Christmas Playlist 2020: The Christmas Song

Track 07: Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song

Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” creates the perfect atmosphere to celebrate the holiday. Here are some recommendations that might help make Christmas even cozier.

Recommendations for Christmas Day

CANDLES

I have a weakness for candles that smell good.  I love burning candles throughout the house.  My favorite FrostedCranberry_imagescents come from Bath and Body Works. (Yes, I look forward to candle day and mark it on my calendar.)  Tis the Season has the classic smell of Christmas and is on the spicier end of things. Frosted Cranberry has a sweeter, fruity scent (probably that of TistheSeason_imagecranberries…I know).  Also I could just be imagining it but there’s this distinct sort of bitter undertone to the White Barn Frosted Cranberry that I smell when I burn it.  Because of that, I prefer the one marketed under Bath and Body Works.  But, again, I could just be imagining the whole thing. 

BOOKS

Steamy. This is the book that led me to Loring and I never looked back.
(Mini-review)
Sweet (and steamy). One of half our couple wears her heart on her sleeve.
(Review)
Tearjerker. I got my heart hung out to dry. My favorite novel from Staci Hart.
(Mini-review)

Drink

If you’re looking for something warm, please go for the classic hot chocolate.  On the other hand, if OregonChai_imagesomething cold is preferred, I encourage you to drink a spiced chai tea.  Yup, that’s what I said.  The first time I tried it, all I could think was, “I’m drinking Christmas.”  My cousin was confused until she tried it, and she went, “Oh…” I drink this year round.  One day, I’ll learn to make my own.  But for now, I use Oregon Chai’s Spiced Chai Tea Latte Concentrate Mix (because that’s the one that’s easiest to for me to find) and mix it with half-and-half.  The directions say it should be mixed in equal parts but I just mix it to my liking–a bit more concentrated so there’s more Christmas in it. 

Now, grab a blanket and your favorite snack! Sit by the fireplace…or switch on the one from Netflix (I sometimes do this in my office). I won’t be posting on the 25th because I’ll likely be doing all the above.  While I am Christmas centric, I know different holidays are celebrated around this time as well…so happy holidays!

Have you tried or read any of these? I’d love to know your thoughts! What are you favorite things for the holidays? Is there a certain drink you recommend or a book? Please feel free to share below.

CHRISTMAS PLAYLIST 2020
01 Wham! – Last Christmas
02 Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby
03 Katy Perry – Cozy Little Christmas
04 Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You
05 Michael Buble – Blue Christmas
06 Goo Goo Dolls – This is Christmas
07 Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)


Bonus:
Ambiance with music, with music here too, and now without music.

Christmas Playlist 2020: This is Christmas

Track 07: Goo Goo Dolls – This is Christmas

This was an unexpected surprise while I was making my playlist. The Goo Goo Dolls released a Christmas album in September, but it was only recently I was able to listen to it. The stand out songs on the album are “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and this particular track on my playlist, “This is Christmas.” The song gives off this sense of longing and makes me feel nostalgic. What makes Christmas…Christmas? Why is Christmas or this particular season one of my favorite times of the year?

This is Christmas

“Wish on stars above
for the ones we love
this is Christmas”

Wreath_familyDuring this time of the year, it’s about taking a break from work and spending it with family. I miss my family a lot when the holidays get closer. We used to all live in California, but now we’re scattered throughout the country. Last year, my brother and his family were able to visit for a few days.  It was great to have kids around the house, despite their preoccupation with their electronics.  It was a reminder that there’s nothing quite like having family around.  I bought books for my niece and nephew, and my nephew was so disappointed.  He asked his mom why she didn’t tell me what he really wanted for Christmas.  It was funny, at least to my sister-in-law and me but he was so sad.  Maybe we’ll able to Zoom and still be able to spend some time together this year.

