Thursday, December 31, 2020

Book Review: Darling

It is time for our third review of the day! This is the last one for today unless I finish another book and decide to come back and post it but don't hold your breath. I haven't been feeling super great and I have my physical later this afternoon so I need to try to stay awake for that. I've been napping a lot lately and I just feel blah. 

Darling - Rachel Edwards

A white teenage girl clashes with her new black stepmother in this debut reading group thriller.

Lola doesn’t particularly want a new stepmother. Especially not one who has come out of nowhere and only been with her dad for three months. And – she’s not racist or anything – but since when did her dad fancy black women anyway?

Darling didn’t particularly want a new stepdaughter. Especially not one as spiteful and spoilt as Lola. She does want Lola’s dad though. And he wants her, so that’s that: Darling and Lola will just have to get used to each other.

Unless Lola can find a way to get rid of Darling. 
As soon as I read the synopsis for this one, I knew that I HAD to read it. I love the white daughter vs. black stepmother storyline but also, I love a good debut and that is exactly what this one was. I really enjoyed it and I am definitely looking for the next book by Rachel Edwards because this was twisty and interesting throughout. I will tell you that I did not see that ending coming at all. Frankly, the ending was straight bananas and I found myself going back to re-read a few key sections just so I knew I read it correctly the first time. 

I have to be real, though, you know how I roll. The writing isn't amazing, there is definitely room for growth here. The story is interesting and weird and enough to keep you wondering what the heck could possibly happen next, but the writing itself isn't great. Secondly, the book alternates between Darling and Lola, which is fine, but Lola's chapters are just.. probably written the worst. I am raising a teenager and I can tell you right now that no teenager speaks this way. Never, ever. 

You do need to know that the book does have racism, abuse, and mental health issues throughout so if those are triggers for you, maybe avoid this one. You know right from the get go either Darling or Lola would be killed because the tension between the two is at an all-time high, but the race to that is what keeps you turning these pages. If it is a bizarre and outrageous plot twist, it is probably in here. I'm not kidding. The story is bananas and that kept me reading this. 

Thank you to Harper 360 for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review! I am all about these thrillers lately and I think I have a few more lined up in the next month or two, so stay tuned for that. Head over to my Instagram because I have a giveaway happening today, make sure you enter. 
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Book Review: My Darling

We are onto book number two for today, and I hope you're having a great day. Most of us are staying home and so are we. My plan is to read and get a jump on my 2021 reading. My goal for 2021 is to stick with 125 books, which is what I did last year and this year, but I don't think I can commit to raising that quite yet... maybe for 2022? 

My Darling - Amanda Robson

A new couple moves in next door.
And nothing will ever be the same again…

I watched you move in and thought we might be friends.

I saw you watching from the window – and knew I’d have to keep you away from my husband.

I started to trust you. Confide in you.

I started to mistrust you. Suspect you.

I was confused when I blacked out after an evening at your place. Was I really that drunk?

I came up with a plan. A plan to make you both pay . . .
I have been on a thriller streak this year but one of my favorite tropes are a crazy woman causing hell. I can't help it, I don't know what it is but I really like a crazy woman. I have to also tell you that I FLEW through this book! I started it right before bed and it was a bad idea because I had to put it down to go to sleep but I picked it up right away in the morning and finished it by lunch time. It was so twisty and I just really loved it. 

Honestly, it is almost best to not read the blurb, read no reviews, just jump into it because it was so bizarre, super dark, murder, all over the place, and I had no idea what the hell was going on and by the time I got to the end my pulse was faster and I wanted to talk to someone about it immediately. Of course I had nobody so I'm trying to tell Matt and he doesn't care, but this was SO GOOD. 

Honestly, all of the characters are hot messes, all of them are kind of despicable in their own ways but it doesn't bring the book down, it actually elevates it. We have Tomas, a seemingly nice guy who loves his wife, Jade even though she is legit bat shit crazy and paranoid. She is convinced he is cheating on her and she's angry about it even though he isn't. Soon though they have new neighbors, Alastair and Emma, who are just as nuts, but Jade is SURE that Emma will start sleeping with Tomas so it is this weird... war but only Jade is really playing? Kind of? Anyways, soon we have a murder and all hell breaks loose. Honestly by the time you get to the end it feels like they are all going to end up dead because it is WILD. The book is wild. You have to read this because it is bananas. It is BANANAS. 

