A Christmas Q and A with Ruth Lauren!

Hello everybody!

Today, for day 7 of blogmas, I have a festive interview with the fabulous Ruth Lauren, author of Prisoner of Ice and Snow, which I loved.

Onto the post! 

Hi Ruth! Thank you so much for being here!

Thanks for inviting me!

1. What made you decide to create a wintry world? How did you go about creating that atmosphere? I really just wanted to make the prison in the book the most hostile of places and to utilise the landscape and the conditions to further that. The cold and the ice and snow are used as punishments but I do think there’s beauty alongside the cruelty of winter in Demidova. Writing constant cold you do have to be mindful of how that would feel to the characters and how it would impact on everything they do, so can it can be an impediment, but it can also be a wonderful way of making things more difficult for your characters!

2. Do you ever plan on creating festivals within Demidova? There is actually a Saint’s Day week long celebration in Book 2, Seeker of the Crown! (although it does get overshadowed by a shocking event which I won’t say anything about because spoilers). 

3. If you could create a new festival in the real world, what would it be? Which season would it be held in? How would it be celebrated? Well since I already celebrate Christmas in winter, something in the summer would be nice. How about a month long Festival of Books (and maybe cake?) in July? Permanent reading/cake for the entire month. Should I speak to my MP about this?

4. What does Christmas mean to you? What would be your perfect way to spend the day? I spend Christmas with family. I love getting presents for my kids. Just once, I’d really like it to actually snow on Christmas Day. That would be perfect. 

5. What`s the best Christmas gift you`ve ever been given? Books! I always ask for books. But I did have a bike, probably in 1986, that was pretty cool too. 

6. What are your favouite winter/Christmas pastimes? Last year I went tobogganing and ice skating with my family. That was really fun.  

7. Do you have any Christmas traditions? On Christmas Day I will be eating apple and blackberry crumble and drinking Prosecco whilst wearing an extremely nice dress despite the fact that I won’t be leaving the house. Many Quality Street will be eaten. 

CHRISTMAS QUICKFIRE

1. Your favourite Christmas film? Scrooged with Bill Murray. 

2. The bookish Christmas you`d most like to be part of? The end of the Long Winter in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 

3. Would you rather build a snowman or go sledging? Snowman. 

4. Your favourite Christmas song? Winter Wonderland.

5. Your favourite food to eat? Quality Street.

6. Would you rather go on a flight with reindeer or spend the day with elves making toys? Flight!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed learing a little more about Ruth! For today in the comments, I’d like to know YOUR answer to the last question. What would you rather do and why? 

See you tomorrow, 

Amy xxx

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The Christmas Book Tag 

Hello everybody!

Welcome to day 6 of blogmas! Today, I’m going to be doing the Christmas book tag, which is a few years old but super fun to do, and was created by Kate. Onto the books!


1) A fictional family you would like to spend Christmas dinner with?

I’ve actually written a whole post about this for a guest post during blogmas, so I’ll say one not on there. I’d love to spend Christmas with Kristy’s family from the Babysitters Club (though if Karen could perhaps go elsewhere that would be much appreciated, as I love all her family members except Karen)


2) A bookish item you would like to receive as a gift?

Ooh, this one is hard! I really wanted Primark’s Marauders t-shirt a few months ago and haven’t found one, so I think I’ll go for that.


3) A fictional character you think would make the perfect Christmas elf
?

Wilbur from the Geek Girl series would be an absolutely exceptional elf. He’s quirky, generous, wants the best for everybody and is almost always upbeat and perky.


4) Match a book to its perfect Christmas song

The anthology Winter Magic reminds me of Winter Wonderland as we get to see so many amazing wintry worlds .

5) Bah Hambug. A book or fictional character you’ve been disappointed in and should be put on the naughty list?

I was very disappointed in Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls (which I DNFed as I couldn’t connect with it at all) as I’ve loved everything she’s written previously and I’ve been waiting on it for years.

6) A book or a fictional character you think deserves more love and appreciation and deserve to be put in the nice list?

Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen. Barely anyone I know has read it and it’s my favourite standalone middle grade book of all time. (Closely followed by The Girl Who Walked on Air by Emma Carroll, which I feel is also the least loved of her books)


7) Red, Gold and Green. A book cover that has a wonderfully Christmasy feel to it

The cover for the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries Christmassy book, Mistletoe and Murder, is a gorgeous deep red with lots of little Christmas illustrations by Nina Tara.

8) A book or series you love so much, you want everyone to find under their Christmas tree this year so they can read it and love it too?

Let’s go for my absolute book of the year and say Running on the Roof of the World, shall we? I’ll be blogging about all of my 2017 favourites later in blogmas too, so look out for that! 

