Blogmas: My Reading Habits Tag

I saw this tag over on Rachel Ann Writes’ Blog and thought I’d give it a go too…

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Nowhere specific, just as long as it’s somewhere warm and comfortable – usually the sofa, or propped up in bed with my bedside lamp on. In winter I love reading by the fire with cosy socks and a cup of tea.

Bookmark or a random piece of trash?

Ideally always a bookmark, never a dog-eared page. If I don’t have a bookmark to hand I’ll use a ticket or a receipt from my purse, but then will change it over when I get home.

Can you stop reading anytime you want or do you have to stop at a certain page, chapter, part, etc.?

As long as it’s at the end of a page, I can stop – I’ve got no qualms about finishing in the middle of a chapter or halfway through a section. Usually I’ll stop because I’m tired, or have to start doing something else, which means I end up putting my book down straight away.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Yep, I particularly enjoy reading with a mug of coffee – I’m not so good with juggling snacking and reading though. I think my brain can only handle one or two things at once.

Can you read while listening to music/watching TV?

Not really, which is odd because I can happily read when commuting or on a train/plane etc. with background noise around me. I can read with classical music in the background (or any music with no lyrics), but definitely not TV – I would get too distracted and lose my place.

One book at a time or several at once?

Ideally one book at a time, the only time I veer from this is if I’m reading one fiction and one non-fiction. My brain can’t handle multiple fiction books at one time, particularly if they’re the same genre too (e.g. crime – the stories just get muddled in my brain…)

Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere, always! Without fail, I always have a book in my handbag and an audiobook downloaded on Audible on my phone. I get nervous when I don’t have a book with me – particularly if I’m travelling somewhere or know that I’ll be waiting somewhere. Every spare five minutes can be valuable reading time.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Always in my head, I find reading out loud a bit creepy… it reminds me of teenage poetry recitals.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

Nope, unless it’s a non-fiction book with separate stand-alone chapters on specific things, I don’t understand why you’d want to do this. The author has written it in the way in which it is intended to be read – skipping ahead just ruins the storytelling IMO.

Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

I try and keep the spine looking new, but sometimes you just can’t read a book without breaking the spine (you know, the type of book which is bound super tight and you can’t quite read all the way to the far edge!). I look my books to look nice, but also well-loved and read, on my bookshelves, so either way is fine.

Do you write in books?

No, unless it is a special present and I’m writing the recipient a message. I never make notes or annotate my books – I’d rather write thoughts down on post it notes.

If you’d like to take part in this book tag, consider yourselves tagged! 


Blogmas: Ultimate Cosy Checklist

The cold weather has hit us hard this week – frost on the ground, ice on the road and even a flurry of snow in the sky, so today I thought I’d share today my ultimate cosy checklist for a warm, wintery evening to help ease stress in the run up to Christmas.

Knitted Blanket and slipper socks and fluffy PJs

There’s nothing cosier than snuggling on the sofa under a thick knitted blanket, sat by a roaring fire in your fluffiest pyjamas and slipper socks. At the end of the day I love changing out of my work clothes, into lovely loungewear – as I’ve got older this is definitely something I’ve invested in as you can’t put a price on being comfortable!

A Big Mug (full of Tea!)
I always treat myself to a big mug full of tea in the evening (usually decaf, or I’ll be up all night…). I love the ritual of making a cup of tea before sitting down – there’s something soothing and calming about it, and it forces you to take a couple of minutes out of your day.

Candles burning 

I like to turn my home into a hygge haven with burning candles – whether they’re scented or unscented, there’s something about a flickering candle that makes you want to snuggle up, escaping the winter chill.

A good book
And lastly, but most importantly, a good book. The best part of a cosy evening is getting all warm, knowing you have a full evening ahead to hanker down and read a book. Absolute bliss.

What do you do at home to make it super cosy during the winter months?

Blogmas: Young Adult Gift Guide

Struggling with what to get the teen in your life? Here’s a couple of small ideas…

Le Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One by Philip Pullman – £14.99


Seventeen years after Philip Pullman’s third volume of His Dark Materials trilogy sealed the door on Dust, daemons, witches and armoured bears, a tantalising new beginning now lies open.  A brand new chapter, as enthralling for fledgling Pullman readers as for ardent fans.

Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit – £11.99 on Amazon (I’ve seen it cheaper, but just can’t find a link at the moment)


Perfect for fans of the magical world of Harry Potter – this edition of Trivial Pursuit features questions based on both the books and movies. The quiz has 600 questions that will entertain and educate even the biggest of fans. This is a bite-size game, so doesn’t feature the full board usually found with Trivial Pursuit, and it comes with coloured dice, cards and easy-to-carry wedge case.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – £12.34


In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

Stranger Things Monopoly – £26.99

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Now, I know this isn’t a ‘bookish’ gift, but I couldn’t resist including it – such a great present for anyone out there who is a fan of Stranger Things (let’s face it, who isn’t…). In this Monopoly game inspired by the Netflix Original Series, Stranger Things, Will Byers has gone missing. Players choose an 80s-inspired token or one “ripped from the Upside Down” to move around the board trying to find him. Pretend to search the town of Hawkins and buy, sell, and trade…

Pride and Prejudice Zipped Pouch – The Literary Gift Company, £8.99


This fantastic pencil case Features the Penguin design for Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice – it’s fully lined, and would make a brilliant makeup bag as well!


