November Wrap Up…

Welcome to my November Wrap Up. I had a great reading month, finishing 8 books (3 books off my TBR). I also received 3 ARC’s this month, and I continued my new goal of reading 1 Shakespeare play and 10 Shakespeare Sonnets, as well as 5 Brother’s Grimm fairy-tales, and 3 ‘books’ from Les Miserable by Victor Hugo.

I have reviews up or coming up for these books so as usual this is just going to be a brief run down on each book I read.

Without further ado, let’s get into my November Wrap Up…

Santa Bruce by Ryan .T. Higgins: This book was beautiful. Written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins, this book was absolutely perfect. The illustrations brought to life the wonderful story being told. Every page of this book was stunning and oozing joy. This book is a must have for all young readers this Holiday season.

Laugh Your Head Off 4 Ever by Various Authors: This was a really fun book. With 9 different stories written by 9 different authors, there is something in this book for everyone. I had a smile on my face from start to finish and some genuine laugh out loud moments. I can see this being a favourite for middle grade readers and a great book to read aloud at bedtime for those younger readers.

Favourite Enid Blyton Stories by Enid Blyton: This book was absolutely amazing. It was filled with some of Enid Blyton’s most awesome stories, with introductions by various famous people and breathtaking illustrations. I am so happy to have this amazing book to add to my Enid Blyton Collection. This book will be adored by everyone who reads it and is a must have for all good bookshelves.

The Children Of Cherry Tree Farm by Enid Blyton: This story was beautiful. I don’t remember ever reading this book before so reading it for the first time as an adult was a truly wonderful experience. I loved everything about this book; the characters, animals and plot were all amazing. I don’t have a bad word to say about this book.

Floodline by Kathryn Heyman: This book was absolutely fantastic. I was captivated from the first page and I didn’t want it to end. The story being told was so emotional and utterly human, that it was easy to forget you weren’t actually living it. I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about this book.

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster: I loved this book. I am so glad that I decided to read it and I am so excited knowing that it is going to be a series. The characters were interesting and relatable so it made it really easy to fall into this story. I loved the magic and mystery in this book. The writing was beautiful and had a really lyrical quality about it. I cant wait to continue with this series.

Marge And The Secret Tunnel by Isla Fisher: This book was great. I really love the Marge In Charge books. They are fun, sweet, and thoroughly entertaining. These books are perfect to read aloud with kids at bed time. I can easily see Marge And The Secret Tunnel being a favourite for young readers and their families.

The Ice Monster by David Walliams: This book was fantastic. I am a huge fan of David Walliams’ books and this didn’t disappoint. With awesome characters and a beautiful story, this book is a must have for all young readers. With amazing illustrations by Tony Ross, this book is overflowing with awesomeness.

Shakespeare: I read 1 Shakespeare play and 31 Sonnets in November. I read the following Shakespeare Works This Month:

The Second Part Of King Henry The Sixth

Sonnets 103-134

Les Miserable: For those who don’t know this novel, it is broken up into character sections with each character section containing ‘books’. Within each of these books are chapters. These ‘books’ come in various sizes, it is just the luck of the draw really. I have read the following ‘books’ this month:

The Idyll In The Rue Plumet And The Epic Of The Rue Saint-Denis:

– Book 15: In The Rue De L’Homme-Arme

Jean Valjean

– Book 1: War Within Four Walls

– Book 2: The Entrails Of The Monster

– Book 3: Mire, But The Soul

– Book 4: Javert In Disarray

Brother’s Grimm: I am happy to say that I not only completed my goals of reading 5 Brother Grimm Fairy Tales in November, I well and truly surpassed it. I read the following Tales this month:

The Lazy Spinner

The Three Sluggards

The Twelve Idle Servants

The Twelve Huntsmen

The Maid Of Brakel

Hans In Luck

Clever Elsie

Hans Married

The Boy Who Did Not Fear

Frederick And Catherine

Wise Folks

The Bremen Town-Musicians

Lazy Harry

Brides On Their Trial

The Spindle, The Shuttle, And The Needle

The Peasant’s Wise Daughter

The Shepherd-Boy

The Master-Thief

The Three Brothers

The Four Skillful Brothers

The Turnip

Going A-Traveling

Donkey Cabbages

Snow-White And Rose-Red

The Poor Miller’s Boy And The Cat

The Old Woman In The Wood

The Lambkin And The Little Fish

The Juniper-Tree

The Three Litter Men In The Wood

Jorinda And Jorindel

The Goose-Girl At The Well

The White Bride And The Black One

Little Brother And Little Sister

The Gold-Children

The Golden Goose

The Two Brothers

Ferdinand The Faithful

The Three Black princesses

That’s it for my November Wrap Up. I hope you all had a great reading month. Let me know what you guys read this month in the comments section.

