The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere #BookReview

thechristmastownTitle: The Christmas Town
Author: Donna VanLiere
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 240 pages
Publication Details: October 18th 2016 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre(s): General Fiction; Christmas
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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Donna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

 

Review

I feel like I was a little bit mislead by the title of this book as I was expecting a story about a lonely woman who is taken in by a crazy town that loves Christmas or something to that effect – you know the type. The Christmas Town wasn’t really that, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Christmas Town is actually about twenty year old Lauren who has been in and out of foster homes all her life but is now living independently and working at a grocery store. The one thing Lauren wants is a family to spend Christmas with so she puts an ad on the internet.

In the mean time, she befriends a lady who was involved in a car accident which leads her to a charity-run community centre where she is thrust into the melee of a big event.

The Christmas Town is a nice, light read and I enjoyed the story. But it didn’t feel particularly festive which is what disappointed me about it. Lauren was an interesting protagonist but her character was a little bit too plain for me. I would have thought that someone who had been through everything she had would have more depth to her. She felt too simple.

The cast of characters she meets in Grandon are nicely balanced and varied but no one stuck out. I also found it quite farcical in places with all the missed meetings and misunderstandings.

I did however enjoy that the story wasn’t what I had expected from the cover, and liked the feel-good community spirit that was at the heart of it. If you’re looking for a quick, light read but not one that will throw Christmas in your face, give this one a try.

unicorn rating 3

 

Festive Thursday #2: The Christmas lights switch on & Winter Wonderland

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Welcome to Festive Thursday where I’m going to be sharing with you all my Christmas endeavours, including the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and any festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

The Funtimes

I missed last week’s post because, well, I was just being too festive and didn’t get time to write it. Soz. But on the plus side –  Happy 1st of December!!!

Last week the festivities really started. On Thursday I went to my old town (I moved but it’s still my town, OK) for the Christmas lights switch-on/ opening of the Christmas market. I donned my favourite Christmas jumper, had my first mulled beverage of the year and tried on silly hats – it’s tradition – and it was glorious.

The mulled wine was good, the hog roast was spectacular, but the entertainment was sorely lacking. Unless we somehow missed it all. There were too many people to even see who was turning the lights on but it was certainly someone no one has ever heard of. The giant nutcrackers were a welcome addition to the decorations this year, however.

Despite the wetness of weather, fun was had. Christmas has begun my friends.

Then on Saturday my parents came to visit and we went to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park. I LOVE WW! Sure, it can get really busy and annoying, but the atmosphere is always great. And I love that they have so many bands and artists playing for free. Most of them are so-bad-they’re-good, but that just adds to the fun.

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This year I actually booked tickets for things for the first time. The Magical Ice Kingdom was definitely impressive and beautiful, but it was a lot smaller/quicker than I expected. The Cirque Berserk modern circus was great though. I went all out and booked us a VIP box which came with champagne and chocolates and my parents loved it. It was a welcome break from sitting in the cold too. Highly recommended.

The Books

Last week I finished two festive reads.

thegirlwhosavedxmasJOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF MAGIC

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

And:

thechristmastownDonna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of the timeless The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, is back with this moving and uplifting story about finding love, hope, and family in unexpected places.

Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?

My review of the Matt Haig book is here, and the other one will be up on Monday.

The Films

I think it’s important to save certain Christmas films until closer to the time itself, but there are SO many that are good, but wouldn’t be too sacrilege to watch before December.

The ones well and truly off my before December list are Elf, Home Alone, Muppets Christmas Carol & Santa Claus the movie. I’m sure there are more but they are the most important.

Last week I watched Krampus: The Christmas Devil (not the recent one) which was truly terrible, and then The Santa Clause – the one with Tim Allen. I love this film and totally think it gets overlooked! Go watch it and feel the festive wash over you.

In other news, I have done about 60% of my shopping and made a start on the Christmas booze cabinet, but more on that next time. Winning all round.

How have you been preparing for Christmas this week?

