This version of the Oliver the Ornament came in a wonderful gift box with a special Oliver ornament! It was such an exciting surprise, and the kids were so excited to open the gift box and see the ornament and book!
This was a lovely story about the origin of ornaments as well as one family’s journey from the beginning of their family formation. I especially loved the story’s focus on the value of older things and that something isn’t worthless because it’s not new. Having the ornament hang on our tree is a great reminder to our children of the message in this story!
This Christmas is different than any of our children have experienced so far. There are so many questions that I know my children have about how Santa is going to make it to our home. Is he quarantined too? Will he have a mask? How will he keep from getting sick? Things that while I can say, yes, yes, it will all be fine, reading a book about it seems to help them feel better!
Will Santa Stop Here? was the perfect book to help alleviate my kiddos’ fears. The story features a little girl questioning how Santa is going to make it to her house this pandemic Christmas Eve. While her mother assures her, she still wonders. But then, she hears something, and creeping downstairs she gets to experience how Santa and his elves are handling their very important job of delivering gifts.
My family and I schedule an evening in December every year where we drive around and enjoy everyone’s Christmas lights and outdoor decorations. It has been a tradition for years and it is one I hope to continue for a long time. Reading this book got me excited to head out this December and enjoy the lights! I thought this was a wonderful celebration of the joy we all find in looking at holiday lights.
Christmas Lights! Christmas Lights! is an easy-to-read story with children taking them on a Christmas lights adventure. Each page introduces a new spectacular lights display to enjoy looking!
There is a note at the end of this book where the author talks about how as a child, there were not holiday stories that showed children of the same color as her. So as an adult, she wrote one. I cried reading this. What a beautiful offering to the children of our world!
In the Nick of Time is a Christmas story about a boy that doesn’t quite understand how good of a life he has. He’s not aware of the hardships some others in his school are living through. And then, Nick Saint accidentally gets mail for Saint Nick. This letter opens his eyes and his heart, taking him on a last minute rush to save Christmas for another student in his school.
I could not have loved this book more. Seriously, go buy this right now if you love Christmas and romance! The characters were amazing, the feel-good Christmas spirit was everywhere, and I’m honestly ready to start the holiday season immediately. This one put me into the holiday mood.
Successful romance author Riley Reynolds is not a grinch, but after the loss of her father as a child, her and her mother, chose Hawaii every year over celebrating Christmas. After a fabulous string of book releases, Riley has a book bomb, and her publisher is giving her one chance to make it right. She has to write a Christmas-themed romance novel. Her publicist creates a Christmas Camp idea hosted by Luke, who is trying to sell his family’s Christmas cottage resort, and Riley will be the Miss Christmas host. Fans of her books will be coming to the cottage to spend a Christmas weekend with Riley while she comes up with new ideas for her book. With her secret ignorance of holiday traditions, and a mistaken interview comment that makes three of her ex-boyfriends think they are “the one that got away”, Riley has her hands full at Christmas Camp. Her exes have all shown up to reignite that romantic spark, and she must balance them, as well as her fans during her Christmas Camp experience. All while trying to create the perfect book.
Ahhh! I LOVED THIS BOOK! I have NEVER read a Christmas themed book at Christmas time, and I’m so glad I got the chance to read this book right before Christmas! This is the second book I have read by Holly Schindler and I am so impressed with her writing. She has a way of just drawing the reader in quickly and completely. It’s wonderful and I cannot wait to read more of her work!
How I Felt:
Christmas at Ruby’s was a quick read at just 106 pages, but I would have read so many more about this story…and guess what, I can. This is a series! I’m excited to read more about this cast of characters and Ruby’s Place.
While we get to meet a variety of characters in Christmas at Ruby’s the story is focused on Angela. As a child her favorite times were when her Aunt would take her to Ruby’s Place. Holly Schindler’s descriptions of this are fabulous. The way she wrote about Angela’s memories of Ruby’s, I could see everything happening through Angela’s eyes.
To Read or Not To Read:
Christmas at Ruby’s is perfect for readers that are looking for a little bit of Christmas magic. It is a quick read that introduces you to the characters and the backstory for the series. I highly recommend this book!
