10 Reasons Why Book Boyfriends Make the Perfect Valentine's Date

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1. A book boyfriend is schedule-friendly! Your date with your book boyfriend will begin exactly when he fits into your schedule. He'll stay up late with you if you like. Or, without a single complaint, he'll let you nod off at nine p.m.

 

2. He's location-friendly. He'll meet you anywhere you are. He'll travel with you on the subway on your way to work. He'll join you on the sofa at your parent's house. He'll fly on a plane with you. Sail on a cruise with you. Keep you company on your beach chair when your toes are buried in the sand.

 

3. He's extremely romantic. Especially if you select a book boyfriend who originates within the pages of a romance novel. My heroes frequently make big sacrifices for their heroines while saying things like, "I'll always love you. As long as there's an earth and a sun. Longer. I will love you."

 

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4. A book boyfriend can break the constraints of time. It's a wee bit hard to date a Regency era duke or a Viking or a Civil War soldier these days. But not if he's a book boyfriend!  Imagine spending your Valentine's day wearing a ball gown, dancing a waltz in the arms of a Viscount.

 

5. Any food you eat with him while inside his story world is calorie free!

 

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6. You don't have to clean up after him. At all. Ever. Book boyfriends don't leave socks on the floor or dirty dishes on the counter.

 

7. Your book boyfriend looks the way you want him to look. Yes, the author has provided you with a few details about him. But thanks to the powers of your imagination, you can envision him in your mind's eye exactly the way you prefer.

 

8. Book boyfriends are larger than life!  Go on a Valentine's date with a billionaire rancher. A European prince from the 1700s. A pro football player. A single father who's also a famous country singer.

 

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9. He's memorable. If you choose your book boyfriend wisely, chances are that he'll carve his name onto your heart and you'll remember him fondly for years and years to come.

 

10. You can count on a happy ending!  He may be flawed and he's likely to make mistakes, but by the end of your time together, he'll have redeemed himself. You're guaranteed to part from your book boyfriend with a happy sigh and a smile.

 


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Becky Wade is a California native who attended Baylor University, married a Texan, and settled with him and their three children in Dallas. She’s the Christy and Carol award winning author of the heartwarming Christian romances included in the Porter Family series and the Bradford Sisters Romance series. Visit her website!

 

What Reading Books Means to Me with Rachel Scott McDaniel

Happy Monday! At Hope By the Book we are trying out some new regular features here on the website, and today’s guest - author & avid reader Rachel Scott McDaniel - is someone you need to meet! Her debut novel, Above the Fold, releases December 2019 and she’s bringing us the first installment of “What Reading Books Means to Me” .


What Reading Books Means to Me

by Rachel Scott McDaniel, Author of Above The Fold

Have you ever considered the power of story? How is it possible that words on a page can refresh a wearied soul or bolster a feeble heart? It’s just a conglomeration of sentences and paragraphs. Just a book. Yet within the boundaries of Chapter One and The End lies the potential of something remarkable. What if I told you it holds the capability of bringing to life that which is deemed dead?

Ten years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom who wrote Christian romance during my kiddos’ naptimes. Then something occurred in my family that challenged my secure little world. My three-year-old daughter was diagnosed autistic. I wish I could say that I donned my super cape and stood as Faith Woman, but the truth was, I struggled. Everything came to a screeching halt. I closed my laptop, stopped reading Christian fiction, and only concentrated on surviving the day. The following decade was spent focusing on caring for my kids and reorienting myself to life. My daughter was significantly progressing, overcoming delays which were branded insurmountable. Slowly, my brittle faith strengthened, but I allowed my dream to collect dust in the corner of my heart.

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One day, my sister-in-law mentioned a contemporary romance she’d read by some novelist named Rachel Hauck. At that point, I had been so far removed from Christian fiction—hadn’t browsed the inspy aisle at Barnes and Noble, hadn’t fangirled any authors on Facebook, hadn’t even cracked open a book in years. Not to mention, I hadn’t written a single word in my own story. I completely detached myself from my dream—that aspiration which had once sparked my soul. So on a whim, I snagged To Catch A Prince from the local library, yet I was inwardly skeptical. After all I’d experienced, did I even believe in such a thing as happily-ever-after? But the unexpected occurred in the form of me binge-reading the book, taking in the layered characters and absorbing the vivid prose.

Then it happened.

Somewhere between the pages, the dormant ember ignited. The love of story returned. The only way I can explain it is that I had a “God-nudge.” A pivotal mark on my soul where I knew what had to be done. I dug out my laptop and opened my manuscript. It’d been so long that I nearly forgotten what I’d written. I started creating again and immersed myself into the world of storytelling. Before long, I had the entire novel completed and from then on, the dream unraveled before my eyes. That particular story had won a national contest. I signed with an agent and within a year, I’d landed a book contract.

What would’ve happened if I never had picked up that book? Would my lifeless dream have been revived? I’m not certain. But one thing I do know is the power of story. It can fortify what is frail. It can liven what is dull. So what does reading books mean to me? Simple. Reading is—and always will be—a game changer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning Christian romance writer. She hopes to inspire the mind and refresh the soul with words infused with faith and heart. Because she could never resist a good mystery, suspense and intrigue routinely sneak into her stories. She currently enjoys life in Ohio with her husband and two children. You can find Rachel at her online home RachelMcDaniel.net or on all major social media platforms.

