Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rudolph Day: Part II--Book Review of The Reindeer Keeper by Barbara Briggs Ward

My thoughts:
Dear authors, if you write a book that brings me to tears, it automatically earns a must-read (5 stars on Goodreads) recommendation.  Barbara has done it! I have not read such a touching, heartfelt Christmas book since one of my favorites, The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans.  She has touched on so many of the things that resonate with me.  Family, having two sons and dealing with how fast they grow and wondering where the time goes, the traditions and spirit of Christmas, and the importance of believing.  I recognized so much of myself in Abbey.  Her willingness to believe in the magic of Christmas is so like me.  I'm sure that's why I identify with the book so well, but even if you do not identify yourself with the characters (but you just might), you will still love this book.

I must touch on another wonderful aspect of the book and that is the cover and inside illustrations by Suzanne Langelier-Lebeda.  They are so wonderful and they really make the book even more special.  The images are featured in this beautiful book trailer:

About the book:
The Reindeer KeeperAbbey senses something special about the little man tending to the reindeer who, along with a century-old farmhouse, a barn full of animals, and fields abounding in woods and pasture, was a gift to Abbey from a stranger. Abbey and her husband, Steve, move in just before the holidays. They have been together since the '60s, eloping when Steve returned from Vietnam. Now with Abbey's cancer in remission, they're looking forward to their boys coming home for Christmas.

Turns out this Christmas proves to be more magical than anticipated as Abbey realizes an understanding never thought possible through the rekindling of a belief rooted in childhood. Of course it's who delivers this gift on Christmas Eve that gives Abbey and Steve the strength to face their greatest challenge. (from Goodreads)

About the author:
Barbara Briggs Ward is the author/illustrator of the children's book series featuring Snarly Sally - "The little girl who doesn't like to have her hair brushed." Titles include, "The Really, Really Hairy Flight of Snarly Sally", "Snarly Sally's Garden of ABCs" and "The Really Hairy Scary Butterfly Rescue." Barbara's projects also include illustrating, "And Then There Was Hope" and "The Brain Reigns" for the New York State Office of Mental Health. She has been a featured author/illustrator on Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, New York and on stage at Target's Book Festival in Boston and New York City. She has been published in Highlights for Children, McCall's, and The Crafts Report. Her essay led to a feature in Ladies' Home Journal. Several of her articles have been published in regional newspapers. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Barbara invites you to visit www.snarlysally.com. Also, Barbara's short story,"In Anticipation of Doll Beds" was chosen to appear in "Chicken Soup for the Soul book entitled, "Christmas Magic" available in all major bookstores!

Visit Barbara's The Reindeer Keeper WEBSITE

The Reindeer Keeper is available for purchase on AmazonAmazon’s Kindle, Barnes & NobleWheatmark Publishing, at the St. Lawrence University Brewer Bookstore, and also at the WEBSITE.

Always in spirit...

Note:  I was generously provided a signed copy of this wonderful book by the author.  The review is entirely my opinion and I was not compensated monetarily for giving it.

Rudolph Day-Part I: Ken shares the new Christmas music of the season

Please join me today in welcoming Ken Kessler from the record label/internet Christmas radio station, Sounds of Christmas.

Hi All!

It’s getting very exciting over here, as the launch date rapidly approaches.

For those who don’t know, I run the Sounds of Christmas, an online Christmas music station (http://www.SoundsofChristmas.com). 2011 is my station’s 5th anniversary, and it will be back up and running in another week (officially November 1).

I’ve been busy adding lots of great new music, which is one of my favorite things about the time of year leading up to Christmas – the release of all the new Christmas music!

If you’re a Christmas music fan, here’s a sneak peak of what’s on the way, and what’s already out…

Paul Anka “Songs of December” – Seems odd to say that this is a follow-up to his previous Christmas album, since that one came out over 50 years ago! Paul will be taking this on the road, first to Europe then back to the U.S. and Canada in December!

Under The Mistletoe

Justin Bieber “Under The Mistletoe” – The “Mistletoe” single quickly went to number one on iTunes, nd there’s little doubt that the rest of the album won’t follow suit (if it hasn’t already)! Duets include Boyz II Men, Usher, the Band Perry and Mariah Carey!

Tony Bennett “Classic Christmas Album” – Kind of a “best of” collection of Tony’s Christmas songs, with a previously unreleased song!

Jim Brickman “All Is Calm” – New holiday collection, only available at Target!

Michael Buble “Christmas” – This will be the Christmas of Michael Buble, who will also have a Christmas TV special this December. This new collection features all newly recorded songs, and even includes a duet of “White Christmas” with Shania Twain!

Shirley Caesar “Giving And Sharing: A Christmas Collection” – Outstanding collection from the gospel legend, her greatest Christmas songs all in one place!


Chicago “Chicago XXXIII” O Christmas Three” – Third Christmas outing from Chicago, with duets this time from America, Dolly Parton and Bebe Winans (plus a track featuring Steve Cropper)!

Clarence Clemons “There’s Still Christmas” – Clarence recorded these two songs thirty years ago, but he got so busy with his day job, that they never saw the light of day. The two songs, which are expected on iTunes the day we go back on the air, are “There’s Still Christmas”, featuring Clarence on vocals, and “The Christmas Song”, an instrumental featuring Clarence’s sax!

