Category: Bookish Little Christmas

11th Annual Broke & Bookish Secret Santa & Christmas Card Exchange

Posted October 23, 2020 by Jana in Blog Event, Bookish Little Christmas / 7 Comments

I am SO EXCITED to kick-off one of my favorite holiday traditions! As many of you know, Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) and I used to host this event together, but I hosted it by myself in 2019 to give Jamie some time to breathe. She has since decided to step away permanently, so That Artsy Reader Girl is now the official and forever home of Broke & Bookish Secret Santa.

I have made some minor changes and additions to the event this year, so please read this entire post carefully even if you’re a #TBTBSanta veteran.

Starting this year, I’ve decided to add a Christmas cards only exchange to #TBTBSanta! I’m super excited about this, and think it’s going to allow so many more people the opportunity to receive happy mail this season. 

CHRISTMAS CARD EXCHANGE INFO:

This exchange is open internationally and you must be 18 years old or older. You can sign up to send 1, 5, or 10 cards and will receive the same in return. Please note that this will not be divided up by countries, so you might be sending internationally. You are more than welcome to sign up for this exchange in addition to a Secret Santa package.

SIGN-UPS CLOSE AT 11:59 PM MST ON NOVEMBER 5TH!
I will be emailing you your list of card recipients by November 10th.

If you want to sign up for the Christmas card exchange, please do so through the following links:

1 card
5 cards
10 cards

THINGS YOU NEED TO DO:

1. Mail your cards by December 4th (ASAP if you’re sending internationally). The USPS typically takes 3-7 days to deliver snail mail within the USA, and we all know they’re struggling more than usual this year.

2. Once you have sent out all your cards, please fill out this form.

3. Include some way for your card recipients to find/contact you online! If you only include your mailing address and name, they won’t be able to figure out who you are unless they write back… and since that is not a requirement of this event you might miss out on a new friend. A Twitter handle or email address would be perfect.

4. Include the hashtag #TBTBSanta somewhere on the envelope or in the card so your recipient knows you’re from this event.


SECRET SANTA INFO:

1. For safety purposes, you must be 18 or over to participate.

2. Please only sign up if you are committed to sending off a package on time. Really think about whether or not you’ll have the time and the money to send a thoughtful gift to your recipient–one you’d be happy to receive yourself. I really don’t want to hunt you down for not sending your package, or for sending one that does not meet the guidelines for the event. I keep track of those who do not follow the rules, and those people will not be allowed to participate in the future.

3. Be as thorough as possible in your questionnaire (no amount of info is too much). Please utilize the event hashtag on Twitter (#TBTBSanta) to ask questions, or reach out to the contact your recipient provides if you need help or clarification on what to send.

4. NEW THIS YEAR. Instead of sending me an email when you’ve sent and received your packages, you will be filling out Google forms that are linked below in the “things to do” section and will be included in the email I send out with your recipient’s information. This allows for much better organization on my part and faster answers for those who email me with questions or issues.

5. A note to people outside of the USA : Please understand that I can’t guarantee that you will be assigned someone who lives in your country. I try to work it out geographically, but it all depends on who signs up and which level of package they sign up to send.

Countries are divided up into mailing groups to help with shipping costs. If you live in one of the locations listed below, you will be placed in that mailing group and could be sending to any of the countries listed in that group. If you sign up for a package type that nobody else close to you has signed up for, you might be placed in a different mailing group. If you are unsure as to whether or not you can afford the shipping, please do a little research before you sign up. I will continually update this post with a list of countries where participants are from (and which mailing groups they are in) so you can see where you might potentially be sending your package.

Mailing Groups:

– Canada
– Europe Mailing Group 1: UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) and Ireland
– Europe Mailing Group 2: Mainland Europe (The Netherlands, France, Denmark, Germany)

6. I’m capping this event at 400 participants this year.

7. I can’t ensure that you will not be assigned to someone you’ve been assigned to before, or who you’ve been paired with in other swaps/gift-giving events. It’s too hard for me to juggle that while also trying to pair you with someone you have something in common with.

8. Please note that this is NOT a swap. You will not be sending to the same person who is sending to you.

SIGN-UPS CLOSE AT 11:59 PM MST ON NOVEMBER 5TH!

(Although, let’s be honest. I’m not going to be pairing while I’m sleeping so if you sneak in on the morning of 11/6, I won’t mind. I will announce on Twitter when I begin pairings, and that will be the official close of sign-ups.)

HOW TO SIGN UP:

To sign up, send an email to TBTBSecretSanta (at) gmail (dot) com answering the following questions. (NOTE: Please do not attach a document to your email. Just copy and paste your answers directly into the body of the email.)

