Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Eleven - 2014 Reading Goals

I am not going to set any reading goals for 2014. I will not be joining any reading challenges.

It's not there aren't reading-related things that I'd like to do. I'd love to demolish half of my TBR and discover dozens of new authors. I'd like to read more classics and more literary fiction and more of everything I already love and read regularly.

It's not that there aren't challenges that I could probably complete with little effort. The New Author challenge is quite easy, and I could take part in multiple YA challenges, I'm sure!

And it's not that I haven't enjoyed taking part in challenges in the past. I think that reading challenges are a great way to push yourself to read more and to share what you're reading. I was even thinking of hosting a new challenge this year.

But I did not do very well on my 2013 reading challenges. I haven't finished any of them, and I'm not going to. I think I need a break. I think I need to make it easy on myself and to let myself read more for pleasure, without a target in mind.

I am setting goals for other areas of my life, and I want to really focus and get lots done. I don't want to have lots of goals for my career and blogs and hobbies all jostling around in my brain, competing for attention.

So 2014 will be the year without reading goals! I'm nervous and excited. Mostly excited. And I expect that by the end of the year I'll be looking forward to 2015's challenges!

Are you setting yourself any reading goals for 2014?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday Amusements 25

My latest piece of book post! This is such a striking cover, I really like it.

This is a short one today as I've been far too busy over Xmas to spend as much time as I usually do collecting links!

Jo at weartheoldcoat got to interview Melina Marchetta!!! I'm not one to overuse exclamation marks but I think this justifies it. I don't even have time to read it right now (I want to read it properly, not when I have twenty other things on my mind) but I thought I'd include it anyway as it looks fab!

Happy Christmas and Reading Resolutions for 2014 from For Books' Sake, featuring a top ten of women authors to try next year.

It's a sad fact of life that few of us have the space to keep every book we acquire. A Brief Guide To Culling Your Books at Good Books Good Wine is a very sensible guide to completing the difficult task known as the bookshelf cull.

Finally, a bit of humour - How to Write the Perfect YA Heroine (via Malinda Lo).

What have you been reading over Christmas? Have I missed any great blog posts while I've been eating and telly watching and eating and partying and eating?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Ten - Blog Plans for 2014

It's the fourth day of Christmas, and we're moving on to New Yearish themes! Today I'm going to be sharing my hopes and plans for this blog in 2014.


I didn't read very many books this year, which really helped me make sure I reviewed everything I liked! I want to read a lot more next year, but I'm hoping to stay on track and post my reviews as soon as possible after I read the book.


I want to get back into the Top Ten Tuesday habit in 2014, but I might experiment with some other memes too. I don't think haul post are my thing but there are some other question-and-answer theme posts that I like reading on other people's blogs.

Personal/discussion posts

These are my favourite kind of posts to read on other people's blogs, but I've always been shy about writing my own. I definitely resolve to try to write more of these in 2014! 


Of course I'll continue to be part of the Bookish Brits channel, but I'd like to post a video once in a while on my own channel, Better Than Dreams (because books are...). When I first started making videos, it took me hours to film and edit them - I think my first video took over five hours to produce! I'm pleased to say that I've gotten a lot faster - depending on the length of the original recording, it can take me as little as an hour and a half to film and edit now. So hopefully, now that the process is getting faster, I'll be able to make more videos.

What are your plans for your blog in 2014? Are you going to keep going with your favourite topics and tried-and-tested memes? Do you want to try something new?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Eight - The Character I'd Like To Help Me Make Christmas Dinner

IT'S CHRISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTMAAAAAAAAAAAS! As usual, my mum is doing the cooking, but I imagine that one day it'll be me having to produce that Christmas feast. And which book character would I ask to help me?

Well, she's enthusiastic about baking and hilarious, so I'd have to ask Ruby Oliver. Plus, she's a vegetarian, and although I eat meat, I happen to find a lot of veggie cooking absolutely delicious, so we would have a truly lovely feast.

I hope you have a great day! Which characters would you ask to help you make Christmas dinner?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Seven - Christmas Books on My Wishlist

The Bookish Brits Book Club is reading Let It Snow this month, which I requested from the library but it took too long and my request expired. I would definitely like to read it in the future though! I expect that it will become a bit of a YA Christmas classic, likeDash & Lily's Book of Dares, another one that I've yet to get around to reading!

