Blogmas #11: Christmas Songs

blogmas 11

I love Christmas songs, I love listening to old favourites as well as hearing new ones, and listening to new takes on old classics. As soon as it’s socially acceptable, I put on Christmas music and listen to some great songs when I can – when writing and in the shower, mostly. Below are some of my current favourites for this year, and I’ve tried to mix it up as much as I could, rather than just include the standard set of Christmas songs we all know and love.

Fair warning: quite a lot of these are Disney, because Disney Christmas music is awesome.

Christmas is Here – Disneyland Paris Christmas Parade

 

I love this song so much. It’s catchy, and joyful, and just conveys exactly what Christmas should be about. I’m so glad we got to experience it this year, even if we watched the parade while queuing for Stitch, but it’s the last year they’re using it, apparently. Still, it’ll likely be one I listen to every year from now on.

Twelve Days of Christmas – Straight No Chaser

I absolutely love this version of Twelve Days, which I actually only heard for the fast time last year. It’s now an absolute must at Christmas – fun and original, and the kind of song you can entertain family members with when they hear it for the first time.

I Believe In Father Christmas – Greg Lake

 

I couldn’t do a list of Christmas songs and not include this. Did anyone else listen to this as a kid and, like, NOT pick up on the actual meaning? It’s my dad’s favourite Christmas song, so whenever it came on – on the radio, originally, then on TV when we got music channels – it gets turned way up, and anyone currently in the household sings along. I love this song – it’s one of those that sounds really happy and cheerful, until you actually, properly listen to it.

It Feels Like Christmas – Muppets Christmas Carol

 

To pick just one song from the whole film was a struggle – if you haven’t already, I definitely suggest listening to the complete soundtrack over the festive period. Muppets Christmas Carol is not only the best version of Christmas Carol, but the best Christmas film, period. It’s fantastic and heart-warming and with some amazing songs. Can’t go wrong with this one at all, and it’s a real shame I don’t have time now for a Christmas Films blog because this would have definitely been on there.

As Long As There’s Christmas – Beauty & The Beast: Enchanted Christmas

 

I really need to watch this filma gain. And I warned you there’d be a lot of Disney. This song is from the sequel to Beauty and the Beast, a film I really should watch again. Like Christmas is Here, it’s just a joyful song, and it’s less about all the extra stuff around Christmas, and more about making do with what you have around you, because it’s not the tree that makes Christmas, is it? It’s the people you spend it with, the memories you make, the magic feel in the air. The sneaking around behind a cursed beast’s back and – oh, wait, that’s kind of specific, isn’t it?

 

This will actually be my last Blogmas post, as I am going to Margate tomorrow to spend Christmas with my brother. I hope you’ve enjoyed these Christmas themed blog posts, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the songs I’ve picked, and if you have any particular Christmas song favourites, especially if they’re not the usual ones we often hear!

To all my followers –

Merry Christmas!

Whatever you do over the next week, I hope you have an absolutely lovely time, doing what you enjoy best, whatever that may be, and spending it with the people you want to spend it with. Have a good one!

Season of Wonder – Edited by Paula Guran

season of wonderSeason of Wonder is a winter holiday themed anthology, bringing together fantasy and science fiction stories centred around the darkest months. Christmas isn’t the only holiday contained in these stories, but it is the most prominent. Still, as a whole, I think this is a great festive read.

The stories vary enough to give a little something for everyone, with a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, and even some horror elements thrown in. There’s robots caring for the last man on Earth, a post-apocalypse society ruled by religion, a young boy who stands against an evil elf, a young woman who gets caught in the battle between the Holly and Oak king, a woman on a distant planet introduces the inhabitants to Christmas, and a story of mental health, a woman who believes in magic, told through the eyes of her best friend.

The absolute stand out story for me was The Christmas Witch, a story which uses horror and fantasy to do one of my favourite things those genres are capable of; drawing parallels to very real situations, and reflecting issues often faced, especially by younger people. In this story, a young girl grieves the death of her mother, and lashes out in her own way, but the adults all seem to turn a blind eye. Her father tries to help, but not in the best way, and no one actually listens to her. It’s a fantastic read, and one hard to forget.

Pal Of Mine was also particularly good, one of those stories where the fantastical element is in doubt, right until the very end. It was wonderfully written, and very bittersweet.

