Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

book coverPublished: William Morrow
Date: 16th October 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Christmas
Source: Publicist  via Edelweiss

Goodreads callout

Haley Hanson’s idea of the perfect Christmas is escaping to the Caribbean to work so she can avoid all the traditional Christmas distractions. Over the years, she’s sacrificed her personal life to climb the corporate ladder at a prestigious Boston advertising agency. Now she just needs to land a coveted Christmas toy company account to make partner. But first, her boss, Larry, thinks she needs a holiday attitude adjustment, so he ships her off to a Christmas Camp at Holly Peak Inn to help her find her Christmas spirit.

Arriving at the charming mountainside inn, Haley meets the owner’s handsome son, Jeff, and feels an instant spark, but resists the attraction, refusing to be distracted from her goal of doing all the required Christmas tasks as fast as possible so she can get back to work.


What a delightful, fresh, original Christmas season story. I wanted to resist it at first, but bit by bit it hooked my in and kept me reading on. I loved the characters and their stories, I loved the persistence of Max ( a dog) and his insight into the human heart!  I found myself wishing I was their at the Christmas Camp along with all the participants. I might be a little bit easily led I know, but I just couldn’t resist the feel good message in this story.

Haley is a sort of Grinch. But… she doesn’t really have all that much in common with that character, when you examine her life and her heart. Really that is in the right place. She has just become obsessed  with work and her eye is forever on that goal. But thanks to her boss she gets a call to step outside her life and experience something different. I found myself on her side, wanting her to love her respite in this wonder filled place, but also to be successful in her ultimate goal.

I loved the activities, the friendships and relationships that were begun or strengthened. Mmmm all the feels of the Christmas season plus. I believe this just may have a follow up. I’m all for it!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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I had another good reading week, Saturday was wet and cold and a great day to read after I went to our annual Book Fair and came away with 18 books which is reasonable. Two I have put back in the bag to return next year because were double ups. Two I kept even though turns out I have them, and have read them! But on audio so will keep for a reread in print! Anne Bogel mentions this reader’s tangle when you are at a book fair like this in her essays in I‘d Rather Be Reading which I also read and enjoyed this week.

What I read last week:

What I am reading now:

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I just started listening to this one which has excellent reviews.

Up next:

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Last Week’s Posts

Short Reviews of Scandal Above Stairs by Jennifer Ashley and Bear Town by Fredrik Backman

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Over The Teacups, Review

Over the Teacups #12 With Jennifer Ashley and Fredrik Backman


book coverWhy? I read the first one in this new series and really enjoyed it.

Plot  Mrs Holloway (Kat) and Daniel are back together solving thefts of antiques  and murder in the London about them.  Much of it takes place in the kitchen below stairs, but… the murders and thefts seem to have a lot to do with upstairs. There is a surprising little twist at the end.

What Appeals to me? I love the characters, Mrs Holloway is a treasure, I would love to just be in her kitchen and watch her cooking – and sample it! I liked her new assistant very much, and hope to see a lot more of her. Daniel is interesting and in this book we learn a little more of this mystery man.

And so… I really look forward to the third book, and will certainly be early in line to read it.


book coverWhy? I had seen a lot of good reviews for this book, and I needed a book that had been translated for the Modern Mrs Darcy reading challenge

Plot  Set in a small town near or in the forest in Sweden. Its about a hockey club that has done well but now its life and the town’s life is on the line. If it doesn’t regain its success the town will continue to go downhill. There is a lot of politicking and when something very bad goes down – a lot of silence, until bam the s*** hits the fan. Some parents shouldn’t be parents, some parents find they just can’t keep their children safe.

What Appeals to me? To begin with this took about 70 pages to get into, getting to know the various characters, but once I had it I was feeling for them all. Most of them have their challenges, some do things I hated, and they did things I loved. They are characters with faults and failings, and in spite of that, still human beings to want to know and cheer on. But not all of them. Ouch for the denial and ruthlessness. I thought ice hockey is a brutal sport though. What really appealed to me most was the universality of this story. It really could be about any town – anywhere. Or about people we hear about in the news every day.

And so… I will certainly read the next one, Them Against Us, once I’ve had a break from it.

Reading challenge

Full House Reviews Link Up October – December


While reviews are not mandatory in the challenge, you may choose to link up and at the end of the quarter there will be a random choice of two reviews, and the readers will win a $15 voucher for Amazon or book up to that value at the Book Depository.  Adding one rule here, each review chosen must be from a different reader.

