Sunday, October 28, 2018

Book Review - Dear Santa

From Goodreads - From USA Today bestselling author Nancy Naigle, Dear Santa is a heartwarming Christmas story about finding your passion for life and love.

Angela Carson wants nothing more than to be the third-generation to run her family’s holiday store, Heart of Christmas, successfully. They’ve weathered over sixty tourist seasons, major hurricanes, and urban sprawl, in their old decommissioned lighthouse. But the national chain that set up shop in their small North Carolina town of Pleasant Sands may be more than Heart of Christmas can survive.

Encouraged by her niece to ask Santa for help, Angela gives in and lets the words fly in a way that, if Santa were real, would no doubt land her on the naughty list. What’s the harm when it’s just a computer-generated response?

Geoff Paisley has been at his mother’s side running the mega-chain Christmas Galore for the last ten years. When his mother falls ill, Geoff promises to answer the town’s Dear Santa letters in her stead. Soon he realizes the woman he’s been corresponding with on Dear Santa is Angela. How could the woman that grates his every last nerve in person have intrigued him so deeply through those letters?

When Geoff reveals that he’s her Dear Santa, will Angela be able to set aside their very public feud to embrace the magic of the holiday and possibly find true love?

My thoughts - This book is adorable. As a huge fan of You've Got Mail I was instantly smitten with the concept of this book and it did not disappoint.

While Angela is great I actually liked Geoff even more. His character has such a great story line and just really grows on you. And honestly I can totally picture him as a Tom Hanks type of guy.

In addition to Angela and Geoff this book has such a great cast of supporting characters and the settings will make you want to spend the next two months visiting the coast and popping into every holiday shop you find.

I received an e-ARC of this from NetGalley to review but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book Review - Only With You

From Goodreads -
The men in Nicole McLaughlin’s Man Enough series are tough Alphas devoted to serving their country and the women who love them.

National Guardsman Aiden King has been attracted to Hannah Walters for a while, but he never made a move because of her close relationship with his best friend. But when circumstances change, Aiden is surprised when his friend gives his blessing. Problem is, there’s a reason he’s still alone after all these years, and as much as he wants her, that secret keeps him from acting on his desires.

Hannah has finally decided to wait for the kind of love you read about in books and see in movies. After her failed engagement, Aiden’s unassuming support has become a touchstone for Hannah. It soon becomes apparent that he may be exactly the kind of man she’s been looking for. But the closer they become, the more he keeps her at arm’s length.

When Aiden suggests a road trip to take Hannah’s mind off her troubles, the two of them go on a journey neither one expected. She just hopes that the final destination is them together for good.

My Thoughts -  This book is so good. The main characters are great. While they both bring issues and past baggage with them they work on those issues throughout the book, which is so relatable and helps you really understand both of them. The supporting characters are great and do a really good job helping move the story along and acting as pillars to help explain the main characters' stories. This whole series has been really great and this book is no exception.

I received an eARC of this from NetGalley but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Book Review - Maybe This Time

From Goodreads: Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life―and her occasional careless choices―have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.

TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take―and having it all, together?

My Thoughts: This is the second book in Nicole McLaughlin's Whiskey and Wedding series, and while I didn't love it quite as much as the first book (I really loved the main character Charlotte) this book is still really good.

Jen and TJ are both great characters - well-developed, fun, interesting, and engaging. I was truly invested in both of them and what was going on in their lives. I never had a single moment of rooting against them and was consistently cheering them on toward their good choices and character development. Just like Charlotte and Dean in book 1 I wanted to see Jen and TJ happy.

Speaking of Charlotte and Dean, the great cast of side characters McLaughlin created are back, shedding light on Jen and TJ, helping the plot along, and just genuinely making me happy to be back at the Stag and the quaint little town.

Overall this book is fun and lovely, it's the perfect thing to curl up with and enjoy on an early Spring weekend. I can't wait for book 3! 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review - I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy

From Goodreads: A backstage look at the making of Nora Ephron's revered trilogy--When Harry Met Sally, You've Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle--which brought romantic comedies back to the fore, and an intimate portrait of the beloved writer/director who inspired a generation of Hollywood women, from Mindy Kaling to Lena Dunham.

In I'll Have What She's Having entertainment journalist Erin Carlson tells the story of the real Nora Ephron and how she reinvented the romcom through her trio of instant classics. With a cast of famous faces including Reiner, Hanks, Ryan, and Crystal, Carlson takes readers on a rollicking, revelatory trip to Ephron's New York City, where reality took a backseat to romance and Ephron--who always knew what she wanted and how she wanted it--ruled the set with an attention to detail that made her actors feel safe but sometimes exasperated crew members.

