Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Book Haul feat. Ali Smith

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I have been on a book buying ban since August. It was quite impromptu, and the word 'ban' makes it sound way more serious than it actually is, but I decided to stop buying books for a while in order to save both money and space. I have been having one of the worst years for actually sitting down and reading books so it made sense to calm down my buying habits accordingly. 

I have, however, received a few books from publishers in those quiet months. And so, here I am sharing a concise book haul with you. These are the books that graced my doormat, from August to mid November.

autumn ali smith vivatramp book bloggers in the uk

autumn by ali smith* (2016) 
Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the colour-hit of Pop Art [...] Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. 

I haven't had many dealings with Ali Smith in my time as a reader. I have owned, and subsequently donated, The Accidental. Ironically, I accidentally donated it. I own How To Be Both, a book that I received as part of a Christmas gift from Penguin in December 2015, but I've yet to read it.  

Autumn, the first of a seasonal quartet of books, found its way to me without my knowing several months back. The blurb doesn't give anything away so I don't know what to expect plot-wise However, I do know that the novel was met with critical acclaim, including being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and it has been hailed as 'the Brexit novel'. 

winter ali smith book bloggers in the uk vivatramp

winter by ali smith* (2017) 
Winter? Bleak. Frosty wind, earth as iron, water as stone, so the old song goes. The shortest days, the longest nights. The trees are bare and shivering. The summer's leaves? Dead litter. The world shrinks; the sap sinks. But winter makes things visible. And if there's ice, there will be fire. 

Winter, the second book in the quartet, also turned up on my doorstep. The blurb is, again, oblique. Perhaps even more so than the blurb for Autumn?! I mean...Ali...mate...

It'd be appropriate to read the books whilst they're seasonally relevant so I'm going to try my best to do so.

homegoing yaa gyasi book bloggers in the uk vivatramp

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

The eagle-eyed among you will know that I already own a hardback edition of this book. However, as I much prefer paperbacks, I was more than happy to find this unsolicited copy on my doormat one morning. I'll send the hardback copy on to a good home, for sure. 

I'm hoping to get to this book sooner now that it's in a format that I find infinitely more comfortable to read.

lullaby leila slimani book blog vivatramp

lullaby by leila slimani * (2018) 
When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamt they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family's chic apartment in Paris's upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties. The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul's idyllic tableau is shattered...

Lullaby, despite its 2018 release date, has enveloped Book Twitter in recent weeks. This novel sounds incredibly dark but I'm intrigued, nonetheless. 

uncommon type tom hanks book blog vivatramp

uncommon type by tom hANKS* (2017) 
A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in NYC after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country's civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game - and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN's newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in the first collection of his short stories. 

I read one of Hanks' stories in the NY Times, many moons ago, but I've no real idea of what to expect from this collection. I find that I can be quite fussy when it comes to short stories so this could go one of two ways. I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt, mostly because I love David S. Pumpkins.

Any questions?!

book haul vivatramp book bloggers uk

Wreck This Journal had a simple premise: destroy the book in all the ways you can imagine. The Line is even simpler: find pencil, start a line. As you move through the pages of Keri Smith's newest book, you'll be asked to let your line meander, explore the book's gutter, and jump around the edges of the pages. You'll hide your line, cut your line and even let someone else take over your line for a bit. The farther you get into the book, however, the more you'll discover that maybe things aren't as simple as they first seemed. The line has a mind of its own, and it's up to you to discover what's at the end of the line (hint: it's just the beginning).

The Line isn't a book, per se, but I'm including it here because I have the power to do so. Suck it. 

I used to really enjoy working on my Wreck This Journal and I'm interested to see whether I get the same creative vibes from a workbook that is essentially telling me to draw a line! I think I'll dedicate a post to the experience. 

That's us caught up on all of the books that have graced the doormat over the past few months! Let me know what you've been buying recently and don't forget to subscribe via Bloglovin if you'd like to be notified of future posts. 

Catch up on my book blog posts. Or flick through just my book hauls instead. Or, if you're inspired by my ban, check out my post on how to survive a book buying ban.


The books marked with an (*) were sent to me by the publisher for consideration. 

Thursday, 9 November 2017

My Favourite Things 10

lifestyle blogs in the uk vivatramp monthly favourites

October was a month. Not the easiest, granted.

