Jen Gilroy’s Favorite Holiday Books as a Child | Author Guest Post

December 15, 2017 Guest Post 1

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

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Today I’m welcoming Jen Gilroy, contemporary romance author of the Firefly Lake series published by Forever.Jen has chosen to talk about her favorite holiday books as a child, which is always one of my favorite topics. I’ve always loved Christmas books, and that started during my childhood when my sister and I would get new Christmas books every year to add to our collection. I loved pulling our huge basket of books out of storage every year and re-reading all my favorites.

My Favorite Holiday Books as a Child

by Jen Gilroy

Thank you for inviting me to write a guest post for A Bookish Little Christmas, Jana. It’s a pleasure to be here to celebrate the holidays with you and your readers.

I was a bookish child who grew up into a bookish adult, and many of my favorite books are still those I first loved in childhood.

Especially for A Bookish Little Christmas, here are my top five favorite childhood books for the holidays—holding memories of cozy times, love of family, and the true meaning of the holiday season.

The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter’s “little books” were presents from my grandparents, and The Tailor of Gloucester, first published commercially in 1903, was the story I always wanted to have read to me at Christmastime.

When a poor tailor falls ill, kind mice finish sewing a waistcoat for the mayor of Gloucester’s Christmas day wedding. With a naughty cat, singing birds, what were then to me all sorts of funny new words and, of course, Potter’s luminous illustrations, this magical story has always captivated me.

And although it was written over a hundred years ago, The Tailor of Gloucester has a surprisingly modern message. Then as now, kindness and generosity are hallmarks of the holiday season, and those qualities are at the heart of this Christmas fairytale.

A Little House Christmas, Holiday Stories from the Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder/Illustrated by Garth Williams

All the “little house” books were childhood favorites and depictions of the cozy, homemade Christmases that run through the stories were part of my holiday reading from the time I learned how to read on my own.

A Little House Christmas was a present from a cousin several years ago and includes some of my most treasured “little house” Christmas moments—in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, on the Kansas prairie (the story of how Mr. Edwards met Santa Claus always bring a lump to my throat), and on Plum Creek in Minnesota.

Although the Ingalls family weren’t rich in money or “things,” they had love in abundance, and these stories of hardship, sacrifice, and generosity capture the true meaning of the holidays for me.

Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore

This classic poem is part of my earliest childhood Christmas memories, and across the years, I can still hear the warmth and love in my late dad’s voice as he recited it to me.

It has even greater poignancy for me now, though, since it’s become one of my own family’s cherished Christmas traditions. Each Christmas Eve night from the time she was a baby, my husband has brought out his tattered childhood copy of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to read to our daughter. Even though she’s now a teen, it’s still an important part of her life and relationship with her dad.

White Boots by Noel Streatfeild
(published in the US as Skating Shoes)

Although not specifically a holiday book, White Boots (initially published in October 1951) by English children’s author Noel Streatfeild is a book I read for the first time at Christmas when I got a paperback copy in my stocking.

It’s the story of a girl who begins ice skating to build up her strength after an illness, becomes keen on the sport, and forms an unlikely friendship with a more affluent girl—and the local star skater.

Even though the world of post-war Britain is long gone, the characters in this gentle book about family, friendship, and following your dreams still ring true today. And a chapter simply titled “Christmas,” celebrates all the things—including crackers, the traditional lunch, and a “splendid…cake”—that make an English Christmas special.

In the 1998 movie, “You’ve Got Mail,” the character played by Meg Ryan describes Skating Shoes to a bookstore customer as “completely wonderful.” I heartily agree!

Just For You, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark
(published in the US as Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo)

No list of my favorite holiday children’s books would be complete without including one of the books I discovered and loved through reading to my daughter when she was small.

I gave her Just For You, Blue Kangaroo! (first published in 2004) the Christmas she was four. Although we now live in Canada, my daughter was born in England and spent her childhood there so Blue Kangaroo, a blue stuffed kangaroo who lives with a little girl named Lily, was a firm favorite.

