Fun holiday reads – pretty covers too!

Hi Everyone,

Last week I hosted a virtual book chat on holiday reads for my library job. Wow, there are so many! Here are some contemporary holiday stories with pretty and very similar cover styles. Holidays are so busy that I don’t seem to have the time to read much, but these look fun and light. Have you read any? Some are new this year and some have been around a couple years. Which would you recommend?

Always in December by Emily Stone

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo

A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

The Matza Ball by Jean Meltzer

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

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Books set in Australia

Wow, I hadn’t realized until recently just how many books I’ve read that are set in Australia! Here’s what I’ve read. Can you add to this list?

Alone – Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean – Brett Archibald

The Dry by Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Check out these lists for additional books set in Australia:

Goodreads – Best Books Set in Australia

Tale_Away – Books Set In Australia: Australian Novels

Crime Reads – 10 Essential Australian Novels

For even more, visit my post More books set in Australia here.

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Book Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare
Beth O’Leary


Tiffy Moore owes money and is short on cash. And she needs to get out of her ex-boyfriend’s place as soon as possible. Leon Twomey has an apartment and also needs money. To earn extra cash, he’s been working the night shift as a palliative nurse, but how to get more? Why not rent out his apartment while he’s at work? That should work, right?

Tiffy has looked everywhere and when she sees the ad for Leon’s place, she thinks this unusual arrangement just might work. Since she works days at a publishing company, they could share the apartment and never even meet. One tricky part is that the flat is so small that they will also be sharing a bed, at different times, of course.

That’s the premise of this cute romantic story, about two people who aren’t looking to get together and must learn what to do when the sparks fly.

The story takes place in London and is told from both characters’ points of view. They get to know each other through running conversations on Post-It notes, stuck in various places in the flat. For me, this is the best part of the story. The notes are clever and fun and reveal their personalities as they become more comfortable telling each other about themselves.

But they both have problems and emotional baggage and these back stories slowly come out, making The Flatshare more than just a fluffy story. And while readers know they are in for a romance, it’s not clear how Tiffy and Leon will get over the many hurdles they encounter.

I enjoyed this story because of its pure entertainment value. The characters are likable, modern and fun. While the plot is improbable and sometimes silly, there’s no harm in giving in to a story like this. I can picture The Flatshare as a romantic comedy film.

I recommend The Flatshare to readers who are looking for a quick romantic story, with a little spice.

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If you want to read more, check out these blogger reviews.

Our Book Boyfriends
Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Stuck in the Book

Book Review: A Mother for His Twins by Jill Weatherholt

A Mother for His Twins
Jill Weatherholt


There’s never been a better time to pick up a feel-good book and A Mother for His Twins by Jill Weatherholt was the perfect remedy for me. Weatherholt’s book is part of the Harlequin Heartwarming Inspirational Romance novels, in which modern characters with real-life problems learn to let go of sadness and past mistakes, to grab that second chance at love.

In this story, Joy Kelliher is a first-grade teacher in the small town of Virginia’s Whispering Slopes, nestled in the Shenandoah Mountains. She’s working on her master’s degree because her biggest dream is to honor her father’s legacy and become principal of the school. Sure she will never have a family of her own, Joy’s work and being around children has taken on a profound importance.

Then Nick Capello returns to Whispering slopes and Joy’s life is turned upside down. They were high school sweethearts, with plans to marry, but he’d left town suddenly and with no explanation fourteen years earlier. Now he’s back with young twin sons and is vying for the same principal job.

Readers hope that Joy and Nick will find their way back to each other, but each faces unique and shared hurdles of deeply-buried pain, anger, resentment, jealousy and misunderstandings. In addition, both have questioned their faith when bad things have happened to them.

I enjoyed this polished and loving story, the characters and community of Whispering Slopes, a place that offers the appeal of small-town living, and where friends and family care about each other. Weatherholt writes smartly with both humor and realism and, through Joy and Nick, shows readers that there is a way to get past hurt and loss.

In a note to readers after the book, Weatherholt talks about how her characters get trapped in the “if only” mindset. “If and only—two words that can start a person down the road of self-doubt.” There’s always a way to start down a new road and this story shows how.

Jill is the author of two additional Love Inspired novels, Second Chance Romance (read my review here) and A Father for Bella. Learn more about Jill Weatherholt here.

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Christmas books – there are more than you think!

I recently discovered a genre of fiction I’d never thought about much. Christmas themed books. I’m not talking about the classics, like those pictured here. I’m talking about Christmas mysteries and suspense, Christmas romances, sweet stories, warm stories and stories with dogs. Do a search on Goodreads, Amazon or your local library catalog. You will find too many to count! Here are some classics:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

And here are some others that caught my eye:

Are you looking for a holiday mystery? Many mystery writers are in the game.

