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Christmas Time is Here...

It's nearly Christmas and the kiddos are on holiday break, you're frantically shopping for last minute gifts to go under the tree, wrapping up that project at work before you go on vacation, or perhaps doing some holiday baking?

When you get a moment to breathe, maybe you'd like to curl up with a cup of cocoa or coffee and just enjoy a good holiday read. I know that's what I like to do! But what to read?
I have a few suggestions!

1. For the person who loves a crazy family at Christmastime:

The Winter Street Trilogy by Elin Hilderbrand
Meet the Quinn family who spends their holidays running the Nantucket Winter Street Inn. Kelley Quinn looks forward to spending Christmas with his family, but things get complicated when he walks in on his wife kissing Santa Claus! With the kids coming home for Christmas with troubles of their own - things get pretty wild.
Read this if your favorite Christmas movie is The Family Stone
1. Winter Street
2. Winter Stroll
3. Winter Storms

2. For the person who enjoys the classics:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
What's Christmas without the classic Dickens tale? Pick it up if you're feeling sentimental.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I love this classic tale about the March girls - while not exclusively a Christmas novel it has everything you need for a great holiday read.

3. For the person who loves a good Hallmark Christmas movie:

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
A failed actress, a musician, a broken hearted woman, and a single man find themselves in a large Scotland estate during the Winter Solstice. Each battling his or her own demons, they are brought together and forever changed by unthinkable circumstances. Think Crash meets Love Actually in this heartwarming holiday story about love, loss and healing by one of my favorite authors!

The Gift by Cecelia Ahren
A modern day Scrooge story about a successful businessman who is frustrated with spending more time working than with his family. He thinks his problem may be solved when he meets a young man with an unusual ability, but will it help him to see what is truly important in life?

4. For the Kiddos:

Eloise at Christmastime by Kay Thompson
Follow Eloise around the Plaza at Christmastime, you never know what kind of mischief she'll get into during the holidays! This is one of our favorites!

How to Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace
Kids will love this fun holiday story about catching one of Santa's favorite helpers!

These are just a few of my favorites for this time of year and I hope you enjoy them. Do you have any holiday favorites? I'd love to hear what your favorite holiday books are!

From my home to yours, wishing you Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas filled with hot cocoa, family stories and warmth.
-Whitney the Book Gawker

Book Review: Two By Two, Nicholas Sparks

Happy Friday!

I hope you've had a wonderful week and are ready for a great weekend!

We're heading into Christmas Break here and I'm so excited for a chance to catch up on some holiday reading. I think I have a fun line up for next week's posts, so stay tuned!

Today I'm reviewing the latest Nicholas Sparks novel, Two by Two. It was released earlier this fall, so maybe you've already read it!

I've been a fan of Nicholas Sparks' work since The Notebook. I mean, really, who doesn't secretly love a great love story?! I will admit, I'm a hopeless romantic at heart and I love the way he can write about people falling in love.

Two By Two is very different from his previous novels. In fact, Sparks' newest novel is the complete opposite of his past work. Unlike his previous novels that center around two people finding each other and starting a relationship, this book is about a relationship that is falling apart.

Russell Green has everything - a great job, beautiful home, stunning wife and adorable daughter. Until suddenly, his world falls apart and he's scrambling to figure out what exactly went wrong.
The core of this novel is watching Russ figure out how he's going to handle loss and adapt to a new life - one that he never planned on.

There were elements that I liked in this book, and then there were a lot of things that I didn't like. The biggest problem was that unlike his earlier work, this novel didn't hook me (ever). I'm usually okay if it takes a few chapters to get into a book, but this never really interested me.

In fact, this is one book that I read 3/4 of and skipped to the end to read the last page because I felt it was predictable enough that I wouldn't be missing too much if I read the ending without reading the entire novel.

I just couldn't get into it and I never felt that I could relate to the characters.

The writing is the same as it usually is, Nicholas Sparks is a good writer, but I felt that this novel was lacking that little extra that hooks the reader in.
Character development was decent, but still didn't have the same effect on me as some of Nicholas Sparks' more memorable characters. Overall, I think that this book is fairly unremarkable and not memorable which was disappointing from such a well known author.

Kudos to Nicholas Sparks for trying something different though!

Have you read this? What did you think?

Buy it on Amazon
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Or check out your local library!