Look for her debut novel - ABOVE THE FOLD - coming December 2019 from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas!

Books That Have Shaped Me with Laura Frantz

Happy Wednesday, dear readers! At Hope By the Book we are trying out some new regular features here on the website, and we adore today’s guest - author Laura Frantz - who is bringing you the first installment of “Books That Have Shaped Me”.


Books That Have Shaped Me

by Laura Frantz, Author of A Bound Heart

More than anything, reading has taught me how to write. It didn’t hurt that I was raised on the lap of my reading teacher mom who early on inspired me with countless books. As I grew, my reading tastes settled and sharpened. Looking back, three books stand out as shaping me. My hope is that they’re already on your reading radar…

 
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THE BLUE CASTLE

Move over, dear Anne with an e! Though I’m an avid Anne of Green Gables fan, I’m most smitten by her creator’s The Blue Castle. Within its novella-length pages, Lucy Maud Montgomery makes the endearing Valancy Stirling shine and breathes life into the most heroic yet un-heroically named Barney Snaith. With her signature wit, wisdom, and perfect pacing, The Blue Castle has been called a ‘forgotten book,’ incorporating enchanted woods, a cabin turned castle, and a ‘chase contentment’ theme. It’s one of those rare novels I’ve read more than once. For an added look at the author’s inner life, L.M. Montgomery’s complete journals are also extraordinary.

A few favorite lines:

“All that supported her through the boredom of her days was the hope of going on a dream spree at night.” 

“His eyes, which she had always thought brown, now seen close, were deep violet – translucent and intense…”

 
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 A LANTERN IN HER HAND

Another shaper is A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich. Epic in spirit, we meet within its pages the pioneer Abbie Mackenzie Deal with her unquenchable courage. Reading this classic is like looking at landscape photography through the author’s astonishing, evocative prose. Equally memorable is Aldrich’s Song of Years. Tissues required!

A few favorite lines:

“You are so much a part of me, that if you were taken away, I think it would seem that you just went on with me. And I’m sure if I were the one taken, I would go on with you, remembering all you had been to me.”

 
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LOVE’S PURSUIT

Lastly is Love’s Pursuit by Siri Mitchell. Rich in historical detail and a unique setting, the novel’s Puritan heroine is wonderfully complex, and her unconventional hero might well make this a Christian classic in time. The novel has a literary vibe I love and since I shy away from formulaic writing, her remarkable ending is heart-stopping and layered with meaning.

A few favorite lines:

“I am not good. I merit no favor, deserve no grace from God. There is nothing I can do to coax God to save me. Nothing I can do to deserve to whisper in God’s ear, to feel His eye upon me. There is no work that I could accomplish that would place God in my debt or coerce Him to act on my behalf. But still, He does it.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award winner and the ECPA bestselling author of several books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, The Mistress of Tall Acre, A Moonbow Night, The Lacemaker and The Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.

Her newest book A Bound Heart (Revell, Jan 2019) is getting rave reviews as well!

"Equally suspenseful and heart-wrenching, Laura Frantz's A Bound Heart takes readers on a journey that begins in the misty isles of Scotland and crosses oceans to the sun-drenched plantations of the New World, with finely drawn characters who rose from the pages to quickly capture my sympathies. From start to finish, A Bound Heart is an absorbing, tenderhearted story about the grace of second chances." - Lori Benton,author of Many Sparrows and the Christy Award-winning Burning Sky

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

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Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.

Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity and deep feeling as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in Colonial America.

Feeding the Temple

Feeding the Temple

Feeding the Temple: Books that inspire a healthy living.

The Bible says our bodies are God’s temple and that His spirit dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). How do we keep our bodies healthy with all the fast food and genetically modified stuff out there? Then there’s also those situations that is out of our control like illnesses or food allergies. What can we do about that?

Read More

Bookish Resolutions: Organize Those Shelves

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Give your bookshelves some love

I don’t know about you, but I am swimming in books. More books come in the mail almost daily, and I get a little (ok, a lot) behind on organizing my shelves. Let’s kick off 2019 with revamping, reorganizing, and refreshing our bookshelves together.

Sort by Color

This reader gets a bit of anxiety over this one...While it is aesthetically pleasing and the artist side of me the OCD side says, “but how will you find the book you want???”

Bookstagrammers like @paperfury share GORGEOUS photos usually color themed...and they make me drool. But the thought of doing that with my own books...Scares the daylights out of me.

The “Standard” Method

While we’re on the subject, this is the way I organize my shelves:

I sort the sections of my reading nook by Genre, first. Then I alphabetize by the author’s surname. If that author has any stand-alone books, I place those in alphabetical order by the title. Then if the author has any book series I place those in alphabetical order by series name then Book 1, Book 2, etc. My Nonfiction books are organized by subject and then title.

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Books Read, Want to Read, Favorites, Not Favorites...

It’s like the real-life version of Goodreads. Sorting your books into these categories will make it easier to figure out what to read next, what books to loan out, which books to reread, and which books are only good for collecting dust (because let’s face it, we all own books we didn’t like but can’t part with, it feels like betrayal).

