2017 Monthly Status Update: November

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I was NOT a good reader this month. Between working way too many hours and the holidays and trying to actually be a human being sometimes, I fell really behind this month. I don’t have many reviews scheduled for December, and I’m hoping things will calm down at work (although I’ve been saying that for over a month) and I’ll be able to catch up a little. And I can’t wait for CHRISTMAS!!!! So below is my progress for November:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 5
# pages read this month: 1,492
# books read year-to-date: 96
# pages read year-to-date: 28,659

Favorite Books I Read:

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The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers – 4.75 stars (great read!)

Other Posts this month:

Romancing the Scot BLOG TOUR!!

Status of 2017 Reading Challenges:

  1. Finish 2016 ARC’s from NetGalley that I missed – Still have 26 more to go, plus going to have another 30ish from 2017. Shouldn’t sign up for any 2018 reviews and should just read my backlog LOL – but looks like its already too late for that
  2. Participate in 2 reading challenges – During May I participated in the Bout of Books challenge and during August I participated in ARC August so this Goal is checked!
  3. Other goals:
    1. Write shorter reviews – I think I’m doing better at this, this past month I was able to get out a few shorter ones
    2. Continue establishing relationships – I think I’m doing it, we’ll see how it goes I guess!

Next Month TBR List:

I only have a few scheduled reviews for December so I’m hoping to use any extra room to catch up on the backlog and also to read some books I’ve borrowed from friends and haven’t read (I am awful at that – don’t lend me books if you want them back). Below is my TBR list for December deadlines only though, I’ll keep it loose on the backlog catch up and see how things go. Make sure to check back regularly for some great reads this month as I catch up on my backlog!

-The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
-The Dry by Jane Harper (I’ll be participating in an online book discussion for this one, read it too so you can join in on the discussion!)

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Romancing the Scot BLOG TOUR!!

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Romancing the Scot was released TODAY Tuesday, November 14th, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book under Book Reviews on my site (hopefully within the next day!). See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt! This was a good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

Hugh Pennington—Viscount Greysteil, Lord Justice of the Scottish Courts, hero of the Napoleonic wars—is a grieving widower with a death wish. When he receives an expected crate from the continent, he is shocked to find a nearly dead woman inside. Her identity is unknown, and the handful of American coins and the precious diamond sown into her dress only deepen the mystery.

Grace Ware is an enemy to the English crown. Her father, an Irish military commander of Napoleon’s defeated army. Her mother, an exiled Scottish Jacobite. When Grace took shelter in a warehouse, running from her father’s murderers through the harbor alleyways of Antwerp, she never anticipated bad luck to deposit her at the home of an aristocrat in the Scottish Borders. Baronsford is the last place she could expect to find safety, and Grace feigns a loss of memory to buy herself time while she recovers.

Hugh is taken by her beauty, passion, and courage to challenge his beliefs and open his mind. Grace finds in him a wounded man of honor, proud but compassionate. When their duel of wits quickly turns to passion and romance, Grace’s fears begin to dissolve…until danger follows her to the very doors of Baronsford. For, unknown to either of them, Grace has in her possession a secret that will wreak havoc within the British government. Friend and foe are indistinguishable as lethal forces converge to tear the two lovers apart or destroy them both.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

May McGoldrick author pic.jpgAuthors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying tales of love and danger. Publishing under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authors have written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction for Penguin Random House, Mira, HarperCollins, Entangled, and Heinemann. Nikoo, an engineer, also conducts frequent workshops on writing and publishing and serves as a Resident Author. Jim holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much Ado About Highlanders, Taming the Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands with SMP Swerve.

BUY IT HERE! 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0746MLYFZ
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/romancing-the-scot-may-mcgoldrick/1126839723
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781250166906
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/romancing-the-scot
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=7v8tDwAAQBAJ

EXCERPT

51HC8Rw+H2LExcerpt: Romancing the Scot by May McGoldrick

Looking the shipping crate over for damage and seeing none, he retrieved an iron crow from a workbench. Jo was standing inside the doors, eyeing the box doubtfully from a safe distance.

“Come closer. It won’t bite.”

“Not a chance. From the smell of that thing, a person would think you’re importing cadavers. Have you also taken up being a Resurrectionist as a hobby?”

