Saturday, 23 May 2015

How To Pick Your Holiday Reads

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Deciding what to read whilst on holiday / over the summer break can be an absolute nightmare for people like me that have quite a lot of choice and a complete lack of ability when it comes to making bookish decisions. Thankfully, I've come up with a handful of tips for us all to organise our holiday reads somewhat. I'm also here to share some of the books that I may read over the summer. 

tips for organising your holiday reads:

1| Work out whether you want quick fun reads or books that challenge you

2| Plan in advance so you have time to switch it up 
3| Mix up your genres for books to suit every mood
4| Take wild cards!
5| Be realistic about how many books you'll read 
6| Raid the charity shops for cheap paperbacks that you can then leave for other people
7| Read a book set where you're holidaying 
8| Take a book that someone else has picked out for you 

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


Friday, 22 May 2015

On Wearing Glasses

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I am of the belief that glasses make people's faces way more interesting. I say 'of the belief', but it is actually scientifically proven* that those that wear glasses are just much better people than those that don't wear them. Not worth knowing, the lot of them. 

The aforementioned scientific fact is music to my ears when the alternatives are popping contacts in my eyes (no thanks! nopety nope) or laser eye surgery *short pause whilst I wipe the vomit from my chin*. I've been wearing glasses for around 7 years now and, if I'm honest, I've had nae bother with them and I've even grown out of accidentally sitting on them almost monthly. 

girls wearing glasses

These London Retro Mason frames haven't left my face since the moment I got them in the post, so you may be familiar with them if you frequent my Instagram page. They were sent to me for review purposes, and my review is nothing but positive. They're good quality, scratch resistant and work well with everything in my wardrobe. I say that last bit as if it actually matters to me whether things go with things or not...

I would genuinely, and very highly, recommend Glasses Direct for buying glasses online. They offer a diverse range of frames for a mix of prices, and they also offer a 7 day home trial service that lets you pick out four different frames to try on at home so you can get everyone's opinion which is ridiculously handy. They're also one of those rare bands that use their email newsletters wisely and are always offering discounts and special deals. Great stuff. 

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I have taken it upon myself to share some photographs of my prospective husbands wearing glasses, just because I can. I am drunk on an incredibly small amount of power right now. Also, isn't it overwhelming just how plausible it is that I could settle with one/all of the following?!

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I would love to know what frames you swear by if you wear glasses, as I'm always on the look out for more to add to my collection. Hey, maybe one day I'll own a pair that aren't tortoiseshell print and relatively square... 

*I don't know science. 


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Book Haul feat. Lawrence Ferlinghetti

After a billion years of stopping and starting, I have finally finished my degree! That's right guys, miracles do happen! As university work took up all of my time over the past few months, I'm here to share my belated March and April book hauls with the month of May. My January - May mini book reviews will also be with you in due course...

gift card buys 

I had been sitting on £35 worth of bookish gift cards from Christmas and last year's BAMB campaign and, in need of a little retail therapy, I thought I'd spend them and take a day off from writing to read quietly from the comfort of my armchair. I ended up reading three out of the four of my purchases within the space of an afternoon. Bliss!

saga brian k vaughan book haul graphic novel book review vivatramp bee uk lifestyle book blog

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 

Everybody had been telling me how great this graphic novel series was but I resisted the temptation for years because I am an absolute idiot. I'll let you know a bit more about this one in the near future but rest assured that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT AND YOU NEED TO GET YOUR HANDS ON IT RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT'S GREAT! 

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Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it. 

I'm a big fan of The Walking Dead so when I heard that Robert Kirkman had embarked on a new graphic novel series, I knew I had to give it a try. Demonic possession? Bucket loads of inner turmoil? What's not to love. The cover art may have swayed me...More on this one in my upcoming review but I think it's something that I'll be carrying on with. 

vivatramp bee book blog book review lifestyle blog top book blogs uk lawrence ferlinghetti a coney island of the mind book haul

a coney island of the mind by lawrence ferlinghetti 

Written in the conservative post-war 1950s, his poems still resonate, as they will continue to resonate, with a joyful anti-establishment fervor that beats a rhythmic portrait of humanity. Ferlinghetti sings of a world in which "the heart flops over / gasping Love" [...] where "we are the same people / only further from home / on freeways fifty lanes wide"

I'd heard Matthew talk about this collection a while ago and I felt inspired to pick it up. I have little to no expectations because I have no idea what Ferlinghetti's work is like, really, or where it sits but I kinda like that!

vivatramp book blogs uk the wicked and the divine review graphic novels lifestyle blogs

the wicked + the divine by jamie mckelvie & kieron gillen
Everyone 90 years or so, twelve gods incarnate in the bodies of the young. They are charismatic and brilliant. They stand before crowds, speak in tongues, and send them into rapture. They're rumored to perform secretive miracles. They saw people's lives, either metaphorically or literally. They are loved. They are hated. They are brilliant. Within two years, they're dead. 

