Category: Guest Post

Jennifer’s Bookish Etsy Gift List | Guest Post

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

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


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

Enamel Pins

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

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

Candles

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

Jewelry

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

Pencils and Notebooks

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

Artwork

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

Totes/Bags

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

 

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


About Melinda Curtis

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

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

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

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


Dear Santa,

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

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

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

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

Your long-lost believer,
Chief of Police Alex Baker


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

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

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


About Annie Rains

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

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Lauren’s Christmas Reading Round-up

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

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Miranda’s Favorite Children’s Holiday Books

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

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

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

Great times!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Miranda Liasson

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

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

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

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

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Tracey Garvis Graves’s Christmas Traditions | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

Posted December 23, 2018 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post / 3 Comments

It’s no secret among my friends and family that fall is my all-time favorite season. There’s just so much to love about it: the cooler temperatures, the vivid colors of the falling autumn leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and my favorite cardigan sweaters and boots. But those who know me well also know that winter is my second-favorite season, and there are so many things I enjoy about that time of year, especially the holidays.

I have always loved Christmastime and when I was a child my fervent wish was that every Christmas would be a white one. Living in Iowa, you’d think it was a given that the ground would be covered in snow, but that was not always the case. Now, as an adult, I still wish for a white Christmas and watch the weather forecast closely in the days leading up to Christmas Eve.

In my family, Christmas Eve was always the night we celebrated the most. We hosted a family gathering and then spent Christmas Day in a more leisurely, look-what-Santa-brought-eating-leftovers kind of way. About seven or eight years ago, I took over the hosting of our family on Christmas Eve. My dad and stepmom still host Thanksgiving and Easter at their house, but Christmas Eve is all mine. It felt like a right of passage and it made my favorite holiday even more special to me.

We have traditions that we’ve been following since I started hosting and I have no desire to change them anytime soon. Around Thanksgiving, I start baking the cookies I’ll want on hand for the holiday season. I always make gingersnaps, chocolate crinkles, peanut butter blossoms, sugar cookie cutouts, and some sort of almond bark-covered truffle. I put them in the freezer and on Christmas Eve morning, I pull out the ones I’ve been saving for our holiday celebration and arrange them on my Christmas platters.

Our dinner menu features a surf and turf double entrée. My dad always makes his prime rib and I’m in charge of the seafood. One of the things I love about our menu is that we all cook together at my house. Dad brings the beef and I’m in charge of preparing the king crab legs. I make sure to have appetizers on hand when my siblings and their families arrive so no one goes hungry while we’re putting the main meal together. We often round out the meal with a potato casserole of some kind, a vegetable such as asparagus, and a heaping basket of garlic bread.

I always set the dining room table on the morning of Christmas Eve. I have special green chargers to go under the dinner plates, cloth napkins, reindeer napkin rings, amber water goblets, and candles everywhere. Right before we eat, I often find myself standing in the dining room with the lights down low, basking in the candlelight and enjoying how pretty everything looks.

Once dinner is over, we move to the family room where we let the kids open their gifts one at a time. Once they’re done, we send them to the basement to hang out while the adults take turns opening their gifts. And when the gifts are all opened and the room is a sea of wrapping paper and bows, we make coffee and dig into those cookie platters! It’s a wonderful way to end the evening and I look forward to it every year.

I’m already looking ahead to December, and I might even have a to-do list started. Now bring on the snow. I’m already pining for that white Christmas.

Merry Christmas Giveaway from Tracey Garvis Graves!

Your choice of a copy of On the Island (her debut) or The Girl He Used to Know (her upcoming 2019 release). Such a hard decision because they are both SO GOOD!
This giveaway is open internationally.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Published by Penguin on August 16, 2012
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance, Survival
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When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments — instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Publishing by St. Martin’s Press on April 2, 2019
Genres: Adult/Womens Fiction – Romance, Contemporary
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Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

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Christmas Cookies for Harker’s Favorite Book Characters | Blogger Guest Post

Posted December 21, 2018 by Jana in Guest Post / 0 Comments

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is all the delicious food that seems seasonally appropriate: breakfast on Christmas morning, the side dishes at Christmas lunch/dinner and, of course, the Christmas cookies!

