Wednesday 16 December 2015


Welcome back to Top Five Wednesday! I haven't done one of these in such a long time but this week's topic of 'books to read by the fire' was just too good to miss. As always, Top Five Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Lainey over at GingerReadsLainey and you can check out the complete list of Wednesday-ers here.

For this topic I chose books that aren't necessarily Christmassy reads but would be perfect to snuggle up with on a cold winter's night and while away the evening in front of the fire. They all have a magical or mysterious aspect to them that makes them perfect for a dark Winter's night. So without further ado let's get into my recommendations for books to read by the fire:

01. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.
I've just started reading this as it was my TBR jar pick for this month and I'm so glad I picked it up as it's the perfect winter read. Set in rural Iceland in the harsh winter of 1829, Burial Rites is the story of Agnes, who, having been charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. That synopsis sounds pretty depressing but although the story is quite dark in places, Kent's writing is beautifully lyrical and so atmospheric that it's the perfect book to curl up with by the fire.

02. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
A magical realism novel set in Victorian times, The Night Circus centers around a mysterious travelling circus that only opens at night. But the novel is also about the secret competition between Marco and Celia, two strangers who have been trained since childhood by their mentors expressly for the purpose of this strange game. The competition isn't a battle, instead it is about intense magical one-upmanship, but unbeknownst to Marco and Celia, only one can be left standing at the end. The Night Circus is a very atmospheric, carefully constructed, character driven novel that weaves together so many perspectives and timelines. It really is so beautifully crafted and the magical atmopshere that's woven so intricately throughout the novel makes it a perfect Winter read.

03. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken.
I read this book back in May for the 2015 Classics Challenge but I really wish that I'd saved it for this time of year as it's such a wintery read. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a children's classic set 'long ago, in a period of history which never happened' where England is overrun by wolves. Cousins Bonnie and Sylvia are sent away from their home by their evil new governess Miss Slighcarp and the story unfolds from there. It's a fast-paced and heartwarming adventure story, with lovable well-developed characters. Again, the story is extremely atmospheric, Aiken's descriptions draw you right into the world and the writing is compelling and beautiful. This is a really quick read and perfect if you're looking for a heartwarming winter tale.

04. The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer.
I've gone on about this series of unique fairytale retellings a lot but let me repeat that you really need to read this series if you haven't already! The Land of Stories is about twins Conner and Alex who accidentally find themselves in the fairytale world and run into all sorts of trouble and adventures as a result. I absolutely love this series, as it's middle-grade/early young adult the books are really easy reads and they're just so lovely and heartwarming. You really can't go wrong with fairytale retellings in winter and this is the perfect series to go for.

05. The Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens.
This is such an obvious one but I've actually never read Dickens' A Christmas Carol, so I'm planning to curl up by the fire with this book which contains the classic Christmas tale alongside some other of Dickens' festive writings. I'm reading this for the 2015 Classics challenge so look out for my review coming soon!

Have you read any of these books? What's your favourite winter read?

Tuesday 15 December 2015


I'm back today with another tag! I haven't done one of these in a while and I thought it'd be a fun way to celebrate the holiday season and ease back into blogging after a little break. So let's get into the questions!

01. Favourite winter nail polish:
I love Barry M's 'Raspberry' all year round but my favourite festive nail look is a neutral like Barry M's 'Almond' with a gold glitter polish over the top. I don't think you can beat a glitter in winter!

02. Favourite winter lip product:
This has to be the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvets in 'Frambourjoise' 'Plum Plum Girl'. I know I've banged on about these a lot but I'm just obsessed with them. They're so easy to apply, they're not drying and they don't budge at all. I love wearing bold lips in the winter time, they just make me feel very festive and pulled together even if the rest of me is an exhausted mess.

03. Most worn winter clothing piece:
I would say my H&M coat which I wear whenever I go out but honestly as I spend most days at home, it's probably my fluffy dressing gown - does that count as clothing?

04. Most worn winter accessory:
My lovely memory foam primark slippers or my H&M snood, which is the perfect snuggly scarf.

