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

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Guest Post: Christmas With Year 3 by Christina of Chrikaru

Hello everybody! 

Today, I have a lovely guest post from my fabulous friend Christina, who blogs about books and modern languages (aka two of my favourite things in the world) all about books she reads with her class at Christmas. 

Over to Christina and her lovely post now!

Amy xxx 


In my classroom we read everyday, several times day. Any time we have a spare minute we read. Read a story, poem or article together as a class, with a friend or alone, we’re always reading. I like to share my favourite stories with the children in my class and consider one of the most important parts of my job is that children leave my class having identified books as sources of joy, inspiration, comfort and information. Books as ‘ uniquely portable magic’ in the words of Stephen King.

I like to match books with what we’re learning about or link them to things that are happening in the real world. Books have started so many valuable, deep conversations with my class and I have seen the impact with children queuing to borrow their own copy, reading more on that subject or in the reports I hear from parents about their once reluctant reader who is now lost inside a book at every opportunity.

The lead-up to Christmas in school is exciting, yet tiring with lots of things going on. To give you an example, in the month leading up to Christmas we have parent-teacher conferences, Arts Week (where each class spends a whole week creating art, culminating in an installation in and around school), Open House  (where children perform, then show their parents around school), flu sprays, Christmas pudding cooking, etc etc. I could keep going!

In amongst all these activities and excitement, it is important to have the sanctuary of reading as that quiet, calm place we all enjoy spending time in, even when the sculpture we’ve spent two hours building has collapsed in a crumpled mess.

So, what do we read?

Here are a few suggestions for any KS1 or KS2 class (ages 4 – 11).

Little Robin Red Vest by Jan Fearnle -Little Robin has given all his nice warm vests to seven chilly friends in need. On Christmas Eve, with no vest left for himself, he huddles on an icy roof… until someone very special comes to the rescue.

I first came across this when teaching Year 1 and it has been a firm favourite with every class I have shared it with. A really cute story about the importance of kindness and sharing!

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan and Janet Albert- The Jolly Postman brings a batch of wonderful letters for Christmas, including notes from the Big Bad Wolf and all the King’s men.

If you loved the original Jolly Postman book, you will also enjoy this holiday edition where the postman delivers letters to various fairytale characters.

The Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg- A young boy is awakened from his Christmas Eve rest by a train that magically appears just outside his home. 

And so, a magical adventure begins! Truly a classic for Christmas!

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs- Wordless picture book with beautiful soft illustrations – lovely to share with children as you can discuss what is happening on each page.

Yet another classic, The Snowman had charmed and enthralled every child to whom I have introduced him to!

The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer

Not traditionally Christmas stories, but the storytelling at home fits well with cuddling up with your family during colder weather and The Gruffalo’s Child is set in winter. Stick Man is also a fun read at this time of year, especially as Santa Claus makes an appearance!

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

A cute look at what Santa does before and after Christmas – quirky humour and graphic-novel style illustrations make this a winner!

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

This needs no introduction – remember reading this on Christmas Eve with my parents when I was younger and I’m sure that many other families also have this tradition.

Norman, the slug who saved Christmas by Sue Hendra

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27686688-norman-the-slug-who-saved-christmas

This was recommended to me by a friend who is also a primary teacher – I was a bit sceptical at first but the kids loved it! When a big sack of presents lands by Norman the slug, at first he thinks he must have been a very good slug that year. Then he spots the name labels and realises that the presents must have fallen off Santa’s sleigh…

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

Not strictly a Christmas book, but a beautiful story to share with children at any time of the year!

The Stolen Sun by Amanda Hall

A Native Alaskan story about the changing of the seasons – lovely to share with children who may not be familiar with the original folklore.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson– This is a classic for a reason and one of my childhood favourites – like most popular fairy tales there have been several different re-imaginings of it, but I always enjoyed Gerda striking of into the snow to save her friend

The Twelve Days of Christmas- A fun way to count down the days with your children – it is just an illustration of the song, but it is fun to read as you sing and talk about what each gift might represent or what they might orefer instead!

The Nutcracker- Another Christmas classic, my family watches the ballet together every year. Did anyone else ever imagine themselves as Clara, dancing with the Sugar Plum fairy?

Walk with a wolf, The Emperor’s Egg and Ice Bear- Brilliant faction (fact but illustrated like fiction) books which have fascinated every class I have ever read them to!

How the Grinch stole Christmas by Dr Seuss- This one probably needs no introduction – the inimitable Dr Seuss takes on Christmas through the eyes of the Grinch who hates everything about it!

Okay, am going to stop here although the more I think about it, the more wonderful books I come up with!

Have you read any of the books above? 

Will you add some to your seasonal reading list?

Let me know!

Christina


Guest Post: Festive Books with the Boy by Charlotte, Somewhere 

Hello, and welcome to day 13 of blogmas! Today, I have my hilarious friend Charlotte and her equally hilarious son S here to share some of their favourite Christmas books. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Today the Boy and I are sharing five of our favourite Christmassy books with you. They aren’t in any particular order and a couple S was adamant I include even though they are very definitely HIS favourites and not mine, but who am I to argue with a kid at Christmas? So, in no particular order:

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth

S: I like this one because the monkey in it loses his two milk teeth and then he grows big boy teeth just in time for Christmas so he can eat his Christmas dinner with his new teeth. And I’ve been growing some big two front teeth so that’s good. Look mummy <small child shoves his teeth right in my face>

Me: I agree, it is very important to have your two front teeth. This one was a gift my parents sent S from New Zealand a few years ago, and I like it because it’s different to the other Christmas books we have. It’s fun and reminds me of the Christmas song which always makes me laugh. 

