Posted in Reading List

Have Yourself a Merry Little Hallmark Christmas!

 

Hello, friends! So, is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas where you live? I’d say it is here.  We had our first snow flurries yesterday, and when I was at the mall, it looked like Santa and his elves were ready to appear at any moment!

Doesn’t that put you in the mood for some lighthearted holiday reads?  I’m absolutely ready for some great Christmas titles, and for amazing options, you don’t need to look any further than Hallmark!  We all know to look to The Hallmark Channel or to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries for enchanting Christmas movies, but as promised in a recent post, I want to highlight Hallmark Publishing’s warm and cozy Christmas books.

Here are a couple of Hallmark’s newest holiday releases, both of which I’m planning to read in the coming season!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

 

 

 

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The Christmas Company by Alys Murray:

The small town of Miller’s Point is known across the country for their annual Dickensian Christmas festival. When the celebration is threatened by Clark Woodward, a miserly, big-city businessman, Kate Buckner steps up to save her hometown, their traditions, and her favorite holiday. But, along the way, she realizes that the man she’s trying to protect her town from might need some rescuing of his own.

With a lot of heart and a little Christmas magic, Kate is convinced she can teach Clark to love her favorite holiday. But can such different people learn to open up and love each other?

Get The Christmas Company:     Amazon     Barnes & Noble

 

 

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A Timeless Christmas by Alexis Stanton:

Megan Turner is in love with the past. As a tour guide at a beautiful historic mansion, she tells visitors about its original owner, Charles Whitley. An inventor and businessman in the early 1900s, he rose from poverty to wealth…only to disappear without a trace.

Charles was always intrigued by the future. He just never expected to go there. But when he repairs a mysterious clock he bought on his travels, he’s transported to the twenty-first century, with his home decorated for Christmas and overrun by strangers.

Charles is determined to find a way back to his own era, especially when he learns about what happened after he left. But as Megan introduces him to the wonders of smartphones, pizza, and modern holiday traditions, they both feel a once-in-a-lifetime connection. Could it be that, somewhere in time, they belong together?

Get A Timeless Christmas:     Amazon     Barnes & Noble

 

Both of these sound like the perfect book to read in front of Christmas lights, cozied up with a soft blanket and a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

Want to see more great Hallmark Christmas titles?  Check out my Amazon Idea list:

Christmas Books from Hallmark Publishing

 

Now… I realize some of you aren’t *quite* ready for Christmas yet!  That’s okay… Hallmark has you covered for great fall reads as well.  Try this one, which I read and loved last month:

 

October Kiss: Based on the Hallmark Channel Original Movie

 

October Kiss by Kristen Ethridge:

Poppy’s tried a lot of things. Yoga instruction. Pizza making. So far, none of them have seemed like her thing. Still, she doesn’t have to know where her life is headed to live it with enthusiasm.

Ever since his wife’s death, Ryan’s thrown himself into his work. Launching a successful new app will secure his children’s future…even if it means he can’t spend much time with them now.

As a short-term nanny for Ryan’s children, Poppy brings some much-needed fun and laughter. She’s never been one to commit, so why is she feeling so attached to these children…and even more, to their dad? Could it be she’s found her place at last?

Get October Kiss:     Amazon     Barnes & Noble

 

So, what do you think?  Have you read any Hallmark Publishing titles in the past?  Any of these going on your list in the coming weeks?  Drop a note in the comments and let me know your favorite Christmas book… happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reading List

Three Very “Cozy” Reasons to Look Forward to September 25th! (Updated with review links!)

This post was originally published in August 2018, and has been updated with new product and review links!

 

Oh, Autumn, how I love thee!!  Apple cider, sweaters, fiery colored leaves, bonfires, and apple and pumpkin flavored and scented EVERYTHING!  It’s all so cozy!

If I could live in a world where the rest of the seasons were about a month each, and then fall took up most of the year… well, it sounds heavenly, and if you know where to find *that* world, sign me up!

