Month: December 2018

Christmas with My Favorite Book Characters | Blogger Guest Post

Posted December 13, 2018 by Jana in Guest Post / 0 Comments

I adore Christmastime, it’s my favorite time of year. It might have something to do with my birthday being the day before or it might be the magic in the air. Living in New England, I adore the cold weather, the snow flakes swirling, and hopefully a white Christmas. Everything seems so magical and hopeful around Christmas, which means it’s the perfect time of year to spend with my favorite book characters. I chose these characters because they’re some of my favorites and also because Christmas with their families would embody that magical feeling.

These families (or chosen families) would be cozy in front of the fire and sharing memories, love, and lots of laughter. It’s not about the gifts and I bet many of these families would exchange handmade gifts.

So here they are:

The Potters and the Weasleys from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I mean who doesn’t want a sweater from Mrs. Weasley?

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March family from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Winter Solstice with Feyre, Rhys, and their friends in A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

The Cuthberts in Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The O’Brien family in the Chesapeake Shores series by Debbie Macomber

Yelana, Valek, Ari, and Jenco in Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

The Stark family from A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Mia and Olivia in From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

Everyone in the Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis

About Jennifer

After spending 11 years as a Young Adult Librarian, I moved libraries and became a Children’s and YA Librarian. I love love love books and talking about reading (which is why I started my blog). I talk about all kinds of books from picture books to YA books to romance books.

My favorite types of books include mysteries, romance, thrillers, and spy books. I adore crafty books, regency romances, and cozy mysteries. When I’m not reading or talking about books, I love baking, crafting, watching the Celtics, or snuggling with my two dogs.

Blog: http://yabooknerd.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/yabooknerd

Which book characters would you like to spend Christmas with?


Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)

Posted December 12, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Giveaway / 9 Comments

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Series: O'Neil Brothers #1
Also in this series: Suddenly Last Summer, Maybe This Christmas
Published by Harlequin on October 29, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

I love Christmas romances, especially if they are set in a picturesque place and have wonderful characters. As soon as I read that Sleigh Bells in the Snow takes place in Vermont, I was very excited! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The Snow Crystal is a cozy ski resort nestled in the mountains of Vermont. The O’Neil family has run it for years, and it is a bit of a hidden gem with lots to offer. It has cabins with hot tubs on the porch, amazing views, and a homey lodge with a sitting room and kitchen that just screams holidays. I would LOVE to pack up and move there right now. If any guest wants a Christmas tree for their cabin, one of the O’Neil brothers goes out and chops one and delivers it at their front step. How fun is that?! I really want to visit. The setting was definitely my favorite part of the book.

2. I liked Kayla, but I felt she was a bit too cynical and cold at times. I just wanted to shake her! She has a sad past of abandonment, and does not like Christmas at all. Honestly, though, I’m pretty sure she does not like any kind of family holiday. She arrives at the resort in her designer pumps and pencil skirt, bent on being a complete stick in the mud as she hides in her cabin in the hopes of letting Christmas painlessly pass her by. The longer she stay there, though, the more comfortable she gets. I liked the transformation she went through as she got to know the O’Neil family. She bought some snow boots, let her hair down, and allowed herself to get close to them even though it scared her. I liked this side of her much more than the hardened, emotionless side we see at the beginning of the book.

3. I adore the O’Neil family, and how close they are. Jackson has come back to Snow Crystal after making it big in Europe. He wants to help get the resort on the map and show the world what it has to offer, before it goes under and the family loses it. That’s why he hires Kayla to come out. As he updates and elevates the resort, he is met with a lot of resistance from his family. They are not keen on change, and are scared that a snooty New Yorker will ruin their image. As they soften Kayla, though, she softens them. I loved the conversations between family members, as they all open up and grow closer together. This family ends up being extremely loving despite their high maintenance demands.

4. I really liked the non-family staff members at the Snow Crystal. I particularly liked the spitfire of a French chef and the ski instructor. Each character in this story is unique and loveable.

5. Jackson is so wonderful. He is tender and persistent, and boy can he chop wood. I love his devotion to his family, even though they are fighting him the whole way. I love that he gave up his big life to come home and save his family lodge. I love how sweet he is to Kayla.

6. The romance is slow burning. It begins as a simple professional relationship, with that initial attraction on both sides. It then slides into this love-hate friendship kind of thing before turning into something really special. I really liked that it was not just lust, which seems to happen a lot in the Christmas romances I’ve read before. There are real feelings at play.

Sleigh Bells in the Snow is a fun, cheery Christmas romance with a wonderful family dynamic, a cozy setting, and a swoonworthy male lead. I definitely recommend you read it it you’re in the mood for some Christmas cheer! I can’t wait to read about the other O’Neil brothers, which will happen as the series continues.

