Jennifer’s Bookish Etsy Gift List | Guest Post

Posted December 15, 2019 by Jana in Guest Post / 0 Comments

Today I’m welcoming Jennifer from YA Book Nerd to the blog to share with us her bookish Etsy gift list! I love great bookish merch, and Jennifer has some great recommendations!


Looking for something to get a Book Nerd for the Holidays? I have a few ideas from some of my favorite ETSY shops.

Enamel Pins

There are so many of these. Here are a few:

Well Read from the Word for Word Factory
Get Lit from the ADaesthetic
Treat Yo Shelf from the infiniteANDdarling

Candles

I Live In Fictional Worlds candle from SnuggleFuel
Anne of Green Gables candle from Rose & Adder
Stars Hollow candle from In the Wick of Time

Jewelry

Glasses necklace from The Locket Library
Bookstack earrings from Coryographies
Book Locket from my shop: YA Book Nerd

Pencils and Notebooks

Booknerd Pencils from IceyDesigns – she also makes tons of other fun bookish items
Sarah J Maas quote notebook from BookishStuff
You’re Just as Sane as I am (Harry Potter inspired notebook) from ColorfulGeekness

Artwork

Holly Nichols Illustrations has several bookish prints
Letterwright has Jane Austen book stacks and other bookish prints
Hermoine print from Art of Nathanna Erica

Totes/Bags

Miss Bohemia has this lovely Pemberley Tote plus lots of other bookish goodies.
Bookish coin purse/wallet from The Purple Hedgehog
We lose Ourselves in Books. We Find Ourselves there too! bag from Dreamyandco

 

Jennifer runs the blog YA Book Nerd. She’s a Children’s and Young Adult Librarian in a small town in Connecticut. She loves reading and all things bookish. When she’s not reading or talking about books, she love baking, crafting, reading twitter (@yabooknerd), watching the Celtics, and snuggling with her two dogs. She has an  Etsy shop with some bookish inspired items.

Which item is your favorite??
Do you have any recommendations for places to buy bookish items?

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Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book Review

Posted December 13, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book ReviewMine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham
Published by Carina Press on December 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 77
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can't help but wonder if Santa has delivered early...

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can't wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

Doesn’t this book sound a little like The Holiday? That is one glorious movie and my favorite movie ever, so I was super excited when I found out that this book is about a transatlantic house swap! Even better, a man and a woman are swapping. And even BETTER, the airport gets shut down and she makes it to his London home… but he does not make it to her California home. SO… they have to both stay at his house. I mean, come on. How could you not want to read about this? It sounds super romantic, not to mention an accident waiting to happen! House swapping sounds like one of the coolest adventures ever, but I think I’d be a nervous wreck having a stranger living in my house. Anyways…

Ashley and Oliver are both looking for something. Growing up in poverty, Ashley has never had a real Christmas. And Oliver is looking for a way to survive the pain Christmas brings him. Neither of them were entirely happy to discover they would be sharing a home until Oliver could fly out to California, but they decide to make the best of it after an awkward encounter when Oliver enters his dark room and falls into bed… right on top of Ashley. Oops! She smacks him in his happy place, and he falls to the ground, naked and in pain. And that’s how their love story begins.

Oliver feels for Ashley and her strong desire for a beautiful Christmas, so he takes her shopping for a tree, takes care of her when she slips and falls on the ice, watches her decorate her tree, and enjoys her peppermint hot chocolate. I love the tension and the romance that grows from the bud of friendship. They confide in one another and share their stories, bonding over their sad memories and hope for a better future. I don’t like sad books at all, so I was happy to discover that the book did not feel sad for me. I just felt hope for them and excitement over the possibilities of their love story.

I really enjoyed this sweet, quick Christmas read and would recommend it to people who love The Holiday! While I think that movie is better, this book will make you smile and remind you that the most important part of Christmas is having someone special to share it with.