Everyone had been talking about this graphic novel, and the stunning art work completely sold me on the idea of owning it. Unfortunately, I wasn't crazy about it but, again, more on that soon! 

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I enjoyed the first volume so much that I went straight out and ordered the follow up. After a two day wait, I had it in my hands. Thank you, Waterstones click and collect! What a time to be alive, people. This was just as incredible as the first volume and, again, well worth the purchase! 

sneaky purchases 

I didn't intend to spend any of my own money on books throughout March and April but I did anyway because yolo. I need to be stopped...No I don't, I'm incredible. 

patti smith complete book haul


Patti Smith Complete is a living commemoration of Smith's unique contribution to music and the empowerment of people through her message of work, love and charity. 

Just Kids is one of my favourite books ever, so this collection seemed like an ideal follow up purchase. It's full of lyrics and stories and photographs and I imagine it'd make a beautiful coffee table tome. I'm going to leisurely flick through this beauty on days where I'm having a bit of a creative lull.

vivatramp book bloggers book haul uk wastelands

Wastelands delves into this bleak landscape, uncovering the raw human emotion and heart-pounding thrills at the genre's core. 

I had been writing a post-apocalyptic collection for my final major project at university so I thought this would be a useful collection to have at hand. Unfortunately, again, I'm a bit of an idiot and didn't get round to reading any of them prior to my hand in. Top student, me. However, I'm intending to do so soon. It seems like there is quite a diverse range of tales in this volume so it might be a good one to pick up if you're a fan of the genre.  

reasons to stay alive matt haig book haul

reasons to stay alive by matt haig

In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could've added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself starting at a cliff edge about to jump off. This is the story of why he didn't, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It's also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more. 

If you read my post the other day for #MHAW, you'll know that I have dealt with mental health problems for nearly all of my life so I thought I'd give this a read whilst I had a few spare afternoons. Interestingly, I actually have a teeny tiny cameo in this book (and they mistyped my twitter handle but we'll let that go...)

saga volume 3 book haul book blog vivatramp uk

saga volume 3 by brian k. vaughan and fiona staples 
After being introduced to the Saga world in March, I had to buy the next volumes the following month. I should probably try and string some coherent opinions together about Saga but I just can't. Pick it up from your local library or buy a copy or find someone kind to lend you their copies because it's great! 

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saga volume 4 by brian k. vaughan and fiona staples 

ARE YOU BORED YET?! Saga just seems to get even better as it goes on, and that's coming from someone who has rated all of the volumes 5* so far! It's fun, fast paced and packed full of fascinating characters. I'm upset that I don't have any other volumes to read but I'll try and persevere...

leena's care package 

My friend Leena had heard that I was going through a bit of a rough patch so she sent me a care package of books and chocolate to make me feel a bit better. She works for Icon Books, so I knew I was in for a non-fiction flavoured treat. I met Leena last year at an event and I can confirm that she is a lovely human being with great hair so you should check out her channel, justkissmyfrog and subscribe if you are interested in doing so! 

the year of living danishly book haul top uk book blogs lifestyle uk vivatramp bee

the year of living danishly*... by helen russell  

Denmark is officially the happiest nation on Earth. When Helen Russell is forced to move to rural Jutland, can she discover the secrets of their happiness? Or will the long, dark winters and pickled herring take their toll? 

Travel writing is something that I really love to delve into over the summer months, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this book in the package. I've always been interested in the Scandinavian countries, particularly in relation to things like happiness and wellbeing, so this should be an interesting read. 

the time in between nancy tucker book review top uk book blogs lifestyle vivatramp bee uk book haul

the time in between* by nancy tucker 

When Nancy Tucker was 8...her class had to write about what they wanted in life. She thought...she wrote: 'I want to be thin'. Over the next 12 years, she developed anorexia nervosa...

