Friday, 28 November 2014

A Bookish Christmas Q&A

Today I'm getting festive on the blog with A Bookish Christmas Q&A a fun little idea I had for a blog post way back in August. This Q&A combines two of my great loves books and Christmas and I had so much fun putting this post together. I hope you enjoy reading it and if you'd like to answer the questions yourself to add some festive fun to your own blog do feel free!


1.) Advent Calendar: what's the next big book release you're counting down to?
A book release that I'm counting down to is The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson this book is out on the 1st January so I haven't got much longer to wait! All of my blogger friends who've been lucky enough to read this early have been raving about it and if I receive some money or a gift card for Christmas you can bet that this will be the first book I pre-order! The Art of Being Normal is a UKYA Contemporary about a boy who wants to be a girl and it sounds like it's going to be a really powerful and moving read.

2.) Snow Day: which best friends from a book could keep you entertained all day long?
I'm going to go with a recent favourite friendship of mine and that is Delia and Emma's from It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane. These girls made me laugh out loud and I closed the book wanting to be their third BFF. I'm sure with these two around a day inside would fly by as we drink wine by the fire and chat with the Peshwari Naan online.

3.) The Nativity: which book/series would you most like to see adapted into a movie, TV show, play etc?
I'd actually really love to see Dash and Lily's Book of Dares translated into a Christmas movie. I think that the scavenger hunt across Manhattan and gorgeous bookish romance would make for the most perfect festive film.

4.) Carol Singing: which musical book character/s would you like to turn up on your doorstep caroling this Christmas? 
I've really thought about this one and I've decided that Mia and Adam from If I Stay would be perfect. Mia on her cello and Adam singing Silent Night would be so beautiful.


5.) The Perfect Gift: which book from your wish list would you most like to find under your tree on Christmas morning?
There's actually not a whole lot of books on my Christmas wish list this year - a lot of the ones I really want aren't out until next year now. Two that are on my wish list that I know have already been bought for me are Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King and Girl Online by Zoe Sugg - I'm so looking forward to reading them both!

6.) Do You Want To Build a Snowman? What do you think are the key ingredients for a life like character?
I think that what makes a character feel real to me is when they feel like they've got a past and a future outside of the story that I'm reading, like I'm only getting a glimpse into a short time in their lives. I also like characters to not feel too perfect, I'm all for flaws and character growth.

7.) Tree, Tinsel, Fairy Lights: most decorative book cover of 2014?
One of my favourite covers of 2014 is for Winterspell by Claire Legrand. I'm a sucker for a purple cover and this looks beautiful and haunting all at once.


8.) Christmas Kisses: which book crush from this year would you most like to kiss underneath the mistletoe?
Choosing just one is hard! But I'm going to go with Ben from You're the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher. Ben stole my heart from the very beginning of this book. He's kind, selfless and loyal and is exactly my type.

9.) Snow Ball Fight: a book that you thought would be a lot of fun but left you feeling cold.
A book that comes to mind is Conversion by Katherine Howe. I was highly anticipating this book and it sounded like something I would love and so when I didn't end up enjoying this one I was pretty sad.

10.) Christmas Traditions: a book that you read over and over again.
With a massive TBR pile that never seems to go down I don't have much time for re-reading these days but a book series that I always return to and have re-read more times than I can count are the Harry Potter books. I can't see that ever changing!


11.) The Night Before Christmas: a book that kept you up reading late into the night.
The last book that did that for me was The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. This is hands down one of the craziest books I've ever read and I could not put it down not only because I wanted to see how this series would end but because of the none stop action and revelations! This book completely gripped me and had my heart racing - definitely not one to pick up for some light bedtime reading!

12.) Rudolph: which book shone the brightest for you this year? 
There's still another month of this year to go so I don't want to commit to a favourite book of the year just yet but a book that always comes to mind when I think of my favourite books of 2014 is The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. I fell in love with everything about this book and for me Jojo Moyes can do no wrong.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Review for The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown
Publisher: Harper
Release: 6th November 2014
Genre: Christmas, Chick-lit
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis 
"Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.