 

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5 Pet-Friendly Gift-Giving Ideas by Melinda Curtis | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 12, 2019 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 2 Comments

In honor of Melinda Curtis’s recent release, The Christmas Wish (which has a puppy-loving heroine), Melinda is here to share her 5 pet-friendly gift-giving ideas with us! Read more about her book and enter to win an awesome Forever Books prize pack.


Melinda Curtis’s 5 Pet-Friendly Gift-Giving Ideas

When you think pets and the holidays, you might only think of buying for your pets. Well, think again! Gifts for pet and animal lovers are a wonderful way to solve the dilemma of what to get for that person who has everything.

1. Gift Cards. You can give them a gift card from your local pet store or an IOU certificate to pet-sit the next time they go out of town. There is nothing as comforting as the feeling of having your pet stay at home while you’re away.

(Meet Melinda’s dog, Duke, in his cute bed!)

2. Pet Beds. No matter what kind of pet they have, there’s probably a pet bed available. I have pet beds in nearly every room of the house, and one is always in need of replacing.

3. Breed-Specific Items. From calendars to magnets to ornaments to coffee mugs to mouse pads, you can find pet-themed merchandise on just about anything nowadays. Just don’t wait to the last minute to find a Hamster-themed calendar!

4. Pet Toys. Is their pet a toy lover? Does their dog have strong ball-drive? Or perhaps their cat can’t resist catnip-filled toys? These are simple items that can be used every day.

5. Donations. If they have an animal cause near and dear to their heart, make a donation in their name. What better way to fulfill the reason for the holiday season?


The Christmas Wish by Melinda Curtis
Series: Sunshine Valley #0.5
Published by Forever on November 26, 2019
AmazonAdd to Goodreads

It’s beginning to look a lot like a Christmas in thisSunshine Valley novella from USA Today bestselling authorMelinda Curtis that will appeal to fans of RaeAnne Thayne and Sheila Roberts.

Everyone in Sunshine Valley, Colorado, is in the Christmas spirit except forEverett Bollinger, the new town manager. With money tighter than ever, Everet thas had to make some tough decisions about the local holiday celebration. And taking the blame has put him in a very un-festive mood.

Rosalie Reyes has big plans to open her new pet shop during the Christmas parade. But it seems like Everett is determined to sabotage the parade and her business too. With the help of the local matchmakers and a rambunctious SaintBernard named Remy, Rosalie is about to unleash the town’s holiday cheer and make it a paws-itively amazing Christmas for all. Including a certain town manager who’s about to discover the reason for the season…is love.


About Melinda Curtis

Melinda Curtis is the USA Today bestselling author of light‐hearted contemporary romance. In addition to her Sunshine Valley series from Forever, she’s published independently and with Harlequin Heartwarming, including her book Dandelion Wishes, which is currently being made into a TV movie. She lives in California’s hot central valley with her hot husband – her basketball-playing college sweetheart. While raising three kids, the couple did the soccer thing, the karate thing, the dance thing, the Little League thing and, of course, the basketball thing. Between books, Melinda spends time with her husband remodeling their home by swinging a hammer, grouting tile, and wielding a paintbrush with other family members.

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Dear Santa, From Chief of Police, Alex Baker of Snowfall On Cedar Trail by Annie Rains | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 11, 2019 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 3 Comments

I’m so happy to have Annie Rains on the blog today to share Alex Baker’s letter to Santa. Alex is the Chief of Police and hero of Annie’s latest book, Snowfall On Cedar Trail. Read more about the book and enter to win copies of the first three Sweetwater Springs books (the 4th comes out in February 2020)!


Dear Santa,

I stopped believing in you a long time ago. Sorry about that, but you stopped delivering on what I needed most.
After my father died ten years ago, all I wanted was to have him back. Yeah, I know that even Santa can’t bring back the people we’ve lost. A new pair of boots or tie isn’t going to lift my spirits anymore though—not when I’ve lost the most important person in my life. And if I can’t have Dad back, can I at least find the person who left him dying in the snow? Justice for the man who taught me everything. Is that too much to ask?

