Saturday, 17 December 2016

5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Readers

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I mentioned this the other day, whilst discussing things that make me happy, but boy do I love gift giving! In the spirit of sharing said passion, I've put together 5 Christmas gift ideas for readers because sometimes it's not as easy as picking a book off their wishlist. 

These bookish gift ideas can, of course, be used for birthdays and similar celebratory occasions or, failing that, you could just go all out and treat yourself because you are a precious flower and you deserve it. 



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 an edit of your favourite reads of the year 

This is a really easy way to make buying a book for someone a little more personal and sentimental. Browse through your top rated books of the year, or the past few years, and put together a little edit for the recipient. As a nice touch, include a little explanation as to why you've decided to gift them each title and what it is about said books that made you fall head over heels for them. Once the recipient has read it, you can then look forward to a conversation about what you both thought! This, of course, works best if you share similar reading tastes.

I've bought one of my best friends a copy of Tipping The Velvet, a favourite of mine from this year, and another friend a copy of Submarine, a favourite from a few years back that I've bought for quite a few people, in the hope that they'll love them as much as I do! Fingers crossed! 


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 a marked up buddy read
This is particularly good if you don't live local to one another yet want to embrace that cosy book club kind of vibe. Pick a book that you think you will both enjoy and begin marking it up. Underline lines that resonate with you, fold over significant pages or make notes in the margin. The idea is to document your reading experience on the page. 

When you're done, gather together some page markers and a cute pencil set and wrap it all up. The recipient then not only receives a new-to-them book but also gets a ton of insight into your experience of reading the book too. They can then make their own observations alongside yours. This is something that I definitely want to do more of over the next year! 

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 a bookish night in box 

Create a 'bookish night in box' for them to call upon when they're in need of some TLC. Throw in an immersive read, a bookish scented candle, a teabag or some excellent coffee, snacks, a fancy new book, some cosy loungewear or a face mask. Package it all up nicely with a tag declaring it the ingredients for a perfect bookish night in and they'll be grinning from ear to ear. This is also hygge af! 

Please can we have a minutes silence to acknowledge me being even vaguely on trend or relevant. Thank you.

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 a bookshop crawl, experience or retreat 

If you've exhausted the previous gift ideas for readers, why not think about taking them on a bookshop crawl? Set a budget and go on a crawl of all the bookshops in your local area, complete with a stop for cake because duh. In the past, I've taken best friends to the local £1 secondhand bookshop and told them to buy whatever they wanted. My generosity will kill me one day, I know. It's fun to see them scurry about the aisles and you both get a fun afternoon out of it. If you're really keen, you could draw up a map of the crawl route that you intend to take on a cool map or something. Have fun! 

 Alternatively, you could book them in for a bookish reading experience. Bookshops often hold book talks or signings with authors that can be really fun to attend. Otherwise, you could get them a bookish experience. For instance, the wonderful people at Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath hold 'reading spas' where you can go along and talk books with a bookseller who will then handpick a selection of titles that they believe you'll fall in love with. In a similar vain, why not subscribe them to a bookish subscription service? Find them on places like notonthehighstreet or make one of your own! Moth Box is also a cool new subscription service that serves up books from independent publishers to your doorstep every so often. 

If you've got a bit more cash to spend, you may want to treat your reader to a bookish retreat! You could bundle them into the car and find somewhere to hole up with a pile of books for a few days or you could visit a place that has connections with a certain author or series of books. I would highly recommend trailing around Greenway if you're a fan of Agatha Christie! 

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 their favourite book in a stunning edition 
Publishers have cottoned on to the fact that readers love nothing more than a beautiful book cover. There are so many beautiful editions to choose from these days that it's becoming commonplace for me to own several editions of one book! 

You've got Folio Society for all your luxe hardback needs, the new Vintage Books Woolf collection for abstract vibes, eclectic Penguin Essentials covers, pastel Roads Classics, and many more. My top tip for always finding the best edition of a book is to look it up on Goodreads and trawl through all of the listed editions until you find something that stands out. Browse my post on beautiful books for further inspo!

