Saturday, December 17, 2016

Advent Reads Day 17: The Unexpected Christmas: The Story of Johnny Cornflakes by Denise George

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
Synopsis: "Who would expect to find the spirit of Christmas in a roaming, eccentric homeless man? Certainly not Denise, a pampered southerner newly transported to an inner-city area near Boston. Denise and her seminarian husband, Timothy, made the move to urban New England to begin a ministry with the area's street kids. Their ministry goes well, except for the interference of the homeless man, whom the kids call Johnny Cornflakes (so named for his food preferences). Denise finds Johnny's recurrent forays into her life a bit more than she bargained for. But Johnny has some surprises for Denise, who doesn't expect to find compassion she never knew in a most unusual Christmas. This tale, based on a true story, is sure to warm the heart of every reader."

My Review: I am not really sure how I feel about this book. When I read the synopsis I thought it might be a great feel good and inspirational story for the holiday season but honestly it left me with a little bit of a sour taste. It came off a little like bragging to me, like she wanted everyone to see how she went out of her comfort zone and trudged down alleys to help Johnny. It felt less about helping someone but more about redeeming herself. Maybe I was just not in the right frame of mind to read this book but it just didn't work for me.
 
My Rating: This wasn't my favorite book and it didn't give me the warm fuzzy feeling I look for during the holidays but maybe it will work for someone else.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.


Christmas Fun Day 17: Cheese Ball Time

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
As I said earlier this month, I only make a couple of treats during the holiday season and they aren't sweet. In addition to about a dozen batches of Chex Mix I also make around 4 batches of Cheese Ball (it is actually more of spread than a ball but that is what my mom called it). I have been making this since I moved out of my parents house and they made it long before that, it is a tradition now and no Christmas would be complete without it. I have given it as gifts and it is now demanded, I have had people request for no gifts as long as I make the cheese ball. So here we go . . .
 
It is pretty simple to make just a little work

I have tried to make it in food processors and mixers to make it easier but hands remain the best way to mix it up.
It may not look all that appetizing but I promise you that it is so delicious and addicting!
 
 
 
So with that I am pretty much done with my regular holiday goodies, I might try one or two more things and of course Munchkin and I need to make cookies for Santa and then the meal for Christmas day.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Advent Reads Day 16: Bedtime Story: If You Take A Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
 
Synopsis: "If you take a mouse to the movies, he'll ask you for some popcorn. If you give him the popcorn, he'll want to string it all together. Then he'll want to hang it on a Christmas tree.

The famous little mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie that has delighted millions of readers is back in an irresistible tale full of holiday antics."


My Review: Who can resist Numeroff's books?! We had so much fun with this book and I think it may become one of our classic read every holiday season books. Mouse wants to make a snowman and decorations, set up a tree and sing carols, all the things that make this season so much fun. It will give your little one ideas of fun things to enjoy during the holidays and a way to connect with one another.
 
My Rating: We really enjoyed this book even though we don't string popcorn for the tree (due to the dog) but Munchkin loves it. This is a great book for the holidays and we give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
 
 
 
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Christmas Fun Day 16: Movie Nights

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
 
When I first returned to work after maternity leave, I started a little tradition for me and Munchkin, Friday night movie nights. We have pretty consistently had our time on each Friday night to snuggle up and watch a movie, but for the holiday season I decided to kick it up to an extra level. Usually, we just watch our movie while we eat dinner (usually pizza) and then get ready for bed after it is over, but for this month we have been getting our Christmas PJs on and having a light dinner of finger foods like crackers and cheese and also having extra special hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows while we watch Christmas movies.
 

 
 
So far Munchkin's favorite movies are The Polar Express, The Snowman and The "Bumble Movie" (Rudolph).  I really like all of those but How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the original one) and Charlie Brown's Christmas (we will be watching this one tonight) are my favorites.
 
Do you have extra special movie nights during the holidays? What is your favorite Christmas movie?


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Advent Reads Day 15: A Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
Synopsis: "The Christmas season is the time of year when families practice traditions of old and begin their own customs. Chicken Soup has been a part of these traditions for many years, and our new Christmas."

My Review: I have really enjoyed Chicken Soup books in years past, they always send you on a roller coaster of emotions. I figured this one would be a great way to get into the holiday spirit. Some of the stories were really great but I found that most of them sounded forced to me. I didn't get quite as emotional as I usually do with these collections of stories and really didn't enjoy some of the stories. It may have been the narration too, they were all narrated in a monotone voice with little inflection, so that may have taken something away from the book as well. Some readers may still enjoy it, but for me it wasn't up to par with the previous Chicken Soup books or even the feel good holiday books I am used to reading.
  
 
My Rating: I didn't get the warm and fuzzy feelings like I usually do with the Chicken Soup books. I give this one a rating of Two Paws.




