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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky...Review

About the book:
This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Piper is tired of traveling the world and reviewing hotels. For the last assignment before her sabbatical, she finds herself at a newly opened hotel owned by the first and only man she has ever loved. Gabe is as surprised to see her as she is him and wonders if he will finally get the answers as to why she left so many years ago.

Piper has a lot of baggage from her childhood and Gabe hasn't ever settled down with just one woman since Piper left him when they were 17. As they get reacquainted, Piper not only falls in love all over again with Gabe, but with his daughter as well. She finds herself wondering if she can have a future with both of them.

This is a light, endearing Christmas story. There are the inevitable misunderstandings that really could be worked out with less drama and more communication, but the characters are likeable and the story entertaining. The setting is charming and the story compelling.

Mildy graphic non-marital intimacy.

First in A Town Called Christmas series. The second book, Christmas Under a Starlit Sky is out and follows Neve's story.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Holly Martin on her website. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Read 11/16

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ocean Depths: A Darkness...Spotlight

 About the book:
The first in the Ocean Depths series, and winner of a “Mom’s Choice Award”, a “Pinnacle Award” for YA achievement, and a Finalist for the Beverly Hills Book Award for YA fiction, Ocean Depths: A Darkness tells the story of Callista Sunders, a young woman who has always felt a mysterious pull to the sea. She’s spent entire summers of her childhood swimming and surfing with her twin brother, while her Grandma Anne would tell her old myths about Gods and Kings who used to rule under the ocean. Then, when a disastrous car accident lands her in the water, a chance encounter with a mysterious rescuer leads her to believe there may be more going on beneath the Ocean Depths than she ever realized, and that her family may be tied to these myths in a way she never thought possible. Filled with magic, mystery, and romance, as well as a modern environmental twist on Greek mythology, this is the rare book that a family can enjoy both for its story and message.

About the author:
C. L. Sherman's favorite saying is, 'Find Your Bliss!' That's what she's doing when she writes her Ocean Depths series. It's like reading one of her favorite novels as it unfolds before her. She enjoys nature, the ocean, her family, friends and her pets. Learning about different spiritual ideas is always enlightening for her. A music teacher turned writer, she still enjoys playing Taylor guitar, her Kawai grand piano when she’s not in front of a keyboard.


Thanks to Nick Masercola from FP Media Connect for the opportunity to spotlight this book. You can learn more about C. L. Sherman on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. You can purchase your own copy here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

All I Want for Christmas...Review

About the book:
Christmas comes once a year . . . But true love comes once in a lifetime.

Snowflakes are falling, there’s carol singing on every corner, and Leah Evans is preparing for a family Christmas at her grandmother’s majestic plantation house in Virginia. It won’t be the same now that her beloved Nan is gone, but when Leah discovers she has inherited the mansion, she knows she can give her daughter Sadie the childhood of her dreams.

But there’s a catch. Leah must split the house with a man called David Forester. Leah hasn’t heard that name in a long time. Not since they were kids, when Davey was always there to catch her.

Now David is all grown up. He’s gorgeous, successful, and certain of one thing: Leah should sell him her half of the house.

They can’t agree, but as they share memories over wine by the log fire, Leah notices a fluttering in her stomach. And by the look in his eyes, he’s starting to feel it too.

Will it be Leah or David who must give up their dreams? Or, with a little bit of Christmas magic, will they finally understand Nan’s advice to them both about living life without regrets … and take a chance on true love?

Single mom Leah has always dreamed of taking over her grandmother's plantation and wedding business. When she inherits the plantation after her grandmother's death, she is thrilled at the opportunity. The surprise is that the estate was left to Leah and David, a childhood friend who had a history with the house as well. David wants Leah to sell him her half and Leah is conflicted because while she would gain the financial means to provide for her daughter, she loses the home she loves.

As the two of them prepare to spend Christmas together with their families, Leah wonders if they can come to a compromise.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Everyone of these endearing characters captured my heart. The story had just the right amount of drama and tension without being sappy. Family secrets are uncovered, people fall in love and Christmas is full of magic and miracles.

