2017 | Grateful: A Year in Review

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 | Grateful: A Year in Review

If one browse’s Instagram feeds, you’ll spy a familiar meme popping up. Making the rounds on my Instagram timeline has been that familiar nine-block collage along with the hashtag “2017 best nine.”

For the past couple of weeks, this has been the “it” feature to post on ones Instagram feed. It’s also been the one thing that’s been inspiring this part of me (the life of a blogger) to think.

Perhaps it’s that collection of photos that leaves me reflective or perhaps it’s simply in the “knowing” the year is nearly gone that leaves me so. Or perhaps it’s the fact I’m getting older (not ready to cop to this – yet). Whatever the case, either way, thoughts on, and about this community have surfaced.

Redundant though it is, over the years, I’ve said in one way or another how important this little world has  been. Life throws many things at us, and sometimes in unexpected places, a person can find that one thing that teaches. For me, this little space has taught me so much.

Nearly seven years later, and I’m still learning.

This community has undergone a great many changes. Some good and some just in this last year that, I won’t lie, make me sad. The swing away from blog and reader content makes me miss what this place once was. Nonetheless, so many quality writers and readers, bloggers and fangirls are a part of this community. People who make being a part of this world a great place to “work,” and be a part of.

What 2018 will bring is a mystery. No matter what comes, as I seem to every year, contemplative thoughts surface.

2017 has been a good year here. I’ve met new bloggers. I’ve conversed with many of you. I’ve visited new blogs. I’ve continued to get to know #BookBesties. I’ve seen blogging friends leave this world. I’ve watched blogger friends return to their blogging roots. I’ve experienced a good year for this space.

To you, the reader and blogging friends, thank you.

Thank you for continuing to visit here. Thank you for supporting this space. Thank you for the conversations. Thank you to everyone in this community who helps inspire new and old bloggers.

Thank you for a wonderful 2017.

Wishing each and every one of you a wonderful 2018. May you enjoy the best kind of year, and step into this new journey with joy, laughter and of course, some wonderful new reads.

Happy New Year 2018!

Let the countdown begin…

Enchanted (2007) – Disney’s Fairy Tale Still Enchants Ten Years Later

Enchanted (2007) – Disney’s Fairy Tale Still Enchants Ten Years Later

Though vague, memories of seeing this Disney charmer are wrapped up with a fond bow. Even before the theater trip, the likelihood that I was excited from the moment news broke is high. The idea of a contemporary fairy tale appealed to teenager me as much as it does today. This is part of the reason why Enchanted is, and will remain, one of my favorite feel-good films.

Romantic Movie Scene Spotlight | Enchanted, Ten Years Later

The Kingdom of Andalasia is celebrating. It’s an important day for the idyllic kingdom and in particular for its prince. You see, he has found the one with whom he’ll share “True Love’s Kiss.” Only trouble is, his stepmother isn’t about to have any girl compete for her crown. Threatened by the prince’s would-be bride, she sends the beautiful girl to a place where there are no “happily ever afters” – a scary place called New York City.

Giselle (Amy Adams) steps into New York alone and unsure of what she should do. No one in this big, frightening place shows her any kindness. Desperate to find the castle and reunite with her prince, Edward (James Marsden), she wanders the harsh streets of this loud place alone. Until Robert (Patrick Dempsey) – quite literally, catches her.

A divorce lawyer who’s widowed with a small daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey), Robert isn’t interested in the fairy tale. He’d rather find a sensible relationship. What he does not expect is the entrance of Giselle, and her tales of magic and prince’s, into his life.

When trying to think of words to describe Enchanted, I feel like words fail. There aren’t enough adjectives and proper use of said words to describe my adoration of this little film. It’s one of those stories I don’t think I’ll ever tire of no matter my age, flaws someone may point out or I may spy myself. Aside from the intentional magical elements of the story, there’s something about this script that feels timeless.

For those of you who also flocked to the theater to see this film, you might not believe this year, it turned ten years old. (To say this feels like a form of owning up to my age, and I’m really not sure I want to.) I recently sat down to re-watch Enchanted (for the first time in a number of years), and realized something. One being its important anniversary and two I was reminded how true my earlier statement is: Enchanted is indeed excellent.

Everything (from little details to the big over-the-top performances) works seamlessly together. Though I have to be in the right mood for big-production musicals, I do enjoy the scenes that go “all out.” Granted the park scene could have benefitted from less fuss, but I understand its purpose and the contrast it’s meant to display. From the music (by award-winning composer Alan Menken) to the costumes and cast, everything is intricate and performed with quality.
I knew it was you. - Enchanted

Amy Adams has been one of my favorite actresses since first I saw her in a starring role (in fact this is probably one of the earliest films I did see her in). In the role of Giselle, she’s at ease. Similarly, she and Patrick Dempsey play off one another in an easy-going manner. Their respective character’s evolution is one of the best parts of the film; it makes the love story all the sweeter. Additionally, familiar faces include Timothy Spall, Susan Sarandon, Idina Menzel (who would later become a Disney princess herself in Frozen), and in cameo roles, the Little Mermaid, Jodi Benson and Belle, Paige O’ Hara.

No matter how old I get, this story continues to enchant. Maybe it’s the branding. Or perhaps more basic than this, it’s the fact that the “girl” in me loves the romanticism. There’s nostalgia attached to each and every frame (animation sequence included). Whether it’s the pop light songs or the traditional fairy tale that turns upside down, Enchanted is something I don’t foresee becoming weary of. It might not be something I watch with frequency, but each time I do, it sweeps me into its world of make-believe and magic. Perhaps its greatest attribute is that the romance has an uncanny ability to be genuine and still weave fairy tale elements into a love story that is timeless.

