bookish hot cocoa

“If you don’t want to snowboard,” he continues, “the lodge has a big stone fireplace and big comfy chairs. You can sit and read for hours. And they sell the best hot chocolate. I’ll buy you one.” He squeezes my hand. My heart does a little zing, and I say, “All right, I’ll go. But the hot choclate had better be as good as you say.” “I’ll buy you as many as you want.” “Then you better bring a lot of singles,” I say, and Peter snorts.

It took me approximately 1,200 years to perfect my hot cocoa recipe. The secret? “Not too hot. Extra chocolate. Shaken, not stirred.” – Judy the Elf, The Santa Clause.

  • 1/4 cup good cocoa powder (we use Droste in the red box)
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 half gallon carton of whole milk (you can sub almond milk or your fave dairy-free beverage)
  • Pour the first three ingredients into a pot and whisk over medium heat until smooth. You’re essentially making a chocolate sauce. Then pour in your milk and stir until warm. Ta-da! Finish with your favorite toppings and a classic Christmas movie.

I double dog dare ya to add this hot cocoa to your morning coffee. BONUS: when the children are nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums dance in their heads, add in a heavy splash of Baileys. Think Sandra Lee. Just. Keep. Pouring.

Two scoops, sir? Two? Make it three. I’m not driving.

Winter is coming. (It’s here). I got you, boo. Keeping you cozy all season long. Enjoy a chocolatey warm hug from me to you.. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.

“Will looked horrified. “What kind of monster could possibly hate chocolate?” ― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

Kitty Valentine Dates Santa review

“A toast”, she says. “To friends, great loves, and of course, books.” 

What a long year! Kitty wants to ditch the trope wheel and get back to her sweet stories: the meet-cutes, the first time the couple hold hands, all the precious little moments that show the couples love. So, one last spin….Is that jingle bells I hear? “Oh my goodness, Kitty! You got Hot Santa!” 🎅🏼 Can Kitty date Santa? Most men who play Santa aren’t exactly young. Or attractive. Leave it to Hayley to figure it out, while Kitty is literally becoming a real-life Carrie Bradshaw. Successful in NYC! 

I am so sad 🥺 this series is over but pleased as punch with how the Kitty Valentine series ends. Perfection! Chef’s kiss! 😘 I LOVE YOU VALENTINE!

(and Matt Ryder). Speaking of Matt, he is on 🔥 FIRE 🔥 with his jokes and puns. Guaranteed laughs! He’s quite 🥰 charming. And he will leave you, all emotional gangster. Tears filling your eyes. Crying. Sobbing. Heart bursting because it’s full of 🌈 rainbows and 🦋 butterflies. 

Santa is the last installment in the Kitty Valentine series (#KV9) and Jillian Dodd does not disappoint! It was fun to witness the KV characters play “Where Are They Now” with all Kitty’s dates. There is an immense amount of JOY in this story! And all the nachos your little heart desires. Kitty likes crafting sweet stories where she focuses on a couples relationship. And just like Kitty, Jillian’s books are the kind of stories where you can FEEL the OTP’s (one true pairing) love through the pages. Even though JD is Queen of the Cliff, she is also Queen of the Big, Fat, HEA! 👏🏼 Bravo, Jillian👏🏼 ! All hail to the victor!! 

Thank you! Thank you, Jillian Dodd for an advanced copy. I adore you and your romance novels! 🤟🏼

Reader! You NEED the Very Kitty Christmas shirt. It’s mentioned in the book and you will LOVE it. GET YOUR SWAG HERE

“Champagne is always a good idea.” 🥂

🎶 Song: How Deep Is Your Love by The Bird and The Bee 🎶

Twelve days of Christmas review

“As a kid I can remember my mother telling me that our lives are merely a reflection of what we see and do. If we are kind, others will treat us with kindness. If we love, we will be loved. If we care, we will be cared for.”

Looking at Julia Padden, it is easy to envision the opening scene from The Sound of Music, with Julie Andrews twirling around, arms extended, signing, joyful, excited.

