TBTB Secret Santa 2018

If you’re an avid reader, you may remember that in 2017 I took part in the 8th Annual Broke & Bookish Secret Santa as ran by the lovely Jamie and Jana. Well, it was back for 2018, and I had to take part, even when the announcement and sign-up period happened when I was enjoying a holiday at Disney World in Florida. So, I dusted off my sign-up email all about me from last year, added a couple of things, and sent it off almost immediately. Then came the waiting game until I got my Santee and got to see their email/letter to Santa.

For those unaware, every year Jamie and Jana host a brilliant Secret Santa event for the online bookish community. The aim of the game is to act as someone’s Secret Santa and send them some presents based on the letter they send to their “Santa”. It’s a super fun way of getting all the community together – book bloggers, bookish tweeps, Bookstagrammers, readers alike – and getting in the festive ‘giving and receiving’ spirit.

After the success of last year, in 2018 I decided to go hard (or go home) and chose option C: 2+ books and goodies, because I knew from my first experience of TBTB Santa that I liked shopping for a fellow book lover and making their gift as brilliant as possible. I always go overboard once I start, so I thought I might as well state from the beginning that I would and let the inevitability happen!

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Blogmas Reflection & Happy Holidays

I could make this a long post, or I could keep it simple. I’ll try for brevity, for once.

If you haven’t gathered, I’ve been trying to bring a little Blogmas spirit to the blog since the start of the month and I’m slightly surprised I managed to keep it going until today, Christmas Eve.

Blogging everyday has helped me to better schedule, understand my own limitations and motivations, and to force myself to write every day, something which NaNoWriMo in November helped me to do too with the more fictional words. It has also helped me to reevaluate why I blog and focus more keenly on what kind of content I want to most write for this blog. All of those things are valuable, regardless of the topics that are the focus of those posts. Thank you for this excuse, Blogmas.

Since no one could provide a definitive answer as to when Blogmas’ start/end date was I’ve decided to call it today. All that remains is for me to thank every single one of you reading this for sticking around this little book blog. Thank you for all your views, your likes, your comments, but mostly your friendship, encouragement and support- this is the reason I stick around the blogosphere. Christmas is a time when I think we could all do with pausing to take stock and think about all the things we’re grateful and thankful for, so this is my moment.

However you celebrate it (or if this is simply another day to you), I wish you a very merry 24th December and I hope you are happy and healthy.

Feature | Weekend Watching #7

Welcome one, welcome all, to a new feature to this blog which I have decided to call: Weekend Watching. This will be a hopefully regular post uploaded on Saturdays or Sundays (hence the “weekend watching”) where I talk about a film, TV show, or maybe even YouTube channel/video that I’ve particularly enjoyed recently. I’m hoping to spotlight at least one thing to watch each week and hopefully someone at least will get a kick out of these posts – I will, if no one else does!


This time, since I’m bringing you this post during Blogmas, I thought I would make things suitably festive and showcase a few of my favourite holiday films. These may not all necessarily be about Christmas, or even set during it, but they’re all films that I inevitably reach for around the holiday season. (Warning: I’m extremely basic, you probably won’t find anything too left field here.)

Family friendly films

Miracle on 34th Street
Growing up, I was a huuuuge fan of the film adaptation of Matilda (and, to be fair, I still am) so it’s no surprise that I also love this Christmas film starring Mara Wilson. I adore this film, it has my entire heart, and I still grin like an absolute idiot when the people secretly wear the “I Believe” badges. I’m not hugely into the earlier film but this one is on regular, heavy rotation during the festive period for sure.

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Mary Poppins
Another of my favourite films of all-time, Mary Poppins was a childhood favourite that stayed. I’ve seen it countless times, could quote every single word, and I’m incredibly excited for the new Mary Poppins Returns film (even if just a little bit worried in case they ruin it!). As a child I aspired to be Mary Poppins and Bert had my heart – and both of those things are probably still a little bit true. This always gets watched by me and my mum during the festive period, whether it’s on TV or not.

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Harry Potter
I debated whether this really belonged in this category but here we are anyway. The Harry Potter film series will always hold a certain amount nostalgic for me – going to see the first couple of films was one of the ‘end of term before Christmas’ treats that they organised when I was at primary school – and the fact that ITV seem to insist on replaying the entire series over the festive season definitely helps keep that nostalgia alive. I love the books, I love the films, I won’t really consider it truly Christmas until I’ve seen Harry excitedly run down the stairs into the Gryffindor Common Room when he realises he’s actually been given some Christmas presents. My heart!

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Happy Holidays

As I sit here, having watched the traditional Christmas film with my mum (the 1994 Miracle on 34th Street obviously), my mind wandered to what topic I should choose for today’s blog post, the post that I’ve decided will be my final Blogmas post of this year.

There’s considerable pressure to make such posts perfect and reflective, wrapping the project up with some kind of retrospective of how the experience has changed your blogging and also provide a nice sense of closure to the affair.

Right now, I’m saving those thoughts for New Years, for 2018. Because the year isn’t quite over yet, and Christmas isn’t the end of anything. For me, it’s a time for friends and for family, a time to appreciate what you do have, and to remember those you no longer have in your life. It’s a time to just take a much-needed moment to just… be.

