Saturday, January 7, 2023

2022 Yuletide Spirit Reading Challenge and Readathon - Wrap-Up

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed your seasonal reading. I apologize for not being very active on the blog this year. I just could not get into the spirit much this year, and I only ended up reading one holiday book and part of another. Hopefully, next year will be better.

How did you do on the reading challenge/readathon? Share your wrap up link in the linky below. It's the same linky as the sign-up so just add "wrap-up" when you enter your name, like so "Michelle@truebookaddict-Wrap-up" (you don't have to put a blog name, you can just put your name).

See you again next holiday season!

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Always in spirit...

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Velvet Snowflakes by Barbara Briggs Ward - Review

As she has done with her previous books, the author has once again captured the magic of Christmas and family traditions...and with reindeer in the mix, of course. In Velvet Snowflakes, we also get to experience the glamour of velvet wedding gowns, and the interesting life of Ivy Nolan. 

As always, what I liked best was the reindeer. In this case, the dear Walter. His story is touchingly told and it illustrates the precious bond between humans and their pets. 

What I also liked was the focus on mentors and their importance in the shaping of the lives of young people. Ivy credits three such people for her determination and success, and it's her gratitude toward these individuals that starts the whole story off. 

Once again, Briggs Ward writes a heartwarming holiday story that focuses on the importance of having cherished family and friends in our lives. 

Read my reviews of her previous novels...The Reindeer Keeper, The Snowman Maker, The Candle Giver, and The Tin Cookie Cutter.

About the book
Home remains in one’s heart forever...

Stopping in front of a house that was once her family’s home, Ivy Nolan recalls a particular Christmas Eve, sitting in the dark on the edge of her bed, looking out her window at the neighbor’s place where tree lights were glowing and family gathering. There was no celebrating at Ivy’s. Her parents had divorced. It was their last Christmas in their house on the lane.

That was over twenty years ago.

Recently awarded the coveted title, “Wedding Gown Designer of the Year,” her exquisitely detailed velvet gown wowing the judges, Ivy has returned to her hometown to thank three individuals who had influence in her life, especially her childhood neighbor. That neighbor was a veterinarian with a barn behind his home where he cared for the animals.

Walking down the lane once again, Ivy sees reindeer in a fenced-in area alongside the barn. She is not surprised. She always considered that neighbor to be Santa Claus. Will she find her old friend still at work in his barn? She never thought otherwise.

So many memories. So many loose ends that need tending. Some lead Ivy to unexpected places—and people.

Christmas is near.​

About the author
Barbara Briggs Ward is a writer living in Ogdensburg, New York. She is the author of a Christmas trilogy for adults featuring The Reindeer Keeper, released in 2010 and selected by both Yahoo’s Christmas Book Club and the Riverfront Library Book Club in Yonkers as their December, 2012 featured Book of the Month. Barbara completed the trilogy with the release of The Snowman Maker in 2013 and The Candle Giver in 2015. In 2017, her first work of Amish fiction, A Robin’s Snow, was released.

Her articles and short stories have appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Christmas Magic and Family Caregivers, plus Ladies’ Home Journal, Highlights for Children and The Saturday Evening Post online.

In 2018, Barbara’s work of fiction, a short story titled, “Sleigh Bells Ring Again,” earned first place in Watertown, New York’s Jefferson Community College Writing Center’s annual Writing Festival. She has been a featured writer on Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh, New York and at Target Book Festivals in Boston and New York.

Barbara invites you to visit her website at She is on Facebook under The Reindeer Keeper.

Always in spirit...

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

St. Nicholas Day and A Festive Yuletide

A bit late to the party, but better late than never. Right? Hope you are enjoying the holiday season!

Today is St. Nicholas Day so I thought I would share a little about the tradition and the legend.

Saint Nicholas Day: The Feast of Sinterklaas

At the beginning of the Advent season is St. Nicholas Day (December 6—or December 19 on the Julian calendar).

St. Nicholas was a bishop who was known for his good deeds, especially for the needy and children. He often gave generously and anonymously (without anyone knowing the gifts were from him). Nicholas was officially recognized as a saint in the 800s and in the 1200s Catholics in France began celebrating Bishop Nicholas Day on December 6.

Many countries in Europe celebrate the Feast of Sinterklaas—also known as St. Nicholas—starting on the 5th of December, the eve of the day, by sharing candies, chocolate letters, small gifts, and riddles. Children put out their shoes with carrots and hay for the saint’s horse the evening prior, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. (Sound familiar?)

In Belgium and the Netherlands, a fellow dressed as St. Nicholas would arrive by ship on December 6 and ride a white horse (or a donkey) through the towns, handing out gifts. It was the Dutch pronunciation of his name—Sinterklaas—as well as Dutch traditions that made their way to America. These led the way to the name Santa Claus and the tradition of gift-giving.

For many European countries, this simple gift-giving day in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the meaning of Christmas itself.

Saint Nicholas Traditions

You may find it interesting that some of our Santa Claus traditions truly came from St. Nicholas Day. If your children are confused about Santa Claus, perhaps tell them the story of St. Nicholas who was a real saint who bestowed gifts onto others to demonstrate his faith.

