My Essential Christmas Movie List

There is nothing like a good Christmas movie to help get me into the Christmas spirit. Since I have so many Christmas favourites I’ve put together a list of some of the best.

 

Elf (2003) elf

There is nothing quite like the hilarity of Will Ferrel dressed in tights to bring on a festive feeling. I always watch Elf at the beginning of December to kick things off.

Description:

One Christmas Eve a long time ago, a baby crawled into Santa’s bag of toys Raised as an elf. Buddy goes looking for his true place in the world–in New York City.

 

Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2001) grinch

Another good movie to watch if you need some help getting into the Christmas spirit.

Description:

Discover the magic of the Mean One this holiday season! Oscar-winning director Ron Howard and Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer bring Christmas’ best-loved grump to life with the help of the irrepressible Jim Carrey as The Grinch. The Grinch is a celebration of the holiday spirit no home should be without! Why is The Grinch (Carrey) such a grouch? No one seems to know, until little Cindy Lou Who (Taylor Momsen) takes matters into her own hands and turns both Whoville and The Grinch’s world upside down, inside out… and funny side up in her search for the true meaning of Christmas.

 

Love Actually (2003) loveactually

If I don’t watch Love Actually with my boyfriend on Christmas Eve then Christmas must be cancelled. We’ve watched this movie together every single Christmas Eve for seven years in a row. Even the year we were so busy we ran out of time to buy any presents!

Description:

Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England.

 

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)rudolph

It isn’t Christmas morning unless Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is on. Rudolph is the sweetest reindeer in the world. Just look at his gorgeous little face!

Description:

A misfit reindeer and his friends look for a place that will accept them.

 

 

Frosty the Snowman (1965)frosty

If you have time to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer then you have time for Frosty the Snow Man too.

Description:

A discarded silk top hat becomes the focus of a struggle between a washed-up stage magician and a group of schoolchildren after it magically brings a snowman to life. Realizing that newly-living Frosty will melt in spring unless he takes refuge in a colder climate, Frosty and a young girl who he befriends stow away on a freight train headed for the north pole. Little do they know that the magician is following them, and he wants his hat back. This animated short is based on the popular Christmas song of the same name.

 

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)vacation.jpg

My preferred Christmas movie to watch while recovering from a Christmas lunch food coma. I’ve watched Christmas Vacation since I was a child and still laugh every time.

Description:

The Griswold family’s plans for a big family Christmas predictably turn into a big disaster.

 

Home Alone (1990) homealone

Home Alone is my little brother’s preferred Christmas lunch food coma movie. Guess which one we usually watch first!

Description:

An 8-year old troublemaker must protect his home from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.

 

Bonus YouTube video in case you were wondering what Kevin would be up to now.

 

Merry Christmas, Thomas! (2011)thomas

My little brother is eight years younger than me and loved Thomas the Tank Engine. He hated watching television by himself for a while though, so guess who has just about every episode memorised to this very day? I made the mistake of telling my brother there are about a million Thomas Christmas specials on Netflix so we will be watching at least one of them during our Boxing Day Christmas movie marathon.

Description:

Thomas lights up the tracks in a magical Christmas collection! Climb aboard for adventures and cheer as your favorite engines prepare for a festive celebration. Help Thomas find the grandest tree on Sodor and then join the Logging Locos as they sing the Misty Island Snow Song in the hope of a winter wonderland. As the snowflakes fall, Gordon, Mavis, and Percy will take you to the Steamworks for a special surprise party. ‘Tis the season for holiday magic with Thomas & Friends!

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas (2010)nightmare

A good choice for when you’ve had enough of the Christmas festivities.

Description:

Now digitally restored and remastered with state-of-the-art technology, The Nightmare Before Christmansis deeper, darker and more brilliant than ever — just as Tim Burton originally envisioned it. Can Christmas be saved? Bored with the same old scare-and-scream routine, Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, longs to spread the joy of Christmas. But his merry mission puts Santa in jeopardy and creates a nightmare for good little boys and girls everywhere!

 

Gremlins (1984) gremlins

Because Gremlins!

