The Ultimate Throwback to my 20’s and Early 30’s Book Series

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When I was a bit younger, these books were EVERYTHING.  I absolutely adored them and literally DEVOURED them as soon as each one was released.  There are 8 total books in the Shopaholic series (not including a short story which Kinsella wrote midway through the books).  The synopsis below is for the first book in the series to give an idea of what the series is about.

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Becky Bloomwood has a fabulous flat in London’s trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season’s must-haves. The only trouble is, she can’t actually afford it—not any of it. Her job writing at Successful Saving magazine not only bores her to tears, it doesn’t pay much at all. And lately Becky’s been chased by dismal letters from the bank—letters with large red sums she can’t bear to read. She tries cutting back. But none of her efforts succeeds. Her only consolation is to buy herself something . . . just a little something.

Finally a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life—and the lives of those around her—forever.

My Thoughts:

4 Stars

If I were to choose a fictional best friend to be my real life bestie, my answer will always and forever be Becky Bloomwood.  She’s absolutely hilarious, extraordinarily spontaneous, adorably flighty, and completely lovable.  In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that Becky Bloomwood is quite possibly the most likable and adorable book character ever created.

These books were absolute staples for me when I was in my 20’s and early 30’s.  Becky and I went though all of life’s milestones together–the serious relationship, the wedding, the home ownership, the babies, etc.  I savored each book and read them as soon as they were released.  Some books were definitely better than others but overall they combine to create an adorable collection.

DISCLAIMER: I do have to wonder if I would appreciate them in the same way if I read them for the first time now that I’m in my 40’s?

I actually read many of these twice in anticipation of the movie release in 2009.  The movie itself proved to be a big disappointment but the books were just as wonderful to read for the 2nd time as they were the 1st.

I always loved the relationship that Becky had with her best friend Sus and I always loved the characters of Becky’s parents!  Reading about day to day life in England (where the majority of this series takes place) always fascinated me.

I read Shopaholic to the Stars: A Novel (affiliate) when it came out roughly 4 years ago and it was like reuniting with an old friend!  I was instantly brought back into the lives of the characters that I had said good-bye to so many years earlier.  Loved it.

These books are NOT award winning in any way.  The writing is simple and the story lines can get a bit ridiculous.  However, the characters are boldly colorful and extremely likable.  Very quick and easy reads which will forever hold a special place in my heart!

And on a side note…Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I have a definite obsession with wearing scarves. I truly think that Becky Bloomwood and her beloved green scarf might just be where all of that started.

Bottom Line

These are simple, adorable books which will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Writing this review is making me want to read all of them again from the beginning.  I adore you and miss you, Becky Bloomwood!

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Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo




Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star {Nicola Yoon}

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

3 Stars

I so wanted to love this YA (young adult literature) book…but sadly I did not. Everything, Everything (affiliate) by Nicola Yoon was such a perfectly written novel, I had such high hopes and expectations for this one.  (You can read my glowing review here: Everything, Everything {Nicola Yoon}))

Unfortunately my hopes and expectations fell flat quickly upon starting this book.  

Both Natasha and Daniel sacrificed such big things for each other after only knowing each other for a few hours? This book would have made so much more sense to me had they known each other for any length of time…which would have defeated Yoon’s entire premise of instantly falling in love (another poor execution of this: November 9 {Colleen Hoover}).

The different viewpoints/perspectives in this book were an interesting addition. I found all of the “science” talk and definitions rather boring and didn’t feel they added any real depth to the story. I would have liked to learn more of Irene’s story, especially since she ended up being such an intricate part of Natasha and Daniel’s.

I actually loved the ending and felt that it led the way for a possible sequel…I wish the rest of the book would have been as powerful as those last few pages.

Bottom Line:

Eh.

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Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

My Favorite Books for Pregnancy/New Parents/Baby Shower Gifts

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The following 6 books were invaluable to my husband and I as we was entering the world of parenthood.  As a book lover, I naturally turned to literature to help navigate us through this exciting time.  In fact, Barnes and Noble was one of the very first stops we made after we found out that we were pregnant with my daughter 🙂 The following books helped and guided us in so many ways.  I highly, highly recommend these either for yourself or as wonderful gifts for new parents or parents to be!

