What I Read and Wrote in November

Yay it’s December! Finally Christmas time! But I have to admit I’ve been getting a head start on my Christmas themed reading because I’m determined to be cozy and Christmassy even if the world doesn’t really feel like it right now. So this is what I’ve been reading this month 🙂

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Book Review | Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

“Home isn’t always a house and it isn’t always where you grew up; sometimes it’s just a feeling.”

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IMG_20201115_173702_586.jpgPiper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life, traveling from hotel to hotel, staying in different places and countries every time, writing reviews on her stay for a magazine. In truth she’s been running away for the last twelve years, but her past seems to have caught up with her when she comes to Juniper Island for her next assignment. The owner of this next hotel is Gabe Whitaker, her ex best friend and ex boy friend, the first and only man she ever loved, whose betrayal caused her to run. Now she has to face her traumatizing past and the mistake she made, but can they pick up things as they left them, or has too much been broken between them?

I picked this book up because I wanted a cozy Christmas romance and I really liked the premise. It’s set on the northern most of the Shetland islands and it’s a really pretty Christmas place to be in. There’s an ice palace, Christmas trees, lodge cabins, groups of ponies, the Northern Lights! I was all ready for some coziness, and while that delivered, the rest was not that great.

While the characters are all right on paper, they have interesting backstories and current lives, they all feel very much the same to me in the story. They talk the same, almost have the same reactions to situations. They’re all very predictable! Plus I just wasn’t really buying the romance. These people were best friends in their childhood, but they never talk about anything besides their maybe possible rekindled relationship? What are their hobbies? Interests? Could they discuss some childhood memories?

The writing isn’t great in my opinion. I think it could have done with another round or two of editing. The dialogue is often strange and forced and repetitive. There’s a lot of explaining of emotions, lot’s of exposition. A lot of telling, not enough showing. The writing annoyed me so much at some point that I started skimreading to get to the end.

It is a cozy, romantic book, the setting is especially Christmassy, but all in all it could have been done better.

Trigger warnings (contains spoilers): (almost) drowning, emotionally abusive father in the past, other physically abusive stepfather in the past, very explicit sex scenes, child abandonment in the past

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Way Too Many Christmas Books Book Haul 🎄🎅☃️

A bit ago I talked about how I’ve been feeling stressed, and my remedy to that has been to buy a bunch of Christmas themed novels because that’s the most comforting thing I can imagine! For the next two months, I’m only gonna read Christmas related books, just cause I want to! And it’s become… quite a haul. (Usually I write my own descriptions, but as I haven’t read any of these books yet, I’m using the official blurbs!) But these are the books I’ve got for the holiday season.

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Some Comforting Low-Stakes and Low-Stress Books Because We All Need Some Right Now

I’ve been feeling stressed lately, so I’ve been focusing on reading books that feel cozy and not at all stressful. (Mostly Christmas romances) And as I’m sure everyone could use some comfort right now, I thought I’d make a list of my favorite comforting reads!

They’re all, in my opinion, books with pretty low-stakes, no one’s dying or having super life-changing accidents or is in any very real danger. But as stressors are different for everyone, I’ve also a note of what potential stressors a specific book might have.

Well, anyway, grab a mug of tea and let’s delve in these books 🙂

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Book Review | Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson

An odd thought crossed her mind: she would pick up the heavy glass ashtray and smash her husband over the head with it. 

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Dark Tales is a collection of short stories by prolific horror writer ShirleyIMG_20200905_120317_221.jpg Jackson. In these short stories she takes the mundane and every-day and twists it into dark, creepy tales. It comes closest to psychological thriller in genre, they’re rarely very speculative (but sometimes they seem to be). Jackson is a master in creating tension by what isn’t said, in telling a story by implication, in taking the most high-anxiety feelings and weaving stories from them.

I really enjoyed all of these stories. There were a few that I didn’t quite get at first read, but most of them were full of unexpected twists and very creepy and disturbing turns that really did deliver. There were tales of being followed endlessly til you’re paranoid, tales about getting stuck in paintings, or simply a twisted kind of murder. I never could quite predict where the stories were going to end up.

A good collection to curl up with on dark nights, when you want to be spooked not by ghosts, but by the dark, twistedness of every-day suburban life.

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Book Review | Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins by Katarina Bivald

“Henny was here!”

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Henny has just died. She’s watching her body lying in the road, the truckIMG_20200926_113706_617.jpg driver panicking, the local sheriff identifying her. No one can see her. But she’s still here. And as her friends and family come back to this town and have to deal with her death, she realizes she has unfinished business; making everyone happy again.

Katarina Bivald’s previous book, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, is one of my favorite books, so I was very excited when her newest book was finally translated. I expected another cozy and funny read but I realized, Pine Motel is a very different sort of story. It’s way less a cutesy friendship/romance novel and more about very real problems in the world.Read More »

Book Review | Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

“I hope you aren’t afraid of ghosts”

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IMG_20200926_113333_182.jpgMila has aged out of the foster system. She accepts a place at a remote farm teaching the younger kids of the foster household, hoping to finally find a home of her own. The solitary farm is a refuge, but it’s also haunted by memories, traumas, grief in the form of ghosts. Then Mila’s own memories start to rise to the surface..

Watch Over Me is a small book, but it makes a large impact. This hauntingly beautiful story about trauma and grief and the effect it has on how you view the world and how you connect with people afterwards. My heart broke several times the way Mila tries to help a traumatized boy, while still also dealing with her own trauma. LaCour shows how deep trauma by emotional abuse can go, how loving gestures are twisted to something wicked, how nothing feels trustworthy anymore. But that there is always a chance to heal.Read More »

Spooky, Scary, Skeleton Reads for Halloween Month 🌕🦇 (and some not so scary)

It’s October, time for cobwebs and bats and ghosts and other creepy things. It’s a full moon on Halloween this year, did you know that? Extra reason to wrap yourself up somewhere cozy and get spooked by some ~scary~ books. I’ve compiled a little list of books that I enjoyed that I feel are good for when you want to scare yourself, but I’ve also included a few books at the bottom that are a little scary, or just have ghosts in them, for anyone who doesn’t feel like overwhelming their nerve system any more than it already is! So here it is 🙂 Enjoy!

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