(This review was originally posted on 12/6/13 and was re-posted for some extra love.)

Sarah is sponsoring a giveaway for my readers this Christmas, with a signed copy of her newest Christmas release, The Christmas Sisters!

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
Published by HQN Books on September 25, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Holiday, Women’s Fiction
Add to Goodreads

In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?

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My Top Ten Favorite Christmas Movies

Posted December 10, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 33 Comments

Today is freebie day, and to go along with my A Bookish Little Christmas event this month I decided to make it Christmassy. I love all things Christmas, but I’ve been focusing a lot on Christmas books on the blog lately, so I’m taking a break from books and focusing on my very favorite Christmas movies this week! I’m a Hallmark Christmas movie junkie, so that’s what most of these are!

Finding Father Christmas

Christmas for Miranda is a painful reminder of the family she never had. Her mother died when she was young, never revealing the identity of her father. But, three days before Christmas, she unexpectedly receives a clue as to the whereabouts that takes her to a beautiful New England town where she meets Ian, a young man who helps with her search. As the clues lead to her father’s identity and Miranda discovers the possibility of love in Ian, and she learns that her father lived in the small town and now she knows his family (her brother and her biological father’s wife). She faces a terrible decision… Should she share the truth and risk losing the family she has just found, or leave and keep the secret forever? This Christmas promises to be life-changing for Miranda with a new chance at life and love.” Starring Wendy Malick, Erin Krakow and Niall Matter.

One Starry Christmas

Aspiring astronomy professor and Christmas enthusiast Holly (Sarah Carter) is crushed when her longtime boyfriend Adam (Paul Popowich) schedules a business trip and leaves her alone over the holidays. When she decides to surprise both Adam and her parents with a Christmas visit, however, fate, or perhaps the Christmas spirit, intervenes. Holly’s bumpy holiday travel makes a turn onto the road to romance when she and her bus companion, Luke (Damon Runyan), forge an instant connection over their love of constellations and Christmas. In the spirit of the season, Holly invites Luke and his brother Bull (George Canyon) to join her family and Adam for Christmas, which instantly creates a competition between Luke and Adam for Holly’s attention. As sparks fly like shooting stars between Holly and Luke, will Holly decide to play it safe and stay with Adam or to thank her lucky stars for the Christmas gift of romance with Luke?

Window Wonderland

It’s no holds barred when two Manhattan department store employees vie for the same job during the busy Christmas season. Sloan Van Doren (Chyler Leigh) is a driven young woman determined to become the next window dresser at McGuire’s department store and to uphold a 95-year-old artistic holiday tradition. Serious and professional, she’s the polar opposite of the happy-go-lucky Jake Dooley (Paul Campbell), who also wants the job. When Mr. Fitch (Matty Finochio), the head of advertising and promotion, gives them a challenge, the competition is on: each will create a series of seasonal storefront windows twice a week until Christmas. The creator of whichever window display gets the most attention from passersby will get the job.

As they go through their paces, with Jake’s obvious talent grabbing the public’s attention, a silent but mutual attraction develops between the pair, hampered by the contest and the presence of Kenneth (Cameron Mathison), Sloan’s blueblood boyfriend, who can’t understand the importance Sloan is placing on this job. Supporting the efforts of the window dressers are McGuire’s veteran window washer Mac (Terence Kelly) and brassy bathroom attendant Rita (Naomi Judd) who have eyes for each other but haven’t done anything about it yet. Love is in the air at McGuire’s, but things aren’t exactly what they seem. Who will win in this love triangle?

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Jennifer Cullen (Brooke Burns) is a single, working mom who has become somewhat of a Scrooge when it comes to the Holiday season. Even her six-year-old son Brian is having trouble believing in Santa Claus. When Jen’s Uncle Ralph (Henry Winkler), a retired police officer, comes to visit for Christmas, he brings along a new friend, a nomad and Jack-of-all-trades named Morgan Derby (Warren Christie). The two met on a flight, and Morgan’s plans to continue on to Denver are cancelled when he finds out the city is completely snowed in. Jen is wary of the stranger, but at Ralph’s request, agrees to let him stay the night. She warms up to Morgan, especially when she sees how he interacts with Brian. Uncle Ralph approves of Morgan, too, but Jen’s boyfriend Richard isn’t nearly as receptive. Meanwhile, Morgan has started to really like Jen, but if she can’t manage to make Christmas about anything more than business, Morgan will be on his way to Denver, and she’ll have missed the opportunity that was right in front of her. Uncle Ralph has done what he can to keep Morgan around, but it’s going to take something more than that to get him penciled into Jen’s long-term plans. Jen just needs to learn “how to do Christmas,” and it turns out Morgan is the perfect one to teach her.

