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14 December 2018

Book Beginnings #65

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 Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan.
Whiteout by Gabriel Dylan cover
If it all went wrong, reckoned Charlie, at least it would be over quickly.
I absolutely LOVE the Red Eye series from Stripes, so I was super excited to start this. I've purposely held off until snow is forecast because when I read Fir by Sharon Gosling the snow made it all the more terrifying. And guess what's forecast this weekend? Yep. Snow. Blizzard conditions. I have my snuggly blankets piled up and a flask of tea for quick refills. I am Prepared.

I love this start. It doesn't give much away, immediately has you wondering about what's going on.

On the back of this book there's a warning "Not for Younger Readers" and I am excited.
Tara felt tears sting at her eyes. She wanted more than anything to be back at home, at her mum's apartment in Clifton, expensive duvet wrapped around her, hot chocolate steaming away next to her. She wiped at her eyes again with her knuckle.
I mean, I want to be wrapped up in a duvet with hot chocolate right now to be honest, so I feel like I could relate to Tara quite a bit at this point (she's going to die, isn't she?) based on what I've just read.

I've only just started so I'm not up to this bit yet, but I can't wait to get introduced to all of the characters. I am really enjoying the writing style too.

What are you reading this week?

13 December 2018

My Favourite Blogmas Posts (so far)

I've had a huge amount of fun reading through everyone's Blogmas posts so far, but here are twelve that have really stood out for me. It was difficult to pick just twelve!

My Favourite Blogmas Posts (so far)

What's the worst that can happen? It turns out that for Caledonian Kitty is was actually pretty bad, although her story did make me laugh a little. Being in a police car in your jammies is definitely a story to tell.

I loved this Blogmas guest post on Browsing for Books as I think it's a really fun idea to think about what gifts you'd get for fictional characters. If I had to get a fictional character a gift, I'd get Cassandra Mortmain from I Capture The Castle a really big chunky journal so she could keep writing.

I loved these festive crafts that Book Murmuration and Lisa's Notebook teamed up to do. A bit like Nailed It but with Christmas crafts and actually pretty excellent results! I especially love the different bird feeders they made.

I loved Charlotte Somewhere looking back at their Blogging Highlights for 2018 - she has accomplished so much in her first full year blogging and it's all very much well deserved.

Hannah Hearts shared her favourite Christmas Films, and I love that I can spot a few of my favourites on there too.

I loved Jenniely's list of upcoming releases because I am SO BAD at knowing myself what's on the horizon when it comes to books. And yes, my TBR just grew.

I loved Fantastic Book Dragon's review of The Twisted Tree by Rachel  Burge, and it's made me even more excited to read the book itself! It sounds excellent.

I really liked having a nose around Sarah Withers' Christmas Tree! It's absolutely gorgeous and looks so sophisticated.

This list of short books to boost your Goodreads challenge from Reading Through Infinity is actually super handy. I'm always look to boost my numbers with some last minute cramming.

The Little Contemporary Corner posted something that was super relateable - it can be so hard reading with mental illness

I can't wait for What Vicky Read's End of Yearathon to see out the year and bulk up my Goodreads Challenge that last wee bit. I love that there are also optional prompts for what to read.

12 December 2018

Why I Love Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)

My all time favourite Christmas song is Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End) by The Darkness.

Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)

There are many reasons why I love it. The cheesy AF video is definitely one of those reasons. But I think the biggest reason is the lyrics.

It's surprisingly one of my favourite love songs. Ever.

I love the way it's a bit like a private joke between a couple, rolling their eyes together at naff presents, being together on Christmas day, not wanting it to end. That they've spent so long apart and yet love each other dearly, and don't want the day to end even if they'll see each other again on New Year's Eve because how can they survive apart and OH MAN OK I'M CRYING NOW.

It's just so freaking lush, a gorgeous love story hidden behind over the top (excellent) guitar solos. It's so out there and brash and it's easy to hear the noise rather than the lyrics.

11 December 2018

My Ten Favourite Posts This Year

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 
Favourite Blog Posts
I decided that this week I'd look back and reflect on my own favourite blog posts this year - and it has been A YEAR where I've pushed myself and opened up a lot more than in the past.