He patted the crate affectionately. “This sweet thing has been sitting in the bowels of a ship from Antwerp. You know what the hold of a ship smells like?”

“Actually, I don’t.” She held a handkerchief to her nose and drew closer. “But I think you’re correct with the reference to ‘bowels.’”

Hugh took the first nail out. “Well, stand back, since you’ve become so prissy. Though I recall a younger version of you leading the rest of us through bogs and marshes that smelled no better.”

“Of course! But as I recall, we had frogs and turtles and the occasional dragon that needed hunting,” she replied with a smile. “Very well. Open it and let’s see this treasure of yours.”

Prying off the top took him only a moment. Throwing it to the side, he pulled back the tarp that covered the basket and then stared curiously at the dark green rags bundled at the bottom.

Leaning in, Hugh’s enthusiasm evaporated as a horrid realization settled in. This was no pile of old clothing. A shock of blond hair. A shoe. A hand. The body of a dead woman lay curled up in the gondola.

“Bloody hell.”

“What is it?” Immediately, Jo was at his side. “Good God!”

Hugh climbed in and crouched beside the body. He took her hand. She was cold to the touch. His heart sank. The crate had been shipped from Antwerp. To be trapped for so many days with no water, no food, in the cold and damp of the ship’s hold. He had no idea who this woman was or how she came to be in here.

The thought struck him. Perhaps it wasn’t an inadvertent act. Perhaps she was murdered and her body had been dumped into the crate.

Dismay and alarm clawed at him as he pushed away the matted ringlets of golden hair. She was young. He lifted her chin. The body had none of the stiffness of postmortem. He stared at her lips. He may have imagined it but they seemed to have moved.

“Bright . . .” The whisper was a mere rustle of leaves in a breeze.

The fingers jerked and came to life, clutching at his hand.

“She’s not dead,” he called to Jo, relieved. “Send for the doctor. I’ll take her to the house.”

His sister ran out, calling for help, and he lifted the woman. She emitted a low groan. Her limbs had been locked in the same cramped position for so many days. Hugh propped her over the side of the gondola.

“Stay with me,” he encouraged. “Talk to me.”

Holding the woman in place, he clambered from the basket and then gently lifted her out, cradling her in his arms. She weighed next to nothing.

As they went out into the rain, he feared she was about to die. The exertion of trying to breathe showed on her face. He’d seen this on the battlefield. The final effort before death.

Starting up the path, he stumbled, not realizing the woman’s skirts were dragging on the ground. He staggered but caught himself before they went down. Her head lolled against his chest, her face gray and mask-like. She appeared to be slipping away. It would be a shame that she’d survived the crossing only to perish now.

A dagger point of anger pierced Hugh’s brain as he recalled another dismal day when he’d lifted two other bodies, wrapped in burial shrouds, from a wooden box.

“Talk to me,” he ordered. “Say something.”

As he made his way up the hill toward the house, a bolt of lightning streaked across the sky above Baronsford. Thunder shook the ground and the sky opened, unleashing fierce torrents of rain on them.

His wife. His son. Hugh hadn’t been there for them. They’d died as he and the British army were being chased by the French across Spain. He’d been trying to save his men’s lives, not knowing that those most precious to him were suffering.

“You’ve survived a horrifying ordeal. Give me the chance to save you.”

The woman struggled weakly in Hugh’s arms, and her head tipped back. He watched as her lips parted, welcoming the wetness of the falling rain.

“We’re almost there.”

“Bright . . .” she murmured.

He looked into her face and saw she was trying hard to open her eyes.

“Yes, brighter than that crate,” he said, encouraged by her effort. Any movement, however small, gave him hope. “And you’ve been in there for Lord knows how long.”

ST. MARTIN’S PRESS HOLIDAY ROMANCE BLITZ – BLOG TOUR POST

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St. Martin’s Press has some GREAT books coming out this month and to celebrate I’m participating in their blog tour blitz! I’ll also be reading a few of these books so make sure to stay tuned for those as well! There are some wonderful looking books they’ll be releasing and some good authors, I’d recommend everyone go check out a few! See below for some information about the books and authors and an author Q&A!

