Christmas at Holiday House by RaeAnne Thayne

christmas at holiday house

 

official blurb
This New Year will bring widowed nurse Abigail Powell a fresh start in a different city. Excited about the chance to create an unforgettable Christmas for her young son in picturesque Silver Bells, Colorado, Abby has been hired to take care of her dear friend’s recuperating grandmother. But sprightly senior Winnie insists she doesn’t need looking after. What she does need is help decorating her historic mansion, Holiday House, for a seasonal town fundraiser. Abby warms to the festive task, but she’ll have to contend with her own personal Grinch: Winnie’s prickly grandson, Ethan Lancaster. Ethan Lancaster is good at a lot of things. Relationships surely aren’t one of them. His ex-fiancée convinced Ethan he was incapable of love, and he believes her…up until the moment he impulsively kisses Abby. What is it about this vibrant woman and her sweet son that knocks his world off-kilter? He knows they’re leaving town after Christmas. He just didn’t expect they’d be taking a little of his heart with them. But as he and Abby work together on the magical Holiday House through the record cold weather, visions of a different future dance in his head…one filled with warmth, love and a new beginning for them both.

 

arc review

 

3 out of 5
🔥  out of 5 steam level

This was my first book by this author. I am all about Hallmark and Christmas and this book delivered with those vibes. Instead of having a dual point of view, I was surprised to find this featured three POVs. The main two POVs you read are between Abigail and Ethan. I liked Ethan overall but found Abigail to be less appealing. There was a specific scene regarding sledding and her fear of heights. Personally, I have a huge fear of heights and don’t even like standing on a chair – but am easily able to go sledding. For this reason, that scene felt unrealistic and a tad eye rolly.
The third POV was from Ethan’s sister, Lucy. I actually found I liked her story the best even though it was featured the least.
I liked that the book featured diverse characters, from a latinx family, to a character with down syndrome.
Overall this book fell a bit flat for me, but if you’re looking for a sweet holiday read with low steam levels then this one’s for you!

Content warnings: loss of a loved one, violence (very little described on the page)

Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn

dating makes perfect

arc review

 

official blurb
The Tech sisters don’t date in high school. Not because they’re not asked. Not because they’re not interested. Not even because no one can pronounce their long, Thai last name—hence the shortened, awkward moniker. But simply because they’re not allowed. Until now. In a move that other Asian American girls know all too well, six months after the older Tech twins got to college, their parents asked, “Why aren’t you engaged yet?” The sisters retaliated by vowing that they won’t marry for ten (maybe even twenty!) years, not until they’ve had lots of the dating practice that they didn’t get in high school. In a shocking war on the status quo, her parents now insist that their youngest daughter, Orrawin (aka “Winnie”), must practice fake dating in high school. Under their watchful eyes, of course—and organized based on their favorite rom-coms. ’Cause that won’t end in disaster. The first candidate? The son of their longtime friends, Mat Songsomboon—arrogant, infuriating, and way too good-looking. Winnie’s known him since they were toddlers throwing sticky rice balls at each other. And her parents love him. If only he weren’t her sworn enemy.

5 out of 5

REQUIRED READING FOR YA FANS!

what i liked
I finished this book over a week ago and I’m still so dang excited about it.  This book was so good! You are going to smile read through it, you’re going to read through your hands cringing during embarrassing moments and you are going to be so glad you watched all of those romcoms throughout the years because those warm and fuzzies have prepared you to fall in love with the Tech family!
If you loved the Song Sisters from To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, then you are going to adore the Tech sisters.  The Thai culture weaved throughout this book is refreshing to read.  The traditions and food are delightful in every way.  But that’s nothing compared to the actual family!  I mean, I could just grab this family- they were so real for me!  I was in this book the whole time and didn’t even want to pick it up the last night to read it because I didn’t want my journey with Winnie to be over.
If you don’t believe me that I loved this book- let me tell you this, I wrote in the margins of this book the whole time! I know, this is nuts!  I never do that unless it’s a five star read!
I don’t want to give too much away from this but it does include so many amazing references to cute romcom moments in your favorite movies.  And it does make you smile.  It does make you want to hang out with your family.  And it does make you want to eat.  Can you ask for anything more?!  I don’t think so either!