As a child, Angela would look forward to the nights her Aunt would take her to Ruby’s Place. Angela’s memories of Ruby’s are filled with wonder and awe, friendships and fun.
As a woman now in her 50’s, she still remembers those dinner dates with her Aunt with such love and nostalgia. Walking down the sidewalk, she is thinking how the world has changed during those decades. People don’t have the same friendliness and relationships they once used to. We are living in a more throw-away world, where friends lose touch and places are forgotten. Ruby’s Place is one of those places. Closed for decades now, the building is in a poor state and has yet to have an owner bring any life back into the place.
As Angela walks down the sidewalk with these thoughts, a man bumps into her and she happens to fall onto the stoop of Ruby’s Place, knocking the lock on the door loose. With fond memories floating through her head, she steps through the threshold into the empty building. The building isn’t empty though . . .Christmas Spirit fills the air, and maybe some Christmas Spirits too…
A story of Angela finding a way forward during one lonely Christmas. It’s a path that will lead to the second part of her life, just like her Aunt.
Christmas at Ruby’s by Holly Schindler
Page Count: 106 pages
Publisher: Holly Schindler, LLC
Publication Date: October 18, 2017
I received a copy of this advanced reader’s copy for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
I rarely talk about myself on this blog, other than to tell you my opinion on a book and that’s really how I want it. I want to tell you about all the fabulous, or not-so-fabulous books I’ve read. Today, however, I’m going to share what my family has been up to this December.
We have two children, 8 and 6 years old. My husband organizes a Christmas Countdown each December. Each day in December the kids get to open a box with a note in it that tells them what family activity we are going to do that day. It’s like a real life advent calendar. We find that it is an amazing way for us to stay connected and to enjoy the holidays as a family!
Day 1 – Advent Calendars
Well we have to kick it off somehow, so we start with actual advent calendars for the kids. This year they each got a chocolate one and a “toy” one.
Our son loves Fortnite, so he received a Funko Pop Fortnite calendar, which was totally worth the money. It’s awesome!
Our daughter loves these tiny little squishy toy things and my husband managed to find an advent calendar for them.
Day 2 – Christmas PJs
Pjs are pretty important in our household. We wear them a lot. My poor husband is always up, dressed and ready at the crack of dawn. The rest of the family will chill in PJs for most of the day if given the chance.
So, each year, the kids get a new pair of pajamas. This year, they got matching ones! If you want to play I Spy, you’ll find these PJs show up a lot because we get our money’s worth out of our Christmas PJs each year!
Day 3 – Letters to Santa
Some might say this is THE most important day of Christmas Countdown. Letters to Santa are a high priority. The kids tore right into this notebook to get started on their lists and we mailed them that day!
Day 4 – Christmas Cups!
We usually get new Christmas plates for the kids each year, but it turns out we have bought all the plates that are available apparently. My husband couldn’t find a Christmas plate that we didn’t already own the pattern of!
He’s quite resourceful though, so he went with Christmas cups instead! And they are actually quite the hit! We have Fa-La-La-Llamas and Cats in Christmas Sweaters.
Day 5 – Salvation Army Jars!
The kids received Rubbermaid food storage totes today. We gave them stickers to decorate and Voila! We’ve turned them into little piggy banks. The kids will store loose change in these and we’ll take them with us when going out shopping to drop change into the bell ringer buckets!
Day 6 – Snowball Fight!
Last year, my husband found these fluffy fake snowballs on Amazon and bought them for 2018 Countdown. We had the most epic snowball fight in the house and the kids absolutely loved it, so it’s now something we will do each year. And the best part is it’s free for us to keep doing it each year! Well, that and the fact that we are indoors and not freezing for this snowball fight!
Day 7 – Movie Night!
Movie night is a top countdown night for us! We get popcorn, order pizza, and watch a favorite Christmas movie together. This year, we picked Elf!
Notice our daughter is showing off those squishy toys she loves so much!
Day 7 (BONUS) – Go See Santa!
A dear friend of ours hosts a Hot Cocoa with Santa party at her house each year and it is the best! The REAL Santa comes, the kids just know it.
Day 8 – Christmas Extravaganza!
This day is made possible by our local city park district. They hosted a super fun Christmas party where the kids got to do a ton of crafts, play games, have hot chocolate, and watch a dance team.
