Tag | Christmas Cracker Book Tag

Welcome one, welcome all, to a festive edition of Tag Thursday! This week’s tag is the aptly named Christmas Cracker Book Tag and it was apparently originally created by Lucy from Queen of Contemporary but I think her original video has unfortunately been taken down now?? (If I can find the original video later, I’ll be sure to link it here!) I found this through my good friend Liz over at Travel In Retrospect so be sure to have a peek at her blog if you want to see her answers. Now, without further ado, let’s get right into the tag…

dancewithdragons2Pick a book with a wintry cover

Pick a book you’re likely buy as a present


If I were buying a book as a present I’d be likely to check a person’s wishlist out or their bookshelves to see what kind of novels they read. However, if I couldn’t do this and I was judging it blind then I’d probably buy them a nice edition of a classic – the Penguin Clothbounds, the Penguin Classic Deluxe Editions, and Penguin English Library paperbacks are beautiful books to gift, as are the Vintage Russians and Brontes series. Basically, there are some beautiful editions of classics out there specially designed for gifting to a book lover and I fall for them (hook, line, and sinker) every single time.


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T5W | Characters on the Naughty List

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is December 13th – Characters on the Naughty List: these can be villains or just characters you don’t like! As you might have guessed if you saw my Top 5 ‘Problematic Faves’ post a few Wednesdays ago, I have quite the soft spot for a good old fashioned, morally grey villain. They always seem to have so much fun in their villainous ways and the devil really does have all the best tunes. That being said, I’m trying not to just repeat the same ol’ same ol’ all over again so I’ve gone for more mischievous ‘naughty’ characters rather than just flat out villains.

5. Henry ‘Monty’ Montague from A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

It’s safe to say that Monty is a bit of a devilish rogue, and I choose that phrase very deliberately. Everyone’s favourite ruffled, rumpled rake, he’d be the sort to break hearts but also charm every susceptible man, woman, or beast so that you’d forget how negligent he’d been towards you because that’s just Monty and Monty is so very, very charming and dashing. It helps that overall Monty is, in essence, an in-love little squish but I think Santa might very well put him on the naughty list for some of his more (ahem) illicit affairs.

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Discussion | Choosing Top Books

Hi folks, today I bring you yet another discussion post of sorts, since I seem to be in a chatty mood and (not gonna lie) also because I’ve just came home from an exhausting weekend in London and I’m a little delirious tired. Today I thought I would ponder the idea of picking your top books of the year. As the year draws to a close so many of us readers like to reflect on everything we’ve read and pick out the really stand-out novels we enjoyed in the year. At this time of year, weekly memes such as Top Ten Tuesday and Top Five Wednesday also prompt the book bloggers amongst us to narrow down those top books even further to pick our favourite ten, or five, things we’ve read in the entire year.

I always struggle with this exercise. Mainly because what might have been a top 5-star read in March might have been displaced from its ‘favourite’ spot by other things I read in the remainder of the year. Like the Six Chair Challenge in X Factor except a lot more bookish. Two books can both be 5-star reads purely based on statistics but one could easily make the cut whilst the other one definitely doesn’t. Maybe a book was a favourite in January but it was only when reflecting on the year’s books read that I even remembered I’d read it, thereby indicating it was a ‘time and place’ book that probably didn’t stand the test of time. (I may very well have a few examples of this from this year when I put together my best books of 2017 list.)

Likewise, I might give a book 5 stars for pure enjoyment value, even though I know it’s not exactly a literary or critical masterpiece by any means. I once rated Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss 5 stars, in the very same year that I likewise highly rated Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Some parties would consider some of these titles more worthy of earning 5 stars than others. But what it comes down to with how I rate things is how much I enjoyed them and how much skill was deployed in telling the story. Or, at least, that’s how I try to rate things, sometimes a book just grabs me and I hate myself for it but I can’t help surrendering and giving it lots of stars for how much it made me smile like an idiot. (See: Anna and the French Kiss, again. I’m not proud.)

All of this makes picking a definitive list of best books of the year really difficult. Despite this, though, I really enjoy the actual exercise of looking back over the entirety of my reading year and trying to whittle those many books down to just ten that I think were the best things I read in the entire year, for critical reasons or just for the sheer bloody enjoyment I got out of them. In the end, that is what makes a book ‘the best’ for me, and it will certainly be the tactic I use at the end of December when I have to devise my own best of the year list. Until then…

Thats all folks! Do you make top books of the year lists? Do you find the task easy or hard to pick and choose a limited number? Do you base it more on what books you have glowing reviews to, or the ones that left the biggest impressions even months later? This year has been a good reading year so undoubtedly it will be a tough decision for me – I can’t wait to draw up my list! If you have any opinions on the subject, please do comment below because I’d love to hear your thoughts on choosing top books!

