Shabby Sunday: The Book of Christmas (The Enchanted World)

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Shabby Sunday

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? If so, please feel free to participate as anyone can join. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s Shabby Share is:

The Book of Christmas (The Enchanted World)

by Brendan Lehane

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I started collecting the books in this series early last year and I still have four more to collect. I’ve enjoyed a few while others weren’t favorites. I wanted to review this volume at Christmastime, but didn’t get around to it. I finally finished it last night.  Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: The Book of Christmas (The Enchanted World)”

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Audible Review

The Deal of a Lifetime

by Fredrik Backman

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Blurb:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown delivers an insightful and poignant holiday novella about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl fighting for her life who crosses his path.

It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose—not yet.

One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid—smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.

As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way—prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.

Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…

Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love. –Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I read two books by Fredrik Backman this year and enjoyed them both. When I saw The Deal of a Lifetime floating around on Goodreads, the cover and author sent me right into an impulse buy and I used an Audible credit to purchase it. I didn’t even read the blurb and assumed I was purchasing a Christmas read. It turned out to be very different from what I expected and my review below might contain something you consider a spoiler if you want to go in completely blind. Although, I don’t feel that I reveal anything more than the blurb does.

The story begins with a father telling his son a story on Christmas Eve about how he killed someone. He’s not disclosing details and you won’t find out until the end of the story what really happens, but basically, he knows he hasn’t been an exceptional father. He explains that he’s been obsessed with his legacy and has chosen what ‘he’ considers success over being a good parent to his son. That’s what’s been most important to him–leaving behind a legacy full of everything he thinks is important–wealth and security. Then he meets someone who’s dying of cancer and he begins to question the decisions he’s made. He begins to question how important life is. Do other people’s lives matter? How important is someone else’s life to you if you don’t know them?

When I first started listening to this I began to feel that I wasn’t going to be pleased with it. I appreciated that the places described in the story were real, taking place in the author’s hometown, but when I started to contemplate that there might be a death, I was thinking for sure that I would hate it. By the time I got to the end, it hit me. Had my husband not been in the vehicle with me for the hour drive, I may have used an entire box of Kleenex and bawled my eyes out for another hour. The story is short and it’s quite expensive to buy, but It’s truly thought-provoking and what a powerful and meaningful message it sends. For that I’m giving this 5*****.

Continue reading “The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman – Audible Review”

The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans: Mini Book Review

The Noel Diary

by Richard Paul Evans

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BlurbIn this new holiday-themed novel from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Mistletoe Promise and The Walk, a man receives the best Christmas present he could ask for: the chance to re-write the past.

Bestselling romance author Jacob Churcher hasn’t been home for almost twenty years—not since his mentally ill mother kicked him out of the house when he was just sixteen. When a lawyer calls, days before Christmas, to inform him that his estranged mother has passed away and left her house to him, Jacob returns not just to settle the estate but to try and reconcile with the past and the pain and abuse he experienced as a child. Also, maybe cleaning out her house will be slightly less depressing than spending the holidays alone, watching re-runs of Christmas classics.

But as it turns out, the house holds more than just difficult memories, Jacob’s mother had become a hoarder and he must excavate through two decades worth of clutter. As Jacob digs through the detritus, like an archaeologist, he uncovers many puzzling items including a diary left by someone named Noel, a young woman he has no recollection of, who stayed with Jacob’s family during her pregnancy. That’s not the only echo from the past. Jacob has an unexpected visitor, Rachel, a woman looking for the mother who put her up for adoption thirty years before. United by their quest to make sense of the past and rewrite their futures, Jacob and Rachel begin a search for Noel. Along the way they find more than they possibly imagined, including grace, forgiveness and a chance at love.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read a few Christmas books by Richard Paul Evans and since I enjoyed them, I thought I’d pick this one up. I was surprised that this isn’t truly a Christmas story, but it does occur at Christmastime.

