driving her insane. But for the sake of Christmas, Charlie and J.D. are forced to spend a lot of time together coming up with the perfect combination of gifts that will win Teo’s heart. A friendship eventually emerges and Charlie’s heart begins to turn.

This book is pretty much a perfect YA romance for me. If you love YA as much as I do, you’ll like this book – guaranteed. It was lighthearted and funny and J.D. was an absolute delight! Charlie definitely had her faults, but they were things I could relate to. I also loved the genuine friendship she sheared with her best friend throughout the story. I feel like so many holiday books revolve around someone being grumpy and anti-Christmas. This was a refreshing twist with everyone excited and full of Christmas spirit. I also loved that so much of the book was about finding the perfect gifts for the Secret Santa exchanges. I adore gift giving and it was fun to read about people who found as much joy in it as I do.

Overall, I loved this book. It was one of my favorites of the year! I think it’ll definitely be a re-read every December. One of my favorite parts about the book was the almost constant interaction between Charlie and J.D. That made the whole story a lot more entertaining and fast paced. It was such a sweet book that will bring anyone a smile this Christmas!

Cozy Christmas Reads: Heartwarming Books for the Christmas Season

cozy christmas

Every year around Thanksgiving I start to feel the deep seated need to be cozy – snuggling in with candles, decorative tree lights, piles of blankets, and books that are delightfully filled with Christmas cheer.  I try to hold off on holiday books until two weeks before Christmas, but often give in sooner. December is such a magical month, why not add to the magic by filling your mind with books that will only enhance your Christmas spirit? It’s one of my favorite parts of the season!

I’ve come up with a rather extensive list of suggestions for your own cozy Christmas reads! I’ll start with books I’ve read and loved in the past and then share what I’m planning to read this year.

Tried and True Christmas Authors

Richard Paul Evans

Truly one of the best authors I’ve ever read. His books will make you cry, laugh, and remember for years to come. (His The Walk series is incredible!) Richard Paul Evans’ Christmas books are especially meaningful and I highly anticipate reading a new one each year. There are so many to choose from, but here are a few of my favorites.

Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans

Lost December by Richard Paul Evans

  • Lost December – A modern day retelling of the prodigal son. Beautiful!

The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

The Christmas Box

  • The Christmas Box – Another three book series. Perhaps the Christmas books he’s most well known for, earning a mention on the cover of all the other books! Looking back at my book spreadsheet for the last seven years, I’m not sure I’ve actually read this one! I’ll have to add it to my list asap.

Holly Martin

Martin has written a handful of delightful books, and her Christmas series are particularly fun. They’re a bit more on the fluffy side, but not so much that they’ll bore you or be too predictable. I highly recommend any of her books!

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

One Hundred Christmas Proposals

Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Shoes

  • The Christmas Shoes  – If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, surely you’ve heard this song! While the song definitely gets annoying, the book is so fantastic! This is the first in a seven (though it appears more like five related books) part series called The Christmas Hope series. I’ve read the first four and they’re basically guaranteed to make you cry. Which is a huge bonus in my opinion! I want all the feels in my reading life, but especially around Christmas.

Debbie Macomber

Macomber is an author you’ve surely at least heard of, even if you’ve never read her books. She seemed to turn out at least one Christmas book a year and there are tons of backlog you could read. As an author, a lot of her books are hit or miss to me. But there are a few Christmas books in particular that I really enjoyed.

Twelve Days of Christmas

Starry Night

Melody Carlson

Carlson was always one of my go tos for a great Christmas novel. I’ve missed some of her newest books, but definitely plan on adding them to my list.

Christmas at Harrington's

The Christmas Pony

Individual Christmas Books that I Loved

Comfort and Joy

Comfort & Joy – Kristin Hannah is an amazing storyteller. This Christmas book blew me away.

Paper Angels

Paper Angels – Beautiful book about a simple act of kindness changing the lives of each other.

