Home for the Holidays with Andi from Andi’s ABCs

We’re starting off the second week of Home for the Holidays here on What Sarah Read with an amazing post from Andi at Andi’s ABCs! We all know how fabulously stylish our friend Andi is and I particularly love it when she “dresses” characters from her favorite books. I was SO thrilled when she told me she would be doing that for her guest post today, and was even more thrilled when I saw the amazing outfits she came up with. Try not to drool over the fabulous dresses as you read through her selections!

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I want to thank Sarah for asking me to take part in her wonderful Holiday inspired posts. I really didn’t have to think too hard about what I wanted to do. I mean I do roughly the same thing for any kind of “tour” I take part in. I pick some of the most memorable characters from books I read and love and I dress them. And since the theme of these posts is the holidays, I decided to dress my gals as if they were going to a fancy holiday party.

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Open Road Summer

Reagan and Dee have two very distinct styles. Reagan is all hard edges with leather and black, while Dee is all girly and soft. I feel like Reagan would rock the midriff side cut-outs with a killer pair of Christian Louboutin peep toes, and of course a vintage Whiting and Davis. To offset Reagan’s hardness, Dee would go all out in soft lace with a rose print and delicate heels…and of course her horseshoe necklace from Jimmy.

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Heir of Fire & The Winner’s Curse

I’ve dressed Celaena Sardothien before, but I dressed the soft Celaena. The girl who loved being girly and going to parties. But the Celaena Sardothien of Heir of Fire is no longer that girl. This Celaena means business and she wants everyone to know it. Long gone are the gowns of chiffon and lace. Instead she is much like Reagan with hard edges, but to a much higher level. On the flip side you have Kestrel, a very rich, over privileged young woman that goes to a lot of parties. Kestrel is a very powerful girl and I think she would show that with a jeweled tone dress, an intricate braided up do (I mean how could I not add that??) and some appropriate accessories. And neither girl would go anywhere without a weapon.

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Anna and the French Kiss
Lola and the Boy Next Door
Isla and the Happily Ever After

Like there wasn’t a chance this would be my last pick. Get real people! HA. I’m a nut about this companion series. Simple as that. But to be honest I had the hardest time dressing my girl Anna this time around. She is a jeans and tee-shirt kind of gal, so it was hard to find what she would possibly wear to a fancy party. But I saw this dress and I could kind of see her rocking it. It has a print on it that makes it look almost like film, and from there I decided to keep her accessories minimal and her shoes flat (her boy is a shorty after all). Then you have quirky Lola. As we all know Lola doesn’t do anything that isn’t costume like, so when I came across this dress I instantly saw her in it. Add quirky boots and a feather bag and there you have it. Lastly, we have Ms. Isla, the girly girl. Isla loves feminine things and with her red hair, green is a great color. Flowers are a huge thing for her, so a flower bag was important and of course her compass necklace.

So there you have it, characters dressed to impress. Thanks again for having me Sarah. It was fun.
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I’m swooning over these amazing dresses! What I wouldn’t give to have a closet full of these beauties! Thank you so much for such a fantastic holiday guest post Andi, you really outdid yourself this time. Tomorrow we’ll have a visit from Katie at Spirit of Children’s Literature, and she has a beautiful post about spirituality in literature. See you tomorrow!

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Home for the Holidays with Morgan from Gone with the Words

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is all the parties I get to go to. It’s always such a blast seeing friends and family that I may not have seen in a while and have an opportunity to celebrate the season with them. Today on Home for the Holidays, we have Morgan from Gone with the Words giving us a crash course in party planning for a Holiday Book Exchange! I can’t think of a better way to get into the spirit than to share my love of books with everyone I know.

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As soon as Sarah invited me to take part in this amazing feature, I knew what I wanted to share with all of you! Three of my favorite things are books, planning parties, and the holidays so a Holiday Book Exchange seemed like the perfect idea.  Here is the Pinterest board I created if you’d like to visit the original posts for instructions and more pictures. There are lots of things on the board that I didn’t include in this post so think of them as bonus ideas!

What Type Of Party Should You Host?

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In my mind, there are a few ways you could choose to throw the book exchange part of the party and they would all be fun. There’s no right answer!

  • Secret Santa: each guest buys a specific book for their match.
  • White Elephant: everyone brings one wrapped book for an exchange and each person takes turns picking a gift, according to the White Elephant rules.
  • Blind Date: each wrapped book has three clues written on the paper and guests get to choose one book each.  I love this idea!!!
  • Lastly, the very fun and potentially expensive idea where every guest buys a book for every person!! Woohoo!

It’s up to you whether you want to set limits: new books, used books, hardcover, paperback, price limit, etc. Just be sure to include it on the invitation! And might I suggest these adorable invite templates that look like library information cards?

