Book Review: The Trouble With Christmas

christmasTitle: The Trouble With Christmas
Author: Amy Andrews
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Pages: 400
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book 2 of Credence, Colorado series
Where I got the book: BookishFirst
Date finished reading: September 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: All Suzanne St. Michelle wants is an over-the-top, eggnog-induced holiday with her best friend in Credence, Colorado. But when her hoity-toity parents insist she come home for Christmas in New York, she blurts out that her sexy landlord is actually her boyfriend and she can’t leave him—Joshy loves Christmas. The more twinkle lights the better.

Rancher Joshua Grady does not love Christmas. Or company, or chatty women. Unfortunately for him, the chattiest woman ever has rented the cottage on his ranch, invited her rich, art-scene parents, and now insists he play “fake rancher boyfriend” in a production of the Hokiest Christmas Ever. And somehow…she gets him to agree.

Apparently, he’ll do anything to get his quiet life back. At least there’s mistletoe every two feet—and kissing Suzy is surprisingly easy. But in the midst of acres of tinsel, far too many tacky Christmas sweaters, and a tree that can be seen from space, he’s starting to want what he lost when he was a kid—a family. Too bad it’s with a woman heading back to New York before the ball drops…

My Review: This book becomes available to the public today! Even though this book is the second book in a series, it works pretty well as a standalone. I think the first book might just give you a bit more background into the town and some of the supporting characters in The Trouble With Christmas. I think my favorite part of this book was the town and its interesting characters, so I feel the author has got the setting right for sure.

Suzanne St. Michelle escapes New York City for a holiday in Credence to inspire her to create her own artwork (legal art forgery is a thing and is Suzanne’s main job in NYC). She ends up renting the cottage at the ranch that Joshua Grady runs. The attraction between the two main characters, Suzanne St. Michelle and Joshua Grady, is definitely there, but it takes so long to get there. The first 100 pages were slow and somewhat boring. Much of the character development actually happens when the story picks up, so I don’t really see the need for such a long plot setup. The one big plot point from the first 100 pages that plays a recurring role throughout the story is that Joshua Grady appears to be Suzanne’s muse, so she paints him A LOT. She paints him as Michelangelo’s David, Da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man and even on a cherub. Once he discovers these paintings, he is horrified and wants those paintings (I assumed to dispose of). She ends up using the paintings as a bribe to get him to play her fake boyfriend for her parents over the holidays. I can get behind the fake boyfriend concept, but the paintings were a bit much. If I found out that someone painted me without my permission, I would definitely do what I could to legally take them and destroy them. It’s creepy and a bit stalker-like. It was a plot point I found a hard time moving passed, but I can admit that it is unique for sure.

When Suzanne’s parents arrive, the story really picks up and becomes a lot of fun. The side story is that Suzanne’s parents’ marriage is on the rocks, and so they are in Credence for their relationship as well as for their daughter, and you can’t help but support their reunification. At this point in the story, the two main characters really start to display their attraction for each other, and the line between this being a fake relationship and a real relationship gets blurred. At the end, Suzanne uses her paintings again to manipulate Joshua, and it works one more time to give the reader a nice happy ending.

I think I would have loved the story a bit more if it was just a bit shorter by cutting much of the first 100-150 pages. However, it is a romantic story with a holiday setting filled with snow and Christmas decorations. It is a nice way to start getting in the holiday spirit!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: The Book Charmer

42202000Title: The Book Charmer
Author: Karen Hawkins
Genre: Literary, Magical Realism
Publisher: Gallery Book (Simon & Schuster)
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Pages: 368
Format Read: book & ebook
Standalone or series: Book 1 of Dove Pond series
Where I got the book: BookishFirst (book) & NetGalley (ebook)
Date finished reading: July 23, 2019

Goodreads Description: New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins crafts an unforgettable story about a sleepy Southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

“A mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author), The Book Charmer is a heartwarming story about the magic of books that feels more than a little magical itself. Prepare to fall under its spell.

My Review: I was fortunate enough to receive two ARC copies of this book. I received an ebook from NetGalley so am using this as my first review for the NetGalley #Reviewathon. I received a physical copy from BookishFirst, which I look forward to passing along to someone in my book club, which meets soon.

This is a sweet story filled with likable characters. The town of Dove Pond reminds me a bit of Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls, where everyone knows everything about everyone, but unfortunately does not have a Taylor to keep the city running – until Grace moves to Dove Pond.

Grace moves to Dove Pond to afford to take care of her foster mom, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and her niece, whose mother passed away from a drug overdose. It is only natural that Grace is struggling with these new responsibilities. Throughout the story, the reader can see the everyday difficulties of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. On a personal note, as someone who watched a family member struggle with this disease, I found those moments in the book very realistic. With all these responsibilities and a stressful city clerks job, Grace is convinced by other members of the town to help organize the town’s Apple Festival, which will also hopefully save the town from financial ruin.

There is a bit of magical realism in this story that adds a some fun and intrigue to the plot. Mama G seems to be able to read people’s thoughts. The Dove family is known to have certain powers. Ava Dove has an amazing green thumb and with the plants she grows, she creates teas that help people, depending on their needs. Sarah Dove’s power is that books talk to her. The books let her know when they will be useful to someone. Sarah has a special connection with a book about Dove Pond that insists that Grace will place an important role in Dove Pond. While the book does not tell Sarah exactly know what that role is, she befriends Grace and encourages her but can she convince Grace to stay in Dove Pond?

I enjoyed this enchanting read. It was a bit repetitious at times, but the plot still managed to flow, and I enjoyed the character interaction immensely. I feel this story possessed a lot of great lessons in hope, love, compassion and the importance/power of relationships.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

WWW Wednesdays – November 7, 2018

www

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I’m making progress on my Fall Reading list for sure. Still lots more to read!