 

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Picturing a cozy autumn scene like this, and noticing the calendar ready to change over from August to September, it’s easy to look forward to fall!  Well today, I have three more COZY reasons to look forward to this month and to the upcoming season… specifically, to the last week of September!  And those cozy reasons are, of course… cozy mysteries!

The Cozy Mystery List Blog lists more than 30 new mysteries that will be released in September 2018, most of them cozies!

(Need a refresher on what a cozy mystery is? Check out this Book Notes post where I describe the genre and review a great cozy title.

There are three of these titles in particular that I’m looking forward to, and they all happen to release on September 25th!  These are all part of different cozy series of which I’ve already read some (or all) of the previous titles!  None of them are actually set in the thick of a pumpkin-apple-bonfire fall theme.  One is set in a tourist destination on Labor Day weekend, so you can relive the end of summer, and the other two are Christmas themed so you can get an early taste of the holidays, or save them for getting you into the Christmas spirit!

Take a look at these three amazing books!

Update:  I’ve read and reviewed ALL of these titles, and below, I’ll link to my Book Notes review post for each.

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

 

 

Christmas Cake Murder, Joanne Fluke

 

Christmas Cake Murder (A Hannah Swensen Mystery)

 

Christmas Cake Murder is the latest installment in Fluke’s Hannah Swensen Mystery series.  I’ve read this series from the very beginning, and it’s been sweet and fun.  I admit to being a little lukewarm on it for the last few books, mainly because of the love interest situations.  (I won’t spoil it here for those who haven’t read that far!)  But that piece is getting interesting again, and in the meantime, I’m really looking forward to this installment that flashes back to Hannah’s younger years.   From Goodreads:

It’s Christmas many years ago, and topping young Hannah Swensen’s wish list is becoming the go-to baker in Lake Eden, Minnesota. But as Hannah finds out, revisiting holiday memories can be murder . . .
 
With her dream of opening The Cookie Jar taking shape, Hannah’s life matches the hectic December hustle and bustle in Lake Eden—especially when she agrees to help recreate a spectacular Christmas Ball from the past in honor of Essie Granger, an elderly local in hospice care. But instead of poring over decadent dessert recipes for the merry festivities, she instantly becomes enthralled by Essie’s old notebooks and the tale of a woman escaping danger on the streets of New York. Hannah’s surprised by Essie’s secret talent for penning crime fiction. She’s even more surprised when the story turns real. As Hannah prepares to run a bakery and move out of her mother’s house, it’ll be a true miracle if she can prevent another Yuletide disaster by solving a mystery as dense as a Christmas fruitcake.

My review:  Book Notes: “Christmas Cake Murder” by Joanne Fluke

Get your copy of Christmas Cake Murder at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

Forever Fudge, Nancy Coco

 

Forever Fudge (A Candy-coated Mystery)

 

I love this cute series, the Candy Coated Mysteries, set on Michigan’s Mackinac Island!  If you haven’t visited this area, it’s definitely a trip worth making.  I’m planning to do a full review of this title, where I’ll talk about the series and share some highlights of a trip I took to Mackinac a few years back!

If you want to get caught up on the series, you can start with the first book, All Fudged Up!  In the meantime, check out the description of the latest book, Forever Fudge, from Goodreads:

When a film crew comes to Mackinac Island, the last thing fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy expects to find is a murder victim . . .

It’s Labor Day weekend, the official end of tourist season, and the beginning of a whole batch of trouble. First, the island is invaded by a TV crew filming a murder mystery pilot, and handsome Hollywood heartthrob Dirk Benjamin needs Allie’s help to prep for his role as local cop Rex Manning. Then, Allie’s bichonpoo Mal sniffs out a real murder in the alley behind the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop, a man shot in the head–with a note challenging amateur sleuth Allie to catch the culprit. Like it or not, the fudge maker has to square off against a crazy killer–but this time she may have bitten off more than she can chew . . .

