04 December 2018

Ten Cosy Reads for Winter

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Cosy Reads for Winter
I woke up this morning and it was cold and bright, the ground white with frost and my cheeks turning bright red in a light breeze that felt like an icy slap in the face. It's definitely time for some cosy reads this winter.

    What's your favourite cosy read?

    03 December 2018

    The Bookish Naughty or Nice Tag

    I was tagged by the lovely Amy at Golden Books Girl to do the  Bookish Naughty or Nice Tag which was created by Jenn.

    The Bookish Naughty or Nice Tag

    Received an ARC and not reviewed it

    Naughty - I try to review everything I'm sent, and I always review anything I've requested, but unsolicited copies can sometimes slip under the radar. I do love surprise books, but sometimes I just don't have the time.

    Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley

    Nice - My feedback rating is 62% so I *just* make this one! It used to be less, but I've been getting audiobooks out of the library and boosting my ratio by getting through the older books on my list. Plus it can only go up as I can't really read ebooks anymore.

    Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)

    Naughty - Gosh, I am terrible for this! Then at the end of the year I try to write a small review for all of them an inevitably fail and a few remain "Review to come" forever.

    Folded down the page of a book

    Naughty - I do this mostly with the books that I already write in if there's something I want to doubly emphasise or be able to pull up quickly. Usually my favourite scenes in my favourite books.

    Accidentally spilled on a book

    Naughty - Tea, chocolate, biscuits, tears... You name it I've probably somehow spilled it on a book haha.

    DNF a book this year

    Naughty - I DNF pretty freely, and although I try to pick up only books I'll like, I'm sometimes so disappointed that I have to DNF.

    Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it

    Nice - I only buy books when I'm convinced I'm going to read them, although my towering TBR of owned books suggests otherwise. I am very cover-led however and I'm more likely to pick up a pretty cover.

    Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework)

    Naughty - All the time. Like, always. Sometimes I even sneakily read under the desk at work when it's quiet.

    Skim read a book

    Naughty - This is basically how I got through Lord of the Rings - I skimmed every battle scene! It made for a pretty quick reading experience. 

    Completely missed your Goodreads goal

    Nice - I'm good at beating my Goodreads goal, and this year I even had to raise it twice.

    Borrowed a book and not returned it

    Naughty - Sorry, Steph! Although I will return them, one day, once I've read them.

    Broke a book buying ban

    Naughty - I suck at book buying bans haha, although I think I have got my outrageous habit under control and I don't buy often any more. And when I do buy it's from a physical bookshop.

    Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about

    Nice - Even if it takes me a year to finally get around to my review, I'm pretty good at remembering what it was about. I review based on my feelings too, rather than rehashing the storyline.

    Wrote in a book you were reading

    Naughty - I love to do this! Especially with favourites. I have annotated copies of I Capture The Castle, the Dark Gifts series, and Lucas.

    Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads

    Naughty - I accidentally do this all of the time! Especially with audiobooks or books I read in one sitting. There are probably about five Mills & Boon books I've read this year that I didn't add to Goodreads yet, but that's because I read them so quickly!

    I tag Steph and Aoife.

    I think I'm definitely on the Naughty List, I have a lot of bad bookish habits!

    Which list would you be on?

    02 December 2018

    Film Review: A Christmas Prince

    Last year A Christmas Prince popped up on my Netflix, a great big banner at the top of the screen, and I squealed. Because I absolutely love Christmas films, they are such cheesy joy. I watched the trailer, squealed some more, then added it to My List to watch when it came out.

    Since then it has become one of my happy films, something I put on when I need to be cheered up and feel my heart warm.

    So this year I grabbed some shortbread and a ginerbread latte, and snuggled up with a blanket to watch it again.

    A Christmas Prince Netflix poster

    And it was still just as excellent this year.

    Now I have a great love for Rose McIver, she's just so freaking adorable that I can't help but love everything she's in. And A Christmas Prince is no exception and I now look forward to it every year and (not gonna lie) I watch it multiple times.

    I think my absolute favourite scene in the film in the snow ball scene - it's so joyous and pure and I always end up with a huge grin on my face when I've seen it, no matter my mood.

    I just love the drama of it all, the secrets and scheming, the misunderstandings, the way everything comes together. But especially the drama, the cheer cheesy drama.

    And the ending? Well lets just say I have a goofy smile on my face then too. And I can't wait to watch the sequel. I love it when the "bad guys" get their comeuppance.

    Have you seen A Christmas Prince?