Frequency of Use

This is good for your reference books, nonfiction, etc. I keep my WWII nonfiction books on the easier to reach shelves because I am more likely to read those ones than the biographies of past presidents. But that’s just me.

Organize by Size

I love that we have an abundance of kids books. But trying to organize them is next to impossible. I keep collections together as much as possible (see below) but the randomness of the rest of the books can just get confusing. So, I have taken to organizing by SIZE. It gives the shelf an organized FEEL and lets it all flow nicely.

Collections

Being a homeschool mom, I have my fair share of different collections of books. Eyewitness, geography types, different vintage collections, and reader collections. I always keep these ones together. It just makes life so much easier when I know where to find that geography book about the Appalachian Mountains.

Pretties

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My bookshelves hold more than just books. Granted the more I acquire the fewer places I have to put pretties on the shelves. But I still make it work. A few things to add a little flavor to your shelves can be:

Storage Books

Framed Quotes

Twinkle Lights

Bookish Candles

Funko POP!

Cactus

Willow Tree

Shells

Flowers

Send us your beautiful shelfies on social media @hopebythebook


Rachel enjoys reading, reviewing books, and sharing her passion for literature at www.bookwormmama.org. She's a virtual assistant and shares the small-town life with her husband and children.

Bookish Resolutions: Be a Read-Aloud Family

Making Time for Books and Family

 Beginning new traditions can be refreshing...but sometimes we don’t know where to begin. Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your everyday routine.

 Read Aloud Revival

Sarah Mackenzie’s book, The Read-Aloud Family is a book to help us connect with our kids and help prepare them for the future, all through reading books aloud together. With tips and encouragement for families with kids of all ages. But how do we get started?

 

The Bed-Time Story

I don’t know about you, but when bed-time rolls around I am READY to have some peace and quiet. There are days when my husband and I have to force ourselves to slow down and honor the bed-time story routine that we have established.

Recently we have been reading a little bit of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone each night. We have the illustrated edition which both kids (and us adults) absolutely love. Reading together before bed has become a good way for us to come together at the end of the day, put all electronics aside, calm down the rambunctious children, and focus on a good story.

Whether you set a time limit, chapter limit, or pick a short story book or two, I encourage you to give this a try.

 

Lunch Reading

The curriculum that we use for our homeschooling (BookShark) incorporates the reading aloud of several books throughout the school year. This is one of the reasons I decided to go with them in the first place. Every day we read a portion of the current book, discuss the vocabulary, talk about what might happen next, ask questions about the setting and people, and we do all of this while the boys are eating lunch.

I have found that this is a really good way to include my youngest (who isn’t quite school age yet) in our daily classroom routine. Whether you are using a curriculum that incorporates reading aloud or not, you can easily begin reading aloud during lunch. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend Little House in the Big Woods or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

 

Morning Devotions

A new tradition that we are starting in our home, thanks to a little inspiration from Jessica Smartt’s Memory-Making Mom (watch for my review of this incredible book in our Spring issue), is morning devotions. Now, this is something that I have tried and failed, to do for the past couple of years. The boys were antsy, I was too busy trying to organize the rest of the day, nothing we did made it stick.

And then, I had an “Ah-ha” moment while reading Smartt’s book and I decided to give it another go. Freshly baked muffins, “tea” in fancy cups, candle, flowers, and devotions. And do you know what? It was a huge success. I am super excited to continue this on a daily basis.

 

Juggling the Age Differences

Luckily, my two boys are pretty close in age. Although, while one is beginning to get a decent grip on reading, the other can’t tell his colors apart yet. So what do you do when you have an extremely varied age range?

 

The Toddlers

This is an easy age for reading aloud. Although reading the SAME book again for the 17th time that day can get a little rough. Why not take a jaunt over to the library and select a couple new board books to try? Or check out Usborne’s That’s Not My… series. These are some of my all-time favorite toddler books! Sensory, repetition, and OPTIONS! You can have the same style of book in so many different editions, it’s glorious.

 

Beginning to Read

Like I said earlier, my oldest is just on the edge of getting a good grip on reading. Plainly put, we are in the excruciating period where it takes a painfully long time for him to get through 1 line. But do you know what? I don’t care how long it takes him, because HE IS READING!!! We do use a lot of the I Can Read! books for schoolwork, but my personal favorite is the My First Reading Library. It gets the parent/teacher involved in the reading as well. I read a page, he reads a page, and repeats. It is nice because the stories are able to use a broader range of vocabulary than if he were required to read the book in its entirety. “Cat sat. Cat ran. Cat ran and sat.” type of stuff. 

 

The Older Kids

I have very distinct memories of sitting around the living room and reading together as a family. We would each take turns reading a chapter and then pass it on to the next family member. We read The Chronicles of Narnia in this fashion and other stories. Looking back, I suppose I should have read-aloud more as a child/teen to help with pronunciation. Because even now, there are several words that I can spell, give you a definition of, and use it in a sentence, but I can NOT say it out loud correctly.  Like “memoir” and “regularly” (and no, I did NOT just practice saying those out loud).

 

Reaping the Benefits

Do you want to know what is the most wonderful thing as a bookish parent? Seeing your children cherish and adore books just as much as you do. And what better way to encourage their love for literature than by reading aloud together on a regular basis.

