Monday, 29 December 2014

Book Reviews feat. T. S. Eliot

Did you all have a good festive period? Mine consisted of two Christmas dinners, winning 5 consecutive quizzes (much to my family's annoyance) and a horrendously embarrassing family game of Cards Against Humanity in which Luke's Gramps played cards about sad handjobs, anal sex and necrophilia. Despite the deep emotional trauma that I experienced as a result of the latter, I am hailing it a massive success! It's all over for another year and I'm already thinking about my goals for 2015. 

We have reached the end of a seriously successful reading year for me. I managed to reach my goal of reading 52 books in 2014. Quantity isn't everything, and it isn't necessarily healthy to focus on numbers, but by challenging myself to read a certain amount of books I encouraged myself to use my time more wisely and opened myself up to lots of new reading experiences. Anyway, more on that another day! I'm here to share my mini book reviews for November and December. As ever, feel free to discuss my reads in the comments below and let me know what books you've been reading lately. I'd love it if you could leave some recommendations below too because I've got some gift cards burning holes in my pockets!

vivatramp lifestyle book blogger uk

FINISHED: 27/11/14 | ISBN: 0571247342 PAGES: 132

Yeats' works are particularly interesting to me because his writing style, and overall approach to poetry, transformed throughout his lengthy career: from his quest for an Irish identity and his tales of fairies and folklore, to his more Modernist pieces on time and the self. 

Yeats writes with a blinding honesty that I really warm to as a reader. He shares his anxieties, or at least his speakers do, and he muses on a variety of subjects - from war and politics, to love and lust and longing. This particular edition is a really well thought out collection spanning his entire career and let us not forget to mention how beautiful it is! It would make a really nice gift, that's for sure. 

Whilst I do enjoy Yeats' poetry, I found some of his poems to be quite jarring and a little more challenging. However, that could just be me, and I think I would've got a lot more out of the ones that I didn't enjoy if I had further knowledge of their context. Overall though, I really love how Yeats draws you in and engages with you, contradicting himself and asking a great deal from his reader. It means you can't really leave this collection without thinking of things beyond your everyday. Check his poems out online! 

RATING: ★ 1/2

vivatramp amy poehler book review

FINISHED: 03/12/14 | ISBN: 0062268341 PAGES: 329
Yes Please offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice. It's a book full of words to live by. 

I only knew Poehler through Parks and Recreation but I'd heard good things about Yes Please, particularly the audiobook, so I thought I'd give it a go - especially as I didn't really have the time to read any of the physical books on my TBR. 

Whilst at times I wasn't sure of her motives, Poehler was very honest about times where she has fucked up - admitting her faults and attempting to address them. She tells us about the time she unknowingly took part in an SNL sketch that mocked a woman with a disability. I think this anecdote made me come away from the book looking at her and comedy, in general, in a different light. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I would be lying if I said it didn't change my opinion of her. Memoirs can be strange things to read because they're so personal and, more often than not, you pick them up with a degree of expectation. Amy and I are two very different people with two very different lives. There were some things I agreed on, others I didn't. Despite our differences, I didn't find this memoir too difficult to read. Whilst it doesn't follow a linear narrative, the anecdotes were easy to follow and varied and her writing style was engaging. I particularly liked the Parks and Rec and Moon Hunting chapters. 

If you're a fan of Poehler and / or her characters, you will probably really enjoy this book. If you are a fan, I would recommend listening to the audiobook as she has a few guest stars and the last chapter is performed in front of a live audience. 

vivatramp book review uk lifestyle book blo
FINISHED: 05/12/14 | ISBN: 0679723056 PAGES: 164
In his second collection, Carver's characters are peripheral people -- people without education, insight or prospects, people too unimaginative to even give up. Carver celebrates these men and women. 

Stories leave me all the time, characters fall by the wayside and plot details blur, but Carver's settle down in my brain and refuse to leave. They are so vivid, honest and beautifully crafted.

Carver's craft is like no other. His stories work on a sentence level: nothing is there that doesn't need to be and each word has been meticulously debated. Look at his opening sentences and you'll probably be able to see what I mean. As a creative writer, and one who has just completed a Short Story module, he has taught me a great deal. 

