Thursday, October 28, 2021

Book Reviews: Night Night Angel, and Slothy Claus

I am so grateful we are staring down the end of the week because honestly I'm not sure if I could handle any more week, you know what I mean? Friday is going to be an insanely busy day and, once again, I failed to really look at my calendar before agreeing to things.  It's OK though, I'm basically helping people all day long so I can't hate that, I just need to really take time to listen to my body and take a damn break when I need to. Which, ugh- that's a whole other post... maybe for next week. 

Anyways! I have two children's books for you today and if you know anything about me, you know that Christmas is my absolute favorite EVER. I'm already itching to wrap things, but I'm really trying to hold out a little longer. On Monday I'm putting my office Christmas tree though, that's all there is to it. 

Night Night Angel & Slothy Claus

First, let's talk about these covers because I love them so much. As soon as I heard the title Slothy Claus, I was completely in because sloths are the absolute best and I just really want to hug one. Will it claw my face? Probably. Would I still give it a good try? Absolutely. I can't remember if I mentioned that Penelope is an amazing little artist at age six, and her favorite thing is to recreate covers of books, so I included her version of a Slothy Claus cover. Night Night, Angel has an equally adorable cover because illustrated animals are the sweetest things ever. Again, it makes me think I can go hug animals in the wild, but Matt assures me I absolutely cannot do that because he ruins all of my fun. 

Slothy Claus- Jodie Shepherd
What will children do when a sluggish Slothy Claus doesn't make it to their home in time for Christmas morning? This charming story helps kids learn that Christmas is about more than just presents under the tree.

Slothy Claus has lots of presents for good boys and girls this year, but how is this notoriously lethargic animal supposed to travel all around the world in just one night? You guessed it! Slothy takes his sweet time, and when kids wake up to empty stockings and bare trees, it feels like Christmas is ruined! How will they ever find happiness without their chocolates and toys?
I'm going to start by telling you that not only did I love this story, but so did Penelope and Lucy! The story features Slothy Claus, who is like Santa but for animals. He's packing his sleigh but is slower than molasses, which only lets down the animals wishing for Slothy Claus to bring them goodies. Of course, everyone is disappointed when Slothy Claus doesn't come, but they soon learn that Christmas about gifts but instead, of being together. Eventually though, Slothy Claus does make it.... just not on Christmas. 

Lucy thought this was funny and Penelope looked slightly concerned when I told her this year Santa is taking a break and Slothy Claus is actually going to take over. These girls 100% believe in Santa and everything about it so their first thought was who do they write their wish list to? HA! Of course I told them it was just a story but we had fun talking about the what if's together. Loved this one!
Night Night, Angel - Amy Parker
'Tis the season for joy! Celebrate the family fun and season's blessings of Christmas with a young arctic fox as your family remembers that Jesus is the best gift of all. Amy Parker's delightful rhymes and Virginia Allyn's sweet illustrations make Night Night, Angel the perfect read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers enjoying the Christmas season.

Little fox loves all the excitement that Christmas brings to the forest: making creative presents, placing the star on the tree, and making sure she is spotlight-ready for the big Christmas play. But soon she realizes that the perfect gift has already been given through the baby who arrived on the first Christmas night!
Honestly, who doesn't love a good board book? These are perfect for Lucy because sometimes she has a hard time turning pages even still, her little fingers just can't quite do it some days. Again, this isn't very long and is a great one for beginning readers to practice on- it's full of sight words! 

In here we have all of the animals getting ready for Christmas by doing various tasks that we all enjoy doing as we prepare, baking, making a snowman, making gifts for others, decorating a tree, etc. I should include that in this book it does have a Christ centered approach so if that isn't your thing, know that going in. Our family is particularly religious but we still enjoyed this book quite a bit. 

The girls thought it was hilarious because there is a part that mentions that hanging lights is Daddy's favorite part, and in our family... Daddy strongly dislikes hanging lights! Every year it becomes a thing and it'll likely become a favorite childhood memory of theirs for sure. 

