Bright Spotlight | Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in Fiction

If you ask a random person on the street today what ‘Dia de los Muertos‘ meant, you would probably be laughed at or considered strange. Yet in Mexico and among the proud Latina heritage, Dia de los Muertos is a day of celebration – Dia de los Muertos is the Day of the Dead. And that just happens to be today.

Dia de los Muertos falls on November 2nd, and is a day of remembrance for all the loved ones who have passed on. The day is often full of colour, food, candles and pictures. Dishes loved by those one living are made, and drinks are placed on brightly decorated altars to quench the thirst of the dead after a long journey back home.

Although becoming increasingly popular among mainstream media, the Day of the Dead is still a holiday that many fail to consider as part of the year. In reality, we have seen a lot more of the holiday than we know – especially in the popularisation of decorated sugar skull motifs:



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Day of the Dead Jewellery – Etsy

music videos to songs such as Lilly Wood & the Prick’s ‘Prayer in C’ (a particularly popular song from Summer 2014 in England):

and even in the film industry with the feature-length film The Book of Life:

and more recently Disney x Pixar’s release of the trailer for COCO:

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However, I have been on the hunt for books far and wide to highlight such a wonderful holiday. It has not been an easy task, but I have finally been able to comprise a list of books to check out this November to celebrate Dia de los Muertos.

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Can’t Look Away | Donna Cooner
Young Adult

A book I yet have to read, Can’t Look Away is a perfect example of how Dia de los Muertos helps families to deal with their grief through a celebration of life.

This is definitely on my TBR list.


The Festival of Bones | Luis San Vicente
Pre-School – Middle Grade

Fun and enthusiastic, The Festival of Bones teaches children the true meaning of Dia de los Muertos through colourful illustration and activities. The book is ideal for teachers and parents who want to teach young children the tradition behind the Day of the Dead.

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In the Tequila Worm | Viola Canales
Young Adult

Humourous but true to itself, In the Tequila Worm follows the life of a Mexican-American teenager named Sofia. Although the book tackles a lot of big issues such as discrimination, death and division of family, the book remains traditional and focusses on much of the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos.



The Book of Life Movie Novelization by [Deutsch, Stacia]

The Book of Life | Stacia Deutsch
Middle Grade

Aimed as a companion to the animated film The Book of Life; the novelisation helps children to understand the holiday they witness in the movie. Perfect for an base to begin teaching a young child with, and a brilliant partner for the movie.

Perhaps start the movie would be the best to begin with, if to inform small children as it is aimed at middle grade. But the book is also fabulous.


Fated | Alyson Noel
Young Adult

Supernatural meets reality when Daire has to defend the souls of the Day of the Dead. The book helps to shine a light on the meaning behind the holiday, and brings forward a very real interest in the subject for the young adult market. Alyson Noel is a fabulous author, so I would recommend this to anyone.



The Dead Family Diaz by [Bracegirdle, P.J.]

The Dead Family Diaz | P.J. Bracegirdle
Middle Grade

Perfect for younger readers, The Dead Family Diaz tells of a friendship between two boys – one living, one dead – through colourful illustration and heart-warming intentions. The book is available in other languages to help all children understand the holiday.



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Vivian Divine is Dead | Lauren Sabel
Young Adult

The first book I thought of when thinking about this topic, Vivian Divine is Dead helps to showcase the Mexican holiday fantastically. A must read for all young adult enthusiasts, make sure this book is on your reading list this November. It has the whole murder appeal too – so that really helps its case.

Review | Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth


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Despite the fact I read this book in its entirety several months ago, a large part of me has refrained from writing any type of review about it. The book in question, is Veronica Roth’s Carve the Mark and my opinion is not one of which the publisher would favour. Yet it has not been the disappointment of the book that has prolonged my willingness to discuss Carve the Mark – instead it has been the topical issues that have arisen from the story, and my long, burning hatred of ever disfavouring a book.

