January 5, 2021


By: Danielle Steel

When an 8.2 earthquake rocks San Francisco, the residents of one particular street come together. Lives are forever changed- in both good and bad ways. Mostly, people who once were strangers come to form a little family.

I LOVED this book!! Danielle Steel has tended to be a little hit and miss for me over the last several years. This one I read in a matter of 2 days. I loved all the characters she meant for the reader to love, and the same with the characters she wanted you to dislike. Instead of going light on the whatever subject she wrote about at the time, I felt like Danielle really did justice to the characters and the plot she wove with them.

Meredith is the former movie star who turned her back on the outside world after enduring several heartbreaks in a close period of time. No  longer drawn to movies, she spent the next 15 years within the walls of her property- which is no small piece of real estate. Her only confidantes are the married couple she employs, Jack and Debbie Speck, to help protect her from the world and manage her estate. What she doesn't know is that they never had genuine intentions when it came to her. Although, they genuinely loved the perks of their jobs and the money. Not to mention the valuables they were quietly sneak into their apartment.

Andrew Johnson is a prominent Orthopedic surgeon. His wife was once an OR nurse, but left her career to raise the 2 children they have. He's all about appearance and letting her know how lucky she is. 

Peter Stern is a writer with dreams of publishing his novel. During the day he works in advertising, but writes at night. He had a stroke of luck when Arthur Harriman, a famous concert pianist who is blind, asks Peter to live with him and be a sometime caretaker during the evening hours. 

Joel Fine is a multimillionaire from several start ups he founded. He's local playboy who loves a good time with little, to no strings attached. His current It girl is Ava who was a tradeshow model. She's starting to see beyond the fun of the moment and wanting a future for herself, but she knows it won't include Joel.

Everyone comes together one night when the earthquake hits. Meredith opens rarely used gates and offers everyone to stay with her until their own homes are safe to move back into. Within the month everyone is under her roof, secrets become uncovered and lives begin to change. Not everyone who entered Meredith's house together leaves together. 

**** TRIGGER WARNING!!! ****
There are domestic violence scenes in this book. If that is something you would rather not read , or will be an issue, you may not want to read this book. While they don't occur from start to finish, they do play throughout the majority of the book- especially he last 1/2 of the book.

Like I said, I enjoyed this book. I was gripped from the start. I loved watching the different storylines unfold. Some things weren't surprising, while others were. This was a great book to just curl up with and have a cozy time with. It wasn't fluffy, but nor was it overly heavy. I felt Danielle did a great job of growing her characters after a traumatic experience. You did feel removed from the complete earthquake experience simply because everyone stays at Meredith's mansion. However, as the story progresses, your experience to the event is widened. 

Christmas Books of 2020!!

January 1, 2021

 Merry Christmas Book Reading For 2020!!!

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season are the books! The festive stories of old that I reread annually and the new ones I discover with each new year. Once December1st arrives, I'm a nonstop Christmas reading machine. Any, and every, book I pick up will be Christmas themed until the 31st comes. I get excited to curl up with a comfy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate. I can't wait to discover a new story, or revisit one I've loved for years. I have some favorites that I read every year. It's just a magical time of year for me reading wise. 

However, let's be real. Some books are better than others. Some are amazing. Some are awful. It happens. This year's batch of books wasn't a year where I loved everything. In fact, this year won't go down as the best seasonal reads year. Still, I thought I'd share what I read this December with you. You're going to meet my annual reads and ones I read for the first time. Here we go.....

The Christmas Box
By: Richard Paul Evans

This is a book I pretty much read every year. I has all the feels. The story centers around a married couple who moves into a huge house, with their daughter, to help care for an elderly woman. I'm trying not to give much away, but this book never gets old for me. I still shed a tear at a few places in the story- even though I know they're coming. I'm still touched as I learn about the elderly woman's story. My heart still breaks in the same places it did when I first read it. And, it still overflows with love and joy in other places. Through the course of the story (which is short at less than 200 pages) these strangers form a bond that is unforgettable. This woman blesses the little family just as much as they bless her. Despite having read this book yearly for almost 5 years, the wonder is never lost on me.

The Christmas Sisters
By: Sarah Morgan

I've had this book on my shelf for a year,  or two. I wanted to read it last year, but never did. For some reason, I had a feeling this book was going to be one I read, but wasn't touched by. That proved to be the case. It wasn't a bad book. It just wasn't one that I think I would ever reread. 
This story centers around 3 sisters. You learn fairly early in the book that the people who they call Mom and Dad aren't the biological parents. As the story unfolds, you learn why and how they were connected. Each sister is at a different place in their lives- and at different stages in dealing with the aftermath of a childhood trauma. While the parents live in Scotland full time, only one of the sisters stayed there. All three sisters are going to be spending Christmas in Scotland- and one of them is really dreading it. Each brings their troubles and rocky relationship to the holiday. As the pages turn, walls slowly come down and healing finally begins.