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Neither of my parents would be considered “bookish” but somehow, through the reading aloud together, Wishbone, and a never-ending penchant for curiosity, I have become THE book nerd of the family. Is it worth taking the extra time to read aloud together? Absolutely!

Do I see a difference in the way my kids speak? YES! My oldest used the word “nearly” in a sentence the other day. He used it correctly and was very intentional about using it. I can only attribute it to the variety of vocabulary he receives on a daily basis.

Do my kids beg to read books? YES! Is their favorite place to go, the library? YES! And through read aloud together, we are preparing them, nurturing them, and instilling a love for books that will be lifelong into those tiny little hearts of theirs.

 

Get Started Today

Sarah Mackenzie has the Read-Aloud Revival 31-Day Challenge active on her website right now. Sign up for free and jump into reading-aloud today!

Bookish Resolutions: Tame That Teetering TBR Tower

The new year is always a good time to set resolutions that will help make this current year better than the last. Gym memberships and diet program sign-ups increase dramatically every January, and people flood social media with their ‘word of the year’ and resolutions posts.

Bookworms have resolutions too, and one of the most common ones is "taming the TBR (to be read) pile”. Or in some cases, you may need to replace ‘pile’ with ‘tower’ or ‘island’ or even ‘universe’. (Ask me how I know this.) But where do you even start such an impossible feat as taming the amount of books you want to read, especially when irresistible new books pop up every day?!?

I (Carrie) have no idea. None. My TBR pile is out. of. control. It has been for quite some time now and shows no signs of diminishing in the foreseeable future.

So I asked my associate editor, Annie, to give some insight here. (Don’t let her great suggestions fool you, though - she’s as hopeless as the rest of us.)

Participate in Reading Challenges/Readathons

This time of year, there are lots of great reading challenges for you to start! Some go all year, and others are more monthly. These can make taming that TBR pile fun - and give you an excuse to finally read that book you’re not sure about (and which would otherwise stay on your TBR list to infinity) - plus they provide great accountability to keep at.

May I suggest Hope By The Book’s reading challenge? We’ve got three levels so you can do as little or as many as you choose! Find out more HERE.

Readathons are typically for a day or a week, though some are seasonal. You can find these on various book blogs and on social media. These are a great way to power-read your way through a chunk of your book stacks.

Buddy Reads

Everything is better with friends, even reading! Grab a friend or two, pick a book or series, read and discuss. Kinda like a book club but more one-on-one - AND it can be done online which is perfect for us introverted readers!

The ‘Reading Nook Stack’ Method

Stack five books at a time by your favorite reading nook (like on your nightstand or next to your reading chair). Read them off one by one, and don’t add any more until the last book has been read. If you change your mind on a book, switch it out instead of adding to the stack. This helps keep your immediate TBR within a reachable goal. Take caution though! If you overachievers out there decide to use more than five books at a time for this method, you might find yourself in trouble!

It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read.
— Lemony Snicket

Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a great way to knock a book off your list while doing chores or commuting. I've even done it while shopping! Of course there is Audible and Scribd but you can also check out audiobooks through Overdrive and Hoopla, etc. And if Richard Armitage happens to be the narrator, all the better ;)

Set aside reading time

Keep this commitment of at least once a week, even if you are able to add more reading time. That way, even when busyness creeps up, you'll still have this time devoted for reading. Mark it on your planners and Google Calendars and carve out time each week for dedicated reading time.

Cull your Goodreads lists

Goodreads is a handy website that lets us keep track of our books read, series, authors, and what our friends are reading & reviewing. It also, let’s just be honest, adds even more stress to the overwhelmed TBR-owner. My want-to-read list is a metaphysical impossibility, yet I continue adding to it when I see a book on someone’s social media or blog. And sometimes my one-click reflex is faster than my thought process, so it’s prudent every once in a while to go through and make sure you really want to read that book that grabbed your attention.

Make a TBR jar

A) That’s super fun to say - “TBR jar”
B) It’s a super handy way to help yourself over those “I have 5000 books on my TBR list and I have no idea what to read next” dilemmas.

Take strips of paper and write down a TBR title on each one. Fold them up and fill up a mason jar with the papers. Each time you finish a book, reach in the jar and grab another title, and so on. Thanks to one of our reviewers, Andi, for pointing out this idea from BookRiot right as I was finishing up this post! Perfect timing :)


These are all great ideas! But, let’s face it… at some point we just have to surrender to the teetering TBR tower, acknowledge that we’ll never get it read in one lifetime, and hope Heaven has a library :) Until then, happy reading!!

Merry Christmas

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This Christmas, as lovers of words, may you know THE Word, the Hope of the world

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.

The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.

So the Word became human and made his home among us.
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.
And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John 1:1, 5, 14 (NLT)

12 Days of Christmas for the Bookish People in Your Life

Do you currently have someone in your family that loves all things bookish? Or maybe you are that person, and you need to somehow hint to your loved one what they can get you for Christmas? Let’s face it, non-bookish people just don’t get it. Yes, of course we want books, I mean that is the point, right? But there’s so much more!!