Book Review: The One that Got Away, Leigh Himes

Title: The One that Got Away, Leigh Himes
Print Length: 379 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books (May 31, 2016)
Publication Date: May 31, 2016

This was our book club pick for August and unfortunately the month got away from me. See what I did there? Hah. But really I was just giving everyone more time to finish the book…


The One that Got Away is a debut effort from author Leigh Himes. I found it to be a charming and fun – kind of an adult take on “Freaky Friday.” This fun twist on a classic tale follows Abbey Lahey – exhausted, underappreciated mother who just really wants to carry a Marc Jacobs bag and feel like she has at least some semblance of her life together. Any moms out there relate?

So when she sees a photo of a former could be flame, now a successful Philadelphia socialite, in a magazine, she wonders what it would have been like if they had ended up together.

Thanks to a freak fall off the Nordstrom elevator (while returning the above bag) she’s about to find out.

Suddenly Abbey Lahey is Abbey Van Holt – Philadelphia socialite married to congressional hopeful, Alex Van Holt (the one that got away). If there ever was a story about the age old saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” this is it. Abbey finds herself attending black tie events, living in a lavish penthouse, married to handsome, successful and very wealthy man. But all of these things don’t make her happy and she yearns for her former life. I had fun reading along while Abbey discovered who really was “the one that got away” and how to come to terms with her issues.

The storyline is familiar and predictable, but with a fun new twist that I think fans of the chicklit genre will love, I know I did.

So, now that it’s December(!) did anyone read along? If you did, what did you think?
If you didn’t – go ahead and check this one out! I think you'll enjoy it!!

Buy it on Amazon
Buy it at Barnes & Noble
Listen on Audible

Or Check your local library!

Book Review: So Close by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Title: So Close, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Print Length: 248 pages
Publisher: SparkPress (June 7, 2016)
Publication Date: June 7, 2016


Amanda Beth Luker wants nothing more than to get as far away as possible from the Florida trailer park in which she was raised, her dysfunctional mother and the dead end possibilities of the small town she grew up in.

Nothing seems to be going the way she hopes. Her boyfriend ditched her to go back to South America, taking her money and belongings with him, her mother constantly calls for handouts and she’s just about to lose her job when she meets Tom Davis, a charismatic lawyer with political aspirations. While serving at a political function at the hotel where she works, Amanda overhears Tom speaking at the event. Drawn to his words and inspired by his rags to riches story, Amanda finds herself compelled to Tom and his wife Lindsay. She soon finds herself in their employ as a staffer on Tom’s political campaign for state senate and her life seems to have taken a shift for the better.

As Amanda gains in the political and social world far beyond what she could have imagined from her tiny trailer in Florida, she finds her loyalty and everything she thought she stood for tested by unforeseeable events and the people she holds dearest to her.


This book. Holy smokes.
Do you enjoy a Cinderella story with a Scandal-like political plot twist?

Super, this one’s for you.

I really enjoyed this novel and I felt it blended the coming of age theme well with the political elements of the story. This novel was fast paced, easy to read and felt relatable on a couple of levels. Amanda is shown to be a hard worker, knows the kind of future she wants and goes for it but her journey isn’t without mistakes or bumps in the road. And that plot twist at the end... wow.

The relationships in the novel were a little disjointed for me at times and there were places in the novel that I felt stretched – but overall it was a good book and I would recommend this for anyone looking for a quick, engaging read. Perfect for a weekend get away or airplane trip!


Newsweek declared McLaughlin and Kraus's The Nanny Diaries a 'phenomenon.' It is a #1 New York Times best-seller and the longest-running hardcover best seller of 2002. In 2007 it was released as a major motion picture starring Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney and Alicia Keys. They are also the authors of three other New York Times bestsellers, Citizen Girl, Dedication and Nanny Returns. And the soon to be released Between You & Me, and Over You.

They have appeared numerous times on CNN, MSNBC, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight and The View. Their work and partnership have been covered in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, TIME, Elle, Town & Country and Harper's Bazaar.

They have contributed to The London Times and The New York Times as well as two short story collections to benefit The War Child Fund: Big Night Out and Girls' Night Out. In addition to writing for television and film, they travel around the country speaking to young women about gender issues in American corporate culture.

Buy it at Amazon
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Listen on Audible

Thank you to BookSparks for sending a copy of this for me to review!