Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

December 23, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewChasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #4
Also in this series: One Snowy Night
Published by Avon on September 26, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Meet cute...

Run for the hills—temporarily. That's Colbie Albright's plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie's so over it that she's under it. She's also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she's pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won't be a stranger for long.

Make merry...

Spence's commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn't have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot chemistry—he's got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she's gorgeous and a great listener just because she gets Spence immediately doesn't mean he won't be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock's ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

I think it’s worth recognizing and celebrating my very first full-length novel by Jill Shalvis! I’ve read a handful of her Christmas novellas, and I decided that it was finally time to settle in for a longer novel and really discover what all the fuss is about. I own all but one of the books in the Lucky Harbor series and all the Heartbreaker Bay books that have been released thus far, so I really haven’t had any excuses to not read them yet. The synopsis of Chasing Christmas Eve really grabbed me, and it ended up being a really good choice! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I wasn’t too excited about reading a Christmas book that takes place in California. I lived in California for 6 years and it’s a beautiful place, so this isn’t personal, Californians! I just love snow in my Christmas novels, and that obviously was not going to happen here. Colbie is nuts for fleeing New York at Christmas, but I digress.

2. The lack of snow didn’t take away from the festiveness of the book, though! There were Christmas lights and enough warm fuzzies to make me forget that there wasn’t snow swirling around outside.

3. Colbie is a verrrrry successful YA author, and that’s the main reason I was drawn to this book! I love YA, and I love many YA authors, so Colbie immediately felt like my friend. I thought of her the way I think of any of my favorite YA authors. She’s so sweet and down to earth, not to mention incredibly nice. She’s dealing with writer’s block and she’s under a ton of stress from that, plus the fact that her entire family depends on her for every little thing. I love that she took the plunge and ran away to take care of herself. She’s also really funny and has this bright personality that made me smile. I would totally be friends with her.

4. I loved nerdy Spence. He’s a hot, rich, reclusive genius. But he’s not rich in a snobby way. He takes care of a homeless man that lives outside the building! He keeps to himself and lives his own life, and when he needs a breather he walks dogs! I mean, come on. He’s a bit of a workaholic, which has sealed off the part of himself that can have a love life. But all it takes is the right girl, right?

5. I love how Colbie and Spence meet for the first time. The description mentions a meet cute, and that’s exactly what we were given with this book. I’m not even going to say how it happens because I don’t want to spoil it. Just know that a dog is involved.

6. The romance is very sweet, regardless of the secrets they are both keeping from each other. What was supposed to be a quick little fling turns into something more than that, and forces Colbie and Spence to smooth out some of the wrinkles in their relationship.

7. I liked the supporting characters a lot, but can tell it would have really been great if I’d read the other three books in the series first so I’d know them a little better. The book works fine as a standalone, but I could have used a few more details on Spence and Elle especially.

All in all, this was a very fun Christmas romance! I loved watching Colbie and Spence fall in love and work through what being in love means to them. I’m definitely a fan of Jill Shalvis, so yay! It would have really sucked if I’d come out of this hating her and already owning a million of her books. I’m excited to read more of the books in the Heartbreaker Bay series and then start working on Lucky Harbor!

Which Jill Shalvis book is your absolute favorite?

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My 12 Favorites of Christmas

December 22, 2017 About Me 22

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

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Today I’m sharing you with you my 12 favorites of Christmas! I love to read, watch, listen to, bake, and DO Christmas, so I thought it would be fun to share all my favorites with you!

 

Ok, this is not cheating. I picked two. And honestly, that was hard enough. But in my defense, I had to pick one from when I was an actual child and then one that I’ve fallen in love with in adulthood. So… that’s some sound logic there.

Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish was seriously the book I looked for every year when we pulled out our box of Christmas books from storage. I loved reading about crazy Amelia Bedelia and her silly shenanigans. It’s such a funny book!

I just discovered The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski a few years ago, and it’s such a sweet story of a grumpy woodcarver who is hired to carve a nativity for a widow and her young son. This little family wiggles their way into his heart and reminds him to live and love his life.

