Book Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

05EE8F67-9BDE-4A73-A404-A9A6E4DA9DCBTitle: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Publisher: HMH
Publication Date: October 3, 2017

From HMH: A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take.
The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.

Netgalley and HMH provided me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is THE middle grade book of the year! I received an advanced copy from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review and am so glad I requested this book. My husband and I took turns reading to our daughters for bedtime reading making it a lovely family affair. My only regret is reading it in October when it’s so perfect for the holiday season.
The Vanderbeekers are a charming and quintessential family – a diverse family of seven with the most adorable pets, a dog named Franz, a cat named George Washington and a bunny named Paganini. They live in a brownstone in Harlem amongst a close community. The Vanderbeekers have always lived in their beloved brownstone but when their lease is threatened by their awful landlord, The Biederman, the children come together to roll out their most creative and resourceful selves to appease The Biederman. A heart-wrenching event tests their empathy and compassion which made me love the Vanderbeekers so much.
My kids are gifting this book for friends’ birthdays because it belongs in the hands of every middle grade child (and adults too!). I cannot wait for the sequel in 2018!

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Book Review: Winter Solstice

583C7859-A42D-4F9D-B4C9-D19C6B7A34BCTitle: Winter Solstice
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date:  October 3, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Little, Brown: It’s been too long since the entire Quinn family has been able to celebrate the holidays under the same roof, but that’s about to change. With Bart back safe and sound from Afghanistan, the Quinns are preparing for a holiday more joyous than any they’ve experienced in years. And Bart’s safe return isn’t the family’s only good news: Kevin is enjoying married life with Isabelle; Patrick is getting back on his feet after paying his debt to society; Ava thinks she’s finally found the love of her life; and Kelly is thrilled to see his family reunited at last. But it just wouldn’t be a Quinn family gathering if things went smoothly. A celebration of everything we love–and some of the things we endure–about the holidays, WINTER SOLSTICE is Elin Hilderbrand at her festive best.

My Review: THE END…You guys, I just turned the last page of WINTER SOLSTICE and the tears are flowing. I am filled with extraordinary happiness and sadness as I wrap up the Winter Street Series. The Quinn’s are full of drama (a lot of drama), life, love and everything that is good and charming.
My favourite character is Margaret Quinn, the quintessential matriarch who is wise, strong, beautiful, well respected, and problem solver. She is the glue that holds the Quinn family together!
Please, please read this series in order or you will rob yourself of the amazing detail and nuances each character brings to this series. There is so much growth between the first book and the last book.
Elin Hilderbrand’s writing is magical! This series captivated me from the first chapter of WINTER STREET and I voraciously read all four books. I cannot wait for Elin’s next series in 2018!

Book Review: Winter Storms

79B3DCEB-3EFA-4A6F-8261-D2E5B1D5A0BDTitle: Winter Storms
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Little, Brown: Some of the stormy weather of the past few seasons seems to have finally lifted for the Quinns. After a year apart, and an ill-fated affair with the Winter Street Inn’s old Santa Claus, Mitzi has returned to rule the roost; Patrick is about to be released from prison; Kevin has a successful new business and is finally ready to tie the knot with Isabelle; and best of all, there’s hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few dark clouds on the horizon. Kelley has recently survived a health scare; Jennifer can’t quite shake her addiction to the drugs she used as a crutch while Patrick was in jail; and Ava still can’t decide between the two lovers that she’s been juggling with limited success. However, if there’s one holiday that brings the Quinn family together to give thanks for the good times, it’s Christmas. And this year promises to be a celebration unlike any other as the Quinns prepare to host Kevin and Isabelle’s wedding at the inn. But as the special day approaches, a historic once-in-a-century blizzard bears down on Nantucket, threatening to keep the Quinns away from the place–and the people–they love most. Before the snow clears, the Quinns will have to survive enough upheavals to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog, in this touching novel that proves that when the holidays roll around, you can always go home again.

