Why I Loved Doing Blogmas

Hello everybody!


Today, I’m doing a little bit of reflection on why I enjoyed doing blogmas so much during December. After all the stress was out of the way, I thought it was an incredible experience, and one I personally loved (though I totally respect anyone who doesn’t enjoy it; every blogger is amazing regardless 💜). Unless anything drastically changes over the next year (which is entirely possible), I’m very much hoping to take part again in 2018. Onto the reasons why I decided this!

 Increased Engagement– I’d be a liar if I didn’t own up to liking a boost in my stats, but I mean other things by this too. I thoroughly enjoyed reading other bloggers’ posts and trying to comment on and engage with them.


Creativity
– I got to come up with ideas, both for myself and working with guests to decide on their posts. It was brilliant fun, and I love how differently they’ve all turned out, even when working from similar titles. It was a big challenge, especially considering that I usually post 13 times a month on average, but I’m genuinely thrilled with every idea that made the cut (and some which didn’t, that I’ve added to thoughts for 2018 blogmas)


Getting to Organise Something-
I’m nowhere near near as organised as some people seem to think I am, but I do really quite enjoy it. Blogmas unleashed my inner organiser (blogging does in general, if I’m honest). Spider diagrams of brainstorming sessions and schedules have been in my notebook since July. This was admittedly extreme, but I’m so proud I pulled it off. In the interest of full disclosure, I already have a loose schedule in mind for blogmas 2018, should I take part…


Doing Something a Bit Different
– When my blog first began, I posted exclusively about books. Then I introduced the odd Disney post, and then a lifestyle tag and then films. I really enjoy writing them for a change of pace, and I loved doing festive versions during Blogmas! In the New Year I’m hoping to start talking a little bit about music too, which I’m super excited about. I hope you like these different posts too!


Guest Posts-
As well as hosting some amazing guest posts here, I also contributed posts to several blogs I love. It was so much fun, and I really couldn’t pick a favourite of the ones I got to write!


Thank you so much for reading! Why did you love doing blogmas, if you did it?


Amy xxx

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Guest Post: Noah’s Christmas Message by Simon James Green 

Hello everybody! It’s the 23rd of December, can you believe it? I’m so sad that blogmas is almost over, but today I have a fabulous festive treat to share! Noah, from Noah Can’t Even, has written a Christmas Message, which his lovely author Simon James Green has sent along. Over to Noah! 

The Queen’s Noah’s Christmas Message

Hello everyone, and many festive greetings to you all! As I write this, I am eating a warmed mince pie, a cracker sitting temptingly on my desk, as a lone choirboy sings ‘Silent Night’ outside in the snow. Lol, joking! It’s actually November and we’ve got a supply teacher in History and no work has been set, so we’re allowed to do what we want once we’ve completed his word search handout. You’ll be pleased to know I found all fifteen words in under eight minutes – pretty good going when you consider they can be going any direction, backwards or forwards! Anyway, Mr. Baxter set us a task to write a ‘Christmas Message’ in an attempt to use interesting teaching methods to help us ‘analyse our progress’ (ooh, has someone got an OFTSED inspection coming up?) so here is my work:

As well as being a time for candles, turkey and nuts, Christmas is a time for reflection – and I have been doing a lot of that, let me tell you. I’ve been doing so much reflecting, I’m practically a mirror. And what do I see? Well, I see a year that’s been pretty damn awful. Most of my years end up being pretty bad, but 2017 was especially catastrophic for me since Knobface Simon James Green decided to write his book about me and Scholastic, who I assume are some sort of trendy London company full of people who eat avocados, published it. Now everyone knows everything about me, including my most private thoughts and musings and it’s awful. With the devastating news that the book was optioned for a TV show, and a sequel is coming out next year, I have been actively looking at options for living on Mars, as I believe they are looking for volunteers to form a colony there and start a new society. I have sent in my application for this and expect a positive response, as I feel I have many desirable qualities that the new society would need, e.g. I have Scout badges for knots, first aid, fire safety, hillwalking, naturalist and model maker, amongst many others. BTW, the ‘naturalist’ badge is about nature, and shouldn’t be confused with a ‘naturist’ badge, which is someone who likes to go around with no clothes on. There isn’t a Scout badge for naturism, as far as I know. 

Anyhoo, it’s important not to focus on negative things, so I have also been thinking about GOOD things about this year that I am grateful for:

Am Student Librarian 

Harry 

Sophie is in Milton Keynes but I have an invitation to visit at any time (with a minimum forty-eight hour notice, she says). 

