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 

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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

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top books recently added to the dreaded TBR pile. #TTT

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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… Top ten books recently added to your TBR pile.

Well, this is a nice, easy topic, although I have been buying more books recently so it’ll be hard to choose just 10.

Added from Netgalley:

The Silent Songbird ~ Melanie Dickerson: I shouldn’t have requested this book because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it read and reviewed by the pub date (today!) but I just couldn’t resist. I really fancy an epic historical YA. The opening line of the synopsis had me instantly…I mean castles =  DONE. “Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost”

The Girl Who Saved Christmas ~ Matt Haig: You should all know by now that I love Christmas, and festive reads. I’ve wanted to read Matt Haig’s books for ages so this one was also impossible to resist.

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily ~ Rachel Cohn & David Levithan: I didn’t even know this book was on the cards until I saw it on Netgalley. I loved Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares so I’m thrilled that these authors have got together once again for a sequel. This time, Dash and Lily’s brother have just 12 days until Christmas to cheer Lily up after her grandfather became seriously ill. Can they recapture the magic of Christmas in New York for her?

Shock and Awe ~ Simon Reynolds: This book chronicles the legacy of glam rock from the seventies to today and as such will heavily feature my hero, David Bowie. I don’t often read non-fiction, but I’m really looking forward to this one.

Recently Bought:

The Red Eye Box Set ~ Various: This set of four YA Horror books from Stripes Publishing arrived at the beginning of October. I’ve already read one of the books, Frozen Charlotte and really loved it so I hope the others are as good too.

A Christmas Party ~ Georgette Heyer: I picked this up from a charity shop recently. ‘Tis’ the season for…Murder‘ is the perfect tagline that enticed me.

City of Dark Magic ~ Magnus Flyte: I bought this book in an English bookshop I found in Prague. It sounds amazing.

“Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.”

Six of Crows ~ Leigh Bardugo: This arrived just this week. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Borrowed:

The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness: It’s Ness. I don’t have to say much more. Other than perhaps my shame that I haven’t read it yet.

Koko Takes a Holiday ~ Kieran Shea: I think I can safely say that this will be my first ever Cyberpunk book. It sounds mad, in a good way. My friend Dora enjoyed it and passed it on to me.

Have you read any of these? What should I go for first?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Who ya gonna stalk? #TTT

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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…Top Ten Bookish People to Follow on Social Media

I probably don’t use social media as much as I should do considering I have a blog to promote. Twitter and Instagram are the only ones I really use for bookish/blog stuff and I go through phases of remembering to use them. I’m the same with following people too. But there are some really great bookish people that I do follow on Twitter (and should pay more attention to):

@Patrick_Ness: I mean let’s face it, Patrick Ness is my just my favourite, ever.

 

@BookSmugglers: Self confessed ‘Review Mavens & Super Dorks’, UK-based The Book Smugglers are award-winning bloggers who post great reviews, features and book news.

@MattHaig1:  I actually haven’t read any of Matt Haig’s books (yet) but his presence on Twitter is funny and inspiring.

@BookBloggersChat: These guys are based in the UK and arrange book blogging chats on twitter which is a great way to get involved in the community and support each other.

@Jabberworks: Sarah McIntyre is a children’s author, illustrator, comic book creator and cosplay enthusiast. She does a lot of work with libraries and schools, promoting creativity in kids. She’s a whole lot of fun.

@AitchLove: Hannah Love is Children’s Publicity Manager at Faber Children’s and reviewer for and . She tweets about everything bookish, both promoting and just generally fangirling. She’s very active in the book blogging community and sometimes even sends out books. A must-follow for YA bloggers.

@SarraManning: Sarra Manning is an author and Literary Editor. Her tweets make me LOL (as well as keeping me up-to-date in bookland).

@Cleo_Bannister: Cleo is one of my favourite book bloggers who reviews mainly crime fiction and dark thrillers. She’s very active on Twitter and retweets her favourite posts from the book blogging community.

@IsobelJournal: Isobel Harrop is the author of The Isobel Journal which was published after she became a Twitter sensation by tweeting her old high school diary. She tweets about books, life and vegan food.

@YALC: YALC is the UK’s YA Lit Con at the London Film & Comic Con . This year the convention is on 28-31 July 2016 so if you’re thinking of going give them a follow.

 

Who are your bookish must-follows on Twitter? 

YALC UK – Day Two

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If you missed my Day One post, click here.

On Sunday we arrived at Earl’s Court a bit more refreshed and prepared for what lay ahead compared to Saturday. We took solace in the fact that we actually had tickets and knew where everything was this time. We were also hoping to explore a bit more of the LFCC in between the book talks and signings.