A charming Christmas story that was the perfect distraction from all the drama on election day. I haven't read Jenny Hale before, but I look forward to more from her.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Jenny Hale on her website. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Read 11/16

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Weekend Reflections 11/26

Looking outside...it's cloudy and cold and windy.

Listening...to my family moving about, the dryer running, the wind blowing outside, a fish tank filter. Just a normal day.

Loving...this Thanksgiving week and reflecting on my blessings.

Thinking...that I need to clean the kitchen.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. We are going out to dinner.

Wearing...denim skirt, black boots, light pink turtleneck and dark purple cardigan.

Hoping...that the snow holds off until The Boy is back at school so he and his friends aren't traveling in it tomorrow.

Reading...I have several books in progress. I haven't done a lot of reading this past week.

Today...went to a baby shower this morning for one of my favorite people. Visited there with friends. Got to hold the baby of another favorite person. It was a good morning!

Quoting..."So may I suggest the secret of Christmas: It's not the things you do at Christmas time, But the Christmas things you do all year through?" -- The Secret of Christmas, Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen

Feeling...I love seeing our Christmas decorations up. We got the tree up and decorated yesterday. The Doctor said that it "feels like the magic is back". And he's right. The Christmas season brings its own special magic with it.

Planning...The Boy is going to come home winter semester and work and then go back to school for Spring semester. His school is on a weird track system. So we are figuring out logistics.

Gratitude...for my family, a warm home and love and laughter.

From my world... 

Some of my gratitudes for this week. I would also add, faith and friends and you, for following, reading and commenting. Thank you!

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, November 25, 2016

5 Books I Want to Read...Christmas

I keep a wish list on Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2547. Yeah. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.

Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my viewing.

How could I not choose Christmas books for the post leading into December? I love Christmas stories. I have collected them for years. I enjoy the fact that many Christmas stories are novellas and easy to read in one or two sittings. They're inspiring and joyful and always have a happy ending.


The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Number one New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury delivers an instant classic with this heartwarming Christmas story about a hundred-year flood, lost love, and the beauty of enduring friendships. Molly Allen lives alone in Portland, but she left her heart back in Tennessee with a man she walked away from five years ago. They had a rare sort of love she hasn’t found since.

Ryan Kelly lives in Nashville after a broken engagement and several years on the road touring with a country music duo. He can still hear Molly’s voice encouraging him to follow his dreams; Molly, whose memory stays with him. At least he can visit The Bridge—the oldest bookstore in historic downtown Franklin—and remember the hours he and Molly once spent there.

For thirty years, Charlie and Donna Barton have run The Bridge, providing the people of middle Tennessee with coffee, conversation, and shelves of good books—even through dismal book sales and the rise of digital books. Then in May, the hundred-year flood swept through Franklin and destroyed nearly every book in the store.

Now the bank is pulling the lease on The Bridge. Despondent and without answers, Charlie considers the unthinkable. Then tragedy strikes, and suddenly, everything changes. In the face of desperate brokenness and lost opportunities, could the miracle of a second chance actually unfold?

The Bridge is a love story set against the struggle of the American bookstore, a love story you will never forget.

The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

For readers of Richard Paul Evans and Greg Kincaid comes The 13th Gift, a heartwarming Christmas story about how a random act of kindness transformed one of the bleakest moments in a family's history into a time of strength and love.

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children--especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their "True Friends." As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

The Christmas Clock by Kat Martin

Sylvia Winters just found a job and an apartment in her hometown of Dreyerville, Michigan, but she is hesitant to return. Eight years ago, she jilted her fiancé, Joe Dixon, telling him that she was moving to Chicago because small-town living was not for her. But she was lying. Syl was headed to Chicago to be treated for cervical cancer. Sadly, Joe never knew the real reason she left him. Confused and distraught, he turned to drinking to heal the pain, until he accidentally killed a man and served years in jail. Now Syl and Joe are both back in town, but it will take a miracle to bring them back into each other’s arms.Also in town is Lottie Sparks and her grandson, Teddy. Ever since Lottie’s daughter was killed in a drunk-driving accident, Lottie’s been in charge of Teddy. He appreciates her love more than she knows, so much so that the industrious eight-year-old hits up Joe’s auto body shop, so he can save enough money by Christmas to buy his grandmother a Victorian clock she adores—one that vividly reminds her of her childhood, even as the rest of her memories are slipping away with the onset of advanced Alzheimer’s.

