twelve slays of christmas

Review: Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

First of all, Jacqueline Frost is such an awesome name for someone who wrote a Christmas-themed cozy mystery that I had to look her up to see if that was actually her name. Best I can tell, it is, and Twelve Slays of Christmas is her first book.

And man, was it fun.

First of all, I want to live in Mistletoe. It sounds absolutely glorious, with all the Christmas spirit. The town really gets into the festivities, with all sorts of “12 Days of Christmas” activities. Holly’s family Christmas tree farm, Reindeer Games, sounds like a merry little utopia, complete with a gingerbread house restaurant and a trio of real live reindeer. Well, a utopia that happened to witness a murder. Regardless.

The characters are a ton of fun, and easy to imagine; Holly’s dad was 100% John Goodman. I liked the mystery, and it’s definitely a cozy – easy to predict (if you read a lot of them), but fun enough that you don’t care. I thought Frost did a great job with Holly; she’s a little naive, but not helpless, and throughout the story you can tell she’s starting to get her feet under her. I’m excited to see what she does in the next book; I have my suspicions!

Lighthearted and full of Christmas spirit – just what I wanted.

Series: A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1    Hardcover: 311 pages

Published: October 2017 by Crooked Lane Books    Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Buy it on Amazon for $10

Twelve Slays of Christmas on Goodreads

When Holly White’s fiance cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime–exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.

When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn’t watch out, she’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s jolly series debut.

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What Light

Review: What Light by Jay Asher

I mentioned in my post on 10 books to get you in the Christmas spirit how excited I was to read Jay Asher’s What Light. The idea of a YA romance set on a Christmas tree farm was just something I couldn’t pass up. Even better that it was written by Jay Asher, who, in the one book I’ve read of his, managed to balance teenage hormones with a plot line that didn’t make me want to vomit.

Asher does that again in What Light. Oh sure, there’s a fair amount of instalove and teenage angst, but what YA romance doesn’t have those? Sierra isn’t perfect, but she’s actually a fairly solid seventeen year old. Slightly naive, a bit melodramatic, but overall, someone you want to hug. Caleb is just dreamy enough and just flawed enough to make you swoon, without venturing too far into bad boy territory.

Sierra’s friends are also pretty great too, and it’s really nice to see a male author write strong, supportive female characters, especially in the YA realm. That said, What Light does still have the typical “girl meets boy and life is instantly perfect” schtick going on. But, I’m willing to overlook it, since I don’t pick up a book like this NOT expecting those kinds of happily-ever-after tropes. You shouldn’t either. After all, why else do we read romance? We don’t WANT it to be real, sheesh.

Anyway, What Light is definitely the kind of book you want to read during the snowy season, so grab a copy soon and get to reading!

Hardcover: 251 pages    Published: October 2016 by Razorbill    Source: Library via Overdrive

Buy it on Amazon for $9

What Light on Goodreads

From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .

Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it’s a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb’s past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that’s moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

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Review: Ronaldo The Flying Reindeer by Maxine Sylvester

Who doesn’t love a good reindeer story around Christmas? When I was a kid, I loved anything reindeer – I must have made my mother watch Prancer about a million times. My favorite was “Victor” (Vixen). I have to say, though, I think I have a new favorite reindeer: Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer.

Maxine Sylvester was kind enough to send me the first two books of her Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer series: Ronaldo: The Flying Reindeer Academy, and Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher. Oh my goodness, guys, you need to pick up these books right now!

In The Flying Reindeer Academy, Ronaldo is a reindeer cadet, trying to become one of Santa’s elite fliers. When the Flying Academy issues an endurance challenge, Ronaldo draws on his grandfather’s wisdom (and pretty cool hat!) to help him get through.

In The Phantom Carrot Snatcher, Ronaldo meets a wolf pup named Ernie who’s lost her family. He’s got a choice to make – does he help Ernie, or does he try to win the speed record? After all, wolves eat reindeer!

I loved Ronaldo, and his best friend Rudi. I loved the carrot pancakes. I loved grandpa’s hat. I loved Vixen. I loved Ernie. I even loved Wing Commander Blitsen. Both Ronaldo books had me smiling the entire way through.

The Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer series is on Kindle Unlimited, or a couple of bucks each. Right now, Book 2 is on sale for $1, so pick it up now! And check out Ronaldo’s website for even more fun. If you have kids, they’ll love Ronaldo…and you will too. A perfect Christmas read!

