Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bookish Gift Ideas: The Sweeper (A Buddhist Tale) by Rebecca Hazell - #Review


My thoughts
I firmly believe that children should learn about different cultures and religions. What better vehicle than through the reading of books? The Sweeper is an excellent introduction to the tenets of the Buddhist faith. I love how the practice of mindfulness is introduced so simply. How it can be incorporated in anyone's daily life. Even for people of a different faith, the practice of mindfulness would seem to be a helpful practice in every day life...for children too. I especially liked this simple prayer chant introduced in the book...

May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they enjoy the great happiness free from suffering.
May they dwell in the great balance 
that is free from craving, anger, and misunderstanding.

This is a prayer that would serve anyone well, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike.

I also must mention that this wonderful book is vividly illustrated by the author. The illustrations are very colorful and expressive. They greatly enhance the story. Children will be delighted by them.

I highly recommend this book. It would make a great gift and be a fine addition to any child's library.

About the book
SHAMBHALA PUBLICATIONS
08/29/2017
PAGES: 32
SIZE: 8.25 X 10.75
ISBN: 9781611804386

Inspired by Buddhist tradition, this original story tells how Padme, a young servant girl, meets the Buddha as she is sweeping her master’s house. When she laments that she is so busy that she would never have time to meditate, the Buddha gives her the instruction to “sweep and clean.” This simple mindfulness practice transforms Padme’s life, and when she encounters the Buddha many years later, he teaches her how to send compassion out to others. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a wonderful way to introduce children to the power of mindfulness meditation practice.


Available for purchase at



About the author
Rebecca Hazell is an award-winning artist, author, and educator. She has published four nonfiction children’s books and created best-selling educational filmstrips and educational craft kits for children. She is a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, and she holds an honors BA from the University of California at Santa Cruz in Russian and Chinese history. Her books include The Barefoot Book of Heroic Children, Women Writers, and several self-published fantasy novels. Her website is rebeccahazell.com.

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Always in spirit...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Kicking off Sharing the Joy 2017 #Christmas


I can't believe how late I am this year! Already telling how busy my Christmas season is going to be. I need to remind myself to slow down and enjoy what Christmas really means to me and my family. These posts will help me to do just that.

I hope you will join me in celebrating the season. As usual, I will be sharing Weekend Baking, Weekend Lit, Weekend Crafting...maybe even Friday Baking and Movies. Also, book reviews and other bookish posts...and Christmas Around the World posts. Gift ideas. Just all around festive cheer for my favorite time of year (I rhymed)!

If you're looking for some ideas for new Christmas music this year, my friend Ken with The Sounds of Christmas was my guest in October and he shared all the new music coming out this year. You can read the post here. Don't forget to stop over and give The Sounds of Christmas a listen. Just click on their logo in the right sidebar.


If you didn't already know, the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge is going on again this year, through January 6th (Twelfth Night). You can sign up any time, even up until the last week of the challenge. Why not join us?

That's it for now. Looking forward to sharing the joy with you again this season!

Always in spirit...

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 Christmas Spirit #ReadingChallenge - Sign Up! #truexmasspirit


Yikes! This starts next week. I'm constantly trying to stay up to speed. Seems there's never enough time to get everything done...but I digress...

Welcome to the 2017 Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge! 

As usual, there are multiple levels for participation, like children's books and watching Christmas movies AND the Christmas Spirit Readathon (with a twist!) is back again this year. Keep reading for details!

Details and sign up:
  • challenge will run from Monday, November 20, 2017 through Saturday, January 6, 2018, Twelfth Night (or Epiphany for the Christians among us). 
  • cross over with other challenges is totally permitted AND encouraged! 
  • These must be Christmas novels, books about Christmas lore, a book of Christmas short stories or poems, books about Christmas crafts, and for the first time...a children's Christmas books level! 
Levels:

--Candy Cane: read 1 book
--Mistletoe: read 2-4 books
--Christmas Tree: read 5 or 6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!)

Additional levels:

--Fa La La La Films: watch a bunch or a few Christmas movies...it's up to you!
--Visions of Sugar Plums: read books with your children this season and share what you read

*the additional levels are optional, you still must complete one of the main reading levels above



  • The Christmas Spirit Readathon is back again this year (with a twist!). I'll be hosting once again over at Seasons of Reading also starting Monday, November 20 and running through Sunday, December 3! Yes, it's now two weeks long! Details and sign-up can be found HERE.
  • the most important rule? Have fun!!! 
  • I will have a review linky posted as a page the day the challenge starts. You will find it at the top of the right sidebar. 
  • Sign up in the linky below (link to your post with your reading list...you can change up your list during the challenge...I just want to be able to stop by to welcome you and see what you plan to read).
One final note: The giveaway once again this year will be a $15 donation to the winner's choice of a human rights organization, such as the ACLU, Boys and Girls Club, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Amnesty International, It Gets Better, Planned Parenthood, or another human rights organization of your choice, perhaps your local chapter or organization. This giveaway is open internationally.

I hope you will join me!

Grab a button with the grab code below, or save it from the right sidebar. And don't forget to check out the Readathon details at Seasons of Reading!

