Guest Post: 10 Things About Christmas in Being Miss Nobody by Tamsin Winter 

Hello everybody!

Today, I have a guest post from the amazing Tamsin Winter (author of Being Miss Nobody, which I thought was incredible).

Over to Tamsin!

1. It’s in the school Christmas assembly when the idea for writing a blog starts to flicker in Rosalind’s mind. She’s been silent at her new school for a whole term, and she’s beginning to figure out a way to have a voice.

2. Christmas Day takes on a whole new significance when Rosalind accidentally finds out it could be her little brother’s last Christmas. 

3. Their dad is extra embarrassing during the Christmas period. He wears reindeer antlers to the supermarket, for example. Like Rosalind says, “There must be something in my dad’s DNA that prevents him from feeling any kind of social embarrassment. I feel the Exact Opposite to that pretty much all the time.” 

4. Rosalind has a Major Emotional Meltdown On A Colossal Scale when she finds out her auntie is coming for Christmas Day. Rosalind can’t speak in front of her, so it means she’ll have to spend the whole day in complete silence. 

5. Her parents invited Rosalind’s auntie because it’s her first Christmas since getting divorced, and they didn’t want her to spend the day alone. Like a lot of people who have family members with mental health conditions, or other types of conditions, Rosalind’s parents find it difficult to balance Rosalind’s needs with the needs of the rest of the family. They don’t always get it right.

6. Rosalind’s angry, emotional outpouring of words on Christmas Day was a difficult scene to write, and one that illustrator Emma Trithart captures beautifully in a ‘word tsunami’. Luckily, Rosalind’s little brother Seb is there to brighten the mood with one of his Brilliant Ideas.

Emma Trihart

7. Rosalind spends a lot of time with her ex-Christian Missionary and slightly crazy cat lady next-door neighbour, Mrs Quinney, who tells her bible stories (and gets annoyed if the cats aren’t listening). Although her family aren’t religious, Rosalind prays a lot in the book. And becomes a little obsessed with looking for signs from God. She craves support and guidance and, because of her SM, isn’t always able to ask for help. The one thing she wants more than anything is a friend.

8. Christmas Day is the first time Rosalind tells her parents about the bullying she’s been experiencing. I wanted to write a book that explored the instinct that many young people have to hide bullying from parents and teachers – the very people who would be able to help. This is an important scene in the book because it’s when Rosalind takes the first very brave step towards opening up.

9. On Boxing Day morning, Rosalind discovers an unopened gift. It’s a diary given to her by speech therapist Octavia, who as Rosalind says, “is not exactly an angel, but not exactly a normal person either.” In it, Octavia has written a quote from Maya Angelou – ‘If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.’ 

10. This quote has an enormous impact on Rosalind. And a thought comes into her head that changes everything: ‘What if I could be more than just a nobody?’ 

Thank you for reading! What did you think of Being Miss Nobody, if you’ve read it? Is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

PS- head over to Twitter, where I’m running a giveaway of this boo today for a chance to win it! UK only.

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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

Meet My Bookmarks!

Hello everybody!

Today, I thought it might be fun to introduce you to my bookmark collection, seeing how much I love having a nosy at what other people use!


Onto the bookmarks…

First of all, these are my booktails, which I have recently completed my collection of properly. I was given my 1st one, the slightly bedraggled looking (now) jaguar, by my aunt and uncle a few years ago for my birthday. With the exception of my jaguars who are named after my uncle (Walter) and then to alliterate with him, Wanda, all of ny booktails are named in alliteration with their animal: Bertie and Bella the bears, Poppy the pig (who Saffy takes great delight in chewing, far more so than all the others, for some reason. Saffy is my younger golden retriever, if you’re new around here), Daisy the dog, Clover the cow (not pictured) and Sasha the sheep.