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Some Thoughts on Theatre

Greetings from London! As I sit and type this (hopefully brief) blog post, I am sitting in a Covent Garden hotel surrounded by West End theatres. The purpose of my visit? To go to the theatre of course! It has struck me over this weekend just how incredibly lucky I am to be able to go to so much live theatre. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in London, it’s not as simple as just strolling on over to a theatre and grabbing a ticket.

But, relatively speaking, I find theatre extremely accessible, if I plan in advance. And it was yesterday, after snow had stranded us at Watford Junction, meaning our original plan to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour was scuppered, that we regrouped in the hotel and wondered how we could spend our wasted Sunday if we couldn’t get to the Studio Tour. A text came from my friend Liz’s dad, as he suggested trying to get return tickets for the Cursed Child play. As the snow had cut off so many people, return tickets were coming in thick and fast as people just couldn’t get into London to see the show. Half an hour later, after a rather reckless purchase, and we’d landed seats in the front row of the Grand Circle for both parts of Cursed Child. I realised very suddenly how incredibly lucky I was to be able to impulsively take that chance of offered tickets and get to see such a sought after play.

(By the way, the price of the tickets? Worth it. So incredibly worth it. The amount of effects and stage craft involved in the performance, let alone the actors themselves, is well worth the price of admittance. But I won’t say anymore because #KeepTheSecrets!)

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Unboxing | Fairyloot November ‘Ladies That Slay’ Box

Hello one, hello all. Today I bring you a very exciting post – an unboxing! And not just any old unboxing but an unboxing of November’s Fairyloot box focused on the theme ‘Ladies That Slay’. Awesome, right?


For those who don’t know, Fairyloot is a UK-based subscription box with a monthly theme which the products of center around. Boxes contain a new YA fantasy release and 4-6 bookish goodies and each box is so beautifully packed you won’t want to ruin the prettiness by unwrapping it! Boxes frequently feature signed bookplate and a letter from the author, as well the beautifully designed Fairyscoop newsletter – even the packing list containing details of all the products is carefully designed and curated. I’ve received 3 boxes so far, and have purchased another 1, and I’m constantly amazed by the care and passion which seems to go into every item in every box. Everything is so carefully selected that it feels like every single small item that is included is there for a reason and there are so much many products and editions exclusive to Fairyloot that it has very quickly became one of my favourite bookish things.

After an extremely successful October box centred around Villains (check out my unboxing here), when I saw that the November theme was ‘Ladies That Slay’ I was like ‘take my money now!’. Fairyloot’s release blog said it best: “Do you like leading ladies that kick butt? Ladies who fight for what they believe in and inspire you? The November ‘Ladies That Slay’ box celebrates our favourite leading ladies in YA! You’ll find items themed on Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, Blue Sargent and more.” They had me at “Hermione” to be honest! But the box also promised two books – the usual newly-released YA fantasy hardback centred around the theme and an ARC of an exciting high fantasy debut scheduled to publish May 2018. I couldn’t say no to that prospect so, of course, I snapped up a box as soon as I could… and then it was just a test of my patience until it arrived!

Here’s a little peek at all the bookish goodness I found inside:

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Feature | Favourite Christmas Songs

Since I’m participating in Blogmas this year, I figured I should make sure at least some of my posts were holiday/Christmas related. So, on this fine Saturday evening, I bring you the first of my ‘Favourite Christmas X’ posts. Each week I’ll (hopefully) be bringing you some of my favourite Christmas-related things, whether that’s TV, film, books, music, or general tidbits! This week I bring you my Favourite Christmas Songs!

We all know this feeling, right? You’re minding your own business shopping somewhere and suddenly, over the speaker system, you hear it – your first Christmas song of the season… in October. I feel very sorry for anyone who works retail over the festive period and this is one of the reasons. That being said, I love a good Christmas song and once it hit mid-November I felt it was an acceptable enough time to start listening to some festive tunes once more. I thought I’d share some of my favourites below, and maybe you can share some of yours in the comments too?

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Friday Reads | 8th December 2017

As you might remember from my Taking Stock/December TBR post, I took a look at the remaining challenges I had left to complete for the Around the Year in 52 Books reading challenge and I devised a (loose) TBR for the remainder of the year to fulfil all of the remaining prompts. I’m happy to report I’ve stuck to the TBR, but I’m making less progress than I probably should have, which is a shame. So I thought I’d do a quick Friday Reads post today in order to track where I’m at/shame myself for not having read more of my December TBR yet.

Recently Finished

gravemercyYesterday I finished reading Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers and I really enjoyed it! It also fits for week 9’s AtY challenge ‘book in the middle of your TBR’ so that’s a nice bonus, after the initial appealing premise that this is about a convent of assassin nuns who serve the god of death, known as St Mortain. I mean come on who wouldn’t want to read about nuns murdering people? I must admit that, at first, I wasn’t wholly enamoured with it because it’s told in first person present tense which can be quite jarring when you first start to read it and notice that it’s all happening in present tense. However, I quickly got used to the narrative style and started to feel properly immersed in the storyline and the politics of the court of Brittany.