Day 9 – Candy Cane Scavenger Hunt!
My husband hides candy canes all around the house and when the kids get home from school, they get to hunt for candy canes.
Fun fact….11 days later and I was still finding candy canes that we missed the first time around. It’s the game that keeps going 🙂
I linked my reviews to the book titles if you are interested in reading more about these!
Day 11 – Christmas Mad Libs!
Yep. Mad Libs. A super fun and silly activity that was filled with words to describe bodily functions thanks to my kiddos. We all had a great time with these!
Day 12 – Christmas Socks!
Just like we like our PJ’s, we also like warm, fun socks!
Day 13 – Christmas Sundaes!
We buy peppermint ice cream and pull out anything in our cabinets that could be an ice cream topper and then add holiday sprinkles! This is a super fun and yummy night!
Day 14 – Christmas Tree Solo Cup Challenge
A friend of ours did this game with her kids this year and then sent the cups our way so we could too!
The kids had to create a 5 x 5 base and build a tree from there. Each child made quite the successful tree! Since then, we have continued to have fun building different types of Solo cup stacks!
Day 15 – Ice Skating . . .
This was the worst Christmas Countdown day ever. We took the kids ice skating and there was an accident that involved stitches to a finger for our daughter from a very severe cut from another skater. We have crossed this off our list of things to do in the future 😦
Emaline’s finger is healing well though, and she was the bravest little girl.
Day 16 – Christmas Dance Party!
GLOW STICKS AND CHRISTMAS MUSIC…WE SHALL DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY 🙂
A NICE SAFE EVENT AFTER YESTERDAY’S ACCIDENT.
Day 17 – Picnic Under the Tree!
An absolute favorite for the entire household! We lay out a Christmas tablecloth, grab KFC, and eat on Christmas plates with holiday music playing. It’s such an enjoyable evening.
Day 18 – Hot Cocoa and Carols!
Everyone gets a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows and we play Christmas carols and sing!
Day 19 – Christmas Game Night!
My husband organizes Christmas themed games for this night. Our favorite one was getting snowballs into the cups. Red cups were worth 5 points and green were worth 1. Emaline won (she’s pretty serious about games).
We also had a ring toss onto nutcrackers, a game with Hershey Kisses, and a marshmallow game.
Day 20 – Reindeer Chow!
We picked the kids up from school and made a yummy batch of Reindeer Chow to enjoy over the next few days! We used the recipe from CrunchyCreamySweet but used corn chex instead of muddy buddies.
REINDEER CHOW INGREDIENTS:
red and green M&M’s candy
any other holiday candy you like
HOW TO MAKE REINDEER CHOW?
Prepare Muddy Buddies: melt chocolate with oil, and toss with cereal to coat evenly. Toss with powdered sugar.
Combine pretzels, M&M’s candy and Muddy Buddies in a bowl.
Serve right away or divide into gift bags.
Day 21 – Christmas Cookies!
Of course we have to make cookies for Santa!
We used the Christmas Lights Cookie recipe from Dessert For Two Click on the LINK to see the recipe! It was really pretty easy, and decorating was a ton of fun!
Day 22 – Christmas Lights!
We print out a kid-friendly (words and pictures) Christmas Lights scavenger hunt and drive around finding things to mark off the list.
Each year there’s always ONE thing that is hard to find. Ice skates was the one that got away a few year’s ago. We never did find any.
This year, it turned out to be an Elf. We had just about given up and told the kids it was time to head home, and there, right on the corner were three elves with Santa! Hooray!
My family enjoys ALL the Crayons books. They are adorable and each crayon has its own personality that is consistent from book to book. All of our favorite crayons are back in this book to celebrate the holidays.
The Crayons’ Christmas takes us through different holiday scenarios and our favorite thing was that there were envelopes every few pages with a letter or postcard or game inside. The kids really enjoyed opening the mail on these pages.
To Read or Not To Read: This book is a must read for anyone who loves the Crayons series, and if you haven’t discovered this series yet and you have little ones, you should absolutely check it out! The Crayons’ Christmas is perfect for a pre-k to middle elementary school child.
