Book Haul | Christmas Loot

Dear Blue,

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Britta Tunes | Snow by Sleeping At Last. Download his free Christmas Album here!

Merry Christmas, Dearie! I pray that this Holiday Season has been so blessed for you and your family and friends.

This season has brought with it two snow storms, and a flurry of diamond sparkle down 5th Avenue, adorning the streets like a fairy tale. Yet it's only when the temperature rose, melting the snow, that my mind and heart decided to believe it's actually Christmas (time is a speeding bullet now-a-days). With my rise in spirit, I thought I would show you the latest books I've acquired for Christmas.

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Young Rachel Kalama, growing up in idyllic Honolulu in the 1890s, is part of a big, loving Hawaiian family, and dreams of seeing the far-off lands that her father, a merchant seaman, often visits. But at the age of seven, Rachel and her dreams are shattered by the discovery that she has leprosy. Forcibly removed from her family, she is sent to Kalaupapa, the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'i. In her exile she finds a family of friends to replace the family she's lost: a native healer, Haleola, who becomes her adopted "auntie" and makes Rachel aware of the rich culture and mythology of her people; Sister Mary Catherine Voorhies, one of the Franciscan sisters who care for young girls at Kalaupapa; and the beautiful, worldly Leilani, who harbors a surprising secret. At Kalaupapa she also meets the man she will one day marry. True to historical accounts, Moloka'i is the story of an extraordinary human drama, the full scope and pathos of which has never been told before in fiction. But Rachel's life, though shadowed by disease, isolation, and tragedy, is also one of joy, courage, and dignity. This is a story about life, not death; hope, not despair. It is not about the failings of flesh, but the strength of the human spirit. -Amazon
I had not been hunting for Moloka'i by Alan Brennert when I discovered it at Barnes & Noble over the weekend, like my other finds, but it's beautiful cover literally drew me towards it whilst on the way to the cafe. It's gorgeous, first of all. Secondly, I've never read any novels set within historical Hawaii (or Hawaii at all, for that matter) and I love learning new things about the histories of other countries, especially countries that don't seem to be as popular in storytelling. This novel seems to be slightly heartbreaking, what with it's young heroine being sent to a leper colony, but I always love to start out the New Year with stories about people overcoming almost hopeless odds. I have a feeling that Rachel will be in my top ten characters of 2014 (God Willing).

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The New York Times bestselling author of Just My Type and On the Map offers an ode to letter writing and its possible salvation in the digital age. Few things are as exciting—and potentially life-changing—as discovering an old letter. And while etiquette books still extol the practice, letter writing seems to be disappearing amid a flurry of e-mails, texting, and tweeting. The recent decline in letter writing marks a cultural shift so vast that in the future historians may divide time not between BC and AD but between the eras when people wrote letters and when they did not. So New York Times bestselling author Simon Garfield asks: Can anything be done to revive a practice that has dictated and tracked the progress of civilization for more than five hundred years? In To the Letter, Garfield traces the fascinating history of letter writing from the love letter and the business letter to the chain letter and the letter of recommendation. He provides a tender critique of early letter-writing manuals and analyzes celebrated correspondence from Erasmus to Princess Diana. He also considers the role that letters have played as a literary device from Shakespeare to the epistolary novel, all the rage in the eighteenth century and alive and well today with bestsellers like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. At a time when the decline of letter writing appears to be irreversible, Garfield is the perfect candidate to inspire bibliophiles to put pen to paper and create “a form of expression, emotion, and tactile delight we may clasp to our heart.” - Amazon
At this point, you know that the latter half of my year has been taken up with an enthusiastic letter love, so when I saw this awesome book showcased on the Barnes & Noble Non Fiction Releases table, I knew I had to jump in. To The Letter by Simon Garfield seems the perfect way to give me the warm and fuzzies for letter writing, and hopefully, I'll end up writing some next year. Who knows, maybe we both will, Blue.