Next week – more Christmas market fun, I get crafty…and my attention will turn to FOOD!

This Week in Books 30.11.16 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

Happy Wednesday to you all! December tomorrow…Yayyyyy!

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

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Now:  The Silent Songbird ~ Melanie Dickerson

YA. Castles, a The Little Mermaid retelling – how could I resist!?

Then:  The Christmas Town ~ Donna VanLiere

This was a nice heart-warming story if not a little bit farcical.

Next: ??? 

Hmm, I’m not too sure, either Christmas Under a Starlit Sky by Holly Martin, Pagan Portals: Merlin (see below), or The Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer – it depends on my mood!

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

This is another 2017 title I’m looking forward to. It’s a debut too. 

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Expected publication: February 21st 2017 by Meerkat Press

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

I didn’t buy or borrow any books this week.

From Netgalley: 

I love Arthurian mythology so I’m really interested in reading this new angle on the wizard and the era he he became a legend of.


merlin

Bestselling author Elen Sentier looks at Merlin in history and mythology and considers his continuing relevance for people today.

Best known as the wizard from the Arthurian stories, Merlin has been written about for well over 1000 years and is considered to be both a magical and historical figure. Over the centuries many people have had relationships with Merlin and in this book the author brings him to life for us once again in yet another way and from yet another perspective.

 

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: The Perfect Gift? #TTT #ChristmasGifts

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… Holiday Gift Guide freebie

OK so this topic is kind of perfect because I’ve been meaning to do a little gift guide for a while. I’m an affiliate of Waterstones, The Book Depository, and Foyles and I don’t promote them as much as I should so in the spirit of full disclosure, unless otherwise stated, all of these links are affiliate links and should you purchase anything from the sites I will get a small (really, very small) commission.

1. Born to Run ~ Bruce Springsteen

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Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.

Hardback, published: 27/09/2016

Who for: Rock n’ Roll parents
Best price: £10
Where from: Waterstones

 

2. Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook

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Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook is packed with all the classics you need for the big day and beyond, as well as loads of delicious recipes for edible gifts, party food and new ways to love those leftovers. It’s everything you need for the best Christmas ever.

Hardback, published: 20/10/2016

Who for: Secret Santa; The In-Laws, that weird person in your life that doesn’t read fiction.
Best price: £13 
Where from: Waterstones

 

3. Lean in 15 ~ Joe Wicks

gift3Joe Wicks is a man on a mission. His goal is to get the world away from fad diets and miserable calorie-counting and into a pattern of healthy, sustaining eating and to become fitter, stronger and leaner.

Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach has inspired thousands to transform their bodies by shifting unwanted fat and building lean muscle and now he’s taking what he’s learned to the next level.

Paperback, published: 17/11/2016
Who for: Your health-conscious friend / your friend that fancies Joe Wicks.
Best price: £8.49
Where from: Waterstones

4. Selected Fairy Tales ~ The Brothers Grimm

 

gift4Part of a special set of 10 hardcover classics, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, that innovatively use foil and a special new binding material to create a highly collectible set.

 Stepmothers, dark forests, strange beasts, broken promises, sinister brides, castle turrets, princes on horseback, magic lamps, industrious dwarves and a frog king. Collected and adapted from German folk tales, these imperishable stories can be read over and over again.

Leather / fine binding, published: 16/11/2015

Who for: Your favourite bookworm; little sisters
Best price: £14.99
Where from: Waterstones

5. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

gift5It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Hardback, published: 31/07/2016
Who for: That secret pott-head in your life
Best price: £10
Where from: Waterstones

6. Ripley’s Believe it or Not! 2017

gift6The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! annual has now firmly established itself as a Christmas must-have, with an ever-growing army of loyal fans. Following hot on the heels of last year’s Top 10 best-seller, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! 2017 offers a completely new compendium of strange but true facts and amazing stories, ranging from the Polar Bear robot, to the edible human skull, to the woman who still suffers from sea-sickness three years after her last boat trip, to the Swiss daredevil who soars over famous landmarks in his custom-made jet pack.