Blogmas: Gift Guide for Kids

And now for some gift ideas for the little people in your life…

A Guinea Pig Nativity – £5.24


A Guinea Pig Nativity is the classic Christmas story as you’ve never seen it before: with (you guessed it) guinea pigs photographed in the starring roles. This is such a cute and quirky little stocking filler.

Roald Dahl Top Trumps – £5.99


From Roald Dahl’s beloved books, his goodies and baddies come face-to-face in this fun Top Trumps game. Featuring characters from The BFG, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, play along and see who is the greediest and brainiest, the mischievous and the most cunning! This game is a great way to introduce younger children to the exciting world of Roald Dahl characters, and the perfect portable game to take away with you.

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher – £9.09


The magical, moving and bestselling first children’s novel from Tom Fletcher. Forget everything you thought you knew about the North Pole, and set off on a Christmas Eve adventure with boy named William Trundle, an elf named Snozzletrump, Santa Claus, a nasty piece of work called the Hunter, and a most unusual dinosaur…

The Pocket Moomin Colouring Book – £5.00


The Pocket Moomin Colouring Bookfeatures original artwork from the coveted archive of Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins; one of the most cherished children’s book series ever written.

The Folio Society Edition of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – £24.95


This is a beautiful clothbound, illustrated edition of the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web. One of the most beloved children’s classics of all time tells the story of how a little girl named Fern, with the help of a kind spider, saved one special pig. A must have for any mini book lover, as a keepsake for years to come.

Blogmas: Festive Reads

It’s time to snuggle down in front of the fire, with a cup of hot chocolate (or red wine…), cosy slipper socks and a good book, but you’re stuck for inspiration. Here’s a couple of festive reads, which I think are the perfect tonic for the colder months.

The Christmas Chronicles: Notes, stories and 100 essential recipes for midwinter by Nigel Slater

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The Christmas Chronicles is the story of Nigel Slater’s love for winter, the scent of fir and spruce, ghost stories read with a glass of sloe gin, and beeswax candles with shadows dancing on the ceiling. With recipes, decorations, fables and quick fireside suppers, Nigel guides you through the essential preparations for Christmas and the New Year, with everything you need to enjoy the winter months.

Taking you from 1 November all the way to the end of January, The Christmas Chronicles covers everything from Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year to Epiphany. Throughout the season, Nigel offers over 100 recipes to see you through the build-up, the celebrations and the aftermath.

The Robin: A biography by Stephen Moss


In twelve, exquisite chapters, natural history expert Stephen Moss transports us across the robin’s brief but glorious life. This is Britain’s favourite bird played out in full. It is an animal of contrasts; the born survivor, so pretty in feather and song, but fiercely territorial. This is a bird given to courage, its modest stature belying its ability to defend its turf. 

Beautifully presented with illustrations lifted from over a century of our shared culture, The Robin: A Biography is both a monthly chronicle of the bird’s life and also an investigation into why it symbolises so much. From being the gardener’s friend to its position in our folklore, Moss reveals this creature to be less a creature of the field as a mirror to ourselves.

Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson 


This is a collection of stories to take you into Christmas Day full of the magic of the season. There are ghosts here and jovial spirits. Chances at love and tricks with time. There is frost and icicles, mistletoe and sledges. There’s a cat and a dog and a solid silver frog. There’s a Christmas cracker with a surprising gift inside. There’s a haunted house and a SnowMama. There are Yuletides and holly wreaths. Three Kings. And a merry little Christmas time.

For the icing on the Christmas cake, there are twelve festive recipes from Yuletides past and present. There’s Ruth Rendell’s red cabbage (a taste of the queen of crime’s own festive traditions), gravlax, turkey biryani, sherry trifle, Mrs Winterson’s mince pies and more.

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie 

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It was only three days before Christmas. Stephen Farr looked distastefully at the crowded carriages. People! Incessant, innumerable people! And all so – so – what was the word – so drab looking! So alike, so horribly alike! It is Christmas Eve and not everyone is feeling full of the spirit of the season.

At the house of Simeon Lee the family gathers, estranged and embittered they hover around the cold-hearted, ailing patriarch awaiting the reason they have all been summoned. Then the family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed.

But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man…

Christmas Stories by Diana Secker Tesdell

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Christmas has inspired everything from intimate domestic dramas, to fanciful flights of the imagination, and the full range of its expression is represented in this collection of short stories. Each of the stories is imbued with Christmas spirit of one kind or another, and all are richly and indelibly entertaining.

Christmas with the Savages by Mary Clive


Based on real events and people, this story of a small girl’s Christmas holiday in a large Edwardian country house is effortlessly funny. At Tamerlane Hall, Evelyn finds a horde of children: the gentle Glens, the plaintive Howliboos, and above all, the uninhibited Savages. They are controlled – or not – by a host of parents, supernumerary Uncles and Aunts, Nannies and nurserymaids. Evelyn survives the Christmas festivities – just – returning home none too soon! Seen through the eyes of a prim little eight-year-old, this is an amusing and touching account of a childhood a hundred years ago.