I have to thank Avon Books and Harper 360 for sending me an ARC because this is one of those books that I have to add to a top of 2020 list because it was just so crazy, so many twists, I couldn't stop. It almost reminded me of that show Revenge because you remember how every episode was so insane you couldn't believe any of it? That is exactly what this book was for me. 
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Book Review: All About Us

Happy New Year's Eve! Tomorrow I'll talk about some plans/goals for 2021 but today? Today I am going to bombard you with books! I have book reviews all day for you and I hope you love them all as much as I did! So keep checking back here and I'll have goodies for you. 

Oh, and keep an eye on my Instagram tomorrow because I will have another giveaway happening! 

All About Us - Tom Ellen

If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?

Ben’s always loved the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?
Now here me out, I know this is a Christmasy novel, but please don't write it off! This is honestly my favorite Christmas novel I read this year and it was just so, so good. 

Also interesting? I have read very few books involving a love story with our main character is a man. Not going to lie, I love it. It makes the book feel less predictable for me and that is exactly what I needed this month while I sat in my reading slump. I am also a huge fan of self patronizing comedy because I do that with myself without even thinking about it. The best thing about this book for me is that it wrecked me. I'm not saying it is gut wrenching and sad, I'm saying that the character really reflects on his life and his choices in such a way that we can all relate. It was a beautifully sad reflection and it makes you really think, if you could go back and make different choices, what would you do? I know a lot of us would say the cliché, "Nothing because then I wouldn't be where I am now" which is kind of the point, the point IS to think of how your life would be different. Sure, maybe you wouldn't have your kids, job, house, life, but what if it could have been better? Did you make the wrong choice? What if you could do it all over again? But also, have you made choices about your life because you weren't brave enough to do what your heart wanted? 

I loved this book so much and I admittedly squealed when I finished it. I loved it so much and it is easily one of my absolute favorites of 2020. Hands down. I have to give this one 5 stars because I couldn't put this one down and it was the feel good hug of a book that I absolutely needed. 

Thank you to Harper360 for sending me an ARC for review! If you had been following me on Instagram you would have been able to enter my giveaway for this but you missed it. Don't let that happen again, follow me and watch for a different giveaway tomorrow. Stay tuned the rest of today for MORE books!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Book Review: Dead Man Walking

Are you looking for a romance to um.... make it hard to put down and make you love a guy you know that you absolutely should not love because you know... he kills people? 

Here you go. 

Dead Man Walking - Giana Darling

A killer. A criminal.
A psychopath.
The Irish enforcer for The Fallen Men MC is everything good girls are taught to stay away from.
Only, I found myself inexorably drawn into his dark gravitational pull. I wanted to know what it would be like to walk beside the human personification of Death and hold his hand, feel his kiss, and maybe even earn his undying love.
But Priest McKenna is older, cold as ice, and notoriously unfeeling.
So what are the odds that a dead man walking would come to life for little, insignificant me?
When a serial killer begins to target the women of Entrance, BC, and The Fallen suffers another terrible blow, Priest resolves to hunt down the killer himself.
And when the murderer sets his eyes on me?
My very own psychopath steps between me and certain death, thrusting us into an intimacy I prayed we would never recover from.
Listen, I knew when I read Inked in Lies this summer that Priest was going to be the next book. We got enough of a teaser in that to know that Priest wasn't going to be the regular hero and I kind of had a fear I would hate him. 

I didn't, I actually kind of liked this tortured self. I really struggled though, I'm not even going to lie to you. I love that he is paired with Bea because she is the direct opposite of Priest. He is dark and death, she is literally sunshine and rainbows. Priest is fairly guarded about his past but he will tell you straight up he is a psychopath. 

In this book we are centered around a serial killer with a focus on the motorcycle club. We have a gut wrenching blow (I'm not spoiling it for you but if you've read this entire series this one will hurt), but suddenly it is obvious that Bea becomes the next target. Of course, the club's resident killer, Priest, is attracted to her but knows that his life is not the one she deserves. He can't give her the white picket fence but he doesn't know she's longing for him. So while they are dealing with that, we've now got a serial killer on the loose and Priest is now charged with guarding her and catching the person responsible and you know... handling it. 