There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…"

Review 
The Great Christmas Knit Off is my first book from chick-lit favourite Alexandra Brown and I thoroughly enjoyed it! This is the first book in her new Tindledale series and after completely falling in love with this little village and the cast of characters who live there I’m already eagerly anticipating book two!

This book is all about Sybil’s fresh start. After being jilted at the alter and a disastrous mistake at work Sybil’s stress levels are sky high and so on a whim she decides to get away from it all for a weekend and stay with her friend Cher in the picturesque village of Tindledale.

Alexandra Brown does an excellent job of setting the scene and completely transports you to this beautiful little village in her writing. As soon as Sybil clapped eyes on the snowy olde-worlde village I fell in love and only grew to love Tindledale more as I got to explore the area along with Sybil and meet the warm and friendly locals who call Tindledale home. It sounded like the perfect place to spend Christmas and if it was a real village I’d move there in a heartbeat! With the snowy landscape, no phone service and Kitty’s Christmas cakes the whole book was festive from start to finish and sounded like the perfect place to escape from the world and re-charge.

Another aspect I loved about this book was the knitting. I’m not a knitter myself but the idea of taking the time and effort to knit something special and unique for friends and family is lovely and Hettie and Sybil’s knit and natter sessions sounded like so much fun that it’s made me want to have a go at knitting myself!

The Great Christmas Knit Off was a book that I loved snuggling down with each evening in front of the fire with a large mug of hot chocolate and is perfect for anyone who’s ever dreamt of leaving it all behind to find a new place to call home.

Friday, 21 November 2014

My Favourite Christmas Books

As the shops start to dress their windows for Christmas and more and more Christmas adverts appear on the TV I really love to get into the Christmas spirit by reading some books that are set over Christmas time. I always get asked for Christmas book recommendations and so I decided it would be a good idea to do a blog post recommending all of my favourite festive reads for anyone looking to add a Christmas book or two to their own reading piles this winter.

There's something here for everyone ranging from chick-lit, to YA to alternative winter reads. Think of this as your Christmas book guide to help you find the perfect Christmas read for you! For ultimate feel good Christmas reading I'd recommend making the most of it by either snuggling down in front of the fire or in a warm bubble bath with something hot and delicious to drink! Bliss!


Young Adult

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle 
Perfect For: Anybody looking for a classic YA Christmas read. 

I think this might have been the first big YA Christmas book published way back in 2008! I actually only got around to this one last year and wish I'd read it sooner. With the lack of Christmas YA on the market I know that this is a classic that many YA fans pull out for a re-read every year. The book is told in three parts by three very popular authors and is set in Gracetown over Christmas Eve. Each part of the story looks at different characters that we meet along the way and we see how their stories interweave around one another. Very cute, very funny, a YA Christmas classic!

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas 
 Perfect For: YA fans looking for something new 

This one came as a surprise to me when I read it in October. It's not pitched as a YA Christmas book at all and can be read and enjoyed anytime of year but I thought that it made for a really cute Christmas read. The whole book is set over Christmas Eve as Chloe and her friends work the chaotic Christmas shift in the GoodFoods Supermarket. This book gave me the warm fuzzies as I read about Chloe's crazy Christmas and there is a super sweet romance here that melted my heart. This is a brilliant option for YA fans who've read all of the (very few) YA Christmas books and are looking for something new.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan 
Perfect For: People who love books about books 

New York City, books, Christmas, romance could you ask for anything more? As brooding, bookish, loner Dash and chipper, fun-loving Lily go on a bookish romantic adventure during Christmas time you'll want your own red notebook romance this season too! This is the kind of book that is screaming to be made into a Christmas movie rom-com and would translate so well to the big screen. If you love books about books this is the Christmas read for you.

