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31 December 2017

British Books Challenge 2018

If you know me, then you'll know that I have a huge and profound love of UKYA. I read a lot of British books last year but just didn't follow through with my check-in posts and keeping my reviews up to date. I did manage to win one of the giveaways last year, which was fab. This year I have a spread in my bullet journal especially, so I hope that will help me keep on track with recording which books count.

Head on over to Tales of Yesterday to sign up, because this is a super fun challenge.

The following criteria decides whether an author can count towards the challenge:
  • Authors who were born in the UK, live in the UK and are published in the UK
  • Authors who were born overseas but are CURRENTLY living in the UK and his/her books were/are being published in the UK first
  • Authors who were born in the UK are currently living overseas but his/her books are being published in the UK first

I am a mood reader, so planning out exactly what I'll read for the next year just won't work. The majority of the books I read are British

Check back each month to find review links and monthly wrap-ups below! I'll be adding them as I finish.



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Are you joining the British Books Challenge?

30 December 2017

What Happened to Blogmas and Why 2017 Sucked A Bit

This is a hard post for me, and very different from what you'll usually find here. And it's only going to be a little bit about the suckiness, because the parts that didn't suck were AMAZING.

I started 2017 with Expectations. I had such plans, such resolutions. You can see a few of them here. And I was mostly doing great before life got in the way. I feel like I've never blogged better, never been more active in the community, never been more proud of myself. I have done some things this year which I am incredibly proud of.

I explored new places, tried new things. I pushed myself harder than ever before. I stayed in a medieval gatehouse, I explored a private hunting estate, I visit locations from books I have loved. I went to London and met amazing people (and made a bit of a fool of myself but hey ho).

Hulne Abbey, Alnwick
But then... Life. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and my life was turned upside down and is now constantly changing in a million little ways. I am having to rediscover a body I thought I knew, my limitations are changing, every day I seem to find another thing I cannot do.

Which kind of brings me to Blogmas. I started treatment and then it hit me that my diagnosis is real and that I will never get better - I can only hope to stay as well as I am for as long as possible before relapsing. This treatment is an immunomodulator so it suppresses part of my immune system, lowering my white cell count. And I seem to be picking up every cough, cold and infection going. One week into Blogmas I got flu and tonsillitis at once, and I'm still recovering now. Honestly it was too much and I had to hit pause, so I just stopped the majority of my posts going out. Maybe I'll use them in future.

But it's not all doom and gloom. It's something I have to live with and get used to, and I won't let it bring me down any longer. I just have to get to know myself again, rediscover my normal, and make my limitations work for me.

And some parts of 2017 have been awesome. Some parts have been especially amazing.

Five Things That Brightened 2017

The Honeyz
Honestly, these girls have been my rock. They are amazing and they are there when I need them. They listen to me bitch and moan and feel sorry for myself, but they never tell me to shut up and put up (I probably deserve it a lot). Also they have the best bookish recommendations. Go and give Aoife, Kelly, Rachel, and Steph some love because they deserve it.

I promised myself that I'd do a full weekend at YALC and I did. I promised myself that I would talk to people, and I did. Just in doing that I've come so far from what I used to be like. I got to meet up with other bookworms and talk to authors and it was so lovely. Also I'm not going to lie, hearing "You're Cora from Twitter" ten times a day was a huge ego boost.

Following Ophelia
From the moment I picked up Follwing Ophelia by Sophia Bennett I was inspired. It led to some very silly image edits that you may have seen floating around. I don't think I've ever had so much fun sharing my love for a book, and it helped me rediscover my love for art and find a sanctuary in the Laing Art Gallery.

I Got On A Blogger List
Actually, I got on two. Until this year, constant rejections were making me feel like I'd never be good enough and what was the point and all that jazz. But Gollancz are amazeballs, and I've been blown away by the books I've read from them. I know it's silly and selfish and needy, but I needed the validation.

The Wider Blogosphere
I really branched out this year in what I was reading when it came to blogs, and it's been so inspiring. It's helped me not be afraid to write posts like this, to vary my content, to free myself from the tiny niche I'd cornered myself in. I love when I'm out and about and I see some street art and think of Envy at Lost In Translation, or I try new tea and think of Kimberly at Tea Is A Wish Your Heart Makes.

What has your 2017 been like?

19 December 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #112

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings.