Thank you for reading! I’m not going to tag anyone in this as I know lots of people schedule all their blogmas posts in advance, but if you’re in need of a post feel free to say I tagged you to do this! Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl what you think of my book choices! 
Amy xxx

Guest Post: Layla of Readable Life’s Top 5 Wizarding World Christmas Gifts

Welcome to day 5 of blogmas! To celebrate the fact that there are now only 20 days till the Day itself, I have a guest post from my lovely friend Layla about the Christmas gifts she’d choose from the wizarding world. Hope you love this as much as I did! 


Amy xxx

 
Merry Blogmas everyone! While I’m not doing anything blogmas related over on my own blog, I thought that I’d participate in a small way by contributing this guest post for Amy! We were brainstorming ideas and I knew that I wanted to write something to do with Harry Potter. So when the idea came up for gifts from the wizarding world I’d love for Christmas, we were SO excited! Without further ado…

Five Wizarding World Items I Want For Christmas

A Nimbus 2001.

I know that everyone goes on about having a Firebolt – it is the fastest broom – but there’s something about the sleek, dark design of the Nimbus 2001 that would seem like an absolute dream.

Floo Powder.

Okay so how cool would it be to have a pot of Floo Powder? Thinking that I can’t apparate, this is the next best thing to insta-travel. I just have to make sure I don’t mess up my pronunciation, or I’ll end up in Knockturn Alley…

Exploding Snap.

Snap with a twist! This just seems like it would be great fun to play, especially between a group of friends! Plus it doesn’t seem like it would cause any major arguments like Monopoly would…

An unlimited supply of Fizzing Whizbees.

These would be, without a doubt, my favourite wizarding world sweet. When the films first came out, there was a line of real life sweets that these were included in and they were so. Damn. GOOD. I would love to have them just once more, but to ask for an unlimited supply from the wizarding world will have to do!

A Pygmy Puff.

Pygmy Puffs are adorable. They don’t seem as naughty as Nifflers, and I already have a cat, so I think I’ll go for a little purple ball of fluff with a face and call it a cute name.


There you have it – my Christmas wishlist from the Wizarding World! I hope I’ve inspired you to think of your own list – why not write one on your blog using the tag Wizarding World Christmas or tell us down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl and @readablelife? I’d LOVE to see your lists!

I’ll see you next time! Come visit my blog sometime, you might even find something nice there!


Layla @ readablelifeblog.wordpress.com

Ten Books Set in Winter/at Christmas 

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 4 of blogmas!

Today, I’m planning to chat about some books I enjoyed set in Winter or at Christmas itself. 

Onto the books! 


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone– this is my favourite Harry Potter Christmas. It’s so lovely to get to see Harry experience Christmas properly for the first time, and I just really love it.

In the Fifth at Malory Towers
– this book in the series sees Darrell and ger friends put on a panto that sounds brilliant. It’s Cinderella, which is my favourite panto, and I’d really love to see this version with original songs and stunning costumes. There’s also an intersting msytery ober who’s sending poison pen letters to the director…

Winter Term at Malory Towers
– this is my very favourite Malory Towers book, despite it being written by by Pamela Cox and about Darrell’s sister Felicity and her friends. It’s about the girls planning/performing a winter play, battling with malicious new mistress Miss Tallant and also two unusual new girls. June and Freddie’s prank is quite possibly the best of the series, too.


Frost Hollow Hall
– this has one of the most beautiful, wintry covers I’ve ever seen and it feautyres tons of wintry goodness inside too, such as a dramatic ice skating scene. Emma Carroll’s writing is just beautiful, and I HIGHLY recommend everything by her, but especially this for the season.

Issie and the Christmas Pony-
in the festive prequel to Pony Club Secrets, we get to see how Issie and her beloved first horse Mystic meet. It’s so nice to see their relationship as we don’t see huge amounts of Mystic in the usual series, and also Issie’s other horses in a flash forward sort of thinh st the end. This’ll make you cry if you’re anything like me, but it’s well worth a read (particularly if you’re a horse lover)


Mistletoe and Murder
– the 5th in the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries series sees Daisy and Hazel head to Cambridge for Christmas, and become emroiled in solving yet another murder. I love how cosy yet slightly creepy this is, and the Christmas scene at the end is brilliant. The festive section headers are so fun too!

The Mystery of the Dinosaur Discovery
– in the 7th Adventure Island book, Jack, Emily, Scott and Drift the dog discover a dinosaur skeleton, and have to work out whether it truly is a fake or if someone has sabotaged the tests. I love this series, and Dinosaur Discovery is no exception. The way Emily works out the culprit is so clever especially and you’ll kick yourself for not working it out! I know I did.