Next, my Alex Clark magnetic collection. These were only a recent addition, but I’m obsessed with them already. Fun fact: one of these was intended as a Christmas gift for my gran, but I just couldn’t say goodbye when it arrived. I’ll be placing another order soon to replace it, and if a few other I have my eye on slip in, who am I to stop them…? (And maybe a mug too 😉)

I also have these gorgeous ones which I bought from the Grace Darling Museum. I barely ever use them as they get crushed and crinkled very easily in bags or moving about, but they’re very pretty to look at it, and I believe at least part of the money I paid for them goes to the RNLI, who do such amazing work.

Finally, my odds and ends; a few slogan bookmarks, one with my name on it and also this stunning one someone once drew for me based on a photo of Shimmer and Saffy .  I tend to use these on the rare occasions when I’m reading more than one book to keep my place in the one I start second. The slogan ones do make me laugh! I used to have an amazing tiger one too, which had a super true statement about mornings on it: “I love mornings… I just wish they came later in the day ”

So those are just about all of my bookmarks! Do ypu have any favourites in my collection? Do you use bookmarks? What are your favourites? Tell me about them in the comments or even send a photo on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl!

Amy xxx

The Fall Book Tag

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m taking part in the Fall Book Tag, for which I was tagged by Justine. Onto the post! 

The Rules

  • Please link back to me, Bionic Book Worm, as the creator of this tag!! I want to see your answers!!
  • Use the graphics – if you want 🙂
  • Have fun!

Crisp Fall Air: A book that felt fresh and new- I think I have to go for the Secret series by Pseudonymus Bosch here. I’ve read some books that were similar in plot/tone, but the style of these is utterly unique (and very hard to explain, as it turns out! You’ll understand what I mean if you’ve read these). If not, it’s essentially a narrator watching the events of the book, but not giving any real details about setting /real names of characters as it is ‘too dangerous’ and it’s very quirky. It didn’t akwqys succeed for me, but when it did it was fabulous.

Howling Winds: An ending that blew you away – This one has to be The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke for me; I still don’t fully understand it but it most certainly left my jaw hanging open in shock. I can remember literally gasping as I read the last line 😂

Pumpkin Spice: Your most anticipated read- I’m going to presume this means of the autumn, of which I had two; the Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud, and Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend. I have already devoured both, and they were just as amazing as I expected!

Comfy Sweater: A book that gives you the warm fuzzies- The first thing that sprang to mind for this was Geek Girl, but as I talk about that loads I’m going to say Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, which is a lovely, gentle, funny LGBT contemporary about Simon as he faces problems at school, comes out to his friends and family and falls in love with the mysterious ‘Blue’.

Bright Colours: A cover with either red, orange or yellow- I can think of loads, but I’m going to say Beetle Boy by M.G Leonard!

Not going to tag anyone as autumn is almost over now, but if you feel like doing this, please do send me your link! 

Thank you for reading! What do you think of these books? Are any on your TBR? Let me know down in the comments or on Twitter @GoldenBooksGirl

Amy xxx

Mystery and Mayhem pt 1

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m reviewing the first half of the wonderful Mystery and Mayhem anthology, written by a collection of UK authors and published by Egmont. I reviewed the second part of this collection on Book Murmuration  a few weeks ago and Louise reviewed this half here last week.

Onto the reviews!

God’s Eye by Frances Hardinge

While I found this quite different in tone, and much darker, than the other stories within the anthology, I still enjoyed it. It tells the story of Ben; who is assistant to one of two pernickety painters tasked with painting the ‘God’s Eye’ view of London, and what happens when one of them is fatally poisoned. I liked Ben as a character and his unselfish motive for solving for solving the mystery, as well as how the mystery itself unfolds.


The Mystery of the Pineapple Plot by Helen Moss

This is a sublime story set in the Georgian era, which shows that Helen Moss can write an expertly researched page turner regardless of length or the historical era it’s set in. It focues on a seemingly-rich family who are hosting a dinner to impress their elder daughter’s suitor, until he’s poisoned by their prize pineapple! Their servant Quality Fruit and younger daughter Catherine set about investigating. I absolutely adored them as a detective duo, and I thought the mystery was really intriguing. The historical setting was one I’d never seen before, but it felt realistic and the world was well built. The writing style is easy to read and hugely enjoyable; the last line especially made laugh. Finally, I loved the reveal of the culprit as I definetly didn’t expect the story to go in that direction.

