10 Movies I Demand You Watch This Holiday Season

Twas the weekend after Thanksgiving and all through the apartment, not a creature was stirring not even my sleeping cat. Oh, pish posh. This is just a fancy way to say I’m diving into the holiday season by binge watching a ton of made for TV movies on Hallmark and Lifetime channels with cheesy dialogue, fake snow, great tunes, and lots of heart. (I cry at 75 percent of them.) I love just about everything about this time of year but oh gosh, dusting off the DVDs we only watch in December is like Christmas morning all on its own. So today I wanted to share the top 10 movies you MUST WATCH to make the most of your holiday season. (No Hallmark or Lifetime movies included; sorry about that.)

Sidenote: these are in no particular order. I could never, ever do it!

1. Serendipity (2001): Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack bump into each other in a crowded Bloomingdales during the holiday season and both want to buy the last pair of leather gloves. They end up spending one night hanging out and totally connect but they are both taken by other people. Kate’s character proposes they leave their “relationship” to chance and allow the fates to bring them back together. This has been one of my favorite movies since I first saw it in theaters after a shift at CVS. There’s ice skating, Frozen hot chocolate, and lots of tubas. (Seriously.) Such a romantical flick.

Holiday song pick: “Cool Yule” by Louis Armstrong.

2. White Christmas (1954): You may need your tissues handy for this one. An entertainment duo head to a Vermont Inn during the holidays and end up scheming to save the place for their former commanding officer. There’s romance, some misunderstanding, and some beautiful performances from Bing Crosby, Danny Kate, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen.

Holiday song pick: “Snow” by Irving Berlin.

3. Love Actually (2003): Does this movie need an introduction? Six couples around the holidays in various states of relationship: nonexistent, unrequited, complicated, very sad, exciting, and totally happy. I love the way these characters find themselves linked to one another, and how honest these storylines played out. Even though it’s a Christmas movie, not everyone gets their happy ending and year after year, I’m left to contemplate how it all goes down. It’s just excellent.

Holiday song pick: This soundtrack is ah-mazing but I’d say: “All Alone On Christmas” by Darlene Love.

4. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992): This was the first Muppet film released after the death of creator Jim Henson, and it’s directed by his son, Brian. As my husband likes to remind me, the film is so closely resembles the Dickens tale mixed in with some wacky Muppet humor and memorable songs. The Muppet Christmas Carol has become part of our Christmas Eve tradition and it never, ever gets old.

Holiday song pick: The whole album is classic, but I love “It Feels Like Christmas” by Paul Williams.

5. The Santa Clause (1994): If there’s a movie that really makes me believe in the magic of Christmas, it’s this one. A divorced dad and his son rediscover their relationship in the strangest and most wonderful of ways: dad accidentally become the new Santa Claus. A trip to North Pole, lots of doubts, and so much wonder to be discovered. I basically tear up every time I watch. Real talk: I also love The Santa Clause 2 but I pretend the third doesn’t exist.

Holiday song pick: “Away to the Window” orchestration by Michael Convertino.

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Say Hi to a Few Librarians | Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 11th month of the Dive into Diversity challenge! Rebecca and I can hardly believe we are just about done, but here we are. In the last sparkly original post, I’m piggybacking off some feelings I’ve had lately — how the general public who doesn’t spend a lot of time hanging out in the online book community or reading Publishers Weekly is finding out about the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Of course, I immediately think of librarians who work tirelessly to stock their libraries with books their community wants to read, recommend titles when asked, and make everyone feels welcome.

So I asked a few librarians to answer some questions on their jobs and how the diversity campaign has essentially affected how they do their job. Did they feel like the people who aren’t invested in these book/publishing bubbles were knew what was going on? What about the future? I hope you enjoy their insights and give you a little taste into DIVERSITY IN THE REAL WORLD.

♥

Eden - Librarian Dive Into DiversityEden has been a young adult librarian in Kentucky for 3 years. @edenjeangrey

(Diverse) books and authors have you been recommending this year: Mostly books about mental illness, like Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman and My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga.

