Dec 26, 2011


First of all, I hope those of you who celebrate it had a very wonderful Christmas. Mine was lovely – the fact that my nearest and dearest were incredibly generous to me this year was only one of the reasons why. My partner in particular wasn’t supposed to get me much in the way of gifts after our trip to Germany, but he blatantly cheated and spoiled me anyway – not that I’m complaining, of course. Here’s what I found under my tree:

Christmas gifts

Why yes, that is the I Capture the Castle tote bag – and as you can see below, it was full of treats:

Moar Christmas gifts

As you probably can’t read the titles, the books I got were:
  • Farthing by Jo Walton – Finally! Hopefully I’ll be able to get the rest of the trilogy soon with one of my birthday gift cards.
  • Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren't as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures from the Sky, Parents who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn't Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out — A McSweeney’s short story anthology that includes Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby and Jonathan Safran Foer. I didn’t remember this existed, so it was a wonderful surprise.
  • Global Women edited by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild – A collection of essays on women and economic inequality that I had been coveting for ages.
  • The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson – More Eva Ibbotson for me! And according to Fiona, this is a particularly good one.
  • No Surrender by Constance Maud – This suffragette novel is one of the most recent Persephone publication, and it was a particularly special gift. It was given to me by Claire, one of my favourite of the many lovely people I’ve met through blogging, and one of the hosts of Persephone Secret Santa. Being jobless at the moment I couldn’t afford to join any Secret Santa swaps this year, but Claire sent me a Persephone anyway. Isn’t that lovely of her? And it’s of course a perfect choice, as this is a novel I’ve been dying to read.
  • Wildwood by Roger Deakin – I love getting non-fiction for Christmas, and this one seems especially interesting.
  • Zahra’s Paradise by Amir and Khalil, Wandering Son Vol 1 by Shimura Takako and The Influencing Machine by Brooke Gladstone – all of these are comics I’ve been coveting all year.
Last but certainly not least, that thing you see at the top is indeed an e-reader (!). It was a completely unexpected gift, and one that will surely influence my reading in the future. Project Gutenberg and Girl Ebooks, here I come! If you have any other sites with free and/or inexpensive classics to recommend, I’m all ears.

I also really loved the dress and shawl you can see hanging from the chair behind the other gifts, the lovely cat bookmark and ornament, the Lush bath bombs - everything, really. What about you? Any particularly coveted books or other great gifts under your tree?

I’ll leave you with a few holidays pictures, including, of course, gratuitous cat ones:

German chocolate
I finally tried the German chocolate I had been saving for Christmas and can officially announce that cardamom chocolate is the best thing ever.

Christmas hot chocolate


Gratuitous cat picture

You can't go to Germany at Christmas and not get a nutcracker.

Gifts under the tree
The gifts waiting to be opened.


  1. What great gifts!! My question is - did you cheat too? :D Jason says I cheated (we had a similar pact, because we're really trying to save for this spring) because I bought him a 25-day advent calendar house and gifts for each of the 25 doors. :D

    That hot chocolate looks absolutely fantastic!!!

  2. Amanda: I kind of did, though not as much as I'd have liked because of the whole joblessness thing :P However, I did have a £25 gift card saved that I used to get him more gifts than I'd have been able to otherwise, and I guess that counts :P But the e-reader in particular was just MAJOR cheating on his part :D

  3. Wow! What a great bunch of gifts you got! I can't wait to hear what you think of the e-reader. I never thought you would get one! I think I have a copy of The Morning Gift (I know I have about 5 Ibbotson's I haven't read yet) so I can't wait to hear what you think of that one. And I am so glad you mentioned Girl eBooks! I think I'd heard of it before, but forgot.

    And I'm with Amanda. That hot chocolate looks divine!

  4. You always have the most beautiful gift piles after Christmas! :--) What is the story with that hot chocolate? It looks thicker and more chocolate-y than usual, which is I think why we're all going ga-ga over it!

  5. Heather: I didn't think I'd get one anytime soon either! It won't completely replace paper books for me, of course, but I'm incredibly excited about all the free classics I can now download and read on it :D One of the main reason why I read so many classics in 2010 was because I read free e-books on my laptop a lot, but my routines in 2011 were completely different and I couldn't do that anymore. I'm very excited to get back into the habit in 2012 :D Now I can read ALL THE WILKIE COLLINS ;)

  6. Jill: That's pretty much what we understand by hot chocolate in Portugal, so it was quite a surprise to me that it was so much thinner in the UK - we call that chocolate milk and think of it as an entirely separate thing. That probably makes no sense except if you have grown up thinking of it that way :P Anyway, the reason why it looks like that it's because we heat the milk slowly on the stove and stir a little bit of corn starch into it, stirring continuously so it doesn't form lumps. I've messed it up on more than one occasion, but when it's done right the texture is heavenly :D

  7. For anyone curious about the hot chocolate, I've just checked Wikipedia and it seems that this variation is common all over Southern Europe.