Whenever I read this charming Christmas tale about how Lily helps her mother get ready for the holidays—and ensures Blue Kangaroo is included too—I go back to those precious bedtime story days with my sweet girl cuddled by my side.

Along with the memories, the story and illustrations make this heartwarming book a cherished festive treasure that I re-read each year.

Happy holidays to you, Jana, and everyone at That Artsy Reader Girl. May you celebrate this wonderful season with those you love, as well as some of your own favorite childhood holiday books.

What were some of your favorite holiday books as a child?

 

Back Home At Firefly Lake by Jen Gilroy
Firefly Lake #3
December 5, 2017 from Forever
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 368
Add to Goodreads • Buy from Amazon

A heartwarming small-town romance that will make you believe in love and second chances.

She has a million reasons to leave.
Can he give her the one she needs to stay?

Cat McGuire’s return to Firefly Lake is turning into much more than she bargained for. Sure, she missed the crisp pine-scented air and the comfort of having her family around her. But being home makes her feel less like the successful single mom she is–and more like the awkward teen who never fit in. It doesn’t help that hockey-pro Luc Simard is back in town, too. Luc was her childhood crush, the hometown hero who never noticed her, and yet somehow he still makes her heart skip a beat.

Luc’s homecoming has been bittersweet. He’s lost his wife and his career, but there’s no better place to start over than Firefly Lake. Coaching the local kids’ hockey team makes him feel alive again, and he thinks his life is complete–until Cat arrives. The shy girl he always wanted to protect is now the gorgeous woman who’s stealing his heart and making him believe in second chances. But how can he convince Cat that Firefly Lake is where she truly belongs?

About Jen Gilroy

Jen Gilroy lives in a small town in Ontario, Canada. She’s worked in higher education and international marketing but, after spending too much time in airports and away from her family, traded the 9-5 to write contemporary romance and women’s fiction to bring readers’ hearts home. Jen likes ice cream, diners, vintage style and all things country. Her husband is her real-life romance hero, and her teen daughter teaches her to cherish the blessings in the everyday.

The Cottage at Firefly Lake, the first book in her Firefly Lake series, was a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® award in 2015. It was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award 2017. Her new release, Back Home at Firefly Lake, was chosen as one of Amazon’s best books of December 2017.

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Starry Night by Debbie Macomber | Book Review

December 14, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 9 ★★★★★

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber | Book ReviewStarry Night by Debbie Macomber
Published by Ballantine Books on October 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

As soon as I read the premise for this year’s Debbie Macomber Christmas romance, I knew I was going to love it. Debbie has become a Christmas tradition for me, and I read at least one of Christmas books every December. I think that Starry Night is definitely my new favorite. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love that Starry Night is mostly set in the Alaskan wilderness. Carrie gets dumped by a bush pilot on a frozen lake in the middle of a snowstorm in the mountains! I can just picture her trek up the hill to Finn’s house, all cold and wet. I loved Finn’s cabin. It sounds so rustic and cozy, with wall to wall bookshelves and a wood burning stove. Oh, and there is a super romantic moment involving the Northern Lights. I just can’t explain how much I loved this book’s setting.

2. I really liked Carrie. She is adventurous and really goes after what she wants. She wastes no time diving into finding Finn, cancelling her Thanksgiving plans and flying to Fairbanks, AK with no idea of what awaits her. I would have been terrified to hire a bush pilot to drop me off at a hostile stranger’s house in the middle of nowhere! I loved her spunk and her stubbornness. When she finally found Finn, he was a grumpy anti-social mountain man, but she did not let that get her down. She still charmed him, and I loved watching her melt his icy exterior.

3. Finn has a dog named Hennessey that I fell in love with. This dog is huge, and at their first meeting he was out to defend his territory and scared Carrie half to death. But then she melts him too, and he keeps her warm at night on the couch. She talks to him a lot when Finn refuses to do humor her, and I loved how she was with him! I also loved that her conversations with Hennessey broke the ice between her and Finn.