As spring turns to summer and summer to fall, matters in the Sparks’ household take a turn for the worse. And with winter approaching, will a little hope and a big dose of Christmas magic be enough to make everything all right again?

The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts

Discover an unforgettable holiday treasure in Sheila Roberts' heartwarming tale of love and laughter, magic and miracles, friendship and coming home...

On a blustery afternoon, Kylie Gray wanders into an antique shop and buys an enchanting snow globe. "There's a story behind that snow globe," the antique dealer tells her. The original owner, he explains, was a German toymaker who lost his wife and son right before Christmas. When the grieving widower received the handcrafted snow globe as a Christmas gift, he saw the image of a beautiful woman beneath the glass—a woman who would come into his life, mend his broken heart and bring him back to the world of the living. For years, the snow globe has passed from generation to generation, somehow always landing in the hands of a person in special need of a Christmas miracle.

Kiley could use a miracle herself. This year, all she wants for Christmas is someone to love. A hopeful shake leads her on an adventure that makes a believer out of her. When Kylie shares the story of the snow globe with her best friends—two women with problems of their own—they don't believe it. But they're about to discover that at Christmastime, sometimes the impossible becomes possible and miracles really do come true.

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck

It’s been five years since Avery Truitt and Prince Colin of Brighton Kingdom fell in love. But he broke her heart with no explanation.

Fast forward to present day, and Colin is Brighton’s most eligible bachelor now that cousin Stephen has married. When Avery’s father dies of a heart attack, she puts her life on hold and returns home to St. Simons Island, Georgia, to help Mama with the family restaurant. But Mama misses Avery’s sister Susanna, who lives four thousand miles away in Brighton Kingdom—and is expecting her first child. So Mama insists she and Avery spend the Christmas season in Brighton.

Colin and Avery are going to see each other a lot while she’s visiting. But she can’t forget the way he hurt her, and he didn’t expect his feelings to still be so strong.

Avery is torn between considering a future in Brighton and taking a coaching job in Georgia, and Colin is finally pushed to pursue what he really wants. Is it too late to convince Avery that she is his true love? And even if he does, will she make it to the chapel on Christmas Day to give him her heart?


What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?

5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: Flashlight Commentary, Layered PagesA Bookaholic SwedeThe Maiden's CourtA Literary Vacation.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

1: the act of giving thanks
2: a prayer expressing gratitude
3: a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

The spirit of gratitude is always pleasant and satisfying because it carries with it a sense of helpfulness to others; it begets love and friendship, and engenders divine influence. Gratitude is said to be the memory of the heart. -- Joseph F. Smith

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! May you find many reasons to be grateful today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

#CoverCrush: Thanksgiving

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

Part of the book synopsis says, "This dramatic, highly inventive novel presents the story of one family through many generations, as Thanksgiving dinner is prepared."

The table speaks to me. So rustic. How old is it? How long has it been in this home? How many meals has it served? How many families have sat around it, talking and laughing and sharing?

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered Pages, indieBRAG.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Plain Christmas...Review

About the book:
It’s been nine years since Cuban singer Alejandro Diaz’s limousine collided with a young Amish woman named Amanda Beiler as she was crossing a New York City street—an accident that ignited the couple’s cross-cultural romance. Amanda loves her husband and their three children, but their fast-paced, lavish Miami lifestyle troubles her. Will her kids grow up never knowing what it’s like to simply be, without chauffeurs, social media, and paparazzi complicating their lives? When she receives a letter from her mother in Pennsylvania inviting the family to visit for Christmas, she seizes the chance to show her children a different way of life.

During their weeklong stay among the Amish community of her youth, Amanda and her family will bake cookies and milk cows, sled and crochet—and reconsider what’s truly important in life. As they prepare for their family Christmas holiday, they’ll have to make momentous decisions about their future and what “happily ever after” truly means.