On how to connect the campaign with patrons: I feel that customizing and tailoring your individual approach to diversity in library collections and services is crucial – just promoting diversity in general isn’t going to accomplish as much. Take time to determine what diversity means for our community, your service area, and your patrons, and work according to their identities and needs.

♥

Bookish - Dive into Diversity LibrariansBookish has been a librarian for 8 years. She has previously worked in college admissions and as a middle school teacher. @bookish & her blog.

On what’s changed since the WNDB campaign became “mainstream”: When I first got into librarianship, if I brought up the need for diversity in YA or kidlit, I’d get uncomfortable silences on listservs and in conversations. Only a few brave souls would answer. There was a deafening silence from the rest. Now that the WNDB campaign is more “mainstream,” many more people are willing to at least listen to the need for diversity.

(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Grace Lin, Zetta Elliott, Jacqueline Woodson, Neesha Meminger, Yuyi Morales, Uma Krishnaswami, Mitali Perkins, Janine Macbeth, Misako Rocks, books published by Lee & Low press, Corduroy, the list goes on and on and on!

Patrons and their quest for change: Young parents of color…are keenly aware that they didn’t get to see themselves accurately and genuinely reflected in books as they were growing up, but that they want their kids to have this important connection to literature, in a visceral way. This generation of parents of color are already clamoring for books that represent their lives, their realities, so that they can share these with their children.

On what needs to happen next: …this push for diversity is mistaken as needing to be fulfilled by getting already well-known mainstream white writers to write diverse characters into their books. Don’t get me wrong; this trend is definitely a step in the right direction, for the most part. But what would be WAY more heartening is to see publishers taking chances on a LARGE number of first-time writers of color, to allow the diverse stories to be told through diverse authorial voices.

♥

Pamela - Dive Into Diversity LibrariansPamela lives in Wisconsin and has been a Youth Services Librarian since 2013. @PamelaJean0 & her blog.

Since WNDB how her book ordering has changed: Instead of ordering, say, 4 copies of a book by a popular author, I have diversified my collections by purchasing only 1 copy of a popular book and then using the remaining funds to buy new books that showcase diversity.

(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy; George by Alex Gino; Princeless by Jeremy Whitley; Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn; Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, always and forever. <3

How the word can spread even more: Merchandising. Teens love free stuff, especially if it’s LEGALLY free (ha!). The acronym itself would be intriguing if teens didn’t know what it was. And if we can turn it into an identifying rallying cry, like DFTBA? (Editor’s not: I had to look this up. Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.) Then that’s it. Maybe vlogging, snap chatting — whatever social media the teens are on, we need to be there too.

♥

Librarians are some of my favorite people in the UNIVERSE and I’m so glad to spotlight some of them today and hear about their experiences. There are so many layers to this campaign, and I wish I could have featured even more people because I love to be nosey and see how all of this is rolling in the real world. That being said, if you are a librarian, who has tips, tricks, and thoughts to share about the WNDB campaign — please feel free to do so below. Can’t wait to hear from you! Happy Tuesday, and happy almost Thanksgiving!

Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Rebecca’s Dive Into Diversity stop!

(And a big thanks to Emma @ Miss Print for helping me out with this!)

Bring Along the Mistletoe | 2015 Romance Wish List

I’m giddy with excitement to present my first HOLIDAY POST OF 2015. Whew! I’ve been preparing for this for twelve months. Well, kind of. We have about a week to go before Thanksgiving so I thought it was safe to talk about holiday romances. (I swear on Santa’s sleigh I’ve only listened to two Christmas carols so far — one accidentally.) With the end of year getting super busy with presents, parties, and good cheer, there’s nothing like relaxing with a quick read that keeps you interested and relaxes you. (They are especially great when paired with sparkly wine or some hot cocoa.)

First, a glimpse at the two I’ve sampled so far:

Christmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael MillerChristmas in Mustang Creek by Linda Lael Miller (9/29 from HQN Books): Charlotte is back home in Mustang Creek for good, and she’s surprised to find her ex, Jaxon, there too. The surprises don’t stop coming with the mysterious Mrs. Klozz, who has been taking care of Charlotte’s ailing aunt. For a cute story about second chances and true holiday magic, Christmas in Mustang Creek is sweet and sure to get you in the mood for a beautiful home cooked meal with only the best sweets. (Seriously, the menu in this book is fit for royalty.)

Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N  | Add to Goodreads

Evergreen SpringsEvergreen Springs by RaeAnne Thayne by RaeAnne Thayne (9/29 by HQN Books): A single dad with two kids; a doctor who is so used to taking care of everyone else that sometimes she forgets about herself. This is what holiday dreams are made of. Cole and Devin have that opposites attract vibe, and this story is so much about how the spirit of the holidays uplifts the most downtrodden. I love how the town of Haven Point bands together to help their own (even those least likely to be joiners), the holiday traditions (peppermint cotton candy!), and the all around kindness expressed in this book. It’s everything I’d want a holiday romance to be — complete with a hot spring and a tree from the middle of the woods.

Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | Add to Goodreads

And now, a few romance picks I’m curious about:

2015 Holiday Romance Picks

9/29: Marry Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery

10/20: Wrapped in Red two stories by Nana Malone & Sherelle Green

10/22: Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan

10/27: Bring Me Home For Christmas by Robyn Carr

11/1: A Copper Ridge Christmas a novella by Maisey Yates | Love, Lies, and Mistletoe by Jennifer Snow

11/11: A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe by Vicki Lewis Thompson

11/17: A Cold Creek Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne

12/1: A White Wedding Christmas by Andrea Laurence


Whew! Are we in the spirit? Just in case you might possibly need a few other suggestions, I had a blast throwing together a similar post last year. Happy reading, shopping, loving, and romancing! Until next time! – e

Of Survival and Discovery | #SoRatherBeYoung

You Make Me Feel So Young Header

Back in December, Hannah from So Obsessed With and I decided to start a laidback feature where we introduce each other to favorite books of our childhood and joint read another. Well, we have certainly taken the laidback part of this feature to a whole new level. (Let’s blame a broken computer, summer, and life!) That being said, yay for the next installment of You Make Me Feel So Young. (Have you seen the new Geico commercial where they sing this song?)

Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?

Island of Blue Dolphins Summary Tweet

Joint pick: Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell | First published in 1960

More Than You Know: Scott O’Dell founded an award for historical books for children in 1982. If you are a lover of this genre, definitely check out the list of past winners. This year’s was Dash by Kirby Larson.

Memories Are Made of This: All I remember about reading this book when I was itty-bitty was that I devoured it — which is a little shocking because books with very little dialogue and so, so much nature are not really my thing now.

Second Time Around: I couldn’t stop thinking about how Island of Blue Dolphins was a precursor to dystopians like The Hunger Games. This young girl is forced to find ways to survive for herself, and all alone — not for a game, not for the entertainment/punishment of the government. (I’m sure I would fee this way about Lord of the Flies too.) That being said, I forgot how sad and quiet this book was. It was, though, remarkable to watch her drive build up even during the darkest times. Yay for a strong female lead.

You Can Take My Word for It, Baby: I would have no problem with my future children picking this book up, but my one fear is that dystopians are canceling out classics like this one. (I don’t have anything to back this statement up but I could see why kids want to pick up a shiny cover over something like this.) Otherwise, I can definitely see this book looking so well in not only a lit class but how about a history as well?

The Secret Garden Summary Tweet

Hannah’s pick for me: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Do You Know Why? “When I was talking to Estelle about the books of my childhood, I realized that many of my favorites are classics. But which one was I going to make her read? Since our discussion was initially taking place during the spring, I wanted to choose a book that fit the season. And that’s what inspired The Secret Garden! Mary Lennox (who truly is “quite contrary” in the beginning) experiences so much growth, which makes this book a great character-driven read. I was hoping Estelle would be transported by the magic of the story!” — Hannah

Can’t You Just See Yourself: I am the worst at reading classics. I always promise myself it will happen, and nope nope nope. I avoid it a lot. I’m so mad at myself for waiting to read The Secret Garden (for the record, my old coworker lent me her copy 2 years ago and that’s the copy I read for this project). It started off a little slow especially because Mary was such a brat (not surprised) and then really picked up as she fell in love with her freedom outside and all the possibilities at Misselthwaite Manor.

