#blogmas day 13: Ho Ho Ho – Secret Santa!

When I was in school I used to dread Secret Santa exchanges. I would always spy on the person I chose and there was so much anxiety around who chose me. I just hated trying to find the right balance the pressure of finding the “right gift.” Ugh, and then the nervousness of watching them open the gift and being watched while opening mine…SO NERVE WRACKING!!!

However, this year I signed myself up for three bookish Secret Santa exchanges. I have really enjoyed meeting new people and shopping for them and I am SO excited to do our exchanges! There is still a bit of anxiety surrounding “Did I buy more than they did?” “Did they buy more than I did?” “Will they like it? Do they have these things” etc.  But still, this is the best experience I have had! Today I received one of my three packages and I was so impressed! This was actually the smallest of the packages, I believe, monetary-wise, and I was so happy and impressed with my haul. My ‘Santa’ spoiled me. Here’s how it turned out:

So in case anyone is looking for ideas for a Secret Santa box, here are some ideas of what we came up with, between my Secret Santa and I:

– Books – Funko Pop – Fuzzy socks – Christmas socks – Bookmarks – Fandom pin – Candle – Candy – Cookies – Glitter/Gel pen – Marker set – Washi Tape – Fairy lights – Mug – Hot cocoa – Fandom art prints – Keychains – Chapstick – Holiday ornaments

There are so many little doo-dads out there to put in a box so get creative. Just walk around a store and think outside the box, so to speak. As I said, I loved shopping for these other people and I already can’t wait to put more boxes together in the future!

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On the thirteenth day of #blogmas ….

Barnes & Noble came up with a few literary quotes to put in your Christmas cards for any audience. They formatted it differently and you can find their version of it here, but I’m going to put it all together my way to suit my blog.

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For the anti-homebody: “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” (Exiles by Garrison Keilor)

 

18857350For the homesick:  “Call a truce, then, to our labors—let us feast with friends and neighbors, and be merry as the custom of our caste; for if faint and forced the laughter, and if sadness follow after, we are richer by one mocking Christmas past.” (Christmas in India by Rudyard Kipling)

 

18300267For the fancy and formal:  “I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which that season generally brings, and that your beaux will be so numerous as to prevent your feeling the loss of the three of whom we shall deprive you.” (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

 

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B&N describes this one as “for your goth and emo pals”:  “Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.” (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)

 

 

9780394800790For the child-at-heart:  “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” (How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss)

 

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And lastly, can’t forget the sincere, Christmas wish:  “I heard the bells on Christmas Day / Their old familiar carols play / And wild and sweet, the words repeat / Of peace on earth, good-will to men.” (Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

 

Listening to: “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” by CeeLo feat Straight No Chaser

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On the eleventh day of #blogmas … Kiss Me in New York by Catherine Rider

34220850 I would call this book a cute, sweet, but relatively forgettable YA holiday romance. Charlotte is on her way back to London with a broken heart when her flight is cancelled due to a blizzard. Anthony is planning on surprising his girlfriend at the airport, but he is the one who is surprised when she breaks up with him after she gets off the plane and runs into the arms of another guy. Together, Charlotte and Anthony make their way through a book called (something like) Ten Ways To Get Over Your Ex, all the while–you guessed it–falling for each other.

Of course, this is all set in New York and occurs on Christmas Eve. The book seems to not mean much because these are high schoolers so how long can a relationship like this really last? The two promise to reunite, as Charlotte is trying to decide what college to attend.

So like I said, the book was super-cute. It was easy to read–I sat down and read the entire thing in a day. It was quotable and cliche, but that’s what Christmas is all about isn’t it? ;P

Book soundtrack: “A New York Christmas” Rob Christmas

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On the tenth day of #blogmas …

…we’re back to the Book Blogger Hop! For those of you who don’t know, the Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books but is now maintained by Billie B. at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, and receive new followers. There is a new prompt each week so feel free to jump in any time!

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Q: If you celebrate Christmas, do you feel the need to stop reading anything BUT Christmas-themed romances once the season starts?

A: Nope. I love Christmas, and I try to read as many Christmas-themed books as possible but I don’t ONLY read Christmas books. I don’t “restrict” myself. That all being said, I probably do read about 80-90% Christmas or winter books. Its just what I’m in the mood for. I still read different genres within the Christmas theme….not all romance. Mostly mystery or some contemporary romance or classics/historical fiction–there is just so much out there! So far, I have finished reading Kiss Me in New York and I just started reading Christmas at Hope Cottage. I’ll maybe get through one or two more holiday reads before the end of the month?? We’ll see!

