Thursday, 28 January 2016

Book Reviews feat. Carrie Brownstein

uk book blogs vivatramp book reviews milk and honey rupi kaur penguin essentials carrie brownstein virago

We're now well into 2016, so, me being me, I thought I'd drag us all back to the dark recesses of the end of last year in order to talk about the books that I read to combat the freezing cold afternoons. It was a mixed sort of month but I had some really interesting reading experiences - memories of which I am sure will continue to sustain me over the next few months. As always, I'd love to know what you're currently reading or have just finished in the comments below and if you do so I will pop over to your blog to discuss them further. You cannot escape my inane chat, pals. 

vivatramp book blog uk

foe by j. m. coetzee*  
FINISHED: 09/12/15 | ISBN: 0241973694 | PAGES: 160
In an act of breathtaking imagination, J. M. Coetzee radically reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe. In the early eighteenth century, Susan Barton finds herself adrift from a mutinous ship and cast ashore on a remote desert island. There she finds shelter with its only other inhabitants: a man named Cruso and his tongueless slave, Friday. In time, she builds a life for herself as Cruso's companion and, eventually, his lover. At last they are rescued by a passing ship, but only she and Friday survive the journey back to London. Determined to have her story told, she pursues the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe in the hope that he will relate truthfully her memories to the world. But with Cruso dead, Friday incapable of speech and Foe himself intent on reshaping her narrative, Barton struggles to maintain her grip on the past, only to fall victim to the seduction of storytelling itself. 

In all honesty, there are times when books leave me as soon as I have read them and, in those cases, I have to rely on my notes in order to form anything that remotely resembles an opinion. This is one of those instances. From what I gather, I felt it was a story of two halves with the first half leaning towards the dry and exhaustive and the second half consisting of some complex passages that I deemed to be far more engaging. Coetzee goes some way to re-invent the original narrative but, to be honest, if this story were to have a subtitle it'd be: 'The One Where Friday is Still Plagued by White Noise'. I'm not sure if Coetzee's take on the characters was meant to be more or less racist than Defoe's. I'm not sure what he was trying to do, in general, if I'm even more honest. 

I wouldn't really deem this an 'Essential' but it may be something that other people enjoy, particularly if you have an interest in 18th century literature or literary re-imaginings. I don't think you necessarily have to put yourself through Robinson Crusoe in order to read this re-invention, so if you're in any way interested in this book then feel free to pick it up. This just wasn't my bag. 


hunger makes me a modern girl carrie brownstein book haul

FINISHED: 17/12/15 | ISBN: 1594486638 | PAGES: 256
This book intimately captures what it feels like to a young woman in a rock-and-roll band, from her days at the dawn of the underground feminist punk-rock movement that would define music and pop culture in the 1990s through today. 

As I said in my Christmas book haul, I read this in one sitting as soon as I unwrapped it and my god is that an afternoon I'd love to return to. 

I love love love listening to women talk about their passions, regardless of whether or not I too have an interest in the particular subject, and this memoir boasted passion and insight and love in abundance. Whilst the tone was conversational and in 
keeping with the genre, there were also times where it resembled something a lot more poetic and prosaic, much like her lyrics, and I think those tonal qualities make this all the more accessible to readers who may not be familiar with Carrie. Whilst I was already a fan of Brownstein, I knew very little about her life so I relished every little detail that she shared, especially her musings on what it is to be both a performer and a fan - from nostalgic insights into the Madonna concert she attended as a child to the concert venues that she would later sell out with her own band Sleater-Kinney. One of the things that stuck out to me with this memoir is how seemingly honest Brownstein is throughout,  particularly when she discusses the realities of balancing a personal life with a creative life. There were times where I felt as if I had been punched in the gut but there were also times when I was like holy shit my life has never been as cool as that!  All in all, I really enjoyed this memoir and would definitely recommend it. 

A heads up by the way, you should totally have S-K on in the background as you read this - especially as Carrie delves into the (sometimes heartbreaking) context of some of their songs, such as 'Jumpers' and 'One More Hour'. 


uk book blog vivatramp book haul milk and honey rupi kaur

milk and honey by rupi kaur  
FINISHED: 20/12/15 | ISBN: 1502784270 | PAGES: 194
'milk and honey' is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. 'milk and honey' takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

I'm currently writing what I hope will become a poetry chapbook so I wanted to pick up some more contemporary collections to see what was going on in the market. When I saw this beautifully produced book written by a young woman exploring womanhood I decided to hound my loved ones for it. Also, I bloody loved the bees on the front cover - lets be honest. 'milk and honey' covers some incredibly heavy subjects (such as sexual abuse, bodily autonomy, familial relationships and sexual consent) and yet the word choices Kaur uses to convey them are, in a way, quite simple. I found that balance to be one of the most exciting things about this collection and what made it stand out to me. I read this in one sitting but I imagine it'd be preferable to read it over a longer period of time, picking it up here and there as the mood arises.