Book Exchange Invitation

Decorations

The fun part about a holiday book exchange in particular is the opportunity for a million types of decorations! Book inspired, Christmas and/or Chanukkah inspired, or both! Or maybe you’re into theme parties- a Very Ugly Christmas Sweater Book Exchange! It’s as involved and specific as you want to make it; the important elements are the books, guests, holiday spirit, and oh yeah- food! This sign I found on Etsy sets the mood perfectly:

eat drink be merry

My favorite idea is the bookish Christmas tree. It’s easy to construct, oh-so-festive, and the perfect centerpiece for your party! I also love the DIY Santa Bucket for putting the gift books in. The book page garland would make a great backdrop on the wall behind the food table, or along the counter, perhaps with some twinkle lights!

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And then of course there are the table decorations to think of! I’m all about holiday spirit 🙂 You could:

  • Cover books in colorful wrapping paper and create stacks along your mantle, if you have one. Maybe a seasonal candle on top of a few stacks.
  • Frame favorite or seasonal book covers to place on the table between vases of flowers or appetizers.
  • Use candy canes to decorate your vases.
  • Place a smaller vase of flowers inside a larger one and fill the empty space with chocolate gelt for a festive Chanukkah centerpiece!
  • Add a sprig of holly to a little vase, fill with water, and add a tea light! Bonus if it’s a holiday scent!

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Food

Most of the recipes and party ideas I find come from Pinterest. So much amazing inspiration to be had! Again, the food and drink you decide to serve could take so many different directions: dessert bars, desserts and appetizers, potluck meals, afternoon tea.

Personally, I think dessert bars are the most fun for holiday parties! You could even turn it into a cookie exchange and have your guests bring a wrapped book and a plate of cookies to share. Make sure everyone picks different recipes! Here are a few of my favorite recipe/dessert ideas from Pinterest.

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  • Santa hat brownies!
  • A fancy container full of “book worms” (sour gummies!)
  • Cranberry gingerbread scones, especially if you throw a tea party
  • Sufganiyot (jelly donut) cupcakes for Hanukkah

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  • Mini eggnog cheesecakes with gingerbread cookie crust
  • Triple chocolate chip sea salt cookies stuffed with nutella. I’ve made these  and they’re AMAZING.
  • Sparkling cider mini cupcakes
  • Peppermint brownies

You could always make sugar cookies with these Pride and Prejudice cookie cutters too!! It would make for a fun decorating activity, who can make the best Mr. Darcy out of flour and icing 🙂

PP cookie cutters

Here are a few simple yet enticing ideas for appetizers:

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  • A cheese and fruit display shaped like a Christmas tree
  • Trader Joes Parmesan Pups shaped like a wreath
  • Christmas Cranberry Dip

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  • Sparkling berry bites
  • Mini grilled cheese with tomato soup shots
  • Individual 7 layer dip cups

Drinks

I’m partial to the idea of a hot chocolate bar with all the fixins myself! There are so many varieties now (sea salt caramel, double chocolate, peppermint), with a myriad of items to put in your mugs: marshmallows, whipped cream, candy cane stir sticks, chocolate shavings, cinnamon. Anything you want! Twinings Christmas tea and Starbucks Holiday Blend coffee would also be fun hot drink choices.

As far as cold drinks go, these all look delicious and festive!

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  • Non-frozen Cranberry Margarita
  • Frozen Merry Cranberry Margaritas
  • Non-alcoholic Grinch Punch

Party Favors

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Lastly, after everyone is stuffed with yummy food and drink and all excited about their new bookish presents, you’ll need a party favor! I love these vintage library card star ornaments, they’re very cute and perfect for a bookish holiday party! I also love these chocolates made to look like the middle of a book.

I hope I’ve given you some great ideas for a holiday book exchange of your own, and plenty of time to organize one! I’m sure no one would say no to a New Year’s book exchange either 🙂 If anyone hosts or attends a party, be sure to tweet us pictures! I want to see! Have a very happy holiday, bookworms.

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OK Morgan, you do know that now you have to host a HUGE book exchange extravaganza and invite ME! All these ideas are so amazing and now all I want to do is eat desserts and sip on Cranberry Margaritas while talking books with all my friends. All I need to do is find the perfect outfit to wear to this party and I’ll be all set! Thankfully, we have Andi from Andi’s ABCs guest posting on Monday with some ridiculously gorgeous outfits to wear to the fanciest of holiday gathering! You definitely don’t want to miss is!

Home for the Holidays with Rachel from Beauty and the Bookshelf

Are you still looking for the perfect book to get for someone on your holiday gift list? Well, look no further because Rachel from Beauty and the Bookshelf has done ALL of the legwork for us and come up with an amazing list of books that would make the perfect holiday gift for that special someone in your life. So, get comfy, grab a pen and paper and start taking notes, because this list is exactly what you have been searching for!

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Tis the season for red and green on every corner, decorated cookies and eggnog, the scent of peppermint and pine, and for Santa Claus to shimmy down our chimney’s and leave us goodies. People, IT IS THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. That also means it’s time to shop until you drop, and maybe you’re looking for a great gift for the bookish person in your life? Lucky for you, little elves, I have an abundance of book ideas to share with you, 12-Days-of-Christmas style!

