The Joy of Christmas Book Tag

‘Tis the season for another festive book tag! Aka it’s getting near the end of blogmas and I’m running out of ideas! The Joy of Christmas Book Tag was created by Sam’s Nonsense on YouTube.

1) Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?
I recently listed my top 5 most anticipated 2019 releases but I somehow managed to forget about The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaësia Volume 1 by Christopher Paolini which is definitely my most anticipated book of 2019. Eragon was such a formative influence for me and I can’t wait to return to that world with a new book.

2) Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing its praises?
A recent read that I absolutely loved was Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell. It’s such an affecting short story collection and I want to check out more of her work soon.

3) Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?
While I didn’t particularly like the majority of the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness (mainly because I couldn’t stand Todd) I did think the world building in the series was brilliant.

4) A Christmas Carol: Favourite classic or one that you want to read
I don’t really read enough classics to have a favourite, but a recent classic I read that I enjoyed a lot is The Three Musketeers by Alexadre Dumas.

5) Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas
I think I really need to get my hands on a copy of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I’ve heard nothing but good things so that’d be a nice Christmas surprise.

6) Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I rarely read contemporary YA but every now and then I make the exception and When Dimple Met Rishi was a wonderfully quick, light-hearted and sweet read.

7) Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favourite book covers?
I’m a sucker for buying a book because of a pretty cover. Here’s some of my favourite covers (I could’ve listed way more) though I can’t comment as to what’s inside them as I’ve yet to read these books.

    

8) Christmas Joy: What are some of your favourite things about Christmas And/Or some of your favourite Christmas memories?
My favourite thing about Christmas is having a lot of free time. Especially now I’m in a 9-5 weekday job, having the free time to see friends and family, watch films or catch up on reading is much appreciated.

I tag anyone who fancies doing this tag!

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Why I Love… The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy

I finished my yearly rewatch of The Lord of the Rings this week. I watched The Fellowship of the Ring (my favourite in the trilogy) on Monday, The Two Towers on Tuesday, and The Return of the King on Wednesday. These were the theatrical editions because while I own and have watched the extended editions a couple of time, it’s the theatrical editions that I love the most – because it’s those versions I saw in the cinema and fell in love with.

The Lord of the Rings is inexplicably linked to Christmas to me. That’s because when each film was released, me, my mum and my gran would go together to see each one on Christmas Eve. It was a family tradition for three years and I loved it. Now I always rewatch The Lord of the Rings in December, as close to Christmas Eve as possible. When I was at university and had longer holidays and less to do in them, I even watched all three films on one Christmas Eve before. Now with work and having to travel home for Christmas, I can only do watching one per evening, three nights in a row.

I love every film in the trilogy, but my absolute favourite is The Fellowship of the Ring. I think I love that one so much because it is kind of the most light-hearted of the trilogy. It’s the one that introduces all the big characters, is more hopeful but it also has some scary moments and brilliant battles. The Mines of Moria sequence is one of my favourites in the whole trilogy, both the battle and the chase to the bridge. Also love the Skirmish at Amon Hen at the end of the film. That’s a brutal battle but one that’s so motivated by the characters you’ve grown attached to over the course of the film.

While the Battle of Helm’s Deep is fantastic, and I always get goosebumps when Haldir and the elves arrive to help, I think The Two Towers is my least favourite. That’s because I don’t love Frodo and Sam’s plot until they meet Faramir but I like the Merry and Pippin stuff with Treebeard and I adore seeing what Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are doing. That doesn’t mean to say The Two Towers is bad, it’s still immensely enjoyable and does a great job of reintroducing all the characters we’ve already met and setting up the importance of Rohan and its people in the first 20 minutes – that’s a great screenplay.

The Return of the King is the perfect end to a perfect trilogy. I love every character’s plot; the battles are phenomenal, and the story is so full of hope. Yes, it has a dozen endings, but I love every single one of them and they send me on an emotional rollercoaster.

I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy because of the way it makes me feel. It’s got nostalgia value for me as it was such a formative influence on my taste in films and stories, so every time I watch it it feels like a warm hug. I’m still constantly surprised that no matter how many times I watch the trilogy (this year was my 14th full trilogy rewatch) there’s still little things that I notice and that bring me joy.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy just makes me happy. It makes me smile, makes me cry, and I still get completely taken in by the battles and the whole world of Middle Earth. I love it so much and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words how much I love these films or how much they mean to me.

REVIEW: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

One summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands what sort of asylum the woman was seeking….

The Bone Clocks had been sitting on my shelves for four years. I’d read, and enjoyed, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell but from that I knew his stories could be fantastical and epic and I was never really in the mood for the concentration I’d need to have to read a story like that. In the end, I got the audiobook from my library and that got finally got me to read this story. The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Jessica Ball, Leon Williams, Colin Mace, Steven Crossley, Laurel Lefkow and Anna Bentinck, and I thought they all did a fantastic job at bringing the many characters to life.