When linking your review share which category the book fits, for example… Classic.

Winner from July – August quarter will be posted here once contact is made.

#IMWAYR, Review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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Well I had a good week’s reading again this week. Sometimes its really nice to get on a roll like this! I am a listener to the podcast What Shall I Read Next with Anne Bogel. I rarely have any matches with what readers talk about but I just enjoy the book enthusiasm. But this week on podcast Episode 153 I was excited to have read the three books mentioned as favourites, plus some of the others.

We are into Spring now. I even have some beans appearing up out of the garden. Things are starting to grow. The potatoes are in but haven’t appeared and I have a couple of pots of tomatoes to go out once the bad weather is really past. I even have some flowers blooming about. Do I sound like a gardener, well I’m not – I mostly spend my time beating back weeds which I dislike doing.  Mostly the place looks somewhat unkempt!!

What I read last week:

All of these were so good. Tinsel in a Tangle was a short novella and well written. Will have a short review next week for my thoughts on Beartown.  Being Magdalene was a YA book about a girl in a religious cult, very fact based and I was totally engrossed. What can I say about The Simple Wild other than I laughed out loud and cried. Loved it. I just finished listening to The Lilac Bouquet which was a heartwarming read of feuding people going way back and a young couple trying to organise their marriage through it all.

What I am reading now:

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I will start listening today to this one – #3 in the series, I just wanted something light to listen to as I potter.  And this series certainly is a lot of fun. Who knew I’d get hooked into a cozy series!

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Up next:

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Last Week’s Posts

Short reviews of Lisa Patton and Josephine Moon books

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Over The Teacups, Review

Over The Teacups #11 Josephine Moon and Lisa Patton


book coverWhy   I read a previous book by Australian author Josephine Moon The Beekeeper’s Secret and was very impressed by it. So when a new book came out I was very quickly putting in a reserve for it at the library. Actually now I wouldn’t mind my own copy!

Plot We first meet Lara in Italy – she has just arrived there from Australia. She meets a crusty old man,Samuel,  her caring nature comes out and before she knows it she is working for him at his villa. He sure has a back story and so does Lara. Slowly all this is revealed. Both have had very tough life experiences.

What Appeals To Me?  It is set in Tuscany and a little in Australia. It has a wonderful Italian flavour and goats, cheese making and food is very central. The writing is excellent as well. I loved Lara and Samuel and felt for them both. The story unfolded perfectly. There is a little romance mixed in, but mostly its a wonderful family story, but with some very serious issues explored. I don’t want to give away those because to do so would to start giving the story away.

And so… this is what I would call a keeper shelf book and I will be putting it on my list of 2018 top books.

book coverWhy? I noticed this book on a couple of book blogs that I follow and I decided to chase up the book on their recommendation. I found it through our library system and as I put in a reserve for it I was first on the list and read a beautiful new hardcover book.

Plot  The story centers around admitting girls to a sorority in what’s known as Rush. At ‘Ole Miss’ university in Oxford Mississippi. It is told from a number of viewpoints, a few girls, a mother and a housemaid at the Alpha Delt house. As well this book explores the lot of black Americans and racial injustice.

What Appeals to Me? Ha! Firstly as a person living in another country it took me awhile to work this whole sorority business out, but I think I have  a sort of understanding of it now! Wowee though, in this book the cost per year was a little mind blowing. I liked though the idea of friendship, kindness and forgiveness in this novel. The contrast of rich and less wealthy and the fact that its not what counts when it comes to the value of a person. I loved the characters, all of them even Mrs Whitless Whitmore was somewhat understood at least.    I really liked the social justice aspect and the fact the girls were willing to do something about an issue right in their midst. I felt the book had a universal aspect to it and I could identify with issues and characters, especially Wilda, one of the mothers.

And so… I’ll certainly look out for other books written by Lisa Patton, a new to me author.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? October!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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And so we come to October. We started daylight saving here, we always have a long one. I’ll feel a bit hung over most likely for a few days. Surprising what a difference one hour makes.

What I read last week:

I really enjoyed my reading week, all my books were very good. Loving Jennifer Ashley’s cozy mystery series. and How to Walk Away sort of pulled me in and made me just go on reading.

What I am reading now:

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And I am listening to…

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Up next:

This is a YA book and was recommended by a librarian. It is #3 in a series and I haven’t read the other two but think it’ll stand alone enough.  It is about a religious cult. Fleur Beale is a New Zealand author. I haven’t read her before so I guess its time!

