Bye, NaNo; Hi, Christmas (Coloring Christmas Devotions Review + Photos)

Oh hey, look, November’s over and I survived NaNoWriMo and can rest now.

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist…)

Speaking of which, while I am recuperating enough to get together some form of Ishness post about my Novemberness (look for it Monday!), here: have a review of a coloring book for Christmas, because we all need to relax right now. *ahem*

Coloring Christmas Devotions

by Thomas Nelson Publishing

  • Authors: Published by Thomas Nelson. Illustrations by Lizzie Preston, Claire McElfatrick, and Suzanne Khushi
  • Date read: November 29, 2017
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Genre: Christian Non-Fiction / Devotional / Adult Coloring Book
  • Age: Any
  • Year pub: 2017
  • Pages: 96 (paperback)
  • Source: Booklook Bloggers
  • Notes: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of writing my honest review; these opinions are my own.
  • Links — Find the book on: ZondervanAmazonGoodreads

This is a combination of a Christmas devotional and a coloring book, with nearly fifty pages of charming art to color (on the right-hand pages) and 31 pages of devotions (perfect for reading throughout December) alternating with 15 Bible verses (on the left-hand pages).

The devotional topics are varied, on a Christmas theme—some of them moving and relevant, while others weren’t as applicable to me (since I haven’t been in some of those situations or didn’t “get” some of the more modern references), but might be to others. Mostly it was tying in modern struggles with the rush of the holidays, with examples from scripture and a theme of slowing down and focusing on the real reason for the season, which was nice.

The lovely illustrations range from winter or wildlife scenes to nativity scenes, to Christmas associations like bells, candy canes, nutcrackers, ornaments and holly, etc., and some of lovely patterns too.

Being my first adult coloring book, this was a fascinating experience, and so fun! I may be slightly addicted to coloring now. 😉 I’ve heard its relaxing and enjoyable but I didn’t realize until I tried it myself!

I used pencils and colored pens—I think markers or crayons wouldn’t be thin enough since most of the illustrations have very narrow areas that would be a little tricky to color. My pens didn’t quite bleed through the page, but anything darker might.

It’s the perfect book to wind down with and relax in the evening, particularly (in my case) when I had just finished NaNoWriMo and was transitioning from a writing season to a Christmas one at the end of November. I turned on some Celtic Christmas music and curled up with this coloring book, discovering new and wintry delights. 🙂

Overall, it’s a very fun book, and I like the mix of thoughtful section to read (which I read all in a sitting) combined with lovely wintry/Christmas-y art. I can’t really compare it to other coloring books since I don’t have experience with them, but I loved this one! I would recommend it for fans of coloring and really any Christians who celebrate Christmas.

About the Book

Enjoy all the best parts of the Christmas season as you spend time reflecting on God’s greatest gift for His children: the birth of Jesus. This unique coloring book also includes devotions perfect for the season. Take a few minutes out of the busyness of Christmas to spend time in devotional thought, while relaxing through stress-free coloring.

With inspirational devotions on one side and a festive Christmas scene to color on the opposite page, Coloring Christmas Devotions will be a welcome part of your holiday celebrations. Take a few quiet moments to yourself to reflect on the reason behind the festivities as you read through the Scripture verses and devotions and color the pen-and-ink illustrations.

This coloring book is unique with a trim size that is easy to fit into a purse or bag, an embellished cover, perforated pages, and a low price point.

A beautiful gift or a fun treat for yourself, Coloring Christmas Devotions will help you focus your heart on the true meaning of Christmas.

I review for BookLook Bloggers

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

So, the big questions!

Did you survive NaNo? Are you ready for Christmas? And have you ever tried an adult coloring book? Because this was my first one, and now I’m curious about y’all! Thanks for reading! 🙂 I’ll be back soon with some NaNo-ish wrapup posts! ❤

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Wintry Tag

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Sarah @ Light and Shadows had a wintry A Few of My Favorite Things Tag, and left it open for people to snag on their blogs… so I’m doing so (nearly a year later) because it’s December, and wintry/Christmas-y things are in the air. ^_^

1. Favorite “snuggle weather” books?

Books.

(…Okay, I sound like Tare when I answer like that.)

Um. I don’t really have any specific books I think of as good wintry reads. I guess I just read what I usually read?

I do like reading a short story called Wintermoon Wish by Sharon Shinn around this time of year… maybe I’ll do that again. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas is a fun read for this time of year, as is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis. But I haven’t been reading those.