Until my December Wrap Up…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

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Favourite YA Books

Welcome to another Wacky Wednesday. Today’s topic is YA Reads. These YA books are some of the greatest books I have ever read. I know a lot of people right off YA books, but I am not one of them. I don’t care what people are read, as long as people are reading the world is a better place. With so many amazing YA books out there, this wasnt the easiest list to compile. I hope you guys enjoy the final product, and maybe find some recommendations from it.

Stalking Jack The Ripper – Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco: Audrey Rose was such a fantastic character to journey with. I honestly can’t speak highly enough of these books. I absolutely love the characters and the way these stories were developed. If you havent yet read these amazing books, do it now.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff: These books absolutely blew my mind. I was worried that the second book wasnt going to be able to stand up against Illuminae, thankfully I was completely wrong. I can honestly say I don’t have a bad word to say about this series and I cant wait to read book 3; Obsidio.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han: I loved this series. I loved the amazing characters and sweet, funny, heartwarming story. There were only two books originally, so I was apprehensive about book 3. But it was perfect. It really added to this series. If you havent read theses books, you are missing out.

The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead: I loved this series. I picked it up reluctantly many years ago, when the Vampire crazy was in full swing. I didn’t know if I was over Vampire stories or not, so I gave it a go. I am so glad I did. It is one of my all time favorite Vampire series. I love the characters, the story line and the writing. I honestly adored this series and I often go back to it if I find myself in a reading slump. I will forever be grateful I picked this series up.

The Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs: I absolutely adored this series. The whole concept of this series was amazing. I loved the story line and the characters. The addition of the peculiar photographs scattered throughout the book really added an extra dimension to an already amazing story. If you havent yet read the Peculiar Children’s series, do it now. You wont regret it.

The Selection series (Books 1-3) by Kiera Cass: I loved this series. It was fun, easy to read and thoroughly entertaining. I am so glad I picked up this series. This book had great characters and a really enjoyable plot. Overall the first three books in this series were amazing. This series actually has five books, but I wished it had stopped after three, the last two weren’t any good. So I am just going to pretend there were only three.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber: I was so excited to get my hands on this book and when I finally did, it didn’t disappoint. Filled with magic and mayhem, murder and mystery, I was hooked from start to finish. With the bond of sisterhood driving the plot I could completely relate to the journey Tella and Scarlet were on. I couldn’t put this book down. I will be reading this book many times in the future.

Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys: This book broke my heart. A truly haunting Historical Fiction novel. I found myself so caught up with the story I couldn’t help but feel what the characters were feeling. I was genuinely surprised by how much this book effected me. This book is a must read for everyone. Just make sure you have tissues on hand.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu: I loved this book. A call the arms for teenage feminists, this book is both current and necessary. The story was fun and entertaining and the addition of the Moxie ‘zine’ was fantastic. A must read book for all Young Adults. MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: I love this book. An all time favourite of mine that change the way I look at the world. I have read many books about war and conflict but I never stopped to think about these situations through the eyes of a child. This book really opened my eyes to the children affected by war. This is something that I still think about today when reading about or seeing something about conflict.

Well that’s it from me. Let me no if you have read any of these book or if there are any amazing YA books that I missed on this list or should be reading right now.

Until next time…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

‘When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.’

I loved this book.

I will admit it took me a few chapters to get into this book but once I was in I was hooked.

I loved the world that Elizabeth Foster created in this book. The magic and mystery that oozed from every page was truly captivating.

The characters in this book were really relatable and grounded, which surprised me given the magical elements of this book. I loved the relationship and dialog between them and the way in which they developed both individually and as a group throughout the story.

The story itself was wonderful. The pacing was perfect and you learned what you need to know as the story progressed, there weren’t any major information dumps on the reader. The plot flowed easily and took the reader on its journey.

Elizabeth Foster’s writing was absolutly beautiful. It had a real lyrical quality to it that was perfectly displayed in this book.

I honestly loved this book and I am so excited that it is a part of a series. I cant wait to get my hands on the next book.

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster is a truly wonderful story that will fill you with magic and wonder.

Planning For Bookmas!

Last week I talked about how I prepare for the massive work load I have for my blog in December. Today I am going to talk about how I prepare for Bookmas. For those of you who don’t know; Bookmas is a count down, well technically count up, on the 12 days leading to Christmas.

I post a Book themed post representing the number of the 12 Days of Christmas so leading up to my Top 12 Books on the Year that I post on Christmas Eve.