19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Christmas at Timberwoods by Fern Michaels
Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Christmas Cookie Murder by Leslie Meier
Christmas Crumble by M.C. Beaton
The Christmas Scorpion by Lee Child
Cremas, Christmas Cookies and Crooks by Harper Lin
Festive in Death by J.D. Robb
Hark the Herald Angels Slay by Vicki Delaney
Homicide for the Holidays by Cheryl Honigford
Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan
The Usual Santas by Peter Lovesey

How about a sweet story? There are plenty of those.

An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller
The Christmas Boutique by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Christmas Return by Anne Perry
The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
Home for Christmas by Nora Roberts

Books with dogs? Did you think there wouldn’t be any?

1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber
A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron
The Christmas Wedding Swap by Allyson Charles
Dachshund Through the Snow by David Rosenfelt
Pupcakes by Annie England Noblin
Puppy Christmas by Lucy Gilmore

Maybe you’re looking for something a little racy…I won’t tell!

Cowboy Boots for Christmas by Carolyn Brown
A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas by Kim Redford
Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas by Terry Spear
My Favorite Things by Lynsay Sands
An Outlaw’s Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
A Scottish Lord for Christmas by Lauren Smith

Or maybe something new or different.

Catching Christmas by Terri Blackstock
Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Tru and Nelle by G. Neri
Wishin’ and Hopin’ by Wally Lamb

I may try one or two of these during the holidays, especially Tru and Nelle by G Neri, which is about Truman Capote and Harper Lee as children and Skipping Christmas by John Grisham, recommended by my work friend K. How about you? Do you like reading Christmas fiction? What are your favorites?

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Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake Starts Over
Linda Holmes


If you’re looking for a fun, feel-good romantic comedy, here’s an entertaining story about two people, adrift for very different reasons. Evvie Drake is newly widowed, living in the coastal lobster town of Calcasset, Maine. She and her husband had seemed the perfect home-town couple, but Evvie knows different.

Evvie’s best friend, Andy Buck, is ready to help her jump start her life. After all, she helped him get back on his feet after his wife left. And now, Andy just happens to have a friend who is moving up from New York and is looking for a place to stay, the perfect tenant for Evvie’s attached apartment.

The friend is not just a typical guy, though. He’s the famous, World Series-winning New York Yankee pitcher, Dean Tenney. Dean’s in a bit of a slump, having fallen victim to the dreaded “yips.” Fans are convinced that Dean has lost his stuff for good. Booed off the field, now Dean is taking a break from baseball.

So Dean moves in and he and Evvie strike a deal, declaring two subjects off limits: Evvie’s husband and baseball. It seems like a good basis for friendship, but romantic tension gets in the way. From here, readers are treated to an entertaining advance and retreat campaign, with just the right amount of tension.

At the core of this fun story are likeable characters, great dialogue, plenty of humor and solid themes of love, friendship and family. I didn’t mind that the book followed a familiar plot formula because the reward was the fun I had along the way.

I recommend Evvie Drake Starts Over to readers who are looking for the perfect book to curl up with on the weekend. Do you like romantic comedies? What are your favorites?

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The safe world of political fiction

If you can’t watch the news, but you still like political stories, you can always pick up a novel. These three books will help you escape into the safe world of political fiction. One all-American story, a smart romance and a clever mystery.

America America by Ethan Canin

In 1971, Henry Bonwiller is near the front of the race to become the next Democratic nominee for president of the United States, and a young Corey Sifter is there to witness his rise and ultimate fall, as an aide to the money and power behind the campaign.

Candidate by Tracy Ewens

Politics are tough and public image is everything for United States Senator Patrick Malendar of California. He’s up for re-election and his young Republican opponent is giving him a run for his money. This modern romance is full of fun banter and romantic tension. But it also tackles many serious subjects, including the price of public life, family secrets and infidelity.

Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery by Andrew Shaffer

Why not write a mystery with Barack Obama and Joe Biden as amateur detectives? This pair has plenty of rapport to wrap around a good story line. Who better to solve a mystery than the former President and Vice President of the United States?

And if you really just want to escape from it all, try

Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse

Imagine a scenario in which ridiculous characters bumble through a series of hilarious coincidences and an equal number of snafus, all in the name of love, marriage and a big business deal. The first of three short novels included in Just Enough Jeeves, a fun introduction to P.G. Wodehouse’s famous characters: twenty-something Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves.