It did, however, still come with favourite moments and things. Small mercies.

cherry glazerr favourites blog vivatramp

Spotify informed me of Cherry Glazerr's latest album, Apocalipstick, a few months back and I'm glad it did. Apocalipstick sounds like Sleater-Kinney if they reincarnated into purveyors of guitar-based dream pop. Trash People is my go-to track.

A nice album to throw on in the background whilst you do the dishes or something equally monotonous. 

monthly favourites blog uk vivatramp thor ragnarok review

Here's the thing, I care very little for Thor and care even less about the first two Thor films. I do, however, absolutely adore Taika Waititi. When I heard that he had taken the reigns of the latest installment in the MCU, I decided I would pay the £4 cinema ticket. Ragnarok was colorful, infused with Waititi's trademark comedy, and injected some much-needed fun back into Thor's arc. Korg is life.

Watch 'What We Do In The Shadows', 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' and then head out to the cinema to catch Ragnarok. 

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Autumn is well and truly here so I've cracked out the seasonal depression and my favourite Colourpop eyeshadow. Cruelty free, highly pigmented, and a big statement, Sequin is an essential in my make-up bag. It's stunning! 

I'm hoping Colourpop treat us to another free international shipping code soon because I'm going to need some more shadows to see me through this cold spell.

stranger things 2 review blog favourites vivatramp

Holy shit, pals! That is how you up your game. From vengeful city gangs to unexpected partnerships, from Lucas' amazing little sister to the new mullet in town, the latest season delivered in spades.

We binged it in the space of two evenings. Roll on season 3...

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This particular Sunday was all about coastal woodland walks, visiting the sea, Poppy photoshoots, and chip shop chips in the park. 

It was much-needed even though I was absolutely exhausted by the end of it. 

Two of my Twitter pals, Bethany and Alice, started a bookish podcast called What Page Are You On? earlier this year. They've covered books with fat protagonists, contemporary true crime, adaptations, and last month they tackled ghost stories! I could listen to them discuss books for eternity. This episode is worth it solely for the sound effects...

Pop the podcast on in the background but make sure you have a notepad and pen at the ready. You're bound to purchase at least one book post-listen. 

super mariokart 8 blog uk vivatramp monthly favourites video games

Mariokart is a true blessing! A gift from the heavens. It was fun back then and it is still fun now. 

The cause of many a screaming match in this house on a Friday evening, we adore this game. We just need to save up for two more Switch controllers and then all four of us can battle it out.

monthly favourites blog vivatramp
As I alluded to in the introduction, I found October really hard. 

I'm more than thankful for finding the other side, however gradual. 

landscape artist of the year creative bloggers vivatramp

Bake Off but with art, Lanscape Artist of the Year, on Sky Arts channel, is like visual morphine to me. Each week, a different set of competitors have four or so hours to capture a landscape and we get to watch the process. 

I love listening to people discuss their creative process and I also love listening to people pull different things from one piece of work so this is totally my bag. I love how diverse the styles and artists are too! If you have access to Sky Arts, I highly recommend giving it a watch. 


Nu-rave, and the psychedelic indie that was born from that era, has been over for around a decade so, naturally, I've decided to regress back into it. A few weeks ago, I got the urge to listen to the Holy Ghost remix of Of Moons, Birds and Monsters, and since then I've had Oracular Spectacular on repeat. This is a hugely nostalgic album for me, to the point where I can't hear the opening bars of Kids without kind of wanting to cry?! Goodbye, youth.

A great album that still sounds relevant a decade later. Perfect nostalgia listening. 

•  these photographs 
•  Paige did craftober for the whole of October - there are loads of DIYs to check out
•  my bff Lyzi shared a guide to Manchester
•  Dan's video on his experience with depression was informative and v helpful to the youth
•  to celebrate Downs Syndrome Awareness Month, Angela & CR shared a Q & A on adopting a child with DS
•  Alex & Gorka's jive was incredibleeeeeeeeeeee
•  Ingrid's 28 things I'd tell my younger self were interesting
•  Sarah's acoustic version of Only You has been on repeat for a week or more
•  an ode to broken spines by Ariel
•  Toni has recently started a bookstagram account. she goes to lots of book events, etc. check it out!
•  Rosie wrote about being newly single in her 30's
•  Kathleen wrote a post in response to the men that message her telling her it isn't ladylike to discuss bowels...
•  loving these nano ponds
•  i sent shittyflute a request on twitter and they made it for me!
go and fund shona's new powerchair so she isn't housebound. thank you!