The Ghost Light
– this isn’t set at Christmas, but it feautures several scenes with snow and I’ve decided to include it for that. I really like the Alice Jones mysteries, and I wish more people would pick them up! The Ghost Light is a creepy theatre mystery, and it’s so fun to see the mystery unravel.

The Mystery of the Midnight Peacock
– this book is an excellent conclusion to the Sinclair’s Nysteries in general, and to make it even better it’s set in Winter! There’s a winter ball, a dramatic New Year’s countdown, and we get to see the luxurious Sinclair’s Department Store just before Christmas.


Snowbound
– the events of this book (a massive snowstorm ) are basically my worst nightmare. However, it’s good fun to read! It’s about the different situations the BSC members find themselves in during a snowstorm, and how they make the best of them.
Thank you for reading! What books set in winter or at Christmas would you recommend? What do you think of my choices? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Guest Post: Katie of Exploration of Creation’s Cosy Christmas Reads

Hello everybody!

Today, on the 3rd day of blogmas, I’m thrilled to welcome my lovely friend Katie to chat about some of her favourite cosy Christmas reads.

Over to Katie! 

The ‘My True Love Gave to Me’ anthology –This anthology has a ton of really festive, cosy stories, by a really wide variety of amazing YA authors. My personal favourite is Stephanie Perkins’s story (she’s also the editor, which is really cool – there’s also an awesome summertime anthology) but honestly a large majority of the stories were really, really enjoyable – I found this pretty unusual, because usually in an anthology, a good few are bound to not be my type of read. There are some other amazing YA authors in this book who I adore, too, like Rainbow Rowell & Jenny Han. I will definitely be re-reading this one during December. If you want to feel all cosy and happy and sappy this Christmas, give this one a go. It’s also super easy to pick up and put down whenever you like, because each individual story is so short (yet so well-rounded!!).

Let It Snow -This is a collection of three stories, written by Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle and the exceptionally talented John Green. I enjoyed the reading experience of this book SO MUCH. Not only was it super festive, but it was also so incredibly funny. I had never read anything from Maureen or Lauren before, so discovering their amazing writing styles was a great surprise, and I already knew and loved John Green, so this simply exemplified that adoration. If you want something really cheerful, but beautifully written, this Christmas, this is definitely the one for you!! 

Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone– Actually, I’d like to recommend the entire Harry Potter series because, a) I’ll do that every chance I get, with any possible excuse but also, b) all of the Harry Potter books have wonderfully cosy Christmas moments. The only exception is Deathly Hallows, where Christmas becomes this forgotten, hazy memory for Harry and Hermione, and it’s so eerie and sad to see how far they’ve come from their first Christmas at Hogwarts. I always love reading about what Harry got sent for Christmas, from the lovely treats he receives from Mrs & Mr Weasley, the hilariously weird things from Dobby and the ridiculously stingy “gifts” sent from the Dursleys. Ultimately, though, the Harry Potter books are so cosy and fun to read all year around, not just at Christmas.

Little Women– This is one of my ultimate favourite classic novels and it’s also one of the first books I read and fell in love with. It has some really festive, wonderful, nostalgic moments in it and the setting of the March house just leaps off of the page – it’s somewhere that sounds pretty magical at Christmas. If you’ve never read this book before, either because you haven’t come across it, or you’ve been too intimidated, I couldn’t possibly recommend it more. It’s really magical and beautifully written – also, I think it would be a great way to start getting into “classic” texts. The March sisters have some really complex, gorgeous relationships. I think I might re-read this one this Christmas.

Have you read any of the books Katie recommends? What did you think? What are your favourite cosy reads? (Both festive and not!). Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

Amy xxx


My Most Anticipated Releases of 2018 (January to April)

Hello everybody!

Welcome to day 2 of blogmas! Today, since we’ve kicked off the countdown to Christmas (related/unrelated point: I am in LOVE with my Thorntons Gruffalo advent calender this year), I thought it’d be fun to talk about some of the books I’m counting down to in the first few months of 2018. (There are a lot more, but these are my top ten! Of which 90% are MG, which isn’t really that surprising seeing I tend to love them most)

Onto the books!


The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson– I enjoyed Lisa’s debut The Goldfish Boy last year, ans I’m VERY excited for this one. If anything, it sounds even better, andif the synopsis is anything to go by I have a feeling I’ll adore Nate.


Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll
– the Queen of Historical Fiction is a fitting description of Emma Carroll. I’m head over heels with each and every one of Emma’s books (particularly the Girl Who Walked on Air, with a brave, feisty yet relatable heroine, a darling little dog and also the dreamy Gabriel Swift). This is set in France and it’s about the first hot air balloon flight, and I have no reason to believe I won’t be raving about this to anyone who’ll listen to me too.