*Amazon Affiliate links for each book are all at the very end of this post.  A few of these books get reprinted every few years with the most up to date information…make sure you are ordering the most updated version (I tried to make sure that I posted the current versions)! *

Pregnancy Journal: A Day to Day Guide to a Healthy and Happy Pregnancy

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Since its publication in 1996, this definitive journal for expectant families has sold over a million copies. Author A. Christine Harris brings a revised and thoroughly updated edition to todays parents-to-be. Still featuring daily entries, a personalized timeline, and pregnancy glossary, the revised edition provides a clearer picture of the baby’s in-utero development and the latest advice about giving a growing baby every advantage prior to birth.

My Thoughts:

This book is AWESOME.  I never used the “journal” portion but the facts each day were unbelievably fascinating to read.  Most pregnancy books will break down the development of the baby into weeks and tell you what is happening during that particular week.  This book breaks it down by the DAY.  So, so cool.  My husband and I would lay in bed and read together each night what was going to occur the following day.  The whole next day, I would be thinking things such as, “She’s developing her eyelids RIGHT NOW!”  These bits of knowledge really helped my husband and I both connect to our babies throughout both of my pregnancies.  Highly, highly recommend this book for any expecting parents.

Bottom Line:

There is nothing more amazing than knowing you are growing a human…this book connects you to all of the astonishing details throughout the journey.

Baby Bargains

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

America’s best-selling and best-loved guide to baby gear is back with an updated and revised edition! Yes, a baby book that actually answers the big question about having a baby: How am I going to afford all this?

With the average cost of a baby topping $7400 for just the first year alone, new parents need creative solutions and innovative ideas to navigate the consumer maze that confronts all parents-to-be. Baby Bargains is the answer!

Inside, you’ll discover:

– BEST BET PICKS for cribs, car seats, strollers, high chairs, diapers and more! – CHEAT SHEETS for your baby registry–create a baby registry in minutes with our good, better, best ideas.

– SEVEN THINGS no one tells you about baby gear, from nursery furniture to feeding baby.

– THE TRUTH ABOUT STROLLERS–and which brands work best in the real world.

– Dozens of SAFETY TIPS to keep baby safe and affordably baby proof your home.

– DETAILED CHARTS that compare brands of cribs, high chairs, car seats and more.

This new 12th edition adds the latest tips and advice on getting bargains on baby gear, including:
Streamlined recommendations by parenting lifestyle, from a crib for space-challenged urban parents to an affordable car seat for Grandma’s car. New recommendations for baby feeding, from baby food processors to storage ideas for home-made baby food. BUDGET-FRIENDLY picks for dozens of items, from high chairs to infant car seats. Expanded coverage of the price war on diapers–who’s got the best deals now?

My Thoughts:

This book saved us time and money!  It lays everything that you need out in a simplistic, helpful way.  This book gives the best tips on what you need, the best (and cheapest) way to get all of it, and also what you don’t need! My husband and I also did a ton of our own research on what we needed but this book was so helpful to us in so many areas.

Tip: Bring this book with you when you go into the store to register.  We did that and I remember seeing the couple standing next to us also referencing their copy of this same  book as they were looking at products!

Bottom Line:

This book will save you time and money while narrowing down the options of what you really do need (and really don’t need!) for your baby.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

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Synopsis From Goodreads:

A completely revised and updated edition of America’s pregnancy bible, the longest-running New York Times bestseller ever.

With 18.5 million copies in print, What to Expect When You’re Expecting is read by 93% of women who read a pregnancy book and was named one of the “Most Influential Books of the Last 25 Years” by USA Today.