Good news, this book is out 8/18/20!  Preorder your copy now!

while reading you should
Eat: Authentic Thai food!
Watch: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Listen to: Catching Feelings by Justin Beiber

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The Switch by Beth O’Leary

THE SWITCH_COVER

arc review

official blurb
Eileen is sick of being 79. Leena’s tired of life in her twenties. Maybe it’s time they swapped places… When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

my blurb!
The Holiday meets Gilmore Girls meets The Golden Girls…. in Britain.

5 out of 5

🔥  out of 5 steam level
REQUIRED READING FOR FICTION LOVERS.

 

what i liked
Well that was just perfectly lovely.  You know when you finish watching the Kiera Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice and you just want to go around drinking tea, taking long walks and speaking in an English accent? No? Just me?  Well this book left me with similar vibes.
There were so many quotes I loved throughout the book but since it was an advanced readers copy I can’t share them all with you. But trust me, you’re going to love it.
The characters were so likable. I loved them! It took me a while to get everyone’s names down because there are strong friendship groups for both Leena and Eileen, but it’s worth the effort.  And honestly as you continue reading you catch on to who is who even if you can’t remember initially.  I’m personally very much hoping that Fitz and a girl with a car get a book of their own!
You know I love Gilmore Girls, which features two (well, three if you’re paying attention) Lorelai Gilmore’s.  This book features two Eileen Cotton’s and I was so here for it!
It was so well written that I could picture every scene. I can’t always do that with neighborhoods or cities, but I really could in this book!
What else did I love? You know when you’re watching a Hallmark movie and you’re rooting for some characters to get together and you just have a feeling that the guy you don’t like is really a schmuck but you just haven’t seen that yet?  …oh come on… that’s just me too?!  Well anyways, that happened in this book and I was so here for it.
This has romance in the novel, but it’s not the driving force. You should know that going in if you’re looking for a romance read.  It is a fiction novel with romance elements.
Overall I found this book to be like a hot cup of tea on a rainy day.  And just the coziness I needed during this insane time in the world. Highly recommend!

what i didn't like
I pretty much loved this book.  Leena had a personal climactic moment that I didn’t love her response to, but it didn’t make me subtract from the star level.

Content warnings: family member with cancer, death of a family member, infidelity, depression, panic attack, verbal abuse (secondary character).

Looking for a book featuring LGBTQ characters? This book features a secondary character who you’ll like.

while reading you should
Listen to: Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran (mentioned 98% of the way into the book)
Do: Call your grandma and your mom.
Drink: tea of course!

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Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

famous in a small town

So I’ve been stumbling upon old reviews that I drafted somewhat but never finished.  I thought about scrapping them entirely but then I thought, mmm…better not.  That was a very niche Pitch Perfect joke.

pitch perfect gif

official blurb
For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends—loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for—she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival. The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return. What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything—along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.

3.5 stars

The story in this book gave me a couple of twists, one of which I didn’t see coming (which is rare for me! …okay it would probably be less rare if I read things such as thrillers but since I don’t I can say I like the twists in the YA novel).  As always, I loved Emma Mills writing because she produces realistic characters.  It didn’t rate higher because the story wasn’t one that had me pulled in and non stop reading.  While I wouldn’t consider this a reread, overall I laughed out loud a few times while reading and enjoyed the ride.

Here are some quotes that I loved!

“Nice to meet you,” August said.
“That’s what I’ve heard, I replied.”

“Were you eating cold lasagna?” I asked, scooping pasta remains into the Tupperware while he wiped up the trail of sauce.
“Yeah.”
“But the microwave is right there.  Love yourself!”

“She knows everything,” Flora said. “She’s like the internet.”
She was possibly better than the internet sometimes.  I’d volunteered there since freshman year, and Mel had never once redirected to an ad for male enhancement.

“Sammy.”  He snapped his fingers.  “Patty. Patty Weaver. Oh yeah.  She makes a great lemon tart.”
“I heard she also makes responsible children.”

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What You Wish For by Katherine Center

what you wish for

arc review

official blurb
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before. When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

5 out of 5


 

REQUIRED READING FOR FICTION LOVERS

Ah! Let’s start with the fact that I loved this book! I was so nervous yet excited to read it because I adored Happiness For Beginners.  (If you didn’t know, this book is a stand alone book but it is a companion to HFB with some crossover characters).  I love love loved this book! It was a warm cup of coffee, a cozy sweater and the perfect playlist wrapped up in the impeccable writing of Katherine Center.

