#Blogmas This Christmas by Sarah Spade

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This Christmas by Sarah Spade. Let’s set the scene: a guy and a girl meet in a bar, Hi, I’m Nick, Hi, I’m Mary..they’re both lying about who they are, and although they spend a hot, sizzling night together, one of them wakes up alone. Fast forward about a year, Zach has flown out to Salem, Massachusetts to visit his sister Dani, and in walks her friend, Allison. This, my friends, is how Nick and Mary learn they  lied to each other and it’s their first time seeing each other since one of them walked out on the other as they slept.

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This Christmas was a lot of fun. It is book 2 in Sarah Spade’s Holiday Hunk series and I feel like the entire series is going to be a lot of fun. So far, both Halloween Boo and This Christmas have been novellas, so I’m assuming that is what we can expect from the next books in the series.

I feel like with This Christmas, Spade tried to do a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, it was still fun and very sexy, but she attempted to weave a few things into a short amount of time. It can be done. There are authors who accomplish, a lot in novellas, but in This Christmas, it didn’t work for me. We have the story line of Zach and Allison having met and lied to each other. Then we have second chance with them meeting on the other side of the country. Allison’s parents are also in town and they are those annoying parents who bug her about not being married, so enter in fake boyfriend trope. We have my best friend’s brother, because Allison and Dani are besties, oh and let me not forget the fact that Max and his buddy own the company Dani and Allison work at..so Max is essentially her boss. It is a lot and not very many pages. I feel like with what Sarah Spade wanted to do with this book, it could have totally been a full length novel. This is a personal preference. I felt like with Halloween Boo, we got so much development and back story in such a short amount of pages and with This Christmas it felt like a bunch of things happening but not many things being 100% fleshed out.

Still though, if in need of a quick read to help you reach that Goodreads goal, I think it’s worth a read. Like I stated before, I feel like my issues are more of a personal preference, these things may 100% work for you.

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#Blogmas Christmas In Vermont by Anita Hughes

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Christmas In Vermont by Anita Hughes. I spotted this out of the corner of my eye on a evening trip to Barnes and Noble. Mom trip, just wanted to get out of the house. The cover is stunning and although I knew I didn’t need anymore holiday romances, I couldn’t leave the store without it.

Emma is our heroine in Christmas in Vermont. It is just days before Christmas, and she surprisingly finds a jewelry store open in Manhattan. She goes in, wanting to get some cash for a bracelet her now ex boyfriend gave her. Once in the store though, she sees a watch that she gave to her boyfriend from college, Fletcher. She trades the bracelet for the watch and goes straight to her best friend Brownyn.  Brownyn believes in synchronicity, does some digging and learns that Fletcher is visiting a bed and breakfast in Vermont. She handles all the logistics for Emma and off she goes for Vermont!

signature5da8e3b9ed56dOkay, I didn’t hate this book, but I had more issues with it than I expected. Is it cozy? Yes. It is a good read to cozy up with, warm drink in hand and your favorite winter blanket? Yes. One of the biggest issues I had with this book, is one that I have had with a few other books I’ve read during this holiday romance binge I’m on. The issue is this: I don’t mind a romance where the hero is engaged to another person when the story initially kicks off, but I feel like this can be a tough story line to deliver well on. This is the second book I read, where our hero, Fletcher, is engaged and he’s engaged more than halfway through the book. Obviously, the author has to create some issue that arises that ends the engagement and now creates the part of the story where he and our heroine, Emma, can now pursue their relationship. In their case though, this is a second chance romance because the two dated in college, and I feel the author tried to make it work by giving us flashbacks between then and now. In my opinion though, it just didn’t work.

Was Fletcher’s fiancé just the worst person ever? Not really. She is a young actress trying to make a come up and Fletcher is a Broadway producer. It is obvious she has motives behind being with him, but the reasons why the two parted ways felt she obvious, like obviously this is where the story would go. It was so obvious, it didn’t feel believable.

So, now Fletcher is without a fiancé and realizes what he wants is Emma. By this time, the story feels rushed because there are like 50ish pages left in it. Maybe the author felt like, by giving us the time hopping, it would be enough, but for me it wasn’t.