I love big themed short story anthologies, and I really enjoyed The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales, so I'd also like to try The Oxford Book of Christmas Stories.

Christmas, for me, is all about the food! I got my mum this Christmas Cupcakes book a few years ago, but it would be great to have some new ideas, and make cookies too, so I'd like to get hold of Christmas Cupcakes and Cookies - Adorable ideas for festive cupcakes, cookies and other treats.

I love the BBC Good Food books and wholeheartedly recommend the 101 One-pot Dishes and 101 Pasta and Noodle Dishes books, but I've yet to try 101 Christmas Dishes, though it looks amazing.

Finally, my second favourite thing about Christmas, after the food, is the decorations! A Fairy-Tale Christmas: Creating Magical Celebrations Inspired by an Enchanted Castle sounds wonderful in the description, though the reviews are so-so. I'd like to have a look at it in real life before I bought it, but it seems to be an import, so honestly I'm much more likely to indulge my inner child with Christmas Decorations to Cut, Fold & Stick! Doesn't it look fun?

What Christmas-themed books are on your wishlist? Have you any recommendations of books that would help me get into the Christmas mood, or create something delicious or pretty?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Seven - Christmasses (and similar festivals) That I'd Love To Read About

I can group this topic into three themes that I'm sure will be familiar to anyone who's ever read or watched a version of A Christmas Carol:

Christmasses Past

I would love to read about historical Christmasses! From early solstice celebrations to the Middle Ages, the Reformation on to the Victorian era, it all sounds fascinating. Even more recent history has potential for Christmassy interest - I'd love to read about a 1920s/1930s and wartime Christmasses.

Christmasses Present

As I live in the northern hemisphere I've always been fascinated by the idea of Christmas on the beach, or Christmas barbeques, like I've always been told are the custom in parts of Australia and New Zealand! Different cultures have different customs for Christmas and it would be great to see these feature in fiction.


I wonder if Christmas will still be celebrated in the future, and what form it will take. Will people stop sending physical cards and gifts? What fabulous decorations will people design, and what kind of parties will they attend?

Would you like to read more stories set during Christmas? What kind of Christmasses would you like to read about?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Six - Fictional Items I'd Love to Find in My Stocking

Today's post is all about the imaginary objects, both magical and mundane, that I'd love to find in my stocking on Christmas Day!

Obviously the first thing that popped into my head when I started thinking about this topic was Hermione's time-turner from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There isn't anything in my past that I'd like to go back and undo - I'd just use it to get a lot more reading done! And also sleeping, if I'm completely honest!

When I was writing my Monday Amusements post earlier and looking through all the links I'd bookmarked, I decided that I'd really love a copy of The Higher Common Sense, a fictional book that's mentioned in Cold Comfort Farm. I imagine that it would be both enlightening and hilarious!

I'd also love to have Edie's magical pink slip dress from French Kiss - though I wouldn't be able to wear it until the summer!

If you could wake up on Christmas morning to find a fictional item in your stocking, what would you choose?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Amusements 24: Christmas vs New Year

I'm really enjoying all the Bookish Brits year end videos. I just watched Michelle's latest, above.
Even though I'm really busy with Christmas preparations, I'm desperately trying to read as many books as I can to try to get at least a little bit closer to reaching my 2013 reading challenge goals. I know I won't reach any of them, but I'd like to have a better overall total! This year I was a bit boring and picked things I thought would be achievable or that would get the most of my TBR down, and I really want to get excited about reading again, so I think that next year I need to be easier on myself and simply pick the challenges that sound the most fun! As always I'll be turning to the A Novel Challenge blog for ideas. I'm feeling drawn towards the Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge and I'd love to do the Arthurian Literature Challenge, but we'll see how I feel at the start of January!

I've also been thinking about my blogging plans for next year (I really enjoyed Jamie's post at The Perpetual Page-Turner about her blogging plans and ideas) - I'm longing to try to plan out the whole year in advance, but I'm not sure I'm quite capable of that yet! Maybe six months? Three?

One thing I definitely must do next year is re-read or watch Cold Comfort Farm - this piece reminded me how much I love it.

Back to the here and now - I loved Faye's post 'Watch Out, It’s the Grinch!' - I love Christmas for all the reasons she mentions. I especially love the decorations - every time I'm out I find myself grinning in delight and exclaiming over all the lights I see on buildings, even ordinary houses. I also adored From My Bookshelves / Books for Winter at prettybooks. I would be requesting as many of those books as I could from the library right now, had I not already picked out my reading for the month. Oh well, January and February are winter months too, right?

