4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

ARC Review | Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

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Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell 

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Amberjack

Pages: 337

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about bloggers and the internet life, fun but serious young adult novels, mother daughter dynamics

Foodie Vibes: candy corn and a Halloween movie to watch with your not yet boyfriend 

 

Synopsis: 

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Amberjack, and Kara McDowell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Just for Clicks centers around Claire, Poppy – her twin sister, and their mother. Since they were little girls Claire and Poppy have been vlogging, blogging and doing all sorts of paid sponsorships for their mom’s online brand. The blog started as a way for their mom to share their family moments with friends and also allowed her to support herself and her family after her husband passed away. 

I like that the book explores how a well intentioned start can spiral a bit out of control if one doesn’t stop to reevaluate their life choices every so often. Also the contrast between Claire not enjoying the Internet fandom and Poppy loving it, allows for an interesting multifaceted look at the internet life a s career. Neither twin is wrong, just different. It’s nice to see that there’s not the good twin, bad twin dynamic going on. I also appreciated that communication played a big role in the story. Watching the characters learn how to communicate their needs to others was wonderful. And some of the revelations … let’s just say, it keeps things interesting!

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. If I’m being very critical, then some of the miscommunications or non communications became almost annoying after awhile. 

But overall, I really enjoyed this fun upbeat look into the behind the scenes world of internet fame as a career. Complex relationships, relatable struggles and a whole lot of fun. Definitely recommend!

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

How do you deal with the downsides of blogging? 

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Domestic Fiction · romance

ARC Review | A Sister’s Survival by Cydney Rax

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A Sister’s Survival by Cydney Rax

Published: November 27, 2018

Publisher: Dafina

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, romance, domestic fiction

Rating: 2.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about complex but strong relationships

Foodie Vibes: home cooked meal — potato salad, collard greens, cornbread 

 

Synopsis:

To keep their family ties strong, the five Reeves sisters meet regularly to give each other a reality check. But explosive family secrets begin to pour out like molten lava, and forever change all they treasure most . . .
 
After a shattering revelation, youngest sister Elyse struggles to overcome the sexual abuse that nearly destroyed her. Between her tough eldest sister, Alita, and a promising fresh start with a new man, she’s finding the strength to make the most of her fierce intelligence. But Elyse still has a score to settle with the perfect sister she feels betrayed by—and she’s going after everything Burgundy can’t afford to lose . . .
 
 Coco thinks her useless baby daddy is finally about to commit—until she catches him with a woman who’s everything she’s not. As she tries to move on with her life, she can’t resist carrying out the ultimate revenge. But when she inadvertently gets caught up in Elyse’s plan, she must reveal an unforgivable truth that could crush any chance these sisters have to make things right.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dafina and Sydney Rax for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Trigger warning: sexual assault

A Sister’s Survival has a great premise, but didn’t end up being the right book for me. I liked that the female characters had strong supportive relationships. They felt comfortable discussing times they were sexually assaulted. Another book that fits in perfectly with the #MeToo Movement. It’s rare that people feel comfortable discussing such horrific circumstances with others. So I appreciated that the book was able to shine a light on living your life after sexual assault.

However, there is so much drama. Over the top drama, which was a bit much for me. There’s also a lot of cheating on others, which I’ve stated before that I’m not a fan of. Sleep with whomever you want, as long as it’s consensual and safe, but please don’t cheat. It does show that people are human though. Another aspect that frustrated me was the lack of continuity between chapters. Information that made me question if I had accidentally skipped pages, because it wasn’t make sense to me.

Overall, a good representation of characters that I don’t often see in books. But too much drama and inconsistencies for me to really get into the story.

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Medical · mental health · non fiction · Self Help

When Life Hits the Fan: A Mindful Guide to Caring for Yourself While Caring For Others by Janet Fouts

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When Life Hits the Fan: A Mindful Guide to Caring for Yourself While Caring For Others by Janet Fouts

Published: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Tatu Digital Media

Pages: 162

Genres: non fiction, self help, mental health, medical

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: resources to help with caregiving, all types of caregivers, learning to cope with the demands of caregiving – sanely

Foodie Vibes: quick nutritious cheap meals to fuel you for all the demands of the day

 

Synopsis:

More than 44 million Americans provide care for family members and friends with chronic illness or conditions that require day to day assistance.

In general, caregivers do this out of real compassion and love, or a sense of duty for the person they are caring for.

Often they find themselves thrown into roles that are unfamiliar and sometimes scary; like managing through the medical and insurance system to gain the best possible care for their loved one or understanding the options in the middle of a medical emergency. Stress levels can go through the roof, and over time stress wreaks havoc on the caregiver as well as their loved one.

If the caregiver also has a family, a job, and other responsibilities and caring for their loved one is added to their current roles. While it is a labor of love, it can be exhausting over time, and things start to fall through the cracks, including caring for their own health.

