Friday, December 15, 2017

My Favorite Picture Books for Christmastime

Christmas is such a special time of the year and one of my favorite times to snuggle up and read with little ones. Here's some of our favorite holiday picture books as well as board books:

Picture Books:

1.  The Story of Baby Jesus by Mary Kelly  - A gorgeous picture book that covers the true meaning of Christmas. It's written simply for little ones to appreciate.

2.  The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert  - A breathtaking book with beautiful photographs all about a little girl who wants to be one of Santa's elves.

3.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Barbara Shook Hazen - A classic in every sense of the way.

4.  The Littlest Elf by Brandi Dougherty - This book is so cute! It's about a little elf, who although small, finally finds his purpose amongst Santa's elves. 


5.  The Christmas Baby by Marion Dane Bauer - This book not only celebrates the birth of Jesus, it also celebrates babies everywhere.

6.  It's Christmas! by Tracey Corderoy - This is a delightful picture book all about a little reindeer's excitement for the holiday. He can't contain himself and he ends up in some predicaments.


7.  The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan and Mike Berenstain - I love that this book reminds us that it is better to give than receive.

8.  The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore - Another classic that cannot be missed.


9.  Strega Nona's Gift by Tomie dePaola - Of course there's Big Anthony getting himself into trouble in this book, but it also covers Italian Christmas traditions as well as feast days. 

10.  Frosty the Snow Man by Annie North Bedford - I love this story, but I especially appreciate this 1950s classic.

11. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss  - A favorite in our house!

12.  The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg - Another modern classic that is beloved in my house.


13.  A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz - Who doesn't love this story?

14.  The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett - I especially love the illustrations in this book covering the famous Christmas carol. 

15.  The Gingerbread Pirates by  Kristin Kladstrup - This is such a fun Christmas story about a little boy who makes gingerbread men and at night they come to life as pirates and encounter Santa. 

16.  Night Tree by Eve Bunting - I love this story of a family who decorate a Christmas tree with treats for the animals in the forest.


17.  The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers - A beautifully illustrated version of the classic tale.

18.  My Treasury of Christmas Stories by Caroline Pedler - This treasury includes many Christmas classics, such as A Christmas Carol, The Snow Queen, and more. 


19.  Jingle Bells by Kathleen N. Daly - This book is one of my favorites from my childhood. I love how the animals help Santa deliver the gifts and the lyrics of Jingle Bells are throughout.

20.  Over the River & Through the Wood: A Holiday Adventure by Linda Ashman - Kids can especially appreciate this one if you have a busy holiday of traveling to visit family.

21.  The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne - A beautiful book set in the 1800s that will be sure to bring a tear to your eye as it reinforces the importance of kindness as well as the origin of Christmas stockings.

22.  Room for a Little One by Marin Waddell - The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful! I love this nativity story and some of the new animals in this heartfelt tale.

Board Books:


1.  Biscuit's Pet and Play Christmas by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
2.  Merry Christmas, Daniel Tiger! by Angela C. Santomero
3.  Merry Christmas, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff
4.  That's Not My Snowman by Fiona Watt
5. A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit Colors Primer by Jennifer Adams

On Our TBR List:
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola
The 12 Sleighs of Christmas by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Little Blue Truck's Christmas by Alice Schertle
A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas by Philip Yates
A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel
Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

What are some of your favorite picture books to read during the holiday season? Any of your favorites that I missed? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam

Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "At the age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. But while she finds joy in French translations and a history of Russian poetry, her family is more concerned with her marriage prospects. It is only fitting that during the Christmas of 1828 at her first public ball in her hometown of Moscow she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin.   Enchanted at first sight, Natalya is already a devoted reader of Alexander’s serialized novel in verse, Evgeny Onegin. The most recently published chapter ends in a duel, and she is dying to learn what happens next. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya hopes to see him again as soon as possible.  What follows is a courtship and later marriage full of equal parts passion and domestic bliss but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads to Alexander dying from injuries earned defending his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, Natalya finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death.  With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous Imperial Court."

From a young age, Natalya Goncharova has known that she must marry well. Even though she has a variety of interests, her mother is more concerned about her marriage prospects, which should be promising as Natalya is a very beautiful girl.  At a Christmas Ball in 1828, she attracts the attention of the very famous Alexander Pushkin, Russia's most prized poet.  What is even more exciting is that Natalya has read Pushkin's work and is a fan.  This possible love connection should be exciting to her family, but at first, her mother isn't convinced it's a good match as Alexander has a shady past.  Plus, how much money can a poet make, especially if he isn't in the Tsar's good graces?  But it seems that no one can keep these two love birds apart.  Jennifer Laam's The Lost Season of Love and Snow is an interesting glimpse into the actual relationship between Pushkin and his beautiful wife, Natalya.  There's romance, secrets, and major heartbreak in this historical novel.

Natalya is an interesting character in The Lost Season of Love and Snow.  She cares about many things, not just the things her mother deems as appropriate, which I can appreciate about her.  Her initial attraction to Alexander jumps right off the page. You can feel the sparks! I really enjoyed their romance.  While I could have done without all the jealous episodes, it definitely made for an entertaining novel.

Alexander Pushkin was a compelling character in The Lost Season of Love and Snow. I am not too familiar with his life, so I was definitely intrigued by his story. While I found him to be utterly annoying at times and I didn't always agree with his decisions, I appreciated his romance with Natalya.  

There's some court politics in The Lost Season of Love and Snow, a lot of gossip, some scandal, and tragedy, which really tugged on my heartstrings. A good historical novel will get me interested about the real-life events that are portrayed within the pages and that was the case here. I haven't read many novels that take place at Russia's Imperial Court; however, I enjoyed the setting and definitely want to check out more in the future.  The Lost Season of Love and Snow makes for an entertaining wintertime read, especially for fans of historical fiction.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017

I always look forward to this Top Ten Tuesday all year. This year I've read some awesome books, especially when it comes to adult fiction.  It was hard to narrow it down to 10, so I broke it up by genre. All of these books have a 2017 publication date except for the Backlist Titles. If you want to check out my thoughts on any of these books, you can find them in my review archive organized by author's last name.

Adult Fiction:


1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
2.  The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White
3.  Purple Hearts by Tess Wakefield


4.  The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner
5.  Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey
6.  The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable


7.  The Summer House by Hannah McKinnon
8.  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
9.  The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore
10.  The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Honorable Mention:
The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory

YA Fiction:

1.  Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
2.  Unearthly Things by Michelle Gagnon

3.  Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
4.  Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

5.  The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan
6.  Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
7.  The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Honorable Mention:
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Backlist Titles:

1.  Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
2. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
3.  The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
4.  The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Children's Books:



1.  Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko
2.  Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney
3.  The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney
4. We're all Wonders by R.J.  Palacio

Honorable Mention:
Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

What are you favorite books of the year? Have you read any of my favorites? Let me know in the comments below.  This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
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