And there we have it, 5 gift ideas for readers! If you'd like to share some of your own, feel free. Regardless, I hope these bookish gift ideas are of some use to you. I'm off to catch up with one of my best friends for a few hours!



WANT MORE?
Check out my other BOOK POSTS or my stationery gift guide

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Thursday, 15 December 2016

Things That Make Me Happy 65

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seeing my work published
healing and getting stronger
best friend traditions
hotel stays
knowing good days will always come

(photo credit)


I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can scroll through the archive.


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Saturday, 3 December 2016

Book Reviews ft. Daphne Du Maurier & Brian K. Vaughan

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During November, I read a book by one of my favourite authors and a recently hauled trade paperback. A very quiet reading month but a happy one, nonethless!

my cousin rachel by daphne du maurier 
FINISHED: 10/11/16 | PAGES: 335 | ISBN: 1844080404
Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will come to love his grand house as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two have constructed is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries - and there he dies suddenly. In almost no time at all, the new widow - Philip's cousin Rachel - turns up in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious woman like a moth to a flame. And yet...might she have had a hand in Ambrose's death?

As with most Du Maurier, a sense of unease permeates the novel and it's driven by a delicious subtext concerned with authority and the male gaze that I cannot help but be in awe of as it wasn't commonplace to query such things so boldly back then. 

It may not have gripped me as much as the other Du Maurier's that I've read (Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and Frenchman's Creek) but that's not to say that this novel doesn't ooze elegance and skill because it really does. Cousin Rachel will be a character that I will think of for years to come. Don't make this your first Du Maurier but do give it a read.


RATING: 

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PAPER GIRLS vol. 1 BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN AND CLIFF CHIANG

FINISHED: 02/11/16 | PAGES: 144 | ISBN: 1632156741
In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood. 

A throwback girl gang adventure from the creator of Saga that features time travel.What's not to love?! As I said in my book haul, if you're pining for Stranger Things then this'll fill that void. Batshit and badass, Paper Girls has Vaughan's stamp all over it with its fast-paced action and quick-witted humour. The story quickly descends into madness and calamity and I was more than happy to embrace it.

The artwork complemented the story perfectly with a stunning colour palette and panels that I would gladly paste my walls with.I've added the next one to my Christmas wishlist. I have too many unanswered questions!

RATING: 

If you'd like to scroll through all of my book blog posts then you can. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book reviews instead. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy the books through the links I've provided, I'll earn a 5% commission which will be put back into the blog.

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Stationery Gift Ideas

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I've decided to bring you a few gift ideas from Chronicle Books for those that love list writing, reading, writing and planning. A couple of these were given to me as gifts and I for one loved them so they have my seal of approval which, admittedly, counts for shit all but they've got them anyway!


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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Book Haul feat. Patricia Highsmith & Colson Whitehead

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In November, I picked up a recent Oprah-approved release, a timely graphic novel, a Booktube favourite and a piece of queer lit. 


I have only read one of the following titles so far, that being Paper Girls, so if you think I should read any of the others sooner rather than later please do state your case and I will carefully consider your plea. 




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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Things I Like About Autumn

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these are the things that I like about autumn,  this year at least:


1 falling out of the pub of a sunday, with my dad and the cub, full of food and empty of conversation. a weekly tradition that just seems to feel even more comforting during the colder months.

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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Book Reviews feat. Michel Faber & Sarah Waters

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During October, I flipped through a couple of stunning picture books, was disappointed by a previous 5 star author and gave another two books top marks! 

Was your reading month successful? Are there any books that you'd like to recommend to everyone? Lets have a chat in the comments because there is nothing more important than chatting about books at length, let's be honest. 



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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Project Unplug 1

So, here's the thing, my phone is pretty much glued to my hand or side at all times. I am rarely without it. 

