Category: Guest Post

Letters from Deborah Rose of You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle | Author Guest Post

Posted December 28, 2020 by Jana in Guest Post / 2 Comments

I’m so excited to have Sarah Hogle, author of You Deserve Each Other, on the blog today to share with us letter from the bookish world’s worst mother-in-law ever. YDEO was one of my favorite books of 2020, and I’m so excited to read what Sarah writes next (it’s called Twice Shy, btw)!


Letters from Deborah Rose

Hello, readers! I’m Sarah Hogle, and my debut novel is YOU DESERVE EACH OTHER, which published on April 7, 2020. For those unfamiliar with the book, it’s a lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romcom about an engaged couple who have been pretending to be the perfect couple but are actually sick of each other. With the big, elaborate wedding just months away, neither of them want to get married and neither of them want to be responsible for the steep costs of canceling the wedding, so they begin a game of pranks to annoy each other into calling it off and, inadvertently, fall back in love in the process.

Besides Nicholas and Naomi’s issues, the biggest villain in this book is Nicholas’s mother, Deborah Rose. Deborah is what you’d get if you combined Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development and the worst Karen you’ve ever seen. She’s domineering. She’s manipulative. She doles out questionable advice in a newspaper column, Dear Deborah, and guilts her son into shoveling her driveway every winter. For A Bookish Little Christmas, I thought it would be funny, and maybe slightly horrifying, to take the lid off Deborah Rose’s deluded brain and see what her outgoing emails might look like. Chronologically, these come right after the last chapter of You Deserve Each Other. If you haven’t read the book but plan to, there are some major spoilers in here and I’d recommend waiting!

If you haven’t read You Deserve Each Other and don’t plan to, you can still enjoy these emails. You will probably say, “Oh, no, I know somebody exactly like her.” It will not be complimentary. XD

To: Rise and Smile Dentistry

Subject: Important

Dear Nicky,

Have I not given you everything you’ve ever wanted? Is there something I should have done differently? Maybe I should have forced you to pay your own way through college, and then you wouldn’t resent me for aiding your success. I can think of no other reason for this punishment. I have taken to my bed, as nowadays all I can do is cry and think miserably about the joyous occasion of my only son’s wedding, that I’ve missed out on. Tell your wife I said congratulations, and I’m so very glad she’s gotten what she wanted.

Confused and sad,

Mom

To: Susan Ratcliffe

Re: Would like to volunteer for bake sale

I couldn’t help but notice on Sunday that you were wearing a very familiar dark green Paige sweater with a turtleneck and shoulder cut-out. You have, no doubt, seen me wearing this same sweater on occasion and have, no doubt, heard the compliments paid to me. I bought it at Neiman Marcus last year and, I must say, this “look” has become somewhat iconic to the Deborah Rose personal brand. A great many people have complimented my sense of style, so I understand why you would try to emulate it. However, this particular sweater is inappropriate for church and makes you look like you’re hunting for an affair with one of your divorced son’s thirty-something pals. You are such a dear friend, which is why I must tell you that when you sneak into church two minutes into the sermon, drawing attention to yourself and your semi-bare shoulder, your choices are frowned upon by Jesus.

I am putting you down for six dozen peanut butter chocolate cookies. I understand that you are diabetic, but please do not make those sugar-free rocks you bring to potlucks. We need the best of the best to spread a heavenly message.

Mrs. Deborah Rose

Popular Advice Columnist and Bake Sale Coordinator

To: Joyce

Subject: Another day passes…

My dearest friend, you are absolutely right. Someday soon, Nicky will see how much he has hurt me and he’ll regret it. Hopefully I’ll still be alive to accept his apology with open arms. But, one never knows when the lord is ready to take them, and I’m gravely worried about the new neighbors who moved in two houses down. They are from California, where ANYTHING goes. Twice now I’ve noticed visitors parking in their driveway after eleven PM, staying for not even half an hour. The wife is a hippie with two eyebrow piercings and she wears HEMP. Do you know what hemp is? Hemp is drugs.
I’m thinking about getting a saltwater aquarium, but I don’t trust Harold with it.

Deborah

Bake Sale Coordinator

To: Rise and Smile Dentistry

Subject: You do not have enough parking spaces

Dear Nicky,

Now on top of the pain I already feel, I have to put up with the yard looking like a catastrophe. I just find it disgraceful that after everything we’ve done for you, this is the heartless treatment we receive. Your father hasn’t left his chair in days. The only thing he has energy for is watching television. This tragedy has turned him into a shadow of his former self—if you’re not going to apologize for my sake, apologize for your poor father’s. I assume you no longer want to come over for Christmas, which means I have no reason to put up the tree or decorate. Your sister refuses to come because she thinks my remarks about her girlfriend having a degree from an online university were “insensitive,” so I will probably just sit by myself and look through photo albums to remember happier times.

Please tell your wife to stop coming over and shoveling our driveway. Her services are not needed or asked for, and she appears to not know what she is doing.

I found a screwdriver in the garage, if you want it. All the bird seed is gone. I don’t know why it’s so warm this week.

Mom

To: Magnolia Rose [BragnoliaRoseSwagShop@hotmail.com]

Re: for the love of god stop contacting me

MY husband smells like someone else’s Febreze. This is a confidential, legally binding petition for you to submit, as evidence, one of your recently worn (clean) outwear garments such as a jacket, cardigan, or scarf for testing purposes. You are lawfully obligated to comply within 10 business days, and must get in touch with my legal representative, Joanne P. at State Farm.

MRS. DEBORAH ROSE

Rose Brand Manager

Dear Deborah

Re: Submission: My Father in Law Goes To Brothels

Hello Seymour Butz,

Your father-in-law is a troubled man, but unfortunately I am not surprised. The destruction of the nuclear family has resulted in husbands and wives neglecting their proper roles. From what you say about your mother-in-law, she ought to mind her business. It is my experience that people who are happy with their own lives don’t stick their noses into others’! We must rise ever above.

To: Nick Jr. Contact Support

Area of Concern [write-in]: You’ve just lost a viewer

I am disappointed that you’ve chosen to give Ariana Grande a wider platform to corrupt our children. I just read an article that said Ariana will be voicing a guest character on your show “Bubble Guppies” next week and am APPALLED. You are supposed to be role models for our children, and this angelfish who teaches the Guppies to reach for their dreams is going to convince preschoolers to get tattoos and date Peter Davidsons. I have twelve grandchildren who have been loyal Nick Jr. watchers, but in all good conscience I can no longer air this channel in my home. I will instead give my patronage to the unproblematic Disney!

Deborah R

To: Star Magazine Tips Hotline

Subject: Kate Middleton

Message: I do not care for Kate Middleton.

To: Joyce

Subject: What sort of world are we living in?

I am in tears, I am shaking. Something truly terrible has happened. Do you remember the new neighbors I was telling you about? They reported me to the police for harassment, and only because I knocked on their door and asked them to take a polarizing “Spread Love Not Hate” sign out of their yard.

Make no mistake, I will not let these people bully me. I am going to have a discussion with the HOA about that sign, along with the poppy seed muffin gift basket they gave to the Harrisons. We all know what poppy seeds are really for!

My Amazon packages are late again. I’ve been looking at the tracker and it said expected delivery was yesterday, but now they’re suddenly delayed. I think someone is tampering with my packages.