Gran is pretty cool at the moment and we are re-watching all the Joan Hickon Miss Marple episodes together.

Most of the stuff they said would happen in our Year 7 puberty talk has now happened, I think, although not everything, but I guess there’s still time and things happen at different times for different people so it’s not even an issue so shut up. 

OK, so what about 2018? What are my hopes and dreams? Other than a nuclear accident vaporizing my mother, or an admin error delivering several tons of Skittles to my door, my main hope is that people STOP BEING DICKS and we can all just get on and sort out some of the really important stuff, like the fact we’re all going to be incinerated because of global warming, or die in the antibiotic apocalypse, or a billion other awful things. But all that’s for later – for now we must focus on nice things because it’s Christmas. We must think of Father Christmas and his sack of toys, and singing traditional carols like ‘Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart’ by popular music band, ‘The Wham!’ Funny story: I knew a woman called Carol and the thing was, she didn’t like carols. That’s pretty awkward, right?!

I hope you have a happy 2018 and I’d like to wish you much festive cheer and thank you for listening to my assorted musings. A very merry Christmas – and a happy Noah year! Ha! (Is that funny? I think that’s funny). 

Noah Grimes x

A comment from Mr Baxter: 

B+ (This would have been an A, Noah, but I had to cross out several inappropriate words. You shouldn’t refer to SJG as ‘Knobface’ in a piece of formal writing, so suggest you take this bit out. Also, for your information, I don’t have an OFTSED inspection coming up and don’t appreciate your sarcastic tone. Please see me. Mr. Baxter). 

Thank you so much for reading! Are you a fan of Noah Can’t Even? What have been your best moments this year? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the last day of blogmas,

Amy xxx

My 2017 Middle Grade Favourites List

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 22 of blogmas! Can you believe how close the big day is now?! 


Today I’m going to be speaking about my favourite middle grade books of 2017, and since they all are MG, my top 3 books overall of the year.

Onto the books! (And I’ve included a few more than 10, whoopsies! 🙈😂)


 

Who Let the Gods Out/Simply the Quest by Maz Evans-
I’m in love with this modern take on Greek mythology, which tells the story of young carer Elliot Hooper as the Greek gods crash into his life and he becomes embroiled in trying to remedy the escape of daemon Thanatos. As well as the original take on this, I also adore the way this series mixes humour an heartbreaking moments in the best way imaginable, I can’t wait for parts 3 and 4 of Elliot’s journey over the next year or so.

Beetle Queen by M.G Leonard– In my opinion, these books are future classics. The idea, of ultra-intelligent beetles and an evil fashion designer scientist villain who wants to use them to take over the world is something I never thought I’d enjoy, but they have made me love beetles (except for endlessly creepy earwigs). It’s about Darkus Cuttle as he finds his own beetle and many others, and determines to save them from aforementioned awful villain Lucretia Cutter.

Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen– this is Polly Ho-Yen (writer of my favourite standalone MG of all time the Boy in the Tower, for any new readers) and I thought this, the tale of immigrant Leelu and her family, and their problems blended with a gorgeous magical realism element was stunning. I read it in about one sitting when I was feeling ill one day and I can’t recommend it highly enough. After a few rereads I think this one may be very close to my heart too.

Spellchasers trilogy by Lari Don – this is the best (completed) trilogy I’ve ever read, and it’s about a group of young people coming together to try and lift their respective curses. I thought the plot was original, the magic system and worldbuilding were exceptionally good and I thought the main characters were excellent, and I liked that they developed over the course of the books. The construction of the trilogy as a whole was my favourite thing though, since each book had a separate plot but that some arcs weren’t resolved till book 3, which worked well.

The Guggenheim Mystery by Robin Stevens– this book was written to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Siobbhan Dowd’s London Eye Mystery, and I thought it was a pretty perfect follow up. I thought Robin was both faithful to the original and put her own spin on it, and it was truly a delight to see Ted Spark and the world through his eyes again. This books sees Ted solving a New York mystery at the Guggenheim museum with big sister Kat and cousin Salim.

 Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend – I anticipated this book for so long that I started to worry it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. If anything, it exceeded them. This was clever, original and witty, with characters I could get behind and admire and love (and in the case of villains/baddies hate) and I thought the plot was perfectly paced in telling of cursed child Morrigan navigating the Trials of the Wondrous Society which will save her from certain death if she gains. This really did remind me of Harry Potter in terms of the imaginative, well described worldbuilding and I’d also recommend it for fans of the Uncommoners books for this reason. 


