Happy Saturday friends! I wanted to hop on and share with you what I’m reading this weekend…
And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall. I am sure you have seen this book all over the place. I have friends who LOVE this book; for some it is a favorite of 2020. I’m currently 183 pages into it, and there are 379 pages total. It’s no secret: I don’t know if this is considered a thriller or if it’s a mystery..but it follows Grayson Sykes. Gray is an investigator tasked to track down this woman, Isabel. The thing with Isabel is that it becomes pretty clear that she wants to remain missing, kind of like Grayson.
This is. very procedural type of story, so if that is something you’re interested in, I think you’ll love it. I am enjoying the attention to every single detail and seeing how Grayson pieces things together and is able to make people comfortable with her to get the attention she wants.
Let me know what you’re reading this weekend. Make it a good one!
Happy Friday Friends! I hope you are doing well, I hope this week was amazing for you and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that your weekend is even better. This past week was my second week of Early Fall Semester and I’m taking my Introduction to Historian’s Craft course and an English class, Literature of War. Why didn’t anyone warn me that saving an English class for the end of undergrad when my history course work was going to become more difficult, wasn’t the smartest idea? Jeez! For my English class I had to read Starship Troopers, answer two questions and write an essay this week. For my History course I had to do a bunch of library research work in preparation for my final research paper. It was a lot but I was determined to have my weekend be mine and got it all finished yesterday. So cheers to the freakin weekend!
This morning I began reading A Heartfelt Christmas Promise by Nancy Naigle which I have out from Netgalley. I am literally only one chapter in, so I don’t have much to report on it just yet. On my nightstand I have Sunrise Cabin by Stacey Donovan which I have been gradually (aka, slowly) making my way through the past couple of weeks. The story is set during September, and has a gorgeous fall cover; so if you’re looking for something early fall specific, I think it is a good choice. I also have The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis which is book 2 in her Lucky Harbor series. I read and enjoyed book one recently, so I am definitely looking forward to diving back into a new town with new people (new to me) created by Jill Shalvis.
It’s been a few weeks now doing distance learning with the kids and we have found ourselves in a groove. I was a little nervous; wondering, can we do this? Can I do this by myself on days when my husband has to work? We received an email recently though that their school has had a student with a confirmed case of covid so our decision to keep them home was the best thing we could have done. It is crazy to think that we are in September and we are still living with this invisible killer surrounding us whereas in other countries life seems to be back to normal.
Things that have been making me happy recently:
Crock Pot meals- this week I made taco soup one day and chicken noodle soup the next day, both in the crock pot. I use my crock pot a lot throughout the year but I go a little crazy with usage during this time of year. There is just something about fall and winter that screams dump a bunch of meals in the slow cooker and go to me!
I honestly can’t remember how I stumbled upon Criminalia but I did and I’m so thankful I did! I am hooked on this podcast. In the podcast’s first season they are discussing women who used poison throughout history to commit murder. Each episode is between 30-45 minutes and the hosts end it with a poison of choice, which is basically a cool drink they discovered. I love it, and can’t recommend it enough especially if you’re a history nerd (like me) and specifically interested in women’s history and criminology.
Another podcast I’ve recently begun listening to is The Horror! (Old Time Radio) and the most recent episode I listened to is The House With A Past. I am really hoping to get more into listening to old radio shows. I think it is this part of history that is slowly fading away. I know radio is still very prevalent and hey-now we have podcasts, but there is something about listening to an acted out horror script or comedy that I feel like I missed out on. I definitely recommend checking it out if that’s something you’re be interested in.
As far as this weekend, I am planning to read and watch movies. I’d love to maybe make a batch of cookies (I’m not the best baker) so we shall see how that goes. I really try to make this time of year fun of the kids. We watch a lot of scary movies and do popcorn. I’ll buy little pumpkin sugar cookies at the grocery store and we’ll eat those. We don’t have a ton of extra money but I try to do what I can to make it a special time for them because it’s a special time for me.
I’d love to know how your week went and if you have any cool weekend plans. If you have any podcast recommendations, please send them my way! Take care of yourselves, xx!
Thank you to Forever Publishing and Netgalley for the opportunity read and review Home For the Holidays early. It’s expected publication date is 22 September 2020. *all opinions are my own* I rated it a 4/5 Stars
In, Home For the Holidays we follow three sisters; Rose who is engaged to this guy Gregory in Savannah who comes from a very prominent, snooty (sorry, not sorry!) family-whom honestly if she marries into, she’ll be miserable; Magnolia who has a loving husband but the couple has been experiencing infertility issues and it’s causing a strain on their relationship and Dahlia who is divorced with two kids but her ex still relies on her A LOT.