Description:

A boy inadvertently breaks 3 important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

 

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) wonderful

It’s a Wonderful Life is the perfect classic Christmas movie. It doesn’t get more Christmassy than this!

Description:

George Bailey has so many problems he is thinking about ending it all – and it’s Christmas! As the angels discuss George, we see his life in flashback. As George is about to jump from a bridge, he ends up rescuing his guardian angel, Clarence. Clarence then shows George what his town would have looked like if it hadn’t been for all of his good deeds over the years. Will Clarence be able to convince George to return to his family and forget suicide?

I hope that you all have a very merry Christmas with your family and friends. Did I forget any of your favourite Christmas movies? Let me know!

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Mystery and plot twists galore! Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

When Libby Day was seven years old her mother and two sisters were darkplacesmurdered in their sleep. Libby was so certain that her 15 year old brother, Ben, committed the gruesome murders she even testified against him in court. But when she is approached by the head of a group of amateur crime sleuths to help solve the crime she begins to wonder if perhaps they are right and Ben is innocent after all.

The novel is told from the perspectives of Libby in the present day as well as Ben and their mother, Patty, on the day of the murders. I love novels told from multiple points of view when it is done as well as in Dark Places.

The premise of Dark Places drew me in instantly. I was dying to find out what actually happened the night of the murders from the very beginning of the novel, and it was certainly worth the wait. There was no way I could have guessed the final plot twist!

dps
A bonus Instagram photo of Zeus who thought I should be taking photos of him instead of books!

 

Description:

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

Details:

Title: Dark Places

Author: Gillian Flynn

ISBN: 0307341569 (ISBN13: 9780307341563)

Published: Published June 10th 2010 by Phoenix (first published January 1st 2009)

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 424

Source: I purchased my copy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Emotional, raw, and unapologetically realistic. It’s no wonder Olive Kitteridge won the Pulitzer Prize.

Olive Kitteridge is a former math teacher with a tough and bristly exterior. Like most people who come across this way, Olive has her own demons to battle in private and an incredible understanding of human nature. olive

Each chapter tells a separate story involving people who live in Olive’s hometown, Crosby Maine. Sometimes Olive plays a central role, other times she is just hovering somewhere on the periphery. Each chapter weaves together to tell an incredible story of love, life, death, and the human condition.

I absolutely loved this book. I found myself identifying so many times with Olive. Her insights into human nature and life were incredibly profound at times. Even though she comes across as such a tough cookie, I feel as though she could very well be a creative free spirit trapped in a mundane and disappointing world.

It took me quite a few days to read Olive Kitteridge. I needed to stop and let each chapter sink in before I was able to move onto the next one. If you decide to check it out, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster.

olivez
Even my cat loved Olive Kitteridge!

Best Quotes:

“You couldn’t make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn’t go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.”

“Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.”

“She didn’t like to be alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.”

“Olive’s private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as “big bursts” and “little bursts.” Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee’s, let’s say, or the waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really.”

“Traits don’t change, states of mind do.”
“Don’t be scared of your hunger. If you’re scared of your hunger, you’ll just be one more ninny like everyone else.”
Description:
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

Details:
ISBN: 140006208X (ISBN13: 9781400062089)
Published:  March 25th 2008 by Random House (first published September 30th 2007)
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 270
Source: I bought my copy
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Twitter Tips for Readers and Writers

I often have people tell me that they find Twitter difficult and confusing to use. I can understand that it can seem a bit intimidating at first, but it really is a fantastic platform to connect and network with other like-minded people once you get the hang of it. It is the number one social media platform I use to drive visitors to my blog posts and find interesting people to connect with.

Hashtags

The number one concept Twitter newbies need to get their heads around are hashtags. Make sure that you use them and make sure that they are relevant. Unlike Facebook, hashtags are expected and highly useful on Twitter. All you need to do to create a hashtag is add the pound symbol (#) before the tag you are using. E.g. #hashtag

To search for tweets that include hashtags that you are interested in, just enter your hashtag in the search box and you will see every tweet in Twitter about your topic. Make sure you retweet any that grab your interest!