The Murder of Monsieur Pierre by Harriet Whitehorn 

The last story in the Poison Plots section tells the tale of shop girl turned detective Angelica as she becomes embroiled in solving the murder of her former boss: hairdresser Monsieur Pierre. Angelica is a gloriously clever heroine, and I also liked that we got told she becomes a famous detective later in life. This is super fun to read as it’s such a melodramatic, madcap mystery (I guessed culprit, but I still had a lot of fun following along till the end). I’m not sure why, but it reminded me of watching Death in Paradise, excpet with child detectives! This has made me want to pick up the Violet books at some point in the future.

SafeKeeping by Sally Nicholls 

As a huge fan of most of Sally Nicholls’s books, I found it interesting to see her turn her hand to the mystery genre. This is a Boys’ Own style story which feautures three office boys trying to solve the mystery of a necklace which has disappeared from the office safe. The narrator is great and has a very distinctive voice. The dialogue and tone appeared realistic for the time, and I also enjoyed the friendship between the three boys. I found the solution of the msytery quite obvious, but I did like the way the detectives came to the comclusion.

The Mystery of the Purloined Pearls by Katherine Woodfine

In this offshoot from the Sinclair’s Mysteries, we see one member of the gang solve a mystery in a theatre. I love a good theatre mystery (especially the Mystery of the Pantomime Cat by Enid Blyton!) and this one was no exception. Woodfine’s prose is as flawless as ever, and I enjoyed seeing things from Lil’s perspective as we tend to follow Sophie during the main series. Finally, I didn’t guess who stole the pearls, and this has really whet my appetite for the 4th and final Sinclair’s book, which came out last week.

The Mystery of Room 12 by Robin Stevens 

In Stevens’s first foray into a contemporary setting, she proves that she’s just as excellent at creating a modern tone and setting as she is historical. She also manages to retain the Agatha Christie/Enid Blyton vibes that are so prominent in her Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries. This story is about Jamie, whose family own a hotel, as he tries to work out where the woman who checked in while he was manning reception alone, has disappeared to without a trace and why. Jamie was super endearing (I also adored his dog) and I thought he was a fabulous detective. Finally, I love how clever and complex the solution to this pacy, exciting mystery is, and I’d actually love to see more stories, or even books, in this setting.

Thank you so much for reading! What’s your favourite of these stories? Do you like any of these authors’ standalones? Are you a fan of mysteries in general?

See you soon with a new post, 

Amy xxx

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Ruth Lauren 

Hello everyone!

Today, I’m hugely excited to have Ruth Lauren, who wrote one of my favourite reads of this year, here for an interview.

Let’s get started!

Hi Ruth! Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview; welcome to Golden Books Girl

It’s my pleasure, thanks so much for having me!

1. Can you please describe Prisoner of Ice and Snow in 5 words for anyone who hasn`t read it?

Prison Break meets Frozen

2. What inspired you to write the book? Had you always envisaged it as a series, or did you originally plan for just one book?

The idea began when I was watching Prison Break with my son. I wondered what that kind of story would be like if it was about two young sisters instead (and then if it were set in a fantasy land where I could add all sorts of interesting challenges and twists). 

I actually only planned a standalone, but every publishing house interested in the story wanted a sequel, and once I started thinking about what might happen to Valor and Sasha next, I knew they were right. 

3. The world of Demidova is so vivid and layered. How did you go about your worldbuilding? Were there any high points or challenges during this process?
You’re so kind, thank you!

I wanted a very cold, snowy, frozen world where the elements themselves could cause problems for the characters and bleed through into every part of the planning Valor has to do to try to break her sister out of prison. 

Once the setting was fixed in my mind, the details had to reflect the landscape—the animals that inhabit it, the clothes the people need to wear, the food they might be able to access. My editor was brilliant at helping me think about other aspects that add to making the world feel real—like special celebration days in the city, the history of the prison and the geography involved with surrounding lands and how they might impact on the story.  