The queue was still ridiculous but thankfully a lot more organised, and we got in after about an hour. We got tickets for all of talks that day but thought we might skip one or two to explore the rest of the comic con. When I say explore, I mean stalk Peter Peter Petrelli, the Game of Thrones cast and keep checking if Giles returned. He never did. 😦

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Murder Most Magical

With Ben Aaronovitch, Paul Cornell and Suzanne McLeod

The first event we attended was actually on the LFCC schedule rather than the YALC one, and it was all about crime fiction with a magical twist, based in London. Despite not having read any of the author’s books I really loved this talk. Dora is a big fan of Ben Aaronovitch, and after the talk we headed to the signing area to get one of her books signed.

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How to Get Published

With Phil Earle and Sally Green, chaired by Ben Horslen (Penguin Books)

This talk on how to get published was a great opportunity for any aspiring writer such as myself. I picked up some great tips, and felt pretty inspired to be honest. It’s been a long time since I thought about the novel I’ve been working on (or not) for years and this really put some wind back in my sails again.

Sally Green, author of one of this year’s biggest YA debuts, Half Bad, came across as really lovely, but I couldn’t help be envious of her story. Everything just seemed to fall into place for her quite easily.

On the other hand, Phil Earle shared his experiences too, and he seemed to have had more of a struggle with the publishing process so it was good to get that different perspective. The talk was chaired by an editor from Penguin too, and he gave some valuable insights into the editor/author relationship.

Crossover: Not Just for Kids

With Matt Haig, Anthony McGowan, Nick Lake and Meg Rosoff, chaired by David Maybury

After having a wander, and debating whether it was worth spending £20 to hug Peter Petrelli (we decided against it), we got back to catch the end of I’m too Sexy for This Book which was a talk we weren’t too bothered about but on hindsight I wished we’d stayed for. They talked a lot about LGBT sex in YA fiction and it sounded like an interesting discussion.

The next talk, about YA being a crossover genre was the one I was most looking forward to that day, and oh my, it did not disappoint. It was definitely the most controversial talk of the weekend, mainly thanks to Anthony McGowan playing devil’s advocate.

I don’t even know where to start, firstly he offended quite possibly most of the audience by saying that adults should be ashamed to read YA. He then went on to say how terrible Twilight and The Hunger Games are and that all YA fiction should be realistic and based in high school…what the hell?

It wasn’t completely serious though, there was a lot of banter, and the other panelists did a good job of shooting him down, but I was slightly miffed. I liked how Nick Lake went on a rant about why he thinks Twilight IS a great book.

One of things that came up in this talk and had been popping up in a lot of the talks, was about the term YA being relatively new. They posed the question of if The Lord of the Flies was released now, would it be classed as YA? They put it to Anthony that most of the books he considers classics would be classified as YA today. It managed to shut him up for a while.

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Read the bloody books you want to read!’

-Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now) was brilliant.

‘It’s a desperate fallacy that a book has to be complex to be worthwhile’

-Nick Lake (Hostage Three)

Sisters Doing it For Themselves

With Tanya Byrne, Isobel Harrop, Julie Mayhew, Holly Smale and Sarra Manning

This was another one of the talks that on paper, I wasn’t too bothered about but I’m really glad I attended. There was a lot of talk about how the likes of Katniss are great characters, but present an unrealistic view of girls. They asked the question, why do we have to be physically strong to be a heroine, or thought of as a strong female character?

I thought the authors did a really great job on this panel, not to mention that they managed to sneak in that perfect Joss Whedon quote. Tanya Byrne especially won me over, talking about how she is careful to never describe her female characters as thin or beautiful and just letting the reader picture them however they wish. I must read her books!

Holly Black & Sally Gardiner in conversation

The closing talk of YALC was all about fairy tales and magic – perfect! I was particularly excited because I love Holly Black a little bit. I feel like me and Holly Black need to be friends, and this only confirmed it all the more.

Afterwards we just had time to grab some free books (YAY) and head over to Holly’s signing table to get my copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown signed. She was lovely, of course, and she liked my unicorn t-shirt. We’ll be BFFs before you know it.

Random Happenings:

  • GILES NEVER CAME BACK 😦
  • Following Peter Petrelli around was pretty fun
  • I didn’t realise how popular T.J Thyne (Bones) is, his signing queue was constantly huge
  • It’s really heartbreaking when you see some people with massive queues, and others with none. I felt really sorry for them.
  • Someone gave me a free ticket for a Michael Madsen photo shoot which would have been hilarious, but clashed with the Holly Black talk so I had to give it away.
  • Free Sci-fi books? Oh, OK then!