L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023

Posted November 30, 2023 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 10 Comments

Here are the books I read and/or finished this past month that were not part of scheduled tours or requests from authors/publishers.

A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy by Jeff Bishop
L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy by Jeff Bishop
Narrator: Robbie Daymond
Published by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on July 12, 2022
Genres: YA Contemporary
Length: 09:55
Source: the library
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: four-stars
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You’ve Reached Sam meets John Hughes in a funny and heartfelt debut about a boy’s delirious summertime quest with his ex-girlfriend.
The summer after senior year should have been a time for Cam to party and hang out with his friends. It should also have been a time for him to win back the love of his life, Allison Tandy, who'd dumped him so brutally the year before.
But it quickly becomes clear that this summer is going to be worse than a failure for Cam. It's going to be a tragedy.
Ally is left comatose after a terrible car crash, then Cam tears his ACL in a basketball accident. The operation leaves him in agony, confined to his couch and ruminating over the fact that his ex may not survive.
But when (after taking his medication) Cam starts seeing Ally, he starts to think: 1. He may be headed for a complete mental breakdown and 2. This summer might just be interesting afterall.
Brimming with honesty and humor, A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy interrogates how much control we really have over matters of love—and life

My Review:

So I really liked this one. The narrator was perfect, and the humor the author used with witty banter and the main character kind of talking to the reader is exactly the way I like books. There was a lot of emotions, which definitely got me feeling, especially towards the end. The 80s kid in me loved that the story took place in Shermer, Illinois, not to mention a character named Blane Duckworth. There were other John Hughes movie references, oh I think a restaurant named Abe Froman’s cafe or something too. The book was a lot of fun even with the sad part of the breakup and the Allie being in a coma. There was a funny but icky part with a band-aid towards the end. I definitely will recommend this as a good one for the list for next year. The only things that made me mark it down to a 4 from a 5 were one, that I didn’t like the way the ending was just kind of hanging, even though I know there are other books that end that way. I did notice on Goodreads an entry for a sequel, although it doesn’t look like it ever came out. And then a personal thing, I didn’t like how much the characters were using vaping pens. I’m just not at all a fan of anything having to do with cigarettes.

Dozens of Dachshunds: A Counting, Woofing, Wagging Book by Stephanie Calmenson and Zoe Persico (Illustrator)
L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023Dozens of Dachshunds: A Counting, Woofing, Wagging Book by Stephanie Calmenson, Zoe Persico
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on June 29, 2021
Genres: Childrens Picture Book
Pages: 32
Source: the library
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: five-stars
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A lively stream of dachshunds, cleverly dressed as hot dogs, dinosaurs, birds, bees, books and more, parade across the pages until 78 dachshunds and tons of townspeople join together for Dachshund Day fun. A sing-along, bark-along dachshund song celebrates this beloved breed. Back matter highlights the different sizes, coats and colors, and introduces the author's own adorable dachshund, Harry.

My Review:

I adored this book. I of course got it for my school because I can now buy that kind of book for the SPED kids to enjoy. I threw it in for a short read to try to get my numbers closer to where I should be since I was so far behind for the year. But I loved how it showed how to pronounce Dachshund on the first page, it had one page about dachshunds dressed as dinosaurs and a book page with dinosaurs too. Loved it!

Cookie Queen: How One Girl Started TATE’S BAKE SHOP® by Kathleen King, Lowey Bundy Sichol, and Ramona Kaulitzki

I received this book for free from a giveaway in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023Cookie Queen: How One Girl Started TATE'S BAKE SHOP® by Kathleen King, Lowey Bundy Sichol, Ramona Kaulitzki
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers Genres: Childrens Picture Book
Pages: 40
Source: a giveaway
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: five-stars
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Perfect for dessert lovers and budding bakers, this is the true story of a girl who followed her dream to make the perfect chocolate-chip cookie--and, one day, founded world-renowned TATE'S BAKE SHOP®. Original cookie recipe included!

Eleven-year-old Kathleen King was positively obsessed with baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie. She experimented over and over and over with different recipes--less flour, more butter, longer baking time--until she got it just right.

Customers flocked to her family's farm stand on Long Island for Kathleen's enormous, buttery chocolate chip cookies. And when she grew up, Kathleen started a cookie company called TATE'S BAKE SHOP®. TATE'S grew into a multi-million-dollar empire and, today, they are a household name and their cookies are sold all over the country!

Cookie Queen is the delicious true story of how a little girl's dream turned into an enormous cookie empire.

My Review:

This was such a cute book! I won it from a giveaway on Shooting Stars Mag. Even though it’s younger than what I usually read, it really sounded like something my niece would enjoy as she loves to bake and cook herself! It is still younger than what she’d read, since she is now 11 years old, but she did still enjoy at least looking at it with me. Then I took it to my school to share with my SPED kids. I loved even how there was a recipe at the end for the first type of cookies the character had made with her dad in this fun picture book memoir.

Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus
L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus
Narrator: Jesse Vilinsky, Andrew Eiden
Published by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on August 30, 2022
Genres: YA Mystery
Length: 10:21
Source: the library
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: five-stars
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Be sure to keep your friends close . . . and your secrets closer.
Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher—a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened.
The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder. They've never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie.
Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and as Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she begins to uncover secrets that might change everything—about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot.
Four years ago someone got away with murder. The most terrifying part is that they never left.

My Review:

Another possibility for the Gateway Award list next year, I got this downloaded on the library audiobook platform of Libby. It was soo good! Of course what else to expect from this author. Lots of twists and turns and keeping me guessing about who actually did what. The author kept us guessing about who killed the teacher until the very end and I don’t know that we ever really found. out for sure. It was a little weird though since the boy’s mom was named Lisa Marie, and he called her that, and that’s my name, lol. But I liked both narrators on this too.