  1. Full Name & Mailing Address (Exactly as it should appear on the mailing label)
  2. Please choose what level of package you will be sending to your recipient (I will be grouping people accordingly, so you will be expected to send out what you choose here. Please note that ARCs have no monetary value and will, therefore, not count towards the book quantities listed here. Think of them as a fun bonus if you choose to include them.):
    a) 1 book and a small gift/goodie
    b) 1-2 books and a couple small gifts/goodies
    c) 2+ books and multiple small gifts/goodies
  3. Blog URL/Twitter username/Youtube channel/Instagram username: (Include any social media or online presences to help your Santa get to know you. You MUST be active on at least one platform, and preferably be on Twitter.)
  4. List of 10-15 books you’d like to read, or a link to a wishlist: (Please include old and new releases and please do not ask for books that have not been released yet. Make sure your Goodreads profile or Amazon wishlist is public at least for the time this event runs. Double check that your links work while logged out of your account. Please keep your wishlists separate if you participate in other swaps/secret people events.)
  5. Genres you read the most: (Specify YA, adult, etc. as well.)
  6. List of your bookish preferences: (a few favorite authors, things you will not read, if you prefer hardback or paperback, if you don’t care about book format at all, if you are okay receiving something not on your wishlist that your Santa thinks you would like, etc.)
  7. Food and other allergies:
  8. All the things about yourself: (Please tell your Secret Santa about yourself. The more they know about you, the better job they can do picking out your additional small gifts/goodies. For example: general info about yourself (job, age, school/major, family, pets, etc.), if you celebrate Christmas or not, your hobbies, your passions, music you love, smells or flavors you like/do not like, TV shows you watch, favorite movies, things you collect, fandoms you’re a part of, if you would love something native to where your Secret Santa lives, coffee/tea you like, candy/snacks you like, favorite colors, shoe/sock size, favorite patterns, your style/aesthetic, favorite animals, things you are obsessed with, etc. Also, if you have an e-reader and would be happy to receive ebooks or a gift card, mention that and include any email addresses associated with those accounts. The more info in this section, the better. I literally rejoice when I see a lot of words here.)
  9. Would you be able to send internationally if needed? (This question mainly applies to people in the USA, since I can’t guarantee that you will not be sending internationally if you live outside the USA.)
    Please answer with:
    A. Yes, I can.
    B. No, I cannot.
    C. Would prefer not to but will if needed (be careful with this one, as you could be shipping ANYWHERE)
    NA. I do not live in the USA, and understand that I might be sending internationally.
  10. Are you 18 years old or older?
    a) Yes
    b) No
  11. Have you participated in Broke & Bookish Secret Santa before, or is this your first time? Did you participate in Christmas In July?:
  12. Please provide the contact information (name and Twitter handle/email address) of someone your Secret Santa can contact with questions about you: (This person does not have to know you well. They just have to be able to contact you with questions so I don’t have to relay information back and forth between you and your Santa. Please ask this person before you put their twitter handle or email address here so they are not confused. Please also ask this person to open their DMs on Twitter if you choose to include their Twitter handle as a way to contact them. If you have no idea who to ask to be your contact, post to the event hashtag and ask for volunteers. You’ll find one quickly and make a new friend at the same time!)
  13. Any questions, comments or additional things your Secret Santa (or I) should know.

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THINGS YOU NEED TO DO:

1. Mail your package no later than December 10th (perhaps earlier if you are sending internationally). The earlier the better. For some people, what you’re sending might be the only thing they receive for Christmas, so please ensure their gift(s) arrives to them before December 25th. IF SOMETHING COMES UP PLEASE EMAIL ME. Communication is super important.

2. **NEW THIS YEAR** Once you’ve sent your box, please fill out this form.

3. **NEW THIS YEAR** Once you’ve received your box, please fill out this form.

4. Be sure to thank your Secret Santa when you receive your package. You can do this via social media or reach out to me for their email address. I know this should go without saying, but we’ve had some ungrateful people in the past who never reached out to their Santa to thank them or even acknowledged that they received their gift. That’s completely unacceptable, not to mention rude.

Another note on thank you’s… Please thank your Santa even if you do not plan to open your gift until Christmas Day (or any day other than the day you received it). Yes, you can’t personally thank them yet since you don’t know who they are, but please at least say you received it publicly on social media. Your Santa is likely stalking you, eager to know that their gift is safely in your hands and has not been stolen or lost. You can thank them again after once you’ve opened your gift and discovered their identity.