And whilst I don't subscribe to the Black Mirror style #makeuthink mentality, I would like to work on how to use my phone less as I'm finding my scrolling these days to be entirely mindless, disruptive and time-consuming. I've decided to tackle it head on with a self-devised 5 week plan that I'm calling PROJECT UNPLUG. Am I having some sort of early midlife crisis?! Perhaps. 

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photo credit: pavan trikutam

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? 

Over the next five months or so, I'm going to set myself little challenges, inspired by the five following 'problem areas', in order to spend less of my time watching videos of raccoons. 


I'm going to take you along with me in the hope that I can hand out some good old fashioned unsolicited advice because if there's one thing that bloggers are good at it's giving unsolicited advice!


the problem areas


I've sat down and made a list of the times of day or instances where I find my phone usage to be the biggest pain in the ass. I'll tackle each one separately over the coming months, documenting my experiences and sharing my tips. What larks!


1. my morning routine

My days usually begin with me scrolling through Twitter and Instagram to 'catch up' on everyone's morning updates as soon as I've turned my alarm off. I want to try and work on reducing the urge to go straight for a screen and instead spend my time getting ready for the day because I highly doubt anyone is going to share their magnum opus before lunchtime.

2. my nighttime ROUTINE

I have always struggled with my sleep, to the point where I'm 99.9% sure that I'm nocturnal, and the time that I spend on my phone underneath the covers after dark probably doesn't help whatsoever. I want to get back into my routine of reading at least a chapter of my book before bed instead. 

3. daytime social scrolling

Whenever I get a notification, I find myself then jumping around my various social media platforms in the middle of the day when I should be doing more productive things. This should be easy enough to tackle...she says.

4. viewing

I always find myself grabbing for my phone whilst watching a film or an episode of a TV show, even if I'm enjoying it, and I'm not even sure why! This is a habit that I definitely want to work on and get rid of entirely.

5. out and about

For the past few years,  I have taken to holding my phone in my hand whilst I'm out instead of popping it in my bag and that's not the best idea I've ever had. I need to stop that, really.


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PHOTO CREDIT: freestocks


WHAT DO I HOPE TO ACHIEVE?


I think my main goal is to feel less attached to my phone and then, in the time that I have hopefully saved, I would love to write more and read more and just do things with a lot more awareness and intent. Wish me luck!



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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Book Haul feat. Shirley Jackson

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Quite a lot of new-to-me books passed over my doorstep during the last two months, including a short story collection from an author I've been meaning to read more from and a contemporary take on the classic paper doll books that I would've begged my Grandma to buy me from the shop when I was younger. 

Do let me know if you've read and enjoyed the following books as I'd love to know what you guys thought! Enjoy...


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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Try A Chapter Book Tag feat. Michel Faber and Ottessa Moshfegh

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My first attempt at the Try A Chapter book tag went pretty well, in that I read half of the books and also happened to enjoy myself, so I thought I'd return and give it another shot. 

As before, I have picked 4 unread books from my shelves and over the course of this post I will read a chapter of each in order to determine what to read next. 

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eileen
ottessa moshfegh
A lonely young woman working in a boys' prison outside Boston in the early 60s is pulled into a very strange crime, in a mordant, harrowing story of obsession and suspense, by one of the brightest new voices in fiction.

Ever trying to be hip and happening, and failing miserably because I use phrases such as 'hip and happening', I decided to try a current Man Booker Prize shortlister! 



In the first chapter, we are introduced to Eileen, a woman who works at a boys' prison, who is living with her alcoholic Father. Whilst the chapter is quite short, I've come to understand that there won't be sunshine and roses where this tale is concerned and I'm a-okay with that! Eileen isn't a character that I forsee liking at all but that's not something that particular bothers me as a reader as I don't need to like characters to appreciate them or their story. Her life has been difficult, is difficult and, it would seem, will continue to be difficult, and the chapter ends on a line that entirely draws me in and makes me want to find out more. 