Without triggering anyone or giving it away (because honestly, I feel like you need to be semi-surprised by this in the story because that will kind of give you the same feeling that maybe Bea was having), he has an unconventional way of showing affection. Honestly, I can read a lot but I had to skip over a lot of that because it made me uncomfortable. I know many didn't have an issue with it but if I had to knock points off, I'd say that was a little too much for me. This is the epitome of a dark romance, just know that going in. Also, Bea is kind of obsessed with serial killers (which is why I kind of loved her, shout out to my Crime Junkie buddies!) 

At the end of the day- I freaking LOVED THIS BOOK. This is only the second book from Giana Darling I have read but I'm all in. Her writing is good, her stories pack a punch, this had me on the edge of my seat, I was squirmish but I couldn't stop. The way this story played out was great and she hit all of the personality points of both characters perfectly. Even with taking some points off for some icky parts, this is still a 5 star book. It was phenomenal, highly recommend. 

Thank you to Social Butterfly PR and Giana Darling for having me on this tour. I would drop everything to pick up one of her books, she is fantastic. 

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Book Review: Dark Hollows

Just hang in there with me because I am going to have a few posts this week and I am going to hit my 125 goal for my Goodreads Challenge but it only counts if I get my reviews up (my stupid rule, just go with it) so I am going to bomb you with books this week and it's going to be OK. You'll make it. You might be broke by the end of the week but it's 2020 still and we have no rules. 

Dark Hollows - Steve Frech

Jacob Reese enjoys the quiet life, running a coffee shop and renting out his cottage in The Hollows, Vermont.

But the calm is shattered when a woman who looks eerily similar to his ex-girlfriend Laura turns up to stay in the cottage, and leaves a mysterious note in the guest book.

Now Jacob’s seeing Laura everywhere—a glimpse of her face across the street, her music box left outside his house, a gift he gave her years before hanging from the trees.

But it can’t be Laura. Because Laura’s dead.

Someone knows Jacob’s secret—what really happened the night Laura died—and they’re out for revenge…
I was so excited to read this book and it turned out to be for good reason because this was exciting with some interesting twists. I know I have some animal lovers in her and I just want you to know this book features a great dog named Murphy and I can't tell you what happens per say, but I will tell you it is OK and to not quit the book. Murphy ends up being a huge piece of this book and I'm here for it. If you are a dog lover, this is a book where the dog is a star without it being a giant soap opera. 

Seriously, don't ask me otherwise I'm going to spill my guts about this book because it was just so damn good and once I started figuring things out it was like a rollercoaster making that last turn before a big drop, that's the exact feeling I had during the last third-ish of the book! With that though, I will say the ending wasn't amazing. I felt like it could have been stronger but I can't say I hated it. 

The book is written kind of strangely, and once you figure out what voice we're reading, it makes the book a little more bizarre, but I liked it. Normally I have a hard time with alternating voices, especially when we're flip flopping between past and present but I didn't struggle with this one. 

We have Jacob, he is running a local coffee shop in a little Hallmark town, and a cottage as an AirBnB. Super normal, chill life. Enter a guest who looks astonishing similar to his ex, Laura. He knows it can't be Laura because she's very dead and he knows it, but she is everywhere. Literally everywhere. The more that he sees her the more paranoid and crazy he seems to be getting. This becomes a really creepy thriller and keep in mind, I'm reading this in between listening to paranormal podcast episodes so between all of that, I was freaked out. 

Overall? I liked this one, definitely a 4 star for me. It really was as good as I thought it was going to be and that's perfect for me. I can see how some readers might not be fulfilled but I kind of felt like it was spot on. If you are a fan of Gilmore Girls you will like this because it really had all of the vibes of that... just spooky? Like Gilmore Girls meets Scooby Doo. How's that for a description? 

I am super grateful to Harper 360 for sending me a copy of this for review. I wish I had read this around Halloween because this book gives me October vibes. 

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Monday, December 28, 2020

Book Review: The House of Secrets

How was your Christmas?! We had a lovely one but, no lie, it is kind of nice to be all done. I am looking forward to finishing out 2020 at home, reading, and watching the kids play together with some new things. I am really not hating life being low key right now. I can tell my depression is ramping up, I'm going to start increasing my vitamin D, as I do normally in the winter, I'm getting outside and standing in the sunshine a few times a day, trying to eat well, and hoping for the best. 

