Feels like Christmas


Ridley: I absolutely adore this time of year! I’m generally a big kid at the best of times, but I am a hundred times worse come the month of December! I love how happy people are during the weeks leading up to the 25th, how so much nicer they are to their fellow man, how more generous they tend to be, more caring, everything seems brighter and nicer bathed in sparkly fairy lights. This time of year, we all tend to look outside ourselves more at those around us, and really stop for a moment to realise just how lucky we are. 

So…in order to get more into the Christmas spirit I’ve lined up my favourite Christmas ads. Now, hear me out, I know Christmas ads are now big business here, and I shouldn’t be using them to get me into the Christmas spirit, as this holiday is not all about presents and what you’re going to get from Santa. I know different companies spend millions developing these ads, recording them, and then they have big Christmas ad reveals, which get shared by thousands on social media sites (if they’re any good, and some of them really are). But I’m not afraid to admit (don’t judge me!) that I’ve gotten choked up watching a few of them!

Somehow, even though the ads are obviously trying to sell you something or encourage you to shop somewhere in particular (overlook this), they still, in strange way, capture the meaning of Christmas too, where it’s not about what you get or buy, but who you’re with. It’s about surrounding yourself with the people you care about, it’s about trying to bring a big smile to their faces, being the reason for them to laugh and just generally spreading the love!

So this Christmas, stop for a minute, and just remember what it’s all really about:


John Lewis, their ads just get me every time, I adored last years one with the bear and the rabbit, but this one with Monty the Penguin kinda chokes me up at the end, so so sweet. This is what I’m taking about, make others happy, it’s the secret to your own happiness too! (Also who wouldn’t want a best friend like Monty I ask you?):


The Sainsbury ad is just beautiful, heartbreaking, heart warming and just plain fantastic all at the same time! That this really happened (though possibly without the addition of the chocolate bar obviously) just makes it all the more special:


All I’ll say is…she really is worth it, don’t you think? Show others how important they are to you!


Make someone happy, the song says it al!! Coca Cola ads are always Christmas to me anyway.


And this is not an ad, but it’s still my favourite songs to sing this time of year! Muppets Christmas Carol is on repeat in our house!


So, if I haven’t hammered the point home enough, Happy Christmas to all our friends and family, have an absolutely fantastic one, and we’ll see you in the New Year!!


Latimer watches… Indiana Jones


Latimer:  I don’t think a Christmas holiday is complete without watching at least one of the Indiana Jones movies! They are all shown on television over the holidays.

This year I noticed that the fourth Indiana Jones movie (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) has been added to the marathon. To me, there are only really three Indiana Jones movies.

I’ve been watching Indiana Jones since as far back as I can remember. It started my obsession about wanting to be an archaeologist. I thought being an archaeologist was being Indiana Jones. For most of my childhood that’s what I was going to be, an archaeologist/Indiana Jones.

I was definitely going to go on adventures and find artefacts stuck in booby-trapped tombs. Yet, in spite of all the ways I would definitely die adventuring through Indiana Jones style tombs, I was convinced that was the life for me! I would have needed a lifetime of parkour, self-defence and weapons training for that career path.

I’m now convinced I would have died trekking to my first tomb!

Thankfully, I’ve grown out of considering that life (for my own health and safety!), but still love Indiana Jones! Out of the three movies (yup three!), my favourite has always been Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I watch it once every Christmas. I’m always happy to see it; I know it’s Christmas and it never fails to make me smile.

I love that movie because it’s just so much fun and not serious, and so 80’s – it’s pure nostalgia!


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It has the never-ageing Sean Connery, the zeppelin, the quick detour to Berlin, tombs, the leap of faith I never would have taken, the old knight of the crusade, the face melting scene (that always scared the crap out of me)… and you learn that Indy’s named after the dog 🙂

Latimer watches!

I think everyone has a favourite Indiana Jones movie – Ridley’s is Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom! What an epic movie series it is… cue music…

Also Happy New Year to everyone! Hope you all have a great 2014! MLR 🙂

So It Begins

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Latimer: And so it begins… Christmas shopping… the last ride of the Rohirrim… 

Okay, that might (might) be an exaggeration! But I saw this funny post on Tumblr and it sort of fit:

It’s Christmas, you have one of two feelings:




I’m not totally one way or the other, but it feels like this year, Christmas sneaked up on me – then knocked me out with a sledgehammer.