 

There’s not a lot of great Christmas YA out there, which is super sad, but Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle is amazing. And no, it’s not my favorite because it’s the best of the trash or because the pickings are slim. It’s just wonderful. I don’t love Lauren’s story that much, but I can excuse it because it’s accompanied by John Green’s and Maureen Johnson’s wonderful stories. Read my review for more of my thoughts.

 

Snowed Over by Angie Stanton was the beginning of my love affair with romances that occur because two people are snowed in together. I LOVE THIS BOOK. College studnet, Katie, needs to get home for Christmas and ends up having to hitch a ride with a friend of a friend, Alex. But then a blizzard forces them into an abandoned cabin. What ensues is a super romantic, super clean (no sexy-times, I promise!), night curled up together by the fire to keep warm. Read my review and then go buy a copy. You’ll thank me later.


Starry Night by Debbie Macomber is my favorite Christmas book of all time. It takes place in the Alaskan Bush, under the glow of the Northern Lights. There’s a sweet dog and a swoony guy and a heartwarming message. It’s romantic, yet squeaky clean. Just what I love in a Christmas romance. Read my review!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is super under-rated, in my opinion. I’ve got so much love for Henry Winkler, and he is the BEST in this movie. It’s so totally Hallmark, and it’s so totally perfect. Jenn’s Uncle Ralph comes home for Christmas and brings jack-of-all-trades nomad, Morgan, because he doesn’t want him sleeping on the airport floor until he can fly to Denver after the snow has cleared. But it seems as though Uncle Ralph is a bit of a matchmaker… WATCH IT, GUYS. You will love it!


Maybe it’s because I’ve been to New York City at Christmas and seen the tree in person, but I just love watching Christmas In Rockefeller Center each year with my mom and little sister. Most of the performers are not so great and we fast-forward through those parts, but we love seeing the tree lit and the excitement.


I love The Big Bang Theory so much, and their Christmas episode: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis is my absolute favorite Christmas episode ever! Sheldon has no idea what to give Penny for Christmas (he wants to give her a gift that is equal in money to what she gives him), but the gift she gives him renders him speechless. We see Sheldon hug Penny for the first time ever and I LOVE it! Watch the moment here.

Ok, so here’s why I’m not cheating again: Neil Diamond made a Christmas Album and a Christmas Album Volume II. There’s two volumes, guys. And my family and I listen to them both while decorating the tree and opening presents every single year. I love these albums so much!


I love the haunting melody of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. This song uses all the beautiful notes. Listen to a beautiful instrumental version done by The Piano Guys here. And Nathan Pacheco’s performance is beautiful.


Everyone who knows me knows that It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year is my happy song, but only if sung by Andy Williams. It brings and instant smile to my face and makes me so happy!

 

These Whipped Shortbread Cookies from Taste of Home are to die for. They melt in your mouth and are just faintly sweet, so you can pretty much eat as many of them as you want. Which will probably be a lot.

 

I love looking at Christmas lights. Every year my mom, sister, and I drive around to find all the cool houses that are lit up around town. We also go to Temple Square to see the beautiful lights, the Tree of Life, and we go to two really amazing drive-through displays as well. This is hands down my favorite Christmassy thing to do.

What are some of your favorites of Christmas? Pick a category (or 2 or 5 or 12) and tell me your favorite! I’m always looking for new recommendations!

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Operation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards | Book Review

December 21, 2017 Adult Fiction, Book Review 3 ★★★★½

Operation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards | Book ReviewOperation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards
Series: Escape to the Country #4.5
Also in this series: Operation White Christmas
Published by Momentum on October 25, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 91
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4.5 Stars
Christmas is looking grim for Melissa Allen. She has no one to celebrate with, as her boyfriend of five years left her for her best friend and, after losing her home in a fire, she has nowhere to live. Left without a choice, she accepts the offer to the stay with family friends Rob and Linda Nicholls.