•  my September favourites 
•  monthly things that make me happy list

Onwards and upwards, Beeble. November will be better.

I've been sharing my monthly favourites since the beginning of the year and you can flick back through them if you so wish.


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Things That Make Me Happy 76


just like heaven by the cure
stevie wonder
forked lightning 
trips to the bakery 

(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.



Wednesday, 25 October 2017

How To Organise Your Autumn & Winter To Be Read Pile

how to organise your autumn and winter reading

I may not be one of those people that sails through autumn and winter without a lull in their mood but I do appreciate the excellent reading conditions that the seasons afford. I'm all for reasons to wrap myself up in my blanket burrito. 

Since I've spent the past week or so trying to determine what I want to read, I figured I'd procrastinate and share a selection of tips on how to organise your autumn and winter to be read pile. 


We all have a certain genre or series that we return to when we want to feel at 'home' and the colder months offer the perfect conditions for calling upon blankets and picking out something warming to read. 

Comfort reading can mean different things to different readers. For some, it might mean reading a book that fills them with nostalgia for bygone winters and for others it may mean re-reading the book with all of the pages that fall out because it has been read so many times. Find books that make you feel cosy and comfortable and keep them near.

A lot of readers tend to put off lengthier books because they're a big commitment and nobody got time for that. However, life slows down ever so slightly during autumn and winter and it seems more acceptable to let your reading follow suit. Read a chapter or so per night and you'll soon work your way through them. 

Halloween is a big deal for some readers but spoopy reading can, again, come in many different guises. Round up your Agatha Christie's and the like for comforting teatime-telly murder mysteries or break the spine of your favourite contemporary 'reminiscent of Gone Girl' blurbed thriller and lose a few hours between the pages. Make sure you leave all the lights on if, like me, you get a little too involved. 

Treat yourself to a re-read of your favourite well-thumbed books. It's nearly Christmas, after all. 

There's something about the festive period, with the bustle of family members and mismatched seating, that makes me want to read the stories of other families from generation to generation. Find a book on your to be read pile that spans many decades, or takes place many years ago, and get immersed. For historical fiction, I recommend Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters.

Classics thrive during the later months of the year! I'm talking lengthy Victorian novels that take ten pages to describe the buttons on the protagonist's jacket, slices of Gothic literature packed full of spirits and madwomen in the attic, and sprawling tales of smuggling on the moors. Classics, particularly the dark and looming ones, are the stodgy steamed pudding of literature and I love to indulge in them every now and then. 

During the second half of the year, I tend to get reflective and start thinking about my life and where it's headed. I then procrastinate. The best way to procrastinate from making actual big life decisions is to read about someone's else's life through a memoir or collection of personal essays! I'd highly recommend Patti Smith's memoir, Just Kids, for that sort of thing, or Olivia Laing's The Lonely City. 

Inspired by one of the prompts for Mercedes' autumn readathon, you could pick up a book set in a cold place. Be if fiction or non-fiction. There's no way you're going to want to read something set in a freezing cold cabin when you're sunning yourself in July so you may as well read it now. 


The autumn term has well and truly kicked in, for students and teachers, so what better way to celebrate than by reading a campus novel?!  I haven't read many, granted, but the first one that comes to mind is The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which I read a few years back.

Hope for the future?! Pfft, that's a thing of the past. Round up a selection of bleak dystopia and get ready for the year ahead. Make time for some good old science fiction, passages from post-apocalyptic hellscapes and worlds that actually don't feel too far off our very own right now. Happy holidays!

So that's my advice on how to organise your autumn and winter to be read pile. I have a general how to organise your reading post if you're looking for more organisational tips too! God, I'm so helpful.

If you're after some more book-related posts you can find a ton in my archives.


Saturday, 21 October 2017

Autumn & Winter Manifesto 2017

converse uk lifestyle blog vivatramp

this autumn and winter, i will:

take poppy to the woods 
not lose my head

take an obligatory feet-in-leaves photograph 
read a handful of cosy reads

light the seasonal candles 
finish what I've started 

create a seasonal playlist for the evenings
make the house more of a home

make a new recipe or two 
find the words 

take care
try a new country pub 

go on a photo walk 
jump in head first

look for some seasonal secondhand clothes 
write some personalised poetry 

work hard 
embrace the quiet moments 

trust in my abilities 
switch off when I need to 

be more present 
use up film 

finish the jar of chai 
watch elf for the millionth time, just because 

look for secondhand furniture 
roast even more root veg, as if I haven't already roasted enough

try, try, try 
and believe in more

I write lots of lists. Read my list of things I love about autumn.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

How To Get Out Of A Writing Slump

how to get out of a writing slump blog advice vivatramp uk lifestyle blog vivatramp

I was walking Poppy this morning, pj's on and parka zipped right up to my nose, when my brain got to thinking about the current creative fog that I find myself in and the possible ways that I could troubleshoot myself out of it. A few years ago, I shared advice on how to get out of a reading slump and, with my own current struggles in mind, I thought it was time that I shared tips on how to get out of a writing slump. 