Another issue I had with the book was in regards to Fletcher’s daughter. When Emma arrives in Vermont, she learns that Fletcher is not only engaged but he has a 9 year old daughter. Emma and his daughter grow very close, because Fletcher and his fiancé are constantly leaving her at the bed and breakfast. As a parent, I was just a tad uncomfortable with this. It felt irresponsible and regardless of your relationship status, the welfare of your 9 year old daughter should be number 1, and I’d think any woman who isn’t on board with that, shouldn’t be your fiancé. Personal opinion, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

If you can get past all of that however, it is a nice look at the belief that things happen for a reason. A series of events can be happening because they are leading up to something big. It was really interesting.

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#Blogmas Christmas In Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas

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Christmas In Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas was such a joy to read. At the core of this book is Cooper and his brother Elliott. Cooper is headed off to a rustic cabin in the Winter Valley woods to care for a herd of wild mustangs while Elliott stays back at their ranch, Maverick Ranch, trying to keep things running smoothly. With family visiting at the ranch, things are a bit crazy for him.

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While on his way to the cabin, Cooper discovers a surprise who truly made the story for me! It was a little heartbreaking, but such a delight to see incorporated into the story.

What I admire about Jodi Thomas after having read Christmas In Winter Valley, and her holiday romance released in 2018, is her ability to weave multiple story lines together without things being confusing and each story leaving my fulfilled in the end. There was a lot going on in this book, but each story felt significantly special and wrapped up nicely.

In this book, all of the main characters have a romance and a happy ever after. Elliott has a second chance romance when a blast from his past shows up unannounced to make sure she no longer has feelings for him before she gets married. Cooper has a blooming romance with the town veterinarian who helps save his life when he suffers an injury, and the ranch’s cook has a romance with a ranch hand whose been known to ‘float’ from place to place.

I think when writing different storylines, there tends to be times when certain plot lines overshadow others. Jodi Thomas definitely does not fall into that category. I don’t know how she is able to write an entire cast of characters whom you grow to care for and show just the right amount of attention to them all, but she does. It worked really well.

xx.

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#Blogmas A Coldwater Christmas by Delores Fossen

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A Coldwater Christmas by Delores Fossen is book four in Fossen’s Coldwater Texas series. I read last year’s holiday romance in this series and had every intention on backtracking through the series in 2019, but failed to do so. *cringe* In my attempt at holding myself accountable however, I will make it a priority in 2020.

What this books is about: Recently separated from her husband Janna, returns to her hometown of Coldwater, Texas to speak to her previous ex-husband and first love Kace about the fact that his father and her mother are engaged. This is sour subject being that Kace and his brother’s cannot stand their father due to him walking out on the family and the boys ending up in some really crappy foster care situations. Twist to the story? Janna has recently left her jerk of a husband Dominick and he is out to drain her bank accounts.

A Coldwater Christmas is hilarious! I adore Delores Fossen’s sense of humor, it truly shines through in this story with roaming Texas longhorns throughout the town streets, flying pink penis’s with smiley faces on them and vibrators sent in the mail. As I read the book it felt like a solid five star read. I was convinced I was going to love it..

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My issues with the book lie with a few things at the end of the book and the second chance romance between Janna and Kace.  When reading a second chance romance, I tend to pick sides. You read from a specific character’s perspective (in this case, Kase’s) and it’s usually the character who has blasted in from the past who I feel like has to earn my trust and help me feel that the connection is genuine (in this case Janna!). I didn’t feel a connection between Janna and Kace, especially with the way the ending happened. I felt like if the road we took was the road we were going to take, I should’ve felt more than just these two old lovers have linked back up and are again having amazing sex. The way the book ended felt like a let down because I was loving the book so much in the beginning and middle half.

I have also been pondering on, if a romance is a Christmas romance, how much of the Christmas aspect do I need? The mention of Christmas in this one is very brief, so if that is something you need more of in your books..just throwing it out there, you don’t get much!

xx.