 Chick-lit

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements 
Perfect For: Fans of the Christmas movie 'The Holiday' 

If like me you're a fan of the Christmas movie The Holiday then this is the perfect book to pick up this Christmas! When two old friends whose lives have taken very different paths are thrown together during the build up to Christmas they decide to do a house swap to allow them to both have a break and get their affairs in order. This one really builds into the Christmas spirit and kept me guessing as to who each girl would end up kissing underneath the mistletoe!

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris 
 Perfect For: Fans of YA looking to branch out into younger Chick-lit

This was a 5 star read for me and is definitely one of my very favourites on this list. It's a coming of age story about a young twenty-something woman making her way in London and building her dream career over Christmas time. If you like the TV show Mr Selfridge or are in awe of the beautifully displayed big department store windows then you need to give this book a go.

Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews 
Perfect For: Christmas lovers!

This is another book that is at the very top of my favourites list! Calling Mrs Christmas is brimming with festivity and is perfect for getting excited for Christmas as unemployed Cassie decides to make a business out of her love of all things Christmas.Tree decorating, gift buying, organizing Christmas parties, baking - it’s all in a days work for Cassie. What I truly loved about this book though was Cassie's partner Jim whose warmth and kindness towards two down on their luck boys really captured my heart. Whilst Cassie’s chapters deal with the food and decorations and gifts, Jim’s chapters deal with the true meaning of Christmas tackling themes of taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves and appreciating our lot in life. A perfect all-round Christmas read!

 Alternative

The Reunion by Amy Silver 
Perfect For: Fans of drama and compelling characters 

Although this isn't strictly a Christmas book it is the perfect alternative choice this winter if the fluffy festive reads aren't for and you'd rather get tangled up in a story of betrayal, friendship and secrets set during a snow storm in the French Alps. This book had me hooked from start to finish and is perfect for devouring in front of the fire on a cold night.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey 
Perfect For: Fans of Magical Realism 

This is such a magical heartwarming re-telling of the story 'Little Daughter of the Snow' it's about a couple whose grief for their baby is tearing them apart and in a rare act of tenderness and joy they build a snow girl together during the first snow fall of winter only to have a little girl come into their life shortly after. Is Faina the little snow girl Jack and Mabel built come to life? Does she belongs to someone else? Or is she simply a figment of the couples imagination? Again this isn't a Christmas book exactly but it is an enchanting story for anybody looking for a little magic this winter.

One Minute to Midnight by Amy Silver 
Perfect For: If New Year is more your thing 

This is another brilliant book by Amy Silver! New Year is a time that tends to be overshadowed by the excitement for Christmas something that’s also apparent in the book industry. And so reading a book about New Year and the new beginnings that come along with it was a very welcome breath of fresh air. The book alternates from the present build up to New Year to the New Year’s Eve’s of Nicole’s past beginning in 1990 when Nicole is thirteen. Like 'The Reunion' this book has wonderfully complex characters who have pasts and secrets. Ultimately this book is about new beginnings, forgiveness and redemption themes that tie in perfectly with New Year. This would make a brilliant book to either end the year or start 2015 with.

 I hope this list of my favourite Christmas books has given you some ideas for what to read this Winter! Hopefully there is something here for everyone. 

I'd love to know a few of your favourite Christmas books and what books are on your Christmas TBR this year. 

 Happy Reading!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Review for Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch 
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Release: 14th October 2014
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: Received for review via Edelweiss




Synopsis
"Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own."

Review 
In Sara Raasch’s YA fantasy world the kingdoms are split into seasons each with a royal bloodline where either male or female heirs can harness a unique kind of magic that affects only their people and acts as an amplifier to increase things like loyalty, health and business across their kingdom. The kingdom of Winter has been overthrown by the King of Spring and with their magic lost so is all hope.

Snow Like Ashes follows Meira one of the last Winterians who is trying to find where she belongs in the world with no place to call home. She’s a warrior and wants nothing more than to fight for what’s left of her kingdom but Winter’s general has other plans for her and how she can best help restore Winter’s former glory. Meira constantly struggles with what she wants versus what would best help repair her land. Snow Like Ashes is a strong coming of age story about sacrifice for the greater good, community and finding both where and to who you belong in the world, taking place in a unique fantasy setting that sweeps you away into enticing adventure.

