Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Mini Reviews: Holiday Edition

'Tis the season to enjoy some holiday novels. I've got two to share with you today. Both are perfect for curling up with along side a fire or your Christmas tree; however, one is a bit more serious than the other. Do you like your holiday books to be all fluff or do you enjoy some serious aspects?


 Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: October 10, 2023
Publisher: Avon
Source: Publisher for review
Other Book By Author: The Christmas Bookshop
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "Christmas comes early—far too early—to McCredie’s little Old Town bookshop in Edinburgh. It’s summer, but an American production company has decided that McCredie’s is the perfect location to film a very cheesy Christmas movie. After all, who can resist the charmingly narrow historic street with its Victorian grey stone buildings and warmly lit shop windows? Carmen Hogan, the bookshop’s manager, is amused and a bit horrified by the goings-on, but the money the studio is paying is too good to pass up. She uses the little windfall from filming to create new displays and fend off a buyout offer from an obnoxious millionaire who wants to turn McCredie’s into a souvenir shop selling kilts made in China and plastic Nessies. Still reeling slightly from a breakup, Carmen’s not particularly looking forward to the holidays. But just as snow begins to fall and the lights of Christmas blink on, all sorts of lovely new possibilities present themselves…for McCredie’s bookstore, and for Carmen herself."



Readers find themselves back at McCredie's Bookshop in Edinburgh at Christmastime. This novel picks up where The Christmas Bookshop left off and readers are reunited with Carmen Hogan, manager of the adorable bookstore on Victoria Street. Carmen is feeling a lot of pressure though. Not only is she still upset about her breakup with Oke, but she is also worried about the fate of the bookshop. It's struggling financially and the owner is considering selling it to someone who would turn it into another cheesy souvenir shop. Just as in the first book, there's Carmen's family who still play a major role in her life, including her adorable nieces as well as a cast of memorable secondary characters. Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan is an adorable sequel to The Christmas Bookshop. While it isn't as compelling as the first book, who doesn't want to transport themselves to a bookshop in Scotland during Christmastime? It's the very definition of Christmas coziness.

I really enjoyed Carmen in book one, so I was happy to continue her story. I don't think you need to have read 
The Christmas Bookshop to entirely appreciate this novel; however, I do think it helps. I also enjoyed Carmen's family and their antics, including Pippa and Phoebe, which were a nice touch. Colgan's cast of secondary characters were all a lot of fun and reminded me of a Hallmark movie. I read Colgan's novels to be transported to a different time and place and Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop fits the bill. Christmas in Edinburgh sounds dreamy and I loved being lost on historic Victoria Street in a bookstore decorated beautifully for Christmas. The fate of the bookstore is balanced nicely by Carmen's problems, but it never feels overly heavy. Colgan fans will want to snuggle up with this book during the holiday season. 

One Christmas Morning by Rachel Greenlaw
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: October 17, 2023
Publisher: Avon
Source: Publisher for review 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Eva has spent the past three years burying herself in her work, trying to forget the heartbreaking events of the Christmas that ripped her world apart. And this year, on the eve of her shop launch, the last thing Eva wants is to drive to the wild moors of Cornwall to attend her friends Hallie and Kian’s Christmas party. But at her husband James’ insistence, here they are. Worse still, Hallie announces she is pregnant, bringing Eva’s pain to the surface.  Overwhelmed by her friend’s news and the bittersweet memories of past Christmases, Eva tries to sneak back to London in the middle of the night. But as the clock strikes midnight, she is visited by the ghost of her beloved grandmother. Gran tells Eva that if she doesn’t face her ghosts head-on and stop shutting out her loved ones, she risks losing them all forever.  When Eva wakes on Christmas morning, she finds herself living not her own life, but that of her hardworking assistant, Diana, whose overflowing inbox isn’t the only secret she’s been keeping. The next day, she wakes on Christmas morning again, this time in the body of Hallie’s sister, Natalie. As Eva lives Christmas Day again and again through the perspectives of her friends, she is offered a glimpse into the lives of those she has been pushing away. With each Christmas Day comes a new lesson—and an insight into the secrets and struggles her loved ones have been hiding. To move forward, Eva must let go of the past. But is it too late to fix her future?"


