Welcome to the Smorgasbord Christmas Book Fair with a selection of books from personally recommended authors on my bookshelf I believe will make wonderful gifts for friends, family and for you.
The first book today is a collection of poetry in honour of those we have loved and lost. Christmas is for family, not just those around us but those who shared this important time of year across the years…I was touched by all the poems by Elizabeth Gauffreau – Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance
About the collection
“Poetry readers willing to walk the road of grief and family connections will find Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance a psychological treasure trove. It’s a very accessible poetic tribute that brings with it something to hold onto–the memories and foundations of past family joys, large and small.” ~Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
“Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance is a passionate ode to loved ones lost and an intimate portrayal of one family’s shared grief. It holds the key to solace in home photographs and illustrates just how special our singular moments can be. ~Toni Woodruff, Independent Book Review
“A beautiful, personal collection of family photos and poems that express the author’s most inner feelings. Nostalgic and heartfelt, Gauffreau’s poems are written in the Japanese style of tanka, simple, thoughtful, and full of love. Filled with wonderful memories of the past.” ~Kristi Elizabeth, Manhattan Book Review
One of the reviews for the collection
Elizabeth Gauffeau’s Grief Songs is a short book that leaves a long, lingering presence. The book is a collection of personal photographs paired with mostly tanka poems. (A tanka is a 5-line poem typically written as syllabic lines of 5-7-5-7-7). This means that each poem is a sharp distillation of a moment, an event, or even the history of a relationship between parents, between her and her parents, or between her and her brother.
Because the poems are brief, the book can be read very quickly. However, a reader who lingers over words and photos will be rewarded. The poems and the feelings behind them grow with repeated readings. I must say that sometimes I was left wondering what happened. This is not a criticism of the poems, but rather, my own curiosity about people. “Youth Group Picnic,” for example, gives us a glimpse of the day—two children waiting in the car, giggling and honking the horn. Liz fills in the rest of the story here on her blog.
“For a Crooked Smile,” however, needs no additional context.
“He was my little brother.”
That poem brought me to tears (as did several others):
Grief Song III
I held her hand
as she lay dying
in my throat.
This is a book of poetry that is highly accessible, but with poems that resonate. It is a memoir in bite-size pieces. Each poem is a snapshot, a memory experienced in the way we are all hit by a sudden remembrance of a time, a place, or a person.
In “Sixty Years of Katherine,” Liz writes:
“minutes tucked into envelopes
decades left in dresser drawers”
These lines feel both personal and universal. Those of us who have helped a parent move or who have cleared a home after they’ve passed, understand the complex emotions behind these beautiful, succinct phrases.
Also by Elizabeth Gauffreau
The next novelette is perfect for the holidays, a lovely read from award winning author Jan Sikes… Mountain Laurel Christmas
About the Book
Orphaned, his family torn apart by tragedy, Cole Knight has come a long way from a ramshackle miner’s cabin on the side of the Cumberland Mountain.
Daring to follow an impossible dream, he’s made it big in the music business. Now, he’s a country music sensation with a huge house, fancy cars, plenty of willing women, money, and adoring fans. He should be on top of the world. Instead, he’s drowning in a swirling pool of self-contempt and relentless guilt.
It’s easier to lose himself in a bottle than face the hard truth…he hasn’t delivered on a promise he made to his father
It’s almost Christmas, and the sting of failure drives him back to that tiny cabin in the mountains. But has he waited too late to put the shattered pieces back together—to find himself and restore a lost family?
One of the reviews for the book
Oh my goodness what a heart warming Christmas story Mountain Laurel Christmas is. I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book that truly gave me the feeling I had in my heart while reading it. I can’t even find the words to describe it.
This is a true rags to riches story of a young man now named Cole Knight that goes from the poverty of a coal mining family from the Cumberland Mountains to a wealthy music star of Nashville. Cole should be one of the happiest men on earth but he has become a man who drinks too much and has lost himself.
It takes a trip back to where he came from to turn his life around after finding a paper in his mother’s dresser with the location of where his younger, mentally challenged little brother, Timmy, was taken ten years prior when their mother passed away. This was the day his family was torn apart, and when Cole struck out on foot, on his way to Nashville to live his dream. Cole left the Cumberland Moutains behind and what was left of his family. Timmy is now eighteen and has a talent that Cole could have never dreamed of and has a personality that Cole never expected. To Cole’s surprise Timmy has not forgotten Cole or their sister and Timmy is no longer the quiet boy that Cole remembers.
This is a story true to life story, a book that everyone should read. A story about how money alone cannot buy happiness. A story about how family is more important than anything money can buy. It’s a beautifully written book that is worth another read every year prior to the holiday season to remind me what is most important in life and to put me in the holiday spirit.
This book makes me wonder if every alcoholic could stop drinking if they figured out what they were trying to drowned away and attempt to remedy it or at least find a way to get past it.
I wish I could give this book more than five stars. Jan Sikes is a masterful writer that everyone should give a try. Sikes has gone from not just telling her stories in songs but to now putting them down in books for readers to enjoy. This book would be a great start for any reader to discover Jan’s talent. Just wow.
A small selection of other books by Jan Sikes
The final book today is a poignant trip down memory lane by Joy Neal Kidney – Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots (Leora’s Stories) – Joy shares stories of her family and they are a wonderful reminder of another era.
About the book
During Leora Goff’s early decades, she gathered the tenacity, optimism and hope she would need throughout her long life. When she married Clabe Wilson, they became forged into parents who would shepherd their own family through two more great eras of world and local history–the Great Depression and WWII.
One of the reviews for the book
In Leora’s Early Years, Joy Neal Kidney brings to life the challenges her pioneering ancestors faced and shows how the love of family brought them closer together and helped them survive.
Helping and working hard were just what everyone in the family did. I was amazed that at the young age of seven, Leora took the buggy and team of horses by herself to pick up her Grandpap from the train station. She even milked the cows. Her brothers Wayne and Merl plowed the fields at six and seven. Imagine that!
The children did chores and pitched in without complaining. Growing up through good times and hard times, Leora and her siblings developed strong values and built character.
I especially loved the stories about the one-room school and the interesting details of Leora’s family and their way of life from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.
Like Joy’s first two books, Leora’s Early Years was a pleasure to read.
Also by Joy Neal Kidney
Discover more about Joy Neal Kidney and buy the books: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK – More reviews: Goodreads – Website: Joy Neal Kidney – Facebook: Joy Neal Kidney Author – Twitter: @JoyNealKidney – Instagram: Joy Neal Kidney
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.. thanks Sally.