A Christmas Carol
By: Charles Dickens

This is another annual read for me. I look forward to curling up and spending the day with Scrooge and his ghosts. Some of the lines have becomes favorites and I smile as I come to them. I love the ghostly visits and seeing how they melt Scrooge's cold heart. I never tire of the story. We all know how it ends, but I love it. It's like watching your favorite movies. You know the story well, but the magic is still never lost on you. My favorite parts are still leading up to the ghosts and Scrooge's transformation. I eagerly wait in wonder as the journey ensues. My smile is never missing when Scrooge wakes up Christmas morning a changed man. Christmas magic!!

The Nutcracker of Nuremberg
By: Alexander Dumas

This year was the first time I'd read this. I was immediately intrigued when I read that Tchaikovsky's ballet was based on this book. I was hoping I would love it more than I did. This book focus's on the back story between the nutcracker and the mouse king. You learn why they're at odds with one another and everything that led up to the famous battle in the battle. 
It was fascinating to read, but I don't know that I'd read it every year. 

Booked For Christmas
By: Lily Menon

This was a novella I found on Amazon. She's a writer who's works is constantly being trashed by one reviewer. The tension gets thick quickly when said reviewer shows up at her cabin. 

Being snowed in forces them to interact and see each other outside of their usual dynamic. It's a holiday themed hate-love romance trope. It was a cute story that moved quickly. It was overly memorable, but that could just be because it's hard to effectively tell a romantic story the reader can invest in with 89 pages. 

Christmas In Evergreen: Letters to Santa
By: Nancy Naigle

This your Hallmark movie in book form. I'm not sure which came first: the book or the movie, but both are available. The female lead comes back to the town she loved (and moved away from) as a child. She learns that the general store that was a prominent part of the town has closed down and fallen into disrepair. She also learns that it's for sale. She puts her design talent to good use to help get it more enticeable for perspective buyers. The mission gets some of the town's locals involved and a labor of love is begun. Romance comes to more than one of the characters. Everything is wrapped up with a lovely bow at the end, as only Hallmark can do.

This was an enjoyable story to read. I know it's a series of movies, and books. I'd be interested in reading more of the books. The story was fun. The characters were enjoyable. You were routing for the happy ending and weren't disappointed when it came. And even though you knew everything was going to end well, you still loved every minute of the story.

Christmas In Paris
By: Anita Hughes

Okay, as a reviewer, I'm good at finding the positive in pretty much everything I read. I may not like a book, but it rarely doesn't have some redeeming factors. I've got 2 things for this book: the cover (gorgeous) and I finished it (not an easy feet).

There is not enough space for me to tell you all the issues I had with this book. The plot was unbelievable and unlikely- at best. Two people are nursing broken hearts when their weddings are both cancelled days before the events. They find themselves at the same luxury Paris hotel. A meeting with a fortune teller has our female lead convinced she's going to meet her future husband while she's there. So, our wayward female lead sets out on a mission to meet, fall in love and marry her future husband. All within a week. A week right after cancelling her wedding!

This particular book infuriated me to no end. I didn't like the characters. I couldn't relate to them- any of them. I wanted to scream at all of them. The plot was ridiculous and I couldn't get invested in it. It made no sense- at all. I'm amazed I finished the book. I was relieved I didn't have to review this novel. But, like I said, gorgeous cover.

The Christmas Collection
By: Victoria Connelly

This is a grouping of her three Christmas themed novellas: Christmas at the Cove, Christmas at the Castle & Christmas at the Cottage. Three separate stories of characters beginning their romances amidst a wintery backdrop. They were cute and fun, but nothing that really grabbed you and gripped ahold of your heart. They were fun, cozy reads that I read over the course of a rainy day. I loved the description of winter in each of them. Where I live, I don't get snow, so that was a favorite aspect that I loved. It was fun to meet each of the characters, but I didn't get invested in any of the couples. 

The Christmas Candle
By: Max Lucado

This my first year of reading this book, but it won't be my last. I LOVED this book. From start to finish, I devoured this story. I was gripped. I couldn't put it down. Once I started, there was no stopping until I read the last word. 

In this story, a candle maker and his wife are visited by a fiery Angel. The one candle the Angel touches goes on to bless the person it's given to. A tradition, and legend is born. The Angel visits the candle maker every 25 years- always touching one candle that goes on to bless and answer the prayers of it's receiver. One year, the batch of candles are disrupted and spilled. The candle maker and his wife have no idea which one the Angel touches. But that doesn't stop the blessings from happening. 

I'm not doing this book justice in my description, but it was nothing short of phenomenal. I loved every minute of the book! It was the highlight of my Christmas reading and made it to my annual reading list. 

There you have it! My hits, and misses, from this year's batch of Christmas book reads. I hope you read wonderful stories this year. I hope they blessed you, in some way. A lot of this list has been on my TBR for a year, or more. I'm glad I was finally able to read them. I'm already forming my list for next year. See ya this time next year with my new findings.


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