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Weekly Wrap Up

Weekly Wrap Up

Happy Sunday Friends. I hope your week has been amazing. This past week was my last week in my current two courses. Last week I had a research paper due for each class and this week was *sigh* final exam week. I won’t get into specifics of how bad it sucked, but I will leave you with this: I’m glad it’s over. 

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I am currently in the middle of 2 audiobooks and loving them both despite the fact that I have been too busy to listen to them these past few days. I did manage to read one book this week, and that was Low Country Christmas by Lee Tobin McClain. I rated this holiday romance 4/5 stars. It was may first romance by the author, and I really enjoyed it. I began reading this while participating in TisTheSeasonAthon and finished it up this week.

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The only thing I listened to this week was one episode of the Fated Mates podcast, where hosts Jen and Sarah chatted about their favorite romances of 2019. You can find that episode here.

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Last night, I introduced my daughter to the beloved holiday family film, The Santa Clause. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I watched that movie but I had obviously blanked at some point on how hilarious it is. It was so good, I am so glad after all this time, I finally rewatched it! And my daughter Loved it!

Over on Youtube, Vlogmas is in full effect! I am patting myself (tiredly) on the back because your girl has posted a video everyday in the month of December. I don’t want December to go, but..Vlogmas is exhausting! It’s fun, but exhausting. It definitely challenges you creatively. I may do a post about it at some point, but yes, fun and exhausting!

One of my favorites to keep up with during Vlogmas is my friend Michael, from the channel Michael Reads. I am always so interested in seeing what he’s reading, especially his short story collections, he has the cutest niece  and I love his coffee shop visits!

I just wanted to pop in and say Hey this morning. I hope your December has been amazing so far.

*for more content, make sure if you are a YouTube fan, you hit the subscribe button on my channel. I’ll leave one of my latest videos here!

#Blogmas 12 Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

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Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber was a reread for me. I read it for the first time November of 2018 and loved it. It is with great joy, to say that I enjoyed it just as much this go around as I did the first time.

This is the enemies to lovers, holiday romance between Julia and her jerk of a neighbor, Cain Maddox.  Julie works at Macy’s and is up for a promotion where she could be working in the store’s social media department. It is between Julie and another employee for the position and the deciding factor boils down to, who can create a blog and generate the biggest following in the allotted time. Julie has no idea what she would create a blog about, until her best friend recommends starting a blog about killing her jerk neighbor Cain with kindness.

Cain’s last relationship dealt with him falling for an employee who used him to gain a promotion then ditching him once he got it, so this obviously causes some issues when he learns that Julie has basically done the same thing (minus the ditching part!)

What I find lovely about rereading is the comfort in returning to a story you’ve already grown to love and knowing that it is still going to come through for you. That’s what this story represents for me. I just know I will return to it every holiday season. At the core of this story is kindness. Julie literally starts a project to be kind to Cain, regardless of how much of a jerk he is to her. I like that. I like how Debbie Macomber makes that the center of the story and sticks with it.

xx.

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#Blogmas Past Vlogmas Recommendations

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I absolutely love Vlogmas where Youtube creators will vlog everyday in December leading up to Christmas. I feel like it’s when creators creativity really shines through with having to come up with daily content, edit and upload. I was thinking of some of my favorite Vlogmas videos from past years. I had to do a bit of digging but I managed to track down a few to share.

Cheyenne Barton is one of my all time favorite Youtubers. I could literally post all of her videos, but I won’t do that. Please, go check her out though. She lives in Seattle with her boyfriend Connor and beautiful cat Sophie. Her vlogs are so cozy and as soon as I get notified she’s posted one, all nonsense ceases so I can tune in!

 

Maria from the channel May Seventeenth is another Favorite of mine. She is originally from Spain but lives in Paris now. I love seeing Paris through her eyes.

 

I have been following Alexis Belon since Myspace days and while she hasn’t really posted in 2019, I don’t mind going back and rewatching her videos. She is a New York City vlogger and like Maria, I love getting to see her city through her eyes. We aren’t seeing the touristy parts of the city, you’re seeing the everyday hustle and bustle from someone from there and still living there. My Fingers are crossed she comes back to making videos again soon.