Chris Nicholls is excited about bringing his five-year-old daughter, Jasmine, home to Lakefield, Ontario for her first white Christmas. The trip is a surprise for his parents, though no one is more surprised than Chris when he finds his childhood best friend in his parent's spare room. Surprise soon turns to delight as Chris has always had feelings for Melissa, feelings that are only getting stronger the longer they are together.

But Melissa has had her fill of heartbreak, and isn't willing to fall for a man who is only going to leave. And Jasmine? She doesn't want to share her daddy with anyone. If Chris has any hope of convincing Melissa and Jasmine that they have a future together as a family, he'll need all the mistletoe magic he can get.

Nicki Edwards knows how to write sweet Christmas stories. I fell in love with Operation White Christmas two years ago and was very excited when I found out she had written another Christmas novella set in a quaint Canadian winter wonderland. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Even though Operation Mistletoe Magic is considerably shorter than Operation White Christmas, this little novella is packed with so much! It had enough substance that it didn’t feel fluffy and empty to me, but not so much that I felt like we needed a longer novel to fit it all in.

2. I really liked the characters, and the fact that they were so well fleshed out and filled with personality. Melissa has been dumped for her best friend, has lost her job, and her house has burned down, leaving her with nothing. Emotionally and physically, she has nothing. But she didn’t let it get her down. When she was invited to live with her childhood best friend’s family, she was touched and overwhelmed with gratitude. Not many people could make lemonade out of SO MANY lemons, but she found the sunshine through the storm. Chris is a single dad, and a really sweet dad at that. He’s heading home for Christmas with his little girl to give her a chance to see what a white Christmas is like, and also to figure out what he wants for his future.

3. I loved seeing Melissa and Chris become reacquainted and sift through their shared memories as they explored how their feelings for another had evolved over the years. Friends to lovers and second chance romances are some of my favorite kinds of stories, and this book combines both!

4. The romance was so sweet and completely clean (just like Operation White Christmas). It’s like a Hallmark Christmas movie in book form.

5. The story is so Christmassy! It’s wintry and festive and filled with all the glow and shine I crave from Christmas romances.

All in all, I loved Operation Mistletoe Magic. It’s a sweet, quick, feel-good story that can be read in an evening, but will give you a big enough dose of Christmas cheer to carry you through the entire holiday season.

 

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Harker’s Favorite Bookish Christmases | Blogger Guest Post

December 20, 2017 Guest Post 5

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

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I’m so happy to welcome Harker, book blogger at The Hermit Librarian, to the blog today to talk about some of her favorite bookish Christmases! I really, really love reading Christmas scenes in books and I couldn’t agree more with some of the magical Christmases she has chosen to feature today.

Harker’s Favorite Bookish Christmases

Christmas is a magical time of the year when you focus on the lights and the good food and adamantly force yourself to ignore the rampant consumerism of the real world. I work retail, this is hard, trust me. So what to do in the face of that? Think about what bookish worlds I’d like to spend the holidays in. When everything is crashing down around them, whether it be an evil witch or something more real world like, the characters in a book seem to be able to enjoy a little bit of time with each other, whether it be a whole day or an hour or two.

I’m going to share with you my picks for the worlds I’d spend my Christmas holidays in, whether they take place just on the other side of a brick wall in London or through a wardrobe in the countryside estate of an old professor. Thank you for joining me today, and a happy Christmas to you.

Narnia, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

 

This might sound like an odd choice, given that for half the novel Christmas doesn’t exist because the White Witch has forbidden it, but with the arrival of the Pevensie children her curse begins to break and life begins to return to Narnia. With it, the figure known as Father Christmas is able to travel to this land again and even brings them presents that aide them in the rest of their adventures this time around. There are many trials while in Narnia, but there are also good times, such as tea with the Beavers and being welcomed at Aslan’s camp. Christmas in Narnia, with eternal winter banished, is sure to be a wonderful thing indeed.

