Thursday, December 21, 2023

Is a Candy Cane Yard Decoration Really a Good Weapon???


TITLE: Wrapped with a Beau
AUTHOR: Lillie Vale
PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam's Sons
PUBLISHING DATE: September 26, 2023
PAGES: 368   
SOURCE: Library

FROM GOODREADS: As a successful film liaison, Elisha Rowe has her heart set on one thing and one thing only: putting her hometown back on the map. So, when she gets the chance to secure a sequel to Sleighbells, she's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure everything goes smoothly. Unfortunately, that includes claiming to have already secured permission to film at the historic Christmas house—permission she was very much denied by the gorgeous new owner. 
Ves Hollins is only back in Piney Peaks long enough to sell the house he inherited from his great-aunt. The holidays have always been tough for Ves, and it's not any easier when he's distracted by memories of a Christmas long, long ago, and the undeniable charm of neighbor Elisha. Ready to return home to New York as quickly as possible, he has no plans to put down roots or fall in love...even if Elisha unravels his hesitations like a bad Christmas sweater. 
There's no question the two are opposites in every way. Ves is unquestionably frosty. Elisha is brimming with warmth. He doesn't do commitment. She never runs from a challenge. But as the two grow closer, they quickly realize that the growing spark between them may be just what the season calls for.

MY THOUGHTS: I grabbed this strictly for the cover one day at the library when I was looking for holiday reads.  I expected a fun rom-com but ended up with a book with more going on than I originally anticipated.

Ves has come to Piney Peaks to clean out a recently inherited house from his aunt.  He dislikes Christmas and pretty much most people and hasn't been back to the home since he was a young child.  Elisha moved back to Piney Peaks following a bad breakup.  She is in love with the town, which years ago, was featured in a classic Christmas movie.  As a film liaison, Elisha has promised the famous house which was used in the movie can be the main setting for the much-anticipated sequel.  However, there is one problem, that house now belongs to Ves.  Throw in Elisha's jerk of an ex, some friends who love hanging out in the local town bar, and a cute bakery owned and operated by Elisha's parents, and you have a scene straight out of Gilmore Girls.  

I loved the grumpy/sunshine dynamics of Elisha and Ves and especially appreciated that the author shared with us what made Ves so standoffish. It was clear the two were attracted to each other right of the bat, but it was nice that the author took time to develop the relationship.  The side characters were adorable, in particular Elisha's grandfather, who helped pull Ves out of his grumpy shell. 

If you are looking for a fun Christmas read with some great characters, then this might be the book for you.  The only complaint I have is that is did drag a bit about 2/3 through and I feel like it could have been about 50 pages shorter.  Overall, though, a solid read which definitely helped me get into the Christmas spirit.


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Feed Your TBR - The Parliament


Can't Wait Wednesday, which I have adapted to better suit my blog as "Feed Your TBR" is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. 

January 16, 2024

FROM GOODREADS: The Birds meets The Princess Bride in this tale of friendship, responsibility, and the primal force of nature.

“Murder owls are extreme,” Jude said. “What’s more extreme than murder owls?”

Madeleine Purdy is stuck in her hometown library.

When tens of thousands of owls descend on the building, rending and tearing at anyone foolish enough to step outside, Mad is tasked with keeping her students safe, and distracted, while they seek a solution to their dilemma.

Perhaps they’ll find the inspiration they seek in her favorite childhood book, The Silent Queen….

With food and fresh water in low supply, the denizens of the library will have to find a way out, and soon, but the owls don’t seem to be in a hurry to leave…

The Parliament is a story of grief and missed opportunities, but also of courage and hope.

WHY I CAN'T WAIT:  This author is from WV which initially is what caught my attention.  However, once I read the synopsis, it sounds just quirky enough for me and I love the idea of killer owls. 


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Snow Angel Cove (Haven Point #1)


So, after finishing the Virgin River series, Stormi and I wanted something with the same small-town vibe.  She recommended this month's read, especially since it centered around the Christmas holidays.  There is a prequel series which leads up to Haven Point and we both agree that we need to go back and start with that series first though. However, that didn't mean we didn't enjoy this book.  Read on for my thoughts and then hop over to Stormi's @Storm Reads to see hers.  