You Can Do It Sam

S: This one is my favourite because Sam bakes cakes ALL BY HIMSELF and then he takes them to all of his friends on Plum Street for presents. I like to make cakes (As his mother, I need to point out that what he actually likes doing is cracking eggs and then wandering off leaving someone else to bake the cake).

Me: I need some friends who bring me cake as presents. Anyone know where I can get them? This is part of a small series of books that starts with Kiss Goodnight Sam, which was one of my favourite stories to read to S when he was little. You Can Do It Sam isn’t so much a Christmas story as it is a lovely winter story about friendship and the spirit of giving (not necessarily of spending a fortune).

Father Christmas Needs a Wee

S: This is my favourite most funny Christmas book. It makes me laugh and I like it the most because daddy does not like reading it to me. He does not. He says “no way” and I say “yes way” and then he has to read it and it makes him be grumpy. 

Me: My auntie bought this for S when we were competing to find the most inappropriate kid’s picture books to send each other’s kids. Yes, I am a fully fledged adult, why do you ask? This book has much of the toilet humour that small children adore (Santa drinks all the drinks and has to race home before he wets himself), there is also counting and rhyming and excellent illustrations. There’s a partner book called Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps, but it’s probably best if I don’t explain that one. 

Mog’s Christmas Calamity

S: I like the bit where everything gets set on fire. That’s it. I love fire.

Me: That’s my boy! *cough* I mean, isn’t there anything else you like about it?

S: Everyone brings Christmas dinner. 

Me: So, fire and dinner. What’s not to love? Mog’s Christmas Calamity is based on a Christmas advert from a couple of years ago. I loved the ad and I love the book. Accident prone Mog accidentally causes a fire and calls the fire brigade. Then everyone comes together to make Christmas special for the family. I love this. I remember once when I was little and the electricity went off on Christmas day. We were one of the few houses on our street with a gas oven, so we had at least two other turkeys in our oven. This Mog book always reminds me of that. It’s nice when people come together at Christmas. It’s nicer if it involves a fire *cough* and dinner, of course. 

The Snowman and the Snowdog

S: Why do I even like this one? I liked the snowdog. Remember we did that big snowdog hunt and found aaaallllll the snowdogs? And we’ve got a dog. I like when the boy makes a snowdog and then it comes to life after his old dog gets dead. Can I have a snowdog? 

Me: Boy do I remember hunting down snowdogs in the winter. there were 50-odd of the giant ceramic ******** to find, and we got to see all but one. I always liked the snowman when I was little, and it was one of the first books we got when S was born. The Snowman and the Snowdog has much of the same magic. I love the inclusion of the little dog with socks for ears and that this one has a happier ending, because even though I am now in my thirties, I am still not over the ending of The Snowman. Also, no. No you cannot have a snowdog son. Dexter would eat it. Or pee on it. 

So, there you have it. Some of mine and S’s favourite Christmas books. Do you have a favourite Christmas book to tell us about? We would love to hear from you! 

Thank you for reading! Make sure to let us know YOUR favourite Christmas books, and see you tomorrow for day 14!

Amy xxx

My 5 Favourite Christmas Films

Hello everybody, and welcome to day 12 of blogmas!


Today, I’m going to be chatting about my favourite Christmas films. Onto the post!

 

Miracle on 34th Street (1994)-
this is my very, very favourite Christmas film. Everything about it is magical and it never fails to make me feel more Christmassy afterwards. Mara Wilson is just exceptional in it, and Richard Attenborough pulls off the real Santa vibe perfectly. If you don’t know what this film is about, it’s the story of a little girl called Susan as she tries to convince her department store organiser mum that the Santa she’s hired is the real deal, and also them saving the store from closure.


The Snowman/The Snowman and the Snowdog
– I used to find these incredibly dull when I was younger but I adore them now. They have a really classic, cosy sort of feel to them,they capture a very special idea of winter magic and the endings never fail to make me cry. The characters never speak, but I’m still incredibly invested in them and their story.


Elf
– I think this is on a lot of lists with this title, and it is well deserved. It’s a lot sillier humour than I’d usually go for in some scenes but I think Will Ferrell pulls off Buddy’s hyper, super sweet character off well and I love the focus on finding your family and yourself.


Arthur Christmas
– this is one I have to be in a particular mood for, but I love the modern take on the Santa story, and Arthur is a lovely character who I really rooted for. It’s about Santa’s younger son, who is a bit of a black sheep in his family, as he sets off to deliver a present left behind in the North Pole to a little girl called Gwen.


Frozen
– is Frozen a Christmas film? I’m not sure, but I’m counting it because a) it’s set in Winter and b) I went to see it just after Christmas in 2013 (HOW CAN THIS FILM BE 4 YEARS OLD ALREADY?!). I love the music, I love the characters (especially Olaf, who I adore with my whole heart) and I love the animation work itself, which is stunning. I own the singalong addition for added fun too 😁


Thank you so much for reading! What are your favourite Christmas films? Do we share any choices? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Amy xxx 

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.

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