Naughty or Nice? THE ONLY BOOK BUYING LIST YOU NEED for Christmas 2018

Ohayō, bienvenue and thanks for popping by festive readers! Can you believe that we are fast approaching the end of 2018? I cant!! But there again I’m British, and we can’t believe anything. How cold it is, what year it is, how dark it is ;)!…ha!

I’m not sure where this year has gone, but this meme sure does sum it up nicely!  It was like April last week, right? The sweaty heatwave seems like a lifetime ago as we shiver wrapped up in scarves and blankets.

If I don’t know where you are with your Christmas present buying (or making) but for once I am completely organised, and half wrapped! The Christmas tree is up and looking pretty and my handmade wreath above the fireplace is all kinds of cosy.

My Cosy & Festive Home

I’ve even managed to half read a book. I feel a little bit like superwoman right now, juggling work, gym, my closest people, Christmas Shopping and Planning, social events, keeping up with the latest Netflix shows, texting everyone back and doing my best to keep on reading in between!

So with all of this in mind and with Christmas now only a week away(!), I thought I’d be your fairy bookmother and help you with those last minute gifts for your loved ones (Amen for Amazon Prime).

Use my Naughty or Nice list for a quick reference guide as to THE Books to buy this year (Nice!), and those to avoid..(Naughty!)to help you with your festive choices.


  1. ‘How to stop time’ by Matt Haig


This was easily one of my most loved reads of 2018. The book cover is absolutely gorgeous, and available in multiple languages. Matt Haig is an exceptionally talented author who writes for both fiction and non-fiction and it’s definitely worth looking at both genres. With this wonderful title, we are taken through the life story of Tom Hazard, a middle aged History Teacher in England. The thing about Tom is that he is history himself and he has seen and experienced more than anyone could ever imagine, for Tom is not the 41 years he appears to be. He is 400.

A tantalising tale with themes of identity, secrecy, death and the difficulties of personal relationships that are both unique given the extraordinary cirucmstances, but familiar enough to relate to.

One for the lover of time themed stories, an interest in history or those who love a good love story. You can read my full review HERE.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

2. ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ by Ruth Hogan.

This novel I featured early on in 2018, at a time when the days were grey and cold (much like now) and I really needed a warm and sunny book to keep my company through the chill. This book didn’t disappoint. Again another stunning cover (blue, surprise surprise!), purchased for my Christmas gift last year by one of my closest friends who know I’d love the tale.

It’s a book with some really heart-warming characters, with themes of love, loss and fate.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a big believer in fate. I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve met people in my life who I should have met previously in childhood due to circumstance but for whatever reason didn’t, and met them instead in adult life. It’s a book for the fate believers.

This is definitely a top one for an easier reading choice that will put a smile on your favourite person’s face. My friends have read this book as well a many a P&P reader, and we all loved it. It’s a Keeper. Full review HERE!


3. ‘The Island’ by Victoria Hislop


Another Christmas Gift purchased for me by my friends and one that really changed the pace of my summer holiday, where I lay reading it upon a hot sunbed in the caneries. Ah…bliss. The story follows Alexis and her travels through Crete. Again this is a story of time (a hot topic for 2018!), where we are taken back to Alexis’s family history in the year of 1949 and through their experience and story with Leprosy. Previously Leprosy wasn’t something I’d really known about or heard of, but the emotion in the story carefully explained this disease, the impact on the infected, but more perhaps what we don’t consider- the impact on those family members of those with it.

The main takeaway from this book is that love conquers all.

I cried at the end. Not ashamed.

A perfect read for those interested in a more deeper emotional tale, or one set based around history.  I ended up booking another summer holiday to Greece based upon the fantastic description in the book.

My summer review can be found HERE.





Now let’s get on to the most hyped up books of 2018 that I felt were a bit of a flop.

  1. ‘The Friend Request’ by Laura Marshall

I should perhaps know by now that a book cover full of quotes stating how fabulous a book is usually means I’ll not feel the same way. Picky, MOI?

Perhaps I have a different viewpoint as to what constitutes an ‘addictive thriller’, however this was not my idea of a gripping book. This novel was borrowed from a lovely friend who absolutely loved it. I opened the first pages with excitement, ready to get stuck in and captivated a la Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train. Alas, it never happened.

The story loosely follows a school reunion and some poor life choices made in high school with regards to friendship groups and behaviour. The planned school reunion as adults brings those who made some nasty choices accountable for their actions, through a mysterious and threatening presence on social media. The school reunion soon becomes a dangerous place to be, as does Facebook.

What I did think was good about this book is that it brought a seriousness and focus on the importance of online safety. It brought attention to how much we share on facebook and, how in the wrong hands the results could be really dangerous. It really made me think again about posting personal information such as my relationship status, my snapchat code or anything else that could easily be used for ill.