It has been too many years since Amanda Beiler Diaz has been back to her family home in Pennsylvania. Her life is busy and revolves around her husband's singing career and their three children. She loves her life, but there is much she misses and she wonders if her children might be better off not living a rich, lavish life. When her mother writes and asks Amanda to come home for Christmas, she wants to show her children what truly makes life worth living.

Alejandro agrees and the family returns to Pennsylvania for a week. In that week, Amanda appreciates what she has missed out on while living in Miami. As she watches her children bloom in a loving, quieter environment, Amanda realizes that she and Alejandro have some decisions to make.

It was fun to see another Plain Fame book show up in Netgalley. I liked where the series ended in Plain Choice and that book was my favorite of the entire series. But, Plain Christmas picks up some years later and was just as enjoyable. It really brings Amanda and Alejandro's story full circle.

This is actually 6th in the Plain Fame series, but it can be read as a standalone book.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Sarah Price here. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.

Read 10/16

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Monday, November 21, 2016

Caitlyn's Christmas Wish...Spotlight

About the book:
Just when former model and single mother Caitlyn Drevier Reel has finally put her life back on track after a divorce and six-month stint in rehab, she is surprised to receive an invitation from her ex-in-laws to spend Christmas with the family. After all, she reasons, her ex-husband Grant is constantly on the road with his band and it’s only fair to allow them to get to know her son, Brody. What Caitlyn is unprepared for, however, is the burst of attraction she feels for Ridge, Grant’s older brother, and the sense of belonging to their wonderful family once again. Ridge, who is recovering from his own personal heartache, seems to care for her as well. As they work together to ensure the success of the Winter Festival his parents have organized for their small Wyoming town, Caitlyn begins to envision a bright future. But will Grant’s unexpected arrival keep her Christmas wish from coming true?

About the author:
Laura L. Walker grew up in a large family in the beautiful Gila Valley of southern Arizona. From the time Laura was young, ideas for stories bombarded her brain. She would spend hours drawing her characters on paper and fantasizing about their adventures. Life became more serious, however, when Laura met her own hero while at college in northern Arizona and they later became the parents of six children. In between spurts of grocery shopping, sewing costumes for plays, transporting kids to swim or soccer practices, and making dinner, Laura still enjoys putting her imagination to good use. Laura is the author of two LDS contemporary romances, Pierced by Love and The Matchup. Caitlyn’s Christmas Wish is her first e-novella.

Thank you to the author for the opportunity to spotlight her book. You can learn more about Laura Walker on her website and you can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Weekend Reflections 11/19

Looking outside...it's cold and cloudy.

Listening...to silence. The Doctor is at work. The Artist is asleep.

Loving...that I got to see The Boy Tuesday evening. We took him out to dinner and did some grocery shopping. It was so fun. My mom and I had traveled to Eastern Idaho for a funeral the next day. I loved spending a few hours with my boy and being able to see that he has adjusted well to his college life.

Thinking...that my heart is tender. My mom and I drove to Eastern Idaho for the funeral of a dear friend who passed away unexpectedly. I have a million thoughts that are starting to coalesce into something concrete and I may write about it later.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. 

Wearing...red penguin pajamas, black turtleneck and black cardigan.

Hoping...that the snow holds off next week when The Boy is driving home from school. 

Reading...I have a couple of books started. I'm still continuing my Christmas kick.

Today...I need to pay some bills. I hate paying bills.

Quoting..."So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave." -- Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity

Feeling...This week has been slightly calmer on social media, but there are still lots of snarky posts and tweets and comments going back and forth. The internet certainly hasn't made us a kinder people.

The lack of tolerance and inability that people are showing to even listen to an opposing viewpoint shouldn't surprise me, but it does. You can listen to someone else's opinion or view and it doesn't have to be contentious or hate-filled.

Journalism students were once taught not to have bias. That journalistic principle has long flown out the window, as we have learned over the course of this election. It is disappointing to watch how blatant it has become.

Planning...looking ahead to Thanksgiving next week when The Boy will be home! We are having dinner at my Mom's home. As of right now, there are 16 of us. I am bringing the Stuffing, Apple Pie and Raspberry Pretzel Jello Salad, so far...

Gratitude...for my fireplace and my electric blanket. 

From my world... 

