The Sunday Review: Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

39893648Title: Christmas Camp
Author: Karen Schaler
Page Count: 336 pages – ebook edition
Release Date: September 3, 2019

~

I thought this looked and sounded (from the synopsis) like a cute holiday book that I would skate through quickly and enjoy immensely. Plus with the word “Camp” in the title, I had to read it! I’m a sucker for camps and retreats! Apparently though, Hallmark/Lifetime/Netflix mushy writers should stick to their screenplays. At least for me. Reading the author’s bio, “Christmas Karen” Schaler has also written screenplays for Netflix’s THE CHRISTMAS PRINCE (which I did enjoy!), Hallmark Channel’s Christmas Camp (I haven’t seen this), and Lifetime’s Every Day is Christmas (also never heart of it). While the idea of this book was classic holiday family and romance cozy, it fell a little short for me. Here is why:

In this book, Haley Hansen’s Christmas is booked–in the Caribbean. And that’s the way she likes it. She prefers to take her laptop, her work and her parents and avoid the holiday hustle and just relax on the warm beach. This year is different because her advertising company is trying to land a deal with a huge toy company. Big problem though. The theme of the ad campaign? Christmas spirit, and Haley has none. What’s more is that landing this campaign could earn her a spot as partner in the company. She would do anything–even head to Christmas Camp–to get this deal.

brooke-cagle-czbB0aPh_V0-unsplashMeanwhile Jeff is the oh-so-handsome, successful architect in Boston and son of the owner of Christmas Camp. He recently lost his mother and his aging father, Ben, is now running Christmas Camp basically on his own. I’ll let the rest of the details here unfold themselves for you all.

Christmas Camp is, I think, just about the first book ever where I didn’t find the male love interest charming or very interesting. He almost seemed sort of villainous for most of the book. I guess that’s what made it even more refreshing for Haley to be a hard-working girl (woman) throughout the book. She really did have some good growth and that really was heart-warming. From the very beginning I didn’t think she was a bad character…so what if she didn’t love Christmas?? I mean, everyone can choose to celebrate, or not, in their own way. Isn’t it kind of bogus (illegal?) for a company to basically require her to have Christmas Spirit?? I guess that’s a whole different debate. But anyway. The book was decent. Obviously several different ways to look at things so if you’re into that, go for it!! One last thing I will add is that there are a couple of good side characters, but the dog is probably the best character in the book.

Book soundtrack: The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

signature (1)

A May Literary Birthday

Happy birthday to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Of course we know him best for his +50 short stories about Holmes and Watson, but originally he was a physician and a keen sportsman. But of course, his works are more varied than the flat at 221B and his life was more broad than medicine and fitness. Today, though, we wish our literary fellow a very happy birthday!

ACD

What would your book nook look like?

I was just browsing Pinterest today (a dangerous past time, I know) and I ended up looking through cozy reading nooks. Now I am designing my dream space and I’m just all warm and fuzzy and excited inside! So here are a couple spaces I am in love with:

42635117935_d508793f5a_nThis one is sheltered, but outdoors, which I love. Can we say ‘ambiance’? I love the candlelight. Plus the mattress and ALL.THE.PILLOWS.!!!! So snug. I can just hear the crickets and the wind blowing in the trees and envision ALL the reading I would get done. OMG, its heaven. I am so sold! This is my dream!

tumblr_inline_nfipm43cax1s7b3jyOk, this next one is just great. Doesn’t everyone need this?? Unfortunately, I don’t have a proper tub for baths right now but I absolutely wish that I did. I get so many bath bombs in book boxes so obviously baths + books go together! Plus, heaven knows that we all need more bookshelves. So basically, this setting pretty much has it all! Also the toilet is there too so you’ll never be bored while taking care of that business either. All bases are covered.

tumblr_m9kehtqigj1qcfl10

And finally, for my grand finale, I had to choose my musical library. This baby is grand. Its got high ceilings, natural light, comfy seating (I might switch it out for something a little classier later on, but in the mean time I’ll take what I can get), a fire place, and of course books, books, and more books!!  I can only hope that some of those taller windows are doors. Maybe there is also a window seat somewhere around there? Oh, how perfect! I’m in heaven, you guys!