Hogwarts/The Burrow, The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

 

Harry’s first Christmas in the series is my favorite because I think it has the most impact on him. While arguably his 11th birthday, on which he learned that he was a wizard, is more monumental overall, his first Christmas at Hogwarts was a holiday he had the ability to share with friends. By that point, he had friends to share the wonder of the place with: the decorated trees, the enchanted crackers, the feast. Later on in the series he is welcomed to the Burrow for the holiday and, while this is usually overshadowed by something dark happening at school, there is still the overwhelming happiness made by friends that have become something like family.

I would love to be in the midst of all that magic and mystical wonder. I think it would take a very long time, if ever, before it wore off. The crackers alone sound like a lot of fun. Imagine all the little things that would pop out: enchanted hats, toys that play back, etc. The mice would make great pets because I’d rescue them. At the Burrow, Mrs. Weasley would no doubt have a ton of family traditions that she’d include any guests in. Any guests are family, from what I’ve seen, and that’s touching.

The Enchanted Forest, Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

 

Cimorene, the protagonist of most of the Enchanted Forest books, was the first princess I can remember reading who was not the usual sort of princess. She wasn’t satisfied with being taught to sew or to curtsy or how to scream while being carried off by giants. She wanted to fence and speak Latin and learn magic. What she eventually did was leave her father’s castle and become a dragon’s princess, willingly, and thus found her own story in the Enchanted Forest.

The cast of characters she meets, most important of which is Kazul the dragon, would be so much fun to spend Christmas with. Not only does Kazul have a magic pot that can cook amazing food for large groups and a cavern of caves to explore, but the friends that Cimorene makes include a witch and another princess who learns to come out of her shell.

Explaining the customs of a human holiday might be a bit odd with a host of dragons as guests, but I think it would be a lot of fun trying to play Christmas games with them and the feast would certainly be something to behold. Imagine, if only they would be kind enough, the snowy flight over the Enchanted Forest. Cold but breathtaking, I’d wager, if your dragon is a kind one.

The Carnegie Library, In the House of the Seven Librarians by Ellen Klages

 

A short story in Firebirds Rising, In the House of the Seven Librarians tells the story of seven librarians at the Carnegie Library, an old-fashioned library at the edge of a forest that is abandoned when a newer one is built closer to the town’s mall and main road. Rather than leave their books, the seven librarians stock up on supplies and stay. Soon they are forgotten by the town and make their lives within the walls of the library, which takes care of them in turn by leaving little treats and, I assume, keeping their food stocked up. It has its own sort of magic, it seems.

One day, as payment for an extremely overdue book of Grimms fairy tales, someone leaves a basket in the drop box containing a first born child. This child’s upbringing shows the reader more about the power of the library and about the librarians from the day she is left to the day she grows up and decides to see what the world outside is like, knowing that her librarians will always be there for her.

I think this would be a splendid place to spend the holidays. While time is fluid within the library (the child’s birthday, which is decided to be July 5th and is celebrated in the middle of a snowstorm) and holidays might not be celebrated on quite the right day, they would be cozy and warms. Tea would always be at the ready and there’s a good chance the library would leave a tin of biscuits for the guests to enjoy between friendly debates about the various subjects on the shelves and games of literary inspiration.

*pictures chosen by Jana

What are some of your favorite bookish Christmases?

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Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings – 2017 Edition

December 19, 2017 Top Ten Tuesday 38

TTT

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

I can’t believe Christmas is next Monday! This holiday season always flies a little too quickly for me, but I’m also excited because I know Santa is going to bring me all the bright, shiny books! Consider this my letter to Santa. I hope to find all of these in my stocking this year. :)

 

1. Every Breath You Take by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
I’ve always been an MHC fan, and I really like this Under Suspicion series she wrote with Alafair.

2. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
I LOVE this book, and I really want a physical copy for my bookshelf.

3. I Temporarily Do by Ellie Cahill
I love fauxmances, and this one sounds so fun!

4. Mary Poppins 80th Anniversary Collection by P.L. Travers
I’ve always wanted to read the Mary Poppins books, and this collection is so pretty!