I’m always up for recommendations if you have any for me! Please feel free to tell me if you’ve read any good holiday/wintery books lately! 😀

Currently watching: Jim Carey’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

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On the ninth day of #blogmas …

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Attention, Attention! Hear ye, hear ye! Have I got a link for you! I just found this on Twitter and it feels like Christmas came early! I am so excited that I found out, and I am so excited to share it with you! Sad I didn’t find it earlier! So, without further ado….(drumroll please)….I present to you Rivited Read’s 25 Reads of December!

dqje_fwxkamrnsxBasically what they are doing is making 25 books available for FREE for 24 hours. There is a different one each day, and they are all YA new releases! Yeah, its only 24 hours, but its the complete book and several of the books on this list are books I have wondered if I want to spend money on, or pass up. At the same time, several I have read, but they (Rivitedlit.com) still offer other books that are available for 2 days or a week. There are plenty of other things to explore around their website as well, if you’ve never checked them out before. Reviews, articles, etc. And just for the record, I am no way affiliated with Rivited….just a reader who likes free books (don’t we all??)! 🙂 Happy reading!

Listening to: They Both Die At the End (Audiobook)

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On the seventh day of #blogmas …The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

28016509I feel as though I haven’t fully formed an opinion on The Girl Before yet. Its definitely one of those mystery/thrillers that keeps you uneasy and reeling even after the book is finished. Its not to the most extreme that I’ve read, though, but its definitely still on my mind. I think that’s something that makes a book a good read. If it sticks with you, and if you keep thinking about if when you’re through, its a good one.

Here’s another thing I liked: the combination of opposing timelines and POV’s. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work in the beginning. Typically I am wary of this writing style but it really worked. Learning about Jane in the present, who is struggling with the loss of her stillborn daughter, and Emma in the past, who just broke up with her long time boyfriend. Both women sign a lease to the same ultra-modern, high-tech house with over 200 rules for tenants. The home was designed and is owned by the obsessive-compulsive Edward. Boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Simon is active in both timelines as well, and with all of these characters, of course we have to determine who tells truths and who weaves deceit.

There were many twists and turns in the book, but I really wouldn’t call it highly suspenseful. While I liked the characters and wanted to know what happened, it didn’t seem to move all that quickly. This is the perfect book for a movie, I have to say, and I can’t wait to see what they do with it since the rights have already been bought!

Book soundtrack: “Say You Love Me” by Jessie Ware

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On the sixth day of #blogmas …DIY holiday gifts for students/classmates/etc.

Its HUMP DAY, y’all! I hope you are all having a good week! The holidays are drawing nearer and I hope things aren’t getting too stressful. I have a couple of Secret Santa packages to start wrapping. As I was starting to do so, I was trying to think of an extra treat to put in them and I realized that I have a couple extra treats that I made up from my classmates and realized that I should share that with the blogging world because they are SO CUTE, if I do say so myself. So here goes:

CANDY CANE REINDEER

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WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

– Candy Canes of any kind (these are Sweet Tarts, but you can use traditional Red/White peppermint or any other combination you like)

– Googly eyes

– Pipe Cleaners (again, any colors…if you want them to be traditional and have black or brown antlers, then get black or brown pipe cleaners. As you can see, I opted for neon colors)

– Pom pon balls (I chose red for Rudolph, but again, black or brown could be more traditional)

– Pencil

– Hot glue gun

INSTRUCTIONS:

Choose your candy cane and your pipe cleaner. Fold pipe cleaner in half and then hook it onto the bend of the candy cane. Tightly pinch and twist several times so that the ‘antlers’ are secure. We will come back to these.

Next, place a dab of hot glue on the end of the candy cane’s hook. Place a pom pon on the glue and hold briefly. Then find 2 googly eyes. Spread the hot glue about one inch above the nose and press the eyes firmly into the glue.

Lastly, take the pencil and hold it straight up against the pipe cleaner. Beginning about half an inch from the base from the head, coil the pipe cleaner around and around the pencil. Once the pipe cleaner is wrapped all the way around the pencil, slide the pencil out. You may then decide how tight or loose you with your reindeer’s antlers to be. (See above)

Happy Crafting!!

What I’m listening to: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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On the fifth day of #blogmas …Tag Tuesday: The Christmas Song Book Tag

This tag was made by Hail Hearts NYC on YouTube. The original video can be watched here.

#1 – “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” – Name a villainous creature you couldn’t help but love. The. Darkling.!!! So, I say this and I’m only in the first of the Grisha trilogy. I don’t know if he truly is a villain…as of now, I assume he is…but I love him!

#2 – “All I Want For Christmas is You” – Which book do you most hope to see under your tree this year? I have been itching to read anything by Megan Miranda all year long! Her covers just grab me and I’m always down for a good mystery.

tim-gouw-165547#3 – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and still believes in themselves. Jordan from Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (my summary & review of the book is here). I loved this book because Jordan/Julian was a character who had a goal and did whatever it took to reach it. She stuck by that and worked so hard and truly believed that she could do something that no one had ever done before. And she did it.