Hardback, published 08/09/2016

Who for: The little brother who has everything (and likes gross things)
Best price: £10
Where from: Foyles

7. The Chemist ~ Stephenie Meyer

 

gift7In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life. She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn’t even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning. Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They’ve killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon. When her former handler offers her a way out, she realises it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers.

Hardback, published 08/11/2016

Who for: Thriller fans!
Best price: £10
Where from: Foyles

8. Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Tales

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Experience the endlessly imaginative world of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth through the eyes of its most fantastical and beloved characters! Witness a day in the life of Sir Didymus, the recklessly heroic fox-terrier; Ludo, the lovable oaf; Hoggle, an ever loyal companion; and others as they play games, work together, and revel in the magic of the labyrinth. Written and gorgeously illustrated by acclaimed children’s book illustrator Cory Godbey (Have Courage, Be Kind: The Tale of CinderellaI), Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Tales takes readers deep into the adventure where magic knows no bounds.

Hardback, published 20/10/2016

Who for: Me!😉 or anyone who has ever hailed Labyrinth as the best film ever!
Best price: £12.99
Where from: The Book Depository

9. His Bloody Project ~ Graeme McCrae

gift9The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows. Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.

Paperback, published 11/08/2016

Who for: The perfect ‘I can’t think of anything else under £5’ gift.
Best price: £4.24
Where from: The Book Depository

 

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig #BookReview

thegirlwhosavedxmasTitle: The Girl Who Saved Christmas
Author: Matt Haig
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 272 pages
Publication Details: November 3rd 2016 by Canongate Books
Genre(s): Children’s; Christmas
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

JOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF MAGIC

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

Review

This is the second Christmas Children’s book by  Matt Haig, the first being A Boy Called Christmas (which I haven’t read) so I almost didn’t request this one when I saw it on netgalley – I’m so glad I did. It’s a completely separate story.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas is a light-hearted tale set in Victorian London. Chimney-sweeper Amelia, once wrote a letter to Father Christmas which was so full of hope it boosted the magic of Christmas. But that was the year the trolls attacked, and almost ruined Christmas. Santa was a little preoccupied.

One year on and poor Amelia’s wish never came true, and her mother died, forcing Amelia to give up her beloved cat, Captain Soot, and enter Mr Creeper’s workhouse. Elsewhere in Elfhelm where Father Christmas is preparing for this years’ journey, but the spirit of Christmas is dwindling. Will the trolls attack again? Will his sleigh fly with such little hope in the air?

There is only one person who can help – the girl with the most Christmas spirit he has ever known, but little does he know that she has spent a year in a filthy workhouse, and is now in a dungeon after trying to escape. Can Amelia get her hope back and help Father Christmas save Christmas once more?

Of course she can!

This book was lots of fun and had a mixture of traditional Christmas tropes such as the sleigh needing hope/spirit to fly and also completely unique ideas which made it a lovely read. I loved the magical world that Haig has built here with the different kind of pixies and trolls in contrast to the bleakness of a Dickens-esque (the man himself even makes an appearance) Victorian London. It feels like an instant Christmas classic to me.

Amelia was a great protagonist with gusto,who never gave up. And I completely fell in love with Captain Soot, of course. The elves and pixies all had their own personalities and stories too, and they brought a lot of fun to the story. But the thing I loved most was definitely the illustrations. The simple pen drawings were amazing.

Haig’s humorous narration also shines through the pages of this story. There is a hint of sadness to his humour, but that’s what makes it so relatable.

unicorn rating 4

 

 

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay #BookReview #Magic

a7Title: The Witches of New York
Author: Ami McKay
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: October  2016 by Orion Books
Genre(s): Historical Fiction; Magic Realism; Supernatural
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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The year is 1880. Two hundred years after the trials in Salem, Adelaide Thom (‘Moth’ from The Virgin Cure) has left her life in the sideshow to open a tea shop with another young woman who feels it’s finally safe enough to describe herself as a witch: a former medical student and “gardien de sorts” (keeper of spells), Eleanor St. Clair. Together they cater to Manhattan’s high society ladies, specializing in cures, palmistry and potions–and in guarding the secrets of their clients.