I also need to find a good home for this little puppy I’m fostering. We’re calling this naughty pup Officer Chew around the station because the little guy is teething on everything at his level. So Santa, if you’re listening, a few chew toys would be welcome at the Sweetwater Springs Police Station. And a good home if you know one. Officer Chew needs someone gentle and caring. He’s been through a lot, as you know, and deserves some TLC.

So does Halona Locklear, whether she’s willing to admit it or not. Santa, Halona is the most giving person I know. She gives her son, Theo, everything, and she never takes time for herself. I’m not sure you can give Halona what she needs this year either. I suspect it’s a lot more than a piece of jewelry or some chocolates. She’s so strong on the outside, but everyone needs someone to lean on every now and then. If I’m honest (and you’d know if I tried to lie, right?), I want to be that person for her. I’ve always wanted to be that guy. She’s my best friend’s little sister though… but over the past month, I’ve felt a buzz in the air between us. I look in her eyes and I know she feels something too. She makes my heart beat a little faster, a little harder. And she makes these cold days in the mountain valley seem so much warmer.
So Santa, if you’re real and if I’m not too far down on your naughty list, can I have a chance with Halona? She has been through a lot as well. All I want to do is to make her smile and laugh. I want to make her days warmer and brighter too—just like she does for me.

There you have it. All I want for Christmas this year is to solve my Dad’s cold case, find a home for this loveable, albeit naughty puppy, and to win Halona’s heart forever. It’s a tall order, but if you can deliver on that, I’ll start believing in the magic of Christmas again.

Your long-lost believer,
Chief of Police Alex Baker


Snowfall On Cedar Trail by Annie Rains
Series: Sweetwater Springs #3
Published by Forever on October 8, 2019
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance, Holiday – Christmas
AmazonAdd to Goodreads

Last Christmas was tough for Halona Locklear and her seven-year-old son Theo, who hasn’t spoken a word since his father’s death. This year, Halona wants nothing more than to give him a good holiday and to hear his sweet voice again. Enrolling him in the Mentor Match program might help, but when Theo gets matched with Sweetwater Springs Chief of Police, Alex Baker, Halona realizes that the handsome hero might know secrets about her past that she is determined to keep buried.

Chief of Police, Alex Baker, re-opens his father’s hit-and-run cold case every December, hoping to finally solve it. This year, his plate is full with being a Mentor Match to a young seven-year-old boy as well. His biggest obstacle, however, is fighting his attraction to the boy’s mother, Halona. As Alex gets close to solving his father’s cold case, he learns that those closest to him may be in danger — including Halona. Alex has already lost one of the most important people in his life; he isn’t about to lose her too, even if it means walking away to keep her safe.


About Annie Rains

Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors.

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Top Ten Cozy Christmas Book Titles

Posted December 9, 2019 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 18 Comments

This week’s TTT is a freebie, so I chose to keep things Christmassy over here during A Bookish Little Christmas! There are some completely adorable Christmas book titles out there that give me all the Christmas feelings and sound perfect for curling up with by the tree. I’m going to share some of those today!

1. Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale
2. Christmas at the Cat Cafe by Melissa Daley (because cats)
3. Christmas On Candy Cane Lane by Sheila Roberts
4. Snowflakes On Silver Cove by Holly Martin
5. Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson
6. Upon a Winter’s Night by Karen Harper
7. Love at the Northern Lights by Darcie Boleyn
8. The Holiday Hideaway by J.L. Jarvis
9. A Merry Mountain Christmas by Trish Milburn
10. Snowfall on Cedar Trail by Annie Rains

Don’t these sound cozy!? Have you read any of them?

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Lauren’s Christmas Reading Round-up

Posted December 9, 2019 by Jana in Guest Post / 4 Comments

I’m so excited to have Lauren from Bookmark Lit on the blog today to celebrate A Bookish Little Christmas with me! Lauren loves Christmas pretty much as I do, so I was really excited that she wanted to participate this year! She’s rounding up some awesome Christmas books today, all of which I’ve either read or want to read! Hopefully she helps you find your next holiday read.