Series: Ronaldo the Flying Reindeer #1/#2    Kindle Edition: 109/216 pages

Published: December 2015/November 2016 (self-published)    Source: Author Provided

Book 1 on Amazon ($3)     Book 2 on Amazon ($1)

Ronaldo: The Flying Reindeer Academy on Goodreads

Ronaldo is the top flying cadet at the prestigious Reindeer Flying Academy. He dreams of getting his flying license, just like his hero, Vixen.

In this first exciting chapter in the ‘Ronaldo’ series, our hero is faced with his toughest flying test ever – The Endurance Challenge!

Can Ronaldo triumph over mean bully, Dasher, and win the ‘Golden Wings’ medal? Spurred on by Rudi, his quirky, loyal best friend and with a belly full of his favourite carrot pancakes, Ronaldo takes on the challenge of his life!

Ronaldo: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher on Goodreads

Ronaldo and Rudi discover friends come in all shapes and sizes as they embark on a superhero mission to help a lost wolf cub called Ernie find her pack.

Rudi comes up with a plan to find the pack and deliver a message during a speed test at flying school. But Ronaldo isn’t totally on board with the idea. He desperately wants to break the speed record and the plan means jeopardizing his chance of becoming champion.

Will Ronaldo go for glory… or will he discover the true meaning of friendship and sacrifice the race for Ernie?

Bumbling Wing Commander Blitsen, head of The Reindeer Flying Academy, and mischievous brothers, Dasher, Comet and Prancer also feature in this fun tale of bravery and friendship.

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nillu nasser all the tomorrows

Review: All the Tomorrows by Nillu Nasser

As is the case with most of the author-provided books I read, I’ll admit my expectations were somewhat on the low side when I picked up All the Tomorrows. I’m a critical reader – or perhaps a more accurate term is a picky reader – and while I enjoy plenty of books, I’m not one to gush just because it offered me a good story. No, there has to be more than that. I need good characters, I need evocative writing, I need a well-constructed setting. Give me a fun story, and you can expect a solid 3 stars. Give me those extras, and the rating goes up.

Guys, I read the Nasser’s first sentence and knew I had something special.

All the Tomorrows is, truthfully, a bit out of my comfort zone. It’s set in India, and centers on two people who’ve fallen into an arranged marriage. The marriage fails, and the two go their separate ways, but not without trauma and heartbreak. We get to experience both sides of it, and both sides are equally painful.

Nasser has written incredible characters in Jaya and Akash. It’s no surprise that I have a thing for broken characters, and these two…man, these two. Broken is probably too kind of a word. But the thing about a good broken character is that they’re still redeemable. Yes, they do awful things. Yes, they moan about the results of those awful things. And yet….they go on. They fight. They wallow. They fight some more. They make dumb decisions and good decisions, and eventually, either heal or at the very least, accept their circumstances. And soon enough, a broken character becomes beautiful.

I loved the way Nasser deals with the ramifications of each character’s choices. It’s often a fine line between using societal norms as a crutch or using them to enhance the tension, and Nasser walks that line incredibly well. I raged for Jaya, I raged for Akash, and through it all, I respected their culture and heritage and values. What initially seemed archaic and brutal and repressive also, at times, made me long for that kind of sense of cultural identity and conviction. I credit Nasser’s writing for that.

Now, those of you who’ve skipped straight down to the rating (it’s ok, I do it too), will want to know why I’ve only given it four stars. I was all set to give it five, until literally the last paragraph. All of a sudden, the story just ended. It was so abrupt that I scrolled through to make sure I hadn’t skipped a page. Endings are one of the things that can either make or break a story for me. It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it does need to make sense. This one felt like someone told Nasser, ok, you have to stop now. It’s been several days, and I’m still scratching my head about it.

Despite the strange ending, I can’t say enough good things about All the Tomorrows. If I have one other complaint, it’s that I wish it had a snazzier cover. Pick this one up and be ready to fall in love with Jaya, Akash, and their story.

Paperback: 308 pages    Published: November 2017 by Evolved    Source: Author Provided

Buy it on Amazon for $4

All the Tomorrows on Goodreads

Sometimes we can’t escape the webs we are born into. Sometimes we are the architects of our own fall.