All is well until one bright September afternoon, when an enchanting young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at their door seeking employment. Beatrice soon becomes indispensable as Eleanor’s apprentice, but her new life with the witches is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Objects appear out of thin air, as if gifts from the dead. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind?

Eleanor wants to tread lightly and respect the magic manifest in the girl, but Adelaide sees a business opportunity. Working with Dr. Quinn Brody, a talented alienist, she submits Beatrice to a series of tests to see if she truly can talk to spirits. Amidst the witches’ tug-of-war over what’s best for her, Beatrice disappears, leaving them to wonder whether it was by choice or by force.

As Adelaide and Eleanor begin the desperate search for Beatrice, they’re confronted by accusations and spectres from their own pasts. In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, were any of them safe?

Review

Although not a sequel, this book follows a character from McKay’s acclaimed novel The Virgin Cure, which if I had known before (lack of research on my part) would perhaps have put me off requesting it. Fortunately it didn’t seem to matter. Unfortunately, my first foray into the world of Ami McKay didn’t quite beguile me like I thought it would. 

The Witches of New York follows young Beatrice who is seeking employment. When she sees an advert in the paper from a strange-sounding tea shop where ‘those averse to magic need not apply’, she feels like this will be the start of a new life for her, and it is.

Owned by Adelaide, a seer (and Moth from The Virgin Cure) and Eleanor, a witch, the tea shop is a front to a growing magic business. Beatrice soon becomes an invaluable apprentice but her visions begin to haunt her, and she’s weakened and easily exploited.

I liked some parts of this book, but I just don’t think I was in the mood for it. I can imagine enjoying a lazy Sunday reading this, but trying to read it during a busy schedule didn’t work. The pace was painfully slow and although the descriptions were beautiful and elegant, they were subtle and drawn-out. I found myself skim reading a lot.

This novel does have a great magic-realism atmosphere, and McKay is clearly a talented writer, but this book was too light for me. She reminded me a lot of Alice Hoffman, albeit with something missing.

However, I liked the way she presents these real-life witches – as strong, independent women in an era where women had no rights, were discriminated against, and most certainly should not have worked in a shop, never mind owned one. AND I liked that the heart of this book was about women’s relationships in that hard time where it was extremely brave of them to be proud of who they are.

Basically, I enjoyed what McKay was tying to do here, but I needed more to take hold of to keep me interested in the plodding plot.

unicorn rating 2

 

 

This Week in Books 23.11.16 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

Happy Wednesday to you all! Here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

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Now:  The Girl Who Saved Christmas ~ Matt Haig

I almost didn’t request this because I haven’t read Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas yet, but I’m so glad I did, it’s lots of fun and completely stands-alone from the other one. 

Then:  The Witches of New York Ami McKay

This one was a struggle tbh. It was written beautifully but I just don’t think I was in the mood for a subtle, slow-paced read. My review will be up later today.

Next: ??? 

Definitely The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere. I’m very excited about this one. 

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

There are already so many amazing-looking books on my 2017 releases wishlist. This is one of them!

royalbastardsarc

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey …

Expected publication: June 6th 2017 by Disney Hyperion

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

Bought: I picked this up in the pound shop of all places. I plan on reading it and then passing it on to my Nan. 

christmasatrosieRosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton, buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, large tempting piles of Turkish Delight, crinkling selection boxes and happy, sticky children. She’s going to be spending it with her boyfriend, Stephen, and her family, flying in from Australia. She can’t wait.

But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community, all of Rosie’s plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what’s best for the sweetshop also what’s best for Rosie?

Treat yourself and your sweet-toothed friends to Jenny Colgan’s heart-warming new novel. The irresistibly delicious recipes are guaranteed to get you into the festive spirit and will warm up your Christmas celebrations.