As I stumbled around half-dead for three weeks, I now find myself madly shopping in a delirium of, sweat, confusion and panic, blind panic!


Over the past few years I’ve found myself buying children’s Christmas presents for nieces and nephews. The last time I had been in a toy shop was to… well, be the one who people were buying presents for! I was the last child I knew!

Now, I have five nieces and two nephews to be buying presents for!

And I panicked. When I stepped into the big toy shop to do my ‘buy, buy, buy SOMETHING… ANYTHING’ Christmas shop last weekend, I faltered. I got confused; really confused.


I reverted back in time. I stood staring at the Sylvanian Families, laughing; “Aww, still as expensive as ever… oh! The Badger Family, I remember you!” 


I was a child again. I forgot why I’d come to the shop.

I started looking at all the new dolls, thinking they were cool. Asking myself if a three year old could handle the awesomeness of gothic dolls based on monsters (no, thankfully I came to my senses on that one).



I bought myself some glitter glue; which I needed for making my Christmas present tags for the kids, but it was weird because, I’ve not had glitter glue since I was a kid!


Thankfully I did manage to leave the toy shop without going too crazy.

Although my last giddy thought as I left was; “I have money now… I could buy things if I wanted…I could buy the Sylvanian Families cottage/barge/windmill! Oh the POWER!”

I pray the power of the toy shop will not have grown stronger by next Christmas!

Reading movies


Latimer: I love watching TV series and movies in other languages. It really immerses you in the story and gives you a sense of that culture.

Having spent so much time watching anime and Asian dramas, I’m used to subtitles. Once you get into the swing of reading them, it becomes like second nature and it doesn’t distract you.

I usually have to go looking for the subtitled dramas or movies, but this week, one found me!

On Irish television I happened across the finale of a German TV miniseries called ‘Generation War’ (in German it’s called ‘Our Mothers, Our Fathers’).

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The series is a gritty Second World War series about 5 friends in Germany and their experiences during the war. It’s full of heart-wrenching moments (moments where you are shaking your head wondering how these things happen), and moments where you are screaming for one thing – just one thing to work out for someone…!

Watching this series reminded me of a few of the great foreign language series and movies I’d seen over the years. It resulted in me taking a little trip down memory lane.

Pans Labyrinth

This is quite simple a gorgeous, eerie movie; it has that supernatural gothic, dark element that I like. It also has this ambiguous feel to it; is the girl dreaming all this fantastical stuff, or is it real? Full of fairies and demonic creatures – Pan is one scary fawn it must be said! – this is one of those movies I could watch again and again. I still will randomly start humming that theme tune (epic)!

Joyeux Noël 

About a true event during the First World War where during Christmas time at the front there was a brief ceasefire, where all the men on all sides came together to celebrate Christmas. It’s in French, German and English. A very sad, but inspiring story.

Moving on from war, to romance… yeah, bit of a drop from drama to mindless fun…

My Princess


A Korean drama that follows a girl who finds out she’s related to the defunct Korean monarchy. The story is about how a wealthy group in Korea want to re-instate the monarch with her as the Princess. Okay, it follows the typical girly love story, but – hey, that’s soul food to a fan-girl! It’s a fun series!

Hana Yori Dango


Ah, this might well be our (Ridley and I) most favourite Japanese series! As a result of watching this series, Ridley and I knew all about the actor that plays the leading man – Matsumoto Jun (who’s in a band called ARASHI :)). And so, when we were in Tokyo and we saw some Japanese girls holding up a sign which said in English – ‘Foreigners, do you know who are ARASHI?’

Well, Ridley and I looked at each other, ‘Shall we?’.

And so we sidled up to the girls and said; ‘We know of ARASHI’. Then the girls asked us how; Ridley beamed, ‘Hana Yori Dango’. Then all of us, across language barriers smiled and started laughing (ah, fan-girls unite!).


A Norwegian film about… a Troll Hunter. I now have a greater respect for Norwegian folklore about trolls and love saying the Norwegian word for bear (bjørn)!

And finally… Ros na Rún


Okay, this is not technically ‘foreign’ language – it’s Irish – but it is subtitled (sometimes!)!