 

Lastly, I think anyone who reads books and subscribes to someone on Youtube who reads book knows about Reagan from Peruse Project. While we don’t read the same books, a few years ago she created a separate channel for Vlogmas. It might’ve been intended for vlogs period but it mostly consists of vlogs and sadly, she hasn’t uploaded to it in 2 years. I really, really enjoyed her Vlogmas videos and lucky for us, they are still up.

 

I wanted to share these favorites in the case you are doing Vlogmas and maybe need some inspiration or just need channels to go binge! I really love/have loved these channels and hope you find something you like.

xx.

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#Blogmas Gift Ideas for Little Readers

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Here are a few book recommendations for the little readers in your life:

Home Alone and Home Alone Lost In New York by Jason Rekulak and illustrated by Kim Smith.

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I am all about introducing my kids to classic television and film. We hauled the illustrated edition of Home Alone when it first released and I read it out loud to my kids. They loved it, it was a hit! So, I ordered the dvd and yet again, another hit. Their laughter makes me so happy, especially when they are laughing at a book! Every Christmas we sit around and revisit Home Alone. I didn’t know Home Alone 2 was out until one day at Barnes and Noble as I browsed the children’s books as my four year old played with their train set. I sat and read to him while he played and the story and art work are just as fantastic as the first book.

The next recommendation is another book I read to my four year old on one of our bookstore visits, The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup and illustrated by Matt Tavares.

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The Gingerbread Pirates kick off with Jim and his Mom baking cookies for Santa. Jim’s favorite gingerbread man is Captain Cookie who carries a gingerbread cutlass and has a toothpick peg leg. Jim doesn’t want Captain Cookie to be eaten so he keeps him near his bed. That night, Captain Cookie sets off on an adventure to track down his pirate crew. I loved this story so much and the artwork is amazing. A must read for your little readers!

Brad Meltzer has a wonderful ongoing children series called, Ordinary People Change the World, and my kids love it!

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My daughter loves I Am Lucille Ball and I Am Rosa Parks and my boys love I Am Jackie Robinson. Meltzer creatively teaches young readers about these phenomenal people from their beginnings to the amazing things they eventually did. The artwork is very accessible for kids; it is almost like reading a comic book. The books are perfection and I think your young readers will really enjoy!

This last one is an absolute favorite of mine and has been since I was a kid. It makes me so happy to have shared it with my babies and that they too, love it!

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The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by A. Wolf (as told to Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith) This gem is the wolf’s perspective and how the story we have all been told is wrong. All he was trying to do was ask his neighbors, the pigs, for a cup of sugar to make his dear old granny a birthday cake. He didn’t mean to blow their houses down and such, but he had a really bad cold. I love this story way more than the original story and the artwork is so, so good! Haul this one and read it to your little ones. They will love it.

xx.

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#Blogmas It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

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Let’s just preface this with saying that initially when I finished It Started With Christmas, I felt like the ending redeemed the rest of the book. As days go by though, I think my mind is changing..

It Started With Christmas follows Holly. Holly and her Nana go to their families cabin in the hills outside of Nashville, Tennessee expecting a girls getaway. Once they arrive though, there is a visitor already in the cabin who’d been renting it out and due to the crazy Tennessee snow storm, had to extend his stay. Joseph and Holly hit it off pretty quickly, and Holly’s Nana is a tad suspicious and isn’t really feeling him.

Okay, so after this initial meeting is when things get a little weird and remain weird basically the rest of the book. Joe is engaged. He is planning the wedding because his lawyer fiance is super busy with this big case she’s working on. It gets somewhat obvious throughout the book that Joe has feelings for Holly and vice versa, but..Joe is engaged. ENTER IN, blast from Holly’s past, Rhett, her childhood best friend, first love and things get even more crazy.