Christmas Shopping for a Billionaire (Shopping for a Billionaire #5) by Julia Kent
L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023Christmas Shopping for a Billionaire by Julia Kent
Series: Shopping for a Billionaire #5
on October 1, 2014
Genres: Adult Holiday Romance
Pages: 68
Source: Purchased
Format: eBook
My Rating: five-stars
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USA TODAY BESTSELLER! When Shannon is called to the mall to work as a sexy elf, her billionaire boyfriend, Declan, gets roped into playing Santa. The mall mommies start tweeting pictures, and soon everyone is crashing the mall to have a seat on Santa's lap.
**This rom com short story (67 pages) comes after Shopping for a Billionaire 4 in my Shopping series, but it can be read as a fun standalone as well!**

My Review:

I fit this one in when I was having trouble with the books I thought I was going to read for the Ho-Ho-Ho Readathon kept being DNFs for me. And this one did not disappoint! It’s a novella, so short and sweet? Or short and spicy! As always the author had me laughing from the first page and all the way through. Definitely a great holiday read for romance lovers!

Lovelight Farms (Lovelight #1) by B.K. Borison
L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison
Series: Lovelight #1
Published by Berkley on June 6, 2023
Genres: Adult Holiday Romance
Pages: 336
Source: a giveaway
Format: Paperback
My Rating: five-stars
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Where the lovelight gleams …
A pasture of dead trees. A hostile takeover of the Santa barn by a family of raccoons. And shipments that have mysteriously gone missing. Lovelight Farms is not the magical winter wonderland of Stella Bloom’s dreams.
In an effort to save the Christmas tree farm she’s loved since she was a kid, she enters a contest with instafamous influencer Evelyn St. James. With the added publicity and the $100,000 cash prize, she might just be able to save the farm from its financial woes. There’s just one problem. To make the farm seem like a romantic destination for the holidays, she lied on the application and said she owns Lovelight Farms with her boyfriend. Only … there is no boyfriend.
Enter best friend Luka Peters. He just came home for some hot chocolate, and somehow got a farm and a serious girlfriend in the process.

My Review:

I’d been seeing everyone talk about this one, so I knew I had to get my hands on it. And unlike one of my DNFs this month which was also a book everyone seemed to love, this one deserved every bit of praise it got! At least for me. I loved these characters. I loved this small town, I loved the farm, the plot, all of it. I giggled when Stella was humming Earth Wind and Fire when Luka was choking, totally thinking about the episode of the tv show The Office when they had CPR training. And oh, Luka was so swoon-worthy! I want my own Luka! The town and supporting characters were also so interesting that I can’t wait to read the rest of the series! Thanks to Books of My Heart, who I won this book from their blogiversary!

Along Came Holly (Mistletoe Romance #3) by Codi Hall
L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023Along Came Holly by Codi Hall
Series: Mistletoe Romance #3
Narrator: Veronica Worthington, Skyler Hutchinson
Published by Audible Originals on November 17, 2022
Genres: Adult Holiday Romance, Adult Romantic Comedy
Length: 09:24
Source: Audible Plus
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: four-half-stars
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Listening Length: 9 hours and 24 minutes
How can Holly Winters, the Queen of Christmas Cheer, stand to be neighbors with her town’s resident Scrooge?
Holly owns the merriest holiday shop on Main Street. But right next door is the hardware store run by Declan Gallagher, the grinchiest man in all of Mistletoe, Idaho. With Christmas fast approaching, the small-town rivals engage in an all-out prank war, sending each other not-so-friendly season’s greetings.
But when Holly’s ambitious plan to win the town’s Festival of Lights falls apart, she has no one else to call but her handy sworn-nemesis. They say Christmas is a time for miracles, after all. As Holly and Declan work together, they slowly warm up to each other. They might just end up spending Christmas Eve cuddling by the fire.
Along Came Holly is the perfect enemies-to-lovers rom-com sure to warm hearts this holiday season. Curl up with a beau and a cup of hot cocoa and listen to the latest in A Mistletoe Romance series by author Codi Hall.

My Review:

I loved the first two books in this series, and this one was just as good! The characters were perfect enemies to lovers, which we’d been introduced to their “feud” in the other books. We also got to see our couples from the first two books, since they were Holly’s brother and sister. Not to mention other family members and friends of all the people involved. The little town was fun. There was so much going on besides just the romance, family issues for Declan, his father’s dementia hitting again a little close for me right now with my own stepdad’s issues. And I got a little frustrated with some of the back and forth between the two, but I like the way the author brought them back together and didn’t make that a horrible big drama for the end. I was reminded of the crocheted peens, still wondering if anyone makes those, lol. One other complaint I had is that while the male narrator wasn’t bad, at times it sounded like an English teacher reading to a class and putting some inflections in, but not really the way an audiobook narrator usually does. I do have to say by the end of the book though, he seemed to be doing a better job. Now, there are so many side characters that I’m wondering if the author will give them their own books? It would probably be a different series, since this is the three siblings in a family.

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10 responses to “L-L-L-Little Reviews #56: November 2023

  1. Suzie B

    After reading a review; I actually bought Cookie Queen as gift for a friends daughter this Christmas – it looks absolutely adorable 🙂

    • Lisa Mandina

      I thought it was cute. I wish I had kids or grandkids to buy it for, but it works in my school library for my SPED kids.

  2. I enjoyed a few of those, too, but yay for a few more that piqued my interest for future holiday reading/listening.

    LOL, that would be weird to have a character addressing his mother and it was your name.

    • Lisa Mandina

      Yeah, that was just a little weird since it was first and middle name the same! Of course I guess Lisa Marie can be pretty common.

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