Harry Connick Jr. “Music From The Happy Elf” – This is Harry’s jazz trio with music from the holiday special “The Happy Elf”. It’s instrumental, and not all that Christmasy. Listen to clips on Amazon, iTunes or wherever to get a good idea of what it’s all about before you buy it!

Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 2

GLEE “The Christmas Album Volume 2” – Follow-up to last year’s collection, and the rumor is that there will be another Christmas episode this year, too!

Jersey Boys “Seasons Greetings” – Cast members from the Broadway show (and incarnations all over) performing in the style of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons!

Farmhouse Christmas

Joey + Rory “A Farmhouse Christmas” – This one is mostly original material, including their Christmas single from a couple years ago, and a guest appearance by Merle Haggard!

A Holiday Carole
Carole King “A Holiday Carole” – Hard to believe she’s never released a Christmas album before, just the “Love For Christmas” single several years back. This one includes three originals, as well as a great mix of classic Christmas songs!
Christmas Symphony

Mannheim Steamroller “Christmas Symphony” – The group revisits many of their Christmas songs, with new arrangements, performed with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra!

Dean Martin “My Kind Of Christmas” – Fans already have these songs, except for a new “duet” with Scarlett Johansson!

Deana Martin “White Christmas” – Nice set from Dean’s daughter, perfect for fans of the Rat Pack’s swinging sound! Also includes a newly recorded duet with Andy Williams!

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir with David Archuleta “Glad Christmas Tidings” – This is a live performance from last year, released for the first time this year on CD and Blue-Ray DVD!

A Very She & Him Christmas

She & Him “A Very She & Him Christmas” – She & Him are Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Last year, they recorded a version of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” after their appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show (in fact, Conan even joined in on guitar). This new collection includes a newly recorded version of that, along with 11 other classics!

Benjamin Utecht “Christmas Hope” – Retired NFL great Ben Utecht can sing! Nice collection of classic and new songs, and it even features Jim Brickman on a couple tracks!

Various “Now That’s What I Call Christmas, Volume 4: The Carol Edition” – This is exactly the same as the version that came out last year, except now it comes with a lyric sheet so you can go caroling with it.
Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Scott Weiland “Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” – Scott is the lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots, but that has little to do with this offering. This collection is much closer to the Crooner genre, with Weiland backed for many of the songs by a big band!

This is really just the tip of the iceberg! You can also expect to hear new Christmas music from…

The Blenders, Bowling For Soup, David Crowder Band, Tommy Emmanuel, FFH, Eddie Floyd, Mindy Gledhill, Fiona Jay Hawkins, Iggy Pop, Jigsaw Seen, Cyndi Lauper, Richard Marx, Mark O’Connor, Judy Pancoast, Vanessa Peters, Ricky Skaggs, TobyMac, Tonic Sol-Fa, Kathy Troccoli, Matthew West, the Wiggles,Whitney Wolanin and John Zorn!

As if that wasn’t enough, there are rumors that we may still get new Christmas music from…

Lady Gaga, Little Big Town, Loretta Lynn, Monica, Ty Herndon, Restless Heart, Percy Sledge, and B. J. Thomas!

And as with every year, you can count on plenty of last minutes additions! For a constantly-updated list of everything that’s coming out (or that’s already out), check out my friend’s website http://www.stubbyschristmas.com and click on The List!

And if you’d like to hear all these songs, plus all your favorites, and even be a part of this year’s broadcast (and help us celebrate Five Years of the Sounds of Christmas), stop by here and take a look at what we’re up to http://funds.gofundme.com/SoundsofChristmas

Hope we get to spend some time with you this holiday season, playing your old and new favorite Christmas songs!

And May You Always Believe in Santa Claus!


Wow! I am SO excited! Thanks, Ken.  I particularly have my eye on Justin Bieber's (my sons like him), Michael Buble, Chicago, Glee (won the first one from a radio station last year), Joey & Rory (love them!), Carole King, She & Him (love Zooey), Scott Weiland (long time fan of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver), and, of course, Mannheim Steamroller (Christmas wouldn't be the same without them!).

Be sure to stop by Ken's 'fund' link above.  You can be a part of this year's broadcast with just one small donation.  I'm donating so listen for me!

Always in Spirit....

Rudolph Day: 10/25/11

Happy Rudolph Day! Only two more months until the big day! =O)  Today, I have an extra special double Rudolph Day event for you.  Later today I will have a review of a very special Christmas novel, The Reindeer Keeper by Barbara Briggs Ward...and...an exciting post by my friend Ken, of The Sounds of Christmas record label/internet radio station (set to broadcast on November 1st..woot!), who will be sharing with us the new Christmas music releases for this holiday season...fun, fun, fun!

Also, some housekeeping news.  You may have noticed the new header.  I SO love it! It took me a long time to find the perfect image.  This one is from a vintage children's book.  What I love about it is that it contains many of my favorite things...Christmas, kids, a cat (the puppies are cute too), a book, and a porcelain doll...absolutely perfect! I will be creating a new button soon and will have that updated in the right sidebar soon.

Hope to see you later!

Always in spirit...