I have loved all these Obama/Biden memes that are popping up all over social media. This is one of my favorites.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Childhood Favorites...Heidi

Childhood favorites. Everyone has a favorite book or author from childhood. A book that touched them or changed them. A book that perhaps initiated their love of reading and put them on the path of libraries and learning.

Childhood Favorites is a monthly series focusing on beloved books from the past. 

Donald Zolan, Quiet Time.

Heidi was a book that I read over and over again. There was something magical about Grandfather and that house in the Alps. I was sad for Heidi when she was sent away to Frankfurt, but I loved Clara and their friendship. When Clara came home to Switzerland with Heidi and learned to walk, I rejoiced with them. And when the story was over, I wondered what happened to Heidi and Peter.

I was visiting some friends one day and I have no idea how old I was. Probably early teens. Those friends had two books, Heidi Grow Up and Heidi's Children written by Charles Tritten who was Johanna Spyri's translator and who wrote the books years after her death, based on notes and unfinished writings she left behind. I borrowed them and then set out to find my own copies.

The stories aren't written in the same style or voice as Heidi, but they tell us that Heidi went away to boarding school and came back and married Peter and they had sweet little twins. My copies are both solid blue, like the picture on the above right. But their covers didn't matter. I adored those two books as much as I adored Heidi and I was thrilled to find out what happened to Heidi and Peter as they grew up.

What about you? What is one of your childhood favorites?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

#CoverCrush: How to Find Love in a Bookshop

I will freely admit that I judge books by their covers. The cover is usually what first captures my attention when browsing Goodreads or Netgalley. Actually, in all honesty, it isn't just usually, it's pretty much all the time. The cover determines if I look at the synopsis and reviews.

The title is enough to make me love this cover. But, truly, how can you not like this? The drawing is quaint and the scene idyllic. I can picture myself standing on the street in a quintessential English village, gazing into the bright, inviting window of the bookshop, savoring the moment I walk through the door.

What about you? Any book covers capture your attention this week?

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their Cover Crush posts look like, you can do that here: The Maiden's Court, Flashlight Commentary, A Bookaholic SwedeLayered PagesindieBRAG.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

To Suit a Suitor...Spotlight

About the book:
Julia North is nearing the end of her third London season and has just been jilted. Again! All she wants is to leave London and its eligible gentlemen behind. When the opportunity to leave for two months comes her way, Julia jumps at the chance. But her mother will only let her leave on the condition that she choose Julia's next suitor, and her mother isn't nearly as picky as Julia would like. Against her better judgment, Julia makes the promise and leaves town, only to run into Henry Chamberlain. Julia is warned that his heart is locked up tight, but she doesn't need to be warned away from him; Julia has been jilted enough to know that his flirtatious smiles can't be taken seriously. With time running out, a change of mind and a change of heart is their only chance for the joy that only true love can bring.

About the author:
Paula Kremser began writing while living in England, so choosing to write about the Regency era was no coincidence. She is an avid reader, but decided to write because sometimes stories just didn’t go the way she wanted. She obviously has control issues; just ask her four kids. She hopes to someday win an award for writing, in the meantime, she brags about once winning a bubble gum blowing competition. She continually practices that skill (along with writing) in her new hometown of Sandy, Utah.

Thanks to the author for the opportunity to spotlight her book. You can learn more about Paula Kremser on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Kissing Father Christmas...Review

About the book:
A year-and-a-half ago, Anna flew from Minnesota to Carlton Heath to attend the wedding of her cousin, Ian, to an American woman named Miranda. The beautiful event ended with Anna receiving an unexpected, unforgettable kiss from groomsman Peter. Now Anna is delighted to be invited back for Christmas with her family, dreams of romance dancing in her head. But when she finally sees him again, Peter insists his only interest in Anna is as a friend. Anna is hurt, and becomes even more confused when Peter takes her on a romantic tour of London. Is Anna's heart misleading her, or is there a reason Peter is denying what he feels?

Having attended her cousin Ian's wedding the year before, Anna returns to England for a Christmas visit. Because her first visit ended with a magical kiss from Ian's best friend Peter, Anna is hopeful that there might be a future for the two of them.