My review:  Book Notes: “Forever Fudge” by Nancy Coco

Get your copy of Forever Fudge at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

Premeditated Peppermint, Amanda Flower

 

Premeditated Peppermint (An Amish Candy Shop Mystery)

 

I’ve read quite a few books set in Amish country over the years, and always enjoy the cozy feeling they offer!  Premeditated Peppermint is the third installment in Amanda Flower’s Amish Candy Shop mystery series.  Once more, from Goodreads:

Christmas is Bailey King’s favorite time of year. For her first Yuletide in Harvest, Ohio, the former big-city chocolatier is recreating a cherished holiday treat: peppermint combined with molten white chocolate. But her sugar high plummets when her former boyfriend walks into the candy shop she now runs with her Amish grandmother. New York celebrity chef Eric Sharp and his TV crew have arrived to film an authentic Amish Christmas. Bailey’s not about to let her beloved town—and Swissmen Sweets—be turned into a sound bite. Unfortunately, she gets more publicity than she bargained for when Eric’s executive producer is found strangled to death—and Eric’s the prime suspect.

With Bailey’s sheriff deputy boyfriend out to prove Eric’s guilt, her bad-boy ex tries to sweet-talk her into helping him clear his name . . . and rekindle their romance to boost ratings for his show. Now, between a surplus of suspects and a victim who wasn’t who she seemed, Bailey’s edging dangerously close to a killer who isn’t looking to bring joy to the world—or to Bailey—this deadly Noel.

My review:  Book Notes: “Premeditated Peppermint” by Amanda Flower

Get your copy of Premeditated Peppermint at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

Wow… so, in addition to the other similarities, I just realized these titles are *all* about food.  More specifically, sugar.  That seems about right, somehow.  You’ll notice none are about cauliflower.  Oops.

(Note:  With two of these books highlighting the Christmas season, now is a great time to add them to your holiday reading list!)

Well… go grab a hot chocolate and a pumpkin bar, and pre-order one of these great titles!  Happy reading, and happy AUTUMN!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Reading List, Reblogs

Summer Book Review Roundup!

Hello, friends! There have been so many great books coming out this summer, and you’ve probably been hearing a *lot* about some titles! I’m scouring book review blogs to round up some reviews of a few buzz-worthy novels that I haven’t had a chance to read and review myself… yet!  But it’s making me want to read faster so I can get to these, and you may find a new summer favorite!

So… what are some hugely popular reads of Summer 2018?

 

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Order The Perfect Couple!

 

The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand

A beach, a wedding… a murder mystery?  It’s summer on beautiful Nantucket, but when one lavish ceremony is halted by sudden death before it can begin, the entire wedding party comes under scrutiny.

Elin Hilderbrand’s books are perfect beach reads, with juicy storylines, well developed characters, and lots of sand and sea! I’m determined to read this during July!  Here’s a couple of great reviews I’ve seen on this one:

Novelgossip, who reads and reviews more books than anyone I know, is calling this the best book of the summer, saying it’s “Juicy, Secretive, and Fun.”

Jaclyn at Literary Treats provides a great, in depth overview of this title, and says this is a great story to lose yourself in, preferably on a beach!

 

 

Something in the Water: A Novel
Order Something in the Water!

 

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

This title has gotten a lot of press as the June selection for Hello Sunshine, a book club curated by the lovely Reese Witherspoon! Here’s a partial story description from Goodreads:

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Sounds intriguing! So what have our blogger friends had to say about it? Two differing viewpoints:

Abby from Read This, Not That says this book has a strong theme of the characters making bad decisions.  She didn’t give it her highest rating but says, “The writing is good, the pace is rapid, the plot is entertaining, and this is a fast read.”

Berit at Audio Killed the Bookmark (clever title – reviews are on audiobooks and other digital forms!) gave this one five “tension filled” stars and declared it the best listen so far in 2018!

