Unappreciated Christmas Movies


My household is a strong believer in hoarding Christmas movies. Throughout the month of December me and my mum marathon all of our festive flicks and force the cheer onto ourselves. The only problem with this is that we have come across some questionable movies (Christmas Angel comes to mind), but.. yeah, you guessed it, go you! We have also come across some gems that were hidden behind the classics such as Home Alone and Elf. Here is a speedy list of my favourites, be sure to let me know of yours in the comments below!

Christmas Cottage

We all love a cheesy movie that is both inspiring and wants to make you want to weep in the corner, right? Starring Jared Padalecki (yup, little Sammy), Peter O'Toole, Aaron Ashmore, and Chris Elliott. This pick follows the story of two brothers who visit home for Christmas only to realise that their mother is in a bit of money trouble and could lose their home; the cottage. With the help of his ailing mentor, Sam Winchester... I mean, Thomas, hopes to find his artistic voice and help the town rediscover the holiday spirit. A truly beautiful story that is based off true events.

Hello Again + Reading Plans for 2023


Well, hello there. Long time, no write. This blog has practically been abandoned for the last few years, the reason being that I've just not been mentally strong enough to write. You could say that I'm in a life slump. It would be easy to blame the pandemic and all the chaos that ensued because of it, but I think it started way before that with the loss of my Grandmother. It sent me into a tailspin of depression and lack of interest to continue doing anything I would normally find enjoyable. I'm doing a tad better these days, by no means am I back to 100% yet, but it's a road I'm going down. So, in an attempt to brighten my days a little I thought I would return to this corner of the Internet and write about what I enjoy - books, TV, food, and life. 

As mentioned in a previous blog post, I did start a booktube channel in 2021. While I enjoy the process of making content and interacting with the booktube community who are all lovely, I'm not yet ready to put myself back on camera. Maybe in 2023! There's no rush. I do everything online for fun, mainly to discuss the wonders that are books. I put way too much pressure on myself to be consistent with uploads but, ya know, why? I'm not trying to make a career out of this and I don't ever plan on making money from it. So in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter if I upload a video once a week or once a month. I refuse to allow my brain to suck the joy out of what I like to do on a good mental health day. 

The point is, I'm dipping my toes back into the world of blogging and I do hope to become more consistent on my bookstagram @branchingpages with daily uploads in 2023. My blog will likely be a weekly thing, but who knows when inspiration will strike? I will write when I crave the escapism and I truly appreciate anyone who reads what I post. The blogging world has slowly died over the last 10 years, but it's still a community of people who put themselves out there and share their passions. It's a beautiful thing. 

As for my reading plans for 2023.. well, that's a bit chaotic. I want to challenge myself to pick up more large books, as that 500 page count always puts me off. I'd also like to read more classic literature in an attempt to tick off a few more on the Rory Gilmore Challenge (I may do a blog post about that!). Otherwise, it'll be much of the same. Readathons, too many depressing memoirs, and whatever I can get my hands on in the library. I have made myself a '12 Books in 12 Months' list, which is a relief as I was honestly debating doing a '23 Books in 2023' one instead, but that is just too much dedication as an avid mood reader! 

The last thing I'm hoping to do is do my own take on booktuber Drinking By My Shelf's Balancing the Books game! I will start the year with 0 books on my TBR either add or subtract as I haul/read. I have far too many backlist books so I'm hoping this'll keep me in check! 

So yeah, it's nice to be writing again though I have most definitely lost my flow. We'll get there! Do you have any reading plans for 2023? I'd love to hear them. 

Until next time,

The IT Girl by Ruth Ware | Book Review [spoiler free]


Premise: April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford. Taking the timid Hannah under her wing, April introduces her to a whole new world of glitz and glamour. Together they form a close knit group of friends – Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily – but not everything is as it seems. Being the IT girl seems to go hand-in-hand with toxicity for April. So it's no surprise that by the end of the school season, she's found dead. 