5. If you have not received your package by January 4th please email me and I will attempt to contact your Secret Santa. Please understand that I will try my very best to work it out, but there is only so much I can do if someone decided to be a punk.

6. Please utilize the event hashtag #TBTBSanta to ask questions, post hints, thank your Santa, and share in your shopping/gifting/receiving/sending process! Show us what you got! It’s also really helpful to search your person’s handle with the hashtag and see all the questions they’ve answered and the gifts they received in previous years. 

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GIFT GUIDELINES & SUGGESTIONS:

1. Books can be new or used. Use your discretion as far as used books go, but please be kind and don’t send something you wouldn’t want to receive. They should be in very good condition. ARCs have no monetary value and should, therefore, only be included in addition to the number of books you committed to send.

2. When I say “goodies or small gifts”, I don’t mean free swag or promotional items. If you want to add that stuff in after you’ve put in some thoughtful goodies because you think your person would really love those swag/promotional items, wonderful! Please just make sure that those additional goodies are not JUST things anyone could have picked up at a book event or received from publishers in the mail.

3. Due to everything going on in the world right now, please do not send homemade food items. Pre-packaged, store-bought foods are fine (and encouraged!).

4. Be thoughtful. 99% of the time the gifts are really sweet and thoughtful and what you would expect, but occasionally someone just throws random crap in a box and ships it off to fulfill their end. I’ve seen people receive expired face masks, for crying out loud. Don’t be like that. Gifts should be thoughtfully chosen based on your recipient’s questionnaire and wrapped nicely. There should be some sort of note included.

5. Please do not ship directly from Amazon or elsewhere (unless you talk to me first).

6. If you aren’t sure what kinds of things to add for the additional small gifts, peruse the #TBTBsanta thread on Twitter or Instagram to see pictures of packages from previous years. There are lots of good ideas!

Please ask any questions in the comments!!

TBTBSanta logo created with the help of Freepik


8th Annual A Bookish Little Christmas with That Artsy Reader Girl

Posted December 1, 2019 by Jana in Blog Event, Bookish Little Christmas / 0 Comments

Welcome to the 8th annual A Bookish Little Christmas! This is my favorite blog event ever, and even though I’ve struggled a bit with consistent blogging and reviewing this year (hello, blogging slump, please leave) I’m extremely excited to be putting on this event once again! The next few weeks will be filled with Christmassy guest posts, book reviews, and other fun things as we count down the days until Christmas (I’ll be updating the schedule as posts go live). Some of my very favorite bookish people will be stopping by with amazing festive content. I can’t wait to celebrate my favorite holiday with you!

Celebrate #ChristmasWithJanaInstagram ✦ Twitter

POST SCHEDULE

December 1

8th Annual A Bookish Little Christmas Schedule
2019 Romantic Christmas Book Releases

December 2

2019 Christmas Songs Book Tag

December 3

Top Ten Christmas Books I Hope to Read This Month

December 4

Christmas Jars Movie Review (+Giveaway)

December 5

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

December 6

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

December 7

Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book Review

December 8

The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book Review

December 9

Lauren’s Christmas Reading Round-up

December 10

Top Ten Cozy Christmas Book Titles

December 11

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

December 12

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

December 13

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book Review

December 15

Jennifer’s Bookish Etsy Gift List | Guest Post

December 17

Top Ten Books On My Winter 2019-2020 To-Read List


Seventh Annual Bookish Little Christmas With That Artsy Reader Girl

Posted December 1, 2018 by Jana in Blog Event, Bookish Little Christmas / 2 Comments

December came so quickly this year, but I’m not complaining! A Bookish Little Christmas is my absolute favorite blog event, and I’m really excited to be back for year #7! The next few weeks will be filled with Christmassy guest posts, book reviews, and other fun things as we count down the days until Christmas (I’ll be updating the schedule as posts go live). Some of my very favorite bookish people will be stopping by with amazing festive content. I can’t wait to celebrate my favorite holiday with you!

