Anthology Review: Winter Magic

Hello everybody!

Today, for day 10 of blogmas, I’m going to be reviewing the fabulous Winter Magic anthology, which was released last year. I had so much fun rereading this!

Onto the reviews!

A Night at the Frost Fair by Emma Carroll– WHAT an opening! It’s the story of Maya, whose gran is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and the timeslip adventure at a frost fair she goes on after recieving a mysterious object from her gran. The frost fair was so well described it felt as though it was alive and I was really there, and I thought the paralells between the treatment of Edmund (the boy May meets at the fair) and gran in the present day were really clever.


The Magic of Midwinter by Amy Alward
– a short story set in Alward’s Potion Diaries world, the story is about alchemist Sam’s journey to Midwinter to meet the Svenland elves, and arriving to a surprise. The world felt so magical and well built, I adored the elves (especially Uyuni) and I thought the friendship between Sam and her companion Princess Evelyn was lovely in this. I don’t think it would confuse readers new to the Potion Diaries world either.


The Voice in the Snow by Michelle Harrison
– this revisits some of the characters we meet in the Other Alice, namely Gypsy and Piper. I found the plot of this quite complex for a short story and thought it would have worked better as something longer, but I love Michelle Harrison’s world of sinsiter magic and the fact I got to see what became of these characters. I also really like their relationship and the way that ended up.


The Cold Hearted by Geraldine McCaughrean
– this was the story of Fergal and the mysterious, slightly magical people who help him save his family from under an avalanche. I loved the whimsical writing style and grew attached to Fergal in the short number of pages. It also featured a golden retriever called Summer (which is actually what I’d call my next golden, if I ever get one!) so I have to love it for that reason too.


Casse-Noisette by Katherine Woodfine-
in her beautiful ballet inspired contribution, Katherine Woodfine tells the story of Stana, who has been chosen to dance in the first performance of the Nutcracker. Katherine Woodfine’s writing is so beautiful yet still moves on the story at a perfect pace and I thought Stana was a wonderfully relatable heroine. Finally, the love of the ballet really shines through this, and I adored the bittersweet ending.

Someone Like the Snow Queen by Berlie Doherty– I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It’s about Orla, who has recently lost her dad, as her little brother disappears and she has to set off on a journey to find him. I loved the parallels between this and the Snow Queen, and the slight twists Berlie Doherty put on it. I also loved the overall message of the story.

The Room with the Mountain View by Lauren St. John– this is a wintry take on Rear Window set at a ski resort, where Lexie witnesses an event crucial to the disappearance of a circus star when on bed rest with a broken leg. I love the ensuing mystery and the way it unfolds to a surprising conclusion. This has made me absolutely determined to get to Lauren’s two 2017 releases as soon as possible.

Into the Mountain by Jamila Gavin- this wasn’t my favourite of the anthology, if I’m honest. It’s based on the traditional story of the Pied Piper, but I couldn’t really grasp the plot as a whole and I wasn’t especially invested in the characters.

The Wishing Book by Piers Torday– this is the story of Ethel and a myserious, magical, slightly macabre Christmas gift she was given and how it changes her life forever. This reminded me hugely of Roald Dahl in tone and I really enjoyed it. I also loved the heartwarming ending, which I wasn’t sure was coming.

The Snow Dragon by Abi Elphinstone– what a glorious ending to a glorious collection! Curator Abj Elphinstone writes the story of an orphan called Phoebe (who lives in awful orphanage run by Griselda Bone) as she is whisked away by the magical snow dragon. I absolutely loves Phoebe, who is so brave and determined, and her little dancing dog Herbie, and the snow dragon couldn’t possibly have been any more magical and special. I absolutely must get to more of Abi’s books soon, because this was exceptional.

Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite stories in this collection, if you’ve read it? (If you couldn’t tell mine are Night at the Frost Fair, Casse-Noisette and the Snow Dragon!) Is it on your TBR, if not? Are you a fan of any of the contributing authors? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx


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5 Books with Great Food in Them

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 8 of blogmas!

Today, as food is quite a big part of Christmas for lots of people, I thought it would be fun to talk about books which feature lots of it.

Onto the post! 

Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon– this is one of my favourite YA books of all time. It’s about Lottie, still struggling to cope with the loss of her dad, and Mac, who feels trpped by his nightmare home life, and them finding each through the new school Bake Club. The recipes (which the characters cook, and we are given!) are varied and so much fun to read about (even though I probably wouldn’t eat any of them 🙈)


The Secret Cooking Club/Confetti and Cake by Laurel Remington
– these are lovely middle grade stories about Scarlett, who has abandoned all her hobnies due to her oversharing mum blogger mum, finding an escape in cooking. This leads to new friendships, a whole lot of fun and her life taking a turn for the better. And it features lots of yummy sweet treats, hence why it’s on this list!


Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries by Robin Stevens
– this  book (and all it’s equally excellent sequels) introduced readers to the concept of bunbreak, and rarely a day or two goes by where I do not see that word in my social media circle somewhere. I also indulge in one myself from time to time… . I absolutely love all delicious ones we see superstar sleuths Daisy and Hazel indulging in throughout.


Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen
– this is an admittedly weird addition to this list given the main food choice (which I shall not tell you) but the scenes where all the characters come together to eat are probably my favourites as they really drive home the message of a struggling community leaning on each other.


Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
– the Hogwarts feasts are quite literally magical, and I would seriousky love to attend one if I could (*sobs loudly*). Also, the company would be amazing. I’d get to laugh with the Weasley twins, eavesdrop on the Golden Trio’s crazy plans for whatever they’re doing next and comfort lovely Neville in his lower moments. 
Thank you for reading! What books with great food can you think of? Do we share any answers? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

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

The Animals and Books Tag

Hello everybody!


Today I’m going to be doing the Animals and Books tag, which I saw on Jo’s blog and thought really fun. I was planning to do my November reviews, but as I feel my reading’s been slow this month and I’m planning to do mainly rereading in December,  I’m going to combine my reviews and post them in January. 

Now, onto the books!

Koala : a book that makes you feel emotional/ cuddly– the Geek Girl series are my ultimate comfort read, and I got super emotional reading the last book, so them!

Tiger : a book that’s ferocious– Moxie was a ferocious feminist read that made me want to go and start a revolution! It’s phenomenal, and I’m so glad I picked it up as I don’t read a lot of USYA. Fun fact: tigers are my favourite wild animal.

Panda: a book that’s massive– a book I recently read which I thought was preety massive was the Miseducation of Cameron Post, which has around 460 pages and took me ages to get through. This is one of the books I’ll be reviewing come January!

Sparrow: a book that’s light and cheery– this one has to be Vlad the World’s Worst Vampire by Anna Wilson for me. It was such a happy book, and it really got me out of a reading slump. I’m so happy there’s going to be a sequel.

Wolf: a book series you loved– As I love lots of series, I’ve decided to go with the one with my favourite animal, which is Adventure Island by Helen Moss, which features an incredibly clever dog called Drift.

Horse: a standalone book that you loved– my favourite standalone book ever is Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen, and of this year I’ve loved Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth and Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter.

What do you think of these books? What are your favourite animals? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl !

Amy xxx

The Birthday Book Tag 

Hello everybody!

As you may know if you follow me on Twitter, yesterday was my birthday! Therefore, today I thought it would be fun to do the Birthday Book Tag, which was created a few years ago by Brunette Bibliophile.

 1. Count your birthday along your bookshelf and then subtract your birth month. What book does it land on?

I counted along my storage boxes instead, and the book I came to was the Smoking Hourglass by Jennifer Bell, which is the 2nd of the Uncommoners trilogy. While I didn’t love it quite as much as the 1st book, I still enjoyed it and I can’t wait for book 3!

2. If you could spend your birthday with any fictional character who would it be and why?

Nick from the Geek Girl series, hands down. Even though things went quite wrong on Harriet’s birthday in Picture Perfect, I feel like Nick would plan something really special.

3. Find a book that takes place in the season you were born in.

A book that takes place in Autumn is The Mystery of the Vanishing Skeleton by Helen Moss, which is one of my favourite Adventure Island books (the others are The Mystery of the Hidden Gold and The Mystery of the Secret Room, if you’re interested!). Another one I love is Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens, in which Hazel and Daisy solve a murder that takes place on Bonfire Night.

 4. Find a book that is the colour of your birthstone

My birthstone is a topaz, which is basically my least favourite gemstone ever, but I digress. It’s orange, and an orange book cover I love is Running on the Roof of the World! Please read it if you haven’t already!

5. Is there a series with the same number of books as your age? If so what is it?

There are 16 Ally’s world books, if you count the Christmas book and the summery follow up!

6. Pick a book set in a time period, world or country you would like to have been born in.

This one is hard! I think we’d all love to live in the Wizarding World though, and I’d also love to be an Uncommoner/see Nevermoor. I have one main one though, but as it’s a question in my upcoming Q&A post in the next month or so I’m staying schtum about it. *looks mysterious* 😉

Thank you for reading! I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you feel like it, I’d love to read your post! 

Amy xxx