It’s no secret that I love Christmas if you follow my blog. I AM one of those people who starts listening to holiday music riiiiight around Halloween. I put my Christmas decorations up somewhere toward the middle of November. I plan a huge holiday TBR each year, sign up for seasonal readathons, and aggressively plan blog posts accordingly throughout December. This year, my first post (a rundown of Netflix, Disney+, Hallmark, etc. Christmas movies releasing in 2019), was posted before November 15th. Hey, if Hallmark is going to debut their new Christmas movies on October 26th, surely I can advertise them before mid-November!

I digress: when Jana announced she was looking for participants for the Bookish Little Christmas this year, I decided I should talk about one of my biggest holiday highlights: BOOKS. I’m a sucker for book covers so I originally planned to chat about those, but I thought it would be good to share some general holiday reading recommendations and highlights from this year’s TBR. You can find a number of these on my blog as well, where I did a bit of Christmas in July with 2019 books coming. Without further adoooo….

 

25 Days Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander | Has there ever been a more perfectly-fitted book cover for a holiday story?! The fact that this looks like an advent calendar – aka a Christmas countdown – matches the title of the book so perfectly. I’m excited to read this one. Also on my 2019 TBR!

Christmas at the Palace by Jeevani Charika | Maybe this cover is a little cheesy looking but for some reason I’m obsessed with it. I haven’t read this yet and am not sure I’ll get to it this holiday season, unfortunately. I LOVE the font, the snow, the castle, the couple… ugh, perfection!

The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin | I love this cover! I think this is slightly more on the winter or New Years side (plot-wise), but don’t quote me on that! It’s just so cute and has wonderful typography. A bookish holiday story set in Paris?! YES. Also on my 2019 TBR!

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella | I used to love the Shopaholic books but lost steam years ago. I’m really curious to read this one – I have a feeling it will generally stand alone with some recap about the MC’s life at the beginning. I ADORE illustrated cover trends and this one is absolutely no exception.

My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins and others | I’m a big anthology fan and the Winter and Summer-oriented ones, edited by Perkins, were highly adorable. The covers especially! Also a general TBR recommendation!

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand | This book was exactly what I wanted it to be when I read it a couple of years ago. I highly recommend this one, and love the cover! It’s simple and dark – not super holiday-ish – but just the right touch of it! It’s also based on a Dickens book, so it’s a little old-school-looking. Also a general TBR recommendation!

Winter series by Elin Hilderbrand | If you like her other summery stories and would like to see Nantucket at Christmas, give this series a try. I didn’t fully LOVE these books, to be perfectly honest, but they’re so quick and addicting to read! They’re also a bit more on the December/winter side than Christmas but there are some strong holiday feels usually at some point in the stories.

Sweetwater Springs series by Annie Rains | This series has some springtime books as well, which you’ll see as a common theme in the “small town romance companion series” trend that I adore so much! The first book, shown here, was lovely, and I’m eager to read this year’s Christmas installment!

Any book by Jenny Hale set at Christmas | Yes, they get a little repetitive if you binge-read them, but I recommend reading one of her books RIGHT before Christmas. I always savor them as my last holiday read on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, because they’re the most atmospheric for the holiday. The pictured book is my favorite of hers.

Haven Point series by RaeAnne Thayne | I won’t lie: I keep thinking I’ve reached the last book in this series and she keeps putting new ones out! Not complaining – I ADORE this small town. The book pictured here is the first in the series and like the Sweetwater Springs books, you’ll find summertime books mixed in.

Snowfall on Cedar Trail by Annie Rains | Next in the Sweetwater Springs series.
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory | Next in the Wedding Date series, but can be read alone.
Christmas at Silver Falls by Jenny Hale | Her newest 2019 release.
A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan | I’m on a blog tour for this!
Coming Home for Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne | Next in the Haven Point series.
All I Want for Christmas is You by Miranda Liasson | New series for me!
The Matchmaker’s Mistletoe Mission by Jaci Burton | Novella for November’s TBR
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston | This one sounds amazing!