Veronica Roth is a name known quite well among the young adult world of fiction, as she is the woman single-handedly responsible for the Divergent series – a popular book collection that has made millions of dollars at the box office. So when an email was causally dropped into folder about a year ago, offering me the chance to meet said author over Skype and receive an ARC copy of her latest fiction, I was more than surprised. Little old me, who has little influence in the reading world, would get to see a woman whose books founded my glimmer of hope for dystopian fiction.

I honestly don’t like giving books a bad review. I love to find the little rays of sunshine in each and every novel. And sure, they are a few good things here – but I could not shake the overwhelming feeling that Carve the Mark had been rushed through its drafting stages, with somebody at the publishing house turning a blind-eye to the criticism the book could find itself in.

Firstly, the book was set in out of space. The whole space, science-fiction area is something I tend to keep the hell away from because I never seem to understand any of the references or story plots depicted in space. I’m simply not a space person. But I wasn’t going to let that sway me – because that was a personal problem and not one that lies with the author. But in a lot of reviews I’ve read about the book, I think people are quick to judge Roth for venturing into the space genre. I acknowledged that this was a new genre for her to write about, and so there were bound to be a few bumps in the road in that sense.

One issue I found, was that in terms of pacing, the story was incredibly slow to get to the point of even any interest for me. This could be down to the fact, as I mentioned, it’s heavily based around the idea of being in space. I just didn’t seem to find myself immersed in the world like I would have originally hoped when first hearing about the book. And that in itself is a terrible shame.

However, there is a very problem with this book, and it’s one that should have been picked up during the drafting of the story. I’ve noticed in the endless negative reviews of this book, that people are just not happy with the way race and culture has been portrayed in the book and I would personally have to agree. As a science-fiction novel, there are always going to be some issues in portraying different races but keeping them without any discrimination. There are some points in this book where I just literally wanted to give up because I couldn’t deal. The romanticising of chronic pain was something that put me on edge as well. Having grown up surrounded by family who suffered with chronic pain, this book just seemed to do that absolutely no justice. I’m aware this whole criticism is quite heavy, so I’m avoiding from putting any genuine feeling into it to distance myself. I read the book a long time ago and any anger I had has since faded.

Carve the Mark is sadly not a book I would recommend. There was a brilliant romance to it, but the book should have been considered a little bit more before being released to the public. There are things in the story that are bound to cause criticism and discomfort to certain people, and had these been picked up on earlier, the book could have been a lot better. There was no good pacing to the story and there are just so many problems with the book as a whole.

1 star

I received an ARC copy of the book by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. As you may be able to tell, this has in no way changed my opinion. I would like to thank Harper Collins for the wonderful opportunity they presented me with.

Review | Beastly by Alex Flinn

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Title | Beastly
Author | Alex Flinn
Pages | 304
Publisher | HarperTeen
Series | Beastly #1, Kendra Chronicles #1
Release Date | October 2nd, 2007
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

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I’m digging back into the archives with this review today because today, I am reviewing Alex Flinn’s Beastly. After scrolling around on my Netflix, I rediscovered the movie adaptation of Beastly that was released in 2011. Like many movies, this one was something that launched a sense of nostalgia in me – it’s been many years since I first read Alex Finn’s retelling of the classic fairy-tale, The Beauty and the Beast.

Just because something is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s good.

Now for anyone who reads my blog regularly, they will be aware that I hate finding faults in stories. A few months ago, I was asked why I write a book blog when I hate criticising stories, and that really made me think. There is hardly ever a time when I come across a story that is so bad, that I cannot think of anything positive. And while I can point out a few positive things with this book, it was in no sense perfect.

Those who don’t know how to see the precious things in life will never be happy.