Eva is obsessed with her work; she is opening a new store and is completely consumed by that. Things with her husband, James, aren't good, and they are en route to Cornwall from London to go to Hallie's holiday party. Eva is trying to make things right with her husband, but she is completely triggered by Hallie's party and the news that Hallie is pregnant. This brings up a lot of unresolved issues in Eva's life as she has suffered a devastating miscarriage and she attempts to return to London at night. While heading there, she is greeted by the ghost of her grandmother who tries to talk some sense into her as her relationships are suffering greatly. When Eva wakes up, she finds herself in a different friend's body and living out their Christmas morning, but also getting inside details as to how her behavior impacts everyone. This is Eva's chance to start over despite her setbacks and trauma and repair the relationships in her life before it's too late. One Christmas Morning by Rachel Greenlaw is a melancholy holiday read, but ultimately by the story's end, it is one filled with hope.

Eva is a difficult character in 
One Christmas Morning. She has a lot of trauma and issues that she hasn't explored. Since she hasn't faced it head-on, her issues spill over into her personal life, which is why she dives head-first into her work. Greenlaw includes a lot of depressing topics for a holiday novel such as various traumas like the death of a loved one, marriage problems, and miscarriage. It felt a bit heavy for a holiday novel and the story took a while feel warm and fuzzy. By the last portion of the novel things were looking up, but it was a difficult road to get there as the story was mostly sad. However, I will say I love a modern take on A Christmas Carol, so that part of this debut novel, as well as her beloved grandmother being the ghost who warns her, was a nice touch.   


Have you read any of these holiday novels? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Blog Tour and Giveaway: ART

Who doesn't enjoy picture books that showcase creativity and embrace diversity? I always appreciate messages like that when I am sharing books with my children as well as picture books that feature neurodiverse characters. 

Today I've partnered with Fontreal to host a fun giveaway to celebrate the publication of ART by Marin. You will love the eye-catching illustrations in this book!


Learn More About the Book:



Written by Marin

34 Pages | Publisher: Fontreal

ISBN-13: 9781989661215



Publisher’s Book Summary: Art is autistic and artistic.

Art has just one friend – his teddy bear.

Art does not speak, but he makes art. Art that dismisses gravity.

The publication crowns the artist and turns royalty into a mere audience. The sophisticated illustrations inspire readers to express their emotions, verbalize their feelings, and create their own stories.


You can purchase your own copy of ART at Amazon and learn more about Marin by visiting his website.  


Enter the Giveaway:


Thanks to Fontreal, I am sharing an incredible giveaway with you all today to celebrate the recent publication of ART. One lucky winner will receive a signed a copy of ART and $50 sent via Pay Pal. Three second prize winners will received a signed copy of ART and $10 sent via Pay Pal. One hundred winners will receive a digital copy of ART. Also, complimentary download of Marin's book The Smile is also available to everyone right now on Amazon. Good luck!  


Friday, December 1, 2023

What I'm Reading Next: My December TBR List

Can you believe the end of the year is approaching? That came up quickly! I am sure the winter will drag on, but the fall flew by in record speed for my family. We got a puppy this fall, started a kitchen renovation, and my kids played a ton of sports, so the time just flew by. I am looking forward to cuddling up with a good holiday book this month, but let's be honest, things may get a little hectic this holiday season. I sure hope I find time to relax and I hope you do, too. 

My December TBR List:

1.  A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

2.  Celebration at Christmas Cove by Carrie Jansen



3.  Faking Christmas by Kerry Winfrey

4.  The Christmas Cafe by Eliza Evans

5.  Meet Me at Christmas by Jenny Hale

6.  Snowed In by Catherine Walsh


7.  The Second Chance Year by Melissa Wiesner

8. The Vacation House by  Jane Shemilt

9.  Happiness Falls by Angie Kim 

So, that's my December TBR list! It's a pretty good mix of holiday reads and some novels that I really like to read by the end of the year. I doubt I will get to all of these books, but with all the gift wrapping and other holiday chores that I need to complete, it calls for a good audio book, right? What books do you hope to read this December? Let me know in the comments. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Pages: 531
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: January 1, 2014
Publisher: Scribner
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II."