Akash Choudry wants a love for all time, not an arranged marriage. Still, under the weight of parental hopes, he agrees to one. He and Jaya marry in a cloud of colour and spice in Bombay. Their marriage has barely begun when Akash embarks on an affair.

Jaya cannot contemplate sharing her husband with another woman, or looking past his indiscretions as her mother suggests. Cornered by sexual politics, she takes her fate into her own hands in the form of a lit match.

Nothing endures fire. As shards of their past threaten their future, will Jaya ever bloom into the woman she can be, and will redemption be within Akash’s reach?

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10 Books to Get You in the Christmas Spirit

10 Books to Get You in the Christmas Spirit

It’s hard to believe it’s already December, isn’t it? Where did the year go?! It feels like just last week I was putting together my list of Books to Put in My Beach Bag. Not to mention, weren’t we all just reading spooky books? Crazy how time flies when you’re having fun!

In honor of December 1st, and one of my favorite months of the year, I’ve put together a list of 10 books to get you in the Christmas spirit. Some of these I’ve read, some I’ve only heard about, but all promise to be enjoyable and relatively quick. Just what you want in a Christmas read, right?

Young Adult

Jay Asher’s What Light has been on my list since it came out last year, and I finally borrowed it from the library yesterday. I loved Thirteen Reasons Why, and the idea of a story set at a Christmas tree farm sounds simply amazing. I don’t read a lot of romances (especially young adult romances), but I’m willing to make an exception here.

 

 

 

 

Romance

Hygge and Kisses does not have the best Goodreads rating (3.4), but I don’t care one bit. It’s about a girl whose life is sorta falling apart, so she heads to Denmark in the middle of winter to experience Hygge. I feel like this is going to be the kind of book most of us can relate to, at least until she falls in love and has all her problems solved. Whatever. This one has fluff read written all over it.

 

 

 

Something about this cover just screams good fun reading. And besides, December is cold, and cold means it’s a great time to read books that are fluffy and heartwarming. Generally, romance fits the bill, as long as the characters aren’t insufferable. Debbie Mason’s Mistletoe Cottage looks to be a great way to get your romance fix. Between this one and What Light, you should be set.

 

 

 

 

Mystery

Twelve Slays of Christmas is one I’ll probably have finished by the time this post goes live, as I’m on a bit of a cozy kick these days. It’s the first in a new series, titled A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery. (Sensing a theme here?) I’m looking forward to this one, and hope to have a review up soonish.

 

 

 

 

I’m pretty sure I’d love to live in a town that celebrated Christmas all year long, wouldn’t you? The next best thing is Vicki Delany’s Year-Round Christmas Mystery series, which starts with Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen. It’s got a great heroine, a cheerful setting, and a pretty decent mystery. If you like it, there are two more books out!

 

 

 

 

Fantasy

The sequel to Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale comes out next week, so if you haven’t yet picked up this beautiful fantasy novel, now’s the time. Read my full review here, but in a nutshell – it’s a  graceful story in an incredibly beautiful setting, and the audio narration is superb. This is the kind of book you want to read in front of a fire, as it’s kind of a slow burn of a story.

 

 

 

Oh, The Snow ChildWhat a strange, yet magical book about a couple who desperately wants children but can’t have them, and a girl who may or may not be made of snow. It’s one of the strangest books I’ve ever read, but also one of the most beautiful. This one is another that’s good fireplace reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Fiction

I haven’t yet read anything by Hazel Gaynor, though I’ve had a copy of The Girl Who Came Home for several years (what can I say, I’m a Titanic nerd). Last Christmas in Paris is set in World War I, and is a historical fiction slash romance. From the description, it reminds me a little of Secrets of a Charmed Life. Plus, that cover. It’s so very Hygge, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

Contemporary Fiction

No surprise, right? By the way, where is my Backman fangirl badge, huh Fredrik Backman? *grin* This 96-page novella centers on a man who sacrifices his family in order to be successful, a little girl fighting cancer, and how their stories are intertwined. The Deal of a Lifetime promises to be trademark Backman,  guaranteed to make you cry and love every minute of it.

 

 

 

Another Jenny Colgan book featuring Polly and (hopefully) Neil the puffin? YES, please. Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery is actually the third book in the Beach Street series (Summer is number two). I have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to make me want all sorts of Christmasy breads and cookies. Read my review of the first book, The Little Beach Street Bakery, here. Pick this one up if you want light and sweet this Christmas!