This cover-to-cover (including the cover!) new edition is filled with must-have information, advice, insight, and tips for a new generation of moms and dads. With What to Expect’s trademark warmth, empathy, and humor, it answers every conceivable question expecting parents could have, including dozens of new ones based on the ever-changing pregnancy and birthing practices and choices they face. Advice for dads is fully integrated throughout the book. All medical coverage is completely updated, including the latest on Zika virus, prenatal screening, and the safety of medications during pregnancy, as well as a brand-new section on postpartum birth control. Current lifestyle trends are incorporated, too: juice bars, raw diets, e-cigarettes, push presents, baby bump posting, the lowdown on omega-3 fatty acids, grass-fed and organic, health food fads, and GMOs. Plus expanded coverage of IVF pregnancy, multiple pregnancies, breastfeeding while pregnant, water and home births, and cesarean trends (including VBACs and “gentle cesareans”).

My Thoughts:

I refer to this as the “bible” for any pregnant woman.  There is absolutely nothing that this book doesn’t cover (from the most basic to the most personal).  I kept this on my nightstand throughout both of my pregnancies and referenced it about a million times on a daily basis.  I also loved What to Expect the First Year and What to Expect the Second Year (all links below) as my kids grew.

Bottom Line:

There is a reason this book has been around, trusted, and updated since it was first published in 1969.  A true classic!

Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies—And How You Can, Too

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Synopsis From Goodreads:

This one-of-a-kind guide to balancing motherhood and work is based on actual journals kept by a group of IBM women during their visits to the company’s employee lactation room.

It all began when IBM manager Cate Colburn-Smith sat down in the company’s employee lactation room, shed a few silent tears, and wrote the following on a paper towel: I’m a new mom and today is my first day back at work. Is anyone else using this room?

Right away women responded, and the paper towel was eventually replaced by a series of notebooks, in which women offered one another advice and support on juggling work and a newborn. Based on the original notebooks, The Milk Memos is a heartwarming, encouraging (and often hilarious!) guide to working motherhood.

It’s one of the most existential moments any woman will face: sitting in a small room tucked away in the bowels of your company, pumping breast milk for a child so close to your heart-yet, at that moment, so far away. The Milk Memos records the voices of mothers who, while struggling with the difficulties of blending their two lives, prove that women don’t have to choose between work and family. Their thoughts on how it can be done will inspire women everywhere. This invaluable book weaves the actual Milk Memos journal entries with information-packed sections on such topics of great concern to working moms as:

– finding a private place to pump breast milk at work and establishing a routine that you can maintain despite your busy workday;
– establishing the right daycare solution;
– getting a decent night’s sleep with a new baby so that you can shine (or at least glimmer!) during business hours; and
– negotiating flextime, part-time, or a job share with an employer.

The ultimate gift for any new mom who will soon return to work, The Milk Memos is destined to become a classic on the parenting shelf.

My Thoughts:

Breastfeeding my children was one of the most beautiful experiences of my entire life.  I nursed my daughter until she was 2.5 and my son until he was 2.  I contribute many things to my extended nursing success and this book is definitely one of them.  This book SAVED me when I went back to work after having my daughter.  I read it about a week before returning to work (perfect time frame to read this book) and it made pumping at work feel like the most normal thing in the world.  Pumping at work was already making me feel nervous and this book put those nerves immediately to rest!  It truly made me feel like I was part of a nursing community, it immediately normalized pumping in the workplace, and it made me feel PROUD of my decision to pump at work.  Every working, pumping mom needs to read this book.  STAT.  Aside from comfort, this book is a wealth of knowledge about everything that has to do with nursing…and other tips on parenting as well.  I kept this book as a reference once I finished reading it and found myself going back often (with both of my children) to reference information.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  Nursing my babies (and also this beautiful, helpful book) will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Bottom Line:

I wish I could hug the authors of this book for all that they have done for me and for my children.

Did you read any of these 6 books?  What did you think?  Any other books that you found to be helpful while navigating the new world of parenthood?  Comment below with your thoughts!

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Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page (www.fb.com/bookcoffeehappy),  follow me on Twitter@bookcoffeehappy, and follow me on Instagram (@bookcoffeehappy)!  

 

 

Let’s Chat: I’m A Monster. Anyone Else?

