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

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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

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#Blogmas 2019…the mostly non-existant

Happy December, everyone!

Well, December 17th. It has been a pretty rough couple of months for me and I have needed to step back from the blogging for a moment or two. Work was stressful, I have read a couple of good books, and Thanksgiving was fortunately pretty relaxed. I hope that many of you can say positive things about your lives and your reading time.

nookSo getting down to business, for the past two years I have participated in a phenomenon called “Blogmas.” Now anyone who doesn’t know, Blogmas is for both bloggers and vloggers alike, and the goal is for us to post at least once a day for all 25 days leading up to Christmas! We can post about anything we like, but ideally, we should be posting some holiday cheer along the way. Now, I am already behind but I enjoy posting and participating by blog/vlog hopping so I am putting the hashtag on it and calling it a post!

I look forward to sharing a little bit of holiday cheer with you all and I plan on blog hopping and leaving some tidings with you as well. Until next time….happy reading!

Are you doing any reading or writing challenges this month to close out the year?

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#BEWinter19 : A Very Potter Christmas

Today’s prompt for Bookending Winter is “A Very Potter Christmas,” hosted by Broken Soul Reviews, and who am I to pass up a Potter prompt?? If you’d like to join in on this amazing quarterly event hosted by Cuppa Clo and Fictionally Sam, you can check out the event main page here. But enough chit-chat. On to the prompt!

Question #1
Which Harry Potter book was your favorite and why?

originalI have always said that Prisoner of Azkaban was my favorite because of the Marauders and the details left out of the movie about their backgrounds and stories. I just love meeting Sirius and all of the intricacies of that book. However, I am re-reading the series as an adult and I just finished book 5 and so far I am surprised to say that Order of the Phoenix is my new favorite. Talk about details and little humors that I have never appreciated before! There are so many characters in this book that really shine–the Weasely twins, Luna, Ron…unfortunately almost everyone but Harry.

Question #2
Which Harry Potter characters are your favorites and why?

Not necessarily in specific order I love Dumbledore and I hate hearing when people give him grief. Since the very beginning (and now, with ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ apparently before the beginning even! what?!) Dumbledore was the man with the plan. He always made sure Harry was taken care of, he was always doing his research, he was always doing his best to stay five steps ahead, and he was incredibly criticized all throughout. Next up is Molly Weasley for being a badass mum to her own children and anyone/everyone her kids brought home. She has the biggest, warmest heart but also is so strong and and kick butt when she needs to be. She is everything I would want to be as a mother. A lot of similarities here with Minerva Mcgonagall. Not only is she a softie for her students at heart, she is incredibly brave, wise, and strong. Honorable mentions for other favorites go to Harry, book Luna, Hagrid, and Lupin.

Question #3
Who are you taking to the Yule Ball?

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Thanks for stopping by today! Feel free to share any of your answers in the comments! I want to know especially who your date to the ball would be–either pre- of post- puberty, lol!!

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Blogmas 23: Review – The Prince and the Dressmaker

34506912In The Prince and the Dressmaker, Frances is a seamstress who aspires to become a dress designer. One day by accident she is given her chance by a mysterious employer who turns out to be….the prince! They come to be best friends who really bring out the best in each other, and help each other on their journeys toward their dreams.

I didn’t know going into this book that it was on the GLBTQ+ spectrum. I have no problem with that and honestly, I rarely read far into books anymore before starting them. I like going on recommendations of people that I trust, I like going by GoodReads ratings, and I like looking at titles and covers.

That being said, this book was SO beautiful. I loved the drawings of the dresses, and the characters were so animated in a way that that was relatable and fun. There were times when I laughed, when I was tense, when I was ready to tear up…this graphic novel had it all. I cannot recommend it enough!

Book soundtrack: “Vogue” by Madonna
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#blogmas Wrap-up … 2017 Grand Finale … December 31st

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And so, my friends, as both December and 2017 wind down, its time to begin wrapping things up and take a look back at the month and the year. I mad a big push for the end this month since I knew I wasn’t close to hitting my reading goal, but at the same time, I must take a step back to look also at quality and not just quantity. This is the first year that I would say I was choosing and reading books that I truly wanted to read and wasn’t just being guided by Goodreads challenges that I was participating in. That being said, however, my wallet suffered a little more than I would like because of sub boxes and support of other amazing small shops. But all in all it was totally worth it because this was such a monumental year for me book-wise. I made new bookish friends, met some amazing authors, and of course read some amazing books! So without further ado, here’s some 2017 reflections:

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Number Of Books You Read: 84
Number of Re-Reads: 2
Genre You Read The Most From: YA, contemporary, mystery/thriller

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1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

Either The Hate U Give or The Light We Lost. Two very different books, but both so very good and very memorable.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Carnivalesque. I thought this was going to live up to standards set by many other circus-like books that have been coming out (The Night Circus, Caraval, etc.).

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Definitely The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana. I noticed that her first book got an ok star rating on Goodreads so when I was gifted an ARC of her second book, my hopes weren’t all that high. However, I was BLOWN. AWAY!!!