When Life Hits the Fan shares the experiences of a number of caregivers and activities that they can do to take care of themselves, body and soul. The practices in the book come from the author’s training in mindfulness, emotional intelligence and positive psychology as well as her own caregiving journey.

With a practical approach to stress reduction and easy to follow exercises, When Life Hits the Fan helps us understand what’s going on inside our minds and our bodies and ways to create resilience and care for ourselves.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Tatu Digital Media and Janet Fouts for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book is exactly what I needed to read, as a caregiver. Seriously, if you’re a caregiver in any form, then you need to read the book. The information was so relatable, honest and helpful that I’m going to check out the author’s website for even more caregiving resources.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “care for the caregiver.” It is absolutely true. We can’t take care of everyone else without first taking care of ourselves. It’s simply not sustainable in the long run. And most of us are caregivers, in some capacity, for the long term. The author teaches that your compassion needs to extend to yourself or it’s incomplete. So true!

The book is short but packed with helpful information and compassion. The author truly gets what it’s like to be a caregiver. The self care suggested is practical, affordable, generally short in duration, and can be done almost anywhere. I’ve heard some of these suggestions before, but it’s nice to have it all in one book.

When Life Hits the Fan would be great for reading while waiting for your loved one’s appointments, during a few minutes of downtime, etc. The book is accessible, helpful and comes from a compassionate place. I highly highly recommend it if you’re a caregiver in any capacity. 

 

How many of you are caregivers?

What do you do for self care?

 

————————————

 

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · fiction · POC · romance · Women's Fiction

Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

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Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

Published: July 3, 2012

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Pages: 302

Genres: chick lit, romance, contemporary romance, fiction, POC

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: fun books that make you happy, Bollywood movies, great friends, cross continental romance

Foodie Vibes: authentic Indian treats made and enjoyed with loved ones

 

Synopsis:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.
Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé.
Life is less complicated in New York.
Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Entangled Publishing, and Nicola Marsh for an ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

One word to describe this book: FUN! It’s a feel good book filled with great Indian food, romance-love and arranged, wonderful friendships, fun cultural adventures, and just enough family drama to keep things interesting. When I think about Busted in Bollywood, I am filled with images of color, Indian delicacies, and pure joy. The book version of a Bollywood movie, that I can’t get enough of.

The story is set in New York City and India, both bustling vibrant cities, perfect for this whirlwind of a story. I loved the underlying focus on true relationships – family, friendships, and romantic. It’s not just a silly book, but is filled with great depth. 

Occasionally I wasn’t sure about the main character’s relationship. And I wanted to hear more about her friend’s relationship. 

But overall a fun joyful book that I highly recommend, to put you in a good mood.

 

Have you watched a Bollywood movie before? What did you think?

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · Literary Fiction · mental health · Young Adult

Drowning In Light by Anna Benoit

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Drowning in Light by Anna Benoit

Published: August 5, 2017

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 350

Genres: young adult, coming of age, literary fiction, mental health

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: flawed characters, books about drug abuse

Foodie Vibes: meals you don’t finish, more alcohol and pills can you can comprehend 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started with a single pain pill.

Up until that pill, high school junior Matt Davidson had it all—or, at least, everyone thought he had it all. A star athlete from a good family, no one suspected the trouble lurking beneath Matt’s carefully constructed façade. And Matt was just fine with that. Because if anyone could hear the dark thoughts that cluttered his mind, they’d know what a selfish, miserable mess he really was.

Matt thinks he can stop. He knows he can stop. And he will, just not yet. Because nothing but the pills can give him a break from his thoughts. Nothing else makes him invincible. Nothing else halts the sinking spiral of his depression.

Nothing… until he meets Amy, a mysterious and beautiful classmate who sparks a passion in him he’s never felt before. As their relationship progresses, Matt knows he can’t have them both. But he also knows he needs his pills. And when he’s finally forced to choose, the decision isn’t as easy as he’d hoped.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Anna Benoit for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Drowning in Light tells the story of Matt, a guy in high school. On the outside he seems to have to all. But if you look closer, his dad’s abusive and has alcohol problems of his own. His mom means well, but doesn’t realize the extent of her son’s problems. She’s content to let things go and believe it will all work out in the end. Matt struggles with drug abuse that has him in a downward spiral. He’s miserable, not coping well, and really doesn’t have a handle on anything anymore. 

The book is not your typical manic pixie dream girl type story. It’s real, raw and complex. His friend/girlfriend doesn’t magically make things better. She tries to help, but has her own baggage to deal with so it’s not a perfect recovery story by any means. I like that it’s a fairly realistic story of drug abuse. I don’t have personal experience with drug abuse, so maybe I’m way off base here. 

