Posted in Gift Guides

Gift Guide: For the Foodie

One thing we can all agree on: food is an important part of the holiday season! Some people spend days in the kitchen preparing holiday dinners, baked goods, and candies. And everyone has favorite dishes and goodies.

Do you have someone in your life who’s always excited about a new kitchen gadget? Someone who loves gourmet ingredients or specialty foods, or who reads cookbooks like they’re the latest bestseller? 

You’re in luck… read on for some ideas for the foodie in your life!

Continue reading “Gift Guide: For the Foodie”

Posted in Gift Guides

Gift Guide: Cozy Self Care Ideas

It’s beginning to look a lot like… well, you know!

lighted christmas tree

The holidays may look different for many of us this year, but one thing doesn’t change: the need to find great gifts for friends and family! 

I’ve put together a few gift guides to share some ideas for all the special people in your life… starting with this one. Fabulous gifts that are cozy, comfortable, and promote well-being are ALWAYS appreciated! 

Here are a few of my favorite things!

Continue reading “Gift Guide: Cozy Self Care Ideas”

Posted in Uncategorized

Merry Christmas

Hello, friends!  I’ve been taking a little break from the blog and social media for lots of holiday preparations.  There’s still a few presents to wrap and some cookies to bake.

I’ll be back on the blog again in a few days with some posts to prepare for a brand new year.  In the meantime, I wanted to thank you all.  This time last year, The Biblio Blonde didn’t exist.  In creating it, I’ve read great books, shared my thoughts, and most importantly, made new friends.  So thank you for reading… I look forward to interacting with you all so much more in 2019!!  Merry Christmas!!

 

merry christmas gift box close up photo

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: “The Christmas Company” by Alys Murray (with author interview!)

Hello, friends!  Do you know one of my favorite things about December?  ‘Tis the season not only to be listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies, but also to be reading all kinds of lovely Christmas books!  I’ve already read and reviewed some holiday themed cozy mysteries, and now… it’s time for something a little different.

Recently, I told you about a couple of Hallmark Publishing Christmas titles that I was looking forward to reading.  Not only did I get to read my first one, but I was also able to talk with the author of this lovely book!

I can’t wait to share this story and conversation with you, so read on to find out more…

(This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.)

 


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The Christmas Company by Alys Murray is a delightful story about a small town in Texas with a really BIG Christmas spirit… so big, in fact, that a branch of a local company is solely dedicated to the holiday and to the huge Christmas festival hosted each year by the community.  There’s decorating, caroling, festivities… and yes, even a reenactment of A Christmas Carol each year!  That is, until… (cue ominous villain music)… a real-life Scrooge comes to town and unceremoniously rips it all apart.  You see, the Christmas Festival just isn’t… profitable.  Well, then.

Kate, a hometown girl and employee of The Christmas Company, isn’t going down without a fight.  She launches a campaign to win over Scrooge (who is actually named Clark) and to get to the bottom of why he hates this holiday so much, and why he doesn’t appear to care about another living soul.  Along the way, this standoff slides into a pair of people truly trying to understand one another.  But will the whole situation be too much to overcome?

I found this story truly heartwarming.  The author, Alys Murray, paints a vivid picture of Christmas in Miller’s Point.  The holiday turns this tiny town into a Victorian Christmas village straight out of a Dickens novel.  The references to A Christmas Carol and the parallels of this book to that classic story were enchanting… it made me want to revisit that title as well.  And I loved optimistic, forge-ahead Kate… she’s exactly the person you’d want in charge of saving Christmas!

And talk about a town you’d want to visit over the holidays!  Miller’s Point sounds like the perfect place to spend Christmas, and the festive and descriptive scenes made me wish the little village were a real place to go have a sleigh ride and a hot chocolate!

I happen to have “met” Alys, the author, on social media (again, that Twitter writing and blogging community is awesome!)…. so I asked her if she’d be willing to chat and answer a few questions for me and for everyone that loves The Christmas Company!  She was happy to oblige, so here are some of her thoughts on writing, Christmas, and more!

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Alys Murray, author

When did you start writing, and what brought you to it?

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl! I was an avid reader and I think it’s very natural for avid readers to want to write their own stories, so all throughout my childhood and teenage years, I filled countless notebooks with books and stories. It’s been with me all of my life!

