Monthly Archives:: December 2015

2015 End of Year Book Survey

December 31, 2015 About Me 4

This is the 6th annual End of Year Book Survey, created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner! I love participating in this each year, and think it’s a lot of fun to reflect on the past year before moving forward!

Number Of Books You Read: 36
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: It’s kind of all over the place! Haha. It looks like contemporary YA won, though, which surprises me.

1. Best book you read in 2015?
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love?
Of Neptune by Anna Banks. This was the end to one of my favorite series ever, and I just really hated it. And I’m so sad about that.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
I did not expect to like The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey as much as I did.

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did)?
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Not sure if people read it because of me or not!)

 

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best sequel of 2015? Best series-ender of 2015?
Series I started: The Kate and Ian series by Tracey Garvis Graves.
Sequel: Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After #2) by Tessa Dare
Ender: I didn’t like the only series-ender I read…

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
I’m not including debut authors because they are all new! Trish Doller and Carrie Ryan.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Arrival by Shaun Tan is a wordless graphic novel (NEVER read these), and I ended up really loving the message.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I’m going to sound like a broken record… A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Although… I had a hard time putting down Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison as well.

9. Book you read in 2015 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
I honestly never re-read.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill has the cutest art deco (ish) cover. I wish I had loved the book as much as the cover.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Lucien from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. He is so perfect, and he makes me laugh. He is basically a man with a heart of gold and the ego of Gaston. I adore him.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison. Kate’s writing is so beautiful. She describes things as if you were right there! I kept wanting to highlight all the descriptive passages because I loved them so much.

 

13. Most thought-provoking book of 2015?
I was just thinking about this earlier, and how I really have not read anything life-changing this year. That makes me really sad! Thirteen Reason Why by Jay Asher made me think… but only about how awful the book was. I disagree with all this book stands for, and would not have even finished it if I were not reading it for a class assignment. Bottom line, I feel like it glamorizes suicide. It makes it look like it’s ok to kill yourself, and that people do it for “reasons”, rather than a mental switch being triggered. There has GOT to be a better book out there about suicide because this one is atrocious, in my opinion.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, just because it’s the thing to read if you read YA. I read it for a school assignment and was not ever interested in reading it, but I finally did and I really liked parts of it.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2015?
“That’s the thing about silences and futures; someone always comes along to fill them in. If you let them.” – Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.” – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

“Some things you can never leave behind. They don’t belong to the past. They belong to you.” – The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2015?
The Strange Case of Finley Jayne by Kady Cross at 83 pages.
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud at 488 pages.

17. Book that shocked you the most? (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Shadowlands by Kate Brian shocked me with its drastic change of genres part-way through the book. This change annoyed the crap out of me, and caused me to quit reading the series. I don’t even care.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR? (you will go down with this ship!)
Feyre and Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Can I just live in their love story, please?

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
Feyre and Lucien from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Can you tell I just love her characters? Lucien is so sweet to Feyre.

20. Favorite book you read in 2015 from an author you’ve read previously?
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Did I say I’m a broken record?

21. Best book you read in 2015 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure?
I guess The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I was forced to read it by my YA lit professor, and I did end up enjoying parts of it.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Jim Bell from Operation White Christmas by Nikki Edwards. He’s pretty perfect. And he has a BABY LLAMA.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall. LOVED it.

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?
This is a tie between the masquerade ball in A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Yeah, I know. I won’t shut up.) and the entire world under the sea in Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?
Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare was so wonderful. Her characters have the best banter!

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2015?
Well… I’ve been reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak since FEBRUARY because I’m soo scared to cry over it. lol. So does that count?

27. Hidden gem of the year?
A Court of Th… HAHA. No. I’m kidding. Pretty much nobody knows about Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison, but it is AMAZING.

28. Book that crushed your soul?
Fairest by Marissa Meyer. When I was done, I felt so many things. Mainly, Levana is EVIL. But I also felt so bad for her. lol.

29. Most unique book you read in 2015?
Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis-Graves. You never see books about nerdy, sexy hackers!

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Thirteen Reason Why by Jay Asher, and you can bet your BOOTS I hated it with all the hate within me.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?
I’ve been pretty bad at socializing this year… and I don’t play favorites anyway. lol. So I’m not answering this because I don’t want to hurt any feelings! I love all the bloggers!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?
Hmm. I always love writing reviews that are for books I either extremely love or extremely hate. My review for A Court of Thorns and Roses was a fun one!