I’ve put together a list of hashtags that all readers and writers should check out:

General

#amreading

#amwriting         hashtag

#amediting

#books

#reading

#novel

#bookboost

#bookworm

#mustread

#greatreads

#writechat

#selfpub

#selfpublishing

#indieauthors

#indiepub

#writerslife

#booknerd

#promotip

#writing

#writingprompt

#amazon

#ebook

#bookbuzzr

#pubtip

#ereaders

#epubchat

#bookquote

#bookbuzz

#kindle

#kindlechat

#whattoread

#currentlyreading

#wip (Work in progress)

#writetip

#writingtip

#storystarter

#bookgiveaway

#giveaway

#free

#freebie

#shortstories

#shortreads

#paperbacks

#bookwormproblems

#writerproblems

#bookmarket

#TBR (To be read)

#readinglist

Genres

#fiction

#nonfiction

#biography

#YA

#romance

#crime

#mystery

#suspense

#thriller

#horror

#scifi

#clifi

#litfic

#histfic

#womensfiction

#paranormal

#dystopian

#contemporary

#history

#urbanfantasy

Hashtag Days

Hashtag Days are an incredibly effective way to connect with new people. Make sure that if you add a Hashtag Day tag to your tweet that you read and retweet other people’s tweets as well.

EDIT 10/12/15 Before you post on a hashtag day, please take the time to read what you can  and can’t tweet on each day. I’ve included the links to all of the hashtag day’s rules, as well as the Twitter accounts that host each day.

Thank you to the incredibly helpful author, Terry Tyler, for the suggestion. Terry has self-published 11 novels on Amazon and is a Twitter expert. An extra tip for you all is to go check out Terry’s blog for self-publishing and social media advice, as well as all kinds of interesting bookish things. Terry also loves to network and support authors and bloggers on Twitter @TerryTyler4

EDIT 16/12/15 Thank you Paula Reed Nancarrow for providing the link for Archive Day! You can find Paula on Twitter @prnancarrow

Monday: #mondayblogs Rules Twitter Account: @MondayBlogs

Tuesday: #tuesdaybookblog Rules Twitter Account: @rosieamber1

#teasertuesday Rules Twitter Account: @ADailyRhythm

Wednesday: #wwwblogs Rules Twitter Account: @Womenwriterblog

#ww (Writer Wednesday)

Use the @ to mention writers that you appreciate on Twitter

Thursday: #indiethursday Rules Twitter Account: @IndieThursday

Also #indiebookstorelove

Friday: #fridayreads Rules Twitter Account: @FridayReads

#ff (Follow Friday)

Similar to #ww. Mention any Twitter people you enjoy following.

Saturday: #archiveday Rules Twitter Account: @SingleMAhoy

Sunday: #sundayblogshare Rules Twitter Account: @SundayBlogShare

This is by no means an exhaustive list of bookish Twitter hashtags, but there are plenty to get started with.

My final piece of advice on getting the most out of Twitter is please make sure that you interact and engage with other people. If you see an interesting link or blogpost, retweet it. Or use the @ feature to let them know you though it was great.

I always follow back bookish people and am happy to assist Twitter newbies.

You can find me on Twitter at @scatterbooker

My other social media handles:

Facebook: scatterbooker

Instagram: scatterbooker

Pinterest: scatterbooker

Google+: Jade St Clair Scatterbooker

LinkedIn: Jade St Clair

 

Free Books on Amazon Right Now

I’ve put together a short list of books that I found on Amazon today for free! I’ve downloaded all of these 🙂 Do you see any that grab your fancy?

28Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes    

by Denise Grover Swank

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads

For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: There isn’t enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect.

Rose realizes she’s wasted twenty-four years of living and makes a list on the back of a Wal-Mart receipt: twenty-eight things she wants to accomplish before her vision comes true. She’s well on her way with the help of her next door neighbor Joe, who has no trouble teaching Rose the rules of drinking, but won’t help with number fifteen– do more with a man. Joe’s new to town, but it doesn’t take a vision for Rose to realize he’s got plenty secrets of his own.