I heard from Judy that your sister passed. How unfortunate! Would you mind getting the funeral home director’s information for me and forwarding it to my son? I feel incredibly unsafe with these neighbors around, and if I am killed I just want to make it as easy on Nicholas as possible to make arrangements, as he will be mourning his decision to let that wife of his come between us in my final days. Please also forward your divorce lawyer’s number to him. Are you still bringing German chocolate cake to the bake sale? The funeral isn’t until 3, from what I heard, and the bake sale starts at noon, so you should be able to help out for most of the day and your brief absence won’t affect us too negatively.

Deborah

Popular Advice Columnist and Bake Sale Coordinator

To: Arby’s Customer Feedback

Subject: The Beaufort Arby’s on Walter Drive

Hello, Arby’s. This evening I ordered two large curly fries and two roast beef sandwiches through the drive-thru. I have not had Arby’s in quite some time because my last experience was unsatisfactory (only one restroom, which meant having to wait a ridiculously long time to use it), but was willing to give you another chance. Well, you blew it. I drove home, opened up my bag, and discovered that one of the fries was a medium.
The worker who gave me my food is named Rhonda. (In case there are multiple Rhondas at the Arby’s on Walter Drive, this one has untidy red hair and is pregnant but isn’t wearing a wedding ring).

Mrs. Deborah Rose

Popular Advice Columnist, Food Connoisseur, and Book Club Leader

To: Diana

Subject: Well I am sorry if you were offended

Actually, I am not sorry at all. If you didn’t want me to talk about you on public radio, you shouldn’t have left that explicit calendar in my guest bathroom. I will be deleting the series recording of The Masked Singer.

To: Pastor Thomas

Subject: Another one of God’s children has lost her way

I have reached out to Susan Ratcliffe regarding her disrespectful church attire, with no luck. I think you should have a conversation with Susan about showing off her shoulders when she is supposed to be Praising Him. I also think you should consider replacing her as a first-row choir singer, since right now she is front and center in front of impressionable young children. Coincidentally, I sang in the choir in college and would be willing to step in.

I am putting you down for six vanilla and chocolate marble cakes.

Mrs. Deborah Rose

Popular Advice Columnist and Bake Sale Coordinator

To: Rise and Smile Dentistry

Re: Customer Satisfaction Survey

Dear Nicholas,

I suppose this means you don’t want me to be your mother anymore. If you do not come to my Christmas party, everyone will speak ill of you, and I can’t bear the thought of hearing my oldest friends and family call you a disrespectful, ungrateful son who has been brainwashed by his wife to care only about her and hasn’t even asked about his parents’ beloved housekeeper’s health scare (not that you probably care at all, since you are so busy, but the results came back and whatever it was is benign, which we all prayed for because otherwise this might have cast a dark shadow on our party and her ability to pull off a halfway decent one for once).
There is no need to bring a dish, since there isn’t enough time between now and Christmas for Naomi to learn how to cook.

Also, I need help blocking Diana’s number from my phone.

To: Amazon Support

Subject: Please transfer me to Jeff Beezus

Someone is sabotaging my packages and I want them fired. On December third, I ordered a waffle iron with two-day shipping, but it arrived a day late and there wasn’t even a refund. On December eighth, I ordered the “First Hill Storage Ottoman in Gray Linen” from BMXSHIPPINGINC, who is one of your middlemen, or perhaps a Russian, and my order took three days for them to ship. Then it simply disappeared somewhere, because the tracker showed no further developments. The ottoman arrived within the window it was supposed to, but I don’t appreciate the shady conduct here, not knowing what was happening to my package in the interim and who was handling it. I want one of your workers to come take it back, and replace it with “Hummel figurine Just Dozing, original MI Hummel Collection, gift-boxed.”

My husband is a very powerful man, and my son is a prominent figure in the health field, putting his life on the line every day. If your business continues to tamper with my purchases, I will take legal action and take my fight public.

Mrs. Deborah Rose

Popular Advice Columnist and Bake Sale Coordinator

Applebee’s Grill & Bar (Marshall, TX) on Facebook

Now offering a contactless menu option! Also NEW Berry Merry Colada and NEW Reindeer Punch!
74 Comments

Deborah and Harold Rose WHEN IS American idol coming back on

To: Rise and Smile Dentistry
Re: Appointment Confirmation (no-reply)

Dr. Rose,

I believe you still have my cardboard box from when I sent a few of your old school assignments and other trinkets home with you on August 13th. There are other things that I need this box for. I find it highly unlikely that you’ve even opened it since the items within are reminders of your terrible childhood and your family that has never done anything but love you, so I would like it back.

You may leave it on the porch, if it is too much to ask for you to come inside.

To: Facebook Support

Area of Complaint (other)

Dear Mr. Mark Zuckerberg,

My daughter-in-law posted something that I am unable to view. It says the post is only viewable for a select group of people and I would like for you to tell me what is in this post. There could be defamation in it, so I believe it is my right as a citizen to see. For more information: her name is Naomi Rosefield and her profile picture is Elmo from Sesame Street, and he is on fire. I believe it is a reference to the movie St. Elmo’s Fire. She lives in Morris, Wisconsin.

She is unemployed.

Sincerely,

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose for City Council

To: MAILER-DAEMON

Re: Failure Notice

I don’t know WHO you are or WHO provided you with my private email information and judging by your name, I assume you are satanic. This is your final warning to cease contact. These “failure notices” intended to intimidate me will NOT WORK and if you continue this harassment I will get the authorities involved!!!! My husband is a cop.

To: Naomi

Subject: NO SUBJECT

I saw that video of what you’ve been doing with my priceless heirloom salt and pepper shakers. Your childish behavior is an insult upon this entire family and I want them back. I also find it rude that you haven’t invited us over. It is lucky that my calendar is too full for a visit, or else I might feel slighted.

Mrs. Rose

Rose Matriarch

To: Community of Sycamore Lane HOA

Subject: We’re all in danger!

We’re all in danger of getting migraines from the excessively flashing Christmas lights the Harrisons have put up. I’ve checked with all the neighbors and they didn’t consult a single one of us before subjecting us to that enormous inflatable Grinch. It is spoiling the holiday atmosphere. When I am sitting in my upstairs guest room facing the northern window, half of my view is that awful Grinch and I feel no peace because of it.

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose for City Council

To: viewers@crownmedia.com

Subject: important!!!

WHY are Andrew Walker and that woman from Full House in every single Hallmark movie and WHAT can I do to end it

To: Nicholas

Subject: emergency

NICHOLAS, YOU MUST MAKE HER STOP. I HAVE HIRED A SNOWPLOW MAN. I AM TOO OLD TO LIVE LIKE THIS.


You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Add to GoodreadsAmazon

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

About Sarah Hogle

A mom of three in southern Ohio, Sarah Hogle spends her free time planning weird pranks and hoping for a haunted castle to call her own. She is the author of You Deserve Each Other.


A Moose Springs Secret Santa by Sarah Morgenthaler | Author Guest Post

Posted December 17, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Guest Post / 7 Comments

I’m so so SO excited to have one of my favorite authors, Sarah Morgenthaler, to the blog today to share what the people in Moose Springs gifted each other for Christmas this year! I have read and loved all three of the Moose Springs novels this year, and they have been the perfect escape. I would LOVE it if this trilogy became a series (you hear that, Sourcebooks?? I don’t want to leave Moose Springs yet!).