Have you thought about your dream library? What would your ideal book nook look like? Spill the tea in the comments!

signature5c048f506de86

Cure My ‘Stranger Things’ Hangover!

Its only March and last I saw, we aren’t getting new episodes of Stranger Things until July. I have already re-watched both seasons and reading the spin-off books just isn’t the same, so I have compiled a list of other books that have some similar concepts and themes that will maybe help to tide me over until the new season finally gets here. Let me know what you think of this list:

410150381. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix – Right off the bat, know that this book was written in 2016 but has solid 1980’s vibe–right on target! Strange things start happening once the new girl arrives? Check. Of course, the overall plot and outcome is different, but it could be somewhat satisfying. Never know til I try, and its been on my TBR for quite a while.

406421722. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab – Talk about being on my TBR for a long time, I really need to get to this one. Now, I know this book is about monsters. Big-time urban fantasy here. Also familiar is the concept of Monsters + Music….”Should I stay or should I go?” Right up our stranger alley. Well, more-or-less.  In the show the monsters don’t play the music but I’m doing what I can here.

328240583. Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton – This book has ‘strange’ in the title so how can we go wrong here? From the reviews that I have read of this book, it is dark, spooky, and well-crafted (pretty much how I would describe Stranger Things). The strangeness in this story can’t be denied because it affects the entire town. There are benefits and heavy sacrifices. The synopsis and reviews are so intriguing that this book just might be the one I start with. Very, very strange indeed….

381394094. Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand – I have been wanting to read this book since (before) its release. My understanding is that this book has a creepy setting and is basically just mystery after mystery unfolding around this small group of friends (a la Hawkins friends?). I must be friends with some brilliant reviewers because they are giving away no spoilers so other than how spooky the story is and scary the setting is and how amazing the writing is, that’s really all I know! Guess I just have to read it for myself!

So that’s all I have for my list and I think that will keep me busy because, while I do have to wait until July for Stranger Things, I will have Game of Thrones pretty soon to keep me busy for a little while.

But now, having seen this Stranger list, have you read any of these books and do you agree with me placing them on this list? Would you disagree and take any off? Do you have any additional recommendations for ‘stranger’ books?

signature5c048f506de86

Its Wednesday! WWW, that is!

waiting-on-wednesday

Today’s (and all) Waiting on Wednesday is brought to you by Taking on a World of Words, who revived this weekly meme for us book bloggers to use at our will. As always, the three W’s are:

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What will you be reading next?

If you participate in this on your blog, drop me a link in the comments below! Or just answer any or all of the questions and let me know what book your nose is in because I always like to know what people are reading. As for me….

What did I recently finish reading?
41818282Within the last week I have finished two books: an audiobook of The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker, which I gave 1 star (not at all what I was expecting–very unique 3rd person writing style), and an ARC from NetGalley called And Then You Were Gone by R.J. Jacobs. This one it a mystery/thriller that releases on March 13th and I gave it 3 stars. I will be posting my review closer to the release date, but in the mean time just in case you seek it out in NG, here is a big trigger warning for mental health/bipolar for that book for you, just FYI.

What am I currently reading?
30223025I have two main reads at the moment (and about two more books that I have started and am not really focusing on, but they’re there on the sidelines): The Dire King by William Ritter (this is the 4th and final book in the Jackaby series) and Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. I’m trying to keep up with New Years resolutions here – finish up series and improve my Goodreads rating so I’m actually working towards that! Pat on the back!

What will I be reading next?
36987007I never commit to this. Right now I am in a Goodreads challenge group and I am on a “VILLAINS” team and this is the last week for the paranormal/sci-fi theme. I have an ARC to get started on called The Stranger Diaries and I really want to get to Colleen Hoover’s Verity. The buzz about this book is just incredible! If you have read it, you must tell me what you thought about it. So we’ll see where I get on to!

Now its your turn. Don’t forget to drop your links or let me know what you’re reading. OR…have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR? Let me know!

signature5c048f506de86

February 2019 Readathons

We’re almost through the week and I hope that you all are having a good one. Happy Valentines Day if you’re into that. 🙂 I hope that your reading for the month is going better than mine is. I’m actually a bit behind. I would have thought that with the snow and ice we’ve had I would be farther along with my goals but nope! Oh well. Here are some readathons I have found to catch me (and maybe you) up for the rest of the month:

42-65375859InLoveAthon – Sunday 2/10 thru Saturday 2/16 … Reading books about love. Books and sprints and watch-alongs, oh my!