Originally published in January 2007, Beastly is the rare book in Young Adult romance that follows the story of a teenage boy. I’d have said this was refreshing, but there were a lot more male protagonists in young adult stories during the 2000s. I’ll hold up my hands and admit that Beastly had a really good story to it – even if it is ultimately a retelling of a classic story. A modern-day fairy story, the book is a supernatural romance: a genre I generally avoid crossing into. I’ve always been a romantic, so I was routing for Lindy and Kyle (who calls himself Adrian once cursed) from the beginning. But I have to admit that the book definitely has its fair share of flaws.

Maybe we judge people too much by their looks because it’s easier than seeing what’s really important.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the story is the characterisation of the lead character, Kyle. He’s no stranger to popularity, he’s richer than beyond belief and has the personality of a plant pot. He just isn’t very relatable, even when he’s been cursed. And although the curse seems to give a sense of empathy at his desperation, his actions still did not soothe any bad feelings I had towards him. I personally didn’t see much growth in his character, even at the end when everybody seemed to be living the best life.

People make such a big deal about looks, but after a while, when you know someone, you don´t even notice anymore…

To give Alex Flinn something good, I did really love the other characters. Lindy was very much my favourite as she seemed the most realistic. I also liked Kendra – her actions and the spell she casts obviously makes the story of the book, but her reasoning behind it is brilliant. Alex Finn did a wonderful job with characters like Lindy, the house keeper and Kyle’s tutor, Will. They all did such an amazing job in the story, and really brought out Kyle’s humanity despite how he had been before.

She wanted to leave. I loved her too much to make her stay.

Beastly was also incredibly slow and drawn out – had the book been kept shorter and the story had of moved on a little bit, I feel I would have been able to stand it a little more. Sadly, the book was just not to my taste. I honestly didn’t appreciate the happiness at the end of the book. Stories in which have good endings are great, but there are just some endings that seem so incredibly stupid and unrealistic. For a modern-day telling, it should have had a much better message then everything becoming perfect in the end. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but let’s just say Shrek did a better ending than Beastly.

Magic. It was magic, and the magic is called love.

I hate to award a book such a low mark, but I honestly think Beastly deserves one star. However, I am open to read something else of Alex Flinn’s. I haven’t touched her work in ages, but I might check back in with her fiction at some point.

1 star

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Still unsure as to whether this is the right book for you? That’s totally fine! Here are some more wonderful people who might be able to help you!

Mariana @ What the Hell is She Reading said “I think if you like the show Once Upon a Time or The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, you’ll like Beastly.”

Paris @ Reading Creations said “The book was good and I really enjoyed it.”

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In a books lifetime, the rights may pass along different publishing houses or be adapted into other languages for international sellers. It then falls down to each publishing house to buy the cover rights, or produce ones of their own. This leads to different cover designs for the same book.

Here are the available covers for Alex Flinn’s Beastly.

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Review | The Spring Girls by Anna Todd

2018.01.05 - The Spring Girl Blog Tour Banner2018.01.05 - The Spring Girl Cover

Title | The Spring Girls
Author | Anna Todd
Pages | 416
Publisher | Gallery Books
Series | None
Release Date | January 2nd, 2018
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon

Four sisters desperately seeking the blueprints to life—the modern-day retelling of Louise May Alcott’s Little Women like only Anna Todd (After, Imagines) could do.

The Spring Girls—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—are a force of nature on the New Orleans military base where they live. As different as they are, with their father on tour in Iraq and their mother hiding something, their fears are very much the same. Struggling to build lives they can be proud of and that will lift them out of their humble station in life, one year will determine all that their futures can become.

The oldest, Meg, will be an officer’s wife and enter military society like so many of the women she admires. If her passion—and her reputation—don’t derail her.

Beth, the workhorse of the family, is afraid to leave the house, is afraid she’ll never figure out who she really is.

Jo just wants out. Wishing she could skip to graduation, she dreams of a life in New York City and a career in journalism where she can impact the world. Nothing can stop her—not even love.

And Amy, the youngest, is watching all her sisters, learning from how they handle themselves. For better or worse.

With plenty of sass, romance, and drama, The Spring Girls revisits Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women, and brings its themes of love, war, class, adolescence, and family into the language of the twenty-first century.