Thank you for inviting me to guest post today for A Bookish Little Christmas! My name is Sarah Morgenthaler, and I’m the author of the Moose Springs, Alaska series. Moose Springs is a tiny, picturesque mountain town in Alaska, where the moose and the tourists run amuck while the quirky locals just try to get through the holidays. In true Secret Santa style, I pulled random names for each of the main characters. The rest was entirely up to them. :)

My Alaskan Christmas romcom MISTLETOE AND MR. RIGHT is available now. I hope you check it out!

A MOOSE SPRINGS SECRET SANTA

Graham Barnett

They’ve been best friends their whole lives, so when Graham draws Easton as his Secret Santa, he’s tempted to tease the quiet mountain man with a joke gift. Instead Graham works every night for a month on an intricate chainsaw carving of Easton’s favorite place on the mountain. He wordlessly leaves it on Easton’s truck bed with a six pack of beer. They never talk about it, but the carving is the most prized possession Easton will ever own.

Zoey Caldwell

Rick’s been a little down because his cat Roger has been particularly disdainful of him this holiday. Zoey gives him a self-help book called “My Cat and Me, A Journey to Becoming Your Cat’s Best Friend” for Christmas, even though Zoey thinks Rick’s great just how he is.

Lana Montgomery

Lana has a habit of worrying too much about picking a good Christmas gift for her best friend. Zoey knows this, and while she’s happy with just a hug, it means more than she can say when Lana brings Zoey’s grandmother to visit her for a surprise Christmas present. Time with family and friends is the best gift.

Rick Harding

True to form, nothing goes right in Rick’s quest for the perfect Christmas gift for Lana. He decides to swallow his pride and puts on the too-tight Santa suit. After a few glasses of eggnog, he doesn’t even mind how often she pinches his rear end or how hard his nephew is laughing at him.

Jake Barnett the Border Collie

Somehow Jake always ends up pulling Graham for his Secret Santa, but he’s a good dog and he orders (with a little help) a mug covered with pictures of himself. After all, Graham will only drink his coffee from a “Happy Jake Mug” and they both know better than to steal Zoey’s favorite coffee cup.

Easton Lockett

Having drawn Ulysses the moose, Easton feels like this year they might be taking the Secret Santa thing a little too far. Still, he dutifully buys the moose a bun at Frankie’s and hikes halfway up a mountain in the snow because it’s less work than listening to Graham complain about Ulysses getting forgotten this Christmas.

Ulysses the Moose

No one knows how Ulysses draws Ash when he wasn’t even a part of the official Pre-Secret Santa Planning Committee, but his taste is impeccable. She’s not really sure what to do with the three gift-wrapped pine cones she finds on the porch but the plushy moose sitting with them is pretty cute.

Ash Lockett

Everyone wants to get Jake for their Secret Santa, but there can only be one winner. Ash might have cheated a little, but he’s completely worth it. She’s not sure what’s better: buying Jake untailored clothes that’ll drive Graham nuts or spending Christmas with the blind border collie in her lap, both of them munching on holiday treats and happy to be with the people they love the most.

Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler
Series:
Moose Springs, Alaska #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 6, 2020
Add to GoodreadsAmazonIndieBound

How the moose (almost) stole Christmas.

Lana Montgomery is everything the quirky small town of Moose Springs, Alaska can’t stand: a rich socialite with dreams of changing things for the better. But Lana’s determined to prove that she belongs…even if it means trading her stilettos for snow boots and tracking one of the town’s hairiest Christmas mysteries: the Santa Moose, an antlered Grinch hell-bent on destroying every bit of holiday cheer (and tinsel) it can sink its teeth into.

And really…how hard could it be?

The last few years have been tough on Rick Harding, and it’s not getting any easier now that his dream girl’s back in town. When Lana accidentally tranquilizes him instead of the Santa Moose, it’s clear she needs help, fast…and this could be his chance to finally catch her eye. It’s an all-out Christmas war, but if they can nab that darn moose before it destroys the town, Rick and Lana might finally find a place where they both belong…together.

About Sarah Morgenthaler

Geologist and lifelong science nerd, Sarah Morgenthaler is a passionate supporter of chocolate chip cookies, geeking out over rocks, and playing with her rescue pit bull, Sammy. When not writing romantic comedy and contemporary romance set in far-off places, Sarah can be found traveling with her husband, hiking national parks, and enjoying her own happily ever after. She is the Indie Romance Bestselling author of THE TOURIST ATTRACTION.

Find out more at: www.sarahmorgenthaler.com

Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


2021 Resolutions for Readers by Melinda Curtis | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 13, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Giveaway, Guest Post / 3 Comments

I’m happy to welcome Melinda Curtis, author of A Very Merry Match, to the blog today to share her 2021 resolutions for readers! Who can relate to these??


2021 Resolutions for Readers by Melinda Curtis

I will do other things than read on weekends. Like watch movies and TV shows made from books, such as:

  • Bridgerton (Netflix) based on the Julia Quinn Bridgerton series
  • Virgin River (Netflix) based on the Robyn Carr Virgin River series
  • Love in Harmony Valley (Up TV) based on the book Dandelion Wishes

I will show up extra early for appointments in January. And finish reading all the holiday books I didn’t get to or may have missed, like…

  • Season of Joy by Annie Rains
  • A Very Merry Match by Melinda Curtis
  • A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale

I will trim off excess books weighing down my bookshelf. Of course, I’ll do a book exchange with a friend, sharing books I enjoyed and putting books she enjoyed on my TBR. (TBR piles don’t weigh down bookshelves if they aren’t mine.)

Suggested trades:

  • Can’t Hurry Love by Melinda Curtis for Starting Over at Blueberry Creek by Annie Rains
  • Second Chance on Cypress Lane by Reese Ryan for A Very Merry Match by Melinda Curtis
  • The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez for Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

I will be adventurous and expand on the types of books I love to read. One of the things I enjoy about small town romance is the sense of community, which you can also get in other romances, such as medical romances, sports romances, or a “community” of sisters/girl friends.

  • The Single Dad’s Holiday Wish by Susan Carlisle (medical)
  • Just a Boyfriend by Sariah Wilson (football)
  • The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon (girl friends)

A Very Merry Match by Melinda Curtis
Series: Sunshine Valley #2
Published by Forever on September 29, 2020
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

This holiday season, kindergarten teacher Mary Margaret Sneed never imagined she’d be unwrapping…herself. But a burlesque side gig is the young widow’s only hope of paying off her late husband’s substantial debt. With her reputation and career on the line, she performs in disguise, under the stage name Foxy Roxy. But her secret identity is threatened when Roxy’s biggest fan turns out to be Mary Margaret’s biggest crush — the handsome-as-sin mayor of Preston!

Newly divorced single dad Kevin Hadley is prepping to make the jump from mayor to state assemblyman. He knows he should be settling down with someone quiet and practical, someone like Mary Margaret Sneed. The last thing Kevin needs right now is a steamy scandal. But he just can’t stop thinking about Foxy Roxy…and if Preston’s matchmaking Widows Club has their way this Christmas, Kevin won’t have to…

About Melinda Curtis

Prior to writing romance, award-winning, USA Today Bestseller Melinda Curtis was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when she flew on the private jet she was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty. After grabbing her pen (and a parachute) she made the jump to full-time writer. Between writing sweet romance and sweet romantic comedy, Melinda finds time to bond with her husband over home remodeling projects. She recently came to grips with the fact that she’s an empty nester and a grandma, concepts easier to grasp than jet-setting on a potty.