ABOUT THE BOOK & BUY LINKS

A Season of You_Cover ImageA Season of You by Emma Douglas

Jacket Summary:

It’s Christmastime in the quaint island town of Cloud Bay, where love is always in season…

Will has believed in love at first sight since the day he first laid eyes on Mina Harper five years ago. There was only one problem: She was happily married. Then, when Mina’s husband was killed by a drunk driver, Will figured she’d want nothing to do with a guy who owns a whiskey distillery. So he’s kept his feelings locked away, knowing that not even a Christmas miracle would be enough to melt Mina’s heart. . .

Mina believes her days of true love are behind her. Since losing her husband she’s kept to herself, content to do her own painting and stay out of the limelight that comes with her famous family. But when, after a freak accident, Will comes to her rescue, Mina can’t quite get him out of her mind. As curiosity turns into a fling during Cloud Bay’s first Christmas Festival, she finds it harder to convince herself that her feelings for Will are just mistletoe-inspired. Could Mina be ready to lay the past to rest and finally admit that what she really wants for Christmas—and forever—is Will?

Buy Link:

http://smpromance.com/contemporary/a-season-of-you/

Christmas in Kilts_CoverChristmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbain, Lecia Cornwall, Brownwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, May McGoldrick

Jacket Summary:

Tis the season to fall in love! These five bestselling authors bring you great tiding of highlanders and romances this holiday season!

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin
A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander who visits for the holidays and brings with him an offer and hope.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall
When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans
She’s ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he’s trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family’s wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent
What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas… maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick
An encounter between an English officer and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

 Buy Link:

http://smpromance.com/historical/christmas-in-kilts/

Christmas at Two Love Lane_CoverChristmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Jacket Summary:

The best gift of all is the one you share with someone else. . .

From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn’t a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry—just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.

Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously—how could she not, when she’s rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he’s just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love…for real. And Deacon can’t help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it’s the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who’s become Deacon’s favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?

 Buy Link:

http://smpromance.com/contemporary/christmas-at-two-love-lane/

Hope at Christmas_CoverHOPE AT CHRISTMAS by Nancy Naigle

Jacket Summary:

Sydney Ragsdale is divorced, but her husband is still calling the shots. In an attempt to shake free from his hold, she and her daughter, RayAnne, head for tiny Hopewell, North Carolina to the only asset her ex has no control over – a decaying farmhouse that once belonged to her grandparents. She finds solace at The Book Bea, the bookstore she’d loved as a child during her summer stays.

Kevin MacAlea, Mac to his friends, is the local high school history teacher and baseball coach. Father of a twelve-year-old son, he’s Hopewell, North Carolina’s most sought after bachelor. His young bride abandoned him and his son just before Christmas and has never come back. It has left his son bitter about Christmas which is hard for Mac who loves the magic of the season. He’s been the Santa here in Hopewell since the year Seth was born.

When a catastrophe forces The Book Bea to close before the end of the year, everyone in the small town is feeling the loss. While Sydney is already off-balance by the bad news, her ex-husband breaks a promise to their daughter that sends Ray Anne running away. As Sydney tries to figure out what her next steps are she discovers all of the answers are right here in Hopewell.

 Buy Link:

http://smpromance.com/contemporary/hope-at-christmas/

 Deck the Halls_CoverDeck the Halls by Donna Alward

Jacket Summary:

With shades of It’s a Wonderful Life, one man must face his past to find his future this Christmas.

In the last year, George’s life has drastically changed. The formerly homeless veteran now has a job he likes, a family in the residents of Darling, VT, and for the first time in years, a home. But while his present is good, he’s still haunted by the past, a past that appears shortly before Christmas when the older sister of his brother-in-arms hunts him down and finds him in Darling, working at the Ladybug Garden Center.

Amy’s looking for closure for her family after her brother’s death in the Middle East, but the serious man she finds working in Vermont doesn’t resemble the soldier she remembers from years before. This man is hardened and yet somehow fragile, too, and in her desire to find out what really happened to her brother, she learns more about George than she ever expected.

With a little Christmas magic and the whole town supporting them, can these two bruised hearts make a future together?