Christmas Getaway

Hoping to spend the holiday relaxing, a travel writer takes a traditional Christmas vacation for the first time. Through a mix up on the rental site, she finds herself double-booked for the holidays with a widower, his young daughter and mom. What begins as an inconvenience blossoms into much more. Stars Bridget Regan and Travis Van Winkle.

Miss Christmas

Nicknamed “Miss Christmas,” the official tree finder for Chicago’s renowned Radcliffe Tree lighting is left desperate to find the perfect tree. A letter from a young boy promising his tree is perfect sends her to a small town where she learns the young boy’s dad isn’t willing to part with his tree. While sparks fly, she’ll be forced to confront what she’s really been missing for Christmas. Starring Brooke D’Orsay and Marc Blucas.

 

The Santa Clause

When a man inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas Eve, he finds himself magically recruited to take his place.

The Holiday

Two women trade homes only to find that a change of address can change their lives. Iris (Winslet) is in love with a man who is about to marry another woman. Across the globe, Amanda (Diaz), realizes the man she lives with has been unfaithful. Two women who have never met and live 6000 miles apart, find themselves in the exact same place. They meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Iris moves into Amanda’s L.A. house in sunny California as Amanda arrives in the snow covered English countryside. Shortly after arriving at their destinations, both women find the last thing either wants or expects: a new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris’ handsome brother Graham (Law) and Iris, with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur (Wallach), mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles (Black).

The Nine Lives of Christmas

Fireman Zachary Stone (Routh) is a confirmed bachelor who doesn’t believe in love or commitment. When a stray tabby cat named Ambrose shows up at his door, Zachary takes him in and slowly starts to see that a little companionship might not be so bad after all. Zachary’s commitment to solitude is further challenged when he meets Marilee (Sustad), an animal lover and veterinary student who teaches Zachary how to care for his new feline roommate. Chemistry immediately develops between the two, but will they find a way together despite themselves?

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmastime is here. Happiness and cheer. And for Peanuts fans everywhere, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without this classic holiday delight. Christmas lights may be twinkling red and green, but Charlie Brown has the Yuletide blues. To get in the holiday spirit, he takes Lucy’s advice and directs the Christmas play. And what’s a Christmas play without a Christmas tree? But everyone makes fun of the short, spindly nevergreen Charlie Brown brings back – until the real meaning of Christmas works its magic once again.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?
What topic did you choose for freebie week?


My Favorite Fictional Scrooges | The 12 Days of Holly Chase (+Giveaway)

Posted December 10, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway / 8 Comments

My Favorite Fictional Scrooges | The 12 Days of Holly Chase (+Giveaway)

I’m so excited to be a part of The 12 Days of Holly Chase blog tour, hosted by Your Book Travels. There’s so much fun happening along this festive blog tour!

My post today is pretty fun. In case you didn’t know, Holly Chase is a major Scrooge. Well, she was before she died. Now her afterlife has frozen her at age 17, and she works as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past. Obviously, this is a super miserable job. In honor of her, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite lovable, grumpy, Scroogey characters in books.

My Favorite Fictional Scrooges

Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Who doesn’t love our grumpy, swoony Mr. Darcy?

Prince Dominic from A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier
Dominic is really a major jerk in the beginning of this Beauty and the Beast retelling. He’s grumpy and rude and you pretty much hate him… until you don’t.

Haymitch Abernathy from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This former victor of the Hunger Games is in a perpetual bad mood and drinks all the time, but he’s actually got a big heart.

Gideon from Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Gideon is a snarky, experienced time traveler who is a complete nuisance to Gwyneth… in the beginning.

Callum Cook from Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
This guy is very grumpy, and it’s even more obvious because Lou is so sunshiney!

Finn Dalton from Starry Night by Debbie Macomber
Finn is a grumpy, anti-social mountain man with this dry wit that leaves you feeling insecure and intrigued.

Lucas Blade from Miracle on Fifth Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Lucas is an actual Scrooge. He hates Christmas and is suer grumpy about it! Readers only see his bad side for a little while. He’s a grumpy and stressed author, and he’s downright irritating.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on October 24, 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Christmas, Fantasy, Retelling
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository • IndieBound

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

About Cynthia Hand

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novel THE HOW AND THE WHY (Fall 2019). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with a husband who’s addicted to typewriters, two kids, two cats, one crazy dog, and a entourage of imaginary friends. www.cynthiahandbooks.com

Holly-day Prize Pack Giveaway

The winner will receive a signed copy of a Cynthia Hand novel of your choice, a set of red fingerless gloves (knitted by Cynthia), a holiday spice candle, a copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas, two peppermint mocha bath bombs, a peppermint cream and pomegranate raspberry lip balm set, a “make your own ugly sweater kit,” a pair of reindeer glasses, a Christmas mug that reads: “Holi-yays,” Christmas pencils, candy cane Christmas kisses, and a limited edition Holly Chase ornament (signed by Cynthia). Digital MP3 download of The Afterlife of Holly Chase: An Alternate Christmas Carol by Lindsey Hunt.