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How to Make a Tomato Cage Christmas Tree by Annie Rains | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 12, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Giveaway, Guest Post / 5 Comments

I’m so excited to have Annie Rains, author of the Sweetwater Springs novels, on the blog today to share with us how to make Christmas trees out of tomato cages!


‘Tis the season for Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes, colors and décor! In my new novel SEASON OF JOY, the hero Granger Fields is a down-on-his-luck Christmas tree farmer. Half his farm burned down in the spring and now he’s struggling to make ends meet while raising his two little girls. Enter my heroine Joy Benson, who agrees to help Granger care for his girls during the farm’s busiest season. She also comes up with an idea for a Christmas Tree Workshop to allow the folks of Sweetwater Springs to make their own special tree this year.

The tomato cage Christmas tree is so easy to make and the results are beautiful! Here’s how to make your own tree without having to head to Merry Mountain Farms in Sweetwater Springs to do so (although if you want to take a trip, you can find SEASON OF JOY on a shelf near you).

How to Make a Tomato Cage Christmas Tree:

Needed:

– Wire tomato cage

– Garland

– Decorations, accessories, lights

– Hot glue gun/glue sticks

– Wire or zip tie

– Optional: festive holiday music to get you in the Christmas mood.

Step one: Find a tomato cage. They’re easy to locate in the spring when gardeners are growing tomatoes. You can locate them on Amazon year-round as well. Tomato cages are just the wire contraptions that are placed around a growing plant.

Step two: Flip the tomato cage over and gather the loose wires at the top with a zip tie or another piece of pliable wire. This should give you the Christmas tree’s conical shape.

Step three: Use a hot glue gun to apply glue to the garland and adhere to the wire every few inches as you wrap, starting at the top and working your way toward the bottom.

Step four: Now for the fun part! Get creative and add ornaments, poinsettias, holly branches, strings of beads, velvet bows, or whatever festive items you have lying around in your boxes of decorations. Don’t forget the lights!

Voila! Now you have a tree that you can pull out every year to add to the merriment of your home. These make great gifts as well!

Wishing you all a merry holiday full of family, friends, & good books!

Annie Rains


Season of Joy by Annie Rains
Series: Sweetwater Springs #6
Published by Forever on October 13, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance — Christmas
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

Tis the season for love

For single father Granger Fields, Christmas is his busiest and most profitable time of the year. But when a fire devastates the Merry Mountain Tree Farm, he fears the season won’t be holly or jolly unless he can convince free spirit Joy Benson to care for his two rambunctious daughters. Yet while Granger wants to focus on saving his business, Joy seems determined to shake up his family’s Christmas with her festive ideas and merry making.

Joy is counting down the days until she can open her own art gallery. Babysitting Abby and Willow will help her reach her goal, and when inspiration strikes, Joy convinces Granger that her craft classes can bring even more holiday cheer to the farm. As crowds return and Joy’s creative side flourishes, life with Granger and his girls begins to feel like home. But with Christmas coming nearer, can Joy convince Granger to open his heart again? Or will their newfound happiness be as fleeting as the newly fallen snow?


About Annie Rains

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

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Header Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash


Traditions & Christmas Trees by Estelle Hallick | Publicist Guest Post

Posted December 10, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Guest Post / 3 Comments

I’m excited to have my friend, Estelle (of Forever), here on the blog today to talk about some of her Christmas traditions and her love of Christmas trees! The tree is my favorite part of Christmas, for sure, so this post makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.


Christmas trees have always been my thing — specifically real Christmas trees.

When I was a kid, I would go with my dad to pick up a tree near where we went to church. I designed a hat that looked like a tree for a hat contest in grade school. Every Black Friday, my family and I would take the train into New York City and stare at the still unlit tree at Rockefeller Center. When I got married, I was happy that my husband shared my affinity for real trees so while there were a lot of compromises to be made when it came to holidays, the tree was never one of them. My parents brought me up to be a person who really believed in the importance of tradition – the trip to NYC once a year after Thanksgiving, when we hosted holidays and went to other people’s homes, our annual summer vacations to the same beach and then later, Disney World. All of these moments – big and small – were cornerstones of my childhood and also shaped so many of the ways I do things as an adult. But I’ve realized that while we don’t adhere to some of our traditions anymore, it’s not because my parents decided to do something different – it’s because our places or circumstances have changed. I truly think if my parents had it their way they would keep things the same forever. I don’t blame them; change is hard for me too.

This leads me back to the Christmas tree. After seven years of living in apartments where we couldn’t control our heat, my husband and I were a little tired of our tree dying before the 25th of the month. IT WAS SO DEPRESSING, especially for two people who like to keep up their tree until February. (It’s true.) This holiday season, the most surprising question popped into my head and wouldn’t let go: “Should we maybe sorta consider buying a fake tree?”

Needless to say, coal did not drop from the ceiling when I voiced this thought. My husband was on board. Everyone on InstaStory was thrilled to tell me why they loved their fake tree when I still had my doubts. Suddenly I found myself purchasing a tall, fake Douglas Fir for the same price of a rather tiny, who-knows-what-kind-of-tree-it-was in our neighborhood.

The tree arrived. We spaced out his branches. (Harder than it looks.) We hung up all of our ornaments. This tree might not have a name yet (we’ve named each of our real trees but it’s harder when the name is permanent) and he might not have that fresh scent, but our scaredy-cat cat who hates strong scents snoozes under it every day. There are no pine needles to clean up, and on Christmas Day, it looked exactly the same as it did on its very first day in this apartment. When I saw my parent’s tree this week, decked out for Santa’s arrival, I did feel a little ping of sadness. But then I remembered that I get to see the Rockefeller Center tree every day on my way to work and then go home to my cozy apartment where I’m in control of how long the holiday continues. (Even if I can’t control the heat in my apartment.)

Estelle is the publicity and marketing manager at Forever, a Muppet enthusiast, and best friend to Santa. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @thatsostelle.

Header Photo by Aurelio Arantes on Unsplash


Christmas Cards by Andrea S. | Blogger Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

Posted December 6, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Giveaway, Guest Post / 8 Comments

I’m so happy to have one of my dear friends, Andi, on the blog today to share some of her beautiful holiday card creations! Enter to win what she’s made at the end of the post!


I’m really excited to take part in Jana’s Bookish Little Christmas. For those of you that don’t know me I’m Andi from the book blog Andi’s ABCs. But besides book blogging I also make handmade cards and some other paper crafts. I sell them in my Etsy shop, Cards by Andrea S.. When I signed up for Jana’s Bookish Little Christmas I knew I was going to craft a few items starting with some gift card holders, my new favorite thing to make. I went to my supplies and pulled some stuff out.

I grabbed my new Glitter Paper from The Stamp Market and decided to work with that and with the Bag and Tag die set. The great thing about the Bag and Tag die set if you can make one bag that is the perfect size for gift card and another bag that can be whatever size you want. Once the base was decided I grabbed my favorite Altenew ink in Crimson and the candy cane stamp from the No Peeking stamp and die set.