I do seem to be in the mood for rereading Diana Wynne Jones books (Chrestomanci, in particular). But who am I kidding — I’m always in the mood for DWJ. 😉

OH! Do you know what would make a PERFECT wintry read?? (Or any other kind of read, TBH.) PAPER CROWNS BY MIRRIAM NEAL. It has the snow and ice, it has the awesome, it has the fantabulous characters, it has the snark… YES. I highly recommend getting yourself (or anyone else) a copy of this book for Christmas and snuggling up for a delightful read. ❤

2. Favorite winter/Christmassy snacks?

Candy canes, of course!

(Um. That was my inner Baz talking; pay no heed. >.> *COUGH*)

I don’t actually snack much, so I like any kind of snack, but around Christmas I’m partial to nuts and dried fruits (craaanberries, preciousss), chopped veggies, crackers/cheese/summer sausage, and of course cupcakes and chocolate. *nods*

3. Favorite hot drinks?

Hot chocolate and herbal teas like red raspberry leaf with honey. Yum. (I like coffee when I drink it, which is rarely. 😉 )

4. Favorite Christmas movies?

A Muppet Christmas Carol, hands down, every time. I love that movie. ❤ I even like it better than the book, and this movie is the classic version of the story for me. I tend to watch it most Christmasses.

5. Favorite holidays songs?

Carol of the Bells/Ring Christmas Bells, Silent Night, The Little Drummer Boy, Don Oiche Ud I mBeithil, O Come All Ye Faithful, A Breton Carol, Come O Come Emmanuel, 12 Days of Christmas, and the Snoopy and the Red Baron Christmas song.

6. Favorite “snow day” crafts?

By “snow day” I’m going to assume this means a cold day spent indoors. Since, you know, I don’t actually get snow here, or if I do I’m more likely to be out in it BECAUSE IT’S SO RARE, than staying inside because of it. XD Buuut… how about knitting or crocheting (if I actually have something in mind, which is rare), or more likely . . . reading. Yep. I don’t actually do much with crafts. Ahem.

7. Do you wanna build a snowman?

YES PLEASE.

How about you? Feeling in a wintry/Christmassy mood? Feel free to do the tag if you are! ^_^ Merry Christmas to everyone (and happy winter to those who aren’t into Christmas). May your hearts follow the star that led to the stable when the Light of the World was born there. 🙂 Have a blessed couple of weeks and I’ll see you again at the year’s turning! ❤

Sisterhood Blogger Award

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Sarah @ Dreams & Dragons tagged me for the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award, which I’ve done before, but I couldn’t pass up these awesome (and difficult-looking!) questions!

1. If you were tossed into a fictional world, which genre would you want it to be?  (In other words, which would you have the best chance at surviving?)

I wouldn’t necessarily have the best chance of surviving, but I’d definitely pick fantasy. Not going to even try saying anything otherwise. (Of course, odds don’t look good for survival in a dystopian or sci-fi place, so fantasy is better than that…)

2. After arriving in that world, what would you do first?

Quickly make friends with the most powerful (good) person or creature I could find so that they would keep me safe, and then proceed to explore. Or possibly sit in a castle library and read. Either/or.

3. You have an adventure in that other world and now have the choice of whether to stay there with the friends you’ve made or to return home to your family and former life. What do you decide?

*shifty eyes* That entirely depends on circumstances. But I’d probably just make sure to get the best of both worlds (literally) and have a magical door like Howl does so I can live both places. 😀 (Let me live in my delusions…)

4. Changing the subject: what’s your favorite Christmas song?

Ring Christmas Bells/Carol of the Bells.

5. Your favorite Christmas movie?

Muppet Christmas Carol.

6. If you were a superhero, what would your superpower(s) and code name be?

My superpower would be the ability to transfer thoughts/words/scenes perfectly directly onto paper (or computer) and my code name would be the Page Dreamer.

…What, you never heard of someone wanting to have a writer superpower? *cough*

7. Also, who would your arch-nemesis be? (Name, powers, etc.)

The Great Horrifically Humongous Procrastination of Doom and Despair and Apocalypse.

. . . I think his powers are pretty obvious. >.>

O, Arch-nemesis of mine, ye shall rue the day you ever– ! Um. I’m not sure what you shall rue the day of. I’ll figure it out later… Ahem.

8. What villain would you most want to show up on your doorstep (if one had to show up there)? How would you react to said villain?

ACK. What even, Sarah?? Erm. I’m just going to say Loki and hope that he’d be more amused than deadly at that moment in time. *nods* And I would probably react with wide eyes and quickly slam the door and lock it, or else very very politely ask him in to tea and try not to offend him.