On the 12th day of Christmas, my bookish Santa gave to me…

Twelve Christmas Love Stories

Twelfth Day of Christmas

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Holly Black, Ally Carter, Matt de la Peña, Gayle Forman, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Myra McEntire, Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White: The title in and of itself makes MTLGTM absolutely perfect for the holidays. Add to that twelve stories that are all about the season and voila! The ultimate Christmas present.

Eleven Modern Day Realish Worlds

Eleventh Day of Christmas

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: Hayley lives alone with her PTSD father, and they’ve finally settled down in one place. With the help of some friends—including Finn—she attempts to have a normal teenage life. This book is fantastic, and with its writing and voice, it’s super duper fantastic (and probably my number one book of the year).

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Welcome to the YA version of Criminal Minds, only better and ridiculously good. (And bonus! It has a sequel!)

Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala: Joy’s parents love her boyfriend, but they probably wouldn’t if they knew what he did to her. To escape, Joy runs away to the streets of Seattle, looking for help from a homeless boy named Creed. But it’s on the streets that she may find a home.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen: A Sarah Dessen novel always make a great gift, and Along for the Ride is my favorite. Plus, it has an excellent romance. And it’s just so good!

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston: A family in the Witness Protection Program with bad people after them! A swoony romance! It’s so good and thrilling, and don’t worry, it won’t disappear from under your tree until it’s opened.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick: When people talk about swoony romance books in the world of YA, this is usually on the list.

Hostage Three by Nick Lake: It’s a YA Captain Phillips (minus Tom Hanks)! Getting taken hostage by Somalian pirates is not what Amy expected from the boating trip she didn’t want to do in the first place. And it doesn’t hurt that this has a writing quality that’s almost odd and dream-like (in a good way).

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: This is probably one of the best debuts of 2014. It has an excellent friendship (with one of them basically being Taylor Swift, only better and less annoying), wonderful romance, and a road trip. And it is, of course, good.

Made for You by Melissa Marr: Ava, the princess in her small town, is hit by a car when someone wants her dead. As the story progresses, a romance emerges, scary notes are left, and we get the POV of a very creepy person. And it is VERY GOOD.

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder: Brooklyn’s seeing the ghost of her friend Gabe, but not that of her dead boyfriend Lucca. But Lucca’s ghost is visiting his brother Nico, and sending him Brooklyn’s way. A lovely, not exactly ghostly story, written in verse.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West: IT’S SO FLUFFY that fans of Despicable Me are sure to adore it.

Ten Series Starters

Tenth Day of Christmas

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine: I’m not just shoving one of my favorite series, The Morganville Vampires, on you. I’m giving you the idea of an excellent gift: a fifteen-book series! Plus it has vampires, and vampires are always in style.

The Selection by Kiera Cass: Thirty-five girls go to a palace to compete for the prince’s heart—and the crown. It’s like The Bachelor, but not so obnoxiously annoying. It’s a trilogy, though there’s a spoilery continuation starting in 2015!

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting: Oh, no big deal, Violet can just sense the echo of a dead person or animal and, in turn, find the killer who caused that echo. Plus her best friend Jay may be more than just her best friend. I present to you a four-book series filled with dead bodies, bad things happening, and kissing (though not all at once).

Angelfall by Susan Ee: The Penryn and the End of Days series is, unfortunately, ending in 2015. But so far there are two books full of pure excellence. This is not your average book about angels; it’s an angel apocalypse and these angels are a little naughty.

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen: Welcome to a Robin Hood retelling about Will Scarlet, who’s actually Scarlet, and who you so totally ship with Robin Hood. Thievery is afoot in this novel. (And yes, the Grinch might steal it from under your tree.)

Gone by Michael Grant: Here is a six-book series that is one-million percent messed up. It’s like X-Men on drugs. Or a more modern version of Lord of the Flies, except more crazy.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: This series is like a giant surprise party. Except with more blood. And PURE INSANITY.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi: Juliette can’t touch anyone, or else she’ll kill them. Sounds pretty sucky. But add in two more books with some serious steaminess and beautiful prose, and you have a great trilogy.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella, except it’s set in New Beijing and there’s an evil queen living on the moon and Cinder is a cyborg. And it’s part of the Lunar Chronicles! This is really just a great big ball of fun.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: It’s an alien invasion! A very, very bad alien invasion. And there’s a motto for the few humans still alive: Trust no one.

Nine Debut Novels

Ninth Day of Christmas

Loop by Karen Akins: Word on the street is that this is one those time travel books where the concept is done well. And fun! So like Back to the Future, just without McFly, Doc, Biff, and a DeLorean.