It's a gentle story that is sure to make your little one sleepy, and you, too. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour! It's never too early to shop for the holidays, and I am a big advocate for including books with any gift for children, and these would both make excellent picks!
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Fall traditions: Burch Barn and Boo at the Zoo

Every fall we have two things we like to do, go to Burch Barn in Spooner, Wisconsin and then Boo at the Zoo. We have done Boo at the Zoo every year since Olivia was just a month old.  

I honestly wasn't sure if we would make it to Burch Barn this year but we went a week or two ago and we lucked out because it was warmer there than it was where we live. It ended up being a really nice day. The kids had a good time, but I think maybe the older two are less excited to do stuff like this anymore. 

Matt and I are generally always exhausted and I know I'm having a hard time keeping up with the kids anymore. I feel like it takes so much more effort to do things lately, and motivation is non-existent. I'm not even sure if this is a mental health thing or just life in general. It all kind of runs together lately, I guess. 
I did manage to get one good photo of all of the kids. Lucy is of course hamming it up as usual. It was kind of funny though, Penelope and Lucy were so bummed they couldn't milk the pretend cows. There was a line of kids and people just not taking turns and I wasn't going to stand there for an hour and wait. Of all the things to get upset about, the pretend cow milking station was it. 
I'll share better pictures after Halloween of their costumes, but this year Penelope is Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas (she loves that movie so much) and Lucy is a giraffe. Her costumes always crack me up and this year her head keeps sliding down her eyes because her actual head is smaller than normal, I guess. It's hilarious because she randomly says, "I can't see" and just keeps walking in the hopes one of us will fix it while she continues on. These two are such a fun duo, you can't help but laugh when you're with them. 

We've still got Scarium at the Aquarium to go to and then it's basically Christmas. Well, that's not totally true. As of right now our plan is to go to Florida around Thanksgiving to see family again and assuming nothing crazy happens before then, we're banking on that. I haven't gotten dates figured out or anything because we'll be driving so it'll be a much different trip than last year. It would be so nice to see my parents though, I really miss them. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Life just keeps happening in October.

I keep saying it feels like October just started but honestly, we're in the last week and I'm so overwhelmed with life. To think by the end of the week we only have two months left of 2021 is just crazy to me. So much has happened this year and I'm trying to close out 2021 on a happy note, so we're made some changes to how our family functions and how we are going to do things going forward. More on that later. 

I started the month out by getting my hair cut and colored. I was sick of hating my hair and I had money from my birthday in March so I figured, fuck it, I'm getting my hair done. Somehow though, it doesn't seem as dark as when I first got it but that's alright. I'm just happy it's not a weird golden orange anymore. 
Olivia is learning to drive and she can test for her license right before Christmas. Matt has been taking her because my anxiety has been so bad lately but also my own vision hasn't been great so I wouldn't be a good teacher for her. We let her drive out to her grandparents' with Matt so I followed behind with the other kids, it's such a weird experience to follow your kid in a car they are in control of. 
We've spent a few Friday nights freezing our asses off in the stands to watch Olivia play in the band. They did really great and I'm glad she is enjoying it. I think Jackson is looking forward to being out there next year. 
Penelope and Lucy have been super involved with recent book reviews but I even got a quick picture of Jackson and Penelope sitting nicely together without bickering. 
I'm trying to not share much about the kids in general on here anymore but I can't resist showing you Olivia before her first Fall Ball. They didn't get to do any high school dances last year so this was just extra fun. She went with a group of friends and they all seemed to have a fun time. She's such a beautiful young woman. 
I can't even remember if I mentioned it or not but Matt and the kids built me a Little Free Library for Mother's Day this year. Over the summer he put that up for me and we've kept our library stocked with mostly all new releases (if you live near to me sometimes I put some review books in there!) and every once in awhile I get a real doozy that makes me laugh. Last week this one showed up and I had to take a picture of it. 
Both Lucy and Penelope went to their first dental cleaning a week or two ago and apparently between the both of them there are seven wiggly teeth on their way out. Penelope wasted no time just yanking one right out like the first two she lost. She got her $1 from the Tooth Fairy and she's eagerly working on losing more teeth because she really likes money. Don't we all, girl. 
Oh yes, I got my first Christmas gift wrapped with help from Jackson and George. George was more about ribbon control and supervision, though. I've already started ordering things and getting myself organized. I am SO on the ball this year though, I've been saving cash for the better part of five months (next year I'm doing Christmas saving challenges so it'll be even better) and I'm chasing deals to keep costs down low. So far I've only spent $350ish and I am mostly done with the kids, so I can't be mad at that. The rest I have money for, I'm just waiting for the best price before I commit. What am I getting Matt? I have no idea. Literally not one idea. Well, I had one idea, which is what I wrapped but other than that..... I've got nothing. 

