santas-sleigh-on-its-way

SRP Reviews: Holiday Edition (Part II): The Reading Group: December, All Was Calm, and Santa’s Sleigh Is On Its Way to West Virginia

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

I had some unexpected holiday plans pop up at the end of last (couldn’t turn down seeing Moana with my two favorite little people) so I didn’t get around to posting more holiday reviews. And then yesterday, I conducted the great holiday gift hunt of 2016 which resulted in my husband finding the missing gifts in the living room where I had been wrapping. The only place I hadn’t torn apart searching for the missing movie gifts. (Next time, it’ll be the first place I look though I’m hoping there isn’t one.) On to the reviews for Part II of my holiday reading.

reading-group-decemberThe Reading Group: December by Della Parker: This book is set during the Christmas holiday and features Grace, a member of the reading group. The holiday season isn’t very happy for Grace as her family is struggling through a lot of hardships, but Grace doesn’t want to damper anyone else spirits so bears the burden alone. This story is about what happens when the facade Grace has constructed cracks. I don’t want to give the plot away, but there is a light in the dark for Grace and her family, and she sees the holiday spirit come alive.

all-was-calmThe next book in this edition is All Was Calm by Julie Carobini. This is a cozy mystery set during Christmas time. Tasha’s friend is on the suspect list when the owner of the camp she works for dies and it doesn’t seem the police are looking at anyone else so Tasha is on the case for the truth. I loved reading about the camp and the small town where Tasha now lives. Reading the descriptions of the normally, quiet town made me wish I had a trip planned in a mountain cabin resort (even though I’m not big on cold or snow). There were also many sweet moments between Tasha and her boyfriend which helped give the book a holiday feel.

santas-sleigh-on-its-wayMy last book for this post is Santa’s Sleigh Is On It’s Way to West Virginia by Eric James. Every year, I try to read a new to me children’s or middle grade book. I saw this one at Sam’s Club, and since it had West Virginia in the title, I had to get it. I absolutely love this book. It has the perfect balance of rhyme in the narration and the illustrations are delightful. I love how the story incorporates so many of the cities in West Virginia. (Note: The book is available for every state.) Currently, this is my favorite holiday read of the season.

 

 

 

all-i-want-for-christmas

SRP Review: Holiday Edition (Part 1): An Island Christmas, A Christmas Bonus, All I Want For Christmas

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

It’s holiday reading time! This year I’m a little behind schedule (two illnesses, multitude of Christmas gift crafting, writing book 6 in the Scrap This series, and preparing for the tax season is to blame) and I hope to get some more reading done now that two huge items on my to-do list are complete (mermaid tail blanket and tax courses). But I did manage to work in some reading time to save my sanity and give my overworked brain a rest.

an-island-christmasMy first book of the season was An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer. This book took place during Christmas time on Nantucket, and it also has a Christmas wedding. The Gordon family comes together over the holidays for a wedding and there is some meddling and doubts that might put a damper on the big day. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away so all I will say is that this was what I’d consider a perfect Christmas story–family angst (but not too heavy), wonderful descriptions of the holiday appearance of the town, family get together, and most of all a sweet holiday spirit where there are lessons learned and a great understanding and appreciation at the end. It was the perfect book to start off my holiday reading.

achristmasbonuscoverThe next book I read was The Christmas Bonus by Patty Froese. Millie agrees to help her boss, Andrew, with a work project over the Christmas holiday and finds herself swayed into staying with his family. There is plenty of family angst in the story, and one of the issues is very heavy but is handled in a way where it doesn’t take away the hope and spirit of the story. At first, everything seems simple in the characters lives but like real people, the reader starts to learn of the struggles each one faces. I loved seeing how over the holidays, a time usually spent with family, Millie and Andrew not only come to realize how well they do know each other, but also learn some important (if at times not flattering) things about themselves and realize their roles in some of the issues they are facing.

all-i-want-for-christmasThe last book for this edition is All I Want for Christmas by Nora Roberts. This was a cute, sappy, heart-warming Christmas story…think Hallmark Christmas movie…which means it was written just the way I love holiday stories. The story takes places over a few months time but the Christmas hope is spread throughout the book as it’s centered on the twins big gift for Christmas which they are keeping a secret from their dad. The one thing twins Zeke and Zach want for Christmas is for their single dad to fall in love so they can have a mom. I loved the antics of the twins and how the issue keeping the couple apart felt real but wasn’t too traumatic as to dampen the sweet spirit of the story. I found myself smiling while I was reading this book.