There are also all the great books that end up on my wish list. When thinking about the books I’ve loved in the past year and the ones I want to receive for the holidays, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of cookies I would make for the characters. Below are some of my favorite cookies matched with some of my favorite characters from recent reads.

Molasses Cookies – Victor Vale and Sydney Clarke: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Growing up, my grandmother would make molasses cookies every year. There were a select few cookie cutters that she used and the best part was not only choosing what shape to use, but the colored sugar to use for each (red or green were our go-to choices, but you can customize them to your tastes).

There’s a deep, rich flavor to these cookies, something that I think Victor would appreciate because they’re not sweet like you might consider when you think of typical cookies. Sydney might make them for him and add the sugar in various colors for the hit of sweetness to a) brighten up their lives and b) add a little sweetness because lord knows the Victor/Sydney/Mitch family needs some in Vicious.

Snickerdoodles – Charlie and Nick: Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite cookies. While you can make them on your own, once the dough is ready, it can be a nice kind of activity to do with someone you like, whether family or, in Charlie and Nick’s case, someone you love. Rolling the balls of dough, patting them into the cinnamon sugar mix, and eating the freshest, most delicious cookies right out of the oven? It’s a perfect winter-y thing to do that makes your heart and your stomach happy. The Betty Crocker recipe is the classic one my family has used for decades and I would recommend is wholeheartedly.

Black & White Cookies – Rose Marshall: Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Rose Marshall is a road ghost who has been hitchhiking and guiding souls since her death 60+ years ago. Her one port of call in this “afterlife” is the Last Chance Diner. I’m not sure that holidays mean a whole lot when you’re dead, but I think Emma, the owner of the diner, might serve these cookies to the supernatural beings that frequent her establishment. There are some rules for ghosts like Rose regarding being able to accept food (it has to be freely given by the living). Emma, though not technically alive, counts as someone that can give Rose her favorite burger & malted or, at special times, something sweet like these black-and-white cookie. That hit of chocolate on one side blends well with the vanilla frosting on the other. Why Christmas? Because frosting cookies feels like that extra something that really brings things over the top as a treat. You could also flavor the vanilla or chocolate side with peppermint extract (rather than the typically called for lemon) as a seasonal flavor if you like.

Santa’s Trash Cookie – Arthur and Ben: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Combining all the best flavors, especially salty/sweet, these Santa’s Trash Cookies from Delish would be perfect for the main characters of What If It’s Us, especially if they’re made huge like Arthur’s favorite double chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery. A bit of a wild combination of flavor and textures including chocolate chips, potato chips, and pretzels, but one that embraces its range and delivers a yummy cookie that this romcom couple can eat while in for the afternoon together or for a party with Arthur’s friends from his hometown and Ben’s from NYC.

Stroopwafel – Nina Zenik: Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I tried these cookies for the first time this year and fell in love with the sweetness of the caramel and the chewiness of the dough. These are so delicious and, come on, how could a waffle cookie not be perfect for Nina Zenik, Heartrender and Queen of Waffles? Now I haven’t had one fresh, but I think that making these and having them fresh from the waffle iron would be a soothing treat on a cold winter’s day. If I’ve learned anything from Great British Bake Off, though, it’s that you have to be careful with the caramel that is sandwiched between the waffle cookies. Lol Easy to muck up, but very much worth it, whether you’re a waffle loving Grisha in Six of Crows or someone who needs a perk up like our girl Nina in Crooked Kingdom.