But mostly this week I'm going to be posting book reviews because guess what? I am DRAGGING to the finish line of my 2020 Goodreads Challenge! My goal was to read 125 and this one is book 121. 

The House of Secrets - Sophie Draper

Claire lives with her family in a beautiful house overlooking the water. But she feels as if she’s married to a stranger – one who is leading a double life. As soon as she can get their son Joe away from him, she’s determined to leave Duncan.

But finding out the truth about Duncan’s secret life leads to consequences Claire never planned for. Now Joe is missing, and she’s struggling to piece together the events of the night that tore them all apart.

Alone in an isolated cottage, hiding from Duncan, Claire tries to unravel the lies they’ve told each other, and themselves. Something happened to her family … But can she face the truth?
Alright, if you like a psychological thriller that will have you all over the place, this is FOR YOU. I hadn't read any of the reviews before I got into this one and that was maybe for the best because I think it would have been more confusing for me, which is saying something because I was so thoroughly confused throughout this book. I found myself wishing I took notes because I was forgetting what was going on, and when, and there are parts where characters seemed to not be with it? I can't explain it to you without giving information away, but I was having to re-read several sections because I was so confused. 

All of the characters were pretty deplorable so I had a really hard time giving a damn for any of them and I had no idea what to even hope for as I got to the end of the book. The great thing is that while I wanted to give up at several points in the book, it was a fast read for me because I was so frustrated and wanted to know what the heck was going on. Even better is the ending of the book because there are a few twists at the end that make you reconsider what you just read and I did find myself reading things way earlier in the book to see if I missed something and sure enough, I did. The last few chapters are the best one, easily. 

If I had to commit to a rating, I would have to give it a 3, and that's pushing it. If Goodreads would let me, I'd go with a 2.5 because it was OK and I kind of liked it. I think if the whole book was as strong as the last few chapters, this would have been a 4 or higher. The author IS a great writer and you can tell that throughout this book, it just doesn't get there all the way for me. If you are a fan of strange books that is more suspense than thriller, and one that messes with your head a lot throughout, this is one you'll enjoy. 

Thank you to Harper360 for sending me a copy for review, they have been cranking out great books this year and I'm so excited to see what is to come in 2021! 

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Book Review: Gotcha!

My Goodreads goal was 125 this year and friends.... it is going to be close. I have some books I still have to post about and I for sure have one more to finish reading by the end of the year but it may come down to me reading on New Years Eve like a maniac, if we're being honest. 

Gotcha! Inside Trump's 2020 Campaign - Ed. Weinberger

Fact collides with fiction in this funny, scathing, imaginative account of Trump’s chaotic campaign for reelection.

Nine-time Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Ed. Weinberger, known for his work on such legendary comedies as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, and The Cosby Show, imagines an alternate Trump 2020 presidential campaign in this hilarious new novel.

In GOTCHA! Weinberger creates a chaotic world inhabited by America’s 45th President where cheating at golf is taken for granted; Fox anchors are valued advisors; and hydroxychloroquine is promoted as a COVID-19 cure.

Spanning the critical period from March 5, 2020 to January 24, 2021, GOTCHA! takes readers into Trump’s private world as he meets with his re-election committee, has a hush-hush dinner with Laura Ingraham, makes an angry early-morning call to Don, Jr., and asks Melania whether his bullet-proof vest makes him look fat. Trump tries to rush through a COVID-19 vaccine; attempts to build rapport with African Americans; and even gets away with shooting a protester on Fifth Avenue—an incident applauded by the NRA.

With an entertaining mix of fiction and satire, this provocative novel looks into the corrupt, three-ring-circus that is Washington in the new normal.
I feel like maybe this book wouldn't have been funny if he had won the 2020 election, I'm just going to put that out there. I try really hard not to talk politics on my blog, but this man has driven me to insanity. I've always been loosely involved in politics, I had a good grasp of local issues, some national issues, and I've always voted, but this election had me in force. I was donating to campaigns all over the country and staying involved every step of the way. 

To say that I am glad that it is over is an understatement

I didn't start reading this until after the election because I just needed something light, and funny, because we've had a rough year overall. Who could have predicted how bizarre this year would be, let alone the last six months. I'm not even sure if the author even knew how the end would play out but I suppose we aren't really at the end, are we? We still have so much further to go because January 24, 2021 (the end date in this book) is so far away, am I right? 