I love Bookmas and I am always proud of myself when it is over but it is a lot of work. I have to prepare 12 extra posts to accompany my usual scheduled post in December. So I am going to give you a run down of how I get this done.

Preparation is key.

I start off by making a list of my 12 themes; one for each day. Well I guess its only really 11 days as I always kick off Bookmas with a Bookmas Tree on day one. Once I have assigned a topic to each of te days, I make 11 separate lists representing each of the topics.

I then start filling in each list with books that fit each of my topics, trying not to repeat book other than on my Best of list. I only put books that I am 100% sure I want to include in each category. I keep a back up list of ‘maybes’, but I leave room on my main lists for books that I havent yet read.

Given that I can’t complete all of the posts this early on, I am also unable to take the Instagram shots that go wit each post. This means I have another list. This time of Instagram shots that I need to take in December.

As I said in last weeks post, lists are my best friends this time of year. I find that if I keep lists and do a little bit each day I am less overwhelmed by the size of this task.

I also find colour coding a huge plus when organising Bookmas. I colour code each topic so I don’t get confused with all of the lists. I try to edit and schedule as I go and I always cross a task off my list when I have finished it. A calendar is the perfect way to keep track of what you have an havent completed.

It sound like a lot of work, and don’t get me wrong it is. But it is also fun. Coming up with topics, re visiting the books I have read this year, planning Instagram shots. No one is making me do this, I am choosing to do it, so I have to remember to have fun with it, otherwise what is the point.

I am always glad I participated in Bookmas and I am always pleased with the content I put out and especially the response I get from you guys. It really makes it all worth while.

If you have thinking about starting your own Bookmas or you are just struggling with you work load I am going to share the three pieces of advice I try to live by in December.

Preparation Is Key

Lists Are Your Friends

Have Fun

~>GEM<~

The Children Of Cherry Tree Farm by Enid Blyton

‘”We’re off to Cherry-Tree Farm! We’re going to go wild!” the children shout as their train pulls out of London.

So of course when Uncle Tim tells them about Tammylan, the wild man who lives out-of-doors and knows all about the animals and birds, they decide to look for him. Once they meet him all sorts of wonderful things start to happen, for Tammylan introduces the children to his animal friends, and soon the ways of badgers and squirrels, rabbits and frogs, moles, otters and snakes are familiar to them, and London seems far away and unreal.’

This book was beautiful.

I have absolutely loved making my way through Enid Blyton’s classics recently, and I was over joyed when I picked this book up and realised I had never read it before. Reading this book for the first time as an adult was a wonderful experience. I was filled with wonder and hope from start to finish.

I loved the relationship between the siblings in this book. It was pure and realistic. They argued and squabbled yet they really loved and protected each other. I loved loved the respect and love the children showed their Aunt and Uncle.

My favourite thing about this book was getting to see the children grow and build a relationship with Tammylan and the animals. This book really helps the reader to remember not to judge someone because of what other people believe. I truly believe that is something everyone should remember.

The writing in this book was perfect, but that shouldnt be a surprise. The lyrical writing and captivating descriptions really added an extra layer to the wonderful story that was unfolding. This is definitely a book that I could read a hundred times and never tire of.

The Children Of Cherry Tree Farm by Enid Blyton is a must read for all young readers and all readers who are young at heart.

Book Identity Tag…

Welcome one and all to another Wacky Wednesday post. Today I am going to complete the Book Identity Tag. I have decided to give two answers per question because my first answers were all Harry Potter related, so I thought I would do one Harry Potter answer one other when necessary.

So without further ado, lets jump into the Book Identity Tag:

What World would you live in?

The Wizarding World – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling or The Beast’s Castle – Beauty And The Beast.

Who would your partner be?

Remus Lupin –  Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling or Darrell Curtis – The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Who would your parents be?

The Weasley’s – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling or Captain Ralph Crewe – A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Which Hogwarts House would you be in?

Gryffidor

What powers would you have?

Orbing (Charmed TV Series)/Teleportation/Apparition or Telepathy.

What animal would you have as a pet?

Buckbeak – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling or Dumbo – Dumbo by Helen Aberson.

Who would be your BFF?

Luna Lovegood – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling or Audrey Rose – Stalking Jack The Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco.

Well that’s it from me. I hope you guys enjoyed todays post. As usual hit me up with your answers in the comment section.