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The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Posted December 9, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #2
Also in this series: One Snowy Night, Chasing Christmas Eve
Published by Avon on September 27, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
2 Stars
If she has her way ...

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her ...

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him ...

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice ...

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work ...

Congratulate me on my first full-length Jill Shalvis! I read a Christmas novella or two of Jill’s every December, and have enjoyed them but never really connected on a deep level with any of her characters. This year I decided to carve out some time to read one of her full-length novels to see how I felt. While I enjoyed The Trouble with Mistletoe, it didn’t grab me like I had hoped it would. I’ve read some reviews since I finished, and multiple people say this isn’t their favorite of hers and that she has many stronger novels in her repertoire, so perhaps I picked the wrong book to read first! In any case, it was a fun, festive read! I did have some issues with it, though. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really appreciated Willa and her love of animals and Christmas. We’re kindred spirits in this regard. She loves to decorate anything and everything, and she loves to dress like it’s Christmas everyday. She hasn’t met an animal that she doesn’t love, and that doesn’t love her. She owns a dog grooming business and hosts doggy weddings for some extra money. She loves her friends, and her past has caused her to it upon herself to scoop up lost or troubled souls and take them under her wing. One of her employees ran into some trouble as a young teen and Willa came to her rescue, gave her a job, and looks after her. She takes care of the homeless man in the alley outside her shop and brings him food. She even decorated the alley with Christmas lights so he could have some holiday cheer. She’s pretty likable, and a good friend to have in your corner.

2. Keane was very meh for me. He was a jerk to Willa in high school and has no idea who she is now. That’s surprising. I’d remember a person I went to high school with even if I didn’t know them well, so this kind of indicates what a crappy teen he was. I have a hard time with people like that. 16-17 years old is not young enough to get away with being an awful person, in my book. I never was able to convince myself hat he isn’t a crappy person anymore.

3. I don’t like animals as characters, and Petunia the cat (nicknamed PITA by Keane because he hates her and considers her to be a pain in the a**) bothered me. I LOVE cats. I’m a crazy cat lady. But when an author starts choosing what a cat is thinking and feeling and using it as a plot point, I start to drift off. It’s just too hokey.

4. I did not feel any chemistry between Keane and Willa. Willa was in love with him in high school, so she’s got this little girl infatuation with him now. I don’t understand harboring a crush for THAT long. Especially when it’s on a really jerky guy who broke your heart and doesn’t even remember. Keane only begins to like her because she looks good in her jeans and her wet clothes after a day of dog washing. There was just no depth to them at all.

5. I loved the Christmas scenes. The entire city is decked out in lights, garlands, wreaths, and trees. I loved the descriptions of those scenes, and they were the only thing keeping me going with this book.

6. There was a lot of needless drama and repetitive conversations and inner monologues about why they shouldn’t be together (all the while they have no problems continuing to sleep together). Things moved so slowly, and I just wanted the story to get to the point. This book should have been a novella! Not much happened at all.

7. The supporting characters were cookie cutters and I don’t remember the names of any of them. 

8. The writing… it just wasn’t good. There were come continuity issues and some of the author’s phrasing bothered me. For example, a character frequently “went eyebrows up” or “went hands on hips”. That’s a really annoying way to write it!

All in all, I’m disappointed. I liked Willa and all the Christmas, which made the book fun to read at times, but for the most part The Trouble with Mistletoe really didn’t do anything for me. I’m not giving up on Jill Shalvis yet, though, so don’t worry!


Christmas Songs Book Tag 2018

Posted December 8, 2018 by Jana in Book Tag / 4 Comments

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

Celebrate #ChristmasWithJanaInstagram ✦ Twitter Event Schedule

A few years ago I created the Christmas Songs Book Tag, and I’ve had a couple requests to host it again this year, so here it is! The goal is to pick a book you’ve read this year that fits the theme of the Christmas song titles.

If you’d like to join the fun, leave a link to your post in the Linky below and I’ll come visit! Since I’ve already done this I’m going to limit my answers to the books I read this year, but you can feel free to choose whichever books you’d like!

1. “All I Want for Christmas Is You”: Favorite bookish couple.
Zorrie and Lennon from Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett.

2. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”: Name a book where a character is away from home (school, vacation, etc.).
Addie from Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch is on vacation in Ireland for her aunt’s wedding.

3. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”: Name your favorite “little” book (children’s book, short story, novella, etc.).
Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare was lovely, and is a novella in the Spindle Cove series.

4. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“: What book(s) do you hope Santa brings you this year?
Hmm… How about an ARC of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo? Santa can do anything, right?

5. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”: Which book turned your nose red (made you cry)?
I’m proud to say that nothing made me sad cry this year. Everless by Sara Holland made me cry tears of boredom, though!

6. “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Your favorite book/kind of book to read during the holidays.
I looove reading Christmas books right now, and my favorite one so far has been One Enchanted Moment by Sarah Morgan!

7. “We Three Kings”: Your favorite trilogy.
I really stuck to duologies and stand alones this year, so I don’t have an answer this time!

8. “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”: A character you would love to be snowed in with.
Beckett from I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill.

9. “Last Christmas”: A book that seriously let you down.
I had high hopes for The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, and I really hated it…

10. “White Christmas”: An upcoming release you’re dreaming about.
Umm… I already mentioned King of Scars… So what else? Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett and 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne!


Five Unique Ways to Gift Wrap Books by Jenny Hale | Author Guest Post

Posted December 7, 2018 by Jana in Guest Post / 4 Comments

If you’re a book person like I am, then you might side with me on this. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Christmas were just a giant book-giving holiday? Wouldn’t it be amazing if all the gifts under the tree were book-shaped? I’m ready to start the revolution and give all my friends books this year! If you’re with me on this, here are five unique ways to wrap a book for every kind of friend:

1. The Reader Friend: The USA Today newspaper puts out the bestseller list every Thursday. Why not wrap a book in it? Then you and your friend can chat over which bestsellers you’ve read over coffee before she runs off with the new book you just got her.

2. The Nature Lover: Sometimes, less is more, right? For those who love the simple things in life, keep it calm and tranquil with a nature theme.

3. The Glam Friend: We all have that one friend who we wish would spend more time reading than she does on her nails. While I’m definitely a fan of nice nails, maybe you two could meet up for a manicure and then entice her to read what’s inside this fabulous parcel of Christmas goodness.

4. The Candy Guru: Isn’t it the best when you get to nibble on chocolates while reading? Perhaps wrap up a few of her faves with her new book to show her just how much you care. If she’s a true friend, maybe she’ll share…

5. The Best Friend: You know that friend that you just love so much that you have to draw the little arrow at the bottom on her Christmas card so you can keep writing on the back? This book is for her! Write your message on brown paper, using a permanent marker. She’ll have to unwrap her gift to read your message—like two gifts in one!

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale
Published by Forever on October 30, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Christmas, Romance
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N

A feel-good story about the magic of Christmas… and the rush of falling in love under the mistletoe.

Single mother Abbey Fuller loves her family more than anything, and she doesn’t regret for a moment having had to put her dreams of being an interior designer on hold. But with her son, Max, growing up, she jumps at the chance when a friend recommends her for a small design job. How hard can it be?

Nick Sinclair needs his house decorated in time for his family’s festive visit-and money is no object. What he doesn’t need is to be distracted from his multimillion-dollar business-even if it is Christmas.

When Abbey pulls up to the huge Sinclair mansion, she has a feeling she might be out of her depth. And when she meets the gorgeous, brooding Nicholas Sinclair, she knows that she’s in real trouble . . .

With the snow falling all around them, can Abbey make her dreams of being a designer come true? And can she help Nick to finally enjoy the magic of Christmas?

About Jenny Hale

When I graduated college, one of my friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to me.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t.

While I didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, I completed a novel that I felt was worthy of publication. The result was Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about friends, family, and the magic of love at Christmas.

The rest is history.

When I’m not writing, I’m a mother of two boys and a wife to a very supportive husband.


The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book Review

Posted December 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book ReviewThe Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander
Series: The Lady Travelers Society #2.5
Published by HQN Books on October 1, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
A fake fiancé and a Christmas engagement are a recipe for trouble in this delightful holiday romp featuring New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers Society

Miss Anabel Snelling needs a fiancé, and fast. If her father, Sir Archibald, has his way, she’ll be married in time for Christmas—to a man she doesn’t love. That’s why she and her aunt have concocted a brilliant plan to hire an American actor to play the role of her suitor. But the charming Wesley Grant is playing the part a little too well, and Anabel is in danger of falling for him. What Anabel doesn’t know is Wesley is not the actor her aunt hired. Still, what kind of a gentleman would he be if he didn’t come to her rescue? He has a new plan of his own—win Anabel’s heart…for real.

I really love fake romance tropes because these kinds of relationships are always laced with tension and wondering and so many feelings. I also love historical romances set at Christmastime because they feel so cozy and traditional, with the candles and the traditional Christmas decorations. I’d been intrigued by The Lady Travelers Society series as well, so I was happy to jump into this novella for multiple reasons. While it was cute, it did fall victim to the same plight that so many novellas to: the shortness prevented character and plot development.