    01 December 2018

    Blog Tour: Book Review: The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

    I fell under the spell of The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan it is a perfect Christmas read and one I'd recommend for everyone.

    Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan coverAdd to Goodreads button
    It's not what's under the Christmas tree, but who's around it that matters most.

    All Suzanne McBride wants for Christmas is her three daughters happy and at home. But when sisters Posy, Hannah and Beth return to their family home in the Scottish Highlands, old tensions and buried secrets start bubbling to the surface.

    Suzanne is determined to create the perfect family Christmas, but the McBrides must all face the past and address some home truths before they can celebrate together...

    Source: Blog Tour | Purchase

    5 Words: Christmas, family, secrets, forgiveness, acceptance.

    In the past, Sarah Morgan has been one of my go-to seasonal romance authors and especially Sleigh Bells in the Snow has me coming back year after year. The Christmas sisters is quite different in that the focus is fully on family from the start, and any romance is incidental. And I actually loved it.

    The narrative jumps between different characters so that you get to see multiple perspectives. I connected with pretty much all of the characters, which is such a feat when there are so many. I loved exploring the familial relationships, seeing all of the tensions and resentment between the sisters. Their relationship felt so real.

    And the setting? Set in the middle of nowhere in Scotland, in winter, it's pretty perfect. Sarah Morgan excels in writing out of the way places, and I honestly felt like I was there.

    The Christmas Sisters was a joy to read, and a fantastic way to kick off the festive season in the run up to Christmas.

    She loved living here, in this land of mist and mountains, of lochs and legend.

    Welcome to Blogmas!

    Whenever I've tried Blogmas in the past, I've never quite managed it because life is honestly a pain and just gets in the way.

    But this year, after the success of Blogtober, I am determined to see it through.

    What is Blogmas?

    There are a few different ways that people do Blogmas. Some do 12 Days of Blogmas in the run up to Christmas, posting 12 times in the month. Some do 24 days, posting every day in December until (sometimes including) Christmas. And then some post every day in December, a little bit like Blogtober.

    So what am I doing?

    Posting every day of course!

    I have a bit of a mix of things planned, and I'm also doing a few guestposts around the book blogging community, so check back daily for new posts including book reviews, film reviews, recipes, gift guides, and some general fun.#

    Are you joining in Blogmas?

    Leave your links below!

    29 November 2018

    Guest Post: Victor Dixen's Writing Tips

    I fell in love with the world Victor Dixen created in the first Phobos novel, as you can probably tell by my review of Ascension. By the time I excitedly picked up Distortion I was pretty much addicted to the cut-throat creation.

    If I had to describe the series so far in five words I'd go for: friendship, secrets, betrayal, hope, surviving.

    So onward to this fantastic guest post from the author himself, where he talks about his own writing journey and routine, and shares some writing tips.

    Distortion by Victor Dixen, Phobos series

    What Brought Me to Writing

    Each writer’s path is unique.

    I always had a huge appetite for stories. Even before I could read, I kept asking adults to tell me stories over and over again, and I was especially fond of fairy tales. Later, I spent most of my childhood years buried in books. Around age 10, I began to write short stories of my own. But the real “start” came a bit later, and is linked to a condition that I once considered bothersome.

    You see, I’m a very light sleeper and when I was younger I was subjected to sleepwalking and waking up very early at night. I spent several nights in “sleep laboratories”, special units in hospitals specialized in sleep disturbances. With time and therapy, sleepwalking eventually disappeared, but not insomnia. Then, in my twenties, I decided to stop fighting against it, and rather use it as a gift: extra time to write.

    This change of perspective actually changed everything, and prompted me to write my first novel, The Strange Case of Jack Spark: the story of a teenage boy subjected to mysterious, unexplained insomnia…

    The Strange Case of Jack Spark by Victor Dixen cover
    Cover for the first edition of The Strange Case of Jack Spark

    My Writing Routine

    I do most of my writing at night, when I wake up long before dawn, at my large desk in front of a window through which I can see the sky and stars (and also, these days, the New York skyline).

    Not only does the night give me the time I need to write, but it also offers me inspiration. Night time is dream time for the ones who fall asleep. Night time is imagination time for the ones who stay awake - whether they read in their bed, or write at their desk. I believe that night shadows are not empty: they are full of things strange and beautiful, that books can reveal.

    Rosco and Billie, cats and night companions
    My cats and night companions, Rasco and Billie, both born in Singapore, where I used to live.