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(One final note...join me here at Christmas Spirit for my annual Sharing the Joy event for all kinds of Christmas fun during the season...book reviews, music, baking, crafts, literature, Christmas Around the World, and more!)

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Always in spirit...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The scoop on new #Christmas Music with Ken from the Sounds of Christmas and our New Halloween Page!



Thanks so much for inviting me back to your blog, Michelle!

I am very excited about the upcoming season for the Sounds of Christmas (which starts on November 1, which is next week)!

We’re actually already on, playing Halloween music through the end of this month. For the last ten Christmas seasons, I’ve played a huge variety of Christmas music, and I’ve worked hard to play thousands of songs, without repeating the same song and the same artist. So you don’t hear “Sleigh Ride” twice an hour, and you don’t hear Johnny Mathis over and over.

I have just always felt that there’s so much good Christmas music out there, and more and more coming every year, there’s no reason to play Bing’s “White Christmas” every other hour.

I’m doing the same kind of thing with Halloween music, spreading out different versions of “I Put A Spell On You” and others, as well as separating out the songs by the same artists. So you won’t hear “Ghostbusters” over and over (and I have multiple versions of that in rotation, from all three of the different movies).

By the way, if there’s a spooky song you’d like to hear, you can certainly let me know and I’ll do my best to play it for you!

So what’s new in Christmas music this season?

Once again, there is a lot of terrific new music this year, much of which is already out! I’m sure I won’t be able to get to it all in this blog, and there are always surprise releases that show up as the season gets going!

First, there are several notable releases that are being re-released with extra songs.


Last year’s Cracker Barrel exclusive from Reba McEntire (“My Kind Of Christmas”) is already out again. Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Darius Rucker and Lauren Daigle guest on the new tracks for this re-release.


Similarly, Pentatonix’ album from 2016 has been reissued in a “deluxe” version with five new songs (including a duet with Jennifer Hudson on “How Great Thou Art”).

Train’s 2015 Amazon exclusive album “Christmas In Tahoe” is also getting the deluxe treatment later this week, with an added five songs. There seems to be some confusion about which songs are being added, so we’ll have to wait until Friday to know for sure.

And for its tenth anniversary, Josh Groban’s smash album “Noel” is coming out again, with six bonus tracks. “Believe” from “The Polar Express” will be included, along with last year’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” single. There will also be a duet with Tony Bennett on “Christmas Time Is Here”. This one’s due the first week of November.




Last month saw new albums from Herb Alpert, Rebecca Spencer and Dave Koz. And October has already seen new music from Alabama, Fantasia, Gwen Stefani, 98 Degrees, Journey’s Jonathan Cain, Casting Crowns, Cheap Trick, Elizabeth Chan and Lindsey Stirling.



There was also a new Elvis Christmas album released. This one is part of the recent series created pairing the King’s original vocal recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. I was skeptical, but the result is really beautiful. By the way, there will be a deluxe version of this one due in November with the orchestral treatment given to some of Elvis’ gospel songs.


And still to come this month is a second Christmas album from Hanson (yes, that Hanson – the three brothers who famously gave us the giant 1990’s hit “Mmmbop”.


In November, Sia, Chante Moore, Patti Labelle and Sha Na Na are all expected to release new Christmas albums. And a Soundstage performance that Chris Isaak originally recorded about ten years ago will finally surface as an album (it was previously available on DVD).


Also in November, Seal is releasing an album of standards, which will include two Christmas songs.

And believe it or not, there’s a new Frank Sinatra Christmas album on the way. This one will be a “duets” kind of release, featuring Frank’s vocals paired with other artists (like the Elvis Christmas duets album a while back).

There are also rumored Christmas releases on the way from Dolly Parton, Blackhawk, Point Of Grace and Fifth Harmony.

Speaking of Fifth Harmony, they do have a song on the soundtrack for the upcoming animated holiday feature “The Star” (which also includes new songs from Mariah Carey and A Great Big World).

There are still plenty of rumors about other releases (though the long-rumored Christmas album from William Shatner has been pushed back to next year), so stay tuned for the latest. And once the Sounds of Christmas gets rolling, I’m hoping to bring back an hour of all-new Christmas music every week night at 8:00pm (Eastern)!

Hope you’re able to spend at least some of your holiday season with us!

And may you always believe in Santa Claus!

Ken
http://www.SoundsofChristmas.com

Thank you, Ken! I'm so looking forward to so many of these! Readers, you can access Sounds of Christmas in the right sidebar. 


Ken mentioned Halloween so this is the perfect time to announce our new Halloween page! You can access it in the right sidebar menu. I'm going to be adding to it before next year rolls around and you can expect some Halloween themed posts coming to the blog next October. Let me know what you think! Happy Halloween!



Don't forget...Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas starts this weekend on Friday, with Christmas favorites in the afternoon and a new movie premiering Saturday, Marry Me At Christmas. Watch a preview here.

Looking forward to the upcoming season!


Always in spirit...