(This post does contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure page for details.) You can rent Enchanted on Amazon Video or purchase it on DVD.

Romantic Movie Scene Feature | Enchanted, Ten Years Later

No matter how old we get or how far we stray from the things of childhood (or in my case, young "adulthood"), there are always going to be those stories we'll never cease loving. For me, one of these films is Enchanted.

FILM REVIEW | Enchanted (2007) – Disney’s Fairy Tale Still Enchants Ten Years Later

Call it the romantic in me, but in correlation with all of the other beautiful things and moments of this film, the best among them is the romance. Everything about it (even if, because of time framing, the"bigger picture" potential doesn't materialize) is flawless. From that adorable first night to the romantic scene featured today, who doesn't melt over this love story?
So close to reaching \ that famous happy end \ almost believing \ this one's not pretend \ and now you're beside me \ and look how far we've come \ so far we are, so close. - Jon McLaughlin, So Close
Today, ten years later, Enchanted still does its job: it continues to enchant me. This is why, in its anniversary year, I was thrilled to be able to take a look back and feature not just a moment from this film, but one of my favorite cinematic dance scenes ever.

Over on Silver Petticoat, today I wrote about this moment - in full-on fangirl swoon-y gibberish. Find a snippet of the piece below, and read it in full on Silver Petticoat.

(This post does contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure page for details.) You can rent Enchanted on Amazon Video or purchase it on DVD.


THE MOVIE: Enchanted (2007)
THE PAIR: Giselle (Amy Adams) and Robert (Patrick Dempsey)
THE MOMENT: A romantic waltz at the Queen’s ball

SPOILERS ahead; read with caution

Ten years ago, a little film sporting Disney’s iconic, shiny type font released in theaters. On November 21st, 2007, a little story called Enchanted opened at the box office. Now, a decade later, it’s still managing to enchant its viewers. Or it is if you’re anything like me.

I just recently sat down to enjoy a re-watch of this and discovered two things. The film is indeed ten years old (I’m not sure I should admit this, but… I feel old), and yes, this film still does enchant. Coupled with its anniversary, rumors of a sequel swirl (its title is rumored to be Disenchanted, and Amy Adams has discussed there being a script in interviews), so there’s no better time to revisit this film than now. Continue Reading on Silver Petticoat →

Photos: Disney

A Gift to Remember (2017) – Charming and Bookish Holiday Romance

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Gift to Remember (2017) – Charming and Bookish Holiday Romance

Though every one of the Christmas films I watch has a sweet disposition (because they’re Christmas stories – they kind of have to be, right?), there are some that seem to stand a little bit taller. For a handful of reasons, A Gift to Remember is one of these.

It’s all about the simple things for Darcy Archer (Ali Liebert). She enjoys crafting during quiet evenings at home. Her favorite pastime is a cozy reading chair with a good book. A passion only fueled by the fact that she works at a small bookstore. Unfortunately for Darcy and the small store’s employers, there’s a chance the store may close. Unless someone like Darcy can turn it around.

Darcy finds she has greater things to worry about when, while riding her bike, she accidently hits a man crossing the street. As she tries to learn about this stranger’s condition and who he is, Darcy learns that he’s lost his memory. While unsure of who he is and where he comes from, Aiden (Peter Porte) relies on Darcy, the only person he knows. All the while, Darcy tries to discover his family ties and reunite him with family just in time for Christmas.

Reviewing any Hallmark originals never ceases to make me feel like a broken record. Nonetheless, there’s a truth. Do I mind? Absolutely not! Of course I have my favorites and those I can watch year after year, but overall, each Hallmark film is adorable. Those that do stand out seem to shine a little brighter. For some it’s the script. For others, it’s the chemistry between the leads. Then there are those that have that extra dose of adorable. A Gift to Remember has this.

If there is one way to ensure I’m going to love a story, it’s to introduce me to a bookish heroine. In this story, that’s exactly who we meet in Darcy. She’s named after a literary character (can you guess who? *smile*) and finds quite evenings in reading to be enjoyable. It’s because writers engrain this old-fashion bookish appeal (among other qualities) that viewers fall so easily for these originals.

Those looking for more than just great characters are also treated to actors who play the characters with genuine emotion, care and perfect characterization. Or at least, I thought so. Most of all, Ali Liebert’s Darcy is a compelling heroine anyone’s sure to root for. If she seems familiar, it’s likely because she’s played the “best friend” character time and again. Seeing her in the leading lady role is great fun, and a role she handles very well. So much so that I know I’d love to see her in another in the near future. Peter Porte will also look familiar if you saw the adorable Love at the Shore (with Amanda Righetti).

I’ll make no secret of the fact that this has been one of my favorites from 2017. The story progresses at a nice pace, and because of Aiden’s memory loss, these characters have a great reason to be together. (Meaning, their time spent together comes across as normal under this kind of circumstance. Plus this is just who Darcy is as a character.) Another pro in this films column is the non-dramatic parting between these characters. So often (perhaps a little too often) in movies there’s some kind of big “break up” separates the characters. Most of the time this feels a little disingenuous especially since the limited time frame never feels sufficient to have inspired such a sense of betrayal.

If you haven’t seen A Gift to Remember, but you like Christmas films, consider making room for this one on your DVR. It’s sure to charm you! My parting advice to you is as follows; make yourself a large cup of cocoa, find that favorite cozy sweater and settle in for this little piece of joy.