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Oooh, good question. Ivory and Bone by Julie Eshbaugh. It has a unique setting back in the Ice Age and I had several comments and likes about that.

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Best Series Started: The Grisha Trilogy!
Best Sequel: The Rose and the Dagger
Best Series Ender: Winter by Marissa Meyer

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Well, I read my first new stories by Gillian Flynn and Fredrick Backman. I don’t know if I am ready to call them favorite authors, but they are popular authors, and I will definitely read more from them in the future!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I read (listened to) a couple of biographies this year but I most enjoyed Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can. I listened to the audiobook and I highly recommend it!

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Wires & Nerve was unputdownable for me. Not necessarily for the ‘action’ of it, but just because I am, apparently, addicted to this series and this book (graphic novel) is so hilarious and appealing to me that I just couldn’t put it down! I can’t wait for number 2 to release at the end of January!!

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined because the book was so beautiful and I related to it on so many levels. However, the book was heartbreaking so perhaps not…but it was just SO BEAUTIFUL (can you tell it was one of my 5* reads for the year?).

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?
34058936The Goblins of Bellwater was a great book with a really vivid cover. It has details that I keep picking up on each time I look at it. I love covers like that!! I really enjoyed reading this one as a NetGalley ARC and I definitely recommend giving it a try sometime. Though it has bright flowers on the cover, it works as a winter read too, for those of you who like to read seasonally (I know I do).

 

 

 

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I think all of them, because I don’t think I have ever really ‘followed’ blogs before, only clicked on them randomly when I needed something. Now I actually consider them friends and check/follow them regularly!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

Either my review of Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined or The Goblins of Bellwater. Everything Beautiful… because that was a book that I really connected with on many personal levels so that was a very personal review for me to write. Bellwater because that review was one that got back to the author and she really liked it and reached out to me personally and it triggered a really cool conversation and I’m very proud of that.

3. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Either #blogmas because it was very healthy for my blog traffic and for myself to write that frequently OR attending ALA in Chicago and getting a whole pile of new ARCS as well as spending time with bookish friends. That was a huge win for me!

4. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
Starting this new blog and keeping it up! The networking with you wonderful readers has been humbling and nothing gets done without friends and followers so its really thanks to people like you for keeping this all going!

5. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
NetGalley and Bookstagram.


So that’s all I’ve got for now. New Years celebrations are beckoning me. I admit that I did shorten these questionnaires a bit due to time constraints, but I think we all have the idea. I hope that all of you have a safe and happy New Years celebration. I will see you all again in 2018!!

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#blogmas day 29: The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Greetings everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! I’m not. My fiance has gotten me sick, unfortunately. I have just about the worst chest cough I have ever had in my life. I don’t know if its bronchitis or just a really awful cold/flu symptom but its miserable! I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone! Anyway, I hope the rest of you are healthy!

33843251So back to books. The good thing (and only good thing) about being ill is that it allows you a little extra time to read. So as you can maybe tell from the blog this week, I have posted more reviews than is typical, so I’m happy about that! As of now, I just finished The Afterlife of Holly Chase. I had never heard of this book before, but I had heard of Cynthia Hand. Plus I liked the simplistic, holiday cover and was aching for a YA holiday read and figured “This might be the Christmas read for me!” So I bought it! And I liked it!

Main character Holly Chase is a bratty, spoiled, mean, rich girl. She hates Christmas, she loves herself, she has no regard for other people….you guessed it, she’s a Scrooge. Scrooge number….sorry, I would have to look up her exact Scrooge number in history. If you read the book, you’ll see what I mean. *wink* So anyway, as you can predict at this point, Holly is visited by three ghosts intending to show her her selfish ways but she FAILS! And she dies. (Just for the record, this isn’t a spoiler. This is all in the synopsis so its fair game here.)

Here’s where things get interesting. Holly finds herself employed at a top secret agency called Project Scrooge, an agency whose goal it is to save one soul each year on Christmas Eve. As a former, failed Scrooge herself, she now gets to rehabilitate as the Ghost of Christmas Past, each year working with the team at Project Scrooge to help a new Scrooge succeed where she failed. This story picks up on her sixth year at the agency when Holly is in for a big surprise: for the first time, the Scrooge the team will be working on is a hottie! I’ll let you read the rest for yourself.

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I found Holly to be an okay character. She was definitely what a Scrooge needed to be. Ethan was a little too easy of a character to me. He was described as being so Scrooge-y, and he “had so much in common with Holly,” but then when they were together they clicked so well, I expected him to be way more of a snob considering she seemed to have given up on herself so much as a “ghost.” I thought Scrooges were Scrooge-y to everyone by nature. Apparently not in that world. Besides the main characters, there is a case of side characters who are pretty ok. They really don’t get a lot of spotlight, but when they are around, usually they boost the story for the better.