I do really want to read this whilst it is still quite current and my desire to find out whether or not Eileen broke from her difficult beginnings means that I will probably read it soon. I'm really enjoying reading women written by women at the moment so this could be a real contender. However, it is early days...



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the book of strange new things

michel faber
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea.  Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment [...] But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate [...] Their trials lay bare a profound meditation
 on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us. 

The first chapter of this novel follows a couple, Peter and Bea, as they are about to be separated at the airport by more than just a short plane ride. 


As I discovered when I read Under The Skin, Faber is a wonderful storyteller who seemingly knows how to write great characters and dialogue so this chapter fills me with hope. I am already emotionally invested within 24 pages and I could very easily continue to read on right away as the pacing is just right. 


This book is a bit chunky but the promise of well-written world building and character development is enough to make me want to continue on straight away. I think the fact that I have already read and loved something by Faber makes me more inclined to put this at the top of my TBR so this could be the one



tipping the velvet sarah waters


tipping the velvet
sarah waters
Nan King, an oyster girl, is captivated by the music hall phenomenon Kitty Butler, a male impersonator extraordinare treading the boards in Canterbury. Through a friend at the box office, Nan manages to visit all her shows and finally meet her heroine. Soon after, she becomes Kitty's dresser and the two head for the bright lights of Leicester Square where they begin a glittering career as music-hall stars in an all-singing and dancing double act...

I featured The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters in my last Try A Chapter post and I went on to finish it and absolutely love it, so I thought I'd try out her debut novel which came on recommendation from Twitter. 


I am so ready for some queer romance and within the first chapter I already feel myself being totally swept along with Nan and her feelings for music hall star Kitty Butler. Waters is one of those storytellers who captures even the most intricate of details and so it felt as if I were at the Astley's oyster parlour and the snug little box at the theatre with the characters. If you're after immersive novels, she certainly writes them. 


Waters captured the giddy first throws of falling for someone perfectly in these 28 pages and I imagine she'll do a stellar job of that throughout the rest of the novel. I think I could tell that this was her debut because it felt a little less assured but, in a way, that felt quite exciting! No matter what I choose to read first, this will be read within the month. I can guarantee that. Waters could definitely become one of my favourite authors...



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wuthering heights

emily bronte
Wuthering Heights is the tale of two families both joined and riven by love and hate. Cathy is a beautiful and wilful young woman torn between her soft-hearted husband and Heathcliff, the passionate and resentful man who has loved her since childhood. The power of their bond creates a maelstrom of cruelty and violence which will leave one of them dead and cast a shadow over the lives of their children.

As someone who has studied literature to an undergraduate degree level, it's some small miracle that this classic escaped me in all my years of study but it very much did. I haven't read a classic in a long while so I thought it might be quite refreshing to pick one up for this challenge.

It was a very short chapter so I can't really tell you too much about it plot-wise but I was introduced to the formidable Heathcliff who is much-referenced in popular culture.  Did I love it as much as I love the Kate Bush song of the same name? No, but then there aren't many more things that I do love more than that so that's perhaps an unfair comparison to make. 


Whilst the promise of dark moors and Gothic tension does interest me, I don't feel compelled to continue reading straight away because it didn't really give me enough to go on. I will read this in time but for now I've got other plans. 



And so, it looks like I'm going to read The Book of Strange New Things next! It's longer than my usual fare but that's the great thing about this challenge. I love how this process enables me to pick up books that I know I want to read but, for whatever reason, I am putting off. I would thoroughly recommend this exercise to anyone that is struggling to pick a new book to read or if you have a ton of books that you too have been putting off for whatever reason. It's also ridiculously fun. 



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[EDIT: since writing this post I have gone on to finish The Book of Strange New Things, Eileen and Tipping The Velvet. I have already posted my review of Eileen. My reviews for The Book of Strange New Things and Tipping The Velvet will be up next month. I happened to absolutely love one and felt lukewarm towards the other...See! This tag genuinely helps!


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