Reviews: Season’s Readings

Hello everybody! Today, I have some reviews to share with you, which are all wintry things I’ve read since I finished uni, and I really enjoyed them. They’re mostly adult books as I was reading MG for some other posts at the same time, but there is an MG and a YA as well. Onto the post!


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Ten Wintry Book Recommendations

Hello everybody! Today, I’m going to be giving you some wintry book recommendations, given winter is almost upon us and there’s almost nothing better than cosying up under a blanket with a book when it’s cold, in my opinion. Onto the post!


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Ten Books on My Winter TBR

Hello everybody! Today, I’m taking part in Top Ten Tuesday, for which the theme is ten books on our winter TBRs. I find of failed at my autumn one a bit because uni deadlines were manic but I’ll hopefully get to all of these! Onto the post!


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REVIEW COPIES

Little Bird Lands– this will probably be my next read, because I really liked the first in this duology. This one follows Scottish girl Bridie, who lives in the time of the Highland Clearances, as she and her family attempt to start a new life in America. I think it’s going to be WONDERFUL.

Orion Lost– this is about a spaceship getting lost in deepest space, and a girl called Beth who must subsequently save her friends. I don’t read a huge amount of sci-fi but this definitely sounds intriguing, plus I know Lily enjoyed it and we have REALLY similar taste.

Demelza and the Spectre Inspectors– this is one of Chicken House’s biggest releases for 2020, and it sounds so great- very classic MG adventure in tone, I think, based on the blurb. It’s about a girl called Demelza who can see the dead, who must use her unusual ability to save her grandmother when she’s kidnapped, alongside her best friend Percy. I think it’ll be great!

The Mask of Aribella– this is about Aribella, who is the daughter of a lace-maker in historical Venice, as she joins a group of magical warriors. I think the setting will be brilliant and I’m intrigued to learn more of the plot, because the blurb is fairly vague!

Queen of Coins and Whispers– this is an f/f court fantasy romance about a queen falling for her new spymaster. I’m hoping for lots of political intrigue and a couple I can absolutely get behind.

OTHERS

Unleashed– this is one of the things on my bought TBR I’m most excited for. It’s the sequel to 2018’s Jinxed, which ended on an absolutely BRUTAL cliffhanger and I really need to know what happens next, I’ve just never quite got round to picking it up.

The Star Outside My Window– this is the new Onjali Q Raúf, which focuses on two children who have just lost their mum to domestic violence as they try and get a star named in her honour. I think it’s going to break my heart, but it sounds incredible and incredibly important so it’ll be worth it.

Frostheart– I honestly don’t know very much about the actual specifics about the plot of this, other than that it’s a wintry adventure with cool illustrations. I think it has something to do with like, a sleigh? I’m excited to read it anyway!

Forest of Shadows– this is a prequel to Frozen 2 by Kamilla Benko, who writes the brilliant Unicorn Quest books, I went to see the film over the weekend and LOVED it, so can’t wait to spend more time in Arendelle soon.

Coming up Roses– I’ve read a LOT of Rachael Lucas in 2019 and this is the only one I wont get to before 2020, so I’m hoping to read it in the first half few months of the year if I can. This one is about a woman named Daisy who moves to a small village when her parents go off travelling during their midlife crisis, and her falling for an Irishman named George, whilst making new friends and saving her new home from developers.


What books are on your winter TBR? Have you read any that are on mine? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Amy x

Five Wintry Books I’ve Accquired in 2019

Hello everybody!

Today, I’m doing another Top Ten Tuesday where I only have five on my list, and I’ve twisted today’s theme a bit to narrow it down for myself and make sure I’m not repeating the books I always mention when I talk about festive reads. Onto the post!


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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!

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

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


Guest Post: Louise of Book Murmuration’s Favourite Winter Fairytales

Hello everybody!

Welcome to day 9 of blogmas! Today, I have my friend Louise here to talk about her favourite winter fairytales!

Enjoy! 


Peter Pan- Peter Pan has been associated with Christmas since it hit the stage in the Christmas season of 1904. Otherwise it has nothing to do with winter, or Christmas. I think this shows how any story can become a favourite Christmas tale. Lots of us feel like big children at Christmas, and Christmas is never so magical as in those early childhood years, so I think the theme of the boy who doesn’t want to grow up resonates with children and adults at this time of year.

The Match Girl- Why does a story that ends with the death of a child have associations with Christmas? Seasonal reading doesn’t have to be light and fluffy. Dickens was master of that, but The Match Girl predates even A Christmas Carol. These days we’re as likely to be obsessed with presents and wrapping paper, and driving each other up the wall over television watching rights. The Match Girl goes back to a time when a warm fire and the love of a family was a gift, not a … gift in disguise. I think it has the power to get under the frustration caused by modern life, and modern Christmas, and remind us how lucky we are. Everybody begs that final match to provide the miracle. Every. Single. Time. 

The Snow Queen- Modern adaptations focus on the queen in her palace. To me, the beauty of Hans Anderson’s story is how Gerda travels through the seasons, and those seasons are personified by the people she meets. My favourite part is the Autumn bandit camp.

The King Of The Swans- Delphine travels into a summery land to find the strawberries which will save her friend Hilda. Delphine is unable to get home, until she gifts some strawberries to the King of Swans. Hilda is cured, and years later the swan king gifts Delphine a crown. Ever after, children go in search of the same strawberries, but none find them. Delphine’s selflessness is rewarded, while the other children go in search of riches and come back empty-handed. This story stays in my memory because of the contrast – the summery land found in the middle of a snowy forest.

The Snow Maiden – An elderly couple believe they have been blessed with the child of their wishes when a girl made of snow comes to life. She grows within days into a beautiful young woman, but evaporates over a fire when she is invited to run through the springtime wood. 

The child made of snow is the image which stays with me. We all know what will happen when the girl is invited out into the spring. This is a lovely story to tell aloud, as the twists and turns invite questions.  ‘What do you think they found?’ ‘Do you think she’ll return home?’ 

Don’t these all sound brilliant?! I think my favourite winter fairytale is the Snow Queen for sure. What’s yours? 

Amy xxx





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

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