Wreath_friends

I have a close knit group of friends.  I can’t even say we’re really a group because there are only three of us–we’re a triangle.  We keep one another sane throughout the year despite hardly seeing each other since we live so many hours from each other. My friends and I joke that when we’re together, it’s easier to talk side-by-side because we’re used to not seeing one another’s face. Hehehe. This year, there was a decree that we do Secret Santa gift exchange.  Surprisingly, it was not my suggestion. With only three people, it isn’t really a secret so there’s just a long running joke now that “Santa” insisted on asking about someone’s bookish wishlist or where to send things.  “Santa” has never asked so many questions or made so many demands as he has this year.  Yes, this is how we keep one another sane. We’re geeky but my friends are the best. Christmas would not be the same without them.

Wreath_Giving

I love presents!  Not necessarily getting them but giving them.  If there’s going to be a gift exchange, I try to initiate it during the summer.  I’ve tried doing it sooner but then people think I am crazy when I do.  I’m just so excited to buy gifts!  Throughout the year, I try to pick up on little things friends and family mention and store it in the back of my mind.  I try to take care with wrapping gifts and adding little touches like sprays, tags, or ornaments. It’s the best sight to see when the recipient opens their gift, especially when it’s something they forgot about or they thought no one paid attention to when they were talking about needing or wanting something. Being able to put joy on someone’s face and knowing that I contributed to their day is fulfilling.

Share what makes this season special for you.
I’d love to hear your stories.

Christmas Playlist 2020: Blue Christmas

Track 05: Michael Buble – Blue Christmas

I admit it. I have a soft spot for Michael Buble. There are an abundance of covers of this song, including one from Elvis Presley (the pinnacle for this song) that is constantly on the radio or wherever music can be played/heard and so on but I always return to this one.

What makes me blue? Lots of things but especially thinking about my leaning tower of TBR. I listed books with blue covers from my “master TBR.” My goal is to read them sometime in the first half of 2021. I’m trying to positive about this. I can do it!

“I’ll have a blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you”

5 BOOKS FROM MY TBR THAT ARE BLUE


All the Stars and Teeth (2020)
Goodreads Summary

The title went on sale and I was alerted. It’s hard for me to say no to a good deal especially when the summaries are so good. Maybe I will finally be able to read this and then read All the Tides of Fate when it comes out in February 2021.


Magic Dark and Strange (2020)
Goodreads Summary

I blame blog hopping for this one. Thank goodness because I don’t think I would have found it had it not been for the blogger that posted a review. It sounds so good.



Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune (2019)
Goodreads Summary

Here’s to diverse reads! I love the fun cover. The book sounds like it will be a mash of culture, family, and magic set in San Francisco. I think the cover does a good job of capturing the things that remind me of San Francisco.


The November Girl (2017)
Goodreads Summary

This is a title I have to blame for going on sale during the summer. The book sounded interesting, which encouraged me to impulse buy. I momentarily forgot about it until I recently finished reading Kang’s The Impossible Girl (2018), which I liked a lot.


Recipe for Persuasion (2020)
Goodreads Summary

I see Austen retelling and my fingers can’t help but inch toward it. Persuasion is one of my favorites and I’m excited to read a diverse retelling of it. The reviews seem to be mixed though. I’m still looking forward to reading it though.

Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts. If you’ve reviewed them, drop a link below so I can check it out.

Here are links to a few covers I like:
Hunter Hayes
The Lumineers
Elvis Presley
Callum Wright


Christmas Playlist 2020: All I Want for Christmas is You

Track 04: Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You

Mariah Carey co-wrote and released this song in 1994. This is such an upbeat song I can’t help dancing around the house to it. Like Wham!’s Last Christmas, this has been covered numerous times, a contemporary that is now a classic Christmas song. The song is 26 years old!! What happened to the time?!

The song is all about wanting that special someone to be there for Christmas, willing to forgo unnecessary things like hanging stockings and presents under the tree. I thought this would be perfect for talking about book crushes. You know, those fictional (or nonfictional) characters in books that made your heart beat faster or let go of that breath, the one you didn’t realize you were holding (hehehe).