For more holiday cheer, book reviews, decorations, tags, and more, check out the bottom of this post on my blog (it lists ALL of the holiday-related posts from years past) and here you can see 2018’s posts.

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The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book Review

Posted December 8, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book ReviewThe Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander
Series: The Lady Travelers Society #2.5
Published by HQN Books on October 1, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
A fake fiancé and a Christmas engagement are a recipe for trouble in this delightful holiday romp featuring New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers Society

Miss Anabel Snelling needs a fiancé, and fast. If her father, Sir Archibald, has his way, she’ll be married in time for Christmas—to a man she doesn’t love. That’s why she and her aunt have concocted a brilliant plan to hire an American actor to play the role of her suitor. But the charming Wesley Grant is playing the part a little too well, and Anabel is in danger of falling for him. What Anabel doesn’t know is Wesley is not the actor her aunt hired. Still, what kind of a gentleman would he be if he didn’t come to her rescue? He has a new plan of his own—win Anabel’s heart…for real.

I really love fake romance tropes because these kinds of relationships are always laced with tension and wondering and so many feelings. I also love historical romances set at Christmastime because they feel so cozy and traditional, with the candles and the traditional Christmas decorations. I’d been intrigued by The Lady Travelers Society series as well, so I was happy to jump into this novella for multiple reasons. While it was cute, it did fall victim to the same plight that so many novellas do: the shortness prevented character and plot development.

I did really enjoy what I saw of these characters, which is always the most important thing to me in any story I read. Anabel is resourceful and liberal during a time when women did what they were told. I loved that she and her aunt dreamed up a plan to fake an engagement in order to avoid an arranged marriage set up by Anabel’s father. I loved Wes, and the fact that we’re dealing with mistaken identity with him made things even more fun. I liked watching him try and figure out how to play the part of an actor. The romance was a bit fast and unbelievable for me, but I guess that’s where the magic of Christmas comes in! The three elderly ladies who meddle and snoop and conspire under the surface cracked me up. I’m not usually a fan of silly characters like this, but I liked them.

All in all, The Dance Before Christmas was a fun little holiday romance that got me into the spirit of the season. I wish the characters had been a little more developed because they had such great potential to be. I wish the story had a little more depth as well, but that’s what I get for reading a novella. I’m definitely interested in the rest of The Lady Travelers Society series!

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Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book Review

Posted December 7, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book ReviewJingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan
Series: Bell Harbor #3.5
Published by Montlake Romance on October 20, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 111
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
As assistant buyer for the world’s second-largest Christmas store, Kelsey Parker feels like a holiday harlot. She’s contractually obligated to promote the yuletide season. All. Year. Long. And it’s taking a toll on her spirit. But when her clueless, self-absorbed boyfriend goes on their long-anticipated romantic vacation—without her!—Kelsey is beyond disappointed to find herself tromping through the Bell Harbor snow instead of lounging on a tropical beach.

Drew Hampton is considered quite a catch among the Bell Harbor bachelorettes, but when his high school dream girl, Kelsey Parker, shows up at his grandfather’s Christmas tree lot complaining about her love life, he decides it’s long past time to get her under the mistletoe himself.

As things heat up between the two, a surprise visitor arrives, making Kelsey an offer she can’t quite believe. Now she must decide what matters most, and she just may discover the key to her happiness.

This is a sweet, funny Christmas novella that’s perfect for getting you into the holiday spirit! I’ve not read any of the other Bell Harbor books, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. There’s not a lot to say about it because it’s such a short book, at just over 100 pages. I read it in one sitting and had so much fun with the characters (Drew gives me heart eyes), the holiday festivities, the swoons, and the setting. The story did not feel rushed or compressed in order to fit into a novella. I loved Tracy’s writing and bought the rest of the Bell Harbor series because this one was so much fun. I can’t wait to read them! Consider this my seal of approval. If you’re looking for a magical dose of Christmas cheer, pick up this little gem and prepare to smile!