Christmas Roses

Christmas Roses – An historical Christmas romance that is sure to win your heart.

A Christmas to Remember

A Christmas to Remember – With a similar writing style as Holly Martin, any Christmas books by Jenny Hale are sweet and endearing.

The Paper Bag Christmas

The Paper Bag Christmas – An unexpected delight about the true meaning of Christmas spirit found by two boys volunteering their time in a hospital.

Remembering Christmas

Remembering Christmas – Joy is often found in unexpected circumstances.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street – I just read this one and think it’s a delightful story full of heart for  people of any age!

What I’m Looking Forward to Reading this December

The Noel Diary

The Noel Diary – St. Nick will be bringing me this book in its physical form because I’m confident I’m going to love and treasure it. From the reviews, it looks essential for jumping into the Christmas season!

Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright – This year’s Macomber novel looks to be one of my favorite tropes. Fall in love on paper and then realize you don’t like the person in real life. It’s at the top of my list!

Last Christmas in Paris

Last Christmas in Paris – Historical fiction is not a genre I usually gravitate toward. But this book in particular looks beautiful and bittersweet – the type of book I generally love. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Glad Tidings

Glad Tidings – Bakers and writers, what more could I want in a story! This looks like another promising Macomber holiday treat.

We'll Always Have Chrsitmas

We’ll Always Have Christmas – Another book about a baker! I read a lot of books about bakers. This one looks especially fun and endearing.

Christmas at Hope Cottage

Christmas at Hope Cottage – This looks like the perfect book to read right around Christmas. Full of cheer and magic!

Thanks for checking out my list! I would love to hear your favorite cozy Christmas reads!

Book Review: Copycat by Alex Lake

Copycat by Alex Lake

Copycat by Alex Lake
Rating: 3.5 stars

Sarah Havenant is a wife, doctor, and mother of three young children. One day an acquaintance from high school sends her a facebook friend request asking which profile is the real one. This sends Sarah into a horrifying spiral of realizing someone is stalking her, messing with her mind, and ultimately out to ruin her life from the inside out. What started as a facebook duplication, turns much more terrifying as Sarah starts getting packages that she bought from her own account, letters addressed to her husband in her handwriting that she has no recollection of writing, and just missed kidnappings of her children. As the threats become more real she starts to lose her grip on reality while her husband and friends begin to lose trust in her.

I was a little lost at the beginning of this book. There was a lot of rambling and confusion. Occasional chapters referenced vague things that happened ten years in the past, but they seemed so disconnected that there was no way to tie the two story lines together. I mistakenly thought the narrator of the first flashback chapter was Sarah, which left me confused for the entire book and her connection to that storyline. As the stalking became more intense, I was more interested in the story. You start to wonder if Sarah is an unreliable narrator, or if something much more sinister is going on. You’ll definitely get answers. Answers that are maybe too well explained!

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but didn’t find it to be extremely memorable. There was one small part of the storyline that was left pretty open ended, which bothered me quite a bit. You find out the truth, but I personally was more horrified with other details that were just glossed over. It’s an intriguing psychological thriller, just not one of the best.

Book Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
Rating: 4.5 stars

The Vanderbeekers, are a mixed race family with five children living in a brownstone in New York City. The siblings consist of 12 year old twins Isa and Jessie, 9 year old Oliver, 6 year old Hyacinth, and 4 year old Laney. They also have a pet dog, cat, and bunny. They rent their apartment from their grumpy and mean third floor landlord Mr. Biederman. They also have an elderly couple as second floor neighbors who are basically part of their family. In an unexplained act of cruelty, “The Biederman” tells the Vanderbeeker family that he will not allow them to renew their lease, giving them less than two weeks at the end of December to find somewhere else to live. As the only home they’ve ever known and as much a part of their identity as their family members, the siblings ban together to come up with a variety of plans to try and change Mr. Biederman’s mind to let them stay in their apartment.