Home for Christmas is a very sweet story, about a young woman who can talk to objects. It’s wonderfully written, draws you right in with the MC and her unusual ability, and shows how even small acts of kindness can have a lasting impact.

Others I particularly enjoyed, and would have liked to have read more about their worlds, were The Night Things Changed and The Nutcracker Coup. Both wonderful tales with fantastic world building, especially for short stories.

Everytime I think I’ve listed the ones I really liked, more pop into my head. Okay, last one, I swear. Newsletter, the final story in the anthology, is another great read – it’s witty and engaging and had me laughing out loud at the last line. And it’s a really interesting way of telling the story, combined with an uncertainty at the end, leaving the reader with multiple questions, and no answers except for whatever they decide in their head.

I really do recommend this collection. It has interesting portrayals of Christmas and the various aspects associated with the holiday, with more than one take on Santa Claus and the legend of. It was an enjoyable, fun, sometimes downright dark collection, with stories to both warm your heart on these cold winter evenings, and make you snuggle under the covers, glad you’re safe in your bed.

Blogmas #4: Bookish Naughty or Nice List

Blogmas #4I’ve really been looking forward to this one! And you should check out Jenn’s original list from 2017, too.

  • Received an ARC and not reviewed it  X

I will read them all! I just…got swamped, a little more quickly than I expected. I went from having no ARCs, never having touched an ARC, to having…a lot. It’s great, but yeah, I need time to get through them.

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  • Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley X

I guess technically, I have 0% on Netgalley, as I’m actually not on there. I’m actually considering doing a post, maybe in the New Year, about why I’m not there. I want to be though.

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  • Rated a book on goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog (and never did)

Nope! Not done this one. I don’t write reviews on Goodreads until I’ve at least put them on the blog or on Deadheads, at which point I’ll add an extract, then link back to the original post.

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  • Folded down the page of a book X

Okay, yeah. Guilty. Sorry! I used to actually do this a lot. It was just how I saved my place. Never to someone else’s books though! And I stopped doing it a long time ago. Now, I have a nice little collection of bookmarks to use.

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  • Accidentally spilled on a book

Nope! Not that I can remember, anyway. I don’t actually drink when I’m reading, so that helps a lot in avoiding accidental spills.

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  • DNF a book this year

Nope! I’ve finished all the books I’ve picked up this year. I very rarely – if ever – DNF a book.

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  • Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it

Nope! I intend to read every book I buy, and honestly, I just can’t afford to buy books I won’t read right now. Though there are some books I would love to have and probably wouldn’t actually read,  if I could.

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  • Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework) X

Yeah, I probably read when I should be writing, to be honest. But it feeds into one another, right?

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  • Skim read a book

Nope! This is another one that I just don’t tend to do.

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  • Completely missed your Goodreads goal X

Well, 2016 I missed it by 8. 2015 was the first year I started doing it and I’ve hit over my goal since then. I tend to set it low-ish, based on how many books I read the previous year. Otherwise I’d just stress myself out trying to hit it.

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  • Borrowed a book and not returned it X

Errrr yes. A long, long time ago. Let’s not talk about it.

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  • Broke a book buying ban X

Yep! I just can’t help it. I want all the books.

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  • Started a review, left it for ages then forgot what the book was about

Ha nope. I don’t think so anyway.

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  • Wrote in a book you were reading

Ha NOPE! I WOULD NEVER! I fully believe in a book is yours, to do with what you will, and if someone enjoys writing in them, then fair. But I just couldn’t do it.

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  • Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads  X

I might have done this with one or two ARCs I’ve received before they were up on Goodreads.

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So there we have it. I don’t think I did too bad!

Again, huge thanks to Jenn for introducing me to Blogmas and giving me an awesome list to work from.

25-Post-Ideas-for-Blogmas

Blogmas #1: Christmas TBR     /     Blogmas #2: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year     /     Blogmas #3: Favourite Christmas Reads

Blogmas #3: Christmas Reads

Blogmas #3Day 3. How did we get here so quick? Work’s ramping up, Christmas is looming and now I start panicking about who I haven’t got presents for.

While we’re here, I just want to say a huge thanks to Jenn over at Jennielywho pointed me in the direction of her Blogmas list. Go check out her blog if you haven’t already.