 

 

 

Whew, that’s quite a list – we’d better all get to reading! What are your favorite books to get in the Christmas spirit? Any that I’ve missed?

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2017 Gift Guide: Gifts for Campers

Last up in this year’s Gift Guide series we have Gifts for Campers. We didn’t get to camp as much this year as we’d have liked to, and I hope to remedy that next year. Over the years we’ve built a pretty full camping kit, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites in case you have a camper on your list this year!

Stocking Stuffer Gifts for Campers

gifts for campers mystical fire

Mystical Fire packs are hands-down my absolute favorite thing about camping. We discovered these a mystical fire in usefew years ago. We were camping with friends, and two of us went to buy ice cream in the camp store. They had a box of these packets next to the cash register, so I grabbed one to see what it did. We threw it into the fire when Jimmie wasn’t looking, and for a good 15 minutes had him convinced we were wizards. They turn the flames a beautiful shade of turquoise, and last for almost 2 hours. Just don’t use them until you’re done cooking – no telling what chemicals are in here. (Sorry to ruin your dreams of turquoise marshmallows!)

gifts for campers dog bandana

I couldn’t leave the puppers out of this guide, since they camp right along with us. Our pack has matching Camping with Dogs bandanas, and wear them on every trip. We frequently get referred to as a gang when we walk through the campgrounds. We’ve even gotten our doggie friends matching bandanas so they feel like members of the gang. If you camp with your dogs, definitely take a look around the Camping for Dogs site – they have some really awesome stuff!

Gifts for Campers Under $25

gifts for campers mug

Any camper will tell you – enamel mugs are kind of a camping staple. They’re functional, easy to clean, and best of all, they just look the part. This Gentlemen’s Hardware Adventure Enamel Mug ($14) is perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. It also comes in cream.

gifts for campers solar charger

I’ll be the first to admit, when we camp, we’re not roughing it. I insist on going where there’s electricity and a clean bathroom. But, for those of you who aren’t quite as high-maintenance, nothing beats a $16 Solar Charger. This one from Brolar (ha!) even has a built in flashlight. It’s rugged, water-resistant, and has a compass, so it’d be great for hiking too!

gifts for campers firestarters

Who else struggles to light a fire? Anyone? No, it’s just me? Humph. It doesn’t matter how I set the thing up, I’ll have trouble lighting it. The same exact fire, Jimmie will light in seconds. These $13 Pine Firestarters just might save my life. They’re little blocks that you light and toss into the fire. Easy, right? We’ll see. I bet they’re also going to smell amazing.

Gifts for Campers under $75

gifts for campers growler set

Camping just wouldn’t be camping without a growler full of beer. I picked up this Stanley Growler and Tumbler Set ($65) on sale a few years ago, but I’d happily pay full price for it again. The growler keeps beer cold for hours, and it’s easy to fill – which isn’t always the case with vacuum growlers. The tumblers stay in our camping kit. I like the sleeves, because A) they’re different colored so it’s easy to keep track of which glass is yours, and B) they give me somewhere that’s not cold to hold onto. That’s important especially in cold weather camping! I suppose if you don’t like beer, you could always put soda, juice, or water in here instead.

gifts for campers sleeping bag

Three words. Double. Sleeping. Bag. Even if you don’t share it with anyone, you need one. It’s like sleeping in a real bed with real sheets. More or less. And if you hate it for some reason, you can turn it into two sleeping bags. I like this Sleepingo one because it comes with pillows and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg ($58).

Splurge Gifts for Campers

gifts for campers coleman tentYou really can’t camp without a great tent (I’ve tried). Our first camping trip, we took Jimmie’s old tent. It was great for 13 year old Jimmie. Not so great for 30 year old Jimmie and 29 year old Casey. We upgraded shortly after that trip to a Coleman Evanston 4 Person tent. We loved it, but with the dogs, it was always a little cramped. Two years ago we happened upon a great deal on the Coleman WeatherMaster 10 Person, and even though it’s more space than we need, couldn’t pass it up. There’s enough room for all the dogs, our air mattress (I told you I’m high maintenance), and a table with chairs if we needed it. We’ve been in this tent in multiple thunderstorms, and its held up just fine. My only complaint is that it doesn’t have much in the way of hooks or hangers, but that’s a small price to pay. And, it takes less than 10 minutes to set up and take down. If you have a local Coleman outlet near you, check there, or it’s $170 on Amazon.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed the inaugural She’s All Booked Gift Guide Series! If you missed the rest of the series, head over to Gifts for Book Lovers and Gifts for Travelers. Let me know what you thought, and what kinds of gifts you’d like to see next year!