The sad thing is that 1. this book could haven been written at all and 2. it is probably a very close retelling of what is actually going on and some days I don't know if that's funny or not. At this point, I'm choosing to look at it as funny because we've cried enough this year as it is. 

The book itself comes in at 286 pages or so but the text is fairly large so really the book is half of that and you can easily finish this in a day, no question. It's compiled of interviews, speeches, memos, etc so it isn't just a boring summary of (what could still happen, let's be honest) events. All of the people we see in the news make an appearance in this book. I love how Senator Collins comes off as uninformed and spineless as she is in real life, Mitch McConnell is always late for lunch, Lindsey Graham is ... himself, even news anchors are in this. Oh man.... the debates. The debates are in here and how sad is it that the satire version came close to the originals?

Overall, I thought this was entertaining and I found myself chuckling throughout. It doesn't matter where you are politically, you'll find the humor in the absurdity of some of the events over the past few years and months. Sometimes you laugh or cry and it's a toss up, right? It really read like a bunch of SNL skits all in one, you can almost envision these chapters being skits any given week. I thought it was funny and it was a nice break in my stack of books. Sometimes you just need something light and entertaining, and this did just that. 

Thank you to the author, South Street Books, and Wesman PR for having me on this review tour and providing a copy for review. All opinions are my own, and no matter where you are politically, be kind. I wish you well no matter what. 

 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Sara's Christmas Wish List 2020

I do it every year, but this year I'm late with it because you know.. life. Life has been busy and I'm so behind in every aspect of my life. Plus, we just adopted two kittens and I've basically spent all of my time petting kittens so frankly, that alone is a valid excuse. 

But let's talk Christmas because it is almost here and I feel like I should share what I'm hoping for. 

Well, I say that but historically, I almost never get the things on my list, or if I do it is one of them. My expectations are incredibly low. 

1. Stylus Pen for my iPad. I am now an old person and typing on my iPad is hard and cumbersome. I am basically a senior citizen who needs to peck at the things. 

2. Leg Massager. You're going to laugh, but the best part about being hospitalized is the leg massager. Some people go for pain medications, I just want the leg squeezing massager do-da. I'm a simple woman, really. 

3. Art work. We have a  huge blank space above the TV and I feel like it really needs something but I don't really want pictures of the kids, you know? So look at me getting bougie wanting a painting. 

4. Row, row your pretend boat. I was once a huge fan of the show House of Cards and Frank would get on his little rowing machine when he was stressed out. I'd also like to get on my rowing machine. It just looks like it would be soothing. It might 100% be awful but I'd like to try. 

5. Eyebrow thing. Listen, I'm poor and I can't afford to get my eyebrows waxed. But I also have one hair on my chin that keeps coming back and I just need something I can do at home that doesn't involve wax.

6. Books! You know I'm not trying to make a list without books: 

Of course I have a ton more, but you know... let's try to keep it to a minimum. 

7. Solutions and Other Problems. Yes, this is another book BUT! It's relatively new and I want it so badly. Allie Brosh is a blogger I used to follow religiously and I have her first book and I read it a lot when I'm feeling kind of low on life because she deals with depression quite a bit and she just gets it but in a funny, relatable way. Anyways, I just want the book, it looks amazing. 
 
8. A clean windshield. I thought of this tool way back in 1999 and everyone said it was a stupid idea. Turns out it wasn't and I could be a millionaire. Either way, I still can't reach the glass of my windshield and I need a fancy stick. 

9. A coloring book. Don't judge me. 

10. Desk organizer. Seriously, the current situation is NOT working at all. 

What are YOU hoping to get from Santa this year? Do you give your family a wish list? Matt and I have one on Amazon that we add to during the year and we basically use that as the wish list but often buy things locally instead of Amazon. Except this year I am relying on Amazon more than normal and I'm getting nervous about most of it, so yay. 

I have about 90% of my shopping done, I'm waiting on a third of it to still get here and then we have two that we have to go shop for because I'm not real sure what I'm looking for. Wish me luck on those adventures!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Book Blast: Christmas in the Rockies

 



CHRISTMAS IN THE ROCKIES
McKenna Grey
Cambron Press
Contemporary Romance / Holidays (Sweet and Clean)


“McKensie’s Christmas Gift

When McKensie Scott returns to Wycliffe, Wyoming, she’s uncertain of her future . . . and the man she left behind two summers before. With the help of an unexpected ally, McKensie will discover that sometimes leaving the people you love is the only way to find your path home.