TITLE: Snow Angel Cove (Haven Point #1)
AUTHOR: RaeAnne Thayne
PUBLISHING DATE: October 28, 2014
PAGES: 378   
SOURCE: Library

FROM GOODREADS: Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward's Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she's stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a helping hand…for her sick young daughter's sake as well as her own. But she's not expecting her holiday hero to almost run her down with his car! 
Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza's hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew that what his life was missing was Eliza and her little girl. But is he willing to risk hoping for a yuletide romance that could lead to forever?

MY THOUGHTS: This book started out with one catastrophe after another and I was secretly thinking to myself, "What a depressing Christmas book."  However, my thoughts quickly shifted, and I found myself sucked into the cozy little lakeside town of Haven Point getting to know all the unique characters.

Eliza lost her husband years ago and has been a single parent struggling with her daughter's serious heart problems.  She finally lands a job in her field just to move to Haven Point and discover the hotel she has signed on to manage has burned to the ground.  Distraught and trying to figure out her next steps, she goes to get a bite to eat for her daughter and is hit by a car and lands in the hospital.  That's how Eliza meets Aidan Caine and despite having her own personal reasons for disliking the man, she immediately finds herself attracted to him.  He feels responsible for Eliza and gives her a temporary job which will also enable him to learn more about what caught his attention.  But are both of them prepared for what happens next?

I immediately fell in love with Eliza's small daughter which is saying a lot as I am definitely not a kid person.  She was so adorable, and innocent and despite being dealt a bad hand health-wise, she embodies curiosity and the true meaning of Christmas.  I also really enjoyed getting to know some of the town residents, who are too excited Aidan has moved to Haven Point and now owns half the town.  The reader gets to see a glimpse of Aidan's family, as they all gather at his home for the holidays, and I think there is where I realized I needed to go back and read the original series first.  

Overall, I loved so many things about this book and although it will be hard for something to touch me the same way the Virgin River series did, this author might do a decent job at filling the void.  Definitely look for more reviews of this series in 2024!


Monday, December 18, 2023

Farm News - December 18, 2023


I honestly think the holidays are kicking my butt and they are seriously affecting my reading and my blogging.  Last weekend I ended up making 12 dozen or more cookies so my husband could pack the cookie tins we give as gifts to some of our elderly neighbors/friends in the neighborhood.  We enjoy doing it but it's a lot of work.  Then this weekend my one friend from the lower part of the state came in Friday and Saturday to visit and celebrate the holidays and then another friend and her two kids joined us Saturday afternoon for dinner out and gift exchanges.  Finally, Mr. Barb and I got the tree up last night by 7:30pm and now I'm constantly watching Zeke out of the corner of my eye at all times.

Speaking of, Apollo and Zeke are doing fine.  They are basking in the Christmas glory.  One of the neighbors got them toys and snacks already and then everyone that visited this weekend brought them more of the same.  And of course, Mom and Dad are spoiling them as usual.  Apollo has the patience of a saint especially since Zeke can't seem to sleep unless he is touching his big brother.  Plus he is getting so big!

I've been lucky enough to receive quite a few digital arcs lately.  Many thanks to the authors, publishers and Netgalley.  I will link the title to Goodreads if you want to find out more about these.  

Under Your Spell: Laura Wood
That's Not My Name: Megan Lally
Stratford's Lighthouse: Joshua Stevens

One Must Go: Alex Reid
Silent Sister: Megan Davidhizar
On the Surface: Rachel McGuire
Diavola: Jennifer Thorne

I am finally feeling the desire to read horror again.  I think I burned myself out during October and then I went on a holiday romance kick and have read quite a few.  I still have at least one more I'd like to get done by the end of the month.  However, I'm now shifting into holiday horror reads. I don't have high expectations for Santa is a Vampire other than a fun, silly romp and so far that's what it is delivering. Christmas Carnage should drop on my Kindle on 12-22-23 and I'm hoping for a Christmas Eve finish with it.  And finally, I'd like to get to It Sees You When You're Sleeping.  It's under 50 pages so it should be easy enough to do if I can just find some time.

So I hope everyone is enjoying their time no matter how they are spending it.  Look for a few holiday book reviews this week.  And as always, thanks for visiting Booker T's Farm!

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Feed Your TBR - Ghost Island


Can't Wait Wednesday, which I have adapted to better suit my blog as "Feed Your TBR" is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. 

