Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review: My First Dino-Wrestling by Lisa Wheeler

Genre: Children's (Board book, ages 1-4)
Published: February 7, 2023
Pages: 12

Singlets. Headgear. / Wrestling stance. / Whistle blows. / The two advance.

Fun rhyming text from Lisa Wheeler introduces key moments in a wrestling match, and colorful illustrations from Barry Gott will captivate wee fans! Enjoy the action as dinosaurs in wrestling gear face off in this action-packed board book.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

So I read this book and wrote an entire review by hand without realizing that this is a board book. Which makes my review pretty much irrelevant. Things that I expect from a book for an infant or toddler are very different than the things I expect from a book for a young child that's just past the toddler level. In my original review, I talked about this book being simple, but the words being too difficult for an early reader type book, which maybe should have clued me in that it was a board book, but it didn't. 

Now that I know this is a board book, I've gotta focus more on the illustrations, which were excellent. They were bright and colorful and would definitely be eye-catching for a toddler. And while it's not a book I'd really want to read over and over again, I'm sure I would have a few times because at least it goes by quick. 

Overall I give this book 3.7 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Lisa Wheeler is the award-winning author of the Dino-Sports and Dino-Holidays books. When she isn't running around the country visiting schools, standing at podiums, and eating airport snacks, she resides in Michigan.

#31DaysOfChristmas: Christmas Twister


Watched on: Christmas Plus (Roku)
Duration: 1 hour 26 minutes
Originally aired: December 16, 2012
Directed by: Peter Sullivan
Starring: Casper Van Dien, Victoria Pratt, and Richard Burgi
Please see IMDb for all cast and crew info. 


In a small Texas town during the holiday season, Ethan Walker, a meteorologist and part-time professor working at the local university studying tornadoes, is woken in the middle of the night for a call about a tornado that has just hit. His team is assembling at the lab and he needs to report. His wife Addison, a TV news reporter, is also summoned to work to do a piece on the tornado for the morning news. Ethan realizes the conditions are ripe for more tornadoes. Although he and his wife have been having marriage problems, he calls her and begs her to put the warning out, but the station's slick meteorologist thinks it was an isolated incident. Addison tries to get him to change his mind, but he won't -- because it's Christmas time and he does not want to be a Scrooge with some hypothetical news. When a tornado levels the Walker's house on Christmas Eve, Ethan and his wife must come together to help save others and rescue their missing children.


I picked this movie hoping that it would give me some Christmas magic with the thrills. Spoiler alert, it did not. Like Die Hard, this is an action movie, NOT a Christmas movie. Simply being set on Christmas day isn't enough to make it a Christmas movie, and this one doesn't even have any snow (Die Hard at least has snow). 

Christmas Twister was pretty much like a mash-up of Twister and Day After Tomorrow. The natural disaster is a major series of tornados like Twister, and there's a sleazy weatherman who doesn't know his asshole from his elbow, with the added element of "his kids are out there!" Seriously, the meteorologist who figured out that it would be a major storm day spent most of the movie tracking down his family. And I'm pretty sure this family is cursed because tornados just happened to hit the exact locations where each member of his family was, including the family dog. The odds of that happening are astronomically low considering that it was three separate twisters. 

Early on there was a great corny joke that made me groan/laugh. But it was pretty much downhill from there. I would definitely give this B movie status. It wasn't bad, but it definitely wasn't good. And it certainly wasn't an actual Christmas movie despite the title. 


Review: Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson


Genre: Romance
Published: May 28, 2019
Pages: 382


English professor Bonnie Blythe expects her life to play out like her favorite novels, especially now that her long-term boyfriend has finally proposed. So when a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, she decides to close the book on love. But the plot thickens when a brand-new character enters the scene—and quickens Bonnie's heart.

With his brilliant blue eyes, sexy accent, and irresistible charm, Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel. When fate places Bonnie in England for a summer—conveniently close to Theo—she realizes a hot friends-with-benefits fling is exactly what she needs to start a fresh chapter. Just as Bonnie begins to believe she's falling in love, an eye-opening revelation into Theo's life makes Bonnie feel like she's wandered into one of her favorite books. Will Bonnie have the courage to risk her heart and turn the page with the dashing Brit to find her true happy ending after all?