We have an Irish Language TV channel here called, Teilifís na Gaeilge (TnaG) (basically Irish TV).

When we were getting ready to do our ‘Irish oral and aural exams’ in school, our teacher made us watch Ros na Rún without the subtitles to practice. While I didn’t get the nuances of what was going on, I thought at the time that this was a great series (probably because there was a scandal involving a cute guy and a baby he may or may not have been the father of!).

Stephen Fry also did a cameo in it once (those two auld lads have been in the series for YEARS… and yet, they have not aged).

Plus Ros na Rún also had a cross-over with Cold Case (sort’a)!

“I told you I don’t understand English” – Daniel

“Where is this woman? Did you murder her?” – Lieutenant Stillman

“Do you understand now Daniel?” – Detective Rush

Yup, I think this post has made me want to re-watch some things! I do like me some subtitled stuff 🙂

I wonder what else is going on around the world that I should look into! Suggestions very welcome!

Irish Christmas Quirks


Ridley: Okay, so it’s the first of December and I am now officially allowing myself to get excited for Christmas!! Yay! Mind so is everyone else, I wandered into town earlier (town being Dublin city centre) and the place was thronged with people, who all obviously decided that now it was officially December it was acceptable to begin their Christmas shopping. I’ve never seen so many bags in people’s hands or walls of children filled buggies on the streets as I did today, and of course I got bashed and thumped by everything and everyone! Though it’s all part of the fun…of course…haha. Now in the spirit of the upcoming holiday i thought I’d share some Irish specific Christmas traditions (though maybe some of these happen elsewhere in the world too. especially the food, which is also found in the UK.)

The Late Late Toy Show

This marks the start of Christmas for every Irish person. It’s an annual toy show that displays all the latest gadgets, toys and books that every child is probably going to want as a present off Santa Claus (better know as Santy or Father Christmas here) come December the 25th. It also shows off the talent of Irish youngsters, with lots of children singing, playing instruments and dancing. The auditions for these slots go on for weeks beforehand. All the adults in the audience have to dress up too. The programme is broadcast live, and is regularly the most watch show of the year on Irish television. There is also the added excitement of the Christmas Jumper Reveal, where the host (currently Ryan Tubridy, but everyone loved the original host and beginner of the Jumper Reveal, Gay Byrne) forgoes wearing his usual suit and tie for the normally serious talk show (The Late Late) and puts on a crazy looking Christmas Jumper, the picture of which often ends up in our national newspapers the next day, and is usually the topic of gossip for a few days.

Busking Bono

Now a bit of a tradition, Bone from U2, and whoever he manages to get involved (last year it was Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan, Sinéad O’Connor, Liam Ó Maonlaí) go busking on Grafton street for charity, and they usually get thronged by tourists (while the rest of us try to look unimpressed, but secretly we all are).

Midnight Mass


We all pack into mass in the church, usually everyone goes (both believers and non-believers), sometimes it’s at 10pm in some places and not actually 12pm, though it’s still called midnight mass. There’s usually lots of carols sung at it, and at the end of the service, people go up to the crib, where there is a figure of a baby Jesus (along with the wise men, the shepherd, Mary and Joseph and animals) and people take a piece of straw from the manger, and they place this in their purse or wallet so that it will ‘never be empty’ for the coming year.

Christmas Food

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Sherry trifle: It’s a desert made of madeira cake, bird’s eye custard, sherry, jelly, fruit, topped with cream, and in some households there are chocolate sprinkles on the top of the cream (we don’t do this in ours). It’s beautiful tasting.


USA biscuits: I think every household in the country has a tin of these in their kitchen, it’s either bought or received as a present, and the bickies in them are always great with a cup of tea!


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Cadbury’s Roses and Quality Street chocolates: There’s a raging friendly war in my house over which is better – don’t listen to what anyone else says, it’s Cadbury’s Roses. These tins of chocolates are bought in their hundreds at this time of year here, there’s always one open in people’s houses, usually on the coffee table, they’re given as presents, and often times shops will have a little plate or bowl of them at the till for customers to take one. My favourite is the long purple sweet in the Roses tin, which is basically a caramel chocolate with a nut in the middle. Yum.


