WWW Wednesdays – What are you reading??

W.W.W. Wednesdays is a weekly event brought to you by MizB from Should Be Reading.  To play along, answer the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you are going to read next?

My Answers:

What are you currently reading?

I read several books at a time, so this is kind of a long list!

   

Jesus Calling [Women's Edition] is my current devotional. Santa Miracles is a Christmas story collection that I’ve been reading for awhile. I just read a few stories at a time. I’m loving the stories and recipes in Bread & Wine! I’m reading & Sons on the recommendation of Joy the Baker, and I’m really enjoying it so far.

What did you recently finish reading?

  

I enjoyed Not That Kind of Girl way more than I expected. I wasn’t really a Lena Dunham fan before, but I am now. Bossypants [Audiobook] was every bit as great as I’d hoped. Tina Fey is infinitely hilarious.

What do you think you are going to read next?

  

 

My favorite author (Melody Carlson) recommended Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I loved the sample, so I’m eager to read the book. I love the movie Christmas with the Kranks, and Skipping Christmas is the book it’s based on. I’ve always heard David Sedaris is incredible, so I’m excited to try out holidays on ice. Of course, if I can get my hands on Yes Please by Amy Poehler or Us by David Nicholls, those will be thrown in the pile as well!

I’d love to hear what you’re reading! Leave your answers or a link to your post in the comments!

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons by Heather A. Slomski — Review

The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons

Book Description:

Winner of the 2014 Iowa Short Fiction Award, Heather A. Slomski’s debut story collection takes loss as its primary subject and holds it up to the light. In prose spare and daring, poised yet startling, these stories take shape in reality, but reality, they sometimes show us, is not a separate realm from the fantastic or the surreal. Two couples meet for dinner to acknowledge an affair. A mannequin recalls a lover and the life she mysteriously lost.  Two girls observe a young widow’s grief through a café window. A man’s hat is as discerning as Cinderella’s shoe.

In the fifteen stories that comprise this collection—some short as breaths, two of them novelettes—Slomski writes with a keen eye about relationships. About the desires that pull us together and the betrayals that push us apart. About jealousy, obsession, loneliness and regret—the byproducts of loving someone that keep us awake at night.

The characters in these stories share meals, drink wine, buy furniture and art. They live domestic lives, so often wanting to love someone yet ending up alone. In one story, a woman’s fiancé leaves her when she goes to post some mail. In another story, a man can’t move past an affair his wife almost had. Another story describes a series of drawings to detail a couple’s end. But while loss and heartache pervade these stories, there is also occasional hope. For, as the title story shows us, sometimes a breakup isn’t an end at all, but the beginning of your life.

My Review:

This collection of stories by Heather A. Slomski has hits and misses. The two standout stories are no doubt the first and last stories–The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons and Before the Story Ends. The former is a story of 2 couples dining together and acknowledging the infidelity that connects them. The latter is one part fairy tale and one part heartbreaking reality–a story of love and loss. My favorite things about this book may just be the title and cover, which I adore. Most of the stories revolve around loss in one form or another, and some of them felt much too unfinished for my taste. There were stories I wanted to go on and others that lived past their prime. An emotional collection to say the least, but I prefer more finished short stories. It’s obvious that Slomski is a talented writer. If you’re a short fiction fan, The Lovers Set Down Their Spoons is for you. (I received a digital arc of this title for review purposes.)

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories — Review

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

My Review:

12 Short Stories by different authors, so of course there are hits and misses!

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell – LOVE. Of course, it’s written by RR and I’ve yet to find anything of hers I don’t love. The format is fun and interesting, the characters are realistic and grab you immediately. One of my favorite stories in the book. Strong start! 4.5 stars

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link – not really my type of story, but it was entertaining and held my interest. I don’t regret spending time reading it, and Link has a style of writing I really like. 3.5 stars

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena – I actually really liked this story! I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but the writing felt real. I liked the characters, and while the story seemed a little generic, I liked it a lot. Probably one of my favorites. 4 stars

Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny Han – not what I was expecting! A story of unrequited love between a human and en elf – but I totally enjoyed it! The story was silly and fun, and I always like Han’s work. 3.5 stars