Photos: Hallmark Channel / Crown Media Press

#Bestof2017 | Top Shelf Reads of 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

#Bestof2017 | Top Shelf Reads of 2017

Whether we’re ready for it or not (I’m not), 2017’s final days (hours?) is rapidly drawing to a close. For Finding Wonderland, this can mean only one thing. It’s time again to take a look at our favorite books of 2017.

(This post does contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure page for details.) 

Each year, Finding Wonderland gushes over the best of the best in fiction. This year, looking back, I see there were quite a few stories that impressed me. To enjoy that kind of reading year is the best kind of reading. For a bookworm, that is a simple joy we look forward to and revel in when we discover these gems. Whether or not they are nominated for awards, the stories that bring me joy, make me smile, and hastily flip the pages are the tales that linger.

These things are, at the basic level, what makes a story truly great.

2017 has been a good year. It’s true, down below you’ll spy books of a similar nature (to those I frequently read) and authors who are featured here a lot. But it’s these genres, authors and stories that speak most to my reader heart. It’s these stories I fangirl over with my #BookBesties (you all know who you are!). It’s these books that inspired read-alongs with fellow readers. It’s these works of art that inspire me to do what I do.

Since I don’t read as many books as most readers do in a year, this list is relatively short. If you’d like to know about some of the books I anticipated loving in 2017 (but alas did not read), you can read our December 12 Top Ten Tuesday post.

If anyone is wondering about the favorite films of 2017, never fear, this list is now live on Finding Wonderland. “Part one” of the 2017 favorites went up earlier this week. But let’s get back to today’s feature. 

For now, let’s turn the spotlight on the fictional masterpieces (as judged by moi) of 2017.

1. Moving Target by Lynette Eason | Lynette's stories are always fantastic. This one really surprised me, which is a must for any romantic suspense novel. Amazon | Goodreads

2. A New Shade of Summer by Nicole Deese | Contemporary magic. What else can one say about this gem? Amazon | Goodreads

3. Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge | Hillary again creates magic with this beautiful contemporized re-telling, a story of Austen's famous sisters (Elinor and Marianne) in Sense and Senibility re-imagined; in Texas! Amazon | Goodreads

4. Warcross* by Marie Lu | Prior to this much hyped sci-fi novel, a novel by Marie Lu was not on my "read" checklist. I picked it up in response to an email and quickly became engrossed in its world. Despite it not being "my genre," I can easily say, this will be an author I read more books by. The one disappointment? This one is actually a duology - how did I not know this?? Amazon | Goodreads

*Review to come!

5. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins | Amazon | Goodreads

On Lola and the Boy Next Door
Contemporary romance aficionados will still swoon and wear a wide smile by book's end. ♥
6. Still Life and Blind Spot by Dani Pettrey | This year we had two books by Dani. The awesomest part is, both were top shelve kind of reads. The downside? I didn't realize there were four books in this series. Now I have to wait until 2018 for said fourth book. Still Life Amazon | Goodreads Blind Spot Amazon | Goodreads

7. The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay | Each and every one of Katherine's stories are special. There's forever something about each one that's unique and page-turning. They carry common themes (Austen, Bronte, the classics in general), but each one shape their own unique niche in the fiction world. The Austen Escape is no exception. AmazonGoodreads

8. All This Time by Melissa Tagg | The final novel in Melissa’s Walker family series is lovely. The story doesn’t let down the characters (the two readers were most anxious for – Raegan and Bear), and Melissa’s knack for keeping an invested reader is still present. Amazon | Goodreads

9. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner | The sass though!! This debut is one of the cutest contemporary books I’ve ever read – plus I love not only the genre, but its short length. Everything is compacted neatly, and all without sacrificing the story. Well done, Bethany Turner – and thank you. Amazon | Goodreads

10. True to You by Becky Wade | Becky never disappoints but with this, the first novel in her brand-new series, she raises her storytelling to a new level. Her characters, her prose, and the genuine way in which everything unfolds is breathtaking. Amazon | Goodreads

11. The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber | Unique and exciting, the start of Mary Weber's sci-fi duo is not one to be missed! Amazon | Goodreads

12. Lucky in Love by Kasie West | I’m a sucker for anything lighthearted and happy. There’s no one who excels better at this subgenre than YA author Kasie West. Her books are magic, and the reads I turn to when I want to smile through an entire book. Amazon | Goodreads

13. The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright | Amazon | Goodreads

Other Books I Read and Enjoyed in 2017: Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano | One Christmas in Winter (★★★★★) by Bell Renshaw | One Enchanted Noel  (★★★★★) by Melissa Tagg | Fill In Boyfriend and On the Fence by Kasie West | Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Channel linked above

This brings us to an end of Finding Wonderland’s favorites of 2017! Have you read any these? Do you spy any books that made your “best of” lists? Tell me about them – and your favorites of the year. Let’s get our bookworm chat on.

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner – Sassy Contemporary RomCom in INSPY Fiction

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

 (This post does contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure page for details.) 

Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: 2017
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher Provided – thank you!
Amazon | Blogger | Goodreads | Wordpress
Rating: ★★★★½

Charmed lifestyle has been the normal for Sarah. Or at least that’s how it seems. In the aftermath of her divorce, Sarah felt listless and unsure what to do. In an “overnight success” kind of story you only see in the movies, Sarah, along with a non de plume, becomes a best-selling novelist. Then, her life forever changes when Sarah becomes a Christian. This complicates matters because a. Sarah’s novels aren’t exactly appropriate for her new convictions and b. she still owes another book under her contract.

What’s a girl to do?