It Started With Christmas is kind of a mess.  On one hand I look at it like, what if the person you’re destined to be with, is currently with someone else? In a romance though, if cheating is not your thing, this book feels a lot like cheating. No, nothing happens, but meeting Holly definitely has Joe changing his mind about his relationship. Which, maybe they weren’t meant to be in the first place, but all we are able to go off is, he begins to change his mind, the more time he spends with Holly.

I got the point of Rhett being in the story and then I didn’t. He definitely threw in a nice wrench in the story..just when Holly and Joe’s friendship starts getting a little weird, the Tennessee winds blow in Rhett! His character had the potential to really add value to the story, but that didn’t happen. I feel like if you’re going to throw a wrench in the story, come harder and make the wrench meaningful.

I think this story would’ve worked for me had the focus solely been on Holly going and finding herself. I didn’t feel chemistry between Holly and Joe or Holly and Rhett. Maybe that was the point..? Sadly, this one was a disappointment. Initially after finishing it, it felt like a four star read or high three star, but as time continues to pass, I am rethinking my rating.

xx

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#Blogmas The Christmas Shop by Nancy Naigle

“I want to jog on the beach with you–” He had almost forgotten. “Hang on.” He ran to the trunk of his car and came back with a bucket in hand. “To collect shells along the shore together. I want to buy you flowers just because it’s Tuesday, wake up to your smile and go to sleep knowing you’re nearby. I look forward to every piece of trivia you tell me.”

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Nancy Naigle takes us to Pleasant Sands, North Carolina in The Christmas Shop; don’t be confused, if you see Dear Santa, it’s the same book. This was my first romance by Nancy Naigle and definitely won’t be my last. I rated it five stars over on Goodreads and here’s why:

The You’ve Got Mail vibes.

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Rather than the heroine and the hero being bookshop owners, as you can tell from the title, they are Christmas shop owners. Angela, our heroine, is the owner of Heart of Christmas and both the shop and the lighthouse it’s located in have been in her family for generations. Geoff, our hero, is part owner with his Mom of a big Christmas store chain called Christmas Galore. Their store is new to Pleasant Sands and is giving Angela’s store the final push to closing. I adore the heck out of You’ve Got Mail, so any romance that’s well written and gives me the same vibes is bound to brighten my day.

I love when you read a book and come out of it having learned a lot about a place. Every day in her shop, Angela writes a historical fact about Pleasant Sands on a white board; a Did You Know board. I loved that. I love when you can tell the author is shedding light on wherever they are from without it feeling like a big information dump. In The Christmas Shop we learn how historical this small corner of the country is. Seriously, never underestimate the power and significance of small town America.

The lighthouse which Angela operates her store out of, has been in her family for generations. I could really feel through the pages that it was hard for her to see her shop closing, because she felt that with it’s closing, she’d be letting generations of family down. Angela and her sister were raised by their Grandmother, who Angela inherited the store from, and it was especially her, she didn’t want to let down. The family tie in, in Christmas romances are always a bonus for me. I loved Angela’s relationship with her sister, niece and brother in law. She truly has a strong support system. Our hero, Geoff, was raised by a single Mom and I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics of their relationship as well and learning the reasons why setting up a store in Pleasant Sands was so important to her.

Nancy Naigle really keyed in on running a business in today’s world where big chains are sweeping through cities and towns and ultimately closing the doors of smaller businesses. I respected Angela as a business woman. She sold handcrafted items for the price they deserved, but that doesn’t compare to bigger chains selling the same kind of items for cheaper. In today’s world it isn’t so much quality, it’s what’s cheapest. I like that in her own way she shed a light on this.

I was well over halfway through the book before anything romantic happened. I was basically at the end. Angela comes to terms with her business closing, but she let’s Geoff know that one reason it’s so hard is because she truly cares for Christmas and her business. To him, his store and Christmas, is a business. They both have to overcome their stuff before we reach that happy ending at the end. I liked that. Seeing the back and forth and the coming to terms, and eventual friendship, made me appreciate the ending so much.

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I really enjoyed this romance. If you’re a fan of You’ve Got Mail, small southern town charm and Christmas shops, I highly recommend giving it a try.

xx.

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