“A Snowy Falls Christmas”

After five years of searching for answers at her family’s home in Scotland, Maura Coburn returns to Snowy Falls, Colorado, the place she’s always called home. When Wyatt Dobbes sweeps into town to take over his family’s horse farm, Maura realizes five years might not have been long enough. When unexpected circumstances bring them together, Wyatt and Maura will soon discover the powerful magic of Christmas, love, and second chances.

“Christmas in Moose Creek”

Saige Travers said goodbye to Owen McGregor sixteen years ago. A spontaneous choice brings Saige home to Moose Creek, Montana, and she doesn’t expect her past to catch up with her present. When Owen walks back into her life, she struggles to remember why she left. Together they discover second chances are real and hope is a cherished gift.

Can six willing hearts find a second chance at love? Join us this holiday season and fall in love like it was the first time.

Book Page: https://www.mckennagrey.com/book/christmas-in-the-rockies

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/-gFbTzdPhns

Available in e-book and paperback.




“This was one of the greatest books ever. Not only did it show the true meaning of Christmas but it also showed that true love is possible!” —Mary’s Opinion

“McKenna Grey, you never cease to amaze me. Your books are filled with such wonderful characters, families, and love. I know I have read this story before, but I enjoyed it just as much this time as I had the first time. Waiting patiently for your next new book.” —M.L.  Sullivan

“I loved all three of the stories in this book. On a cold, rainy day, I enjoyed the lights of the Christmas tree, and forgetting the dismal view outside, I was carried away to three places in the Rockies for a beautiful Christmas setting, where i met strong characters and three charming stories of love renewed.” – Verna Cole Mitchell, poet and author of Somewhere Beyond the Blue

I loved every one of these stories. They are sweet, clean and heartwarming. I give it five stars. I highly recommend it for any reader’s Christmas reading.” —Goodreads Review

 


Amazon US ~ Amazon CA ~ Amazon AU ~ Amazon UK

B&N ~ BAM! ~ IndieBound ~ Bookshop ~ Add to Goodreads

 



From “McKensie’s Christmas Gift” in Christmas in the Rockies

The fog cleared from McKensie’s brain. “And knowing my aunt, she insisted you have the wedding here.”

“Yeah. I thought about moving the location, but Shirley insisted we still have it at the hotel, and Olivia—”

“Wouldn’t have wanted you to change a thing. I get it. Yes, you’ll have it here.” McKensie prided herself on handling tense situations, a handy talent when managing a kitchen. She avoided looking at Cameron throughout her conversation with Julie and realized he hadn’t moved, patient as ever. “When is the wedding?”

“The week before Christmas.”

McKensie raised a brow and studied her friend. “That’s fast.”

Julie shrugged. “When it’s right, it’s right. That reminds me, I have one more thing to ask Shirley about the food. Meet you in the foyer in ten, big brother.” She stopped at the door and pointed to McKensie. “I will call you tomorrow. We have so much to catch up on.”

Julie exited the office with as much excitement as she entered. McKensie replayed some of her last words over in her mind. When it’s right, it’s right.

From “A Snowy Falls Christmas” in Christmas in the Rockies

Her breath faded into the crisp morning air. The stoneware mug cupped in her hands warmed her skin while the lavender tea blend stole away the frigid cold from within. She stood on the expansive deck overlooking the glistening waters of Winter Lake and contemplated her quiet return home.

The Snowy Falls Lodge stood tall and grand behind her, a landmark on the lake and in the quaint mountain village. Her grandmother would have said, “For better or worse, it is now yours, Maura.”

Maura spent the first twenty-five years of her life in the spacious rooms and luxurious halls of the lodge that blended the design of a Scottish castle and Victorian cattle ranch. The idea might have resulted in a haphazard structure had it not been for a truly talented, though little-known, Scottish architect named Charles Mackenzie.

Five years ago, Maura did what no one ever expected—she left home—and not because she didn’t love the lodge or the village. Her father called her a dreamer. Her mother used the word “wanderer,” and her grandmother often said she was a seeker. Maura appreciated her grandmother’s description best. What exactly Maura sought when she left Snowy Falls remained a mystery to everyone.