Yup, all of these are on my Amazon Wishlist. Some have been for a very long time, but for whatever reason I've just never got round to getting them. Is anyone else guilty of lusting after books and then leaving them on the wishlist forever?
  1. Longbow Girl by Linda Davies
  2. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
  3. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh 
  4. Sawbones by Catherine Johnson
  5. The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward
  6. The Reader by Traci Chee
  7. Miss Mayhem by Rachel Hawkins
  8. A Beautiful Poison by Lydia Kang
  9. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
  10. Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

What's on your bookish list for Santa?

    13 December 2017

    Blog Tour: It Started With a Tweet by Anna Bell

    Could YOU survive a digital detox? 

    Daisy Hobson lives her whole life online. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall . . . 

    Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy's problems - a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria. Soon, too, Daisy a welcome distraction there in Jack, the rugged man-next-door.

    But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village? 

    And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone?

    Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

    5 Words: Family, attraction, addiction, humour, resilience, detox.

    It took me a few chapters to get into, but I stuck with it because Anna Bell's books make me laugh so much.

    Daisy is so full of life that she comes alive on the page. She was slightly frustrating at times, but the best characters always are, and I quickly grew to love her.

    Although there is a spark, romance is not at the heart of this book. I focuses much more on family and friendship and I absolutely loved it. It felt refreshing. And friendship is one of my favourite things to read about. Fills my heart with joy.

    It's a clever book, with the catalyst being a mistake all too easy to make. Juggling social media accounts is hard.

    Could I survive a digital detox?

    Probably, but it wouldn't be nice. My friends all live in my phone, in my pocket!

    Could you?

    12 December 2017

    Top Ten Tuesday #111

    Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

    This week is Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017 That You Should Totally Buy As Gifts For Everyone.

    Cause these books rock. Obviously. And they're all UKYA and they all blew me away. 2017 has honestly been an AMAZING year for books, and it was almost impossible to list just ten. I had to drop two, and I went with my mood right now, so I'm pretty gutted that it was the bandlit that didn't quite make the cut (because actually Becoming Betty and This Beats Perfect are awesome).
    • Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
    • Fir by Sharon Gosling
    • Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett
    • Margot & Me by Juno Dawson
    • Contagion by Teri Terry
    • One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
    • Countless by Karen Gregory
    • STAGS by MA Bennett
    • The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín
    • The Fallen Children by David Owen
    What book do you think everyone should buy as a gift?

      08 December 2017

      Book Beginnings #56

      For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

      For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

      I am currently reading The Land Girls At Christmas by Jenny Holmes.

      "Can you believe it? You need eighteen coupons for a decent winter coat." 
      "And seven for a pair of shoes." 
      Starting this I have Expectations, because this is a Certain Kind of Book. I expect to be full caught up in a not-too-heavy story, something with substance which still has a bit of fluff. And I want to be filled with Christmas cheer, thanks.
      "We're relying on you, Mrs Mostyn. As our rep, it's up to you to take my complaint further if you see fit."
      I'm just passing half way now and honestly, this book is everything I was hoping it would be. Gently exciting, comfortable to read, heart warming, that all important Family Love message.

      Oh man, it's perfect for my Christmas reading.

      What are you reading this week?

      07 December 2017

      My Favourite Things About Bookshops At Christmas

      I love bookshops at any time of the year, but there's something extra special about them at Christmas. They're always that little bit busier, and there is extra Stuff. And I love a shop that sells Stuff. Then you have the extra passionate staff.

      The Stuff
      I love Stuff. All of those bits and bobs that you can only usually find in special Stuff Shops, the tat and the novelty items and the tiny things you never thought you needed, but you are certainly taking to the till.

      The Christmas Book Table
      When this appears, I end up stationed next to it for around an hour, reading the synopsis of each book. And the first few pages. And then picking it up and taking it to the till.

      Staff Recommendations
      So yeah, I could talk to booksellers all day about books. Which bookworm couldn't? But there's something extra special about the quick, impassioned recommendations when you're looking for that perfect gift.

      Special Drinks in the Cafe
      I love a good season drink, they're a little bit more magical, more special than a regular flavoured coffee. They have all of these extra flourishes and are extra delicious. Mmm.

      The People
      I usually dislike crowded places, but it's different in a bookshop. It's more hushed, calmer. And busy bookshops make my heart happy. I love being able to just lean over and interrupt strangers with recommendations and push my favourites on unsuspecting browsers. And when it's busy I can do that more.

      What's your favourite thing about Bookshops at Christmas?

      06 December 2017

      Christmas Tag

      I saw Rebecca from This Booky Place post this and I couldn't resist! I do tags very rarely, but I actually love them because I am very #Nosy. This Christmas Tag one called to me and fits perfectly with Blogmas. I'm not tagging anyone, but if you've done it then hit me up with a link.