The sisters are all spread out across the country, and each receive a message from their Aunt Sassy in Colorado to come visit her during Christmas. This message reaches all of them during moments where they realize they could really use a break from it all and time with one another. So they all go, and the story goes from there.
READER EXPECTATIONS I went into Home For The Holidays expecting a women’s fiction novel and while in the beginning the journeys of each woman felt very prevalent, had you rooting for each of them and had me thinking this was going to be a very strong women’s fiction novel, it did wind up being more of a romance. As a romance reader, I’m cool with that though the path we were on in the beginning was so strong, I would have been fine had the romance aspect been nixed. Sounds crazy coming from a romance reader, right? I guess what I’m saying is that in the beginning I felt we were in a certain lane and I was like HELL YEAH, DOWN FOR THE RIDE, then we switched lanes and that was cool but I kept eye’ing the other lane..like..it wasn’t so bad over there. (it makes sense in my head, okay?)
Once the girls are in Colorado with Aunt Sassy they try to piece together why their Mother and Aunt Sassy’s relationship as sisters came to an end amidst both Dahlia and Rose having romances. I really liked Dahlia’s romance with Ike; she was the very typical woman/mom who made her family her priority for so long that she never stopped to realize that she has to have a life too so it was cute to see things between her and Ike bloom. I liked Ike. He’s the towns doctor and just a really good guy. With Rose’s situation with Colt-it doesn’t register at first why he is so standoffish to her in the beginning but despite whatever feelings may be growing, she is still engaged to Gregory, who does show up in Colorado with the intentions of packing her up and bringing her back to Savannah. I have some thoughts about the sister Magnolia which will be in the spoiler section so I’ll leave you with this for now-This should definitely be on your 2020 Christmas reading list if you’re a lover of Christmas romances. It was Nice to see a romance author dipping her toe a tad into women’s fiction. I loved the descriptions of the Colorado snow and I will never tire of our main character (s) inheriting something. I love that trope/story line in stories.
SPOILERS The reason this book isn’t a five star read for me: The sister Magnolia and her husband Eric have been having infertility issues and brace yourself…..she finds out she’s pregnant in the book. I know christmas time is the time for happiness, and joy and miracles and I want every woman in the world who wants to experience Motherhood to have that experience BUT I think the plot twist of “oh the one time we “made love” rather than “having sex because the doctor gave us this window” is the time we actually got pregnant” can be really hurtful to women who that doesn’t happen to. Eric expresses to Mags in the beginning that he doesn’t want to keep trying anymore-not because he’s an asshole but because he’s tired of seeing his wife hurting. He’s tired of seeing what the constant failure is doing to his wife. She goes to Colorado and finds out that she’s pregnant. I think this book had the opportunity to really bring hope and shed light on the fact that there are other options to becoming parents OR coming to the understanding that for now let’s take a break or let’s be happy ever after as just us. I think it could have done so many other things, but to give us the OH, I’M PREGNANT, while hopeful, is also just now how it goes for a lot of women who experience this kind of difficulty.
What a week it has been! My kids kicked off a new school year, doing distance learning from home on Tuesday and it has been a ride! My oldest two are 5th graders (I can’t believe it!) and my youngest is in kindergarten. With my oldest two I am really trying to use this year to instill more independence in them; get up on your own, get yourself ready without me hovering, make your breakfast and then we’ll get started. I have definitely been the hovering Mom for the longest and it’s time I put some of the responsibility on them; it’s taken multiple conversations with my therapist about this before it really sunk in.
Last night I finished another book I was granted the opportunity to read early thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley. It is a 2021 release called The Lost Manuscript by Cathy Bonidan. You can read my full review here. It is full of plenty of gorgeous quotes and quotes that had me in the feels such as:
“I’m sure there are many of us who are still holding on to the memory of interrupted love affairs, left dreaming of what might have come next, unable to live it.”
“We dreamed of a text that would divert the anger of wounded hearts, that would shatter the hatred we feel for the unknown, chase away the clouds that leave premature wrinkles on still-young faces, a text that could provoke unbelievable and unforgettable encounters between people.“
The story is told entirely in letter format and while it kicked off pretty strong for me, along the way I lost interest mostly because it became a bit hard to keep up with who was who and how they factored into the story. This should absolutely be a five star read for me, so when it comes out I will be snagging a physical copy to give it a reread.