Fierce Females Readathon – Friday 2/15 thru Thursday 2/28 … Group Read = Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

VaLITines Readathon – Friday 2/1 thru Thursday 2/28 … BINGO and Challenges all month long!

Lost-A-Thon – Friday 2/1 thru Thursday 2/28 … A wide variety of genres to read from any time in the month.

So there we have it. I know I am going to jump in on Fierce Females and VaLITines, and maybe the others….I’ll see. I’m also in a couple group challenges on Goodreads as well. Are you active with groups on Goodreads? Are you doing any other monthly challenges or readathons? Tell me which ones–I’d love to know!

signature5c048f506de86

 

3 Of My Favorite ‘Romance’ Books (So Far)

heart-featured-image

Well, it can’t be February without me listing some of my favorite romance books, now can it? Now in all fairness, I will limit my list to only one Colleen Hoover book because–I’m just saying–she’s pretty much the queen of love. So without further ado, here is my list of love:

1. The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski – I read this book all the way back in 2014 and it has stuck with me ever since, that’s just how good it is. The Edge of Never is about Camryn and Andrew–two people who meet on a cross-country bus. Camryn is running from a break-up, divorced parents, and a fight with her best friend. Andrew’s father is dying of cancer. After an incident at the bus stop, they hop in a car and decide to travel wherever the road takes them. Their bonding is so fun and their story is so beautiful. I loved every moment of this book.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Cath and Wren are twins starting their first year away at college, but not everything starts out as expected. Cath feels like she’s losing her sister, her voice as a writer, and herself. College is a hard transition, but as all we college students know, there is no getting through without coffee. And with coffee comes Levi. Levi is such a charmer, and he is so amazing to Cath. He isn’t the perfect guy, he’s not the most popular, or the school jock. But he is kind and funny and he’s good to the girl he likes. I loved this book because I thought it was so real and I can’t help but applaud it for that.

3. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover – In my opinion, this is pretty much the most heartbreaking, love-filled book you can ever read. Also, this was a very tough book to read. There are trigger warnings for infertility, miscarriage, depression, minor self-harm, cheating.  However, as with all CoHo, it is written in a way that is past to present dual narrative and woven together very nicely. As I said, this book is so raw and so real, I can’t help but feel that Colleen Hoover is so brave for daring to take on such a tough topic as infertility because I know what a struggle that is and how it is just not talked about. She really does not go lightly on the grief and pain that it puts into a relationship and the love that Quinn and Graham have to give to each other just to get through their days. This book is so well written that I ended up quoting small pieces of it in my wedding vows.

16081272

23395098 37588357

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, there they are, my top 3 from the top of my head. I tried to choose differing sub genres.

Have you read any of these? Do you have recommendations for good romance reads? Or do you steer clear of the love bug?

signature5c048f506de86

Tag Tuesday: The Goodreads Tag

Hi everyone! We’re back to another Tuesday! So my new goal is to alternate Tag Tuesdays and WWW Wednesdays every other week so as to not burn out myself or you as readers with tags (even though I love them) or repetitive memes. However, I have a blog tour to post tomorrow so I’ll kick off my rotation with a tag today! So here we go!

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 11.09.14 PM

1. What is the last book you marked as read?
The last book that I finished and marked as ‘read’ was Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine. I added this to my lists overall on March 28, 2018, started reading on January 20, 2019 and finished reading on January 27th. I rated it four stars.

2. What is the last book you marked as “TBR”?
The other day I realized it had been a little while since I “synced” my Goodreads shelf with my TBR shelf so I took the time to make sure that I had all the books that I own are logged. I hate being at the bookstore (and this is truly a bookworm problem) and I can’t remember if I own a certain book or not. This is why I need to keep my lists up-to-date! So to answer this question, the last book I added was Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows.

3. What book do you plan to read next?
Its not so much ‘reading next’ as shifting my focus. I’m going to move on to/back to Six of Crows for my hard copy book and The Dreamers for my audiobook. Not sure what my ebook will be.