Until next time…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem

Floodline by Kathryn Heyman

‘When the city of Horneville is destroyed by a flood on the eve of a huge gay mardis gras, Mikey Brown – the feisty, sexy and dynamic host of a Christian shopping channel – knows exactly what she needs to do. Taking her sons with her, she sets out on a grand mercy mission. The journey is more than a flood clean-up for Mikey – she wants to save the city and teach the godless inhabitants a lesson. Her husband was lost to her after attempting to ‘mission’ to this same festival and this is her chance to lay the past to rest. Mustard – an enthusiastic, ebullient, 8-year-old – doesn’t believe his father is dead. In fact, he is determined to find him and knows that Horneville is the place to start looking. If anyone can bring him back, Mustard can.

Down in the city, the floodwater surrounding the Horneville City Hospital is steadily rising, turning what has been a place of refuge into a disaster zone. Deep in the hospital chaos, Nurse Gina Donaldson is forced to make a life and death decision with shattering repercussions.

The arrival of Mikey’s little troupe helps Gina find hope in the most unlikely places. Both Mikey and Gina must stare down their pasts in order to find salvation, but will they have the courage?’

This book was absolutely fantastic.

This book captivated me from the very first page and I didn’t want it to end.

Kathryn Heyman’s writing is so lyrical and emotive, I found myself completely engrossed in this story and I connected with it so emotionally that I had to remind myself that I wasnt actually living these events.

The amazing characters in this book were well-developed, three-dimensional and easy to relate to. I loved watch each of the characters grow and change as they faced different hardships throughout the story. What made these character so interesting was they were deeply flawed and utterly human.

I am usually not a massive fan of stories told from dual perspective but I absolutly loved it in this book. The fact that the characters were experience two different circumstances and had completely different lives and background made for a truly wonderful reading experience.

The story itself was equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking. The fact that the story is rooted in fact and could actually happen made reading it compelling. I wanted to see how these stories ended and how each character changed due to what they had experienced.

The ending of this book was perfect. It wasnt what I expected but once I had finished the book I realised it was the perfect ending to such an amazing story.

I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about this book.

Floodline by Kathryn Heyman is a book that everyone should read at least once in their life.

December = Blogging Oveload!

As the year starts to wind up it is time to prepare for the busiest month of the year in blogging: December.

Today I have decided to give you a bit of information about how I handle the craziness that is December.

In order to have all of my posts ready on time I start my December preparation early. With an extra 12 posts needed for the 12 days of Bookmas on top of my usual posts, which this year includes: 5 Reviews, 2 Wacky Wednesday, 2 Sunday Session, 1 TBR, 1 Wrap Up, 1 Bookhaul, 1 Year In Review and of course I need Instagram shots for all of the above totaling 31 photos.

A good preparation is the make or break of December.

I start my prep by making a list of all the posts I am going to need. Once I have this number I can start to come up with ideas. My TBR and Wrap post can’t be written until the beginning and end of the month so I put them to the side.

I make sure I have enough reviews to cover the days I need them but I have also learnt from experience that other reviews will replace the ones I have selected. New releases are still coming out and then there is of course Christmas themed books to read and review. I have learnt not to stress about this. I just make sure I have the reviews I need and then I put them to the side and replace them at a later date if I need to.

Now its time for my Year In Review. I always start this post even though I can’t actually finish it until the end of the year, it has a fair few components so I like to get the jump-start on in. I pull up my ‘Goals’ post from the beginning of the year and see how many of my goals I have achieved and what I still need to get to. I also note any important accomplishments from throughout the year. I ultimatly have to leave this post incomplete so I can add to it right up until it is posted.

I now need to more onto my Bookmas posts. For anyone that doesn’t know what Bookmas is; it is the 12 days leading up to Christmas. I post a new post everyday about the books I have read this year counting up to my Top 12 Books of the Year that I post on Christmas Eve. My Bookmas post and the preparation that is required is going to be discussed in next weeks Sunday Session post, so I am going to more on for now.

The plus side with Bookmas is I only post a themed post each day, meaning I don’t need any other post. This year thanks to Bookmas I only need two Wacky Wednesday posts and two Sunday Session posts. I will work on these after I have planned Bookmas and I will try to keep them Christmas themed. Once I have finished these posts and taking the accompanying photos I will schedule these posts and cross them off my list.

Once I have all of this done I will start my Bookhaul; just the intro and outro as I need to receive the books be for I can haul them. This is the only post I write or even think about on Christmas day. I post is on Boxing day so I usually spend about an hour on Christmas day working on it.

I try to take a break from my blog for Christmas and Boxing day, sometimes I even take the following day off. But once my break is over I have to start working on the post I will need in the first week of January. I start with my Goals for the following year; in this case 2019, as well as my January TBR, Reviews, Wacky Wednesday posts, Sunday Session posts and Instagram shots.

