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 09.11.16 #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. 

Greetings, blog-friends! Here’s what I’ve been up to this week. Better late than never, right? 

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

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily is a quick, light read but I haven’t been swept away by it like I was with the first book. I’m also still going on my ‘lunch time’ (what’s that I hear you cry!?) read, The Enchanted. I managed about 2 pages today. Sigh. 

Then:   Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky ~ Holly Martin // The Book of KringleDerek Valez Partridge // Saint Death Marcus Sedgwick

It’s very rare I finish two whole books in a week, never mind three! But I lost myself in the first festive reads of the season and then moved on to the new Sedgwick. I liked all of these books a lot. I reviewed The Book of Kringle on Monday, and my review of Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky will be up tomorrow. Saint Death was the only (slight) disappointment, probably because I always have such high hopes for his books.  I’ll get my review up by Monday. 

Next: ??? 

I think it has to be  The Witches of New York by Ami McKay which I should have read and reviewed abut a month ago. Bad blogger. Sorry, World. 

Waiting on Wednesday

(Linking up with Breaking the Spine)

Once again I’ve chosen this book based on the cover. It immediately got my attention. Sounds great, too!

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Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis.

When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless, one-winged faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition.

But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly.

Expected publication: April 25th 2017 by Algonquin Young Readers

New on the Shelves

(Linking up with Stacking the Shelves)

I’m really not sure about this one but I was so intrigued I had to pre-order it. It arrived earlier this week….

thechemistIn 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 realizes it’s her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life, but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she’s one of the world’s bestselling authors.

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 🙂

The Book of Kringle: Legend of the North Pole #BookReview #XmasReads

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Title: The Book of Kringle – Legend of the North Pole
Author: Derek Valez Partridge with Mark Packard
Series: N/A
Format: ePub, 32 pages
Publication Details:  September 22nd 2016 by Vista Clara Productions
Genre(s): Children’s Literature; Christmas Stories
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

In a magical land on top of the world, an epic struggle between light and darkness was waged between two brothers. King Kringle ruled with a harsh hand over the Elves of the North Pole, allowing no laughter, no play and no Christmas celebration.

There was only one truly kindhearted soul who could make a difference and change the course of the world. Would the Elves be able to find Santa and bring laughter and joy to the land? Manusol the Elf knows the answer, for it is written in The Book of Kringle.

Review

This beautifully illustrated children’s book is an origin story of Santa Claus. Narrated by an elf, we are taken on a journey through a tough time in the North Pole where the evil King has put a ban on Christmas, celebrations, and even laughter. 

But the Elves envisage a better future for themselves and together they set out to find the one person who can stop the King. The one person who knows the importance of the spirit of Christmas, and that is the King’s brother himself, known as Santa Claus.

The Book of Kringle is wonderful. The story was unique amongst many generic Santa Claus tales, this one had grit and adventure and just the right amount of danger, all finished off with a happy ending, of course. I only wish it was longer!

However, the star of the show is definitely the stunning illustrations. They are complex and bright and will no doubt hypnotise all children who are lucky enough to see them. This is a book worth treasuring for years to come. 

unicorn rating 4

A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale

ng4Title: A Christmas to Remember
Author: Jenny Hale
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 316 pages
Publication Details: October 10th 2014 by Bookouture
Genre(s): Romance; Christmas/Holiday
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review. Many thanks to Bookouture.

Goodreads
Purchase

Everyone loves Christmas – don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing , the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree!

The only problem could be her boss… single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!

Review

A Christmas to Remember is a heart-warming, feel-good, festive read. It follows protagonist Carrie through what she hopes is her last job as Nanny, over the Christmas period.

These kind of chick-lit holiday books are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. You know exactly what you’re going to get – drama, romance and a warm and fuzzy ending – and this book didn’t disappoint. Plus, it had other aspects that I wasn’t expecting too.

Carrie loves her job but it’s meant that she’s had to make a lot of sacrifices in her personal life. When she’s on a job she is on call 24/7. She has little-to-no time for friends, her own family or outside commitments so she finds herself in her 30s with no friends to speak of, no man, or even past relationships. All she has is her work – other people’s children.

I found Carrie quite relateable, but man, she was way too neurotic for me! She’s all like wahhhhh I love my job, but wahhhhhhh I want my own family. And then there was all the ‘am I supposed to eat dinner with his family?’ and ‘he’s just being polite, he doesn’t like me blahblahblah. Arrrghhh. I wanted to scream in her face… and that’s not a bad thing! You should all know by now, that I love a book I have to scream at. I couldn’t put it down, and ended up devouring it in two sittings.

I also really liked that Adam, the work-a-holic whose life she enters (and takes over) owns his own brewery. I thought it gave a bit of a unique edge to the story as it wasn’t something I was expecting. Usually in this type of story the guys are all corporate business men with faceless/nameless companies, but here we realise that Adam’s journey has been a rags-to-riches one, and that he’s a self-made man through sheer determination and hard work. It definitely helped me to warm to him despite him being a rubbish father to begin with.

And y’know, he’s clearly pretty hot.

Overall, A Christmas to Remember was a fun, festive story that I couldn’t stop reading. What more can you ask for? Pass the mince pies!

unicorn rating 4

A Christmas to Remember is available in paperback from Waterstones now!

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Reads!

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

This week the topic is: Top Ten Books On My Winter To Be Read List

Winter is my favourite reading season. Most people love Summer reading, propped up against a tree, or on a beach. But I prefer a cosy open fire (a radiator), an afghan throw (a snuggie) and steaming cup of hot chocolate (mulled wine).

Here are the top ten books I’m looking forward to reading this winter. They fall into two categories, advanced copies I have queued up, and a few stragglers that either I didn’t get through last year, or have on the top of my TBR pile.

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The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black: I hope this is a bit more adult than Doll Bones was. I love Holly Black though, so have high hopes for this! Released January 13th

Mr Miracle – Debbie Macomber: Last Christmas I read my first Debbie Macomber in Starry Night and really liked it. Hoping for more great festive trash in this one.

Snow Angels, Secrets & Christmas Cake – Sue Watson: You may sense a theme here.

A Christmas to Remember – Jenny Hale: All the festive reads!

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard: I can’t tell you how happy I was when I got approved for this. It looks amazing. Released Feb 10th.

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An English Ghost Story – Kim Newman: This was the only book I didn’t get round to reading on my Horror October list. It looks perfect for a dark and dreary night!

Last Stand of Dead Men (Skulduggery Pleasant #8)- Derek Landy: I’ve had this book on my TBR pile all year. I am determined to finish this series. This is the penultimate book, and the last one was released recently.

A Christmas Visitor – Anne Perry: I’ve never read any Anne Perry before. I bought this one last year but didn’t get round to reading it, so I’ve been saving it for the festive season. 🙂

The Magic of Christmas – Trisha Ashley: I fell in love with Trisha’s The Twelve Days of Christmas and have read it the past three Christmasses running, so when I saw this one in a charity shop I couldn’t resist. I’ll give this one a go this year instead.

The Maze Runner – James Dashner: I did the bad thing of watching the movie before reading the book. I actually really liked the movie though and now I neeeeeeeed to know what happens next. I’ll probably try and get through this one as quickly as possible just to get to book 2!

I look forward to seeing what’s on your lists. My bookshelves are groaning at the thought though.