The Bone Clocks is so much more than its two-sentence blurb suggests, but at the same time, I have no idea of how to give this story a concise and somewhat spoiler-free summary. The Bone Clocks is a story that spans decades, and while the story might not always be told from her point of view, Holly Sykes is always connected to the characters you’re introduced to in some way. It’s equal parts confusing and fun, especially in the first half of the book, seeing how this character you are now following is connected to Holly and how their relationship with her will unfold. While Holly is the central character that a lot of the big events and decisions revolve around, the other characters each have their own story and personality that’s usually just as engaging as Holly’s.

Holly Sykes is a character that grew on me. She’s young and naïve when you first meet her, and somewhat unlikeable too but seeing how her experiences, good, bad and unexplainable, affect her life, she becomes more sympathetic and mature. She suffers a trauma at a young age and doesn’t know how her life will be affected by granting the strange old lady, Esther Little, asylum. She becomes entangled in something much bigger than herself, and it take a while for everything to become clearer, and even then, there’s some events and characters that almost can’t be explained. The other characters are fully-formed with some being unlikeable while others are almost undefinable. Ed Brubeck was probably my favourite character as he felt the most realistic and relatable to me.

The Bones Clocks is well-written with some beautiful passages and engaging characters. It is weird and fantastical, but at its core there’s Holly Sykes and her very human life. There’s so much going on in The Bone Clocks, it’s hard to give it a definitive genre. There is magic, secret wars, family drama, death, and souls play a major role too. The Bone Clocks is an epic story, but it is an odd and sometimes confusing one too. You spend so much of the novel, not know what’s really happening or how everything is connected, that when things are explained, there is a lot of exposition.

Still, I did enjoy the audiobook and I think consuming the story that way helped me take it in and become more enthralled by it than if I was reading a physical copy. 3/5.

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Most Anticipated 2019 Releases

Top 5 Wednesday is a great feature hosted by ThoughtsonTomes. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page. As the title suggests, this week is all about what books we’re excited about next year. I’m generally someone who doesn’t keep up with book releases, but because of my Read the World Project I’m starting to keep track of up and coming translated books. In order of release date (or at least what I believe the UK release date will be) here’s 5 books I’m excited about that are released in 2019.

Last Night in Nuuk by Niviaq Korneliussen
Release date: 15 January 2019

Last Night in Nuuk follows the lives of five young Greenlanders exploring their identities at the cusp of adulthood.
This is the first book I’ve discovered that’s written by an author from Greenland so that automatically put it on my radar.

Marvel Powers of a Girl by Lorraine Cink and Alice X Zhang
Release date: 5 February 2019

Basically, this is a non-fiction book all about the wonderful female Marvel characters, films and comics. I’m a huge Marvel fan and the illustrations in this book look absolutely stunning!

Love in No Man’s Land by Duo Ji Zhuo Ga
Release date: 7 February 2019

Set amid the desolate beauty of Tibet’s heartlands, Love in No Man’s Land is an epic story of family, identity and endurance, of a way of life imperilled, of a people trying to find their place as the world changes around them.
Tibet is another country where I’ve not found many, if any, books for my Read the World Project. It’s a bonus that this sounds like a story I’d like – I’m always fond of a sweeping family saga.

Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun
Release date: 2 May 2019

In Thirteen Months of Sunrise the first major translated collection by a Sudanese woman writer Rania Mamoun expertly blends the real and imagined to create an intimate portrait of life in Sudan today. From brief encounters to unusual friendships, this startling and evocative debut illuminates human experience and explores the alienation, isolation and estrangement of urban life.
Another one for the Read the World Project, and as women writers are less likely to be translated into other languages, including English, than male writers, I definitely want to check out this book.

The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous
Release date: 11 July 2019

Suleima feels anxious as she looks at the pile of papers sent to her by Naseem, the handsome man with the bulging muscles. As she devours them, lingering on every word, she finds that she is reading an unfinished novel, or biography, about a woman dominated by fear, just like her. What did Naseem mean by it? Had he himself been overwhelmed by fear and unable to finish it, and did he now want her to write the ending?
Dima Wannous is a Syrian author, so The Frightened Ones will be perfect for my Read the World project. Plus, I’m a big fan about stories about books, or books where there’s a story within the main story.

These are five of my most anticipated 2019 releases. I know they’re a bit obscure! What are some of your most anticipated 2019 releases? I’m always looking for books to add to my ever-growing TBR.

The Festive Christmas Book Tag

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Book Tag but as it’s blogmas and I’m looking for blog posts, here’s a seasonal appropriate one. This tag was created by Girl Reading on YouTube and I came across it via Bookables video.