“I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true”

BOOK CRUSHES


LIVVY KANE
Hate to Want You (2017)
by Alisha Rai
ISBN: 9780062566737
Publication: July 25, 2017
Series: Forbidden Hearts #1
Goodreads Summary

After reviewing my list of books (and smiling/frowning when recalling the different lives I led), I found Livvy Kane to be my girl crush this year. I did a mini-review on this book (here) but I actually have a whole essay worth for this book. I posted that one on Goodreads. This is one of the first books I read by Alisha Rai and I loved it. The book is full of longing and Rai knows how to wring the emotions from her readers. One of the reasons I enjoyed the book was due to Livvy Kane. She is super hot (I needed to get that out there), but it was her vulnerability that really got to me. She is still in love with the boy who broke her heart, and she can’t seem to move forward because he was there in every part of her life until he ended things. Her longing broke my heart. I really wanted her to have a happy ending.


LOGAN WARD
The Marriage Effect (2019)
by Karla Sorensen
ASIN: B07SHNBB3Y
Publication: June 12, 2019
Series: Washington Wolves #3
Goodreads Summary

I’m a bit ashamed of what happened to me with this book. This was a first for me. Logan Ward is this great guy who sets aside his own desires to take care of his sisters. He finds himself in a marriage of convenience to Paige McKinney to show stability so he can keep custody of his sisters. That’s how much he loves them! He was one of my first romance novel crushes, and (here comes the embarrassing part) I was jealous of Paige. I didn’t think she really deserved him. Normally, I love my leading ladies and root for them, but it felt like she was only excited at the prospect of sleeping with him. What about the rest of him? He was this wonderful guy and she only had sex on her mind. (And, he needed to be with me…hahaha). I loved him so much. (Paige did grow on me in the spinoff the Ward Sister series about the four sisters, so I guess I’m alright about Logan’s other half even though it should have been me. LOL)


ROWAN WHITETHORN
Heir of Fire (2014)
by Sarah J. Maas
ASIN: 9781619630659
Publication: September 2, 2014
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Goodreads Summary

Rowan is loyal to a fault and yet love makes him defy the laws binding him and the gods who can so easily crush him. I loved how much he loved Aelin. He aggravated me a lot when I first met him but quickly grew on me because he loved her completely: her past, her present, her scars, her fears. Just…everything. (Sigh…) Despite their official titles, I felt they were equals in the relationship. Rowan was completely swoon worthy. Rowan currently graces my phone screen. My nieces (6 yo and 4yo) think it’s completely scandalous of me, but they sure do like asking for my phone so they can look at him.

Who did you have a book crush on this year? Was there someone that made your heart swoon?

Here are links to a few covers I like:
Bowling for Soup
Michael Buble
Cee Lo Green
Lady Antebellum


Bonus:
Carpool Karaoke!! CLICK!

Christmas Playlist 2020: Cozy Little Christmas

Track 03: Katy Perry – Cozy Little Christmas

This is a cute pop song released by Katy Perry in 2018. It still feels recent but then typing the year nearly gave me whiplash. Two years passed by fairly quickly! The song is all about spending Christmas with the person you love, so this post is all about my favorite OTPs.

“You’re the only one I’m wishing for
Our love is something priceless…”

FAVORITE OTP


SOULMATES
Aelin Galanthynius & Rowan Whitethorn
Series: Throne of Glass (2013)
” ‘I love you. There is no limit to what I can give to you, no time I need. Even when this is world is a forgotten whisper of dust between stars, I will love you.’ ” — Rowan

Aelin and Rowan from the Throne of Glass series was one of my top OTPs this year. If you haven’t read the series yet and you plan to, this is somewhat spoilery. You might want to stop here…

The series broke my heart a lot before Aelin finally found her one, and nearly as much after. Rowan made his first appearance in Heir of Fire (2014). I didn’t know what to think of Rowan because I was hung up on Chaol. (I still haven’t touched Tower of Dawn. I don’t care what anyone says. I’m still bitter over him because I liked him and then he hurt me–er, Aelin–really bad). Ultimately, Rowan and Aelin were perfect for each other because Rowan accepted her just as she was rather than expecting her to change. (I mean, there’s a lot that goes on in Heir of Fire where Rowan is like, “you need to change!” but that’s a whole different story.) They loved each other and their love gave me a book coma long after I finished the series. (Nevermind that I would have liked Aelin to have a harem instead and just have Rowan be her first among equals. HAHAHA!! I also shipped her with Fenrys. More on that another time.)