The Polar Bear Explorers Club by Alex Bell
– this was magical from beginning to end in each and every way. It’s about a group of young explorers on an Artic adventure full of magical creatures, family and friendship, and I absolutely loved the characters (especially Beanie). I also loved the way this book shows and celebrates the importance of kindness above all else. Roll on the next book in what I’ve heard is a series!

And now for my top 3 of the year overall…


Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren
– this is a wintry adventure book that tells the story of glorious, brave heroine Valor as she attempts to save her wrongfully convicted sister Sasha from prison. The worldbuilding of Demidova is incredible, I loved the writing style and the ensemble cast is excellent. It was like nothing I’d ever read before.

Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter
– I raced through this in a morning, desperately invested in the story of selective mute Rosalind finding a voice to stand up to bullies through her blog. I cared about each and every character a huge amount, it felt so realistic that I felt as though I could really know these people and I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions from elation to crying. I thought the emdomg was perfect; hopeful but not tied in a neat bow as suited the story, and I can’t wait for Tamsin’s next book.

Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth
– This is the story of Tash and Sam, who live in China-occupied Tibet, as they journey to India to find the Dalai Lama in an attempt to save Tasha parents from the soldiers. It’s gorgeously written in a way that invokes every sense, the friendship between Sam and Tash is lovely and I fell utterly in love with the animal companions. Gripping, emotional and beautiful, and has never quite left my mind since I read it.

*Note- after writing this post I read a magical, wonderful book called Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy, which I’m adding in as an extra in the general favourites (my top 3 are too fab to be changed!). It’s a glorious adventure books about twins called Arthur and Maudie as they set off to find their missing father and clear his name from the crime he’s been accused of. It feels like a future classic, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it when it comes out in March. I’m making it joint 3rd with Prisoner of Ice and Snow 😊 (cheating a bit, I know. But its way too good not  to!)

Thank you so much for reading! What have your favourite middle grades of 2017 been? Are any books on our lists the same? I’d love to get some recommendations down in the comments!

Amy xxx

Guest Post: Books I’m Hoping to Find Under my Tree by Zoe (nosaferplace)

Hello everybody! 

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome my lovely friend Zoe from the exceptional No Safer Place to chat about the books she’s hoping to get for Christmas, similar to my Top Ten Tuesday post the other day. 

Over to Zoe now, and see you tomorrow,

Amy xxx

I rarely ask for anything at Christmas. Christmas for me is about giving and spending time with my family. But if I do ever drop a hint at what I’d like for Christmas, you can bet it’s going to be a book. There’s just something so magical about opening a brand new book, smelling the pages and wondering which world you’re going to get lost in next. So what books am I hoping for under my tree this year? Read on, to find out.

Origin – Dan Brown

I absolutely adore Dan Brown and the Robert Langdon series. I read The Da Vinci Code when I was quite young, but I was just completely mesmerised by this complex book, and the twists and turns that lurked on every page turn. I have gone into bookshops several times since the book’s release, just to hold it and let me tell you – the excitement is strong.

The Silver Mask – Cassandra Clare & Holly Black

This is the 4th book in the Magisterium series. Cassie is obviously one of my favourite authors and everything she writes is just gold dust to me. The series gives off very strong Harry Potter vibes, but is aimed at a slightly younger audience. I read the first 3 on their release dates, so I’m slightly gutted not to have this yet – but I know it’ll be worth the wait.

Turtles All the Way Down – John Green

I don’t think this book needs any introduction and I’d imagine if you’re a bookworm that hasn’t read this book yet, like me, this will be on your Christmas book list too. I don’t really have any idea what the book is about, but I know John Green has written it, and that alone is reason enough to give this book a go.

 

Harry Potter: A History of Magic – British Library

Harry Potter has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I was never really interested in the illustrated editions of the books but I think there’s something really magical about this one. The illustrations look incredible and of course, I’m always open to learning more about the series that dominated my childhood.

A Christmas Wedding – Paige Toon

Now, would this list really be complete without a Christmas book? Paige Toon is one of my favourite authors and this short story, with a cup of hot chocolate, under a blanket, really sounds like the perfect way to get me into the festive spirit.

What books are you hoping to find under your tree this Christmas? Do we share any? Tweet me your answers at @zcollins1994!

Check out my book recommendations and blogmas posts here: nosaferplace.co.uk 

My 2017 YA Favourites List

Hello everybody!