My Review: The Winter Series just gets better with each book and my love for the Quinn’s continues to grow. WINTER STORMS picks up in the spring and I so loved that this book takes us thru the other seasons with the beloved Quinn’s before ending on Christmas Eve. My heartstrings were tugged on more than one occasion with the news of Kelley’s health and Bart’s return to Nantucket – the whole clan is reunited!

I absolutely adore Ava and the gorgeous lineup of men at her feet as she struggles to find herself and fall in love with Mr. Right. And her mother, Margaret, the captivating CBS evening new anchor who is stunning, intelligent, and devoted to her family. I could go on and on about every character in this book because they each bring a little bit of magic to the story. The Quinn’s really are the whole package and I’m both excited and sad for the final book in this series.

Book Review: Winter Stroll

CD1E176F-2779-435A-8C64-87ADD940344CTitle: Winter Stroll
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Little, Brown: Another Christmas on Nantucket finds Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn reflecting on the past year as he writes a holiday letter to friends and family. Though the year has had its share of misfortune and worry, the Quinns have much to celebrate. Kelley, now single, at least is on better terms with his first wife Margaret, who is using her celebrity to lure customers to the inn in record numbers. Their son Kevin has a beautiful new baby, Genevieve, with the Inn’s French housekeeper, Isabelle; and their daughter, Ava, is finally dating a nice guy–her devoted colleague, Scott.

Now the Quinns are looking forward to celebrating Genevieve’s baptism, welcoming Isabelle to the family, and enjoying the cheer of Nantucket’s traditional Christmas Stroll. But just when a peaceful family gathering seems within reach, Kelley’s estranged second wife, Mitzi, shows up on the island after souring on her relationship with the inn’s former Santa Claus. Soon Kelley isn’t the only Quinn entertaining a surprise guest from Christmases past as lovers old and new gather beneath the mistletoe. With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns–and the inn–through the holidays intact.

My Review: I have fallen further in love with the Quinn family and all the charm and drama they exude. This series is cozy and heartwarming and everything I want in a holiday book.

A year has passed and big changes happened; Mitzi and Kelley are back together, Patrick is serving his sentence for insider trading in a minimum security prison, Ava dumped Nathaniel and is dating Scott, Kevin & Isabelle are engaged and proud parents of baby Genevieve, and Margaret & Drake are engaged. The ending is a cliffhanger (is Bart alive?) and I’m starting the third instalment right now because I have to know what happens next.

The theatrics keep unfolding and drawing me in! I cannot get enough of the Quinn’s. I never want this series to end.

Book Review: Winter Street

EB6CCC8E-CC6B-4FB5-AFC1-FFD609FC5795Title: Winter Street (Winter Series #1)
Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From Little, Brown: Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket’s Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four, all of them grown and living in varying states of disarray. Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience. Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle. Ava, a school teacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can’t get him to commit. And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley’s second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.

As Christmas approaches, Kelley is looking forward to getting the family together for some quality time at the inn. But when he walks in on Mitzi kissing Santa Claus (or the guy who’s playing Santa at the inn’s annual party), utter chaos descends. With the three older children each reeling in their own dramas and Bart unreachable in Afghanistan, it might be up to Kelley’s ex-wife, nightly news anchor Margaret Quinn, to save Christmas at the Winter Street Inn.

Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.

My Review: I am officially in the Christmas spirit and want to read all the charming holiday novels. I love everything about WINTER STREET and my new favourite family, the lively and drama-filled Quinn clan. They brought me laughter and joy and sadness but what I love most is thru it all they are a tight-knit and loving family. This is the perfect book to accompany this happy, busy and sometimes stressful time of year.

I am so looking forward to what the Quinn’s are getting up to in WINTER STROLL.