Friday, July 28, 2017

Weekend Lit - A Selection of 2017 Christmas Book Releases #ChristmasinJuly


This list is by no means everything that is being released in 2017 Christmas books, but there are quite a few on this list. I've provided Amazon links, but I'm sure they are available from other outlets as well. Click the title to find on Amazon.

Fiction


Holly and Ivy by Fern Michaels (Sept 26)

In a heartwarming novel of secret wishes and family lost and found, acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels creates a timeless Christmas story to cherish . . .

The flames of memory always seem to glow a little brighter during the holidays. Perhaps that’s why this time of year is so difficult for airline heiress Ivy Macintosh, as she faces thoughts of yet another festive season alone. Since the plane crash that claimed the lives of her husband and two children eight years ago, she’s been submerged in grief.

When eleven-year-old Holly Greenwood knocks on her door, lost and frightened after a forbidden visit to her singing teacher, Ivy’s self-imposed exile is shattered. Holly has an extraordinary voice, and wants nothing more than to perform in an upcoming Christmas musical. Holly’s father, Daniel, doesn’t allow music in their home, refusing to give a good reason why—just as he refuses to talk about Holly’s mother. Ivy has no idea how closely she and Daniel are linked by their tragic pasts, yet she’s drawn to the warmth she senses beneath his gruff exterior. And as Christmas nears, their shared concern for Holly begins to draw Ivy back into the world again . . . and toward a family who may need her just as much as she needs them . . .


Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery: A Novel by Jenny Colgan (Oct. 10)

It's the most wonderful time of the year… and the perfect moment to escape to a charming English village! From the beloved author whose novels are "sheer indulgence from start to finish" (SOPHIE KINSELLA) comes a delightful holiday story — funny, heartfelt, romantic and packed with recipes — perfect for the winter months.

In the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne, the Christmas season has arrived. It’s a joyous time for family, friends, and feasting, as decorations sparkle along the town’s winding streets and shop windows glow with festive displays. And in Polly’s Little Beach Street Bakery, the aroma of gingerbread cookies and other treats tempts people in from the cold.

Though Polly is busy keeping up with the demands of the season, she still makes time for her beekeeper boyfriend, Huckle. She’s especially happy to be celebrating the holiday this year with him, and can’t wait to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a cup of eggnog on Christmas Eve.

But holiday bliss soon gives way to panic when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland. Now it will take all of the villagers to work together in order to ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

Full of heart and humor, Jenny Colgan’s latest novel is an instant Christmastime classic.


Holiday Murder (Lucy Stone Mysteries) by Leslie Meier (Sept 26)

For Lucy Stone, Christmas in Tinker’s Cove, Maine, isn’t just about the gift of giving. Sometimes it’s also about solving a crime or two . . .

Mistletoe Murder
The First Lucy Stone Mystery!
As if Lucy Stone’s Christmas schedule wasn’t busy enough, she’s also working nights at the famous mail-order company Country Cousins. But when she discovers its very wealthy founder, Sam Miller, dead in his car from an apparent suicide, Lucy’s gift for suspecting murder shines bright. Now she must track down an elusive killer—one who won’t be satisfied until everyone on his shopping list is dead, including Lucy herself . . .

Christmas Cookie Murder
One of the best things about Christmas in Tinker’s Cove has always been the annual Cookie Exchange. But when long-simmering petty rivalries and feuds finally come to a boil, accusations of recipe theft lead to an act of murder. Despite all of the ingredients for danger, Lucy sets out on the trail of a killer and soon uncovers a shocking Christmas secret best left unopened . . .

“Reading a new Leslie Meier mystery is like catching up with a dear old friend.” —Kate Carlisle, New York Times bestselling author


The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson (Sept 26)

The beloved author of the Mystic Creek series gifts readers with a novel of homespun holiday cheer, as two families discover the joy of hope and redemption....

Widow Maddie McLendon has uprooted her life to move to Rustlers Gulch with her son and grandson. But as a brutal Montana winter looms on the horizon, contractors have yet to break ground on their new house, leaving them to live in a makeshift camp of trailers, tents, and sheds....

Since his wife died six years ago, millionaire rancher Sam Conacher has been content to wallow in his grief alone while keeping a tight rein on his twenty-six-year-old daughter. But now the girl has gone and fallen in love with his foolish new neighbor’s no-good son....

Maddie and Sam will never see eye to eye on anything, until a near-tragedy gives them a true glimpse into each other’s souls. And as the first snowflakes begin to fall, they’ll discover that an open heart is the biggest gift of all....


Death by Eggnog (A Bookstore Cafe Mystery) by Alex Erickson (Sept 26)

Krissy Hancock is staying in her adopted hometown of Pine Hills, Ohio, for Christmas this year—and she even has a whole week off from her combination bookstore-café. But a killer is about to dampen her spirits . . .

Unfortunately, Krissy’s been roped into filling in for a sick elf in the local holiday musical extravaganza. With a demanding director, backstage gossip, and two men in fierce competition for the starring role, it isn’t all sweetness and Christmas lights. Then a murder puts a stop to the production, and Krissy is faced with a pageant of suspects.