Buy link:

http://smpromance.com/contemporary/deck-the-halls/

The Christmas Cowboy Hero_CoverThe Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

Jacket Summary:

New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant returns to Texas, where a small-town legend just might find the greatest gift of all. . .

’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays—even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.

Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wits’ end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby—and the inescapable longing in his heart—off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?

Buy Link:

http://smpromance.com/contemporary/the-christmas-cowboy-hero/

With This Christmas Ring_CoverWith this Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

Jacket Summary:

A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever–on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can’t let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

Buy Link: http://smpromance.com/historical/with-this-christmas-ring/

 

AUTHOR Q&A

Donna Alward_Marti Corn PhotographyDonna Alward

When do the holidays official start for you?

December 1 – or the weekend just preceding it. That’s when we get out the decorations and go crazy.

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

THE MOVIES. I love sitting with my kids (who are of the nearly-adult variety) and watching holiday movies with a glass of wine or hot cocoa.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Tons! There are certain things we bake. We have a whole bunch of Christmas Eve traditions, including a barbecue (steak!), putting presents under the tree, going for a drive to see the lights, and watching The Polar Express. And even at their age, they still ask me to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

I have too many – my fave depends on my mood. Top contenders: Christmas Vacation, Christmas with the Kranks, White Christmas, Love Actually, The Polar Express.

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

Hmmm. I don’t tend to re-read holiday themed books, but I’ll confess that I have a soft spot for any (all) of the Christmas books in the Chesapeake Shores series. Those O’Briens… 🙂

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

Nat King Cole’s version of The Christmas Song. Simplicity and nostalgia all rolled into one smooth voice.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

Cozy nights with a glass of wine and a book. LOL! Seriously though, I miss living near the Rockies, because the skiing there spoiled me for anywhere else.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

One year my sister put together a recipe book with our mom’s fave recipes over the years. She added some of her own, too, but if I want something that Mom used to make back in the eighties? It’s in that book!

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

Yes! Yoga socks, books, and a kindle.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

Do better. 🙂

Bronwen Evans

When do the holidays official start for you?

Mid December

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Guilt free reading and being with my family. Even an author needs down time.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Besides putting up my Christmas tree? I always make a pavlova with kiwi fruit for our Christmas day dessert. Remember it’s summer in New Zealand.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

I have three – Love Actually (one of my favourite movies of all time) and Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. I love action movies.

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

No, but I will say one Christmas a friend kept telling me to read JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood as I had never read it. So I decided to read book 1. Well, over the Christmas break I read all 12 in a row!

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

Well, it’s summer in New Zealand at Christmas, and I love simply getting out my Kindle, pulling up my lounger, and lying by my pool reading a great romance book.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

I love giving, who doesn’t. So I usually give anonymous gifts to my friends children. I knew one child was saving for a present but would be short, so I sent him a card with money in it from Santa. Seeing his joy was priceless. My most memorable gift was when I was 7 and I got my first puppy. I’ll never forget seeing his little nose poking over the edge of the box and hearing his little barks.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

Not really. I have a book wish list and at least everyone knows I’m easy to buy for.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

I haven’t thought about it yet, but I usually just wish for my family to be happy and healthy.

DGrant1Donna Grant

When do the holidays official start for you?

I’d say October 1st, because I get ready for Halloween. Then November 1st to get ready for Thanksgiving, but it day after Thanksgiving, it’s all Christmas!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

The decorations. I love to see it all!

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

We spend Christmas Eve at my parents where there is a bunch of finger foods. Then Christmas Day everyone comes to my house where we have gumbo (Cajun tradition). Then we head to the movies about about 2.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

It’s a toss up between White Christmas and Love Actually and Christmas Vacation. We watch them every year.

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

No. I’m an equal opportunist for holiday books. 🙂

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

White Christmas

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

Around me we have the Texas Renaissance Festival, which is the largest in the US. It always begins at the end of September and runs until Thanksgiving weekend. It always signals the begin of fall for us.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

I received my long-haired Chihuahua for Christmas. She was unexpected, but so amazing!

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

Walls. The flood from Hurricane Harvey took everything, but I’d like walls and doors for privacy again. lol

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

I try to make some improvement each year. For 2017 it was balance. I’m not sure what 2018 will be yet. I might still need to work on balancing everything.

