Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

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Time for another book review. I’d classify Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella as a romantic comedy. It’s actually part of a larger series featuring Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood). All of the books are laugh-out-loud funny and this story was no exception. I recommend this series if you need an escape and a good laugh.

Description:

’Tis the season for change and Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is embracing it, returning from the States to live in the charming village of Letherby and working with her best friend, Suze, in the gift shop of Suze’s stately home. Life is good, especially now that Becky takes time every day for mindfulness—even if that only means listening to a meditation tape while hunting down online bargains.

But Becky still adores the traditions of Christmas: Her parents hosting, carols playing on repeat, her mother pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the neighbors coming ’round for sherry in their terrible holiday sweaters. Things are looking cheerier than ever, until Becky’s parents announce they’re moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch—unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocados—and ask Becky if she’ll host this year. What could possibly go wrong?

Becky’s sister demands a vegan turkey, her husband insists that he just wants aftershave (again), and little Minnie needs a very specific picnic hamper: Surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend–turned–rock star and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear. But as the countdown to Christmas begins and her bighearted plans take an unexpected turn toward disaster, Becky wonders if chaos will ensue, or if she’ll manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas after all.

What I love

I could not pass up Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I’ve read every Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) book since Book 1. Becky is charming and sweet and nice and means really well. Even when she gets herself in a ton of trouble.

This was a feel-good story set during the lead-up to Christmas. Becky’s husband, Luke, is such a charmer and crazy about Becky. He just can’t get mad at her. It must be true love.

As usual, Becky is up to her normal hijinks and can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble, whether it’s attempting to join an exclusive male-only club (those scenes were laugh-out-loud funny) just to enter a raffle to hunting for a tofu turkey for Christmas dinner in a village that doesn’t sell them. Everything that can possibly go wrong goes wrong.

I was at the edge of my seat from curiosity wondering how Becky was going to manage to fix her one million problems. Don’t worry, the book ends in a very satisfactory way. I actually got a bit teary-eyed. If you read it you’ll know why.

What I don’t love

I’m a bit fatigued by her antics…

Have you read this book or any of the Shopaholic books?

xoxo, Jane

Secret Prince’s Christmas Seduction by Carol Marinelli

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Description:

Claimed by the prince

For Christmas or forever?

Sicilian chambermaid Antonietta prides herself on her discretion, so she’s mortified by her inappropriate reaction to her hotel’s newest guest! Antonietta has no idea Rafael is the notorious prince of Tulano. All she knows is that his touch lights her up more brightly than a Christmas tree.

Their unexpected connection floors cynical Rafe. All he can offer is a temporary festive seduction before resuming his royal duties. But unwrapping the precious gift of Antonietta’s virginity changes everything. Rafe must choose—his crown, or Antonietta…

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What I love

Secret Prince’s Christmas Seduction by Carol Marinelli is set in romantic, pictouresque  Sicily. I love that this book is a Harlequin Presents. In a Presents novel, the stories are set in glamorous locations and have these unbelievably romantic alpha male heroes. This story checks all of those boxes for me.

After standing up her groom on her wedding day and running away from home, Antonietta is back to try and make amends with her family. Her parents have shunned her after she refused to marry in an arranged marriage to a cousin!! (methinks she did the right thing by running away) who was not very nice, for better lack of words. Chaos ensues at the wedding. After running away, a fight breaks out at the church. (As an aside, the book’s fight scene reminded me of the fight scene the extended members of the Spanish Royal Family had at the wedding of the current king, King Felipe.)

Unfortunately, her parents refuse to accept the olive branch, even though it is the Christmas season. Instead of leaving town again, Antonietta takes a job at a luxury hotel where she works as a cleaner while training as a therapist. She feels lonely and surrounds herself with her co-workers and makes them her family. I love that this book has a little bit of a Cinderella theme.

Antonietta hopes her parents will come around. In the meantime, she is hard at work. This is where she meets one of the guests, Rafe, who is recuperating after an accident. He seems to be annoyed with everyone except for Antonietta who has no idea of his royal identity. Rafe notices that she doesn’t seem to be enamored with his status and title (but that’s because she doesn’t know his true identity) and he finds her intriguing.