However, it was very frustrating at times to read about all of his mistakes and refusal for help. I felt very annoyed towards Matt at times. Also his lifestyle wasn’t that enjoyable to read about. Duh, it’s drug abuse, doing whatever you need to score more pills, and lying to everyone. But I guess I was hoping for more positivity at some point. I was also so frustrated with the adults in his life. Nobody was taking responsibility for making sure Matt got the help he so desperately needed. 

All in all, a realistic portrayal of drug abuse that made for a frustrating read. A good book that doesn’t gloss of the difficult parts of mental illness and drug abuse. 

 

Are you a fan of books with flawed characters? 

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · suspense · thriller

ARC Review | The Au Pair

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The Au Pair 

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 368

Genres: thriller, suspense, domestic fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: the Roanoke Girls, unsettling families, books about houses that take on a story of their own, twin mysteries 

Foodie Vibes: apricots fresh off the trees

 

Synopsis:

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley Books, and Emma Rous for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me.

The Au Pair is an almost other worldly tale of a family who lives at Summerbourne, the massive infamous property. One summer they hire Laura to be the au pair to Edwin, their young son. We soon learn that there is something odd about the family. Twins are common at Summerbourne, but twins never last. Myths, creepy stories, and tall tales are spread by the towns people about the happenings at the house. It makes for a creepy, suspense filled and almost cultish read. I love it! The property and strong family matriarch, Vera, set up the entire story. There is a certain undeniable, almost indescribable feel to the book. It gets under your skin and doesn’t let up, forcing your to keep turning the pages.

The book starts out in 2017 right after the adult childrens’ father has died. After some strange happenings and unanswered questions Seraphine, the daughter, decides she will get her answers about her mysterious family once and for all. The chapters alternate between present day and 1993, right before Seraphine and her twin brother are born. It’s an effective way to tell the story. 

However between the changes in time and confusion about identity, I had a bit of trouble distinguishing between a few non central characters. Eventually I figured it out, but it was frustrating. Also, I wish Laura was a more well defined character. She’s meant to be a more submissive personality, compared to all the Summerbournes. However, Laura plays such a vital role in the story that she needed more depth and influence. 

All in all, the intensity, suspense, and family secrets make The Au Pair an undeniably good read.

 

If you could have a home anywhere in the world, where would it be located?

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christmas · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Holidays · romance

Release Day | Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle

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Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle

Published: October 16, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Pages: 352

Genres: Christmas, holiday, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: cozy reads, small businesses, books that remind you of the reason for the season

Foodie Vibes: hot chocolate with a fire roasted marshmallow and beautifully decorated Christmas cookies

 

Synopsis: 

A holiday retelling of You’ve Got Mail that will make you fall in love with the Christmas Season!

Angela Carson wants nothing more than to be the third-generation to run her family’s holiday store, Heart of Christmas, successfully. They’ve weathered over sixty tourist seasons, major hurricanes, and urban sprawl, in their old decommissioned lighthouse. But the national chain that set up shop in their small North Carolina town of Pleasant Sands may be more than Heart of Christmas can survive.

Geoff Paisley has been at his mother’s side running the mega-chain Christmas Galore for the last ten years. When his mother falls ill, Geoff promises to answer the town’s Dear Santa letters in her stead. Soon he realizes the woman he’s been corresponding with on Dear Santa is Angela. How could the woman that grates his every last nerve in person have intrigued him so deeply through those letters?

Encouraged by her niece to ask Santa for help, Angela gives in and lets the words fly in a way that, if Santa were real, would no doubt land her on the naughty list. What’s the harm when it’s just a computer-generated response?

When Geoff reveals that he’s her Dear Santa, will Angela be able to set aside their very public feud to embrace the magic of the holiday and possibly find true love?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Griffin, and Nancy Nail for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Dear Santa is a sweet heartfelt Christmas story that reminds you of the true reason for the season. Angela owns the Heart of Christmas, a one of a kind shop that’s been in her family for years. They sell high quality hand made Christmas decorations. When a new big box style Christmas store comes into town, Angela’s business takes another hit on top of her already foundering business. The book encourages us to look at what’s really important to us, our families and our communities. Will Angela get some help from Santa this year?

I loved the setting. A quaint beachside town isn’t what you first think of for a Christmasy book, but it works perfectly. The passion Angela has for her town, the history and townspeople absolutely makes the book so special. You can feel the true magic of the holidays on each page. The descriptions of her Christmas store made me feel as if I was right there, surrounded by all the twinkly lights, fresh cut trees, and handcrafted ornaments. The scent of gingerbread and peppermint mochas waft through the air. The book is such a cozy holiday read that I can’t get enough.