I’m a little sad to discover that the next two books in the series actually aren’t a traditional ‘series’ but are companion novels focusing on different characters which were mentioned in this first book – I wanted to hear more about Ismae and Duval! The jury is still out on whether I’ll bother with the other two books or if I’ll just leave it at this one.

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Tag | The Christmas Song Book Tag

Welcome one, welcome all, to another Tag Thursday. This Tag Thursday is somewhat special as it’s the first Tag Thursday taking place during Blogmas, which means I made sure to pick a Christmassy book tag for today. It is fortuitous that I didn’t have to look very far to find something fitting the bill! And, yes, I am a broken record by now but I found this tag over at Thrice Read so be sure to head over there to check out Eden’s answers too! Let’s not waste any more time – let’s just get straight to it!

1. “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”: Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.

I wonder how many Leigh Bardugo and V.E. Schwab books I can mention in the course of this tag…

… let’s start, shall we? He wouldn’t think he’s a villain by any means (and the best villains never do) but the Darkling from Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy fits the bill nicely, I feel. Also the Dane twins from V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic because they’re just horrifying but they have SO much twisted fun with it (“hello, flower boy”).

2. “All I Want for Christmas is You”: Which book do you most hope to see under your Christmas tree?

I purposely didn’t buy this as soon as it was released just so that I could be gifted it at Christmas – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition. How can I be so sure I will see it under the Christmas tree? Well, I bought it on my parents’ behalf for them to gift it to me – it’s fine, they came up with this arrangement with me a couple of Christmases ago and it seems to be working out quite well for us all! If I don’t see this under the tree this year then something has gone spectacularly wrong.

3. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”: Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.

Can we talk about the character development and growth of Paige Mahoney in Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season series? It’s going to be a seven-book series but the growth of her character from book 1 to book 3 is already astounding. I’ve loved Paige from the start but I can’t help but love how strong she has become over the course of The Bone Season, The Mime Order, and The Song Rising – the latter in particular made her grow up and fill some boots very quickly and under pressure and she did it in very trying circumstances and I can’t wait to see where she ends up by book 7 of this series.

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T5W | Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is… Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About: since being a grinch is a funny thing, try not to make this serious topics that make you angry (like lack of diversity or abusive relationships in fiction, etc) as this is supposed to be more of a petty bookish things you hate. This can be stuff about covers, dumb tropes, etc. Have fun with it.

5. “Exclusive”/collector’s editions 

I am something of a hypocrite on this one because I am a sucker for alleged special editions of my favourite books but it bugs me when you get “Waterstones” or “Barnes and Noble” exclusive editions that don’t really add anything to the story itself but just have an excerpt from the next book or an author interview or something. I have fallen prey to many an enticing Waterstones’ exclusive edition whose only exclusive feature is sprayed edges or a slightly different coloured foiling on the cover. I’m a sucker and they take my money every single time so I’d like them to not exist anymore, please and thank you.

4. Dumb “inner voices” of characters

I’ve been reminded how much I hate this by casually coming across an excerpt from Darker on Twitter (seriously, trying to make cooking a chicken stir-fry erotic is not going to happen, stop trying to make it happen, E.L. James) but I despise dumb inner voices. I understand the point of first-person narrative; it’s a device that facilitates storytelling because as the narrative character learns about things, the reader learns too. I get why it’s used, but what I hate is when it is used unnecessarily and when the inner voice of the character is so mind-numbingly dense that you wonder how they are the one you have to root for.

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Down the TBR Hole #11

Welcome folks to the eleventh round of Down the TBR Hole. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my tenth!, my ninthmy eighthmy seventhmy sixthmy fifthmy fourthmy thirdmy second or my first round post or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. The Girl at the Lion d’Or by Sebastian Faulks

Why is it there? Much like Engleby from the last Down the TBR Hole, I don’t actually remember when (or why) I added this to my TBR but any of that interest I did have has been completely lost, to the point where I don’t even remember what this about. Having checked out the synopsis, I’m none the wiser, or more inclined to pick it up to be honest… yikes.
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Ditch

2. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

Why is it there? It’s highly likely that after adding Atonement to my TBR, I went through McEwan’s other novels and added some to my Goodreads TBR. Much as is the case with the book above, I don’t remember when or why
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

3. The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Why is it there? I definitely added this to my TBR during my Merlin/general Arthurian phase in my early teens. Nowadays, I don’t really have a huge interest in these legends anymore. I’m sure the interest will come back around (like fashion) but for now I’m happy to leave this one alone.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

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