2019 Reading Plans – Themed Monthly TBRs

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Hi Readers

I suck at year long reading goals. I never seem to make time for them and half-way through the year I tend to have completely forgotten what it was I set out to do.

So, because I have basically always failed at year long goals I’m going to try and change it up a little. Hense, themed months. I plan on focusing one month on reading a certain genre or prompt.

I’m not going to be overly strict on this. If there’s something I’m dying to read that doesn’t fit the theme, I’ll read it.

I’ll also try and not put too any books on the TBR. 6 max.

Here are the themes I’ve planned so far.

January – Books I Own

Hopefully I can get through some books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while now.

February – Others Favourites of 2018
March – Biggest Books On My TBR

I won’t lie, big books scare me. Time to knock a few off of my TBR. 

April – Authors of Colour

In 2018 19% of what I read was written by a black author. There’s just no excuse for this lack of diversity. I want to include at least one book by a person of colour every month, but I’d also love to focus an entire month on them as well.

May – Prize Winners

I’m always curious about prize winners and I have a stack that I really want to get to.

June – Countries I Have Never Read About

In 2018 I made a goal to globalise my reading a bit more. Unfortunately that didn’t work out so hopefully I can do that within the month of June.

July – LGBTQIA

In honour of the London Pride Parade.

August – Feminist Literature

I have so many on my goodreads Want To Read list. 

September – Lowest Rated Books On My Goodreads TBR

When choosing books I want to read I tend to rely on the GoodReads Avg. rating to tell me whether the book is good or not way too much.

October – Thrillers

I feel like it’s the perfect time to get stuck into some thrilling novels. 

November – Classics I Have Never Heard Of

All the classics I’ve read I’d already heard a lot about. I want to read some under the raider classics. 

December – Books About Books

There are so many good ones and I think a book about books is automatically cosy, which is perfect for the festive season. 

Let me know your 2019 plans for reading. 

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X

 

 

Blogmas! My Favourite December Blog Posts

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Hi Readers,

I can’t quite believe we’ve made it to the final day of Blogmas and tomorrow is Christmas Day. Where did the time go?

I thought the perfect way to end Blogmas would be by sharing with you the blog posts I’ve been enjoying reading in December. Check them out here!

Classy X Book Reviews: Bookish Wishlist

A Word and A Whisper – Books I Want to Read In 2019 & Bookending Winter

Stephanie, Days With Me – 10 Christmas Movies

Purple Manatees – Reading Goals for 2019

Kristen Kraves Books – Most Anticipated 2019 YA Novels

Kristilyn, Reading in Winter – Books I Read In 2017 & Still Can’t Stop Thinking About

Emily, A Literary Life – 5 Star Reads of 2018

What Vicky Read – How I Plan On Achieving My 2019 Goals

AyundaBhuwana – Maastricht Christmas Market & Here and Now: December!

Escape From Reality – Christmas Reads

Pages Unbound – How I Would Make the Hobbit Films

Dee Reads Things – 2019 Goals and 2019 TBR!

Ally Writes Things – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Review

Travel In Retrospect – The Pressures of Reading Challenges and DNF-ing

The Perks of Being Noura – Harry Potter Board Game Reading Challenge 2019

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Thanks for reading,

Jess X

 

 

Blogmas! Mini Book Reviews of Two Christmas Short Stories

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Hi Readers

Recently I’ve read two festive short stories and I thought I’d do a combined review post. Unfortunately, I didn’t love either of them. 

Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backmanthree half stars

I’ve read and enjoyed two of Backman’s novels now and, whilst I liked this, it is my least favourite of his so far. 

It follows a man who is in hospital with cancer and he’s reflecting on his life and regretting his neglect for his son in favour of his career. 

As you can guess by the premise, this book will definitely tug on the heart strings, which is what Backman does best. The writing is great and some of the characters were very well fleshed out for such a short novel. 

I suppose it didn’t amaze me because there’s just nothing new about it. Weirdly reminded me of Elf. They have the same sentiment but a much happier ending and more Christmas cheer. 

That was my only other issue with this book. The covers way more Christmassy than the story itself. 

Overall I would recommend this to Backman fans but not for a new comer. Definitely read A Man Called Ove first. 

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evanstwo half stars

This is about a husband and wife who are hired to care take a mansion. They move in with their young daughter and create a bond with the owner. One day they find a Christmas Box which unlocks the sad history of the family. 