05. Favourite winter candle:
I'm gonna be a stereotypical blogger and say the Yankee Candle in 'Christmas Treats' because it really is amazing!

06. Favourite winter beverage:
Hot chocolate! I love it all year round but it's extra amazing in winter, snuggled up in bed with a book. I also really like Costa's caramel fudge hot chocolate from their festive menu *drools*.

07. Favourite Christmas movie:
There are so many! When I was little I used to love the film 'The Greatest Store in the World' which we had taped off the tv, I wish I could watch it again but I think it was a tv special and I can't find it anywhere!
I also really love The Santa Clause and obviously Elf and Love Actually.

08. Favourite Christmas song:
This is another really tough one! Probably any version of 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)'. But I also love 'Step Into Christmas', 'Driving Home for Christmas' and the Boyz II Men version of 'Silent Night'. You know what, just go and check out my giant Christmas playlist on Spotify.

09. Favourite holiday food or treat:
Aldi do the nicest chocolate reindeer for 99p but I also can't say no to some quality street or a bit of Cadbury's yule log.

10. Favourite Christmas decoration:
My parents have this tiny glittery silver santa tree decoration, that was weirdly a wedding present even though they got married in springtime. I've loved it since I was little and it takes pride of place at the front of the tree each year.

11. What's at the top of your Christmas list?
Books! Obviously. I pretty much only asked for books this year, you can see my current wishlist here.

12. What are your plans for this holiday season?
I'm so excited for all my family to be together over Christmas. My sister is coming home from living in Malawi and I haven't seen her since January so I'm really excited for that! I love our Christmas, it's just perfect. You can read about how we celebrate in my 'Welcome December' post.

So that was the Winterlicious tag! If you're reading this then consider yourself officially tagged!

What are you most excited about this Christmas?

Sunday 6 December 2015


We're now almost a week into December, and if you're anything like me then the initial excitement over the arrival of the festive season has been replaced by a feeling of mild panic. There's still so much planning, decorating, present buying and wrapping to be done, and what the heck do I get for the sister who has everything or dad who's notoriously picky?! Well, calm down and grab a cup of tea, because I've got that sorted for you with some brilliant (if I do say so) gift ideas from Zazzle.

Now I've never really been the best at Christmas shopping, I struggle for ideas and get really exhausted and anxious wandering round the shops and the whole palaver usually ends with me coming home with a headache and no presents. So when Jess from Zazzle contacted me at the end of November asking if I wanted to review some of their Christmas gifts I jumped at the opportunity. A website where I can get all my Christmas presents and personalise basically anything in a few clicks? YES PLEASE.

You heard it right, Zazzle is an online superstore where you can customise and personalise pretty much any product you can imagine. I spent a good few hours just browsing their site because it's HUGE, but their navigation is super helpful and intuitive so you can browse by pre-designed products (which are usually customisable), blank customisable products or just search for keywords.

So without further ado, onto the gift ideas!

I personally believe that you can't Christmas shop without buying a little something for yourself, so after browsing their 'gifts for her' section I settled on this gorgeous print and these two personalised notebooks. They have such a great selection of pocket and larger spiral notebooks, all completely customisable right down to the font and spacing.

I also ordered myself an amazing print of the concept art for the Hogwarts Castle from their Harry Potter store (YES THEY HAVE A HARRY POTTER STORE, OMG, I KNOW!!). I had to remind myself that I was supposed to be getting Christmas gifts for other people, it was really hard to restrain myself from buying all the Ravenclaw merch! So if you know anyone who likes Harry Potter (that's basically everyone because duh) then anything from there would be a brilliant idea.

One of my favourite items is this notebook with a personalised cover design made from Instagram photos. I chose to customise this for my sister with photos from when I went to visit her in Malawi, it was super easy to connect to my Instagram and upload and arrange the photos. I think these notebooks would make a great gift for a sister or a friend, as everyone loves stationery and the personal touch really makes it special. I also went for a personalised luggage tag for my sister, these would be great for anyone who loves travel as they're really sturdy and instantly recognisable on your luggage.