Welcome to day 20 of blogmas! Today, I’m going to be speaking about my 10 favourite YAs in 2017. This was a tough choice, and I still love all of the books on my mid-year favourites list too! There’s one book on here that I didn’t give 5 stars as I can’t actually remember why not and I really enjoyed it,  and I highly recommend everything I’ve rated that not on this list too. I’ll be doing a seperate list for MG books in a few days, and I’m leaving it till last as my 3 overall favourites of this year are all MG.
 Note- not all of these are from 2017. Some are books I’ve read this year that were either published before 2017 and others aren’t out till 2018

Onto the books!


The Summer of Telling Tales
– this was beyond heartbreaking. It’s a tough but hopeful read, and reminded me of Jacqueline Wilson at her very best. I think this is massively underrated, so if you get a chance to read it (I stumbled on my copy at the library, for example) please, PLEASE do.

The Exact Opposite of Okay
-I  feel so lucky to have read this already, seeing that it isn’t out till next March. It has a wonderfully witty narrator who made me snort and cackle multiple times and I think a lot of people are going to fall in love with this when it’s released.


This Beats Perfect-
A wonderful boyband YA, with a really nice romance and a prontagonist I loved, as well as a superb cast of secondary characters. I also just really liked the writing style, which felt unusual but I can’t explain how, and I’m looking forward to the sort of sequel that’s due out in February.


The Graces
– this was so chilling and creepy it gave me goosebumps in places, and I couldn’t put it down to revise for my French exam (which I read it on the day of… oopsies). I passed though, so my love for this book remains very much in tact. Also, the last line is GLORIOUS; roll on the Curses right now please!


Radio Silence
– This was another book from my last week of exams, which I also read in a day (the day of my Modern Studies exam). The thought of going back to this got me through a challenging paper, and it’s just phenomenal! Aled is one of my favourite characters ever.


Stargazing for Beginners
– I read this after a bit of a reading slump, around the start of May I think, and it’s just wonderful. Meg is such an inspirational, yet flawed and realistic character, and watching her struggle with caring for her little sister after their mum jets off and abandons them is so sad in places. Her friends, such as Annie, are hilarious, and I also loved her romantic interest Ed.


The Empty Grave-
this was pretty much the perfect finale to a pretty much perfect series. The trademark drama, humour and adventure combo was as slick as ever, and the characters continued to be exceptionally awesome in every way. And it made me cry at the end!


Wing Jones
– I read this at the start of 2017 and it got me through the very difficult night before my MRI scan (which I find really difficult). Wing’s journey of finding her passion for running and falling in love is stunning from start to finish, and I adored the magical realism element.


Moxie
– This is a fierce, feminist read that’s guaranteed to make you want to start your own revolution. It tells the story of Viv as she starts up her own zine and creates the Moxie movement to shake up her sexist school.


Noah Can’t Even
– I genuinely have no idea why I didn’t give this 5 stars. It made me giggle loads and it was amazing fun, and Noah is so sweet and nerdy. DEFINETELY a favourite of this year in spite of the stupidity of past me’s star rating. (Which I have now went and swapped on Goodreads)

EDIT- I forgot a book! One of the most special things I’ve read this year is Forever Geek by Holly Smale, which was the final instalment of one of my favourite series (Geek Girl). I am MOST ashamed that I forgot it, but it’s definetely worth going over my 10 books.

What have your favourite YA books of 2017 been? Do we share any choices? I’d love to read your list if you have one! Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Hoping to Find Under my Tree 

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 19 of blogmas!

Today, I’m taking part in the Top Ten Tuesday meme, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, for which the theme today is books we’re hoping to get for Christmas. 

Onto the post! 

 The Last Duchess by Laura Powell– I’ve heard this is similar to a few books I love (such as the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries), and I’d really like to give it a go for that reason. I love historical mysteries and I also really like Upstairs, Downstairs sorts of things focusing on servants (such as Frost Hollow Hall by Emma Carroll) as it’s an area of history you don’t see that often.


Queens of Geeks by Jen Wilde
– this one’s had very mixed reviews, so I’m interested to see what I’ll think of it. It sounds like a fun read though, and I’m willing to try it.


Gabriel’s Clock by Hilton Pashley
– I’ve had this recommended to me by a few bloggers I really trust, and the concept is intriguing. I also loved Hilton Pashley’s guest posts during the blog tour for Michael’s Spear (the final book of this trilogy) so I want to see if I enjoy the first book.


Troublemakers by Catherine Barton
– I’ve only seen good reviews of this, and I’m interested by it as it touches on political issues, which is something I don’t see directly in books often.