Life tilts on its axis when, while dealing with these changes, Sarah runs into – quite literally, the man of her dreams.

No secret has been made of my love of contemporary fiction. It’s been documented well and yes, I talk about this all the time. This is why anytime a new contemporary work of fiction releases from a favored publishing house (especially those that are smaller like Revell), I sit up and take notice. Not only does ‘Sarah Hollenbeck’ celebrate a new novel, it also marks the (traditional publishing) debut of its author, Bethany Turner.

Inside these pages, readers are sure to feel and discover a myriad of emotions. There are tears, laughter and even heartbreaking moments. The story doesn’t shy away from realistic situations (for these characters), but there’s a lighthearted manner in which the story unfolds that makes everything work. Bethany has a knack for this kind of storytelling, and she does it with ease and class. The “moving parts” of this story work together seamlessly and all of it feels organic to these characters.

Speaking of the characters, I adore them all. Whether it’s the titular heroine or her love interest, there’s no shortage of realistic and endearing characters. The romance is especially lovely. It’s sweet, but also sassy and I loved its progression. Sarah and Ben are clearly meant for each other from that “meet cute” and from there, the ups and downs of their relationship only makes them stronger.

Anyone who wants a contemporary novel in the inspirational market that breaks out of the typical box will love The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck. It’s bursting with sharp wit and authentic characterizations. In short, this book should be no secret. ♥

Content: there is some "PG13" (ish) content in this novel. Mostly some talk of sex, "waiting," and a few innuendos. 

Synopsis: Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that's obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she's made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she's chosen. She's still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she's not sure she can write anymore. She's beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a "scandalous" book. And the fact that she's falling in love with her pastor doesn't make things any easier.

With a powerful voice, penetrating insight, and plenty of wit, Bethany Turner explodes onto the scene with a debut that isn't afraid to deal with the thorny realities of living the Christian life. – Goodreads

Coming Next from Bethany Turner:

Sincere thanks to the publisher, Revell for providing a complimentary copy of this novel; all opinions are my honest thoughts. 

Top Ten Tuesday | 12 Books I’m Anticipating in 2018 (But Probably Won’t Read Until 2019?!)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday | 12 Books I’m Anticipating in 2018 (But Probably Won’t Read Until 2019!?)

Welcome, happy readers and fellow Top Ten Tuesday participants. Happy last-Top-Ten-Tuesday-of-2017!

Broke and Bookish December 26: Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to In 2018 (These could be new releases, or books you resolve to read.) – Broke and Bookish

(This post does contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

Here’s a rhetorical question for you all, how did we get here? We’re less than a week out from bidding adieu to 2017, and I’m not gonna lie, I’m kind of freaking out about it. It feels like 2017 began only yesterday. I remember putting the New Year’s Eve DVD in the player tray (a tradition – because I love a fun romcom), enjoying some laughs with family and munching on the traditional New Year’s Eve snacks we make. (Because why not use New Year’s Eve as an excuse to eat all the junk food.)

Today it’s all about the books we’re looking forward to in 2018! Even though most of these are sure to end up on my shelf, they’re unlikely to be read with any great speed. Why? Because the INSPYs begin December 31, and that will require a good 4-5 months of 2018. (Contrary to what my post title suggests, in all likelihood, I will get to many of these in 2018... it'll just be in the latter part of the year. But on the upside, look at all I have to anticipate!) 

Still, I’m excited about adding them to my shelf – and they all look so pretty.

1. Meet Cute (Novella Collection) – January | After reading My True Love Gave to Me, a Christmas novella collection, the idea of a romance-y collection in that same format sounds adorbs. Amazon | Goodreads

2. Zenith (January) by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings | A sci-fi space opera sounds too entertaining to miss. Amazon | Goodreads

3. The Lost Castle (February) by Kristy Cambrom | Who doesn’t like the idea of a time slip fairy tale? Amazon | Goodreads
Launching a brand-new series, Kristy Cambron explores the collision of past and present as she discovers the ruins of a French castle, long lost to history.
4. The Game Can’t Love You Back by Karole Cazzo | Sporting books aren’t my usual gravitational genre, however the cover of this one is too cute plus it IS a contemporary. That alone is a win. Amazon | Goodreads

5. Everless (January) by Sara Holland | Fantasy isn’t a genre I read frequently, but this one has caught my eye. Amazon | Goodreads
Time is a prison. She is the key. - Everless
6. Love and Other Train Wrecks (January) by Leah Konen | This one sounds adorable, and of course, as I say time and again, the fact that this is contemporary means I’m going to take an extra close look. Amazon | Goodreads 

7. Save the Date (June) by Morgan Matson | I may have only read one novel by Morgan, but her books always sound charming. This one is no different. Amazon | Goodreads

8 Dead Drift (July) by Dani Pettrey | Though I didn’t realize Dani wrote a fourth novel in this series, I’m glad she did. The only downside is the wait – can I fast-foreword to July and then come back to present time? Amazon | Goodreads

9. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (January) by Rachel Lynn Solomon | A YA novel about twins sounds like a unique premise. Amazon | Goodreads

10. The Sea Before Us (February) by Sarah Sundin | Anything with Sarah’s name on it means I’m going to read this one – and the historical aspect of this one sounds intriguing. Amazon | Goodreads

11. Falling for You (May) by Becky Wade | Willow’s story comes out in May. Though that’s a little too far away for a fan of Becky’s novels, but the anticipation is exciting too. Amazon | Goodreads
12. Reclaiming Shilo Snow (March) by Mary Weber | For some reason, I was sure this one released later on in 2018. Discovering we get it a mere three months into the new year (and let’s be real, that will fly by) leaves me one happy reader. Amazon | Goodreads

Of course, there are so many other books releasing that I'm excited for. There's new fiction from Kasie West, a contemporary from Lindsay Harrel, the final book in a fantasy series by Sara Ella, hilarious contemporary from Jenny B. Jones, new Marie fiction, and SO (so) much more!