One of the things that I like most about Carver as a writer is the space that he gives his readers. He writes obliquely, offering up slivers of emotional truth before letting you piece it all together, and a lot of the time it's more about what isn't included in his stories than what is. It takes a great talent to be able to pull that off, in my opinion. So many writers write emotively and capture the big performance of intense emotion but Carver captures the subtleties too - the horror and the hurt that are only usually shared in the slightest of expressions. His stories are stark and intimate, yet some of the most illuminating that I have ever read. As Kermode said, ' realises how completely a whole culture and a whole moral condition is represented by even the most seemingly slight sketch'I always leave feeling slightly winded, with a desperate need to talk to someone about what I have just read. Even if the stories don't resonate with you initially, you'll muse on them and figure out what they were trying to tell you and then some. 

A truly great writer. If you like short stories but you've yet to read Carver, you're making some poor life choices.  If you like your stories clear cut, don't read Carver but I'm telling you: you're missing out.  Pick this collection up if you fancy it! My favourites are: 'Why Don't You Dance?', 'I Could See The Smallest Things', 'The Bath' and the titular story 'What We Talk About When We Talk About Love'. 


book reviews the resurrectionist e b hudspeth


FINISHED: 22/12/14 | ISBN: 1594746168 | PAGES: 208
The Resurrectionist offers two extraordinary books in one. The first is a fictional biography of Dr. Stephen Black, from a childhood spent exhuming corpses through his medical training, his travels with carnivals, and the mysterious disappearance at the end of his life. The second is Black's magnum opus...a Gray's Anathomy for mythological beasts...You need only look at these images to realise they are the work of a madman. 

When Quirk Books sent me an email asking if I would like to review this book, I jumped at the chance because the concept sounded right up my street. 

Unfortunately, this book really failed to deliver. Whilst the idea was fascinating and the illustrations were beautiful, the whole thing was let down by a severely lacking narrative. I didn't care about the characters because I didn't know enough about them or their situation to care. I wanted it to be a lot bigger than it was. It could have been so much better, and so much more expansive!!! Stick to Frankenstein, if I were you. 

I can't say I'd recommend this book but, if you're a fan of the macabre, I would keep an eye out for the author's future work as this was only his debut! I'd be interested to see what he comes up with next. 

*Book sent for consideration.


joan didion the year of magical thinking book review lifestyle book blog

49. the year of magical thinking by joan didion (2005)

FINISHED: 24/12/14 | ISBN: 1400078431 | PAGES: 227
Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage -- and a life, in good times and bad -- that will speak to anyone who has ever loved (or lost). 

This was a beautifully raw and honest account of grief and loss and what it means to live beyond those things. 

I had previously come across Didion's writing in a class for university so when I saw this book for 99p in my local charity shop I thought I would give it a go. It's one of those books about death, like A Monster Calls, that you can read and take a great deal from emotionally. Whilst Didion writes following a traumatic time in her life, in which her daughter was really ill and her husband had passed, you'd do well to remember that this is not a 'how to' guide or some sort of self-help book. It's simply a memoir of the things that we hold on to and the things that we fear following death. 

Mourning is such a personal experience and I think sometimes when we experience it we feel like no one has ever felt the way that we have but I found Didion's take to be really illuminating and comforting as a result. I'm glad I read it. 

I would recommend this book to anyone that thinks they could benefit from it. 


vivatramp the tiny book of tiny stories lifestyle book reviews


FINISHED: 25/12/14 | ISBN: 0062121669 | PAGES: 87
The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories brings together art and voices from around the world to unite and tell stories that defy size. 

As a big fan of contemporary and experimental fiction, I was really pleased when I unwrapped this volume. The artwork throughout was beautiful and the perfect accompaniment to the tiny stories. This book made me happy and made me want to write even more stories of my own, and share them with you all here. I'm going to pick up the other volumes at a later date and inject some artwork into my own tiny stories! 


vivatramp lifestyle book blog uk book reviews


FINISHED: 26/12/14 | ISBN: 1608862801 | PAGES: 128
The Lich, a super-lame, SUPER-SCARY skeleton dude, has returned to the land of Ooo, and he's bent on total destruction! Luckily, Finn and Jake are on the case...but can they succeed against their most destructive foe yet? 

Oh my glob, this is a must read for all my fellow Adventure Time fans! It was a thoroughly enjoyable read! The story was great, full of my favourite characters and it was funny and fast paced. Everything you would expect from an episode of the television show and then some. The art style was beautiful, and I loved the way they played around with space on the page too. This volume also comes complete with a selection of cover art and behind the scenes info so it'd make a really great gift. I was certainly happy to find it underneath my tree this year.