 

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Miranda Liasson’s Favorite Children’s Holiday Books | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 6, 2019 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 22 Comments

I’m so excited to have Miranda Liasson on the blog today to share her favorite children’s Christmas books! When I dreamed up Bookish Little Christmas 8 years ago and began inviting authors to participate with guest posts, this post here is the exact kind of post I was hoping to receive. I love the cozy books she chose and the memories she shared of her childhood and her life as a mother. Make sure you read about her latest release and enter to win the entire Angel Falls series!

Miranda’s Favorite Children’s Holiday Books

My first thought at revisiting my favorite kids’ holiday books was—I’d LOVE to talk about that! Such happy times, such good memories.

As all of you who love books know, our memories of books are often bonded to our souls.

But a funny thing happened as I pulled out the old bin of kids’ books from my attic. I came to realize that my wonderful memories of books—some from my own childhood, others from my kids’ time—are overshadowed by even more powerful memories—of my mom, who’s been gone a long time, and of my kids, all now in their 20’s. I still see them all lined up next to me on our crazily-patterned couch with their blankies and sippy cups—and the dog, just another one of the kids, ready to snuggle in too.

Great times!

At this time of the year, we crack open books for our kids that imbue a special sense of hope and the meaning of the holiday (whichever ones we celebrate). We want to pass on that legacy of love and giving. And as we enjoy them with our children, we feel their sense of wonder and awe spread to us as well.

I hope you enjoy my little trip down memory lane as you create your own memories this season with your families!

1960 Edition of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore, Illustrated by Catherine Barnes

This is a large book—10 by 13 inches, to be exact. And it deserves this big, sumptuous size so we can fully appreciate the amazing illustrations. This book, which I own from my childhood, is sadly out of print. I did find a copy for $250 somewhere on the Internet if you’re interested!

Even better, I found this amazing YouTube video done a few years ago by an amazing music teacher wanting her second graders to learn in a fun way the lines to the famous poem. You can appreciate it—and her own love for this book—here.

On my copy, as the teacher’s in the video, the binding is taped and the pages may have a few smudges, evidence of how beloved this book was not only by me but by my children too.

As the tale unfolds, we experience in sharp detail that the narrator of Moore’s famous poem is the dad of his sleeping family, and we discover Santa along with him, during one wild night of interrupted sleep.

My love of Victorian homes probably started here, as they are shown, beautiful and snow-covered in the sleepy gray light of the moon.

I still remember my mom pretending to pull out a cookie from the gorgeous display, saying things like, that dad’s feet must’ve been cold when they hit that floor, and the inflection of her voice as she said Doooown the chimney he came with a bound!

It is no wonder I am a writer. With an expressive mom like that, what else could I possibly be?

The teacher reading the story in the video does it beautifully. But her narration made me realize that everyone’s experience of a great story is unique—different inflections, different pauses. And, of course, surely different commentary. Yet another amazing thing about books!

Little Golden Book Edition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, original copyright 1958

Rudolph is the classic underdog story. In this edition, passed down to me from my dear neighbors, Rudolph, ashamed to have Santa see his red nose, decides to hide where no one would find him—in a toy pirate chest with a heavy wooden lid and brass hinges. An illustration shows him, nose glowing, climbing deep into a giant green box.

Yes, there is a wealth of take-home lessons here—be yourself, take pride in your differences, etc. But again, it’s my mom’s wise take on Rudolph’s temporary act of cowardice that has stuck with me over the years…

“You see,” I can still hear her saying, “even heroes have moments where they need time to regroup.”

Renee Graef’s Illustrations of Picture Books based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books

Every girl my age in the 70’s read the wildly popular Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Picture books published years later, when my kids were little (which are still in print today, including a hardcover anthology of all the picture books together), illustrated by Renee Graef, paid homage to the stories and the classic black-and-white Garth Williams illustrations.