I did really enjoy what I saw of these characters, which is always the most important thing to me in any story I read. Anabel is resourceful and liberal during a time when women did what they were told. I loved that she and her aunt dreamed up a plan to fake an engagement in order to avoid an arranged marriage set up by Anabel’s father. I loved Wes, and the fact that we’re dealing with mistaken identity with him made things even more fun. I liked watching him try and figure out how to play the part of an actor. The romance was a bit fast and unbelievable for me, but I guess that’s where the magic of Christmas comes in! The three elderly ladies who meddle and snoop and conspire under the surface cracked me up. I’m not usually a fan of silly characters like this, but I liked them.

All in all, The Dance Before Christmas was a fun little holiday romance that got me into the spirit of he season. I wish the characters had been a little more developed because they had such great potential to be. I wish the story had a little more depth as well, but that’s what I get for reading a novella. I’m definitely interested in the rest of The Lady Travelers Society series!


Ginger’s Favorite Holiday Romances | Blogger Guest Post

Posted December 5, 2018 by Jana in Book Spotlight, Guest Post / 2 Comments

Hello and Happy Holidays! When Jana reached out to me, asking if I’d like to join her A Bookish Little Christmas feature on her blog, I was first, extremely honored, and second, immediately wanting to say yes! I love collaborating with other bloggers in the community, especially for fun holiday features like this one. It’s a great way to meet new readers while sharing your own love for reading. So, thank you, Jana for asking me to be a part of this!

If you know me, or follow me anywhere on social media, then you probably already know where my style of reading tends to fall… ROMANCE! I’ve always been more of a contemporary kind of reader, but in the last five years or so, all I’ve wanted to read are romances. The romances I’ve read the most this year have been Adult and fall under contemporary or historical romance. I can never get enough!

With that being said, I would love to recommend a few of my favorite holiday romances I’ve read, plus share some others I am hoping to get to this holiday season. If romance is your jam, then I bet this post is for you! If you’re not so much a romance fan, maybe I could convince you to try something new? Either way, I hope I’ve added a few new books to your to-be-read lists (and maybe even your holiday wish lists??).

For the Holiday Romance Novella Fan…

Holiday Wishes (Heartbreaker Bay #4.5) by Jill Shalvis

About the book: It’s Christmastime again in Heartbreaker Bay!

When Sean O’Riley shows up at the Hartford Bed & Breakfast for his older brother’s bachelor weekend, he’s just hoping to make it through the weekend. What he’s not expecting is to come face to face with the woman he lost his virginity to a decade ago—a woman he’s never really forgotten.

The last time Lotti Hartford saw Sean, she told him she loved him while he said nothing. Now, ten years later, she’s just looking for a good time. For once, she wants to be the wild and free one, and Sean – the good time guy – is the perfect candidate. 

But as the weekend continues, Sean realizes that after a lifetime of being the hook-up king, he’s ready to find happily-ever-after, and he wants it with Lotti. But will she open her heart to him again? As Christmas sweeps through the little B&B, he can only hope love and magic are in the air. [goodreads.com]

This was a fun, quick read if you’re looking for something steamy to read during the holidays. The festiveness of the Bed & Breakfast set the scene for a cozy Christmas holiday, and these two characters definitely kept things warm! Jill Shalvis is always a reliable author if you’re looking for something to entertain and keep you satisfied. Also check out a previous novella from this same series, One Snowy Night, which I enjoyed just as much – if not more!

Room at the Inn  by Ruthie Knox

About the book: Ambitious and driven, Carson Vance couldn’t wait to escape the small town where he was born. But now that Carson is back to spend Christmas with his ailing father, he must face all the people of Potter Falls he’s left behind. Topping that list is Julie Long, who’s sacrificed so much for Carson’s family, and whose heart he broke once upon a time.  

Now the proprietor of the local inn, Julie has blossomed from a shy schoolgirl into a successful, seductive, independent woman—everything that Carson’s looking for in a relationship. But despite several steamy encounters under the mistletoe, Julie refuses to believe in happily ever after. Now Carson must convince Julie that he’s back for good—and that he wants her in his life for all the holidays to come. [goodreads.com]

If you have not read a Ruthie Knox novel before, then I highly recommend starting with this sweet, sexy holiday novella of hers. It’s such a great introduction to her realistically romantic story telling. This particular story is a second chance romance sort of tale. What began as just a physical relationship gets a second go, and satisfies way more than just physical needs. In just these short pages I really got to know these characters and understood their journey, all while told against a sweet Christmas back drop.

For the Historical Romance Fan…

I Will: A Christmas Novella by Lisa Kleypas

About the book: Andrew, Lord Drake, has been cut out of his father’s will because of his dissolute manner of living. To be reinstated, Andrew decides to pretend that he has changed his wicked ways. 