5. The Ends of the World by Maggie Hall
I haven’t read book #2 yet, but I loved The Conspiracy of Us and am excited to see how this series ends!

6. Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
I asked Twitter for a bunch of mystery recommendations a few months ago, and this one is loved by so many that I really want to read it!

7. Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson (pre-order)
IT’S MARY PEARSON.

8. A Dance of Silver and Shadow by Melanie Cellier
It’s a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses! The entire series sounds great. The second book is a Beauty and the Beast retelling that I really want as well.

9. About That Kiss by Jill Shalvis
The Heartbreaker Bay series is tons of fun!

10. In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle
Katie Ruggle is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors, and I love this Search and Rescue series!

What books do you hope Santa brings you this year?

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Presents Jodi Meadows Would Give Her Before She Ignites Characters | Author Guest Post

December 18, 2017 Guest Post 4

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

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I’d like to welcome Jodi Meadows, author of the Newsoul trilogy, the Orphan Queen duology, and the Fallen Isles trilogy, to the blog today to tell us what she would give the characters in her most recent book, Before She Ignites. I read and reviewed Before She Ignites [read my review here] in September and really loved it, so I’m excited to see what Jodi would give these beloved characters!

Jodi’s Presents for Her BSI Characters

While the people of the Fallen Isles don’t celebrate Christmas, they do have another holiday at the end of every year: the Hallowed Restoration. Those are the five (sometimes six) days at the end of the year where families gather together to reflect on the previous year, look forward to the new, and argue while they eat too much food. There are often parties involved, and occasionally there’s gift giving.

If I lived in the Fallen Isles and could give presents to my characters in Before She Ignites, here’s what I would offer them:

Mira
Mira is not a girl lacking in Stuff, so I wouldn’t give her something else to clutter her bedroom. Instead, I’d want to offer her a hug and some self-confidence. Maybe I’d write a letter detailing all the ways I think she’s a fabulous human and deserves love.

Ilina
Ilina is a practical person, so what she really wants is something useful, and probably something related to dragons. I’d like to give her an entire library of dragon-related texts to help her be the best dragon trainer in the Fallen Isles.

Hristo
Probably some kind of weapon, like a nice dagger or sword, but forged in his homeland. He takes sentimental value very seriously, so the more thought put into a gift, the more it matters to him.

LaLa and Crystal
Since these tiny dragons are so adorable, they probably deserve cute bows and sparkly hunting gear.

Aaru
If you’ve read the book, then you know Aaru really likes his peace and quiet. In that way, he’s definitely a boy after my own heart. So I’d give him noise-canceling headphones. The fancy kind that really do cancel the noise, not just the ones that pretend like they do.

Gerel
We have to be honest about Gerel. Whatever I get her, she’ll just return it for cash. So I’d probably just give her cash or a gift card. That’s really all she wants anyway.

Chenda
Chenda is fancier than I will ever be, and so I can’t even guess as to what she would want. If I thought I could afford it, I’d take her to some kind of high-end shop and let her pick out her own present.

Tirta
Somehow, Tirta got a job cooking. Tirta is a terrible cook, it turns out. As a gift, I’d probably try to arrange for some kind of cooking class and a few basic cookbooks.

Altan
Altan isn’t a nice person. Even without Santa in the Fallen Isles, I’d still give that meanie a lump of coal.

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 12, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
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Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

About Jodi Meadows

Jodi Meadows wants to be a ferret when she grows up and she has no self-control when it comes to yarn, ink, or outer space. Still, she manages to write books. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy, the ORPHAN QUEEN Duology, and the FALLEN ISLES Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen), and a coauthor of MY LADY JANE (HarperTeen). Visit her at Website: www.jodimeadows.com

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Alyssa’s Christmas Traditions | Book Blogger Guest Post

December 17, 2017 Guest Post 3

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

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Today I’m welcoming my friend Alyssa, book blogger at Books Take You Places and host of the On the Same Page Secret Sister Project! She’s here (on her birthday, by the way!!) to tell us about her Christmas traditions. I love traditions and any excuse to form a new one.

