A Christmas Book Haul

I don’t often to book hauls, mostly because I don’t really get a lot of books in one go, but I was lucky enough to get so many wonderful books for/around Christmas that I just wanted to share them.

From Publishers

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Before Christmas I got a few exciting booking parcels in the post. One was this lovely set of It Girl books by Katy Birchall from Egmont. I loved the first two books and am excited to see what happens to Anna next. The new covers are gorgeous and I love this new design.

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I also received a copy of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber, from Walker books, which I’m reading at the moment. So many people have been tweeting amazing things about this book and I feel really lucky to have a copy.

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And finally, I have The Fireman by Joe Hill, from Gollancz. When I was emailed about this I’d just finished reading Horns and the offer of another book by Joe Hill was just too tempting.

From Nathan

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The majority of my presents from Nathan were books, which is alright by me! They were a good mix of things he knew I wanted – Noughts & Crosses which I used to borrow off my sister so never had my own copy, Goldenhand because I love The Old Kingdom series, a beautiful illustrated copy of The Lie Tree – and some new things to try as well. I’ve already read Scarlet Witch and can’t wait to get stuck into the rest of them.

From the In-Laws

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Nathan’s parents really know how to do Christmas well, and I was lucky to get a lot of books from them. The one I’m most excited about is The Call by Peadar O’Guilin, which I’ve heard great things about, and The Creeper Man by Dawn Kurtagich, as I loved The Dead House by her.

From my Mom

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And lastly, from my dear old Mom, I got The Muse by Jessie Burton. I read The Miniaturist last year and quite enjoyed it, though I’ll admit I struggled a bit as adult books aren’t really my thing. but it was still an interesting story and I’m looking forward to picking this one up.

This year I’ve decided to prioritise the books I got for Christmas, as last year some of them got lost in all the review books and new books I got throughout the year (I still haven’t read some of them…) So I have my new books in a separate pile and am going to work my way through them, alternating with review books when I have them.

I hope you all had a very bookish Christmas and that the new year holds lots of exciting things for you to read.

Book Review: I’ll Be Home for Christmas (by lots of awesome YA authors)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 384

Release Date: September 22nd 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

The UK’s top Young Adult authors join together in this collection of new stories and poems on the theme of home. Contributors include: Tom Becker, Holly Bourne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Melvin Burgess, Katy Cannon , Cat Clarke, Juno Dawson, Julie Mayhew, Non Pratt, Marcus Sedgwick, Lisa Williamson and Benjamin Zephaniah. GBP1 from the sale of every book will be donated to Crisis, the national homelessness charity. To find out more about Crisis, see www.crisis.org.uk

Review:

This was the perfect book for me to read at the moment as I’ve got super excited for Christmas, way too early this year! I’m a big Christmas fan normally but this year will be Little Moore’s first Christmas which is doubly exciting. Christmas has always been a family affair in my house and I know I’ve been lucky to always be surrounded by them at this special time of year.

For most of the people in this book, they’re not so lucky at Christmas, and it’s good to be reminded of that. The book is made up of short stories by some of the top UKYA authors, plus a competition winning entry. I normally struggle to remember all the stories in a collection like this when it comes to reviewing, so I made little notes as I went along, which I’ve put below, with a few additions. It’s a little bit different than a normal review but at least I can say something about each story.

Benjamin Zephaniah – Home and Away Poem made me very nostalgic at first, then sad. Very thought provoking.

Non Pratt – Ghosts of Christmas Past I really connected with this story. I wish I could revisit some of my old houses. I can still picture my first house at Christmas

Marcus Sedgwick – If Only in my Dreams That was a weird and creepy space story. I kind of wanted it to be longer, was very intrigued.

Cat Clarke – Family You Choose That was really uplifting in a sad kind of way. I love the idea of having a Christmas meal for people who don’t have other people to spend the day with.

Kevin Brooks – The Associates Mm, that one didn’t really do anything for me.

Holly Bourne – The Afterschool Club I love Holly Bourne’s writing. Can’t believe it ended that way, I want to read more.

Juno Dawson – Homo for Christmas A sweet story but I felt like I didn’t connect to the character much. I didn’t like the language but not sure if it’s because I’m too old or too southern.

Sita Brahmachari – Amir and George That was painfully sad. A real punch in the gut. Very topical at the moment too.

Tracy Darnton – The Letter I can see why that was the winner. Great voice. Look forward to seeing more from her.

Tom Becker – Claws Awesome little Christmas horror. A favourite so far.

Katy Cannon – Christmas, Take Two A sweet story, enjoyed it a lot.

Melvin Burgess – When Daddy Comes Home Interesting story but I’m not a fan of the monologue style.

Julie Mayhew – The Bluebird A very poetic fairytale

Lisa Williamson – Routes and Wings Sad but with an uplifting ending. Lovely to see more writing from Lisa Williamson.

This will be a perfect Christmas present, or great to read in the run up to Christmas too, to get you all excited. Plus £1 from each book will be donated to Crisis, the national homelessness charity, so you can’t really go wrong.

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My First Reads of 2016

I received a fair few books for Christmas, and I want to make sure these are the first ones I read in the New Year – too often I get new books and they go on the TBR pile and get lost in there. So today I’m sharing the books I’ve received recently and promising to read them real soon!

Note: Since writing this I ended up with loads of review books too so been getting through those first. Then on to Christmas books!

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The first group came from my mom and were all ones I’d requested. Some I’ve actually been waiting to read since the beginning of last year, so I’m glad I’ve finally got my hands on them and can read them in 2016.

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This next one was from Nathan and is not one I’ll be aiming to read immediately like the others. As with my Grimm Tales book, I’d like to dip in and out of this and work my way through it slowly (as it’s not a quick read!) I’d also love to read some of these aloud to baby soon.