Emma DouglasEmma Douglas

When do the holidays official start for you?

After my mom’s birthday which is early December!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Getting together with my family and friends and just having a good time with the people I love.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Making the plum pudding with my mum and watching Carols by Candlelight which is broadcast on TV here in Oz on Christmas Eve.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

Die Hard

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R Tolkien. Gorgeous illustrations and funny! They’re letters he wrote to his kids (as Father Christmas) each year, telling the stories of what had been happening at the North Pole that year.

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

O Holy Night because I love the melody.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

I do Christmas in summer here in Oz so that makes it swimming or otherwise avoiding the heat. But in winter I have a weird liking for walking in the cold, as long as I can thaw out with a good book afterward.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

Both my current cats I gave myself for Christmas but that probably doesn’t count. I got a membership to the local zoo which was fun as I like to wander around there. Other than that, like a true bookworm, every year I love getting books.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

Nothing big but I’m sure I’ll come up with a list of books and art supplies that would be great to get.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

Both to write more and to have more time for non-writing things. Maybe I need a clone for Christmas?

Kieran KramerKieran Kramer

When do the holidays official start for you?

Thanksgiving Day, as soon as I turn on the TV to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade! Can’t miss the Rockettes segment, ever!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Inhaling the delicious scent of the Christmas tree, seeing the twinkling lights, hanging out with the family and our friends.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

I always make frosted sugar cookies, and I always try to watch as many Christmas movies as I can. I also try to go to the Holiday Boat Parade in Charleston harbor!

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

It’s a Wonderful Life; I never get tired of it!

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

Definitely How the Grinch Stole Christmas….

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

Away in the Manger sung by Julie Andrews–the UK version of the melody

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

baking bread, using my crockpot, reading cozy books, buying myself winter clothes, going to parties, eating holiday cookies

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

My favorite gift is having my family all together in one place. Nothing matters more. Sometimes we can’t all be together, so I cherish the Christmases that we can celebrate under one roof.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

Yes, having my own little family together again–the last two years some of us have been overseas. But if I have to mention something from the store, I’d love to have some canvases and paint and painting lessons!

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

Yes, to slow down and get centered, to really look around each day and marvel at this beautiful world filled with people who all want to love and be loved. I refuse to let the haters in. Oh, and I have to keep dancing to my Alexa, haha!!

Lecia Cornwall

When do the holidays official start for you?

We officially call it Christmas the day of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, which is in late November. We watch the parade on TV, have our first toast of eggnog, and enjoy the season’s first batch of Very Special Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies. Then on the closest Saturday to December 13–that’s my husband’s birthday–we go out as a family to get our Christmas tree (we still have a real tree) and put it up.

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Family and food.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Christmas baking is a huge tradition for us. I make Very Special Christmas Chocolate Chip cookies, Quiche for Christmas breakfast, and Kulach (Ukrainian Christmas bread).

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

Hard Question! The Bishop’s Wife, perhaps, though Love Actually, White Christmas, and Polar Express are very close seconds (or thirds and fourths).

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

I have a small collection of Christmas books that my mother used to put out as decorations every year. When I was little, I loved the one about old fashioned Victorian Christmases, and I adored the gorgeous illustrations in a children’s book called Once In Royal David’s City. My mother also had a book of poetry and stories called 1000 Beautiful Things, which includes a story called The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. I’m not sure if it’s the memory of my mother reading that story to me or the story itself I loved, but I still have the battered book, and treasure it.

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

Another tough question! “Merry Christmas, Darling” by The Carpenters,

“J-I-N-G-L-E Bells” by Frank Sinatra, and anything from Loreena McKennitt’s album To Drive The Cold Winter Away.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

I love planning for the holidays, and being outdoors, that includes walking with my dog through the fall colours along the Bow River, baking and cooking for Thanksgiving (in mid-October in Canada), decorating the front porch for Halloween, raking leaves and putting the garden to bed for the winter, and stringing up the outdoor Christmas lights on one of the last nice fall weekends before it gets too cold (we don’t turn them on until December 1, which was one of my father’s rules). My now-grown kids still make ice luminaria for Christmas and New Year’s Eve whenever it’s cold enough outside to freeze a bucket of water (Try this, readers, they’re gorgeous, and a little bit of Christmas magic in the dark. Fill a bucket with water. It freezes overnight, but the centre of the ice block stays liquid. Take the ice block out of the bucket, chip a hole in the top, pour out the water, and set the luminaria outside with a tea light candle inside).