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
The Christmas Songs Book Tag I wrote up has been so much fun! I’ve loved seeing everyone’s choices. My post on how I can’t handle scary things also generated a lot of discussion, which was fun. I’m happy to know I’m not alone!

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
As part of my internship in YA services at one of my local libraries, I got to help plan and put on the library’s Teen Book Fest! I designed backgrounds for a photo booth where teens could create their own READ posters, I painted centerpieces for the author breakfast, and I got to interact with the teens and authors the entire day. I counted people who attended the author panel, I helped test out the life-sized Angry Monsters game, and I manned the book signing line. It was a lot of fun to be on the production side of an event.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
2015’s Debut Author Challenge was a HUGE success, which is wonderful for me! I was so worried about taking over on the challenge, but this was my first full year and it was great! This was also my first year participating in #otspsecretsister, which has truly blessed my life. I also got some highly anticipated novels as ARCs. What blogger doesn’t love that?

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
When I get sick, I can’t read. Even if I’m just not feeling well, I am incapable of reading. This has not been the best year for me, health wise, so my reading has been horrible. I had to cut my Goodreads goal in half, and I’ve missed out on lots of books. I actually feel like I have fallen behind everyone else because I haven’t read all the book the cool kids are reading.

7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Really, it’s been the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Sign-ups! Haha. I’m so glad everyone is excited!

8. Post you wished got a little more love?
Well… I got to choose the venue and decorations for the A Court of Thorns and Roses Masquerade Ball blog tour, and nobody had anything to say about it!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
The Kindle Paperwhite. I’ve had the Kindle Keyboard for years now, but THIS. I got it for Christmas, and I’m in dreamland.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I had to lower my GR goal, so yes… I reached that one. lol. I failed on every other challenge. Whoops! Better luck next year!

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2015 but will be your number 1 priority in 2016?
Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2016 (non-debut)?
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. Is this a surprise?

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira, The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright, and SO MANY MORE.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2016?
I’m very excited for Map of Fates by Maggie Hall… and you know the other one… A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2016?
Feel better so I can read more!

6. A 2016 release you’ve already read & recommend to everyone?
I haven’t read any 2016 releases yet! AHH! I’m behind already!


Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for 2016 (January-June)

December 28, 2015 Top Ten Tuesday 8

TTT

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

Today I’m showcasing ten of my most anticipated releases for the first half of 2016! There’s SO many books I can’t wait for! I’m not including debuts since I did that a few weeks ago. Check out that post if you’re interested!

 

2016Part1

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (January 5, 2016)
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (February 2, 2016)
The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks (March 1, 2016)
Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor (March 1, 2016)
Map of Fates by Maggie Hall (March 8, 2016)
The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins (March 8, 2016)
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (March 29, 2016)
The Glittering Court by Michelle Mead (April 5, 2016)
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (May 3, 2016)
The Marked Girl by Lindsey Kingele (June 21, 2016)

Which 2016 releases are you looking forward to?


Merry Christmas 2015!

December 25, 2015 About Me 8

MerryChristmas2015

Merry Christmas, everyone! I can’t believe it’s finally here. Christmas is my most anticipated holiday of the year, and I love it so much. I love giving presents (and receiving them, too!), spending time with my family, listening to Christmas music, eating yummy food, and thinking about what this day really means to me. I’ve had so much fun this month sharing Christmas books with you, and bringing my friends in to share their traditions, what Christmas is like in their countries, and other fun Christmassy topics. Thanks so much to everyone who participated, and to you for stopping by to read. :) I hope you have a wonderful Christmas day with your loved ones, and that it is filled with the joy and happiness of the season.

How do you celebrate this day?


Discussion: Favorite Books to Read During the Holidays

December 24, 2015 About Me, Discussion 4

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It has been snowing up a storm over here in my neck of the woods, and now that I’m all ready for Christmas and Santa will be on his way soon tonight, I finally have time for some relaxing! I immediately knew I wanted to read Winter by Marissa Meyer. I have been so excited for this book, but with my Christmas event on the horizon I was busy reading Christmas books to post about this month! Now I’m done with those, so I finally have time! I always gravitate towards fantasy or dystopian books this time of year. My TBR for the rest of December and all of January is fantasy, actually. I don’t know what it is, but I think fantasy novels are so cozy! I love a book I can curl up on the couch with and spend my day all snuggly under a blanket while drinking hot chocolate. I’m planning to finish my very first Harry Potter read-through this winter as well! The first one was very magical and cozy, and I’m excited to continue.