Things that have been making me happy this week
2020 has been a complete dumpster fire of a year. Literally one thing after another, you don’t have much time to process one hard thing before something else happens. I ordered a Bible Journal and have been following Bible Journalers on Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration but really, it’s your thing! Do it as you choose. I have different Bible Study plans on Pinterest and read a different scripture every night. I mention this to say, this has given me something to look forward to at night before I go to bed and I hope you have something you do for yourself at the end of the day, even if it is only 5-10 minutes.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge lover of Hallmark and I’m obsessed with their Podcast, The Bubbly Sesh! Shawl, who is one of the hosts of The Bubbly Sesh has started a Podcast of her own called Feel The Good Podcast. Shawl has already released three episodes for us to listen to and if you’re in the need for positive conversations to brighten your day, I can’t recommend it enough. Check her website outhere for more information and subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen to them.
Chatting with my girlfriends! I don’t think my girlfriends know how much our random chats about books, dinner ideas, jobs we’ve had in the past and whatever other random topics we come up with, mean to me! Knowing that they are only a message away makes this life of self-isolation not so bad.
As for this weekend, I start back to school on Monday so I want to live it up! aka, movie marathoning, coffee and tons of reading! I have about 5 Hallmark movies on dvr I need to get to and a Jill Shalvis romance on my nightstand.
I hope your weekend is amazing! Until next time, take care of yourselves. xx
“You can be a mother and a poet. A wife and a lover. You can dance on the graves you dug on Tuesday, pulling out the bones of yourself you began to miss.”
Once in a while, a book shows up on your doorstep & for millions of reasons that add up to you choosing to read it as soon as you rip off the wrapping-you sit down and begin reading. I sat down this afternoon and began reading What Kind of Woman and couldn’t put it down. As a Woman, A Wife, A Mother- I felt so seen, so understood and received that overwhelming but refreshing confirmation that I’m not at this journey alone.
I am a lover of poetry. To my soul, it is one of my favorite things to read, but I get it.. a lot of what comes out nowadays can be so difficult to understand and can feel unreadable. Kate sticks to the basics. She magically takes ordinary words, throws them all together to create these beautiful sentences that in the end paint a beautiful real life scenario that you completely see or have seen yourself in before. We need more f*cking honesty about how tough Motherhood can be. How tough Womanhood can be. How tough married life can be. It isn’t all fairy tales and happy endings: “When I took you as a husband I did not know the deaths our love would suffer. I did not know the grave of loneliness.” Kate writes this in Curveball and ends the passage with, “even in our darkest hours, I still wait for the sound of your feet at the door.” Curveball is followed by the poem For the Advice Cards at Bridal Showers which at its core is all about time revealing loves complications but shines the light on something I think we as women tend to do; holding out hope and staying positive, “For now just remember how you felt the day you were born: desperate for magic, ready to love.”
Her poems on Motherhood, oh my goodness, “Experience will teach you two things: you are the mother, and it’s okay to let them go up the slide.” The everyday activities that also resort in a lot of anxiety, like park visits, “I am aware of dogs at the park. I am aware of men too.” “Maybe he is just a man walking or maybe he is searching for a bird to break.“
I think every woman should at some point read her poem, Robyn Hood which is all about us thinking about what we could do, could’ve done if we were able to steal all of the time back that we spent comparing ourselves to someone else and the power of assurance. I am going to reread Things My Girlfriends Teach Me everyday and meditate on this passage from To Take Back A Life, “Pick up your heavy burdens and leave them at the gate. I will hold the door for you.”
This is an absolute amazing collection. I hope that it finds you at the right time.
Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy is the romance between New York City girl Katie and resident of Evergreen, Ben. The two meet on the train heading into Evergreen and with it being a small town, their paths continuously cross. Ben is very skeptical of Katie’s motives in the beginning once he learns that she is a reporter trying to find inspiration of an article. In the past, reporters have come to Evergreen and poked fun at how seriously the town gets over the holidays and he thinks that’s what she’s there to do. In the beginning she does have intentions of writing an article on Evergreen and she is a little suspicious of all of the holiday cheer but she never showed any intention of poking fun. This is their romance.
It was kind of hard rating this book. I immediately wanted to rate it a five/five stars which who knows, maybe eventually I will? The Tidings of Joy film premiered on Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas of 2019. Of course I saw it and of course I loved it. I love the Evergreen movies. It is just really weird when a book is written after a movie versus when you’ve read and loved a book and then we get a film adaptation. With book to movie adaptations you get to see the stories you love brought to life but on one hand where is the fun with that when you saw the film first? On the second hand though, as I read this book which beat by beat was exactly like the film, I could imagine the characters in my head based off that experience.