And so we come to the third Blogmas post…

Christmas Reads

I’ve said it before – I’m not great when it comes to seasonal reads! I’d love to read more Christmas themed books, but I’m terrible at getting books with the intention of reading them at a particular time of the year. That said, a book doesn’t HAVE to be Christmas themed to be a good Christmas read. (I still haven’t read A Christmas Carol, either!) Here are some books which I think of when I think of Christmas, books which I actually have read. And as always, if you have any recommendations for me, feel free to throw them my way.

Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkabanhppoa

Something about the HP books makes me think of autumn and winter – I’m pretty sure I included this on a Blogtober list, too. But anyway. Yeah, Christmas makes me think of PoA, and that scene when Harry and Ron enter the Great Hall, only to find there are currently 11 people seated at the table, with the prediction made that the first to rise will be the first to die. The film, as well, with our first glimpses of Hogsmeade, covered in snow, feels a little more Christmassy than the others. This was also the first HP I got for Christmas – opening it and feeling a tad upset because I hadn’t yet read the second one, thinking my mother must have been confused and got me the wrong one and then I opened the present from my brothers, to find Chamber of Secrets looking up at me from the wrapping paper. Day saved.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

the lion the witch and the wardrobeIs it possible to think of Christmas books without thinking of this classic? Again, another one I got for Christmas – I actually had the whole Chronicles of Narnia box set one year, and I cherished them. I watched the cartoon version of this over and over, tense at the Aslan scene even though I knew full well what was going to happen. Narnia, stuck in a constant winter with no Christmas, seemed like such a magical yet horrid place to me as a kid. Winter…with no Christmas? No lights and celebrations and amazing food and presents? And then, of course, Santa arrives, and things seem much more hopeful. In the middle of winter, when things are at their darkest, I think we could all do with that little touch of hope.

NOS4A2

nos4a2One for the horror fans and yes, I know the cover says R, but I’m British so my version said A.

(EDIT, Dec 4th: Friends, I was wrong. The above is a British cover, I thought it was American – my brain let me down when I was typing this yesterday. NOS4R2 = British, NOS4A2 = American, which makes more sense because the latter totally doesn’t sound like Nosferatu to me.)

This cover was just the one I found that seemed most Christmassy. Although the main events of this novel don’t actually take place at Christmas, the main villain of the story is obsessed with Christmas, in an almost childlike way – the kind of thinking kids have, about how amazing it would be if Christmas took place every single day. The book balances summer and winter, plunging you from July 4th fireworks into a wintery, snowy wonderland, and giving Christmas a really creepy, eerie edge. If you like horror and haven’t checked this out yet, I really can’t recommend it enough, especially for fans of King. Out of the novels from Joe Hill I’ve currently read, this is the one that, to me, reads most like his father’s work, yet unbelievably unique in its own right.

25-Post-Ideas-for-BlogmasBlogmas 1: Christmas TBR     /    Blogmas 2: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Blogmas #2: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Blogmas #2I love winter. I don’t like getting up in the dark or coming home in the dark, but if there’s no where else to go…

Well, it’s nice to be in a lovely warm house, maybe stretched out on the sofa watching A Muppet’s Christmas Carol, or curled up in bed with an enjoyable book. Winter seems like the ideal time to indulge. It’s cold outside, probably wet – especially if you’re in the UK – and dark. Time to play video games, or watch films, or read books.

And ahead of us is Christmas. I love Christmas. I love the lights and the warmth and, yes, the time off work. Christmas Day is also my brother’s birthday, and we’ve celebrated this day together every year except for one, when he was travelling around the world.

I admit, as I’ve got older, my love for Christmas has waned a little. In some ways, it’s become much more stressful. In others, more sad. But mostly, I try to focus now on the positives, the things I love about this season. Have a good reason to treat my family, whether it’s through presents or other gifts.

Winter isn’t always the best time. But for me, it’s a chance to relax over Christmas – I am very lucky in that I’m off over the Christmas period. A rare chance to unwind and hang out with my family, this year in Margate where my brother lives, and see his nephew and niece. Having children around makes a lot of difference!

Even though sometimes I get down, for me winter really is the best season. My birthday is November 12th – often it feels like the cusp of autumn and winter, right as nights really start drawing in and coldness chills the air. And after my birthday, the Christmas lights go on up town, Christmas music starts being played, and Christmas planning hits full swing.

And I try to read as much as I can before the end of the year, taking the chance to indulge in some longer books I may have not got to yet.