It’s A Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins – I loved this story! It’s one of the more realistic stories in this collection. This is the first piece of writing I’ve read by Perkins, and I wasn’t disappointed. The characters were realistic, the story was original, and the dialogue was fun. 4 stars

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan – I didn’t love this story. It was fun enough, but I’m not usually a fan of Levithan’s work and this didn’t change my mind. The main character seems a little clingy and self-involved, but I liked the underlying storyline. 2 stars

Krampuslauf by Holly Black – I really didn’t like this story. If you like books with a mystical element, including characters that are half-goat and such, you’ll enjoy this. Not my style. 1 star

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman – loved it! I fell in love with the characters, and the story developed perfectly! Another winner from Forman. A favorite from this collection! 4 stars

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire – liked it, but didn’t expect to! This story grabbed my attention with the first line, and it held it to the end! The characters are realistic, the story is funny and original, and the writing is spot on. It had me laughing a lot. A favorite! 4 stars

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White – I liked this story. It seemed a little long and some parts were slow moving, but I liked it all by the end. Predictable, but a good story. 3.5 stars

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter – one of the longer stories. I enjoyed it. Most people will figure out the ending, but it’s an original holiday story with a fun twist. 3.5 stars

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I REALLY didn’t like this story. I seriously considered not finishing the book, but I pushed through it. I’m not a fan of magical or mythological creatures as characters, so this story wasn’t for me. It seemed to be one of the longest stories, too. One of my least favorite. 1 star

As a collection, I found more winners than losers. There’s something for everyone in this book, so I suggest you get a copy and pick out your favorites! It would also make a great gift for the holiday reader in your life. My True Love Gave to Me releases in Hardback and eBook form on October 14.

(I received a digital ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.)

Publisher Info:

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers (Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de La Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Tayler and Kiersten White), edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins.  Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.  So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy.  You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love!

A Grand Design (Quilts of Love) by Amber Stockton — Review

A Grand Design by Amber Stockton

a grand designquilts

A Grand Design (Quilts of Love) is a cute story. It’s short, less than 200 pages, so it’s ideal if you want a quick read for a rainy day. I liked the story, but the dialogue bothered me. The characters use language that is too stiff–almost formal–and it confuses the setting of the book. A Grand Design is a contemporary story, but the language makes it seem like a historical novel. The story was really predictable, but I can usually get over that. Unfortunately this story didn’t seem very realistic–for example, a conflict towards the end of the book was resolved way too easily. The dialogue is what kept me from really getting into the story, so if you can overlook that, you’ll probably enjoy this story. I loved the way the author described each setting, and it tied in well with the design theme of the book. Recommended for fans of Christian Fiction Novellas.

Info from the Publisher:

A getaway on a charming island may be just what Alyssa needs—if only she can let go of her past.

When Alyssa Denham, a single career woman, wins a fun getaway for two on Mackinac Island where her grandmother lives, she gives her carefree best friend a call. Together, they tour the old shops and hidden treasures of the quaint island while helping Alyssa’s grandmother piece together an heirloom quilt. Their quest gains them entrance into the homes of many longtime residents of the island, parts of the city that are otherwise off limits to tourists.

As the quilt’s story takes shape, Alyssa gains amazing insight into her grandmother’s life . . . and attracts the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman, an island resident in charge of hotel transportation. Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will the quest to piece together the heirloom quilt restore Alyssa’s fractured heart—and bring healing to her entire family?

Find our more and purchase a copy at the Quilts of Love website.

About Quilts of Love: 

Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women’s fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

About the Author:

Amber Stockton is an award-winning author, a national speaker, and a direct-sales brand partner with Nerium International. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and a son, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. Three of her novels have won annual reader’s choice awards.
Connect with Amber: website, Facebook, Twitter

Giveaway & Facebook Party

Quilts of Love A Grand Design Amber Stockton*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant — Review