Taking the glitter paper I die cut the bags and used double sided tape to hold seal the sides securely. When the bags were complete I set them aside and grabbed my Misti Stamping tool and stamped two candy canes. Using my mini die cutting machine and matching die I cut the candy canes into tags.

With the bags and candy canes done I searched my stash and found some red snowflakes I had previously cut. Grabbing two clothes pins, one with an embellishment, I simply attached the the two tags to the bags. Once again looking in my stash of previously made items I found two tags to include in the larger bag.

Then it was time to move to the cards:

I decided to keep the cards pretty simple by within the same theme. Using the Altenew ink I grabbed a small candy cane stamp set. I stamped the message in the corner and used one of the candy canes and created a pattern surrounding the sentiment. Creating a random pattern is the easiest way to make a simple card and I was able to quickly do this. And that is all there is to it.

And there you have it, two gift card holders, two tags, and two holiday cards. And what is the best parr about that? Well they are all up for grabs for you to win. One winner (US only) will receive all of the items I made and a code to save in my Etsy shop should you want to order something in the future.

Thank you so much Jana for having me! It was a lot of fun. I hope everyone has a Happy Bookish Little Christmas!

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12 Dogs and Brownies by Lizzie Shane | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

Posted December 5, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Giveaway, Guest Post / 3 Comments

I’m so happy to have Lizzie Shane, author of The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, on the blog today to celebrate A Bookish Little Christmas with me! I have a major sweet tooth, so this was the perfect post for me. Who doesn’t love brownies?? Read more about Lizzie and her book below, and enter to win one of five copies of the book!


Tis the season for holiday treats!  I love making special goodies for the holidays, but I’m also a big believer in simple, time-saving recipes that feel special while still being super easy.  Enter Brownie Toppers.

In my new release, The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, town Scrooge Ben is overwhelmed by his Christmas obligations and isn’t much of a baker – but he’s still determined to make something special for his niece’s holiday bake sale.  So, of course, our heroine Ally saves the day by helping him dress up some brownies so they become the hit of the holiday fair.  (And then they fall madly in love, of course.)

In college I was addicted to the fancy brownies at a sweet shop in town (I still think back fondly on the M&M brownie…) and when I started playing at replicating them, they became one of my favorite holiday hacks.

S’mores Brownies, Peppermint Bark Brownies, “Dirt” Brownies, Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies and more.  Seriously, these are so easy.

  • Start with your favorite BROWNIE MIX – or you can make them from scratch if you’re fancy.  I like Ghirardelli Double Chocolate mix (and I can get it in bulk at Costco!).
  • PREPARE the brownies like you usually would and let them cool completely. While they are cooling you can start assembling your toppings.

(photo by Lizzie Shane)

For the S’mores Brownies, you’ll want:

  • Marshmallow fluff (or lightly warmed/softened marshmallows to make your own – 10 seconds in the microwave and a quick stir usually does the trick)
  • Crumbled graham crackers
  • Hershey squares

After the brownies have cooled, cut them into squares FIRST (otherwise you’ll never get them to cut cleanly because the marshmallow will be everywhere).  Spread the marshmallow fluff on each brownie, then sprinkle graham cracker crumbles on top and set a single Hershey square in the center.  Super fast.  Super easy.  Super delicious.  (If you’re wrapping them individually, make sure you really cover the fluff with graham crumbles or it will stick to the saran wrap forever.)

For the Peppermint Bark Brownies, you’ll need:

  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Crumbled Candy Canes (or Peppermint Bark)
  • Shortening (or vegetable oil)
  • Peppermint Extract or Peppermint Schnapps (optional)

After the brownies have cooled, you can either cut them into squares if you want the white chocolate dripping down the sides (I like it that way) or leave them in the pan if you’d like a clean white chocolate layer on top of the brownies.  In a microwave-safe dish, combine the white chocolate chips, shortening (for 1.5 cups chips, I add 1.5 tablespoons of shortening), and a splash of peppermint schnapps or ½ tsp of peppermint extract if you want extra minty-ness.  Melt for 30 seconds in the microwave, stir, melt for another 30, another stir, and you should have smooth, liquid, pourable chocolate.

Pour the white chocolate on top of the fully cooled brownies and sprinkle crushed candy canes on top while the chocolate is still warm and soft.  Let cool and harden completely.  If the brownies are still in the pan, be sure to score the chocolate with a knife as it is cooling, otherwise the chocolate topping will crack when you try to cut your squares.

For “Dirt” Brownies, you’ll need:

  • Chocolate frosting
  • Gummy worms
  • Crumbled Oreos (optional)

Once the brownies have cooled, cut them into squares (since the gummy worms are very difficult to cut after the fact).  You can cover the brownie squares with melted chocolate by replicating the steps above in the Peppermint Bark recipe, only with milk chocolate morsels instead of white chocolate, or you can simply cover them with a thin layer of frosting and a light dusting of Oreo crumbs before pressing the gummy worms on top.  And then you’re done.  Easy peasy.

For Caramel Pretzel Brownies, you’ll need:

  • Soft caramels
  • Salted Pretzels
  • Sea Salt (optional)

Cut the cooled brownies into squares again (because like the marshmallow, the caramel does not cut cleanly).  Melt the caramels in the microwave – I tend to do this ten seconds at a time, stirring as I check them, because the caramel burns easily.  You can drizzle lightly on top, but I like to slather it on with a knife because I like a lot of caramel.  Then, while the caramel is still warm, press the pretzels into the top.  You can either crumble them into pieces or press them on whole.  I also like to sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top, for that extra salty kick.  Then just let cool completely and enjoy!

That’s it!  “Fancy” brownies with very little effort.

You can always mix and match your favorite toppings too.  I love white chocolate with Oreo crumbs (like Cookies n Cream), or a dollop of peanut butter with a Hershey square, or marshmallow fluff with M&Ms.

These are all very sweet, but they are a perfect holiday sugar rush.  And hopefully they make you as much the hit of the holidays as they did Ben and Ally.  Happy baking and happy reading!


The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Lizzie Shane
Series: Pine Hollow #1
Published by Forever on September 29, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance — Christmas
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A delightful holiday romance about a small-town single dad and an animal rescue owner as they try to find forever homes for a dozen lovable pups before Christmas.

Pine Hollow has everything Ally Gilmore could wish for in a holiday break: gently falling snow in a charming small town and time with her family. Then she learns some Grinch has pulled the funding for her family’s rescue shelter, and now she has only four weeks to find new homes for a dozen dogs! But when she confronts her Scroogey councilman nemesis, Ally finds he’s far more reasonable — and handsome — than she ever expected.

As the guardian of his dog-obsessed ten-year-old niece, Ben West doesn’t have time to build a cuddly reputation. But he does feel guilty about the shelter closing. So he proposes a truce with Ally, agreeing to help her adopt out the pups. As the two spend more time together, the town’s gossip is spreading faster than Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. And soon Ben is hoping he can convince Ally that Pine Hollow is her home for the holidays. . . and the whole year through.


About Lizzie Shane

Contemporary romance author Lizzie Shane was born in Alaska and still calls the frozen north home, though she can frequently be found indulging her travel addiction. Thankfully, her laptop travels with her and she has written her way through all fifty states and over fifty countries.

