Tag Archives: Christmas

Book Review: In A Holidaze – Funny, Sexy and Heartwarming – I loved this book

In A Holidaze

By Christina Lauren

For as long as she could remember, Maelyn Jones has celebrated Christmas with her family and close family friends in a snowy mountain cabin in Salt Lake. Many things have changed over the years, but the constant in Mae’s life is the week with everyone together each December – that is until this year. The devastating news that the cabin is going to be sold is bad enough, but on the way to the airport, Mae and her family are in a serious car crash – but did it really happen?

Waking up on the plane after the car crash, Mea is confused. Her family tells her that they are on the way to Salt Lake, not on the way home and there was no accident. Mea knows better – she knows the details of the week, including a hookup with one of the guys she now regrets. Just like the funny movie Groundhog Day, she has to redo the week – this time hopefully getting it right. Everyone thinks there is something wrong with her except Benny, a college friend of her parents. He believes Mea but tells her she has to figure it out herself in order to stop the time traveling loop she seems to be caught in.

In A Holidaze is cute, funny, sexy and has a satisfying end. All of the characters are developed with interesting backstories binding them all together since the parents of Mae and her contemporaries met in college. Marriages, divorce and children have not stopped them from celebrating the holidays together each year. They are perfectly suited for a Christmas story. Mae is at a crossroad in her life and the author allows her to flounder as she learns the important lesson of growth and stepping out of the shadow of others to become the person she wants to be.

I love all things Christmas. I could picture this as a blockbuster Christmas movie – but be sure to read the book first, the book is ALWAYS better! This is the first book I have read by the dynamic duo of Lauren Billings and Christina Hobbs – who write under the pseudonym Christina Lauren. These best-selling authors have a long list of books just waiting for you to discover.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Christmas Ornaments to Crochet – Create Beautiful Christmas Decor

Christmas Ornaments to Crochet

By Barbara Christopher

Deck your halls by creating these lacy, delicate ornaments for your Christmas tree. You can use them instead of bows on packages or hang them just about anywhere throughout your home to brighten up the season for pennies. You will be able to make a flurry of snowflakes in an afternoon or while you are watching your favorite Christmas movie.

There are step-by-step instructions for each of the patterns. From snowflakes to tiny stockings, each ornament works up quickly. By changing the size of thread you use, the size of the ornament can be adjusted without changing the pattern. The author suggests that the designs look best if they are crocheted tightly, so you may have to go down a size needle to make sure your stitches are tight enough.

Once the ornaments are finished, you will need to starch them to make them stiff enough to use them for decorating. Ms. Christopher explains how to make your own sugar starch, but recommends commercial boilable starch. Don’t let this necessary step deter you from creating these delicate designs. My grandmother made doilies much the same as these ornaments. Having watched her starch and block them in my childhood is a warm and comforting memory, so I honestly cannot wait to crochet and starch some for Christmas this year.

I recommend this book for experienced crocheters only because of the size of the project. If you are a novice, I would suggest that you make a scarf or hat with yarn and a larger hook before using thread and small metal hooks. But don’t let me rain on your parade if you want to jump in with both feet and create some of these beautiful ornaments no matter where your skill level.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

 

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Book Review: Making Christmas Bright With Papercrafts : Inexpensive and Adorable

Making Christmas Bright with Papercrafts

More than 40 Festive Projects

By Alice Hornecke /Dominik Meibner/Sabine Seyffert

Bring Christmas cheer to your home with these beautiful papercrafts. From decorating your home to entertaining guests and gifts for loved ones, Making Christmas Bright with Papercrafts. A little bit origami and a little bit of stencil work along with craft paper, scissors and glue you will be ready to dive in to create over 40 craft projects.

The designs are different levels. You can fold an adorable Christmas tree from plain green napkins for your holiday table for pennies. Maybe you would like to create pretty packages to hold yummy Christmas cookies out of craft or corrugated paper.

Christmas on a budget is easily achieved by creating decorations, gifts and advent calendars. Make your own Christmas cards, bows for gifts and wreaths. Because there are over 40 projects, there is something for everyone at every skill level. Many of the projects can be completed by children with help from an adult or older child.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Christmas Cats – The Purr-fect Christmas Gift

Christmas Cats

More than 40 Festive Projects

By Marjorie Sarnat

Christmas and cats go hand in hand. Marjorie Sarnat has created 31 beautifully intricate designs for you to color. Bring the Christmas spirit into your home by coloring these amusing and adorable Christmas designs.