Anyway, this all got me wondering what kinds of books you enjoy reading this time of year. What are you going to be reading tonight? Do you have a favorite genre or book that you read during the holidays? I’ve heard some people always read Pride and Prejudice or Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia. Then there are some friends of mine who love to read summery books to escape the cold weather. What’s your preference?


The Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke | Mini Book Review

December 23, 2015 Adult Fiction, Book Review 0 ★★★

The Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke | Mini Book ReviewThe Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke
Published by Harper Impulse on December 19, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 108
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
An English Girl in New York

As the snow starts to fall on Manhattan, PA Dory Mackenzie is a long way from home, far from the comforts and cheer of her cozy family Christmases back in Liverpool.

So when her boss Tyler Alexander offers to pay her pricey ticket home for New Year, Dory just can’t say no… even if she has to pretend to be his girlfriend for the holidays!

Tyler may be hiding the real reason he needs a girlfriend-of-convenience but that’s the least of Dory’s worries when she’s up against the disapproval of his high society mother, and the suspicions of his gorgeous older brother Lucas, the black sheep of the family.

There’s no fooling Lucas, and it’s not just the truth he wants to get closer to… So before the bells have even rung out for Christmas day, Dory finds herself caught up in the Alexander family’s dramas – and sharing more than just a few kisses under the mistletoe!

This book was just ok for me, which is why I don’t have much to say about it. lol. It’s a short, festive Christmas read, but I felt like the story was a little too big for the size of the book. Things moved too quickly to seem realistic to me. I liked the idea of the story–a girlfriend of convenience always ends up going crazy, and I was intrigued to see how this would work out. Tyler is a jerk, though, and Lucas (his brother) falls a little too fast. Actually, he and Dory both fall for each other really fast. They have one late-night conversation over leftover chocolate cake, and all of a sudden things get feelingsy and dramatic pretty quick. The Alexander family is not warm and fuzzy, and I never grew to like them for any reason. I liked Lucas a lot, and his interactions with Dory were sweet and romantic. There was a scene where he and Dory went looking for a Christmas tree, which was sweet. The entire story as a whole, though, was a bit of a disappointment.


Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

December 21, 2015 Top Ten Tuesday 23

TTT

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

Christmas Eve is in two short days, so Santa and his elves are probably busy getting things together and packing the sleigh for the big night. I thought I’d just throw this list out there and see what happens! Some of these have not been released yet, but Santa is magic and I’m pretty sure he can pull a few strings…

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1. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
2. Mr. Kiss & Tell by Rob Thomas
3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
4. Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
5. One Dance With a Duke by Tessa Dare
6. With Tide and Tempest by Kate Avery Ellison
7. With Every Breath by Ellie Marney
8. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
9. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
10. Rebellion by J.A. Sourders


Christmas in Japan | Guest Post by Molly at Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup

December 21, 2015 Guest Post 3

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I am so excited to have Molly on the blog today to talk about Christmas in Japan! My very first Christmas as a wee one was spent on a military base in the northern part of Japan. Of course, I don’t remember it at all but I’ve heard stories from my parents about how much fun it was. This base is under joint operation of an air combat unit of the US Air Force and the aviation branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, so American and Japanese military servicemen and their families would combine traditions and celebrate together for the entire month (SO MANY PARTIES!). I so wish I had been old enough to remember! Molly’s experiences are much different from what my parents have told me about, so this was a very fun post to read about.


Hello! This is Molly! I blog as River at Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup and tweet as @innocencewalker on twitter. Many of you (most of you?) know that I used to live in Japan. And if you didn’t know, then I shall tell you more! I moved to Japan in 2007 to go to school in Tokyo for a year. After that I got a job and started teaching English in Saitama (an hour north of Tokyo) in 2008. I lived in Saitama for three years before getting married and moving back to Tokyo. That lasted for six months because my husband’s job transferred him up north to Tokai-mura where we then lived for two years before moving to the USA. I currently reside in Boston, MA. WHEW.