Somebody thinks Rose has something they want and they’ll do anything to get it. Her house is broken into, someone else she knows is murdered, and suddenly, dying a virgin in the Fenton County jail isn’t her biggest worry after all.

*****
Winner of The Beacon – 2010 Unpublished Division, Mainstream Category

We Could Fall    wecouldfall

by Kate Moschandreas

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads

We Could Fall begins on a September morning when 42-year old Emmy Halperin receives two unexpected pieces of news. Jack, her husband of 22 years, wants to call off their long-planned divorce. Duncan Grier, a famous actor, wants to be her therapy client.
“I’m guessing it could be more complicated seeing me than with your other clients,” is what Duncan says in his first voicemail to Emmy.
It is, indeed, more complicated. In the four short weeks that follow, Emmy must wrestle with her professionalism, her desire and her marriage as she ultimately decides who and what should hold her trust.

 

War Kids warkids

by H.J. Lawson

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads

When Jada wakes up in a hospital, the last thing she thinks is that her life has completely changed forever. But when the very real civil war forces her to flee from every open space, she must use the firearm skills her father taught her to reunite with him and protect herself.

Armed with a single gun and a key to an unknown locker, Jada crosses Syria on a journey with a group of children called the Fearless Freedom Fighters.

With the leader, Zak, they mount a plan to rescue their fathers while they try to cope with the merciless murders of their families. As Jada and Zak lead the group together, love blossoms, but with soldiers hot on their tail, they need to stay vigilant in the face of war.

War Kids is a story about the Syrian Civil war through the eyes of a group of teenagers.

Love Beyond Time (Time Series #1)          lovebeyondtime

by Nancy Campbell Allen

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads     

Amber Saxton is a bright young LDS doctor on the cutting edge of twenty-first century medicine. But when she has a head-on collision with a swinging door, life as she knows it is suddenly reduced to a heart full of searing memories when she awakens in another time and place. How can she practice modern medicine of a Civil War battlefield — and how can she get out of this mess? She longs for her comfortable apartment and her dear little Primary class, but she’s trapped in a world that is not her own. And it’s anything but friendly.

Meanwhile, Tyler Montgomery, and overworked accountant, is spending the night at his computer, prepareing for an audit, when two of his worst nightmares walk through his office door. The last thing he remembers is a blow from the butt of their sawed-off shotgun — until he comes to in a tiny room adjacent to a nineteenth-centuy Army hospital. I’ve died and I’m not in heaven, he thinks.

Amber and Tyler have just begun the adventure of their lives, fraught with danger, intrigue, and unbelievable discoveries at every turn. Thrown together in a world apart, they must somehow find their way back to the present. But first, they need to find each other and learn what matters most in life. Can they meet the test — or will it cost them their lives before they can unravel the mystery of generations past?

First-time novelist Nancy Campbell Allen has created a riveting story filled with enough adventure and romance to last two lifetimes!

UnEnchanted (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale #1)

by Chanda Hahm              unenchanted

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated; until she saves her crush’s life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her it’s next fairytale victim.

To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

 

                                                

 

 

The House of York by Terry Tyler

hoyfb.jpg

The House of York is a riveting family saga loosely based on The Wars of the Roses.

Terry Tyler specialises in epic family sagas that bring English history into the modern world and this time the focus is on the House of York.

The story begins when Lisa Grey – the modern Elizabeth Woodville – meets the rich and handsome owner of York’s Wine bars, Elias York (King Edward.) Lisa thinks that she and her son are set for life when Elias proposes, but his complicated family means that things aren’t always as perfect as they seem.

Even though I know enough about the Wars of the Roses to have a fair idea of what happened there were still plenty of surprises. People who do enjoy their history will enjoy the references to the real life events but The House of York doesn’t require any history knowledge to be enjoyed.

This was a much darker period of time than the Tudor period Tyler covered in Kings and Queens and Last Child and that was reflected brilliantly in the The House of York. There were so many more despicable characters and I loved hearing from all of them. I don’t want to post any spoilers, but I have to say that the ending had me floored!