 

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gifts for travelers

2017 Gift Guide: Gifts for Travelers

Continuing our Gift Guide series, next up we have Gifts for Travelers. I’ll be honest, I had a ton of fun putting this guide together, and it’s inspired some major wanderlust.

I’ll admit I’m not exactly one to travel light. I certainly can, if I need to, but I don’t tend to take trips where I need to limit my stuff. While yes, it annoys me to pay for a checked bag, I’d rather cough up the cash than get frustrated with trying to cram everything into a carry-on. I like to have options, and I like to have room for books and souvenirs. That said, I also try to make sure everything I put in my suitcase is worthy of the space it takes. I put this list together with a hefty dose of suitcase-worthy items (and one not-so-suitcase-worthy).

Similar to the Gifts for Book Lovers Guide, I searched out a handful of gifts under $100. But, this time there’s one amazing splurge. Scroll down to see some of my favorites this year, and let me know where you’re traveling next!

Travel Stocking Stuffers

travel gift luggage tags

We tend to just tie ribbons on our suitcases, but only because I usually forget about luggage tags until we get to the airport. I’m partial to the Pizza Tag, but if that’s too funky for you, this Vintage Suitcase Tag is quite nice. Or hey, get both since they’re $7 each!

travel gift anywhere guide

One of my favorite things about traveling is getting off the beaten path and exploring like a local. The Anywhere Travel Guide ($13) is a pocket-sized set of 75 cards that helps you do just that. Throw it into your bag, and next time you travel, pull out a couple of cards at random. Will you be tasked to “Ask a stranger where their favorite street is, and go there,” or will you get something like “Whisper to a tree”? I love this idea.

Travel Gifts Under $50

travel gift passport wallet

Years ago, I ordered super cheap passport wallets off Ebay for our first trip to Mexico. They’re ugly, they’re starting to fall apart, and they’ve been insanely useful. I’ve had my eye on this $15 gorgeous turquoise Travel Wallet for two years, and I plan on ordering it before our next trip. It comes in a wide variety of colors, so if turquoise isn’t your thing, you have options. (Though I’m not sure we can be friends if you don’t like turquoise!) These wallets are so handy for holding passports, pens, travel documents, and cash. I ditch the purse and just slide this in my carry-on whenever we fly.

travelgift book lonely planet

There’s no shortage of travel books, but I really like Lonely Planet’s Book of Everything: A Visual Guide to Travel and the World ($14). Wherever you’re going, this book is sure to help you with everything from how to properly greet someone to how to read Hieroglyphics. Tons of useful and fun information.

travel gift scratchmap

If you head over to my Travel Adventures page you’ll see I’m a huge fan of maps that show where I’ve been. What’s better, then, than a Scratch-Off World Map? I like this $30 one because it’s a good size, has the US states depicted (instead of just the whole country), and has beautiful watercolors once you scratch places off. It even has points of interest. (This is the one you’ll want to leave out of that suitcase!)

travel gift diffuser kit

Over the last 8 months or so, we’ve been diffusing essential oils nearly every night. We enjoy the scent, and if there are medicinal properties, even better. They’re soothing, and we have a rather large collection by this point, so it’s fun to create new combinations. I miss the diffuser when I travel for work, and we even contemplated taking it on our recent trip to Atlanta. This $30 Travel Diffuser Kit would have been perfect! It comes with three of our favorite oils – lemongrass, peppermint, and lavender, and looks like the perfect size to toss in a suitcase.

travel gift luggage scale

If you, or your favorite traveler, do not own a luggage scale, ignore everything else on this list and buy this $14 Tarriss Digital Luggage Scale. I’ve been that person frantically trying to rearrange my suitcase to get under the weight limit. Because I always bring home beer. Skip all the hassle and use your own scale before you get there.