Along the way, Carlson examines how Ephron explored in the cinema answers to the questions that plagued her own romantic life and how she regained faith in love after one broken engagement and two failed marriages. Carlson also explores countless other questions Ephron's fans have wondered about: What sparked Reiner to snap out of his bachelor blues during the making of When Harry Met Sally? Why was Ryan, a gifted comedian trapped in the body of a fairytale princess, not the first choice for the role? After she and Hanks each separatel balked at playing Mail's Kathleen Kelly and Sleepless' Sam Baldwin, what changed their minds? And perhaps most importantly: What was Dave Chappelle doing ... in a turtleneck? An intimate portrait of a one of America's most iconic filmmakers and a look behind the scenes of her crowning achievements, I'll Have What She's Having is a vivid account of the days and nights when Ephron, along with assorted cynical collaborators, learned to show her heart on the screen.

My Thoughts: I loved this. As a fan of Nora Ephron I'm always eager to learn more about the wise woman who made so many laugh and love. As someone who calls You've Got Mail one of my favorite movies of all-time I was beyond thrilled to learn more about the making of this movie (and it's cousins When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle) and the two stars of the movie.

This book did not disappoint. There are so many interesting factoids and stories throughout the book and it's written in such a way that it feels like you were having coffee (or maybe lunch at a deli) with a friend who was filling you in on all the good gossip they've heard.

This book is phenomenal and I'm so glad I read it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review - Capital Gaines

From Goodreads: The most important step is taking the first one.

The funny and talented Chip Gaines is well known to millions of people as a TV star, renovation expert, bestselling author, husband to Joanna, and father of 4 in Waco, Texas. But long before the world took notice, Chip was a serial entrepreneur who was always ready for the next challenge, even if it didn’t quite work out as planned. Whether it was buying a neighborhood laundromat or talking a bank into a loan for some equipment to start a lawn-mowing service, Chip always knew that the most important thing was to take that first step.

In Capital Gaines, we walk alongside him as he relives some of his craziest antics and the lessons learned along the way. His mentors taught him to never give up and his family showed him what it meant to always have a positive attitude despite your circumstances. Throw in a natural daredevil personality and a willingness to do (or eat!) just about anything, and you have the life and daily activity of Chip Gaines.

Capital Gaines is the perfect book for anyone looking to succeed not only in business but more importantly in life.

My Thoughts: As a Fixer Upper fan and someone who enjoyed The Magnolia Story I was quite excited to read more of Chip's thoughts. This did not disappoint.

I was expecting Chip's usual silliness and maybe some family stories thrown in for good measure; I was not expecting such an inspiring sense of "you can do it, I believe in you" but that's exactly what I got.

Chip makes you laugh with his stories, never once hiding something that may make himself look slightly stupid, but also encourages you with tips, tricks, and inspiration.

Whether you're a fan of Fixer Upper or just someone looking for a fun and inspiring book I definitely recommend checking out Capital Gaines.

I received an advanced copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I also received promotional photos and press releases, including the cover photo I used, from the publisher. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review - Christmas in London

From Goodreads: A charming, glamourous love story set at Claridge's in London during the magical week before Christmas starring a sweet NYC baker and the Cooking Channel Producer who could change her life.

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren't hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge's. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show's beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew's in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

Set during London's most festive time of year and filled with delicious food, Christmas in London is about love and friendship, and the season's most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.

My Thoughts: There were parts of this book I really loved. I loved the London setting and the descriptions of the holiday decor. I loved the role that food played throughout the book. Additionally, I loved Kate and Trevor's story and the premise of Louisa and Noah's story. The cover of this book is also one of my favorite covers of the year.

That said, there were a few things I did not like. The characters, especially the men, seem to overreact to basic situations, they jump to conclusions, and they're too stubborn to allow the female characters to explain themselves. There were also a few instances where there was just too much dialogue and multiple sentences were used to describe the same thing but in different words. Sometimes less is more.

With all of that, this is a very cute book and it's a nice holiday read - it's the perfect thing to curl up and read while enjoying a hot beverage and a tasty treat. I'd recommend buying some cinnamon rolls before you sit down to read this; you won't be sorry.

I received an advanced copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I also received promotional photos and press releases, including the cover photo I used, from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Banned Books Week

For the final day of Banned Books Week I'm going with a true favorite - The Great Gatsby.

I think this is honestly one of the most beautifully written books, ever. It's a book of perfectly crafted lines, beautifully set characters and locations, and concepts that will live in your head long after the story is done.

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