There is an adorable pair of cats ice skating on a starry night and a tangle of little kittens on a page of lost mittens. Kissing cats under the mistletoe and cats with teddy bears, a cat that cooks and caroling cats are waiting to become the one you choose to color first.

The designs are complex with many small areas. I suggest adults or older children with the dexterity and patience to color the small spaces are best suited for Christmas Cats. Perhaps you have a cat lover on your Christmas list that this book would be purr-fect for. I know I do!

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: Dash Away All – Christmas in July Leads to Murder

Dash Away All

Merry and Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series Book #3

By Christina Freeburn

 Merry is as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. She has been hired to work on a movie that features Luna Carmichael, the grand dame of television Christmas movies. Supplying the set with handcrafted Christmas items is Merry’s dream come true – until people start dying.

Arriving in her Christmas themed RV and Ebenezer, a very vocal and opinionated guinea pig, Merry is ready to get crafting. Anxious to meet the woman she idolizes, she is surprised to find Luna demanding, self-centered and downright mean to some of those working for her. Keeping a low profile is the best defense, but Merry finds it difficult to keep her curiosity at bay. She is soon knee deep in a murder investigation to the chagrin of the local authorities. Sticking to the crafting she is hired to do and keeping away from the investigation is in her best interest. The amateur sleuth could become a target if she doesn’t stop snooping.

Anytime of the year it is fun to read a Christmas themed cozy mystery. Especially if it is set in July, which makes it interesting and opens up more possibilities than the usual holiday books offer. Ms. Freeburn expertly weaves the different types of crafts Merry creates with an intriguing plot. The whodunit unfolds perfectly in the pages, encouraging the reader to read one more chapter to see what happens next.

The characters are interesting and most of them appear to be hiding something. I enjoyed finding out things about the characters throughout the book. This helped me start putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but kept me wondering who the murderer was until the final pages.

Cozy mysteries are interesting, easy to read and are about everyday people you might know. Dash Away All ticks all of those boxes and more. This is the first book I have read by Ms. Freeburn, but it will not be the last. While it is the third book in The Merry and Bright Handcrafted Mystery Series, I was not confused or lost at any time. It works well as a standalone novel. Like me, you will probably seek out the previous two books, Not a Creature Was Stirring and Better Watch Out as well as her other series of six books; The Faith Hunter Scrap This Series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Coming Home for Christmas – Heartwarming Story of Love and Redemption

Coming Home for Christmas

By RaeAnne Thayne

Luke Hamilton is going to jail unless he can prove he did not murder his missing wife. Ironically, he has recently found her. The good news is she is alive and well so he cannot be arrested. The bad news is the woman he has loved for years chose to leave him and her two young children behind seven years ago without a word. A private investigator confirmed that Elizabeth is alive and Luke was going to leave her alone until he realized he had to bring her home long enough to prove she is not dead and he is not a murderer.

Elizabeth understands, but is terrified. Many things have changed in her life since she walked out on her family. She has another life, but has secretly caught glimpses of her family during the last few years. She would love nothing more than spending time with her children, but understands Luke’s protectiveness because of the pain she has caused by leaving them.

Luke is determined to get the entire situation taken care of in a few days. Unfortunately, Christmas is just around the corner and the feelings that he has for his wife have never really changed. Yes, he is angry, but he loves her. It will take a Christmas miracle to bring this broken family back together after all they have been through.

Coming Home for Christmas is a heartwarming story of love and redemption. The holiday setting enhances the sense of magic in the air. The underlying mystery of where and why Elizabeth has been for the last seven years is woven throughout the pages until the reader finally gets the last pieces of the puzzle in the final chapters. The mystery of her disappearance adds another layer to an already interesting plot that I thoroughly enjoyed.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Thayne, who is a prolific romance writer. She has written several different romance series, including the Haven Point series, of which Coming Home for Christmas is #10. Even though I had not read the previous books in the series, I was never confused or lost. It works well as a stand-alone novel. I really enjoyed this Christmas romance with a bit of mystery. If you are a fan of Debbie Macomber, you will love this book and author.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Back to Christmas – A Fun Holiday Frolic Full of Love and Redemption

Back to Christmas

By Dennis Canfield

The Krumwerth family is in deep trouble but they don’t even know it. Why you ask? Because they are on Santa’s naughty list for what will be the third year in a row. And everyone knows that that means they got on each other’s last nerve with bad behavior for the last time. After three years on the naughty list in a row, you are destined to be on it for all eternity. No more Christmas spirit and no way to get back on the nice list.