Could her ex-boyfriend, a fellow elf, really be the culprit as the police are claiming? Or will the actor playing Santa be trading his red suit for an orange jumpsuit? When her behind-the-scenes investigation starts getting dangerous, the only thing Krissy really wants is to make it to Christmas dinner alive. But first she’ll have to finish wrapping up this case . . .


Purring around the Christmas Tree (A Pawsitively Organic Mystery) by Liz Mugavero (Sept 26)

In the New England town of Frog’s Ledge, the Holiday Light Festival is a Christmas tradition. Killing Santa is not. To bring joy back to the season, organic pet patisserie owner Kristan “Stan” Connor will have to find another Santa before it’s too late . . .

To the townspeople’s delight, the annual lighting of the tree is a spectacular success. Unfortunately, Santa pulled up in his sleigh, DOA. At first Stan is sure it’s Seamus, her boyfriend’s uncle, inside the red suit. But the victim turns out to be an employee from the town’s Christmas tree farm. Rumor has it the deceased was a mean drunk with a soft spot for feral cats. Stan has no idea why he was dressed as St. Nick—or why he’s dead.

Meanwhile, Seamus, a jolly Irishman who comes to America every December to visit his pub-owner nephew, is nowhere to be found. Could he just be off on a Boston bar crawl? Or is something more sinister under the tree? Seamus was supposed to be dressing up and posing for pet pictures with Santa at the shop, but the dogs and cats might have to find another lap to curl up in if Stan doesn’t solve two mysteries soon. Or murder might be the only thing under the mistletoe this holiday . . .

Includes Gourmet Pet Food Recipes!


The Christmas Blessing by Melody Carlson (Sept 5)

When she receives the news in late 1944 that her baby's father was shot down in the South Pacific, Amelia Richards loses hope. Jobless and broke, she has nowhere to turn for help but her infant's paternal grandparents. The only problem is, they don't know that she--or their grandson--exists. When Amelia discovers that the family is wealthy and influential, dare she disclose the truth of her relationship with their son? Or could the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago be the answer to her dilemma?

Beloved author Melody Carlson pens a story of love, hardship, and reconciliation that will leave readers filled with Christmas joy.


A Lot Like Christmas: Stories by Connie Willis (Oct 10)

This new, expanded edition of Miracle and Other Christmas Stories features twelve brilliantly reimagined holiday tales, five of which are collected here for the first time.

Christmas comes but once a year, yet the stories in this dazzling collection are fun to read anytime. They put a speculative spin on the holiday, giving fans of acclaimed author Connie Willis a welcome gift and a dozen reasons to be of good cheer.

Brimming with Willis’s trademark insights and imagination, these heartwarming tales are full of humor, absurdity, human foibles, tragedy, joy, and hope. They both embrace and send up many of the best Christmas traditions, including the holiday newsletter, Secret Santas, office parties, holiday pageants, and Christmas dinners (both elaborate and spare). There are Rockettes, the best and worst Christmas movies, modern-day Magi, Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet to Come—and the triumph of generosity over greed. Like all the timeless classics we return to year after year, these stories affirm our faith in love, magic, and the wonder of the season.


A Dog for Christmas by Linda Byler (Oct 3)

One Christmas morning, while young Amish twins Henry and Harvey are sledding, they find a big black dog wandering in a field. They adopt the Newfoundland and name him Lucky, and he soon becomes their best friend and playmate. When tragedy strikes and Harvey drowns in a spring creek, Henry’s only source of comfort is his furry companion.

To make matters worse, the Depression is especially hard on Henry’s parents who have more children than they can care for. He is sent to live with another family, where he becomes enchanted with Katie Stoltzfus. Eventually, Lucky passes away, leaving a hole in Henry’s heart, and he wonders if he will ever find another friend as faithful and loving. As Henry grows up, he has other dogs, but none are as special as the Newfoundland he and his brother once cherished. When Katie marries another man, it seems Henry will never be happy again. Every passing Christmas reminds him of the people and animal friends now missing from his life.

Though, no holiday story is complete without a miracle. In A Dog for Christmas, bestselling author Linda Byler delivers a beautiful Christmas story of quiet triumph in the face of lifelong adversity. After years of loneliness and longing, Henry is finally rewarded with a hard-won love, a family to call his own, and a new best friend. Could there possibly be a better gift than that?


Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz (Oct 17)

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?


A Christmas Flower: A Novel by Bryan Mooney (Sept 5)

When a New England Christmas reunites two lifelong friends, romance blooms. From the author of Christmas in Vermont.

Miracles are like snowflakes—no two are alike, but each one is precious and beautiful. This Christmas, Dr. Beth Harding could use a few miracles. The hospital she runs in River Dale, New Hampshire, is being shut down, unless she can convince the Scrooge-like board to save it. At least her closest friend, firefighter Logan Mitchell, is home for the holidays to offer a broad shoulder to lean on.

In California, Logan is a smoke jumper, but jumping into a romance with his best friend scares him more than any forest fire. After losing his parents at sixteen, Logan was taken in by Beth’s family. As kids, they were like brother and sister. Now they’re grown up, and sparks keep flying between them. If only Beth wasn’t already engaged. Maybe with a Christmas miracle or two, Beth can keep those hospital doors open—and two dear friends can finally allow their one true love to blossom.