Jacob Churcher is a successful author who’s bitter about his childhood. Growing up with a mother who had mental instability has scarred him. He receives an unexpected phone call informing him that his mother has passed away and he travels back home to a house full of memories as he begins a journey to heal.

The story wasn’t exactly festive or fluffy like I expected, but I still enjoyed it. It’s a fast, light read. I thought the story was believable and it felt real to me. My only issue was the insta-love.

4****

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Continue reading “The Noel Diary by Richard Paul Evans: Mini Book Review”

12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Day 12 – What’s Christmas Like Where You Live?

I came across this wonderful 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge over at Abbey’s blog threecatsandagirl earlier this month. It was originally introduced by abbeycoseattle when she presented it on her blog. As soon as I saw this, I knew that it would be so much fun. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to share some Christmas cheer on my blog. I’d like to say thanks to both of these wonderful ladies!

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~Rules~

  • Link back to Abbey’s original post here so that way she can see who all is joining and she can follow along.
  • Link back to any one of my posts in the challenge so that way I can follow along too
  • Save the image and join in for the fun!

12 Days of Christmas

Today is the final day of the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge. Christmas has come and its already passed. I can’t believe it. I’ll admit that I’m both excited for the New Year, yet saddened because I don’t want it to be over. I love this time of year.

For day 12 the question is: What is Christmas Like Where You Live? 

I live close to Lake Michigan which means Christmas is generally frigid, in fact, it’s near zero degrees this morning and it’s very white outside! Growing up in this geographical location meant a white Christmas nearly every year.

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Where I live there are many Christmas activities to participate in. Roughly 30 minutes from our house is a designated area where everyone decorates their homes with stunning Christmas lights. You can simply drive through the neighborhoods or even get out and walk through all the decorations if it’s not too cold. It really is a site to see.

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A few years ago, we went to Chicago and visited Winter Wonderfest at Navy Peer. That was fun! You get to make a cookie, ice skate, visit all the different vendors and witness tons of Santa’s from around the world. There are even a few rides and a train for the kids to ride. Chicago in the winter is splendid. They don’t call it the windy city for nothing, even though that’s not why Chicago earned that name. 😁

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In our town there are many churches that offer Christmas Eve candlelit services where you can go and sing with others. There’s also a tree lighting where all the different community groups decorate their own tree. It’s so much fun to stand in the park and wait for lights to come on. Then Santa shows up with the parade and you can chat with him. After, everyone gathers at the fire dept. for hot chocolate and cookies. It’s a fun community event.

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At my house, Christmas starts on Thanksgiving day. We put up decorations and watch the parades. It brings in the Christmas spirit and the rest if the month we listen to Christmas music, watch Christmas movies, read Christmas books, make Christmas cookies and do Christmas crafts–pretty much everything Christmas. On Christmas day we open gifts, eat lots of food, and enjoy family time together.

Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Day 12 – What’s Christmas Like Where You Live?”

12 Days of Christmas Blogging Challenge – Your Christmas Dinner Menu & Decorations – Silver and Gold or Red and Green?

I came across this wonderful 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge over at Abbey’s blog threecatsandagirl.  It was originally introduced by abbeycoseattle when she presented it earlier this month. As soon as I saw this, I knew that it would be so much fun. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to share some Christmas cheer on my blog. I’d like to say thanks to both of these wonderful ladies!

christmas-blogging-challenge

~Rules~

  • Link back to Abbey’s original post here so that way she can see who all is joining and she can follow along.
  • Link back to any one of my posts in the challenge so that way I can follow along too
  • Save the image and join in for the fun!

12 Days of Christmas

Christmas is upon us and I still have 3 days to post on the 12 Days of Christmas Challenge. For days 10 & 11, I’m going to talk about #10 Decorations – silver and gold, or red and green, and also #11 Your Christmas Dinner Menu.


 

#10 – Decorations – silver & gold, or red & green?