My favourite review this week is by Debbie at Snuggling on the Sofa (I've been catching up on the other Bookish Brits' blogs, can you tell?). The Naturals sounds so exciting!

Have you thrown yourself into New Year preparations already, or are you like me, determined to squeeze as much as you can into 2013?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Five - Favourite Bookish Presents That I've Received

I've previously shared my/Sister Christmas' bookish gift ideas, so now it's time to list the best bookish presents that I've recieved!

I haven't actually had that many bookish presents. I usually give my parents a list of the books I'd like, but I have received a few books in the last year from book-loving friends, which is the most exciting thing ever as nobody usually picks books for me!

I also, as often mentioned, love my Gimble and have an lovely collection of bookmarks, most of which were random flyers/freebies, but some of which were gifts:

I love that Christmas bookmark, I've had it for years, I think my parents gave it to me at some point when I was a kid. I think the train bookmark was a gift from my grandparents. Also pictured: my Gimbles, a book light that clips onto your book, the notebook I use to write reviews in, and the first of my Mslexia Writer's Diaries, which came with a gift subscription.

So what are the best bookish presents that you've recieved? Do you collect bookmarks, or is there a book someone else picked out for you that you really love?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Four - Presents I Would Buy For Characters

Today I'm playing Santa and imagining that I'm shopping for some of my favourite characters!

I would give Polka-dot a penguin-shaped dog toy, inspired by the cover of my edition of The Boy Book.

To Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, I would give a copy of She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, to help her rewrite her list of the ten women she admires most, and get on Grand-mere's good side.

Julia from The New Girl would get a list of websites that shewould enjoy looking at, where she could make new friends with similar interests and stop moping around.

To Ann Bradshaw, I would give a really beautiful dress of her very own. Poor Ann has it hard and I think that owning something lovely would lift her spirits.

I'd give Ananka some library cataloguing software - she needs some sort of system to keep track of all the books in her house.

To Jeane, my fictional BFF, I'd give lots and lots of Haribo, and a list of the top ten videos of dogs on skateboards, with ratings for cuteness and for hilarity.

If you were going to give Christmas presents to your favourite fictional characters, what would you give and to whom?

Bookish Brits Vlog 4: Looking Back at 2013 and Forward to 2014!

I tried to find my Santa hat for this video, but couldn't. Hopefully it'll be in the next one, but in order to record this in time, I had to DIY!

My Top Eight New Reads of 2013:

Pushing the Limits, by Katie McGarry
St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, by Karen Russell
Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, by Kirsten Miller
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Three - Bookish Gift Ideas, with Sister Christmas!

Today's post is actually a video, with a Guest Star! Oh yes, the one and only Ms Meredith "Sister Christmas" Claus is here to share some bookish gift suggestions! WHOOOOO!

What do you mean, she looks exactly like me?

*shifty eyes*

Anyway, if you have any more bookish Christmas gift suggestions, link up your own post below or leave a comment!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Bookish Brits Vlog 3: Three YA Books That Feature Different Types of Bullying

I'm late posting this, I know, but I wanted to wait until all the other videos were up and I could post my video with the playlist feature enabled. On the Bookish Brits channel we've spent the last two weeks talking about bullying, both in books and in real life. It's an issue that is very close to my heart and I hope you enjoy watching the videos.

Review of A Great and Terrible Beauty
Review of The Boy Book (second in the seriest, first is The Boyfriend List)
Review of Last Chance/Keeping the Moon

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): Two - Books On My Christmas List! AKA Help!

I'm actually still in the process of writing my Christmas list! I'm the black sheep of the family, as the sole book nerd. I've bought cookbooks for my mum and photography books for my sister, and my dad reads the occasional thriller, but I'm the only one that loves fiction, so I have to tell everybody what books I would like as they would have no idea what to do if they went into a bookshop!

I have so many books and such little space that I have to operate a very strict entry policy for my bookshelves. I only buy and ask for books that are not available at the library. Now that my borough has joined the London Libraries Consortium, and I can order books from any London public library for 75p, loads of books that would have been on my Christmas list before, like Eleanor & Park and the Night School sequels, have moved to my library wishlist instead! Which is great, but my Christmas list is looking a little sparse as a result.

