Magical Readathon: Christmas at Hogwarts TBR

It is time for the 4th instalment of the Magical Readathon! This time, the theme is Christmas at Hogwarts! The Magical Readathon’s are hosted by BookRoast and so far, I’ve just participated in one of the readathons (Wrap-up here) and decided to join this one as well as it is the perfect readathon to fit in with my Christmas themed TBR!

The readathon from the 17th of December until the 26th throughout which you complete a series of prompts following a marauders-style map guide. So, here is my TBR for the following 2-ish weeks:

Christmas at Hogwarts readathon.jpg

Prompt #1 – Finish your Coursework (finish your current read): This is such a great prompt as it kinds guarantees that you’ll at least complete one of the prompts! For me, this is most likely going to be The Nutcracker and The Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann.

Prompt #2 – Have a Snowball Fight with Weasley Twins (Read a book you think will be humorous): While I think I would have preferred to help Hagrid decorate Christmas trees, I somehow do not have any books on my TBR with gold on the cover? So, instead I”m reading Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien and as this is a re-read, I know this is funny.

Prompt #3 – Visit the 3 Broomsticks for a Mulled Pixie Wine (Read a book that should only take you a Day/Evening): For this I’m reading my favourite Christmas read as a child: The Gift of Christmas by Christine Leeson and Gaby Hansen. As it is a children’s picture book, I’m very confident that I can complete this prompt.

Prompt #4 – Attend a Yule Ball (Read a book you’ve been preparing for): For this I’m choosing The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero. This books seems very magical and right up my street, but I’m always a bit hesitant to read books that are set during the wars, so there is definitely some preparing for me to read this book.

Prompt #5 – Bring a Festive Treat to Hedwig at the Owlery (Read a book that features an animal on the cover/title/series name): For this I’m reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill as it seems to have some sort of … Crane on the cover?

Prompt #6 – Attend the Christmas Feast (Watch a Harry Potter Movie): Along with a whole host of other movies, Harry Potter is a common film to be on TV over the Christmas period. I’m probably going to watch The Philosopher’s Stone as I think this move is the one that features the most magical Christmas scenes!

41424731.jpg

Advertisements

Book Review: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

A Boy Called ChristmasTitle: A Boy Called Christmas
Author:
Matt Haig
Plot (taken from Goodreads)
: You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?

Good.

Then let us begin . . .
I’ve been meaning to read Matt Haig’s Christmas story series since this first book came out and I now wish I had read this so much sooner. A Boy Called Christmas tells us the origin story of Father Christmas and how he turned from a poor boy from Finland living with his father into the figure we recognise today.

In true origin story fashion, this book takes us on quite the adventure. From his father leaving to try and earn some more money and running away from his aunt, to the elves taking him in and his quest to save a missing elf boy, each page is packed with adventure and emotion. For me, that was one of the best aspects of this book. It wasn’t just us following along an adventure, but you truly connect with the main character and his struggles, especially with his sense of loss that travels throughout the whole of the novel.

Another great aspect was the supporting characters. Of course, their was the trusty animal sidekick. Blitzen, the reindeer, was loyal, funny and has caused me to name my Christmas tree Blitzen this year. The elves all had really different personalities, which was a lovely addition as I often think you know exactly what character you’re going to get when you see a elf in a book, and the addition of a troll and a Truth Pixie just added those little touches that really completed the magical atmosphere of the whole story. Another great little touch was the origins little Father Christmas things that are often not questioned, like his hat and how it is that the reindeer fly.

Overall, I gave this book 4 Stars. The only reason that it didn’t get 5 was that it was quite sad in places, which I wasn’t expecting. But, it a beautiful Christmas read that really reminds you of quite how magical Christmas can be through the story and the beautiful illustrations by Chris Mould. I will definitely be reading this one next Christmas as well.

Do you have any go-to Christmas reads? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top 5 Tuesday: Books I didn’t get to in 2018

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Bionic Book Worm.
This round is actually pretty easy for me. At the beginning of the year I made a list of books that I really wanted to read this year, some of which I haven’t got to and don’t believe I will in the next 3 weeks. So the top 5 books I didn’t get to this year are:

Arrowood by Mick Finlay

Arrowood

I brought this on kindle a couple of years back as I loved the idea of another detective around Sherlock Holmes time. I don’t quite know why I haven’t picked it up yet, but I will make sure too next year!

