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Welcome to my new series about my visual issues with books. From time to time, I'll be delving into the fact that book covers really are the first thing to draw me in.  Will I read books with what (to me) is a so-so or ugly cover? Of course I will, but only if it's been recommended, or it's an author I already know I have liked in the past. When I walk into a bookstore, I'm going to be drawn to certain book covers, and will then pick up the book to see what it is about. I don't have time to read every synopsis on every book, so if you are a new (to me) author, I'm probably going to pass you by with a boring/ugly cover. Honestly, I might even buy a pretty book for my shelf that I don't even end up reading, because it's just SO appealing! Somehow I bet I'm not the only one who feels this way (although maybe not to my degree of craziness!).

Today's post is about the new Sophie Kinsella book Shopaholic to the Stars. I am a fan of this series, and have most of the others on my shelf, so I was excited to pick this one up.

Until I saw it..............








Yuck! First of all, it doesn't even come close to matching any of the other books. It's just plain boring, and I hate yellow! Why did I not know before it's release that this was the cover? I happen to follow Sophie on twitter, and this was not the cover she had been showing. Where was that cover? Once I did a bit of research (see, I told you I was a bit obsessed with covers), I realized that she lives in the UK.

THIS is the UK cover:








There was just no way I was going to have this cover out there, and have to settle for the ugly yellow one on my shelf! I bought the UK version from a seller on amazon (paid as much for the paperback as I would have for the US hardcover), had to wait several weeks for it to get here, but it was worth it........this one is so cute 🙂

Stay tuned in the coming weeks, I will be featuring other books that I have been drawn to because of their covers! Anyone else have a love affair with book covers?


The Evolution of Alice


THIS HAUNTING, EMOTIONALLY RESONANT STORY delivers us into the world of Alice, a single mother raising her three young daughters on the rez where she grew up. Alice has never had an easy life, but has managed to get by with the support of her best friend, Gideon, and her family. When an unthinkable loss occurs, Alice is forced onto a different path, one that will challenge her belief in TheEvolutionOfAliceherself and the world she thought she knew. The Evolution of Alice is the kaleidoscopic story of one woman’s place within the web of community. Peopled with unforgettable characters and told from multiple points of view, this is a novel where spirits are alive, forgiveness is possible, and love is the only thing that matters.


My review...........3 stars


This was a well written story dealing with loss, and how it is dealt with. I was happy to read a book about Native Americans, and would have liked even more details about life on a reservation, and the treatment of those in the rez community. It is touched on briefly a few times, but I thought there could have been more. Alice and her best friend Gideon are both very well written. Gideon's grandfather and Alice's ex-husband were good additions to the story, but there were some other side characters that I didn't feel were needed. They got in the way of my totally enjoying it.


This is not a happy story, there are many depressing and sad parts, but the love Alice has for her children shines through beautifully! If you like stories with great characterization, and the resiliency of people through tough times, this would be a great book for you. Thanks to netgalley for giving me a copy of this for review.



A Second Bite at the Apple


Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food. Not with eating it--though she does that too--but with writing about the wonders of the gastronomic world, from obscure fruit hybrids to organic farming techniques. Since food journalism jobs are more coveted than Cronuts®, Sydney pays her bills working for one of TV's biggest egomaniacs--until she's left scrambling for shifts at a local farmers' market.
Stacking muffins for the Wild Yeast Bakery isn't going to win her any James Beard awards. But soon Sydney is writing the market's weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of putting her love life into deep freeze, she's even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a crisp--along with her relationship and her reputation.


My  review.............4 stars


This one was a fun read, especially after my last two books (which I was not overly enthusiastic about). We start out at a network morning show, then move into farmers markets, then delve into writing food blogs. Throw in some family dynamics involving an upcoming wedding for her sister, a new love interest with a questionable past, and a big break destined to create all kinds of havoc for all kinds of people. I was laughing out loud several times (most notable was the scene at the Kennedy Center fountain), and then shaking my head knowing things were not going to go well. It had a great mix of characters, and the main characters were well written. Even though I was annoyed with some of them at times, it was written so that you understood why they did what they did. I didn't dislike any of the characters, they stayed true to themselves.


I thought the ending was a bit rushed, but other than that, I really enjoyed this one. It also gets kudos for the cute cover (I'm such a sucker for a cute cover)! I received an advance copy of this book through netgalley, but the release day is today. Go ahead and pick this one up. It's a light read, and even has recipes at the end!



Leaving Time


For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the LeavingTimepages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.


My review.........1 star


This is the most difficult review I've done since starting my blog. There are some in the blogging world who don't review books that they did not like (rather than leave a bad review), and I thought about whether I should do that with this book. Then I went to Goodreads to see if anyone out there felt the same way I did (since the reviews I'd read for this were all glowing)? Well there were people who felt as I did, and the interesting part was that all of us have read several books by Picoult, and loved them. Nineteen Minutes is one of my top 5 books of all time, and My Sister's Keeper and Harvesting the Heart are also favorites. I decided to forge ahead, because I feel that as long as a review is not malicious, everyone's opinion will be worth it to someone when choosing to read a book.