One of the many things I loved about this book was how it read like a complete story. I believe it’s the first in a new series but what starts in Snow Like Ashes ends in Snow Like Ashes. It read like a standalone which was so refreshing compared to those long drawn out plots that span over an entire series. There’s only a hint as to what could happen in the next book and I’m so excited to see where Sara Raasch takes us next.

Snow Like Ashes gave me everything I could want in a fantasy read with a strong cast of characters, unique and widely explored world building and shocking twists and turns. For me it is the best fantasy debut of the year and I’m hoping it gets a UK publishing deal because I want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to read this book! Snow Like Ashes is the one for YA fantasy fans.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Letterbox Love (43)



Letterbox Love is a meme hosted by Lynsey @ Narratively Speaking for UK based book bloggers to showcase the books that they’ve received each week.


The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson (For Review)
I read the first novella in this series when it was first published as an e-book but when I found out that all of the stories would be released in a bound physical book I decided to wait so I could read them all back to back! I'm so glad that I decided to wait because the cover is lush! This came in a brilliant little goodie bag from the publishers along with posters, an OPI nail polish and buttons so thank you to the awesome team at Walker for this!
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick (For Review)
I read my first Marcus Sedgwick book 'She is Not Invisible' this summer and completely fell in love with his writing. The synopsis for this one sounds so intriguing and the book is designed so that you can read it in any order you like and it'll still make sense. I'll be picking it up very soon!
The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne (Proof Copy, For Review)
This is an advance 2015 proof copy and I'm so excited for this thriller! The blurb on the proof cover has me very intrigued to find out what exactly happened on the night that one of the Moorcraft twins died.
Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan (Won, Signed)
I won this on Twitter from the publisher and it arrived today along with some buttons that tie in to the book and a cute little owl manicure set. This sounds like such a fun read and it's signed!



The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (Proof Copy, For Review)
I actually (to my shame) have never read one of Holly Black's books before but have been meaning to change that for some time. This is her upcoming 2015 release and it sounds so good! I got to hear Holly speak about this book at YALC and I've been intrigued ever since.
Captive by A.J. Grainger (Proof Copy, For Review)
The press release that came with this book pitched this as being perfect for fans of Homeland and Gone Girl two of my faves so I have high hopes for this one!
The Year of Taking Chances by Lucy Diamond (Proof Copy, For Review)
This sounds like the perfect book to kick the new year off with! I love those new year, new me type books and this sounds like perfect early 2015 reading material.
Waiting For Doggo by Mark B. Mills (Proof Copy, For Review)
You guys know that I am a massive dog lover (and lover of all animals in general really) so I've had my eye on this book for a while. My own dog Dylan isn't well with terminal cancer so I'll be picking the right moment to read this one when my emotions can handle it.



In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken (Bought)
I loved The Darkest Minds but wasn't crazy about Never Fade so we'll see how I get on with this final book. I'm excited to see how the trilogy is wrapped up and if I get my questions answered!
The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Bought)
I loooovvveee this series and feel like I've been waiting for this final book forever! For some reason my US first edition pre-order didn't come signed like it was suppose to so I don't really know what happened there and I'm pretty gutted about it. I don't really want to go to the hassle of sending it back though because I have waited for this book for too long and plan to read it very soon!
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (Bought)
I read the first two books in this series earlier this year and it's quickly become one of my favourite series of all time. Seriously, if you like Throne of Glass or Shadow and Bone you need to check this series out! I'm so excited to read Annith's story but am not looking forward to this series being over already!

 As always thank you to the lovely publishing folk for the review copies. If you decided to do a Letterbox Love, Book Haul, IMM, Showcase Sunday, Mailbox Monday or whatever else featuring the books you got this week leave me a link as I’d love to check out your books too! ^_^ 

 Happy reading till next time!
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