Hi all!

I am so happy to be on Jana’s blog today to help her celebrate A Bookish Little Christmas! Today I will be talking about some of my Christmas traditions growing up and the kinds of things I like to do to celebrate nowadays.

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Growing up, Christmas was always my favorite time of year. Yes, this was in large part because I was a spoiled brat and got ALL THE PRESENTS, but that wasn’t the only reason why I loved the holiday so much. My earliest memories of Christmas were when my grandmother had a tiny third floor apartment in a town nearby. She had this tiny living room and would put up a tiny tree on top of a table in between two of the most comfortable chairs ever. She decorated the tree with tinsel and those ornaments that look like apples and she only ever used colored Christmas lights. The best part was that every year we would make new ornaments out of walnuts and glitter and my grandmother would act as if they were just the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. My grandmother collected Santas and they were alllll over the living room. Everywhere you looked, there was a Santa. I still covet this collection and ask her every Christmas if she is ready to bestow her giant collection to me – no luck thus far! Now, my favorite “Santa” will come as no surprise to those who know me. My uncle bought my grandmother a statue of Black Peter one year and I fell in love. He had these switches in his sack that I would take out and hold while watching different Christmas movies. I LOVED this guy, and every year I peruse Ebay and debate buying him for myself (Justin, do you see this, honey?)

black peter

So anyway, why did I love Black Peter so much? This weird tradition came from my great grandmother from Germany and my mother and her rather macabre likes. I grew up learning about Belsnickel. An easy explanation is that Belsnickel is akin to Saint Nicholas. He brings treats to good children but instead of coal, he brings switches to beat the naughty children. His companion is Krampus, who is often the one who does the beating. These stories turned into a new tradition in my family where we began to celebrate Krampusnacht. On the evening of December 5 we would leave out our shoes for when Belsnickel and Krampus visited. In the morning, if it was filled with treats then we knew Santa was coming to bring us gifts. If I had been particularly bratty around that time, I would get some rocks thrown in there to remind me to be on my best behavior, or Krampus was going to come and give me the switch. Interesting family I grew up with, eh? So ANYWAY Black Peter is another companion to Saint Nicholas, and for some reason I found these complex beings a lot more interesting than the traditional Santa Claus.

That being said, have you read Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom? I HIGHLY recommend it if you enjoy dark fantasy and authors such as Neil Gaiman. For readers looking for a dark and harrowing story on the origins of Santa Claus, differences between Christmas and Yuletide, or a vivid novel steeped in Norse mythology, this novel is highly recommended.

krampus

 

So what am I doing this year? Let me tell ya! I am going to be making Christmas cookies with my mom (head over to Sarah’s blog to see some yummy and easy recipes for some of those) and sitting by my tree A LOT. As of writing this, it is less than one week until I go and pick out my Christmas tree for a day of decorating! I already have it in my calendar as “CHRISTMAS TREE DAY” because I am SO EXCITED. I always watch those old school Christmas movies like The Year Without a Santa Claus and The Muppet Christmas Carol while decorating and have the best time ever. I will then spend the next few (yep, FEW) months bundled up on my couch next to my tree. It is my very favorite thing to do. Finally, around Valentine’s Day I will make myself take down my tree because by that time it will probably be droopy and sad looking.

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What will I be reading? I am weird because I always choose my last book of the year months in advance. I have ELEVEN books to go on my Goodreads goal (LOL why does this always happen?!) but I have a few end of year reads in mind…

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The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle – I have owned this book for YEARS and have yet to read it. This is just one of those classics that somehow slipped by me as I was growing up and I cannot wait to read it.

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Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus by Kate Wolford – This book was gifted to me by my secret sister and I cannot wait to delve in this holiday season! Short, horror, Krampus-filled stories? Yes, please.

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The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories by Tara Moore – This one I have been coveting for a while now and no libraries have it so if I don’t receive it from Santa (or Belsnickel) I might have to just treat myself. I mean…hello…CHRISTMAS GHOST STORIES!