4. Oh Finn. I love Finn. He is a bearded, bulky man who wears plaid and has a big nose, but I don’t even care. Sometimes I get tired of the suave, handsome, not-a-hair-out-of-place, Mr. Perfect lead. Finn is your average attractive-ish man who becomes more attractive as you get to know his personality. He has this dry wit that leaves you feeling insecure and intrigued. He is so real to me. I loved watching his life change as he falls for Carrie.

5. There is a huge underlying message of the importance of family in Starry Night, which warmed my heart. Family and making sacrifices for the people you loved. And mending hearts. Really, every Christmas message was woven into a wonderful story that I read in one sitting.

6. This book is completely clean. Sure, there are some warm moments, but I appreciated that there were no sex scenes. It’s all about love and family, and I felt like the lack of sex allowed the characters to connect more on a deep emotional level, rather than a physical one.

All in all, Starry Night is my favorite Christmas romance of the year. I smiled, I laughed, and I really felt for these characters. I loved the setting and the relationships that were formed. There’s a very small emphasis places on Thanksgiving and Christmas, which makes it a perfect anytime read. You should definitely fine a copy and read it. Have some warm tea in hand and cozy up in a blanket. Alaska is COLD!

This review was originally posted on December 12, 2013, but since it has held up for 4 years as my favorite Christmas book ever I felt it deserved some extra love!
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April’s Favorite Christmas Movies, Music, & Books | Book Blogger Guest Post

December 13, 2017 Guest Post 3

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

Celebrate #ChristmasWithJanaInstagram ✦ Twitter Event Schedule

I’m so happy to welcome April Rose, book blogger at HauntedByBooks13, to the blog today to talk about some of her favorite Christmas movies, music, and books! I love all three of these things, so this is exciting. Hopefully her recommendations give you something new and festive to look for this Christmas season!

April’s Favorite Christmas Movies, Music, & Books

Hello, everyone! April Rose here! I am so excited to be a part of Bookish Little Christmas! I am going to be sharing my favorite holiday books, music, and movies!

Let’s start with movies!

Home Alone
Home Alone 2
The Santa Clause

Music

Books

My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I didn’t realize that I haven’t read that many holiday books until I was trying to come up with ones to share. So I’ll list a few I want to read to make up for it.

 

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
What Light by Jay Asher

Well, that’s all the favorites I have to share. Happy Holidays!

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies, music, and books?

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My Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

December 12, 2017 Top Ten Tuesday 20

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

While 2017 has been pretty good to me in some ways, it’s been slightly disappointing as far as books go. It started off with a bang, and then everything got “meh”. Maybe I’ve been in a slump for most of the year, but things have not gone very well. lol. I’m hoping for a better reading year next year! I’ve written these out in order of when I read them.

1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
I was truly and utterly captivated by and immersed in this story from the first page.

2. The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
It was like reading an episode of Veronica Mars! Loved it!

3. Hunted by Meagan Spooner
GORGEOUS writing! This story is super unique, while still remaining true to the elements I’ve come to love from Beauty and the Beast.


4. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
I’ve never finished a book before and then immediately wanted to flip to page 1 and start over again.

5. Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout
My new favorite romantic suspense, and the book that I will use to judge all future romantic suspense novels I read.

6. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
There’s so much feeling and mystery surrounding the water horses and the people who ride them. The mystical aspects of the island and the races themselves made me forget I was even reading anything.


7. Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
Another really great romantic suspense about a team on a search and rescue dive team in the middle of winter. SO good.

8. Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco
I loved everything about it… the heat between Audrey and Thomas, the setting, the mystery, and Kerri’s beautiful writing style.

9. Miracle On 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Such a sweet Christmas romance! He’s an icy author, and she’s a warm and peppy Christmas fanatic. Such a festive, New York City romance. I’m running a giveaway for a signed copy of this book right now!

10. Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis
Another fun and festive Christmas romance! This time SHE’S the author (and a YA one–YES), and he’s a rich nerd. Love these two!

Tell me some of your favorites of 2017! I’m always looking for new recommendations.

