Saturday, 25 February 2017

My Favourite Things 2

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As I mentioned last month, I've decided to dedicate some space over here to my favourite things...mainly because everyone ~irl~ finds me tiresome but also because I enjoy these sorts of videos and blog posts myself.  

In February, I was coveting some exciting news, a relatively new TV show, and the resurrection of my social life, amongst many other things. If you also enjoy any of the following things, or if you've got some recommendations for me, have a little chat with me in the comments. You won't, I know, but I'll be there lost in the silent void regardless. 

Here are my favourite things during the month of February...

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GREEK YOGHURT WITH HONEY 
Whoa, calm down Bee! PLAIN YOGHURT?! Wild. Yes, I am including plain yoghurt in a favourites post. I don't get out much, alright?! But seriously, this stuff is great - particularly as I'm currently trying to feed my body lots of protein (that I can actually eat despite my allergies) in order to help heal post-op. Yes, I'm still healing a billion months down the line! Yoghurt is supposedly great for IBD and it makes a great addition to breakfasts or as a snack throughout the day. If you're the PR for Greek yoghurt, I imagine there's an overarching dairy overlord, please get in touch... 

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GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS
A little book that is so new to my bookshelves that I haven't even had the opportunity to feature it in a book haul or a book review post yet! However, I enjoyed the reading experience so much that I just had to include it here. I happened to crawl into bed a couple of nights ago with the desire to read something from cover to cover and that's where my love for this hybrid novella began. I won't review it too much here because I plan on making a shoddy job of that in my book reviews post in a couple of weeks but I will say...this was really quite something. 

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OUR TRIP TO YORK
Our anniversary trip to York was a real highlight during February. Favourite bits? Getting a bit tiddly on cocktails, browsing the many bookshops, the fluffy pancakes and Luke falling in love with York too! If you're interested in visiting, check out my guide to York for some things to do, food & drink recommendations as well as some suggestions for shops to peruse. The little break away was just what we needed!



WESTWORLD
I had been watching one episode of Westworld a week with my Dad since it was first released but, in all honesty, I got a little bit sick of waiting so long between each viewing so I went ahead and finished the season by myself! I'm not very good at summarising things so here's the IMDB write up of what this show entails: A Western-themed futuristic theme park, populated with artificial intelligence, allows high-paying guests to live out their fantasies with no consequences or retaliation from the android hosts, until now. From the twists and turns of the plot, to the stellar acting of actors such as Thandie Newton, I found this show completely enthralling. I'm really looking forward to the next season! 

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DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY
At the start of the month, Luke's Mum had a big party to celebrate her birthday and her retirement. There was a buffet, a band and a disco and a reason to dust off my flatforms. What more could I want?! I had such a good night dancing to Abba and Stevie Wonder, etc, with my family and we have a fair few stories from the night to re-tell for years to come. It felt good to have a night out, still within my own limits, sure, but it was just what I needed.


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BLUSH PINK WARDROBE ADDITIONS
It ain't no secret that I love me some rosey blush tones so it's no surprise that I added a couple of items of that shade to my wardrobe in February. I think I'm going to get a lot of wear out of these pieces, especially during spring and summer! 

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PRETTY FUNNY
Carrie Fletcher shared a cover of Pretty Funny, from the off-Broadway musical Dogfight, and it reminded me of how delicate and beautiful it is. The play is set in 1963, the night before a group of young guys are shipped to Vietnam. To entertain themselves, the guys play a game called 'Dogfight' where they all invite a woman to a party and whoever brings the 'ugliest' wins a prize. 'Birdlace' Eddie brings a woman he finds at a coffee shop named Rose and she's really happy to be invited out by a guy, even begins to like him, but she soon comes to realise that she has been stitched up. Hurt, she heads back home. However, this is around the same time that Birdlace realises that she has begun to really like Rose. 

Pretty Funny is the song that follows on from Rose realising that she has been invited to this 'Dogfight' by the disingenuous Eddie. She is hurting, badly. Mendez, the original Rose who then went on to play Elphaba on Broadway, sings the song with such vulnerability and feeling! It is stunning. Give it a listen!