9. What good guy (from one of your favorite books/series) would you least want to show up on your doorstep? Again, how would you react to him/her?

This one is the. hardest. A good guy from a favorite book that I don’t want to meet…? Hum. I’ve literally got nothing. Zilch. I’m going to have to sidle casually on to the next question and pretend I had an answer. *sidles casually on* >.>

10. How long did it take you to answer these questions?

Longer than I would care to admit. XD I didn’t time it. I should’ve… Then I could have knowingly cackled while refusing to tell the number… (I think these villainous questions are getting to my brain. O_O *is alarmed* Thanks a lot, Sarah. ;))

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So! What about you, my roadlings? What genre would you visit, what would you pick for a superpower, and what villain wouldn’t you mind showing up on your door? 😉 Answer in the comments, or consider yourself tagged and do the tag on your blog!

Looking Forward, Looking Back (2016/2015)

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I love the change of the year and have been doing many of my favorite New Years things like starting new journals. A fresh year is waiting, like a blank page to be written on, and the old year is gone, with all its good times and, yes, failures. It’s time to start fresh.

Danny Gokey says it beautifully in his song Tell Your Heart to Beat Again: “Yesterday’s a closing door — you don’t live there anymore.” Give the song a listen! (I heard it on the radio this week, fell in love, and have listened to it ten billion times since and am listening to it on repeat as I write this post). It’s beautiful and feels just right for the New Year.

Here are some of my excitements for the new year of 2016, as well as a brief look back at my 2015. And — yes! — lists!

2016

My word for 2016

Joy is my word this year. I want to find joy in everything if I can. It’s going to be hard, since I struggle with a tendency to be stressed and down on myself. But I’m tired of feeling crushed beneath expectations, beneath things I feel are obligations which ought to be enjoyable but have become chores. This includes — yes — writing, reading, emailing… even the things that I usually love, sometimes can become a burden because I’m a chronic procrastinator and a perfectionist. I’m hoping to approach everything, the fun and the not, with Joy. To rediscover my Joy in writing and life and find a freedom I’ve been looking for . . . that is my wish for the new year.

JOY! 🙂

I’M EXCITED FOR THIS YEAR:

aspysdevotionThese books coming out:

Yorien’s Hand // The Goblin’s Puzzle // A Spy’s Devotion // Fridays with the Wizards // Rebel of the Sands // Songkeeper // The Story of Kullervo // King’s Folly // The Beautiful Pretender // Five Magic Spindles // Defying Shadows // Stolen Crowns #1 // The Bone Queen // Crooked Kingdom

(I did a post about this if you want pics/links to Goodreads, but I’ve since added Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams — sequel to Orphan’s Song — and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, both of which are sequels that I need this instant. *flail*)

These movies releasing:

  • The Abominable Bride (Sherlock special which I’m hopefully going to see on Wednesday… YAY!)
  • Captain America: The Civil War (YESSSS!! As I may have mentioned, I’m kind of looking forward to this a lot, primarily because BUCKY and HAWKEYE!)
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Because Star Wars…)

(Also, perhaps someday I’ll see Kung Fu Panda 3, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Batman Vs. Superman, which are releasing this year, but I’m not in a super hurry as they also sound weird…)

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I’d also like to see:

  • Pan (missed that when it came out last year)
  • The Guardians of the Galaxy (somehow still haven’t seen this)
  • Thor 2: The Dark World (which I technically saw once but need to rewatch since I have no memory of it which is slightly terrifying since I think I liked it a lot?!)

My 2015 at a Glance

READING

66 Books

2015books

I read many lovely books, notably many retellings and much Diana Wynne Jones; and discovered steampunk and heist books. (Yay!) And I just posted my top 15 favorites of the year.

Goodreads has a lovely new “Year in Books Feature” which I love! (Mine is here.)

WATCHING

Shows I saw:

  • Leverage (seasons 1-5) — everyone knows how much I love this… *cough*
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBC Miniseries) — interesting to see on screen
  • Star Wars: Rebels (Season 1) — I ADORED THIS! Sooo much fun. ❤

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I don’t go to the theater often, but this year I saw:

  • starwars7posterStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — AS;LDKJFLSK FEELS. WHAT. Still haven’t decided what I think of it except that I know I had a blast and then felt extremely sad near the end… I think overall I loved it? But I’m not sure yet! *flail* One thing’s for sure: ALL OF THE FEELS. And I adore the new characters, particularly Poe, and want to see the movie again.
  • Cinderella — Gorgeous.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron — Hawkeye!!
  • Mockingjay Part 2 — Um.
  • Beyond the Mask — EPIC!!! ❤

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BLOGGING

87 Posts

I really discovered my love of blogging this last year, and started my Ishness posts, and just had a fun time.