I’ve been invited to That Artsy Reader Girl to talk about Christmas in Japan! Yes Japanese people celebrate Christmas. I’ve found that a lot of Westerners are surprised by his because Japan isn’t really a Christian nation. But Japanese people do celebrate in their own way and they’ve kinda modified some of the Westerner traditions to fit the way they want to celebrate.

treeJapan

In Japan the Big Family Holiday is New Year. So imagine the way we celebrate Christmas; family time, big meal, religious ceremony (for some of us)… that’s Japanese New Year. Christmas in Japan actually kinda mirrors New Years Eve in the USA: dating! parties! drinking! The Christmas (and winter) season in Japan is very enjoyable… if you know what you’re going into. My first Christmas in Japan was depressing. I was in school, living with a host family, far away from my own family. My host family bought a Christmas cake and… that was it. I don’t even think anyone wished me a Merry Christmas. Major sigh.
Christmas cake you ask? Wtf is that? Not cookies? No! Let me first tell you about the weird Japanese Christmas food… cake and KFC. Yes. Cake and fried chicken.

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In Japan in like the 1970’s, KFC ran a marketing campaign that basically convinced Japanese people that KFC was THE food to eat for Christmas… and it stuck. Turkey (a popular Western holiday dish… which is weird for me as an American cuz turkey is for Thanksgiving and ham is for Christmas (in my family)… but idk) isn’t common in Japan (you can strangely get it at Tokyo Disney Sea) so I guess chicken it was! Around the beginning of December KFC starts to hand out order forms and you’re encouraged to make your Christmas dinner order now!

Christmas cake is also a popular food item for Christmas. I remember when I taught English to children, they were always very excited to make the cake on or around Christmas eve. Oddly enough Christmas is Japan is celebrated on Christmas eve. Families get their KFC (or fried chicken alternative from the supermarket), moms and kids decorate the cake (or buy one if they’re too lazy/ not handy with a mixer) and they gather around the table and eat and drink and be merry. Santa comes for the children, usually leaving one gift on their bedside. And then on Christmas morning… the streets are cleared of all decorations and it’s like nothing ever happened.

Now, Christmas is two-fold in Japan. It’s celebrated with young children and their parents with KFC, cake, and merriment around the kitchen table. But what about teens? Young adults? Young working professionals? Well they go out on dates. Christmas eve is the most popular date night of the year. Think of it as a mix of NYE and Valentine ’s Day. Love hotels are booked all… night… long… Gifts are exchanged, feelings are confessed, and if you don’t have a date you’re basically a loser. (For real, I once didn’t have a date and my gay friends let me crash theirs so I didn’t reach total loser status). Groups of friends get together and have parties (with cake and chicken).

After meeting my husband (then boyfriend) and dating for a bit before hitting Christmas I had the fun idea of mixing up the two versions of Christmas I’ve come to know and love. I made a cake (it as chocolate) and bought some chicken from the store (later while living in Tokai we discovered that we could get smoked turkey legs on Christmas eve ONLY and that became a favorite) and I put up a small tree in the apartment. My mother made us both our own stockings and I taught him the art of stocking stuffers. To this day we celebrate this mix. We don’t really do the big gift exchange, but stocking stuffers are a must!

lightsjapan

One thing Japan does INCREDIBLY well is decorate for Christmas! It’s all professionally done so it’s large displays for the public and not just some twinkle lights strung up outside the office by some intern. I miss the Japanese illuminations (they don’t call them Christmas lights) so much. I used to go around to all of the different displays in Tokyo and take photos I’ve never seen such elaborate displays! They usually go up around the beginning of December and then are promptly taken down Christmas morning.

So what do you think about Christmas in Japan? Sound like something you’d like to try? Sound totally bizarre? I used to get SO annoyed about how “wrong” some of the things were, but now… I kinda miss it…


Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards | Book Review

December 18, 2015 Adult Fiction, Book Review 5 ★★★★★

Operation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards | Book ReviewOperation White Christmas by Nicki Edwards
Series: Escape to the Country #2.5
Published by Pan Macmillan AU on December 17, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 153
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Hollie Douglas has dreamed of a White Christmas ever since she was a child, but her dream implodes when her fiancé breaks her heart two months before their big day. Convinced by her best friend to go ahead with her planned honeymoon anyway, Hollie doesn't expect to find herself stuck in a snowstorm in rural Canada two days before Christmas.