As I mentioned earlier you can find items related to pretty much anything on Zazzle, and as my mum is a huge Pride and Prejudice fan I decided to customise a couple of items along that theme. Firstly I went for this 'I love Mr Darcy' tote bag, which I thought was hilarious. You can find so many designs for these tote bags and with the 5p carrier bag charge now in place, everyone needs one of these!

You can also upload an image onto pretty much any item so I decided to get a bit creative with a coaster. I chose a marble coaster and designed a quote from Pride and Prejudice using Picmonkey before uploading it onto the site, the whole process took about ten minutes and I think it looks awesome! I think coasters are a great present for parents and grandparents, especially if they're personalised, and I was so impressed with the quality of this - it looks really expensive!

Another great idea for the older generation is a personalised photo magnet, I don't know about yours but my mum and grandparents love anything with mine or my siblings faces on them (cringe), and these are super easy and affordable.

I'm not sure if it's just me, but I think dads can be really hard to buy for. They're probably sick of getting the same old socks and Twiglets for Christmas so I think it's worth putting in the extra effort to find something that fits their interests. This is where Zazzle's keyword search came in really handy; my dad is into fishing so a quick search of 'fly fishing' led me to this amazing design which can be printed on anything from a tie to a mousemat. I decided to go with a print which I'm going to have framed so he can hang it in his office. I love that with the prints there's such a huge variety of sizes you can go for and the ones I ordered were all amazing quality.

Everything I ordered came really quickly (within a week) which really impressed me, particularly as some things were shipped from the US. Overall I was really pleased with everything, from the usability of the website to the quality of the gifts. There really is such a huge variety of products on Zazzle that you could get all your presents in one go, plus they always seem to have some kind of discount or deal on the go so look out for that!

Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? What do you think of my choices?

* Disclaimer: the products linked in this review were sent to me for review purposes by Zazzle. However all opinions are entirely my own and I would never review something that I didn't honestly love!

Thursday 3 December 2015


# of books read: 4
Genres: 1 YA Contemporary, 1 Horror, 1 Memoir, 1 YA Fantasy.
Total # of pages read: 1468

Although I read only one more book in November than in October, I immensly enjoyed every single book. Sometimes it's better to read a handful of amazing books rather than a plethora of average ones, quality over quantity and all that. So let's get into the wrap up...

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard | ☆☆☆☆☆
Beautiful Broken Things is a 2016 release but I was approved for a proof e-copy on Netgalley and I'm so glad that I got to read this wonderful debut YA. The story follows inseparable best friends Caddy and Rosie, and what happens when the mysterious and exciting new girl Suzanne comes into their lives. Beautiful Broken Things explores a range of teenage realities from crushes and parties to more serious topics, without ever becoming an 'issue' book. The emotions in this book are so raw and honest and so intensely relatable that at times it was like Sara was writing from inside my own head. There's something special about this book that really sets it apart from other contemporaries, I think it's that it's just so REAL. I'm convinced that this book is going to be a huge hit when it's released in February next year so you'd better get your pre-order in now.
I have many more thoughts on this book so a more detailed review will be up closer to the release date.

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix | ☆☆☆☆
This was a leftover Halloween read that I finished up in early November. Horrostor follows a group of employees tasked with investigating strange goings on in an Ikea-esque furniture store on an overnight shift. Things quickly go from a little creepy to pretty darn TERRIFYING. I must admit I am quite easily scared but I think even the most hardcore reader would be a little unnerved by some of the goings on in this book. Everything from the creepy setting of an empty superstore to the catalogue-esque design of the book is so well thought out and in my opinion the concept is executed really well. It was a pretty quick read and I'd recommend it for any time of year, not just Halloween. I also think it would make a great gift as the book design really is excellent.