IT’S COMPLICATED
Beatrix Harper & Peter Blackwell
Series: Clandestine Magic (2020)
” ‘I know you inside and out,’ he said, ‘and I will never stop loving you.'” –Peter Blackwell

I gushed about Beatrix and Peter in my review of the series (Subversive, Radical, and Revolutionary). Beatrix and Peter were sinfully complicated. They were entangled in a relationship where their feelings where magnified but it was difficult to discern whether their feelings were truly their own. To be together, they needed to overcome a lot of obstacles, including themselves.


ENEMIES-to-LOVERS
Arrow & Alex
Book: Arrow to the Soul (No Mercy #2)
Author: Lea Griffith
” ‘I had to taste you again, Mr. Collins, so I could remember that in the midst of death, there might be a reason to live.’ ” — Arrow

Arrow is a trained assassin trying to kill her maker and Alex is the ex-soldier charged with bring her in. They’re inexplicably drawn to each other. She’s never known love and he’s already given his heart to someone else. Does this not pull at your heartstrings yet? This is an enemies-to-lovers novel with a kickass heroine who holds her cards close and loves completely when she does so. Lea Griffith’s writing blew me away. I ached for Arrow because she went into this (sort of/sort of not) relationship knowing Alex loved someone else. It hit all the right marks for me. Let’s leave it at that for right now while I try to finish the other books in the series. They’re standalone but connected and I really need Bone Deep to come out soon.

Who were your favorite pairings this year? Which individuals were you rooting for?

I could post some covers of “Cozy Little Christmas” from YouTube but I wanted to share links to covers of my two favorite Katy Perry songs instead. Of course, they had to be about losing the one you love as opposed to spending it together. (Sorry.)

David Choi’s cover of “Thinking of You”
Tiffany Alvord & Chester See’s cover of “The One That Got Away”

Christmas Playlist 2020: Santa Baby

Track 02: Eartha Kitt – Santa Baby

Eartha Kitt first crooned this in 1953, asking Santa to bring her multiple things including “an outer space convertible” in light blue, a yacht, and let’s not forget “one more thing, a ring.” It’s been covered multiple times but I wasn’t a fan of this song until I heard the original. Many artists try to emulate her voice and style, but Kitt just does it so effortlessly that it’s difficult to compare. And if you haven’t, please try it at 1.25 speed. I can’t decide if I like it better at this speed or at its original speed. Either way, Kitt sings it best.

So, Santa, baby, could you slip these under the tree for me?

WISHLIST: 2020

There are a couple books that I’m looking forward to reading but just haven’t had a chance to read mostly because I don’t have access to them at the moment (and I’m a mood reader). So, you know, these can go under the Christmas tree (ahem…). They will let me make my leaning tower of TBR less leaning. (You can click on the covers to head over to the Goodreads page.)

Publication: July 14, 2020
I was really excited when this came out. It’s nice to see diverse representation and own voices at that. A one night stand and baking, what could go wrong? Apparently, a lot. Ha!
Publication: August 18, 2020
I’ve read a few of Young’s books, and I did like them. Her love interests tend to be alpha males, and I’m not the biggest fan of alpha males. The storyline for this one sounds interesting. Here’s my one liner: a family secret (temporarily) prevents a man from pursuing the woman he is in love with.

WISHLIST: 2021

I realize these are not exactly going to be under the Christmas tree this year but I am immensely looking forward to the following books. But, Santa, if you can get your hand on ARCs and send them my way, I promise “next year I could be oh so good…”

Publication: June 15, 2021
This is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Red is a sacrifice to the Wolf but (gasp!) the wolf is actually a man. It sounds so good. Whitten’s tweets have been killing me. I am anxiously awaiting this.
Publication: June 15, 2021
This is the sequel to Lee’s Forest of Souls. I reviewed it here. I’m excited to see where the story goes with Sirscha Ashwyn.

What books are on your wish list(s)? What books are you looking forward to in 2021?