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

Alls-Fair-252x384

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes is so cute! I fell in love with the cover the first time I saw it. It took me awhile to get into the book, but I’m thinking that has more to do with the fact that I’ve been reading fast moving suspense novels than it has to do with this book. Once I got to chapter 6 or so, the story really seemed to pick up. It’s a classic “best friends love each other but are scared to admit it” situation. The story felt real, and that probably has to do with the slower pace as well. I thought the book was predictable, but then St. Amant threw a few surprises our way! I really liked the behind the scenes view of Cupcake Combat because I can easily see Cupcake Wars being handled that way. I definitely pictured Justin Willman as Sam! Overall, I enjoyed this story and was satisfied with the ending. Betsy St. Amant did a great job of not forcing the story but letting the plot develop naturally. I especially liked that she gave us both main characters’ point of view. Often in stories like this one we don’t get the male’s perspective, so that set this book apart. All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes is for fans of Cupcake Wars and Contemporary Christian Romance. Read it with a cupcake in hand on a relaxed day!

Info from the Publisher:

{MORE ABOUT ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND CUPCAKES}

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

Learn more and purchase a copy on Betsy’s site.

Betsy St. Amant

{MORE ABOUT BETSY ST. AMANT}

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.

Find out more about Betsy at http://www.betsystamant.com/.

Betsy’s Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest

Betsy St. Amant is a woman of many hats shoes, but one who loves Jesus no matter where her feet are planted, whether that’s being a mother in running sneakers, a career-woman in tottering high heels, or a barefoot author. Betsy is celebrating her latest release, All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, with a Kindle giveaway and “Love and Cupcakes” Author Chat Facebook Party on September 18. Click here to learn more and enter.


What’s your go-to activity to get out of writer’s block?

Definitely a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks! Also, maybe a little Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show for a laugh, and a few hugs from my daughter. If I still need something else, I will go for a walk or jog or hit up my punching bag for some endorphins!

When you were in kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A veterinarian—which is just really, really ironic now because I can’t handle gross smells or blood or anything like that, and while I do love dogs and horses, I typically just prefer to not have to mess with animals at all!

Favorite ice cream flavor:

Mint chocolate chip.

If you had an extra room in your house, what would you use it for?

A library! This is so needed!! I have full bookshelves and full under-the-bed boxes crammed with books. Sigh. One day . . . .

What is the farthest place from home you’ve ever been?

Mexico on a cruise.

What book are you currently reading?

Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, and re-reading (because it’s that great!) Waking the Dead by John Eldredge.

If you were a given a gift card to any restaurant, where would you want to eat?

Cantina Laredo – it’s an amazing gourmet Mexican food restaurant with the best queso in the world!

What was the best birthday present you ever received?

A gift card to Cantina Laredo *wink* Just kidding. I’m not sure, every year I receive so many sweet and heartfelt gifts, it’s hard to decide or pick one. I am so blessed!

When do your best ideas come to you? Early morning or late at night?

In the shower. So whenever that is depending on my day!

What task do you dread doing each week?

Dusting. I. Hate. Dusting. Which is why my counters and furniture look the way they currently do ☺

Giveaway & Facebook Party

 Betsy St. Amant All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes

One winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle
  • All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

Enter today! The giveaway ends on September 18th. Winner will be announced at the Love & Cupcakes” Author Chat Party on 9/18. Betsy will be hosting a “sweet” book chat, giving away prizes, and answering questions from readers. She will also share an exclusive sneak peek at her next book project!

So grab your copy of All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes and join Betsy on the evening of September 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

To learn about the story behind All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, go here.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling — Review

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

mindy book

I don’t know if I’d call myself a Mindy Kaling super fan [but I totally am one]. I didn’t love Kelly Kapoor when I first watched The Office, but she grew on me. When Mindy launched her own show, The Mindy Project, I was SO FREAKING EXCITED. And Mindy has not disappointed me! So, as a Mindy Kaling [super] fan, I HAD to read this book.

First off, I love the cover. Cute, understated, a little off, and a great title. The size of the book is not intimidating, which is always a plus. I found the stories to be incredibly funny and believable. I loved hearing about her interactions with other people of fame–BJ Novak, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wigg, and Will Arnett. I really enjoyed this book! I think it boils down to this–if you’re a fan of Mindy Kaling and her work, you’ll like this book. If you don’t like Mindy [what's wrong with you?], don’t read this because your sense of humor is lacking. My only regret is not buying the enhanced version. I should get on that.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
 
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Author Info:

IMDB

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Thanks to Birchbox #Birchbloggers for my review copy!!