(Note: this recipe uses metric measurements, which should be considered for those readers who are in the US and may be unfamiliar with certain terms)

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Bookish Christmas Gift Recommendations from Literary Book Gifts | Small Business Owner Guest Post

Posted December 20, 2018 by Jana in Guest Post / 0 Comments

Today’s guest post is by Melissa, owner of Literary Book Gifts. She’s here to offer a few bookish gift suggestions! Perhaps you’ll consider spending your Christmas present money here!

With the holidays in full swing it can sometimes be a challenge to set some time aside to rest, relax, and have a cup of warm cocoa by the fire with a good book. You may already have your presents wrapped and arranged nicely in the living room, fun wrapping paper, ribbons, lively hangtags with quotes saying things like ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and ‘Merrrrry Christmas’ and all.

Gift giving is an activity not only for the receiver but for the gift giver. I personally love looking shopping online or through department stores not with myself in mind, but with a certain someone else whom I am trying to find the perfect present for. It’s not everyday that it’s a loved one’s birthday, special event, or holiday where I get to pick out a unique and meaningful present to give just to them.

I started an online store of book related tees and totes to offer a some unique gift options for the reader, writer, or book lover in your life. Without further ado I’d like to talk a little about some of the most popular items in the collection as well as a few of my select favorites.

The great thing of the designs in this collection is that you will not find the same shirt or bag anywhere else. Since the shirts are available in multiple color options, it’s really unlikely that you will run into someone with the same shirt.

The Pride and Prejudice T-Shirt is definitely one of the most popular choices. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s romance tale is still poignantly relevant even today. It showcases the title of the novel, and author Jane Austen in fancy writing. There is an image of a man leaning down and gently kissing a lady’s hand. This shirt is in a women’s cut but is also available in a unisex style as well.

Herman Melville’s classic adventure novel is undeniably stillwidely popular to this day. This Moby Dick T-Shirt is best suited for those who like to spend their summers voyaging on the open seas. Or for those who simply like reading about such adventures from the comfort of their living rooms. In a white print on dark shirt color choices, this shirt makes a great gift for any fan of whales or of the iconic Moby Dick himself.

One of my favorites in the collection is the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Tote Bag. Lewis Carroll’s novel and subsequent sequel of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There offer us some of the most eccentric and hilarious characters and scenes in literature. Tote bags are great for their ability to carry books, lots of books, around everywhere you go. I like this bag in particular because of how it turned out with the typography framing the image so it looks just like the book cover of a vintage novel.

Melissa Chan loves bookish items and is the designer at Literary Book Gifts. There are a wide range of t-shirts and tote bags to choose from for writers and readers alike. If you are an author who is planning a book launch and is looking for a giveaway prize please get in touch, I’d love to offer any of the shirts as the prize to help generate interest for your novel.

If you find anything you like, whether it is for the holidays or for a special present use the code ThatArtsyReaderGirl20 to receive 20% off any order! This coupon code does not expire.


Jenn Bennett: Christmas Ornament Hoarder | Author Guest Post

Posted December 19, 2018 by Jana in Guest Post / 0 Comments

I adore Christmas. I love snow and twinkle-y lights, and hearing holiday songs on the radio. I love warm gingerbread cookies, Advent calendars filled with German chocolate, and crying while watching It’s A Wonderful Life. But one of my favorite things about the holidays is putting up my Christmas tree.

Thing is, I have a lot of Christmas ornaments. I’m talking hundreds. Possibly a thousand? Let’s just say too many. Some of them are nostalgic, and a few of them are from my childhood. I’m American, but my father was in the U.S. Army, so I was born in Germany and lived in Europe for several years; I still have an ornament that I begged my mother to buy when we were on vacation in Rotterdam. Many of my ornaments are vintage or they look vintage—like my blown glass movie-theatre popcorn bucket, atomic robots, and sushi plate. There are even a few bizarre ones: shrunken head, oyster-shell mermaid, Crazy Cat Lady. (Keep Christmas weird!)

