Festive Thursday – Part 1.

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As I was deciding what to put in this post it dawned on me that there are only 2 Thursdays (this one included) left before Christmas Day…and I have already done SO MANY festive things to talk about so I am going to let some (badly taken) photos do most of the talking.

And so it Begins:
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My Christmas excitement this year started the same way it always does; when I received a package from my Mum & Dad containing some chocolates, advent calendars for me and my flatmate Dora, and the message ‘Santa is Coming’, which cracks me up every time.

Preparations:
– One of the first things I did was set about making some Christmas Pudding Vodka. Gotta get your priorities right.
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I’ve heard about this a lot in recent years but never tried any, nor made any of my own. There are loads of different recipes out there (Google is your friend), so I chose the simplest one with the least ingredients and it turned out great.
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– I am already making my second batch as I drank too much of the first and was supposed to give it away as presents. Oops.

– I put up some decorations whilst listening to the Michael Bublé Christmas album and A Very She and Him Christmas. Zooey Deschanel has such a beautiful voice!
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– I also made some cute little gift tags/tree decorations out of Fimo modelling clay.
December 2013 019 This is 2nd year that I’ve enjoyed making these. I’m not really a crafty person and get bored with fiddly things quite easily but it’s hard to wrong with Fimo.
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December 2013 027 These are nice to put on ribbons and tie around gifts and the lucky recipient can then hang them on their tree if they so wish. My family were really impressed last year.

Christmas Booze:
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It is not Christmas without an abundance of booze in my book, and Bailey’s is one of my favourite treats at Christmas. The coffee flavoured one is dangerously yummy. Mulled Wine is also up there, and is probably one of my favourite things about Christmas in general. It’s really simple to make at home and can not fail to make you feel all festively warm and fuzzy inside. But the lazy pre-made bottles will do too.

One of the best places to buy mulled wine though, is at the German Christmas Markets which are so popular these days. I have a little collection of ‘mulled boots’ that I’ve bought from my local Christmas market in previous years. This year however, our market is quite disappointing so when one of my friends told me that the Christmas market in Birmingham where she lives is the 2nd largest in Europe, the train ticket just seemed to buy itself.

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They didn’t have boot mugs, but oh my, was it Christmassy!
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And I wanted to eat EVERYTHING.

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And then there were books:

I started reading A Breath of Frost, and Starry Night. And I must say, as soon as I picked up Starry Night I didn’t want to put it down so I’ve abandoned A Breath of Frost for now. Not that I wasn’t enjoying it, but it’s just not Christmassy enough right now.

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Coming up in part 2 next Thursday: My favourite Christmas Films and SANTACON!!

Happy Holidays!

WWW Wednesday (11/12/13!!)

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? • What did you recently finish reading? • What do you think you’ll read next?

Check out the pretty covers this week! ❤

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Currently Reading: A Breath of Frost – Alyxandra Harvey. I’m enjoying this, but not loving it yet. It  does keep getting better though.

Just Finished: The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness. Loved, loved, loved it. I attempted to put it into words here. Definitely in the running for favourite read of the year.

Up Next: Starry Night – Debbie Macomber. Let’s get festive!

Leave you link in the comments and I’ll come and visit! Happy Wednesday!

Also join my blog discussion: What is the average time-span of a book blogger?

Blog Talk: The average time-span of a Book Blogger?

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I’ve been doing this blogging thing since May, so just under 7 months, and I still consider myself pretty new to it. I’m constantly coming across things that I feel I should be including on my blog, and spotting things that I can improve on, such as the quality and volume of reviews, keeping more up to date in the book world, and ways of making my blog look better. For me, it’s a work in progress (as is trying to read quicker!!). Some things work, and some don’t, but I’m just enjoying sharing my book-geek, fangirling ways with the blogosphere.

Because I still feel like a Newb at this, I always just assumed that most of the blogs I follow and love have been around for much longer than mine, and are more established, experienced sites. But more and more lately I’ve been seeing ‘6 months’ or ‘1 year’ anniversary posts or ‘I hit 100 followers’ posts and I’m always surprised that those blogs haven’t actually been going for very long. Which led me to wonder two things:

1. How long is the average time-span for a book blogger?

There’s no doubt about it, book blogging is a lot of work. A lot more work than I was expecting, so I guess it’s not surprising that people would start them up and realise that they just don’t have the time, or will to continue.

2. What is the key to longevity?

Like I said, I’ve been enjoying blogging a lot, and quite soon after I began it just became part of my life. But it is hard to keep motivated sometimes. With working full-time, blogging, and trying to have a social life, my own writing has well and truly taken a back-seat so I do sometimes think what is the point? I just hope the pros (free books, writing practice…) continue to outweigh the cons (too many hours in front of a computer, lack of sleep…).

So I ask you, lovely Bloggers: How long have you been blogging/ How long do you think the average time-span for a book blogger is? And what keeps you going?

And go!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books to-be-read this Winter

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (Click the image to visit them). This week the topic is Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR list.