I drew on elements of the Russian landscape and traditional clothing but I also wanted to create a matriarchal world where only women can rule and where they often have positions of power. I wanted the sisters to inhabit a world where they don’t have to struggle or overcome (at least not in this aspect) and it would never occur to them that those positions weren’t open or available to them. They see women in every role in the book—from ruler to doctor to prison guard to hunter. That was a really important part of the world to me. 

The whole experience was actually one big high point (or at least it feels like it in retrospect). Prisoner is very different from anything I’d written before and it was a lot of fun to write. 

4. Your heroine Valor, is so brave and I really sympathised with her throughout the book, even if I didn`t agree with her decisions. Who would you say your top three heroines are?

Ok, I’m cheating a little bit here. 

TV: Buffy, Jessica Jones, Lisa Simpson

Books: Katsa (Graceling), Feo (The Wolf Wilder) and Katniss Everdeen

5. Alongside Valor is a variety of other prisoners who form a fabulous ensemble cast. Which character of these is your favourite?
I have a soft spot for little Feliks, but Katia is my girl.  

6. What`s your writing process like? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks?
I really don’t! Just outlining, trying to write 1k a day when I’m drafting, and wondering how people who listen to music when they write can possibly concentrate.

7. If you could have written any book by another author, what would it be and why?

I would love to steal The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern for my own. Or anything by Laini Taylor or Kristin Cashore or Katherine Rundell. Their imaginations feel so much bigger than my own and I know I could never write anything on the scale that the first three do or with the inimitable style that Katherine Rundell does.  

8. Finally, before our quickfire round, can you let anything slip about the sequel to Prisoner of Ice and Snow, Seeker to the Crown?

Seeker picks up right where Prisoner left off and with Princess Anastasia now missing, Valor is plunged straight into another exciting mission. More crossbow, more icy danger, and I don’t want to say too much, but a certain monarch may vanish leaving Demidova in chaos . . . 

QUICKFIRE

Hogwarts house- I have no idea!

Favourite flavour of ice cream– Salted Caramel 

Animal you`d most want to turn into?- Cheetah

City/country you most want to go on holiday to that you haven`t yet? Florence, Italy
Favourite season of the year?- Spring
Thank you so much to Ruth for answering my questions, and Emily at Bloomsbury for setting the interview up!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post everyone! I’d love to hear what you thought if this book if you’ve read it!

 Amy xxx

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Childhood Books/Series

Hello everyone!

Today I’m taking part in the Top Ten Tuesday meme, hosted over at the Broke and the Bookish

Today’s theme is a Throwback freebie, so I decided to talk about some books I loved when I was younger. As there is a little bit of an overlap in theme with my Books Which Made Me a Reader post, I’m only going to mention a few of those here so this is bit different! (Unsurpisingly, once I started thinking I got really indecisive and have ended up with slightly more than 10, and that’s the main reason why I’m not talking about many of the books on my other list)

Let’s get started! 😊

MY SISTER THE VAMPIRE by Sienna Mercer- This is a FABULOUS open-ended series aimed at 9+ (currently 18 books long) about Ivy (a vampire) and Olivia (a human) as they dicover they’re long lost twins, and set about solving the mysteries of their past. I’m really overdue a reread of these; especially since I haven’t yet got round to the latest! The first 10 especially are exceptionally good.

TOTALLY LUCY and RAINBOW BEAUTY by Kelly McKain-  Kelly McKain was one of my very favourite authors when I was younger. Totally Lucy is about a girl called Lucy (shockingly 😱) and her ambitions to be a fashion designer and her friendships and romantic mishaps. They’re in diary format, quite silly and funny and also slightly predictable as you get further on, but they’re a lot of fun.

Rainbow Beauty, aimed at slightly older readers, is about Abbie as her family is shattered and she and her mum/sisters move to Devon to start up a beauty parlour and try and make their lives good again. This is a gorgeous series; the first 2 books are brilliant summery reads and the 3rd, Blueberry Wishes, is totally perfect to get you in the mood for Autumn. 