How to Love by Katie Cotugno: Now, this is not a self-help or how-to book. This is a novel, told in Befores and Afters. Before, Sawyer up and left, not knowing Reena was pregnant. Fast forward three years later to the After, and Sawyer is back—and Reena doesn’t know what to do with the boy she loved. I love this book. Therefore, you should read it.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: Or as you may have heard it on Twitter, These Broken Feels. This is very good and romancey and of course feelsy. And it’s in space!

How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied by Jess Keating: An adorkable Middle Grade novel that is so totally hilarious. Poor Anna goes through all the embarrassment ever. But here parents are ZOOKEEPERS and she gets to live at a zoo, which is the coolest.

Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz: Yet another Middle Grade, and this time we’re off to Neverland so Jocelyn Hook can avenge her father’s (yes, dear old Captain Hook) death. It is such swashbuckling fun! And a perfect gift for anyone you know with a hook or an eye patch.

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith: This book has some serious grit to it and I love it. Plus, there’s a guy named Skunk. When gifting this book, please include sticky notes or some sort of recording device, because this book is so quotable.

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes: A retellingish of The Art of War, I believe. Plus, rumor has it this is awfully swoony. And there’s soccer!

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller: This is a lovely piece of historical fiction that is a must read. Victoria Darling (no relation to Wendy, I’m afraid) gets in a wee bit of trouble when she poses nude for an art class (she is, after all, a lady in 1909 London), but from then on she fights hard to be an artist, despite the times. And it doesn’t hurt that she has some help from a certain police constable, either.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton: Here is a strange and beautiful and possibly sorrowful yet certainly magical book about a girl with wings. Yes, wings. Like a bird.

Eight Books You Read for School

Eighth Day of Christmas

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Introduce the reader in your life to Catherine and Heathcliff.

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier: Why stare at a painting when you can read the book (even if the painting came first)?

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Gatsby? What Gatsby?” “Why, the one under your tree, of course!”

Lord of the Flies by William Golding: Before there were any Hunger Games or Lost, there were a bunch of boys stuck on an island with a pig’s head on a stick. And a character named Piggy, who blamed everything on account of his “ass-mar.” It’s crazy, yes, but good.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon: What happens when a fifteen-year-old boy with Asperger’s who adores Sherlock Holmes wants to solve the neighbor’s dog’s murder? This. This is what happens.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I really should not have to explain this.

1984 by George Orwell:  Big Brother is watching (Julie Chen is not) and will know if this dystopian isn’t in a stocking.

Hamlet by William Shakespeare: Don’t fear Shakespeare! This book is not a case of to read or not to read, nor is it to gift or not to gift. It’s fantastic.

Seven Book to Screen Adaptations

Seventh Day of Christmas

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Preferably the super shiny foil edition, but seriously, if the reader you know hasn’t read this, they need it to get off the Naughty List, because they are on it.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: It’s, like, a giant maze. And crazy things are outside it! (No, this isn’t Labyrinth.)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Just be sure to gift ten boxes of tissue, too.

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman: Everyone’s weeping over that mid-season finale, and someone’s bound to need the comics to help tide them over until February when the show returns.

The 100 by Kass Morgan: This show is the hot new thing on television, so gift the book, obvi.

Divergent by Veronica Roth: This should really be a part of the fourth day of Christmas, but oh well. This is amazingly good and would make a fine present for an adventurous (or dauntless) person. And if you gift the entire series, you can just use the last book as coal.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Just be sure to buy this book before you gift it, okay?

Six Ghost Mediating Adventures

Sixth Day of Christmas

The Mediator series by Meg Cabot: Suze Simon is a snarky badass with a not-exactly-bad attitude, in a good way. And she can see ghosts…including the one in her bedroom. This is better than Ghostbusters, I promise (not that I’ve seen it).

Five Medal-Adorned Books

Fifth Day of Christmas

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate: Yes, THAT Ivan. There’s a reason this book has a medal on it. Because it’s an excellent combination of fiction and nonfiction, and it will make you cry.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: Those Aussie authors know how to write, and that’s all you really need to know.

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer: The war-ridden Congo, bonobos, and a girl whose only companion is a bonobo named Otto. The situation is dire, but the book is wonderful. (And for chimpanzees, check out Threatened.)

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: What happens when a British spy is captured by the Germans? A series of heart-wrenching letters do, telling the story of war, torture, and friendship. You’ll also read that quote everyone’s talking about: “Kiss me, Hardy!”

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: Written in the style of verse and poetry, Woodson tells the true tale of growing up African-American. You’ve probably heard of this. It is, after all, what all the buzz is about.

Four Fantasmical Fantasies

Fourth Day of Christmas

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Welcome to the Grisha trilogy, with a setting that’s like a fantasy version of Russia. There’s darkness and light and crazy shadow creatures. And there’s a villain who goes by The Darkling.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: Elisa is a princess, but not that kind of princess. I have yet to read this, but from what I’ve heard it’s quite good. (And because I haven’t read it, my description is lacking, but it’s on here because, well, it’s supposed to be amazing!)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas: Really, this should be the star on top of the tree. This series of magnificence is full of fantasy and magic and assassins and amazing characters and pain and romance. Basically, it’s BAE.