I’ve taken the popular 12 Days of Christmas and put a little bookish spin on it. I think you’ll find something in one or more of the days that you like!

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On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a reader’s nook of my very own.

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On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two bookish pillows.

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On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three mugs with book quotes.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four scented candles.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five magnetic bookmarks.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six book cozies.

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On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven sticky note pads.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight book darts.

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On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine uninterrupted hours to read.

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On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten Funko figurines.

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On the eleventh day of Christ my true love gave to me, eleven props for Bookstagram.

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On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a twelve-month subscription to a bookish box.

What bookish items are on YOUR Christmas wishlist this year? Share in the comments below.

Christmas Cookbooks

Are you ready for the holiday cooking spree to begin?

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From cookies for the neighbors to Christmas dinner and New Year’s appetizers, December seems to be filled with all the baking, and cooking, and flour…everywhere…especially if the children are involved. We accomplished our very first sugar cookie baking and decorating as a family this year. It went surprisingly well for having 2 young boys.

Do you have tradtional recipes you use from year to year? Or do you like to shake it up and try new recipes each year? Share your family cooking traditions below and check out these Christmas Cookbooks, maybe you will find a new tradition.

Click on the images below to learn more.

SO MUCH TO CELEBRATE
Katie Jacobs

Create beautiful memories for your family and friends with help from Katie Jacobs, a stylist for Reese Witherspoon's lifestyle brand Draper James. In this essential guide to entertaining, Katie reveals her secrets for throwing fantastic parties for any occasion, from a casual backyard movie night to a lavish holiday party. Using Katie’s inspiring ideas and make-ahead tips, you will be so organized that you can minimize the fuss, enjoy the time, and celebrate too!

Brimming with creative party themes for every season, inspiring décor ideas, and delicious recipes, So Much to Celebrate is the perfect book for anyone who appreciates good times, good food, and good celebrations. (From the Publisher)

THOMAS NELSON, May, 224 pp., $29.99

CHARLES DICKENS’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Charles Dickens
A Book-to-Table Classic

A deluxe, full-color hardback edition of the perennial Christmas classic featuring a selection of recipes for your holiday table from Giada de Laurentiis, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Trisha Yearwood!

Have your book and eat it, too, with this clever edition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol featuring delicious recipes from celebrity chefs. Plan your perfect Christmas feast with a carefully curated menu of holiday dishes, from succulent baked ham to smashed root vegetables. And top it all off with fruitcake cookies and pecan pie. Celebrate the holiday with a good meal and a good book!

Book includes full, unabridged text of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, interspersed with recipes, food photography, and special food artwork.
(From the Publisher)

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, Oct, 176 pp., $25.00


Global

CHRISTMAS FLAVORS OF IRELAND
Margaret M. Johnson

CHRISTMAS FLAVORS OF IRELAND INVITES READERS — cooks and armchair travelers alike — on a holiday tour of one of Europe’s most beloved destinations. From decking the halls to gathering around the family table, you’ll find timeless classics and exciting new ideas in this full color collection of popular Irish dishes. With easy-to-follow recipes — warming soups and crisp potatoes, wonderful puddings and dazzling desserts — Christmas Flavors of Ireland will awaken your senses to the festive, fun-filled season in Ireland. With over 100 recipes and photos, this colorful collection will become an essential addition to your holiday bookshelf and a gift that family and friends will treasure year after year. (From the Publisher)

AMBASSADOR INTERNATIONAL, Aug 2013, 192 pp., $19.99

Cookies

Crockpot/Instant Pot

Gluten-Free/Vegan


Rachel enjoys reading, reviewing books, and sharing her passion for literature at www.bookwormmama.org. She's a virtual assistant and shares the small-town life with her husband and children.

Hungry, Anyone? Books That Inspire the Foodie In All Of Us

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Hungry, Anyone?

Books that inspire cooking, baking, eating, and more than meets the eye.

Books that inspire cooking, baking, eating, and more than meets the eye.

Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.
— CS Lewis

We talk a lot about how books can entertain, but did you know that books can do a lot more?  Books have the magical power to get into our minds, remind us that we’re hungry or spark the hunger that wasn’t there until the words on the page ignited it. And with the holidays upon us, food is usually at the center of our celebrations. Today, we’re going to celebrate food with books that spark the spirit of Christmas even beyond its intention.

Covers that make you hungry

First impressions get us in the door (or beyond the cover)!

Inspires Action

Books with characters that make eating fun, especially with others.

There’s more to baking.

Sometimes there’s more to take away when a little baking is involved!

Food as gifts.

It’s hard to tell who the gift was for, the giver or the gifted.

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate!

Not a fan of chocolate? How about sugary sweets?

I’d like to enter a confectionary shop like this one!

 

Are you hungry for food, words, or maybe a little of both?  Either way, as CS Lewis said, “Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.” Enjoy.


Annie is an associate editor of Hope by the Book and the mind behind Just Commonly blog, sharing what she loves most – Jesus & all things book and bookish. She is also the co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat and JustRead Publicity Tours.

7 Ways to Make Time to Read

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Designed by Freepik

Is your to do list longer than your TBR (to be read) list? I’m sure it is. Most of us, let’s face it, don’t even have time to be reading this blog post. Here’s a few ways to sneak in some time to read in a schedule that barely allows you to shower.