Marie-Laure is a young twelve-year-old girl living in Paris and her occupation is imminent. So she and her father, Daniel, leave Paris for Saint-Malo, where his brother lives. Upon fleeing, Daniel takes a very valuable item with him that later the Nazis are very interested in. Years go by and D-Day just occurred a few months ago, so liberation must be soon. Marie-Laure's father is a talented locksmith and craftsman. He has built intricate model cities to help Marie-Laure get around safely and build independence. However, Daniel is called back to Paris and is sent to a camp, so Marie-Laure finds herself with her uncle on her own. In a parallel story, Werner Pfenning, a German orphan is living in an orphanage with his sister, Jutta. He shows promise when it comes to radios and transmitting, so the Germans take an interest in him and send him to their technical school. Eventually, he becomes part of their organization that tracks illegal radios, and that is where Werner and Marie-Laure's story intersects. Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See is a memorable WWII novel of war, but also illustrates the power of secrets and ultimately hope. 

Marie-Laure is such a charming character that I loved from the instance. My heart went out to her as she is blind and has to navigate life with so much difficulty. It's so hard to be blind during a normal time, but combine that with WWII and it seems almost impossible at times. I loved how her father built models of the town for her as well as intricate boxes that ultimately hold secret treasures. He did this so she could gain some independence and be familiar with Paris and then Saint-Malo. Marie-Laure's sense of touch is her way to "see" the world and the details surrounding this were done very well. It also hinted that there's more to things than just at the surface level. What secrets hide beneath?

Werner's story was also well done in All the Light We Cannot See. It showcased the other side of the war as Werner works for the Nazis, but it also painted him in a way to display his humanity. He is talented and can work with radios, so this is his ticket out of poverty in German, but in turn, he has to contribute to the Nazi war effort. While working for the Nazis, he hears Marie-Laure's transmissions and is curious about her. He also feels remorse and questions what he is doing collaborating with the Nazis. He really has no choice in the manner, but he does feel like he should help protect Marie-Laure as their connection grows. 

Doerr's writing style in 
All the Light We Cannot See was choppy at first. The chapters were mere glimpses into the character and I wanted more - a deeper dive into Werner and Marie-Laure's story, but slowly I realized that this was an effective way to intertwine the stories slowly. Before I knew it, Marie-Laure and Werner's story converged and I was very invested. I can easily see why this novel won the Pulitzer Prize as it's beautifully written and will certainly stay with me for a long time. I can't wait to watch the show based on this novel, which recently premiered on Netflix. 

So, have you read
All the Light We Cannot See? I am so glad I found time to finally read this gem. Did you see the show on Netflix? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Can't Wait Wednesday: Husbands & Lovers

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating! 


Husbands & Lovers by Beatriz Williams

Pub. Date: June 25, 2024


Goodreads says, "Two women—separated by decades and continents, and united by a mysterious family heirloom—reclaim family secrets and lost loves in this sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives. New England, 2022. Three years ago, single mother Mallory Dunne received the telephone call every parent dreads—her ten-year-old son Sam had been airlifted from summer camp with acute poisoning from a toxic death cap mushroom, leaving him fighting for his life. Now, in a search for the donor kidney that will give her son a chance for a normal life, Mallory’s forced to confront two harrowing secrets from her past: her mother’s adoption from an infamous Irish orphanage in 1952, and her own all-consuming summer romance fourteen years earlier with her childhood best friend Monk Adams—now one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters—a fairytale cut short by an agonizing betrayal.

Cairo, 1951. After suffering tragedy beyond comprehension in the war, Hungarian refugee Hannah Ainsworth has forged a respectable new life for herself—marriage to a wealthy British diplomat, a coveted posting in glamorous Cairo. But a fateful encounter with the enigmatic manager of a hotel bristling with spies leads to a passionate affair that will reawaken Hannah's longing for everything she once lost. As revolution simmers in the Egyptian streets, a pregnant Hannah finds herself snared into a game of intrigue between two men…and an act of sacrifice that will echo down the generations. Timeless and bittersweet, Husbands And Lovers draws readers on an unforgettable journey of heartbreak and redemption, from the revolutionary fires of midcentury Egypt to the moneyed beaches of contemporary New England. Acclaimed author Beatriz Williams has written a poignant and beautifully voiced novel of deeply human characters entangled by morally complex issues—of privilege, class, and the female experience—inside worlds brought shimmeringly to life."


You all know Beatriz Williams is one of my favorite authors! I'll read anything she writes. Her "historical beach reads" are books I enjoy every summer and I can't wait for this one! Let me know what you think in the comments below.


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