Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

official blurb
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away. But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her. Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

my blurb!
An alternating past and present timeline with drama and a will they/won’t they love story.

3.25 out of 5

what i liked
I read this story really quickly. I also didn’t realize it was a romance novel until half way through it. Okay, maybe it’s NOT a romance novel, but there were a few steamy scenes in it. What is the difference between a romance novel and an adult fiction novel? Asking for a friend…
I love the characters in this book. Macy was relatable and flawed. Elliot was an amazing book boyfriend- blunt and true. Sabrina- an amazing best friend who is kind but doesn’t beat around the bush. Macy’s dad- kind and putting a lot of effort into parenthood.

what i didn't like
A lot of this book was realistic to me.  That ended when the sex scene occurred in the book. Two grown adults, having sex at a wedding, not remotely intoxicated, clothes totally off, outdoors in a public garden…. Kind of ruined it for Me. Nobody Does that! It wasn’t romantic or realistic. I don’t think it flowed well with the storyline. So that was a pretty big bummer for me.

when to read
Thanksgiving – it’s mentioned quite a few times throughout the book!

while reading you should
Listen to this short playlist:
Find a Way by Safetysuit
Villains by Johnnyswim
Fall by Justin Beiber
Eat: A turkey dinner

if you would like to buy
Click here

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Let’s Get Ready for Bed by Michael W. Smith

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I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my free and honest review.

official blurb
From Grammy Award-winning artist Michael W Smith and the co-creator of Veggietales Mike Nawrocki comes Let’s Get Ready for Bed, the second in a series of bedtime books in the Nurturing Steps line. This sweet and sleepy picture book will lull your little one to sleep with their favorite stuffed animal characters the Nighty Nights.

my blurb!
A Christian themed book featuring friends and a bedtime routine.

3 out of 5

what i liked
This book starts with a page in the beginning with who the book is gifted from and who it is for.  Every children’s book should start out with that!
Rhyming is always in the plus column for me. And this book has it! Books are just more fun to read to your kids when they rhyme!
This book is educational.  For instance, one of the pages goes over why kids wear pajamas to bed.

This book would be great for ages : 4- 5 yrs old

what i didn't like
This book is long!  I think there could be page numbers on it.  It is 20 pages long, which made it too long for my 2 and 3 year old.
The premise of the book was a bit odd.  It’s two friends who watch their other friend, Puppy, get ready for bed. And after watching Puppy do quite the routine before bed, Puppy finally sees them and they all sing a song together.

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I review for BookLook Bloggers

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

official blurb
Daisy Flattery is a free spirit with a soft spot for strays and a weakness for a good story. Why else would she agree to the outrageous charade offered by her buttoned-down workaholic neighbor, Linc Blaise? The history professor needs to have a fiancée in order to capture his dream job, and Daisy is game to play the role. But something funny happens on their way to the altar that changes everything. Now, with the midnight hour approaching, will Daisy lose her prince, or will opposites not only attract but live happily ever after?

my blurb!
A straight laced, typical truth teller decides to deceive everyone with a fake fiance.

3 out of 5

what i liked
I love a story like this. I love a good plot of pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend- I mean YESSSSS! (Hello, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before).
There were a lot of supporting characters that I really liked.  Chickie (worst name ever) was a fun character to read about.  She was complex in her own way.
I liked Daisy! She was quirky and fun and I loved how she attracted other people to her by being kind.  In case you didn’t know, Kind is the New Classy.
Lincoln’s name.  It was a shame he went by Linc with everyone – the nickname is fine, but Lincoln is so much better!

what i didn't like
Daisy had a few oddities about her character that I just didn’t buy into.  I couldn’t picture her at all.  Was she like a gypsy?  I don’t understand what the author was trying to do with her as a character- one time teacher, storyteller, liar, eccentric dresser, messy, broken things all over her house, but most of all a painter?  I just didn’t buy it all, what can I say?
I wasn’t obsessed with getting through this story.  I just didn’t read it and think, “EEEEEKK! I can’t wait for them to get together!” Even though the storyline is exactly my type!

while reading you should
Watch: A cinderella story
Listen to: Cinderella by Play
Eat: Casserole

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Live Fearless: A Call to Power, Passion and Purpose by Sadie Robertson

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I received this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for my honest review which was not required to be positive.

