Recents

Happy January dear friends! I am currently at one of my favorite cafe spots and being so I’m done with the school work I am going to do for the day, I wanted to check in and share what my recent reads are.

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So far in the month of January I have read 13 books. I have been craving authors who bring me comfort, romantic comedies and paranormal romance. Are we friends on Goodreads? We should be, I’d love to keep up with you and your reading. If we aren’t, click here for my profile. I am determined to write reviews (regardless of how much or little I have to say) for everything I read.

  • Lucky In Love by Jill Shalvis was my first read of 2021 (and last read of 2020, hah!)
  • Hot Demon Nights by Elle James was up next! It was a short, paranormal romance that I enjoyed. and yay! I can finally say I’ve read a romance with zombies in it.
  • At Last by Jill Shalvis
  • Forever and A Day by Jill Shalvis–so yeah, I had a Saturday where I binged two Jill Shalvis romances in a day. While I love this author and am enjoying making my way through this series, I don’t know if binging a small town romance series like this is the best idea I’ve ever had. After reading these two in the same day, it felt like I’d been reading the same.exact.story!
  • Santa Baby by Cassandra B aka my love, Aubree Pynn. If Aubree wrote my grocery list I’d read it and love it! She’s amazing. I was in the mood for holidays but quick! and Aubree delivered!
  • The Off Limits Rule by Sarah Adams
  • It Had To Be You by Jill Shalvis
  • Ghost Moon by Kathryn Knight which I have had downloaded on Audible since October when I was determined to read before mood-reader-brain kicked in and I was no longer feeling it!
  • Eight Naughty Nights by Nicole Falls. One of the best first sentences in a book that I’ve read in a while!
  • You Up? by J Nichole A very sexy guy next door erotic novelette!
  • Always On My Mind by Jill Shalvis
  • The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult This was my first Jodi Picoult. This book has me written all over it! It should have been a five star read but it was a bit slow at times and I think the author tried balancing one too many storylines, that it was difficult at first to keep up!
  • How To Catch A Queen by Alyssa Cole
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I hope you’re well! I hope you’re safe. Let me know what you’re currently reading.

Sunday Coffee

Hello dear friends. It has been such a long time since I’ve typed a Sunday Coffee, so I’m a little nervous but I missed these posts. I’ve really missed blogging in general but trying to balance blogging with motherhood, college, kids doing school at home and all the other things that hold the universe up on a day to day basis became a bit much. Who knows what this year has in store and if things will be any better, but I want to make rekindle my love affair with blogging.

So I am currently on a break from school until the 11th of this month. I was accepted into my college’s Masters in Teaching program which I’m very intimidated, nervous and excited about. Things happen so fast. One moment I’m retiring from the military and becoming a stay at home mom and full time college student and in the blink of an eye my Bachelors is completed and I’m faced with what now? For about five minutes I was hit with the anxiety of, I’m 34 years old and am completely starting over, wtf! I did the military since I was 18 years old and now that phase of life is completely over. Honestly, I’m scared shitless to start over in a career that I’ve always wanted to do but veered from that path for a while. I’m really hoping that the nervousness will ease with now being in a degree program designed for teaching. *cheers to making moves this year*

Reading wise, I binged two romances by one of my favorite romance authors yesterday, Jill Shalvis. I have slowly been making my way through her Lucky Harbor series. I read books five and six so I’m smack dab in the middle of the series now and am antsy to see if I can finish the whole thing before school starts back. While I’m enjoying the series, I’m not enjoying it as much as the Heartbreaker Bay series which was my first series by her. This series is older though and in a lot of ways just feels different, hits different, lands differently than Heartbreaker Bay did. Lucky Harbor is a literal small town with small town antics and Heartbreaker Bay was in a big city that felt like a small town but one thing Heartbreaker Bay had that I’m missing with Lucky Harbor was the humor. Maybe that’s just something that came with time. Maybe I started in the wrong place? Maybe I should’ve started with the old and worked my way up to the new..I don’t know, what do you think is the smartest way to tackle an author’s bibliography? Start from the beginning and work your way forward or vice versa? I think starting with one of Jill’s new series is what hooked me! I fell in love with her as an author. I think maybe had I started with her older stuff, I may not have fallen so hard for her. I may not have been convinced..