    What's your favourite blog post you've written this year?

    10 December 2018

    Product Review: EOS Limited Edition Duo - First Snow and Sugar Plum

    I've wanted an EOS lip balm for a while - I'm not going to lie, it was the cute round packaging that tempted me the most. They're just look so dinky and adorable. And also, everyone and their mum seems to use them on Instagram.

    EOS Limited Edition Duo First Snow and Sugar Plum

    EOS Limited Edition Duo First Snow and Sugar Plum

    The packaging is adorable, I love the wintry design. This would make an amazing gift and be pretty easy to wrap (which is always something at the front of my mind when I'm buying gifts).

    I love the colour combinations, the gold and teal of the box contrasts beautifully with the silver and purple of the balms.

    Sugar Plum

    My favourite is definitely the Sugar Plum, the purple one. It smells amazing. It even tastes pretty good. I did find application a bit weird at first as I'm used to using a stick balm, but now I don't think I could go back. The rounded shape makes it super easy to apply, and it's comfortable to hold.

    The formula is super moisturising and keeps my lips smooth and soft. I've even used it at times around my cuticles and on dry patches on my cheeks, and it soaks in well and feels lovely. I wouldn't replace my usual cuticle oil or moisturiser with it, but it works in a pinch.

    First Snow

    The First Snow is one I don't reach for often - it's kind of minty with a hint of vanilla, and feels a little like a super cheap plumping gloss in that it makes my lips tingle a tiny bit. I feel like this one isn't as moisturising, so it's my back-up that I keep in my desk drawer at work to combat the air conditioning. The packaging is gorgeous on this one though, a pretty shimmering silver.


    I have been using my balms for around two months, several times a day, and they're still going strong, there's loads left and I know they're going to last for another few months.

    I bought the set on Beauty Bay for £10, which I thought was a little pricey but I was looking to treat myself. With how long they're lasting I definitely think they're worth it and I'm excited to use them up and get myself some new ones next year.

    What's your favourite lip balm?
    Have you tried EOS?

    09 December 2018

    Five Things I Need To Do Before The End Of The Year

    We're almost half way through the final month of the year and there are still some things on my TBR... Eeek! Is it time to panic?

    I'm pretty sure I can get most of these ticked off, but wish me luck anyway as life has a tendency of getting in the way.

    Five Things I Need To Do Before The End Of The Year, to do list
    1. Finish Christmas Shopping
      I guess this is actually a pretty big one, but I need to actually finish my Christmas shopping! Oops. Usually I'm pretty much done by now, but this year I'm on a go slow.
    2. Go for a Winter Walk
      I just want to wrap up warm, grab a flask, and be out in Nature. I'm thinking Cragside or Wallington Hall to get some use out of my National Trust Membership, and I know I'll really feel the benefit mentally from being outside.
    3. Set My 2019 Reading Journal
      I got an absolutely gorgeous Rainbow Reading Journal and Planner from Stella Bookish Art and I can't wait to use it. It has a space for your favourite books from the year before and I need to fill it in.
    4. Visit The Laing Art Gallery
      One of my favourite things to do in those last days before Christmas is to visit the Laing Art Gallery. With the festive rush outside it's like a quiet slice of heaven, some peace in the crush of shoppers. My favourite piece is no longer on display (boo) but I still like to have a wander around.
    5. Finish my Currently Reading
      I love to start each new year with a clean slate, so I try to finish all of the books on my Currently Reading shelf on Goodreads before midnight. I've managed it the past five years so fingers crossed I do it again.
    What do you still need to do before the end of the year?

    07 December 2018

    Five Fantastic Festive Films

    I love a good festive film binge, and here are five fantastic films I've watched this year that I'd recommend to anyone looking for cheesy festive goodness.

    A Christmas Prince

    I was so excited for this film last year for two reasons. 1. The trailer was so cheesy 2. Rose McIver. I loved how A Christmas Prince seemed like it had a tiny budget, for some reason it really tickles me to see the lavish setting and then all the obviously costume jewellery.

