Book Talk on a Thursday: Christmas in Bayberry

Wes has been chasing career success. So has Kate. They just have very different definitions of what that looks like. For Wes, it’s a title, a corner office with a view of Manhattan, and not having to move every year. For Kate, it’s having her family’s Vermont candle company survive another year.

CiBWhen Wes comes to Bayberry, Vermont to analyze the Bayberry Candle Company’s financials and issue a recommendation on its future, he’s flooded with memories of the year his family lived there when he was fifteen. And the girl he wanted to invite to the annual Candlelight Dance on Christmas Eve. But his dad got a new job and they moved before he got the chance.

Kate moved to Bayberry when she was fifteen and her parents were killed in an accident and she was taken in by her aunt. Her aunt is preparing to retire and Kate wants nothing except to keep the family candle business running exactly as it has been for the last three generations.

As Wes and Kate work together, sometimes on divergent paths, they fight their growing attraction. After all, his life is in New York City and hers is in Bayberry. Right?

I enjoyed this new release from Hallmark Publishing. Besides being a taste of Christmas in July (and I live in Central California where 100+ degree days are common, so descriptions of snowball fights and hot chocolate are very welcome!), I enjoyed this sweet romance and its glimpse of two people on two different trajectories and how they were brought together by a failing business, an improbable Santa, and Spirit of Christmas.
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I received a free e-copy of this book from Hallmark Publishing but it did not induce me to leave a review, favorable or not.

Book Talk Tuesday on a Thursday: A Highlander Comes to Town

I’m sad to see this series come to an end. I’ve loved visiting Highland, Georgia and getting to know some Scots in the South.
HICTTA Highlander is Coming to Town is (finally) Holt Pierson’s story. We met Holt in Trentham’s previous two Highlander stories. Holt has made his peace with staying in Highland to run the family farm. Claire Smythe is on the run from something and takes refuge in Highland after the summer games. She’s taken a job as a caregiver for Holt’s neighbor and is spending the time trying to figure out what to do after her upcoming birthday. Because she has a big secret she can’t share with anyone. Although she’s clear upfront that she’ll soon be returning to Scotland right after Christmas.
Inevitably, the sparks between Holt and Claire combust. And as all secrets must, Claire’s come to light. And Claire and Holt’s simple fling is anything but.
I enjoy these books for their simplicity, their taste of Scotland, their humor. Sometimes I need an escape and these books supply that exactly.
A Highlander is Coming to Town is a Christmas story, complete with a winter storm, hot chocolate, and a heartwarming ending. The perfect holiday read. It will be released in late September, so mark your calendars for September 29, 2020.
I highly recommend it!
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I received an advance e-copy of this book via NetGalley, but it did not induce me to leave a review, complimentary or not.

Book Talk Tuesday on a Thursday: Courageous World Changers

Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God

I could not love this book more!

CWCEach profile is short and easily read in a few minutes. It has enough information to make the person come alive in my mind. There’s a nice variety of historical and contemporary figures. There are women from all walks of life and all ethnicities, proving that being a Christian isn’t exclusive to middle class white Americans.

I’m going to gift this copy to my two 3rd grade granddaughters. It’s perfect for them. The illustrations capture the essence of the story and the person. The vocabulary will be just challenging enough to encourage them to think about what they’re reading without being so far above them that they’ll lose interest.

The back cover says it’s for ages 8-11, but it could be read aloud to younger girls. I’m quite a bit older than 11 and I learned a lot and loved it.

I’m excited to share this book with others!
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. It did not influence nor induce me to review it.

BOOK TALK ON A THURSDAY: Not Quite Over You

We’re back in Happily Inc for another visit! I love Susan Mallery’s small towns, quirky characters, real life emotions, and fun plots.

In NOT QUITE OVER YOU, Silver Tesdal, owner of AlcoHaul (a portable bar that can be towed to wedding and party venues) wants to expand. Her high school boyfriend wants nqoyto invest in her business. And maybe in her life. The only problem is a secret she’s been keeping from him for a few years.

One thing leads to another and pretty soon they’re partners in business and in bed.

Silver knows she has to come clean and when she does, Drew takes the news hard, but comes around pretty quickly.

Drew’s family has been grooming him for a career and there are certain expectations. Those are part of the reasons Silver broke up with him after high school and not much has changed more than a decade later.

NOT QUITE OVER YOU employs some common romance tropes, but in Mallery’s capable hands they don’t feel overused or stale. I enjoyed Silver and Drew’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks story and I recommend it! Especially if you love fun and funny stories!


I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for a honest review. I honestly loved it.

 

BOOK TALK ON A THURSDAY: SISTERS LIKE US

After a summer and fall foray into Happily Inc. Susan Mallery now returns us to Mischief Bay. Harper and her sister Stacey couldn’t be more different. Harper was a full time wife and mother, happily making home a haven for her family. Until her husband decided he SLUwanted a divorce. Harper wasn’t educated or trained to be anything other than a wife and mom and she had to scramble to put food on the table for her daughter. She opened a business as a virtual assistant and is now overworked and underpaid. Just like most personal assistants, 😉
Stacey is a brainiac nerd, who’s more comfortable in her medical research lab than with most real people. She’s pregnant with her first child and is terrified. She’s scared she won’t bond with the baby, that she won’t know what to do, that her husband will love the baby more than he loves her.
Harper and Stacey are opposites, but they stand together against their overbearing mother. Harper’s teenage daughter, Becca, is also a viewpoint character.
The three women navigate life and change in their own ways.

I loved this one! The characters are archetypes in some ways. Harper is the perfect homemaker, Stacey is the nerd, Becca is the temperamental teenager. But in Mallery’s world, they’re also real people I feel like I know. Harper knows she’s on a hamster wheel of perfection, but she can’t see how to climb off. I’ve been on that wheel a time or two myself.

There are some familiar characters who return from the previous Mischief Bay books. Lucas, the guy we’ve gotten to know for his penchant for dating twenty-year-olds, is back and even showing signs of maturing. Lulu, Pam’s Chinese Crested dog, has a cameo appearance.

Sisters Like Us is both new and familiar. In the best way. I highly recommend it!

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I received a free copy of the book in return for a honest review. We both kept our side of the bargain.

Book Talk Tuesday on a Thursday: Best Food Writing 2014

It’s been one of those weeks. But I’m getting in at least one post this week!

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Best Food Writing 2014

It’s a bit daunting to offer a review of a book that is already self-proclaimed as “The Best.”

Good thing Best Food Writing 2014 lives up to its name.
A well curated collection of essays, profiles, and articles, each selection deserves its place in this annual compendium.

The articles range from serious examinations of current events (feeding families on food stamps and food bank handouts) to humorous (choosing homemade ketchup over a longtime friend). There are memories (tomato pie in Rhode Island) and commentaries (beyond the locavore to invasivore and free range gatherers).

I was surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) when what I was reading intersected my real life. I witnessed the lines at Hapa Ramen in San Francisco, shopped the farmers market there. After reading about $4 toast, I began seeing it.

For anyone who appreciates good food, whether it be as a home cook or diner at a fine restaurant, Best Food Writing 2014 has something for you to appreciate.

I received a free advanced e-copy of this book in return for a fair review. I ate it up and am grateful.