As part of his plan, he wants to convince his father that he is courting a respectable woman with the intention of marrying her. The problem is, he doesn’t know any decent women, except for his friend’s spinster sister, Miss Caroline Hargreaves. He blackmails the reluctant Caroline into helping him, and so the charade begins . . . [goodreads.com]

Oh how I love a fake relationship turns something more! This deliciously romantic tale kept me reading in one sitting (bonus: it’s a novella!) and I knew I was in for a treat considering it was from Lisa Kleypas. There’s something festive about an English setting during the holidays from the 19th century. Throw in a fun plot and I am sold!

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe

About the book:

“Meet Me in Mayfair” by Tessa Dare

Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless–and unexpectedly handsome–Thorndale himself. Now the duke’s holding her future in his hands…and he’s not letting go.

“The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean

Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm–the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can’t resist the woman he never stopped loving…or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay…but if ever there were a time for miracles, it’s Christmas…

“Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan

When Annis Bannister’s family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss … until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

“Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe

Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker’s weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column’s author, can’t even boil water. When the paper’s owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing–especially when Duke’s attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love? [goodreads.com]

Not one, but FOUR historical romance holiday stories in this one! And even better, they’re from some of my favorite authors! Tessa Dare and Sarah MacLean’s were probably the two I enjoyed most, but all four are definitely a treat that should not be missed this holiday season. If you’re like me and having withdraws waiting for the next MacLean novel to come out, this is a nice surprise to tide you over.

For the Steamy Romance Fan…

An Ex for Christmas  by Lauren Layne

About the book: When a psychic tells spunky, superstitious Kelly Byrne that she’s already met her true love, she becomes obsessed with the idea of tracking him down before Christmas. Kelly immediately writes up an “Ex List” and starts contacting old boyfriends to figure out which one is the one. When her college sweetheart rolls into town, Kelly convinces herself that they’re meant to be. The trouble is, sparks are flying with someone she’s never given a chance: her best friend, Mark.

Mark Blakely has watched the guys on Kelly’s list break her heart, and he’s not looking forward to watching them do it all over again. Mark’s always been there for her, but the timing’s never worked out for their relationship to be something more. Now, just as Mark is ready to move on, the sexual tension between them is suddenly off the charts. With Christmas morning around the corner, he just hopes Kelly will wake up and realize that everything she wants has been right in front of her all along. [goodreads.com]

Oh how I loved this one!!! Lauren Layne writes some of the yummiest, steamiest romances, in my opinion. Her characters always make me laugh out loud and I end up adoring their relationships. Though I knew where this story would eventually end up, it was still fun to experience. There’s an unexpected emotional pull that I felt while reading this one, and for someone who is always looking for substance in her romances, this one definitely hit that spot.

One Hot December by Tiffany Reisz

About the book: Never mess with a woman who carries a blowtorch in her backpack. Welder and artist Veronica “Flash” Redding’s playful sense of evil sometimes gets the better of her. Like when her insanely handsome, wealthy, suited-up boss gave her the most sensuously wicked night of her life…then dumped her. Yep, revenge is a dish best served hot.

Only Ian Asher isn’t quite letting Flash get away quite so easily. He’s not ready to forget the intensity between them. The searing heat when they touch. And the deliciously demanding control Ian wields in the bedroom. Now he has only the holidays to convince Flash that they belong together…and that even the most exquisite, broken things can be welded back together. [goodreads.com]

Whew! Get ready to fan yourself if you read this one. It is HOTTT. If sexytimes in your romances is your jam, then definitely pick up this holiday romance by Tiffany Seisz. She definitely knows how to warm you right up!

Gift Wrapped by Karla Doyle

About the book: After catching her boyfriend cheating two weeks before Christmas, Brinn is seriously lacking in holiday spirit. So when she looks into the eyes of a last-minute shopper after closing on Christmas Eve, she’s sarcastic rather than sympathetic. But Brinn is ever the good girl and her conscience wins out. She offers the handsome stranger ten minutes to select a gift and ends up with a present of her own—a date. On Christmas Eve.  

Davis hates Christmas. Especially this year, since a neighborhood heist liberated him of his hard-earned belongings and the few gifts he’d purchased. But the robbery led him to a cute store manager with a sense of humor, smokin’ body and no plans for the evening. Mistletoe might be in order after all.  

Their Christmas Eve date is like gift-wrapped, sexy satisfaction. But the best gifts keep on giving, and one naughty night may not be enough—for either of them. [goodreads.com]

I love a good story that highlights two characters that may be down and out, yet when they meet their luck starts to change. These two held great chemistry and kept a fun, sexy romance set against the holidays delightful and entertaining. If sexytimes are your thing, but you also want more substance between the physical encounters, then this holiday romance is for you.

A Few Holiday Romances on My Christmas Wish List…

One Day in December  by Josie Silver

About the book: Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

 Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be. 