Even that thought is enough to make the-not-talkative-type-ultra-grumpy-stubborn-standoffish, Cain Maddox cringe. She is over the top with her cutesy smile. Chirpy and happy. Cain is stingy, cantankerous, and remote. Rude and Scrooge-like. Grumble, grumble, grumble. Cain and Julia are neighbors and there are ZERO warm and cozy feelings between the pair. So what is Julia going to do?

Kill him.


Well. That got dark real fast. No, no 😂….Kill him with KINDNESS. Well, Cain needs a whole lot more than kindness. But this is it! Julia has been wanting an idea that would generate interest in her blog. Cain is the perfect subject. Kill him with kindness and report the progress on her blog for the next twelve days up until Christmas. Will Julia be able to turn Ebenezer into a Prince Charming and create a seismic shift in their relationship?

Twelve Days of Christmas has become a comfort read for me. I adore this precious story! Definitely reading or listening to this book every December. If you like a good slow-burn, protective surly love interests, and Christmas cheer, then you need to read Debbie Macomber’s novel this holiday season! Best enjoyed with a warm chocolate chip cookie (A Maddox family fave) and one of Julia’s seasonal treasures… a “frou-frou” (thanks, Cain 😏) peppermint mocha.

🎶 Song: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear by Ella Fitzgerald 🎶

Kitty Valentine dates a hockey player review

“I might not know how to move forward from this or what it means in the grand scheme of things, but … And that’s enough to make me feel incredibly happy.”

The last year and a half has been a whirlwind! Kitty Valentine has been writing different tropes to stay relevant. But it’s an emotional toll. It’s everything behind the scenes, where her heart is dragged through the mud. Kitty has come to both love and hate the spinning trope wheel: Kitty Valentine Dates a Hockey Player.

Guess who loves hockey? The infuriating, fascinating, annoying, sweet-when-he-feeks-like-it guy across the hall. However, Matt and Kitty= platonic friendship. Sad trombone! Wah, wah, wah! Say, what! Matt isn’t just some hot guy, they’ve become close. He’s creeping into her heart. Lock. That. Up. Kitty! Will Matt help Kitty out or will he point her in the direction of a hockey player? I adore this series! Kitty’s grandmother and Peter’s second-chance romance is darling. True-abiding love. So do you think the next book will be Kitty Valentines Dates her Hot Neighbor? I do! Out of all the KV books my two faves have been cowboy and hockey player. Bring on Santa! Readers who enjoy romantic comedies such as How To Lose A Guy In 10 days and Carrie Bradshaw fans will fall for Kitty Valentine. (and Matt Ryder).

BIG thanks to Jillian Dodd for giving me the opportunity to dive into an advanced reader copy. 👏🏼

🎶song: Feels Like Home by Chantal Kreviakzuk 🎶

the book of ivy review

“I’ve learned the hard way, we can’t choose who we love. Love chooses us. Love doesn’t care about what’s convenient or easy or planned. Love has its own agenda and all we can do is get out of its way.” 

Ivy Westfall has known her whole life that her fate is predetermined. She is destined to marry Bishop Lattimer. The president’s son and the founder’s daughter. War ended the world, floods and droughts followed, the diseases almost finished the surviving people off. But the small group rose from the ashes, ragged, and war-weary. Banded together only for more turmoil to arise over which family would govern the new nation. Samuel Westfall wanted a democracy and Alexander Lattimer wanted a dynasty for himself and his descendants. The Westfalls lost. And that is why the the people of Westfall have the wedding day. Those who come from the losing side offer up their sixteen-year-old daughters to the sons of the winners. The arranged marriages symbolize the peace they fought for and achieved together. Ivy Westfall is different from all the other girls. Marrying Bishop has not fulfilled her destiny. Her mission is not to make him happy and bear his children and be his wife. Her mission is to kill him and help restore her family in a seat of power. 

WHEW! What a compelling book! Political intrigue! Deceit! Trust! Loyalty! A Romeo and Juliet love story. Rival families. Star-crossed teenage lovers. Oh, reader. You will fall in LOVE with Bishop. He is not the cruel, heartless boy Ivy was warned about. His intentions are good. He is a little cinnamon roll! My heart is achingly in a puddle! -#IsThisAKissingBook, of course, of course. In just one book, you see so much character growth with Ivy. She is strong and brave and makes hard choices. Tears! The very last sentence of The Book of Ivy will leave you taking a deep breath. If you enjoy YA, dystopian romance novels then you need to get this duology on your TBR, stat! 