The head sorting elf, Marmel, gives Santa the bad news. But Santa is a compassionate man, he wants Marmel to give the Krumwerth’s one last chance for redemption, even though Marmel thinks it is futile.

The family is comprised of twelve-year-old Amanda, her younger brother Patrick and her always busy parents. All four of them are plugged in to electronics and tuned out of each other’s lives. Marmel appears to Amanda foretelling their future of hating Christmas due to landing on the forever naughty list. She is afraid, but what can a kid do to save Christmas? With the help of Santa’s younger brother RC, Marmel just might be able to help the Krumwerth Family and save himself while doing so.

Written as a children’s book, Back to Christmas brings the spirit of Christmas to all ages. Canfield reminds readers that the true gift of Christmas is the love, hope and charity surrounding the season, not the newest electronics or gift cards from the mall.

The characters are true to life and fun. Especially the elves and Santa’s younger brother. I would love to have some of his magic green cinnamon to help me wrangle penguins and get where I am going faster.

This adorable Christmas tale should be on everyone’s bookshelf or wish list. It will undoubtedly become a Christmas classic. Be sure to read the book before the movie (which will be fabulous) is optioned for the big screen.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Cut and Assemble Santa’s Workshop – Christmas is Just Around the Corner

Cut and Assemble Santa’s Workshop

By: Matt Bergstrom

Fresh from the creative mind of Matt Bergstrom’s is an adorable, easy to make Santa’s Workshop. You may have seen his three-story Haunted House for Halloween. Coupled with his new Santa’s Workshop, you will have a pair of decorations that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Adults and teens can easily follow the step-by-step illustrated instructions. As always, read through them before starting the project. With simple tools; such as a hobby knife, scissors, ruler, dowel and craft glue. Tweezers might be handy for the smaller pieces. But don’t think it is only for adults, school age children will love to rearrange the reindeer, elves, gifts and Christmas tree.

With the high cost of Christmas decorations, Cut and Assemble Santa’s Workshop is an affordable breath of fresh air. You will enjoy the time spent with your older children and teens creating the colorful workshop, as well as the compliments from your holiday guests. Reminiscent of paper dolls, this craft book will bring a bit of nostalgia to your holidays.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Magical Unicorn Christmas Activity Book – Great Gift Idea

Magical Unicorn Christmas Activity Book

Illustrated By: Sam Loman

If you have a youngster in your life obsessed with unicorns, this is the perfect, inexpensive gift. It is not the amount of money spent, it is about the hours of enjoyment he or she will have completing the fun activities on each page.

From word searches to make your own Christmas Cards everyone’s favorite activities are included. There are over 80 pages ranging from coloring a scene in a Christmas ballet to word search puzzles, there is fun on every page.

One of my absolute favorites are Christmas Creations on page 44. This activity has a picture of Candy and Snowy, two unicorns with a brief bio. On the corresponding page, your child can create his or her own unicorn, complete with name and which super power it has. Unleashed creativity is always something to encourage. Other pages also encourage creativity such as making up a song and a secret list of things you want to make for friends and family.

This book is appropriate for children from kindergarten and up. It includes activities that require reading and writing simple words. The Magical Unicorn Christmas Activity Book will entertain and delight the youngster in your life and spark their imagination. You may want to give it to them in early December to enjoy it throughout the season.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book – Dash Right Out and Get Your Copy

Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book

By: Jessica Mazurkiewicz

Christmas will be here before we can blink an eye. I always like to shop early for stocking stuffers and Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book is perfect for adults and teens alike. Each of the thirty-one pages is just waiting for colored pencils, markers or crayons to make them come alive.

Unlike most adult coloring books, Christmas Inspirations is interesting without being overly intricate. The pages are festive and fun, some have more detail than others, but all will put you in the mood for the holiday season.

Perhaps you would like to dress up your home with the artwork created from this coloring book. If so, you may want to get one of the frames that hold children’s artwork and switch out the different pages depending upon your mood that day. Each page is perforated, so it will be a snap to take each one out of the book either before or after you complete it if you so choose.

From “Feliz Navidad” and “Dashing Through the Snow” to “Keep Calm and Jingle On” each page has an inspirational or humorous quote surrounded by holiday icons such as Santa, gifts and traditional decorations. My favorite page is full of Christmas sweaters – ready for you to make ugly or beautiful depending upon your mood. The quote on that page is “May Your Sweaters be Ugly and Bright”.

Amuse yourself and/or someone you love by picking up Christmas Inspirations Coloring Book before the holiday rush.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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