Book Review - A Surprise Christmas Wedding by Phillipa Ashley


We all know that sometimes surprises are good - those joyous moments when you meet up with a loved one that you haven’t seen in a while, a party that has been thrown in your honour, or a tasty treat that has ingredients that you weren’t expecting. Sometimes, however, the surprise isn’t quite so joyous. So is the case for Lottie, whose ex-fiancé Connor decides to get married to someone else one year later in the very Lake District estate where Lottie is the event planner.

The job itself is new and this is the first wedding that Lottie will be planning at the estate. Knowing she needs to shine in order to market the venue and impress her boss, she takes Connor’s lead and doesn’t let on that the two have a past. Lottie knows the importance of living each day to the fullest and not looking back. Her sister Steph’s past year has told her this. She’s looking forward now and the good-looking groundskeeper Jay has piqued her interest. Jay also notices Lottie, but has a past that holds him back. The two not only have become co-workers but friends as well. Can they learn to trust one another with their hearts?

I found this lovely book to be very entertaining. The setting of the estate at Christmas is described beautifully - the wedding planning was an added bonus. I loved the theme of moving on after life-changing events: something we all need to consider during this time in our own history. The characters are well developed and likeable. The story is believable and I felt engaged throughout.

I listened to the audiobook version of the book which was narrated by Laura Kirman. I enjoyed her performance and found her voice to be articulate and sweet- a great choice for the role of Lottie. I would not hesitate to recommend the audiobook version of the book to those that appreciate this format.

Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Audio for the ARC of this audiobook in exchange for the honest review provided here.

My rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5.

Book Review - Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft

One of the reasons I love Netgalley is the opportunity to read books that I may not be able to access in Canada. Sue Moorcraft is an author I see coming up on my instagram feed quite frequently and I’ve been wanting to read one of her books. Therefore, when the opportunity came up to listen to this enchanting Christmas audiobook, I jumped at the chance. 


Hannah is a shopkeeper in Stockholm and lives with her boyfriend. She takes pride in the shop although it hasn’t been doing as well as she has hoped. When her brother Rob’s friend Nico stops by her shop, the two become reacquainted quickly. Nico is now a single father of eight year old Josie from his former marriage. Hannah enjoys Nico’s company and looks forward to seeing him again at Rob’s upcoming wedding in her hometown of Middledip.

Nico thoroughly enjoys his life as a single father, but between work and Josie he hasn’t much time for anything else. When he brings Josie to see her mother for an overnight stay, it’s very evident that he cannot leave her here. In fact, he cannot leave Josie’s two year old half-sister Maria there either. Suddenly his life has become much more complicated.

At the wedding, Hannah and Nico spend some time together dancing and talking and Hannah realizes that the relationship with her boyfriend has lost its magic. When Hannah returns from the wedding, she is surprised to learn that she has lost her shop, her home and her boyfriend. She returns to Middledip to care for her Nana and to start repairing her life. Hannah and Nico develop a strong friendship and romance, but will it be strong enough to overcome so many obstacles?

This is a beautiful story perfect for the Christmas season. I really appreciated how this book felt as though I was observing a real story. I loved these children and the sweet element they bring to the story. I appreciated the therapeutic relationship between Hannah and Nico and the spirit of giving and helping others. There was a key message in this enchanting story - one that speaks of keeping yourself healthy first and understanding the limitations when helping others. The author provides great character development of the protagonists and I felt I really knew and liked the characters. The story is engaging, and a joy to read.

I listened to the audiobook version which was narrated by Julia Woodwind. I really enjoyed her performance and found her voice to be crisp and articulate. I particularly enjoyed her portrayal of Maria and her charming “My Dad”! I listened to this book at 1.5x speed which is slightly faster than my normal speed of 1.25x. I would definitely recommend the audiobook version of the book to those that enjoy this format.

Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins Audio for the ARC of this audiobook in exchange for the honest review provided here. 

My rating: 🎄 🎄 🎄 🎄/5.

Preview - Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson


Hi everyone! Today's Preview is a book that really caught my eye when I read the synopsis. Let's see if you agree!

Synopsis from Netgalley:


"It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need.

Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks—“Cary Grant in cowboy boots”—Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno.

A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from."