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

When I was first married, my in-laws gave us airline tickets so we could fly to Calgary to spend Christmas together as a family. Christmas with my own family growing up was usually very stressful, but my in-laws filled Christmas with love, laughter, warmth, and fun. Although my children are grown (aged 23 and 26), I’ve been fortunate enough to have them home for Christmas every year, and to me that’s the best Christmas gift of all.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

New books are always welcome or maybe just an extra shelf for my massive (and ever growing) to-be-read pile! There’s also the traditional Miss America answer to this question–a wish for world peace–but doesn’t it just seem more important than ever this year?

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

I always set goals in categories: personal, career, home/family, and new things I want to try. I’m usually good about achieving the career and family goals, but not so good at the personal or new ones. I already know that next year will be full of huge new challenges and opportunities for me, so at the moment my goal is to find my way through whatever comes with as much grace and balance as possible.

May McGoldrick

When do the holidays official start for you?

The holiday season has no start or end in our house. We are a multi-cultural and multi-denominational family. One holiday hands off the fun to the next…and the next…and the next…And then we start again! Our full name is ‘May Your Holidays be Endless McGoldrick’! (You can call us ‘Festive’ for short.)

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Family get-togethers

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Before Christmas, we have a ‘Gingerbread House Night.’ I always think simple…graham crackers, candies, some frosting for the roof of a quaint little cottage. My competitive and mildly cutthroat family members, however, build the Golden Gate Bridge, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the White House…

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

Love, Actually

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

The Night Before Christmas

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

Christmas is All Around You (Bill Nighy via The Troggs)

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

Pick your own peaches. Pick your own apples. Pick your own pumpkin. Cut your own Christmas tree. And reading.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

For all the years our sons were young, we hid Christmas gifts all over the house. Assembly and wrapping took place after the boys were asleep on Christmas Eve. I remember the year when I used the last bit of wrapping paper while congratulating myself on my precision and planning. What I didn’t know was that Jim had yet to wrap my gifts.

The next day, we all lined up on the stairs and then raced down to see what Santa left for everyone. The most charming gift was sitting under the tree. A large black trash bag containing Nikoo’s gifts…tied up with a bow.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

A cottage on the beach in Southern California. Jim says, “Keep writing.”

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

Smile every day.

Write every day.

Make others happy.

Manda CollinsManda Collins

When do the holidays official start for you?

The first frosty morning when there’s a nip in the air and I can feel that winter is on the way. I love that feeling!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Getting together with family and friends is the best. We don’t necessarily see one another all that much during the year, but we all make time during the holidays.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

I listen to carols sung by the King’s College Choir every year and spend at least one day boiling cloves and spices on the stove to get the house smelling like Christmas.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

The Thin Man starring Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles. (Of course MY favorite holiday movie has witty repartee and murder in it!)

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

That would be Christmas Angel by Jo Beverley. It’s one of her early Company of Rogues books and I love the way Lucien and Beth and her children become a family over the course of the story.

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

The Holly and the Ivy.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

I’m not really the outdoor type (though I have been known to go outdoors) so I like to snuggle up inside with a cup of hot chocolate and read. Or knit.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

My grandmother gave me the gift of the love of reading. It’s the best thing I’ve ever been given.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

I’m at an age now where the things I wish for aren’t material (though obviously there are some that I’d like–a new car, for instance) but stuff like health and for my family to be safe and happy. I wouldn’t turn down a pretty scarf, though!

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

Just to keep writing books that my audience enjoys reading!

Nancy Naigle

When do the holidays official start for you?