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One of my favourite books growing up was Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’. The classic tale of Amy, Beth, Jo and Meg was always one so close to my heart and a book I loved to read when I was all worn out. So, when I received an email at the start of December, saying that one of my favourite authors was releasing a retelling, I just had to get my hands on a copy. And I am honestly so glad that I did.

Girls are sometimes taught that it’s their job to be pretty and not to be smart. I wondered if boys were taught the same.

Anna Todd’s The Spring Girls is the coming-of-age story every teenage girl should be reading this year. It’s honest and haunting and true to its original telling, but with all the fun on the 21st century drama thrown into the works. The brilliant thing about Todd’s writing style is that she takes the story and makes it her own. And while the story is like the original in some ways, it’s got its own voice entirely. There were so many brilliant contemporary issues, such as bullying and slut-shaming, touched upon in the story, and it’s always amazing to see a light being shone into these areas. Perhaps my biggest love was the mentions to social anxiety. I feel there needs to be a bigger awareness behind this, as its still quite brushed off.

Characterisation of the four girls and their mother was a little blurry at times. Some of the characters didn’t feel fully developed, but it was a minor issue I was personally willing to overlook. I was amazed at how emerged I became within their story, and I could almost feel the passion and the tensions behind each one. Each girl brought something new to the story – each had her own things to deal with.

I do wish the pacing of the book had been a little different. Little Women was always book I read when I had time, as the pace of the story could slow me down and stretch my usual four-hour reading binge into weeks. For some reason, I expected the modernisation of the book to also speed up the pacing, but I was wrong.

You have to make your own adventures.

Looking back, this isn’t a book I will be in a rush to read again. I did really enjoy the plot and how each issue unwound and tied itself back up, but the slow pacing of the novel really surprised me. Yet, the portrayal of the sisters (although a little shaky at times) really made me feel for them. I was desperate to know what happened and just how it would all unfold for the girls. I am aware however, that the book faces a lot of untoward criticism, simply due to the fact it’s a modernisation of a beloved classic. My honest opinion is to give the book a go. People are always going to find a fault, but you’ll never know unless you try it.

4 Stars

Finally, a massive thank you to the people at Gallery Books for providing me with a copy of The Spring Girls. This review is the result of my most honest opinion. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity.

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In a books lifetime, the rights may pass along different publishing houses or be adapted into other languages for international sellers. It then falls down to each publishing house to buy the cover rights, or produce ones of their own. This leads to different cover designs for the same book.

Here are the available covers for Anna Todd’s The Spring Girls.

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The Spring Girls is currently on tour! Follow and check out all the other stops on the way!

Still unsure as to whether this is the right book for you? That’s totally fine! Here are some more wonderful people who might be able to help you!

Christy @ Devilishly Delicious Books said “I can’t believe I waited this long to read something by her!”

Catherine @ Catty Jane Book Lovers said “It was a great read and I really enjoyed it.”

Heather C @ The Heathers Blog said “Go in with an open mind and just enjoy the story.”

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About the Author, Anna Todd!

Anna Todd is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of the After series. Hailed by Cosmopolitan as “the biggest literary phenomenon of her generation,” Anna began her literary career on the social storytelling platform Wattpad. Serialized on Wattpad in 2013, After has over 1.5 billion reads on the site. The print edition, published in 2014 by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, has over 15 million copies in circulation, has been published in over 30 languages and is a #1 bestseller in Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

A native of Ohio, Anna was a voracious reader all her life, citing Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and Fifty Shades of Grey as some of her favorites. In 2012, after discovering the world of fanfiction for fandoms like Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, The Mortal Instruments, Anna began writing as a way of continuing the stories she so loved from fanfiction community.