The crayons at Duncan’s house are getting ready for the holidays. Mail arrives and they enjoy reading post cards from crayons still traveling or opening up a game to play. They celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas as they take us through their Holiday journey.
The Crayons’ Christmas by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
I don’t cook. I don’t bake. If I don’t say that honestly at the beginning of this review, everyone that knows me will comment at the end of this post to remind me. So, WHY am I reviewing a cookbook?
I think that any cookbook that intrigued someone terrified of a kitchen deserves some praise!
What I Loved:
As I have previously stated, the kitchen is foreign to me, so upon opening this book, I was already in love. There is a section just to make sure I don’t mess anything up!
Cups to Grams conversions
Fahrenheit to Celsius conversions
Ingredients listings and suggestions on brands
Essential Cooking Utensils list
Did you know that cups to grams conversions are different based on the type of ingredient you are measuring? Well I didn’t, but this cookbook made sure I knew so that I did everything right!
Inside The Book:
The different types of delicious foods that can be made are broken out into separate sections:
Breakfast and Fruit
Cookies and Cupcakes (MY PERSONAL FAVORITE!)
Frosting and Toppings
Each recipe has an adorable name, a photo of the actual food, prep time, cook time, and approximate serving size.
Did I feel well-instructed?:
Rebecca Henry wrote this book for me, I’m sure of it! Or at least she wrote it with people like me in mind. Each recipe gave a bit more than just the instructions. There are wonderful comments that would help someone new to cooking with that ingredient.
If your dough is too crumbly and will not form into a ball, add just a dash of milk. You want the batter crumbly, not wet. A dash should do just fine.”
White Christmas Snowball Cookies, A Very Vegan Christmas by Rebecca Henry
It is very important not to have the skillet too hot. Pancake batter hates a very hot burner.”
Snowman Pankcakes, A Very Vegan Christmas by Rebecca Henry
To Cook or Not To Cook: While this cookbook is targeted to vegan cooks, these fun holiday recipes would be wonderful for anyone wanting to make some new holiday treats this year! I would recommend this cookbook to anyone!
Christmas has always been an important holiday in my home. It is a time for gathering in the kitchen to bake with family and friends. This book contains traditional, holiday recipes prepared from nondairy and cruelty free ingredients.
With 46 recipes to choose from, you will have a classic selection of recipes to inspire your little Christmas elves or sugar plum fairies to gobble up their plates! Being a mom of two, and so no stranger to hosting Christmas parties for little ones, I understand the importance of presentation. If the food is fun and engaging, children and adults alike, will want to try vegan options. The recipes come with creative decorating ideas, party suggestions and enchanting holiday recipe names, to get your cute little Mrs. Claus helpers, eager to bake with you in the kitchen.
Check out the cute book trailer for A Very Vegan Christmas on YouTube
Best Selling Amazon Author of Hybrid: Adapt or Die. Her debut novel was The Lady Raven: A Dark Cinderella Tale, which was published in 2017. The Lady Raven, is for those who have an infinity for fairy tales retold with a link to witches, magic and the macabre.
Rebecca’s second novel, Louisiana Latte, a chick lit comedy was released February 28th 2019. Louisiana Latte, is a feel good comedy that focuses on the bonds of sisters, and how audacious life can be when you have a diva for one!
Rebecca’s third novel Hybrid: Adapt or Die, is a sci-fi, horror, romance novel. It takes the reader on a wild ride of government conspiracy theories, ancient aliens but also touches your heart with a tender love story. Hybrid was released August 1st 2019.
Her fourth novel Conjure Lake, a ya, dark fantasy, horror novel will be released in 2020. The entire first chapter is included at the end of Hybrid first edition copies. You can find all of Rebecca’s books on Amazon.
Rebecca Henry is a world traveler living abroad in England. Besides being an author, Rebecca is also a podcast talk host on the show The Latte Talk. The podcast was inspired by her latest novel, Louisiana Latte and her diva sister Deb. She is a serious vegan, gardener, crafter, wife and mom who practices yoga. She loves to laugh, her drug of choice and loves all things witchy with a hint of the macabre. Her favorite holiday is Halloween and her favorite movie of all time is Practical Magic.