Read while you wait: Patience a good reader makes. Show up early to your appointments and read while you wait. On hold with Comcast? Pull out your current read. Waiting in the school pickup line? Throw it in park and grab your book. Fill these small bits of time throughout your day with reading, instead of scrolling through Facebook or catching up on news (I’ll give you the recap: the world is a sad and broken place).

Tuck yourself in with a story: Kids get a bedtime story so why shouldn’t you? Set a limit for yourself to read a chapter before bed each night. Not only is this the perfect wind down after a long day, but you will also get great dream inspiration from it.

Listen to audiobooks: Listen to a book during your commute or at the gym. Audiobooks can be somewhat expensive, so make sure to check out free resources like your local library and Librivox for public domain classics.

Don’t be afraid to DNF: If you are struggling to finish a book, do not finish (DNF) it. Read a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Don’t force yourself to slog through something painful. If you don’t like it, just pick up something else. There are plenty of fish in the sea books in the world.

Set yourself a goal: Are you a part of the Goodreads challenge? Set a goal for yourself to see how many books you can read this year. Be realistic and set a goal you know you can complete. Having a reminder of completing a goal will help you make reading a priority.

Grab an ereader: Carry a device with you, whether a smartphone or ereader so you can read anywhere you go. Even if you have a diehard hatred of ereaders, you have to admit, they are handy. If you like the book after you read it digitally, buy a hard copy to display on your shelf.

Quit wasting time: Choose to read a chapter or two instead of watching a rerun or scrolling through social media. Wake up early to read a book and drink coffee, instead of hitting snooze every five minutes until you’re late for work. There are 24 hours in a day and I’m sure there’s something you can stop wasting time on.

Read everywhere: Read wherever you are. Leave books in the bathroom, your gym bag, your car… Keep your mind entertained whenever you have a second free. You’ll soon find yourself enjoying tasks that you once thought mundane.

If you still can’t find time to read, you may have other issues. Remember to breathe now and again. Sometimes it’s important to take  a break and let your mind escape reality into the pages of a good book.

How To Prep for Christmas (and still have time to read)

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‘Tis the season! You know what I’m talking about right? The lights, the misletoe, the chaos, the stress, the cooking, the cleaning…and the list goes on…

How are we supposed to find ANY time to read? Today I want to give you a few tips that help me get through this crazy busy season while still satisfying the Book Nerd in me.

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1.Cook Christmas Dinner Ahead of Time
Now, I know every family has different traditions when it comes to Christmas dinner. A few years ago we started hosting Christmas at our home. As the only family with small children, we made the executive decision that the rest of the family can come to us from now on! Haha! Also, we LOVE hosting parties! In our family, Cornish Pasties have a special place in family gatherings. For this reason, I decided to start a new tradition of making pasties for our Christmas dinner. The best part about this? I make them a couple weeks ahead of time and freeze them. That way, all we have to do is pull them out Christmas Eve and warm them up on Christmas. This has saved us SO.MUCH.chaos and stress. (Here is a recipe for Cornish Pasties)

Reading Tip: Fewer dishes ON Christmas means more time reading all those new books that Santa brought you hehe!

2. Shop Online
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of crowds. I avoid them at all cost! And unless you are super prepared for Christmas presents, going to ANY store in December will be a mad house. I have found that shopping online tends to cost me less money as well. Not only can you find super awesome deals almost everywhere online (and free shipping codes) I am more likely to stick to my list because I’m not distracted by all the lovely displays and stocking stuffers in store.

Reading Tip: All the time you would have spent dealing with driving, crowds, etc. you can now spend curled up with your favorite book.

3. Long Car Rides
Sometimes driving around in December is unavoidable. Whether it’s because you enjoy shopping at brick and mortar stores or you travel to see family for the holidays. Or like our family, Santa pictures at the downtown mall is a yearly requirement. The perfect solution? Audiobooks. You can bet later today, I’ll be happily seated in the passenger seat with my earbuds in for the hour treck downtown. Audiobooks are great if you are the driver too. I can’t read in the car at.all. So audiobooks are perfect. If you haven’t checked out SCRIBD yet…DO IT! They are amazing! Best price out there for UNLIMITED ebooks and audiobooks!

Reading Tip: If you are the driver, and you have kiddos, I give them headphones and their kindles #noshame. Mama needs peace and quiet while driving, whether I am listening to an audiobook or not.

4. Make a Cleaning Schedule
The dreaded word…CLEANING….Probably my least favorite part of hosting Christmas. I have found that if I stick to a cleaning schedule of 1 (or 2) rooms a day. The cleaning isn’t as overwhelming on you know, Christmas Eve. Especially if you start a couple weeks ahead of time. This year my kids are finally old enough to help out with the household chores, even if I need to go back through and do a little touch up cleaning lol! Also, having Norwex for my cleaning supplies makes life so much easier. No nasty chemical headache after cleaning the bathroom. (Here is a sample of a cleaning schedule.)

Reading Tip: I think you know where I am going with this…Audiobooks…Yup…So handy to accomplish some reading while cleaning.