Obviously, my Christmas and family aren’t a perfect holiday card image of the day, and what I prioritise in the festive season might not be what you prioritise. But I’m grateful for what, and who, I do have in my life and Christmas provides a stark yearly reminder of just how lucky I am to feel safe and loved every single year. To have somewhere to call home and, soppiness be damned, to have somewhere to return to where I know I’ll always be welcomed back for Christmas.

For those of you who celebrate something during this holiday season, I sincerely wish health and happiness to you and your loved ones. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. And thus “ends” my Blogmas…


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TBTB Secret Santa 2017

On this fine Sunday evening I bring you my unboxing and thoughts on the 8th Annual Broke & Bookish Secret Santa. For those unaware, every year the lovely Jamie from The Broke and Bookish hosts a brilliant Secret Santa event for book bloggers everywhere. The aim of the game, obviously, is to act as someone’s Secret Santa and send them some presents based on the letter they send to their “Santa”.

Earlier this year, I saw someone talking on Twitter about #TBTBSanta and after some investigation I traced it back to Jamie and her wonderful project and decided to join in! There are 3 levels/options and I plumped for the middle one because I’m perpetually on the fence like that. I filled in Jamie’s questionnaire (the letter to my Santa, if you will) and sent it off and then eagerly awaited the announcement of who I’d be buying a gift for so I could start shopping for my Secret Santa recipient! I love the idea of Secret Santas but my workplace wasn’t doing one so I’m really glad that the Internet gave me the opportunity to participate in one this year, hence my excitement.

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Feature | Favourite Christmas Films

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 second of my ‘Favourite Christmas X’ posts. Last week I shared some of my Favourite Christmas Songs, and this week we move to a different medium – my Favourite Christmas Films! The cold weather of Christmas always gives me the perfect excuse to stay inside and do nothing more taxing than watch a film (or two) to while away an afternoon (or two). So I thought I’d share some of my favourite Christmas films – they’re hardly niche or little-known but I just love them all the same, so without further ado…

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

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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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Discussion: Giving Gifts

Bit of a different post today, something I’ve decided to call a ‘discussion’. And yes I do realise discussion implies some kind of back and forth exchange so, you know, PLEASE TELL ME YOUR OPINION ON THIS I GENUINELY WOULD LOVE TO HEAR IT. Ok, enough of the capital letters, I’ll begin…

Are you a booklover? Do you study literature? Do you get real joy out of talking about what books you are currently reading? Are you supposedly ‘hard to buy presents for’?
I am all of these things, apparently. However it’s the last point that I’m actually quite hung up on at the moment.

I had an admittedly rather whining conversation with la madre this week about how awful I am at buying Christmas presents for people. The problem lies in that a lot of my family don’t like tangible things to the extent that I, and a lot of my friends, do. What I mean is that, for example, my dad doesn’t watch films. Certainly, he likes Monty Python, he likes the Die Hard films, he likes Beverley Hills Cop (I don’t even know why on that one, the others I get), but he’s got all of those on DVD so…that’s where it stops. He doesn’t go to the cinema, he doesn’t read (not really, unless he has a summer getaway holiday to use as his excuse), he listens to music but he has so many compilation CDs that it’s ridiculous. So, what does one get this man? I’ve settled on – you guessed it – a slightly different compilation CD and some sweets because… well he’s difficult and I am not buying him another Harrington jacket, I’m just not doing it otherwise he’ll end up with one in every colour. But my dad is just one example, the rest of my family are similar, to varying degrees.

I thought (foolishly it turns out) that I was, in comparison, quite easy to buy for. Because I like, and talk about incessantly, books, films and music. I have Amazon wishlists and extensive Goodreads shelves and Spotify playlists etc. etc., every conceivable way to find out what my tastes are in these things. And if you can’t find something, seriously, give me a gift card for Waterstones and I will be over the moon. So, this is why I am still confused that, mid-rant about how tricky everyone is to buy presents for, la madre commented that I wasn’t any easier because I ‘didn’t wear make-up’ or ‘really care about clothes’ or ‘need anything special’. I have to say, I disagree, I disagree quite strongly actually, I’m incredibly easy (watch it). Which makes me wonder: is there something else to this? Do people think it is ‘a crap present’ to give someone a book voucher or gift card or a book/dvd itself for Christmas? Is that what it is?

Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’ve been obsessively binge-watching Booktube videos too much these past few months, but I would be delighted if someone gifted me a book. It shows that the person has either paid attention to me mentioning really wanting to read it or has took the time to think about a book they think I might enjoy. And a gift card works just as well, because that says to me ‘hey Emma, treat yo self‘, and there’s nothing I love more. So, I’m curious – what are YOUR opinions on gift giving? Would you give someone a book as a gift? Are you disappointed to receive gift cards as gifts?

Oh, and finally, a small addendum to those who have ever gifted me books- to my lovely lovely friends from university for the Les Misérables Stage to Screen book which is to this day the most gorgeous and exciting book I own, to Liz who I know for a fact has sent me a book and I cannot wait to open it on Christmas day – I just want to say thank you.