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A Polish Christmas by Ksenia Winnicki | Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

December 11, 2017 Giveaway, Guest Post 5

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

Celebrate #ChristmasWithJanaInstagram ✦ Twitter Event Schedule

I love Ksenia so much! She was the very first publicist who took a chance on little old me and sent me my very first ARC (Of Poseidon by Anna Banks) and put me on my very first official blog tour (again, for Of Poseidon). After she left Macmillan I continued to work with her while she was at ABRAMS, Tor, and Simon & Schuster. Now she’s living her dream and writing, and I can’t wait to see where life takes her next! I love hearing about her Polish heritage, so we’re all in for a huge treat today to read about how she celebrates Christmas.

A Polish Christmas

by Ksenia Winnicki

Ksenia in the kitchen cooking yummies.

I love Christmas! Let’s just get that out of the way. I love the decorations, I love the music, and I love decorating a Christmas Tree. But one of the main things I get really excited for is the FOOD! Growing up Polish, I was always surrounded by Polish food anyway, but for some reason, the Polish food at Christmas was just extra special.

But before I start rambling on about the delicious food, let me take a step back and tell you a bit more about a few Polish Christmas traditions. Poland is a Catholic country, and so Christmas is a very big deal. In our Polish household, the main festivities happen on December 24, Christmas Eve, aka Wigilia.

Below, is a list of some of the Polish Christmas traditions and superstitions (including some that my family and I keep):

The first person to enter the household on Christmas Eve has to be a man, otherwise it will bring bad luck. Because my husband and I rent an apartment from my parents in the same building here in Queens, when my mom wants us to pick something up from downstairs that day, she will insist that it be Josh, not me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

During the day, you’re supposed to be fasting, in preparation for the Christmas supper. With all the other preparations going on during the day, I do in fact forget to eat anyway.

Christmas Eve table setting.

When setting the table, you are to leave one place setting for an extra guest, whether that guest be someone unexpected who is in search of a place to stay that night, or for someone that has departed. The table also has some hay hidden underneath the tablecloth. My mom brought some with her from Bethlehem when my parents visited one year, so we’ve been using that batch of hay for a few years now.

Christmas supper is supposed to begin when you see the first star light up in the sky. My parents and I do not hold to this tradition, but I know a close friend of mine did when she was growing up.

Right before sitting down to eat, there are two very important things that must happen.

Oplatek (picture from wikipedia)

The first one, is that we all take an opłatek (a thin wafer with a religious Christmas image), and go around the room to each person, breaking off a piece of that opłatek from one another, and exchanging good wishes for the upcoming year. There are some dipped in honey, but that is saved for after the meal, so that you may also have a sweet year, too. In addition to the wafer, we all take a bunch of change, and exchange the coins with one another. That way, at the end, you have coins from everyone else. And you are to tuck those coins away and not spend it, in order to ensure prosperity for the coming year.

Midnight Mass is especially a big occasion. For YEARS growing up, my parents and the family friends we spent Christmas with together talked about going to Midnight Mass. My friend and I always took bets on how many bottles of wine our parents would drink instead. One year, finally, one year when I was in college, we all went to Midnight Mass. It was loud! It was boisterous! It’s a whole church filled with Polish people who have been drinking and have been merry all day and night. It’s quite a sight (and sound)!

At midnight, the superstition is that animals begin talking. We sadly, never got to hear any of our cats and dogs speak, because we were either in bed by then or completely did not notice the time go by, and so we had no idea what wisdom our cats and dogs might have given out! Along that same line, my mom’s father (back in Poland) would go out to the barn to share an opłatek with the horses and cows and other farm animals.

Ksenia’s Pierogi

All about the food: In addition to fasting during the day, there is to be no meat. So all the dishes for Wigilia are vegetarian and of the fish-based variety. Any food that has meat can be eaten on Christmas Day. Supposedly, there are to be twelve dishes, because of the twelve apostles. We do not hold to that tradition. For food we traditionally have red borscht with mushroom dumplings, pierogi (with cheese and potato), stuffed cabbage (with rice and mushroom), and carp. My mom likes to make kompot, a sweet and juicy beverage from pears and other dried fruit; for the longest time she would make kutia, this Polish-style pudding with poppy seed and other grains, but then she gave up when she noticed none of us ate it! Over the last several years, I’ve taken up the mantle of hosting Christmas Eve, as well as cooking the majority of the dishes. If you know me, I don’t cook. So instead, I spend the two days prior to Christmas Eve making and cooking stuffed cabbage, pierogi, uszka (the dumplings for the borscht), and some cookies and pies.