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski: This book is probably one of the most hyped-up books of 2014. Kestrel’s a general’s daughter who can either get married or join the military. But when she buys a certain slave at an auction, well…

3 Swoony Romances

Third Day of Christmas

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Romance in Paris with a French/British/American boy!

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: Romance in San Francisco when the boy next door returns home!

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: Romance in New York (and Paris and Barcelona) with an artist!

Two Rowell Reads

Second Day of Christmas

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: Set in the 1980s, and about the feelsy, steamy-hand-holding relationship between not-model-sized Eleanor and Korean Park. It is SUPERB. Oh my gosh, just buy it for someone or for yourself, okay?

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: This was my top book of 2013 so there. It is so freaking good. College, romance, writing, fan-fiction, friendship, comedy—so many things!

And a Tear-Inducing Trip to Neverland

First Day of Christmas

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson: The story of Peter Pan like you’ve never heard it before, because Tinkerbell is telling it, and it’s mostly about Tiger Lily, and her and Peter Pan, and a little bit about that stupid Wendy. This is storytelling. But it is also a total tear-jerker and my best book of 2012, so…

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Phew…that is a seriously comprehensive list! Thank you SO much Rachel for pulling this all together! If anyone has trouble picking out the perfect gift for friends or family, all they’ll need to do is check out this list and they’ll find the perfect book! We’re wrapping up week one of Home for the Holidays tomorrow with Morgan from Gone with the Words. She’ll be telling us everything we need to know about hosting a holiday book exchange, the perfect way to celebrate with all your bookworm buddies!

Home for the Holidays with Sajda from Across the Words

Welcome back to Home for the Holidays on What Sarah Read, a celebration of the most wonderful time of year featuring your favorite bloggers sharing everything they love about this time of year! Today, we have Sajda from Across the Words sharing her review of one of the most popular books this holiday season, My True Love Gave to Me. Let’s see what Sajda thought of this collection of holiday short stories. Holidays header 22914373Title: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Editor: Stephanie Perkins Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Short Stories Format: Hardcover, 320 pages Publishing Information: St. Martins Press 10/14/14 Source: Purchased Goodreads Summary: A collection of joyful festive stories that will keep you warm during the cold winter months On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

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When this book first came out, I simply knew that I must order the UK version because not only is the cover gorgeous with it’s shimmering gold but the page edges are sprayed neon pink! I should mention that the US cover is quite cute as well and it features all twelve couples in the stories. My True Love Gave To Me is a compilation of twelve winter stories written by YA authors and is a perfect book for the holidays (I’ve included the full list of authors and their stories at the end of the review). I approached this book as a regular novel and read it through an entire weekend. However, I’ve read that some people are reading a story a night for twelve nights, which I think is a brilliant idea. The stories in My True Love Gave to Me are quite diverse and although most are contemporary, there are a few fantasy stories thrown in. I really enjoyed that the authors included characters from various racial, socioeconomic, sexual orientation, and religious backgrounds. I’m not much of a contemporary person, so I was a bit hesitant going into this book since I’d known that most of the stories are contemporary romances. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few that I really liked! I must admit though that I thought that the majority of the stories were just okay and there were a few that I simply didn’t find interesting. Since there are 12 stories, I thought I would just talk about the ones that I gave 4 or 5 stars and are my personal favorites. 5/5: My favorite stories ended being Laini Taylor’s The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer (no surprise there!) and Stephanie Perkin’s It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown. Those two stories were so heartwarming and I found myself smiling multiple times while reading them. The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer is the last story in the book and is an absolutely beautifully written fantasy that adds the perfect magical touch to the collection. It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown is exactly the type of story I would have expected from Stephanie Perkins; it’s a really sweet and cute romance that touches on issues that I’m sure we’ve all experienced at some point or another, particularly regarding balancing other’s expectations of yourself with your own desires. In both of these stories, I was really impressed by the authors abilities to great such engaging and enjoyable characters over such a short amount of pages. 4/5: Two other stories that I liked are Gayle Forman’s What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? and Matt de la Peña’s Angels in the Snow. I enjoyed these two because they dealt with tensions people may experience due to race and socioeconomic class. I really appreciate it when contemporary stories are able to touch upon these two topics in a non-offensive manner. In What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?, Gayle Forman handles some important issues related to racial stereotypes and the two main characters in the story are so witty and hilarious.  Matt de la Peña’s Angels in the Snow reminded me a bit of Junot Díaz’s works and I really liked that it was written from a male perspective. I think these two stories did a great job of demonstrating the awkwardness that may take place when two people from entirely different backgrounds try to connect. My True Love Gave To Me was a mixed bag of stories but there are some real treasures in the collection. Overall, I thought this book contained some lovely winter tales was a great way to kick-off the holiday season.