So exactly what was my problem with this book? I was about halfway through, when I remember thinking "I'm halfway through this book, and NOTHING has happened"! There is a lot of information about elephants in the book, and while I like elephants and find them interesting, there was way too much about them.......frankly, it got boring to me. Maybe I need to stay away from the animal books by Picoult (I remember skipping all the wolf parts in a previous book because I got sick of reading about them). Almost all of Jodi's books have some sort of moral dilemma for the reader (which I love), but I'm not sure what it was supposed to be in this one. Doesn't everyone agree that we shouldn't mistreat elephants (if that was even what it was)?  I also knew I was in trouble when I realized there was a psychic involved. Let me state (again), I am not a fan of ghosts, spirits, angels, aliens, zombies, etc. I very rarely stop reading a book (especially one I plunked down money on), but I might have on this one, but there was this HUGE buzz about the twist at the end. Everyone was going crazy on social media, so I trudged on. The ending (which I'm not going to give away), was the most batsh*t crazy thing I've ever read, and not crazy in a good way! People were saying that the ending had them crying! The only thing I wanted to cry about was that I wasted my time with this one.


This is where I tell you that I am one of a few who did not like this book. And if you are a fan of Jodi Picoult you will like it. Well I am a fan, but this one I just did not like. I will look forward to the next novel, but I may do my research next time before just buying it because of the author. And isn't that what we all should be doing anyway? Lesson learned 🙂



Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel

Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track—and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store.

MrMiracleAfter trying to make it on her own, Addie has returned home to Tacoma for the holidays, but this time she plans to stay for good, enrolling in the local community college to earn her degree. What she doesn’t plan to do is run into Erich Simmons.

Addie and her next-door neighbor, Erich, are like night and day. Growing up, he was popular and outgoing while she was rebellious and headstrong, and he never missed an opportunity to tease her. Now she intends to avoid him entirely, yet when they’re suddenly forced to spend Christmas together, Addie braces for trouble.

Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season or the magic of mistletoe, but Addie and Erich soon find they have more in common than they thought—and that two people who seem so wrong for each other may actually be just right. With a little prompting from a certain angelic teacher, the two are in for a holiday miracle they’ll never forget.

My review...........2 stars

This is the last of my holiday reviews (from the holiday read-a-thon), although that doesn't mean that I won't pick up another book in December from my stash 🙂

This one was my least favorite of all that I read. First of all, let it be said that I don't like books about anything other than real people (no ghosts, angels, aliens, zombies, etc.). Obviously that was going to be a problem with this book. I decided to try it out because I read some good reviews for it, and thought maybe it would change my mind about these kinds of books. Didn't happen. I thought the whole angel thing was silly, I hated the woman who tries to seduce him, the whole plot with Addie and Erich seemed really contrived, plus there was no character development to even make me like them!

I think this is my last book I'll be reading by this author. I tried one a few months ago (Love Letters), and didn't like that one either (and I don't think it had any I'm no literary snob, but her writing is just too simplistic for me. I don't know how to describe it any better than that. It never really draws me in.

I probably should have given this only 1 star, but it got 2 because it is a holiday themed book (and I'm a sucker for them), and the cover was pretty 🙂


The Little Christmas Kitchen

Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food. But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic.
TheLittleChristmasKitchenNow, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London… and her Dad.

But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other.

My review............4 stars

This was a book I picked up from netgalley, to read/review while participating in the holiday read-a-thon. What a wonderful surprise this turned out to be! When the book starts off, you have these two sisters (who are both a bit whiny and self centered), but as it evolves, you get totally pulled into their stories and struggles. It kept me totally engaged, and even though I knew it was probably going to have a happy ending, I wanted to see how it got there. It was a nice spin to have a Christmas book where part of it is set in a warm climate, you usually get the snow/cold scenario for most holiday books.

Now let's talk about the food! There is a huge emphasis on Greek food (the mum is the owner of a Greek restaurant). Oh my goodness, you will want to run to your nearest Greek restaurant, the descriptions of the food are heavenly!

I think the only thing that bothered me about the book was how the father ended up in this dive of a bar in London? I'm not going to give away any spoilers, but I was kind of shaking my head at why the author threw this in, when (to me) it didn't fit at all with something he would do.

I've never read anything by this author. I believe she is a UK author, but she has another Christmas book out (The Parisian Christmas Bake Off) that I'm definitely planning to pick up before next holiday season.


The Reluctant Elf


Meet Britain's Worst Innkeeper

Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood.

TheReluctantElfWhen Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas?