Leaving out Shoes

The most common way to celebrate St. Nicholas Day is to leave shoes out for St. Nicholas to place small gifts in. Socks are fine, too.

Traditionally, the gifts are simply small candies or coins—little items that bring a lot of joy for children. If you wish to celebrate this tradition, leave shoes or wooden clogs by the door on the evening of December 5.

In the morning, the shoes will be filled with small delights (candy canes, spare change, foreign coins).

The Candy Cane

The candy cane is also a symbol of St. Nicholas, representing his staff. Add small candy canes to the shoes or decorate your tree! We won’t tell if you eat a few candies on the way!

Sinterklaas Cookies

A traditional treat on St. Nicholas Day is Spicy Sinterklaas Cake, also known as Speculaas. These are spicy, ginger cookies, often baked in a mold the shake of St. Nicholas!

Other traditions equate St. Nicholas with Santa Claus, which means that St. Nicholas comes on the night of December 24, leaving presents for children to open on December 25. 

St. Nicholas History: Who Was the Real St. Nicholas?

In the 3rd century, in the village of Patara in Turkey (part of Greece in those days), a wealthy couple gave birth to a boy they named Nicholas. Tragically, while Nicholas was young, an epidemic took the lives of both of his parents.

Having been raised as a Christian, he dedicated his life to service, sold all of his belongings, and used his inheritance to help the poor and infirm. Eventually, Nicholas became a bishop, and his reputation for helping children, sailors, and other people in need spread far and wide. For this, the Roman emperor Diocletian persecuted and imprisoned him (and other religious men)—but only until the Romans realized that they had so filled their prisons with clergy that they had no place to put the thieves and murderers. So the Romans let the religious men go free.

Upon his release, Nicholas continued his charity work until he died on December 6, A.D. 343. It was said that a liquid that formed in his grave had healing powers. This and other legends about Nicholas fostered devotion to him and inspired traditions still practiced today.
Is St. Nicholas Really Santa Claus?

There are a few legends of St. Nicholas which relate to the story of Santa Claus—one about gift-giving and the other about children.

In one tale, a poor man had three daughters and no dowry for any of them, thus eliminating their chance at marriage and risking their being sold into slavery instead. Mysteriously, as each girl came of marriageable age, a bag of gold (or, in some versions, a ball of gold or an orange) was lobbed through a window and landed in a sock or shoe near the hearth. The unknown gift-giver was presumed to have been Nicholas, and the situation inspired the placement by the fireplace of stockings or shoes, into which gifts were placed.

Another legend dates from long after Nicholas’s passing. In his home village, during a celebration on the anniversary of Nicholas’s death, a young boy was kidnapped to become a slave to a neighboring region’s emir. The family grieved for a year, and on the anniversary of the boy’s disappearance, they refused to leave their home. Good thing: As the story goes, Nicholas appeared, spirited the boy away from his captors, and deposited him in his house—with the gold cup from which he was serving the emir still in his hand. This once again established Nicholas as a patron and protector of children.

Nicholas was celebrated as a saint within a century of his death and today is venerated as the patron not only of children but also of sailors, captives, travelers, marriageable maidens, laborers—even thieves and murderers. He is the patron of many cities and regions, and thousands of churches are named for him around the world.

(reblogged from Almanac)

A Festive Yuletide...join me in celebrating the season. As usual, I will be sharing Weekend Baking, Weekend Lit, Weekend Crafting...maybe even Friday Baking and Movies. Also, book reviews and other bookish posts...and Christmas Around the World posts. Gift ideas. Just all around festive cheer for one of my favorite times of year!

With my late start this year, it's obvious I won't be sharing as much, but I will try to share as much as I can. 

Stay tuned for my review of Velvet Snowflakes by Barbara Briggs Ward, author of The Reindeer Keeper, The Snowman Maker, The Candle Giver, and The Tin Cookie Cutter.

Always in spirit...

Monday, November 21, 2022

2022 Yuletide Spirit Reading Challenge and Readathon - Festive reading time!

It's officially November 21st (in the Eastern time zone) and so it begins!


Dates: November 21, 2022 through January 6, 2023

Three ways to participate:

Challenge - Pick a level
Readathon - read as much (or as little) as you want
Participate in both!

Everything else you need to know can be found in the sign-up post here.

Hashtag across social media: #YuletideSpirit
THE PRIZE: The first person to post a review (must be from a book started on or after November 21) in the review linky (I'll have it posted later on today) will win a $15 charitable donation to human rights organization of their choice, such as the Ukraine Relief, ACLU, Boys and Girls Club, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, Amnesty International, It Gets Better, Planned Parenthood, or another human rights organization of your choice (food banks, homeless shelters would also apply), perhaps your local chapter or a local organization. This giveaway is open internationally. Note: I will not donate to any organization that does not believe that all are equal, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.

So far there are no other prizes, but I'll let you know if I receive any donations. If so, there will either be a prize page, or I will share the prize(s) on the mid-event check-in.


The linky below is the same one as the sign up linky. If you do a starting line/goal post, just add your link again, but be sure to put "goal post" beside your name, i.e. Michelle/True Book Addict (goal post). Note: If you're just signing up, you can do it here on this post. It's the same linky.

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Always in spirit...