Congratulations Karen and Amanda!  You are each a winner of the ***GIVEAWAY (2 Winners!)*** Chuckerman Makes A Movie {Francie Arenson Dickman}.  Email me your mailing address (bookcoffeehappy@gmail.com) and you will each receive your autographed book asap!  Enjoy!

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There are 2 types of readers.  Those who use a bookmark to hold their place within a book and those who…brace yourselves…bend back (“dog ear”) the corner of page.  It is typically regarded that people who chose this former method are monsters who have no respect for the book or the words held within.

I bend back the pages.  Every single time.  **hides beneath chair**

Hear me out!  I haven’t always been like this!

In fact, I used to own a GORGEOUS red leather bookmark.  I bought it at the Coach Store and it was very fancy, very beautiful, and very expensive.  I used it for years and it did a perfect job of holding my place each time I put my book down.

I sold it at my garage sale last summer.  $3.00.

I have 2 children now.  And a husband.  And my quiet, quality reading time just isn’t what it used to be.  I used to be able to start a book in the morning, read allllll day long, and finish the book before bedtime.  These days, my time to enjoy a book is short but oh, so precious.  I sneak in a few pages whenever I can…naptime, before a doctor appointment, getting my car washed, etc.  There is no time for searching for a bookmark.  When someone around here needs me, the page gets folded and I’m good to go.  Fast. Easy.  Proof of this:  the picture that I posted on Instagram yesterday, lol (follow me @bookcoffeehappy).

Here’s a strange confession: I kind of like when I check a book out of the library and can see where the person before me left off.  Is that weird???  Sometimes I think “HOW did they put this book down NOW?”  Other times I think “Ooooh good call.  Perfect spot to leave off.”

The older I get the more into the minimalism lifestyle I become (another post for another day).  I don’t NEED a bookmark.  Just one more possession I don’t need to keep track of.

I think my monster ways have rubbed off on someone else in my house.  I’ve watched her do this twice over past week when it was time for her to stop doing what she was doing and didn’t want to lose her place.

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Yikes.

And on a random side note…

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SNOW!!!!  My favorite time of year is HERE!!!!

So tell me…do you use a bookmark?  If so, describe it!

Or…are you a monster like me?  Be proud and admit it!

**still hiding beneath chair**

Xo,

Jenny

If you enjoyed this post, check out my other “Let’s Chat” posts:

Let’s Chat: When Your Opinion Is The Unpopular One

Let’s Chat: When Did This Happen? More Importantly…WHY Did This Happen?

Let’s Chat: Tablet Vs Book Vs Audiobook?

Let’s Chat: How Long Until You Officially Abandon A Book?

Let’s Chat: Book Clubs…Yay or Nay?

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page (www.fb.com/bookcoffeehappy), follow me on Twitter@bookcoffeehappy, and follow me on Instagram @bookcoffeehappy!

***GIVEAWAY (2 Winners!)*** Chuckerman Makes A Movie {Francie Arenson Dickman}

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As I mentioned in My Life: Our Perfect Getaway this is the book that I brought with me to read while in Michigan.  It was the perfect book to read while on my vacation!  Such a cute book in so many ways.  Absolutely loved it.  I’m so excited to share this gem with you!

Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to read and review for my blog.  All opinions are my own. 

Giveaway details will be given at the bottom of this post!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The words of thirty-five-year-old David Melman’s Jewish grandmother still haunt him. He’s scared to settle down. Instead, he dates twenty-something pop stars that he meets through his celebrity-branding business. But when his niece and nephew inform him that he’s hit “rock bottom” with his latest inappropriate relationship, David realizes that change might be in order-so when his sister Marcy, with her own ulterior motive, pushes him to take a film-writing class taught by her friend Laurel, he agrees.

Will writing a movie about a childhood visit to his grandparents in Florida, an unforgettable driving lesson, and a 1977 Cadillac bring David love? Luck? Or both?

Alternating between David’s present-day life and his past through his movie script, Chuckerman Makes a Movie is a romantic comedy blended with a comedic coming-of-age.

My Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

This book is ADORABLE.  Francie Arenson Dickman told this story and tied the characters together in such unique ways!  I’ve never seen an author use such a variety of means to tell a story and I absolutely loved how she did it.  Brilliant.

The characters were extremely colorful and I was equally invested in the “flashback” story as well as the “current” story.  This rarely happens for me, usually I prefer one story over the other but this was not the case with this book!  I felt myself smiling many times throughout the story and actually did laugh out loud at times as well.

This was such an easy, quick read that anyone (male or female) would enjoy.  Lighthearted, funny, adorable, hilarious, heartwarming…I could go on and on.  You’ll love it!

I truly enjoyed this one and I can’t wait to read whatever Francie writes next!

Bottom Line:

This book could not be more adorable.

A Conversation with Francie Arenson Dickman, in her own words:

Briefly give a description of your book:

Chuckerman Makes a Movie tells the story of David Melman (aka “Chuckerman”)a mid-30s fragrance king who, by all accounts, needs some help in the relationship department. When his sister Marcy suggests a screenwriting class taught by her friend Laurel (aka “the Mormon Rodeo”), David tentatively agrees. Laurel urges Melman to write about his heirloom 1977 Cadillac. The project soon conjures recollections from a pivotal family vacation when he was ten, visiting his grandparents’ Miami Beach condominium building. As romance ensues in the present day and classmates wager on Melman’s relationship with the instructor, his script progresses in a parallel fashion. Ultimately, Melman’s coming-of-age bildungsroman screenplay is the catalyst he needs to move forward in his own life.

How did you create the idea for your book?

Chuckerman has a dual plot line, so it has dual inspiration: David Melman was inspired by my brother and a friend in New York who were both single for a very long time; David’s movie was inspired by the decades-worth of Christmas vacations I spent in my grandparents’ Miami Beach condominium building.

What audience would be most interested in your book?

Readers who are drawn to fast-paced, funny stories about family. Chuckerman is both romantic comedy and a comedic coming-of-age, but at it’s heart it’s a family story.

Use 3 adjectives to describe your book:

Funny, endearing, and entertaining.

Any additional information that you would like to provide about you or your book:

Called one of the ten best New Books to Take on Your Next Adventure by Parade Magazine and one of the Must-Read Books for Fall by Our Favorite Female Authors by Ms. Career Girl.

***GIVEAWAY***

Would you like a chance to win an autographed copy of this adorable story?

I have TWO autographed copies of Chuckerman Makes a Movie: A Novel (affiliate) to give away!

The autographed books will be mailed directly to the winners from the author (US only for this giveaway).

To be entered, please complete these 2 simple steps:

1. Follow and/or subscribe to my blog

2. Leave a comment below telling me your favorite snack to eat while watching movies

**You must complete both of these steps to be eligible for the giveaway**

Giveaway will end Friday morning (11/9) at 6:00 am CDT and winner will be randomly chosen and announced in Friday morning’s blog post.  Make sure you check back on Friday to see if you’ve won!  If you already follow and/or subscribe to my blog, you are still eligible…just leave a comment below to be entered 🙂

Good luck!  Can’t wait to read your comments!  (PS…I always bring grapes to the movies and my husband always makes fun of me for it).

Please follow/subscribe to my blog, please “like” my Facebook page (www.fb.com/bookcoffeehappy), follow me on Twitter@bookcoffeehappy, and follow me on Instagram @bookcoffeehappy!

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

Book Reviews: Winter Series (Winter Street, Winter Stroll, Winter Storms, Winter Solstice) {Elin Hilderbrand}

Thank you all so much for your kind words on yesterday’s post, 4 Best Friends, 1 Alma Mater. That post came straight from my heart and it makes me so happy that many of you reached out to tell me how much you enjoyed reading it.  I loved writing it. 🙂

I’m excited to share today’s reviews with you!  I love this book series so much and it doesn’t get nearly enough of the recognition that it deserves.

There are 4 total books in the Winter Street series (need to be read in order).  Book #1: Winter Street: A Novel Book #2: Winter Stroll (Winter Street) Book #3: Winter Storms (Winter Street) Book #4: Winter Solstice (Winter Street Book 4) (affliliates).

