Book Review

Book Review: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Ashley Elston
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?

DEFINITELY CUTE.

Oh man. Well this was just precious.

I finally had a chance to read this book and I’m so glad I got to! It is the perfect little pick me up type of read when you need something light and fluffy.

The whole dating concept was a bit crazy, totally unwarranted, and the best part of this book. I love how the author was able to create unique dates each time and had unexpected things happen that would make me eyes widen. It took the whole idea of me worrying this would be stagnant away because each date brought another layer to the novel itself.

Sophie’s family ran me ragged sometimes, yet after talking to someone who had a family exactly like this, it made appreciate the scope of it all and the differences all of our families have. They were loud, in everybody’s privacy and quiet moments and they made me laugh and shake my fists in the air. I love that this book wasn’t only about dating, but also about reconnecting with family and enjoying the moments together too.

I really appreciated that the real romance came from someone Sophie genuinely knew and not a full stranger. It was heartfelt and those quiet moments between them made me shout at the book to KISS ALREADY.

This definitely has all of the Christmas vibes. I think I would have loved it even more if I had the chance to read it during the actual holiday season. I definitely recommend adding this to your Christmas TBR.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Trigger warning: pre-mature birth

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Book Review

Book Review: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

I WANT TO TAKE UP LETTER WRITING NOW.

Oooooooh y’all.

A historical fiction romance written in letter format about World War 1.

That should be the only sentence you need because this was emotional and fantastic. I couldn’t put it down and because of the format it’s a VERY quick read. It appeared very well researched and this had me flipping pages faster than I could manage because I needed to know what happened next.

I love the way the love story was written. It was slow and steady and they fell in love over letter writing guys!! HOW ROMANTIC IS THAT? Both of them holding each other up as dark times flowed between them as the horrors of war took over. It was mesmerizing and I went into full panic mode trying to make sure their was a happy ending.

This had great Christmas vibes as they constantly dreamed of having Christmas in Paris together someday when the war was over. Definitely one of my Christmas favorites now. I love the backdrop of World War 1 because I feel that WW2 usually gets all of the historical fiction books/movies. I try to pick up anything that has a different setting because I love seeing authors takes on characters thrown into real history. It’s magical and enchanting and hits you right in the heart.

I feel as if I can gush more, but also can’t find the words because it was just a great book. And sometimes that’s the only sentence a review needs.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: description of war [namely WW1]
  • Trigger warnings: PTSD (described as war nervousness/neurosis because of the time period), depression, suicidal thoughts, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 327 pages
Author: Ashley Shepherd
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear.

Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all.

So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes.

Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving.

And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final.

In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle.

She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake dating thing.

Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.

YAAAAAS TO THIS CHRISTMAS CONTEMPORARY.

Kindle unlimited, indie author, bookstagram recommendation FOR. THE. WIN.

No really. A grumpy guy, a effervescent woman, and Christmas? Hit this one out of the ballpark.

I love enemies to lovers and books like this remind me why. I love the juxtaposition between the two of them. The banter was fantastic and didn’t over step that line of actually being mean to each other. I was laughing to myself over some of the scenes in there because they were too humorous not too. This office romance (with a fake girlfriend component) was PRECIOUS.

Asher was such a charming Grinch. Can’t even handle him. He could throw out the sarcasm and grumpiness then turn around and be considerate and kind. I love seeing those layers peel away slowly as he opened up to Olivia.

Olivia had me laughing at her antics and I feel spiritually seen with how much she loves treats. Her extrovert, people pleasing personality that screamed Christmas was fantastic. She went on her own emotional journey [because of some awful people] that shed lighter on tough subject matter. Olivia was a strong heroine that I immensely enjoyed reading about.

This book was romantic and sweet. Full of emotions and tough moments. Love and charismatic characters. All the things. I can’t wait to read more of Shepherd’s books because this was exactly what I was looking for when I tried to find a contemporary Christmas romance.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance [Christmas theme]
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, one little detailed almost scene, and another little detailed fade out scene
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault to the MC and mentions and discussions on the man’s behavior with others

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Book Review

Book Review: Christmas Like This (A Love Like This #2) by Carina Taylor

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance novella
Length: 148 pages
Author: Carina Taylor
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

I know exactly what I’d like to put in Trey’s stocking: the biggest lump of coal I can carry.
Unfortunately, I won’t get the chance, because our boss has delivered an ultimatum: plan the company Christmas party with Trey and learn to get along, or else.
After only one day of trying to plan the Christmas party, I’m ready to pick the “or else.” Is it possible to learn to get along with the most aggravating, overprotective, handsome guy I’ve ever known?
We’re about to find out if we can get our names off the naughty list or not.