12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep  (Sept 1)

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger...and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series--a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale--by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.


Christmas in London: A Novel by Anita Hughes (Oct 3)

It’s a week before Christmas and Louisa Graham is working twelve hour shifts at a bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When a young cooking show assistant comes in from the rain and begs to buy all the cinnamon rolls on her tray, she doesn’t know what to do. Louisa is just the baker, and they aren't hers to sell. But the show burned the rolls they were supposed to film that day, so she agrees.

The next morning, Louisa finds out that her cinnamon rolls were a hit, but the star of the show was allergic, and the whole crew is supposed to leave for London that afternoon. They want Louisa to step in for their annual Christmas Eve Dinner TV special at Claridge's. It’s a great opportunity, and Digby Bunting, Louisa’s famous baking idol, will be there. Even if he does seem more interested in her than her food.

And then there’s Kate, the show's beautiful producer. On their first day in London she runs into the skinny boy she jilted at St. Andrew's in Scotland ten years ago. Now he’s a handsome, brilliant mathematician, and newly divorced. Their familiar spark is still there, but so is the scar of how they left things. Kate and Louisa are busy preparing for the show, but old and new flames are complicating their work.

Set during London's most festive time of year and filled with delicious food, CHRISTMAS IN LONDON is about love and friendship, and the season's most important lesson: learning how to ask for and give forgiveness.


Noelle: A Novel (A Dog Named Christmas) by Greg Kincaid (Oct 24)

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Dog Named Christmas comes this heartwarming Christmas story about the power of family and the strength and love that comes from our pets.

In this fourth installment of the poignant stories of the McCray family and their lovable canines in rural Kansas, matriarch Mary Ann McCray is determined to shake up Christmas by accepting the role as Crossing Trail's first woman Santa Claus. Mary Ann, always a bit of a rebel, is looking to offer a more progressive voice in the staunchly conservative town at Christmastime and has a few ideas up her red velvet sleeves.


Do Not Open 'Til Christmas (Evergreen Lane Novels) by Sierra Donovan (Sept 26)

What happens when a Scrooge-like boss and a determined young woman have to work together during the holidays? A Christmas of surprises . . .

Bret Radner once dreamed of being a hard-hitting journalist, exposing corruption and writing Pulitzer-winning pieces. But heart-tugging circumstances kept him at the Tall Pine Gazette, where small town life, new neighbors, and human interest stories are the news. In charge for the entire holiday season, Bret is determined to run the newsroom right. Yet with a too-pretty rookie reporter to train, he finds himself challenged on just about everything . . .

A waitress at the Pine ‘n’ Dine restaurant, freelance reporter Chloe Davenport finally gets her big chance to work full-time for the Gazette. But proving herself to her handsome boss won’t be easy. He turns down all her holiday-themed stories and, in fact, doesn’t seem to like Christmas at all. Yet the closer Chloe works with Bret, the more she realizes that his tough exterior conceals a hidden hurt . . . and a heart she wants to fill with glad tidings of great joy—for many seasons to come . . .

“Sierra Donovan captures the magic of Christmas in this charming and romantic tale. I smiled the entire time I was reading it!” —Shirlee McCoy on We Need a Little Christmas


The Season of Us by Holly Chamberlin (Oct 25 - Paperback edition)

Against the irresistible backdrop of Christmas in New England, bestselling author Holly Chamberlin creates a heartfelt and memorable novel—a story of reunited family, new beginnings, and unconditional love—the best gift of all.

To outsiders, Appleville, New Hampshire, is a storybook small town complete with a little white church and a gazebo on the village green. To Gincy Gannon Luongo, it was a place to escape from, as quickly and as permanently as she could. Since she moved away twenty years ago, Appleville has been her hometown in name only. But at her brother Tommy’s urging, Gincy is coming back to visit their recently widowed mother in the weeks leading up to Christmas—and she’s bringing her teenage daughter, Tamsin, with her.

Ellen Gannon, once feisty and strong-willed, is mired in depression six months after losing her husband. Tommy isn’t doing much better. Gincy starts restoring order to the household in her usual practical way, but the real issues run much deeper than an empty fridge or an unpaid bill. Imagined slights and lingering resentments have created chasms between them all.

With each passing day, Gincy realizes she has seriously undervalued her mother and underestimated her brother. Only now, with the support of her husband, daughter, and best friends, is she starting to see how much she may have missed. For beyond the surface of every family and every picturesque town is something more complicated but infinitely more rewarding—a tapestry of those small acts of acceptance, love, and loyalty that could transform this Christmas into the best Gincy’s ever known.


The Dog Who Came for Christmas by Sue Pethick  (Sept 26)

From Sue Pethick, acclaimed author of Pet Friendly and Boomer’s Bucket List, comes a heartwarming story sure to take the chill out of the holiday season . . .

Renee Richardson’s list of Christmas wishes includes: a few more clients at her hair salon, a few less unsuitable dates set up by her father, and some new friends for her troubled young son, Kieran. Little does she know that Kieran has already made a pal in their new town . . . a scrappy little dog named Max, who he found in the woods.