happy Sunday.

the great 2020 reading realization

Hello dear friends. We made it to another year. Though I am greeting 2021 with open arms, I am also giving it the side eye and greeting it with a dash of hesitation and nervousness because let’s be honest; 2020 was a crap show! Being a reader, I turned to reading a lot in 2020. It wasn’t about the escape really, it was mostly that comfortable companionship I’ve always felt when I spend time reading a book. I needed that last year. hah, literally yesterday! And while it did what it was supposed to do, I have thoughts! and now that we are in a new year, I definitely want to do better at things.

Case in point #1..yesterday I took a trip to Barnes and Noble. I didn’t have anything in particular in mind to buy but wanted to go browse their shelves. I’m in the mood for romantic comedies and chick lit and wanted to go see what they had. Well, I can’t enter Barnes and Noble and completely ignore the shelves smack dab in the front of the store upon entering. I can’t ignore shelf upon shelf of beautiful hard cover releases, I have to look. So, look I did! And a few titles actually caught my eye. What’s the issue? Summaries may sound good, the cover may be intriguing, it may even be an author I have been interested in giving a go. So, how do I ruin this perfect opportunity of possibly reading a new favorite book? I whip out my phone, go to goodreads, type in the title and start looking at the ratings and reviews. Here’s the thing: I love reviews. I have a select few reviewers who I trust and will legit haul or not haul a book based off what they have to say but, my issue is..this unsettling feeling that I am possibly missing out on a book that I could truly love all because I turned to the opinions of someone else to justify my buying the book or not. As someone who truly believes a group of us could read the same book together, but we are all going to read different books and get different things out of it..how did I become so reliant on the opinions and reviews of others?

From time to time, I like to go into books knowing the bare minimum but I’m also a mood reader so I mostly read the synopsis to be sure the book is what I’m in the mood for. I miss the days where the synopsis was all I needed to decide to pick up the book. I wasn’t looking to find out what other readers had already said about it. If it sounded good, I read it. I want to get back to that. It sounds very cliche but honestly, a lot of my reading goals for 2021 center around taking it back to basics; attempting to be as much of a “normal reader” as possible.

My current reading mood is paranormal and romantic comedies. It just kind of hit me towards the end of November..I really wanted to read both of those subgenres so I am going to focus a lot of my reading on those for a while. Paranormal is definitely transporting me to other worlds and giving me the much needed mental escape and romantic comedies give me the dose of humor I need. I read over 250 books in 2020 but only had 12 saved as favorites. I am really hoping that by taking my time, savoring and spending time with books I’m truly in the mood for, that I will have more favorites this year. Maybe, maybe not; but in 2020 I rushed through so many books that again, I feel like I potentially missed out on new favorites.

I realized I was so focused on hustling through books to try and reach my 115 book goal and to constantly have a new book to talk about that I was picking up quick reads not necessarily because I wanted to read them but because they were quick and I wanted to feel accomplished. I wanted to feel that satisfaction of finishing something. 2021 is going to be all about going with the flow; if it takes an entire week to finish a book then so be it! Who cares? No one is telling me I have to finish a book a day. I’ve come to realize that no one is pressuring me to do anything. the pressure has all been pressure I’ve put on myself. so, cheers to taking it easy this year.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Her Inconvenient Christmas Reunion

“He was the man he had left her to become.”

Her Inconvenient Christmas Reunion by Nina Singh is the childhood sweethearts second chance Christmas romance with a dash of travel and the ONE BED trope sprinkled on top..one bed in a romantically decorated Parisian hotel-between Izadora and Zayne. These two were a thing once upon a time..until they weren’t. One day Zayne just left with no explanation. Well, he’s returned to his small Napa Valley town after his aunt has passed away and left him her winery, but only half of it. The other 50% belongs to Izadora aka Izzy. She leaves them both the message that they “need each other.”