Those sugar biscuits tell it like it is. The unvarnished truth.

I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. I also happened to receive a copy through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

I started reading this book back in January but didn't get very far. I was dealing with a lot of things in my personal life and completely stopped reading. When I was ready to pick up a book again, this cover didn't draw me in like others. So it took me a little longer to read it, but once I remembered how much I enjoy reading, I was ready to dive back in.

I was already somewhat familiar with the characters from reading Getting Hot with the Scot, and it was nice getting to see the continuation of that relationship through Bonnie and Theo. But the real fire in the story was obviously between the main characters.

I felt like Bonnie's constant literary references were a bit cliche. I understand that she's a literature professor so she knows these works backwards and forwards, but I was getting a little annoyed with the comparisons. But I felt giddy every time Theo used her love of books to impress her. 

The issues plaguing Bonnie and Theo's relationship were reasonable and were actually problems that wouldn't just be solved by talking. They might not have been as severe if they'd been more up front with each other, but it wouldn't have completely solved them. I actually appreciated that. The story was also not as predictable as I typically find romances, so another plus.

Overall I give this book 3.4 stars out of 5. - Katie 

USA Today bestselling author Melonie Johnson―aka #thewritinglush―enjoys sipping cocktails that start with the letter m. Declared a “writer to watch” by Kirkus and a “fizzy, engrossing new voice” by Entertainment Weekly, her smart funny contemporary romances include Too Good to Be Real and her award-winning debut series, Sometimes in Love. Her work has appeared on the Amazon Best Books of the month and been featured in Cosmopolitan, Woman’s World, BuzzFeed, and more. A former high school English and Theatre teacher, she spends her days in her Star Wars office, dreaming up meet cutes. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband, their two redhead daughters. Watch for her next rom-com, TOO WRONG TO BE RIGHT, in early 2023. Visit her at and find her on Instagram and TikTok at @thewritinglush.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

#31DaysOfChristmas: The Tree that Saved Christmas


Watched on: Christmas + (Roku)
Duration: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Originally aired: November 30, 2014
Directed by: David Winning
Starring: Lacey Chabert, Corey Sevier and Matthew Kevin Anderson
Please see IMDb for full cast and crew information.


Molly Logan and Lucas Bishop were childhood friends and high school sweethearts in Danbury Falls, Vermont. Molly's family founded the town two hundred years ago, with her immediate family still living on the same property, where her parents, Gordon and Betty Logan, have continued the family business of operating a Christmas tree farm. Since they were children, Molly knew she wanted to become a writer, a dream which her parents supported. Lucas knew he wanted to become a photographer, something his banker father, Elliot Bishop, vehemently didn't allow him to pursue as a career, he believing only in guaranteed good-paying careers, like his own. Molly and Lucas broke up years ago when he would not follow her to New York, where they would have pursued their professional dreams. They have not seen each other since. After getting an MBA, Lucas returned to Danbury Falls to work at the bank. Molly works at a publishing house, where her recently widowed boss, Walter Dunlap, treats her more as his 24/7 personal assistant - mostly acting as a surrogate caregiver to his two impressionable daughters, Victoria and Sofia - than as a business assistant, both which leave her little time to write. While Walter forces Molly to work over the Christmas holidays, in part preparing his own home for Christmas, Molly believes she has received a sign of some sort when the tree delivered to the Dunlap house not only came from the Logan tree farm, but is the "Charlie Brown" tree Molly saved from being culled twenty years ago, she and Lucas who at the time christened it "Molly's tree." As she has just heard from her brother Ryan that the bank is foreclosing on a mortgage for the tree farm property - something Gordon and Betty were not going to tell them - Molly decides it is a sign to chuck in her work responsibilities to head back to Danbury Falls with the tree to help her parents save the farm from being turned into a golf resort. In the process, Molly runs into Lucas, who is heading the search for investors for the development proposal. In trying to bring some Christmas cheer not only to her family and to the town, Molly may end up working some Christmas magic on Lucas and Walter, but not without the obstacle of Mr. Bishop trying to get his way.