In his own way, Rafe begins to court her. Even though he has a bit of a grumpy demeanor, I found Rafe sweet and romantic. I love how he swept Antonietta off her feet.

I’ve read Carol Marinelli’s books before. Her scenes are so descriptive that I can almost hear the crashing of the ocean waves during Rafe’s walks.  And in one scene, when Antonietta applies red lipstick, I pictured a MAC lipstick.

Rafe is supposed to marry a lady of his family’s choosing, someone with noble blood. This is the obstacle they must overcome. It was heart-wrenching to read these scenes because Antonietta gives up on love and on Rafe and thinks herself destined to be without him. But just when we think that’s the case, Rafe defies his parents and goes after the woman he loves. It is quite a roller coaster of emotions.

What I don’t love

I wish it had a longer, more detailed epilogue. I just wasn’t ready to leave this Harlequin Presents world behind.

A copy of this book was provided to me by NetGalley, but opinions are entirely my own. Since I love to read and then write about what I read, I thought it would be nice to sign up for NetGalley. Thank you so much for reading my blog.

First image via Pexels.com. Second image via Harlequin.com. 

Fortune’s Homecoming by Allison Leigh

It’s time for another romance novel review. Why? Because I love them best of all.

Description:

Celebrity rodeo rider Grayson Fortune is seeking a reprieve from the limelight. So as his sweet real estate agent, Billie Pemberton, searches to find him the perfect home, he struggles to keep his mind on business. With his famous (philandering) Fortune father, Grayson is sure he’s not cut out for commitment. Roping young, innocent Billie into a fling would only break her heart. But Billie is convinced that love and family are Grayson’s true birthright…

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What I love

Well, the first thing I love about this book is that it’s a romance novel. I repeat, I love romances best of all! Fortune’s Homecoming by Allison Leigh packed a lot of romance and emotion. Even though it’s part of a series, I didn’t have any trouble at all reading it out of order.

I like that Grayson and Billie are friends at first. Slowing getting to know each other in a cautious way while spending time together during their real estate jaunts. It’s obvious that they like each other, but none can admit it to the other. Plus, Billie knows that Grayson has a reputation as a lady’s man and she doesn’t want to be another girl on his list. So she tries to guard her heart against him. (This gave me all the feels!)

Billie is very strong and likes to depend on herself. She loves what she does and does it anyway even though her mother wishes she’d gone into teaching Economics (why for heaven’s sake?). She lets Billie know this on a regular basis, thus making Billie feel perpetually guilty.

I can relate and you probably can too. Mothers have a tendency to make us regret our (very good) life choices. After high school, I wanted to return to Europe for college and I especially wanted to stay there afterwards. But my family was dead-set against it. They wanted me closer to them, where they could see me (and maybe control me?). I sure wish I didn’t let them persuade me otherwise. I suppose my life ended up just fine. I travel to Europe at least once a year and live life on my terms. But that’s why I love that Billie sticks to her guns and does what her heart tells her. I wish I was more like Billie when I was her age.

Maybe that’s why this portion of the story broke my heart. It’s obvious her mom is NOT proud of Billie’s accomplishments. Billie is so accomplished. Only 24 years old, yet holds a real estate license and a BA in Economics.

Personally, I am not the type of gal that needs rescuing and I’m pretty sure I would not like those types of romance heroines either. Billie, with her grand passion for her job and her education and gumption, is my kind of girl.

I don’t want to give away the conflict, so I’ll keep mum on that, but it involves a rodeo, a really nice mother and a truck! Intrigued yet?

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Via Pexels.com

What I don’t love

I think my only gripe is that the hero, celebrity rodeo rider Grayson Fortune, kept referring to Billie as “darlin” even when they didn’t know each other very well. I know that I’d get annoyed real fast if some random dude kept referring to me as “darlin.” But since this is a cowboy romance, it’s par for the course. Otherwise, it was a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

What’s the next book you’re grabbing off your bookshelf?

xoxo, Jane

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for supporting my book-loving blog. xoxo, Jane

 

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott is the first book in her Madame Chic series. I previously wrote about the third book, Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic, and was recently inspired to re-read the first book in the series.