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Book Talk – Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt

Image: Pixabay

Welcome to a new and occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of new and not-so-new books that catch my eye.

Sometimes you need a feel-good book, a story in which realistic characters face many challenges, but are able to overcome them through love and faith. That’s what you get in Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt, a wonderful inspirational romance that promises just what the title suggests.

Jackson Daughtry doesn’t know what to think when a young, and very attractive, career-driven divorce lawyer arrives in Sweet Gum, Virginia. Melanie Harper is there to convince her Aunt Phoebe to move to Washington, D.C. because she is sure that Phoebe, her only relative, cannot manage on her own. But it may be that Melanie is the one in need, for despite a successful career and head-turning looks, Melanie lives in a shadow of sadness.

Add to the fact that Jackson, a handsome paramedic and single dad, shares ownership with Phoebe of Sweet Gum’s local café. They need each other. And Phoebe may not be a blood relative, but she’s definitely family to Jackson. This charming small town is where Phoebe belongs, and he’s about lock horns with Melanie on the subject.

As the story unfolds, readers learn more about Melanie’s mysterious past and why she is so entrenched in her career. In addition, Jackson’s back story explains why his little girl, Rebecca, has no mother in the picture. Could Melanie fill that void?

This isn’t just a love story, however. Weatherholt tackles important issues such as how to deal with loss and questions of faith. She presents a serious conflict and shows how her characters cope, using humor and keen insight into human behavior. Readers will need to read till the end to see how Weatherholt resolves the strong attraction and tension between Jackson and Melanie, which is also threatened by outside developments.

I very much enjoyed reading Second Chance Romance, and especially liked the small-town setting in which friends and neighbors look out for each other. I recommend this lovely romance to readers who like to see the good guys win.

I read Second Chance Romance as part of my library’s Summer Reading
Challenge to “read a book in a genre you don’t usually read.”

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Who’s That Indie Author? Laura Simmons

whos-that-indie-authorAuthor name:  Laura Simmons

Genre:  Fiction – Paranormal Romance

Books:  Little Bits of Karma, Tough Karma: A Race Against Time


Bio:  Laura Simmons grew up in northern Virginia and spent most of her career working for various Department of Defense contractors in the Washington, DC area. She has a fascination with all things metaphysical. She enjoys writing paranormal romance stories featuring astral travel, psychic abilities, reincarnation and more. She also loves jigsaw puzzles, bowling, vacationing at the beach with her husband, and studying tarot cards and other types of divination systems.

Little Bits of Karma is her debut novel and focuses on reincarnation.  The minor characters from that book had an adventure they wanted to share, and Tough Karma: A Race Against Time is their story.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  My favorite thing about being a writer is having others read and enjoy the stories I’ve written.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Selling and marketing my books.

Favorite books:  I have a fondness for time travel and Highlander romance novels. Some of my favorites are, His Enemy’s Daughter by Terri Brisbin, The Devil’s Lady by Deborah Simmons (no relation to me), Another Dawn by Deb Stover, The Clan Graham Series by Suzan Tisdale

Contact Information:
Twitter:  @LauraSimmons37
Goodreads Author:  Laura Simmons
Amazon Author Page:  Laura Simmons

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email for a bio template and other details.

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Food for thought – books with food references in their titles

Image: Pixabay

Whether it’s a direct reference or a more subtle metaphor, there is no shortage of book titles that have something to do with food.  It’s always fun to organize collections this way.  These classics, thrillers, children’s books and modern fiction all have this common food trait:

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of his days in Paris, where he was part of the expatriate community of writers, artists and creative minds, known now as the “Lost Generation”

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Capote’s character sketch of Holly Golightly, a nineteen-year-old runaway in New York who tries to escape her sad past

Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin

Exciting medical thriller that tackles the subject of obesity and the food industry’s role in this serious health problem

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

In his guide to eating right, Pollan simplifies the dizzying task of figuring out what to eat:  Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.

One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes

Entertaining children’s book that uses hungry ants to teach math and a life lesson

Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig

Pete’s mad because it’s raining and he can’t go outside, so his parents turn him into a pizza in this quietly warm children’s story.

Taste by Tracy Ewens

Sophisticated and a little bit spicy romance about young professionals in the restaurant business

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Twisted tale about a seriously messed up and unlikable family with a terrible secret

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

One of the greatest American stories of endurance ever told.  When The Grapes of Wrath was published, Steinbeck said, “I’ve done my damndest to rip a reader’s nerves to rags.”

We the Eaters by Ellen Gustafson

An argument for ways “we the eaters” can change the world by fighting against big companies like Monsanto and Cargill and buying more organic and whole foods

What do your books in common?

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