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Last Week’s Posts

Season of Wonder   RaeAnne Thayne

Mistletoe Miracles   Guest post by Jodi Thomas

September Reading in Review

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Month in Review

Month in Reading Review – September 2018


For me September was about keeping an eye on the reading challenges I had set myself, so I am interested to see how I went and how much further I have to advance!

A holiday season book –  The Wishing Tree
A number in the title  – Three Gold Coins 
A classic   – Persuasion
Last book added to my TBR – By Invitation Only Dorothea Benton Frank
Children’s Book  Emily of New Moon  L. M. Montgomery
Randomly chosen from TBR – Flirting With Pete  Barbara Delinsky
Audiobooks – 3
Library books – 7

So for the last three months of the year I still have some challenges I’d like to advance a little more.  I have finished the library challenge although of course I am still reading from the library!

Books Read

Number of Books Read in September: 16

The Wishing Tree   Emily March    Contemporary romance   Kindle
Three Gold Coins   Josephine Moon Mainstream fiction  – Hardback
Rush     Lisa Paton    Mainstream southern fiction  – Hardback
Crimes Against a Book Club  Kathy Cooperman Mainstream fiction – audiobook
Season of Wonder   RaeAnne Thayne  Contemporary Romance – Kindle
Persuasion   Jane Austen   Classic.   – audiobook
Flirting with Pete   Barbara Delinksy  – Mainstream Fiction – Paperback from my bookshelf
Fool Me Forever   Ainslie Paton   – Contemporary Romance – Kindle
An American Marriage   Tayari Jones – Fiction – Hardback.
The Desert Nurse   Pamela Hart  Historical fiction – Trade Paperback
By Invitation Only  Dorothea Benton Frank   Mainstream Fiction.   Hardback
Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane  JoAnn Ross   Contemporary Romance – Kindle
Leverage in Death.  J . D. Robb. Narrated Susan Eriksen – Suspense – Audiobook
Scandal Above Stairs   Jennifer Ashley   Cozy Mystery – Paperback
Emily of New Moon  L.M.Montgomery   Children’s Fiction – Paperback
How to Walk Away.  Katherine Center Mainstream Fiction – Hardback

New to me authors

Lisa Paton
Cathy Cooperman
Tayari Jones

Favourite September book

Ah, so many good books in this month. In the end I have chosen this book for my favourite but so many close runner ups!

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What I am looking forward to reading in October

Now that’s a bit of a hard question, obviously my own bookshelf is groaning with books I want to read and some are also on the way and then of course the library will tell me a book is ready to pick up. But … let’s see.  The first two are on my bookshelf, the Cathy Lamb is for review from Kensington. The anticipation for each book fills me with delight.

Incoming books

Bought – paperbacks

Kindle Books

I bought The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt because his Okay for Now might just be my top favourite children’s book.

From the Library

This was the month of the feast from the library. So many of my reserved books came in! Looking at them now I see I have finished with them all and they have been returned! The pressure of other readers waiting!

From Edelweiss or NetGalley

That one without a title is American Duchess: A Novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt.


Audiobooks bought.



This month I also joined two Australian book  clubs online on Facebook.  One is Rachael Johns Online Book Club  (Australian author) and also Hachette Australia’s Books with Heart Book Club. Each read one book a month and talk about it. Australian books of course, but I decided that I’d enjoy reading many of them, as they are mostly women’s fiction genre so I think it will be an excellent fit for me. The New Zealand population of 5 million is too small for such things!  I know! I know! Many cities in the world have double, triple and more of that! You can see why when we travel for the first time we are a little over awed!

The October read for Books with Heart is about a 79 year old woman. And that will cover a reading challenge topic for me as well. I’ve bought this one as too many reserves on it at the library!book cover

Rachael John’s club read is reading in October …    I’ve bought this one as well and its on its way from Booktopia. (An Australian site) as I couldn’t find it in my local bookshop. Again too many reserves on it at the library, which is good!

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So that’s a wrap for September, I count it as a very good month.  As we slide into October – I saw a blogger calling this Owntober which is a good reminder to read our own books! And I hope to read some more of them. But… there is the local book fair mid October where there will be cheap books. Hmm I’ll limit myself I think. Maybe ten at the most! Have I read last year’s haul, I need to look at that, maybe I haven’t even read one! Ouch.


So what was your reading month like?  Last month I had a book giveaway – I have contacted the winner but haven’t heard back, but I do believe she has been away so I’ll wait awhile longer to give her time to check her email. More news on that next time.