My blog review is about the series as a whole (no spoilers given!) but the Goodreads synopsis is strictly summarizing book #1 to give you an idea of what this series is about.

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Synopsis from Goodreads (Book #1: Winter Street):

In bestseller Elin Hilderbrand’s first Christmas novel, a family gathers on Nantucket for a holiday filled with surprises.

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 Thoughts:

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

4 Stars

This is going to be a strange holiday season for me without a visit with my favorite fictional family, the Quinns.  For the past 4 years, I have enjoyed the next installment of this lovely series during the month of December.  I LOVE the holiday season, and these books have become a holiday staple for me!  I waited to read each of them during December and I believe they were even more special because of it.

These books are very short, the writing is absolutely nothing award winning, there truly is zero depth into anything…BUT there is something so special about these characters and this charming little inn that had me waiting all year to return to Winter Street.

These are quick yet lovely reads and the further I read into the series, the more connected to the characters I became.  A fun surprise was a visit from a character from another of Hilderbrand’s novels which I had previously read and loved (The Rumor) in the last book of this series (Winter Solstice)!  I love when authors do that and are able to connect characters and story lines from their different works together!

When I finished the last book of this series, I felt an immediate emptiness…I was already missing spending time with the Quinns. Whether you start reading these now and finish by the holidays or whether you wait and read 1 each year during December as I did, you will absolutely fall in love with this family.

Bottom Line

Quick, easy, and delightful holiday season reads

It would really help me if you could follow/subscribe to my blog.  Also, please “like” my Facebook page (www.fb.com/bookcoffeehappy),  follow me on Twitter@bookcoffeehappy, and follow me on Instagram (@bookcoffeehappy)!  

Click the image below to order the book through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

4 Best Friends, 1 Alma Mater

The 4 of us met at the very beginning of Freshman year of college.  We lived in the same dormitory and joined the same sorority.

And the rest as they say…was history.

The 4 of us immediately clicked in such a way that we became instantly inseparable. We ate all of our meals together. We took our classes together. We lived together. We quickly learned everything there was to know about each other. We had lazy days, crazy nights, and everything in between…always together.

One day there was a dramatic tornado warning and the campus had everyone take immediate shelter. The 3 of them were scared and huddled together in the basement of our dormitory but I was still outside walking back across the entire campus from a class. Unbeknownst to me, the 3 of them were spending their time huddled together and frantically discussing and worrying about my safety. When I finally opened the basement door, I was almost knocked down by the amount of hugs I received. They were so concerned about me. That day solidified what I already knew…the 4 of us were destined to watch out for each other. Forever.

We ate Avanti’s Gondolas, Papa John’s pizza, and The Great Wall’s Chinese food. We went grocery shopping at Thompson’s Food Basket together, we studied together, we took classes together. We attended sorority meetings together. We helped each other, loved each other, and were there for each other throughout the everyday details of the life the 4 of us had created. Always together.

But the laughing. The LAUGHING. This continues to be the ultimate backbone of our entire friendship. We have shared some of the most beautiful, most special, most amazing laughter between us. We have jokes and stories that only we understand. There is always, always, always something to smile about and ALWAYS something to laugh about.

When I turned 21, they put our 4 baby pictures together in a picture frame and gave it to me because we didn’t have any photos of us as kids together. How was it possible that we hadn’t even met until we got to college? How had we managed to live our entire childhood and teenage years without knowing each other?

Over the span of 22 years, other friendships have come and gone. Boyfriends have come and gone. Even our beautiful college experience came and went. But through it all, our friendship remained and now as adults the 4 of us continue to grow closer and closer. We group text every single day. There is nothing we don’t know about each other and no secret that we don’t share.

Bradley University is so much more than our alma mater, it’s where we experienced something that only the 4 of us could possibly understand. During a time when we were so young and learning how to survive on our own, we never once were actually alone. Always together.