That being said, Nancy Naigle is slowly becoming a go to for holiday romances for me. I read The Christmas Shop by her last year and really loved the spin on You’ve Got Mail and this one didn’t disappoint. She really nails the small town charm and sense of community. There is more than one love story in this one, I specifically love Hannah and Elliott’s story. I remember crying when they finally got together in the movie. I was so happy for Michelle and Thomas. I love the time capsule aspect to the story, sort of this surprise across time from Evergreen 50 years ago. It was really sweet. If you’re into sweet, Holiday romances set in small town Vermont which I’ve pulled up on Pinterest and is absolutely gorgeous during the fall and winter, I definitely think this series is a try. If you’ve already seen the film adaptations and are just nostalgic for the stories then give them a read but honestly, what you see in the movie is what you get in the book so you be the judge!
Happy Wednesday Friends. I am here with a Top 5 Wednesday post. It’s crazy. I remember when I first discovered Booktube back in 2014, I eventually began seeing Top 5 Wednesday videos float around and they were my favorite videos to watch for the longest! I am happy to see it revived. The moderators for Top 5 Wednesday are Ginger Reads Lainey and Thoughts on Tomes, and if you’re interested in checking out the group on Goodreads, click here.
I would really love to see film adaptations of both The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. While for the longest, I thought Helen Hoang was the first to write a romance with a heroine on the autism spectrum, as I’ve read through some backlists of authors, I’ve learned that’s not the case, but I am grateful to her for making me realize that is representation I hadn’t noticed and wanted more of at the time. I went into The Bride Test expecting the same very fun and sexy feel that I got with The Kiss Quotient but it was a totally different vibe, and just as excellent. We need more Asian rep in everything and I would love to see both of these on screen.
I would love the Destiny series by Beverly Jenkins to be turned into a series. I think with it following a family of brothers and their matriarch, I think there is enough with each book to carry a good tv adaptation for a couple of series. I think with the right writers and directors we could get the right amount of focus on each brother and their respective love interest and it would just be beautiful to see bought to life.
I can’t have a list without Jill Shalvis on it. She has been getting me through 2020 and all of it’s madness. I would love a tv series adapted from the Heartbreaker Bay series which she is still writing books for! About halfway through, the series does shift and focus on new characters so I think it would need the right writing team and a good director to figure out how to capture the small town within a big city feel and how to have all of Jill’s characters be featured but not have too many perspectives for viewers to have to keep up with.
The Forbidden Lust series by Aubree Pynn would be amazing. It is a sexy as hell four book series of novellas, so this adaptation would be quick but it had me on the edge of my seat from the very first page of book 1 through the last page of book 4. Things get messy in this series but in the end, the very confident, crazy about the heroines Black Men in the book go get their girls and I just loved it. I think we need more black joy on screen and this series would be amazing to see on screen.
The last series I want to see adapted would be the Magical Bookshop series by Amanda Flower. This is a cozy mystery series that is still fairly new; I believe there are only 4 books out at the moment. It is set in upstate New York in a small town; total dreamy setting. Violet and her Grandmother own the small town’s bookstore that has a mind of its own. This being a cozy mysteries series, there are off the page murders and the books in the bookstore send clues to help Violet solve the murders. It’s so fun, so cozy. I love seeing cozy mysteries brought to life in film and this is one I would definitely like to see!
That’s it from me Friends, let me know a 2020 read that you would love to see adapted into film. Happy Reading.
First and foremost, thank you to the Harlequin Publicity Team for sending me a copy of Here To Stay by Adriana Herrera in physical copy and access to the ebook on Netgalley. The expected release date is 25 August 2020.
Here To Stay is the romance between Julia Del Mar Ortiz and Rocco Quinn. These two are both New Yorkers whose paths don’t cross until they both find themselves in Dallas, Texas. Julia moved from NYC to Dallas with a boyfriend who dumped her and left shortly after they arrived and Rocco is there temporarily for a job-this job entailing having to prove to a company that Julia’s job isn’t needed.
There is so much to love about this book. I love when a location feels like an added character to the story and I loved what Adriana did with the city of Dallas in this book. Dallas represented, making it work and starting over. For Julia all I kept thinking was how huge of a city Dallas is, and to be basically left there alone after being dumped how lonely and intimidating that can feel. For Rocco it was this very tempting place of new possibilities but he was holding on very tightly to what was back home in NYC. The workplace drama is always lingering in the background; Adriana never really lets us forget the reason why there is some hesitation on the characters parts but I loved that we spent quite a bit of time seeing them get to know one another and slowly piecing together the reasons why this new city was a good fit.