I enjoyed The House of York so much that I read it in one sitting. As Australian television great, Molly Meldrum, would say: Do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy today!

Description:

The House of York ~ a contemporary family drama, spanning the years 1993 – 2014.

Widowed single mum, Lisa Grey, and wealthy businessman, Elias York, are young and madly in love. A recipe for happiness? But Lisa is marrying into a complicated family. Her new sister-in-law doesn’t want to know her. Middle brother Gabriel’s marriage suffers under a cloud of infidelity and gambling debts, while the youngest, Richard, keeps his dark secrets well hidden—and his wife suffers in silence.

Lisa and her mother are bonded by their powerful intuition, but dare not voice their fears about York Towers—or certain members of the family…

Love and loss, abduction, incestuous desires and murderous intent form the basis of this compelling saga in which horrors float just beneath the surface, to bring forth a shocking outcome.

History lovers may be interested to know that The House of York is loosely based on events during the era of the Wars of the Roses.

Details:

Title: The House of York

Author: Terry Tyler

AISN: B016WNEEQO

Published: October 20th 2015

Genre: Family Saga, Contemporary

Source: I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 5/5 stars

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads

Future Perfect by Katrina Mountfort #bookreview

futureperfect

Future Perfect is a terrifying glimpse of what our future may hold.

The year is 2181 and 17 year old Caia is beginning her first job with the Ministry of State 11 which used to be called London. But State 11 is very different to the London that we know today. The citizens live in isolated Citidomes, marriage and sex are outlawed, and people are discouraged from becoming too attached to each other, asking too many questions, or feeling any kind of intense emotion. There is no such thing as religion and children are created by artificial methods. The citizens of State 11 are all striving to reach BodyPerfect status— which is tall, anorexic and androgynous— and anybody who is not considered BodyPerfect is bullied and humiliated. Information, particularly about the world outside, is limited and controlled by the government. Anybody who doesn’t toe the line is labelled as a ‘subversive thinker’ and disappears and couples who do have sex will catch the TJB virus and break out in red marks on their skin.

Through the ‘truth exchange’ and her secret conversations with her subversive new colleague, Mac, Caia slowly begins to piece together the truth about State 11. She also develops her very first crush. When Mac and Caia are sent outside the Citidome on a work mission they are finally able to act on their mutual feelings and decide that they have to hatch a plan to escape and live together in freedom.

I found many parallels between Future Perfect and George Orwell’s 1984, particularly since I have only recently completed a rather intense essay on Orwell and the collapse of the private and public spheres. I think that we really do need to start thinking about the way the world is heading and how privacy is becoming an increasingly elusive concept.

I loved Future Perfect and wait to read the next installment.

Description:

The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. Following a bio-terrorist attack, the population now lives within comfortable Citidomes. MindValues advocate acceptance and non-attachment. The BodyPerfect cult encourages a tall thin androgynous appearance, and looks are everything. This first book, Future Perfect, tells the story of Caia, an intelligent and highly educated young woman. In spite of severe governmental and societal strictures, Caia finds herself becoming attracted to her co-worker, Mac, a rebel whose questioning of their so-called utopian society both adds to his allure and encourages her own questioning of the status quo. As Mac introduces her to illegal and subversive information she is drawn into a forbidden, dangerous world, becoming alienated from her other co-workers and resmates, the companions with whom she shares her residence. In a society where every thought and action are controlled, informers are everywhere; whom can she trust? When she and Mac are sent on an outdoor research mission, Caia’s life changes irreversibly. A dark undercurrent runs through this story; the enforcement of conformity through fear, the fostering of distorted and damaging attitudes towards forbidden love, manipulation of appearance and even the definition of beauty, will appeal to both an adult and young adult audience.

Details:

Title: Future Perfect (Blueprint Trilogy #1)

Author: Katrina Mountfort

Published: September 19th 2014 by Elsewhen Press

ASIN: B00NE4A8JM

Genre: YA, Dystopia, SciFi

Pages: 285

Source: I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Goodreads