*Video publishes tomorrow; channel linked above

That’s another wrap on another edition of Top Ten Tuesday. Also, the last of 2017! Tell me about the 2018 releases YOU are most excited about reading.

Make sure to leave your Top Ten Tuesday links; I’d love to visit! It might take me the week before I swing by to visit your spaces, but I will be by to visit your posts and bookish havens.

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland

PS: enter the Giveaway Hop giveaway! It ends December 31!

Rocky Mountain Christmas (2017) – Colorado Country Christmas

Rocky Mountain Christmas (2017) – Colorado Country Christmas

When a line up has to come to a close, the way to do this is by going out with a story like Rocky Mountain Christmas. It’s one of those stories that makes you feel warm, and cozy and happy inside. Let’s discover the “why” behind this.

New York treats Sarah McKinney (Lindy Booth) well. She grew up in the wide open spaces of Colorado, but now she’s carved a niche for herself as an interior designer for an elite hotel chain. Even still, with Christmas fast approaching, Sarah is ready to return to her roots for a visit and family reunion. Since aunt Beth died, all Sarah has is her uncle Ben (Treat Williams) – the man who essentially raised her, and her brother, Cody. Plus, her cause is strengthened by the fact that she needs to escape the spotlight surrounding her recent break up.

She makes her way to the family ranch with peace and quiet on her mind; a place she can recharge. Fate has other plans. Before she’s been home 24 hours, she’s roped into organizing the Christmas parade and playing babysitter to a popular actor. Graham Mitchell (Kristoffer Polaha) has a legit reason for staying on a ranch (preparation for a role). Or so he wants everyone to think. But with her own bruised heart, Sarah comes to realize Graham too has more than one reason for hiding away...

Making a “copy and paste” repeat action on my keyboard from nearly any Hallmark film would suffice to sum up my thoughts on this one. A term I mean in only the most complimentary and endearing way. Hallmark originals are my jam. (Seriously, my Saturday nights often involve comfort food and the newest Hallmark film. Yes, I’m - quite happily, boring.) If the Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas must end (Hallmark Movies and Mysteries brand), this is the kind of finale that is needed to bookend the end of 2017's line up.

The story pulls familiar pieces from many other films, but when there are great leads guiding everything, anything and everything is forgiven. In this case, a favorite lead actor at my house makes the biggest difference. Like his previous roles in Hallmark originals, Kristoffer again plays another memorable leading man. Holding true to his previous “types,” he’s the gentleman of the story, but there’s something in his performances that have an ease about them. If you’re anything like me, this helps put the audience at ease and builds a natural rapport with his respective leading ladies.

You’ll also recognize Lindy from earlier Hallmark originals. The two that immediately come to mind are both Christmas films. The familial bonds and ties that brings everyone together is charming and sweet. Though it’s not the focal point of the feature, Sarah’s relationship with her brother is also a well-written part of the story. This is something sure to appeal to those of us who like an emphasis on family ties.

Shot against a beautiful backdrop that features stunning landscapes and scenery, Rocky Mountain Christmas is memorable. 

Photos: Hallmark / Crown Media Press

Happy Christmas Greetings 2017!!

For years now it's been a kind of tradition at my house to make Christmas cards. Though this year was a bit later and "last minute" than normal, I still sent them out. Sadly I cannot send a card to everyone. (I wish I could send a card to everyone I've met through the blogging world, but I simply can't. This is the next best thing.) What I can accomplish is making a stop here and wishing everyone out there a most Merry Christmas 2017!

2017, like 2016, has been a great year around here, and again as has been the tradition, I want to thank each and every one of you for being the reason why this is true. The support you show this bookish space is never something I take for granted.

As I do each year, I want to sincerely thank you all for hanging out here and being a part of bookworm joy every day.

Wishing you all the joyful season greetings this Christmas. Much happiness and excitement for 2018. I hope your Christmas day is full of laughter, family and many doses of jolly.♥

Merry Christmas

Sharing Christmas (2017) – Christmas Shop Stocks Sweets and Sass

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sharing Christmas (2017) – Christmas Shop Stocks Sweets and Sass

As the 2017 “Countdown to Christmas” campaign winds to its close (this is the first of the six left as its premiere date – now there’s only three left), there’s a kind of bittersweet emotion attached. Step inside this shop and you'll meet Stephanie (Ellen Hollman), a woman who’s grown up in her parent’s Christmas Shop. Today, on the eve of their busiest season – Christmas, her parents are ready to retire. More or less running the store in recent years, they have no reservations about turning the keys over to their daughter.

Housed inside a kind of mini shopping mall, the first day of Stephanie’s tenure deals a devastating blow. A real estate developer has bought the building. Their plans are for anything but keeping the tenants and the shopping center the same. Coinciding with this, Stephanie meets the handsome, Michael (Bobby Campo), both unaware of his connection to the Christmas Shop.

Without any preamble I’m just going to say, I really (really) liked this Christmas original. Ironically, this was one of the films in this year’s lineup I anticipated not putting in the “favorite” column. Goes to show you, I shouldn’t always trust my movie instincts. (Even if 95% of the time they are right.)