My biggest issue with this one was the writing. It was stiff and I felt some words were used in the wrong place. I probably won’t read more by Evans.

I also felt like I didn’t know the characters at all and the conclusion depends on you caring about a certain character and I just couldn’t. I sympathised with the situation but I felt strangely detached from it. 

I wouldn’t recommend this one. 

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X

Blogmas! Baking and Decorating Gingerbread Cookies!

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Hi Readers

Believe it or not, I have never made a gingerbread man. But it looked like such a fun and festive activity that this year I couldn’t let Christmas go by without giving them a go. They turned out surprisingly okay but the icing was a bit of a messy disaster. 

The recipe I used was:

Ingredients –

350g Plain Flour
175g Brown Sugar (I used dark)
125g Butter
1 Egg
1ts Bicarbonate of Soda
3tsp Ground Ginger
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
4tbsp Golden Syrup
Cookie Cutters!

Sieve the flour, bicard and spices together and then add the butter. Mix it until it becomes the texture of breadcrumbs (you might need to use your hands for this.) Then add the sugar. 

Stir the egg and golden syrup together and combine with the dry mixture. Bring it together until it’s a dough (again, use your hands!)

Knead into a ball and wrap in clean film. Put it in the fridge and leave it there for half an hour. This will make it easier to roll out. 

Pre-heat the oven to 170oC and prepare the tins whilst your waiting. Grease them or use baking sheets. 

Take the dough out of the fridge. Use a floured surface and rolling pin to roll it out into a half a centimetre and cut out your shapes.  

Bake for 10 -15 minutes.

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The Icing!

1 egg white
About 100g of Icing Sugar 
A piping bag and small nozzle

Whisk the egg whites until white and frothy. 

Add the icing sugar a little bit at a time. Keep adding it until it’s a bright white colour and is stiff enough to stand on peaks. 

Get your piping bag and have fun! Mine went terribly and I’m still finding icing sugar in weird places. But that’s the fun of Christmas baking! 

These are some of the better ones…

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Thanks for reading!

Jess X

Blogmas! Book and Movie of How Charles Dickens Wrote A Christmas Carol

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Hello Readers

We all know of The Christmas Carol. The most famous and arguably best Christmas book that tells the story of Scrooge and the three ghosts of Christmas. But, do we know how that story came to be?

Last year two imaginings of the events that led to the creation of Scrooge were released. One in the form of a movie, the other a novel. Similar in some ways, they both take on a unique perspective on how Dickens wrote his most successful story. But which tells it better?

In terms of the actual history of how the story came about there’s one that takes a more fantastical approach. Mr Dickens and His Carol is a much more fictionalised telling of the small period of Dickens’s life. It explores the idea that A Christmas Carol was inspired by a muse. 

The movie is a lot more historically accurate and I actually learnt a lot from it. The Man Who Invented Christmas delves into Dickens’s childhood, in which his own father was imprisoned for debt and he was forced to work in a factory, showing a clear connection between him and Scrooge. For me, this makes it a much more faithful adaptation.

I also enjoyed the movie much more than the book. The books references to A Christmas Carol felt forced and, whilst the writing isn’t bad, it didn’t transport me to the Dickensian era. Where as the movie makes the story of Scrooge come to life before your eyes. 

Both have similarities. They both reference his fathers money struggles, and both suggest they continued throughout his entire life. They also portray his large family (he had 5 children at the time of writing a Christmas Carol but ended up with 10) and their extravagant and expensive lifestyle, which puts pressure on him to write a successful story after the failure of Chuzzlewit. 

They’re also both much more about writing A Christmas Carol and aren’t overly Christmas related themselves. I would say the book has more of a festive feel but both make a homage to Prince Albert’s introduction of the Christmas Tree in England. 

Overall both are certainly worth a look at and are certainly not just for Christmas. 

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X

Blogmas! Did I Read My 2018 TBRs?

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Hi Readers

This idea I saw on Jean’s channel and it immediately made me curious as to how much of my TBR’s I actually read. In this post I’ll be going through my 2018 TBRs and seeing how many of those books I actually read. I’m going to use this to see if TBRs actually work for me or not. 

I’m only going to include month long readathon TBRs because that would take way too long if I included them all!

Winter TBR:

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – Read.
A Wise Mans Fear – Didn’t even try. 
Winter In Madrid – DNF.
The Goldfinch – DNF.
Les Miserables – Nope. 
Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North – Nope. 
White Teeth by Zadie Smith – No.
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – Not this time. 