From “Christmas in Moose Creek” in Christmas in the Rockies

The 4x4 careened to a stop and the driver waited in disbelief at the deplorable timing of Mother Nature. Moose Creek, Montana, had its share of wildlife—bear, deer, elk, mountain lions—but in her thirty-three years, Saige Travers had never seen a moose on this mountain. Until today.

No one waited for her in her swank two-bedroom condo in Seattle except the goldfish her brother gave to her as a joke for her birthday. She’d needed a break from the city and the cataclysmic string of end-of-the-road relationships she’d been in the past five years. More like dates, if she was going to be honest with herself.

Saige Travers didn’t have time for relationships. 










 








McKenna Grey is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
  • This giveaway ends midnight December 16.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on December 17.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

 


 




McKenna Grey is the contemporary alter-ego of an award-winning, historical romance author. She writes romantic suspense, including the Kyndall Family series, and heartwarming, small-town romance to break up the murder and mayhem. She lives and plays in the northern Rocky Mountains where she manages to stay out of the trouble her characters can’t seem to avoid.




Website: https://www.mckennagrey.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormckennagrey/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authormckennagrey/




 
http://www.pumpupyourbook.com




Thursday, December 10, 2020

Book Review: Aunt Ivy's Cottage

Happy Thursday! This feels like it has been such a long week and it isn't even done yet. Ugh. I have so many things to do but I'm so overwhelmed I have no idea where to even start. If you're in the same boat, I suggest you drop all of your tasks and curl up with this one. 

Aunt Ivy's Cottage - Kristin Harper

Clearing out the attic, Zoey opens the carved trunk and smiles as she picks up the small, leather-bound diary hiding inside. Curious, she leafs through the pages, and realises this will change everything…

All Zoey’s happiest childhood memories are of her great-aunt Ivy’s rickety cottage on Dune Island, snuggling up with hot chocolate and hearing Ivy’s stories about being married to a sea captain. Now, heartbroken from a breakup, Zoey escapes back to the island, but is shocked to find her elderly aunt’s spark fading. Worse, her cousin—next in line to inherit the house—is pushing Ivy to move into a nursing home.

With the family clashing over what’s best for Ivy, Zoey is surprised when Nick, a local carpenter and Ivy’s neighbor, takes her side. As Zoey finds comfort in his sea-blue eyes and warm laugh, the two grow close. Together, they make a discovery in the attic that links the family to the mysterious and reclusive local lighthouse keeper…

Now Zoey has a heartbreaking choice to make. Nick’s urging her to share the discovery, which could keep Ivy in the house she’s loved her whole life… but when Zoey learns that Nick and her cousin go way back, she questions if the man she‘s starting to have feelings for really has Ivy’s best interests at heart. Will dredging up this old secret destroy the peace and happiness of Ivy’s final years—and tear this family apart for good?

A stunning and emotional read about old secrets, new love and never forgetting the importance of family. Perfect for fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Robyn Carr and Mary Alice Monroe.
I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy book while I snuggled kittens under a fuzzy blanket. No shame in that! It has everything you'd expect out of a chick lit: a little home a bit run-down, a niece coming back to family after life events, aging, a greedy cousin, and of course, a good looking neighbor who we just aren't sure of. I didn't get originality out of this book, it's a standard trope we've seen done in a variety of ways, but the predictability of it was soothing and I've got a thing for older adults finishing out their lives. I'm a sucker for grandmas and old aunts, I can't help it. 

Issues for me were Nick and Zoey for sure, they were so... up and down. Falling in love, or ulterior motive? It was kind of all over the place between that and I had a hard time deciding how I wanted them to even end up. The aunts were maybe my favorite, but I kind of love old people, so... yeah. I wish there was more mystery, that was a bit misleading on the blurb, so that was a bummer. 