When Max gets caught in a snare, Kieran and his grandfather rescue the pup, and the whole family begins to bond with their four-legged guest. The holidays draw closer and more chaotic and Renee has her hands full, especially when Max’s owner turns up to claim him. Travis Diehl is the first man to intrigue her since her divorce—though she’s facing stiff competition in a local bombshell who also happens to be Renee’s most important client. But as a white Christmas becomes a bona fide blizzard, Kieran, Renee, and Max may all gain the gift they’ve been longing for—loyal companionship and a lifetime of love . . .


Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer (Oct 3)

The best gift of all is the one you share with someone else. . .

From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn’t a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry―just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.

Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously―how could she not, when she’s rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he’s just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love…for real. And Deacon can’t help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it’s the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who’s become Deacon’s favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?


A Very French Christmas: The Greatest French Holiday Stories of All Time by Guy de Maupassant and Alphonse Daudet (Oct 10) Note: Kind of pricey, but would be a treasure to own

A continuation of the very popular Very Christmas Series, this collection brings together the best French Christmas stories of all time in an elegant and vibrant volume featuring classics by Guy de Maupassant and Alphonse Daudet, plus stories by the esteemed twentieth century author Irène Némirovsky and contemporary writers Dominique Fabre and Jean-Philippe Blondel. With a holiday spirit conveyed through sparkling Paris streets, opulent feasts, wandering orphans, kindly monks, homesick soldiers, oysters, crayfish, ham, bonbons, flickering desire, and more than a little wine, this collection encapsulates the holiday spirit and proves that the French have mastered Christmas. This is Christmas à la française―delicious, intense and unexpected―proving that nobody does Christmas like the French.


Christmas Lights: A Novel by Christine Pisera Naman (Oct 3)

Christmas is right around the corner . . .

It’s the most wonderful season of all, and for the women of Christmas Lights, it’s a time of magic, good cheer, and, most of all, family.

In this collection, we meet Katherine, Julianna, Adrianna, Cassandra, Victoria, Alexandra, and Isabella—seven women each wishing for their very own Christmas miracle. From Katherine, who is caring for an ailing loved one, to Cassandra, the busy mother of toddlers, and Adrianna, struggling with the difficulties of marriage, to Victoria, who is searching for a love to call her own, these stories perfectly capture the heart and soul of the holiday spirit. As Christmas Eve approaches, each woman strives to remember the reason for the season before coming together in a moving finale that celebrates the true meaning of Christmas.

Full of festive cheer, Christmas Lights is the perfect stocking stuffer for fans of Debbie Macomber and Fannie Flagg—or anyone longing to rediscover the magic of Christmas.


Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Goose (Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Chronicles Book 1) by Stephanie Laurens (Oct 19)

A lighthearted tale of Christmas long ago with a grandmother and three of her grandchildren, one lost soul, a lady driven to distraction, a recalcitrant donkey, and a flock of determined geese.

Three years after being widowed, Therese, Lady Osbaldestone finally settles into her dower property of Hartington Manor in the village of Little Moseley in Hampshire. She is in two minds as to whether life in the small village will generate sufficient interest to keep her amused over the months when she is not in London or visiting friends around the country. But she will see.

It’s December, 1810, and Therese is looking forward to her usual Christmas with her family at Winslow Abbey, her youngest daughter, Celia’s home. But then a carriage rolls up and disgorges Celia’s three oldest children. Their father has contracted mumps, and their mother has sent the three—Jamie, George, and Lottie—to spend this Christmas with their grandmama in Little Moseley.

Therese has never had to manage small children, not even her own. She assumes the children will keep themselves amused, but quickly learns that what amuses three inquisitive, curious, and confident youngsters isn’t compatible with village peace. Just when it seems she will have to set her mind to inventing something, she and the children learn that with only twelve days to go before Christmas, the village flock of geese has vanished.

Every household in the village is now missing the centerpiece of their Christmas feast. But how could an entire flock go missing without the slightest trace? The children are as mystified and as curious as Therese—and she seizes on the mystery as the perfect distraction for the three children as well as herself.

But while searching for the geese, she and her three helpers stumble on two locals who, it is clear, are in dire need of assistance in sorting out their lives. Never one to shy from a little matchmaking, Therese undertakes to guide Miss Eugenia Fitzgibbon into the arms of the determinedly reclusive Lord Longfellow. To her considerable surprise, she discovers that her grandchildren have inherited skills and talents from both her late husband as well as herself. And with all the customary village events held in the lead up to Christmas, she and her three helpers have opportunities galore in which to subtly nudge and steer.

Yet while their matchmaking appears to be succeeding, neither they nor anyone else have found so much as a feather from the village’s geese. Larceny is ruled out; a flock of that size could not have been taken from the area without someone noticing. So where could the birds be? And with the days passing and Christmas inexorably approaching, will they find the blasted birds in time?

First in series. A novel of 60,000 words. A Christmas tale of romance and geese.