IT WAS CHRISTMASY AT LEAST.

This is a novella, so my review will be shorter than usual. I am on a quest for some great Christmas reads, this could have been better.

I think this actually would have been more enchanting if it was longer. Things happened way too fast and background information was thrown out haphazardly and inconsistently. I know there was sadness and drama put in to add an emotional component, but I wasn’t feeling much towards anyone.

The banter between them did get better over the novella. At first, it honestly seemed flat out mean and made me cringe. The push to create the enemies to lovers trope flew off the handle and I was happy when it turned down and they were able to communicate civilly with each other.

Definitely great Christmas vibes and I loved the plot of them having to plan the Christmas party together. I did like the writing, just felt like everything needed a bit more.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance novella
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: car wreck

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Book Review

Book Review: It Happened at Christmas by Christen Krumm

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 236 pages
Author: Christen Krumm
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: October 22nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this enchanting YA spin on While You Were Sleeping, Christen Krumm delivers laughter and Christmas sparkle through a swoon-worthy story of first love and belonging.

Life at Iverson Preparatory Boarding School isn’t easy when you’re basically the maid. Murphy Cain spends her days cleaning up after her upper class peers in exchange for tuition while dodging their cutting remarks. All of that changes when she rescues her crush, the popular and hunky Tripp Harrington, after a near-fatal accident and is mistaken as his girlfriend.

Murphy finds herself struggling with the choice to reveal the truth or play along. As Tripp’s girl, his wealthy family will offer Murphy something she’s been craving her whole life—a chance to be one of the “in” crowd. A chance to belong. Without it, she’ll be right back where she started.

It only gets worse as Tripp’s brother Hank enters the picture. He’s handsome, down to earth, and seems to understand Murphy better than anyone else. The only problem? She’s supposed to be dating his brother.

As Christmas break draws to a close, Murphy must decide if telling the truth is worth losing it all or if the risk will bring a greater reward in the end.

PERFECT FOR THE SEASON.

SO CUTE. I am so pleased with this book y’all. It is what a Christmas book should be. All the warm fuzzies and happy endings. This was recommended by a friend (and is on Kindle Unlimited!) and I’m so happy I picked this one out as my first Christmas book of the season (which I realize this post is coming way after the fact).

The romance between Murphy and Hank was really sweet. I thought that for a book with a short time frame the way this romance played out was on point. I was smitten with the flirtatious banter of Hank and watching Murphy trying to figure out her feelings for him. They had a lot of tender quiet moments and perfectly swoony for the season.

It was also rewarding seeing Murphy find a place to belong and call home. After being forced to be a Cinderella at her own school I was intensely frustrated with her whole situation. Hand claps all around that this absurdness was rectified with a glorious moment brought on by Hank. I mean, could this guy get any better?

Atmospherically this screamed Christmas, and that was EXACTLY what I was going for. I feel that’s the best part of seasonal books. Really letting myself feel the spirit of the book made me appreciate and love it all the more.

I did take off a half star because there were a few noticeable grammar mistakes throughout. And I’m only mentioning it now because it happened often enough for me to really pick up on them. Otherwise, the writing was great and it was a super quick short read.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary [seasonal: Christmas]
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: mentions of losing parents through a car wreck

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads That My Followers Recommended to Me Because I Didn’t Know Any

I may have read a lot of books and know quite a bit about books, but y’all. I know nothing about holiday books. I never seem to find them or see them to try or anything so it’s a sub-genre that I haven’t gotten the chance to dive into.

I’m hoping to change that this year! I asked my followers on Instagram for their favorite (not too steamy) holiday reads. I compiled their list together in hopes of having it in one place AND getting a chance to read some of them.

Thank you to everyone who helped me!

Snow Angel Cove (Haven Point #1) by RaeAnne Thayne

I saw this recommendation from The Book Tease.

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne welcomes you to a small town full of big surprises that are both merry and bright…

Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward’s Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she’s stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a helping hand…for her sick young daughter’s sake as well as her own. But she’s not expecting her holiday hero to almost run her down with his car!

Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza’s hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew that what his life was missing was Eliza and her little girl. But is he willing to risk hoping for a yuletide romance that could lead to forever?


A Christmas Melody (Trevor Family Saga #4) by Anita Stansfield

Thank you Taylor for the recommendation!

For twenty-year-old Melody Morgan, Christmas is nothing but a source of shame and embarrassment – just like all the other holidays in her life. She has grown up hating special days – and Christmas is the worst of all.

Then Matthew Trevor walks into her life one November afternoon and turns her world upside down. For Matthew, it’s love at first sight. But how can this handsome, upbeat returned missionary possibly know about the dark, desperate side of Melody’s life – and once he finds out, will he still love her?