official blurb
Dear friends,
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty tired of the struggle. You know which one I mean–fear, loneliness, not knowing who I am or what I’m meant to do. . . . Sound familiar? I struggled with insecurity, comparison, and isolation for too many years, from thigh gaps to eyebrows to the lifestyles I felt I had to live up to. I was so afraid of being “found out,” that everyone in my life would somehow figure out that I was fearful and small and that I struggled to make my faith a reality and to be secure in who I am. It took a major perspective shift from staring at comments on a screen to really digging into the pages of my Bible to see what God actually says about overcoming fear. Setting aside the fear, anxiety, and comparison to become the joy-filled person God created you to be is exactly what God is inviting you into. To really be seen and known. To be an agent of change by choosing compassion, connection, and acceptance for everyone you come in contact with. Inside this book are ways to find your power, passion, and purpose–and reach for your dreams. Plus, there are places to jot down notes, fun lists, practical ways to make changes, and thoughts on how living fearless can change everything. Are you tired of the awful comparison game? Are you exhausted from trying to keep up, from feeling small and afraid that people will find the real you and be disappointed? There is so much more for you. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what your fears are, freedom is available to you. It’s just a matter of saying yes. You in? Hope you’ll join me on this wild adventure as we learn to Live Fearless together. Love,
Sadie

my blurb!
A look at the life of the girl you might recognize from Duck Dynasty, the fear she lived in, and how she daily tries to overcome it.

3 out of 5
what i liked
Sadie is very likable.  You don’t read the book and think about how far out of touch she is with being a human.
She lived in a lot of fear – I mean it blew my mind.  And it was amazing to me that she was willing to share those struggles so readily with her readers!
The chapter’s end with reflections to help you progress in your own struggle(s) with fear!  It wasn’t crazy cheesy or anything like that- so big pro there!
Definitely the word I would use to describe this book the most is genuine.  Sadie comes across super genuine and it makes you realize how little you knew her when watching the “reality” show she was on!
This girl is so in love with God. It is amazing to read about and is really inspiring to me as a reader!

what i didn't like
Very quickly into this book I realized that I was not the target audience.  I don’t think I realized that people did live in this high level of fear and anxiety. It made me almost feel better about my issues with spiders and heights!  Not a knock on fearful people or the book- it just didn’t make me want to fly through reading it.

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The Gift That I Can Give by Kathie Lee Gifford

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I received a free copy of this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

official blurb
The Gift That I Can Give is a heartwarming story from Kathie Lee Gifford of how all children have something they can do today to make a difference. Whether it is being kind, giving a family member an extra-big squeeze, visiting someone who is sick, or cheering on a friend, this story will inspire children, leading them to want to read it again and again.

my blurb!
A children’s book about a girl trying to figure out how to use the gift that God has given her.  Perfect for kids age 2- 4 years old.

3.75 our of 5

what i liked
Wow the illustrations in this book were amazing!  They were done by Julia Seal and I will quickly be looking her up to see what else she has illustrated.  They did a great job of keeping my littles attention (which is not always easy to do).
I also appreciated the cover value of this book- it features glitter (that does not come off on everything), and butterflies.  My kids saw it and immediately wanted to read it!
The biggest compliment that I can give this story is that as soon as I finished it for the first time, my two-year old asked me to read it again immediately!
I loved the message of this book, God gives you a gift that may not be extravagant but is a great and useful blessing.
I also appreciated seeing multicultural kids in this book!

what i didn't like
I love a rhyming book with good cadence. They are my favorite to read to my littles!  But there were a couple of pages that didn’t flow well for me.  This is a big downside for me because as the reader- it’s one of the biggest incentives for me to read it 1000+ times for my kiddos.

Overall the illustrations in this book and the message of the book were a big win for me.

while reading you should
Pray with your kids!
Listen to: Jesus Loves Me
Ask your kids what they want to do to show kindness and use God’s gift!

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Dr Strange Beard (Winston Brothers #5) by Penny Reid

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official blurb
Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.  Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . . Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists. But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .

my blurb!
A guy who remembers everything proves trying to forget about the love of his life is easier said than done.