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington – audiobook

9780753557211

After passing out from exhaustion and breaking her face (cheek bone), Arianna Huffington changed her lifestyle to incorporate more sleep. In The Sleep Revolution, she explores multiple studies that have shown the many positive outcomes to getting more sleep. She discusses sleeps relationship to daily productivity, dream analysis, insomnia.

If you are like me, you have used the phrase “if only there were more hours in the day” or are just constantly fatigued. I often want to sit and read my book and end up falling asleep. It isn’t because the book isn’t entertaining. I am just tired. In The Sleep Revolution, the ideal daily pattern should be 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, and 8 hours of time for yourself. However, I don’t feel like that is a feasible pattern in society – especially in the US, where our lives are structured around work. Plus, how many of us get home from work and then have to cook, clean, take care of children, etc.? I feel that as much as we might try to manage our time better to include more sleep/rest, this has to be a change to our societal structure. I also am not into dream analysis, so I definitely could have skipped that section. Overall, though, I found this book full of useful tips (aka no reading your phone in bed) to getting a better night’s sleep and has convinced me to try to get the full 8 hours of sleep a night. This is definitely one book that we should all at least try to live by, because I think we would all be healthier, happier and more productive.

Murder Mile by Lynda LaPlante – book

37666197

This is the fourth book in a series following a British police officer named Jane Tennison. Detective Sergeant Jane Tennison responds to a call, where a body of a woman was found in an alley. This discovery is followed by other bodies located nearby. Can they find the killer before he/she kills again?

I try not to read a later book in a series, when I haven’t read the previous installments. However, I received this book from BookishFirst and was anxious to read it. I thought the author did a fantastic job setting the scene and introducing characters. I felt this book was a well done stand alone. I didn’t need to read the first three books in the series to understand the characters and the plot. (However, there are spoilers throughout that will ruin the mystery of the first three if you are interested in reading those.) Jane is a fantastic detective with great instincts, but you feel her struggles as the only woman in a task force full of men. Somehow, even when her superior is rude and nasty to her, she continues to relentlessly search for the killer and follow her instincts. The story line was full of twists, turns, and red herrings. I wished that there had been a bit more of a twist at the end with some thrilling action, but it was overall a fantastic mystery thriller that is hard to put down.

The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard – audiobook

35069547

This historical fiction is set during WWII, following the men and women that went to work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which was a city constructed as a production site for the Manhattan project. This led to the city’s nickname The Atomic City.

I know I don’t always gravitate toward historical fiction novels, but I recently loved The Masterpiece and enjoyed reading All the Light We Cannot See (another novel set during WWII), so this one looked fascinating. I have enjoyed reading about women’s roles in advancing science and thought this would be similar. I was very much disappointed. My first complaint is that based on the title, I thought the perspective of the book would be solely through the women who worked in the factories in The Atomic City. This was not the case. My second complaint is the lack of factual details or really any details that might help the reader understand what work was going on in Oak Ridge. We are suppose to feel the struggles of the characters as some of them are aware that they are helping create a weapon that could cause death and destruction, and yet the reader isn’t given the details or background of the Manhattan project to really care about those feelings. I did find it fascinating that workers weren’t allowed to know or talk about the work they did (a repeating theme throughout the book), but I still feel like we could have been given information about the tasks the women did during their work shifts. Did they all just read meters and fix accordingly? It was hard as a reader to picture myself in that time and place, because the author did little to put me there. I think the author should have focused more on certain characters and their day -to-day activities and done more research about Oak Ridge and the Manhattan project to incorporate in this novel. I overall thought it was a boring read and lacked substance.

Reading Next

So many great reads coming up that I am looking forward to! What have y’all read this week? Any recommendations? Please feel free to post your WWW Wednesdays link in the comments below if I haven’t already visited it?

HAPPY READING!!!

Fall Reading – 2018

20180924_205708

Fall is officially here. There are so many fun events in the world of books during the fall, with book festivals (I’m really hoping to go to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX this year), readathons (like Dewey’s 24 hour readathon), and PBS announcing the Great American Read. With all these fun things happening this fall, I am hoping that this will inspire me to get through the following (or at least a majority of the following) reads:

NetGalley Reads

  • The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory 
  • I Hate You, I Love You by Elizabeth Hayley 
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • Girls on the Line by Jennie Liu
  • Broken Ground by Val McDermid
  • Killer Classics by Kim Roberts
  • Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose
  • A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley

BookishFirst Reads

  • Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante 
  • Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich

Goodreads Giveaway

  • Postcards from a Stranger by Imogen Clark

Book Club Reads

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz √ 
  • Strange Things Done by Elle Wild
  • Out by Natsuo Kirino √ 
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson

Other

  • Different Seasons by Stephen King – ebook
  • The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn – book
  • Bonfire by Krysten Ritter – book
  • Rooms by Lauren Oliver – book
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware – book
  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – book
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – book
  • Raven and Other Favorite Poems by Edgar Allen Poe – book 
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers – book
  • Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward – audiobook
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – audiobook 
  • Kiss Me, Kill Me by Ann Rule – audiobook 
  • My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan – audiobook √ 
  • Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann – audiobook
  • Endurance by Scott Kelly – audiobook
  • The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre – audiobook 
  • The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman – audiobook 
  • Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White – audiobook √ 
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright – audiobook √ 
  • The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington – audiobook 
  • The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard – audiobook 
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson – audiobook

What are you looking forward to reading this Fall?

Hope you all have a productive Fall Reading season!!! Happy Reading!!!