It’s two days before Christmas. My kids have a half day of school today. My 6th grader said his class has a choice between watching a movie or playing dodgeball. My 3rd grader’s class is hosting a Christmas breakfast. I’m still throwing together the last minute preparations for our celebrations and like a lot of others, I suspect, could use a few more days.
I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah (although I believe that has already passed, hasn’t it?), Happy Kwanzaa, Blessed Solstice, or whatever you celebrate in your family. You have all blessed my life in your own way, whether I know you personally and we interact in the real world, or if we’ve only exchanged messages on social media.
However you celebrate this time of year, I pray that you will take time to reflect on the blessings in your life. I also hope that each of you in your own way can find and enjoy a little of the magic that surrounds us this time of year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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About the Books
Kyrie Carter can’t believe her luck when she wins a spot on a paranormal investigation with celebrity ghost hunter Drac Petery and his heartthrob brother Gabe. As the investigation begins, her main obstacles are her unsupportive teammates and her lack of ghost hunting experience. Her biggest critic is the ruggedly handsome but enigmatic Spook Steele, who takes an instant and intense dislike to the newbie and seems determined to see her fail. However, Kyr soon realizes that her flesh-and-blood rivals are the least of her worries. The investigation takes a dark turn when the team finds evidence of a decades-old murder mystery, and Kyr becomes the victim of the resident spirit’s violent attacks. The discovery of a family connection to the Berkeleys explains the spirit’s malevolence. Will Kyr be able to help the Peterys unravel the mystery and put the Berkeley mansion spirits to rest…
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First, let me say that I did NOT watch the Miss Universe Pageant last night. Honestly, I didn’t even know it was on, since it’s not something that interests me in the least. Of course, as is the case for just about everyone on social media, I did hear about the Steve Harvey snafu. And as is the case with any newsworthy (or not-so-newsworthy) event mentioned on social media, it seems that everyone has an opinion about what happened. Not surprisingly, I’ve read comments that run the gamut from “Don’t sweat it, Steve. Everyone makes mistakes,” to “Steve Harvey is the biggest joke on television,” and everything in between. I’ve read that it’s some kind of conspiracy (Really? Is Bigfoot behind it?), and one poster commented that he now has to worry about being questioned when he travels to Colombia next month (Because the entire country will hold a random tourist personally responsible for Steve Harvey’s flub? I guess?).
I suppose I could comment here about how typical it is for social media making it inevitable that this incident is being made more of an issue than it really is. That there are any number of issues that we should be more concerned about than Steve Harvey misreading a cue card.
But I won’t.
The only reason the incident even registered on my radar (well, besides the fact that the headline keeps popping up on my Facebook news feed) is that my son had a less-than-stellar violin performance at church yesterday, so the whole “Oops Factor” seemed to be in full swing.
Thankfully, it wasn’t the first time he had played, but it was the first time he missed a note while playing and then got flustered for a moment before recovering. Needless to say, he wasn’t too happy with himself.
And thankfully, folks at church were more forgiving towards him than a lot of people are being towards Steve Harvey. Everyone who spoke to him said that it happens to everyone and to not let it discourage him. I assured him that even the pros trip up, screw up, and have rough spots in their performances.
So I’d just like to say, to my son AND to Steve Harvey: Such is life. Nobody is perfect; everyone makes mistakes. A year from now (heck probably a week from now), no one will even remember this.
***And just for the record, our camera got in on the act by putting the incorrect date on the photo. C’est la vie.***
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Okay, so I’ve been listening to Sirius XM’s Holly channel all month. One of the things they’re doing this holiday season is having guest DJs come in and share their 12 favorite Christmas songs. I love Christmas music (as long as it DOESN’T start the day after Halloween), and I thought, why not make my own Top 12 list? So without further ado, here it is!
This is just a fun winter song that I’ve loved since I first heard it in college. I love the imagery and the hint of romance, and it’s just fun to sing along to.
This song by just about anyone gives me chills, but Josh Groban’s voice truly does this beautiful song justice.
So much truth in this song! It’s funny and clever and just a little bit different from the other songs on the list. It’s not truly the Christmas season till I hear this one.
I was on the fence about this one until I heard Pentatonix do it, and now I’m in love with it. Having grown up in church, observing Advent and meditating on the reason for the season, this song really speaks to my spiritual side.
Another song with beautiful images. I’ve always wished I were skillful enough to draw what I see in my head as I listen to this song.
When I first heard this song, I thought it was kind of stupid, but it grew on me. Now I simply appreciate its cheekiness, especially the way Madonna sings it. It makes me want to don a cute little Santa dress, put on red lipstick, and lip-sync along. Okay, sorry, no one really needed THAT image in their head…
It took me awhile to get into this song; in fact, I don’t think I really listened to the whole thing until almost New Year’s last year. I just couldn’t get past the image of snowflakes like “dandelion fur.” But now I love the images in the song and the feeling it gives me.
This song is the Christmas message wrapped up in a fun, danceable rhythm. I like all the different voices singing together and separately.
Of all the versions of this song that are out there, this one is my favorite. I like Perry Como’s voice, and with the Andrews Sisters in the background, it’s just a lot of fun to listen to. I suppose my favorite part—the one I get in my kids’ faces and sing loudly—is during the second run-through when they sing, “And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again—ahh-hh ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa!”