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

I’ve loved Jane Eyre since I fist read it, but it wasn’t until I watched To Walk Invisible, a TV film about the lives of all of the Bronte’s that I got interested in reading Anne’s work. This want has only strengthened after I visited the Bronte Parsonage earlier this year, so I’m sad I didn’t manage to get to it this year.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwarb

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)

I do really want to read this one to see if the hype if worth it, but it is also the hype that is making me hold off. A lot of people seem to love this book, so I think I’m going to wait a bit until the hype has died down so that I have less expectation going into it!

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Fingersmith

Another one that I’m really sad that I didn’t get to! I absolutely loved Affinity by Waters so can’t wait to read more of her work. However, this is a fairly lengthy book and I just couldn’t bring myself to tackle it this year!

A Girl if a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing

I’ve heard many positive things about this one from a lot of people, but I just didn’t get around to actually reading it. I hope to make this a priority read in 2019, but we’ll see how that thought actually turns out!

What books did you want to get to this year? Let me know in the comments!

5 Mini Book Reviews

Sometimes you just don’t have quite enough thoughts to make a full book review that is actually beneficial to others. So, here are 5 mini-reviews of books that I have read recently and wanted to talk about, but just didn’t quite have enough to make a full review of.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – Rating: ****

Far From the Madding Crowd

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, but it really did take some time to get through. Hardy has such a descriptive writing style and at times seemed to focus this on quite random things, like sheep. I honestly have never read so much about sheep in my entire life. What surprised me the most about this book, however, was that despite having 3 love interests, there was relatively little trash talk of the main female character, which was a very welcome surprise from a novel published in 1874. I would recommend tackling this read a little bit at a time to fully appreciate and understand the plot that, while the ending was quite predictable, had a lot of twists and turns along the way.


Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen – Rating: ****

Saint Anything

This was my first trip back to reading Sarah Dessen since I was a teenager and I had so forgotten quite how captivating her writing can be. This book was the first time in ages that I stayed up reading into the night because I just had to find out what happened. Like most of Dessen’s novels, we follow the life of a lost teenager who meets a guy who changes her life (for the better, of course). But also like a lot of Dessen’s book, it does take on some serious subjects. From handling a relative being in prison/having a drug addiction, to being a carer for a parent, Dessen once again explored the lives of these teenagers and really makes you connect with them. I haven’t loved every single Dessen novel that I’ve read but, for me, this one is definitely up their with my faves: Just Listen, Along for the Ride and Lock and Key.


Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher – Rating: *****

Wishful Drinking

I’ve got to preface this one by saying one thing: I wasn’t really all that aware of Carrie Fisher while she was alive. I knew who she way, but that was honestly about it. Despite  being a write-up of her one woman play, this book was so amusing while also giving an insight to Carrie Fisher’s life. It was not a traditional autobiography as the timeline jumping back and forth a lot, but, for this book it really worked. You got to know a lot about Fishers family, Debbie Reynolds, her friends and her Bipolar diagnoses, all of which was approached in a humorous and enjoyable way. So if, like me, you wish you had known more about her, this is a wonderful introduction.


The Complete Fairy-tales of Charles Perrult – Rating: ****

The Complete Fairy Tales

I was so happy when I saw that their was a now (gorgeous) bind up of Perrult’s work. Perrult is probably a lesser known fairy-tale writer than others within the genre, but his fairy-tales are very much present in the modern world despite this as he published familiar characters such as Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots. This book is split into two main sections: his poems and his short stories. The poems were a mixed bag for me: some were funny and enjoyable, some really hadn’t aged well. As for the fairy-tales, I enjoyed most as not only did they include a moral at the end which I loved about original fairy-tale writing, but I also recognised a lot of the motifs as they are featured in Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber, so it was really great to read the source material for that.


The Toymakers by Thomas Dinsdale – Rating: ***

The Toymakers

Oh this book. I had such high hopes for this book, I mean how is this blurb not exciting?:

“The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!”

However, this book had the same issues for met that I had with The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – the story was far more serious and far less magical than it is being advertised as. This story follows the lives of two brothers who run a Toy Store during the war (and beyond) and their trails and tribulations over the years. I really feel like I could have gotten on board with this one as, of course, book are not always as we expect them to be, and reading a tale about how the war affected different people’s lives I really could have enjoyed (especially as the descriptions of the Toy Shop were as magical as I had hoped). However, what really let this book down for me was the ending. I had my issues before this factor, as the second half really takes on a different tone to the first, but for me the ending just felt very rushed and out of character for all the characters and has really changed the view and emotions of the rest of the novel for me. However, I still gave it 3 stars as the writing was very captivating, and some of the character arcs really were beautiful.


