Love is All Around

It’s no secret that I’m burning through the boxes of paperbacks like it’s nobody’s business. Today’s book? Love Is All Around by Lori Devoti.

Heat Level: ♥

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Overall Rating: 3/3 Glass Slippers

Patsy has lived in Daisy Creek her whole life and is sick to death of life in the small town. While she bags groceries to pay the bills, she hopes her web design skills will be her ticket to greener pastures. Daisy Creek is dying and she’ll be damned if she gets trapped in a dust bowl where there are no jobs and nothing to do. But there’s one kink in her plan to escape…Will.

Will’s hit the big time. Since he moved away from Daisy Creek, he managed to make quite a bit of money. But he never felt at home in the big city. He liked the closeness and simple living of Daisy Creek. However, there’s one thing that isn’t simple in that small town…Patsy.

This book was alright, but it was missing something. Patsy was relatable and hilarious and honestly way more interesting than Will. He was just lacking the development I would have wanted for the hero of a romance novel this length. I wanted sparks and excitement, but it just fell a little flat. Overall, not a bad book, just not one I’d seek out again.

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What Are Your Kids Reading?

I love to write, I love to read, and I love introducing my daughter to new and classic books. Instilling an inquisitive mind and the ability to enter the worlds these books create has always been important to me. So I thought it might be fun to chat about what’s on my three-year-old’s reading list.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines…I could read this book in my sleep. As a kid, I loved the Madeline books and had my mom bring home a Madeline hat when she visited Paris. It’s easy to read, has some cute rhymes, and has a splash of French. As far as the morals and stories, they’re relatable in any decade. There’s the misunderstood neighbor who just wants to be included, a dog who needs a home, and a group of girls who believe in the power of friendship.

Stormy Night by Salina Yoon

This one is new to me, but by a kid’s author who has quite a few cute stories and the matching stuffed toys. In Stormy Night, a little bear is scared of the storm, but his parents help him realize that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Perfect for the light sleepers in your house.

Just Go To Bed by Mercer Mayer

Hello, childhood, is that you calling? I’m not sure about you readers, but I had dozens of these Little Critter books, growing up. Out of all the kids books, this little…porcupine? hedgehog? beaver?…creature had the most relatable storylines and family of al the classic families. Little Critter was a bit of a brat, but always learned an important lesson, unlike a certain pox on society named Caillou. I have about fifty of these books from my youth all ready to go for story time.

Dinnertime for Chickies by Jane Trasler

The chickies in this book, and the rest of the series, are a trio of baby chicks being raised on a farm with Cow, Pig, and Sheep. Each story tackles a new topic that little kids can understand. In this, the chickies don’t want to eat their healthy dinner, but their farm animal caregivers tell them they at least need to try a bite. It’s a healthy way to promote a more varied diet, without the “finish what’s on your plate” narrative. Other topics in the collection include going to bed and getting a new little sibling. The art and rhymes are adorable, and the author is constantly making YouTube videos featuring the books in musical, puppet form.

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Deisen

This book is a best seller, and deservedly so, as far as kids books go. There’s a little drama queen fish that just drags all his aquatic fish down with his bad attitude. Through the series, he learns something new about the importance of a positive attitude and trying hard, even when things are difficult. And it’s pretty funny to watch your kid try to mimic the longer words in the rhymes.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss

This book didn’t make my list because of its innovative storyline or because I have some old-school attachment to it. I like Dr. Seuss books for kids because the simplicity of the writing and the repetition makes it perfect for new readers. Really, all of the classic Dr. Seuss works should be in every little kid’s bookshelf. But none of the new age ones with the modern art. Stick to the oldies like There’s a Wocket in my Pocket.

Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton

Is your kid obsessed with their birthday? Mine is. Time is still just a vague idea to her, so she’s always asking when her next birthday is. Birthday Monsters is a cute and short board book that’s great for early readers. There’s some repetitive rhyming and simple drawings that make the book easy for young kids to master.

Ollie’s Halloween by Olivier Dunrea

I love the goslings in Dunrea’s books. The tiny geese go on all sorts of different adventures and learn about holidays, friendship, sharing, and all the rest of those child-friendly themes. While this particular book is about Halloween, it’s easy to find one featuring just about anything. The words and phrases are simple and the illustrations match the storyline perfectly, which can help your child to better identity words as they learn to read. I know it’s no longer Halloween, but according to my daughter, this book’s the best of the bunch.