This Careless Life by Rachel McIntyre
– I was a huge fan of Rachel McIntyre’s previous releases, and though I know this is quite different sounding in tone/subject matter I’d still very much like to unwrap it on Christmas day. I love a good mystery, and I’m hoping this might be similar to One of Us Is Lying.


Della Says OMG by Keris Stainton
– even though this is a few years old now, I saw a hugely positive review of it recently and I’m very much hoping to recieve this. It sounds like the mix of serious and fun I always enjoy when done well too.


Jessie Hearts NYC by Keris Stainton- 
I read and liked One Italian Summer by this author earlier this year and thought the worldbuilding of the Italian settting was exceptional, so I’m looking forward to  to seeing her take on New York (which I adore as a setting in general). 
 

Frostblood by Elly Blake
– I’m pretty fussy with YA fantasy (I vastly prefer the MG variety) but this sounds like something I’m likely to enjoy.

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga
– I love stories with long lost family members reuiniting, I’ve heard brilliant things about this one and I’m adding it to my Christmas wishlist as I’ve had my eye on it since before it’s release.


Rubies and Runaways by Janine Beacham
– I really enjoyed Janine Beacham’s debut Black Cats and Butlers earlier this year, and I really want to read Rose’s second adventure soon. It’s set at Christmas too, so it seems like the perfect book to read soon after if I get it. I think this is quite different to other MG mysteries out at the moment, mainly due to the AMAZING, super cool secret society of butlers.
What books are you hoping to recieve this Christmas? Have you read any of my list? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

A Festive Q&A with Katy Cannon 

Hello everybody, and welcome to the 18th day of blogmas. Today, I have a Q and A with Katy Cannon, author of Love, Lies and Lemon Pies (among other great books too, but I like to mention LLALP as much as possible since I love it so much 😉). 

Onto the post!

Hi Katy! Thank you so much for being here!

1. Love, Lies and Lemon Pies was your first YA book. Was there any particular inspiration behind it?

I was actually eating cake with my agent, Gemma, in a local coffee shop, talking about ideas for a new book. I wanted something that resonated with my own interests, and I was doing a lot of baking with my daughter at the time (it was at the height of the Great British Bake Off’s popularity) so Gemma suggested a school Bake Club. We started brainstorming around that, and suddenly I had a whole book’s worth of ideas!

2. The book balances a more serious side and fun so well. Was it difficult to get this just right?

There’s always a balancing act in all books, and I never get it right the first time! As with all things in writing, it takes a lot of revising and editing to get the balance right. But it’s always worth it in the end, when the book works. 

3. I`m going to be very mean, seeing how hard I`d find it to answer this! Who`s your favourite member of Bake Club?

I think my favourite is Jasper, because he reminds me of my youngest brother. 

4. This is another tough one. What`s your favourite scene of the book, and why?

That one is tough – especially since I haven’t read it for a long time! But I think probably the scene with Mac and Lottie outside on the trampoline at Grace’s party.

5. Was it fun to return to these characters for Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines? Would you ever write more stories in the Bake Club world? 

It was so much fun! And I loved seeing the world through Grace’s eyes for a change, too. I also loved going back to write Jasper’s Christmas short story – Love, Lies and Mince Pies. As for any more stories in the Bake Club world… well, I’m off to Paris next week, so maybe there’ll be a short story of Lottie and Mac in Paris yet!

6. Before the quickfire round, can you say a little bit about your story in I`ll Be Home for Christmas and why you wrote it? 

My story, Christmas, Take Two, is about Heather, who is spending her first Christmas at her Dad’s new house with his new girlfriend and her family. For me, home always means family, but families come in so many forms that I wanted to explore a little bit how we can make any family home – biological, adoptive, step or half family, or just the family that we choose. As long as we have people on our side whoever they are, we have a home. 

CHRISTMAS QUICKFIRE

Hogwarts house? (they have amazing Christmas scenes, plus I love asking people this!) 

Ravenclaw

Favourite food to eat?

Risotto. It’s my ultimate comfort food.

Would you rather meet a penguin or a polar bear?

Penguin. 

Favourite Christmas film?

The Muppets’ Christmas Carol. 

Favourite Christmas song?

Carol of the Bells (note: this is my fave one too! And no one has ever heard of it, so I love that this is Katy’s too!)

Your Christmas traditions?

Too many to name in a Quickfire round! But my favourite is Boat Sunday – the day my whole extended family go out for dinner before Christmas, and then we all sing Christmas songs together. 

Thank you so much for reading! Are you a Katy Cannon fan too? Do you like Carol of the Bells? 😉. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl, I’d love to hear from you!