Now, a decade later, it has been brought into question whether the man who was convicted of April's murder was actually innocent. Being the main witness to the crime, newly pregnant Hannah begins questioning her own memories and sets on a mission to once and for all find out who killed April.

In the past I've had good experiences with Ruth Ware's books. For me they've always fallen into the category of junk food reading. They aren't exceptionally written and usually fall flat in some areas, but are nevertheless fun to read. And I always devour her books within a short time period. However, The IT Girl didn't do this for me. It instead resembled a dry granola bar that was marketed a fun flavor.

It's hard to explain what felt different about this book without giving away minor spoilers, but a large part of it was most definitely the university setting and Ware's lack of ability to write younger characters. You could quite honestly stick this book in the YA mystery section of a bookstore and it'd fit right in. But while saying that, the 'current day' chapters of the book felt more adult. It often seemed like Ware wanted to go the dark academia route but was instead told she had to make it a domestic thriller. It simply had no cohesive vibe. 

If you've read other Ruth Ware books you'll already know that her protagonists are usually duller than dull. But Hannah took that to another level. She was such an infuriating character to read from, and not in a thrillery 'ooh, she's mysterious' way. She was simply bland. You'd think reading from younger her and adult her would be interesting as surely she's matured even a smidge, but alas, nope. Her character continued to be dumb in any decision making and somehow became more whiny with age?

April, however, was interesting. While yes, she was a very stereotypical IT girl from a thriller standpoint, she did have layers and I was interested in reading more about her character. All the other characters, you ask? One of the same. Think The Secret History character list but without the eerie atmosphere surrounding them.

But what is a thriller review without a non-spoiler discussion on the twist? Well.. it was something. The ending of books has never been Ruth Ware's strong point (unless you're talking Turn of the Key, which I did wholly enjoy), and The IT Girl sadly continues that trait. It was lackluster and seemed to drag on without it needing to.

Basically, if you tend to read Ruth Ware's new releases, you may as well pick this up. It's more of the same. However, if you aren't that familiar with Ware's writing and are just looking for a fun thriller to pick up this Summer, skip this. It's not going to be a memorable read.

The Cupid Book Tag | Valentine's Day 2022


I've just finished watching Noelle Gallagher's video The Cupid Book Tag and I was immediately sold on answering the questions. Today is the day of love, and boy, I do love books. And tags! How could I possibly pass this up? If you've been along for my journey of discovering romance, you'll know that I'm still quite a novice of this genre. Though saying that, I've gone from cutesy rom-com's to Dana Isaly's smutty novellas rather quickly. But you know what, good for me. My brain needs the serotonin. I'll relink Noelle's video down below alongside the questions if you're interested in doing this yourself! 

What's the perfect candy to eat while reading?

I won't lie to you, I'm most definitely more of a chip type gal when reading. Harvest Snap Pea Crisps in Ceasar? Addicting. Incredibly addicting. *Homemade Guacamole and Sour Cream and Onion Pringles? Nom. (Trust me, Pringles have the ability to become the new Doritos) Candy wise, I do enjoy a good chocolate covered gummy bear but I just know that melted chocolate would get on the pages. 
*Avocado, red onion, red pepper flakes, and more lime than you think is necessary. You're welcome.

What's a song that reminds you of your favorite romance (or just your favorite romantic song in general)?

You ever hear someone tell a story and it unlocks a memory of your own? Maybe one that you kind put in a locked room to save yourself the self embarrassment of remembering? Yeah? That was me when watching Noelle talk about her New Moon/Evanescence pairing. Only for me, it was New Moon and Sia's Breathe Me. Yeah, I fully gave into sad girl vibes. A less embarrassing answer would be Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper which instantly makes me think of Poppy and Alex from People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. This was one of my favorite books of 2021 and I think it makes a perfect pairing with this song of familiarity, love, and confusion in a relationship when time just doesn't seem to sync you both together.

If you were to go on a perfect reading date, where would it be? it could be somewhere across the world, or something more general like the beach, the forrest, etc! the skies the limit!