…and finally…my last read of the year…

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition – I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS ONE! I have refrained from buying it just so I could hold off and have it be my last read of the year. I am SO excited to fall into this world and ring in the new year with my favorite characters.

What will you be reading this holiday season? Sending you all of the best wishes! XO

 

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Dear Santa from Robyn Lane of The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr | Author Guest Post

December 16, 2017 Guest Post 5

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

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I’m excited to welcome Meredith Schorr, author of The Boyfriend Swap (and a bunch of other novels), to the blog today to share with us the letter that her main character, Robyn Lane, has written to Santa this year! I recently read and enjoyed The Boyfriend Swap, and Robyn is a very sweet and quirky character that I had so much fun getting to know. She knows her boyfriend, Perry, will not fit in at her family’s holiday party this year so she swaps boyfriends with someone else and you can imagine how things go!

Dear Santa from Robyn Lane

Dear Santa,

Merry almost Christmas.

Since it’s in your job description to keep tabs on when I’ve been naughty or nice, I bet you also know when I’m being a lazy music teacher. With winter recess beginning tomorrow, the art teacher and I combined our classes so we could each do half the work. First, I led the kids in singing holiday songs. Now, Ms. Cassidy is helping them write letters to you, and I joined in on the fun. I know I’m supposed to include a list of presents I want for Christmas, but all I truly want is a peaceful and joyous Chrismukkah celebration with my family. (I hope you’re not offended that I’m half Jewish. You’ve always struck me as an equal-opportunity gift giver.)

Oh, Santa, I dread bringing Perry home with me for the holidays. If I have to sit through another family dinner—make that three—listening to my family subtly patronize my showbiz boyfriend because he doesn’t have a pension plan or reliable health insurance, I’ll lose it. Sure, he gets overly excited when it’s his turn at the mic and purposely chooses lengthy songs to maintain the spotlight longer, but it’s only because he’s passionate. He hasn’t had his big break yet, but it doesn’t mean he won’t. He’s so talented—a triple threat like his idol, Matthew Morrison. He just needs a little luck and maybe an agent. Why can’t my parents, ex-performers themselves, cut him some slack rather than try to set me up with every single suit-and-tie guy within a mile radius?

Speaking of corporate types, can you please wipe all memories of my childhood crush on Will Brady from my brain? I’ve barely thought about him in nine years and suddenly, with one double date to discuss this stupid boyfriend swap, it’s all come back. I can hardly close my eyes without seeing his sparkling hazel eyes staring back at me. And the way his smile lights up his entire adorable face. Thank God he didn’t agree to the swap. But why didn’t he agree to the swap? Was I that much of a loser in high school? I was one of the weird kids, who actually danced at the school dances instead of drinking the spiked punch and making out in dark classrooms, but I’m not ashamed of who I was then or who I am now.

This, Santa, is why I date creative types. They actually favor me over sophisticated business women like Sidney Bellows. I mean no offense to Sidney. I’m not at all surprised by Will’s attraction to her. She’s sharp and sassy, and her red hair makes her really stand out in a crowd. She’s perfect for Will and they’re both lawyers. Perry’s much more my type and he makes me happy. My parents will just have to deal with it.

I digress. This is supposed to be a letter to Santa, not a diary entry. Sorry ☹

Oh, the kids are getting ready for dismissal. I’d better end this.

In closing, all I want for Christmas is a stress-free celebration.

Thank you! Merry Chrismukkah, Santa!

Love,
Robyn

The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr
Published by Henery Press on November 7, 2017
Genres: Christmas, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 288
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Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure.

Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flakey actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.

About Meredith Schorr

A born and bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related e-mails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing romantic comedy, women’s fiction, and contemporary young adult fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hard-working trademark paralegal and her still single (but looking) status. Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan, an avid runner, and an unashamed television addict. To learn more, visit her at www.meredithschorr.com.

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

December 15, 2017 Guest Post 5

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
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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 13 ★★★★★

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
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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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