    Where I Write

    Most of the times, I write at my desk – it has travelled with me in the different places where I have lived: Denver (Colorado), Dublin, Paris, Singapore and now New York.

    As I still travel quite a lot, specifically for book festivals, I often write when I’m on planes, trains or boats.

    I think that the most unexpected place where I spent some time writing is a remote wooden cabin in Patagonia surrounded by immense lakes, but close second is another equally remote wooden cabin in Tasmania, surrounded by kangaroos!

    There was also one time when I needed to be away from everything to finish a manuscript. I rented a lighthouse on the Western Irish coast, no too far from Galway.

    This was a retreat in the most isolated conditions, in the heart of winter, surrounded by a mist so thick I could not see through more than 3 meters in front of me. All and all, a wonderful, magical experience, that helped me finish my novel!

    Loop End Lighthouse
    This is Loop End, the lighthouse I rented… Without the mist!

    Writing Tip #1

    Fairy Tales for Inspiration

    As I told you, when I was a child I was very fond of fairy tales – and I still am! 
    I think that fairy tales are the matrix of all stories. They resonate in each of us individually, and more generally in our common human psyche. They often seem very simple on the surface, but in reality they hide huge depths of wisdom, meaning and emotion. I can always re-read them and find new treasures – and also new inspiration. 
    Among my favorites are Charles Perrault’s and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales.

    Writing Tip #2

    Creating Lifelike Characters

    There are some literary forms like poetry or some kind of short stories where characters are not necessarily the most important ingredient. But when it comes to a novel, I am convinced that characters are at the very core. This is true whatever the genre: thriller, science-fiction, fantasy or literary novel. Characters are the medium through which readers will get interested in the story… Or not. 
    In my opinion, the most important aspect here is psychological consistency. As in life, there is no consequence without a cause; the way a character thinks and acts must reflect his or her intimate psychological logic, the prism through which he or she sees the world. This is the most important rule to follow, that will result in a character who feels real. 
    In a way, I think that “lifelike” characters are never boring, because we can relate to them, observe the world through their eyes and share their desires and aspirations. As a writer, I know it works when my characters start making their own decisions, different from the plot I had in mind while drafting my story. Decisions that I had not planned before, taking me to unexpected paths. This sensation of discovery is really exhilarating!


    Thanks to Hot Key Books and their generosity I'm giving away a copy of Distortion by Victor Dixen over on Twitter. Just retweet my pinned post to enter! The giveaway is for my UK/Ireland followers only due to postage.

    What's your top writing tip?

    27 November 2018

    My Favourite Non-Romantic Relationships In Books

    Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

    Top Ten Tuesday
    This week is Top Ten 
    Platonic Relationships In Books
    As much as I love romance (and I bloody love romance) sometimes it's the non-romantic relationships that really make a book. And here are some of my favourites.
    • Elektra and her family in Waiting for Callback by Honor and Perdita Cargill
      Gosh guys, this family? They're amazing. Supportive and caring and hilarious, and reading about them is a bit like getting a hug.
    • The Avery family in Secrets and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
      Basically I just love this book and wanted to mention it. I love the changing family dynamics and how the sisters try to deal with everything that's happening.
    • Lucy and George in Lockwood & Co by Jonathan Stroud
      This one is a grower, but I love the back and forth between Lucy and George, the mutual disdain and (lets be honest) dislike that eventually turns to respect.
    • Renée and Flo in Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter
      I think this book has my most favourite portrayal of friendship EVER. It starts small and grows until it consumes them like friendships do when you're a teen.
    • Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong from Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
      The friendship between these two is so special and pure and strong and just thinking about it kind of makes me want to cry.
    • Frances and Aled from Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
      It's just so beautiful and precious and I feel a reread coming on. I love how nerdy they are together. And then you have Frances' mum oh man, she reminded me of my mum.
    • Evie, Amber and Lottie from Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
      The Spinster Club are one of my favourite friendship groups and I love how they support each other and truly care.
    • Fliss and Margo from Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
      OK so this one starts off ROUGH but also Margo is *amazing* and needed to be on this list and I couldn't remember the names of her wartime friends.
    • The Fallen Children in The Fallen Children by David Owen
      Basically it's a group of girls who go through something awful and heart-wrenching and terrifying and horrifying, and yet they still kind of support each other and protect each other.
    • Milly, Elyse and Leonie from One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
      I don't think a book has ever hit me quite as hard as this one - and a huge part of that is because the sisterly relationship between these three is so real. It's like me when I'm with my sisters.

      Which non-romantic relationship is your favourite?