Christmas Fun Day 15: Book Christmas Tree

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
 
So this time of year, every year, I get tagged in posts of book Christmas trees by all of my lovely family and friends. I have been really wanting to create one of these trees and finally decided that this was the year thanks to HaileyinBookland on youtube #Bookmas celebration. I didn't have the time to create one of the big trees like she did in her video (nor do I have a place where Munchkin, the cat and the dog will not knock it over instantly), so I went with a smaller tree with only green books.  I also made a star (and I am the first to admit that I can't draw a star to save myself, let alone cut one out but oh well) and some super cute little reindeer lights.
 
 
I am so happy I finally made this tree, and I am definitely making plans to do a large book tree next year!
 
 
Have you ever made a book tree? I would love to see pictures of yours!


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Advent Reads Day 14: The Christmas Shoes by Donna VanLiere

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
Synopsis: "Sometimes, the things that can change your life will cross your path in one instant-and then, in a fleeting moment, they're gone. But if you open your eyes, and watch carefully, you will believe....

Robert is a successful attorney who has everything in life-and nothing at all. Focused on professional achievement and material rewards, Robert is on the brink of losing his marriage. He has lost sight of his wife, Kate, their two daughters, and ultimately himself. Eight year old Nathan has a beloved mother, Maggie, whom he is losing to cancer. But Nathan and his family are building a simple yet full life, and struggling to hold onto every moment they have together. A chance meeting on Christmas Even brings Robert and Nathan together-he is shopping for a family he hardly knows and Nathan is shopping for a mother he is soon to lose. In this one encounter, their lives are forever altered as Robert learns an important lesson: sometimes the smallest things can make all the difference. The Christmas Shoes is a universal story of the deeper meaning of serendipity, a tale of our shared humanity, and of how a power greater than ourselves can shape, and even save, our lives."


My Review: So I have loved the Christmas song The Christmas Shoes for as long as I can remember and it always makes me tear up. When I found out there was a book, I knew I had to read it. I prepared properly with a box of tissues, which thank goodness I had them ready! This is a very emotional and bittersweet holiday book. It has its heartbreaking moments but also moments of hope and uplifting holiday warmth. It follows the song and fills out the story with characters you can relate to and a message that is perfect for the holiday season. I highly recommend but goodness do not forget the tissues because there will be tears and full on sobbing!
 
My Rating: Yup, I was a blubbering mess throughout this book but it was so worth it. It complimented the song beautifully and just filled in the extra bits. I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag! You must read it but get your tissues ready!
 


Christmas Fun Day 14: The Grinch Book Tag

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
So I have been following Sam from Thoughts on Tomes on Youtube for a while now and she created a book tag two years ago call The Grinch Book Tag and I had to do it (even though it is super old).
 
I did warn you that Booktube has made me want to do all these awesome book tags!
 
Anyway here are my answers to The Grinch Book Tag
 
 
 
1. Half of the lights on the Christmas tree are burnt out : Name a book/series/character that started out good but then went downhill
  
I started off giving the first book 5 stars, the second 3 stars and then had to force myself to finish the 3rd book, there are still 3 more books in the series but I won't be reading anymore, things just got a little too weird and they continue fighting the same battles over and over.
 

2. Annoying Great Aunt Sally who will not leave you alone : Name a book that you didn't enjoy, but everyone else seems to love so it never goes away

I know, I know you all love this series, and my wonderful Hubby got me this gorgeous box set for Christmas years ago, but I have only been able to push through book 4! I am trying again currently and it is going a little better but I still just don't get what you all see in it or why you continued buying book after book!
 

3. Your pets keep knocking over the Christmas decoration : Name a character that kept messing things up for everyone else (can't pick a villain!)

    
So I don't know if any of you tried this series but I could not stand the MC Breena ***Spoiler Alert***
She is stabbed at the end of book 3, I was actually thrilled and couldn't wait to see where the rest of the characters went but low and behold in book 4 she comes back to life! She was constantly screwing up and getting the other characters captured, tortured, battling etc. and all she did was whine, woe is me. Needless to say I never continued the 9 book series.
 

4. You hear your parents putting out the presents and learn Santa isn't real: Name a book you were spoiled for
I think this one ended up getting spoiled for many people. I still haven't even bothered to buy the book or read it, and haven't even seen the final movie either. Why bother when you know what happens?!
 

5. It's freezing outside: Name a main character you just couldn't connect with
This is one that I read this year, the book had so many qualities I loved but Reychel just didn't work for me at all. Not that she was really horrible but she didn't have a strong enough personality for me and allowed everyone to use and manipulate her.
 

6. Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You' and it's giving you anti-romantic feelings : Name a couple you couldn't stand

Honestly I could have used this series for several of the answers but I had to put it here because while the writing is not great, it is the relationship between Ana and Christian that is the real problem. There are so many better books in the genre/ subject that show healthy forms of the relationship.

 

7. That scratchy homemade wool sweater you got for Christmas years ago but won't get rid of : show some books that have been sitting on your shelves for a while, and you aren't motivated to read, but you don't have the heart to get rid of
  
Per my request years ago Hubby got me the whole set of books, but I made the mistake of seeing the movie first and then the book was so drastically different I had a hard time getting through the first book. I still have them all sitting on my shelf, I know I should read them because it is everything I enjoy but I just can't make myself sit down and read them.
 

8. Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer: Name a character death you still are mad about (warn people for spoilers! You can also use TV or movie deaths)
 I won't say who in particular died in this one just in case you haven't read it (and you should) but there are several dramatic deaths. One in particular I don't see the point in, other than to throw more trauma at the already traumatized characters. I felt like it was completely unnecessary, there are so many other ways to have gotten this particular character if they weren't needed for the plots anymore. Maybe there will be a reason further into the series but at this point I think it is just the shock factor.
 

9. The malls are overly crowded with holiday shoppers: Name a series that has too many books in it/went on too long

I hate to say it because I loved Anita Blake for so long, but honestly 26 books and 6 novellas is just too much, especially with so many characters, and pretty much the same bad guys in each one and the constant self doubt of Anita just gets exhausting. I finally had to stop at book 22.
 

10. The Grinch : Name a main character you HATE (No villians again!)
  
I cannot stand Celaenna/ Aelin at all! I cannot stand the vainness of her character, I cannot stand the fact that she is supposedly this fantastic assassin with all these skills but you don't really see much proof, etc. I only continued reading this series because I liked Rowan and Chaol, but I had to stop at book 4.
 
 
 
So there you have it, my total Grinch list, now I bet you won't touch me with a 10 foot pole! Are any of these on your Grinch list? Have you done this tag or any others recently? Let me know so I can check out your answers too!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Advent Reads Day 13: Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
Synopsis: "Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.
To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff fa├žade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love."


My Review: I picked this one up for the holiday season, I always enjoy Debbie Macomber's feel good romances and it just felt right for the season. The nice thing about this one is you don't have to try to figure out where it is in a series, it is a standalone. It was a short read and it definitely had all the holiday elements in it, but I didn't end up really connecting with the characters. I enjoyed the story, it is a fun idea (one that as a blogger I could connect with) and I liked how the characters and story progressed. It was definitely a nice audio book to listen to while making cookies, wrapping presents or addressing Christmas cards, it will give you the holiday feel goods.
 
My Rating: This is a comical and fun little romance for the holiday season. I love that this is a standalone so you don't need to worry about coming in mid-series and you feel satisfied with the ending. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Christmas Fun Day 13: Nativity Set

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
 
So years ago my mom was big into ceramics and she made each of us a beautiful glazed ceramic nativity set to display when we got our own houses. My set was proudly displayed on our TV stand for several years until Munchkin came along. It wouldn't be Christmas without my nativity but when I pulled it out that first year, I said no way was I taking the risk that it would get broken. So I went on a hunt for a child friendly set and found this adorable Little People set. It signs Away in a Manger and Silent Night and has all the animals and shepherds and angels (I could have gotten the wise men but it was pretty pricey already). We have put it out each year for Munchkin and each year it is like a new toy!


 
 
Do you have a nativity set? Or do you have a family heirloom decoration that is just not safe for little ones that you have had to put away temporarily? Did you find a replacement for it instead so it still feels like the holidays?



Monday, December 12, 2016

Advent Reads Day 12: Christmas in High Heels by Gemma Halliday

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
 
Synopsis: "Fashion designer turned amateur sleuth Maddie Springer can't wait to spend the holidays with her boyfriend, LAPD Detective Jack Ramirez. It's their first Christmas together, and Maddie wants it to be perfect. But between her zany family and wacky friends, Maddie's having a hard time finding alone time with her man. But come Christmas morning, this is one holiday she'll be sure to remember - naughty or nice!"

My Review: I haven't been following this series but came across this book in my hunt for holiday themed stories. It didn't really matter that I didn't know the characters as this seemed to have just been a little side story. It is great if you only have a few minutes to sit down and read. I love how this short story moved along and the results of the story, it is a nice reminder that plans don't always have to go perfect and you don't need that perfect holiday moment to enjoy the season.
 
My Rating: This was a fun little story. Judging by the cover you would expect a steamy after dark book but it ended up being very clean and fun and so relatable. I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

Christmas Fun Day 12: The Christmas Tree, Finally!

Hello and Happy Holiday season everyone! In addition to my Advent Reads event this holiday season, I thought I would post earlier in the day with different things we do each day to have fun and celebrate this season. I hope you will join us and also maybe share some of your own traditions or ways you celebrate.
 