3.75 our of 5
I cannot wait for Billy’s book- I’m actually sad to know that his romance hasn’t taken place yet and he’s lived so long in his life without the love of his life (in my guess- Claire!)
I read all of the winston brothers books super fast.  Cletus and Roscoe have been my favorites.  Shout out to Jethro and Duane. Beau bringing up the rear- but still with a book I read in the span of 3 days.  These books are great for romance novel lovers- which I would now consider myself! BUT they didn’t make the required reading list because of the high level of steam.  If you’re up for a steamy read, or up for skimming parts of a fun series- then these ones are for you!

what i liked
I love an interracial couple. It might be because I’m a little biased (hollar to all the other mixed kids out there!) but I love reading about an interracial couple.  You know, I had never read a story with interracial protagonists until I was an adult. And I read a lot of YA… just saying.  (Seriously, I’m saying that it’s a real thing that kids grow up reading books but not seeing themselves or their possibilities in the books they read.)  I should also note that the most diverse protagonists I have ever read have been in romance novels! (This actually really nails why I am so into reading romance novels right now. I love a romcom and I LOVE reading a story involving people of color. I didn’t know I was missing that until …. well until I noticed).
This book also tackled some racism- what it’s like to be an affluent black family living in the south.  Simone had real conversations with her friends about how to support her, and how she wanted to handle situations that directly influenced her.
Can we talk about how all of Penny Reid’s heroine’s are freaking awesome? She always writes smart heroines who aren’t twiddling their thumbs when a smarter man comes and whisks them away.  So far her heroines have been an actress, a business owner, an FBI agent\scientist, and a teacher who brought STEM to her school.  Also, all of them were independently financially stable  (or were by the end of the books) so that’s pretty cool to me.

what i didn't like
My biggest knock on the book is that it was too steamy for me. This was a total 5 out of 5 steam level!  This, I think, was the steamiest of the Winston Brothers books… oh wait, I say that with each review? okay I guess they’re all steamy.
My next knock is that I was kind of confused in the ending- let’s just say there was a lot going on with the towns biker gang and I’m not sure I followed all of it. (This could be partly because, as previously stated in other reviews, I’m not into this plotline so I may be skimming sections involving the biker gang). Now that’s not to say that she won’t write more about it in the next books and it will all resolve itself – but as is, I was confused.  I did actually reread part of the ending to try to clarify some biker gang madness and I still didn’t follow it all.

while reading you should
Watch: Miss Congeniality
Listen: New Light by John Mayer
Eat: donuts from a mom and pop shop.

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Grin and Beard It (Winston Brothers #2) by Penny Reid

winston brothers 2

official blurb
Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.  But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.  Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.  Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?

my blurb!
A guy who isn’t into reading E-online articles accidentally falls for a celebrity in rural Tennessee.

3.5 out of 5 stars

what i liked
The Winston Brothers book two! Wahoo! Are you as excited as I am that I decided to tackle an entire romance novel series?!  Okay let’s get to it…
I liked this one better than the first one.  The main girl – Sienna- was a person of color (shout out to more diverse narrators!) She was awkward and really funny.  She was confident in herself – her personality and her body and her career. She was close with her family.  Did I mention she was really likable?
Jethro was our other protagonist- another Winston brother. He was so…likeable.  I know, I know, you’re sensing a theme.  Jethro was really trying to redeem himself of his shady past.  He was a park ranger and an overall kind person. He understood that seeking forgiveness for his past actions meant a long journey and not just a single apology. (Life lesson anyone?)  He spoke his feelings and was very thoughtful.  Shout out to Jethro!
I like getting tidbits of other characters in the town and guessing if they’ll be a love interest in another Winston brothers book!
SPOILER ALERT: my TOTAL guesses for future couplings so far are : Claire and Billy.  Cletus and Jennifer. Roscoe and … no idea on that one.  Beau and…. nope not sure yet on that one either.

what i didn't like
I am not into the whole biker gang plot of these books. I just don’t care enough about that aspect and want to skim the sections where they bring up those parts of the plot.  And let me tell you- this is part of the world of theirs in Tennessee- so it’s in the books quite a bit.
This book was steamy. Wowzah.  It started off not NEARLY as steamy as the first book- which I liked personally.  Then towards the last quarter of the book it upped its steam rating.

So far these have been what I would have expected out of a romance novel.  They are steamy, funny, quick reads.  If you enjoy romance novels- these aren’t the best of the best in the world (Hello, I’m looking at you, The Hating Game) but they are fun to read!

Watch: groucho marx
listen: – Tina Fey’s audiobook – Bossypants
do: have an outdoor picnic.

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