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Description:

Inspired by Paris, this lighthearted and deceptively wise contemporary memoir serves as a guidebook for women on the path to adulthood, sophistication, and style. Jennifer Scott’s self-published success is now a beautifully packaged and fully illustrated gift book, perfect for any woman looking to lead a more fulfilling, passionate, and artful life.

What I love

I love that the book is so inspiring and uplifting. One of the ideas Jennifer advocates for is the ten-item wardrobe, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Core items are limited, but then you can have plenty of extras (extras are handbags, scarves, outerwear, formal wear, active wear, etc). Of course, your core items don’t need to be just ten (mine are around 30), because the point is that it helps you define your style and stops you from spending frivolously. The book walks you through all the steps needed (as does Jennifer’s blog).

If you follow the ten-item wardrobe you end up saving more money, having less clutter and having a refined signature style. I totally love this!

I also really enjoyed the lay-out of the book. Each lesson was divided by chapters with lovely illustrations throughout.

What I don’t love

Nothing, actually. It’s a fun book. It’s not judgmental either. As the reader, I decide which lessons I want to incorporate in my life. That’s the beauty of living your life. You are in charge of it!

Do you have a ten-item wardrobe? xoxo, Jane

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for supporting my book-loving blog. xoxo, Jane

Vanity Fair (Magazine Review)

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Reading magazines while drinking Fortnum’s tea in my Burleigh Pottery teacup is pure bliss!

My local library lets you check out magazines, so I borrowed a few. I hardly ever read magazines and it made for a fun weekend. And I kind of fell in love with Vanity Fair, at least with the May 2018 issue.

It was so much fun to read. Why? Because this issue was the special “Love & Royals” issue in honor of Harry and Meghan’s wedding and it was choke-full of royalty-related articles (my favorite kind of reading).

My favorite article was “Long Live The Kings” by Micheal Joseph Gross (and I went down a rabbit hole after I googled the other articles he wrote). Mr. Gross wrote an article about all of the living former kings, how they still want to live as monarchs* and what they are up to these days.

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Photo by Mike Bird on Pexels.com

The article was funny (but not in a ha-ha way), insightful and sad. Funny because all of the ex-kings feel super awkward to accept paid employment** so they rely on donations by their former countrymen. Insightful because the article was well-researched and I learned that a man born to be a monarch, but probably never will be king, lives in my neck of the woods. Sad because a number of the former kings live disillusioned lives by fervently hoping to have their thrones restored and become kings again.

I also enjoyed reading the article about the history of fascinators. Someone please invite me to an English wedding!! There were also a couple of articles about my favorite lady, the Duchess of Sussex. So all in all, this edition was delicious and I am going back to the library for more. Have a great new week! xoxo, Jane

*I pretend to be a monarch too but then the feeling goes away when I have to unload the dishwasher and vacuum the living room.

**I too feel awkward going to work everyday. Please feel free to financially support me.

Polish Your Poise With Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

Time for a little book review.  Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic: Lessons in Everyday Elegance is the third in the Madame Chic series by Jennifer L. Scott. I’ve read the earlier books so I knew I’d really enjoy the newest book in this series.

Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic

Besides writing her books, Jennifer has a blog and youtube channel where she talks about the themes in her books and how to live a graceful and chic life.

I don’t usually gravitate towards “self-help” books, but this series is different. The series focuses on your personal style, making do with less and choosing quality over quantity.

All good lessons.

Polish Your Poise

About:

In Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic, the reader is introduced to the five characteristics of poise: Confidence, Composure, Compassion, Presentation, Present. To delve deep into the characteristics of poise, the book is divided into three parts, The Power of Poise, Presentation and Practicing Poise.

Why I enjoyed this book:

It’s a fun, fast read. The illustrations are lovely. It’s a fashionable little hardback that fits in my purse and looks good on my bookshelf. Most importantly though, it reiterates the themes of the life that I strive to have: happy, poised and meaningful.

Have you read this book or any of the others in the Madame Chic series?

Do you have any similar recommendations? xoxo, Jane