  8. I'm glad you had a great Christmas. I love the tote bag! So fun!

    Those chocolates that you made look delicious. Thanks for the link. I think I might make some of those today.

  9. You got so spoilt, lucky girl!!

  10. Whoa! That's some book stack!! Enjoy!!

  11. OK. I need to know where he got that bag from!!!

  12. yay! I'm so glad you had such a great Christmas! And yay for the ereader. :)

  13. Fun gifts! I especially love the tote, as that's my favorite opening line ever!

  14. What lovely gifts you got there! The suffragette novel sounds very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on it.
    I read Zahra's Paradise earlier this year. It's very good.

    In addition to All Clear I got two vintage nonfiction books about French history. And also a 600 g box of chocolates! :)

  15. Wow, what an impressive haul! The Morning Gift is my favourite Ibbotson - enjoy!

  16. Russians make super-thick hot chocolate too. Yum!

    As far as the ereader goes, you have to check out The search engine isn't great (i.e. searching w both title and author name usually won't turn up the book, so stick with one or the other), but it combines several different sources (inc Project Gutenburg), so it's usually the first place I check.

    As far as bookish things go, I got a gorgeous NYRB edition of The Long Ships (all ready for rereading!), a new library tote bag, and two gift cards. But I'm super, super excited about my non-bookish ones: a Panasonic Lumix LX5 (incredible p&s camera), a pair of tall, waxed canvas LL Bean boots (perfect for outdoorsy tromping of the kind I like to do with Thistle and vegan to boot), and a ruby ring my mom passed on to me that I've loved for years. My parents went way overboard spoiling me!

  17. Wow, you got a lot of awesome gifts! Fabulous pictures, too. :)

    Merry Christmas!

  18. Wow... what a lucky, lucky girl you are! I didn't get any bookish things... but then I wanted an Xbox 360 this year so I've just been given gift tokens towards that.

    I love your bag by the way, adore it.

  19. Wow, they're all lovely gifts!! I love your pics too!!

    Happy holidays, Ana!

  20. Oh my! What a great haul Santa left you! My family refuses to give me books for Christmas, because they don't want to feed what they call "the addiction" but I just p'shaw them and save up all my Christmas money and buy books anyways! My lovely brother always comes through for me though, and gifts me with gift certificates to the bookstore, so the holidays are bookish despite the scrooges!

    I hope that you had a very Merry Christmas, and that you continue to enjoy your holidays. It sounds like your partner loves to spoil you, which is so wonderful :)

  21. Wow, it looks like Santa was very generous with you, but I'm sure it was all well deserved.

  22. It looks like you had a wonderful Christmas, Ana. I'm so excited you received an ereader!

  23. I love your book picture and gifts! Oh, your book bag reminds me I need to go back to that site again. Yaay for Farthing, which I read and loved two years ago :-) I have the sequel now, which i will be reading in 2012.

    Your chocolate pictures look beautiful. And delicious!

    I'm so happy you had a wonderful Christmas, Ana. Merry Christmas to you. I guess a good thing for 2012 would be a job?? I'll wish that for you then :-) hugs from Ottawa!

  24. I'm glad your partner spoiled you, and I am loving ogling all those books and that amazing looking chocolate. ;-) Happy Christmas, Ana!

  25. Holy cow, how did I not know that this girlebooks website existed?! Thank goodness you alerted me to it.

    Also, I got myself Demobbed! I think you reviewed it here, didn't you? It was on super-sale on Amazon, so I went for it. Looking forward to that read. Eventually ;-)

  26. Great presents!
    Since my husband never knows what books I have or not, I usually get book vouchers, which I totally love.

    Regarding ebooks, I wanted to second Eva and say that is a definite site to check, as well as You can also get free books from online book shops such as amazon (but you will have to check if they support the kind of files your ereader uses), (in association with WHSmith), etc. These also have special deals with 'modern' books being sold at 99p! The kind of bargain I find very hard to resist... Amazon also lets you download the first chapter of a book for free so you can check whether you like it or not, and you don't need a reader for this as you can download their software for pc/mac and read it that way too. If you have any queries, feel free to contact me. I love my reader and use it regularly, and it is so useful when travelling. Having said this, I will always prefer paper books and still buy way too many. One doesn't impede the other.

    Enjoy :0)

  27. Glad to see you had a wonderful Christmas! Enjoy all those great gifts!

  28. You did get spoiled! I love that you got the I Capture the Castle tote bag. I love that! I can't wait to hear what you think of reading on your e-reader. I got one for Christmas last year and I've had a hard time adjusting. I just always reach for a "real" book. I've read a few books on it though and it is great, just hard to pick up instead of a regular book.