4. Do you use the star rating system?
Its a requirement these days! I do wish we could use half stars. I sort of figure that if they let us use stars they might as well let us use half stars as well!

5. Are you using the 2019 reading challenge?
Duh–who on Goodreads doesn’t?! My goal is 75 for this year.

6. Do you have a wishlist?
I do but I keep track on Amazon more than on Goodreads. You better believe I keep track of the books I want/need!

7. Which book do you plan on buying next?
Well, I get a little spontaneous. To be honest, it will probably be a pre-order. Jay Kristoff has been hinting good things about his pre-order goodies today I saw…..

8. Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few!
I don’t have any memorized that aren’t cliche. I could take hours looking them up based on books that I like and go from there…but maybe next time.

9. Who are your favorite authors? Share a few!
Honestly, I base “favorite authors” on authors on those who have written more than one (or two, three, etc) books that I really like. Or maybe I have met them or follow them on social media or all of the above, etc. So to answer the question, favorite authors include Jay Kristoff, VE Schwab, Angie Thomas.

10. Have you joined any groups?
Oh yes. I belong to several groups, especially ones for reading challenges. Its really how I started reading so many different types of books. I actually was active and spending hours on Goodreads before I discovered Bookstagram!

So there you have it, folks! That’s the tag. I apologize that I do not know the origins of this one. If you haven’t done this tag and would like to, consider yourself tagged! Feel free to link me in your page if you do it because I would love to read your answers, or leave me a comment with your link!

signature5c048f506de86

 

Tag Tuesday: New Years Book Tag

new year tagIts my favorite day! I found this tag on Kaitlyn’s blog and thought it the perfect festive entry for the week. If you’d like to do it for yourself, just link the original post from Bookmark Chronicles, answer the questions below, and tag some friends! And now, without further ado, let’s begin!

1. Best book and/or series that you read in 2018.
I’m so glad I finally finished up the Grisha trilogy last year! Looking at the books as individuals, they weren’t 5-star reads, but the series as a whole was really great. I loved the world building and Nikolai and the Darkling as characters were just stupendous!

2. Authors that you’ve read recently that you’d like to read more of this year.
I read my first Schwab book last year when I read City of Ghosts and I absolutely LOVED it!! Plus, from what I hear, that’s not even her best book! So I am really excited to read more VE/Victoria Schwab this year and I think that the second in that series is coming out this year as well, so I’m really excited for that!

3. Most anticipated book turned movie.
Honestly I don’t even know what all is coming out this year yet! I always am excited about more Outlander. Five Feet Apart looks like all the feels. They’re making The Sun is Also a Star? I need to get reading, y’all!

4. Name a character that you wouldn’t mind sharing a kiss with at midnight.
Levi from Fangirl was a character that I really loved, and of course the Darkling is a bad boy I swoon over.

5. What’s on your TBR for 2019? (top 5 will suffice)
Ok, I will choose a couple 2019 releases and a couple backlisters.
– King of Scars
– Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom
– Wicked Saints (this list sounds so dark so far!)
– Glass Sword
– Enchantee

6. How many books do you hope to read in 2019?
My goal is 75 and I hope to exceed that. *crossing fingers.

7. Will you participate in the Goodreads, or other Challenges?
Definitely Goodreads, plus several readathon challenges. I sort of have an addiction.

8. Any New Years Resolutions?
Ummm, not necessarily strong and steadfast, but I do want to comment on other blogs more and I do want to use my reading planner more.

vinedivider

And that’s it! So if you like the sound of this tag and would like to do this one, consider yourself tagged! Please link back to me and the original maker of the tag (linked above) because I would love to see your answers. With that, happy new year!

signature5c048f506de86

First Line Friday: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

First line: “It was late winter in northern Rus’, the air sullen with wet that was neither rain nor snow.”

Capture2Capture2

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

40004709After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales. [from Goodreads]

Capture2Capture2

The Bear and the Nightengale by Katherine Arden is my current read and I have heard many good things about this one. I am about 25% into it and so far its a little slow, but I do like the wintery vibes, and there’s always something about Russian folklore that is so mystical and special to me. I have always enjoyed Russian music, history, and poetry, so I am eager to see if the book lives up to the hype around it.

How about you – have you read this book? What did you think? What other books do you feel have a strong winter vibe?

signature5c048f506de86