Lizzie has been honored to win the Golden Heart Award and HOLT Medallion, and has been named a finalist three times for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award®, but her main claim to fame is that she lost on Jeopardy! For more about Lizzie and her books, please visit http://www.lizzieshane.com.

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Christie’s Auction House, Art, & A Trace of Deceit by Karen Odden | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted February 20, 2020 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 4 Comments

I’m pleased to welcome to Karen Odden, author of A Dangerous Duet, to the blog today to talk about the next book in her Victorian Mystery series, A Trace of Deceit! I love art (I minored in art history during undergrad), so this entire post is just fascinating to me. Read more about Karen and A Trace of Deceit below, and enter to win a copy of your own!


Christie’s Auction House, Art, & A Trace of Deceit
by Karen Odden

On my 29th birthday, November 11, 1994, I was standing in the main sales room at Christie’s auction house in New York City. The elegant room was crowded for the rare book auction scheduled to begin at 10 o’clock. On an elevated stage at the front stood Stephen Massey, the head of the Rare Books department, behind a podium. I stood along one wall surveying the rows of chairs, filled with potential buyers and some gawkers. On the opposite wall was a bank of tables draped with black fabric, with phones for other Christie’s employees who’d be taking the bids of people calling in. The star of the auction that day was Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Hammer, one of his notebooks, 32 pages, written right to left, in his mirror handwriting, and featuring the famous image of the Vitruvian Man, among others.

A page from the Codex Leicester (a.k.a. Codex Hammer) by da Vinci, 1510

People who attend Christie’s auctions are generally well behaved. They speak in soft tones, if they speak at all. No one shouts out or flaps their paddle around. But that day people could not stop murmuring. Rare manuscripts, signed copies and first editions sold as expected. But everyone was waiting for the Da Vinci notebook.

As usual the auctioneer started the bidding below the presale estimate. Between buyers in the room and on the phones, the bid began to climb: 6 million, 6.5, 7, 7.5 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20. Soon it became a duel between two bidders, one in the room and one on the phone, and the employee at the phone bank just kept raising her hand. Eventually the hammer came down at 28 million dollars to a phone bidder whose identity was kept confidential. Later, I heard one of the Christie’s employees say, “It went to someone named Cates.” His friend replied, “Not Cates, Gates. I think he does something with computers.” Back in 1994, Windows 95 was still months away, and Bill Gates wasn’t a household name yet.

That morning was the first time I felt down to my bones the way suspense and story could swirl around art.

I wasn’t at Christie’s because of my art expertise. I was a media buyer, purchasing print ad space to support sales of everything from paintings and photographs to silver, coins and Faberge eggs, Chinese and Latin American art, and antique furniture. I placed ads in publications such as the New York Times, New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Art and Auction, and ArtNews. Because I was buying ad space, I had to read these publications in order to know what art to advertise where, and for the first few weeks of my job, I sat in my cubicle and read magazines. It was fun. (My dad always said, you’re never going to find a job that pays you to read! Ha!)

So like many things in my life I came to art through reading. And while I enjoy art, it’s the stories around art that captivate me. The precious manuscripts smuggled out of Wartime Germany by an American soldier, only to be found by his grandchildren forty years later, after his death. The art heists and dramatic thefts out of museums. The Renaissance painting by Cimabue that a 90-year-old Frenchwoman had hung over her kitchen stove for years because she thought it was a knock off. The painter who fell in love with his subject and then couldn’t bring himself to sell the painting to her husband. So when it came time to write my third book, I had a whole backlog of interest in stories about art.

Kate Greenaway, “Diamonds and Toads,” 1871

I write mysteries set in Victorian England, specifically the 1870s, largely because I wrote my dissertation at NYU on British literature from 1850-1890. It’s my happy time and place. (My son, who is called upon to help me with my iPhone teases me that I belong there.) But if I wanted to write another novel about a young woman in 1870s London, I needed to find a place for her to study. Fortunately, the Slade School, now world-renowned and part of the University College London, was opened in 1871, after a bequest by a very forward-thinking gentleman named Felix Slade, who wanted a school where men and women could study art together. This was met with resistance from the men. Still, women entered with the first class, and early students included Kate Greenaway who became famous for her exquisite illustrations for children’s books.

At the time I began to write, I was thinking a lot about memory—how memory isn’t static, like a painting. You can’t come back to it and see the exact same image. Memory changes with time; and sometimes we unconsciously suppress memories or alter them, depending on the kinds of stories we want to tell about ourselves or people we love or our lives. I also wanted to write about how talent or genius can sometimes be a burden, or even something that is put to use by parents of the gifted child.

With this, Annabel’s story started taking shape. She has an older brother named Edwin, an outrageously talented painter, and his father started to push him, hard, when Edwin was seven. As a result Edwin became a troublemaker and rebellious. He went to school at age 12, and when he returned he had deeply changed. Troubled and angry, he visited opium dens down by the Thames, forging paintings to support himself. He stumbled home more times than Annabel can remember, swearing he was going to do better. This cycle of what we would now call addiction and relapse recurred again and again, until he was arrested for forging and thrown in prison for a year.

As the book begins, Edwin has been out of prison for four months. He has sworn to Annabel that he is going to stay away from opium and to live within the law. When Annabel and Edwin meet, he appears on time; he’s clear eyed; he talks responsibly about his paintings and his work. Slowly Annabel begins to trust him. Besides, he is her only family, and she wants desperately to believe in him.

In the first chapter, Annabel is at her easel at the Slade. Her work finished for the day, she retrieves her umbrella from the stand and ventures out in the rain. At the terraced house where Edwin rented rooms, she climbs the stairs to the top floor, and sees the door open. That’s odd, she thinks. Odder still is the sight of two strange men riffling through Edwin’s paintings and papers. She bursts out, “What are you doing? Where’s Edwin?” They turn, and she sees the truncheon that one of them carries. She realizes they’re plainclothes detectives, and Annabel feels her heart sink, for she assumes that Edwin has fallen back into his old patterns. Unhappily, she sighs and asks, “What has Edwin done now?”

But in fact, Edwin has been murdered.

Christie’s Auction Rooms, engraving from ‘The Microcosm of London’ published by Rudolph Ackermann, 1808

Within hours, Annabel discovers that a priceless painting of Madame de Pompadour, by the French master Francois Boucher, has gone missing from her brother’s studio. Edwin was cleaning it in preparation for an auction to take place in two weeks, at Bettridge’s, an up-and-coming house trying to compete with Christie’s and Sotheby’s, both of which were established in London in the eighteenth century. The painting I’ve described is fictional—but Boucher painted nearly a dozen of Madame de Pompadour, who was King Louis XV’s mistress from 1745-1751. In my novel, this Boucher painting is the star of the auction—like Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex—but then its true owner appears, claiming the original was destroyed a fire in 1874.