Mince pies: Not a fan myself, but they’re extremely popular, it is a small palm sized sweet pie, traditionally in olden times it would have actually had mincemeat or some sort of meat anyway, but not any more, it is filled with a mixture of dried fruits, sugar, spices and brandy.


Plum pudding: It is a pudding composed of  dried fruits and is held together by egg and suet, sometimes moistened by treacle. Also, flavoured with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves ginger, and other spices. It usually has brandy poured over it and set on fire just before it’s cut up and eaten. There’s also always silver coins in the centre of the pudding, the finder of which is meant to get good fortune for the coming year.

Christmas FM


A full radio station is set up in December which is devoted to Christmas songs for the month. Everyone tunes their car radios to this station for the few weeks its on. It gets a small bit depressing after Christmas when you hop into your car and the station has gone off air and there’s nothing but silence when you switch on your radio. *sigh*

Christmas Swim


Some mad people go to the 40 foot in Sandycove in Dublin on Christmas day and jump into the sea, (which is freezing!!) all in the name of charity. It’s a tradition for some, not me, I like staying in my clothes in front of a fire for most of my Christmas! Any charity I do is usually in the warmth.

Nativity Scene


The nativity scene is basically a baby Jesus in a manger, it’s set in a stables, and also present with him is Mary and Joseph, the Three Wise Men, the Shepherd and animals (usually a donkey, a sheep and a cow). This scene is in miniature form in most people’s houses here and then there is also a large version of the Nativity scene set up in almost every biggish town in the country, usually placed at the town hall or in the town square. It’s usually lit up and is extremely pretty.

Christmas Pyjamas


I think a lot of people do this, most of my friends do it, I know it’s been a tradition in my family since I was very small. It’s always a given that you get pjs, fluffy or otherwise, as one of your Christmas presents, along with fluffy socks of course. These pjs are usually gotten from Penney’s, the best cheap clothes store chain in the country!!

Well that’s our Christmas, what’s yours??

Gift Giving

ID-10037232Ridley: So it’s a bit early to be talking about Christmas (well actually never too early in my book!), but I have to say it’s my absolute favourite time of the year. I mean, when do we have such an absolutely fantastic combination of being able to eat loads of chocolate and at the same time give presents? Like, you have Easter, which is great for the chocolate side of things, and then there’s birthdays for the presents, but Christmas is like Easter and a Birthday smushed together! (and obviously I know the whole point of Christmas isn’t just presents and food, but work with me on this!)
Anyway, I love getting presents for people that suits them, it’s fun to see their faces when they open up something they’ve always wanted or least expected and never knew they wanted. So, while it’s still early, I have begun to look for the unusual presents you can only get online and that can take awhile to get here once ordered. In the interest of helping others with their present searching (cause I’m nice like that), here are some of the best things I’ve found for sale on my favourite craft site, Etsy.com (and yes, it is a case that I’ve been just sharing all my internet procrastinating haunts, but they’re good!!)


Absolutely beautiful and colourful handmade jewellery. They’re a little like stain glass, aren’t they?

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Have a charm bracelet or want to start one? Here’s some Christmas charms! So dainty!

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Paper sculpture, so brilliant, there’s real craft gone into these. Usually the actually sculptures are a little expensive for my wallet, which no doubt reflects the skill and amount of time that’s put into them, but they currently have a sale on, and you can pick prints of the sculptures too.

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Handmade wool and felt toys! So unique, and you can get custom ones made for you!!

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I absolutely adore unusual notebooks and journals, here some beautiful and unique ones!

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Some really cute artwork and designs. Mind, there’s loads of fantastic artists on both etsy and on deviantart, maybe if you wanted something unusual for that special someone, why not think about supporting some of these unknown but absolutely fantastic artists?

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And everyone, just to get you into the Christmas spirit, here’s the new John Lewis Christmas ad. It really almost brought a tear to my eye. Absolutely stunning!!