However, there isn’t much romance. The story focuses more on Angela’s love for her family, business, and town than a new love interest. At least until the last, maybe 20%. It’s very sweet and happily ever after, so that helps. Also there was a lot of tension and arguing in parts. Completely authentic to the story, but sometimes you don’t want to read about stress and tension. Luckily most is about the wonderful moments of Christmastime. 

All together, Dear Santa captures the true magic of Christmas with all the cozy feels. 

 

What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · feminism · memoir

ARC Book Review | Freedom is an Inside Job by Zainab Salbi

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Freedom is an Inside Job: Owning Our Darkness and Our Light to Heal Ourselves and the World by Zainab Salbi

Published: October 2, 2018

Publisher: Sounds True

Pages: 184

Genres: memoir

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: enlightening personal exploration, learning to forgive people who have hurt you, stories of women who grew up in Iraq

Foodie Vibes: homemade authentic Iraqi meals shared with family

 

Synopsis:

By all appearances, Zainab Salbi has had an impressive life. Growing up as the daughter of Saddam Hussein’s personal pilot, she eventually became a celebrated humanitarian and activist. Yet, as she was helping thousands of women in war-torn countries, Salbi’s personal life was coming to a crisis. In Freedom Is an Inside Job, Salbi explores her own riveting journey to wholeness—and how embarking on such a journey enables each of us to create the world we want to live in.

After years of working as a successful CEO and change-maker, Salbi realized that if she wanted to confront and heal the shadows of the world, she needed to face her own shadows first—and this could only be done by looking within. Through personal anecdotes, real-life stories, parables, and insightful guidance, Salbi takes us through a process of self-discovery. We learn to uncover our hidden motives and desires so we can live in alignment with our authentic values. “As long as we are conflicted within, we will continue to live in conflict without,” writes Salbi. “If we want to change the world, we must begin with ourselves.”

 

Review:

I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads, Sounds True Publishing, and Zainab Salbi for a free ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Zainab Salbi’s story takes us from her childhood in Iraq to an arranged marriage in America to founding an organization to help women all over the world. She’s very accomplished. The book is her life story along with all the lessons she’s learned along the way. 

Her story is unique, yet many women can relate to her emotions and lessons learned. I liked that we get a peek into daily life of women living in Iraq at that time, not just what the U.S. mainstream media was delivering – a very limited, one sided view of the world. The life lessons of forgiveness, shame and fear, taking inventory of one’s inner self, and rediscovering your feelings is a main focus. There’s a lot to learn from her experiences and revelations.

However as great as her story is, it isn’t captivate me personally. It’s not boring by any means, but jumps around a bit. Also some parts feel like a therapy session for her; a book of remorse and past mistakes. It’s important to acknowledge but it dominated a lot of the chapters.

Overall, the story of the author’s life combined with the lessons she learned pull together to educate, inspire and enlighten others. The cons of the book made it not quite as enjoyable as I had hoped.

 

 

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christmas · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Holidays · romance

New Release | Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman

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Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Aria 

Pages: 426

Genres: contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, romance, Christmas, holidays 

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: sweet holiday romances that aren’t over the top Christmasy, the movie The Holiday, relaxing beachside vacations that make you so badly want to be there 

Foodie Vibes: mug of hot cocoa and homemade Christmas cookies ~ so cozy 

 

Synopsis:

The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Karen Swan.

As the snowflakes start to fall, the village of Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…

For lifestyle magazine journaist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around’…

So Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air, and rugged stranger Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart.

Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Chiristmas wishes might just come true…

Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly rugged Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands; the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.

As cosy as a marshmallow-topped cup of cocoa, fall in love with a heart-warming festive story from the bestselling author of The French Adventure.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Aria Books and Lucy Coleman for the ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

My rating is actually 4.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I always round up.

Please transport me to Holly Cove right now! The beauty and unpredictability of the ocean, the picturesque views, kind people, and relaxing atmosphere is amazing. It sounds like the perfect place for me.

Tia is sent to Holly Cove by her boss months before the holiday season. She works at a magazine that’s planning to feature couples in love in a series of articles around the holiday season. Tia’s also had a rough time in her personal life and even had to take time off of work. She’s given six weeks to relax, recharge and also interview the couples/create all of the magazine content. It’s a sweet gesture by her boss, but is it only that?

I loved the people in Holly Cove. They’re nice, introverted, private and a little awkward but mean well. All in all, they’re my kind of people. The setting is gorgeous beyond gorgeous. Seriously, take me there! The relationships are slowly revealed over time, unravelling the nuances and hurt from many years.

The book is so lovely. However, if I’m being nit picky, Tia’s relationship with Nic was not surprising, but the readers needed more hints as to what she was thinking. It seemed to happen quickly, even though it didn’t.

All in all, Snowflakes Over Holly Cove is a wonderful book to read anytime of year. The holiday season will make it extra special. I definitely recommend this cozy relaxing read.

 

What’s your favorite winter holiday tradition?