My review...........4 stars


I purchased this holiday novella after seeing it mentioned on another blog site. I actually have a book by this author waiting for me to read on my kindle, and thought this would be a good introduction to this writer. I was also collecting books to read in the holiday read-a-thon I participated in, so this fit both categories nicely.


I loved this cute little story! It had so many great elements that I love in books. A great cast of characters (some you liked, some you didn't, some you thought you didn't....but then did, you get the drift), some humor, some romance, some drama, and a holiday setting to tie it all together. I think the only thing I didn't like about this book was that it was only 112 pages long! I wish it had been about a hundred pages longer, so I could keep these characters around for longer than an afternoon read!


If you want a really quick one to put you in the holiday spirit, while wisking you away from your own reality for a few hours, pick this one up. I can't wait to read more by this author, I'm just hoping they will be longer 🙂



My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories


If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY MyTrueLoveGaveToMeTRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.


My review.........4 stars


I'm not one who usually reads short stories, but this one was intriguing to me because it was written by lots of YA (young adult) authors (a genre which I really like, but don't read enough of), and it would fit nicely with the Holiday read-a-thon that I planned to participate in.


What a delightful book! Out of the twelve stories, I loved nine, was so-so on one, and wasn't crazy about two........which is pretty good odds! Even the three that I wasn't crazy for were not so bad that I didn't finish them (the beauty of them being short stories.....well, they are short). They just didn't happen to be in my preferred reading style (magical realism, mythical creature, you get the picture if you've read most of my reviews). I thought it was a great mix of styles, there was something for everyone, which I'm sure was the intent when you have a large collection of stories such as this. And the cover is so wonderful! Each of the couples in the stories is represented on the skating it!


Be sure to pick up a copy of this, there absolutely will be stories in here that you will love. Gosh I hope some of these authors continue with these characters in future books, that would be so great!


I had the pleasure of attending an event with two of the authors (one being the editor), David Levithan and Stephanie Perkins. Also with them was Jennifer E. Smith (The Geography of You and be read/reviewed hopefully soon). I brought along my teenage daughter, it was her first author signing event, I think she's hooked 🙂





Winter Street


In bestseller Elin Hilderbrand's first Christmas novel, a family gathers on Nantucket for a holiday filled with surprises.

Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them WinterStreetgrown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can't get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley's second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who's playing Santa at the inn's annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley's ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.


My review............4 stars


I think Elin Hilderbrand is the kind of writer who was made for Christmas/holiday themed books, and I'm surprised that this is her first foray into this theme. The reason I say this is that she writes the type of books that lend themselves to a Christmas setting. They are usually about a family, with some (or lots) of issues that need resolving before the end of the book. Since the holidays usually are the one time of year most people tend to go home, you have a perfect story. Trust me when I say this will not be the last we hear of Ms. Hilderbrand and holiday stories......why, you ask? This book literally leaves you hanging at the end!! I don't think any of the kids issues are resolved....which is sort of interesting, since most of these Christmas stories end on a happy, all is calm, all is bright note 🙂 I feel certain that we have not seen the last of the Quinn family, whether we wait until next Christmas to continue, or we follow them in a later book set during the other 11 months of the year, we will have to wait and see.


I really liked this book, I was interested in all the characters, and it flowed well. It was a light, easy read, and Hilderbrand's books always make me want to visit Nantucket. I'm kind of sad that I will have to wait to find out what happens to this family, and I will be downright annoyed if we never get the sequel that I'm predicting is coming.


Go ahead and pick up a copy of this book, but don't say I didn't warn you about the end!




As I mentioned in this post, I can't wait to participate in my first blogger read-a-thon! I picked a good one to start with, since I love holiday themed books. They are not usually known to be too heavy or emotionally demanding, but that is just what I like during this hectic time of year.

Here are the books I have lined up to read. As you can see, I tend to go overboard on the holiday books, so I'm probably going to have plenty to still keep me busy after the read-a-thon is over 🙂


From my bookshelf:




From netgalley (on my Kindle):



Arriving any day:



Cannot wait to get started! Are you joining me?


Thursday November 6

What I'm Reading: My True Love Gave to Me

Pages read today: 149 pages


Friday November 7

What I'm Reading: My True Love Gave to Me

Pages read today: 172 pages


Saturday November 8

What I'm Reading: Winter Street

Pages read today: 246 pages


Sunday November 9

What I'm Reading: The Reluctant Elf & Mr. Miracle

Pages read today: 230 pages


Monday November 10

What I'm Reading: Mr. Miracle & The Little Christmas Kitchen

Pages read today: 117 & 7%


Tuesday November 11

What I'm Reading: The Little Christmas Kitchen & The Polar Express

Pages read today: 18% & 32 pages


Total: 4 books completed, 1 18% done, and 1 children's picture book

Grand total pages read: 946 pages + 18% (of appx 300 pages=54) ===== 1000 pages!