I don’t really have any cons with this one. It’s less than 200 pages, a Harlequin romance, so I went in knowing what I was going to get. We get straight to the point to make everything come together in a short amount of time. For so long, Izadora has harbored the hurt and disappointment of the love of her life just leaving with no explanation. As the reader you are privy to why Zayne left and this secret looms for basically the entire book; Izzy doesn’t learn the reason why until the end–I’ll give you a hint; small town bad boy falls in love with the driven, determined smart girl and could totally be a distraction. Zayne goes away and gets his shit together to become the kind of man Izzy deserves but because of the LIES about himself he has grown to believe based off how he was raised; absent father, mother who took off to travel the world leaving him to be bounced around from family member to family member-even though he has his crap together there is this fear of still not being good enough for her.

For Izzy, she’s this character who has been living her life with the cards being dealt to her without really knowing the cards were even being dealt. Decisions that affected her, were made for her without her even knowing it.

“her insides were shaking. He was really here, standing before her. Her first love, the one who’d crushed her heart when he’d just up and left town on a sudden whim. She hadn’t been enough to keep him nearby.”

This is what this book tackles and so much more in less than 200 pages. It’s a story with a lot of threads to it and everything comes together nicely in the end. I really have come to adore second chance romances especially when it has that childhood sweetheart spin to it. I’m definitely looking forward to more from Nina Singh.

Rated: 4/5 Stars on Goodreads

One Wedding One Christmas by Therese Beharrie

A Wedding One Christmas was my first read by Therese Beharrie and won’t be my last, for sure. I discovered her this fall while browsing through the different Harlequin lines on their website and seen that she has quite a few titles under the Harlequin Romance line and I have a couple Kimani romances titled by her as well. I get very excited when I discover a new to me woman of color author writing for Harelquin, so I was so happy when their publicity team sent me A Wedding One Christmas by her.

This story takes place over the course of one day and is set in South Africa. Hello, location I’ve yet to read a book set in! I think setting a book that is over 200 pages in one day is a bold move, and I’d imagine hard to pull off. This is the romance between Angie and Ezra who meet after Angie coincidentally stops at a location she used to visit with her family prior to her father’s passing away and is dressed basically identical to the bridesmaids at the location for a wedding. She is constantly being mistaken for a bridesmaid, stops in a cafe and asks Ezra if she can sit with him and if he can go along and pretend that they are together.

What made this book work for me is that you don’t focus so much on the ‘time’ element because we spend a lot of time in the minds of the characters. We see them, in the words of my sister, ‘making it make sense,’ all their internal stuff! If you are an internal conflict person, this book delivers on that! Both Angie and Ezra have their ‘stuff,’ and we spend a lot of time witnessing the tug of war, back and forth that comes along with their attempts to rationalize this ‘stuff.’

At the core of this story is that on a random day, two people who have been battling their own ‘stuff,’ wind up at the same place and sitting apart from one another at a cafe. I think a ‘fake couple’ storyline lends itself perfectly to the story because it causes these two random people to spend a lot of time together which of course leads to conversation and them getting to know more about one another. Then there is the worry about ‘time.’ We’ve only just met, but I’m getting feelings and this doesn’t make sense! But it’s like, how do you deal with yourself tomorrow, after having walked away, and it hits you that you just walked away from your person?

It’s chatty and the chatter can make it feel slightly like the story is dragging but it’s one of those situations where I encourage you to just hold on! The author makes it make sense in the end.

4/5 Stars

Love At The Icicle Cafe by Denise Wheatley

Love At the Icicle Cafe by Denise Wheatley

Releases 29 December 2020

Tule Publishing

About: Mina Richards is a California lawyer who grew up loving to bake and helping her Mom out in the family co-owned cafe in small town Gosberg, Germany. Her parents let her know that they, along with the other couple they own the cafe (the Icicle Cafe) back in Germany with, want to sale it so they can fully enjoy their retirement. Mina’s Dad winds up having an accident and physically can’t fly to Germany so they ask Mina to do. Once back in Germany, she meets up with Scott, the co-owner’s son and the chef who has been holding down the cafe. Scott is unenthusiastic about selling. The more the two spend time together, romance ensues.

