Monday, November 30, 2020

Holiday Gift Ideas: Board Books, Picture Books, and I Can Read Books

 Here are some of my favorites (5 star reads) that I read this year that would make GREAT holiday gifts!

Books make awesome gifts! Especially when you purchase them from independent bookstores.

Board Books:

Picture Books:

Picture Book Biographies and Nonfiction Picture Books:

I Can Read Books

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Holiday Movie Roundup (1)


I'm a sucker for Hallmark Christmas movies, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on the ones I've seen so far this year.

Holidate: Netflix

A date for all the holidays doesn't seem like such a bad idea...especially when your family is bugging you about a boyfriend.

I thought this would be more of a Hallmark movie - but it wasn't. I fully admit I zipped through the bathroom issue scene. The movie was...fine. Not great. Not terrible. It had some funny moments. But it was hard to connect to any of the characters. Also it took place year around and not just Christmas.

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater: Hallmark
I really liked this one. As her daughter spends Christmas with her father, a single mom has time to fill over the holidays. After an accident with a stranger, she takes him under her wing and tries to give him a nice holiday season. They work together to help the local military families.

This one made me tear up at the end. It was really sweet. I loved how the families were able to be together. And that grand gesture was something else! I wouldn't mind a sequel set in Paris.

On the 12th Date of Christmas
Two rival co-workers must work together to create a scavenger hunt for a local hotel. 

This was a super cute movie. I loved how they had to create the clues to the scavenger hunt - which would take people all over the city. It sounded like the perfect adventure. I loved how close they both were to their families too. 

* Highly recommended.

One Royal Holiday
A royal family gets stuck due to weather and a stranger offers up her family's inn for their convenience.

While there are a lot of things that don't add up in this movie, once we get past that, it's a sweet movie. Anna enjoys being home again for the holidays and getting to share her town with strangers. She has opinions about the Prince who isn't excited about being stuck in America. She helps him loosen up and make the best of things.  I do love how they met over donuts and pastries. I loved the side romances in this movie. I really enjoyed Anna's best friend, who was the mayor. 

Christmas with the Darlings 
Jessica volunteers to help watch nieces and nephew of her employer during the week leading up to Christmas - with the help of one of the brothers.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but it was really cute. I loved all the Christmas events the family ended up doing together. The siblings were really sweet together. I really enjoyed this one. I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel.

* Highly Recommended

Timeless Christmas:
One night, a man vanishes from 1903 and travels to present day after fixing a clock.

This movie was charming and funny. I enjoyed the time travel aspect - and how Charles Whitley, appears right on cue. It was funny watching Charles adjust to live in the 21st century. I loved the banter between him and Megan. 

Plus, this movie (and book) was written by romance author Eva Leigh. 

* Highly Recommended

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Shop Small: Gift Ideas (8)

  Since the holidays will be here before you know it, I thought I would share some cute gift ideas.

Instead of shopping online at places like Amazon, why not shop local?

If you have awesome local businesses, grab items from their stores of gift cards.

If you're shopping for people outside our area, why not get something super cute on Etsy?

I'm going to highlight a new suggestion each week. 

And if you want to support me (Thank you!), I do have a small Etsy shop.

And if you like something, but aren't purchasing it at this time, give the shop a like or the item a like! (This makes the seller very happy!)

This week's shop has amazing bookish candles.
It was hard to pick just one to showcase, but I had to go with:

Meet Cute candle from the NovellyYours shop. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Review: Inheritance Games

Avery Crumbs has a normal average life - she just wants to leave town and never look back. But in the blink of an eye, everything changes. She's requested to travel to Texas with her guardian and witness a will reading. For a billionaire. Tobias Hawthorne.

Instead of leaving everything to his family, he leaves the bulk of his fortune to Avery. Avery's stunned. His family can't believe it.

In order to inherit the fortune, Avery must stay in the mansion for a year. It's enough to make anyone want to kill her. And someone does.