Celebrate #ChristmasWithJanaInstagram ✦ Twitter

Post Schedule

December 2: Why Christmas Isn’t Always Perfect by Linn B. Halton (aka Lucy Coleman) | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)
December 3: 2018 Christmas Book Releases
December 4: Top Ten Cozy, Wintry Reads
December 5: Ginger’s Favorite Holiday Romances | Blogger Guest Post
December 6: The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book Review
December 7: Five Unique Ways to Gift Wrap Books by Jenny Hale | Author Guest Post
December 8: Christmas Songs Book Tag 2018
December 9: The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book Review
December 10: My Favorite Fictional Scrooges | The 12 Days of Holly Chase Blog Tour (+Giveaway)
December 11: My Top Ten Favorite Christmas Movies
December 12: Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)
December 13: Christmas with My Favorite Book Characters | Blogger Guest Post
December 14: Christmas Books I Loved As a Child
December 15: A Kiss In the Snow by Susan Mallery | Book Review


Frost Christmas Prequel by Kate Avery Ellison

Posted December 16, 2016 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Guest Post / 0 Comments

Guys, this is such an exciting day for me!!! Kate Avery Ellison, one of my favorite authors (she wrote the The Frost Chronicles and The Secrets of Itlantis) is here with an exclusive Christmas story prequel to Frost! Look at how beautiful her writing is and how awesome this world is.

I hope this story makes you flock to purchase all her books because I just LOVE them! And… another super exciting bit of news… she told me she enjoyed writing this story so much that she might write an anthology of holiday shorts for this Christmas. Just take my money already!


The Darkest Day in the Frost
by Kate Avery Ellison

Cold wind swirled around me as I ran down the path that led through the Frost’s deep and silent woods with a week’s worth of quota yarn in the bundle slung over my back. My breath came in quick, burning gasps, and the stitch in my side ached. My feet found the path even though it was covered in new snow, leaving a lonely tread of footprints in the snow behind me, a trail of crumbs to follow home. But though I knew the way, my heart drummed hard beneath the clasp of my cloak.

It had stormed the night before, and Frost was wrapped in a cloudy mist of snow and ice. The whole world seemed to be holding its breath in the wet, muffled silence made by the fresh snow. The misty white seemed to make everything larger and more ominous. I could see no more than three feet before me, even with the milky sunlight that lit the world from above.

Around me, branches laden with ice appeared as if blinking into existence from the mist that enveloped them. Spots of blue glowed here and there where the Frost’s peculiar snow blossoms, flowers that grew and flowered despite the freezing cold, bloomed just beneath their fresh covering of snow. The trees stood sentinel, piles of ice coating their bases, making them look like hooded figures to my anxious eyes. Somewhere in the deepest reaches of the forest, the monstrous creatures we called Watchers were waiting. I imagined them rising from the fog at every turn, and my skin prickled with every crack of a branch and shower of snow from overladen trees.

Every day in the Frost was a struggle to survive, but today I felt particularly hopeless. My siblings and I were three orphans trying to run our farm and maintain our weekly required quota of yarn that we delivered to the village in exchange for food and supplies to keep us alive. Our little family—what was left of it—barely scraped by as it was. We had barely enough flour left in the kitchen for another day, because my young sister was growing like a sapling in spring and there was never enough to feed her. But I dared not let the village elders know, or they might take Ivy away to stay with another family. Now, the storm last night had knocked a tree onto the fence at the back of the barn.

We were lucky it hadn’t hit the barn itself, I supposed. Or the house. Still, I didn’t know how I was going to fix it.

Finally, I reached the hill above the village. The mist had burned away here, and I felt like a swimmer breaking the surface of an icy lake. I leaned against a tree to gather a lungful of air before I continued on. Hopeless or not, I would keep going. What else was there to do?

Crusty snow crunched beneath my feet as I entered Iceliss. Frost patterns clouded the windows of the shops, and snow piled high at the edges of the streets and along the ridges of the roofs. Voices and footsteps echoed weirdly. A strange energy hung in the air.

I scanned the crowds for any sign of my best friend, Ann, and her bright red hood that made her stand out from the rest of the pale-cloaked villagers like a robin amid swirling snowflakes.

What I saw instead made me stop in the street so suddenly that a miller with his load of flour collided with me. He muttered an apology, followed by a scant “Much light to ya, Weaver,” which I barely heard.

Garlands of snow blossoms were strung across every doorway and window. Quilted squares decorated with the flower were draped across the curtains along with streamers of blue, silver, and white ribbons. Bouquets of candles huddled in every window, ready to be lit as soon as the light faded. The streets were strung with lanterns, also ready to be lit as soon as the command was given. Every lantern was painted with pictures of snow blossoms and decorated with ribbons that dangled down into the streets. The villagers crossed beneath them, backs bowed beneath their loads, most impervious to the beauty that hung above them. A few children stopped and stared upward, their eyelashes and open mouths catching snowflakes that drifted from the cloudy sky.

Today was the Darkest Day, the shortest day of the entire year and the end of our calendar. Tonight, we would bundle ourselves in our houses with extra snow blossoms and as many candles and lanterns as we could light to ward off the dark, because with the dark came the monsters. The snow blossoms were strung and sprinkled everywhere, because for reasons unknown to us, they repelled the creatures that prowled our frozen forests at night. We would crowd around our fires with food and drink, tell stories into the wee hours of the morning, and exchange gifts at midnight. Hope was like a candle, and we would burn it in anticipation that the new year would be brighter than the last.