Ksenia’s Polish cookbooks.

I’ve accumulated some Polish cookbooks in the last few years, but when it comes to the pierogi, I make sure to follow my grandmother’s recipe!

After the meal, we will sit down for some light desserts, some Polish Christmas carol singing, and then we open our gifts. Depending on how long everyone stays, our Christmas Eve can last long past midnight.

So those are some of the Polish Christmas traditions from my Polish household. Josh is a real trooper and has adapted quite well. ;) I do insist that he works from home on those days I’m cooking for fear of burning down the house.

The one thing I hate is how quickly it all goes by; I wish I could make Christmas Eve last longer!

So to celebrate in the spirit of the season and this post, I have three Polish-themed books to give away! They are:

 

The Dragon of Krakow and other Polish Stories by Richard Monte: A short but great collection of Polish legends featuring a dragon, a mermaid, and more!

Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak: One of my favorite real Polish heroes is a bear (yes, a bear), a soldier of the Polish II Corps who fought in WWII. His name is Corporal Wojtek, and his story is pretty much amazing and unbelievable.

Push Not the River by James Conroyd Martin: Polish Historical Fiction! This is an epic saga that takes place during the late 1700s, when Poland is being partitioned by Russia, Prussia, and Austria. The story is based off the diaries of a real noblewoman. There’s romance, scheming, politics and more! I read this like ten years ago and have been meaning to revisit. It’s the first in a trilogy!

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Hope you’ve all enjoyed this small peek into my Polish heritage! Happy Holidays everyone!!!!!

Follow Ksenia: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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The Debut Dish: Laura Creedle (+ Giveaway)

December 10, 2017 Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway 4

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This final issue of 2017 The Debut Dish features Laura Creedle (The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily).

Sign up for the 2018 Debut Author Challenge!


The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle
December 26, 2017 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful.

When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?

This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Neurodivergent smart romance. ADHD, ASD.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
When Abelard finally texts Lily, he sends her quotes from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. He knows she’s read it. He texts, “I have wit enough to write a letter and hope that you would permit my absent self to entertain you.” Lily figures out it’s from the book. She sends her sister Iris running through the house to find their dad’s copy of the book. She finds the perfect quote to text back, and their romance begins in a flush of word-borne feels.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Home. My agent sent me an e-mail with two words: call me. My editor, Margaret Raymo wanted to pre-empt. It didn’t take long to say yes.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Phish food by Ben and Jerry’s. It’s like candy and ice-cream and marshmallow rolled into one caloric explosion of deliciousness. Plus, it has fish shaped chocolates. Who doesn’t love non-aquatic food shaped like fish?

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A magnetic Sylvia Plath finger puppet. When my brother found out my novel was going to be published, he sent me a box of literary finger puppets. Dickens is on the side of the fridge. I’ve lost the rest.

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The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book Review

December 10, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ★★★★

The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book ReviewThe Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis
Published by Bookbinder Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 206
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Lawyer Abbie Harper rents a cabin for her own perfect Christmas. On Christmas Eve, she leaves the stress of her New York job and drives to the mountains, settling in for seven glorious days of peace on earth and good will toward men—so long as they steer clear of her.

Forest Ranger Jack Whelan is no good at relationships. He manages just fine by holding fast to one rule: Don’t let anyone get close. Then Abbie Harper rents his cabin. As a light snow falls, the furnace breaks down, and Jack is called in for repairs. When the storm picks up, they’re stranded together, turning their ordered lives upside down like a snow globe.

Two snowbound strangers who think they know what they want will find out what they need—at The Christmas Cabin.