Three out of his four grandsons think there's more to the story - that there's a hidden puzzle with more details. So they start searching. Because what doesn't kill you will make you stronger...
My Thoughts: I loved this book (just like I knew I would). If you're a long time reader of this blog, than you know I'm a huge fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I loved the plot twists, the banter, the amazing house with all those secret passageways and libraries, the action, the danger, and of course not knowing who to trust. And the book ended on a very interesting note making me need the next book ASAP.

If you liked the movie Knives Out - this book is for you!

Cover Thoughts: Intriguing
Source: My Library
Library Recommendation: Highly Recommended thriller for your school and public libraries. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Day for Giving Thanks

 I know this holiday is different for so many people this year. Chatting with friends and family over Zoom instead of in person. I wish you all a safe and healthy Thanksgiving!

While many things are wrong and need fixing, I have so many things that I'm grateful for! 

I'm spending the day with these cuties, counting all the goodness in my life and hoping to spread it in the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Christmas Picture Books (1)


Christmas books are some of my favorite picture books. I bought several news ones this year for the library. These posts are mix of books purchased and books sent for review. 

One Christmas Adventure:
Animals work together in the snow to visit family for the holidays. A sweet book about friendship and teamwork. The touch and feel parts of this book adds to the fun of reading it!

Llama Llama Secret Santa Surprise;
Llama Llama's class are gifting secret gifts this year. Llama Llama doesn't know what to gift his person - nothing seems creative enough. This book is a great introduction to gift giving, keeping secrets about gifts, and spreading kindness. This book is great for readers who love this TV series.

The Joyful Book:
The new Todd Parr book is everything you'd want it to be for a holiday story. It's diverse in both holidays and characters. The illustrations are bright and cheerful. And all celebrations are welcome. It's all about finding joy in the big and little moments of the holidays.

* This book makes a wonderful gift and is a must have for your library collections.

Dinosaur Christmas!
A big snowstorm fell at the North Pole and Santa needs help clearing the snow to find his sleigh. He calls on his dinosaur friends to help him save the day. This book is perfect for readers who love dinosaurs and transportation. 

Christmas is Joy:
All the things about Christmas that give us Joy! The illustrations are wonderful and I love the silver foil that make artwork pop. This is a sweet story about joy and family and being together. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful


This year has been hard - for everyone.

I'm thankful for my health and the health of those I love.

I'm thankful for my family and friends. Even though we haven't seen each other much this year outside of the computer screens, I know they are there if I need to chat.

I'm thankful for my job - even if I've done things this year, I never thought I'd do. And there's a whole YouTube channel that shares it.

I'm thankful to my amazing co-workers Sara , Mary, and Kat. Without them, I wouldn't have gotten everything done.

I'm thankful for authors who are still able to write through these hard time. I've read so many amazing books this year.

I'm grateful for publishers who are still sharing their favorite books.

I'm thankful for all the puzzles, books, Hallmark movies, Netflix shows, and crafty projects that keep me occupied while staying inside.

I'm thankful for house projects - hopefully I will have a new bathroom to share with you soonish.

I'm thankful to my dogs who get me out of the house daily with walkies. And the park nearby where we've explored more this year than the 11 previous years. 

And of course, I'm grateful for you, dear readers of this blog for taking the time to read it.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Graphic Novel Review: Twins


Maureen and Francine are best friends - and twins. They do everything together. But when they start middle school, Francine starts pulling away. She doesn't want to be seen as twins; she wants to be her own individual. She starts going by Fran. Fran joins clubs and makes new friends. She also doesn't want to dress the same anymore. And she's going to run for Class President. 

Maureen's having a hard time adjusting to middle school. She's not in the same classes as her sister. It's stressing her out. Maureen's in Cadet Corps instead of gym. While she's used to being at the top of her class, she's not in tuned with the cadet drills. Her teacher suggests she try out for a leadership position and run for office for extra credit. After a major fight with her sister, Maureen signs up to run for Class President.