Originally (and appropriately titled) The Christmas Shop, Sharing Christmas is one my mother and I both agree is one of 2017’s best. Maybe it’s simply because we like the chemistry between the couple or we enjoyed the story. (One of the credited writer’s is also credited for My Summer Prince, another romance favorite.) Or perhaps it’s all in the combination of the two. Could be we both have different reasons for the “why” we like this one. Whatever they are – many or few, the story keeps its viewer engaged. An accomplishment that’s half the battle no matter the story or the medium it’s told through.

Repetitive though this statement is, I’ll say this: I adore that the writer’s exclude one common trope. Saying more would give away spoiler-y things. I will say though it’s something that reveals itself early on, whereas other similar tropes wouldn’t unveil the truth until the final 20 minutes as opposed to the first 20 of this story. For this reason alone – though there are others, I respect this story.

The cast is great together. There’s a kind of “wonderstruck” attraction between the leads which is full of innocence and charm in equal parts. The big city setting is a welcome change, but the best of both worlds is represented. Much of the story is set inside the shop which is full of quaint knick-knacks and small town feelings. For those of you who might not like the city-set stories, don’t let the setting put you off. There’s plenty of “hometown” and cozy nooks to explore.

Sharing Christmas is indeed a favorite of 2017, and like any of its predecessors, it hits the sweet spot perfectly.

Photos: Hallmark Channel / Crown Media Press 

Book Tag | The Naughty or Nice (Book) Tag

Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Tag | The Naughty or Nice Tag

Hey, hey, readers and friends. I didn’t plan on publishing anything today because it’s Christmas. However yesterday I finally replied to my Twitter notifications yesterday (seriously, WHY do I let those stack up so?), I saw that Sophie of Books Like Wolves kindly tagged me in a fun book tag!

It’s way too late to break this tag into two parts as I ordinarily would (answer some Qs in a booktube video and the rest here on Finding Wonderland), but I thought, why not answer them in a blog post? So… that’s what I decided to do.

Without further preamble, let’s get to the Naughty or Nice (Book) Tag.

Received an ARC and not reviewed it For sure! If it’s an ARC I’ve requested, I make every attempt to read and review the book. But if publishers send them to me without a request, I don’t worry as much. 

That said, I so appreciate publishing houses who so kindly send out ARCs. It’s always a pleasure and honor to be considered a reviewer for the books they publish.

Have less than 60% feedback rating on NetgalleyI don’t use Netgalley with any frequency. In the beginning I was super excited about making use of it, however the e-arcs format really weird for me on my Kindle app. Add in the fact that I can’t read many books on my app (unless I want to get frequent headaches), and I stick with physical copies of novels.

Rated a book on GoodReads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)Please tell me we bookworms all do this?! I know, yes, I have.

Folded down the page of a book/Accidentally spilled on a bookYes to the first question, and no to the second. Or if I did ever spill on a book, I cannot remember doing so. And this seems like an event I would recall.

DNF a book this year | Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall

Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it | Confession time: YES I buy books all the time based on their covers (#CoverSnob alert!!) but I think I can say I always have good intentions when it comes to reading them. The synopsis does have to intrigue as well as the cover. The latter is the “hook” (what inspires me to pick the book up off the shelf), but the story has to keep me engaged.

Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework) | Oh, yes! This has happened many a time. Not necessarily with homework, but definitely at times when I should be making dinner or writing promised articles or just writing blog-y things.
Skim read a book | No... at least none that I can remember. (Update: Maybe Princess Diaries? And yes, the more I think about it, the more I do remember... I've totally skim read.)

Completely missed your GoodReads goal | I don’t think I’ve ever challenged myself with a Goodreads goal. The reason being I know I’d crash and burn. Why set myself up for bookish failure?? *Wink*

Borrowed a book and not returned it | Not in my memory bank… but it’s possible!

Broke a book buying ban | I don’t know that I’ve ever placed myself on a book buying ban… but if I have, I’d like to think I didn’t break it. When I need to be, I’m told I’m a disciplined person.

Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about | My goodness… yes! Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s done this.

Wrote in a book you were reading | No.

Finished a book and not added it to your GoodReads | ALL. THE. TIME. I don’t make use of Goodreads as often as I once did. The reason for this remains unsolved.
Thanks so much for the tag, Sophie. This was so fun! If you're reading this and you want to join in, please do. Then circle back and let me know where I can see or read YOUR video/post. 

Are you on the Naught or on the Nice list this year? What are you hoping to get for Christmas?

Tell me about your “naughty or nice” bookish habits. For today, that’s an end to the Naughty or Nice tag! Tell me, which list do you think I’d be on?

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland 

#Bookstagram Challenge | January 2018 Challenge!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hello happy readers and fellow bookworm friends. Popping in today to share about yet another bookstagram. Yes, that's right, it's time for a new edition of #WishfulWonder - the first of the new year 2018. Whaaat!!

Tressa (of Wishful Endings) and I have put to many of these together - over a year's worth. I think. Though Tressa is taking a step back due to a busy schedule (#relate), there's still more challenges prepped, and ready to go, so that means #WishfulWonder isn't going anywhere. If you have ideas for this challenge or suggestions, please let me know in the comments or on Instagram - or if you'd ever like to be a co-host. I'm open to new possiblities.

Pressed for time? Not sure a bookstagram challenge is for you? Below I give a spiel hoping to convince you otherwise.