1. A fictional family you would like to spend Christmas dinner with?
Is it cliché to say the Weasley’s? Because they are the first family I thought of and I can’t think of a better fictional family to spend Christmas dinner with.

2) A bookish item you would like to receive as a gift?
If we’re talking about items from a book, could I get a Time Turner? That’d be very handy. Or bookish items in the real world, I’m a big fan of book sleeves. I love there’s so many designs and companies out there. I have two from BookBuddle which I love, and I received a Black Panther one in a subscription box which is very relevant to my interests.

3) A fictional character you think would make a perfect Christmas elf?
Samwise Gamgee. He’s so kind, helpful and thoughtful that he’d make a great Christmas elf! Plus he’s resourceful so if there was any mishaps, he could sort it out quickly.

4) Match a book to its perfect Christmas song.
I find this kind of thing really difficult but after a lot of thinking I came up with Step Into Christmas by Elton John to be paired with The Martian by Andy Weir. My thinking is, it’s just the kind of song that Mark Watney would be stuck listening to months on end.

5) Bah Humbug. A book or fictional character you’ve been disappointed in and should be put on the naughty list?
I read the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness this year and was so annoyed by Todd through the entirety of the first two books, and then through a good chunk of the third book too. He disappointed and frustrated me with his naivety so he’d be on the naughty list.

6) A book or a fictional character you think deserves more love and appreciation and deserve to be put on the nice list?
The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet. It’s a completely bonkers fusion of fantasy and real life and when the line blurs between fiction and reality it’s a lot of fun. I don’t know anyone else who has ever read this book so it definitely needs more love – or at least, I need to find people who have read it to talk about it.

7) Red, Gold and Green. A book cover that has a wonderfully Christmassy feel to it.
Now this one I found really difficult and I thought I was going to skip it as I didn’t think I had any books with Christmassy covers (mainly because I don’t tend to read books set at christmas time) but then I remembered by copy of The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I haven’t read this book yet (it’s been on my shelves for years though) and while it might not be exactly Christmassy, it’s definitely wintery with all the snow and mountains.

8) A book or series you love so much, you want everyone to find under their Christmas tree this year, so they can read it and love it too?
As the spin-off is coming in the New Year and I’m so excited, I’m going to have to say the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I think Eragon, and The Lord of the Rings films, was my gateway into fantasy. I’ve reread the Inheritance Cycle a few times over the years and I still love it.

I tag whoever wants to do this tag!

REVIEW: Aquaman (2018)

Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is of two worlds. Half-human and half-Atlantean he’s the heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis but has grown up on land. When his half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) threatens to destroy the surface world, Arthur must become the king and hero he’s meant to be, so that neither world is destroyed.

The film does spend some time setting everything up, introducing new characters, their relationships and the world of Atlantis. The film opens with Arthur’s parents, lighthouse keeper Tom (Temuera Morrison) and Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman), meeting and falling in love. Their relationship is one that’s very easy to get attached to very quickly, and somewhat unfortunately, Morrison and Kidman have more chemistry than Momoa and Amber Heard who plays Mera.

Once the story actually gets going, Aquaman is good fun. Momoa is a charismatic lead and as the plot develops you see that Arthur isn’t just brawn but is also a sensitive and kind guy. There is a lot going on in Aquaman. There’s the political intrigue and Orm’s desire to attack the land-dwellers, but there’s also a quest for a mystical item, and another foe for Arthur in the shape of Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Black Manta’s character introduction is impactful, but then he becomes a character that’s there to pop up and inconvenience Arthur and kickstart an action sequence.

Aquaman is visually spectacular. The whole underwater world is so beautiful and colourful, and Atlantis feels like its own technologically advanced society, completely different to what we know. The scenes underwater are action-packed and exciting, though it’s almost easy to get overwhelmed by all the computer-generated creations.

Aquaman may be a bit overlong and overstuffed, but it is completely bonkers and a lot of fun. It’s pure escapism with it’s kingdom under the sea, feuding royalty and political intrigue. 3/5.

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: Do you listen to music while you are writing your blog posts?

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: Do you listen to music while you are writing your blog posts? If so, what genre of music do you listen to?

The short answer is sometimes. I like listening to music while I write as it’s sometimes too quiet if I don’t, but I can write without music too. Sometimes it depends on the blog post – if it’s a review when I’ve got a lot to say or the subject is a bit more complicated or sensitive, I might forgo the music to make sure I concentrate.

As I type this post I’m listening to Imagine Dragons latest album (I’m liking it a lot, but I love pretty much all of Imagine Dragons music though so maybe I’m biased) and it’s that sort of music I listen to when I write a blog post. I like to listen music that has guitars and is upbeat but not too catchy because if it is catchy, I’ll end up singing along instead of focusing on what I’m writing. I like listening to music I already know too so it can be a pleasant background noise.

Do you listen to music when you write blog posts? Or when you do any writing in general?