I hope to have another edition up by the end of the week. Now that I’m all done with my courses and test taking for the upcoming tax season, I have more reading time. I can’t wait until it’s time to turn on the Christmas lights, sit in the recliner, and let myself enter into the world of another book.

 

 

 

 

SRP Review: Hippie Homesteaders: Arts, Crafts, Music and Living on the Land in West Virginia by Carter Taylor Seaton

hippie homesteadersHippie Homesteaders takes the reader to West Virginia, introducing them to craftspeople who made their home in the Mountain State in order to live off land and their artistic skills. It filled me with pride to learn how the government of the state of WV encouraged and supported crafters. Crafting is highly respected as it’s a  way to continue and respect traditions of the past, and to bring them into the future. Tamarack is a center that connects WV crafters with travelers so the artisans have an outlet showcase their talents for new buyers and fans.

This book gives a snapshot of the lives of many crafters who came to WV in order to earn a living with their art, and sometimes coming to the state to learn an art to support themselves. The artists found themselves accepted in their new state and given opportunities to perfect their craft. I loved getting a peek into the lives of these artists and their struggles and determination to live off the land and their crafting abilities. The artist community is a tight knit group and its was wonderful to read how they helped each other.

The Internet has made it possible for the artists (painters, potters, beaders, quilters, weavers, etc.) to reach more buyers and allows them to grow their income, and introduce those outside of the state to the unique handcrafted wares produced in the state of West Virginia.

The can-and-will do spirit of the crafters showcased in the book was a huge encouragement to me and restored some of that same attitude in me. I can’t wait to get back to my writing…and I’m also itching to get some more crafting of my own done.

 

 

SRP Review Holiday Edition (Part IV): The Perfect Gift, Snowed In, and A Very Country Christmas

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

The holiday season is over and with it comes the packing up of our Christmas decorations and putting away the holiday theme and setting books until the end of the year. While I’ll miss reading them, I’m looking forward to reading mysteries, romances, and whatever else catches my eye that is set during any time of the year and explores other themes.

the perfect giftThe first book to finish up the list for this (last) year’s holiday reading is The Perfect Gift by Serenity Woods. In this story, Brock has been grieving for his deceased wife for two years and wants to explore getting into a new relationship; he still loves and misses his wife but yearns to have love in his life again. Erin had met Brock online through a chat group for parents who have children that have chronic illnesses and while hesitant at first, agrees to see if their online friendship can blossom into anything more. This book has a holiday setting and I enjoyed seeing Christmastime taking place in another country. And reading about Christmas in a warmer weather fit this year as where I live we had record highs. I liked how the Christmas season blended into the story without it overshadowing the growing romance or having Christmas being the sole reason for the couple being together. Note: This book does have steamy scenes.

snowed innThe next book was Snowed In by Danielle Lee Zwissler that had a Christmas theme and setting to the story. The heroine Lacy is on her way to visit her family for Christmas when her car breaks down on a snowy road. Grayson happens to be driving and stops to help the damsel in distress. Lacy isn’t so thrilled with being rescued but agrees to accompany the stranger when he mentions he’s heading to the inn where she was planning on staying. When she arrives, Lacy is greeted with warmth and love, something she has longed for all her life. Even though she was heading to her family, she never felt a sense of belonging and she does with Grayson and his family. This was a sweet story with a lovely message about finding and accepting love from where it’s offered. I felt that the holiday theme was so strong that the story was a little rushed at times.

a very country christmasThe last book for this holiday reading binge was A Very Country Christmas by Zara Stoneley. Christmastime. Couple in love. Horses. Wonderful setting. What more could a girl want in a holiday story? Lottie is looking forward to having a lovely, romantic Christmas dinner (cooked by her) with her fiance…before she knows it, the romantic meal has turned into a large gathering of friends and family. I loved the antics of the secondary characters and wish I could say more, but I don’t want to give away the ending. This was an enjoyable, feel-good read and was the perfect book as this year’s last holiday read.