So, there are my top kids books and series for now. As my daughter continues to learn, I’ll continue to update with more lists for the little readers in your life. Parents, let me know, what are your kids into?

Life a la Mode

I came upon this worn, little paperback in a box of books in my attic. The animated cover promised me some comedy, a light hearted romp, and maybe some romance. So I poured a glass of red to see what Linda Lenhoff had to offer in Life a la Mode.

Heat Level: ♥

Genre: Comedy

Overall Rating: 3/6 Glass Slippers

Holly isn’t your typical thirty-year-old single girl in the big city. She has a runaway dad who shacked up with a cousin, a mom who might have found love with a fishing enthusiast, and a sister who collects fiancés like your grandma collects Precious Moments figurines. She has a good job with an annoying boss and a coworker named Tom who definitely sends mixed signals. Things with Holly are anything but cookie cutter perfect.

While she helps her sister plan her “dream wedding” for the sixth time, she wonders if she’ll ever settle down again. Holly’s kissed some frogs and longs for a prince to save her from the constant madness that is her life. But she’s also a grown woman, and knows that the only person who can help her get her act together is herself. That’s easier said than done when your mom’s about to run off to Africa with her latest boy toy and your life needs to take a backseat.

This book is written in first person, present tense, which I personally find rather annoying, but that’s not why I gave this book 3/6 Glass Slippers. While parts of the book are comical and you find yourself rooting for poor Holly to just get her life together, you just…well, want her to get her life together. It’s like the author was going for the comedy of Bridget Jones and came up short. It all feels forced, and by the end of the book, you may feel tired of Holly and the loose ends she leaves you with. But the author has a way of writing some really great and dynamic dialogue that makes you connect with the characters, making it an alright book for a weekend read.

How to Trap a Tycoon

Sometimes you just need to start the New Year with a little comedy. The holidays are over, it’s cold, and it’s back to work for all those who enjoy things like paying their mortgages and eating. So I picked How to Trap a Tycoon by Elizabeth Bevarly for my first read of 2018.

Heat Level:♥♥♥♥

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Dorsey lives a double life that’s about to get out of control. By day, she’s a tight-laced PHD student teaching sociology. By night, she’s a sassy bartender at an exclusive gentleman’s club that’s just full of rich men. But she’s not there to snag a date, she’s there for research. Her tongue-in-cheek book, How to Trap a Tycoon, wasn’t meant to be a best seller, but the guide she wrote under a pen name has taken off, causing Dorsey to have to embrace her “alter ago”, Lauren. When she throws on a blonde wig and unbuttons her blouse, she embraces her “Lauren side” for the good of her book sales, which she hopes will provide some security for herself and mom. But someone wants to learn who Lauren really is.

Adam is the publisher of a top men’s magazine and loves the thrill of a new story. His latest target? The mysterious author Lauren who has written a guide meant to trap wealthy, successful men like himself. He wants to bring her down, but he becomes sidetracked from his goal when he meets Dorsey, the bartender at the club he frequents. She’s everything he ever hoped for in a woman and he thinks he might not mind being trapped by her. But Dorsey’s keeping a secret, one that just might ruin everything.

I really enjoyed this book and found it to deliver what it promised; sex, laughs, sass, and a romance. While I could have done without the subplots, I still found the entire book to be a great read that all contemporary romance fans would enjoy. The fact that Adam didn’t recognize Dorsey in a blonde wig brought me back to the Superman comics where I didn’t understand how a pair of glasses really kept Clark Kent from being outed as a super hero. Like, hello, it’s still the same person. How do you not see that? Still, it was a fun read to start out 2018 and I look forward to many more.

Skintight

If you read contemporary romance, you’ve probably heard of Susan Anderson, or have at least seen her pop up on the bestseller list. Skintight is my first look into Anderson’s books and I have a bit to say…

Heat Level:♥♥♥♥♥

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Overall Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers

Treena is a showgirl turned trophy wife, turned widow, turned showgirl yet again, all before she turned thirty-five. She’s trying to put her life together after the death of her much older husband when she meets Jax, a pro poker player who’s bump into her was anything but an accident. In fact, the calculating man is none other than Treena’s late husband’s estranged son and he has more than catching up on his mind.