+ If you’re pressed for time to participate in daily challenges, first and foremost, while we love it when you do, there’s no rule that says you must post every day. (Not that you needed my permission to say this, but I thought I'd put this out there.)
+ If you think you can’t participate because of it being “too much work,” try taking a handful or several days’ worth of photos for an hour. (This is generally what I try to do, which is nice and I often find I have a little “stock pile” of Instagram photos as a result.)  
+ If you're looking to meet other Bookstagrammers (people in the book community on Instagram) and bloggers, or build your "brand" in the book community, joining a challenge is an excellent way to do this. 
+ If you don’t think our #WishfulWonder challenge looks like a good fit for you, there are TONS of challenges on Instagram. A brief #Bookstagram or some variation of a #BookChallenge hashtag search will show this. 
+ Best of all, the best thing about these challenge (well, aside from the people. And the books.) is the creative outlet. You develop your OWN style of photos, which is what makes everyone's account so unique! I've seen simplistic (in terms of prop use, etc.) photos that are stunning and I've seen more elaborate shots that compliment the book and suit the style of the bookstagrammer. Plus, if you're like me, and you love creative outlets, this is an excellent way to do this. 
+ Still not convinced? Go ahead and follow our #WishfulWonder tag on Instagram or Twitter to be inspired!

\\\\\ You're invited to join January 2018's #WishfulWonder Challenge.

Hopefully everything is self explanatory, but if you have any questions about the prompts, just ask.

We’d love to see your pictures, so be sure to tag us with the usual, #WishfulWonder hashtag. Also, feel free to share this.

As we do every month, we extend our thanks to everyone who has joined our challenges. We're having so much fun browsing our tag, and appreciate your creativity and time. (If we haven't clicked that heart on your photos and/or commented, it's not because we won't, it's simply due to time restraints - summer always seems busy. BUT please know I enjoy browsing your photos, and sooner or later I will find them with that #WishfulWonder or for specific January #WishfulWonderJan18 tag.)

We'd also LOVE your feedback on favorite prompts. Drop a comment down below. 
Happy day, Book Nerdigans. Join us in our fun, bookish endeavors - we look forward to chatting with you.
Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland

Christmas Next Door (2017) – Jesse Metcalfe Plays Grinch Foil to Festive Next Door Neighbor

Christmas Next Door (2017) – Jesse Metcalfe Plays Grinch Foil to Festive Next Door Neighbor

As I say time and again here (perhaps a little overmuch even?), cute though they all are, I most certainly have Christmas movie favorites. Among those that aired in 2017, it’s safe to say, Christmas Next Door is – easily – one of them.

At Christmas time, Eric (Jesse Metcalfe) turns into something of a Grinch. His mother makes attempts to get him out of his writing den and at their family holiday dinners, but her attempts are left unmet. Eric rebuffs any and all attempts to put him in a festive mood. Too bad for him, all of his neighbors are over-the-top decorators. This year is different though. Despite his book deadline, his mother ups her game and makes arrangements (that he cannot slip out of) for Eric to keep his niece and nephew over the Christmas season.

While they stay with him, it turns out Eric needs a little help with his sister’s kids. Enter April Stewart (Fiona Gubelmann). The exact opposite of Eric, April takes part in every Christmas tradition she can. Despite his determined, she and the kids slowly bring Eric around, and convince him there’s fun to be had at Christmas!

This is the Christmas movie (of 2017) I’ve been waiting for. Each year, there’s always that “one” movie that seems better than the rest. Sometimes it’s a simple reason like the chemistry between the leads. Other times it’s because the production or script impresses. Whatever each one’s reason, there are instances when this is true. Last year, overall (though I adore many from 2016’s line up), Hearts of Christmas took the title. This year, it might be safe to say, Christmas Next Door snags the title.

(Although to be honest, since seeing this one I did see Sharing Christmas… and there are three or four others I’d plan to see in the next week before I wave goodbye to Christmas films. At least until Christmas of 2018.)

I’ll admit I may be biased in saying everything I've written because I do like Jesse Metcalfe as an actor. He’s been in TV shows I’ve watched, and a cute Indie romcom I enjoy. Then, imagine my surprise when he began to show up in Hallmark originals (Fairfield Road, A Country Wedding), and eventually, a starring role in their own weekly drama, Chesapeake Shores. A show in which he plays a role as a character I quite like. (Note to Abby: girl, what is your problem??) In this role as an author who writes books on how to stay single, he plays the total opposite of his ‘Shores’ character. Fortunately it’s such a fun character we don’t mind the differences.

The banter between Metcalfe and his co-star Fiona Gubelmann, who fans will also recognize from Hallmark’s Tulips in Spring, sizzles with good humor. What makes this story really sparkle is the hilarious lengths someone goes to try and change Eric’s Grinch-like attitude. This little subplot adds a great deal of personality to the story and keeps its viewer giggling. Or if you’re anything like me, you will be.

Speaking of the rest of the film, there should be no surprise to know that it’s a delight. The niece and nephew characters are cute, and there’s plenty of seasonal cheer in the scenes. Whether it’s baking Christmas cookies or trimming a tree, you’ll be put in a Christmas-y mood at the conclusion of this one. Christmas Next Door is one of my 2017 favorites, and certainly one I’d love to add to my DVD collection next year. In fact, it’s safe to say, it’s a neighbor its fellow Christmas compatriots would be glad to have next door.

Photos: Hallmark Channel 

#Bestof2017 | At the Box Office: Of Superheroes, Murder Mysteries, Pirates – and Fangirl Feels!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It’s that time of year again. We’ve come to the end of another year. Another year in which there have been good and bad stories at the local box office.

(This post does contain affiliate links. Read the disclosure page for details.)  

