Christmas Books – Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday, hosted over on That Artsy Reader Girl, is a weekly bookish list challenge. And this week’s prompt is a Christmas freebie. So, this is my Top 10 Favourite Books To Read Around Christmas.

A Christmas Carol is a classic. It’s basically the ultimate Christmas read, right?!

I love reading ghost stories this time of year, and Ghost Stories by Mark Gatiss is a great little spooky collection!

Probably my favourite ghost story collection is by Roald Dahl. The Book of Ghost Stories is kind of a classic Christmas read for me at this point! That being said, I’m hesitant to recommend it given what’s come out about Roald Dahl’s antisemitism… He seems like a twat basket. And I’m not linking it for that reason. But this book is on my list.

Cozy Christmas romances don’t get much better than A Winter’s Tale! I live for the cozy this time of year.

Sarah Morgan might be the queen of cozy Christmas romance. I love her Christmas books!

Another classic Christmas read! Twas the Night Before Christmas was read to me as a child, and I still read it every year!

The Box of Delightshttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Wolves-Willoughby-Chase-Chronicles-Book/dp/0099572877 opens with what I think is the most satisfyingly Christmassy setting ever. For that alone, it made the list.

Slightly spooky, wintery goodness. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, while not specifically Christmassy, has a pretty incredible wintery setting. And its a little scary, so its definitely on my list!

I just adored White Boots as a child and its still the perfect Christmas read for me!

I love Agatha Christie, and Christmas really isn’t complete for me without a cozy Christmas detective mystery. I always get a few vintage mysteries for Christmas. But, of course, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is my favourite!

What’s your favourite Christmas read? Do you read any of the ones on my list?

The Court of Miracles {book review}

Author: Kester Grant | Publisher: Harper Voyager (2020)

I was really unsure when I picked this up whether or not it was going to be “my thing”. Honestly, the synopsis just doesn’t do it justice! I was totally gripped from start to finish. The Court of Miracles is definitely one of my top reads this year.

The book is set is an alternate reality where the French Revolution failed, which led to the revolutionaries and the poor being mercilessly hunted and forced underground. They formed a secret criminal society to survive. The world the characters inhabit is grotesque, brutal, and gritty. It’s a sort of magical realism, but not quite your typical fantasy.

The worldbuilding is phenomenal. There is actually very little description of places or things, and yet it has a really strong sense of place. It’s dark. Unpleasant. Frightening. And there is a sense of history and reality, which grounds the book and stops it becoming too fantastical. The little touches, like using real places, give the book an air of authenticity. Despite being quite an unpleasant world, one you definitely wouldn’t want to visit, there is a swashbuckling quality to it which lends the whole book a sense of whimsy and playfulness.

The light touch on descriptive language means the plot moves at a fast lick. And it has more twists than a mountain road. I was hooked right to the very end.

The plot itself is dark. Really, really dark. It can be a little heartrending. It doesn’t shy away from the kind of themes you’d be more likely to find explored at this level in straight modern fiction: loss, rape, drugs, sex trafficking, and child abuse. And, although there is ultimately hope and redemption, the characters never get an easy ride.

All of which makes it sound like a depressing or heavy read – which it really wasn’t. The Court of Miracles is ultimately an adventure and a fantasy. The fine line between completely bumming out the reader with serious subject matter, getting across a point, exploring important themes and questions vs entertaining is walked masterfully. Despite some of the more serious and grotesque aspects of the worldbuilding, of the plot, the book is fun – even humorous. The first person narrative is clever, immersive, and skillful.

The characters… oh my gosh, can we talk about Eponine? I love a strong female protagonist and she is all of that and more. She’s sassy af. Strong. Brave. Talented. Flawed. Real. Ruthless and yet human. I want to be her. I want to be her friend.

Tiger is the most repugnant and terrifying character. Like Jabba the Hutt, but more unpleasant. A book really isn’t satisfying for me without a good counter to the heroine. And what makes Tiger so horrifying is that we understand him, we see him on the news and we really fear what he represents. We almost relate to him. There’s no magic here, just straight up human evil. And, in a way, that’s more frightening.

If you liked Christina Henry’s Alice, I think you’ll definitely like The Court of Miracles. I’d say it’s also one for fans of Saba Tahir and Leigh Bardugo.

The Court of Miracles is ultimately an exploration of evil and humanity. It’s the story of what a person can achieve with grit and inner strength. It’s about hope and love and loyalty.

This was one of those books that I never wanted to end and found impossible to put down. Highly recommend it!

☆☆☆☆☆

A Little About Me…

Since this is a new space for me, I thought I should tell you a little something about myself!

I’m not really new…

This is actually my second book blog. I began book blogging in… I want to say 2018… as Mim Inkling. And then I quit. I was busy – new muggle job, moving across country, wedding planning, a new side hustle… And I thought I should be focusing on more practical outlets. Honestly, I just really missed it! The bookish community, the great book recommendations, and the creativity of blogging. I had a blast doing it! Eventually, life quietened down and so, here I am again for round two. I’m really going to try not to quit this time!

Where I’m from… I’m English and I currently live in a tiny village in Cheshire, on the border of Wales.

What I’m going to blog about… books. And I’ll share some of my writing. That’s about it! If you want to follow me, I’m on Instagram as @onceuponanelderberry – I’d love to connect with you over there!

Three random facts… I’m a qualified information law specialist, I have a dog called Rubeus, and my favourite ice cream is salted caramel.

Dream job… Writer.

If I could live anywhere… I’d like a house in Wales. I’d probably also spend part of the year in Cornwall, Norway, Sweden, and the US, given a choice.

My favourite book… Such a difficult question! I’m going to cheat and go top three: Pride and Prejudice, Chocolat, and The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

The fictional character I would most like to be… Kinsey Millhone from Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. She’s badass!

Favourite book heroine… Elizabeth Bennett. Always and forever.

Fictional character I’d most like to date… Heathcliff. Honestly, he was just too sexy!

Favourite series… Again, far too many! Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, Harry Potter, all of the Hercule Poirot books (if that counts as a series), Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy, The Invisible Library series…

Book setting I’d most like to visit… The invisible library is pretty high up the list! The Shire would be quite cool. The entire Harry Potter world, obviously.

The last book I read was… something trashy and satisfying by Katie Fforde. I love a good cozy romance!

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