Jim Bell has been dreading another Christmas without his wife. When one of his orphaned animals goes missing in the middle of a snowstorm, he didn't expect he'd be rescuing a stranded Australian tourist as well. He quickly realizes Hollie is carrying as much emotional baggage as him, and when she accepts his offer to seek shelter at his farm, he wonders if he's doing the right thing.

As Jim helps Hollie fulfil her White Christmas dreams, the winter wonderland and spirit of Christmas work their healing magic on both of them.

This book is adorable. I’m not even kidding. I don’t even have much to say about it (it’s short), other than the fact that I LOVED it so much. It’s one of my new favorite Christmas books, and I’m hoping to re-read it every year or so. It’s a sweet and swoony, feel-good, perfectly clean Christmas story that really got me in the holiday spirit. I loved the characters, the dog, the baby llama, the snow, the setting, the feelings, the activities they did together, the revelations, the writing style, and the ending. Really, I have no complaints, except that I wish it had been longer! I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m keeping this review short and pretty much detail-free. The story is so romantic and magical, that readers are going to wish it had happened to them.


5 Festive Christmas TV Specials | Guest Post by Bella from Ciao Bella!

December 17, 2015 Guest Post 0

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I’m so happy to have Bella from Ciao Bella! on the blog today to talk about some of her favorite Christmas TV specials! I love catching these on TV every year (except I’ve never even heard of Prep and Landing… Does that mean I’m old?)!


When Jana requested submissions for her A Bookish Little Christmas, I jumped at the opportunity – how could I turn down such a chance to share my love of the holiday season? Though I can find something to like about every month, December is by far my favorite. I adore the thoughtful gift exchanges among friends; I take every excuse to bake a batch of holiday cookies; and I rejoice in the time I can spend with my family (I suppose the weeklong vacation from school doesn’t hurt either!). It’s busy, of course, but I believe what’s stressful about the season is outweighed by the widespread joy it brings. I would be hard-pressed to find a more festive time of year.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, if I’m not wrapping presents or decorating the tree, I’m most likely by the television, with a blanket and a bowl of popcorn in hand. Year after year, I carve out time to watch my favorites of the television specials, whether that’s Charlie Brown picking out a tree or Rudolph aiding Santa in his time of need. Regardless of when they were made, the specials capture the spirit of Christmas; I’ve yet to finish one without a smile on my face. Narrowing them down from the wide selection was difficult, believe me, but I managed to highlight five of the best holiday specials around. Five doses of holiday cheer coming up!

Rankin-Bass’s Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town is a Christmas classic. Released in 1970, it tells how “Old Saint Nick” and other traditions came to be in charming stop-motion animation. This is a beloved special in my family, not in the least because of its memorable characters, including Kris Kringle, the Winter Warlock, and the Burgermeister Meisterburger. If you haven’t seen it already – or maybe you’re simply due for a re-watch – you would do well to make time for it this year!

How could you celebrate Christmas without including Charlie Brown in the festivities? The Peanuts gang’s television appearance is a staple for several holidays, but none are so widely acclaimed as their Christmas episode, where Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and the others learn the true meaning of the season. While it premiered long before I was born – the special made its debut in December 1965 – it makes me happy that generations young and old can enjoy it.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a rare example in which I like the television adaptation more than the book itself. Dr. Suess’ famous character grows from Whoville’s resident Christmas hater to a benevolent guest at the holiday feast in the span of thirty minutes, once again demonstrating the most important part of the season. Watch it and try not to feel a twinge of emotion when it’s declared that “the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.”

The Prep and Landing series began in 2009, when Disney-Pixar released their first holiday program about the elves of Santa’s workshop. The special has since grown to include the sequel Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice and the short film Operation: Secret Santa. Regardless of which Wayne and Lanny adventure you watch {I’m partial to the first one myself}, I can guarantee it will put you in the holiday mood quicker than you can say “Merry Christmas!”

Finally, Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas may be the most recent example of these five, but that certainly doesn’t lessen the quality of the special. As the name suggests, it’s based after another favorite holiday film, Elf, and brings the songs of its musical adaptation to the small screen. With Jim Parsons voicing Buddy and Ed Asner reprising his role as Santa Claus, it’s clearly a worthy addition to any holiday television schedule. I can’t wait to catch it again this year!

 


What are some of your favorite Christmas TV specials?