How could I have forgotten?

Truly, the date had fled my mind. My parents’ deaths six months ago had meant that all the work of the farm—all the responsibilities—fell upon me with the weight of too much snow upon a straggling pine.

I had no special foods to bring home, no gifts for my siblings. My sister especially loved the Darkest Day celebrations, and with our parents gone, she would be even more desperate to make the night as bright as possible.

I tried to think as I waited in the quota line with my yarn. I had a few extra skeins in my pocket that I’d brought to trade for turnips to feed the livestock. Could I spare them to buy a few sweets instead?

After I’d turned in my quota, I headed for the market. It was crowded with jostling villagers. Extra stalls were selling candles and lanterns. I pushed my way through the confusion to the baker’s stall, where Lori Baker was selling pies and small jars of fresh maple syrup to pour over snow. My heart twisted to see the jars, because my father had always bought each of us one as a treat. The memory flooded over me, threatening tears, but I didn’t cry. I couldn’t afford the luxury of tears, not anymore.

I locked gazes with Lori, who looked warm and well-fed. Beside her, I must look like a cold and feral cat. The winter had not been kind to what was left of my family.

She eyed me as if expecting me to grab one of the pies and run.

“Lia Weaver,” she acknowledged with a nod. “Much light to you.”

“Much light to you,” I said, and pulled the skeins from my pocket. “I need two jars of syrup.”

Lori shook her head. Her mouth curved with disdain. “Not for that.”

“This is two skeins of quality yarn!”

“My father told me to charge good prices,” she said. “Syrup is worth more than that paltry bit of thread.”

I forced back the angry retort that rose to my lips. “What can I buy with them, then?”

“We have no need of yarn,” she said. “My father wants meat and fish and beer, he told me. Furs, maybe, if it’s fox or rabbit. No yarn.”

Rabbit fur. I could check the traps I set in the Frost. Hope struggled in my chest. I pocketed the yarn and turned away without a word as the next person stepped forward to haggle.

I almost collided with Adam Brewer.
He caught me before I slammed into him, and his hands were warm against my arms. I wrenched away, my eyes wrenching away from his burning dark gaze. I was ashamed that he had witnessed my rejection at the hands of Lori Baker. Him, Adam Brewer, whom I did not trust.

“Much light to you,” I heard him say, but I was already hurrying away.
I needed to get back to the Frost while the light was still strong. If I found something in the traps, and skinned it…

“Lia!”

I turned, snapping out of my thoughts to see my best friend Ann rushing toward me. Her curly blonde hair blew into her eyes, and she brushed it away, smiling in a way she rarely did anymore. She caught my hand when she reached me, and she hugged me hard. She’d been holding on more tightly these days, as if she feared that each time we parted, it would be the last.

“I didn’t see you at the quota yard,” she said breathlessly. “I was looking everywhere.”

“I was at the market,” I said. “Looking for syrup for Ivy and Jonn.”

I didn’t tell her I’d forgotten the date, or that I hadn’t prepared. I didn’t tell her about Lori’s rudeness. Ann had enough of her own sorrows. I was just happy to see her smiling.

“Here,” she said, pressing the handle of a basket into my hand. “A present for Dark Day. No—don’t open it now.”

“Ann, I have nothing for you.” Again, I was dismayed at my failure.

“You have arms to embrace me,” she said, and so I hugged her fiercely. And somehow, that was enough.

~

I braved the fog of the forest, my pulse pounding and my ears straining for sounds of danger as I crept furtively through the milky white, feeling blind. Once, something crashed away from me noisily, and I froze in terror, but when all was quiet, I continued on and found deer tracks.

Not Watchers.

Nothing waited for me in the traps I’d set. One was broken, with small clawed feet leading away into the snow.

I turned a full circle in the snow, feeling empty as the traps had been. I could go back to the village and try to barter for something to give my siblings. Perhaps a few ribbons for Ivy, or a book for Jonn. But the sunlight was beginning to lessen. It was the shortest day of the year, after all. Not enough time to get to the village and back to the farm safely, not if I wanted to also feed the animals and do the rest of the chores.

With a sinking heart, I turned for home, forging through the misty white of the forest, brushing through the thorny branches of a bush.

I paused, and then knelt to brush away snow from the branches. The snow make a soft sound as it slid away from the bush, revealing a shock of bright red frostberries.