So that's how most of October has gone. My office Christmas tree is going to go up on Monday. I might hold out a little longer for our big tree, I'm not that ready yet. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Book Review: Photo Ark Wonders

I am so incredibly behind in life, so expect a ridiculous life catch up over the course of this week. Between being a mom, going on a friend date, going on a husband date, trying get ahead on Christmas shopping, revamping finances, doing PTO stuff for school, and just every other thing I've got going on? I am so overwhelemed. I no longer multi-task well anymore, so then I start panicking, which makes me forget even more, and then things like today happen where I literally burst into tears for no reason and scream into a pillow.  

So things are going well. 

Photo Ark Wonders - National Geographic

A glorious new volume of Sartore’s signature animal portraits, this time highlighting the fascinating shapes, patterns, and expressions of animals both familiar and little known.

Joel Sartore, on a mission to photograph all the animal species in human care, now delights us with more photographs, this time selected to represent the amazing diversity of the world’s animals.
The book’s four chapters -- Pattern, Shape, Extra, and Personality -- invite us to revel in these photographs, many cleverly paired into amusing and often surprising comparisons, like the catfish and the mouse with the same stripes down their backs, the tarantula and the poison dart frog both cobalt blue, or the tiny lizard and the weighty ox both sporting pointed horns.

Each photograph gets its own page or two-page spread.

Scientifically accurate captions highlight distinctive features.

Throughout, Sartore recalls telling moments from his photographic adventures.

With all new image selections, this book expands the best-selling Photo Ark series, sure to be a hit with those who already treasure National Geographic Photo Ark, Birds of the Photo Ark, and Photo Ark Vanishing.

Animal lovers young and old will get lost in the pages of this book, delighted by the spectacular diversity among these creatures and the wit of the photographer chronicling them.
If you have never picked up a National Geographic book by Joel Sartore, you are behind the eight ball, my friend. The photos he presents are so incredibly stunning that they don't even look real. Penelope and Lucy spent so much time over the last few weeks paging through this book with me just talking about animals and things we thought were interested. It is incredible to see some of the intricate detailing on the bodies of various creatures, it's hard to believe these are things out in the wild. 

One of our favorite things to do is go to zoos and aquariums as a family, and we like to see animals and creatures we wouldn't otherwise see in our environment. While that's an incredible thing to do, you still don't always get the intense close up to really pick out the vivid details that make this animal stand apart from others. Things like a Cobalt Blue Tarantula or a Dyeing Poison Frog aren't something we've ever seen and likely never would on our own, but on pages 206 and 207 we see the beautiful coloring of both but also characteristics of each that kids wouldn't know about. The photos are so amazing, we could see what look like teeth on the tarantula and the distinct hairs that make it look fuzzy from afar. Lucy really liked looking at any kind of bird because she doesn't understand why some birds have spots and others don't, or why birds don't have the same kind of feet. Penelope is all about bugs and lizards and wants to know why some lizards look bumpy but don't feel bumpy. We also spent a lot of time looking at the various mice on pages 340 and 341 and comparing them, how are they the same or different? Which one was the cutest? 