I Give You My Word: Definitely a book I would pass along to the future kids of the world. I can only imagine the discussions of literary devices, symbolism, and even art projects that could supplement the reading of The Secret Garden.

Before the Music Ends: My mission for you: find a beautiful version of this book and read it as soon as you can. Though some of the dialogue hasn’t aged as graciously with time, it’s a delightful read about many different walks of life finding second chances and blossoming once again. I’m so glad Hannah convinced me to read it. (Now I’m ready to read The Little Princess!)


What’s the last book you picked out of your “vintage” bookshelf?

We’d love to hear! Be sure to check out Hannah’s SOBY post today too!

Stay tuned for next month (we promise!) when Hannah & I joint read: Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger by Louis Sachar! #SoRatherBeYoung

Good morning (good day) to you and you and you

Hi, how are you?!

I’m trying something new over here this morning. (Actually, it’s Sunday night and I’m watching The Talking Dead and trying not to feel devastated.) So hello. Hope your weekend was excellent. I caught up with an old, amazing friend, stuffed myself with lovely biscuits and grilled cheese, actually sat down to watch a movie (Love & Mercy — so good), and made a beer & cheddar soup. (God, I had a lot of cheese this weekend.) I even FaceTimed with my mom — which is a rare feat because she works a lot.

Good Things Are Going to Happen

More positive thoughts at The Berry.

The big/shocking news: October is over in less than a week. What is happening with this year? I can’t even understand the speed in which it has been moving. I’m starting to get anxious like HAVE I DONE ENOUGH WITH MY YEAR or DO I HAVE ENOUGH TIME LEFT TO DO [FILL IN THE BLANK]? The half-full answer, of course, is YES TOTALLY and the half-empty answer is OMG AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO HASN’T STARTED CHRISTMAS SHOPPING? It’s fine, I’m good. I just want to be really present in enjoying the rest of the year. (Is this the yoga talking?)

So what am I reading? I just finished I Crawl Through It by A.S. King, which was energizing as a reader because the format and writing was so different. I love how King takes chances with her book and makes me say wtf a lot. Next up? I’m dying to jump into a romance but until I find one I feel like reading, I decided to check out Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts. Another unique concept (17-year old widow!?) with a more straightforward approach. The book hits shelves on November 10.

Library Haul October 25

Latest from the library: The Last Love Song by Tracy Daughtery; All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely; The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

What am I looking forward to this week? Hitting the half-way point with #30DaysofYoga — had a few hiccups this month but I’m sticking with it and loving it. A new episode of The Muppets on Tuesday — hooray! THE WORLD SERIES IS STARTING. I might not be an Mets fan but I think this series is going to be so, so juicy and great plus I have a thing for Mr. Met. (I’m not looking forward to the train situation in Queens on Friday though.) And… my husband might be getting his BAR EXAM results this week. Eek, I’m trying not think about it so pretend I didn’t say anything.

Here’s a little procrastination when you need it: I’ve been having SUCH trouble getting up in the mornings since the weather got cooler so I’m taking some advice from this Bustle article and using a song as my alarm. (Fingers crossed!) Cried on the subway listening to Death Sex & Money’s interview with an astronaut who lost his wife in the Columbia explosion. I can’t imagine my mom picking out my clothes for a week, but this Marie Claire editor let her mom dictate her style (even her hair!) and it makes for such a great read!

♥

Let’s have a productive week, shall we? Let’s not deny ourselves a caffeine boost or dark chocolate at 2pm, okay? – e

Pageants, Potter, and a Creek | Capeside Revisited

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here’s this scene in the first season of Dawson’s Creek. Joey Potter, “the too-tall girl from the wrong side of the creek”, enters a stage behind a line of girls who are smiling with their teeth and wearing sequin-y dresses. Joey’s dress is sleek and simple. Her hair, which normally sits on her shoulders and behind her ears, is swept up in a bun. She’s wearing brown lipstick and instead of smiling big, she does the side smile. It’s a little shy, a little serious, and a little like “what the heck am I really doing up here”. With the fluttery plinks of music in the background, Joey walks on that stage among a crowd of people who are undoubtably judging her but, in the back of the room, her best friend adjusts a camera. He even nudges the camera guy out of the way to truly focus. Because after years of friendship awe falls across his face. Could this be? Is this the Joey Potter he always knew? Suddenly, everything has changed.