Ivy loved the bittersweet taste of them, I remembered, and I rarely had time to go looking for them. So I filled my pockets with as many as I could pick before my fingers began to go numb through my mittens, and then I turned for home, sweeping the forest with my gaze as I walked. This time, I wasn’t looking for signs of monsters, but for the treasures of the forest hidden beneath the snow.

I picked handfuls of snow blossoms and filled my empty quota bag with green branches from the forest pines. When I reached the farm, I could barely hold the weight of the bag and Ann’s basket. I dragged the things to the barn with me, fed the animals, and then approached the house. Darkness had already begun to tinge the sky blue. The air had taken on a bite that chilled me to my marrow. I paused at the door, below our wreath of dried snow blossoms, and knocked the snow from my boots before stepping inside.

“Jonn—”
I didn’t even have time to speak before my sister ambushed me. “You’re home,” she squealed. “Happy Dark Day, Lia!”

I set down the bag and Ann’s basket, aware of how misleading the pine branches must be. She probably thought I’d come loaded with presents. “Ivy,” I said. “I’m so sorry, but I didn’t remember—”

“Shhh.” She grabbed my hand. “Come to the fire. Your skin is like ice.”
She dragged me toward the chairs we kept close to the hearth and pushed me into the largest one. “Sit.”

“Where’s Jonn?” I asked, looking around the room. “Is he having an episode?”

Fear twisted me up at the thought. My twin brother had seizures in addition to lacking the ability to walk without assistance. He often had to lie down during the day with a cold washcloth over his eyes.

“Jonn,” Ivy called out, and then she jumped up and disappeared into my parents’ bedroom. When they reappeared, Jonn leaning heavily on Ivy’s shoulder, they were both smiling.

“Surprise!” Ivy shouted.
Jonn carried a bundle of cloth under one arm, and around his neck he’d draped strands of snow blossoms strung together with bits of yarn and ribbon. He sat down heavily in the chair beside mine and tossed the garlands into my lap.

“We made decorations,” Ivy announced, hovering at my side. “Just like Ma always did. Look, look. They’re a little sad-looking, because we didn’t have enough snow blossoms. But I think they are nice.”

My siblings’ garlands were sparse and clumsy compared to the ones my mother made, but they were absolutely beautiful to me. I touched a snow blossom petal with my fingertips as a mixture of emotions flooded me—sadness, followed by a sweet nostalgia.

“And this is for you,” Jonn added. He handed me the bundle. “We worked on it in secret this past month.”

“Open it!” Ivy said eagerly. Then, impatient, she leaned over me to do it herself. “It’s a new dress.”

“How in the world did you make this in a month?” I unfurled the dress, astonished and overwhelmed.

“Well, Ma was making it before…” Jonn didn’t finish that thought. “I found it in her things. Ivy and I finished it secretly.”

My eyes prickled, and my nose stung. I looked at them both, then the dress. I didn’t know what to say. Jonn, so strong despite his impairments. Ivy, the one I was always hounding to do her work.

“I love you both,” I whispered. “I’m so sorry I have brought nothing.”

Ivy leaped up and ran to where I’d left my things. She seemed infused with energy today. “You brought a basket. And a bag full of snow blossoms and pine branches. Look how big and beautiful these blossoms are! Were you in the deep Frost today?”

“I was checking the traps,” I admitted. “Hoping to find something to trade.”
Ivy picked up the basket from Ann. “What’s this?” she asked, and lifted the cover.

I stood and handed my new clothes and the garlands to Jonn. “Ann gave it to me.”

It was probably an embroidered pillow. Ann embroidered as her particular skill; everyone in Iceliss had a skill.

“It’s a feast,” Ivy said.

“What?”

I hurried to her side and looked over her shoulder into the basket. Nestled inside was a loaf of bread, two yams, a tiny pie, and a slab of cooked ham wrapped in parchment paper. A feast indeed. Ann must have smuggled this out of her father’s house. My heart swelled with gratitude for my dear friend.

“And I forgot—I brought frostberries,” I said. “I found them in the forest.”
Ivy hugged me tight.

“Let’s eat,” Jonn said. “And then we can decorate and tell riddles by the fire until the new year begins.”

~

Neither Ivy nor Jonn made it to midnight before falling asleep beside the fire, their stomachs full of Ann’s delicious food. We’d laughed and talked and told each other favorite memories of previous Dark Days, when Ma and Da were still with us. Ivy had cried a little too, which was not out of character for her. Jonn told us riddles. We’d eaten the berries with our fingers and licked the juice from the tips.