One of the things I learnt early on was preparation is key. I am going to finish this post with a few pointers that have really helped me. As much work as it is, I really enjoy doing it and I love the content I put out. If you are having trouble or you are thinking of starting your own Bookmas I hope you have found this post interesting and I hope you find the following tips helpful.

  • Preparation is key
  • Make a plan you can follow
  • Lists are your best friend
    • I have lists for Bookmas, Reviews, Wacky Wednesday, Sunday Session, Instagram, as well as my non blog related lists
  • Colour Code
  • Schedule as you go
  • Check off completed tasks as you go
  • Use a calendar to keep track of your posts

My most important piece of advice is do a little each day, don’t try to do too much otherwise you will become overwhelmed. As the saying goes ‘slow and steady wins the race.’

~>GEM<~

Favourite Enid Blyton Stories by Enid Blyton

‘This fabulous treasury contains excerpts from Enid Blyton’s much-loved books including The Magic Faraway Tree, The Famous Five and Malory Towers, among others. Every selection is chosen and introduced by one of the legion of superstars who count Enid Blyton among their favourite childhood authors. Discover how Jacqueline Wilson, creator of Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather, was inspired by Enid Blyton to become a writer, why Holly Smale (Geek Girl) fell under the spell of the Enchanted Wood and how Michael Morpurgo thrilled to the adventures of the Famous Five.’

Complete list of contributors:
Danny Baker
Pamela Butchart
Gemma Cairney
Mel Giedroyc
Andy Griffiths
Allegra McEvedy
Lucy Mangan
Michael Morpurgo
Laura Mvula
Holly Smale
Robin Stevens
Nicola Sturgeon
Katie Thistleton
Jacqueline Wilson
Levison Wood

This book was absolutly beautiful.

This amazing book is overflowing with the magic of Enid Blyton. The stories selected from this book were absolutly perfect and the breathtaking illustrations by Mark Beech really enhanced the already amazing stories.

Mark Beech’s full colour illustrations perfectly compliment each of the stories in this collection. After finishing this book I went back to the start just to look at the wonderful illustrations.

I loved getting to read the introduction to each of these stories. I really enjoyed getting to see which magical story or amazing adventure had captured the minds of these amazing people. Getting to see how Enid Blyton’s stories had affected the lives of others and what they took from her books made from a truly wonderful reading experience.

The layout of this book really drew me into this book and made it hard to put down. It really is utterly superb. The way in which the chapters were grouped together and the colour coded, illustrated borders really captured my attention.

This book can be read from start to finish like I did, or read one story at a time. Making this collection of stories perfect for reading aloud.

Favourite Enid Blyton Stories is the perfect book for all young readers and all readers who are young at heart. It really is a book that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

World Kindness Day Reads…

Welcome one and all to another Wacky Wednesday post. With Yesterday being World Kindness Day, I have decided to make that my theme for today’s post. I have narrowed this list down to five books that show great kindness. I hope you guys like the books I have chosen.

So without further ado, lets jump into my World Kindness Day Reads:

Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally: The incredible book that lead to the making of the Oscar-winning movie Schindler’s List. This haunting book, tells the true story of Oscar Schindler’s efforts to save Jewish people during the Holocaust. This book is a book everyone should read at least once in their life. I can’t think of a better book to include on a list about World Kindness Day.

All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: This beautiful, emotional book show the difference kindness can make in someones life. This book is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I loved seeing how one small act of kindness changed so many things in these characters lives. This book is well deserving of its place on this list.

The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan: Wow. I didn’t know what to expect going into this book, it was fantastic. This book is so relevent and really struck a chord with me whilst reading it. Brian Conaghan did an amazing job with the book. The plot, Characters and the writing are all perfect. Everyone should read this book, it will stay with you long after the last page.

The Song Of Us by J.D. Barrett: I absolutely adored this book. Zoe is a harpist who spends her days playing for the dying. After losing a client Zoe decides its time for her to start living. Filled with love, happiness and truly tender moments, This is definitely a book that I am going to read many times in the future. I don’t have a bad word to say about J.D. Barrett’s The Song Of Us. This book is a must read, I promise, It will stay with you long after the final page.

Beauty And The Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve: I couldn’t do a list about kindness and not include Beauty And The Beast. I love this story, I always related so much to Belle and her character. I love seeing how her love for her father and her kindness to the beast and the other occupants of the castle changed so many lives. Not only did Belle’s kindness changed their lives, it saved them. This book it the perfect example of what kindness can do.

Well that’s it from me. I hope you guys enjoyed this post. As usual if you have read any of these books or you have any recommendations for me, hit me up in the comments section.

Until next time…

Happy Reading…

❤ Gem