 

Limelight: A Novel
Order Limelight!

 

Limelight by Amy Poeppel

I discovered this one when friends kept mentioning it on Twitter!  After moving her family to Manhattan, Allison finds that New York is not exactly what she’d envisioned and that she may be in over her head. Then she unexpectedly meets Carter, a teen pop star doing a new Broadway Musical, and discovers a unique opportunity.

This sounds like a really fun summer story! On to the reviews:

First we’ll go back to Novelgossip (seriously guys, she reads everything!), who loved the story and calls it “Savvy, Modern, and Sparkling.”

Kait from Kait’s Bookshelf found this book entertaining and really enjoyed “getting lost in the world of Manhattan and Broadway with Allison.”

Whew! Great opinions on a few really popular books, all of which are on my personal reading list!

And just in case that isn’t enough to keep you busy for a while, check out my Book Notes posts for titles that I have reviewed already this summer… more on the way over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading! Drop a note in the comments and let me know what great titles you’ve been enjoying this summer!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

Posted in Reading List

Summer Reads Are Coming! (The Sequel…)

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If anyone knows where this paradise is…

 

Recently I featured a few great summer reads I’m looking forward to in the coming months, along with a fantasy of quiet time and tropical drinks on an isolated beach.  I haven’t found that beautiful beach yet, but I have found more great books coming out this summer for your enjoyment!

I stumbled across this Good Housekeeping article by Jamie Ballard:

The 25 Best New Books for Summer 2018

Wow… a treasure trove!  Now, not every book on this list is my cup of tea and probably won’t be yours either, but there’s really something for everyone no matter what you love to read.  I’m going to highlight a few of them that everyone will be talking about, and some that I’m adding to my TBR list for the summer.

(Ever feel like you spend more time adding to your TBR list than actually reading?  What’s that?  Um, no… me neither.  Just asking for a friend.)

 

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The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer:  This title by the author of The Wife and The Ten Year Nap has already been getting a ton of buzz.  In fact, Barnes & Noble just launched a new quarterly in-store book club, and this was it’s first ever selection!  In this novel, college student Greer is trying to find her way in the world when she meets feminist icon Faith.  Through its characters and relationships, the book explores themes of power, womanhood, friendship, and women mentoring one another through a world that’s not always kind.

This one seems like a very timely read, and I’ve really enjoyed the author’s prior books.  It released in April, so if you’ve already read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Meghan (A Hollywood Princess) by Andrew Morton:  Speaking of timely, this latest release from a powerhouse biographer covers a subject on everyone’s mind this month:  The Royal Wedding and the newest Royal-to-be, Meghan Markle.  With the wedding approaching this weekend, learn about Meghan, from her childhood, to how she met Prince Harry, to her Hollywood career, and more.

Whether you’re a fan of the British Royal family, or just want to be in-the-know for this big event, this book also released in April so you can pick it up now.

 

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By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank:  Honestly, any good summer reading list is incomplete without a novel set in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, delivered as only Frank can.

In this read, we meet two families coming together at an engagement party.  The novel shows us two very different worlds:  a family of hard working Southern peach farmers and an elite metropolitan family.  When their children fall in love, how do they come together?  What have their choices meant for their lives?  What kinds of secrets are they hiding?  And can they co-exist for the sake of young love?

By Invitation Only releases May 15th (*this week*), so I look forward to sitting down with this coastal tale very soon.

 

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware:  If you love a good thriller while you’re at the beach or the pool, order this read by the author of The Woman in Cabin 10!  In this novel, a woman receives a letter leaving her a substantial, and very unexpected, inheritance.  She realizes quickly that she wasn’t the intended recipient of the letter, but decides to attend the funeral of the deceased anyway, hoping she may be able to claim the money regardless.  But it’s quickly apparent that something is very, very wrong about the entire situation and the inheritance in question.