MALORY TOWERS/FIVE FIND-OUTERS by Enid Blyton- I am a massive fan of Enid Blyton (despite a librarian once trying to tell me I shouldn’t be 😑) and these two series are my favourites. Even though I enjoyed the Famous Five books, I think that the Five Find Outers are far superior, and vastly underrated! They’re fabulously plotted mysteries and the characters (particularly Fatty) are absolutely hilarious.

Malory Towers is much better known, and they are about Darrell as she starts Malory Towers (and Pamela Cox has written 6 books about her little suster Felicity’s time at the school too). They’re absolutely excellent!


MY LIFE STARRING MUM by Chloe Rayban-
 compared with my last choices, this book isn’t very famous. It’s about Holly, who just wants to be a regular girl, but isn’t able to because her mum is world famous popstar Khandi. I reread this fairly recently and didn’t love it too much at all, but when I was young it was my go to funny book.

SCARLETT by Cathy Cassidy– I’m still a huge Cathy Cassidy fan now, especially of the Chocolate Box Girls series, but Scarlett was by far my favourite book of hers growing up. It’s the story of misfit troublemaker Scarlett as she moves in with her estranged dad and his new family in Ireland and what happens when she meets the gorgeous Kian at the local lough. This book is still really wonderful when I reread, and I highly recommend it for the hilarious scenes, the touching ones, and the portrayal of complicated but loving family relationships.

SECRET BREAKERS by HL Dennis- Even though I actually didn’t like this series when I first read it, I grew to adore it. I always describe these as mysteries that aren’t about who dun it or how, it’s about what it means. The 6 book series (which is incredibly well paced) tells the story of ‘Team Veritas’ a team if children and talented ex code crackers as they come together to try and work out the contents of the Voynich Manuscript. The charcaters are all super lovable (my personal favourite is Hunter, who is just delightful) and the mystery keeps you reading even though the chapters/books are quite chunky.

PONY CLUB SECRETS by Stacy Gregg- I adore this series about Issie and her dreams of equestrian superstardom as she grows up in New Zealand, and my love grows even deeper with every reread. This is the series that I was most excited about new releases in (I used to read them the day I got my hands on them) and it features one of my favourite romances of all time with Issie and Aidan 😍

THE 39 CLUES by various authors- I’m not sure why barely anyone has heard of this series, but I would love for everyone to read it! They’re very clever, and are about a family searching for clues that lead to a prize which will make them the most powerful people on earth, and this hunt is linked with their ancestors (who in this alternate world are all members of different branches of the Cahill family). I can’t shout enough about these; if you can, please do read them and come fangirl with me!

MATES, DATES by Cathy Hopkins- This is the 1st teen series I read (even though I was probably too young 😂) and I adored them. They’re about the friendships, relationships and family troubles of a group of four girls in North London, and they’re really addictive and fun. I got in touch with Cathy after reading them and she’s now a family friend, and the dog in one of her latest releases a Home for Shimmer is actually based on and named after mine!

ALLYS WORLD by Karen McCombie- These books, which are some of the funniest I’ve ever read, are about Ally Love, who feels like the only normal one in her chaotic family. I adored these books so much that I went to see Karen at the Edinburgh Book Festival and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. I’ve now read almost all of her books (except for a few now out of print and most of her Barrington Stoke titles),  but Ally’s World will always be my favourite (Stella Etc also holds a very special place in my heart)

ADVENTURE ISLAND by Helen Moss- To finish, I want to talk about this series, which I always describe as having changed my life. This blog almost certainly wouldn’t exist without them; they rescued me when I was falling out of love with reading, and they were what made me start reviewing books too. They’re about brothers Scott and Jack being forced to go to Cornwall for a summer holiday (in the 1st books at least, in later ones they’re desperate to get there!) and them solving mind-boggling mysteries with their new friend Emily and her dog Drift. These are truly modern day Enid Blyton style mysteries, and in my opinion, might even be better. I’m also lucky enough to know Helen herself (and have met up for a day of bookish goodness, where she introduced me to another book I absolutely loved; Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Thank you so much for reading! I’d love to hear about your favourite childrood reads in the comments below! 

See you soon with a new post 

Amy xxx