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Lois Lowry won her first Newbery Medal in 1994 for The Giver. Six years later, she ushered readers back into its mysterious but plausible future world in Gathering Blue to tell the story of Kira, orphaned, physically flawed, and left with an uncertain future.-Amazon

After watching Catching Fire (five wonderful times) I could not shake myself out of Suzanne Collins' rich Dystopian world. I decided to reread Mockingjay, and it beguiled me so much that after reading, I wanted to find another dystopian world to inhabit for a time. That being said, a lot of popular dystopian literature out there has managed to bore me a bit (aside from the Legend series, of course!), so I thought I'd go a little classic for a change. I remember reading The Giver in High School (Fun Fact: The Giver introduced me to the magic of the Dystopia), and loving it so much. So, as I'm now immersed in the world of The Giver, I decided I best hurry and pick up it's companion novel, Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry. I actually bought this in paperback some years ago, but the hardcover takes the cake. The cover art for this entire series is awesome. I can't wait to jump in to this story...and try to stop myself from buying the rest of the series on impulse!

 photo 616Z9afcSqL_zps33d451f2.jpgPrue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her baby brother is abducted by a murder of crows. And then things get really weird. You see, on every map of Portland, Oregon, there is a big splotch of green on the edge of the city labeled “I.W.” This stands for “Impassable Wilderness.” No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it. And this is where the crows take her brother. So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval, a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much bigger as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood. Wildwood is a spellbinding tale full of wonder, danger, and magic that juxtaposes the thrill of a secret world and modern city life. Original and fresh yet steeped in classic fantasy, this is a novel that could have only come from the imagination of Colin Meloy, celebrated for his inventive and fantastic storytelling as the lead singer of the Decemberists. With dozens of intricate and beautiful illustrations by award-winning artist Carson Ellis, Wildwood is truly a new classic for the twenty-first century. -Amazon

Wildwood by Colin Meloy (on cover art alone) is one of those novels that draws bibliophiles everywhere to obtain a copy of it. Look at this beautiful folksy artwork. Then I just found myself in a classic fairytale adventure mood. I've read the first chapter of this novel, and it had me tickled at "the murder of crows". The spin on this children's fantasy that I love is that it is set within the woodsy 'folkland' of Portland, Oregon. It's like the tumblr homebase (I know I'm not the only person who's love for the great outdoors, forests, and wild streams has grown since being on Tumblr). It seems a very fresh and artistic take on middle grade fantasy, and I'm sure this book will find it's home in your library before long.

 photo 91Xz5dzzOrL_SL1500__zps5afde99e.jpgA collection of poignant essays about the transformative power of knitting by twenty-seven extraordinary writers. “The impressive collection of writers here have contributed essays that celebrate knitting and knitters. They share their knitting triumphs and disasters as well as their life triumphs and disasters. . . . These essays will break your heart. They will have you laughing out loud.”—Ann Hood, from the introduction Why does knitting occupy a place in the hearts of so many writers? What’s so magical and transformative about yarn and needles? How does knitting help us get through life-changing events and inspire joy? In Knitting Yarns, twenty-seven writers tell stories about how knitting healed, challenged, or helped them to grow. Barbara Kingsolver describes sheering a sheep for yarn. Elizabeth Berg writes about her frustration at failing to knit. Ann Patchett traces her life through her knitting, writing about the scarf that knits together the women she’s loved and lost. Knitting a Christmas gift for his blind aunt helped Andre Dubus III knit an understanding with his girlfriend. Kaylie Jones finds the woman who used knitting to help raise her in France and heals old wounds. Sue Grafton writes about her passion for knitting. Also included are five original knitting patterns created by Helen Bingham. Poignant, funny, and moving, Knitting Yarns is sure to delight knitting enthusiasts and lovers of literature alike. -Amazon
Since this lovely post about Katniss' fashion in Catching Fire, I have jumped into a blazing sea of wild and colorful yarn, endeavoring to recreate that beautiful cowl shawl by the end of next year (God Willing). I went to the book shop looking for a manual of sorts, and the first book to pop up in my search was Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood. I consider this one of my huge signs that learning to knit may just be a wonderful step in my life, as the book showcases writers' takes on how knitting has impacted their lives. I've read two stories already, and I love each heartfelt remembrance.  If you'd like to follow my adventures in knitting, feel free to follow me on tumblr at Twining Necklaces (a name inspired by Mockingjay where Katniss and Prim are making necklaces after learning the ominous song, The Hanging Tree. I know. I promise, I have no more a reason for this name than that it's Hunger Games related, and it's pretty :-).

I'm over the moon for the books I've acquired this Christmas! What biblio-goodies have you been gifted this year?

And last but not least, I pray all of the blessings in the world for you and yours, Blue. Enjoy the Holidays, and remember there's nothing more blessed than love, and appreciating every person the Lord has blessed you with. Never take them for granted.

Hugs and love,

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