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SMOKED SALMON AND EGGS
As I said, I've been on a protein kick over the past few weeks and this dish also ticks that box. I really like smoked salmon and scrambled eggs but this month, for some reason, I have gone mad for them. You would think I'd get bored but nope! I tend to slice the salmon up,  pop it in with the eggs, either make it a looser consistency like the French or with meatier chunks like the Americans, before serving it up on some buttery toast. Beautiful! ...I need to get a life. 

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DAME ANGELA CONFIRMED FOR MARY POPPINS
If you know me well, you will know that I am a certified Fansbury - aka a member of the Dame Angela Lansbury fandom. I love her, always have and always will. It's that sort of embarrassing love for someone where you cry at just the thought of them being an actual human that walks the same Earth as you, y'know?! ...I'm well aware of how strange I sound rn. I'm just going to own it!

There have been rumours about her next move for around a year or so, with some slating her for a Game of Thrones role, but this month she has finally been confirmed for the new Mary Poppins re-make. Pals, I am beside myself! Mary Poppins and Angela Lansbury were two big elements of my childhood and I cannot wait. What a woman!

I watch an absolute shit ton of booktube and, in my opinion, Sophie's channel is one of the nicest out there. I instantly warm to people that are ridiculously passionate about the things that they love and Sophie shares the same intense passion for books as me! If you like your historical fiction or literary fiction, in general, I'm sure you'll also love her channel. She's currently uploading a series of haul videos following a trip to a book fair so make sure you catch up with those before the next installments. Check the channel out and leave some love for her in the comments! She is a good egg. 


+ A FEW ARTICLES...
• Alice's list of her favourite thrillers
• 12 Black Writers and Poets You Must Read This Year
• Rosie's beautiful piece of creative non-fiction, entitled We Are Made Of Star Stuff
• 34 Books by Women of Colour to Read This Year
• La La Land told through Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Emotion' (this article is so me!)


+ FEBRUARY BLOG POSTS
• melt: a poem
• book haul feat. lots of books!
• some more creative prompts 
• some more book reviews & a tbr 
• a guide to york: things to do, food/drink & shopping 


And those a few of my favourite things at the moment. What are you coveting of late? I love putting these posts together. I'm all about sharing stuff  that I love. I'm looking forward to doing it more often! If you'd like to keep up, you can scroll through all of my favourite things.


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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

crossbones: a flashfiction

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CROSSBONES
I re-imagined the room with red, smashing his sweet skull with the lamp that we had bought that golden summer; memories illuminated in the half light. 
This is another piece of 140 character fiction that I wrote a couple of years back. All of my flash fiction is dark, I dunno why. I have shared a post on how to write Twitter fiction if you're interested in writing some yourself. I'd really recommend having a go. Call upon my creative prompts if you're looking for topics to base one on. If you liked this piece, why not read some more of my creative writing? My poems are a bit happier.

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Monday, 20 February 2017

A Guide To York: things to do, places to eat & shopping

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After falling in love with York during a trip in early 2016, where I accompanied Lyzi to the York Literature Festival, I thought it would be nice to return a year later with Luke in tow and use it as a base for our 7 year anniversary celebrations. I say 'celebrations' - all we wanted to do was eat lots of food and desperately try and make each other laugh by being gross and ridiculous. We weren't after much. Luckily for us, we did both.

Luke and I traveled from Somerset to York by Cross Country trains which took around 5 hours so we had plenty of time to chat, read, play Pokémon, and eat our little train picnics. After what felt like a lifetime, we finally made it to York station before walking across the city to our hotel. 

We then spent the next 4 days, and 3 nights, eating lots of good food, marveling at the old architecture, frequenting independent shops and drinking cocktails. Bliss! As I've been a couple of times now, I thought I'd put together a little guide to York in order to help you get the best out of your very own trip.

I will warn you, this is a long one. Grab yourself a drink and a snack and find some matches to hold your eyes open.
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Things That Make Me Happy 67

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cabins as a setting 
haircuts at home
relaying anecdotes, time and time again
crabbing in padstow
messing about in boats

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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, 11 February 2017

Book Review feat. Daphne Du Maurier & TBR

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I had a shocker of a reading month in January, not gonna lie! Between personal anxieties and worldwide political shit storms, I found it difficult to take time out to sit quietly and switch off so my reading got off to a terrible start. However, on the last day of the month, I did manage to pull it back and read a short story collection by one of my favourite authors so...it could've been worse. Positive vibes. Onwards and upwards, pals! February will be my month for reading. I can feel it in my bookish loins...If you had a better start to the year, do let me know what you read!