Travel Gift Splurge

travel gift mia toro gelato luggage

Just trust me on this. I know, I know. $400 is a lot of money, but this luggage set is amazing. I have it in aqua (imagine that), and I get so many compliments. It brightens my day whenever I see my suitcase, no joke. It comes in pink, orange, lime, and aqua, though you may have a hard time finding the aqua. Aesthetics aside, the Mia Toro Gelato Luggage has a built-in lock, an interior pocket separator, and the smoothest wheels I’ve ever felt on a suitcase. It’s lightweight, scratch resistant, and scuffs wash right off. Jimmie bought me my set before Mexico, and other than the dog, it’s probably my favorite thing he’s ever gotten me. I used to be one of those people who refused to spend money on luggage. I didn’t see the point since it just gets banged up. Now I get it. I 100% get it. (And my luggage is fine, in case you were wondering.)

 

Happy shopping!

 

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2017 Gift Guide Book Lovers

2017 Gift Guide: Gifts for Book Lovers

Welcome to the first annual She’s All Booked Gift Guide series! I know I’m not the only person who looooves both Christmas shopping and perusing gift guides. I figured why not make my own this year?Really, these could be anytime gifts – birthdays, holidays, just because days, I-screwed-up-and-I’m-sorry days. You get the idea. Expect a few of these posts over the next few weeks, starting with this first one, Gifts for Book Lovers.

Jimmie and I are both big book lovers, and we always get each other a huge stack of books. And those are great, believe me. But, I’ve found it’s a little tough to buy books for other people. While I know they love to read, I don’t always know what they’ll like or have already read. So then, what do you get that book lover in your life, besides books? (Or book subscriptions, which are almost as problematic!)

I searched out a handful of gifts well under $100. Scroll down to see some of my favorites this year, and if you pick up one (or two!) for yourself, no judgement here.

Bookish Stocking Stuffers

book gift socks

I usually get Jimmie a couple pairs of fun socks for his Christmas stocking, and this year I just love these $12 Banned Book Socks. They even come in different sizes! This is the first pair I’ve seen that’s mismatched. One sock is the crossed out titles, and one sock is legible. And even better, with each pair purchased, Out of Print donates a book to a community in need.

Book Gifts Bookmarks

If you’re in my Facebook group, you might have seen the chat about dog-earred pages and how much I hate them! Amazon has tons of cute little bookmarks, but I’m partial to the Robots Magnetic Bookmarks. They come in a set of 6, so it’s no big deal if you lose one – or read multiple books at once. And at $3, they’re a steal.

Bookish Gifts Under $50

Book gifts literary candles

These Literary Candles from Uncommon Goods feature the locations from four classics: Baker Street from Sherlock Holmes, the Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland, Thornfield Garden from Jane Eyre, and Pemberley from Pride & Prejudice. Each location has its own custom-blended scent designed to transport you right into the story. They’re made of soy, are hand-poured, and will burn for 55 hours. Perfect for cozying up with an old favorite! I’m intrigued by the Sherlock Holmes one – black currant and leather. Yum.

book gifts library kit

I try to live by Commander Adama’s motto in Battlestar Galactica to “Never Lend Books.” Books should be gifts, given with the expectation that you won’t get them back. I’ve learned the hard way that this is true. But I still love Knock Knock’s Personal Library Kit ($16). Maybe it’ll help get your books back, maybe it won’t. Either way, it’ll leave you nostalgic for the old days when libraries used paper cards! The kit comes with 20 adhesive pockets and matching library cards, a stamp, and a stamp pad.

Book Gifts Poster

A couple years ago I reviewed a Superhero poster from Pop Chart Labs. The printing quality is great, and I love all their different designs. Book lovers will get a kick out of scratching off the books they’ve read with the 100 Essential Novels Scratch Off Chart ($35). The poster features 100 books on most “must-read” lists, such as Lord of the Flies and Gone With the Wind. Once scratched, the book’s cover is revealed. For a little extra, you can even get it framed. Wouldn’t this be perfect hanging in your library or reading nook?

book gifts sculpture

I adore this $30 Best Friends Book Lovers Sculpture from Uncommon Goods so much it’s on my wishlist. This sculpture perfectly captures what it’s like to read with a pup nearby. I can just see Olga pawing at the pages! Cat lovers, check out these bookends!

book gifts bath caddy

Is there anything better than a glass of wine, a good book, and a hot bath? How about not having to hold your arms out of the water while you read? There’s no shortage of options out there, but I like this $28 Bamboo Bath Caddy because it’s expandable, has plenty of space, and most importantly, has a spot for wine.