I missed about the first ten minutes of this movie because I was busy making a cheesecake for a work potluck, and with two mixers, the microwave, and the oven all running around me, I just couldn't hear. But I was pretty sure I was able to get the gist of what happened when Molly was a child on her parents' Christmas tree farm (and that was even before I read the synopsis from IMDb, which I'm fairly certain sums it up quite well thank you very much). 

By the time I could hear what was going on, Molly was a career woman in the city, working all the time, because of course she was. When she hears that the family farm is in jeopardy, she rushes home leaving her boss in the lurch because she has always loved Christmas (to the best of my knowledge). And unlike yesterday's flop of a movie, this one absolutely qualifies as a typical Christmas romance. 

It featured the classic awkward encounter with the ex who never really left the small town, tree decorating, a Christmas market/festival atmosphere, and a true Christmas miracle. For a while I thought we were going to have a love triangle situation for Molly, then I thought Molly's boss was going to put the moves on her mother, then I thought...You know what, if I go any further with that, it would be serious spoilers. 

Overall I give this Gretchen Wiener Christmas movie enthusiastic thumbs up. 


Review: A Pinch of Love by Barry Timms


Genre: Children's (4-7)
Published: December 6, 2022
Pages: 32

In this beautiful story told in rhyming verse, a boy and his grandmother, are preparing for a big neighborhood bake-off. See the loving (and sticky!) moments of their tender relationship, along with the many other warm bonds that exist within their community.

Barry Timms’ gentle text skillfully links these loving moments with the love that is represented by the food, while Tisha Lee’s 
lush illustrations give real depth to this vibrant and diverse neighborhood.

This book is a warm and charming tale, 
perfect for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review.

This was a cute little story about being kind to other people, even when it's difficult. The rhyming flowed fairly well throughout, although there were a couple spots where I felt the word choice seemed a little odd just to make the rhymes work, but it wasn't particularly jarring or terribly out of place. 

The illustrations were alright. They didn't really appeal to me, but I imagine a young child would be a little drawn to them. 

This is a book that I wouldn't have wanted to read to my children every night, but I wouldn't have minded reading it occasionally. So overall I give A Pinch of Love 4 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Barry Timms is an award-winning storyteller and enjoys the way that books bring people together. He grew up in the rolling, rugged Cornish landscape but now lives by an old water tower in South London and is a city boy at heart. Barry can often be found with pencil in hand, writing or drawing or both. Most exciting of all is putting words and images together, and the surprising results that can happen. Barry likes road movies, ghost trains and exploring forgotten side streets.

Monday, November 28, 2022

*Review* Getting Hot with the Scot by Melonie Johnson

Genre: Romance
Published: April 30, 2019
Pages: 366

Cassie Crow, a pop-culture reporter for a TV talk show, is focused on becoming a “serious” journalist. But when she stumbles into a kilted Highlander with a killer accent, Cassie decides that taking one night off from work and spending it with a sexy Scot couldn’t hurt. . .

Logan Reid has built a career on his charm, hosting a series of off-the-wall hijinks on the Web. But when the Scottish prankster meets the all-American, equal parts intelligent and irresistible Cassie, Logan realizes that one night of fun won’t be enough. Could it be that this career-focused, commitment-phobic couple is finally ready to take a chance at true and lasting love?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

I don't typically like to start reviews with negatives, but this thing has been bugging me pretty much since the beginning of the book, so I gotta' get it off my chest. While I understand that it was absolutely necessary for the story, on a personal level, I was really bothered by the fact that Cassie's friends ignored her "get me away from this guy" hints. When you are out, especially in a foreign country, with your friends, you just don't do that. That's like the rules of feminism. And I honestly think I'm more annoyed by it, because I also know that the situation is absolutely realistic, at least for some people, and that bothers me. 

That being said, this story obviously wouldn't have gone very far if her friends had taken her hints. The chemistry between Cassie and Logan is absolute fire. I liked how she doesn't give in to him just because he's good looking, but was also ready to get hers when she wanted to. I was a little bit frustrated that both of their commitments to their jobs put up roadblocks in the path to their HEA, but it was realistic. 