READ. 

FINISHED: 31/01/16 | PAGES: 273  | ISBN: 9781844080717
The 14 haunting stories in this collection span the whole of du maurier's writing career and explore every human emotion: an apparently happily married woman commits suicide; a steamer in wartime is rescued by a mysterious sailing-ship; a dull husband breaks loose in a surprising fashion; a con woman plays her game once too often; and a famous novelist looks for romance, only to meet with bitter disappointment.

Feeling despondent about my reading, or lack thereof, I turned to my bae, my du Mauribae to be exact, for some much needed comfort reading. Daphne never ever fails to deliver and this collection of short stories for sure hit the spot. 

These stories were timeless. Enthralling and infinitely readable, each tale, whilst different in subject matter, offered insights into characters who were searching for new beginnings and, as ever, there was a darkness and sense of unease permeating each. Du Maurier always seems to be one step ahead of her reader, masterfully illuminating the uglier sides of the human psyche whilst also ensuring that each of her stories is full of honesty and heart. Alongside new beginnings, these stories also focus on relationships, romantic or otherwise, and the often complicated parts that we play in them. She appreciates that relationships aren't always harmonious and that we can often play a really destructive role and I love that. 

I really liked No Motive, Supreme Artist, Escort, The Closing Door and Split Second. It has been a fair while since I read these stories and they're still very much at the forefront of my mind. Well worth a read if you're a fan! I read quite a few reviews that said this was one of her weaker collections so I'm really looking forward to finding out how incredible her others are because I really enjoyed this! I have The Birds and Other Stories, The House on the Strand and The King's General on my shelves waiting to be read so we'll see what I opt for next. I cannot wait to read more. 

RATING: 

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TO BE READ. 
I want to read more this month, because I find it helps with my creativity, so I've decided to up the ante and put four books on my TBR instead of two. Yolo! 

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD BY COLSON WHITEHEAD 
You may remember that I included The Underground Railroad in last month's TBR and, yes, whilst I didn't finish it last month, I did start reading it. I couldn't really commit to it for the majority of January because my head was elsewhere but towards the end of the month I really got into it. I'm about 100 pages from finishing it so I'll definitely get this read. Emotive, horrifying and really interesting so far. 


the night watch by sarah waters 
I am going to be spending at least 8-9 hours of February sat quietly in a train carriage so I figured I should dedicate myself to a book whilst I'm travelling. I have picked a Sarah Waters novel because, as you may know, I find her writing to be entirely immersive and un-putdownable and that's what you want when you're confined and utterly bored. Twitter told me to go with this one next so I've taken everyone up on that recommendation. If you'd like to know more about my experiences with Waters' works, you can read my reviews of The Little Stranger and Tipping The Velvet.  

SOME RAIN MUST FALL BY MICHEL FABER 
Another book that I have started but not finished! I read the first story for my Try A Story book tag, read the second and third for fun, and now I want to finish off the collection. The first few stories were quite different in tone so I'm not entirely sure what to expect from this collection as a whole. However, I'm holding out hope. I'll read this alongside a novel to break things up a bit. 

Hausfrau is a new addition to my bookshelves but it's a book that I don't want to leave lingering for too long - especially as it's on my list of books to read in 2017. I just this minute picked it up from my TBR shelf to read a few pages in order to determine whether or not I wanted to add it to this list and I quickly got absorbed in the minutiae of Anna's day so that's an excellent sign.  

So that's what I read in January and what I want to read during February. What did you read last month? Was it good? Would you recommend it? Also, I want to know what books are on your TBR for this month. I miss the days where the comments section was alive with discussion! Oh, to be 2010 again! 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.

I have decided to start using Book Depository affiliate links again. If you buy books using the links I've provided, I'll receive a 5% commission which will then be put back into future blog posts. If you want to buy some books using my link but you don't want the aforementioned titles, you can use my general Book Depository affiliate link. Thanks, pals!