It was so fun to revisit Carlton Heath and favorite characters from the Father Christmas series. The Whitcombe and MacGregor families are just as charming here as they are in the first two books. Anna is sweet and Peter's behavior is confusing until he finally shares his secret with her. The story is a quick, easy read and, like the ones before it, a pleasant way to spend an afternoon in front of the fireplace.

A sequel to Engaging Father Christmas, the story does stand alone just fine.

Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Robin Jones Gunn on her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Read 11/16

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Weekend Reflections 11/12

Looking outside...it's cold and cloudy.

Listening...to Hallelujah. So sad to hear that Leonard Cohen died this week. Have you heard Penatonix's version of Hallelujah? It's awesome. Go listen. Right now. It's ok. I'll wait...

Loving...this fall weather. My fireplace has been nice this week. 

Thinking...that I haven't made any political statements on social media. I haven't talked about who I voted for or why. There really isn't any point. But, as I've thought and observed this week, I have some thoughts that just need to come out.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate right now. I have a cup of hot chocolate literally every day. 

Wearing...red penguin pajamas, gray turtleneck and black cardigan.

Hoping...On election day, I chose to go somewhat dark (just an occasional check-in) 
on social media because I knew that watching election returns had the potential to raise my blood pressure and as I had already cast my vote, it was out of my hands at that point. I did some laundry, did some blogging, read 1.5 books and The Doctor and I watched two episodes of The Crown. If you haven't watched it yet, do it. Fantastic. The Doctor did not look at his phone or the computer all evening. He did not know the final outcome until Wednesday morning.

It has been an interesting week post-election. It was fascinating to watch Twitter and CNN implode Tuesday evening. It was devastating to see the fall-out on Wednesday and Thursday and the incredible amount of hatred shown.

I was impressed with the speeches: President-Elect Trump as well as Secretary Clinton and President Obama. It was also gratifying to see the class that President Obama has shown in beginning the transition, but then I expected nothing less. I haven't always voted for the President who was elected, but I have given each one the benefit of doubt and the chance to show me what kind of leader they would be. I will do the same now.

This has been such a polarizing election. As we talked in the days and weeks leading up to the election, The Doctor and I theorized and discussed and came to our own determinations of who we each were voting for and why and what we thought was happening to the country. One of the conclusions we also came to was that we didn't think people realized how many closet Trump voters there would be. We felt like we were seeing a backlash towards 8 liberal years of government and there would be people who would support him, but wouldn't tell anyone. The Clinton campaign and media completely underestimated that fact as it turned out. When that happened, I was reminded of the Carter/Reagan election and polls that had Carter winning everything and then Reagan won.

The hatred being spewed by both sides just breaks my heart. I think everyone had very personal reasons for voting the way they did, regardless of which candidate it was. And for many people, it wasn't simply a cut and dried obvious choice. I know it took me a long time and a lot of thought and research and yes, prayer to finally cast my vote. I think many people on both sides felt that way and voted for someone with whom they didn't agree on everything, but who seemed closer to the values or issues that were important to them, even if it wasn't the whole package. But now, there is so little "meeting in the middle" or listening to each other this week. And tolerance only goes one way. I think that is what has frustrated me the most. Those who preach tolerance have none for those who disagree with them. And had the election outcome been different, it would have all been the same, just reversed.

I think we have such a perfect opportunity to have actual discussions and dialogue and it will never happen. The vitriolic hatred has just stunned me.

I want so badly to believe that Americans will come together. And if Hillary had been elected, the left would be calling for that. Now that Trump was elected, the left is spewing all the hatred and vitriol that they have accused the right of doing all along. And the right is gloating about this win and still spewing hatred. It saddens me. Not every Clinton voter is a babykiller or socialist. Third party voters felt it important to vote their conscience. Not every Trump voter is racist or hatemongering or against women. But to see that there are those who are bullying other people in the wake of this election is horrifying.