Guest Post

Mistletoe Miracles with Jodi Thomas

Today I welcome a favorite author to The Book Date. Jodi is sharing with us about her latest book published this month.

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MISTLETOE MIRACLES is a book I decided to write about how people pretend.  Maybe we all pretend as some point.  Not lie exactly, just don’t show the whole truth.

I like to do this on planes. When I start talking to someone I tell them I’m a writer.  They usually want to tell me their story.  I know when I’m listening to them that even the villains in stories think that they are the hero.  I also find that talking to me, knowing they’ll never see me again, gives them a kind of freedom.

So in my new book, MISTLETOE MIRACLES, I had fun giving my characters reasons why they have to pretend. Great fun.  Wait until you meet the Johnsons.  He’s a soldier for two weeks with no home to go to.  She’s a drama teacher who has told the school board she’s married.  She has good reasons for lying.  

When he falls asleep and wrecks his rental car, the sheriff in the small town of Crossroads takes him home—-to the only Johnson house in town.  The sheriff thinks he has to be the teacher’s husband, after all, she said he was in the army. 

This story moves through the book as the Johnsons pretend their way into falling in love. Hope you enjoy the Johnsons and the rest of the characters.

Jodi also says…    A Very Special Giveaway

I’m very excited about our new contest for a three day vacation at Red River, New Mexico–either a weekend or during the week. You’ll be stepping into an enchanted place that is very personal to me.
Years ago, my sons were wanting to learn to ski and every time we would go to a little town in New Mexico, it seemed to cost us a fortune. I saw some condos up there and I thought, you know, if we bought a little condo that would solve the problem. Turned out to be the best thing I ever did. Many times a year I go up there whenever I’m reading through a book I’ve just written or if I’m trying to think of an idea. There’s something about sitting out on my patio and watching a branch of the Red River go passing by.

The town of Red River has always been a special place for me. It’s in the enchanted circle in northern New Mexico. Now we have a little bitty place up there, a little bitty hideaway where I go up to write. And It’s always fun. My favorite thing to do in the fall is to curl up in a blanket out on the balcony and watch the Red River go by as I begin a book. Red River, New Mexico is an enchanted place I hope you will enjoy as much as I do.

A word from Kathryn…

You can enter on Jodi’s website. Wouldn’t you love to win. It sounds fabulous.

I haven’t read Mistletoe Miracles but it is an auto-buy for me, its pre-ordered and will be winging its way to me on publishing. I loved the podcast below where Jodi talks about the book and her author life – well worth the listen.

Podcast with Jodi and Jason Boyett at Hey Amarillo


Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne

Book coverPublished:Harlequin
Date: 25th September 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley

Star rating
Goodreads callout

Dani Capelli has never truly belonged anywhere. And from her earliest days as a foster child in Queens, she would have been lost if it weren’t for her love of animals. Until high school, when she fell hard for the wrong boy, and found herself pregnant—and married—by graduation. Two daughters later, Dani realized her mistake and filed for divorce, and with the help of scholarships and loans—and a lot of macaroni and cheese dinners—she enrolled in vet school. Things were finally looking up…until her ex-husband became her late husband, in the most notorious way possible.

Now Dani and her daughters need an out-of-town pass more than ever. So when the retiring Haven Point veterinarian offers her a chance to settle in the small Idaho town and take over his practice, she jumps at it. But adjusting to the charming mountain community isn’t easy; thirteen-year-old Silver begins acting out while six-year-old Mia is growing too attached to Haven Point and everything in it, especially their next-door-neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Ruben Morales. And Dani can’t blame her. Ruben is everything she’s secretly wanted—and everything she can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.


  • Dani is a divorced mother with two girls – one a problematic but loveable thirteen year old, the other a delightful six year old.
  • Dani is an intern vet, she has made her way through school, and now has a sizeable debt loan to prove it.
  • She has a history of an ex husband, whom she’d rather keep quiet about.
  • She might have some feelings of guilt because of all the hours she has had to put into study and work and perhaps the girls have missed out, but that hasn’t stopped her from being a good Mom, with boundaries.
  • Her own upbringing was marred by a lack of parents.
  • She just might have feelings of attraction for the handsome, kind, thoughtful guy next door, son of her veterinary boss. To say nothing of the warm, friendly family he belongs to.

Seasons of Wonder is about the spirit of Christmas ( I loved the Secret Santa idea) and the spirit of family and of love and belief.

It’s a heartwarming and lovely story very suitable for the holiday season.