Are their any books you’ve had mixed feelings about recently? Let me know in the comments!

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer Series Review

This series has literally taken me years to complete (and not because it only finished last year). I first got into this series because as a teenager I loved Glee which Chris Colfer starred in, meaning that I instantly brought his first book The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell. However, as I was waiting for the 3rd I went to University and completely lost track of the entire series, meaning that I didn’t pick it up again until after I had graduated, 3 years later. I read the next 3 in very quick succession before going back to Uni to complete my masters and only recently finishing the last one.

But, now that I have completed the series I wanted to share my feelings about it both as a whole and also about each individual book. Hence, my first series review! Lets get into it:

Book 1: The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)

This book follows the lives of Alex and Conner Bailey, twins whose father died a couple of years back and are both somewhat not fitting in at school. After a visit from their Grandmother they get sucked into a book of Fairy-tales she leaves behind, and we follow their adventures meeting classic Fairy-tale characters such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and The Fairy Godmother.

I often find that the First book in a series is the best one and I love this book. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it as I tend to struggle a bit with retelling’s. However, while this series borrows a lot of classic characters from Hans Christian Anderson and the brothers Grimm (and others), it does it in such a way that you know it is its own entity and it doesn’t try and change the characters backstories (mostly).

Book Two: The Enchantress Returns

The Enchantress Returns (The Land of Stories, #2)

Following on from the previous book, Alex and Conner travel around the Fairy-tale World, meeting new and exciting fairy-tale characters in order to gain the ingredients for a potion which is key to saving the world.

Honestly, this may be a middle grade book but the twists in the plot come from everywhere, and several I did not see coming. For a sequel this book really stood up to the test and featured all the things that made the first one great: brilliant characters, believable villains, hilarious moments from the Fairy-tale Characters (I’m looking at you Red Riding Hood) and the absolutely lovely friendship between the Bailey Twins.

Book Three: A Grimm Warning 

A Grimm Warning (The Land of Stories, #3)

A new threat grows in this novel as a masked man running about and trying to invade the Fairy-tale world. Alex and Conner must figure out what it is that is going on and how to protect the Fairy-tale World from this new threat.

This book wasn’t quite as good as the first two for me, but I still really enjoyed it and thought it was an enjoyable read. The thing that let it down just slightly for me was the pacing. The plot seemed a lot slower in this novel and I suspect that was caused by the large amount character and plot set up needed for the following two novels. What I really did love, however, was the sub-plots in this one. Each novel comprises of 2 or 3 subplots that all join together at one point. In one of these we are introduced to Bree, Connors love interest and all around bad-ass. She really brought something new to the novel and her own story linking to the Grimm Brothers was fascinating to watch unfold.

Book 4: Beyond the Kingdoms

Beyond the Kingdoms (The Land of Stories, #4)

The Masked Man’s army must be defeated, so Alex and Conner travel to famous literary landscapes in order to recruit the characters for their team, featuring worlds such as: Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and the Legends of King Arthur.

I have the MOST mixed feelings about this book. My main issue, I think, came from the fact that the twins were separated a lot in this novel. Alex and Connors relationship really is the heart of this series so having them apart really seemed to impact my enjoyment of this one. Also, there was A plot point in this book that has bothered me ever since I read it. Prince Arthur is cast as Alex’s main love interest, however, the whole relationship just didn’t seem that believable for either of their characters. Whereas Connors love interest had been introduced slowly over time as she had her own plot line and was largely based on adorable teenage banter and awkwardness, Alex and Arthur had a big case of insta-love and I felt like it just didn’t fit with the tone of the series, let along the characters and their strong personalities

Book 5: An Author’s Odyssey

An Author's Odyssey (The Land of Stories, #5)

Alex and Connors army isn’t strong enough to defeat the threat to the Fairy-tale Kingdom so decide to recruit some people that the other side will not know and therefore not know how to defeat: The characters from the short-stories that Conner has written.