François Boucher, “Madame de Pompadour”, 1756

So the questions begin. Was the painting that Edwin was cleaning a forgery? Had Edwin made the forgery? Was he murdered because his past had caught up to him? But even more important than learning why Edwin was murdered, Annabel longs to discover the truth about who her brother was before he died. Was he lying to her about reforming, or sincere? She wants to fix his character in her mind, render it as something stable, the way she paints her portraits and small scenes, so she can find some closure and peace. But what complicates Annabel’s inquiry is that in the process of investigating Edwin’s past, she comes to recognize a general truth: that there is a trace of deceit in many of our memories, both our happiest ones and our most painful; and that memories are not like paintings. They shift and sideslip, depending on the stories we want to tell ourselves—and the ones we want to conceal. Annabel learns that her memories both enable and limit what she can know about Edwin. Indeed, the closure and peace she seeks won’t come through fixing her brother’s character as in a portrait, but in weaving together her brother’s story and her own, and accepting—and grieving—that there are pieces missing. But that perhaps a sincere effort to understand, founded in love, is enough.

 


About Karen Odden

After writing her PhD dissertation on Victorian railway disasters, Karen became trapped in the era. (Her teenage son, who helps her with tech, teases that she belongs there.) Before turning to fiction, Karen taught at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and her essays on literature have appeared in numerous academic journals and books. Her three novels, set in 1870s London, feature young women who solve mysteries with personal stakes. Her first, A Lady in the Smoke, was a USA Today bestseller; A Dangerous Duet won best Historical Fiction at the New Mexico/Arizona book awards; and A Trace of Deceit (Harper Collins) was published in December. She lives in Arizona with her family and beagle-muse Rosy. Visit www.karenodden.com, or find her on twitter: @karen_odden and instagram: @karen_m_odden.


A Trace of Deceit by Karen Odden
Series: Victorian Mystery #2
Other books in the series: A Dangerous Duet (#1)
Publisher: William Morrow
Genres: Adult Fiction — Historical, Mystery
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A young painter digs beneath the veneer of Victorian London’s art world to learn the truth behind her brother’s murder…

Edwin is dead. That’s what Inspector Matthew Hallam of Scotland Yard tells Annabel Rowe when she discovers him searching her brother’s flat for clues. While the news is shocking, Annabel can’t say it’s wholly unexpected, given Edwin’s past as a dissolute risk-taker and art forger, although he swore he’d reformed. After years spent blaming his reckless behavior for their parents’ deaths, Annabel is now faced with the question of who murdered him—because Edwin’s death was both violent and deliberate. A valuable French painting he’d been restoring for an auction house is missing from his studio: find the painting, find the murderer. But the owner of the artwork claims it was destroyed in a warehouse fire years ago.

As a painter at the prestigious Slade School of Art and as Edwin’s closest relative, Annabel makes the case that she is crucial to Matthew’s investigation. But in their search for the painting, Matthew and Annabel trace a path of deceit and viciousness that reaches far beyond the elegant rooms of the auction house, into an underworld of politics, corruption, and secrets someone will kill to keep.



Julie’s Top 5 Favorite YA Holiday Books (& Some 2020 Ones to Anticipate!) | Guest Post

Posted December 23, 2019 by Jana in Guest Post / 2 Comments

I’m happy to have Julie from Struck By Stories on the blog today to share have five favorite YA Christmas books, as well as some 2020 holiday book releases that she’s excited about! That Artsy Reader Girl started out as a mostly YA book blog, but my tastes have changed and I don’t read nearly as much YA as I used to. It’s fun to have it back on the blog today!


Merry (almost!) Christmas & happy holidays, book-lovers! I’m so excited to be sharing with you a list of my favorite books to read during the winter season today, plus a few 2020 holiday books that I’m eagerly anticipating. All of these books have a special place in my heart, and I hope you guys find some new books to add to your TBR ;) Special thanks to Jana @ That Artsy Reader for allowing me the opportunity to do this!

My Favorites

 

Dancing Through the Snow by Jean Little

First on my list of favorite holiday reads is by far the most underrated! It’s about a girl named Min who, after being abandoned as a baby and rejected by yet another foster family in the height of the holiday season, experiences a Christmas miracle when a member of her foster center decides to take her in. This book is extremely heartwarming, and the perfect reminder of what the Christmas season is all about. Ever since I discovered it at my school library in 6th grade, I’ve made a point of rereading it every year. Definitely a must-read!

 

The Dash & Lily series by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Next on my list are two additional books that I always read during the Christmas season! David Levithan’s natural dry humor shines through in Dash, a bookish-yet-snarky teen boy who makes the bold decision to embark on a list challenges he finds embedded in a red notebook left on a bookshelf at the Strand. He and Lily, the teen girl who initiated the dares, continue to trade various Christmas-centered challenges, all while trying to avoid their growing feelings for each other. I love how Lily, with all of her festive holiday cheer, compliments Dash and his cynicism so well. Also, be sure not to miss book two, The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily, set a year later and featuring the same fantastic cast of characters!

 

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson,
& Lauren Myracle

Many of you guys will probably recognize this from the newly formed Breakfast Book Club with Ms. Freeman, as this was the book we chose to read this month! John Green (writer of the famed book The Fault in Our Stars) teamed up with two other popular YA authors to write a story about what happens when a train breaks down in a small town right before Christmas, and the result was perfection! I especially liked how even though they were three separate stories, they are all set in the same place and time and a few characters make guest appearances in the other stories. P.S. Don’t have time to read the book? No worries – it was just released as a Netflix movie this year!

 

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

If you are in the mood for a light, fluffy and cozy Christmas romance, then this is your book! This one centers around Charlie Donavon, a teen girl who’s convinced that she is meant to be with Teo Ortiz, who, in addition to being a star athlete and NHS member, is also a member of the school paper with Charlie. When she not-so-coincidentally picks his name for Secret Santa, she enlists the help of his cousin, J.D. Ortiz, to pick out the perfect presents and win his heart. However, she soon discovers that maybe, just maybe, the boy she really wants is not who she has been envisioning. Highly recommend!

 

Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle

And last-but-not-least on my list of favs is Together at Midnight, which ironically is the only one that’s not set during the Christmas season! As the title hints, this novel takes place entirely on New Year’s Eve. After witnessing a tragic accident earlier that day, two teens (Kendall and Max) make it their mission to spend the rest of it performing random acts of kindness, while also falling for each other along the way. What made this one truly special to me was that instead of just hearing the perspective of Kendall and Max, the story delved into the lives of the recipients of their good deeds. Overall, this one was a fantastic read, and it’s without a doubt one that’s not to be missed!

 

 

Anticipated 2020 Releases

Recommended for You by Laura Silverman

This is easily my most-anticipated YA holiday-centered book of 2020, and for good reason! Not only is it going to be super-bookish (as the main character, Shoshanna Greenberg, is a teen bookseller), and a hate-to-love romance (my second-favorite trope!) it’s also going to be a JEWISH (!!!) holiday romance with both Shoshanna & her love interest, Jake Kaplan, both being Jewish. This is something we *definitely* need more of in YA lit, and it’s beyond me that this is the only YA Jewish holiday romance that I know of (I’m really hoping that this starts a trend!) If this isn’t on your TBR right now, definitely be sure to add it ASAP 😍

The Detour by Natalie D. Richards

One of my earliest reviews on my blog (and my first review in my school paper!) was for Six Months Later, another book by the same author, so you can safely bet that I’ll be checking out this one as well! This book has it all: a teen girl struggling to get home to her family before the holidays, a Christmas blizzard that causes plane delays, and bad road conditions that turn an innocent car ride into the scene of . . . a mystery??? I have yet to read (or discover) a YA Christmas thriller, and I couldn’t think of a better time of year to read one than when I’m curled up in bed with a mug of hot cocoa and my fuzzy PJs ❤️

One Way or Another by Kara McDowell

While I wasn’t the ~biggest~ fan of Kara’s debut book, Just for Clicks (nothing bad, I promise, just not my cup of tea!) I am still SUPER hyped for this one! It’s basically the winter equivalent of Two Summers by Aimee Friedman, and centers around Paige, a teen girl with anxiety who’s struggling to decide between spending her Christmas break in a snowy cabin with her best friend/unrequited crush, or living it up in NYC, and ends up simultaneously living out both fates. I absolutely adore the premise for this one, and I can’t wait to read it come October 2020!