This moment solidifies so many of the reasons I connected with this show since its premiere in 1998. I was in 8th grade. I might not have been in love with my best friend or being raised by my older sister in a home where nothing came easy. But I was a girl who preferred the background over centerstage, who chose a book over running around outside every time. Someone who wanted to be accepted by her friends and applauded for working so hard all the time. Someone on the cusp of being discovered in one way or another.

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Because the show just happened to run from 8th grade until the May I graduated high school, it feels so much a part of my blossoming, a constant when everything felt so fragile and confusing.  I was a pretty well-behaved kid who listened to her parents but when it came to TV, I was not much for boundaries. When news of the Dawson’s Creek premiere started to hit papers, my mom was pretty adamant about me not watching. TOO MUCH SEX AND BIG WORDS. But I snuck watched it anyway and never turned back. (My mom eventually got over this. In fact, after all these years, it’s surprising to me that my 90210/Vampire Diaries loving mother never got into the show herself.)

When life got overwhelming with friends, band practice, after-school jobs, and boys, at least I had my Tuesday or Wednesday night to sit around with these characters and completely unwind. It was my time. I closed the door, sat crosslegged on my fringe rug (until my parents put down wood floors in my junior year of high school), sipped from a can of soda and let myself be thrown into the lives of four people who I practically grew up with. I probably didn’t think much about it then but the show introduced me to teenagers dealing with mental illness, coming out for the first time, slut shaming, and struggling so much to feel settled in the decisions they made and the love they were feeling.

To rev up for this post, I rewatched a few episodes of the show this past weekend and there’s another Joey scene that really got me. She’s sitting in Pacey’s car, after a surprising and surreal weekend and she announces maybe she’s not meant to find happiness. “I’m 16-years old and in my entire life there have been two people who know me!” I’m 30 so it’s ironic to hear her say “entire” in regards to 16 years on this planet. She’s so scared the weekend she had is some indication that she’s doomed forever. I can totally sit here and comment on how dramatic she sounds (it will be okay, Joey!) but isn’t this how we all felt back then? Like when the hell will my real life begin? When will everything fall into place?

Over six years, Dawson’s Creek managed to scramble the pieces of these characters in such a way that we saw no combination could be permanent. Anything could change at any moment (even if you’re enjoying an ice cream cone and singing along to a James Taylor copycat in your car) and that doubt that seems larger than life when you are a kid dissipates. Not because you’re suddenly mega-confident in a perfect, grown-up life but because there are truly less moments to share this kind of honesty. And maybe, just maybe, age welcomes a bit more faith and the understanding that one solid step forward means there are plenty of shaky ones in between.

Now that I’m the owner of so much wisdom (har har har), I wish I could tell the girl who rewound (yes, rewound) the pageant episode of Dawson’s Creek to rewatch time and time again that her yearning to feel brave, protected, and accepted is going to pop up frequently. That she might still think Dawson and Joey belonged together in the beginning, but she’s also open to what feels right and knows it’s okay to change her mind. She’d be really confused about Tom Cruise marrying Katie Holmes, but not surprised that Joshua Jackson remains devilishly good-looking and is still acting (even if she doesn’t watch any of his shows). And that in the age of Jimmy Fallon (“who?” says 14-year old me) there’s always the opportunity for a reunion.

Because true love never, ever dies. (Even if the soundtrack changes.)

♥

Capeside Revisited Dawson's Creek Appreciation

Big thanks to Rachel for asking me to be a part of this appreciation week!

One other thing to be thankful for when it comes to the creek: her friendship. We met over a shared love of the show, both ran our own fansites, and found out we were from the same town. The rest is history!