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone
– Confession: I have only read one book by Abi Elphinstone before, The Dream Snatcher, and while I liked it (and her short story from Winter Magic) very much, I’ve just never got round to the others. I will get round to them eventually! Sky Song sounds like too good an adventure to put off though, and everyone I know who’s read it thinks it’s exceptional.


A Spoonful of Murder by Robin Stevens
– as a longtime Murder Most Unladylike fan, I feel like I’ve been waiting FOREVER for this book! As good as the Guggenheim Mystery was, I’m in desperate need of some Wells and Wong goodness. Also, I’m intrigued to see how Daisy and Hazel’s friendship may change when this book is set at Hazel’s home in Hong Kong (not to mention Hong Kong itself!)

Brighstorm by Vashti Hardy
– this is a debut novel, and it’s an MG adventure with a skyship and twins, which are very relevant to my interests/tastes, and I’ve heard praise from a couple of authors who’ve already received proofs. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it!

Battle of the Beetles by M.G Leonard
– I’m unbelievably excited for the conclusion to this trilogy, which I’ve been in love with since soon after Beetle Boy’s release. I adore the charcaters and the beetles, the plot and the writing style, and the villain Lucretia Cutter is so evil! These feel like modern classics, and I’m desperate to find out what the ending will be.

A Witch Alone by James Nicol
– I really liked the Apprentice Witch last year, and I’ve been waiting for ages on the sequel. I’m planning to reread to remind myself of the characters too, and I can’t wait to see what happens to Arianwyn next.

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron
– this is Sophie Cameron’s debut novel and I’m looking forward to it for a number of reasons. It’s set in Edinburgh, some friends I really trust with book recommendations loved it and I’m a pretty big fan of some good magical realism.

Beyond the Odyssey by Maz Evans-
I have adored the first two installments of this series this year, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Elliot next, to see more crazy antics from the gods and to experience another rollercoaster of emotions; going from laughter to tears in very short spaces.

When the Mountains Roared by Jess Butterworth
– if you’ve read basically a single other post on this blog, you will know I love Running on the Roof of the World by this author a huge amount. I cannot wait for her 2nd novel, which is set to feature a leopard!!

Thank you for reading! What’s your advent calender this year? What books are top of your wish list next year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl
Amy xxx

My Winter Memories by Jess Butterworth 

Hello everybody!

Welcome to the FIRST day of blogmas! Today, I’m massively excited to welcome Jess Butterworth, whose book Running on the Roof of the World is one of my very favourites of 2017 (and if I had to choose from my top 3, this would be the one I’d pick). Over to Jess, with her beautiful post about her winter memories. 

I love winter and the frosty mornings where grass crunches under your feet and silvery spider webs cling to hedgerows. 

One of my earliest memories of winter is getting snowed in at my grandma’s house in the Himalayas. There was so much snow my parents had to dig tunnels for me to be able to walk through it. The tunnels were deep and I couldn’t see over the top of them. I was surrounded by glittery white snow and it was magical. That year will always be remembered as the year of The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. 

Other stories I adored curling up with in winter months included The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson, The Elves and the Shoemaker by Brothers Grimm and The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. 

From the age of 16, I worked weekends in a vintage furniture and gift shop in a medieval granary building in Bradford-on-Avon, next to a tithe barn. There was no heating and in winter I remember buying a pair of boots 2 sizes too big so that I could fit my thick socks into them. The owner was the key keeper for the tithe barn and some evenings I got to bolt and lock shut the creaky giant wooden doors of the barn, alone by torchlight. Each time, long shadows would creep across the wooden beams and my footsteps would echo off the stones, and I’d leave wanting to read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. 

The shop transformed into The Christmas Shop every November, filled with orange clove candles and cinnamon pinecones; multi-coloured trees and twinkling decorations. Customers would enter as we were setting it up, nailing garlands to the walls and draping fairy lights, and back out quickly, saying, ‘Oh no, it’s too early for Christmas…’

I always understood what they meant, but I loved it anyway; every day I would come home covered in glitter with the urge to write wintry stories about fairies, woodland creatures and magic. During my last year there I discovered The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton and read it veraciously during my lunch breaks. 

This year I’m spending Christmas somewhere completely new, in Acadiana in Louisiana. Christmas pudding will be replaced with pecan pie and I’ll be reading the Cajun Night Before Christmas by Trosclair and James Rice, where Father Christmas is dressed in muskrat pelts and pulled along in a boat by alligators.  

I’ll also have wintry reads from some of my favourite authors keeping me company, including Emma Carroll’s The Snow Sister, Mimi Thebo’s Dreaming the Bear and Winter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone. 

Thank you so much to Jess for writing this post. I can personally recommend both the Emma Carroll and Winter Magic; and I may be rereading both too! What are your favourite winter memories? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl 

Amy xxx