Overall Rating: 3/5 

Full list of Authors and Their Stories:
  • Rainbow Rowell – Midnights
  • Kelly Link – The Lady and the Fox
  • Matt de la Peña – Angels in the Snow
  • Jenny Han – Polaris Is Where You’ll Find Me
  • Stephanie Perkins (editor) – It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown
  • David Levithan – Your Temporary Santa
  • Holly Black – Krampuslauf
  • Gayle Forman – What The Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?
  • Myra McEntire – Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus
  • Kiersten White – Welcome to Christmas, CA
  • Ally Carter – Star of Bethlehem
  • Laini Taylor – The Girl Who Woke The Dreamer

holly1 Thanks so much for Sjada for sharing her thoughts on this instant holiday classic. Sounds like there were some pretty amazing stories in this collection and I can’t wait to read them all for myself. Make sure you come back tomorrow for day four of Home for the Holidays, where Rachel from Beauty and the Bookshelf will be making her debut with an amazing list of book recommendations in a fun and unique way. You won’t want to miss it!

Home for the Holidays with Lindsey from Bring My Books

It’s only the second day of Home for the Holidays here on What Sarah Read, and I’m already having the best time! The next couple of weeks are going to be filled with so much holiday goodness that it will be virtually impossible to not get into the festive spirit! Today we have Lindsey from Bring My Books getting all Martha Stewart for us and showing off her insane crafting abilities! Take it away Lindsey!
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Christmas! Guys, it’s Christmas!! Christmas time!!! Break out the trees, the string lights, the star, the ornaments, the reindeer, the stockings, and the mantle decorations, just all of it!

One of the best parts of the holidays for me has always been the decorations. If outside has to be cold and gloomy and gross (sorry y’all, but at heart I’m a summer kinda gal – and we don’t really get the snowy white Christmas in my neck of the woods!), then at least the inside of the house can be warm and cozy and comforting and sparkly! One thing I’ve always wanted to try my hand at is Bookish Decorations; thereby incorporating my love of holiday decorations and my love of books into this one spectacular event! I’m so happy to have been given such a wonderful opportunity to try my hand at them for this guest post!

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I’ve put together three different DIY Bookish Decorations: a snowman made out of an old small paperback, Christmas trees made out of magazines, and a pre-made fold-it-yourself art sculpture. I’ve tried each of them, and put together why I liked each craft, why I didn’t, and what I would do differently if I ever tried them again!

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What I Liked

It actually ended up looking like a snowman! (Definitely the most successful of my three crafts!)

What I Didn’t Like
  • It was really hard for me to keep the lines clean and smooth. At first, it was because I was trying to use scissors. Don’t use scissors. If at all possible, use an exacto knife with a new blade. That made all the difference!
  • Guys … I destroyed a book. *sobs quietly in the corner* This is the hardest part about bookish decorating for me, as much as I love the idea of it, more often than not it requires … destroying books. This particular book was already damaged, thank goodness (misprints abound!), but STILL.
What I Would Do Differently
  • Use an exacto knife the entire time!
  • Take my time! I rushed it, and the lines were definitely uneven, and he ended up being a bit wonky at the end.
  • Find little twiggies for his arms!
  • Break the spine better – even after hot gluing the covers, the back didn’t stay fanned out as well as the front.

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What I Liked

The initial folding process was pretty easy.

What I Didn’t Like

The pages didn’t stay fanned out as much as I would have liked, and some parts of the magazine stayed visible, which was less than ideal.

What I Would Do Differently
  • Spray paint the entire thing silver or gold, rather than use a clear spray paint with glitter (not that I don’t have a newfound love & respect for clear glitter spray paint because YES. I want to cover everything I own with it.)
  • Use a smaller, thicker magazine. A reader’s digest or small Food magazine would probably be best (and might keep them fanned out more).

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What I Liked
  • The pre-created fold lines!
  • The different designs! I cannot wait to go back and get the Jane Eyre version – once you finish folding it, it says READ. Come on, guys. No question!
What I Didn’t Like

Sometimes the folds would go over the spine (if that makes sense?) I would have to fold down from the top right, but then fold it in so that I could flip the page. I’m not sure if I just didn’t read the directions and missed the explanation for this part?

What I Would Do Differently

Nothing! This was by my far my favorite paper craft! The more I try my hand at different crafts, the more I realize that I do much better if it’s pretty much all laid out for me. This might be a product of the rushing-through-it, or maybe it’s just that I’m crap at crafting. 😉 Who knows?? Anyway, I’m just glad there’s something like this out here for those of us that like the idea, but have a rough time of it regarding the execution!

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Original craft posting for the Snowman can be found here and the original Tree Magazine craft can be found here! If you’d like any other bookish holiday decorating ideas, some more can be found on my Pinterest Board, “A Bookish Holiday”.