I started thinking about this question a few days ago. I realized that our Christmas decorations are pretty much every color under the sun, and yesterday, I shared some of our decorations. I’ve included a link for you here.

I don’t feel like we’ve never gone with a color theme, but we do have more red and green decorations than silver and gold. I truly love decorating with traditional Christmas colors like blue, red, green, gold, and even purple. Gold hasn’t been a favorite, but when I see decorations like these in the following pictures, I want to switch it all up and go with silver and gold forever. These are stunning to me…

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I’d love to have a tree like this one below next year. What do you think? I love the way they incorporated the blue ornaments.

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Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas Blogging Challenge – Your Christmas Dinner Menu & Decorations – Silver and Gold or Red and Green?”

12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Days 8 & 9 – House Decorations & Favorite Christmas Craft

I came across this wonderful 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge over at Abbey’s blog threecatsandagirl.  It was originally introduced by abbeycoseattle when she presented it earlier this month. As soon as I saw this, I knew that it would be so much fun. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to share some Christmas cheer on my blog. I’d like to say thanks to both of these wonderful ladies!

christmas-blogging-challenge

~Rules~

  • Link back to Abbey’s original post here so that way she can see who all is joining and she can follow along.
  • Link back to any one of my posts in the challenge so that way I can follow along too
  • Save the image and join in for the fun!

12 Days of Christmas

I’m catching up, so today I’ll do days 8 & 9. I decided to go with #6 House Decorations & #9 Favorite Christmas Craft.

As far as house decorations, I LOVE to decorate. Growing up, my grandmother would deck out the entire house and I always looked forward to all the beautiful decorations. I believe she is the reason for my love of decorating and I hope that by decorating at Christmas, my kids will want to do the same for their families when they get older.

The Tree:

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Christmas Snow Globes: These are very special to me. I went to this sale in my home town and there was this elderly lady who was selling all of her stuff because she had to move somewhere else. She had the most beautiful Christmas decorations and I found these two snow globes. These are huge snow globes and from the pictures, you can’t really see the size, but I happen to know how expensive these can be because I used to work for The San Francisco Music Box Company in a mall near my old home town. She was asking $5 a piece for them and when I took them up to the counter, she proceeded to tell me how she obtained them. Her father had purchased them for her before he passed away. She turned on the music and began humming the songs. I promised her they were going to a good home and I think about her often. This first one lights up and plays music.

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This one lights up and has a button to automatically blow the snow. I think that’s such a cool feature!

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Poinsettia for the table

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Christmas records of course! Here’s one of my favorites of all time. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Perry Como.

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I found this person on YouTube that plays the entire album for you. Here’s a video of side two. I love this first song–just wait for him to start singing.

I truly appreciate that people take the time to make YouTube videos like this. You can watch and listen below if you’d like.

Vintage Ceramic Christmas Tree – This is a favorite.

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This is a bell spray that my grandmother would bring out every year. The bells twinkle on and off. 

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Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Days 8 & 9 – House Decorations & Favorite Christmas Craft”

12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Day 6 & 7 – Favorite Christmas Cookie and Holiday Tradition

I came across this wonderful 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge over at Abbey’s blog threecatsandagirl.  It was originally introduced by abbeycoseattle when she presented it earlier this month. As soon as I saw this, I knew that it would be so much fun. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for to share some Christmas cheer on my blog. I’d like to say thanks to both of these wonderful ladies!

christmas-blogging-challenge

~Rules~

  • Link back to Abbey’s original post here so that way she can see who all is joining and she can follow along.
  • Link back to any one of my posts in the challenge so that way I can follow along too
  • Save the image and join in for the fun!

12 Days of Christmas

I totally missed day six yesterday and because I’m a little behind, I decided to combine day #6 & #7 together for this post. I’m going to start with #3 – Favorite Christmas Cookie and then #1 Favorite Holiday Tradition. Tomorrow, I’ll share some of my Christmas decorations!