There were SO many quotes throughout this book that I made a note of.  I read an advanced readers copy so I can’t quote it for you. But you’re going to have to trust me that the writing you expect from Katherine Center does not let down in this book!  In fact it lets you up …okay so that’s not a thing, but it should be.

Remember in HFB, that I raved about it being a fiction book to support my gratitude lifestyle?  What You Wish For also keeps up with the theme of gratitude.  (If you want a reprisal of my love for all things gratitude then read my review for The Gratitude Diaries).  Seriously I love this theme so much – the characters in Katherine Center’s books do not  have perfect lives, but they search to see the best in their circumstances.  It was a very compelling theme to read in this time of coronavirus.  It left me feeling hopeful.  What a gift!

Did I mention that I was smile reading throughout most of this book?  By chapter ten or eleven I knew that I did not want to put the book down without finishing it.  There were a couple of roller coasters on the way to the ending. (You know, that feeling that an event in the book must be the climax, only to continue reading and think that the following events must be the stories climax).  I was happily along for the ride the entire way.

If I could change one thing about this book, it would be that I want a bonus chapter from Duncan’s perspective.  Specifically when he has to assume the caretaker role.  That’s all I’ll say.

Here comes my content warnings (previously called trigger warnings) if you find these to be spoilers then don’t read the next line:
Content warnings include: gun violence, school shootings, loss of a loved one.

while reading you should
Dress: In your favorite outfit featuring bright colors and/or fun patterns
Do: Go to a carnival.  Well… this is kind of a lie from me because I hate carnival rides. But if you’re into them then you should totally go while reading this book.
Eat: chocolate chip cookies.  This has nothing to do with the book but they make me happy.

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Crave by Tracy Wolff

crave

official blurb
My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me. Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me. Which could spell death for us all. Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

arc review

5 out of 5

Okay I know you might think it’s insane that I’m giving a vampire book five stars but, listen – this book was 572 pages of awesomeness. Okay so it’s not on my list of required reading for fiction lovers, but it IS on my list of required reading : paranormal reads. (If you’re keeping track, so far this list includes a book about a fallen angel and now a book about a vampire).

what i liked
-I found the characters super likable! I wanted even more scenes about Macy (is it weird that we really barely see her interact with her boyfriend? I mean, it’s not like there wasn’t time… 570+ pages!).
-I zoomed through reading this, I was always looking forward to picking it up and I never wanted to put it down.  If I read this on an ebook on my kindle I would’ve read it through the night for sure.
-Jaxon. Jaxon. Jaxon. That is all. I could go on, but Grace will for me in the book so I won’t.
-Grace… okay I wasn’t obsessed with her but generally I tend to get annoyed with main characters in books like these. I couldn’t make my way through The Mortal Instruments series completely because of Clary.  So Grace was a welcome change.  While I’ve never read twilight (I know, I need to rectify that STAT!) I have seen the movies.  And Kristen Stewart in those movies (picture as many eye roll emojis as humanly possible right here, okay?).  Anyways, I was expecting Grace to be reminiscent of Bella in twilight.
-All of the fantastical creatures! (no spoilers from me!)
-The library featured in the book.  I know that’s random but this is my review, what are you going to do about it?!

what i didn't like
The cheese level in this book is REAL.  The insta-love is there…. it is strong…the smell of it is wafting.  (Okay, I think you get it).
The first interaction between Jaxon and Grace was so incredibly bizarre.  I could not get over it.  Who physically touches someone when they first interact…prior to even exchanging names?!  Who, I ask you?!
I couldn’t get a good grip on what Jaxon actually looked like because all Grace kept observing was something along the lines of… (and i’m paraphrasing here) “Jaxon’s eyes…looking into my soul. Knowing me somehow. Showing me the despair that only he could detect deep within my own bones.”  So yeah… I couldn’t figure out what he looked like.
Listen… I realize the “do not like” list is long for a five star book. I rarely even write anything under this header when a book ranks 5 stars.  But that’s why it’s in my guilty pleasures list. Because… yes there were some flaws, but omg it was so good!

while reading you should
Watch: Legacies (you can binge it on Netflix!)
Listen to: Autumn Leaves by Miles Davis
Do: hydrate… you can never drink too much water!