The book is broken up into four distinct chapters: Shape, Pattern, Extra, and Attitude, which are all ways to classify the animals. Penelope really liked the bonus chapter on how the photos are made (she wants to know how you get a monkey to stay still). 

If you are looking for some unique holiday gifts this year, I highly suggest anything Joel Sartore does- any animal lover is going to pour over these books for endless hours. Everytime you go through them you learn something new, and it inspires you to step up and do more for this planet. Having these up close and intimate photos of Earth's creatures is not only awe-inspiring, but it invokes this urgency to save them. 

I am so grateful to be on this tour for TLC Book Tours, National Geographic books are some of my absolute favorite. I always feel like an excited kid in the school library going page by page. 
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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Book Review: You Are Revolutionary (children's literature)

How is it even Wednesday already?! I am so grossly behind in all of the things I need to do this week that I really have no time for it to be Wednesday so yeah..... I'm gonna need to talk to management. 

I've had a couple of good doctor appointments recently, not good in the "they've solved the mystery!" but good in the "Sara, you absolutely aren't crazy" kind of way. Frankly, I think we all need to hear that from time to time. I do have a couple of book reviews for you this week and I'll talk about some other things happening around these parts.  

Up first though, a really great children's literature offering that you might want to add to your holiday shopping lists. 

You Are Revolutionary - Cindy Wang Brandt

You have what it takes to change the world!

This is the empowering message parenting author and podcaster Cindy Wang Brandt wants every child to hear and embrace. In this inspiring picture book she speaks to every child who sees injustice in the world, revealing that they already have inside themselves everything they need to make big, transformative change in the world--just as they are. Every kid is a revolutionary! You don't need to wait until you grow up. You don't even need any special skills. Kids who are loud, kids who are quiet, kids who make art, kids who are good at math, kids with lots of energy, kids who are good listeners--all kids have what it takes to make a difference.
You know I'm a sucker for a great children's book and this one is not only great, but it is incredibly timely and especially inspiring for kids who maybe feel stuck in the world. 

The story follows a little girl who notices things in her community that highlight that things aren't fair for all. In particular, she notices a homeless family, but at the same time, there are people protesting against homeless people being able to set their tents up in this particular area. To a child, the logical question is... where should they be? To adults, many consider them unpleasant to look at so they don't care where they go... just don't be here. The little girl wonders what she can do to help and the story talks about no matter your talent, whether it's your ability to write, tell jokes, do math, or more, you have something that you can do to help the cause. Not only that, but that you should help the cause, in fact, we all should. 

It makes me think of Greta Thunberg, how though she is a child, she is making a huge impact among world leaders talking and educating people about climate change. Many adults mock her and say she's just a child, but as this book shows us, sometimes children are the ones we should look to. They come to things with fresh eyes and sometimes the simpliest solution is the best one. I think this is an incredibly encouraging book for children, particularly those who maybe don't feel the like because they aren't the smartest in their class they don't have as much to offer, this book shows them that we all have something to offer, it's up to us to shows people what that is. 

I highly recommend this book, the story is just lovely. The words are easy to read, even for beginning readers, it would make a great classroom or group read-aloud. I also have to mention Lynnor Bontiagao's illustrations, which are so bright and colorful, they really set the tone for the story and are really lovely. 

Thank you to PR by the Book and author Cindy Wang Brandt for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. I'll include the purchase links below and as always, these are affiliate links so when you purchase I make a small amount through no added cost to you. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Book Review: If The Shoe Fits

I'm trying to get as many reviews out to you, and off my desk, as I possibly can. I realize the likelihood of me hitting my Goodreads goal this year is laughable at best but by God, I'm going to go down trying. Ha!! 