Bookish Gift Splurge

book gifts wall shelf

I love the look of this Minimalist Teak Wall Shelf, but at $75, it’s a bit of a splurge. I’d be likely to DIY it, but if you need a last-minute gift, it might be a good option. Nevertheless, it’d look great next to the bed – and might help clear up some nightstand space!

 

Happy shopping, book lovers!

 

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markmanson

Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is THE book right now. It’s this year’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or The Little Book of Hygge – everyone wants to read it and be seen reading it. In short, the book is everywhere.

Which explains why – even though my library has 30 copies of the ebook – I waited 5 months for it. FIVE MONTHS PEOPLE.

Was it worth it?

Yes and no.

The first thing I’ll say is that if you’re going to read it, be aware that Manson uses the word f*ck (not the censored version) approximately 4000 times in the first chapter. If you’re like me and this kind of thing drives you batty, hang in there. It gets better, and in the rest of the book, f*ck is used somewhat sparingly.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way. I’m still sorta torn on how I feel about this one. On one hand, Manson has a lot of really solid advice or thought or whatever you want to call it. What he’s saying is pretty reasonable. Basically, there’s no need to care about everything, but make sure whatever you do care about is in line with your values. Oh, and have good values. And don’t strive for happiness because pursuing happiness only reinforces the idea that you’re dissatisfied and/or unhappy to begin with.

Did I just lose you?

That’s kinda how I felt reading Manson’s book. I’m no stranger to personal development books or theories; I read a fair amount of them, and have spent my fair share of time on a therapist’s couch. But even I had to stop over and over again to suss out what I’d just read. And that’s why I have such a hard time with this one. While Manson’s ideas are sound, they’re difficult to comprehend the way he’s written them. I actually think people would get a lot more out of hearing him speak about these ideas. Perhaps the audiobook version is better because of that very fact.

I didn’t hate it, and like I said, Manson has a lot of really solid stuff in here. Stuff that everyone would benefit from hearing or reading. My favorite quote from the book is one I’d like to shove under the world’s nose:

There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances. 

PREACH, Mark Manson, preach.

What do you think? Will you give this one a try, or have you already read it?

Hardcover: 210 pages    Published: September 2016 by HarperOne    Source: Library via Overdrive

Buy it on Amazon

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck on Goodreads

In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.” In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

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dial meow for murder

Review: Dial Meow for Murder by Bethany Blake

Daphne and Socrates are back for another fun mystery in Bethany Blake’s second Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series, Dial Meow for Murder. Some of you may remember how much I loved the first book, Death by Chocolate LabNeedless to say, I was not-so-patiently waiting for the next one. I needed to know what happened to the Rotties!

Speaking of, while I did find out what happened to them, it was a two-sentence-in-passing mention. Please write another book about the Rotties, Ms. Blake.

I wasn’t quite as enamored with Dial Meow for Murder as I was with Chocolate Lab. Oh, I still enjoyed it, and I still plan on continuing the series. But a lot of what was so great about the first book was all the animals, and that just felt like it was missing here. Even Socrates didn’t have much of a role. Plus, I wanted Artie back.

I do think Blake improved on the mystery, keeping it front and center for the majority of the story. Daphne was also a little more subdued, but truthfully, I missed her passion from the first book. We did get more information about Detective Black’s past, and some more about Sylvan Creek, both of which I wanted in the first book. So, happy there!

Dial Meow for Murder is still a great cozy, and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 3!

Series: Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery #2    Paperback: 328 pages

Published: September 2017 by Kensington    Source: Netgalley

Buy it on Amazon

Dial Meow for Murder on Goodreads

Even an experienced pet sitter like Daphne Templeton can be fooled by animal behavior: how can an adorably tiny fuzz ball named Tinkleston be capable of sudden flying leaps with cat claws bared? But human behavior remains even more mysterious, especially when Tinkleston s owner is murdered on the night of a gala fundraiser for Fur-ever Friends Pet Rescue.

Accompanied by her unflappable basset hound, Socrates, Daphne plans to take charge of Tinks the Terror and leave the crime-solving to handsome detective Jonathan Black. But while luring the prickly Persian out of hiding, she uncovers clues that might take suspicion off her own mother. Maeve Templeton already has a reputation as a killer in real estate. How far would she go to bag Sylvan Creek s most coveted property, the Flynt Mansion?

To expose the truth, Daphne finds herself donning a deranged clown costume on an autumnal adventure that might just be crazy enough to work if it doesn t get her killed. Includes recipes for homemade pet treats!

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