My top viewed posts were:

ccakeFrom which I discern that people are unprepared for NaNo (always), and love movies (or characters), bookshelves, Christmas, and cupcakes (or possibly denial). Basically you, my blog readers, have your priorities in order. *thumbs up*

WordPress has a handy blog report showcase for the year which is fun. Take a look at my blog stats if you enjoy numbers like I do. XD

It says my top commenters were Sarah, Tracey, Christine, C.B., and Abi — thank you guys! And to every single person who reads this blog and who has commented (even just once) a heartfelt thank you. ❤ You make my day every time. ^_^

WRITING

Over 100,000 Words

DRcoverishR&RI wrote an entire novella and two whole short stories (and a couple fanfictions) — namely:

KW2coverPSilverForestCoverFinalAnd worked on several other books:

  • 2. The Secret of Kedran’s Wood (mostly this one)
  • The Silver Forest (and this one)
  • 0.5. Child of Kedran’s Wood
  • 2.5 Mixup at Kedran’s Wood
  • 3 The Shadow of Kedran’s Wood
  • 4 The Writer of Kedran’s Wood
  • Heartseeker
  • The Other Half of Everything (snippets)

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OHEcoverI was attacked by several new plotbunnies that I adore and can’t wait to write, most notably:

  • The Other Half of Everything
  • The Siren and the Skyship

My Kedran’s Wood series exploded into several different books/novellas/short stories.

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My epic fantasy series the Starrellian Saga is taking shape in a new and exciting way as I reimagine all of the threads into a different sort of book structure.

A few other exciting things:

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***

PonyFrom the start of the year when I was followed by a pony from the post office, through seeing my first stage play, spontaneously going on a few roadtrips, being a NaNo Municipal Liaison for the third time, all the way to spending my last days of the year frantically editing a novella under a deadline for the first time . . . it’s been a very interesting year!

With my new word (Joy) in hand, I look forward to what 2016 holds!

I haven’t made specific writing/reading goals yet. I’m on a semi-hiatus from writing for a bit, so we’ll see what happens after that… I’m currently leaving my options open. 🙂

How was your 2015? I wish you all a truly fantastic 2016!

Christmas-y Tag

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Interesting story behind this… I was tagged LAST year for The Christmas Tag by Lisa @ Pickle’s Pen and Trinkets. (Check out her awesome blog because she is an awesome Pickle!) I didn’t get around to it before Christmas then, and afterward… well… it seemed a bit outdated. XD

So! I decided to save it and do it after all…

Just… a year late. 😉

Belatedly: Thank you, Lisa!! ❤

Rules

  • Post the picture on your blog. (I… don’t know what picture this was? o.o)
  • Answer the questions.
  • Tag up to 12 bloggers.
  • Make up 10 questions for the other bloggers.

Questions

1. What is your favourite Christmas treat?

Chocolate mint things! Or chocolate volcano cake. Or chocolate cigar thingamies. Or candy-canes. Basically, if it tastes minty or chocolatey: yes please.

2. Are there any special traditions that your family has to celebrate Christmas?

Not particularly… Tree. Gifts. Hanging out. Delicious munchy foods. Mostly hanging out.

3. How do you normally celebrate Christmas?

See above.

4. Do you enjoy getting presents for your friends and family? Do you buy your gifts or go the homemade route?

It really depends… I used to make stuff but I’ve become less crafty as the years go by. (Making crafts, that is; in the devious department… well… Moving on… >.>) Library sales are lovely though; that’s all I’ll say.

5. Is it cold where you live? Have you ever had a white Christmas?

No it is NOT cold here. Or… yes, it’s cold in the winter, but there be nary a sight of snow ’round here except once in a blue moon. Yes, I actually had a white Christmas ONCE. It was fairly shocking. (It was like a half-inch or something. But it was still snow. On Christmas Eve. What was this madness??)

6. What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Is that my wish-list? Because… well… mostly books. (Surprise…) Like Diana Wynne Jones. And certain things like the new Cinderella movie…

7. What’s your favourite Christmas song?

Ring, Christmas Bells, and Carol of the Bells! ❤ Specifically this one and also the instrumental one done by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. But really… any of them. Also The Little Drummer Boy! (And Silent Night. And Snoopy’s Christmas. And I’ve been listening to the Chieftains’ Christmas CD The Bells of Dublin, especially this one. And Blackmore’s Night holiday music on Pandora… I know I’m forgetting some… I kind of like a lot of Christmas songs…?)