I first heard this song as a young child, and I loved it because of the child singing in a foreign language. Of course, it’s funny now to recall that I had my cultural wires crossed for so long. While the child is singing in Spanish, I was visualized him singing to a Japanese mother. My dad had been stationed in Japan before I was born, so our house was full of Japanese dolls, and in my mind, anyone who wasn’t American probably looked like those fancily-dressed dolls that my mom had sitting around.
The first time I heard this song, I was pregnant with my first baby. I was still two months away from having him, but it had been a rough pregnancy, and I was still fretting over giving birth and hoping it would all be okay. When I heard the line, “You are the angel atop my tree/You are my dream come true/Santa can’t bring me what I need/Cause all I want for Christmas is you,” I sat in the car cradling my enormous belly and crying my eyes out.
I know this is more an Advent song than a Christmas song, but it fits within the season. This is another song that speaks to my spiritual side and brings to mind the true meaning of Christmas. As for the Latin version, as a lover of languages, I was fascinated with hearing an old song in an ancient language. I still want to learn at least the first verse in Latin, just because.
So, those are my Top 12 Songs of Christmas. What are your favorite Christmas songs?
Title: Wrath & Bones
Series: The Marnie Baranuik Files (Book 4)
Author: AJ Aalto
Genre: Paranormal/ Fantasy
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Expected Publication Date: Dec. 28, 2015
Cover Design: Greg Simanson
PRE ORDER HERE: AMAZON
Marnie Baranuik is confident that her new psychic detective agency will be a great success, and she has eight million business cards to prove it. But before the paint even dries on her open for business sign, she’s summoned to face the Demon King Asmodeus in His own playground, the revenant court, home of the undead nobility, to participate in a conclave of the most powerful immortals on Earth.
Orc prophets have forewarned her that danger is looming in the far north. In her most ambitious adventure yet, Marnie must harness her powers, gather trusted friends to wade into battle, and complete an international treasure hunt that would make Indiana Jones break into a cold sweat, before raising a new revenant house to rule from the Unhallowed Throne… and do it all without getting her heart or legs broken. Storms are brewing, threats are piling up, and the stakes are higher than ever, but Marnie is determined to dance with danger to the very end. There’s only one thing left to do: deal with it, Baranuik-Style. Does anyone know if yetis like take-out? And when you’re on a date with a mummy, who picks up the check?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AJ Aalto is an unrepentant liar and a writer of blathering nonsense offset by factual gore. When not working on her horror novels, you can find her singing old Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her many fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a particular weak spot for smug, pseudointellectual a**holes and narcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with dark, imperfect creatures and flawed monsters.
AJ cannot say no to a Snickers bar, and has been known to swallow her gum.
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BONUS: My favorite book quote from Wrath and Bones, “Poop Arrows Happen.” (giggle, snort)
Just meeting Marnie? Check out the rest of the series:
Death Rejoices: http://amzn.to/1NHaNo2
Last Impressions: <a
2nd Week of Advent: Mary’s Angel
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom, there will be no end.” (vv. 30-33)
“How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (v. 34)
“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (v. 38)
Mary was little more than a girl, just a young teenager when the angel came to her. As was the custom for girls her age, she was already pledged to be married. The angel’s announcement came in such a way that she knew she would become pregnant before she and Joseph came together, so she understood that Joseph would not be the child’s father. It was quite logical for her to wonder “how?” Her question, however, was not asked out of doubt or disbelief as was Zechariah’s, but out of genuine curiosity.
Even after the angel gave his explanation, it is doubtful that Mary truly understood or fully grasped what was being asked of her. Almost certainly, she would have wondered how Joseph would take the news, what her parents would think, and what others who knew her would say. Such an expectation would have overwhelmed anyone, let alone a young teenager, and she might well have said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” But she didn’t. She trusted God to bring to pass what the angel had told her, and she responded with complete obedience.
We all encounter situations that we need to trust God to work out on our behalf. Sometimes, we don’t need to do anything different than we usually do, but other times, we need to act in obedience to what God wants us to do, even if it is uncomfortable for us, or makes little sense. We may not understand the how’s and the why’s of what we are to do, but we simply need to respond as Mary did: Let it be with me according to your word. In what situations do you sense God telling you to trust and obey Him? What is He prompting you to do?
I just finished reading Forest of Blood, the first book in the Forsaken Forest series by author Sheri Williams. To sum it up in my own warped sense, the story read like Dark Shadows meets Destination Truth.
This story was a page-turner from the very beginning! What started off as a very Bronte-esque narrative of a young woman (Emmaline) being hired as a companion for young lady Anne Whitmore quickly turns Gothic as Emmaline joins her employer (Lord Benjamin) and two gentleman friends in an early version of a paranormal investigation for whatever ghost or creature may be lurking in the forest. When a mutilated body is found one morning on the edge of the woods, they know they are dealing with a dangerous creature and must double their efforts to find and kill the beast.
Williams’ writing style is very reminiscent of 19th century Gothic writers, without being as difficult to comprehend as such authors sometimes can be. Her prose easily sweeps the reader into the manor and then later into the forest where much of the action takes place. She is descriptive of the surroundings without taking the reader out of the story. I’m not much for a lot of blood and gore, which is an unfortunate necessity in a werewolf tale, but the author handles it well. While there is some violence and blood in the plot, because the story is told from the point of view of a fairly proper (though not overly so) young woman, the gory parts are not overdone. I also enjoyed the romantic elements, which were also written in a more Victorian and therefore understated manner.
I give Forest of Blood five stars! I’m looking forward to seeing more from this author!