I used to believe I was an “after Thanksgiving” gal when it came to gearing up for the holidays, however, the last two years I’ve had Christmas books come out in October so I’m totally amped up extra early. Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas starts in late October too, and I’ll be tuned into those movies no matter when they start. So, Merry Christmas with a pumpkin and turkey feather on top!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

The smell of pine from a fresh cut tree throughout the house, and getting more intense every time I vacuum up the needles. Warm aromatic afternoons of baking. Crafting homemade gifts. Fellowship. Christmas movies and cocoa. Glossy gift wrap, and wire ribbon that makes a simple shoelace bow look pretty on a package.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Baking cookies. Old family favorites, and a few new recipes which always results in at least one complete #fail.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

My favorite all-time holiday movie is the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is still my very, very favorite. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I still tear up when the Abominable Snowman bonks poor Rudolph on the head. Thank goodness for good ol’ Hermie the wanna-be dentist!

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

I love all those special sized hardcover holiday books. I have a shelf dedicated to them. One that I really love is by Debbie Macomber — THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CHRISTMAS. The beautiful gold cover perfectly envelopes the warm story inside.

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

Silent Night.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

Bundling up and stargazing on a chilly night.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

Homemade gifts. Always!  Among them, an old Singer sewing machine with the metal frame turned into a table, a handcrafted snack jar made out of wood with a mason jar, loop potholders, and homemade Christmas ornaments. A girl can never have too many ornaments, right?

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

I don’t have any tangible items on my wish list. Making happy memories is all I wish for this year.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

To live a healthier lifestyle, and figure out how to do that while integrating more book events into my schedule so I can meet more of the dear readers who’ve blessed me with spending their free time reading my books. Thanks, y’all.

Terri Brisbin

When do the holidays official start for you?

Thanksgiving!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Family! And now watching the grandkids celebrating!

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?

Our traditions have changed a bit as my sons married and grandkids began arriving. The one thing we still do is gather to decorate the Christmas tree at our house.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

Christmas Vacation and Elf

Do you have a favorite holiday book?

I just love reading holiday romance anthologies!

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?

A Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?

I love walking in my neighborhood after a new snow.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?

My favorite gift was when I arranged a surprise family trip to Disney World for Christmas! It was hard but I succeed!

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?

None yet but there will be!

Any resolutions or goals for next year?

It’s been a really difficult 2017 so my resolution for 2018 is to make sure my loved ones know they are…loved.

2017 Monthly Status Update: August

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August was a crazy hectic month for me. Work is picking up like crazy and between that, the Terryville Fair, and my family’s trip to Maine, there hasn’t been a moment to spare! Thankfully my time in Maine mostly consists of reading so I was still able to get a good amount of reading done and I even have a great jump off start to September too. So below is my progress for August:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 9
# pages read this month: 2,958
# books read year-to-date: 73
# pages read year-to-date: 21,756

Favorite Books I Read:

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – 5.0 stars
Seeing Red by Sandra Brown – 4.25 stars

Other Posts this month:

ARC August 2017 Reading Challenge Sign Up
ARC August 2017 – Check in #1 – 8/1-8/7
ARC August 2017 – Check in #2 – 8/8-8/13
ARC August 2017 – Check in #1 – 8/14-8/20
If the Creek Don’t Rise BLOG TOUR!! 
ARC August Final Check in and Wrap up

Status of 2017 Reading Challenges:

  1. Finish 2016 ARC’s from NetGalley that I missed – Haven’t read any since last month so still have 27 to go (though stay tuned for September progress!)
  2. Participate in 2 reading challenges – During May I participated in the Bout of Books challenge and during this past month I participated in ARC August so this Goal is checked!
  3. Other goals:
    1. Write shorter reviews – I think I’m doing better at this, this past month I was able to get out a few shorter ones
    2. Continue establishing relationships – I think I’m doing it, we’ll see how it goes I guess!

Next Month TBR List:

I read all but two of the books on my TBR from last month plus a few more! Some of them I technically finished in September but I won’t include them at this point on my TBR for the next month since they’re already read. I actually don’t have many on the TBR list this month since I didn’t have a lot that I signed up for in September. I am hoping to get to some of the books on my backlog in addition to the ones listed below but I haven’t decided which ones yet. I will have to see where the wind takes me!!

-The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel
-Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy
-Every Boy’s Got One
-The Best Kind of People
-The Visitors
-The Scot Beds His Wife
-Select
-A Season of You

My birthday is coming up soon and I can’t wait to spend it with my nose in a book!! Happy reading everyone!!