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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Creative Prompts 8

When it comes to my own creativity, I find it incredibly useful to work from creative prompts. Sure, sometimes you approach a piece with a clear picture of where you're headed and what you want to convey. However, these creative prompts are for the days when the ideas aren't coming so quick and so clear or, alternatively, they are there for the days where you have a vague idea but you need it to blossom before you can really take it places. Use the prompts for whatever creative medium you wish - create a photoset, paint something abstract or base a podcast or blog post on one of the prompts. It's entirely up to you what you do with them and you can manipulate them as much you'd like to! 

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WORD PROMPTS
As a writer, I find that words alone often act as inspiration for pieces or whole collections. I've collected up a selection of words that have been sat on pages of various notebooks of mine waiting for me to attend to them. Again, use them however you wish. You could use them as titles for your creative work or you could use them to influence the tiniest part of your project. Have a little play around and see where they take you. You could paint a pastoral landscape during peach season or write an ode to pancake day. There are a ton of possibilities!

1. melt
2. crossbones 
3. bingo hall
4. peach season
5. fame
6. beside the river
7. snare
8. pancakes
9. the burial
10. hypnotic


IMAGE PROMPTS
I'm quite a visual person so I really like to work from images in the initial creative period. I have selected 4 images for you to take inspiration from. You could lift their settings, take their colours, use their composition, it is really up to you! I would, personally, love to read a story about the last location. What makes the inhabitants of that village so important? I would also love to see a cool photography project based on neon lights and signs. Get creative.

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You now have 14 creative prompts for writing, art, photography, blog posts, etc, to play around with. Use them wisely! I would love to know what creative projects you're working on lately, so do let me in on them in the comments below! I'm still plodding on with my poetry collection. I really want to share that with you this year. Anyone interested in it? 

What do you use creative prompts for? What are you working on at the moment? Feel free to scroll through my other creative prompts for further inspiration. Otherwise, you can check out my other creative blog posts


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Saturday, 4 February 2017

Book Haul feat. Donna Tartt

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I don't intend to add lots of books to my library in 2017 because I have a lot that I want to knuckle down and read. However, I may pick a couple up here and there so, for now, the monthly book hauls are staying! In January, I bought a book that came recommended and a book that I'd had my eye on for a while. What books have you recently added to your collection?  


hausfrau book haul book blog vivatramp

hausfrau by JILL ALEXANDER ESSBAUM
Anna Benz, an American in her late thirties, lives with her Swiss husband, Bruno—a banker—and their three young children in a postcard-perfect suburb of Zürich. Though she leads a comfortable, well-appointed life, Anna is falling apart inside. Adrift and increasingly unable to connect with the emotionally unavailable Bruno or even with her own thoughts and feelings, Anna tries to rouse herself with new experiences: German language classes, Jungian analysis, and a series of sexual affairs she enters with an ease that surprises even her. But Anna can’t easily extract herself from these affairs. When she wants to end them, she finds it’s difficult. Tensions escalate, and her lies start to spin out of control. Having crossed a moral threshold, Anna will discover where a woman goes when there is no going back.

Hausfrau had been lurking around on my to buy shelf since it was first published but I remember wanting to see what the general consensus was before I purchased it. Fast forward a couple of years and I finally bought it following buzz about it on my Twitter timeline. The blurb sounds thrilling really, doesn't it?! As I grow older, I'm finding that I really like to read in depth studies into relationships and women's part in them, in general, and this sounds like it'll deliver on both. I'm hopeful. Hausfrau is one of my books to read in 2017 and it's on my TBR list for this month so keep your eyes peeled for it in a future book review post. 

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the goldfinch by donna tartt 
Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love--and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

Dad and I found ourselves in a bookshop one afternoon and, of course, I didn't leave empty handed. Although, to be fair, it wasn't necessarily my fault. He picked out a book as a gift for someone and there was an offer on to get another book for half price so I stepped up to the plate! I read and enjoyed The Secret History last year so when I saw that Tartt's latest release, The Goldfinch, was included in the offer I thought that now was the time to pick it up. This is a bit of a whopper of a novel so I'm not sure when I'll read it, because I have the fearbut I really think this deserves my time. Again, the blurb sounds particularly thrilling so I know that I'll cave and read it PDQ. Everyone that has read it seems to have really enjoyed it so that spurs me on! 

A small but perfectly formed book haul! Have you read either of the books - if so, what did you think?! What have you purchased lately?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 hauls instead.

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