 I'm definitely going to be buying the next volume with one of my gift cards so watch this space! 


vivatramp uk lifestyle book blogger book reviews what i read


FINISHED: 27/12/14 | ISBN: 1582406723 | PAGES: 144
The world we knew is gone...An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled: no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to finally start living. 

I have been meaning to get into this series for such a long time, as I'm a big fan of the television show, so I was pleasantly surprised when I unwrapped this on Christmas Day. 

I really liked the art style, as it's strictly grayscale, and I think it really added to the narrative. I also liked the basic premise, because I'm a huge post-apocalyptic fan. However, there were a few things about this volume that annoyed me slightly. I think the one thing that really irked me was the erratic pacing. Everything moved a little too quickly, meaning that the characterisation suffered, especially as it was meant to be an introductory volume. 

Secondly, the majority of the men got on my tits, spending most of their time criticizing the same women that were holding the camp together rather than actually doing anything productive or helpful. Having said all that, I'm looking forward to carrying on with this series as I imagine fast paced action will complement the later volumes a lot more and I'm hoping the female characters will be allowed more agency as time goes by. 

I would recommend the graphic novel series to everyone that has watched AMC's adaptation, because it is fascinating to see how they have adapted it for the screen.


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.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Habits To Break

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now playing - bad habit by foals

I'm drowning in a sea of deadlines and despair right now.

Was that melodramatic enough for you? As you can tell from the photograph above, I've got two big writing projects to hand in by midweek that are currently taking up the majority of my time but I thought I'd take a five minute breather to share a little list and listen to some Foals with you. I might even push the boat out and make myself some tea and toast before doing so! Wild. All the glamour at Vivatramp Towers.

Regardless of whether or not I'm ready to acknowledge it yet, we are coming up to the new year. As a result, I've been thinking about goals and, in particular, the things that I wish to achieve and the habits that I don't want to carry through into next year with me. Here are a few of  the said habits that I'm hoping to break and things that I'm hoping to tend to in 2015:
one. terrible sleep schedule
two. using my phone too much
three. not answering emails right away
four. not drinking enough
five.  lack of morning routine
six. not bigging myself up enough
seven. lack of concentration
eight. letting fear stop me from achieving {at times}

Do you have any similar bad habits? What habits are you hoping to break? If you've yet to check out my stationery gift guide from the other week, you should go and do so now! 



Saturday, 13 December 2014

Books & Stationery Gift Guide

Just when you thought you had seen every gift guide on God's green earth, I chime in with a bounty of bookish and stationery goods that floors them all. As you can tell, I'm feeling modest today!

Gift inspiration is hard sometimes. I'm sure we have all had those moments of despair rushing around the shops desperately trying to work out what to get our twelve cousin fifty times removed before realising that we've completely lost the meaning of Christmas underneath our baskets of 3 for 2 products. Luckily for you guys, the folks at Abrams & Chronicle Books got in touch and asked my fine self whether or not I'd like to share some things with you and I naturally jumped at the chance. Chronicle Books happen to be one of my favourite publishing houses because they happen to be the stationery Gods to my stationery oracle. Can someone please remember to put the 'stationery oracle' bit in my eulogy, please? That would be grand.

Here's hoping that this post sorts out all your bookish / stationery woes! Failing that, buy yourself some notebooks to soak up the tears! I'm full of ideas, me. 

For the list maker:

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travel & literary listography
You cannot go wrong with the listography books - they're the perfect gift for avid list makers and organisation n00bs alike. If you aren't familiar with them, they're basically themed journals packed with prompts for fun and interesting lists that you can then fill in at your leisure. The Travel Listography, for example, has lists such as: Memorable People and Guides That I've Met, Where I'd Time Travel To and Local Weekend Trip Ideas among more conventional prompts. The one thing that strikes me about the Listography books is the quality - the paper is really thick and the accompanying illustrations are the perfect added touch. There are tons of different themes to choose from such as the Future Listography where you can map out your future plans, to the Film Listography where you can chart everything you've seen and hope to see in the future. An easy gift but a thoughtful one! 