Each little picture book re-tells part of the original stories. The illustrations are in color and gorgeous, and Laura’s same heartwarming tone is present in a simpler form. In the book Christmas in the Big Woods, the Ingalls family gets company from afar for and Laura gets a beloved rag doll she names Charlotte.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski, Illustrated by P.J. Lynch

This book will soon celebrate its 25th anniversary. I bought it for my kids but it is one of my favorite picture books of all time, period.

This book has perfect storytelling married to amazing illustrations, and both create a marriage made in heaven. It is about a broken man who has lost his wife and lives as a woodcarver at the edge of town. He is visited by a young boy and his widowed mother because she has lost her manger set and would like another made. Eventually she asks if her son could watch him work because he’s interested in becoming a woodcarver too. Jonathan begrudgingly lets them in to his home—and his life. The story unfolds with perfect pacing and is so filled with emotion, I usually start crying on the first page and don’t stop until it’s over. This is a haunting, beautiful story about the healing power of love. If you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favor and experience this book!

Little Rabbit’s Christmas, a cloth storybook Illustrated by Brian Bartle, 2000

This is an ingenious little cloth book that zips up for a child to carry around, which my son did A LOT. It has a tiny quilted rabbit on the inside on an attached string that can be moved from page to page as Little Rabbit gets himself into various Christmas situations. The reason this one goes on my favorite list, besides being vey cleverly put together, is that there is a page where Little Rabbit is allowed to sleep in the living room so he can listen for Santa, prompting my then-young son to ask (over and over) to do the same.

Sadly, I was not as lenient as Little Rabbit’s mom, putting MY little rabbit to bed upstairs, far away from the Christmas tree.

Lastly, I wanted to share a photo with you, taken on the very same crazy couch I told you about. You can’t see the ever-present basket of library books, many of which I just told you about. And you can only see the reflected lights in the window behind the kids from our Christmas tree that year.

But what you do notice is the shock and awe on my three kids’ faces.

This particular year, through a friend, we were able to procure a puppy from a litter that just happened to be ready right before Christmas. (The only reason we were able to do that was because the breeder knew my brother well.) My husband drove an hour to pick this little dog up in a snowstorm. I stayed behind, and I clearly remember reading a boatload of Christmas stories, trying to keep everyone busy and hold in my own anticipation. Then at last my husband walked in.

I don’t know how I managed to capture this moment on film, but it is priceless to me.

Maggie went on to become a member of our family for the next fifteen years, often curling up with the gang to listen to many books being read aloud too.

I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with love, hope, and great stories!

Check out Miranda’s latest Christmas novel, All I Want for Christmas Is You, book #3 in the Angel Falls series.
Enter to win a copy of the entire series at the bottom of this post.

All I Want for Christmas Is You by Miranda Liasson
Series: Angel Falls #3
Published by Forever on October 29, 2019
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance, Holiday – Christmas
AmazonAdd to Goodreads

Being naughty was nice, but now these friends-turned-lovers are in for an unforgettable Christmas…

Just when Kaitlyn Barnes vows to get over her longtime crush on Rafe Langdon, they share a sizzling evening that delivers an epic holiday surprise: Kaitlyn is pregnant. And if that weren’t life-changing enough, everyone assumes they’re engaged — a charade they must keep alive through the holiday season. But Kaitlyn knows Rafe better than anyone, and Rafe settling down is about as likely as Santa skipping Angel Falls this year…

Rafe would rather Kaitlyn believe a lie — that their night together was a fling — than face his own dangerous truth: he’s falling for her, hard. After a devastating loss, Rafe swore he’d never risk his heart again. Yet the longer they pretend to be engaged the more Rafe starts to want the real thing. But now he has to convince Kaitlyn he wants to be by her side — and their baby’s — for all the Christmases to come.

About Miranda Liasson

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about everyday people who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better!

She’s a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and an Amazon bestselling author whose heartwarming and humorous small–town romances have won accolades such as the National Readers’ Choice Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and have been Harlequin Junkie and Night Owl Reviews Top Picks.

She lives in the Midwest with her husband and three kids in a charming old neighborhood which is the inspiration for many of the homes in her books.