    A Wish For Christmas

    Uhm, excuse me, it's got Lacey Chabert in so OF COURSE it's awesome. I really enjoy the feel good factor of this one, the message that you can be brave if you try. It encouraged me to speak up for myself a little more, so that's always a bonus.

    The Princess Switch

    I never knew that I needed this film in my life until I watched it. Three times. In a row. It's just so blooming sweet and fun and it doesn't take itself seriously. It's definitely one to make you smile.

    The Holiday Calendar

    I didn't know about this one until the banner came up on Netflix and then I was all over it. It's such a lovely film about family and friendship and love, and I loved the touch of whimsy with the calendar itself.

    The Sweetest Christmas

    This film makes me SO HUNGRY like give me all the food now, so when I watch it I scoff gingerbread and popcorn and mice pies. Also it's super sweet and heart warming and cheesy.

    What's your favourite festive film?

    06 December 2018

    The Christmas Cracker Book Tag

    I couldn't help but pick another tag! I loved the look of The Christmas Cracker Book Tag when I saw it on Golden Books Girl and couldn't resist giving it a go myself.

    The Christmas Cracker Book Tag

    Pick A Book With A Wintry Cover

    Below Zero by Dan Smith isn't just a wintry cover, it's one that gives me chills because that book is scary. Literal chills *shivers*
    Below Zero by Dan Smith cover

    Pick A Book You’re Likely To Buy As A Present

    Basically any MinaLima edition! They're so pretty. I've bought them in the past as gifts and they've always been well received.

    Pick A Festive Themed Book

    I'll Be Home For Christmas from Stripes - it's a fantastic anthology and there is honestly something for everyone in there, and for every copy bought a donation is made to Crisis.

    Pick A Book You Can Curl Up With By The Fireplace

    Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo has such a fairytale quality that it's perfect for picking up on a long evening and snuggling up with.

    Pick A Book You Want To Read Over The Festive Period

    Winter Without You by Beth Good is next up on my TBR and I am SO EXCITED because I love everything this author does, whether it's historical YA, crime thrillers, contemporary romance, or bodice rippers.

    Pick A Book That’s So Good It Gives You Chills

    Clean by Juno Dawson is absolutely incredible. I don't think I've ever simultaneously loved and hated a single character so much.

    Pick A Book Going On Your Christmas Wishlist

    I really want the MinaLima edition of The Secret Garden, it looks absolutely gorgeous and it's one of my favourites.

    What would you answers be?

    05 December 2018

    Olga's Egg by Sophie Law

    When I was invited to the 12 Days of Clink Street blog tour I knew immediately which book I would pick - because I had already heard wonderful things about Olga's Egg by Sophie Law (and also the cover is beautiful).

    Olga's Egg by Sophie Law coverAdd to Goodreads button
    When Fabergé specialist Assia Wynfield learns of the discovery of a long-lost Fabergé egg made for the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, daughter of the last Tsar of Russia, she appears to be the only person with misgivings.

    On travelling to St. Petersburg to see the egg, Assia moves among Russia’s new rich but finds herself pulled back into a family past she would rather forget. With news that a friend is missing, Assia starts to dig deeper. But does she really want the answers to the questions she is asking?

    Set in today’s glamorous world of Russian art with glimpses into the lives of the last Romanovs as their empire crumbled in the wake of the Russian Revolution, Olga’s Egg is an enthralling tale of love, family secrets and the artistic treasures that conceal them.

    Source: Review Copy

    5 Words: History, danger, glamour, family, power.

    An incredible amount of research must have gone in to the story, because it is so rich and vivid and intricate that you feel like you're there. It was like I was walking around St. Petersburg myself, exploring.

    I have to admit that I didn't really like Assia - but that's not a bad thing. It did mean it was difficult to connect to her, but I really empathised with her and loved reading about her tumultuous family and strained relationships.

    My favourite thing about this book was definitely the settings. There are wonderfully written and so lavish and rich.

    Olga's Egg is a beautiful story combining historical and contemporary narratives in a thrilling and beautiful journey.

    Now, I'm off to watch Anastasia, because after reading this book it's a Mood.

    12 Days of Clink Street #12DaysofClinkStreet


    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!