ARC August Final check in and Wrap up post

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So I’m a little behind with my check in! Between the Terryville Fair Aug 24-27 and then immediately leaving and spending all last week in Maine with no internet or electricity, and then only having one day after I got back to get ready for the work week, I haven’t had any time to catch up with my blog posts! I’m trying to catch up a little at a time every day this week. Anyways so here’s where I ended up on the ARC Reading challenge! I made good use of my time in Maine but didn’t get through as many as I had hoped:

MY PROGRESS

-Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber – Read and reviewed (Week 2)
-Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
-Leave the Night On by Laura Trentham – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
-If The Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss – Read and reviewed
-Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews
-Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – Read and reviewed
-Seeing Red by Sandra Brown – Read and reviewed (Week 3)
-13 Dates by Matt Dunn – Read and reviewed
-The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
-Ready to Run by Lauren Layne – Read and reviewed (Week 3)
-The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel
-Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy

Books Read August 21st – 31st

If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss – 3.5 stars
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – 5.0 stars
13 Dates by Matt Dunn – 3.0 stars

So that’s a wrap for this year! I had a great time participating in this challenge again and I hope to participate again next year! Happy reading everyone!

ARC August 2017 – Check in #2 – 8/8-8/13

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And so goes another week of ARC August 2017. This past week was also a fairly busy one for me, between work and trying to exercise and also trying to spend time with husband and family there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time leftover for reading lately. Even with Goal Day this past Saturday I was only able to read one book this past week. This month will continue to be a busy one for me but hopefully I will catch up while on vacation at the end of the month! Anyways, so here’s where I stand right now:

MY PROGRESS

-Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber – Read and reviewed
-Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
-Leave the Night On by Laura Trentham – Read and reviewed (Week 1)
-If The Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss
-Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews
-Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
-Seeing Red by Sandra Brown – Reading now
-13 Dates by Matt Dunn
-The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
-Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
-The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel
-Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy

Books Read August 8th – 13th

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Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber – 3.75 stars

Plan for Upcoming Week

I have a busy week coming up with 4 exercise classes, 2 meetings, 2 days at a new client and a day planned for going to wineries with my mom and mother-in-law! Might have to break into my sleeping time to get some reading done but hopefully I’ll be able to fit it in somewhere! The book I’m reading right now (new release by Sandra Brown, out tomorrow!) is pretty good and I can’t wait to finish it and share my thoughts with all of you. Happy reading everyone!!

ARC August 2017 Reading Challenge Sign Up

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Woo Hoo! ARC August is here again, and honestly it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’m really glad to be participating in ARC August again this year to try and decrease my backlog a little bit at least. I still have 27 ARCs from 2016 that I never got a chance to read, plus I missed the “deadline” for 23 additional ARCs so far in 2017. PLUS I have 12 ARCs scheduled to be read in August. SO you could say I’m just a tad bit backlogged. For those of you that don’t know, ARC August is a month-long reading challenge hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. and the only participation requirement is reading ARC’s! I participated in this reading challenge last year and in 2015, and both years worked out really well for me and I was able to catch up a bit. I hope to be super productive with this challenge this year since I have so much to read! Plus in a beyond perfect twist of events I will on an island for a week in August with no wi-fi and no cell service and no electricity (again but different week than I was last year)! What else is there to do but read!

So here is the list I’m going to be working off of for this year’s challenge (more or less):

-Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
-Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes
-Leave the Night On by Laura Trentham
-If The Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss
-Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews
-Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
-Seeing Red by Sandra Brown
-13 Dates by Matt Dunn
-The Other Girl by Erica Spindler
-Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
-The Uncertain Season by Ann Howard Creel
-Pretend You’re Safe by Alexandra Ivy

This listing is honestly just my August ARCs, I’m not sure how true to this list I’ll actually stay. I really feel like flaunting the rules and just reading whatever ARC I feel like. Its hard to predict exactly what that will be though so we’ll start with this for now. I think 12 is a good goal though so my plan is (if I decide to read whatever I feel like) to switch out one book for every book I add to the list. We’ll see how it goes! I hope you all also have a successful August and Happy reading everyone!

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