Borrowed: My friend Dora lent me this. It’s another one of Poppy Z. Brite’s that I’ve wanted to read for years. 

drawingbloodNo one could understand the force that rocked cartoonist Robert McGee’s mind, allowing him to slaughter his wife and three-year-old son before hanging himself. Only five-year-old Trevor survived – silent witness to the bloodbath that destroyed his family.

Twenty years later, the same malignant love brought Trevor McGee back to Missing Mile. But this time he wasn’t alone. Hiding from justice with fugitive computer hacker Zach Bosch, Trev opened the door to Birdland. Ready to face the demons. Ready to risk his life again…

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look🙂

Lazy Saturday Review: The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily #MiniReview #YA

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

twelvedaysdashlilyTitle: The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Series: Dash & Lily #2
Format: Digital ARC, 240 pages
Publication Details: October 6th 2016 by Electric Monkey
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary; Romance
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Glorious new collaboration from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.

Dash and Lily have been dating for nearly a year, but when Lily’s beloved grandfather falls ill, the repercussions take their toll on everyone. Even though they are still together, somehow the magic has gone out of their relationship and it’s clear that Lily has fallen out of love with life.

Action must be taken! Dash teams up with Lily’s brother and a host of their friends, who have just twelve days to get Lily’s groove back in time for Christmas.

Review

I was a little bit disappointed by this latest collaboration from these two get authors, probably because the bar was so high. I wanted to love it as much as Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares and Nick & Norah, but something was definitely missing.

This story is all about Lily’s holiday funk. She is depressed and even Christmas, her favourite holiday, and Dash, her favourite person can’t cheer her up.

I didn’t dislike this story at all, but it really suffered from Dash & Lily’s lack of connection. Their romance was at the heart of the first book, and without that, there wasn’t a whole lot left to be honest.

It wasn’t serious enough about Lily’s angst and ‘issues’ for it to feel like a  YA book that was cleverly tackling the issue of depression, instead the wishy-washy underlying theme of depression put a downer on the book itself, for me. Thankfully it had a happy ending or I’m not sure I could have coped. There’s just something about Lily’s sunny disposition that doesn’t suit being unhappy so instead of making me feel sad for her, it just annoyed me. Sorry, Lily!

Overall this was an OK story. It was a super-quick read that was written nicely. But it wasn’t anything exciting or surprising, and it didn’t feel nearly festive enough!

unicorn rating 3

Out now in paperback & eBook formats

 

Festive Thursday #1: Shopping, Reading, Watching, Waiting… #BloggingThroughChristmas #FestiveReads

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Welcome to Festive Thursday where I’m going to be sharing with you all my Christmas endeavours, including the books I’m reading, the films I’ve watched, gift ideas I’ve found, and any festive events I’ve attended. Because, well, I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO HARD.

I’ve decided to start my festive posts early this year because I always run out of time. And yes, I have started celebrating and preparing already! 

Last year, December crept up on me and I didn’t feel like I did enough fun, Christmassy things before Christmas itself. It didn’t help that I also took hardly any time off work. Well not this year my friends. This year I am starting early for MAXIMUM CHRISTMAS FEELS. Any ‘it’s too early’ naysayers can leave now. 

The shops are alive with the sound of Christmas music…

I have made a tentative start on my Christmas shopping, mainly spurred on by finding the most beautiful wrapping paper in TK Max that I ever did see. My friends did laugh at me when I met them in the pub in early November and made them repeatedly look at my amazing Christmas paper (which cost me £4 a roll). But it’s so pretty (the photos don’t do it justice, trust me). 

I love picking out wrapping paper and deciding how to dress up my presents each year. I’m not the best wrapper, but I make up for it in effort. I’m now on the hunt for the perfect purple ribbon/bows to go with this paper…any ideas?

Curling up with a good book or a movie…

I have, of course, already started hankering for some trashy, festive reads and terrible made-for-TV movies. Let’s face it, that began in September but I managed to hold off until we hit November (see, I have my boundaries).