I thought that looking at imports would be a great place to start, but the LLC has loads of them. One that the library doesn't have is Girl Defective, by Simmone Howell, but that's not even available on Amazon. It also doesn't have How To Be Bad, by or...oh, wait, that's it. Literally every other book title I've put in the library search has produced a result. So that means that at the moment, the only books on my Christmas list are How To Be Bad and Buffy Season 8 collections (which I have to own - there's a little space on my Buffy shelf)!

Today I'm asking you - what books are on your Christmas list? And do you have any obscure YA recommendations to help me fill mine? If you write a blog post, link it up below.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Monday Amusements 23

 Everything I plan to read this week. Aiming high, got to read as many books off this list as I can so that next years must-reads can be fresh and new! Okay, maybe not new...

I bought my Nook a few months ago, and ever since I've been wrapping it up in a pair of leggings in my bag! It really needs a proper case, so I'm currently deciding which one I should put on my Christmas list. Unfortunately, most purple Nook cases available in the UK are variations on the same fake leather theme, so I've turned to Etsy for something a little more fun. I like this case's polka dots, but I prefer the kind of cases that you can open like a book. This is very pretty and elegant, much more me than PU leather, but do I go sophisticated-goth or do I go for this case, with an amazing print of cats playing musical instruments? I think I'm torn between the hepcats and this swirly design, which can stand up. I'd better decide soon, before it's too late for shipping from the USA!

I enjoyed seeing Carly's Top Five Paranormal/Supernatural Reads, I've been curious about The Eternal Ones ever since I read Kiki Strike and the Shadow City, I will definitely have to get my hands on a copy. I also liked Sophie's 5 Books I Wish My Little Sister Would Read, as all those books are on my to-read list, and I'll definitely be adding the books mentioned in Michelle's Things I'm Drawn To In YA post.

Bestselling YA Authors Share 'The Book I'm Most Thankful For...' (via @sona_c).

If you consider yourself a member of YA fandom, take this survey to be part of an interesting-sounding piece of research (via @ScottWesterfeld).

Finally, Waterstones put together this adorable response to the Amazon drones announcement:

Twelve Posts of Christmas (and New Year): One - Favourite Christmasses in Books!

Hello and welcome to the first in a series of posts I will be doing to get myself (and hopefully you) in the festive mood. I love Christmas. I'm not religious, but I love the season. I live in the northern hemisphere, so Christmas is a bright glittery spot in the middle of gloomy wet winter, and I try to make the most of it.

NaNoFiMo is over, and I've finished the first draft of my novel  (more on that in another post), so I'm going to take a little break and read lots of books, to remind myself what good novels feel like to read and help me get in the mood for editing. I'm tempted to make some of those books Christmassy, as tis the season, after all! I've ordered Let It Snow for the Bookish Brits December Book Club, and since reading and loving Cold Comfort Farm, I've really wanted to read the short story 'Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm', a prequel, too.

So I started to think about my favourite Christmasses in books, and quickly decided that would be the topic of my First Post of Christmas.

When I was a kid I read Little Women several times, and the story begins just before Christmas. I loved reading about how the March girls and Marmee spread Christmas cheer, though they are a bit sickeningly sweet and self-sacrificing. I much preferred reading What Katy Did at School. Katy and her sister Clover are at boarding school and decide not to go home for Christmas at the journey takes three days each way. Instead they receive 'Christmas boxes' from their families, full of presents and flowers and delicious-sounding cakes. I used to read this scene over and over again and attempt to recreate it by finding things I owned that were similar to Katy and Clover's presents, wrapping them up, putting them in a box, and then opening it all again! It's my favourite part of the entire novel and must be at least partly responsible for my love of recieving parcels in the post!

A more recent read was Rebel Angels, by Libba Bray, which is set in the Victorian era and of course it was the Victorians who lay the foundations of Christmas as we know it - inventing greetings cards and enjoying seasonal parties. I loved the historical detail in this book - the balls and other events, as well as the Christmas shopping! I also loved the Christmas scenes in Adorkable - when Jeane went to stay with the Lee family I almost exploded from the cute overload.

What about you? What are your favourite Christmasses in books? If you don't celebrate Christmas, how are the festivals you enjoy portrayed in books? Any recommendations? I'd love to know. If you write your own blog post on this theme, there is a linky below so that you can share it with me and other readers.

I'll also be including linkies on my other posts in this series, and will put the list up here as they go up. I'll be putting up a Post of Christmas every three days, so keep checking back or subscribe!


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