Used to winning big, Jax had bet a prized, signed baseball at the table. Unfortunately, said ball wasn’t exactly his to bet, and he needs to find his estranged fathers wife to pay his debts. He’s expecting a vapid, shallow, gold digger, but when he meets Treena, he finds that she’s not at all what he expected.

With a pocket of money, a plan to expose her gold digging ways, and a ticking clock, Jax has his work cut out for him as he hides his true identity to get what he sees as his. But as he tries to con her into his trap, he finds it harder to resist the woman he was so prepared to hate. Treena is a wild woman with a big heart that he’s going to have to break.

I thought the book was cute and a nice, light read. But some parts were very slow, making me skip the pages to get to the good stuff. Still, it was well written and the characters were very relatable and likable…well maybe not all the time. It’s hard to really fall for a man when you know he’s going to take a gamble on your heart.

The Eggnog Chronicles

Who here celebrates Christmas? The lights, the fun, the food…for a lot of people it’s a great time to spend with family and friends. But for the three women in The Eggnog Chronicles by Carly Alexander, it’s a time to pray for a miracle.

Heat Level:♥♥♥♥

Genre: Holiday Romance

Overall Rating: 2/6 Glass Slippers

First we meet Jane, a professional woman with daddy issues and a medical problem that takes her high-powered life plans off the rail. While she fights to keep her cool and get well, a man enters her life that might just make her burdens a little easier to bear.

Ricki is a dreamer, waiting for the stars to align so her boyfriend Nate can finalize his divorce. She’s been waiting on him to make the final move so she could have her happily ever after with the man she loves. But as any daytime drama can tell the mistress, they never leave their wife, honey

Finally, Emma takes the stage with a new cohost…a baby in her belly. She didn’t mean to get knocked up during a one night stand behind her man’s back. I mean, she’s still a good person, right? She still deserves some holiday magic, right?

Okay, so let’s start with the positives. The book was very well written and had some really funny parts that added some comedy amidst the cheating woman and cancer diagnosis. But it just wasn’t for me. The idea of the collection with all three women was nice in theory, but it just ended up rushing the endings and leaving a lot of things up in the air with no clear finish.

Then I couldn’t get around Emma’s story. She was a straight up ho. Her man is a great guy and didn’t deserve her cheating on him by having unprotected sex with a guy thinking, “oh, I haven’t gotten pregnant yet! I so won’t this time! Lol.” Really, that’s how you end up with herpes, Emma. So story three was just straight up distasteful for me, and ruined my opinion of the other two women when they told Emma to lie to her man about the parentage of the baby, which was a shame. Maybe if they were three separate books that allowed you to actually like the women, I would have been able to rate it higher.

A Cowboy Under My Christmas Tree

Who here is feeling the holiday spirit? I know I am…as is my bank account after fighting all the rest of the suburban moms for the last Hatchimal…whatever that is. So it’s nice to wind down at the end of the day with something to fill you with some Christmas joy. My first holiday read was A Cowboy Under My Christmas Tree by Janet Dailey.

Heat level:♥

Genre: Sweet Wester Christmas Romance

Overall Rating:5/6 Glass Slippers

Colorado rancher Sam has come to New York City to deliver a bunch of the finest Christmas trees to ever grace the big apple. With his Stetson on his head, he takes on the city and experiences all he can before he has to go back to the family farm at the end of the season. But he thinks he might want to stay in the city a bit longer when he meets Nicole.

Nicole has the brisk ways and fast fast talking nature needed in her line of work–designing and managing renovations. When a workplace accident leaves her one man short, Sam ends in being perfect for the job. He’s got that old school charm she can’t help but admire and his honest ways melt her heart. But there’s a sadness in her life she can’t quite shake, no matter how hard Sam tries to help her.

Janet Dailey is one of those romance authors that always promises a sweet read, and she didn’t disappoint with this book. While Sam spent money like it was his job, while constantly saying he was in NYC to boost his bank account, he was charming and adorably “American” in that rustic way that made you long for your own Christmas cowboy. It took me a bit longer to warm up to Nicole, but when you hear about her past, you begin to understand her struggle. The book was clean, but I wasn’t missing the sex, since the romance was so satisfying. Overall, the book was cute, fun, and perfect for reading beside your tree.