This is another middle grade book that I chose to read because of the cover. I love the cover! I was also hoping I’d read it, fall in love with it, and share it with Caden. I did love it, but I’m not sure it’s the type of book Caden would enjoy (not enough adventure). But I’d highly recommend it for any young to middle grade readers who enjoy heartwarming and family focused reads. The book is definitely entertaining enough for an adult. It takes place around Christmas, though is not necessarily Christmas driven. It’s more about their family, the community that supports them, and the love they want to extend to the people in their lives.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was endearing and sweet. Each sibling had very clearly defined personalities and roles they took in the family. They got into regular sibling arguments, but also continued to act as teammates with the ultimate goal of saving their brownstone. They focus on acts of kindness and manage to maintain an optimistic attitude about their change in circumstances. It’s a wonderfully positive and charming story. Pick it up for yourself, or the young reader in your life!

Book Review: I’d Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare

I'd Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare

I’d Rather Be Reading by Guinevere De La Mare
Rating: 2 stars

I had such high hopes for this book when I saw it on amazon. The title obviously catches my eye because I’d pretty much always rather be reading! And the picture on the front seems to guarantee the book will be filled with other wonderful bookish art. It’s also just an assumption that this will be a large coffee table type book. After reading reviews I did come out that it’s quite tiny and compact. But I still requested it in a book exchange I recently took part in, hoping it would exceed my expectations. It didn’t.

First of all, there are almost no “essays” in the book. Just a few very short chapters. I loved the beginning because the author seemed to have the same story as me. I also was a huge bookworm as a child. I loved books like crazy – until my AP English class. Just like her, the pretentious discussions and constant analysis was just so much more than I wanted. I liked reading books for enjoyment. I still only like reading books for enjoyment. Anyway, I thought after that first chapter the rest of the book would follow in the same vein. But in a future essay it was all about focusing only on literary fiction and reading the classics. It was basically pointed out that unless a book is a classic work of fiction, it’s not worth reading. I don’t like hearing that! It really turned me off to the rest of the book.

The photos and artwork were just okay. It was certainly interesting, but I would have enjoyed it so much more if they were bigger! I also would have greatly appreciated the title of the work and the artist on the same page. Instead, the artist’s name is just listed at the back of the book.

Overall, I was gravely disappointed by this book. It had the potential to be amazing. Instead it felt like a very rushed and ridiculously simple way to make money. Anybody could have whipped up a book like that. Throw about 70 pictures together (mostly photographs, not actual bookish art like I had hoped) and ask three people to write a two page essay. There could have been hundreds of prints, at least fifty essays! Anyway, it’s fun to thumb through. It took me about half an hour to read in its entirety. But it’s definitely not worth buying.

Book Review: Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge
Rating: 5 stars

Barry is an American who just left his finance career to pursue his true love of painting. Sophie is a French architect who is on her honeymoon. They are both in a small plane over the South Pacific when a lightning storm and lack of fuel causes their plane to crash. They are the lone survivors and both happen to end up on the same very tiny deserted island. They have almost no salvaged supplies and the only food available to them are bananas and the occasional clam. And yet somehow they manage to survive, suffering sadness and hopelessness which turns into a rabid hatred for each other, and eventually morphs into love and respect.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s told through the eyes of both characters as well as occasional chapters by a narrator pointing out random facts about the island and how it came to be. The more I read, the more I began to love the story. Barry and Sophie do not start as very likeable characters. They both have a lot of spunk and they do not like each other. At all. But over their years on the island, they become closer and start depending on each other in ways that only two people on a deserted island can. They develop a pure and beautiful love that holds them together through every challenge they face.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It’s a beautiful redemptive story about being abundantly happy with what’s in front of you and what you already have, no matter how little it might be. It’s about the purity of a relationship that can bloom without outside distractions. And it’s about doing everything you can to make another person smile as you challenge them to follow their dreams. Even when you’re fighting for mere survival on a tiny island with almost no hope of rescue. I loved this book and I know it will stay with me for a very long time.