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!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Walled City Blog Tour: Ryan Graudin Shares a Favourite Extract Plus Giveaway!

The Walled City is a book that I have been eagerly anticipating all year and now that it's finally out I am so looking forward to diving into it soon! To celebrate the UK publication day I've been invited by author Ryan Graudin's lovely publisher Indigo to take part in the blog tour and share with you one of Ryan's favourite passages from the book plus a giveaway for one of my lucky readers to win a copy of The Walled City! But for now it's over to Ryan!


Passage: “I don’t believe in ghosts. Not like my grandmother, who knelt at our ancestral shrine every dawn with smoking sticks of incense folded in her palms and offerings of rice liquor and oranges tucked in her pockets. I always thought it was stupid, wasting fruit and good booze on the dead. Those who were long silent and gone.

He haunts me anyway.

My brother comes to me in dreams. It’s the same nightmare I have every time I shut my eyes. The “night that changed everything” loops on repeat. My brother’s voice rattles and stings, unchanged through all these years of death.

“Don’t do this, Dai. This isn’t you.” He’s always reaching out, clawing the edge of my hoodie. Trying to stop me. “You’re a good person.”

Then comes the blood.

There’s always so much of it. On my arm. On him. It pours and gushes in an unreal way. Like the old cartoons we used to watch where the red spurted out like a fountain. I try to stop it, holding his hand as he slips away. His final breath curls out in the winter night like an English question mark. Bad punctuation. It should’ve been a period. A solid end. Not like this…

I wake up, heart gasping and chest aching. There’s no blood on the dingy white tiles of my apartment. Just the marks I drew—charcoal and straight. The marks I’ve been erasing, day by day, with a smudge of my thumb.

I sit up, blink the terror of sleep from my eyes.

The world is unchanged. My scar is still here. My brother is still dead. I’m still trapped in Hak Nam, and there are sixteen lines on my wall. Telling me that soon—oh-too-soon—my time will be up.”

Insider’s perspective: This is one of my favorite passages toward the beginning of The Walled City, and one of our first real glimpses into the character of Dai—a mysterious boy whose motivations are often hidden. As the reader can tell right off the bat, he’s a bit of a sacrilegious character. But this rejection of the past has a deeper root, as evidenced by his nightmare. He’s tortured by his own mistakes, and carries a lot of self-loathing. This passage also gives us a hint of what’s at stake for Dai. The charcoal marks on his wall, the ones he put there himself, are his countdown. He has sixteen days to escape the Hak Nam Walled City. Or else…

Favorite Moment: Without being too spoilery, one of my absolute favorite moments in the novel is when Dai’s final charcoal mark is erased. There is so much going on in that scene. Least of all the fact that Dai is not the person who erases it.

 Giveaway


Rules 
To enter you have to fill in the Rafflecopter 
 Open to UK and Ireland residents only 
 End date: Thursday 20th November 2014 
 The winner will be drawn and contacted by email with 1 week to reply else another winner will be selected 
 Make sure you complete what the form asks of you - I do check! Any winner who has not completed an option will be disqualified


Stop by Serendipity Reviews tomorrow for the next stop on the blog tour.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Review for Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Warning 
This is a review for the third and final book in the Burn for Burn trilogy and will contain spoilers from the previous books.

Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 9th October 2014
Genre: YA, Thriller
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis:
"New Year's Eve ended with a bang and Mary, Kat and Lillia may not be prepared for what is to come. After Rennie's death, Kat and Lillia try to put the pieces together of what happened to her. They both blame themselves. If Lillia hadn't left with Reeve...If Kat had only stayed with Rennie...Things could have been different. Now they will never be the same. Only Mary knows the truth about that night. About what she is. She also knows the truth about Lillia and Reeve falling in love, about Reeve being happy when all he deserves is misery, just like the misery he caused her. Now their childish attempts at revenge are a thing of the past and Mary is out for blood. Will she leave anything in her wake or will all that remain be ashes?"

Review 
The Burn for Burn series came as such a pleasant surprise to me. When I first picked up Burn for Burn I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but after devouring the first two books in the trilogy back to back it quickly became one of my favourite series. Ashes to Ashes was easily one of my most anticipated releases of 2014 – I couldn’t wait to see how this series would conclude!

For the most part Ashes to Ashes delivered everything I love about these books. The book begins with Lillia and Kat grieving over Rennie’s death whilst Mary comes to terms with the fact that she’s a ghost and begins to question her existence and what she was put here to do. Mary’s been a ticking time bomb throughout this whole series and her hunger for vengeance really builds the tension throughout this entire book.

I was really enjoying this book up until the very end. I was expecting the showdown of all showdowns with Mary’s anger building to a crescendo but it all felt very rushed and didn’t have the impact I was hoping for.

I also felt the same way regarding that three page epilogue. The girl’s futures felt really random to me and I didn’t really understand the choices that lead to them. Three pages to wrap up these characters stories didn’t feel like long enough and for me the ending felt detached from the rest of the series and lacked emotional impact.

Overall I enjoyed this series as a whole and this book for the most part but unfortunately those last few chapters have tainted my love for these books.

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