If the Shoe Fits - Julie Murphy

After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America's favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.

Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn't expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn't fit, maybe it's time to design your own. 
I'll be honest, I really loved Julie's book Dumplin', which was one of my very first OwlCrate boxes I believe, but after that it seemed the body positive movement took over and I'm kind of over it. *covers head in shame* But before you come at me! It's not that I think the movement is without merit, quite the opposite, in fact. I'm just kind of over it. I don't think there is anything wrong with plus size characters, the more the merrier, but when I look at characters that I am drawn to, it's not the first thing that comes to mind. Does that make sense? Anyways, I was on the fence about this one going in so I didn't buy it, but when it came as one of my books in a recent Once Upon a Book Club box, I figured it's time to give it a go. 

And it wasn't the worst. It wasn't as terrible as I was worried it was going to be. I'm not a fan of shows like The Bachelor and I think they are the most ridiculous ever, but I understand the basic premise of them, so going into this I had a good idea of how this was going to play out. The best way to describe this book is it is a combination of The Bachelor and the classic story of Cinderella... kind of. Cindy agrees to go on the show her stepmother is in charge of (and her stepsisters are also on the show) and she's hoping that if nothing else, she'll get her face and name out there, and show of the shoes that she designs and makes to hopefully jumpstart her currently stalled career. The bachelor? Oh, he's just the quirky, hot guy she met on the plane but didn't get his name or any information and bam- he's the bachelor she's fighting all of these women down for. 

OK, I really liked the humor of this, it's campy and fun, it definitely makes fun of itself and the insanity that is reality shows such as these. All of the behind the scenes staging is on display, the cattiness of all of the women, but also the toxicity of it all, especially for women who aren't necessarily comfortable and sure of themselves. I also liked how Cindy bucked at the assumption that because she is a plus size woman, surely she must have low self esteem and think poorly of herself. Everyone assumes because of her size she would exclude herself automatically from things and I really liked how she consistently went against the grain and showed them that the only people uncomfortable with her or her body is them. I did love the mention in the ridiculousness of the fashion industry with their sizes and options, I'm not even a large woman even I am at a loss when I'm shopping, it's the worst. 

Anyways. As much as I liked Cindy in those regards.... she was actually kind of an idiot. She absolutely falls for Henry (our bachelor/Prince Charming) but she's one of those characters that gets stuck on one thought and plays it over. And over. And over, through several pages and chapters until you get to the point and say, "I hope he picks literally anyone but you and I don't care if you love him, for the love of everything!" because that's what was going through my head. I just... ugh. I got so frustrated that I literally almost DNF'd it because I was just sick of that same drum being beaten because you can only listen to it so much, you know? For me this really fell flat and I can really only give it 2 stars. I wanted to give it 3 but if I'm being honest, that third star just isn't there. I think if you are a fan of shows like The Bachelor, or if you're a big Julie Murphy fan, you'll enjoy this far more than I did. 

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Book Review: Love, Only Better

I'm going to be giving you book reviews like crazy the rest of this week! I have finished up quite a few and I want to get as many out to you because the best activity for fall is, and will always be, book buying. You can fight me on this but you won't win, so just go buy books. That's my PSA for today. 

Love, Only Better - Paulette Stout

For Rebecca, sex is a joke missing a punchline. No crashing waves. Only pangs of inadequacy. At twenty-eight, shouldn’t she have had one by now? Her snickering ex thought so. His taunts echo in her ears as he rolls out of her bed. Then out of her life.

Lost, Rebecca seeks expert help, joining a study for women who can’t “finish” in the bedroom. There is such a thing? It’s unconventional, for sure, but she’s desperate for answers. The no-sex mandate is a no brainer. Who’d want to be with her anyway?

Then Kyle moves in. Her blue-eyed, black motorcycle-riding dream of a neighbor lives a heartbeat away. Sparks flew immediately. But could the timing be any worse?