A Royal Christmas Quandary by Samantha Hastings

Finally, we have A Royal Christmas Quandry, a book by the same author of The Last Word, which has been on my TBR for what feels like forever! Anyways, the only info that has been released about this book is that it’s going to be a YA historical romance (hello, Jane Austen fangirls!) about “a young lady who must find a missing prince during the Christmas season.” While the synopsis is super short, I cannot begin to describe how perfectly irresistible that sounds (I’m an absolute sucker for books with royalty). Also, this is kinda unrelated but can we talk about how this is the *second* book that Samatha has releasing next year? Honestly, I’d be lucky if I could finish writing just one book in my entire life 😂

About the Blogger

Hi! I’m Julie, and I’m the girl behind the YA book blog, Struck by Stories.

A little about me . . . I’m eighteen (does that still count as a teenager???) a senior in high school, ailurophile (which is just a fancy word for cat-lover), HUGE Disney fan, and proud resident of New England. My dream in life is to become a Children’s/Young Adult librarian, and I’m slowly working my way to achieving that!

In addition, I am also a self-proclaimed Thunderclaw (Thunderbird/Ravenclaw) which I think perfectly sums me up because I love to adventure, especially through stories!

When I don’t have my head stuck in a book, you can probably find me either cuddling with my calico cat, baking treats in the kitchen, studying hard for all my classes, jamming out to the top 40 songs, or fangirling over all my favorite TV shows. You can follow along with all of my bookish adventures at struckbystories.com, or on social media @struckbystories ❤️

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What are some of your favorite Christmas/Holiday books (YA or not)?


Chanda’s Favorite Christmas Book Covers | Guest Post

Posted December 22, 2019 by Jana in Guest Post / 2 Comments

I’m so excited to welcome Chanda of Chanda Reads (and therusticbibliophile on Insta) to the blog today to share her favorite Christmas book covers! I love a good cover, and Christmas ones are always my favorites, so I’m loving her guest post pick for Bookish Little Christmas. I’ve read one of her picks, and a bunch of the others are on my TBR. She’s got good taste!


As the holiday season approaches I wanted to highlight some of my favorite Christmas and/or holiday themed covers. Whether you like the traditional Christmas book cover of a couple cuddling in a snowy landscape, a lone Christmassy figure, a house decked to the nines for the holidays, or a modern chick-lit style cover I included a wide array (12 to be exact) of the most aesthetically pleasing covers I could find for the holiday season. I only included adult releases from the past 5-6 years because there are just too many amazing covers if you include the classics or children’s titles and also only included books with a 3.5/5 or above Goodreads rating, because no-one deserves to be hoodwinked by a good cover.

Full disclosure: I’ve only actually read one of these (A Holiday by Gaslight), but I actually chose this book because the cover caught my eye.

1. A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews, 4.12/5 stars on Goodreads

I think this might be my most favorite Christmas book cover of all time. I was randomly scrolling Facebook one day and this cover made me stop scrolling to buy it on the spot. The muted reds and greens, the haunting snowy landscape, the eye-catching font, and the holly details combine to make a remarkable cover.

My own rating for this book was 4.5/5 stars – it is a sweet holiday read that left me smiling for hours after I finished it.

2. An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow, 4.17/5 stars on Goodreads

This cover reminds me of every Hallmark Christmas movie about a country gal and city guy who get over their differences and find true love under the mistletoe- so it’s perfect 😂

(NOTE from Jana: I’ve read this one, and it’s cute! I’d give it 3.5/5 stars because it wasn’t as Christmassy as I wanted it to be. And Chanda was nearly correct, it’s just a city gal and a country guy. lol)

3. Christmas Shopaholic (Shopaholic #9) by Sophie Kinsella (4.34/5 stars on Goodreads)

Christmas Shopaholic is a perfect example of the simple and bold design trend that has emerged over the past few years on contemporary romances. I love the clean look of this one, with the focus being on the gifts and sprinkles of snow.

4. The White Christmas Inn by Colleen Wright (3.98/5 stars on Goodreads)

The cover of The White Christmas Inn looks like the door of a house that, on the inside, probably smells like freshly made cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. Come on in, they saved you a seat by the fire.

5. Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler, 3.88/5 stars on Goodreads

Christmas Camp’s cover gives me strong nostalgic vibes of what I thought, as a child, my house would look like when I became an adult. You know – based off the entirely realistic expectation that I would live in a giant house identical to Kevin McCalister’s, sans burglars of course.

6. Sealed with a Christmas Kiss by Rachael Lucas, 3.97/5 stars on Goodreads

I usually hate twisty and curly title font, but Sealed with a Christmas Kiss is able to achieve the whimsical intentionality of the font by combining it with the aforementioned contemporary style of illustration.

7. Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies, 4.19/5 stars on Goodreads

The minimalistic illustration style on the cover of Merry Mistletoe is enchanting as it gives off a quirky and heart-warming vibe.

8. Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas, 4.54/5 stars on Goodreads

The subdued colors of the sunset* and landscape make a perfect backdrop to the bold colors of the font and foreground scene, complimenting it without making it busy.

*sunrise? Is this one of those Buzzfeed personality test questions? If you see a sunrise you’re a morning person; a sunset you’re a vampire?

(NOTE from Jana: I guess I’m a vampire!)

9. Christmas at Claridge’s by Karen Swan, 3.78/5 stars on Goodreads

Sometimes it’s nice to get a non-conventional Christmas cover, without all the fluff of embracing couples, bright colors, and cozy scenes. I was drawn to the subtle tones, lone figure, and empty streets of London, which seemed a sure indicator that this novel would be a very different read than most others on this list.

10. Snowfall on Cedar Trail by Annie Rains, 4.57/5 stars on Goodreads

Did someone say Christmas cover fluff? Boom: Cute puppy on cover? Check. Pristine snow? Check. Lighted outdoor trees? Check. Perfect embodiment of a real-life gingerbread house? Check. It doesn’t get much fluffier than this, and I am here for it.

11. The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan, 4.17/5 stars on Goodreads

Maybe it’s because I don’t have [and always wanted] sisters, but this cover made me immediately smile. The warm tones add to the already cozy feel of it.

12. A Match Made in Mistletoe by Anna Campbell, 3.91/5 stars on Goodreads

Regency and historical romances are some of my favorites to read, but I’ll be honest: some of the covers are…not to my taste. This cover, however, is stunning with the sharp contrast of the gold gown to the deep reds and greens of the title and background.

I hope you enjoyed my picks for best Christmas covers and
I hope you have a very happy holiday season! :)

Thank you much to Jana, for allowing me to be a contributor this Bookish Little Christmas!