Each year, Finding Wonderland gushes over our favorite box office films of the year. This year, looking back, I realize many I’m about to talk about probably are not what the discerning “critic” would call a film worth being on any kind of “best of” lists. But as I’ve oft said, I’m an easy-to-please viewer. I fangirl over what brings me joy. The scenes, moments or stories that make me smile. Those, to me, are the kinds of stories worth ten of the artistic films that win those coveted gold statues.

For me, what makes a cinematic story great does, yes, consider the cinematography and acting. Costumes and sweeping scores, but at the basic level, it’s all about how the story makes me feel. Are the characters sent on a worthwhile and meaningful journey? Does the film make me laugh out loud, forgetting life for a while? Is there chemistry between the lovebirds? All these things and more affect my opinion.

This year, more of the same populated the box office. Superheroes have yet to be dethroned (not that I’m complaining), sequels still seem to be in demand yet, and then there are the quieter dramas that hit the viewer with all the feels. Included below are big screen films and small screen offerings. (One entertainment I don't talk about below are any Hallmark films, but let me know if you'd ever like to see anything in this same format on those!)

If anyone is wondering about the favorite books of 2017, never fear, this list is also coming. “Part one” of the 2017 favorites usually goes to the cinematic stories, and “part 2” (because books are deserving of all the extra love) will be the favorite works of fiction.

For now, let’s turn the spotlight on the movie masterpieces (as judged by moi) of 2017.


1. Beauty and the Beast (2017) | You knew there was no one this one would not be on the list, right? Amazon Video 

2. Carrie Pilby | Based on the YA novel of the same name, this little factoid is something I didn’t realize when settling in to watch this one. Now I know this, I’m thinking an eventual read of said novel is in order. Amazon Video 

3. Everything, Everything | Adapted from Nicola Yoon’s best-selling novel, this film is delightful - and is adapted very well. Amazon Video

4. Fallen | I went into this hoping I’d like it, but I walked away surprised by how much I actually did enjoy this one. Based on the best-selling novel by Lauren Kate (yes, that’s the one), this film, overall (the end gets a little silly), really impresses. Though I’ve not read the book, the production, romanticism and cast all impress. Amazon Video 

5. Gifted | I’d be lying if I deny the Marvel fangirl in my isn’t already dreading the day Chris Evans leaves behind Captain America (the one we fell in love with in ‘First Avenger’). That said, if he must leave, it’s these kinds of films and roles he equally excels in. Amazon Video 

6. Home Again | I know. I feel like many of you will think adding this one is… well, silly. That said, I really enjoyed this one. Perhaps what I like best is that it’s so unusual from the romcom normal. It thinks outside the box, and I admire that. Sometimes I want a simple and entertaining film with nothing more to it. (Remember, like I said, I’m a simple girl when it comes to entertainment. *Smile*) Amazon Video 

7. Murder on the Orient Express (2017) | For those who haven’t seen this one, I will say, yes, this one is slow moving, but it’s so gorgeous! Amazon Video (Preorder)  

8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Walking | Though it took me nearly the entire year (or the latter half of 2017 anyway) to see this one, finally I did. Good thing for me I did because this one deserves all the love – it’s, plain and simple, a fabulous and adventurous escapism flick sure to please avid ‘Pirates’ fans. Amazon Video  

9. This Beautiful Fantastic | Quirky, yes, but completely adorable, this Indie film stars our Downton Abbey favorite Jessica Brown-Findlay (aka Lady Sybil). Amazon Video 

10. Wonder Woman | Though I did not have the same reaction to this film as the majority of the female audience did, I won’t deny I still enjoyed Wonder Woman. Without question it’s the best DC Comics has released thus far. Amazon Video

11. The Zookeeper’s Wife | Dark historical biopics aren’t usually my thing, but this film IS beautiful in its own way. Plus, the performances are fulfilling to what these historical figures must have been going through – or at least the “overreaching” idea and feel is accomplished brilliantly. Amazon Video


1. The Brave (NBC) | After binge-watching the first nine episodes of this show, I’ll tell you one thing, if this one doesn’t receive more episodes, I’ll be one sad girl. Also, this was the one military show I expected to like least. Turns out – in my opinion, it’s the best of the three. Amazon Video 

2. A Christmas Prince (Netflix) | Sweet and romantic, this one makes me smile each time I think of it.

3. Emerald City (NBC) | Adding this one may not see “quite right” in comparison to some of the TV shows available, but I did so enjoy it. Plus, as I said earlier, sometimes we need “entertaining” TV that allows us to “unplug.” Amazon Video 

4. Endeavour (ITV) | Quiet, slow and clever, 2017 is the year we discovered the British detective series Endeavour. Whether or not I should admit this, I’ll confess: we binge watched the first three series in the span of a week… or was it a week and a half? Way to entice Amazon Prime. Amazon Video 

5. Jane Eyre (BBC) | After numerous recommendations and the anticipation I had to see this one, finally, 2017 marked the year I watched the BBC miniseries of the Gothic classic. Over ten years after its release, and I understand why it’s loved.

6. My Mother and Other Strangers (BBC) | Flawed though this one is, I found it really interesting; not only the historical configurations, but also the characterizations. Of course, the production being from BBC doesn’t hurt a thing nor does the supremely talented cast. Amazon Video 

7. Sherlock Series Four (BBC) | Brilliant. Much as I want to, I don’t know I can say anything else. Sherlock, Season Four on DVD 


That’s a wrap on today’s “Best of 2017” trip to the box office!! Tell me about your favorite cinematic finds this year? Did you enjoy some new Indie discoveries? Did you love the blockbusters at the box office? Tell me which of these you’d pick as favorites. Let’s get our fangirl chat on!

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland 

Latest Instagrams

© Finding Wonderland. Design by FCD.