Overall I give Getting Hot with the Scot 3.9 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Award-winning author Melonie Johnson—aka #thewritinglush—is a two-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist who loves dark coffee, cheap wine, and expensive beer. And margaritas. And mimosas. And mules. Basically any cocktail that starts with the letter m. She met her future husband in that most romantic of places—the mall—when they were teenagers working in stores across the hall from each other. Today, they live happily ever after in the magical land midway between Chicago and Milwaukee with their two redhead daughters, a dog that’s more like a small horse, and a pair of hermit crabs. After earning her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, Melonie taught high school English and Theatre in the northern Chicago suburbs for several years. Now she writes smart and funny contemporary romance and moonlights as an audiobook narrator under the pseudonym, Evelyn Eibhlin. Declared a “writer to watch” by Kirkus and a “fizzy, engrossing new voice” by Entertainment Weekly, her debut series from St. Martin’s Press, SOMETIMES IN LOVE, has appeared on the Amazon Best Books of the month, and been featured in Cosmopolitan and Woman’s World. Melonie is represented by Pamela Harty of the Knight Agency.

A Star Wars junkie and Shakespeare groupie who quotes both Yoda and the Bard with equal aplomb, you can visit her at and find her on Twitter and Instagram at @MelonieJohnson.

#31DaysOfChristmas: Middleton Christmas


Watched on: Vudu
Duration: 1 hour 32 minutes
Originally aired: 2020
Directed by: Dale Fabrigar
Starring: Michael Pare, Nancy Valen, Eileen Davidson
Please see IMDb for full cast and crew info. 


In a small town, high-school dean Alana and her vivacious teenage daughter Samantha plan a holiday concert to save the school with the help of the new maintenance man, Army veteran Johnny, and his quiet son Max. But when a car accident lands Sam in a life-threatening condition, Alana turns to Johnny for support, and Max makes a desperate decision that will forever bond their families together. All four must question their values about sacrifice, family, and love - and what it means to be thankful for another Christmas.


This is not a typical Christmas movie. For starters, it begins in September. It doesn't feature most of the typical Christmas romance tropes. There was no cookie baking, no sled rides, no charming outsider meeting the family for Christmas dinner because otherwise they'd alone on Christmas. There was a small fake snow fight and a Christmas pageant though, but those really represent the only tenuous connection this movie has to Christmas.

I would personally classify this movie as a YA romance, not a holiday movie, and I almost feel guilty using it for #31DaysOfChristmas, but it's not my fault it's clearly marketed as a holiday movie but failed to deliver on that promise. It seems that they wanted to use the gimmick without committing to the cliches and that really bothers me. 

In the end, it was an okay movie, but the fact that the title and cover are so misleading is a big problem. I just can't in good conscience rate it any higher. If you're looking for a holiday romance, this is not the movie for you. - Katie 


Sunday, November 27, 2022

#31DaysOfChristmas: A Christmas Story Christmas


Watched on: HBO Max
Duration: 1 hour 38 minutes
Originally aired: November 2022
Directed by: Clay Kaytis
Starring: Peter Billingsley, Erinn Hayes, and River Drosche
Please see IMDb for full cast and crew information. 


Follows the now-adult Ralphie as he returns to the house on Cleveland Street to give his kids a magical Christmas like the one he had as a child, reconnecting with childhood friends, and reconciling the passing of his Old Man.


I was undecided on whether I was going to do the #31DaysOfChristmas movie reviews this year. I've only just started reading and blogging again, as well as being less than a month into a new job, trying to fully figure out what my new normal looks like. But tonight my husband made that decision for me by picking A Christmas Story Christmas as the movie we watched while eating pizza for dinner (because we are sick of Thanksgiving leftovers right now). I'm not going to watch a Christmas movie and not review it, and if I review one, I'm going to have to do the whole series (logical me realizes that's not true, but emotional me is in charge right now). So here we are. 

