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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Christmas at Hogwarts | Sign Up & TBR

Hi witches and wizards, welcome to my sign-up and TBR post for yet another iteration of the Magical Readathon! The Magical Readathon is hosted by Gi of the Book Roast and she has been delighting us all with fun readathons since the first OWLs Readathon back in early 2018. This round we’re getting in the seasonal spirit because this one is all about Christmas at Hogwarts! I’m so happy to see another round of the readathon and take part in this one which is happening from 17th until 26th December – I’m sure it will really get me in the wintry spirit!

Gi has come up with a fantastic ‘choose your own adventure’ sort of set of challenges as you’ll see from the image below and the whole aim is to follow along the path, making your choice of festive activity as suits you (and your TBR), before everyone joins in for the Christmas Feast in the Great Hall. Super fun, right? If you want more info on what each of the challenge prompts mean, check out Gi’s readathon announcement and/or TBR video.

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Readathon Challenges & My TBR

Finish your coursework – finish your current read
Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig / If We’re Not Married by Thirty by Anna Bell / Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (audiobook) by J.K. Rowling / whatever I’m reading come next Monday when the readathon starts!

Have a snowball fight with the Weasley twins – a book you think will be humorous
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Visit 3 Broomsticks for mulled pixie wine – a read that should only take you a day/evening
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Attend a Yule Ball – book you’ve been preparing yourself for
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Bring a festive treat to Hedwig at the Owlery – animal on the cover/title/series name
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (dragon on cover!)

Edit (20/12/18)
I’ve already decided to go off-track after the Three Broomsticks, so here’s my amended TBR:
Exchange presents at your common room – read featuring/about friendship
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Fly around snowy Hogwarts grounds – building on the cover
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Attend the Christmas Feast – watch a Harry Potter movie
Well, that’s pretty much a given over the festive period. If ITV aren’t showing them like they ordinarily do, I can easily bust the ol’ DVD collection out and enjoy one (or seven).

So there we have it magical beings, there’s my TBR for the upcoming Magical Readathon round Christmas at Hogwarts. As always, I’ll likely be updating my progress throughout the readathon with a good old fashioned Twitter thread which I will link here once it’s up and running. Are you participating in this readathon or have you participated in the previous rounds? Or maybe you’re taking part in a different festive-themed readathon? Let me know in the comments and we can cheer each other on!


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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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Tag | The Joy of Christmas Book Tag

Welcome to another Thursday and another Tag Thursday! As we’re in the middle of Blogmas I thought I’d bring you another festive-themed book tag to stay in the Christmassy mood. I can’t believe we’re a mere four sleeps away from Christmas Day, that seems so crazy to me since I feel like December only just stared but, alas, here we are. Before I need to go away and have a semi-panic about the presents I still need to get, let’s get to the business of the day, the tag.

I found this via (and considered myself tagged by) the girls over at Thrice Read so let’s just dive on into the tag which is called The Joy of Christmas Book Tag!

1) Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?

I really should look at new book releases because I honestly have no idea what’s coming out soon, I’m so out of the loop. But how far in the future are we talking? Because I am highly anticipating Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars though I’m not sure when it’s released. Likewise anything and everything V.E. Schwab and Samantha Shannon are scheduled to release, as per usual.

2) Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing it’s praises?

Well I think if you look at the answer above you will see some authors whose praises I cannot sing enough, in fact I’m rarely able to get through a book tag without alluding to a book written by one of them! Also this year I’ve been singing the praises of more non-fiction than I expected, specifically Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking and Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt.

3) Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?

I’m always spoilt for choice with these kinds of questions because so much of what I read is fantasy-based but I’m going to have to say George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. He does an amazing job of juggling so many characters and settings and every single one is unique and distinct so you can immediately picture what the landscape is like of, say, Winterfell or Highgarden.

But you know who builds a great setting not necessarily in terms of physical place but in terms of tone? Maggie Stiefvater in her The Raven Boy’s quartet. I can vividly “feel” her books which is quite unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Hope Santa Brings

Welcome one, welcome all, to this rare appearance of Top Ten Tuesday! To say I’ve been somewhat lax about participating in TTT would be a generous way of putting it… the last TTT I did was Best Books You’ve Read in 2017 So Far which was aaaall the way back in June so, yeah, it’s been… a while.

(“How long have you been seventeen?” “A while…” Anyone find remembering that Twilight scene as funny as I did just now? Nope? Ok, moving on…)

For those who are unaware (or who might need a reminder) Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the book bloggers and list lovers, The Broke and the Bookish, and each week they post a topic for bloggers to respond to. This week’s topic is festive-themed and it’s Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings! (Obviously, substitute your holiday of choice if Santa is not your bag.)

For the past few Christmases, me and my parents have come to an understanding that, since they rarely keep up with my reading enough to know what books I’m wishing for at any given moment, they will give me some money to buy myself books from them for Christmas and they get them delivered to home and wrap them up and everything and then I obviously do a whole bit on Christmas morning like ‘omg what could this possibly be?’ for the obviously book-shaped presents. It has become something of a tradition. All of this is to say that I am quite assured that I will actually be receiving some of these books, providing Santa doesn’t decide I’ve been a naughty girl and take them all away! Other ones were on my gift wishlist so if Santa doesn’t miraculously bring them then I’ll definitely be treating myself to them after Christmas!

 

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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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