This week is one of my absolute favorites of the entire year, and always has been. A lot of people are surprised. When I tell them my birthday is December 23rd, they express immediate sympathy. "That must have sucked growing up!" It really didn't. Partly because so many people went out of their way to make sure I didn't get gypped.
I didn't get to have a lot of parties, true, and part of me resented that my brother (whose birthday is in February) had more than I did, but that was more because I was supposed to resent him than because I wanted parties.
First, on my actual birthday, I had presents and cake and a special dinner. (Though there was my birthday during my senior year of high school, when my stepfather made a cake shaped like an N but everyone was so busy it never got frosted. Or eaten, IIRC.)
Then, on Christmas Eve, we went to my aunt's open house. She held it every year, and it was always a blast. She's my mom's sister, and I think most of the time my mother, brother, and I were the only ones from her side of the family.
We hung with my cousins and some of their cousins and some neighbor kids, and there were family friends and a TON of members of my uncle's huge Italian family. Many of them gave me birthday presents who wouldn't have otherwise, just because we were all there every year and it was the day after my birthday. We had my aunt's fantastic chicken wings and played chase outside (like tag but with a home base) or ran around in the snow if we had some.
Christmas Day was the traditional morning scene, followed by a visit to my father's parents. Usually a couple of weeks before the actual holiday, my mom's father and stepmother came up to visit, and we had all the holiday celebration with them, too. So essentially, Christmas lasted for most of December when I was a kid.
Now that I've grown up and all the hanging out, eating, and opening presents in the weeks and days leading up to Christmas have been replaced by working, cooking, and shopping/wrapping, you might expect that my personal joy is a little lighter. But it's not. I have the same sense of anticipation of great things, even in years when I don't get to see much family. My birthday is always MY day, and I do no chores, get special meals made for me, go to a movie, and spend hours reading.
I want to make a good dent in the few unread books remaining on my Kindle, in preparation for gift cards that will let me fill it back up on Christmas day. Here are the options burning a hole in my "To Read" folder (in alphabetical order):
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
Claustrophobic Christmas by Ellie Marvel
Forged in Fire by Trish McCallan
Guarded Hearts by MJ Fredrick
The Hunter by Theresa Meyers
North of Need by Laura Kaye
Razor's Edge by Shannon K. Butcher
The Resurrected by Megan Hart
Stone Cold Seduction by Jess Macallan
Any other late-December/early-January birthdays out there? What's it like for you? Tell me what books you plan to read on your days off this season!
I'll give away one digital copy each of Behind the Scenes and Under the Moon to commenters, so make sure to leave a way to contact you with/in your comment. And happy holidays!
Natalie J. Damschroder's latest releases:
Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Kennedy Smyth's firm provides security for companies and charities in seriously dangerous countries. She doesn't usually take on "frivolous" jobs, but when an old friend asks her to protect his son's movie shoot, she finds it hard to refuse. Also hard to resist is the film's charismatic star, Rogan St. James. The handsome actor piques her interest, while the strange actions of the terrorist threatening the set raise her suspicions.
Even though he's a successful actor, Rogan wants more a real woman to love, the type he doesn't think exists...until he meets Kennedy. She intrigues him with her confidence and passion for her work, and frustrates him with her refusal to let him get close.
But Kennedy finds herself in a vulnerable position when she discovers that the terrorist isn't actually out to derail the film. She's the real target and if he finds out how much Rogan means to her, he could be next...
Entangled Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Their power gives them strength and makes them targets.
Quinn Caldwell is the epitome of a modern goddess. Her power source is the moon, her abilities restricted only by physical resources and lunar phase. She runs a consulting business and her father's bar, serves on the board of the ancient Society for Goddess Education and Defense, and yearns for Nick Jarrett, professional goddess protector and the soul mate she can never have.
But someone has developed the rare and difficult ability to drain a goddess of her powers, and Quinn is a target. With the world thinking Nick has gone rogue (whatever that means) and that Quinn is influenced by family ties she didn't know she had, keeping themselves safe while working to find the enemy proves harder each day.
But not as hard as denying their hearts
You can learn more about Natalie and her books at her website, eHarlequin, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook. She blogs with four other