I think at this point in time most everyone is pretty familiar with A Christmas Story, and if you're not, do you just not own a television? It's a movie that you almost can't avoid starting on Thanksgiving every year, and it's been out long enough that the original actors play their adult selves in this sequel. In my mom's house, you can't have Thanksgiving without watching A Christmas Story, and I imagine A Christmas Story Christmas will become required watching as well. 

They did a great job of emulating the original film's tone in this sequel, mimicking several of the events from the original, but keeping it from feeling like a boring repeat story. Ralphie's imagination still runs away with him at some of the most inopportune times. And with just a little bit of luck, he pulls off a Christmas miracle. And I must admit, I got a little bit teary eyed at the end when we see what I believe led to him writing the book that inspired this and A Christmas story. 

Overall, as much as I hate to say this, I would definitely recommend giving this movie a gander. Just don't tell my mom I said that. - Katie 


That Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

I'm at it again. But this time, my rant is in response to specific comments on the following IABB Confession. Now I've been sitting on this blog post for a while because I figure y'all won't take the time to sift through several weeks of posts from IABB to find this specific confession to figure out who said what I'm responding to, and don't take that as a challenge please. And if you're new or unfamiliar with IABB Confessions, they are submitted anonymously and IABB and the graphics artists are not responsible for the content of the confessions. They merely provide the platform for their airing.

Like I mentioned above, this rant is about a comment to this confession, because I 157% agree with this confession, and not just because I'm a blogger. There have definitely been blogger confessions that made me go "WTF Batman?" Because there are things that other bloggers do or want to see that just don't make sense to me personally. Surprisingly, we bloggers are not all the same. Weird, I know. 

But anyway, the following quote is the comment in response to this confession that I feel the strong need to address in this rant. 

"Dear Confessor,
You signed up knowing full well the release date.... if this wasn't a commitment you could make... you shouldn't have signed up. You also signed up seeing and knowing the damn due date... don't be so pretentious."

So first of all, it seems to me that this commenter is operating under the belief that all book reviews are obtained through blog tours sponsored by PR companies (or personally hosted by the authors because there are some authors that set up their own blog tours and stuff). So we're talking those Google doc signups that I have very specifically asked I not receive on my Review Policy page. Most of the emails that I receive adhere to that request, and I still somewhat regularly get emails with review requests (they've kind of tapered off lately, so I suspect authors are realizing that it's been a long time since I posted a review for a book that I didn't either proofread or win through Goodreads. I do need to get better at rotating in some books that I received requests for, but that's irrelevant to the topic at hand.) The thing is, since the inception of this blog over three years ago, we have consistently received review requests that were not connected with any type of blog tour, starting within the first week of our existence. 

Now it took a while to get our feet wet and figure out our personal limitations, but it didn't take long for me to start sending replies to authors that included lines like, "I'd love to receive a review copy of your book. I'm currently booked with reviews for the next month however, so I couldn't possibly get to it until (insert date here). If you don't mind waiting that long for a review, I will certainly add you to my list." And that is probably EXACTLY what the blogger who submitted this confession has done (word choice may vary.) That's at least the impression I get from the confession. The point is that the confessor clearly stated their review timeline before receiving the review copy. By sending the book, the author was agreeing to that timeline. I know my own brain likes to get very contrarian with things at times, so I can absolutely understand the confessor not even wanting to pick up the book after being hounded for a review that they had already stated would take a few weeks. 

At this point in time (because I actually started writing this post around five years ago and then life happened), I still receive review requests at my blog email (although they are much fewer and way further between because this blog has been mostly inactive for two years), and I would still personally be telling people that a review for their book would be a ways out, if I were entertaining those requests in the first place (but most of them were sent closer to the beginning of the year and I'm only just now seeing them now that I'm getting my life back together). But even after all this time, I'm still irked by the commenter that I quoted. Even if the confessor had signed up for a review tour, if they only received the book a few days before its release, the author has no reason to expect all the reviews to be ready on time. Bloggers have lives outside of our blogs, we typically have jobs, and sometimes life just happens. If you, as an author, want blog reviews posted as a book releases, then you need to supply it to bloggers weeks in advance so they have time to read it and write an adequate review. The confessor isn't being pretentious. They're merely asking authors to save everyone some time and pay attention to the responses we as bloggers send agreeing to reviews. - Katie 

*Review* Tell Me No Lies by A.V. Geiger

Genre: YA Thriller
Published: June 5, 2018
Pages: 336

Love. Obsession. Jealousy. Murder.