But my professional writing career began my sophomore year of college, when I took a play writing class. I wrote a play I was very proud of and that got some buzz, and it was the first time in my life that I thought I could actually make a go of writing professionally! Up until then, I didn’t know that I could ever write something good enough that people would want to read it, but after so many people enjoyed my play, I thought that maybe I should give writing a try! 

The Christmas Company is set in a little town that cherishes its holiday traditions.  Are you, like your character Kate, “all in” on Christmas, and did you grow up with a lot of traditions of your own?

I’m definitely a Christmas gal like Kate! I’ve always been a huge fan of the holidays and we had so many traditions that have followed me throughout my entire life. Some of them are even in the book! Clark’s Christmas Candle from his mother is a Christmas tradition of mine, and Kate telling the stories behind the ornaments as they decorate the tree is based on another family tradition of mine. 

Also, my father used to always put out a small Dickens Christmas village on our front table. As soon as I saw Bob Cratchit’s house and the cute little London street lamps on a bed of fake snow, I knew it was Christmas! 

How did you come to publish your novel with Hallmark?  Were you a Hallmark fan before?

I was absolutely a Hallmark fan before! Two days into writing The Christmas Company, I was scrolling through Twitter and saw that Hallmark was looking for novels for their new publishing house. In my heart, I just knew that once The Christmas Company was ready, I had to send it to them! A few months later, I was signing my publication contract! 

What is something that you’d love to tell us about your main characters, Kate and Clark?  (Spoiler alert!)

I would love to tell you (and this is only for those who have read the book because I don’t want anything to be spoiled!) that Clark might just be planning a very special Christmas engagement for Kate at next year’s Christmas Company festival…

 

What are you most looking forward to over the Christmas holidays?

I now live full-time in London, and this will be the first Christmas I ever spend in London! My fiancé and I have planned to go out on Christmas night and ride around London on our bikes, seeing the sites and Christmas lights while everyone else is inside having their Christmas dinners. It will be so beautiful to see London this way! I can’t wait! 

In The Christmas Company, you reference Dickens and A Christmas Carol throughout the story. Are you a big fan of Dickens? Would you say your writing is influenced by the classics? What are some of your favorites? 

Yes! I’m a huge fan of Charles Dickens!  When I was a kid, instead of going into ‘Time Out’ when I was in trouble, my dad would sit me down in a chair with a very big book (usually Great Expectations), and make me read a full chapter before I could get back up and play.  The problem was that I started to love these old books that my dad made me read!  My favorite Dickens is probably Oliver Twist, but that’s probably also because I’m a big musical theatre nerd and love the musical! I think my writing is influenced by the classics, especially female writers like Fanny Burney and Elizabeth Gaskell.  Elizabeth Gaskell wrote my favorite classic novel in North and South, and while Clark is, of course, inspired by Scrooge, I also found a lot of inspiration for Clark in the hero of North and South, Thornton.

I love all of this information… it puts me in a Christmas mood even more!  Many thanks to Alys for the interview… and for writing such a fun story!

You know what would be really fun?  Give this book as an early gift to a couple of friends… then meet for brunch and talk about the story, along with all your favorite holiday memories and traditions.

Better yet, plan ahead for next year’s book club… read both The Christmas Company *and* A Christmas Carol as your December titles (no worries, they’re both quick, easy reads!) and use them together to spark wonderful Christmas-themed discussion with your group.  (Try this beautifully illustrated edition of A Christmas Carol!)

If you’re looking for a sweet, uplifting Christmas story (for yourself, or to give as a gift)… well, it would be hard to find a better option than The Christmas Company.  I give this book five festive stars!  Highly recommended for anyone who believes in love, community, and the spirit of Christmas!

Get The Christmas Company:  

Amazon   Barnes & Noble


In the next couple of weeks, don’t forget to peek at my previous reviews of Christmas themed titles for great cozy books to curl up with once all your shopping is done.  Happy reading, friends!

brown pine cone decors

December on my blog will bring lots of fun content… I’m participating in #Blogmas which is a big deal in the blogging world, as well as Bookending Winter through Bookend Events.  Look for gift guides, Christmas book recommendations, holiday favorites, and more!

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Posted in Book Tags

Bookish Naughty-or-Nice Tag

Ho, ho, ho, bookish friends!  In addition to Santa’s list, did you know there’s a naughty or nice list just for book lovers?