This is not just a Christmas story. It’s a touching novel of discovery, renewal, and commitment to eternal principles of love and faith. What Melody learns about Christmas – and about herself – is the greatest gift of all. You’ll be charmed and moved by this sweet and satisfying adventure of the heart. And along the way, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the spirit and wonder of Christmas. 


It Happened at Christmas by Christen Krumm

Thank you Lyndsay for the recommendation!

In this enchanting YA spin on While You Were Sleeping, Christen Krumm delivers laughter and Christmas sparkle through a swoon-worthy story of first love and belonging.

Life at Iverson Preparatory Boarding School isn’t easy when you’re basically the maid. Murphy Cain spends her days cleaning up after her upper class peers in exchange for tuition while dodging their cutting remarks. All of that changes when she rescues her crush, the popular and hunky Tripp Harrington, after a near-fatal accident and is mistaken as his girlfriend.

Murphy finds herself struggling with the choice to reveal the truth or play along. As Tripp’s girl, his wealthy family will offer Murphy something she’s been craving her whole life—a chance to be one of the “in” crowd. A chance to belong. Without it, she’ll be right back where she started.

It only gets worse as Tripp’s brother Hank enters the picture. He’s handsome, down to earth, and seems to understand Murphy better than anyone else. The only problem? She’s supposed to be dating his brother.

As Christmas break draws to a close, Murphy must decide if telling the truth is worth losing it all or if the risk will bring a greater reward in the end.


Secret Santa (Holiday and Party Romantic Comedies #1) by Sabrina James

Recommended by a personal friend.

HOLIDAY CRUSHES ABOUND

Noelle, a hopeless romantic, just knows that her gifts have to be from her senior crush! And geeky Froggy thinks the game is the perfect way to get super-popular Celia to fall for him…except she thinks his gifts are from Jake, the school’s resident bad boy, and starts to crush on him!

SECRET SANTA MIX UPS GALORE

Romantic mishaps abound but all is revealed the night of the Winter Dance, when there’s more than one surprise waiting for everyone under the mistletoe! So bring a little Christmas spirit into your life today.This funny sweet romantic comedy is perfect for the holidays and all year ‘round.


A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

Thank you Joanna for the recommendation!

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion—or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.


Trouble in Loveland by Jennifer Peel

Recommended by a personal friend.

Charlee Jensen had what she considered the idyllic childhood growing up in a town named for that most prized emotion of all, Loveland, Colorado. At seventeen, her teenage crush, a man eight years older than her, marries and she naively thinks this is the worst thing that would ever happen to her. Then her parents divorce and her world crumbles. She finds herself being whisked away from her beloved home and estranged from her father.

Now eight years later, with two degrees that she never wanted in hand, and no job prospects, her father offers her a position with his CPA firm. With no other options available, Charlee accepts his offer and returns to the hometown she loved. While rebuilding her relationship with her father, she discovers that perhaps a romantic relationship is in the cards for her, with her old teenage crush, Ryan Carter, who just happens to still live next door and is now a partner in her father’s CPA firm.

Newly divorced and single dad, Ryan Carter, isn’t quite sure what to make of the girl next door, who’s all woman now. He finds himself having a hard time resisting this beautiful yet annoyingly charming woman, but their age difference and his complicated relationship with his ex-wife cause quite a bit of trouble for the couple. Ryan finds himself torn between keeping the peace with his ex-wife and mother of his child and his feelings for Charlee.

Can they successfully overcome their troubles in Loveland? Find out in this clean romance filled with sparks, humor, and of course, a little bit of trouble.


Christmas Like This by Carina Taylor

Thank you @happyreadingwatching for the recommendation!

I know exactly what I’d like to put in Trey’s stocking: the biggest lump of coal I can carry.
Unfortunately, I won’t get the chance, because our boss has delivered an ultimatum: plan the company Christmas party with Trey and learn to get along, or else.
After only one day of trying to plan the Christmas party, I’m ready to pick the “or else.” Is it possible to learn to get along with the most aggravating, overprotective, handsome guy I’ve ever known?
We’re about to find out if we can get our names off the naughty list or not.


The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

Recommended by a personal friend.

Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington D.C. to L.A in time for Christmas. Forced to travel by train, he begins a journey of rude awakenings, thrilling adventures and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost.

The Christmas Train is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischief … and shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles. 


Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War 1

Recommended by a personal friend.

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him.


What Light by Jay Asher

Recommended by a private account.

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .

Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

While I have no idea about any of these books, they all sound like great, quick holiday reads! I can’t wait to get to read as many as I can.

I would love more recommendations! What’s a favorite holiday book of yours? Lets talk in the comments!

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