I don’t know why, but I LOVE stories that include two people being snowbound together in some remote location. I love it even more if it takes place during Christmas. Abbie’s job is taking over her life, so she decides to rent a cabin in the mountains to get away from it all. She brings enough food, Christmas movies, and an ereader full of good books (my kind of girl) with the plan of relaxing and enjoying the snow and scenic views. When she arrives she finds that the heat is not working and has to contact the owner of the cabin (multiple times) to come fix it. What starts out as a strictly business-type relationship quickly gets friendly as the snow falls and Jack is unable to leave the cabin. He takes the couch, she the bed, and the magic begins.

I liked both characters a lot, but Jack was definitely my favorite. He’s sweet, gentlemanly, giving (he saves people for a living), and romantic. Abbie is quirky enough to grab a tree branch from outside, stick it in a jar of water, and use it as her Christmas tree. She’s got this terribly irrational fear of dogs (the coyote howls in the distance render her practically immovable), but Jack is understanding and accommodating. He brings her earplugs, the cutie, and then freaks out when he knocks on the door and she doesn’t answer. Surely she must be dead. They form this really sweet, caring relationship that I just loved. And YAY all sexytimes happen behind doors, which I really appreciate in a Christmas romance.

I loved the writing. The author wrote some amazingly festive and beautiful Christmas scenes, and really got me into the Christmas spirit. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, happy holiday romance!

This review was originally posted on December 21, 2016
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Brookie Cowles’s 2017 Book Gift Guide | Author Guest Post

December 9, 2017 Book Spotlight, Guest Post 1

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends! 

Celebrate #ChristmasWithJanaInstagram ✦ Twitter Event Schedule

Today I’m welcoming author and Etsy shop owner, Brookie Cowles, to the blog to offer her advice on the best books to gift to others this year! She’s got a little something for everyone.

Brookie’s 2017 Book Gift Guide

I want to thank Jana for letting me guest post on her blog! This is such a fun idea. I love books, obviously, so of course I have a list of books I want for Christmas. Along with that, I have a list of books I’d give for Christmas. Better yet, I have suggestions for every one! Let’s get started!

Children’s Picture Book

 

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore has been around for a while. In fact, it even has an Academy Award winning animated short film based off it. But it’s not a super popular book and I think it needs to be. This book it amazing and touching.

Middle Grade

 

A Wrinkle in Time is a classic book. Think, one of the first Science Fiction books for middle grade. Adventure, science, time travel, and more. A good pick for any middle grader (especially since there is a movie in the works).

For Lovers of Literary, Women’s, or Historical Fiction

 

In Lilac Girls, we go on a journey through the eyes of three different women: A Polish girl in a concentration camp, a German doctor at a concentration camp, and an American girl in New York. We watch how World War II affected all three girls.

Non-Fiction

 

The Power of Habit is an AMAZING book. If you read it solely for the stories, you won’t be disappointed. I am not a huge non-fiction lover and this one gets me every time. I can listen to it over and over. Oh, yes, I love this on audiobook. Definitely a win for the non-fiction lover AND the audiobook lover.

For the Young Adult Lover

*YA is my favorite genre, so I have a few suggestions

Science Fiction

 

Illuminae will take you on a thrilling ride through space, zombies, and AI take-overs. It will leave you questioning who gets to decide when someone needs to die? Or what happens when someone you love is no longer the same?

Fantasy

 

My Lady Jane is my Fantasy pick for the year. This book is cynical, it’s comical, it’s well written, and adorable. The authors took a tragic story, made it funny, and changed the outcome.

 

 

I couldn’t just pick one fantasy book. Caraval is a lovely, thrilling adventure through a dream like place where you don’t know what’s real or not. I loved the imagery from the book and I can’t wait for book two in 2018.

Historical

 

Salt to the Sea is told in four person Point-of-view. We follow four teenagers as they travel to freedom during World War II. The pacing is quick and the characters are interesting and well written. This is a great book for any reader.

Romance

 

About Last Summer is a cute, clean, flirty, story about last year’s Drama Camp romance. ADORABLE!

Series

 

The Conspiracy of Us Trilogy ended this year! Which makes it the perfect series to give to your avid reader. This contemporary book takes on an ancient rumor about Alexander the Great and his life. Avery West is thrust into a life full of secrets, symbols, and wealth. When she puts those together, just maybe she can solve the centuries old mystery. But can she do it before THEY get her?