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Connect with Anna

Stay up to date with Anna by signing up for her newsletter here:

Book BlogMAX – ‘Tis the Season Tag ’17

‘Tis the Season to be jolly, and jolly you may be. Today’s post is short and sweet – but it touches on some things outside the bracket of the book world. Today’s tag comes from ‘Eve Messenger’s OtherWORDly Endeavours‘ and it is called the ‘Tis the Season Tag’.

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Do you have a favourite Christmas read?

There isn’t any particular book that I love to read over the Christmas period – it’s usually the only time I have off university so I try and read as much as I can. But the perfect Christmas read this year is going to be a cute, fluffy romance novel – probably something by Entangled: Crush.

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Find a book cover that is blue.


The Love Letter of Abelard and Lily | Laura Creedle

This book has already made it onto the list of books I need to find under my Christmas tree this year, and it just so happens to be a pretty blue book too.

While I know that the design is a load of scribbled out hearts, it kind of looks cool from a distance, so brownie points on that!

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What book would you use as a star on a Christmas tree?

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The One | Kiera Cass

The gorgeously flawless design of the girl supposed to be America on the front of the cover would top any tree this Christmas. Although one of Young Adult’s older books, The One springs to mind whenever thinking about Christmas.

I’d love to see this on top of a white tree this year.

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Pick one place that would be perfect for a Christmas vacation.

Either inside Hogwarts’ dining room – this view and food = happy Cody.

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Outside in the Hogwarts’ Castle grounds in the snow.

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Or making a visit to Hogsmeade.

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Pick one character you’d love to take on holiday with you.

Alex Steward from Cecelia Ahern’s Where Rainbows End (now renamed as Love, Rosie).

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Name one book on your wish list this year.


Love, Life and the List | Kasie West

Kasie West writes some of Young adult’s best romance and contemporary fiction – so here’s hoping that this little gem makes its way into my shopping bag in the new year.

Also, cover appreciation – look how gorgeous the cover is!

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Favourite holiday drink, treat and movie?

My favourite holiday drink has to be hot chocolate! Every year where I live, a massive German Christmas market comes to town for a month – and the hot chocolate from there is simply divine!

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As for my favourite holiday treat, that has to be toffee apples/chocolate apples. Again, they are everywhere at the Christmas market and super cheap as well. My absolute favourite one is a chocolate apple where it has been dipped in coconut flakes.

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So finally, my favourite holiday movie is Love Actually.

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and to all the lovely people reading this, remember to have a Merry Christmas!

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Book BlogMAX – The Christmas Song Tag ’17

If there one thing I love about the weeks leading up to the big day, it’s the Christmas songs. I need no excuse to sing a little bit, and with some of the best Christmas songs of all time hitting the radio stations – I have no excuse not to get involved. Similar to the Jingle Bell Tag, this tag gives song lyrics and I have to give something to correspond. I originally found the tag on ‘Fandoms on the Run‘, but I’m not 100% sure whether this is where it began.

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“You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch”
Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.

When I read Serena Valentino’s Fairest of All, I couldn’t help but love the Wicked Queen as a villain. Fair enough, the book was written to invoke some sort of sympathy toward her – but I just really really liked her character. So sue me.

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“All I Want for Christmas is You”
Which book do you most hope to see under your Christmas Tree?

I’m aware that I have already filled this position – see The Jingle Bell Tag for the answer to this one folks.

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“Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”
Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.


So I had to read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini for my A-Level English Literature course. It is an amazing story that highlights how we have to learn to forgive ourselves as well as letting others forgive us.

Amir’s personal guilt in the story lays out a perfect tale of redemption and freedom.

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“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty list?

I’d like to imagine that if anyone deserves to be on the top of Santa’s naughty list, it’s going to be Draco Malfoy. He certainly has some terrible moments in Harry Potter. But if it’s not going to be Draco, then it better be Dudley.

Which character do you think would be on the top of the nice list?

Thinking back to the summer on this one, I’d have to give this spot to Maddy in Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything. Her pure kind-hearted spirit and passion to see the world despite her ‘condition’ is amazing. And she’s pretty kickass for escaping.