February 27, 2024

FROM GOODREADS: On a secluded island, homicide detective Jessica Niemi must investigate a drowning that is tied to a frightening ghostly legend in this riveting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of THE WITCH HUNTER.

Jessica Niemi is put on leave after a violent altercation between her and a belligerent man makes headlines. To escape the unwanted scrutiny, Jessica travels to a remote island in the Ă…land archipelago and rents a room at a small seaside inn. She is hoping to be left alone as she faces the possibility that she is losing what is left of her sanity but three elderly visitors have arrived at the inn for their yearly sojourn. Jessica learns that they are the remaining ‘birds of spring’, former refugees who fled Finland as children during World War II and lived together for a few months in an orphanage on the island.

The orphanage no longer exists but the local legend about one of its inhabitants, a girl named Maija, still haunts the surviving orphans. Every evening Maija would put on her blue coat and stand on the pier, looking out at the dark water until one night, she disappeared and was never seen again. When one of the ‘birds of spring’ is found dead, drowned alongside the same pier, and Jessica learns about two other deaths from the past, also connected to the orphanage, she has no choice but to try and put the pieces of this terrifying mystery together.

Jessica can’t be sure whether she’s facing a killer or—just like the legend says—the ghost of Maija, the girl in the blue coat. Uncertain what is real and what is not, Jessica desperately searches for answers that she hopes will stop the murders and finally silence her own demons once and for all… 

WHY I CAN'T WAIT: I'm going to be honest, it's pretty much the cover. This looks like the perfect book to squeeze in at the tail end of winter when it releases, and the synopsis doesn't sound bad either. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Dude Looks Like a Boxer!


TITLE: Unleashed Holidays
AUTHOR: Victoria Schade
PUBLISHING DATE: September 26, 2023
PAGES: 352   

FROM GOODREADS: When an old rival reappears right before the holidays, a professional dog trainer must decide if the melting frost between them can make up for their ruff past, from the USA Today bestselling author of Dog Friendly.
Chelsea Higgins is doing just fine. She’s heading into the holidays at the helm of a thriving dog training business, and she’s got a mellow senior dog at home to keep her warm at the end of the day. What more could she need? Enter certified gym bro Andrew Chelsea’s former nemesis, and now the newest neighbor in her business complex, who also wants to expand into the vacant space Chelsea’s been eyeing for months. Who cares if it’s the season of joy? Let the turf war begin. 
When an unfortunate (and literal) run-in with Andrew’s lawless dog leaves Chelsea with a bum wrist, the two strike a Andrew will help Chelsea rehab the injury if she’ll work with him to train his adorably uncivilized boxer. 
Their typical bickering soon turns to bantering, and Chelsea finds herself inexplicably drawn to the man she thought she had nothing in common with. As she gets to know Andrew and his parents, she realizes she needs to refocus on her own family, especially with a milestone Christmas speeding toward them. But Chelsea can't help wondering if she and Andrew are training for keeps, or if this unexpected Christmas gift is just too good to be true. 

MY THOUGHTS: I saved this book to read around the holiday season and I really didn't have to.  The book actually encompasses Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas which took a bit of getting used to but definitely assisted in thinking the book was aptly named.  

Chelsea owns a dog training business located at the end of a 3-business building.  When Fall arrives, so does a new neighbor at the other end who is opening a fitness gym.  Chelsea is not only worried about what kind of clientele this will bring to the area, but the business is also owned by a man she has history. Andrew is best friends with her college best friend and his wife.  They all used to hang out together until one night a wedding party went south and left Chelsea despising Andrew for years to come. 

The best thing about this book for me shockingly is the dogs.  Chelsea owns two, a puppy and a Senior, and Andrew is Doggy Dad to a deaf white boxer.  In case you didn't catch that - a boxer!  And given that the author is a dog trainer who has worked for Animal Planet and even helped wrangle puppies for their yearly Puppy Bowl celebration, the dog and training rep in Unleashed Holidays is spot on. I loved how Chelsea managed to put her differences aside and help him train Dude so that he could have a safe and enjoyable life with is human family.  