  29. What a bunch of amazing gifts! Read The Influencing Machine first! You are going to love it!

  30. That IS a beautiful, wonderful bunch of gifts!!! I hope you enjoy your e-reader as much as I've enjoyed mine. I hope it was a lovely, wonderful, relaxing Christmas, and here's to a wonderful new year, Ana!

  31. Welcome to the world of e-readers and Project Gutenberg becoming your best friend! That chocolate looks sooo good.

  32. What a great Christmas! And I really want hot chocolate now so I'm off to make some. :)

  33. Hi Nymeth,

    You have received some great gifts. You are a lucky women: your partner is spoiling you :)

    Happy holidays.

  34. Oooh, I want that totebag! Gorgeous gifts, and it is always nice when someone spoils you :) Glad you had a great Christmas!

    I'm with everyone else -- that chocolate looks amazing. I love the combo of cardamom and chocolate and can only imagine how wonderful that must be! Christmas here was very quiet and lovely, and my dh spoiled me with lots of my favourite chocolate and lots of time together :)

  35. You got some lovely gifts, and the chocolate looks divine, yum

  36. What great christmas gifts! I especially love the cat ornament in the first picture, it's gorgeous!!

    Merry christmas Ana :)

  37. What great gifts! It's so nice when you get completely unexpected gifts, isn't it. Glad you had a lovely Christmas!

  38. Kristi: They're really easy to make too, especially if you use the microwave instead of the stove.

    Yvann: I really did :)

    Pepermint Ph.D.: I will! It will certainly keep me busy for some time.

    Amy: Here :D

    Amy: Thank you again for contributing to my Christmas cheer <3

    Jill: It's a great one, isn't it? I'll carry it around proudly :D

    Tiina: Your review was what put it on my radar, I think! Enjoy All Clear and your history books :)

    Claire: I'm even more excited to read it now that I know that!

    Eva: Many thanks for the recommendation! And ooh, your gifts sound amazing, especially the camera! I've been getting more and more into photography this year and would love to upgrade my meh p&S. Fortunately for me Mathie has a DSLR, which I often steal :P The boots sound awesome too!

    heindekind: Thank you! I hope you had a great Christmas too.

    Fiona: I feel very lucky indeed!

    Melody: Thanks! To you too :)

    Zibilee: That's just cruel - there are far worse addictions, after all ;) I hope you get lots of lovely books with your gift ceriticates!

    Kathy: Aww, thank you! He really was.

    Breena: I'm very excited too! I feel like I've finally joined the future ;)

  39. so much goodness!! I hope your Christmas was wonderful!

  40. Susan: a job is definitely at the top of my list of wishes for 2012. Keep your fingers crossed for me! And very best wishes for you as well :)

    Stephanie: Thank you! The chocolate tastes every bit as good as it looks :D

    Aarti: I'm very happy to have brought you to your attention, then! I didn't read Demobbed, but I read Julie Summers' A Stranger in the House which seems very similar. Looking forward to your thoughts on Demobbed!

    PherenV: Many thanks for the recommendation! I plan to mostly use it for free classics, but I'mm of course keep an eye on those amazing bargains.

    Anna: Thank you! I certainly will.

    Melissa: I've already read one book on it and it was a great experience - I completely forgot what I was using to read and focused entirely on the story. That's pretty much everything I was hoping for.

    Vasilly: I think I will :D

    Andi: Aw, thank you, and the same to you!

    Stefanie: I'm already in love with Gutenberg :D

    Trisha: I hope it was as tasty as the one pictured :D

    Dan: Thank you! Happy Holidays to you too :)

    Melwyk: I didn't even know cardamom chocolate existed, so it was a wonderful surprise! I'm eating it as slowly as possible, as I don't think I can find it here. I'm glad to hear your Christmas was so nice :)

    Violet: It's delicious :D I wish I could let you all taste some.

    Bella: To you too, and all the best in the New Year!

    Joanna: It really is - especially one as lovely as this!

    Staci: It was - I hope yours was too!

  41. Oooo what lovely gifts! I'm rather jealous especially of the I Capture the Castle bag! And The Morning Gift is probably my favourite Ibbotson bok I've read so far :-)

    I also got a kindle for Christmas, looking forward to all those free classics.

  42. Beautiful gifts, Ana! Envy you so much :) I love that 'I Capture the Castle' totebag - that line is one of my favourite first lines from a book. Wonderful to know that you got an e-reader - can't wait to hear about your e-reading adventures. My favourite site for getting free e-books (classics) is this. It is not as extensive as Gutenberg, but this is the first place that I got e-books from, when I first started using the internet and so it has got sentimental value for me :)

  43. Happy belated holidays and congrats on such great swag :)


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