8. What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Not sure. Christmases blur pleasantly together sometimes. All of them?

9. What does your Christmas Tree look like?

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10. What are you reading in December? (Anything festive?)

Does a book of Christmas Carols count? See my December Nightstand Books post…

11. Are you an organised little elf or are you still shopping/preparing on Christmas Eve?

Meh. I like to be organized, but am not always… *shifty eyes* (Also, I dislike this time of year for a certain thing, namely: EVERYONE ACTS LIKE ELVES ARE LITTLE. IT’S DEMEANING. Humph. I prefer tall beautiful Elves like in Middle-earth…)

12. How early do you start to get into the Christmas spirit?

It really depends. The start of December, maybe?

13. Do you make any Christmas crafts? Decorations? Send physical Christmas cards?

Crafts and decorations: no. Physical Christmas cards… sometimes. I like to, if I can get around to it (which I don’t always).

14. What’s the menu for Christmas Day?!

Hanging out and munching abounds, and my favorites are munchy things. Cupcakes and oranges and cheese & crackers and summer sausage (in winter!) and cake and pigs-in-the-blanket and dried cranberries and veggies and chips and dip and chocolate and candy canes…

15. What makes it FEEL like Christmas for you? (Weather, specific tradition, food, smell, person, etc.?)

Probably the Christmas tree going up…? And Christmas music on the radio, I guess.

16. Do you have relatives coming? Excited? Nervous?

Nooope.

17. What famous Christmas character do you most identify with? (Scrooge, Elf, Tiny Tim, the Grinch, Santa, etc.)

I… have no idea.

18. If you were to start a new Christmas tradition, what would it be?

I can’t think of one. I’m notoriously unimaginative about such things.

Bonus questions I’m adding myself because I want to answer them:

19. What Christmas movies do you like to watch this time of year or what’s your favorite?

The Muppet Christmas Carol!

20. What’s your favorite Christmasy book or book with a favorite Christmasy part?

It’s not EXACTLY a Christmas story per se, but I really love the short story “Wintermoon Wish” by Sharon Shinn (in Firebirds Rising). *huggles it* Also Tolkien’s Letters From Father Christmas which was written over many years as letters to his children, and is hilarious and fabulous and just yes. And I’m quite fond of the Christmasy parts in The Good Master and The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy.

Tagging

You obviously don’t have to do this — no pressure, just if you want. 😉 And instead of making up new questions, I’m going to say: just take any of the questions I answered in this post and answer as many or few as you like.

Christine @ Musings of an Elf | Jenelle @ Jenelle Schmidt | Abi @ Rambling Writer | Madeline @ Short & Snappy | Sarah @ Dreams & Dragons | Victoria @ Stori Tori | Rebekah @ Wordsmithing & Worldbuilding | Kayla @ The Wordsmithy’s Shop | Skye @ Ink Castles | Tracey @ Adventure Awaits | Emma @ Peppermint & Prose | Shantelle @ A Writer’s Heart

(Alternately, I tag anyone who is reading this and feeling in a Christmasy mood and wants to do this tag on their blog!) Or answer in the comments! 🙂

Questions to choose from:

  • What is your favourite Christmas treat?
  • Are there any special traditions that your family has to celebrate Christmas?
  • How do you normally celebrate Christmas?
  • Do you enjoy getting presents for your friends and family? Do you buy your gifts or go the homemade route?
  • Is it cold where you live? Have you ever had a white Christmas?
  • What’s on your Christmas list this year?
  • What’s your favourite Christmas song?
  • What is your favourite Christmas memory?
  • What does your Christmas Tree look like?
  • What are you reading in December? (Anything festive?)
  • Are you an organised little elf or are you still shopping/preparing on Christmas Eve?
  • How early do you start to get into the Christmas spirit?
  • Do you make any Christmas crafts? Decorations? Send physical Christmas cards?
  • What’s the menu for Christmas Day?!
  • What makes it FEEL like Christmas for you? (Weather, specific tradition, food, smell, person, etc.?)
  • Do you have relatives coming? Excited? Nervous?
  • What famous Christmas character do you most identify with? (Scrooge, Elf, Tiny Tim, the Grinch, Santa, etc.)
  • If you were to start a new Christmas tradition, what would it be?
  • What Christmas movies do you like to watch this time of year or what’s your favorite?
  • What’s your favorite Christmasy book or book with a favorite Christmasy part?