Most of these books aren’t new, but they are the ones I’m most excited about reading over the next few months so I can then concentrate on all the awesome new books next year (see last week’s TTT for my most anticipated books of 2014) .

Also, I tried to get through a TTT post without mentioning The Selection books, but as you’ll see, I failed.

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What made your list?

Geeking Out: The Library of Birmingham, UK.

On Friday I took a trip to Birmingham to visit a friend and Europe’s second largest Christmas market (expect more from that on this week’s Festive Thursday post). And what kind of Book Geek would I be if I didn’t visit their brand spanking new (and massive) Library?

I was thoroughly impressed, amazed, and just a bit jealous.

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The Library of Birmingham provides a showcase for the city’s internationally important collections of archives, photography and rare books. New facilities including state-of-the-art gallery space open up public access to the collections for the first time. It is also home to a BFI Mediatheque, providing free access to the National Film Archive.

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Spread over 10 levels of varying size and usage, the building comprises a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, two outdoor garden terraces, a ‘golden box’ of secure archive storage occupying two levels, and at the very top of the building a rotunda feature housing the Shakespeare Memorial Room.

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The large windows and roof gardens overlook Birmingham’s big wheel, and the ice rink at this time of year.

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Here is my friend Laura who was promised a Christmas sausage but got Shakespeare instead. I don’t think she minded too much, they seemed to get on well.

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I wasn’t as miserable as I look, honest.

Info taken from http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

THIS BOOK! I’m still processing, but wow. READ IT.

2118745Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

This book has given me a hangover. I feel like a shell of my former self so please excuse this rant of a review.

Poor Todd. He’s the only boy left in Prentisstown and he’s counting down the days until he will officially become a man. He doesn’t know what becoming a man, by Prentisstown standards actually means, but he just hopes that he won’t be alone any more.

But everything Todd thought he knew has been a lie. Prentisstown is not what he thought it was and all of a sudden he’s running for his life, his dog Manchee his only companion.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to reading this book. I remember the hype when it came out and did I that ‘oh I bet it’s not THAT good, I’ll get round to it eventually’ thing. I am an idiot.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a ferocious read. I literally couldn’t stop. It’s written in a stream-of-consciousness style which some people might find challenging, but I love it. It’s also one of those books that never lets up. Things just go from bad to worse for Todd, Manchee and Viola, a girl he finds along the way. I was practically screaming Give the poor kids a break for the love of God, the whole way through.

I can understand exactly why this book has won so many awards. Everything about it is amazing; it’s exciting, provoking, funny, and heart-wrenching (not for the faint-hearted!). I’m not really a dog person, but I even fell in love with Manchee. Best Dog!

And I can’t order my thoughts any more than that right now. I neeeeeeeeed the next book immediately.

unicorn ratingDisclosure: None, I borrowed it off my friend Di. NEXT ONE PLEASE.
Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Details: Paperback, 479 pages
Publication Date: Published October 22nd 2008 by Walker
My Rating: 5/5
Is it a Keeper? I need to buy this series right now.
If you liked this try: I don’t know. Just read this again.

Welcome to Festive Thursdays…

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In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a HUGE fan of Christmas. And seeing as it’s December (YAYYYYY!) I’ve started my Christmas preparations with aplomb. OK so I might have started a month week or so ago.

Anyway, I thought I’d turn my slightly obsessed Christmas antics into a weekly post running throughout December so you can feel more normal about yourselves. You can expect some bookish posts, but also some crafty/foody/deocoration/gifts posts. I AM SO EXCITED.

To kick things off, and ease you in gently, here are a few of the festive books I aim to read this month.

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’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places.

12284953All Lydia’s ever wanted is a perfect Christmas…

So when her oldest friends invite her to spend the holidays with them, it seems like a dream come true. She’s been promised log fires, roasted chestnuts, her own weight in mince pies – all in a setting that looks like something out of a Christmas card.

But her winter wonderland is ruined when she finds herself snowed in with her current boyfriend, her old flame and a hunky stranger. Well, three (wise) men is traditional at this time of year…

11851173Another deliciously seasonal and heart-warming tale from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Twelve Days of Christmas and Chocolate Wishes.

In the pretty Lancashire village of Middlemoss, Lizzy is on the verge of leaving her cheating husband, Tom, when tragedy strikes. Luckily she has welcome distraction in the Christmas Pudding Circle, a group of friends swapping seasonal recipes – as well as a rivalry with local cookery writer Nick over who will win Best Mince Pie at the village show…

Meanwhile, the whole village is gearing up for the annual Boxing Day Mystery Play. But who will play Adam to Lizzy’s Eve? Could it be the handsome and charismatic soap actor Ritch, or could someone closer to home win her heart? Whatever happens, it promises to be a Christmas to remember!

Previously published as Sweet Nothings, Trisha has extensively reworked the original novel with fabulous new extra material.

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Renowned mathematician Henry Rathbone investigates a shocking murder that rocks the tranquility of Christmas at an English estate.