Book Review: Mrs. Saint and the Defectives

A3227419-62F0-4C81-B27F-3E726CEDB0C2Title: Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
Author: Julie Lawson Timmer
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

From Lake Union: Markie, a fortysomething divorcée who has suffered a humiliating and very public fall from marital, financial, and professional grace, moves, along with her teenage son, Jesse, to a new town, hoping to lick her wounds in private. But Markie and Jesse are unable to escape the attention of their new neighbor Mrs. Saint, an irascible, elderly New European woman who takes it upon herself, along with her ragtag group of “defectives,” to identify and fix the flaws in those around her, whether they want her to or not.

What Markie doesn’t realize is that Mrs. Saint has big plans for the divorcée’s broken spirit. Soon, the quirky yet endearing woman recruits Markie to join her eccentric community, a world where both hidden truths and hope unite them. But when Mrs. Saint’s own secrets threaten to unravel their fragile web of healing, it’s up to Markie to mend these wounds and usher in a new era for the “defectives”—one full of second chances and happiness.

My Review: MRS. SAINT AND THE DEFECTIVES is brimming with charm and new beginnings.

Markie is starting over after the collapse of her marriage, finances and career. She and her son Jesse move 40 miles away where no one knows them and assures herself they are in their rental 6 months tops. When meddling neighbour (and I mean this in the most loving way possible!) Mrs. Saint keeps popping into Markie’s business she is more sure than ever they are not staying a day past their lease term. But Mrs. Saint has a gift, she helps people overcome their flaws – gives them another shot if you will.

It isn’t until a tragic event unfolds that Markie recognizes Mrs. Saint and her Defectives are more than just sharing a home, they are a family who look out for one another. And Mrs. Saint’s generosity brings Markie full circle with her own family and the new one she’s become part of.

Book Review: Why Mummy Drinks

IMG_0902Title: Why Mummy Drinks
Author: Gill Sims
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 19, 2017
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5

From Harper Collins: It is Mummy’s 39th birthday. She is staring down the barrel of a future of people asking if she wants to come to their advanced yoga classes, and polite book clubs where everyone claims to be tiddly after a glass of Pinot Grigio and says things like ‘Oooh gosh, are you having another glass?’
But Mummy does not want to go quietly into that good night of women with sensible haircuts who ‘live for their children’ and stand in the playground trying to trump each other with their offspring’s extracurricular activities and achievements, and boasting about their latest holidays.
Instead, she clutches a large glass of wine, muttering ‘FML’ over and over again. Until she remembers the gem of an idea she’s had…

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for this free arc in exchange for my honest review.

My Review: Mom’s who feel undervalued, overworked and spread thin will love and relate to WHY MUMMY DRINKS, a laugh out loud story about an exhausted mom who loves her husband and her children dearly but needs a drink (or two) to see her through.

Ellen is like so many mom’s out there. She’s taken a lesser profile job to cut childcare costs and be available for her children. She dreams about what a perfect day looks like – breakfast made to order for her beloved Peter and Jane, dishes done, house tidy and a delicious dinner put into the slow cooker. But, instead her day goes like this: oversleep, throw cereal in front of children for breakfast, rush out the door dragging the kids and dog to school, argue with kids after school about everything and realize you forgot to turn on the slow cooker at 5:30pm. Drink wine.

There were so many laugh out loud moments but one is most memorable for me. Ellen’s husband Simon’s off-the-grid, hippy sister announces her family will drive down for Christmas and crash with Ellen and Simon. It will be lovely for her six children to visit their cousins! Over the span of their visit Ellen will endure Louisa (Amaris – her goddess name) breastfeeding all six of her children, two of the children won’t use the toilet, one uses the floor and the other the garden and Amaris whipping up the nastiest smoothie (trust me on this one!) that her husband Bardo contributes to. Oh and Ellen’s self absorbed sister invites her family too and fusses over bringing Christmas pudding. But it wouldn’t be Christmas without your dearest friends so Ellen invites her besties, Sam and Hannah – the more the merrier!

This is a light-hearted and humorous take on everyday life as a mom and wife. There are high moments and low moments but after every moment it seems there’s always room for a drink.