On the book front, things got off to a great start with Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin and a stunning children’s book called The Book of Kringle, which I now really want a physical copy of because it looked so beautiful, but I can’t find it anywhere where it isn’t extortionate. Damn you, Modern World. 

The movie front hasn’t gone quite as well but I have enjoyed it all the same. I started with Arthur Christmas which I remember enjoying at the cinema but I wasn’t as impressed the second time round. I also caught Once Upon a Holiday on TV which was much more my style (r.e Trash with a capital T). 

Christmas Pudding Vodka & Christmas Breakfast Muffins

For the past few years I’ve made a batch of Christmas Pudding Vodka to give as presents as well as to drink myself/take to parties etc. I’ve decided not to make it this year (I will be trying different things instead, do not fret), but I wrote this post last year and never got round to publishing it (I told you I always run out of time)!

As you need to soak the fruit for a while, I thought now would be a better time to post it. 

Christmas Pudding Vodka is really easy, and really yummy. The only slightly specialist bit of equipment you need is a muslin cloth/jam strainer, but you could always use a thin cotton tea towel. All you need is a pack of the traditional festive dried fruits you use for Christmas cake/pudding, sugar, cinnamon sticks, spices, oranges & lemons, a bottle of good vodka, and some time. 

After the Vodka has been soaking in the fruits and spices for about a week it’s all lovely and syrupy and tastes like the epitome of festive, yet still has a good kick.

It’s perfect for shots (even my Nan went back for a second shot last year), or with lemonade or tonic if you don’t like it too sweet.

The full recipe I follow is here.

I’ve never bothered with the vanilla, and I leave mine for at least two weeks, stirring at least once a day. Once you’ve bottled your vodka, you’re left with delicious boozy fruit that you can do lots with instead of throwing away.

Last year I just had it as a dessert, warmed up with custard. But this year, I thought – MUFFINS. Breakfast muffins, but boozy ones – WHY THE HELL NOT, IT’S CHRISTMAS!

I used a standard breakfast muffin recipe like this one, and just tweaked it. They turned out delicious, especially warm and topped with jam, as they’re not that sweet alone. 

So there you have it. As you can see, I’m easing myself in gently this year😉

If you’re not feeling Christmassy after that lot, there is no hope for you. 

Next Week: The Christmas lights switch-on, Winter Wonderland and more festive reads!

 

This Week in Books 16.11.16 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

Hi guys! Is everyone starting to feel Christmassy? No, just me then! In fact, I’m starting my Festive Thursday posts early this year because I always run out of time to fit it all in. Look out for my first post tomorrow!😉

Anyhoo, here’s what I’ve been up to this week…

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Now: The Witches of New York Ami McKay

The verdict is still out on this one. It’s OK so far but hasn’t fully captivated me yet!

Then:   The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily ~ Rachel Cohn & David Levithan // The Enchanted ~ Rene Denfeld

I enjoyed the second Dash & Lily book but I didn’t love it a much as I was hoping. my review will be up on Saturday. The Enchanted was really interesting and thought-provoking but I’m not sure how much I enjoyed it. I’m still processing. Hopefully I’ll get my review up soon. 

Next: ??? 

I think it has to be  another festive read. I have The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig, The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere, and The Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer all lined up. 

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

I saw Wintersong on someone else’s WoW last week and oh my! I need it so bad. It could be a bit of a rip off of Labyrinth (one of the best movies of all time) but I’m OK with that!

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Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed.

Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Expected publication: February 7th 2017 by Thomas Dunne

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

I went on a bit of a charity shop binge last week, and bought these three books. I’ve already read them but I either borrowed copies off friends and wanted my own copy, or in the case of Divorcing Jack – I had an old edition that didn’t match the series so I had to buy it didn’t I!? #bookgeekproblems.

I was also able to choose some leftover World Book Night & promo books at work as we desperately need the storage space. There were hundreds of them! I was quite restrained and only chose three, though. The rest have been given out to the prisoners, many of whom said they would send them to family and friends as Christmas presents, which I think is nice. 


So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look🙂