5. Do Not Overcommit
I know. I know. This can be so hard! It is tempting to want to go to every Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, cookie exchange, recital, and party. But remember, it’s OK to say, “No.” Remember to make time for your family (and I’m talking you and your kids) to make special memories. We went to the new Grinch movie last week. We were the ONLY ones in the theatre and it was so precious to make such memories with the kiddos.

Reading Tip: Spending time at home is OK. Besides, you can squeeze in some more reading time.

6. Take Time for Yourself
This is my most important tip! There is no shame in taking a little break. Take a soothing bubble bath, go get a mani/pedi, go out for coffee with your BFF, or simply curl up with a book.

Reading Tip: Take a book with you wherever you go. A few minutes here and there can add up to a whole lot of reading before you know it. Reading at my son’s karate lessons is one of my favorites.

The bottom line to making it through the holidays with at least a smidgen of sanity left over is priorities. This year, I am intentionally focusing on reading some books for myself and making memories with my family. Having 2 young boys, Christmas is such a magical time of year, especially seeing it all through their eyes. And if that means passing up on certain things the marketing agencies deem “I can’t live without thie Christmas” then so be it. Because I know what is important to me and that’s all that matters.


Rachel enjoys reading, reviewing books, and sharing her passion for literature at www.bookwormmama.org. She's a virtual assistant and shares the small-town life with her husband and children.

Christmas According to Hallmark

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and you know what that means…

HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!!

Okay, the movies have been out since September, but the closer we get to Christmas, the more plentiful these sweet, Christmas-y romances become. And since they’re in such abundance, Rachel McMillan and I decided to delve deep into the definition Hallmark gives for a Christmas romance designed by the over 100-year-old company.

There are certain ‘hallmark’ characteristics featured in almost all of Hallmark’s Christmas movies, so for the sake of our article, we’re sticking with the ‘small town’ Christmas movies. Though the city-set ones have many of the same themes, there is a distinct difference with most Hallmark classic Christmas romances that celebrate the small-town life.

So what are some of the ‘must haves’ in most of these movies?

Well, there’s usually some sort of Christmas tree-lighting or festival, a fish-out-of-water hero/heroine. Usually someone has something to lose, like a house or a business…or sometimes “Christmas”. There’s usually a ‘santa’ figure or possible ‘angel’ or at the very least a wise, older mentor to keep the hero/heroine on track (or provide some Christmas magic). Inevitably, there is an overheard partial conversation which leads to a separation between the hero and heroine near the end of the movie ending in a glorious epiphany of understanding.  There are mistletoe kisses and cookie baking aplenty, tree decorations and adorable cafes. White Christmases and musical performances involving children dressed as elves. Snowman building contests or wreath-making. Inevitably there is finding that ‘perfect tree’ which has to be a real tree (if it’s not real you’re probably the villain). Old loves renewed. New loves discovered. All usually set within a quaint, small town, with houses so perfect you might expect Andy Griffith to greet you on the Christmas-lit street.  And, of course, we have the natural predictability of most of the movies. Come on – we’re not too crazy to admit that within fifteen minutes of each show, we can guess the ending.

And YET – we still WATCH them!! Ravenously.

What is it that has caused Hallmark movies to have this incredible edge? Especially the Christmas ones?

Well, they do something universal to our culture.

They celebrate the romance and nostalgia of Christmas.

Rachel says it well: The desire (in Hallmark Christmas movies) is rarely about a person. It’s about Christmas. It is about the holiday.... So the love interest just represents the best of the holiday. They’re not marrying and falling in love with a person so much as a version of Christmas and what it means in its best sense.

Hallmark Christmases are like looking into a snow globe of a perfect Christmas world and watching the inner workings take place. Sure, there are troubles, but none of them are BIG troubles (except in a few cases). The focus becomes celebrating the timelessness of family, traditions, and love (with some vague faith elements thrown in and a few excellent carolers). We fall in love with Christmas by watching two people fall in love with each other.

So… let’s celebrate Christmas with small-towns and sweet romances. Cozy fireplaces and lit trees. Where families laugh together, and people find belonging in community and place. Let’s get lost for a little while in predictable outcomes and conflict that is resolved by the end of the day – because in a world of constant struggles, wars, divisiveness, and heartache, it’s nice to believe in something different. To peer into that snow globe for a few minutes of beautiful Christmas magic and hold on to the miracles, guilt-free. Because, ultimately, isn’t that what we’re all searching for – love and belonging…

Two “hallmarks” of the meaning of Christmas after all.


Looking for some Hallmark-y Christmas Reads?

Check out these great novels & novellas that celebrate small town Christmas romance a la Hallmark movies…


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As a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Pepper Basham enjoys sprinkling her Appalachian into her fiction writing. She is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, mom of five, speech-language pathologist, and a lover of Jesus and chocolate. She resides in Asheville, North Carolina with her family.

Thanksgiving Hangover vs. Book Hangover - They're Not So Different!

Hangovers. Most people associate the word with alcohol, but there are actually several types. Readers everywhere use the term book hangover. A book hangover is defined as a condition in which attachment to a book or series that has ended causes the reader traumatic emotional distress (urbandictionary.com). On Thanksgiving Day, people around the US gather together and eat until they burst. This can cause emotional distress as well.  