I never meant to accumulate so many, but one Wizard of Oz flying monkey led to another, and now I’m knee-deep in glitter, baubles, and tin soldiers. I promised my husband I wouldn’t buy another ornament—not a one—so I suppose I’ll need to cherish what I have. I mean, I really don’t need that 1940s one-eyed turkey, or that hand-painted Dracula ornament from Etsy. Right…?

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 16, 2019
Add to Goodreads • Pre-Order from Amazon

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.


Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of several young adult books, including: ALEX, APPROXIMATELY; STARRY EYES; and SERIOUS MOONLIGHT. She also writes romance and fantasy for adults. Her books have earned multiple starred reviews, won the RITA® Award, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two dogs. Visit her at www.jennbennett.net.

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A Found Family for Christmas by Katie Ruggle | Author Guest Post

Posted December 16, 2018 by Jana in Guest Post / 0 Comments

In Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas, I combine two of my favorite themes: found families and gift giving. Growing up, Camille’s tiny family never celebrated holidays, and she continued this tradition—or lack of traditions—as a solitary adult. When she’s drawn into Steve’s life, however, she’s dropped right in the middle of celebration central—after all, Steve and his family own a Christmas tree ranch. There’s no avoiding the holiday spirit, and Camille quickly finds that she doesn’t want to.

I love writing about found families, lonely people finding each other, fitting together perfectly without having to change who they are. Borderline hermit Camille only had her grandma, who died years ago. Steve’s affectionate, rambunctious family is overwhelming to her at first, but they also represent everything she didn’t realize she longed for. As they welcome her into the fold and introduce her to their holiday traditions, she finds—to her surprise—that she fits right in like the missing puzzle piece.

Camille’s not the only one benefiting, however. As she grows closer to Steve and his children, all of their lives become richer. They start new traditions that include Camille. Not only do Steve and his children fill the hole in her life, but she fills the empty spot in their hearts, as well.

Gift-giving is one of those traditions that Camille never fully experienced before being included in the Springfield family’s Christmas, and the present exchange was one of my favorite scenes to write. The gifts people give each other are such a wonderful physical expression of their connections. Camille and everyone in her new family paid attention to each other, so they knew exactly what to make or buy. The thought behind each present was a gift in itself, making the receiver feel seen, understood, and loved.

Christmas isn’t the only time of year when people are lonely and family issues cause stress, of course, but the holidays seem to intensify these things. In the same way, finding a new family during this time of year makes everything extra sweet.

New families, new homes, new loves…these are the best Christmas gifts.

Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas by Katie Ruggle
Series: Rocky Mountain Cowboys #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 25, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction — Christmas, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

In the heart of the Rockies
In the arms of a cowboy
One white Christmas can change everything.

When firefighter and single dad Steve Springfield moved his four kids to a Colorado Christmas tree ranch, he intended for it to be a safe haven. But he never expected danger to follow them to his childhood home…

Or that he would come face-to-face with the one girl he could never forget.

Folk artist Camille Brandt lives a quiet life. As the town’s resident eccentric, she’s used to being lonely–until Steve freaking Springfield changes everything. Brave and kind, he’s always had a piece of her heart, and it doesn’t take long before she’s in danger of falling for him and his rambunctious kids. But as mysterious fires break out across the sleepy Colorado town, Steve and Camille will have to fight if they want their happy family to survive until Christmas…

About Katie Ruggle

A fan of the old adage “write what you know”, Katie Ruggle lived in an off-grid, solar- and wind-powered house in the Rocky Mountains until her family lured her back to Minnesota. When she’s not writing, Katie rides horses, shoots guns (not while riding, although that would be awesome), cross-country skis (badly) and travels to warm places where she can scuba dive. A graduate of the Police Academy, Katie received her ice-rescue certification and can attest that the reservoirs in the Colorado mountains really are that cold. A fan of anything that makes her feel like a bad-ass, she has trained in Krav Maga, boxing and gymnastics.

You can connect with Katie at KatieRuggle.com, www.facebook.com/katierugglebooks, or on Twitter @KatieRuggle.

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