Again I have quite mixed feeling about this one, and I think that comes down to the fact that I read this book immediately after the previous one. Whereas the last one follows them jumping into literary worlds, this jumps into Connors short stories. I think I will really enjoy this book when re-reading out of the order of the series, but within the series, it felt like I was reading the exact same book and plot as the last one. They jump through 5 different stories that Conner has written in order to recruit the characters for their quest, just like before. This was only added to by the fact that Conner bases a lot of his characters on the characters he had met in the Fairy-tale kingdom, so it just felt very familiar and like I had read the book before.

Book 6: World’s Collide

Worlds Collide (The Land of Stories, #6)

The final book in which the battle between Conner and Alex’s army and their big enemy finally takes place where all of the different world’s collide.

I really liked this one again, it felt much more of the tone of the first two. The plot (while long) was consistent and I loved all of the relationships in it (no forced romance, hoorah!). It did still have some issues, mainly that it got very inter-dimensional (Conner is a best-selling author of a fairy-tale series based on his own life, which is called The land of stories, which is the book that he jumps into to access the fairy-tale world, which is also the book we are reading about him, so the book that he has written based on his own life that made him a bestselling author?), essentially, it got a bit hard to keep up. But, this was a really good end to the series for me, and I’m glad I stuck with it in order to reach the end of these great characters stories.

Overall: These novels have some really great aspects to them. Mainly: the friendship between the characters is always evolving and it is really enjoyable to watch that happen. The characters, while known by name to many of us, have their own personalities which make it clear that these novels are not a retelling, but their own characters. Also, these books are funny. The near-constant bickering between Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood amused me throughout all 6 books, especially as you know that they are actually quite fond of each other.

The main drawbacks: At times these books do get a bit long. Each of the novels is around 400 pages and are jam-packed with plot. Also, some of the relationships just aren’t as detailed as others and I thought this cased a major slump between book three and box six. But, overall I really do recommend this series (especially the first two). You will laugh, you will be happy and you will love the backstory of every characters (including the villains).

Top 5 Tuesday: Books Titles

For the next month I’m going to be participating in Top 5 Tuesday hosted by Bionic Book Worm. I’ve seen this around for a while but never quite felt like I could answer all of the prompts but this month I think that I can.

For this Tuesday the prompt is Top 5 Book Titles:

The Girl of Ink and Stars


The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave – 

This is just such an enchanting book title? You don’t quite know what it is going to be about, but you just know that it’s going to be magical (it helps that I completely adore this book)

 


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman –

From the title of this book you already know that the main character is not going to be as fine as she seems to be. Knowing the plot of this book and how the events play out, the title just fits the character and her development so well.

 


The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – 

Just like with The Girl of Ink and Stars you just know that this book is going to be magical. I also would have never thought about a Circus being at night, which is just another appeal of the title when seeing it sitting on a shelf.

 


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis – 

The reason that I love this title is because it almost seems like a working title? It’s direct and almost like C.S. Lewis had written it at the top of a page to remind himself what the plot of this novel was about and meant to change it at a later date.


The Reader on the 6.27
The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent – 

Once again, as this seems to be the theme of my favourite book titles, this title just gives a little hint of what is going on inside the novel. Just enough to capture your interest.

 

 

What are your favourite book titles? Let me know in the comments!

Decembers Tackling the TBR Approach

For this month, I’m going to be following a themed TBR approach to Tackling my TBR. And as it is December, I’m going to be following a Christmas themed TBR! Every year I see a bunch of Christmas books and never get round to them and then feel like I can only read them at Christmas and another year goes past without me having read them. While a lot of my potential reading books this month will be coming from my local library, I’m also going to be adding in some more magical/general winter themed books in order to keep reducing my physical TBR as well.

The potential books being borrowed form the library this month are:

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
Christmas Days – 12 stories and 12 Feasts for 12 days by Jeanette Winterson
The Girl who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig
The Night I met Father Christmas by Ben Miller
The Nutcracker by E.T.A Hoffman
One Christmas Wish by Katherine Rundell
The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig

As for the books I’ll be adding from my own collection:

The Rest of Their Lives by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kerry Barnhill
The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero
Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

As you can see their is a lot of Matt Haig on this list, I love his writing and really want to get around to his Christmas stories. I’m also hoping to get to the books which have been on my list for quite a while, such as The Girl who Drank the Moon and The Orphan’s Tale  – both of which have been on my kindle for at least a year.

I hope you all have a good reading month as well, let me know what you plan to read in the comments!