How to be a Mermaid

This afternoon I have a squeaky clean romance with some adorable fantasy elements. Yes, this is a book that’s safe for the youngest of preteens to the oldest of grandmas who like their romances just as sweet as their cookies. So let’s dive in to How to be a Mermaid by Erin Hayes.

Heat Level:♥

Genre: Fantasy Coming of Age Romance

Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Young Tara, fresh out of high school on her gap year, is much like many of us. That is, she’s always wanted to be a mermaid. But since she knows her secret dream is unobtainable, she takes a job as a traveling mermaid in an aquarium show. With the help of a breathing tube and a pull-on tail, she delights children all over America. But things get weird when she things she hears one little dolphin talking.

She thinks she’s lost her mind until she sees a man with a tail climbing out of the ocean. She ends up so startled, she takes a nasty fall on some rocks. Luckily, the merman takes her to his sea witch aunt who knows just the spell to fix her up. When Tara wakes up to find herself breathing water, being able to talk to fish, and halfway to a great adventure with the merman named Finn, she’s about to get more that she bargained for during her summer vacation.

Sure, I usually read some sizzling hot books where the men are ripped, the women are swooning, and there’s more sex than you can shake a stick at, but sometimes it’s nice to just read something sweet. When I say this book is clean, I really mean that there’s not even any hint of sex. It’s just a cute little book where a girl finds herself, solves a crime, and meets a man. Really a story for romance lovers of all ages who want a break from the whips and chains. I know I needed it. It’s also part of a greater series called The Cotton Candy Quintet, so maybe I’ll head back that way the next time I need a breath of clean air.

Hot Item

Who here like romance? Sex? Sports? Comedy? Well, then here’s Hot Item by Carly Phillips, a sports romance that earned its place on the NTY Bestseller’s list. While this is the third book in The Hot Zone series, it can be read as a standalone novel.

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Heat Level: ♥♥♥♥♥

Genre: Sports Romance

Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Sophie Jordan is a boss lady in a man’s world, as she is the co-owner of The Hot Zone, a sports management agency. She’s married to her work, keeping things organized and on track. But when her co-owner sister goes on maternity leave and agent Spenser Atkins goes missing, she’s forced to break a few of her own rules to keep the company going. And one of those rules she’s about to break is the one against dating the athletes.

Riley Nash is one hot quarterback with a history he just can’t escape. When he needs to find the missing Spenser, he hooks up with Sophie and they try to work together to solve the case. But their opposite personalities and obvious attraction complicates things for both of them. When a bad boy and a good good are forced together, things don’t always go according to plan.

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This book is fun, flirty, and just what you like to see with a contemporary romance. The book was a little hard to get into at first, but by the time you get into the storyline and meet the cast, you’re really in for an awesome ride. There’s hot sex, forbidden feelings, family secrets, and a few twists and turns to keep you on your toes. It’s a great book to get into this football season, especially if you’re like me and don’t watch the games

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Dial M for Mischief

Today we have Dial M for Mischief by Kasey Michaels, the first in a romantic mystery series surrounding the Sunshine Girls.

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Heat Level: ♥♥♥♥♥

Genre: Romantic Mystery

Overall Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers

Jolie Sunshine is a Hollywood darling, having lived in the spotlight for years since she had left her private detective father and two sisters behind to try her luck at fame on the big screen. But when her dad is accused of killing someone and then killing himself, she’s  in the public eye in the worse way possible. She and her sisters know their dad isn’t a murder and didn’t commit suicide, but no one else does.

Enter Sam Becket, a millionaire who used to be pretty keen on Jolie until she rode off into the sunset and into a life of fame. When he hears she’s coming home for the funeral, and later the investigation she heads with her sisters, he offered them his house for a base of operations. Sam’s never gotten over Jolie and sees this as his shot to win her back, but the whole murder mystery thing complicates matters and it’ll take more than a bit of flirting to get their romance back on track.

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Dial M for Mischief is a fun enough read with some good, old comedy to lighten up the story. Some of the book is a little repetitive while small portions seemed either drawn out or rushed through for the sake of adding additional plot points. Overall, I think it’s a sexy take on the traditional romantic mystery, and not for those who blush too easily!

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