Binge by Tyler Oakley | ☆☆☆☆.5
If you haven't heard of Tyler Oakley then where have you been?! But honestly this guy is not only one of the most successful YouTubers but he's the downright king of the internet.  I'm definitely not your typical YouTube fangirl (not that there's anything wrong with that), but I really do think Tyler is brilliant. I pre-ordered his book a while ago and was really excited when my signed copy arrived at the end of October. I haven't really been interested in any of the recent 'YouTuber' books but I honestly think Tyler creates such great content and was hoping his sharp wit and humour would translate well in writing - and I wasn't disappointed! This book is full of stories he promises that he's never told on the internet, so it really is original content as opposed to an alternative format of his Youtube videos. The chapters are chatty and informal enough to feel like he's talking to you, yet his writing is so sharp and well-crafted that it never feels sloppy. No T no shade to other Youtubers who've released books but Tyler's writing is just on another level; he knows how to write and every line is drenched in his particular brand of witty humour with just the right amount of sincerity. This book had me honestly laughing out loud throughout but also contained some really great heartfelt moments, and unlike some other memoirs I've read, I really felt like I knew Tyler a bit better by the end of the book. Even if you're not really into memoirs, I'd still recommend this, it was a ridiculously enjoyable read.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell | ☆☆☆☆☆
I'm still reeling from this book so it's kind of hard to give any other review than THIS BOOK IS INCREDIBLE AND YOU MUST READ IT NOW. This book was probably my most anticipated release for 2015 so when I finally got my hands on it for my birthday I was over the moon. I dropped everything and read it immediately. Carry On is a YA fantasy that was inspired by the fictional 'Simon Snow' series that the main character in Fangirl wrote fanfiction about. Phew, that sounds confusing, but it's really not. In my opinion you don't need to have read Fangirl before Carry On, as it definitely works as a stand-alone novel. Carry On follows Simon Snow, the prophesied 'chosen one' who is supposed to save the world of Mages, and his roommate, and arch-nemesis, Baz. Carry On is about their final year at the Watford School of Magicks, whilst several wars are waging in the world of Mages, and it's full of magic and politics and monsters and kissing and it's just bloody wonderful. This was definitely my favourite read of November and possibly my favourite read of the whole of 2015. The moment I finished it I immediately wanted to re-read it and soak up all my favourite parts and find little things I missed the first time round. If you like YA, or you like fantasy, or you know what if you're a human who can read, then you absolutely need to read this book. I have way more thoughts on this so I'm probably going to be doing a full review soon!

So those were all the books I read in the month of November and I bloody loved all of them. My December TBR will be up soon so keep an eye out for that! Although I'm super tempted to just re-read Carry On for the rest of time...

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read last month? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday 1 December 2015


I'm so excited that December is finally here! I feel like I've been waiting the entire year for this magical month and now that it's arrived I'm in my element. This morning I dug out the 'Christmas box' from under my bed and unpacked all my festive jumpers, Christmassy socks, Christmas films and decorations for my room. I've been blasting my Christmas playlist all day and I'm all ready to start wrapping presents and soaking up as much of the festive season as I can.

If you couldn't already tell, I love Christmas. I love tinsel and fairy lights and all the tacky decorations we overload our Christmas tree with. I love the excitement of opening my advent calendar every day. I love mince pies and pigs in blankets and turkey and smoked salmon and tins of Quality Street and basically ALL OF THE INCREDIBLE FOOD. But mostly I love spending time with my family and doing all of our Christmas traditions.

Our Christmas day is always the same and I absolutely love it. I start the day by dragging my sister out of bed to come and open our stockings from 'Santa' ;) in my room before getting ready to go to church - my mum is Catholic so we always go to the early Christmas day service with her. After church my extended family comes over and we have an amazing breakfast of croissants and bucks fizz before heading to the living room to open presents. The whole present opening session usually lasts about four hours because our whole family goes completely over the top on present buying, we've even been known to take a break to have Christmas dinner and come back to the presents after. Our Christmas dinner is epic and we stuff ourselves silly before collapsing in front of the fire to play games, watch the Downton Abbey Christmas special and eat too many Quality Streets. It's basically the perfect Christmas.

So until that wonderful day arrives I'm going to be enjoying every festive moment that this month brings and hopefully getting a lot of reading done in the meantime. I've got a jam-packed blogging schedule this month with a lot of festive posts so I hope you'll stick around for that, and I hope you have a wonderful December!

Do you have any festive traditions?

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