Now for the love connection?  I struggled a bit with the story but it did pull itself out at the end.  It takes FOREVER to find out exactly what happened between Andrew and Chelsea so many years ago and honestly, it was kind of hard to believe that more than 10 years later, neither has moved on.  Also, there are quite a few side stories including loss of a parent and continuing grief, a pregnant sister and landlord issues - the last which Chelsea could have easily resolved, and I didn't find it quite believable why she didn't just do that.

But as I said, I really enjoyed the resolution of the novel and in the end, it added a bump up in my overall rating.  If you love dogs, then this is a romance you definitely want to consider and if you aren't fully sold on holiday rom-coms, don't worry, because the holidays in this one actually take a backseat to everything else going on and are more like just a setting and not a character in and of themselves.


Friday, December 8, 2023

A Fun Small-town Romance


TITLE: Along Came Holly (Mistletoe Romance #3)
AUTHOR: Codi Hall
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks Casablanca
PUBLISHING DATE: November 17, 2022
PAGES: 368   

FROM GOODREADS: Holly Winters is not about to let her grumpy neighbor Declan steal her holiday joy…even if he does look rather handsome under the mistletoe. 
Holly Winters owns the jolliest holiday shop on Main Street and this season is shaping up to be the best yet. The only pit in her figgy pudding? Declan Gallagher, the owner of the hardware store next door. He's the scroogiest man in all of Mistletoe, Idaho. Then Holly's revenge prank escalates into an all-out war with her Grinchy neighbor, and the situation turns sticky when she realizes she needs his help. 
Declan can't believe the nerve of his oh-so-cheerful neighbor hiring him to set up her holiday lights display, but the money is too good to pass up. Despite his utter loathing of excessive decorations, he throws himself into getting the job done, only to encounter sabotage at every turn. To his astonishment, Declan finds himself championing the very woman who used to get under his skin. Then one rooftop kiss has him thinking maybe the season's traditions aren't as heinous as he believed. Declan's heart has grown three sizes since Holly came along, but how can he admit he's falling for the one woman he shouldn't want?

MY THOUGHTS: Having previously read the other two books in this series and really enjoying them, Along Came Holly was one of my most anticipated holiday reads this season and I'm glad it didn't disappoint.  

Holly runs a cozy holiday shop in Mistletoe which she bought because she became Youtube famous doing videos and creating a highly followed enterprise as Adventure Elf.  Declan is running the family hardware shop next door to Holly's and for reasons of his own, he is very anti-Christmas. The two have clashed from their first meeting but is it because they can't stand each other, or because the tension between them is becoming too much?

In the beginning the two are obvious enemies and are pranking each other left and right to try to get under each's other skins.  However, Holly starts to learn there is more to Declan than she initially thought, and Declan is slowly admitting his interest in Holly is more than disdain.  When Holly needs help getting her home festive ready, and Declan needs a place to stay after having a blowout with his father, who he came to town to help, the two find themselves in each other's Christmas orbit.  Let the fun begin!

I love these two characters and just like I did after the last two books, I'm pretty sure they are my favorite characters of the series.  Some of the past characters show up and there is actually a lot going on in this book besides just your typical holiday rom-com.
If you are looking for some Christmas reads that are fun but have a bit more substance, then look no further and start this series today!


Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Feed Your TBR - Made For You


Can't Wait Wednesday, which I have adapted to better suit my blog as "Feed Your TBR" is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. 

JULY 2, 2024

FROM GOODREADS: Hi. My name is Julia. I’m a Synth. And I’m here to find love…

Synthetic woman Julia Walden was designed for one reason: to compete on The Proposal and claim the heart of bachelor Josh LaSala. Her casting is controversial, but Julia seems to get her fairy-tale ending when Josh gets down on one knee.

Fast forward fifteen months, and Julia and Josh are married and raising their baby in small-town Indiana. But with haters around every corner, Julia's life is a far cry from the domestic bliss she imagined. Then her splintering world shatters: Josh goes missing, and she becomes the prime suspect in his murder.

With no one left she can trust, Julia takes the investigation into her own hands. But the explosive truths she uncovers will drive her to her breaking point—and isn’t that where a person’s true nature is revealed? That is…if Julia truly is a person.

Told via dual timelines, Jenna Satterthwaite’s twist-filled debut deftly explores the exhilarating point where artificial intelligence, reality TV and bone-chilling murder mystery meet.

WHY I CAN'T WAIT: It seems discussions about AI are everywhere lately and I love the combo of this mixed with a mystery.  I stumbled across this book yesterday and immediately added it to the wish list.