Christmas at Mistletoe Cove: A heartwarming, cosy Christmas romance to fall in love with by Holly Martin (Sep 22)

Christmas has arrived at Hope Island, promising snowflakes, surprises and plenty of seasonal joy. So snuggle up and fall in love at Mistletoe Cove …

Growing up on Hope Island, Eden Lancaster always believed that if you wished hard enough for something, dreams really could come true. But Eden’s greatest wish is also her biggest secret: she has been completely in love with her childhood friend, the charming and attractive Dougie Harrison, for as long as she can remember. And he has no idea.

When Dougie leaves his successful life in New York to return home to Hope Island for good, Eden can’t escape her feelings. Her heart is full of hope that her romantic dreams are finally, at long last, going to come true…

This Christmas could change everything. But can a lifelong friendship really turn into the perfect romance? And will Eden get the happily ever after she’s always wished for?

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is like a warm hug on a cold winter’s day. The perfect treat this Christmas for fans of Debbie Johnson, Cathy Bramley and Miranda Dickinson.


A Very Vintage Christmas: A heartwarming Christmas romance to curl up with by the fire (An Unforgettable Christmas Book 1) by Tilly Tennant (Sep 28)

The fairy lights are up and shoppers are flooding the snowy seaside promenade. It’s going to be a busy month at Forget-Me-Not Vintage, a magical shop with a warm heart where every item has a story to be told.

With bright red hair and an infectious smile, Dodie is a hopeless romantic and absolutely one of a kind, just like the pieces in her shop.

When Dodie finds a love letter in the pocket of an old woollen coat, she makes it her mission to deliver it to its rightful owner. Following the address, she manages to persuade the handsome but reluctant new tenant, Edward, to help her with her search.

As the story of the letter unfolds, Dodie is there, as always, to pick up the pieces and make things right. But who will be there for her when her own love story needs a helping hand?

Is it too much to dream of a happy ending like the ones in the black and white movies she adores?

If you’re looking for a sweep-you-off-your-feet romance that will warm you through and through then the door to Forget-Me-Not Vintage is always open. Perfect for fans of Jane Linfoot, Debbie Johnson and Jenny Colgan.


The Beachside Christmas Lights Society: A hilarious feel good Christmas romance by Karen Clarke (Sep 26)

Tinsel, fairy lights and mistletoe... The Beachside Christmas Lights Society has everything you need for a perfect Christmas.

When Lily Ambrose needs a fresh start, she remembers her happy childhood holidays in the seaside town of Shipley, and decides it’s the perfect place for a cosy Christmas hideaway.

Keen to make new friends, Lily promises to source a celebrity to turn on the lights for the Beachside Christmas Lights Society. But when reality star Ollie turns up with his cameraman Craig, with plans to make a TV show out of his stay, things quickly go awry.

Ollie is gorgeous but unruly, and soon decides that staging a romance with a normal girl – a girl like Lily – is exactly what he needs to save his fading reputation…

With new neighbours to impress, and Ollie’s over-enthusiastic attentions to fend off, can Lily bring the Christmas cheer back to Shipley – and find herself a real kiss under the mistletoe?

A heart-warming and uplifting read about friendship, romance, and Christmas spirit. Perfect for fans of Phillipa Ashley, Cathy Bramley, and Debbie Johnson.


Christmas in Covent Garden by Jules Wake (Oct 20)

The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Karen Swan.

Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!

But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it's not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…

Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it's a match made in hell.

And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancé isn’t at all what he seems, it's Marcus who's there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.


Annie's Christmas by the Sea: A funny, feel good Christmas romance by Liz Eeles (Oct 6)

On the beautiful coast of Cornwall lies the idyllic Salt Bay, where Christmas is the perfect time for bringing family and friends together…

Annie Trebarwith is happily settled in Salt Bay with her beloved great-aunt Alice and gorgeous boyfriend Josh Pasco. Snow is in the air, and Christmas is just around the corner.

But when the father she’s never met, aging rock god Barry, turns up with the half-sister Annie didn’t know existed, life suddenly gets complicated. Barry and Storm are soon clashing with the entire village, and their antics are even driving a wedge between Annie and Josh.

Can Annie prevent her new family ruining the festivities and repair things with Josh in time for a cosy Christmas? Or will their relationship end up as frosty as the Salt Bay air?

Annie’s Christmas by the Sea is a hilarious and heart-warming story about family, friends and the magic of Christmas, perfect for fans of Lily Graham, Holly Martin and Phillipa Ashley.


Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown by Katey Lovell (Oct 13)

This Christmas she’ll give her heart to someone special…

As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.

Clara O'Connell loves Christmas. For her it is the most magical time of the year. And she's determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he's hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.

But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara's Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe's broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe's love for Christmas and forever…?

Non-Fiction


Scandi Christmas: Over 45 projects and quick ideas for beautiful decorations & gifts by Christiane Bellstedt Myers (Aug 8)  I know my friend Lucy will especially appreciate this one.

Make the festive season really special and create these stunning step-by-step projects with a Scandinavian flavor, including cards, decorations, garlands, and cozy gifts.