If he learns her secret, she’ll lose her best chance at love. But if her lessons fail, she’ll be left eternally broken. Unlovable.

What started as a search for fulfillment, has suddenly become a quest for something far greater.

Love, Only Better is an intimate quest full of heart, blending a fun next-door romance with steamy dates-for-one. Perfect for fans of Helen Hoang (The Kiss Quotient), Jennifer Weiner (Good In Bed), Jojo Moyes and fans of women's fiction full of wit, spice and soul.
Oh hey, this is the review that you'll get to really know me, friends. Welcome. Ha! 

I'm going to start by saying that if you look at the Goodreads reviews, you're going to be like, good lord, Sara. Which, I know. This is going to be one of those times where I will tell you to take those reviews with a huge grain of salt because this book, admittedly, isn't for everyone. If discussions about sex, sexual acts, masturbation, etc at all make you uncomfortable, this book isn't for you. And that's okay. This is where I come in with my mom voice and ask you what you thought it was going to be about after reading the description? I'm not sure how you got confused along the way. This isn't a romance so much as a women's fiction, so know that going in. 


I really enjoyed this book and maybe it's because I understood where our main character was coming from. Fun fact, I didn't know what an orgasm was until just after I turned 20. I'm not joking. I remember having sex for the first few years and wondering what the hell the hype was about? Why the heck was everyone raving about this because frankly, it seems kind of pointless? Sure, you make babies, but I wasn't trying to have babies as a teenager, what was the point of any of it? Fast forward to about age 20, I'm dating my now husband and all of a sudden one day, I finally understood. It literally all made sense, it was like a whole new world, and then I was like, ugh- I dated some real losers, didn't I? I sure did. 

So as I went through this book, I really understood Rebecca and all of the feelings she had (or didn't have) and understood how isolating it feels. It's like being excluded from the inside joke everyone knows about you.... except it's a way worse feeling. I remember what it's like having the boyfriend who clearly thought it was you and you alone that was the problem, and then believing them because you don't know anyone else having this problem (or if they did, they certainly didn't talk about it). I wish I had known sex therapy and pelvic floor therapy even existed back then because I would have literally beat their doors down. 

Now I'll be honest and say I understand why some parts of this book would be considered not appealing. Things like how crappy her friends were (they really are, but think of the friends you had early on as a twenty something and the ones you've weeded out- they were the worst), disrespectful jokes/humor Rebecca's mom and friends had (which, agreed, but think of your own parents and just that generation in general- they aren't exactly known for being appropriate with their humor so while these are not OK things to say, these ARE things said in many homes and the kids just smile and keep their mouths shut because it's not worth the fight), and people being skeptical of the therapy... oy. I'll be honest, if I hadn't gone through pelvic floor therapy this year, I also would have thought it was a weird stretch but for real, I had a woman's hand in my vagina, feeling around, asking me to squeeze and if I felt anything when she pushed on different parts, I had vibrators inserted and had to do exercises with it, etc. All services I had to do, while naked from the waist down in a dimly lit room and have a conversation about sensations without laughing like the child I am. It was weird, BUT it was helpful, and I learned a whole lot about your vagina, the muscles in and around it, all of the parts that make up female sexual function and organs, and everything in between. Don't knock it until you're talking about quality of lube with someone. 

I feel like if you've ever experienced any kind of sexual issue, or heck, maybe things just don't work like they used to, this is a book you are going to relate to and find the humor in it. If you're young, your baby birthing days haven't started or haven't ruined your body completely, you maybe aren't going to appreciate this book for what it is. It's funny, it's the book that should make an appearance in mom book clubs because more of us are dealing, or have dealt, with it than we like to admit, and I ultimately thought it was a nod to female empowerment. Our body is our own, we aren't sexual playgrounds for our partners, our needs are worth something too. 