I will always love found family. The Gotham Exiles is formed in the book; a group of people all from New York City now living in Dallas and it was so fun to see all of them build that support group with one another. The found family aspect was such a joy along with Julia’s family! I love when family members do too much, because that is reality for so many of us. Julia’s conversations and the scenes where her family was actually around were always so fun to read. I like what she did with both Julia’s family and the Gotham Exiles because for Rocco, his family life sucked. His parents are in this constant back and forth of abuse and I really appreciate how Adriana pointed out through Rocco and Julia having a conversation some of the long term effects of being a kid who grew up in a abusive household. His focus was on getting his sister and niece out of NYC, away from his parents. His situation is also one of those where the one whose always taking care of everyone else has to learn to let people be there for him too and in the case of Julia-he has to learn that he no longer has to go at things alone.
“We hid in those bushes and kissed and touched until we were both so turned on and disheveled all we could was slink away like thieves in the night. And I guessed we were stealing. We were trying to rob a little of time, as ours was running out.“
Domestic abuse and the deportation of immigrants were two very important topics handled amazingly in this book. Here To Stay is one that I will be recommending for a very long time, especially as a book that I think shows what the romance genre is out here doing! Educating you on everyday topics while promising a happy ever after.
“That man looks at you like you’re the answer to every question he’s ever had. Trust that you can be that to someone.”
Hello Friends, I am here to chat with you about a 2020 Christmas Romance from Forever Publishing which is expected to release on September 29th. It is The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Lizzie Shane and I was given the opportunity to read and review the book early thanks to the publisher and Netgalley.
Very rarely do I finish a book in a day, but once I got into The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and instantly knew this was a book I would read, read, read until I had it finished!
This is the romance between Ally and Ben. Ally has returned to small town Pine Hollow from New York City to assist her Grandparents with their animal rescue shelter and shortly after arriving, she learns that the town council is cancelling the shelter’s funding to use that money toward the community center after their roof caved in. The deciding factor on that vote, was Ben. Ally and Ben do not get off on the right start so when she learns that he had something to do with the vote which now gives her about four weeks to find homes for all the dogs in the shelter-this doesn’t help her already bad vibes with him. This is a romance though, so brace yourself and watch as Lizzie Shane unravels the romance between these two.
My only ‘con’ with this book is a personal preference thing, specifically something I noticed. You know how when you’re reading a book and you begin to pick up on certain words the author uses a bit too much.. Every time someone spoke to Ben, we’d get, “Ben grimaced,” I was seriously at one point, like Why is Ben grimacing all the time? Again, this is just something I noticed and it’s a really small con.
One of my issues with 2019 Christmas romances is that they didn’t really feel Christmas’ey at all and if the rest of the new releases I read this year give off the same vibes as Twelve Dogs of Christmas, I’ll be happy. Can we please get Hallmark to adapt this into a film? I think it’d be perfect. Small towns are perfect for Christmas romances. Sometimes you have to separate yourself from the hustle and bustle of the big city to figure things out and I liked seeing that with Ally. I loved her selflessness which I think you have to be when you’re rescuing and caring for animals, a lot of which have been completely discarded. I loved that entire premise to the story. Ben realizes how crappy the whole vote is that is effecting the shelter, so he goes to Ally with the idea to help her get all of the dogs adopted before the end of the year by posting photos of them in the town paper and website, as the Twelve Dogs of Christmas. They eventually get some of them on a float during the holiday parade and some get to be part of the Christmas pageant. I’ll never get tired of that close knit, small town feel and seeing people come together to help out. I am a sucker for the close proximity that working together brings and how that factors into the blooming romance so I loved seeing Ben and Ally spend time together and get to know more about one another.
Ben was so complex. He is the guardian of his niece Astrid, after her parents died. He is so consumed with getting everything right on his own, he’s one of those guys who refuses to ask for help and unintentionally pushes people away. His journey and his growth could be frustrating at times but it got to a point where Ally had to stick up for herself and put her own feelings first which leaves Ben to either get his crap together or lose the girl. Sometimes we truly do get in our own way.
As a girl living in South Texas where a beautiful white Christmas is nonexistent, I loved the descriptions of the snow and all of the holiday festivities. This was really a fun holiday romance and I am excited for more from Lizzie Shane.