I have two answers because I'm indecisive. Me and my husband have a "our spot", which is super corny but lovely. It's a small cliffside area that looks out on the ocean. It's incredibly peaceful (as pictured), but the benches are undeniably uncomfortable. I'm working on caring less about what people think and taking a camping chair there to sit and read one Summer evening, but ya know, anxiety. My second choice would be in the village Beddgelert which is close to my hometown in North Wales. We visited in January and it's such a peaceful town that I think it deserves to become a coveted reading spot. A beer garden in Summer with a good book and beautiful views? Sign me up now.

What's the best friendship you've read in a book?

Easy. Satoru and Nana from Hiro Arikawa's The Travelling Cat Chronicle's. Is Nana a cat and Satoru a human? Yes, but read this book and try arguing with the fact that this duo is the most wholesome form of friendship you've ever read. This is a glorious story that has so much heart. I don't hear enough people talking about it, and that's a devastation. 

Create the perfect bouquet for your favorite book or character

I'm going to go with Eve and Jacob from Act Your Age, Eve Brown for inspiration as can you answer a romance tag without mentioning Taliah Hibbert's books? That'd be a sin. Given that this is the epitome of a sunshine/grumpy romance, I'd go with a bouquet of sunflowers and thistle. With some eucalyptus throughout to give it a bit more volume, and to be a symbolic representation of what Eve and Jacob bring out of each other. Did I put way too much thought into this? But I have a vision, do you see it?

What romance do you not necessarily need a whole sequel for, you just want to check in on them and make sure everything is going well?

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. Yes, I usually don't use the same book for more than one question but com on.. a fun short story of another vacation? Maybe Honeymoon? I think the characters could easily make a short story feel full with their larger-than-life personalities and immaculate banter. I need more banter, please. 

What date in a book (or movie!) do you wish you could go on yourself?

Like Noelle, I can't remember a single date in a book that wasn't either accidental, or extreme in the sense of sports or travel. I wouldn't mind Holly and Nick's date near the end of Dipped in Holly by Dana Isaly. I mean, they literally just go to a diner for pancakes but.. that'd whoo me. Movie wise, I have to go with the entirety of Before We Go starring Chris Evans and Alice Eve. This is one of my favourite movies of all time. The entire movie is set over one night wherein the two main characters meet and walk around New York, talk, sing karaoke. Though not necessarily a romance movie, it's definitely got the vibes of what I'd envision as a perfect date. If you haven't seen this, go watch it now. And thank me later.  

What is your favorite nickname from a romance?

I mean, does my heart melt whenever Josh calls Lucy Shortcake in The Hating Game by Sally Thorne? Yes, yes it does. 

What are your most anticipated romances of 2022? (could be new releases or just romances you're excited to finally get to!)

Book Lovers by Emily Henry is high up on my list! Not The Witch You Wed by April Asher came out just last week and I was lucky enough to read an eARC on Net Galley but it was so incredibly fun and I this is me pushing it on you. Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley looks incredibly sweet and the cover is immaculate. Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson is also high on my list.

There you have it! This was a super fun tag to write out and it definitely resparked my love for blogging. I hope your Valentine's day is going well/went okay, and remember that self love is just as important as romantic love. What's your favourite romantic read? 

Watch Noelle's video HERE

-what's the perfect candy to eat while reading?
-what's a song that reminds you of your favorite romance (or just your favorite romantic song in general)?
-if you were to go on a perfect reading date, where would it be? it could be somewhere across the world, or something more general like the beach, the forrest, etc! the skies the limit!
-what's the best friendship you've read in a book?
-create the perfect bouquet for your favorite book or character
-what romance do you not necessarily need a whole sequel for, you just want to check in on them and make sure everything is going well?
-what date in a book (or movie!) do you wish you could go on yourself?
-what is your favorite nickname from a romance?
-what are your most anticipated romances of 2022? (could be new releases or just romances you're excited to finally get to!)

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