Here are links to a few of my favorite covers of “Santa Baby“:
Michael Buble
Emma Bunton
Colbie Caillat
Paloma Faith
Madonna

Christmas Playlist 2020: Last Christmas

I’ve been busy with school and finals so I haven’t been able to post as much as I’d like. I’ve been wanting to do something holiday related other than participating in the Reindeer Readathon and reading a few Christmas centric books. Here is my holiday playlist along with a related bookish discussion that fits the the track. I nearly forgot I also signed up for Bookending Winter 2020 and it also works well with the event. (See: Fictionally Sam & Cuppa Clo)

Track 01: Wham! – Last Christmas

This is an 80’s contemporary that is now a classic. I’m not sure about elsewhere but at least in the U.S., I don’t think you can really go anywhere without hearing it come on at least once a day during the holiday season. This ranks at the top for me. It’s one of my favorite songs to listen to. A few years ago, I had a playlist consisting of the original and its many covers. I think my family and whoever caught a ride with me wanted to strangle me that December. While multiple artists have covered it, from Ariana Grande to Taylor Swift, nothing quite hits like the original.

When I think of “Last Christmas”, I think of two types of books: 1) contemporaries turned classics and 2) books that ultimately broke me.

A BOOK THAT BECAME A CLASSIC

Merriam-Webster defines classic as “serving as a standard of excellence; of recognized value.” Often, it’s quality is judged over time. Books I love, those I often measure other books against are what I deem classics and not necessarily what book critics tell me are classics, although there might be times when there is overlap. Being a serial rereader, I know I love a book when I can reread it. When I think of a book that carries this title, there is really only one that immediately comes to mind.


Green Rider (2000)
by Kristen Britain
ISBN: 9780886778583
Publication: April 1, 2000
Goodreads Summary
Series: Green Rider #1

This book has all the goodness of medieval fantasy. I’ve read it nearly ever year since I first read it years ago. Karigan Gladheon is stubborn, tenacious, and loyal. These qualities are what allow her to deliver the message that she receives from a dying green rider and ultimately help her make it through what ends up being a perilous adventure. There is a hint of romance but it’s not developed until later books in the series. While I’ve reread the series multiple times, this remains the best book in the series. While not all questions are answered by the end of the book, it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. If you don’t want to read the rest of the series (which is still not complete), you are safe to do so. The First Rider’s Call (Green Rider #2) and The High King’s Tomb (Green Rider #3) are also pretty good. Book #7 is slated for publication in 2021.

BOOKS THAT BROKE ME

“Last Christmas I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away

Despite being upbeat, the song is about unrequited love. There are a few types of books that fit in this category but I want to focus on two. There are books I thought I would love but didn’t necessarily measure up to expectations. Then, there are those that I loved and broke my heart anyway. Either way, I loved them and they couldn’t love me back!!


Midnight Valentine (2018)
by J.T. Geissinger
ISBN: 9780996935838
Publication: February 6, 2018
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A

I really love this book, and I also like J.T. Geissinger. After her husband dies in an accident, Megan moves to the town where they had planned to open a bed-and-breakfast. She’s never moved on after his death. Then, she meets Theo, who stopped speaking after an accident left him scarred both physically and mentally. The book deals with grief but also finding second chances. It was nearly a 5-star book for me but the ending left me conflicted; I couldn’t decide if the ending was a fair one for Theo. It’s still a good book though. If you’ve read this, you have to let me know what you thought of the ending.


The Sun is also a Star (2016)
by Nicola Yoon
ISBN: 9780553496680
Publication: November 1, 2016
Goodreads Summary
Series: N/A

I’m a romantic. I love love. Love makes me swoon. I read The Sun is Also A Star as my team read for Tropeical Readathon and it broke me. I always wanted to write a review but couldn’t find the words…I was too busy bawling. I’m back and forth on insta-love. I’m not the biggest fan of it in books but, as an author pointed out, sometimes all it takes is a glance. And, sometimes, it can take years. There’s insta-love here but it works so well. I spent at least 5 minutes crying my eyes out after I finished this book. I highlighted so many passages. That ending had so many onions, my eyes stung. (I love onions by the way.)

What books do you consider classics, whether it’s one you love and reread or just exemplary of a genre you enjoy? What books have broken your heart?