🎶 Song: Survivor by 2WEI & Edda Hayes 🎶

The Pan review

“Don’t you have anyone else to haunt?” “Why would I haunt someone else when I can haunt you?”

PAN stands for People with Active Nevergenes. Deacon Ashford’s position as recruiter is combing the countryside, searching orphanages for lost children, and bringing them to Neverland. He’s a dark angel in the night sky. Days before her eighteenth birthday, Vivienne Dunn finds herself admitted to the hospital with an “inconclusive” diagnosis. Watch out for HOOK! Humanitarian Organization for Order and Knowledge. HOOK is real. HOOK’s poison deactivates Nevergenes and grounds the lost children who possess the incredibly rare chromosome. Vivienne has a choice to make: Escape with Deacon to Neverland’s Kensington Academy and learn to fly.

Or risk staying with her foster family where HOOK agents could capture her. Will Vivienne be able to steer clear of HOOK? Or will the duo be off saving the world on PAN at a time?

What a fantastic, modern retelling of Peter Pan! SUPER fun story that had me rooting for Deacon Ashford (Dash). He’s funny. And British. And kind of cute. KIND OF CUTE?! My friend’s dog is kind of cute. Deacon is DDG (drop-dead gorgeous). He can write a book on double entendres that will have you snort laughing. Dash is Akin to Damon Salvatore season one: pining over Elena, dating Caroline, and flirty with everyone.

Does he have any flaws? The answer is… most definitely but I still stan him. Flirt and fly away. Horrible and he knows it. Please, stay guardian angel. Vivienne is a BAWSE. I appreciate stories with strong female leads. The PAN is a solid choice for fantasy fanatics! Readers! Do you like the Origin and Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout? I think you’ll love this YA sci-fi romance trilogy. You’ll be hooked! Get it! 😛 😬👏🏼 Like J.M. Barrie, Jenny Hickman gives us magic; she gives us adventure; and she gives us contemporary Neverland. And love- if the OTP can learn to trust and overcome their pasts. Crossing my fingers!! I have questions so gimme The HOOK!

🎶 song: Lost Boy Cotone Remix by Ruth B 🎶

faking under the mistletoe review

“He’s a good person. Not always nice and he doesn’t smile a lot, but y’know, still cute. Like a grumpy cat.”

Olivia Langley is 100% up for the Holiday Cheermeister of the Year Award. She loves (understatement) Christmas and has no hesitations about who knows. She is Loveridge & McGowan’s very own Buddy the Elf blessed with the gift of gab. Alexa, play Talk Too Much.

Olivia finds herself in the role of Santa’s Executive Helper AKA she’s in charge of planning all the holiday activities. Asher McGowan… guess his role. 🎶 You’re a mean one. Mr. Grinch you’re a bad banana. You’re gonna spoil everybody with your bad attitude🎶. Yup, Loveridge & McGowan’s very own Ebenezer Scrooge. Newly single. Dumped by his girlfriend because he apparently has the emotional capacity of a rock. When Olivia’s boss (Asher) sees his ex-girlfriend at the company Christmas tree lighting, naturally, she kisses him to make the ex jelly. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Son of a nutracker! Color Asher sugar-plum fairy shocked😱! Alright, guess the pair are going with sitting on a throne of lies for the rest of the holiday season! Will this OTP’s fake, fake, fake dating spark real, real feelings? 🤞🏼

What a delightfully funny Christmas rom-com! I LOVED IT! The banter between O and Ash is HILARIOUS! I snort-laughed like….well, I lost count. But it was side-splitting LOL!!! I’m talking cackling like Ursla in that scene in the little mermaid when she steals Ariel’s voice. But like less evil🤣. Also, fooooooooood. Christmas treats. Peppermint lattes. Spiked hot cocoa.