Things I liked though? I loved the setting, it made me want to vacation in Rhode Island, I loved the predictability of the story, and I loved that it comes together at the end and it feels like came together like a puzzle. It was a Hallmark movie waiting to happen. It really makes you appreciate older relatives more and maybe more now that we can't readily visit them. Maybe pick the phone up or go old fashion and write a letter to family. Overall? I'd give this one a solid 3 star, some of the characters weren't quite developed enough for me, but the story was heartwarming and really what I needed. This year is just so much and sometimes we just need this kind of story to give us a reset. If that's what you need, pick this one up. 
Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for a copy for review! Kristin Harper is one of those solid authors that always gives us a story that makes you want to curl up and ignore our to-do list. I am always down for that. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Book Review: The Empathy Advantage

I am so behind in life, I haven't felt well, and I feel like I'm constantly scrambling to get things done. I don't know if it is just because it is December so its naturally busier or if Covid is sending me over the edge. It's probably both. Sigh. 

The Empathy Advantage - Lynne Azarchi

Children have always bullied, but now with social media, bullies have a platform where the message's reach is exponential - a single post can shoot out humiliation well beyond the schoolyard fence and go viral. Racism and hate have always existed, but the arc that once bent toward greater tolerance is today pitting races and religions against one another. Empathy is a first step toward addressing any of these problems. Best of all, it is a gift from parent to child that's free and lasts a lifetime. Buying iPads and expensive clothes means nothing compared to giving kids the tools to grow up to be understanding, caring adults who not only have friends, but are themselves great friends. Also, they will make better co-workers, spouses and parents. Empathy, simply, is the ability to "walk in someone else's shoes." Its value surpasses school subjects like reading and math in many respects. Research shows that children with empathy perform better in school, have lower rates of substance abuse, are less likely to show racial or religious prejudice, and do better later in life. Empathy also translates into better "people skills" - vital for team building, school, jobs, and success in life overall. In other words, teaching empathy is no luxury. It's a necessity. Unfortunately, it's one that parents have no choice but to take on themselves. Schools often are disinterested in teaching social-emotional skills, have other priorities, or simply lack the resources. Years ago, the common wisdom was that empathy could not be taught. But after more than 16 years as Executive Director of the Kidsbridge Tolerance Center in suburban Trenton, New Jersey, I know it can be taught - and have the evidence to back it up (Kidsbridge is the only evidence-based center solely for youth in the United States). I've taught it to more than 25,000 students and educators. Through Empathy Bridge, I can teach empathy to parents, too. This book is a guide for even the busiest of parents (and educators as well). 
I signed up for this one months ago and then I forgot about it. When it came school was already in session and I had friends struggling with their children being back in school again. It's like a few months off had turned them feral or something. I know mine were so excited to just see people so we didn't really have any issues but of course, we are now in virtual school again so anything could happen. 

As a parent my goal has always been to raise kind kids. Sure, being smart is handy, being athletic is cool until you graduate college and then what? Being popular isn't all that, but you know what lasts you forever? Kindness. 

Kindness and having empathy, and caring about people in general, will take you so much further in life than anything else. We think it is easy to teach our children to not be a jerk and, in a way, that's kind of true. But sometimes it isn't, and if we weren't necessarily taught that but are learning it as we go, how do you teach a small child what you weren't taught? 

Thankfully Lynne Azarchi takes us through this in easily digested chapters that you can refer to for each stage of growing up. I loved that she spreads data from different age groups and different studies and while some of the statistics are an eye-opener, as parents we need to hear it. You can't fix what you don't acknowledge, right? 

The book begins with the science of empathy and talks about it in a biological sense and then she moves into what we can do about it. The chapter on social media highlights that the area of the brain where empathy hangs out is affected by the length of time spent on social media but also the content that they are seeing. No matter the age of your child(ren) there is a section for you; the author has divided teaching tips into infant to three years, three to six years, elementary, middle, and high school years. Don't feel that your time for teaching empathy is over if you are in a house full of teenagers, there is still plenty you can do! 

Overall? I really enjoyed this book. I would have liked a more in depth section involving racism and LGBTQ+ issues considering those are at the forefront of a lot of our social discourse. The sections may not be critically in depth but they do provide a springboard for going further into conversations with your child(ren). Just like the What to Expect When You're Expecting books, this is one you can refer to for years to come because parenting changes with every season and age. Just when you think you have it figured out they want to shave their head and drop out, am I right? 

A huge thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour, but also to Lynne Azarchi and Rowman & Littlefield Publishers for providing a copy for review. If you know a parent who is struggling right now, or maybe you are wondering how to get your child to be kinder to others, I highly recommend this one.