Here are links to a few of my favorite covers of “Last Christmas”:
1sagain (Korean)
Good Charlotte
Carly Rae Jepsen
Savage Garden
Meghan Trainor


Bonus:
Here’s a Spotify playlist with over 100 covers of the song, CLICK!
(Yes, you may silently judge me…hahaha) Just in case you, here’s a 1-hour loop of the original, CLICK!

Romance Interlude 1.6

With the holiday season here, this one is a Christmas edition. This might be blasphemous but I’m enjoying these a lot more than the Christmas movies that have been churning out. Obviously they’re a lot steamier but I swear that isn’t the reason why I’m enjoying these more. Hahaha. For some reason Hallmark and Netflix movies have not been hitting the mark for me lately.

Please share any holiday reads you enjoyed or are hoping to read! I’m trying to really sink my teeth into more holiday reads to get into the spirit of the month.


Exes and Ho Ho Ho’s (2018)
by Pippa Grant
ASIN: B078YWF7TM
Publication: January 11, 2018
Goodreads Summary

One Liner: Man unexpectedly meets the one he let get away and refuses to let it happen a second time.

This is a Pippa Grant novel in warp speed. It starts off with a woman forced to dress as a Santa and it’s pretty hilarious. It has her signature humor and romance. I needed this to be a lot longer! A little more angst, some more groveling…and, y’know, 300 more pages to make it a full-length novel would have made this an even better read. It was a fun read!


A Very Bossy Christmas (2020)
by Kayley Loring
ISBN: 9798697547427
Publication: October 21, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: No official series name but a related book is coming out for Valentine’s Day

One liner: Boss asks administrative assistant to pretend to be his fake girlfriend over the holidays.

The book is relatively short at around 250 pages but this works well in its favor. There is no fluffing around, and the story takes off fairly quick. I loved the banter between Declan and Maddie. Declan can come off egotistical and some of the stuff he says are turn offs, but he is actually a bit insecure. He has it pretty bad for Maddie, and Maddie finds him just as attractive. There’s a surprise third narrator and those were probably my favorite chapters. This was another fun read for the holidays!


Charm School Christmas Karma (2019)
by Lynn Carmer
ASIN: B0819GF464
Publication: November 19, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: Charm School #4.5

One liner: Artist accidentally bids on and wins a date with the officer who has a giant crush on her.

This was a cute one and funny as well. Sebastian Jacobs has an enormous crush on Ai Zhao, who pretends to be resistant to his charms. He’s been trying to wear her down, and she refuses to let anyone know that it’s working. Ha! They have great chemistry and Sebastian is a sweetheart who really doesn’t want to miss his shot with her.


His Christmas Cinderella (2019)
by Kate Willoughby
ASIN: B081VCPS75
Publication: November 21, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: San Francisco Dragons #3

One Liner: Cable car conductor on the way to a work party gets mistaken by hockey player as an Uber driver.

Storytime!! One of the first times I used a ride share, I mistakenly thought someone was my Uber driver so the setup here is at least somewhat believable. He politely informed me he was not my driver and I was able to get into the right car right after laughing off my embarrassment. BUT…wouldn’t it have been such a great story to tell if my mistaken driver had been a hot hockey player who pretended to be my Uber driver because he thought I was hot and I was going to be his forever? Hahaha. Have I read too many romance novels? Probably.

This one is short and sweet. In a span of 68 pages, Willoughby manages to create believable chemistry between leads Bailey Peng and Gideon Aguilar. I was completely all aboard this…train (indulge me here). Willoughby notes that a full-length novel may be coming for this couple so I’m excited to see what happens next.


My Fake Christmas Fiance (2020)
by Julie Kriss
ASIN: B08GJVJLTT
Publication: October 22, 2020
Goodreads Summary
Series: Kane Christmas #1

One liner: Company merger also requires a merger between the families involved–the kids have to get married to each other by Christmas.

This one has Hallmark vibes with the merging of two Christmas companies and the understanding that the merger will only stand if Wes and Sophie get married by Christmas. Sophie is nerdy and Wes is a player and they’re both looking for ways to get out of the arrangement, but they have chemistry and are attracted to one another when they meet again. The emails back and forth at the beginning were cringey but then I was hooked when they met one another. Wes ends up being a better guy than expected.