 

 

SRP Review Holiday Edition (Part III): The Gift, Mistletoe and Murder, and Home for the Holidays

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

The end of the year is upon us and with that I’m winding down in my holiday reading. I’ll have one more edition of my holiday reviews before I reenter the world of non-holiday stories. the giftThe first book for this edition is The Gift by Lisa Mondello. I really enjoyed this book. The plot had a wonderful blend of a Christmas setting and a Christmas spirit theme that I enjoy (and prefer) in holiday books. Neither the holiday setting or theme was heavy-handed, and the two elements worked perfectly together. I loved how Allison and Derek meet and how their conflict naturally stemmed from the first encounter, though I do wish Allison had been more forthcoming I understand why she kept the knowledge to herself. I would’ve like for Allison to have her own ah-ha moment in the book instead of it just being Derek, but it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book. It was a lovely read and stirred up my Christmas spirit.

mistletoe and murderThe next book was Mistletoe and Murder by Laina Turner. This is a cozy mystery short story and is set during Christmas time. The heroine Presley goes home for the holidays and agrees to help an ex-boyfriend discover the truth behind some financial shenanigans going on at his business which then evolves into having to track down a murderer. The mystery element is the strongest one in the story. Presley has a charge-forward, look back later personality which lands her in trouble and in humorous situations. I enjoyed getting to know her.

home for christmasThe last book for this edition is Home for Christmas by Melissa McClone. This was my favorite holiday read (so far) this year. It had the perfect balance of Christmas spirit/heart and Christmas setting. I loved Rachel and Nate. Rachel was a heroine who was equal parts spunky and vulnerable which made me connect to her immediately and wanted me to see her happily-each-after happen. Nate was strong and protective, and yet had a soft side to him that was endearing. The couple played perfectly off each other and I loved how their romance played out.

The Bar V5 ranch was perfect for a Christmas setting. The descriptions had me longing for snow (and I usually don’t look forward to it), and made me wish I could take a vacation there. It felt so real to me. The Christmas spirit was so alive in this book and made it so enjoyable to read. I took my time reading this story as I wanted to stay at the Bar V5 for awhile as it was such a heartwarming place. Yes, I know I’m gushing but it’s the way this book made me feel when I was reading it. The last scene had me releasing a long, satisfied sigh as it tugged at my heart. I can’t wait to read another story about the Bar V5 ranch.

 

 

SRP Review Holiday Edition (Part II): The Carpenter’s Gift, Lowcountry Bordello, and Unwrapping Her Perfect Match

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

carpenter's giftMy house is decked out in its holiday attire, and the books I’m featuring in this edition of my holiday reads all feature great Christmas settings. The Carpenter’s Gift by David Rubel is a children’s tale that tells the story about the Rockefeller Center Tree. Every year I’m including a children’s Christmas/holiday story to read. I find that children stories usually have a sweet holiday spirit message in them that aren’t heavy-handed. What drew me to this book was the lovely illustrations that reflected the time period and Christmas setting beautifully. The pictures are gorgeous and complement the story. I had a real sense of the time and place. I loved learning about the Rockefeller Tree and seeing the act of kindness that started so much good and happiness in a lot of people’s lives.

lowcountry bordelloThe next book I read was Lowcountry Bordello by Susan M. Boyer. This is a mystery that happens around Christmas time. I loved reading all the description of Stella Maris during the holidays and seeing Liz navigating through the regular holiday events on top of planning a wedding–and trying to solve a murder. The mystery is the strongest element of the story and what I enjoyed most about the holiday setting was how it fit into the main storyline without overtaking it or having Christmastime just being a backdrop. The story wouldn’t have been the same if it was set at a different time. I like how Liz’s everyday life was still happening even though it was the holiday time. It’s very much how most of us have to navigate the holiday season.

unwrapping her perfect matchThe last book for this edition is Unwrapping her Perfect Match by Kat Latham. This is book is set during the holidays and starts with our heroine Gwen going to a fundraising auction to bid on a rugby player. Gwen has instructions on who to bid on but all doesn’t go as planned as meeting a handsome rugby player changes her mind. I loved the holiday descriptions in this book and they made me want to go to London one Christmas. It was a sweet love story and I have to admit it’s one of my favorite endings in a romance. Just a little note (disclaimer if you will) that this is a sexy story so if you prefer sweet reads (no sex on the page) then you might want to pass on this on or skip those sections.

bella's christmas bakeoff

SRP Holiday Review Edition (Part I): Do You Believe in Santa, Bella’s Christmas Bake Off, and Get Yourself Organized for Christmas