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These two beauties were from Nathan’s parents and are another couple I’ve wanted to read for ages – especially, Library of Souls, which has been out for a while and I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet.

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Another gift from Nathan – I’ve wanted to read this since reading Only Ever Yours  by Louise O’Neill earlier this year – I’ve heard there are some similarities with this book, and it’s a bit of a classic that I think really needs reading.

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Again, these four are from Nathan. He did some research into YA comics/graphic novels and bought the ones he thought I would enjoy/wanted me to read and review. I’d like to read more graphic novels in 2016 so this is a great way to start.

I hope you all got some exciting books in your Christmas stockings, and I can’t wait to see what everyone’s reading this year.

IT’S CHRISTMAASSS!!

Well, nearly anyway 😉

I’m writing this early on Christmas eve. I’ve finished work for the year (which is a massive relief, having not had a real holiday since last December) and am excited to go spend some time with my family. I thought I’d share a few of my favourite Christmas traditions/what makes Christmas so special for me.

  • Christmas has pretty much stayed the same for me since I was a kid. I’ve spent the majority of them with my mom and step-dad and sisters, with the exception of a few years when I was younger and we alternated Christmas with my dad (best thing about divorced parents = 2 Christmases!)

  • We don’t go anywhere or do anything or see anyone on Christmas – it’s just us ‘immediate family’ – basically those who live in the house/me and my sister now we’ve moved out. I know for some people Christmas means big family gatherings but that’s never how we’ve done it. Boxing Day is for seeing people, Christmas is just for us.

  • Right from the first Christmas I can remember we’ve had ‘bed presents’. They were exciting as kids but now I see how smart my mom was being too. When my older sister and I were young, we’d wake up Christmas morning with a video on our beds – it was the only present we were allowed to open without our parents there. The bed presents kept us quiet as we could go downstairs and watch a film until it was a reasonable time to wake our parents up. And this still happens every year – only with DVDs now, obviously!

  • Me and my three sisters all have beautiful stockings that our auntie made us and I love seeing them all laid out. They’re all very different, but very special as Auntie Astrid sewed them herself and cross stitched our names on them – I’m hoping she’ll make one for baby when it’s born next year too.

  • My favourite thing about Christmas is hard to pick out. I love the atmosphere, I love the food, and I love having some time to just relax and be with family.

I promised my little sisters that I’d come home for Christmas until I had a child of my own, so that means this is my last Christmas with them. I’m going to enjoy every second of it as my last ‘childish’ Christmas, and I’m really looking forward to celebrating next year with just me, Nathan and our baby 🙂

My Christmas Book Collection

 It’s a little late but I thought I’d go through the books I got for Christmas and why I’m looking forward to reading them 🙂
We’ll start with top left:
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
I saw this in Waterstones and wanted it immediately just because of the cover (and yes, I know you shouldn’t judge like that but I think first impressions mean a lot to me). It’s already been included in my Top 5 Book Covers.
The Mist by Stephen King
This doesn’t really fit in with the YA theme of the blog but I thought I’d throw it in anyway. I’m a huge fan of horror films and the adaptation of this book is one of my absolute favourites.
Hansel and Gretel by Neil Gaiman
I don’t think I’d heard of this one before I got it, but my boyfriend bought it because I love fairy tales and Neil Gaiman, and also it is beautifully illustrated.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
Another one that I’m not sure really fits in with my YA theme (it’s a comic series) but also another that has beautiful illustrations and sounds right up my street as an epic fantasy/space opera. It’s a library edition and looks lovely on the shelf.
The 100 and Day 21 by Kass Morgan
I saw the adverts for this on E4 before I’d heard of the book. I like the sound of the programme but never got round to watching it and then I found out it was a book series first, so obviously it had to be read before it could be watched.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
If you’ve read any other posts/seen me on Twitter you’ll probably know I’m a pretty big Patrick Ness fan. This one has been on my wish list for a while and is another one with really incredible illustrations to go with it (that cover is so beautifully detailed).
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
This was another present from my boyfriend, who wanted to buy my favourite Roald Dahl book (The Twits) but couldn’t find it in store, so he bought his favourite one instead. Still, I love the story and you can’t beat a bit of classic Dahl.
(I’ve also realised I missed out my Maze Runner boxset from the picture, but I also got the four of them for Christmas and am really looking forward to seeing if they’re as good as the hype. And then I can finally watch the film as well!)
So that’s my Christmas collection and quite possible the last (physical) books I’ll get until my birthday (only a few months away). I’d love to hear what everyone else got this year!

New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t normally go in for New Year’s resolutions, mostly because I never seem to stick to them. But, it’s the first day of the year, I’m feeling positive and willing to make some promises to myself that I may (or may not) keep.

1. Start a blog
I know it’s kind of cheating because I technically started it yesterday, but this is something I’ve promised I’d create and keep updated this year. So far so good!

2. Complete the British Books Challenge
I’ve already done a post on this, but will mention it again (repetition will make me stick to promises!) I love the idea of supporting British authors and should also encourage me to try reading some new things.

3. Finish my second draft
Last year I finished the first draft of my first YA novel and I have never been prouder. Now I need to go back over it and fix all the broken bits (I swear I WILL plan better next time). It seems momentous at the moment, but so did writing the first draft, and I got that out the way so I think I’m ready for Round Two.

4. Get fit
It crops up every year, but this time I’m determined to stick to it (like I was last year, and the year before…) I’m off to a good start though, having completed my first run on the NHS Couch to 5K run. Just another 8 weeks and 26 runs to go…

Wishing everyone luck in whatever they have resolved to achieve in 2015 🙂