      1. What is your favourite Christmas film?
      Ooh this is such a tough question! I honestly cannot pick just one film, but is it even Christmas if you haven't watched at least one Hallmark original with Lacey Chabert? She is the Queen of Christmas and perfect for festive films. The Sweetest Christmas is this year's newest with her, and it is beyond adorable. And I have already seen it twice.

      2. Have you ever had a White Christmas?
      Yes, but not many! We live near the cost so the salty sea air tends to mean that it's a bit milder and when snow falls it doesn't lie.

      3. Where do you usually spend your holiday?
      At my mum's house.

      4. What is your favourite Christmas song?
      White Christmas! I love every version I've ever heard, and yes, I do dream of a white Christmas too. I just love how hopeful and soothing it is, the memories it evokes.

      5. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
      Only our new Christmas PJs! We all get a brand new set, open them early, change into them and eat our dinner in our jammies. Then we keep them on and laze around on Christmas Day until just before dinner.

      6. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
      Nope. I'm not even going to try!

      7. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
      I've already done the Christmas Market with my mum, but I still need to visit Fenwick's Window, and I am definitely looking forward to it. It's a joy to queue up and watch the magic unfold.

      8. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
      Fake and pre-lit, but it's also seven foot tall and adorned with extra lights. We decorate with a mish-mash of ornaments that have been collected over the past twenty years and it reflects my family so much. I love how nothing matches.

      9. What is your all-time favourite holiday food/sweet treat?
      Mince Pies and Gingerbread Lattes. Individually they are delicious, together they are divine. I always try to hold off until December for getting my first heavenly treat so I don't overdo it.

      10. Be honest: do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better?
      Giving! I always put a huge amount of thought into gifts and I love shopping around for the perfect present. Seeing the look on someone's face when you get them something personal is priceless.

      11. What is the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
      Until about three years ago, my sister would always get me something super cheap with little thought. Like a bargain bucket CD of music I didn't like, or a headband from Primark with the reduced sticker still on. Then three years ago I unwrapped the most beautiful handbag that was 100% me. It was the first gift she'd truly put thought into.

      12. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
      I'm happy at home! I honestly wouldn't rather be anywhere else. I'm a total home bird.

      13. Are you a pro-present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?
      I start off a bit scruffy, but quickly get my wrapping mojo back. I love wrapping, and decorating parcels, personalising them and adding pretty extras.

      14. Most memorable Holiday moment?
      The year I was eight I was terribly sick with tonsillitis, I couldn't even move from bed. I hadn't eaten for almost a week and could barely even drink water. My mum made Magic Christmas Soup (Northumbrian Broth), and my dad carried me downstairs, and I managed a couple spoonfuls before I couldn't do any more. But the next morning I was all better and it felt to me, at eight years old, like magic.

      15. What made you realise the truth about Santa?
      I don't think there was anything in particular, I think it was just generally growing up. Being the eldest sister, I had to keep up the pretense with my sisters a bit too.

      16. Do you make New Years resolutions? Do you stick to them?
      I usually try a few and very rarely stick to them! They usually include the common "get fitter" and "eat less crap" and I fail at those pretty quickly. In recent years I've actually been changing it up a bit, and I think I have the hang of it now.

      17. What makes the holidays special for you?
      Spending time with my family. We spend a lot of time together anyway (like, daily) but there's something extra special about Christmas.

      04 December 2017

      Christmas With Her Millionaire Boss by Barbara Wallace

      I'ma  sucker for Romance, especially if it's Christmas themed, I can't get enough. I loved Christmas With Her Millionaire Boss. It's so heart-warming and festive, and I'm definitely a fan.

      Christmas With Her Millionaire Boss by Barbara Wallace coverAdd to Goodreads button
      The magic of Christmas…

      Abandoned by his mother on Christmas Day, James Hammond wishes he could simply erase the date. So when his company buys a new toy store devoted to Christmas, he wants to seal the deal and get home. Until he finds himself injured and under the care of employee Noelle!

      Nobody loves Christmas more than young widow Noelle Fryberg! But could she be the one to change his mind and melt the millionaire's guarded heart?

      The Men Who Make Christmas 
      Meet the Hammond brothers – will they find their own happiness under the mistletoe?

      Source: Mills & Boon Insiders

      5 Words: Christmas, family, tradition, community, change.

      When it comes to Mills & Boon I'm a strictly Modern type of girl. Or so I thought. Because now I have read my first Cherish and I can't believe I've been missing out on such sweetness.