Miranda loves to hear from readers! Find her at Facebook.com/MirandaLiassonAuthor, and on Instagram and Twitter @mirandaliasson. For information about new releases and other news, feel free to sign up for her newsletter at https://mirandaliasson.com/#mailing-list.

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How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book Review

Posted December 5, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book ReviewHow the Dukes Stole Christmas by Joanna Shupe, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Tessa Dare
Published by Avon on October 15, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 392
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
Christmas magic is in the air... From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up some unforgettable romance...with a little help from some enchanted shortbread.

"Meet Me in Mayfair" by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless--and unexpectedly handsome--Thorndale himself. Now the duke's holding her future in his hands...and he's not letting go.

"The Duke of Christmas Present" by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm--the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can't resist the woman he never stopped loving...or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay...but if ever there were a time for miracles, it's Christmas...

"Heiress Alone" by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister's family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss ... until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

"Christmas in Central Park" by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker's weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column's author, can't even boil water. When the paper's owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing--especially when Duke's attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?

I actually picked this up because I love Tessa Dare so much and make sure I read everything she writes. I’ve also been interested in Sarah MacLean, though, and have enjoyed Sophie Jordan’s YA books so I had a feeling this was going to be good! I really love historical romance, and when Christmas is thrown into the mix it’s even better. This was a wonderful set of novellas that I really loved for the most part!

My thoughts on “Meet Me In Mayfair” by Tessa Dare:
This was a very fun story about a girl trying to save her beloved home from the duke who is planning to take it away from her. I liked the chemistry between Louisa and the Duke of Thorndale. There was also a TON of Christmas in this. They spend an entire night exploring the town of Mayfair in the snow getting to know one another and falling in love. It’s very sweet and the snow made it so magical. The writing was great, and I loved the banter between the characters that I’ve come to expect from Tessa Dare.

My thoughts on “The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean:
This was my first story written by Sarah McLean! Jacqueline and Eben have quite the history, and she’s back home for Christmas after twelve years of being gone. I really loved the flashback scenes interspersed throughout the present day scenes, and I thought the author did a wonderful job of really developing the story despite its short length. I felt like I got a fully fleshed out novel with the backstory, the baggage that each of the characters carry, and all the feelings and emotions as they figure out their past and their future. Eben is very tender, and Jacqueline is very weary. The story was filled with Christmas spirit, and quite a bit of steam as well! It was very fun to read.

My thoughts on “Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan:
This one was a bit rocky for me because I didn’t love the Scottish-style dialogue of some of the characters. I love books that are set in the Highlands, but I honestly could not figure out what was being said at times without actually reading parts out loud. It took some getting used to. And what family accidentally leaves a member behind!? And then there’s this plot line that deals with magical/bewitched shortbread… it was kinda weird. I didn’t really like the love story or the main characters. I liked the service staff, but the main couple was meh. I did love the castle setting and the added mystery with the scary brigands!

My thoughts on “Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe:
This was my least favorite of the novellas in the book, and I found it hard to get through. I liked the less commonly seen setting (New York City) and the idea of the story, but something was missing for me and I’m not sure what it was. I did have a problem with the dialogue. A character will slip from perfectly proper word choices and not using any contractions to sounding like a character from modern time partway through a paragraph. Characters would go from sounding like an overly proper robot to a silly teen outside the movie theater in the blink of an eye. It just didn’t work for me, and kept undermining my efforts to try and convince myself this was a historical romance. I also didn’t feel that this story particularly complimented the other stories, which felt more traditional and historical than this one. Oh well. You can’t win them all! I did like the Christmas party!

All in all, I really loved Tessa Dare’s novella, am excited to read more from Sarah MacLean, think it’s worth looking into more of Sophie Jordan’s adult books, and might possibly try another Joanna Shupe because she deserves a second chance. I love the Christmassy feels from all of them, some were just better than others.

This review was originally posted on December 24, 2018 and was re-posted for some extra love.

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