I have always had a fake tree growing up and it always went up the day after Thanksgiving. But this year with Hubby's schedule change to 3rd shift and my work load being so large that I have had to bring work home and do it on my own time to keep up, we didn't get the tree up like usual. So finally this weekend Munchkin & I ran to the store for a new tree (ours was finally not making it after 11 years) and got our tree up and decorated! Munchkin was so thrilled to be able to put the ornaments up and his favorite part is putting the angel on the top.






 
Our tree is an interesting one, a few years ago when we had Munchkin (not to mention the dog and cat) we decided to replace our fancy breakable ornaments with "child and pet friendly" ones. I do love the complete randomness of all the plush and wooden ornaments.  Munchkin says his favorites are the fire truck, and green monkey (which you can't see at the back).
 
How do you decorate your tree? Do you have themed decorations or is it random? Do you have a favorite ornament?


Monday Reading List




Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!




Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Checking it Twice by Melissa L. Webb
Holly and Mistletoe by Susan Mallery
Santa's First Vegan Christmas by Robin Raven
All Through the Night by Maggie Robinson
No Room at the Inn by Jean M. Malone
It's Christmas, David! by David Shannon
Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke


 
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

Starry Night = 5pts
Cheyenne Christmas = 3pts
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies = 1pt

 
Currently Reading:
 
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski - Audio - 28 %
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling - Print - on page 228 of 320



 Books to be Read Soon:

Tale of Elske by Cynthia Voigt

 

Total Points Earned
     62 points + 9 points earned = 71 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 2246
Total Points Spent this Year: 2175

Pages Read/ Time Listened
277:16 (11 days 13 hrs 16 mins) Hours Listened (none listened this week)
44,480 Pages Read (451 this week)

Books Added to Shelves




Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


 

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Boy is it a good thing I did so much of my holiday reading ahead of time this year! I have been so far behind in everything this month. I finally got the Halloween decorations taken down from outside and nearly finished all the raking. We also managed to finally get the Christmas tree up and decorated too (this is the first year in my life that the tree didn't go up the day after Thanksgiving, so it was a little stressful for me). It is starting to finally feel like Christmas but I look at the calendar and only have 2 weeks to get everything done! Oh well, even though I am stressed beyond measure and so far behind I have still managed to keep it somewhat magical for Munchkin!

Hope your week was better than mine and that your holiday preparations are going smoothly!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Advent Reads Day 11: Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke

Welcome to Advent Reads!
This is an event I have had on my blog for several years running now.  Each evening I feature a different holiday themed book. Think of it as your Book Advent Calendar! I post a variety of holiday books including romance, children's, middle-grade, mystery, paranormal, and I try to find some that are other holiday celebrations than Christmas too. I hope you will stop by each evening to see what new book I have for you!
 
 
 
Synopsis: "Christmas normally descends on Lake Eden, Minnesota, as gently as reindeer alighting on a rooftop—but this yuletide season the only thing coming down Hannah Swensen’s chimney is a case of murder . . .

The holidays have arrived, and Hannah and her good pal Lisa have agreed to provide all the goodies for the town’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. But before anyone can say “Bah, humbug!” a Santa-sized sackful of trouble ensues. Like the fact that Lisa’s husband will be playing Mr. Claus to his ex-girlfriend Phyllis Bates’ Mrs. Claus. Or that before the curtains even go up Phyllis is found dead in the snow—wearing a costume that the real Mrs. Claus would put on the naughty list. Soon after the suspects pile up faster than snowdrifts in a blizzard, while a merry murderer remains on the loose. With clues even harder to find, it might take a visit from ghosts of Christmas past to wrap up this mystery in time for the holidays . . .

Includes Over a Dozen Holiday Recipes from The Cookie Jar!"


My Review: I am not normally a mystery reader but I try to read different genres for the Advent Reads event on my blog. This looked like a nice short audio book that was perfect for the holidays. In hindsight this may have been better as a print book. It is a quick little murder mystery but not my cup of tea, you are clearly lead in certain directions with the information you receive. Also it kind of drives me crazy when people who are not a part of law enforcement get involved with investigations, especially when they seem to just drop their real lives to play cop, which is exactly what Hannah does. With that said, if that is what you enjoy then this is a perfect book for you. Also don't forget the recipes for holiday goodies at then end of nearly every chapter, it honestly made me a little hungry and wish I was a little better at cooking and baking!
  
 
My Rating: This is kind of the reason I don't read mysteries, if the author can't create one good enough they simply don't give you the information you need to figure it out yourself. And I really dislike when citizens get involved where they shouldn't. Anyway if you like mysteries, maybe this is one you will enjoy but it just wasn't for me. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.