Now I sat alone, stoking the fire back to brilliance, listening for the sound of Watchers outside as I always did out of habit. The garlands hung over the windows, the fragrant pine branches adorned the mantel, and Ivy had sprinkled the rest of the snow blossoms around the front door in a heap of glistening blue. The air smelled like flowers and pine. The fire crackled, throwing bright light over the sleeping faces of my siblings.

All was quiet.

Then, something scraped against the side of the house.

I stiffened, straining to listen as my eyes flew to the window and the shutters that were bolted over the glass against the cold and the dark. The fire snapped and popped behind me, and the wind hummed a mournful note, and all else was silent. But I didn’t relax, I didn’t sit back. I waited, and held my breath, and terror drummed its cold fingers across my skin.

Was it a Watcher?

We were on the very edge of civilization. Our farm had its back to the cold, fathomless Frost. Sometimes we saw the massive tracks left by the monsters in the night, or heard their eerie screams.

I listened hard for anything—a growl, a hiss, a snarl—but the night outside was devoid of any sounds.

Finally, I slept.

~

Morning light woke me, streaming through the cracks in the shutters with blinding intensity. We’d slept late after our night of laughter and reminiscence. We’d all slept by the hearth on blankets, and I stretched my sore muscles as I sat up and brushed hair from my eyes. The garlands of snow blossoms were withered and strange in the light of day. The fire had died down to glowing coals.

It was a new year. The Darkest Day was behind us, and the monsters had not come.

I rose, washed myself with the icy water in my bedroom’s basin, and put on my new dress and old cloak. Chores still needed to be tended to, new year or not. I opened the door to step into the yard.

And stopped.

There, on the stoop amid the piles of snow blossoms, sat a pale blue lantern decorated with painted flowers and a festoon of ribbons. Next to it, nestled in the snow, were three jars.

I bent down and picked one up. I peered inside, and my heart stuttered a little at the sight of the frozen maple syrup inside.

There was no note, no name, but I had a suspicion of who had left the gifts. I didn’t know what to think of such a gesture, and so instead I turned and called to my brother and sister, waking them.

The chores could wait another half hour. The worries, the scraping to get by, the wondering about what the future held for us—all of it could wait for just a little while yet, because Jonn, Ivy, and I were going to make the traditional new year’s candy that we’d made every year with our Da—warm maple syrup poured over the fresh powdered snow.

When I stepped into the yard to find a snowbank suitable for the syrup candy, I spotted the fence that had been destroyed in the storm.

It was fixed.

We were not without friends, even though we didn’t always know who they might be. We could do this. We could struggle through together. Jonn, Ivy, and me.

And as I looked down at the jar of syrup in my hand, I felt hopeful.


Frost by Kate Avery Ellison
Self-published on March 28, 2012
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, compassion might get a person killed, and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After the monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides, she can’t afford to let her emotions lead her astray. But when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest, a young man from beyond the Frost named Gabe, Lia does the unthinkable. She saves his life. Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the “Farthers,” as ruthless and cruel. Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent-and handsome. And she might even be falling for him. But time is running out. The monsters in the forest are growing bold and restless. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Is compassion-and love-worth the risk? Finally, when a startling discovery challenges everything she thought was true about her life, Lia realizes exactly what she must do.


About Kate Avery Ellison

I’ve been making up stories since I was five years old, and now I’m thrilled to be able to do it as a full-time job. I have an obsession with dark fantasy, dystopian futures, and Pride and Prejudice-style love stories full of witty banter and sizzling, unspoken feelings. When I’m not writing, I’m creating digital art, reading funny blogs, or watching my favorite shows (which include TVD and BSG). I live with my geeky husband and our two bad cats in Atlanta, GA.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Amazon

 


The 5th Annual A Bookish Little Christmas with That Artsy Reader Girl

Posted December 1, 2016 by Jana in Blog Event, Bookish Little Christmas / 0 Comments

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, aka my favorite time of year! As I’m sure you’ve come to expect from me, today begins my 5th annual A Bookish Little Christmas event! I’ve got my Santa hat on, ready to present a festive and joyous event as we count down the days until Christmas.

The next few weeks will be filled with holiday book reviews, recipes, music, and personal posts from yours truly, plus I’ve rallied together a bunch of bookish friends who will be guest posting about a number of different holiday topics. You can look forward to posts on different winter holidays, holiday customs outside the USA, gift recommendations, and more. I’ve also invited some of your favorite authors to share all-new, holiday bonus scenes/content that compliment their books. They wrote this material just for my blog event, and I’m so thankful for that! Some authors chose to write about other holiday topics, both bookish and not.