Okay, not really.  But let’s pretend there is while I do this fun book tag created by book blogger Jenniely!

Here are the rules for this tag:

  • Tag & link the person who tagged you
  • Tag and link me/this post (if you would be so kind, I love reading your answers!)
  • Mark off the ones on this list you’ve done.
  • Tag more people!

If you’ve not been tagged, go ahead and do it anyway!  (I actually wasn’t tagged, but thought this looked like too much fun to pass up!!

So… have I been bookishly naughty or nice this year?  Let’s find out!

 

man in santa claus costume
Don’t give me that look, Santa.  It won’t be that bad!

 

Received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) and not reviewed it  

Um, guilty.  Not very often… I think only a couple.  I really try to review all that I get to.  I am guilty of taking a lot longer than I anticipated in some cases.

 

Have less than 60% rating on NetGalley  

For those of you who aren’t book bloggers or haven’t discovered it, Net Galley is a website where you can request ARC’s in e-book form, from a variety of publishers.  The recommended ratio on this site of books reviewed to books requested is 80%.

When you’re first starting, it’s hard to get that ratio up!  So sure, when I started it was pretty low.  But even with several outstanding books to review, I’m at about 75% right now.  I’ll mark this one off anyway.

 

Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (but never did one)

Well, I don’t think I’ve done this one yet.  But it’s my first year blogging… give it time!

 

Folded down the page of a book   

Oh yeah.  I’m the monster that does this.  Not with every book… but in general, while I take good care of my books, they’re meant to be savored and devoured.

 

gingy
Maybe just a little…

 

Accidentally spilled on a book

Not to my recollection.  But my dog did chew up my Kindle once.  (True story.)

 

DNF (Did Not Finish) a book this year  

Yep.  And to be fair, I’ve probably done that many years.  I will press on with a book even if it’s not my perfect cup of tea, but life is too short to pour time into one that you’re just not enjoying even a little.

 

Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it   ✔

Sometimes, you just can’t resist a pretty face.  Or cover.

 

Read while you’re supposed to be doing something else  

Well… yeah.  Welcome to the life of a reader.  I mean if the choice is between reading and nearly anything else, that’s a no-brainer.

 

obviously

 

Skim read a book  

A couple of them.  Sometimes you’re pressed for time, sometimes the descriptions get a little long.  Usually it’s skimming a section instead of the whole book.

 

Completely missed your Goodreads goal

I haven’t actually done this one (though there may have been a year or two I adjusted my goal toward the end).  This year I’m on track but I need to stay strong through December.

 

Borrowed a book and not returned it

Nope.  I don’t tend to borrow or lend my books, so that keeps it easy.

 

Broke a book buying ban

Oh, gosh.  I haven’t bothered to implement book buying bans in a long time.  Talk about setting myself up for failure…. but wait, that means I’m not guilty of this one!

 

Started a review, left it for ages, then forgot what the book was about

I don’t think I’ve done this.  Again, new blogger here, so… check back next year!

 

Wrote in a book you were reading   ✔

I do this very occasionally.  Usually it’s a study or non-fiction book though, and it may include underlining passages.

 

Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads

Not in recent years.  Since I’ve been using Goodreads regularly, I’ve been pretty meticulous about including everything on the list.

 

Final Score:  Guilty of 8/15 items

Well… about half and half.  I guess it could be worse?

I’ll tag a few people on Twitter to do this tag… but even if I don’t tag you, please go ahead and do this, and link back so I can see your answers!  Thanks again to Jenniely for creating this fun end-of-year tag!

So, who’s on the naughty list this year? Well, the good news is… you’re not alone! Shall we try and do better next year?  In the meantime… happy reading!!

 

Here’s the list for you to copy and do yourself!

  • Received an ARC and not reviewed it  
  • Have less than 60% feedback rating on NetGalley
  • Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)
  • Folded down the page of a book
  • Accidentally spilled on a book
  • DNF a book this year
  • Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it
  • Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework)
  • Skim read a book
  • Completely missed your Goodreads goal
  • Borrowed a book and not returned it
  • Broke a book buying ban
  • Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about
  • Wrote in a book you were reading
  • Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads

 

 

December on my blog will bring lots of fun content… I’m participating in #Blogmas which is a big deal in the blogging world, as well as Bookending Winter through Bookend Events.  Look for gift guides, Christmas book recommendations, holiday favorites, and more!

bookending-winter