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness. [goodreads.com]

Santa, Baby by Jennifer Crusie, Carly Phillips, and Lori Foster

About the book:

JENNIFER CRUSIE

Mayhem ensues under the mistletoe as a determined shopper grabs the very last hot toy action figure off the shelf, only to find herself plunged into the middle of a real-life spy game–in the arms of a sexy secret agent. . .

LORI FOSTER

Two dedicated coworkers with a lot of secrets (and fantasies!) between them must plan a Christmas party side by side–and discover a love worth celebrating–in this steamy office romance.

CARLY PHILLIPS

A “mistletoe moment” begins when a no-nonsense lawyer intent on seducing her boss meets his twin instead–after giving him a scintillating kiss that leaves him begging for more. . . [goodreads.com]

Coming Home for Christmas  by Jenny Hale

About the book: Allie Richfield loves Christmas, so when she lands a job as House Manager for the amazing Ashford Estate—which includes organizing the Marley family festivities—she is in her element. With a budget bigger than her life savings and a team of staff, how hard can it be?

As one-by-one she meets the Marleys, she’s about to find out…

Allie’s new boss, Robert, might be gorgeous, but he’s also colder than the snow outside and refuses to come home for Christmas. Robert’s playboy brother, Kip, flirts with her relentlessly; and his sister, Sloane, arrives home with baggage—both the divorce-kind and the Louis Vuitton kind. Their ninety-two year old grandmother, Pippa, spends her day grumbling at everybody from her mobility scooter.

With Robert intending to sell Ashford, it’s the Marley’s last chance to create some happy memories in their family home—and Allie is determined to make it happen… even if it takes a little Christmas magic! With the festive spirit in full swing, she might even discover a little happiness of her own… [goodreads]

Thank you, again, to Jana for hosting A Bookish Little Christmas and allowing me to recommend a few of my favorite holiday romances. I hope I’ve added a few to your own to-be-read lists!

Please let me know if you end up reading any of these.
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Top Ten Cozy, Wintry Reads

Posted December 3, 2018 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 40 Comments

It’s December, which means A Bookish Little Christmas is in full swing here on the blog! I hope you’ll continue to stop by all month to see the fun festive content my bookish friends and I will be sharing (find the event schedule here!). I’ve got my limited-time TTT logo, which you’re free to use for any of your holiday-themed TTT posts this month.

Today’s topic highlights cozy, wintry reads. When I think of books like this I think of rich, magical fantasies and lots of snow (I’m going to exclude Christmas books from this list because I’ll be doing Christmas books in a few weeks for our freebie topic). Of course, there’s always romance to warm things up a little. I LOVE books that give me those cozy vibes, and I’m excited to see what everyone picks for this topic!

1. Frost by Kate Avery Ellison
“In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, compassion might get a person killed, and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone.”

Frost takes place in probably the coldest place ever: The Frost. It’s cold and snowy and windy, with blizzards and fires in the fireplace and short days, with long nights. And the writing is exquisite I loved it!

2. Nocturne by Syrie James
“When Nicole Whitcomb’s car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger.Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension.”

3. The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
“Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.”

Pasha’s birthday is coming up, so the Tsar instructs these two enchanters to engage in a magical battle to make Pasha’s birthday something special. The battle begins, and the beauty and opulence that encompasses St. Petersburg as a result of this magic is amazing. I won’t give too much away, but I absolutely must mention the intricate system of fountains and color-changing lights that fill the city’s canal system. That entire scene was beautiful, and is still my favorite in the entire book.

4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
They open a door and enter a world.” 

A world of snow and magic, that is! LOVE the coziness of this story!

5. Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
“Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.”

Russia always screams cold weather to me, and this book is so lush you can easily wrap up in it!

6. Hunted by Meagan Spooner
“Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.”

This is a breathtaking Beauty & the Beast retelling, and who doesn’t immediately think eternal winter when thinking of this story?

7. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
“Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.”

8. A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier
“Alone, and with danger on every side, Sophie must navigate a magical castle and its even more mysterious master to discover the secret to breaking the curse.”

Another B&B retelling that I love!

9. Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
“Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the region in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies of Anluan’s family and his people. The woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom. And Anluan himself has been crippled by a childhood illness.”

Ok, so I didn’t realize until I was writing out my thoughts on these books that I’ve picked three B&B retellings for this topic. lol. Whoops! But this one is so unique that you’d almost miss it. The magic and cozy vibes are definitely there, though.

10. Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
As the captain of Field County’s ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook is driven to perfection. But when he meets new diver Louise “Lou” Sparks, all that hard-won order is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he’s never felt more alive… even if keeping her safe may just kill him.”

This is a very chilly, snowy romantic suspense about a search and rescue team of ice divers in the remote, wintry Colorado Rockies.

Which cozy, wintry books did you choose to talk about this week?

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