Basically, this is going to be an amazing month! So grab a cup of cocoa, your favorite cozy blanket, and snuggle up for a warm winter’s night!

The more the merrier! If you would like to join in the festivities and guest post during the month of December, email me using the button on my sidebar and I’ll add you to the line-up! Celebrating Christmas is not required. You can write about any winter holiday, and on pretty much any holiday topic!

SnowflakeDivider


The 4th Annual Bookish Little Christmas with That Artsy Reader Girl

Posted December 1, 2015 by Jana in Blog Event, Bookish Little Christmas / 3 Comments

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, which also means it’s my favorite time of year! As I’m sure you’ve come to expect from me, today begins my annual A Bookish Little Christmas event! That Artsy Reader Girl has donned her Santa hat, and is ready to present a festive and joyous event as we count down the days to Christmas. The next few weeks will be filled with holiday book reviews, recipes, music, and personal posts from yours truly. I’ve also rallied some bookish friends and authors together to bring you their movie and TV special recommendations, outfit recommendations for all your holiday events, traditions, and more! So grab a cup of cocoa, your favorite cozy blanket, and snuggle up for a warm winter’s night!

The more the merrier! If you would like to join in the festivities, email me using the button on my sidebar and I’ll add you to the line-up! Celebrating Christmas is not required. You can write about any winter holiday, and on pretty much any topic!


Perry Como’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Posted December 24, 2014 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas / 2 Comments

I think Perry Como was a pretty charming guy, don’t you? I love his voice, both singing and speaking. So what better way to gear ourselves up for the excitement of Christmas tomorrow, than to listen to him read the classic Christmas tale, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas? I could not resist sharing this magical video, where Perry’s voice is accompanied by cute images from an old version of the book. Curl up in the warm light of your Christmas tree, grab some hot chocolate, and enjoy! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow with your loved ones, wherever you are. :) Sleep well!


The 3rd Annual Bookish Little Christmas with That Artsy Reader Girl!

Posted December 2, 2014 by Jana in Blog Event, Bookish Little Christmas / 14 Comments

December has arrived, and That Artsy Reader Girl has donned her Santa hat in celebration of the most wonderful time of the year! I’m SO excited that it’s officially Christmas time! You know how much I love this time of year. We put up our Christmas tree this past weekend, and I’m going to start baking cookies as soon as I finish up these last few things for the semester’s end. I’m up to my eyeballs in fun Christmas reads, and I just bought a bunch of new movies! I’m going to have SO much fun, and I hope you’ll sit and stay a while!

Throughout the entire month of December, I will be sharing Christmas book reviews, giveaways, features, and guest posts from authors and my friends! Grab yourself some hot cocoa, and get ready for a fun and festive month here on the blog!

Would you like to participate? I’ve always got room for more friends! Just let me know, and I will fit you into the schedule. :) And be sure to send me links of any Christmas posts you come across (or write yourself). I’d be happy to help spread the word, or just come and bring some Christmas cheer. And I hope YOU will stop by lots this month, mainly because I love your face, but also because it’s going to be so much fun and I’d hate for you to miss out!


Books for Christmas!?!

Posted December 21, 2013 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas / 17 Comments

I watched this probably three times, because it is hilarious! I was not always a book lover, so I understand how this kid feels. Books, after all, are not toys.

Unlike him, I hope I get LOTS of books for Christmas! Which ones are you hoping for?


Merry Christmas Books to All! | A Christmas Book Guide for All Ages

Posted December 11, 2013 by Jana in Book Spotlight, Bookish Little Christmas / 5 Comments

I think it has become rather apparent that I LOVE Christmas books! In my opinion, nobody should go through the Christmas season without reading a Christmas book. It just should not ever happen! So, I have put together a list of some book recommendations for people of all ages. There’s something here for everyone!

littles

kidsbooks

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber by Tom Brokaw
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell
The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat by Brigid Clark and Chris Noel

middles

midgrades
Kat McGee and the School of Christmas Spirit
by Rebecca Munsterer
Christmas in Camelot (Magic Tree House No. 29) by Mary Pope Osborne
The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

yas

yabooks
Let It Snow
by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Decked with Holly by Marni Bates
The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer

nas

nabooks
Snowed Over
by Angie Stanton
Cross Country Christmas by Tiffany King
Christmas Catch by Chelsea M. Cameron

adults

adultsbookd
Starry Night
by Debbie Macomber
Marian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly
Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

So, there you have it! I have reviews up on the blog for most of these books, so if you want more information feel free to browse my review indexes. Do you have any other recommendations? Good Christmas books can be hard to come by, but I can never read too many!