*Favorite Christmas Cookie*

How can anyone choose their favorite Christmas cookie? There are so many delicious cookies at Christmas time. This year, we made cookies for friends and neighbors. We kept it simple by choosing to make easy sugar cookies, chocolate chip, and of course, baklava! I grew up having baklava for pretty much every holiday due to my Syrian ancestry. My uncle was always the one to make it for get-togethers. Luckily, I expressed interest in the recipe just before he passed away and this is now a tradition to make it every year and sometimes in between. 🙂 I’m so thankful that he shared the recipe with me and think about him every time I make it.

Baklava is made using filo dough sheets and sandwiched in between is a walnut mixture with cinnamon and sugar. You basically butter your pan well and start with a half package of filo on the bottom. You have to butter the sheets well as you layer. You then add a layer of the walnut mixture, then 3-4 more sheets of dough and continue the process until your mixture is gone. Finish with another half package of filo dough and butter well. I like to have some larger pieces and some smaller pieces. Usually I cut diagonals first, then verticals.

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After you cut the whole pan, you bake it around 325 degrees for about an hour. When you take it out, it’s nice and brown.

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Now you add the sauce which is made of honey, sugar, and water.

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It sizzles up after you add the sauce as the pan is super hot. This is my favorite part! Cool it completely before cutting and keep it in the fridge so you can eat it all week long. 🙂

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If you’d like my special family recipe for this baklava, contact me and I’ll send it to you!

Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge – Day 6 & 7 – Favorite Christmas Cookie and Holiday Tradition”

Throwback Thursday: Debbie Macomber – Twelve Days of Christmas – December 21st

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her@It’s Book Talk.

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This week’s pick:

Twelve Days of Christmas

by Debbie Macomber

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Blurb: Continuing in a festive annual tradition, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber returns with a new original holiday novel full of romance and cheer—and the magical prospect of finding love in the most unexpected places.

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love. – Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I just finished Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber and still have a handful of Christmas reads to get in. This week I’m reading Starry Night which I talked about last week and I’ll be starting this one, Twelve Days of Christmas, after that. I’ve had this one on my TBR for some time! I’ve fallen in love with this author’s writing style and these books are quick reads which are perfect for this time of year. I have no doubt that I’ll be reading Christmas books all the way into January with the amount that I have added! 🙂

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (October 4, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553391739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553391732

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Debbie Macomber – Twelve Days of Christmas – December 21st”

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber – Book Review

Merry and Bright

by Debbie Macomber

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Blurb: Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

My Thoughts:

Merry and Bright is a warm, feel-good, clean holiday romance that will get you into the holiday spirit. I was looking for a light, easy, and satisfying read and this one definitely hits the mark.

Merry is preparing for the holiday season, taking care of her family, and working crazy hours as a temp for a job that will soon be completed. She couldn’t be happier because she doesn’t get along with her boss and has plans to finish her college degree. She lives with her mom who isn’t well, along with her little brother Patrick who has down syndrome. Her mother and Patrick wish she could start a relationship because they feel like Merry is lonely, so they get on the computer and set Merry up with an online dating profile, using a picture of her dog so nobody knows who it us. Her profile catches a wink right away, but it’s a mystery who this man is!

Jayson is Merry’ s boss and he’s truly not a person who’s in the Christmas spirit. He has struggles in his relationship with his father which is far from perfect. It’s bad enough that he simply doesn’t want to see his father anymore. They don’t get along and Jayson’s sort of bitter about everything. He has his best friend to lean on and he’s truly a good person at heart, but just needs a little help opening his eyes.

This was my first Debbie Macomber book and I personally loved this story. It was such a fast read and kept me interested until the end. The narrative is believable and the characters were written perfectly. I didn’t feel that it was super predictable until I got closer to the end because every time I thought the story was going one way, the course seemed to lead to a different outcome. This book is lovely and I’m positive Debbie Macomber is going to be a favorite author.

5*****


Find this on Goodreads and Amazon

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399181229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399181221

Continue reading “Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber – Book Review”