A huge thank you to PR by the Book and Paulette Stout for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. I'm late in life and I wish I hadn't been sick so I could get everything out when I had planned, but I'm glad you are all seeing this now. You can follow Paulette on Instagram and I'll put the links for book purchase below. If you've read this, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. 
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Book Review: A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale

Between the world going down this week, my computer just... we're still not sure what it was doing, and being on/off sick this week, I've gotten nothing done. Well, that's not true, but nothing seems to be working the way it's supposed to so everything is all mixed up. I don't even know what day it is and I thought for sure this morning that it was Friday and yeah.... no. It's only Wednesday. Sigh. 

A Royal Christmas Fairy Tale 

Karen Schaler

A charming Christmas village, a storybook castle, a royal ball, and a gorgeous prince are the last things New York City reporter Kaylie Karlyle expects to find on her holiday freelance assignment to Europe. But when the family she's interviewing turns out to be the royal family of Tolvania, Kaylie has a meltdown when the quirky queen wants her to write a Christmas fairy tale for the spunky, young princess. Kaylie must battle the princess's father, who doesn't trust the media, and her own insecurities about writing anything beyond the news.

To spark inspiration for the fairy tale, the queen recruits the prickly Prince Alexander to show Kaylie the family's most spectacular royal holiday traditions. And sparks definitely fly when the only thing Kaylie and the prince agree on is that they're both more "bah humbug" than "ho, ho, ho."

But somewhere between sleigh rides and snow angels, merrymaking and mistletoe, upside-down Christmas trees, and a legendary Christmas crown, Kaylie and the prince open their hearts to Christmas and start believing in themselves and each other. It's a real-life fairy tale in the making until Kaylie discovers a secret about a royal Christmas heirloom that jeopardizes everyone's happily ever after. Can the magic of the season save this holiday happy ending?
Is it strange that I've read my first Christmas book of the season before I put my Halloween decorations up? Because I'll be honest, it feels kind of weird? Of course, everything else in my life feels like a mixed up jumble so why not my holiday reading, am I right?! Of course, when it comes to a Karen Schaler Christmas story, it has to be put to the top of the list because she has quickly become the Queen of Christmas romance for me and it's easy to understand why once you've read one from her. 

In this one we have Kaylie, a reporter who doesn't think she has what it takes to write anything outside of investigative pieces, taking on a holiday freelance job and quickly finding herself in over her head. She realizes that she's not working with regular folks, she's actually working with royalty and immediately becomes overwhelmed with her assignment, which becomes writing a unique Christmas centered fairy tale for the Queen's granddaughter. Of course, that means interacting with the granddaughter's father, who happens to be the seemingly grouchy, anti-Christmas, definitely anti-media, father, Prince Alexander. Which, isn't the worst because they at least have the same outlook on Christmas, which they aren't completely in Grinch-mode, but they definitely aren't eagerly volunteering to decorate and lead any kind of celebration because the holidays highlight a significant loss in their lives they don't want to celebrate. Regardless, he makes it his mission to be the rudest possible and make this an impossible assignment in the hopes Kaylie will give up and just go home. 

Of course, in true Christmas romance fashion, things start turning into a Christmas miracle, thawing both of their hearts and perhaps turning into a real romance until.... (dun, dun, dun) we have drama and some things that threaten the budding romance and more, but that's the charm of a good Christmas story, right? You have to have something threaten to ruin it because the best part is the characters overcoming it/that. I won't tell you what it is because of course that would ruin it, but I'll tell you the ending is sweet and once you finish this book you'll be itching to get your Christmas tree up. I'm not joking, I kind of  want to put mine up in my office. I'm holding out until November 1, at least! 

Any book that gets me wanting to put my tree up and skip holidays, and dig out my Christmas baking tools gets a 5 star from me, no question! A huge thank you to TLC Book Tours for having me on this tour and Karen Schaler for sending me the cutest Christmas themed package that made me want to get all of my wrapping supplies out. She always sends the prettiest things! 

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