Religious or political differences do not equal hate. That is probably the thing that is hardest for me to accept this week in watching the angry fallout. My political ideals have evolved over the years so that I am right of center. I actually fall more in line with a Libertarian view than true conservative. I've never voted a straight party line. (My first election in 1988, I voted for Bush Senior. I had missed voting in 1984 by a month age wise. My next elections in 1992/1996, I voted for Clinton.) That doesn't mean I hate the people whose ideals are extreme left or extreme right of me. Shoot, one of my sisters is left of center and another one is far right. I have friends and family across the spectrum in all aspects: political, religious, orientation, race, nationality, immigrant, and on. Heck, the Doctor is a naturalized citizen, having immigrated 20 years ago. But you know what? I don't categorize anyone. I have friends and family. I don't have gay friends or Muslim friends or Democrat friends. I have friends. I don't have gay family or biracial family or Republican family. I simply have family. They are my family and friends and I love them. The rest doesn't matter. I don't even know how all of my family and friends voted and I don't care.

We all have values that are important to us. We all believe this country is great. Disagreements in belief, whether political or religious should not equal hate. The extremist views on both sides are concerning, but I still believe that America is full of good people who truly do care about each other and this great country. Talk to your children. Teach them that every person has value. Every person is important. There is never a reason to be mean or unkind. Teach them to stand up for others. Step in, stop it, say something. You don't need to become a bully to stop it from happening.

I believe that if we actually took time to listen to each other we would learn a great deal about humanity and compassion and cooperation. Just because a vote differed from yours doesn't mean that person hates you or what you believe in. At least, I hope it doesn't.

Right now, we are in a holding pattern, just like we were at this point 8 years ago. There were unknowns then. We need to have hope and pray. There is structure to our government and there are checks and balances and no President is omnipotent. We also need to speak a little softer. Be aware that everyone has heightened emotions right now, not just you or me. Be kind. Do good. Love is a verb.

Sorry. That got a bit long-winded.

Reading...I've been on a Christmas book kick. I've discovered far too many Christmas stories languishing on my Kindle and I've been working my way through them. It's been rather fun. I posted reviews this week for Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake and For Sale by Owner. It's been nice to get back into reading for fun.

Today...we're putting up the outside Christmas lights. We won't turn them on until the day after Thanksgiving, but if we don't put them up now, we run the risk of it being too cold and frosty/snowy to climb on the roof.

Quoting..."I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it'll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. And I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turnin' back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holdin' on to something. That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for." -- Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien

Feeling...So tired. So life weary. It's my standard answer, but it's so true.

Planning...we are in the midst of planning and decision-making. It's a time of change in many ways for us right now.

Gratitude...for the privilege of living in America. For being able to vote my choice. 

From my world... 

Sam is my favorite. He's the true hero of Lord of the Rings. And I believe that there is so much good in this world. And I have faith that this amazing country of ours can somehow come together and heal from this divisive election and hateful rhetoric.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake...Review

About the book:
Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake is a truly heart-warming and hilarious read about sisters, love and finding the courage to be yourself – one snowflake at a time.

For Tamsin Angel, Christmas is always the biggest and best… chic parties and a little showbiz sparkle are a must. This year though, things aren’t going quite as planned…

With bailiffs suddenly at the door and her husband nowhere to be found, it looks like Christmas just got downsized. Moving into her sister’s one-bedroom flat, she wonders whether things will ever be the same again.

After losing her husband on Christmas Eve, Sam Angel has rebuilt her life around her son Jacob and her new business – The White Angel Bakery. She’s also found herself a very handsome, loving boyfriend, but is struggling to let go of the past.

Thrown together with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, Sam and Tamsin might just learn a little more about each other – and themselves. But when disaster strikes at the bakery, will they be able to save the day in time for Christmas?

I love books about sisters, because I have 3 sisters myself. So a book about sisters, set at Christmas is right up my alley. I liked Sam immediately, but struggled at first to like Tamsin. However, she grew on me, outrageous behavior and all. The secondary characters are hilarious and add some depth.

The story alternates first-person chapters from each sister's point of view. Normally, I wouldn't like this, but it works here and it's nice to get the different perspectives and insight. Each sister has her challenges to overcome and it's together that they are able to do so.

There is mild sexual content and minimal profanity. The story is light and predictable, but funny and a bit heart-warming.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Sue Watson here. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Read 11/16

* * *
3/5 Stars