Homegirl, can take down a donut. or three. Impressive! Round of applause to all the authors for making their heroines feast on all the tasty confections.👏🏼 MAX Christmas vibes in Faking Under the Mistletoe! TW: make sure to note the preface. If you’re a fan of enemies-to-lovers and work place romances, you will ADORE this holly jolly story!

🎶 song: All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey 🎶

Kitty Valentine dates a cowboy review

“Sometimes, when people love us, they think they know better about what we need than we do.”

Oh, hello! Giddyup, little lady! Kitty Valentine Dates a Cowboy. That’s right. Her new hero has to be a cowboy.

Paxton Cleary. Huge, handsome, sophisticated man who grew up as an heir to an oil empire. That slight twang of his voice is enough to melt Kitty down to nothing. But, that infuriating neighbor! Matt likes her just the way she is. Sigh…he’s trying to protect her. He’s got her back. Matt doesn’t want to see her hurt or disappointed. Isn’t that what friends want for each other? Friend zone? Say it isn’t so! Matt may give Kitty a run for her money. He teases her and jokes around. Kitty still doesn’t get it. She still doesn’t see it. Matt. Matt Ryder from across the hall. Steady your heart for Kitty Valentine Dates a Cowboy! The ultimate betrayal will leave you completely heartbroken for Kitty. There are situations that require extra cheese and guacamole (remember, get the dang nachos!). Kitty Valentine Dates a Cowboy (really, the entire series) is perfect for fans of How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days!

BIG thanks to Jillian Dodd for an advanced reader copy!!

🎶 song: Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer 🎶

the first Christmas


The people who celebrated the first Christmas were stressed and overwhelmed.

  • Mary was confused and worried
    • Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. Luke 1:29
  • Joseph was hurt and brokenhearted
    • Joseph, her fiance, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. Matthew 1:19
  • The shepherds were scared to death
    • That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified. Luke 2:8-9
  • The wise men were exhausted
    • Now after Jesus was born, some men traveled a long way from the east and finally arrived in Jerusalem. Matthew 2:1

In my life, I need and crave less stress and more peace. I need to replenish my exhausted soul by looking UP to God. When my focus changes, my feelings will change. 

  • Everything changed for Mary when she focused on God’s promises
    • Luke 1:37-38; 48; 58
  • Everything changed for Joseph when he focused on God’s plan
    • Matthew 1:20
  • Everything changed for the shepherds when they looked up
    • Luke 2:9-17, 20
  • Everything changed for the wise men when they met Jesus
    • Matthew 2:9-11


Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Watch this inspiring message from Saddleback Church and be encouraged as you learn what the Bible says about God’s purpose for your life.

the twelve dates of Christmas review

“On the fifth date of Christmas my true love gave to me, one gay man dancing, one date of drinking, one fireman skating, one vegan weeping, and a no-show outside the Pear Tree!” 

Kate Turner is on a grown-up mission to find a suitable, sensible partner who has no improper pride and is perfectly amiable. (have you been watching pride and prejudice again?). So her mate, Laura, signed her up for a dating websites Twelve Dates of Christmas: twelve dates, in twelve different locations in the weeks leading up to Christmas. She is signed up, paid up, and dressed up for her first date. Yet each date is more disastrous than the one before. Crickey! Good thing Kate has her other best mate, Matt, who often comes to her rescue. Matt and Kate had a major falling out. Her feelings for him were…. intense. But Matt brings out her sparkle. Correction: that’s not sparkle. It’s rage-glitter. You could say they have a love-hate relationship. Will Kate Turner find her Christmas miracle before the holidays?

If you’re looking for a novel that epitomizes Christmas… This. Is. It. Have you seen the movie The Holiday? You will be reading this story in your best Jude Law and Kate Winselt accent. Reader, you’re going to love this. It’s so funny. You’ll fall off your chair, it’s so funny. (Mr. Napkin head scene- The Holiday). Raise your hand if you like food! You will most definitely water at the mouth over all the tantalizing cuisine. The Twelve Dates of Christmas is a story about discovering love where it’s least expected. ‘Tis the season for finding romance! Book best enjoyed with a a cozy, fuzzy blanket and a gingerbread latte. 

song: Fairytale of New York by The Pogues