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OK, so I’m seriously impressed with Lindsey’s crafting abilities! I mean, those paper sculptures are the cutest and absolutely the perfect holiday decoration for us book worms! Thank you so much Lindsey for taking the time to create these amazing pieces of art and sharing your experiences with all of us.

Home for the Holidays continues tomorrow on What Sarah Read with a guest post from Sajda at Across the Words. She’ll be giving us her thoughts on a very popular book this holiday season! Hint: it has not one, but TWO amazingly gorgeous covers! See you tomorrow!

Home for the Holidays with Ginger from GReads!

I can’t tell you how excited I am that today has finally arrived! It kind of feels like Christmas day for me because I’ve been waiting to unveil this holiday feature on my blog for a couple of months now. Over the next two and a half weeks I’ll be welcoming some of my blogging buddies to my online home so they can share some of their holiday favorites, such as holiday books, recipes, music, movies, decorating ideas and more. Every Monday through Friday until Christmas Eve will be filled with all sorts of holiday goodness and you won’t want to miss a moment of…

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I’m so thrilled to welcome Ginger from GReads to the blog today to kick of this special holiday feature! She’s sharing some of her holiday favorites with all of us and I have to say…girlfriend really knows how to get into the holiday spirit!

GingersHolidayFavorites - title Howdy!  I’m so excited to be sharing a few of my holiday favorites with you all on Sarah’s blog today.  As someone who is a big fan of this season, I knew right away I wanted to be apart of this holiday feature.  Plus I adore this girl and her blog, so obviously that sealed the deal!

I decided to chunk my favorites into certain categories: Music, Movies, Books, and Traditions.  Hopefully these favorites will get you in the spirit and have you running to the nearest bookstore or Target to fulfill your holiday wishes!

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I haven’t always been a fan of the traditional Christmas music, but over the years I’ve discovered some of my favorite artists doing their interpretations of Christmas music that I really love.  If I had to pick just one song as a favorite it would be “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay.  I may or may not play it on repeat while decorating my home for the holidays.  There’s just something so hypnotic in their melody that is both sad and longing, which shouldn’t put me in the holiday spirit, yet there’s this underlining sound of hope too – and that is something I can definitely identify with.  Have a listen and tell me what you think!

 

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I LOVE holiday rom-coms!  There’s nothing better than making a big bowl of buttered popcorn (don’t forget the M&Ms!) to munch on while watching a favorite holiday flick.  The one I keep coming back to each holiday season belongs to The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet.  If you have not seen this one yet, I hope you do this Christmas!  Basically the two women agree to swap houses for the holiday season in order to get away from their stresses and broken hearts.  While Diaz spends hers in England and Winslet in California, they both discover way more than just a solitude Christmas.  It’s such a great film!

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I just started getting into Holiday romance reads the last couple of years.  There’s a strong presence of them in the adult romance market, one I’ve become very familiar with!  I’ve created a bookshelf on my goodreads page for “holiday reading” including adult and YA if you’d like to peruse them.  Below are a few I am planning to read this holiday season and really looking forward to!

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Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne
Her Holiday Man by Shannon Stacey
Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Jennifer Probst + more

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Christmastime in my house growing up was always a joyous time.  I have so many fond memories of my parents making it very special for my sisters and me.  On Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one present from under the tree, yet it was always a certain rectangle box that Mom handed to each one of us every year: our Christmas pajamas!  My sisters and I would unwrap and immediately put them on to sleep in that night.  Looking back at our Christmas morning photos, I can always expect to see us wearing our comfy new pj’s from Mom and Dad.

Now that I’m an adult, I try to establish my own holiday traditions.  I’ve started collecting snow globes from family and friends around Christmastime and displaying them in my home for the holidays.  It’s become a tradition to receive a new one each year to add to the collection.  I love unboxing them, remembering who gave it to me, and setting them out on display to admire through the holidays.

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Thank you so much, Sarah, for featuring me on your blog!  I’ve enjoyed sharing a few of my Holiday Favorites with everyone and wish you all a very joyous, loving, warm holiday season.

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I don’t know about you guys but I totally want to go to Ginger’s house for the holidays! I just want to lounge on the couch and watch holiday movies with her…with lots of popcorn and candy of course! Seriously, The Holiday is one of my very favorite movies to watch this time of year. I’d also love to take a closer look at her snow globe collection. How special that she’s able to collect all those mementos through the years that bring back such wonderful memories.

Thanks for stopping by on this first day of my Home for the Holidays feature! Ginger’s epic post is just the beginning of a fantastic group of guest posts so be sure and stop by every day. Tomorrow we have Lindsey from Bring My Books sharing some fantastic ideas for holiday decorating. Don’t miss it!

Fangirl Friday: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I’m SO excited about today’s Fangirl Friday post!! Pretty much the most excited ever! Why am I so excited you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! Not only do I have three mini-reviews for some perfect holiday reads, but I also have a very special announcement that I think you’re all going to be very excited about. Make sure you read to the end…you won’t want to miss a thing!