Bouncing with Fate

ID-100146479Ridley: This was originally going to be a post about the Flight Festival that took place in Dublin today. That’s what I told Latimer I was thinking of doing, but I got word that a family member had a bad fall and bruised themselves, so I went home instead of watching planes. Alls good and everything, but I now know where I get all my clumsiness from, one day they’ll find clutsy is genetically passed on I think! 🙂 

I had so many falls, sprains and breaks when I was younger, I’ve nearly lost count, and it’s not like I’m a particularly sporty type! I never had one of those epic tales like; I was skiing in the Alps in a cool one piece suit with fashionable goggles and while doing numerous tricks and zooming down the snowy hillside, I accidentally ploughed into my handsome skiing instructor and broke my leg.ID-10068874 Where I then laughed about it with him over hot chocolate in a chalet beside a roaring log fire wearing a leg cast signed by numerous people.

Oh no, they’re all rather pathetic stories. In my time I’ve managed to break my left arm, fracture both my middle fingers, knock out my two front baby teeth, sprained my ankle over fifteen times and injured myself in such a way that I tore the muscles away from the bone in my right foot (which is unbelievably sore).

Actually, most of my major injuries happened between the ages of about five and seven. I don’t know maybe that was a wild time for me. I used to love running around the playground, particularly hanging upside down on the metal bar like a monkey, you could also do flips over it. Then one day I slipped, smacked face first into the sand beneath it and bye bye front teeth.ID-100198581 I remember it being really near to Christmas as well, as “All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth”, was sung at me on a continuous basis for weeks.

When I was six, I was playing cops and robbers with my uncle (which actually just involved me running around the house over and over again, while he stayed in the one place and barely tried to act as a cop and stop me) and managed to break my arm by tripping on a root sticking out of a hedge in the front garden and I banged my left arm down on hard dirt and well, Bobs your uncle. I might add, at the exact same time, my younger brother was half way up a large tree and my uncle was lazily advising him to come down.ID-10017839

Now, if you’d freeze framed the whole moment and asked a panel of experts who was about to break something, who do you think they’d have picked? Yeah.

A year later, I fractured both my middle fingers. I became ill in school and I was sent out by the school nurse to sit on the swings in the yard. Feeling bored, I put my fingers in between the small chain links of the swing. Not the best idea just before you faint.ID-10046480

The next thing I remember I’m hanging backwards having slid off the robber seat, my arms in the air and my fingers still stuck in the chains, looking up at the nurse and my teacher.

My final biggish injury was years later, I was twelve and I got Rollerblades for Christmas, I did just great on them in the house, rolling along on the carpet, with numerous things to grab (chairs, tables, people) when it looked like I was about to fall over. Then they let me outside, literally two days after I got them I somehow managed to fall half on and half off a high footpath in front of a (really really slow moving) car, I landed really awkwardly on my leg.ID-100179603

For a week, everyone, including the doctors, thought it was a horrifically bad sprain, but having had numerous sprains already by this age, I knew it was something different. Eventually, I ended up in a full leg cast after the doctors realised I’d torn the ligaments away from my foot. It all took ages to heal.

Now, it’s all been suspiciously quiet of late, suspiciously, and I’ve recently started trampolining classes (sooo much fun!) but even with a few years of a gap of any bumps or scraps, my family still felt the need to warn me not to kill myself while I’m off bouncing.pic-071-300x169

One of the things we do in the fitness class is run along the trampolines, and I got cocky last week, which never ends well. I found myself sprinting way too fast, my momentum built and built and with widening eyes I realised I was no longer in any sort of control of my legs and that I couldn’t stop. I had a split second thought that I was about to go flying so I tucked my arms in and I managed to do a barrel roll over three trampolines and a mat, before I stopped moving. I then hopped up and tried to pretend it hadn’t happened at all. I thought I’d succeeded but then the fitness instructor with her large microphone, and what felt like a giant long arm, pointed at me and shouted, “Fantastic recovery! And don’t worry, no one saw you!” *sigh*

So, while I dance (and bounce) with fate, I can only hope that, fingers crossed, I’ll continue to beat my clumsy genes! 😀 

Christmas Reading List

Wow, Christmas is here already! How quick was that? Seems like only the other day it was Summer (such as it was here in Ireland!)!

While things wind down and we have a bit of time off, we can relax and finally gorge on… food, yes… but more importantly reading!

Reading copious amounts of books sometimes feels like eating cakes; you wolf them down and then are left thinking; ‘why did I do that?! It’s gone now!’. Of course there’s always another cake during the holidays!