Heat described this book as a ‘one hour devour’, but I’d rather have taken a one hour nap.

Personally I found that the attempt at tension was absolutely overdone, to the point of boredom. There’s only so long you can expect a reader to wait for the end result. It went on and on to the point I’d already worked out the ‘who dunnit’ and I was wishing for it to finish. The character development was poor and not thought out very well and there were far too many red herrings. I don’t feel the author really had much experience of cliques at school, as the main leaders were too understated and they would have gone about things differently to maintain control.

Read my review HERE

2. ‘The Immortalists’ by Chloe Benjamin

Now here is where I begin to get controversial with my list! Named #1 on many a ‘TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2018’ lists, I’m here to tell you that I disagree. 

Now this book I finished a month ago, and have yet to write a review, so here’s a short one! Again, this book has been mega hyped to the point of failure in my opinion. I began reading this book in September and it took TWO (!) MONTHS to finish it. Yes life is busy, but it aint that busy. So why the delay you ask? Well, that would be that the book is poorly balanced. It’s like a rollercoaster with a big dip at the beginning of the ride and the rest carries along a straight and predictable track.

The story follows a group of Jewish brothers and sisters in New York who see a future teller as children. She promises to tell them the year of their death. The children try not to take it seriously, but ultimately cannot avoid the nagging belief that she may be correct. The story follows each of the children and the choices they make throughout adulthood as the live with the knowledge of the time of the death. It is very interesting to begin with to think about how you might live if you knew the year of your death, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?

The chapters follow each child and their life. For about half of the book, I was absolutely mesmerised. It followed the lives of two of the children through to adulthood who had decided to live ‘life to the full’ and ‘their way’. We follow them to their deaths.

I’m sorry to say that after here, I was so disappointed. Each character ultimately dies on the very day we are told they should, and it’s self-inflicted. I’m sorry Ms Benjamin, but couldn’t you have thrown us a curveball!? Once we had gone through one character, we knew what was happening with the rest. I struggled to finish this book and it was an achievement to do so.

Pretty cover but an absolute Snorefest.

3. ‘All the light we cannot see’ by Anthony Doerr

SHE SAID WHAT?!’ I hear you scream, aghast. How could I, book lover and blogger, possibly put this book on the Naughty list?

Admittedly, this was one of the most fundamental books of my summer. I spent a long time pouring over it, and was really taken by the two main characters, but ultimately I have to be honest and say, it wasn’t enjoyable.

The book was overwritten, and it was too long for me to really get to grips with it. Descriptions were excellent, and I was taken back in time to a place where I could stand where the characters were and really feel the scene.

But unfortunately, I spent most of my summer laid in the garden trying to block out the hums of lawnmowers, the screams of children and the shouts of local scrapmen. I liked that the chapters were short and snappy to begin with, as it meant that I could put the book down and pick it up where I left off. But as I got deeper into the story line, I found myself getting lost. It was just too slow for my city surroundings.

I felt that the characters could have had a much further entwined tale, and was a little disappointed that it wasn’t so after I’d invested so much time in getting to know them. Also, I have to admit that this book really brought my mood down. It’s not a happy tale and so ultimately this meant spending a long period of my down time reading something that made me feel blue. The book in my opinion really missed some key chances to draw further emotions from us as readers, and I guess I just expected more. 

I believed that this book was one of its time, which in a way yes it was moving, but it certainly could have been a lot better. It needed better editing.

If your moods are not affected by what you read or you have a hell of a lot of down time, by all means please read this book. But if like me, you need to be careful with how you spend your downtime, it’s one to miss. I certainly wouldn’t give it as a gift.


And here lies the end of my list! I hope this has helped you with any last minute present buying, or perhaps to treat yourself and get that free Amazon delivery when you spend £20 or more.

I’ll be coming back after the festivities to share with you the books I’ll be taking into 2019.

Please feel free to use this post to share what you hope to receive in your Christmas stocking this year, or what you will be recommending for the New Year.


I hope that your holidays are filled with love and joy, time with your friends and family, but most importantly, time with yourself. Unwind, read, and reset. 

Until then, thank you so much for being a part of my blogging community.

I really want to thank the 600 visitors from over 20 different countries around the world that have visited my blog this year.

You keep me writing and forever inspired to find and share new books with you.

2019, we’re coming for you.

Emma X0




6 Comments Add yours

  1. These are great reviews. Thank you. I think I’m going to make a few purchases based on your recommendations. Thank you 😊


  2. You’re welcome! I’ve just had an email to say that My top 3 are currently in the sales, although Matt Haig looks like its low in stock- so enjoy!!! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ps- hope you had a wonderful Christmas x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll let you know what I think. Hopefully you will be reviewing my book this time next year. Happy Christmas and thank you again.


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