For one 12 hour day each fall, my 3 best friends and I magically go back to the time when our days were filled with nothing but each other. Before husbands and children.  Before jobs. Before home ownership. Before being adults.

For one 12 hour day each fall, we drive for almost 3 hours and eat the portable breakfasts that I individually pack for everyone. Granola, oats, yogurt, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, peanut butter. We talk, we laugh, we reminisce, we retell stories that we’ve been retelling for 22 years. We bask in the joy of just being together.

And after our 3 hour car ride, when we step out of the car, for one 12 hour day each fall…

we’re back.

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Immersed straight back into our most special place where our 4 year experience feels both like a lifetime ago and yesterday all at once.

For 1 magical day each fall, we get to relive all of our special memories and yet at the same time still somehow find the room to create new ones.

For 1 magical day each fall, we get to forget about our adult responsibilities and just focus on being together in our most special place.

For 1 magical day each fall, we get to go back to where it all began for us and to revisit the roots of our friendship.

We visit the bookstore which at one time was filled with physical textbooks but now reflects the digital world in which we live:

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We walk through our beautiful campus, remembering our classes and all they had taught us.

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Of course we visit the library! Memories of checking our email on the computers, referencing encyclopedias, and studying with our sorority sisters instantly come flooding back:

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This library cafe was not around when we were there but how cute is the name?!

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Always my favorite part of the library: the basement. Quiet area filled with stacks upon stacks of books.

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And this. My absolute most favorite spot to study on the entire campus. The basement corner desk on the very back right side allllll the way at the very end. I sat at this very desk for HOURS when I needed to study somewhere quiet. My special silent study oasis.  It’s still there!  I hope there is currently a student who always goes straight to this desk when serious studying needs to occur.  The best.

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And when I asked my friends to take my picture in front of the library sign so I could blog it, my sweet best friends asked if they could also be in the photo and hence be on the blog. It truly touched my heart. Everything I do, these girls are right there to support me. Always have been, always will be. Why take a picture alone when you can be surrounded by so much support and love?

My beautiful, most supportive best friends and I:

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I have leaned on the shoulders of these 3 girls more times than I can count, I have cried with them, laughed with them, celebrated with them, and mourned with them. They were in the gorgeous tent with me when I got married and they were at the hospital with me after I gave birth. Somewhere along the 22 year journey that our friendship has taken, they have become my family.

When I started this blog, my very first readers were my husband, my parents…and of course my 3 best friends.

We went to our sorority house and were greeted by the most lovely current sisters.  They welcomed us back into our home with open arms!  They eagerly sat around while listening to our stories, asking us questions, and finding relics from our time when we lived there.  It was amazing and we left with happy hearts.

We visited our freshman year dormitory (University Hall) and were allowed into our individual rooms!  My room looks exactly the same, just new desks.  The girls who currently live in it have it set up exactly as we did.  Love.

And just like that…it was time to drive back home.

When I walked in the door to my house, I was greeted by my son yelling, “MOMMY!” and he ran to hug me.  My husband gave me a kiss.  My daughter had fallen asleep on my side of the bed and as I kissed the top of her head, I thought about how fortunate I am.  I loved my college life so much…and I love my current adult life so much as well.  If that’s not the true definition of happiness, I’m not sure what is.

This year’s souvenirs from our 1 special day.  Bradley sweatshirt for me, Bradley hair bow for my daughter, Bradley shirt for my son, and 2 separate 16 inch Avantis Gondolas to share (maybe?) with my family.  Plus, stickers for my kids with my sorority letters on them.

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To My 3 Best Friends: I love you and I love our special bond so much. I honestly don’t know what I would do or who I would be without the 3 of you always right next to me.

You can make fun of me for using this expression all you want but this is my blog and I’ll just say it: We are truly #blessed.

To Beautiful Bradley University: Thank you for giving us 4 amazingly memorable years, for teaching us so much both in and out of the classroom, for bringing the 4 of us together, and for providing us with a place that 22 years later we can still visit and call our home.

Already counting down to our special day next fall.  I’ll pack the breakfasts.

Xo,

Jenny

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