With that in mind, we’ve decided to put together a wee list of books we are planning on gorging on this Christmas!


Late to the game, we are both going to read Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth – you could say very up and coming – or already up and came, and we are just very late to the show!

Latimer: My understanding of this series – dystopia (buzz word at the moment, like an –omics, ha, science joke), hmm, there’s sure to be a romance in it and hmm, something about lots of factions and fighting. Okay, honestly, I might be going into this one a little blind!

Ridley: I’m looking forward to this one, the reviews have been good and it seems interesting!!

Latimer: I finally bought The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (finally because I think I have been looking at this one for years thinking ‘I must get that book’). The story is; a boy, called Nobody (I like that already), is raised in a graveyard by ghosts. That’s pretty much all I know; I’m looking forward to it! I’ve only read one Gaiman book (which was a co-authorship with Terry Pratchett; Good Omens, a very good book!). I like the humorous writing style of these two authors, so really looking forward to this book (on a side note, I really want to read Gaiman’s Sandman comics… another story that!).

Ah yes, I’m going to give Delirium by Lauren Oliver a go too… All I know; love is a disease and you can’t love people in this dystopia world (I’m not a massive dystopia fan, but seems most of my loot this year is dystopic in origin!). I absolutely hate the cover of this book (the picture is the cover I have); but that aside, I think the book sounds very interesting!

And I will finally… FINALLY read Angelfall by Susan Ee (again dystopia!), which has a massive Ridley Stamp of Approval (RSA) and therefore, I have no doubt, it will be excellent and so, you should definitely seek out this book out if you haven’t read it yet!

Ridley: And why, pray tell, is this not first on your list!? Thoroughly disgusted I am that you haven’t read this yet! (My RSAs usually have Latimer running out to grab the book-and vice versa I might add- though I know she’s been busy….publishing, editing, working, writing, sleeping, eating, drawing…PAH!) *crosses arms with a pout**

Latimer: Also plan to do a spot of manga reading if I can 🙂 (in English, not Japanese!)

Then I have to do a bit of writing (ah, more than a bit really, I’m behind on a few things! Eep! :(). And eating; currently I have located a packet of ‘Irish Shortbread Biscuits’ and am wolfing them down happily (by myself, I glare if anyone touches them!) with tea in my Moomin cup of an evening 🙂 I love Christmas… food food food… yums (we might be having a cheese board this year, I’m excited haha :))

Yes, the biscuits are shaped like shamrocks, which is a little obvious, but that’s alright they are delicious 🙂

As Christmas ticks on, we’ve been working on editing a short story we wrote; it’s called Temperance (meaning moderation and self-restraint :)) and is a moment in the past of our character, Temperance Levinthal from Legend Unleashed. It’s going to be free and we hope to have it out as soon as it’s fit to be seen! But we can share this with you (cover time…)

Temperance offical cover


Ridley: Ah Temperance, we’re working away on this little story, we hope to share it with you in the new year! Fingers crossed you like it!

And now, some of my books for this Christmas include…

Seraphina, I’ve had my eye on this one for a bit. I just love the old school, sketchy cover. I’ve been on the YA train for so long, it’ll be good to get back to my fantasy roots with this! There are dragons in this world that can shape shift into humans…intriguing, no?


Again, more fantasy, another one on my list to get, Shadow and Bone. I can’t wait!! Our friend on deviantart, mseregon, also recommended this! She gave us loads of fantastic ideas for our next book too! 

The main character is whisked off to a royal court after it’s discovered that she has dormant powers. There’s also a bit of a possible love interest in her best friend too. So yes please!

I loved the first book in this series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, her world building is just beautiful. Prague is such a fantastic setting for her book. And there was a great mystery woven throughout it, so really looking forward to what’s going to happen in this next instalment as there was a bit of a cliff hanger in the last one. I was left going (O_O) at the end! Haha.
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In The Assassin’s Curse, there is, obviously, a curse! It forces the two main characters together. There’s a possible love triangle (i think) and better yet, pirates! How could you not want to read this? Plus the cover is beautiful. I’m a sucker for a good cover!

So finally everybody, have a lovely Christmas and New Year (if we don’t see you before then!)!

Enjoy your reading time, and let us know if you come across any book gems!!