#4 – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” – Which character do you think is at the top of the naughty/nice list? Naughty list: Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles. I just finished reading the novella Fairest and it was so insightful into Levana’s past. I wish we had books on all villain’s pasts. Wouldn’t it be amazing to know all of the Disney villains’ backgrounds? Nice list: Iko from the Lunar Chronicles. I also recently finished reading Wires and Nerve, which is the graphic novel that follows the Lunar Chronicles and oh. my. stars. it was MAGNIFICENT!! So it was my first graphic novel but it was easy to read and I literally laughed out loud. The book gave new life and personality to the characters and it was grand! Do NOT disregard this book! Its a must-read! (But only after you’ve finished the series!)

chinda-sam-185434#5 – “Frosty the Snowman” – What book just melts your heart? My go-to book for a heart-warmer is Anne of Green Gables. First off there is the childhood nostalgia behind the book for me, and then secondly Anne herself is such a charming and warm character. Then when you mix in the secondary characters–Diana, Matthew, Marilla, Gilbert–my very soul is warmed.

#6 – “Feliz Navidad” – Pick a book that takes place in a country other than your own. Murder, Magic, and What We Wore is set in London in 1818 and is a tale of mystery, spies, and dressmaking.

#7 – “Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – Which Christmas book do you use to spread the joy? Either A Christmas Carol or Skipping Christmas. I didn’t realize, until a couple years ago while randomly shopping at Half Price Books, that the movie “Christmas With the Kranks” was based on this book by John Grisham, but I really recommend giving it a read! The movie is actually pretty faithful to the book and its a pretty quick, easy, cozy read so if you need some holiday cheer, give it a go!

#8 – “Sleigh Ride” – Which character would you choose to spread holiday cheer with? Me and Luna Lovegood all the way, just to see what unique, creative mischief we can come up with!

#9 – “Baby, its Cold Outside” – Which book, that you didn’t like, would you sacrifice to warm yourself up on a cold day? First We Were IV . What a pity 😦

#10 – “Do You Hear What I Hear?” – What book do you think everyone should read? Hmm… tie between The Hate U Give, The Library of Fates, and The Light We Lost. Those are my top 3 reads for 2017.

If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged!! Spread the love around and feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts on any of these books!

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On the fourth day of blogmas …The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

34058936Goblins, fae, and gold – oh my! Plus, new adult contemporary. So if you like these genres like I do, you’re in for an awesome read. I really, really enjoyed The Goblins of Bellwater. Like, 4.5/5 stars enjoyed it. From the very beginning I was swept up in the story and because the writing is so easy to read, and all of the characters are interesting, and its told from alternating POV’s, I was engaged throughout the entire book. Also, please take just one second to look at that cover!!!! *drool*

The story goes like this: Kit’s family is cursed. For generations now, one member of their family must bring the goblins of the forest a tribute of gold each month or else the goblins will attack a member or members of the local town. Kit is the current liason. Now, he’s a good guy and he hates stealing from people to give to the goblins but he hates having people attacked more. Lately Kit has been coming up a little short. The goblins aren’t always honest and well-behaved either. Enter: the Darwen sisters.

clarisse-meyer-184329Livy Darwen is a local environmental scientist and Skye is a barista. They both love the forests and have grown up believing in “teeny tinies” living in the woods. Well, to shorten the synopsis, there is a goblin curse on one of the sisters. The curse must be broken. Kit’s cousin, Grady, who is a chef, steps in to help. Relationships blossom. The curse gets worse before it gets better. There is adventure, there is an alliance with local fae (the good guys), there’s a battle, there’s minor drama, there’s an ending. Ta-daaa!!

So put this one on your Christmas lists, folks! I really liked this one! It started off maybe a little slow but everything else was just perfect for me. The perfect mix of a bit of paranormal, twenty-something adults, romance, adventure/action, and not mind-numbingly difficult to read.

Book soundtrack: “Vanilla Pines” by Tow’rs

On the third day of #blogmas …

…we jumped in on the Book Blogger Hop! For those of you who don’t know, the Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer from Crazy-For-Books but is now maintained by Billie B. at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, and receive new followers. There is a new prompt each week so feel free to jump in any time!

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Q: What is your favorite Christmas-themed read?

A: I think my favorite Christmas-themed read is either A Christmas Carol or Skipping Christmas. A lot of people don’t realize it, but Skipping Christmas (written by John Grisham) is the book that the movie “Christmas with the Kranks” with Tim Allen and Diane Keaton is based off of. I thought the book was very well-written and I love the movie too!

I’m always on the lookout for more good holiday reads. I especially like reading cozy Christmas mysteries, paranormal, contemporary romance, etc. so if you’ve got any good recommendations, please leave them for me! Thanks!

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