Now the twins are running against each other. Their parents want to support both of them and make sure they're running clean campaigns. But what happens when you know your opponent's secrets?
My Thoughts: I loved this graphic novel! I felt bad for both girls. Maureen didn't want anything to change and had a hard time with learning her twin did. Fran wanted to become her own person and not be in Maureen's shadow. While both of them hurt each other, I'm glad how things turned out. Confidence played a huge part of this book - and it's really hard to be confident in middle school when you're still learning and everything is changing so quickly. Both girls had great ideas on how to make their mark on the school and to make the school a better place. I loved the art work - the colors were bright and fun. I can't wait to read the next book to see what happens next!

Cover Thoughts: Fierce!
Source: My library
Library Recommendation: A must have graphic novel for your school and public libraries

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Shop Small: Gift Ideas (7)

  Since the holidays will be here before you know it, I thought I would share some cute gift ideas.

Instead of shopping online at places like Amazon, why not shop local?

If you have awesome local businesses, grab items from their stores of gift cards.

If you're shopping for people outside our area, why not get something super cute on Etsy?

I'm going to highlight a new suggestion each week. 

And if you want to support me (Thank you!), I do have a small Etsy shop.

And if you like something, but aren't purchasing it at this time, give the shop a like or the item a like! (This makes the seller very happy!)

So I want to acknowledge that this is a internet friend of mine. I think we've met a few times in person, briefly. But she's gotten me into different craft supplies.

Andi is a card maker and her cards are amazing! I'm having a hard time picking a favorite to showcase.

But since I'm a fan of gingerbread:

She has bookish cards, holiday cards, donut cards...

Check out her shop: CardsbyAndreaS

You also might know Andi from her blog: Andi's ABCs

Friday, November 20, 2020

Book Spotlight: Mindy Kim series


Mindy Kim has wanted a puppy forever - and it might just be her birthday present! She's so happy when she meets her new best friend. But training Theodore is proving to be a challenge. Mindy Kim isn't about to let that stop her!

I was that kid who desperately wanted a puppy. I loved Mindy's determination and her big heart. 

When the former class president moves away, there's a new election. Mindy Kim decides to run for class president. She's using the platform of snacks, friendship, and being kind. But she has to give a speech in front of her grade. She's doesn't like giving speeches, but she practices really hard.

A great book about platforms, campaigning, and elections. Not everyone is happy with the outcomes, but some handle it with grace and others do not. 

* Mindy Kim, Class President was sent for review

Series review:
(I read and reviewed the first two books here.)
I love this series. Mindy Kim has a great big heart and she tries to do the right thing. Sure, she makes mistakes, but she handles them with grace. Of course, I also love learning about her Korean heritage. The illustrations are charming. I hope there are many more books about Mindy Kim to come.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Holiday Book Review: Jingle All The Way


Everly works too hard and too long. She has a hard time leaving the office. When her assistant flakes out again - Everly determined to fire her. Unfortunately her assistant is her business partner's niece. He takes his family's side, saying the Everly needs a break.

Jack forces Everly to take the month of December off. He has his niece book her a cruise. Instead of booking a luxury cruise, she books a cruise down the Amazon for revenge. At first, Everly is appalled. There's no internet connection aboard ship. There's no swimming pool. She's the only single person. She doesn't have the right clothing. It's a nightmare.

To make matters worse, she has a nasty reaction to a bug bite - leaving her sick as a dog. Luckily, a crew member is taking good care of her. The more she talks to Asher, the more she realizes how  consumed she has become by work. She didn't even go home for Christmas last year.  Asher makes her rethink her priorities. 

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book; it's not your typical setting. I like that it was inspired by the author's travels and the people she met along the way. The trip down the Amazon sounds intriguing. I felt badly for Daisy and all the mishaps that happened to her on the trip. It was sneaky of her assistant, but it turned out to be the right thing. I loved her talks with Asher. I loved the second part of the book on the farm with her family. It sounded sweet. Another heartwarming Christmas story from this author.

Cover Thoughts: Cute - but there is no dog in this book

Source: Highly recommended for your public library's romance collection. It's not Christmas without a romance from Debbie Macomber. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Thanksgiving Picture Books (2)


Here are some Thanksgiving reads that I've read this year. I'm still working on updating the collection, so if you have a favorite, please let me know.

I would really love #OwnVoices stories. 