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Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading some holiday-themed books to get me in the spirit of the season! It all started when Bloomsbury Spark kindly sent me an eGalley of Mistletoe and Mr. Right, and after that I wanted to read all of the holiday romances! They’re just so warm and fuzzy and filled with festive, swoony moments. If you’re looking for some holiday cheer in book form, I highly recommend these three winners!

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Many thanks to Bloomsbury Spark for gifting me with an eGalley of Mistletoe and Mr. Right a few weeks ago! It was just the book I needed to put me in the holiday spirit! It’s the story of Jessica, a college Junior, as she follows her sexy Irish boyfriend home for Christmas, bound and determined to finally figure out if they have a future together. When she arrives in Ireland she quickly realizes that things don’t always work out the way we plan, and she’s faced with the prospect of an uncertain future.

I really enjoyed this holiday novella for its humor and romance but had a hard time at first getting on board with Jessica’s obsession with securing a future with her less than attentive boyfriend. I just wanted her to drop the zero and carve out a path for herself. Luckily she makes a new friend while in Ireland who helps her to discover the true meaning of love while also discovering herself. Mistletoe and Mr. Right is a quick and fun holiday read, and for that reason I’m giving it three holiday happy elves!

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Yours for Christmas was another novella that filled me with all sort of feels and holiday cheer! Bailey is a single mom looking for a fresh start and doing everything she can to avoid falling for the super dreamy Kenny, a former NFL player. Eventually, the two end up working together on a holiday toy drive and their chemistry is unavoidable. They both have some pretty heavy issues they’re trying to work through individually, but will that prevent them from being together?

Yours for Christmas is a perfect holiday romance that delves into some deeper issues but still manages to stay light and easy to read. I loved the chemistry between Bailey and Kenny, and I just wanted them to get over their stuff and realize they were perfect for each other! I’m giving this novella four holiday elves because the story was compelling and the sizzle factor was super high!

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Snow Angel Cove is a full-length holiday romance that started off a little slow for me but once the story got going it really sucked me in. Single mom Eliza Howard has had some tough luck lately and just when she’s about to give up on her fresh start, a handsome stranger comes crashing into her life…literally! Aidan Cane has had some bad luck of his own recently, but when he meets Eliza he finds the opportunity to turn things around for the both of them. It was such a perfect set-up and I loved how they meet in a less than glamorous way.

The story of these two lonely hearts it super sweet and I really became invested in seeing these two end up with their very own happily-ever-after. They were extremely sympathetic characters and you can’t help but root for them. Again, the chemistry between Eliza and Aidan is crazy and it’s a fun ride to watch them fight their attraction for eachother…only to fail miserably! Because of its endearing story line and a romance that’s the perfect slow burn, I’m giving Snow Angel Cove four holiday elves!

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I would definitely recommend these books to anyone who is looking to get into the spirit of the season. The swoons, the holiday cheer and the feel-good factor are high in all three, and they’re the perfect way to kick of your holiday season.

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As you may know, this is my first year of blogging! It’s been such an amazing year and I’m so thrilled to be part of such a wonderful community. I’ve come to see my little corner of the internet as my home-base for all things amazing! It’s the place where I come to share with all of you my love for YA and other random things I tend to fangirl about! Basically, when you come to my place you’re going to a get a whole lot of flailing and excitement!

So as my way of wrapping up an amazing year, I decided it would be fun to invite fellow bloggers to my (virtual) house this holiday season to share some of their favorite things about this time of year. I was overwhelmed by all of the positive responses to my call for entries and am excited to host this “Open House” on my blog for the holidays. Myself as well as 12 other fantastic bloggers have come up with an exciting feature on What Sarah Read! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

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Home for the Holidays starts this coming Monday and runs every week day until December 24th. Each blogger has written up a fun post about the holidays, whether it be their favorite recipe, book, holiday song, decorating ideas, traditions and much, much more. Trust me…you don’t want to miss the epic goodness headed your way! Here’s a schedule so you all can mark your calendars accordingly! Just come back to What Sarah Read each morning and you’ll be treated to a new post to put you in the perfect holiday mood!

December 8: GingerGReads!

December 9: Lindsey @ Bring My Books

December 10: Sajda @ Across the Words

December 11: Rachel @ Beauty and the Bookshelf

December 12: Morgan @ Gone with the Words

December 15: Andi @ Andi’s ABCs

December 16: Katie @ Spirit of Children’s Literature

December 17: Daphne @ Gone Pecan

December 18: Emma @ Miss Print

December 19: Lindsey @ A Bookish Sinister Kid

December 22: Jess @ Gone with the Words

December 23: Amanda & Holly @ Gun in Act One

December 24: Blogger Holiday Wishes

Sounds pretty fantastic right?! Trust me, you do not want to miss this feature! All of the guest posts are fun, informative and perfect for the holiday season. I hope to see you all here on Monday to help me kick off all of the fun!
Seasons Greetings!