Tuesday, December 5, 2023

So THAT'S Where the Other Four Dogs Went!


TITLE: The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
AUTHOR: Susan Wiggs
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
PUBLISHING DATE: October 17, 2023
PAGES: 256   

FROM GOODREADS: Brenda Malloy wants nothing to do with Christmas ever again. Last year, Brenda and her husband rushed their beloved dog Tim to the emergency vet on Christmas eve. The good Tim survived after the vet cleared the obstruction--a pair of women’s lace undies. The bad the undies were not Brenda’s. 
A year after the breakup, Brenda has put her life back together. She’s trained for a marathon, is writing a children’s novel, and she’s found purpose and healing as a volunteer with a dog rescue organization in Houston, Texas. The rescue partners with a program in Avalon, New York--a small, snowy town deep in the Catskills. Now Brenda is arranging the transport of rescued dogs from Houston to Avalon—just in time for a merry Christmas with their forever families. 
Brenda’s friends worry about her driving a van two thousand miles with twelve dogs in crates, but she shrugs off their concern. How hard can it be? She knows the way, and she’s just looking to escape the Christmas overload for a while. But a blinding snowstorm, an escaped mutt, and a life-saving encounter with Adam Bellamy—a single dad and paramedic—means Brenda has to stay in Avalon longer than she planned. As she drops off each precious pup at their new homes, some of the comfort and joy of the season begins to creep up on Brenda despite her determination to avoid the holidays. Perhaps you can bring Christmas into your heart after all...if you have the right furry friends to guide the way. 

MY THOUGHTS:  When I first hauled this ARC, some of you might remember me mentioning that it was very off-putting that there were only eight dogs on the front.  Well, I grabbed a copy of this from the library recently and discovered the remaining four dogs are featured on the back.  It's the little things that make me happy.  Needless to say, this is the perfect Christmas novel for any animal lover and I'm so glad I decided to read it over my Thanksgiving break.

On Christmas Eve, Brenda and her husband have to rush their rescue dog, Tim, to the ER vet.  Tim lives (I was worried for a moment which shows you I didn't pay a lot of attention to the synopsis) but the doctor is able to remove a thong from Tim's digestive tract. Problem is that the thong doesn't belong to Brenda.  The book then moves forward a year and Brenda is rebuilding her life with Tim by her side.  However, she no longer looks forward to the holiday season.  Because of a cancellation, Brenda ends up accompanying her friend and fellow rescue worker with 12 dogs to the Catskills and delivering the dogs to their new homes.  But accidents do happen, Brenda gets stuck in Avalon, and Adam Bellamy, the paramedic who is assisting her with the dogs, is trying to best to provide some holiday spirit.

So this book was such a great way to lose myself for an afternoon snuggled beneath some blankets with a pup on my lap and one at my feet.  It was a great to see a female in the Scrooge role and I enjoyed seeing Adam trying to convince Brenda to partake in some Christmas activities.  Of course, there are also the dogs who are all main characters as well as it's great to see how they bring all the players in the novel together.  

I've never read this author before but will keep an eye open for any related titles in the future.  There was an element at the ending which definitely lends itself to a companion novel and I would love to spend more time in Avalon, especially around the holidays.


Sunday, December 3, 2023

Farm News - December 3, 2023

  So, I didn't get an update last week, but I hope everyone who celebrated had a great Thanksgiving.  I was busy squeezing in one more book for the Ho! Ho! Ho! Readathon before my vacation ended.  I ended up reading five books which I was more than thrilled with and I even won one of the giveaways!  My prize should be here sometime this week so I will be sure to share it on next week's update. 

The pups are fine, and Zeke experienced his first Thanksgiving.  I do believe he is a fan.  He also had his third round of shots and came in weighing 22.5 pounds.  He is growing so fast and I'm sure he's even bigger now because it's been almost 2 weeks since then.

This week I'll be catching up on some reviews on the Christmas books I read.  I really enjoyed most of them and am even reading another one now.  I'm currently reading Wrapped with a Beau and Kingdom of Sweets and then hopefully will start Wreck the Halls shortly thereafter.

I can't believe it's December already and there's so much to do.  Thanks for taking time out of your busy day and visiting Booker T's Farm!