Okay, last but not least, I’m gonna include one of my favorite scenes in the book (there were a lot to choose from but I feel like I need to sell you on this book because I loved it.  Some would even go so far as to say, I devoured it.   … see what I did there? Also, lets go ahead and be annoyed together that Grace doesn’t use punctuation when she texts)  :

Jaxon: It’s supposed to be a warning
Jaxon: Winky kiss emoji

Me: Of what?
Jaxon: Things that go bump in the night
Jaxon: You never can be too careful
Me: I like scary stories
Jaxon: But do you like the monsters in them?
Me: I guess it depends on the monster
Jaxon: I guess we’ll see, then, won’t we?
Me: I don’t know what that means

You’re hooked right?! Go read this book and then tell me all about your feelings because you will have them all when you read them! Oh… I guess I should also mention that this is book one and book two does not come out for a year.  Oopsies.  But still… go read it!

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The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

glass hotel

official blurb

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I’ve only read Station Eleven by Mandel, but I loved it. In fact it is probably my most widely recommended books.  However if you’re reading this review and you’re still in the throws of coronavirus- now is not the time to read Station Eleven.  But feel free to still go over and read my review of it! 🙂

Now let’s get started with this review.  I decided to format this one a little bit differently because why the heck not.  Here are some of my notes I wrote down while reading this beautifully written book.  You can decide when you read them, what my rating should be. Because I still haven’t totally decided what this book should be rated.

  • 55 pages in and it’s really confusing. There are seemingly random numbers on the pages throughout the chapters. The chapters are written from multiple characters perspectives. There are a ton of names to keep track of and I can’t remember them all. I keep flipping back and forth to see if it’s a name from a previous section and it rarely is.
  • There’s a girl named Vincent. Who names a girl Vincent? It has taken me at least 50 pages to remember that Vincent is a girl.
  • Over 90 pages in and no real plot yet. They keep alluding to the plot but not much of anything has happened. I’m enjoying the journey though.
  • I don’t know anything about pyramid schemes other than people making jokes about Young Living. Which I think is more MLM but honestly don’t know. After reading this I’m still completely confused about it. I think it needed to be actually explained to the laymen better. Page 205, an actual explanation! Yay! (And I actually even followed the explanation with “newborn mom brain” working against me!)
  • Page 240 before the storyline of “the woman who disappeared off of the boat.” This whole time I thought it was referring to… well to someone else (I don’t want to spoil that) It wasn’t…
  • I think this book should have a different title. Maybe Ghost Stories.  You decide what you think when you finish it and let me know what you think the title should be.  I feel like Ghost Stories is a pretty strong contender.

I would recommend reading this on a Kindle. Like station eleven, only in writing style, there are roughly 7000 names in this book. Okay, you got me, not 7000. I have a flair for the dramatic. But there were a lot of names. And if you have a memory like mine, a Kindle will be your best friend for the X-ray feature.

After finishing this book I have NO idea what to rate it. I didn’t feel fulfilled with the ending and it actually seemed like it was a two different stories written in the same book. That’s not to say that the stories didn’t converge in some sense but… Not enough for it to make sense to me.

I HAVE to mention that there are little easter eggs in this book if you’ve read her other books.  I’ve only read Station Eleven, like I mentioned, but I’ve heard that some characters from her other books made their way into this one as well.  That’s right, keep your eyes peeled and you might see some of your old friends from Station Eleven in this one!  

When I say I really enjoyed the writing style, I mean it!  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

-“Why were the righteous so often irritating?”
-“One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid.”
-“It’s always possible to fail to know the people closest to us.”
-“That’s what money gives you: the freedom to stop thinking about money”
-“Very few people who go to the wilderness actually want to experience the wilderness. Almost no one.”

Okay it’s time for me to rate this thing.  I know I won’t be widely recommending it like Station Eleven.  It really had a slow but steady pace… which in fairness I think quite a lot of adult fiction has this pacing.  It seemed like different stories were all jammed into one book.  The characters weren’t very likable (I think this is a trend for Mandel that she writes “realistic” characters.  I put that in quotes because I hope that if you met me in real life I would be likable and I am also a real person.  So with all of that in mind… I think I’m going to officially rate it:

3.75 our of 5

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