91gzci2be0el-_sl1500_I really liked to set-up of the book and the “Project Scrooge” concept. It actually reminded me of the movie ‘Scrooged’ with Bill Murray! Cynthia Hand really knows how to tug heartstrings and get readers sentimental, I’ll tell you, because there were several times in the book where I had to reach for the tissue box. Yes, this book has its cliche Christmas moments of museum dates, Dickens quotes, ugly sweaters, holiday parties, etc. etc. But y’all, its a Christmas book. Scratch that. Its a YA Christmas book! If you can’t handle that, then don’t read it. I needed some Christmas Carol re-telling in my life this year and this was perfect. Thank you, author. And with that being said….God bless us, every one! 😛

Book Soundtrack: “God Bless Us Everyone” by Andrea Bocelli ((I will be choosing something more character-Holly appropriate later on…my Spotify isn’t working at the moment))

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On the 28th day of #blogmas: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer

I think that in some way, whether big or small, every single person can relate to this short 96-page story. Therefore, be ready for heartache. I won’t even say cry necessarily, though many readers say that they shed tears over this story. Of course it depends on your opinion and your experience. But oh, is there ache in this book. This was my first time reading anything by Fredrik Backman but it seems like his books are everywhere these days. If all of his writings are this heartfelt, then I can see why they are so popular!
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And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is about a grandfather who, coming to the end of his life, begins confusing his son with his grandson. His once brilliant mind is still filled with thoughts of love for his beautiful wife, of constellations in the sky, the power of mathematics, and stories of his family. Each day he comes to fear more and more losing these memories, but the words he uses to describe them are so poetic and wise they move us all as an audience.

The only reason I didn’t give this novella 5 full stars is because sometimes it was just so whimsical that I just didn’t know where we were. I suppose that was maybe the point–we were supposed to feel like we were floating around in grandfather’s mind?? Lost in the memories?? Lost in space? In dimensia?? But it became a little too abstract in those moments to me. I like my feet firmly in a storyline. Other than that, the book was all but perfect to me. The characters, the heart in the story, the vivid memories, and the writing were all absolutely beautiful.

Book Soundtrack: “The Prayer” by Josh Groban and Charlotte Church

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Merry #blogmas day 26!!: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

And now for something totally different!

After hearing so much hype about books like Gone GirlSharp Objects, etc., this is the first thing I have actually read by Gillian Flynn. I wasn’t disappointed! Granted, I wasn’t completely fulfilled either because it was only a story and, in my opinion, definitely could have been fleshed out more and gone on longer. Oh well.

26025580About the story itself: we read The Grownup through the eyes of an unnamed narrator who is crass and blunt (just a warning). She has grown up playing the innocent girl on the streets needing money. Now she is the young woman in she shop, moving between the back room giving hand jobs and the front room “seeing auras.” She is hired by a woman in a possessed house with a dangerous stepson. That is about all I can say without stepping over the edge and spoiling the story. Read for yourself to find out more.

I have to admit that I only picked it up because it was a recommendation from the hosts of the *Cramathon.* I really don’t read many stories or novellas but so far this makes two for me this year (with Marissa Meyers’ Fairest having been the first) and I have enjoyed them both so far. Clearly I should be more open to this category. It would definitely help me out in my reading goal for the year! How do you feel about stories, novellas, or other quick reads? I’m open to recommendations!

Book Soundtrack: Villains by Queens of the Stone Age

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Merry #blogmas Eve!

Merry Christmas (Eve) to all who celebrate Christmas! It is amazing to me how December 24th and 25th looks so different to so many people. Some people are at home both days watching sports or movies or general television. Others travel across town, state, or country to visit friends or family and feast on traditional foods and exchange gifts. Some still attend services or other gatherings or volunteer in the community, or even have nowhere to go or no familiar faces to go home to. Maybe these days aren’t considered a holiday. 12/24-12/25 is different for everyone and that’s okay.

For me as a musician, today was insane. I woke up for a 9-10:30 am rehearsal across town. Then I came home to whip up a salad for a family gathering tonight, wrap a couple more gifts, take a shower and get into performance mode. 3:00 call for rehearsal before a 4:30 pm performance. Then check out this picture and how beautiful this service. Singing from the loft gives you such a beautiful perspective, I tell you. So this is what it looks like when +100 people light candles to celebrate the birth of the Christ child.

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The photo, of course, barely does it justice, and I only captured about 1/3 of the people in the picture. And I had no choice but to also capture the stand lights of the string quartet as well…but it was all such a beautiful aesthetic to have the strings and the candles and the congregation singing “Silent Night” all together….SO BEAUTIFUL!!!

Anyway, singing in this church service, I went to my aunt’s house for my family’s dinner party. We did a ‘white elephant’ gift exchange. Does anyone else do those? To be honest I was very unexcited to participate (I have plenty of my own unwanted junk…why do I want other people’s surprise unwanted junk?!), but fortunately everyone was very kind (probably too kind) in what they brought to trade. Then after that we had the “midnight service” at our family church and I had to sing again there. Doesn’t the life of a musician sound so thrilling? So here I performed ‘O Holy Night’ and rocked the house and that was that!

At this point, I am exhausted and ready for Santa! I hope you all enjoy your evenings. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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