      Christmas with her Millionaire Boss was a fantastic festive read. It had all of the feel-good, cheesy joy of a Hallmark Christmas Movie and it was a delight to read. I kind of want to read it again already! It has put me right in the mood for Christmas.

      Noelle is just adorable. She is so full of Christmas, despite a name which you'd think would lead her to hating the season. She loves the joy and the love, how families are brought together, and all she wants to do is share it with everyone. She is so resilient, and I loved how she fought her own internal battles with her emotions and feelings of guilt and obligation.

      I loved James as well. He was pretty much your typical rich Scrooge type, but he had lots of layers and his own background to battle against.

      Add in some misunderstandings and you have a cute and Chrismassy read, and I loved it.

      03 December 2017

      The 'Not-A-Book' Bookworm Gift Guide

      The perfect gifts for bookworms when you don't want to buy them an actual book but still want to let them know that you care about their passion. And make it a more lovely experience.

      You can pick up everything below from Etsy, but hurry as postal deadlines are creeping up! I have personally bought things from each of these shops for myself, and they really are exceptional.

      Let me introduce you to Ingrained Inc, who make the most beautiful custom, sustainable, wooden bookmarks (along with a host of other engraved beauties!). I particularly love this Personalised Tree Carving Bookmark where you can have custom initials on the front, and a message on the back. So sweet! And this When I Think About Books one makes me giggle.

      My absolute favourite place for bookish candles is William and Joseph. I can't get over what fantastic candles they do, especially at such reasonable prices. My personal favourite is Steamy Romance Novel, and my mum loves A Spoonful of Sugar. Even when they aren't lit, the scent throws far. And when you do light them they last for ages.

      Once upon a time, I tried a tea from Rosie Lea Tea. And I just fell in love with the delicate blend. All of the teas are based on books and fandoms, and real thought has gone into them. My favourite blend is this William Wordsworth inspired one, which is perfect for winding down with, perhaps as you read the Lyrical Ballads.

      Bookish Jewellery
      I admired Coryographies from afar for a long time, but finally bought myself a custom bookshelf necklace this year. Everyone who sees it admires it and it is one of my most treasured possessions. These Stack of Books Earrings are absolutely adorable, it blows my mind how much detail can go into something so small!

      Where do you buy your Not-A-Book Bookish Gifts?

      02 December 2017

      Seasonal Reading

      Every December, I put my usual TBR aside and pick up only festive books. And I love it.

      It's only something I started doing when I started specifically book blogging, but it brings me endless Christmassy joy. It builds me up for Christmas, fills my heart with joy and warmth and fun and love.

      Where I Get My Festive Books
      • From my Shelves
        I reread a lot of books anyway, but there are some books that I just have to read every year, they just make Christmas for me.
      • The Christmas Table at the Bookshop
        I love it when this table appears on the shop floor, piled high with festive books. It's a mountain of pretty blues and glitter and foil and I am drawn to it like a magpie because #Shiny.
      • Searching 'Christmas' on NetGalley
        Yup, it's as easy as that. A lot of them are 'Read Now' too! It can be a bit of a gamble as to whether they will all be Romance or filled with Sexy Time though.
      • Searching 'Christmas' on Amazon
        This is how I find festive freebies for my kindle. There tend to be a fair few novellas too which means I can pad out my Goodreads Challenge while reading what I love, because I am invariably behind by December.
      • Audible 'Deal of the Day'
        This doesn't yield much in terms of festive reads, but every so often a little gem crops up, and I love listening to something festive as I wrap presents or head out Christmas shopping.

      Do you read books to suit the season?

      01 December 2017

      Happy Blogmas!

      It's that wonderful time of year where everyone attempts to post daily on their blog with a generally festive theme. It can be a challenge to not only come up with content, but to keep up with it, and today I'm diving in and doing it for the whole of December.

      Cue mad panic about ideas.

      I'm taking it easy this year and tweaking memes I already take part in, but here's some things you can expect to see here on the blog and on Twitter and Instagram:

      • Festive reading discussions
      • Bookish gift guides
      • Festive book lists
      • Book reviews
      • Peeks at my current festive reads
      • Mills and Boon Mondays
      • Book Advent Calendar unwrappings
      • Giveaways
      • #UKYAHomeBook photo challenge
      • #CaneloChallenge photo challenge
      • Festive film recommendations
      So yeah, a wide variety and hopefully something for everyone!

      Are you taking part in Blogmas? Leave a link because I'll be trawling blogs all day every day!

      🎄 Happy Blogmas 🎄