As I joined America in eating until the button on my pants pops, I couldn’t help but think about how Thanksgiving Hangovers and Book Hangovers have so much in common.

  1. You don’t want to even think about having more.

    Let’s face it, by the time we’ve reached nighttime on Thanksgiving Day, we don’t even want to hear the word turkey anymore. In fact, we don’t even want to see food at all. It can be that way with book hangovers too. When you finish a book that still holds your undivided attention, you do not even want to think about starting another book. That TBR stack on your desk? Yeah, you just kind of close your eyes as you walk by.

  2. You find yourself wanting more.

    Some people are just the opposite, and find themselves wanting more. Maybe it’s a midnight turkey sandwich or a before bedtime extra piece of pie. The food was just so good they don’t want the yumminess to end. In the book world, sometimes you just enjoy reading a book so much that you don’t want that feeling to go away. It can make you dive right into the next book, especially if it’s a series. You just hope that you like the next book as much as you enjoyed the first one!

  3. You need to switch things up.

    There is so much work that goes into Thanksgiving dinner that, the next day, it seems easier to just get takeout. Chinese, pizza, or whatever your hometown has to offer. The main thing is that it does not consist of typical Thanksgiving food. Same goes for the book world. If you’re suffering from a book hangover from a contemporary read, maybe you’ll switch to a suspense or historical novel. Something that will take your mind in a totally different direction.

  4. You feel groggy.

    Ever heard someone say they wanted to take a nap after eating a big Thanksgiving meal? It’s because their minds are groggy and they can’t concentrate. Books can have that effect as well. Once when I suffered from a book hangover, I was so invested in the characters and storyline that my mind couldn’t let them go. My family tried to engage in a conversation with me, but I just kind of stared off into space, my mind too groggy to understand what they were saying. I had to wait for the hangover to subside before I could enter into a regular conversation again.

  5. You might just need to detox.

    In the food world this could be eating extra healthy the following day, or increasing your water intake. How can we detox in the book world? Read a no-nonsense book. It could be a novella, a book I’ve read in the past, or a book that I know isn’t going to totally take over my mind. Maybe even a kid’s book. Hey, they’re fun to read too!

Hangovers are hard to deal with - be they Thanksgiving or book hangovers - and everyone handles them differently. But let’s be totally honest, don’t you love reading a book that causes a book hangover? It typically means the book was so good that everyone needs to read it!

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What book have you read recently that gave you a book hangover? How do you cope with a book hangover? Share in the comments below or share the discussion on social media (don’t forget to tag us @hopebythebook)

A Beginner's Guide to Bookish Terms

The reader community on social media is blossoming! Millions of bookstagram photos, book hauls, and bookish treats are shared daily. Sign on and start using this new lingo to share some of your favorite reads.

Photo credit: @novellyyours

Photo credit: @novellyyours

Bookish

A general term tacked on to anything and anyone who has to do with a book. See that Harry Potter paraphernalia cluttering up your shelf? That’s bookish. Those candles that smell like old ink and paper? Bookish. Your purse that you picked because it can fit two paperbacks in? Yeah, that kind of crazy is what makes us bookish.

TBR

Look around your house. See those piles of books you’ve been meaning to read? That’s your TBR stack. A “to be read” pile or list is where good books go to die. If you don’t have enough enthusiasm to read the book right away, chances are you’ll just put it in a pile that you’ll look at a few times a week with anxiety and tell yourself you’ll get to soon but never will. Some people will conquer their TBR list, and these people we call our heroes.

Bookstagram

A well-framed picture of a book or stack of books posted on Instagram. Most of the time this image contains a cute toy such as a Funko Pop figurine and/or fairy lights and floral accents. These images are what help other #Bookstagrammers find books to read, or just display on their shelves. Connect with others online using these pretty pictures, but don’t worry if you don’t take great pictures. Repost (with credit) from other accounts of books you like, or just let the book shine for itself.

DNF

Write down a book as DNF if you did not finish it. This is a handy acronym for those books that you can’t seem to get through, whether from inappropriate or inane content. Note DNF in your review on GoodReads or on other sites to let other readers know you stopped reading and why.

Bibliophile

A booklover who often can be found bookstagramming or sipping coffee at their local indie shop. Often quotes classics, especially Jane Austin. Approach with caution if carrying or touting the latest Kindle. You may be mocked for your choice of reading format.

ARC

If you’ve ever received a copy of a book to review before it’s been published, you’ve gotten an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC). ARC’s come in many different formats, including unfinished manuscripts in pdf or ebook, designated ARC copies for proofreading, and prepublication paperbacks.

Book Haul

Ever buy books, bring them home, unwrap them just to sit and bask in the delicious potential of reading them? Then, my friends, you’ve experienced a book haul. Book hauls are to be shared online with your friends, through videos or photos so they can experience envy at all your glorious new books. But seriously, don’t brag about your book hauls. Reading is an activity that spans many-a-price-range and should be shared by all. Book hauls can be bought on sale, taken home from the library, or even ARC copies received for reviewing.


Add your voice to the #bookish conversation online and use some of the new terms you’ve learned today. Be sure to tag me @Katelynsbolds & @hopebythebook on Twitter or Facebook and @bold.reads and @hopebythebook over on my bookstagram account. Remember: keep calm and read a book!