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“Frosty the Snowman”
Which book just melts your heart?

Literally every romance book ever written. Except Twilight.

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“Feliz Navidad”
Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.

Hard to answer since most of the mainsteam Young Adult fiction is set in America! Let the UKYA scene run this for a bit guys …

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“Sleigh Ride”
Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with? This does not have to be a love interest.

Luca from Catherine Doyle’s Blood for Blood series. ‘Nuff said.

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“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
Which book (that you didn’t like) would you sacrafice to a fire to keep yourself up in the cold?

Literally anything that is described as paranormal, dystopian or fantasy. And anything that even mentions the world apocalypse.

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“Do You Hear What I Hear”
Which book do you think everyone should read?

Again, revisit my Jingle Bell Tag!

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and, to all my faithful reader, remember to have a Merry Christmas!

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Book BlogMAX – The Jingle Bell Tag ’17

Today’s Christmas festivities are going to be kicked off with the wonderful ‘A Novel Glance’s‘ Christmas book tag, The Jingle Bell Tag. The tag itself mentions festive songs or themes and then asks the blogger a question to match. Feel free to leave your own responses in the comments below, or if you steal the tag, remember to credit A Novel Glance! Merry BlogMAX!

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“All I Want for Christmas is You’
What book do you want to see under the Christmas tree this year?


The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily | Laura Creedle

This wonderful little gem of a book doesn’t hit the shelves until Boxing Day, so it’s highly unlikely I will be able to find it under the tree this year. However, it is high on my list of TBR!

Hopefully this is going to be a wonderful story to warm my heart this Christmas. But who knows? The book is about two protagonists with mental health, and young adult teaches you that anything can happen.

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“Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time’
Name a book that you read this year and absolutely loved.

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The One Memory of Flora Banks | Emily Barr

Such an unexpected story that really touched me – this book started out as something to read on a trip to a close by city. Flora has earned a place in my heart, and with that the tale of her adventures are something I’m sure I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Hopefully there is a bit of Flora in all of us.

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The Elf
What book unleashes your inner child?

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Monkey Puzzle | Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Words cannot describe how nostalgic this book makes me feel. Back in 2004, when a little six-year-old me was running around Primary school, I was cast as the lead in the school play of the story.

My heart still gets a little giddy when I heard the name ‘Julia Donaldson’.

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‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’
Which book has the most festive look to it this year?

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Christmas at Mistletoe Cottage | Lucy Daniels

I think this story has an unfair advantage, because it is first and foremost a Christmas story. But whenever I look at the cover of this book, I can almost feel the cold chill of the snow. Or maybe that’s just because I’m constantly eating ice cream?

But honestly, this book hands-down has the Christmas look.

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The Grinch
Who is your favourite villain?

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Valentino | Mafiosa | Catherine Doyle

So in the epic conclusion to the fantastic story of love and war between Sophie and two rival gangs, there is no greater villain to the story than Valentino – a boy who turns on his closest of family and orders such terrible things.

Guess that’s just mafia families.

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The Holiday
Name your two favourite couples.


A Quiet Kind of Thunder | Sara Bernard

A newer couple in the young-adult game, Sara Bernard’s Steffi and Rhys were the epitome of adorable earlier this year. I fell in love with their story within minutes of reading about them.

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Noughts and Crosses | Malorie Blackman

A particularly special love of mine, the story of Persephone and Callum both built up my heart and broke it within the first book. Like Romeo and Juliet, their doomed romance was something that a twelve-year-old Cody fawned over.

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The Present
What book would you like to give all your followers?

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Stick Man | Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Okay, okay. I know most of you reading this blog are not of younger origin. A book like Stick Man might seem incredibly basic – but it’s a beautiful children’s tale of a man’s journey home. It also helps that it was adapted for television, with the trailer just below.

But even if this book is above your age range, this is still one of my favourite little gems – so give it a try this Christmas season.

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And remember, above all – have a Merry Christmas!

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