I'm really looking forward to listening to this audiobook soon which has been produced by Harper Audio. According to the publisher it falls into the General Fiction and Literary Fiction genres. Look for my review shortly before its January 5, 2021 publication day.

Are you adding this book to your To Be Read list? Let me know! Have a great day.

Book Review - Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger


Confessions on the 7:45 is another Thriller I’ve been seeing lots of hype over in the past few months. The storyline has me intrigued and I really wanted to read my first Lisa Unger book. I borrowed the audiobook from my local library.

The story surrounds multiple characters some of which have multiple identities. We are first introduced to Selena who gets stuck on a train and begins talking to another woman on the train, Martha. Martha discloses that she is having an affair with her boss. In turn, Selena informs her that her husband is having an affair with her children’s nanny. Several days later, Selena’s nanny Geneva disappears.

There are several storylines which are told throughout the book that eventually merge as we learn more about these characters. There is a lot of characters revealed in the first part of this book and I found it helpful to keep notes. Where this book shines for me is in the character development: there are plenty of psychological propensities to several of the characters. Be prepared for lots of twists, turns and surprises in this read. While the book flows well, my only criticism is that I felt the ending could have been a little shorter.

I listened to the audiobook version of the book which was narrated by Vivienne Leheny. I really enjoyed her performance and found her voice to be crisp and articulate. I did find I needed to increase the speed of the book to 1.5x from my usual 1.25x to keep the book at a comfortable, natural reading pace.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to readers that love a psychological thriller. I also think it would be perfect read to generate some interesting discussion at book clubs.

My rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5.

Book Review - Happily this Christmas by Susan Mallery


It’s all about feeling safe and cozy for me right now. As the second wave of the pandemic attacks my community, we have further orders that push us back into our homes. I’m trying to be mindful of the choices I make to keep things as positive and healthy as possible. A book set at Christmas helps to brighten my mood and make me thankful of the people I have in my life and the lovely home I live in. My latest Christmas book reflects this need.

Happily This Christmas tells the story of Wynn Beauchene, a 34 year old graphic designer and single mother to her 14 year old son Hunter. She has noticed her next door neighbour, Garrick a police officer who lives alone, particularly when he’s shirtless while cutting his lawn. When Garrick approaches her for help to get his home ready for his pregnant daughter Jo Lynn, Wynn seizes the opportunity to get to know this good-looking and thoughtful man.

Jo Lynn, however, is not the friendliest of houseguests. Now married to a deployed serviceman and a baby due in a few weeks, Jo Lynn was asked to leave her mother’s home and spend some time with her father. Once very close, the two have been estranged for several years.

It’s approaching Christmas in Happily Inc. Will the spirit of the season heal old wounds, and foster a romance between Wynn and Garrick?

This book is charming and oozing in community holiday spirit. While some might consider this book a romance, this only played a part of the story. This book is more a discussion on relationships and the importance of communication in maintaining them. It’s also about honesty and forgiveness . There are some very sweet side stories which I really enjoyed. The characters were well developed and the book flowed easily. This book is the sixth instalment in the Susan Mallery’s Happily Inc series but can certainly be read as a standalone. For those that have read earlier books in the series, you will appreciate the return of some of your favourite characters. This book is highly recommended for those who enjoy a cozy, holiday read.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book which was performed by Tanya Eby who is one of my favourite narrators. She has a special ability to give characters, male or female, an authentic voice. I also appreciate her crisp, articulate speech and her ability to provide the quick wit banter between characters - one of the reasons I appreciate Susan Mallery’s books. I listened to this book at my usual 1.25x speed and found this to be the perfect speed for easy listening. For those that appreciate audiobooks, I’d choose this version over a printed format.

My rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5.

Sunshine Blogger Award!


 Hi everyone! I was recently nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award! I have seen this award given to others, and am thrilled that I have now received it as well! It's a great way to interact with other bloggers and learn more about each other. I really appreciate this community and want to take this opportunity as well to say "Thank You for supporting me".

I would like to thank What Crazy L?fe for nominating me for this amazing award!

RULES

There are some rules that you need to follow once you have been nominated. You need to:
  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 people and ask them 11 questions.
  • Notify the nominees.
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award image in your post.