Love At the Icicle Cafe was my first Denise Wheatley but definitely won’t be my last! This book was an unexpected surprise. I went into it expecting a really sweet holiday read because the cover just screams cozy Christmas vibes; and while it was that, it was so much more. This book isn’t just atmospheric, dreamy winter descriptions and mouthwatering scenes of baking desserts; it’s also heavy and intense from beginning to end.

Mina is in the run for partner at her law firm. Obviously, traveling to Germany physically removes her from her day to day and allows the guy she’s up against to perform his snake in the grass tactics but sometimes I think we have to physically remove ourselves from our day to day to look at our situation and decide if it’s truly what we want. When reading from Mina’s perspective, you understand that she has worked very hard to get where she is but it’s also very obvious that she’s working in an environment that she may find herself continuously in this cycle of maybe next time. Though she is on an entirely different continent, for most of the book, Mina still prioritizes work until things happen and she doesn’t. What I like specifically with Mina’s character is that the author makes nothing easy on her. Even with her romance with Scott; we know it is going to come at a price. Mina finds herself teetering between two worlds; the one she worked very hard to build but wasn’t at her happiest and this new one full of possibilities but is very far away.

Scott and Mina dated briefly in high school so I loved the second chance/childhood sweet hearts aspect to their romance. I loved the close proximity with Mina stepping in for her parents and taking an active role in the cafe. I loved that the cafe symbolizes a place that has come to mean so much to the community and that small town determination to hold onto the small businesses rather than allow structures to be taken over by big corporations.

Overall, this is a quick, really well written holiday romance starring two people of color. I can’t recommend it enough!

The Cozy Autumn Book Tag

Happy Thanksgiving friends! I don’t want autumn 2020 to pass me by without doing this tag. I saw my friend Spencer @ Intentionally Bookish on Youtube do this tag, and wanted to do it! The tag’s original creator is The Book Belle.

1. What book always reminds you of fall/autumn? –It’s hard to narrow this down to a specific title because while I think there are books that are perfect to read in the fall, it’s hard to find books that specifically mention the fall in them. Some that come to mind though, are Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier because you can’t go wrong with a gothic romance and suspense, and another title by her, Frenchman’s Creek which actually takes place during the summer but something about the very first chapter gives me fall vibes.

2. What is your favorite autumnal book cover?–Sunrise Cabin by Stacey Donovan

3. What is your favorite autumnal drink to read with?-One of our local coffee shops, Summer Moon, has a drink I tried for the first time this year called Autumn Moon. It is out of this world good! I still get the taste of my typical favorite but they add a dash of cinnamon and voila! It’s wonderfulness in a 16 oz cup.

4. Do you prefer to read late at night or early in the morning?-I am a way better early in the morning reader. I go through phases where my sleep is really thrown off and I’ll use that two in the morning awareness to get some kindle reading done, but it doesn’t happen that often.

5. Halloween is coming! What is your favorite spooky read?–I think everyone should read The Headmaster by Tiffany Reisz.

6. What is the ultimate comfort read for you?–Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan. There are few books that I reread butt Miracle on 5th Avenue is one I need to experience all over again, every year.

7. What is your favorite autumnal reading snack?–I love when Starbucks puts out their pumpkin loaf.

8. What is your favorite autumnal candle to burn whilst reading? –Cider Lane from Bath & Body Works. It is too sweet for some, but it’s my all time favorite candle.

9. When you’re not reading, what is your favorite autumnal activity?–Watching Hallmark movies

10. What is on your autumn/fall reading list?–The stack of paranormal romances I just ordered; the 8 books in the Harlequin Intrigue Shivers miniseries

Currently Reading

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

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!

Criminalia Podcast

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!

Home For The Holidays by Sara Richardson

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.