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

I’m so excited! It’s the time of the year where I pull out all my holiday themed books (and sweaters…yes, I’m one of the people who wear them and I don’t care that it’s a no on every fashion list) and settle into to do some serious reading. I seem to read more at this time of the year than any other. If you have any suggestions for titles (adult, young adult, children books) please let me know as I can never have too many holiday books.

do you believe in santaThe first book for this year is Do You Believe in Santa? by Sierra Donovan. Stories with a Christmas theme or setting are my favorites. Every year, I look forward to diving into these types of stories as the happiness and goodwill melt away all my cares and contribute to my enjoyment of the holiday season. What I enjoy most about holiday stories is the magic weaved into them through details of the setting, atmosphere, and the love-of-Christmas embraced by the characters. Do You Believe in Santa? fit perfectly into my holiday reading needs.

From the first introduction of Mandy and the store she works in, I knew I was in for a magical time. I loved seeing Mandy as a little girl and knowing that as an adult, she still embraced—and found a way to make a living—from her love of Christmas and Santa Claus. The only thing missing in Mandy’s life is true love. It’s hard for her as the eligible bachelors in town, remembering about her defense of Santa, don’t take her seriously or want her to change.
When a new man arrives in town, Mandy decides to step out of her comfort zone and agree to a date. The romance is written in a sweet and honest way. (I had started to type an example but deleted it, not wanting to spoil the story.) I loved seeing Mandy show him her town, and her love for the holidays, and watching Jake fall under the spell of Christmas. Do You Believe in Santa? kept the Christmas spirit throughout even though the majority of the book took place before the holiday season.

bella's christmas bakeoffThe next book was Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson.  Amy is blissfully baking away and looking forward to Christmas when her husband arrives home and announces he’s leaving her. The timing comes as a shock to Amy, though not the news itself as she knows their marriage has been on the rocks for a while, but how could he leave her before the holidays. I thought the same thing. Why tell her then when he knew how much the holidays meant to his wife? Then again, why would a man who’d run around on his wife care about her love of a particular season?

Amy turns to her favorite holiday program to try and gain back some of her positive and happy feelings of the holidays, even though it does bring some bittersweet memories as the host was her childhood best friend Bella. The girls had a falling out, which Amy caused, and the friendship never recovered. It is one of the regrets of Amy’s life. When watching the show, Amy learns that the recipes Bella uses were Amy’s mother. A war is now on. With some maneuverings, Amy wins a contest and be spending some time with her former best friend. Amy plans on using the time to right her wrongs, have Bella’s wrongs righted, and maybe with the Christmas spirit in the air some hearts and minds will open.

I’ll admit I was a little worried if the book would fulfill my holiday reading needs. While the book has some heavy moments and painful pasts for the characters, it never took over. When I’m in a holiday reading mood, I want a book that will refresh my spirit, make me a little teary because of love and goodwill not sorrow. I want a story that will showcase the best of the holiday spirit: love, second chances, wonder, happiness, and of course scenes showing Christmas in all its beautiful (and sometimes dysfunctional) wonder. Bella’s Christmas Bake Off fulfilled all my needs.

get yourself organized for the holidaysAnd the last book for this part of my holiday reviews is Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp. I like planning and am always on the lookout for ideas on how to improve upon my current methods. And since Christmas is my holiday love and I go all out–decorating, baking, movie watching, reading, clothing, etc– I figured a book just on organizing for the holiday was a perfect read for me. I even started a holiday planner to keep notes of everything I need to do, want to do, and should be doing as in my quest to get it all in, I sometimes miss something that gives me a little pang of regret.

The one thing that the book advises doing, and that I’m having trouble with, is downsizing the must-do list. I don’t know if I can, or even want to give anything up. Except for the holiday season (okay and book launches), my life is pretty tame and one day rolls into the next. For the holidays, I like feeling that every day is special and I have something fun and different to do. The one take-away I do keep in mind is not to let my plans overwhelm my family. I make sure that I have some must-dos holiday-specialness activities that I can do on my own…reading, watching movies, crafting. Something that gives me the feeling I need and doesn’t make the holidays something my family comes to dread.

The way the book is organized made it very easy for me to include those specific ideas into my Christmas planner so I could spend more time decorating the planner rather than trying to make sure I included all the categories I’d need.