For the Romance Lover (me!)

*Again… lots of recommendations!

YA Romance

 

Asking me to pick a favorite YA romance is like asking me to pick my favorite flavor of ice cream. There are so many I read just this year that I love. But At First Blush is one I would give to the YA Romance reader. Make-up, boy band, youtube, and more. Such a fun read.

Adult Romance – Sweet

 

The Sherrifs of Savage Wells is a mix between Annie Get your Gun and Calamity Jane. And the banter between the characters is to die for. Or swoon for. That’s what I did

Adult Romance – Mild

 

Love at First Ink is the first book that came to my mind for this category. This book made me laugh out loud… literally. And cringe, and swoon, and want to cry. It is lovely.

Adult Romance – Hot

 

The Hating Game is definitely my pick for the romance reader. This book has everything you want in a book. Saucy characters, angsty romance, a bid for the same position at work, and a good telling off by the miniature-sized female.

*This book contains a lot of language and detailed scenes.

Christmas Romance

 

RaeAnne Thayne has a few Christmas themed sweet romances. Christmas In Snowflake Canyon is one of my favorites. Spoiled rich girl, jaded war veteran, and community service. *swoon*

There you have it. My picks for every type of reader. Make the holidays even better by giving a book.

Merry Christmas,
Brookie Cowles
Brookiecowles.com

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Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan | Book Review & Giveaway

December 8, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review, Giveaway 12 ★★★★

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan | Book Review & GiveawayMiracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan with Love #3
Published by HQN Books on November 29, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this perfectly festive fairy tale of New York!

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she's given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn't expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife's death looming, he's isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn't appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

Sarah Morgan is one of my very favorite authors, and I can definitely always count on her to get me into the Christmas spirit. I’ve read and loved many of her Christmas romances, so I was very eager to read Miracle on 5th Avenue as well. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Miracle on 5th Avenue is the first book in the From Manhattan with Love series that I’ve read, but I did not feel like I was missing out on any information. It reads perfectly fine as a standalone, but will make you want to grab the other books in the series as well. 

2. I love that one of the main character, Lucas, is an author. He’s on deadline and he’s writing a book that millions of people are eagerly anticipating. Any book that includes other books is always a double win for me. I enjoyed reading about his writing process and the writer’s block and how he comes up with his stories. He writes crime novels, and he’s inspired to model a character after Eva, our heroine.

3. Speaking of Lucas, I loved him even though he’s not super lovable. Readers only see his bad side for a little while. He’s grumpy and stressed and pretty irritating. But then he becomes inspired by Eva, his creative juices start flowing, and when she becomes more to him than a character in his book he becomes caring and sweet. I loved seeing him open up about his past. As he did, so did Eva.

4. Eva is a Christmas fanatic just like me, so we got along very well. While grumpy Lucas worked upstairs in his fortress of solitude, she decorated a tree in his living room and cooked up a storm of so many yummy sounding foods all while singing her heart out. She’s so much like me. And she drove him nuts in an endearing kind of way. Her cheery disposition melted the ice man, and things got cute, if not a little bumpy along the way.

5. This book is so festive, which I’m finding is rare among this year’s “Christmas” book releases. I’ve read quite a few recent releases from this year and last year, and I finally found one that was Christmasy enough for me. Thanks for doing it again, Sarah! FINALLY.

6. I love Sarah’s writing and her ability to create characters that make their way into your heart, her ability to write emotions that you can feel, and her ability to always put a smile on your face. 

All in all, Miracle On 5th Avenue was another win for me! I really loved it and am excited to continue the series. I love New York City, so it’s kind of like Sarah wrote me my own series! Definitely pick this up if you’re looking for a little Christmas cheer and some really fun characters.

In honor of A Bookish Little Christmas, Sarah has offered up a signed copy of Miracle On 5th Avenue to one of my readers! I am so unbelievably jealous of whoever wins! I’d love a signed Sarah Morgan book! Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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