 


Harlequin Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour | Kate Willoughby (+ Giveaway)

December 16, 2015 Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post 0

Harlequin Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour | Kate Willoughby (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to my stop along the Naughty or Nice Winter Blog Tour, hosted by Kismet Book Tours! I’m happy to welcome Kate Willoughby, author of Under the Spotlight, to the blog today to talk about her books and her love of Christmas ornaments! I collect ornaments from all the places I’ve visited, as well bookish and cat ornaments, so I understand and support Kate’s love. You’ll also get to learn about her newest book and have the opportunity to win copies of all the books on tour!


Ornament Lovers Unite!

A Guest Post by Kate Willoughby

KateWOrnamentsI write hockey romance and hockey is a winter sport, so I often have important Christmas scenes in my books. In my last book, OUT OF THE GAME, the hero and heroine start their own tradition. At the beginning of the book, they go away together on a crazy whim and stay in a cabin just outside the Zion National Park. By the time Christmas rolls around in the book, they find themselves separated from family—Alex by choice, Claire by circumstance. So, they decide to spend Christmas together at “their cabin.” And what an eventful, emotional Christmas that ends up being! Anyway, they do end up repeating that cabin tradition one more time in the book and that trip is pretty special as well. It’s in the epilogue, so I’ll let you speculate as to what happens there.

In the next book from my In the Zone series, UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT (Dec. 14, 2015), I again have a Christmas scene: the first time Joe meets Christine’s family. Because Christine’s family is Hungarian and I am Chinese, I had to do some research on Hungarian Christmas traditions. It was fascinating. I wanted Joe to bring a hostess gift at Christine’s insistence, because let’s face it, a jock hockey player probably hasn’t even heard of hostess gifts. Because my heroes are usually nice guys, I wanted Joe to choose something more personal than a bottle of wine. He ends up making a traditional Hungarian Christmas ornament while on the plane travelling for one of his road trips and Christine and all the female members of her family fall in love with him.

It’s not surprising that I featured Christmas ornaments. I have a rather large collection of Santa ornaments that I love putting out every year. I’d love to hear about or see pictures of ornaments that are special to you. Please share them in the comments section below.

Happy holidays,
Kate


Under the Spotlight by Kate Willoughby
Series: In the Zone #4
Published by Carina Press on December 14, 2015
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Stage actress Christine Caspary couldn’t care less about hockey, but when she first sees Joe Rutherford playing in a Barracudas game her mind goes to all sorts of dirty places. By happy chance, her work with Grant A Wish gives her an opportunity to meet him in the flesh.

Right winger Joe Rutherford saw Christine perform when the team went to see Chicago and was so taken with her, he secretly saw the show a second time, alone. When the gorgeous actress with spectacular legs contacts him out of the blue asking for a favor, it’s a no-brainer.

Their chemistry is off the charts. Things heat up quickly and they can’t keep their hands off each other. Soon they’re hooking up whenever their busy schedules allow and having hot phone sex every night at midnight when they don’t. But Joe’s time in the hockey spotlight is fading, just as Christine’s star begins to rise. When she gets her big break into a TV career, how will Joe take to being the arm candy for a change?

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Thanks to the lovely people at Harlequin, we have a pretty awesome tour-wide giveaway going on that I KNOW you want to win! Best of luck!

One grand prize winner will receive:
• 1 print copy of The Harder You Fall by Gena Showalter, White Wedding Christmas by Andrea Laurence, A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Wrapped in Red by Nana Malone and Sherelle Green
• 1 eBook copy of A Copper Ridge Christmas by Maisey Yates and Under the Spotlight by Kate Willoughby
• 100,000 Harlequin MyRewards points
• 2 Harlequin Classics limited edition notebooks
• 1 Brenda Jackson Westmoreland limited edition notebook

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Visit the other tour stops!

Monday, Novemer 30th – Books and Things
Wednesday, December 2nd – Romancing Rakes For the Love of Romance
Friday, December 4th – Supernatural Snark

Monday, December 7th – Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, December 9th – Rather Be Reading Blog
Friday, December 11th – Obsessed by Books

Monday, December 14th – Rainy days and Pajamas
Wednesday, December 16th – That Artsy Reader Girl
Friday, December 18th – In the Hammock

Monday, December 21st – Whatever You Can Still Betray
Wednesday, December 23rd – Reading Reality
Friday, December 25th – Little Miss Drama Queen