Spring TBR:

When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman – Yes. 
Watership Down by Richard Adams – Nope. 
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – But this time I did!
First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North – Still no. 
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – No.
Circe by Madeline Miller – No. 
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood – No. 
Feminism is For Everyone by Bell Hooks – No, but only because I couldn’t find a copy of it. 
1Q84 by Haruiki Murikami – Nope. 
Codex Alera Series by Jim Butcher – DNF. The second-hand copy was manky, I’ll give the ebook a try sometime. 
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah – Yes!
Scythe by Neal Schusterman – Not Yet.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Steadman – Yes!

May TBR (Owls Readathon.)

H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker – No. 
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon – Not this month. 
The Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet by Becky Chambers – Still no for this. 
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor – DNF. 
Circe by Madeline Miller – DNF. This was a real disappointment. 
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – Yes. 
The Iliad by Homer – lol, no. 
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan – DNF. 
The Trick to Time by Kit De Waal – Nope. 
Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth – Nope. 
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor – Yes. 

June TBR

Start Harry Potter audiobooks – Yes, but I never got around to finishing them.
Finish the Heroes of Olympus Series – Nope. 
Watership Down by Richard Adams – No.
Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – Yes!
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman – Yes!

August TBR (NEWTs Readathon.) (looking at this now it looks more like a year long tbr, not a months!)

Gentlemens Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee – DNF.
Persuasion by Jane Austen – No, but I have read this before. 
1Q84 by Haruiki Murikami – Nope. 
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – No, but again, read this before anyway. 
Summer Trilogy by Jenny Han – Loved this!
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson – Yep. 
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire – Nope.
Swan Song by Robert McCammon – No.
And the Mountain Echoed by Khaled Housseini – No.
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Nope. 
Tender is the Night by F. Scott. Fitzgerald – DNF. 
Scythe by Neal Schusterman – Yes!
You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down by Alice Walker – No.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Yessss!
Amy and Rogers Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – Yep. 
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Nope
Save the Date by Morgan Matson – Yep. Bit disappointing though.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – Yep.
The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill – Yep.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Nope. 
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – Nope but I have now!
East of Eden by John Steinbeck – Read!
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – No.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney – Yes!
Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas – No, but I do in the next month.

September TBR

Small Island by Andrea Levy – Nope. 
And the Mountain Echoed by Khaled Housseini – DNF.
Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North – Finally started it. DNFed it 100 pages in. 
Vanity Fair by William Thackery – DNF. So boring!
Furious Love by Nancy Schoenberger and Sam Kashner – Yes. 
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – Yes!
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith – Yes!
Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas – I just about started it and finished in October. 
Neverwhere by Neil Gaimain – Yes!

Autumn TBR

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells – Nope. 
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – Nope. 
Margpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz – DNF. 
We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson – Nope but I did read the other one about the house. 
Still Life by Louise Penny – DNF. 
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters – Yes. 
Toil and Trouble by Various Authors – Nope. 
Aaru by David Meredith – Yes. 

So, in 2018 I TBRed 77 books. I….

Read – 25
DNF – 13
Didn’t pick up – 39

So obviously by those results TBR’s don’t really work for me. Honestly looking at the size of some of them, I’m not surprised.

I’m not planning on stopping them though. But for 2019 I have a plan to change them and make them more doable. Let’s hope that works!

Thanks for reading,

Jess X

 

Blogmas! Christmas Days by Jeanette Winterson

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Published: 2016 by Grove Press
Genre: Holiday/Short Stories
Length: 293 Pages
Goodreads Avg. Rating: 3.96
My Rating: four half stars

If you only read one book over the Christmas week, let it be this one.

This is a collection of twelve festive stories and recipes. All celebrating the spirit of Christmas. It’s personal and heart-warming and reminded me of the magic of Christmas. 

I loved the recipes, not only because they sounded delicious but because of how personal each one was. Each recipe began with a story of what makes the dish so special to Winterson.

I also loved the variety of genres we got in the short stories and how she used them to spread the Christmas message. We had ghosts, magic, haunting’s, love stories and stories of lost love. There’s a story for everyone in here and they all have a sprinkling of Christmas. 

This book was honestly such a wonderful surprise and has become a new holiday favourite.

Thanks for reading, 

Jess X