Christiane Bellstedt Myers has developed a beautiful collection of Christmas essentials using natural materials and traditional color themes of red and white, and green and silver. The four chapters cover a wide range of crafts, including collage, embroidery, sewing, and baking, and take inspiration from Scandinavian traditions to bring the magic of hygge to your holiday celebrations. Make a group of little sparkling Christmas trees for your table, hang Danish paper cone decorations on your tree, create a sweet pinecone family, or a scented anise wreath, and don’t forget to indulge in the Scandinavian passion for candlelight by making some beautiful twig candle holders. Try out some simple embroidery on the tiny framed pictures, which would make great gifts, or make a pretty mitten garland to hang on the mantelpiece. There is also a chapter of bakes including a delightful gingerbread house and a sweetly scented cookie wreath. So why not get the family involved and create special holiday memories by making decorations together? You can then relive those happy memories each year as you decorate your home.


Christmas Papercrafting: Holiday Cards, Gift Tags, and More! by Thaneeya McArdle and Robin Pickens (Oct 9)

Its a holiday papercrafting kit in a book! Inside Christmas Papercrafting readers will find everything they need to celebrate the season with festive papercrafts, from greeting cards and mini cards to gift tags and bookmarks, all beautifully illustrated with joyous imagery and merry sentiments. It's so easy to find just the right art card here--perforated, colored, and ready to embellish--that beams with good will and cheerfulness. With a wealth of scrapbook papers, cardstock templates, and frameable art, Christmas Papercrafting is a wonderful resource for every crafter who wants to send their holiday best. This treasure trove of Christmas papercrafting includes:

50 Christmas Greeting Cards
16 Holiday Gift Tags
18 Yuletide Mini-Cards
6 Festive Bookmarks
Large & Small Envelope Templates
Large-Format Art Frameables
34-page Seasonal Scrapbook Paper Gallery


Homemade Holiday: Craft Your Way Through More than 40 Festive Projects by Sophie Pester and Catharina Bruns (Sep 12)

Bring the magic of a handmade Christmas into your home with 40 projects for gifts, decorations, and homemade wrapping paper.

Save time and money with the festive craft projects in Homemade Holiday. Clear, step-by-step instructions guide readers to create fresh flower garlands, bake edible gift tags, make homemade bath salts, and paint authentic tree ornaments. With last-minute ideas and lots of inspiration, this book will help you wrap up gift-giving and decorating for the holiday season.


Tinsel, Tumbleweeds, and Star-Spangled Celebrations: Holidays on the Western Frontier from New Year's to Christmas by Sherry Monahan (Oct 3)

Celebrate the Holidays Old West Style

Holidays on the frontier were a time for celebration, stopping work and chores, and honoring their purpose. This book includes stories of all the biggest celebrations, including traditions, food, songs, games, and other fun tidbits. Fifty food and drink recipes and the rules for typical parlor games of the time are included along with sidebars on common gifts of the time. First-hand accounts, newspaper articles, journals, photos, and Victorian memorabilia complete the package.


New York Christmas: Recipes and stories by Lisa Nieschlag and Lars Wentrup (Oct 24)

Take a getaway to New York City on a magical Christmas Eve, when colored lights decorate the buildings, Jingle Bells rings through the streets, and culinary delicacies tempt you on every corner.

New York Christmas captures the dream of strolling down a snowy 5th Avenue, ice-skating around the iconic Christmas tree outside the Rockefeller Center, and capping it off by enjoying a delicious slice of pumpkin pie at an inviting cafe.

This book features 50 recipes that contain that spirit, including Blueberry Brownies, Maple Glazed Ham, and an unforgettable cheesecake, as well as a host of lovely Christmas stories from the Big Apple to enjoy over apple cider.


Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cookbook: For the Best Christmas Ever by Jamie Oliver (Oct 10) I had to share this one. I love Jamie Oliver!

Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cookbook is packed with all the classics you need for the big day and beyond, as well as loads of delicious recipes for edible gifts, party food, and new ways to love those leftovers.

It's everything you need for the best Christmas ever.

Inside you'll find all the classics as well as tasty alternatives, including: salmon pate, apple and squash soup; roast turkey, goose and venison; nut roast and baked squash; best roasties, baked mash, parsnips, glazed carrots, four ways to do sprouts; gravies and cranberry sauce, meat and vegetarian stuffings; turkey risotto; Christmas trifles, pavlova; chocolate logs, Christmas cake, mince pies, gingerbread, baked camembert, smoked salmon bilinis, hot buttered rum and many, many more delicious recipes.

"I've got all the bases covered with everything you need for the big day and any feasting meals over the festive period, as well as party fare, edible gifts, teatime treats, cocktails, and of course, exciting ways to embrace and celebrate those leftovers. You'll also find all the deeply important technical info you need, such as cooking charts, and wherever possible, I've designed the recipes to be cooked at the same oven temperature, so you can be efficient with time and oven space, and it'll be super-easy for you to mix and match the different elements and build your own perfect Christmas meal.

I haven't held back. This book is the greatest hits, all wrapped up in one Christmas parcel, and I hope you have fun looking through, picking your recipes, and building your own plan."

~ Jamie Oliver

Which one(s) will you put on your list?

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Always in spirit...