I have seen this book everywhere lately *well done, Leena* and from what I have heard so far it is for a good reason. I'm not sure when / if I will read this one, as I'm a little bit wary about reading things that discuss disordered eating. However, if I don't feel up to it, I'll be sure to send this to a loving home that will give it the attention it deserves. If you'd like to know more about Nancy's experiences, Leena actually did a video with her not long ago that you can go and check out. Handy! 

vivatramp book haul lifestyle blogs uk
- lolling so much at how perfectly straight this photograph is

how to be a knowledge ninja* by graham allcott 
How to be a Knowledge Ninja is a fun, accessible and practical guide on how to get the most out of your studying and love the quest for knowledge again 

I kind of hope this book doesn't miraculously cure all of my bad habits and procrastination because I have just finished my degree and that would just be a complete kick in the face. There's always time to fix bad habits though, I guess. Graham has worked with some pretty huge companies so I'm expecting big things! Leena also filmed a video with Graham so you can check that out too! 

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.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

#MHAW15: Depression & Anxiety

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CN: I discuss depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and thoughts on mortality in this post. If these things are triggering to you, please do not read. 

Okay, I was going to write an expansive post about my own experiences with depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress because it's Mental Health Awareness Week and that seems like a relevant thing to do. It was going to be helpful and wordy, maybe even coherent. However, right now, I don't have the words. Not really. That's the thing about depression, it takes your words from you and places you in spaces where everybody and everything is asking you for a response. The space becomes noisy, almost suffocatingly so, but some dickhead is blocking the exit and so you have no choice but to sit it out and pray that everyone pipes down. 

I am currently in that space. I mean, I'm probably always to some degree in that space and I have been since I was around 8 years old. I distinctly remember having lots of panic attacks as a child. When the rug wasn't being pulled out from under me, I was worrying that it would be any time soon and that feeling is something that I have only just about been able to shake off. As I got older, and found myself in a destructive and abusive living situation, my depression progressed. I drank a lot. The drink didn't help but I craved the person I was when I drank. To everyone on the outside of my head, I looked so happy. I could find my words, even though I struggled to make them form coherent sentences. I felt in control of my uncontrollable nature. It makes fuck all sense now but, then again, I doubt it made any sense then either. 

Since being diagnosed with Crohns Disease, and since my life saving operation a couple of years ago, I have watched my mental health transform into something bigger. The cloud can now get darker and Mr Anxiety-Post-Traumatic-Stress (what a name!) knocks on my door every morning to hand me the paper and engage me in light over-the-fence talk: 'You know there's probably something brewing away inside of you right now that will eventually kill you off? Your know you'll live your life in hospitals, so is there any point in settling and enjoying the things that everybody takes for granted?' I find it difficult to separate the symptoms of each illness, because they can be so intertwined. 

There are good days and bad days, as expected. Some days, like today, I can wake up and I will be fine. I can live, as a depressive, and be fine. Others, I spend living under a metaphorical cloud. That's a bit of an overdone metaphor but, fuck it, I'm using it. Sometimes I'll have lots of noise in my head brewing mounds of make believe bollocks. Sometimes there will be this sort of brooding silence for minutes, hours, maybe whole days.

There are some people that will completely get your problems. There will be friends that are going through the same thing as you, and will weirdly message you just when you're feeling at your worst. It becomes a comfort because it just further illustrates that you will never be alone in your thoughts. I am lucky to have some fantastic best friends. There are others that won't quite understand why you feel the way you do. I often find that in order to best understand such problems, you need to have been close to them. Maybe. I don't know. That's my theory. The fog becomes familiar and you begin to understand its triggers, if there are any, and can learn to help accordingly. You know, in some ways I get why people find it so hard to comprehend. We, as a society, don't view mental health conditions as illnesses as we should so, for some, it can seem pretty fucking terrifying and elusive. It's difficult to process the things that are beyond our control, sometimes. Not everybody will understand your cloud or your shit sundae *foreshadowing, ooh* but you just have to try and focus your energies onto the most important person in the equation: you

And you know what, it can be pretty fucking terrifying for the sufferer too. But I have things that help me get by somewhat, and I have self care and the reassurance that I am much bigger and much more powerful than my health problems. I am the fucking lizard king. Depression is a shit sundae, and anxiety is the sauce on that shit sundae, and post-traumatic stress is the cherry on top of said sauce-smothered shit sundae, but I am not that sundae and that sundae isn't me. 

Fuck, I want a toffee sundae. 


I do not know why this has taken such a dessert-based turn so lets try and round things up, shall we?! 

If you're struggling right now: indulge in some self care, take time, speak to people if you want to or if you feel that you can and know that I'm rooting for you. If you're someone who knows someone who is struggling right now: communicate with them, ask if you can be of any help and, if so, how. Be a good friend

I wish I could do more but I am only one person and I'm not even remotely qualified. I am qualified, however, to speak up and share my experience. And so, I will be doing so until the cows come home.

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