Monday, 1 December 2014

2014: A Vivatramp Blog Post Recap

vivatramp lifestyle book blog uk 2014 blog posts

Happy Monday, everyone! I'm snuggled up on my armchair feeling particularly cosy so I thought I'd get a bit nostalgic and look through some of my favourite Vivatramp blog posts from 2014. It has been quite a busy year over here on Vivatramp and I feel like it has been a year of change that has seen me moving this space in the right direction. I began to properly focus on my passions this year introducing a lot more creative content and this is something I really want to expand on going into next year. I want to share some more musings on my creative writing and reading and I really want to share more adventures no matter how big or small. 

Thank you for being so engaging and so supportive towards me and my blog posts in 2014. All of your messages and comments and such have really helped me to turn everything around post-recovery. I owe you all. Let me know whether your favourite post from this year has been featured below! Furthermore, let me know what things you' d like to see on Vivatramp in 2015. I'm open to ideas!


uk lifestyle blog vivatramp

2014 TBR 

Despite Vivatramp being four years old, I really feel like 2014 was the most important year for this little space. I finally feel like I'm creating a space that is different and creative and accepting and I can't wait to sit down and work out how I can further expand upon these ideas. What posts did you love this year? What would you like to see more of on Vivatramp in 2015? More adventures? More creative updates? You tell me! I hope you're having an awesome December so far and have lots of fun plans!  


Sunday, 23 November 2014

My Reading Habits & My Reading Nook

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I always seem to be discussing books over here at Vivatramp but I've yet to really touch upon my reading habits and the places that I read from. Luckily, I stumbled across a tag created by The Book Jazz that resolves that great oversight. Thank God, amirite?! If you'd like to get involved, just answer the questions that I've left at the bottom of this post! Feel free to share your very own habits in the comments below too!

i'm very much a reader of habit
I'm usually tucked away in bed underneath a blanket mountain when I read. My V-shaped pillow is one of my favourite reading tools - gotta respect dat lumbar support, guys. Comfort is hugely important for me and I usually find that at home so that's where I do most of my reading.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Book Reviews feat. University Reads

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As predicted, I didn't manage to read any books for pleasure last month due to university reading and deadlines. I just cannot mix study with pleasure it would seem! However, I asked you guys on Twitter as to whether or not I should post any reviews this month and you said I should go ahead and review my university reads so here I am! Who knows, it could be pretty interesting for those of you that are considering a degree in English and Creative Writing! If you've read these stories, let me know how you felt about them in the comments and feel free to leave me further recommendations below too!


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Rumpuscosy, Plymouth

In my first two years at university, I would let my assignments take over my life. I would sit and stare blankly at the screen until I came up with something vaguely alright. However, this time around I'm taking more frequent breaks away from my screen and away from my room in order to stay healthy. Last Sunday, I decided to take a few hours off for lunch and headed into town with my friends, Claire and Joe, to check out a newish cafe. Needless to say, it was exactly what I needed and I had a really nice time eating good food and engaging in good conversation.

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We decided to head to Rumpuscosy, a new cafe that I had heard mutterings about through the grapevine. After nabbing a table, we ordered our drinks: chocolate flake tea for Claire, curiosity cola for me, a double black coffee and some cucumber infused water for Joe. Not only did the cafe look good and have a bustling atmosphere but it also had pretty frickin' good food to boot, all served up on mismatched crockery which I happen to bloody love. 

uk lifestyle book blog things to do

I went for the turkey sandwich with lemon and thyme aioli on freshly baked bread. [verdict: that aioli is the bomb!]

lifestyle book blog uk things to do

Claire went for the autumn squash, blue cheese, honey and walnut toastie {verdict: really nice - even better than expected!}

lifestyle book blogger uk rumpuscosy

Joe went for the leek and potato soup {verdict: really nice but could've done with more - our Joe's a growing boy}

lifestyle book blogger uk

As you can see, I demolished my food!  

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The decor is really lovely, warm but fun. I mean, they've got a photo frame wall dedicated to cats! 

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All of the proceeds from Rumpuscosy go towards Effervescent, a local charity that works with children, young people and vulnerable adults to create works of art. There's a gallery space attached to the cafe where you can view some of this art for free. If you happen to be in Plymouth, pop in! You can find them around the Derry's Cross roundabout which is within reach of the city centre and a ton of parking spaces. 

If you'd like to scroll through all of my adventures then you can do so. 


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