These tips aren't one size fits all, sure, but there's hopefully something here to help you work your way out of whatever creative black hole that you find yourself in.


I have spoken a few times about keeping a notebook for inspiration when writing, or when preparing to write, and I think during slumps is where the notebook really comes into its own. Think of it as a creative bible that you can consult in times of great need. Fill it with snippets of ideas or other people's ideas that you enjoy or simply just fill it with words that you might quite like to use in a future piece. Flip through the pages when you're feeling a creative drought and you'll hopefully find something to use. Allow yourself to keep a messy notebook and you may reap the rewards.

Writing prompts can be an excellent way of exercising the creative part of your brain and, best of all, the results of these prompts don't even have to go anywhere. I have a whole host of word, sentence and image prompts on the blog if you're looking for some inspiration. 

Alternatively, you could write some book spine poetry or twitter fiction or some blackout poetry to get you in the mood. There are loads of fun writing exercises to warm you up. And, like I said, these exercises don't have to directly inspire your next piece of work. They can just be used to take creative thought for a walk. 

Take some inspiration from the idea of writing morning pages and jot down everything that comes into your head there and then, be it random slices of creative work or your next shopping list. This stuff doesn't have to be good or interesting or even relevant. It can be an exercise in putting pen to paper, or finger to key, again. 

Every project starts somewhere. Create a pin board, virtual or otherwise, for images or snippets of things that capture your imagination or match the vibes of your proposed piece. I have my own, albeit secret, Pinterest board where I pin images that I'd like to return to in the future. This is particularly useful if you're a visual learner. 

Read something. Watch something. Go for a walk*. Use this slump as time to gain inspiration from things. Don't just stick to your old faithfuls either. Switch it up and you may be amazed by the results. Whilst you're doing these other things, and consuming different types of media or content, pull them apart and work out what draws you to them. Consult my post on how to annotate books for more info!  

*If you choose to go for a walk, why not record yourself as you wander about?! Whenever I clean my bookshelves, I set up the voice recorder on my phone and chat ideas into existence. The quieter moments can often be the most lucrative for productive thought. Listen back and see if anything is of substance. 

Use the non-writing time as research time. Head to the library. Scroll through Google. Dig deeper if you have an existing idea that needs more flesh. Or, alternatively, search out a topic that's of interest to you if you haven't a clue what you're intending to write about next.  

Profile an element of your project through scribbled notes. By honing in on one aspect of your piece, your brain isn't going to feel too overwhelmed and will instead compute things in stages. Write a gingerbread character study a la Year 11 drama class or scribble a list of places of interest with regards to the setting of your piece. Creative ideas aren't born polished so it's okay if they're developed via scribbles on scrap paper. 

Create building blocks for your creativity to cling to.  

If you have a sliver of something, be it a title or a paragraph or a passing idea for something, why not share what you do have with a friend? Ask them to workshop it for you and provide feedback. Their comments may give you another burst of energy to go forward with. As I said in my tips for studying a creative writing degree post, workshopping can be hugely useful even though it seems incredibly daunting. It can often change the face of a project so it's so worth doing.

Start a Wreck This Journal, go for a photo walk, do a spot of painting or lose an hour or so to gardening. Play around. Use your hands. Let the embers rise into an idea for something written. 

Do other things for a while. Come back with what you now know. Accept that sometimes your brain is actively telling you to take a backseat. Rest. Come back in minutes, hours, days, weeks, with a new head.

Hopefully you're now clued up on how to get out of a writing slump. It's never easy when your creative brain just doesn't want to co-operate so go easy on yourself. Get some rest, take care and then come back to it. It's okay to take breaks and it's okay to need them too. 

If you're looking for more advice or more creative posts, you're in the right place as there's plenty in the Vivatramp archive.


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