QUESTIONS FROM WHAT CRAZY L?FE


Who is your favourite Harry Potter Character?


While I enjoyed the first Harry Potter movie, I haven't read any of the books or seen any other movies in the series. If I have to pick a favourite character I would say Hermione.


What is your favourite book?


This is a hard question as there are so many great books out there. If I had to choose I'd say When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.


Do you like to workout? If yes, what is your favourite workout routine?


I do enjoy working out! My favourite workout routine is taking a long walk next to the ocean like the seawall in Vancouver.


What is your favourite blog resource?


Without a doubt, Canva. I appreciate all the features of the site and use it with every blog post.


What is your favourite food?


This is another hard question for me! I love almost anything, but Italian and Thai are my favourites.


Favourite time of day? Morning, afternoon, night?


I'm a morning person. I've been retired for a couple of years but can't shake the getting up at 5:30-6 am lifestyle I had for so many years.


Coffee or tea?


Coffee is my first choice and love it brewed or in espresso based drinks such as cappuccino/lattes. I do enjoy tea as well, and have and usually have a cup of tea each day as well.


What is the #1 thing on your bucket list?


To continue to travel as much as I can. I love seeing new places, as well as returning to cities I really enjoy.


Who is your favourite cartoon character?


Snoopy from Peanuts! I absolutely love him and have started collecting various Peanuts memorabilia.


What is your favourite book series?


The Winter Series by Elin Hilderbrand. I would love to visit Nantucket at Christmastime one year!


What is your favourite form of self-care?


Reading with a coffee or glass of wine is what I do to relax. It's also what led me to blogging!



My Sunshine Blogger Award Nominations

Now it’s time for me to make my nominations! I’ve enjoyed all my community interactions from the past few months and would now like to acknowledge bloggers that I’ve enjoyed reading and who also gives back to the blogging community. Having said that, you are all amazing!

1. Until Another Day

2. A Rambling Reviewer

3. Chapters of May

4. Take Off With Me

5. Shed Happens

6. Ticking the List

7. Melissa Kacar

8. Retirestyle Travel

9. Lisa's Notebook

10. Alex Faith

11.  The Loaded Pig



Questions for Nominees

Now it’s my turn, to ask questions. In your Sunshine Blogger Award post, share your answers to these questions! Once you have your post, up drop me the link so I can check it out!

1. What is favourite ice cream flavour?

2. Where is your favourite place you've travelled to?

3. What is your favourite season of the year?

4. How far ahead to you prepare your blog posts?

5. Your favourite music artist or band?

6. Your favourite Christmas or holiday treat?

7. What is the name of your favourite chocolate or candy?

8. Who is your favourite author?

9. What is your favourite movie or TV show?

10. If you could re-live one year of your life, when would that be and why?

11. What is your favourite beverage?


Congratulations to my nominees! Thank you all for reading and supporting my blog. Stay safe everyone!


Book Review - The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman



Happy Publication Day to this lovely read! I love books that are set in locations I have visited. It not only brings back wonderful memories, but really helps in providing context to the book. The Star-Cross Sisters of Tuscany is a beautifully written love affair not only between two people, but also of an enchanting country.

Emilia Fontana is a woman living a safe life in her family’s bakery in Brooklyn. She is the second born daughter of an Italian family said to have a curse that has lasted 200 years preventing second daughters from finding love. Indeed, no woman in their family born in this birth order has married. The legend that surrounds the curse is strong in many of the older generations, while some of the younger members of the family are somewhat skeptical.

Emilia’s Aunt Poppy is also a second daughter. Approaching her eightieth birthday, she invites Emilia and her cousin Lucy on a second daughter trip to Italy to prove to all the curse has been broken. The vacation not only bonds the three, but is a journey of personal growth and finding one’s true identity. It is also a trip down memory lane as Aunt Poppy reveals her one great love, and the promise she is determined to keep.

I absolutely loved this book. The author’s words are lyrical and insightful. The character development of the three women is impressive. As this trio travels to Venice, Tuscany and Amalfi I felt I was on this physical and emotional journey with them. I love strong female characters and feel that the book started with one, but ended with three of them. This is a highly engaging and entertaining book that I will be recommending to everyone.

My rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Penguin Publishing for the ARC of this book in exchange for the honest review provided here.