Falling for Autumn: Pete the Cat
Pete the Cat isn't sure about autumn, but he discovers all there is to love about the fall. This doesn't seem like a Thanksgiving book until the end of the book. But they celebrate fall with a feast which includes a cornucopia of all the fall items Pete has collected during his aventures.

This is not a picture book, but I'm including it because it has great information about the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, and that first Thanksgiving. This nonfiction book (225 pages) doesn't pull any punches about racism in early America. I really enjoyed reading about the history - and what was different than we were taught in school. Lots of pictures and facts make it easy to keep turning the pages of this book. I'm looking forward to more books in this series.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Character Names

 This week's topic is all about book character names - and which ones you'd use for pet names. We're dog people in this house, so all the names I'm choosing would be for dogs.

Ranger from Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series

Castle from the show Castle. Richard Castle really is ruggedly handsome.

Ghost from Game of Thrones

Arya from Game of Thrones

Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables

Manon from Throne of Glass

Darcy after Fitzwilliam Darcy (which is the namesake of Emma's brother)

Emma after Emma Woodhouse. She has the stink eye and lady qualities to live up to her name!

Cabot is serendipitously named after one of my favorite authors. (He was really named after a town in Vermont and the cheese.)
Emma (sitting) and Cabot

Monday, November 16, 2020

Review: Rent a Boyfriend


Chloe can't imagine why her parents want her to marry a boy from her neighborhood. Sure his parents are rich, but the boy in question is terrible. He's so wrong for her.

Instead, Chloe hires a boy to play her boyfriend over the holidays. The  company provides the perfect boyfriend to soothe even her tradition parents' minds. 

But no matter how great Drew looks on paper, her parents aren't excited about the prospect. They still want her to marry the neighborhood boy. 

Chloe can't imagine her life married to him. She's not ready for marriage. And certainly not to him. She wishes that every choice she made wasn't an issue for her parents. Chloe knows they won't approve of Drew in real life - and now that's falling for him, everything gotten way more complicated...
My Thoughts: This was a super cute read! I loved it. I felt terrible for Chloe and the chasm between her and her parents. I can't believe they wanted her to marry that horrible boy. I loved how she and Drew grew to be close and had inside jokes. I enjoyed their banter and how they opened up to each other.  I loved learning more about Andrew's art. I wish there were pictures of it. This one is more New Adult than YA in terms of the ages of the character, but would be placed in most YA collections. 

Cover Thoughts: Cute
Source: ARC sent for review
Library Recommendation: A great #OwnVoices romance for your library's collection - highly recommended!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Shop Small Gift Ideas (6)

  Since the holidays will be here before you know it, I thought I would share some cute gift ideas.

Instead of shopping online at places like Amazon, why not shop local?

If you have awesome local businesses, grab items from their stores of gift cards.

If you're shopping for people outside our area, why not get something super cute on Etsy?

I'm going to highlight a new suggestion each week. 

And if you want to support me (Thank you!), I do have a small Etsy shop.

And if you like something, but aren't purchasing it at this time, give the shop a like or the item a like! (This makes the seller very happy!)

So I want to acknowledge that this is a friend of mine. She's a college student and creates really cute items.

She creates stickers and digital files.

Friday, November 13, 2020

World Kindness Day: Picture Book Roundup

Today is World Kindness Day.

Here are a few picture books spreading love and kindness and will make your heart happy!

And these books share the message that one act of kindness can change everything.

This wordless picture book shows one girl (Vanessa) being bullied and another girl trying to help. She's not sure what to do, but she can walk with Vanessa. 

I'm always a fan of Todd Parr's book and he talks a lot about inclusivity and diversity and being yourself in all this books. Plus the art is colorful and bright. 

What does it mean to be kind?
How can you help someone? And more importantly will you help?

Kindness is all around us - and it takes different shapes and can influence the whole community. 

A whole alphabet on Kindness. 

Kindness is a great thing to spread around. Pass it on.

Kindness doesn't have to pertain to just people - but maybe also to animals and the earth.

Welcoming someone new is a great way to show kindness. 

How are you grateful? This book showcases the way the Cherokee tribe shows their gratefulness throughout the year and across the seasons.