This one sounds intriguing, and I can’t wait to solve the mystery behind the inheritance.  The Death of Mrs. Westaway releases May 29th!

 

Go give the original article by Ms. Ballard a read.  She’s included a great mix of fiction and non-fiction, fun reads and intense ones… I wanted to highlight more but we’ll stop here!   (Elin Hilderbrand’s The Perfect Couple, which I mentioned in my previous post, is also on her list.)  Happy summer reading… have a mai tai or two for me!

 

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 

 

 

Posted in Reading List

Summer Reads Are Coming!

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Just picture it:  Your tan self, in a cute swimsuit lounging on a comfortable chaise.  A private cabana provides the perfect mix of sun and shade, and the beach is not completely deserted, but just quiet enough to hear the waves lapping on the shore of white sand.  A nice young man presents you with a fruity drink, bearing a tiny umbrella perched on the rim.  You sip the sweet nectar and return your attention to a glorious epic novel, hearing the faintest strains of steel drum music in the background….

Yeah.  That’s not how my summer looks either.  (Sigh.)

More likely, it’s you in the car shuttling kids between baseball games and summer camps.  Or trying to keep up with the yardwork and that dang vegetable garden you planted again, telling yourself you’d take good care of it this year.  (Spoiler alert:  I gave up.  Didn’t even try this time.)  If you’re lucky, you squeeze in some drinks on a patio with friends and maybe a week at the lake, for which you spend a week preparing, and from which you spend two weeks recovering.

Ahhh, summer!  But hey, it’s all good.  Summer brings sunshine, ice cream, outdoor drinks and dining, and thankfully, great summer reading.  Today I’m sharing a few books that I’m looking forward to reading in the coming months!

 

 

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The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand:  If you haven’t read anything by Elin Hilderbrand, you’re missing out.  Her novels, normally set in her home base of Nantucket, feature well developed characters, family drama, and the charm of a small island community.  In this story, Nantucket’s summer wedding season is always eventful, but turns particularly memorable for one family when they all become suspects in a terrible tragedy.  The twists and turns that follow illustrate the imperfection of every family.

This title releases on June 19.  If you’ve missed Hilderbrand’s previous stories, now’s your chance to spend the next month catching up, as some of the characters from her previous novels make an appearance in The Perfect Couple.  Start with A Summer Affair… I somehow missed that one and just picked up my copy yesterday!

 

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Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella:  Summer wouldn’t be complete without a new read from Sophie Kinsella.  In this novel, Sylvie and Dan have a happy, ten year marriage, and a full, comfortable life.  Everything is blissful, until a casual mention of the many decades of marriage yet in front of them causes panic to ensue.  Bringing surprises into the relationship seems like the right way to keep it fresh and fun, until mishaps, truths, and eventually a scandal send things awry.

I always love Kinsella’s books because they are funny, quirky, and light hearted, yet somehow seem to hit at the heart of hopes, dreams, and struggles faced by everyone.  I cheated a little on this one… Surprise Me has actually been out for a few months now.  But if you haven’t picked this up yet, it would be a great addition to your summer reading list!

 

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Clock Dance by Anne Tyler:  I *love* Anne Tyler.  Her characters are so quirky and so real.  They’re most often midlife women who are trying to figure out who they are and where they’re going.  (Raises hand, along with a few hundred of my closest friends!)  I actually like the publisher’s description of this book so well, I’m just going to skip re-inventing the wheel, and share it:

“Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory–surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places. A bewitching novel of hope, self-discovery, and second chances, Clock Dance gives us Anne Tyler at the height of her powers.”

Doesn’t that sound intriguing and charming?  Clock Dance releases July 10, and you can pre-order it now.

 

There are plenty of other titles on my TBR list this summer, including some non-fiction and a big stack of cozy mysteries, but this highlights a few of my most anticipated reads. What about you? What great reads do you have planned for this summer?  (Cabanas, fruity drinks, and steel drums optional, but highly recommended.)

 

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(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)