We all know that there are children that are questioning if Santa is real; if happens all the time. What we may NOT have known is that SANTA questioned if Harold, a child, was real!
I loved that this book took a real life situation and flipped it over. The way the authors used this common occurrence, but changed the players had my entire family giggling. Santa questions Harold’s existence because of a variety of inaccuracies such as: Harold used to be really tiny and now he’s MUCH larger, Harold can’t really be the one writing the letters to Santa, it must be his mother, and so many other things! It was adorable!
How I Felt:
The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold gives a child a reason to believe again. We go through the first half of the book listening to Santa’s long list of reason’s why he thinks that Harold isn’t real. Mrs. Claus listens and tries to bring Santa around, but he will not have his mind changed.
The book then takes us to the other side of this story. Harold, in his home, deciding that he’s going to wait up all night to see if Santa is or is not real. The book gives the reader a chance to see both sides of this story and I loved that while Santa was losing faith that Harold was real, Harold was losing faith that Santa was real.
Both of my children enjoyed everything about this book, and while I rated it a 5 star read, my kids gave it a 10 STAR RATING.
The illustrations were fabulous throughout the entire book. I loved how everything was rounded. Santa was adorable as a big circular Jolly Old Saint Nick.
The colors were bright and vibrant making every page a joy to look at and there was so much TO look at! The details that were added to each page made the story really come to life.
To Read or Not To Read:
This book is perfect for early elementary children. The story is adorable and will keep a young reader’s attention and have them asking to read it again and again.
Santa has decided that he no longer believes in Harold. He likes the IDEA of Harold, but the facts just aren’t adding up for him anymore. Try as she might, Mrs. Claus is unable to convince Santa of Harold’s existence.
Harold is having the same feelings about Santa. Things just don’t seem to make sense anymore and he’s finding holes in the story of Santa.
It’s Christmas Eve and both Santa and Harold have decided to find out if the other is real. Harold camps out behind a chair in his living room in hopes of catching Santa or NOT catching him. When Santa arrives at Harold’s house, he too decides to hide and wait to see if Harold is real on Christmas morning.
I’m not spoiling this one, but it is an adorable ending and overall , this was a fabulous book!
The Day Santa Stopped Believing in Harold by Maureen Fergus and Cale Atkinson
Page Count: 32 pages
Publisher: Tundra Books
Publishing Date: October 11, 2016
I received a copy of this advanced reader’s copy for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
What I Loved: I loved that this story takes place around the holidays. It made the romance so much more magical for me.
How I Felt: This was a soft, sweet romance that just captured my heart and didn’t let go. I felt for Mason in this story. The loss of his wife has hurt him so deeply, and I just wanted him to be able to heal and find love again. I was a bit surprised at how fast we jumped right into the story, but the book does slow back down after the first chapter and allow you to settle in and enjoy the story.
To Read or Not To Read: If you enjoy a tender romance story, this is perfect for you! There is a soft hint of Christianity, but if that’s not your thing, I don’t think it would bother you in the reading of this book.
What’s This Book About Anyway?
Mason is a widower trying to raise a 3 year old son. Brittany is an old flame that has shown back up in his life. Mason is hurting from the loss of his wife and still harbors very deep anger at Brittany, making his openness to a relationship almost null. Can the magic of Christmas bring these two old loves back together again?
What I Loved: The illustrations in this book are beyond beautiful. They were detailed and depicted the story perfectly. My daughter was enamored with each page and spent so much time looking at each detail.
How I Felt: The story was a perfect holiday tale, combining old traditions and folklore. The ending brought the story to a perfect close, giving me those warm, happy, holiday feelings. The writing was unique. At times, written in neat paragraphs, and at other times bursting to life on the page, taking on different sizes and patterns. It was beautiful to read.
To Read or Not To Read: This is a good, holiday tale. Focusing on a old, medieval Holiday tradition, it is perfect for children and adults will enjoy it too.
What’s This Book About Anyway?
Friends and family gather together to begin the Winter Wassail tradition. They enjoy each other’s company and the comfort that comes from the familiar routines of this yearly custom. They gather the ingredients for the recipe and follow the instructions. The reader gets to enjoy coming along with this group as the show us their traditional steps to make wassail, then their trek to the trees to deliver.