No one knows what happened to pop icon Eric Thorn. His Twitter account? Frozen. His cell phone? Cracked and bloody, buried in the snow. 

Agoraphobic fangirl Tessa Hart knows the truth, but she's finally left her #EricThornObsessed days behind. She has no intention of ever touching her Twitter app again. But Snapchat... That's safer, right?

After months of living under the radar, Tessa emerges from hiding, forced to face the deadly consequences of her past. But in the interrogation room, answers only lead to more questions in the pulse-pounding conclusion to the Follow Me Back duology.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley for an honest review. 

I feel like I should start by saying that I requested this book as a bit of a gag. My feedback percentage on Netgalley is abysmal because I get easily suckered in to a lot of read now books that I just don't have time to actually read. Meanwhile I have a blogging friend who is much more discriminating when it comes to books she selects with a pretty healthy feedback percentage. This was a book that she really wanted to read, so she requested it and got denied. So I requested it to also get denied so I could be like "Yeah, they turned me down too." But then they didn't. I'm not sure I've ever been more upset about being approved for a book I requested than I was about this one. 

I also went into this book, the second in a duology, essentially blind because I have not read the first book. So there were a lot of things about the story that just didn't make much sense to me at first, and not a whole lot of rehashing of the backstory that I can only assume I would be familiar with if I had read book one. While that made my reading experience somewhat less enjoyable, that was my own fault, and I actually appreciate the author for not doing major rehashing that would've brought me up to speed (because that would have annoyed me if I had read the first book like a normal person). 

Even with those things in mind, once I got into this book, I had a hard time putting it down because I very much wanted to know what happened next. The plot twists kept me on my toes, but even without the book one information, I was mostly able to suss things out before any of the major reveals (which I consider a plus because I don't want to read a book that makes me feel like a big doofus for being able to figure things out). 

Overall I give Tell Me No Lies 4.2 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

A. V. Geiger is a popular online author and member of the elite Wattpad Stars program. Her original teen fiction has received millions of hits on Wattpad, the story-sharing website and was ranked number one in the mystery/thriller genre. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and twin boys. Learn more at

Saturday, November 26, 2022

12 Books of Christmas Challenge 2022


It's that time of year again when I want to read and watch all the cheesy Christmas books and movies, and what better way to hold myself accountable than bringing back the 12 Books of Christmas Challenge (#12BooksofXmas). Not that this challenge has ever managed to actually hold me accountable before, but third (fourth?) times the charm, right? 

Because of the fact that I felt like my life was falling apart for a while there, I'm behind on getting this going, but honestly I'm okay with that. Especially since the spirit of this challenge is to let anyone participate who wants to, regardless of their level of commitment. Obviously I'm still aiming for 12 books myself, but several of them are going to be children's books I managed to snag as read now books recently on Netgalley (because that's going to help me boost my Netgalley rating like I want to as well, so two birds with one stone kind of thing). 

Without further ado, here are the books I'm currently hoping to read for this challenge. 

Genre: Romance

Genre: Romance

Genre: Children's (3-7)

Genre: Children's (4-8)

Genre: Romance

Genre: Romance

Genre: Children's (6 and up)

Genre: Children's (3-7?)

Genre: Romance

Genre: Historical Romance

Genre: Children's (3-7)

Genre: Children's 3-7

Genre: Historical Romance

I realize that's 13 books, but I noticed one that I'd gotten as a read now on Netgalley after already scrolling my Kindle library for adult holiday books, and figured featuring a baker's dozen wouldn't hurt. Especially since I'm not likely to stick to half this list anyway when it comes down to actually reading books. 

But considering the number of children's books and novellas I've got featured here, I might actually achieve my Santa Status this year! - Katie