I would definitely recommend this to young feminists, from around 16-20 something, or as a gift to young women as a way of introducing them to feminist ideas. Whilst I'm not saying 'yes this was intended to be a feminist collection', because I haven't done enough research for that, it felt very much like a collection about women and for women. 


secondhand book haul vivatramp

Heartease by lorna goodison  
FINISHED: 30/12/15 | ISBN: n/a 
Goodison's third poetry collection. 

As I said in my secondhand book haul, I didn't know anything about this poet prior to purchasing this collection but now, having read it, I am more than prepared to scour shelves in order to purchase more of her work. These poems had a religiosity to them that in a way transformed them from poems to hymns, with striking images of womanhood explored through empowered verse on enduring, overcoming, forgiving and, ultimately, surviving. 

These themes and images were guided by an inward light that Goodison alludes to throughout and by the end of the reading experience the title, Heartease, made perfect sense. I really enjoyed 'A Forgiveness', 'Blue Peace Incantation' and 'Because I Have Been Everything'. 


secondhand book haul uk book blogs

dream story by arthur schnitzler  
FINISHED: 30/12/15 | ISBN: 0141182245 | PAGES: 99
A novella that tells how through a simple sexual admission a husband and wife are drive apart into rival worlds of erotic revenge.

This novella lends itself to in depth study so, naturally,  I read it within an afternoon. This is the sort of dream story that you don't relay to your relatives over elevenses. It's dark but it's honest. The characters in this novella, for the most part, are either searching for or acting upon a truth that they may or may not yet be privy to. Driven by love, lust, desire and, quite possibly, shame, this novella will probably stick around in my head for a while. 

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 book was sent to me by the publisher

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Featured: Severine Lit

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Two of my poems, MELT and GLUTwere featured in the third issue of the online literary and art mag SEVERINE. You can read glut over here on my blog. 

My poem 'tin can daydreams' was later featured in the space-themed issue of the mag which was available both online and in print. You can read tin can daydreams over here on my blog.

If you'd like to read or know more about my creative escapades, you can scroll through my creative writing at your leisure.



Saturday, 16 January 2016

Book Haul feat. Hanya Yanagihara

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In December, I welcomed a ton of new-to-me books to my shelves - some via my secondhand book haul and others via Christmas gifts from my friends, family and, admittedly, myself. I've already started wading through them, reading bits here and there, and I'm hoping to have finished the majority of the following books within the next few months. If there are any that you think I should prioritize because they're just that good, let me know and I'll bump them up my to be read pile! 


Monday, 11 January 2016

Things That Make Me Happy 61

vivatramp blog lifestyle book creative

short story collections 
dancing unapologetically 
feeling life in my bones 
out of nowhere inspiration

bowie's music 
being kind to myself 
big plates of pasta
the promise of lighter longer days

sleeping in
magazines and zines
black and white stripes

(photo credit: unpeusauvage on unsplash)

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, 6 January 2016

Book Haul feat. James Baldwin

vivatramp lifestyle blogs uk book blog secondhand book haul


A few weeks ago, one of my best friends came over for a festive weekend of gift swapping, snacking and Making A Murderer-watching. After a pretty hefty Saturday morning lie in, we decided to head out into the arse end of nowhere and do a bit of secondhand book shopping at one of my favourite places to buy secondhand books. It's the sort of place that you need to allocate at least a couple of hours for and it definitely requires a bit of limbering up prior to browsing in order to undertake that weird tilted-head-shimmy that comes with browsing multiple bookcases. After about half a decade, we both left with a pile of books each - mine balanced awkwardly in my arms, hers handed to her in a Hollister bag. What a day. 

uk book blogs vivatramp secondhand book haul go tell it on the mountain james baldwin

go tell it on the mountain by james baldwin 
Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin's rendering of his protagonist's spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves. 

I tend to make a point of browsing the 'B' section of every secondhand bookshop that I frequent for all of the James Baldwin that I can find because his work comes highly recommended by just about everybody. I own Another Country in a similar edition but I have yet to sample any of his work as of yet - I'm making 2016 the year that I do so. 

raymond carver cathedral secondhand book haul

cathedral by raymond carver 
Raymond Carver's third collection of stories, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, including the canonical titular story about blindness and learning to enter the very different world of another. 

I seem to be averaging a Carver collection per year so this is my installment for 2016. Can we just take a moment to appreciate just how me this cover is aesthetically?! The pinks, the blues, the greys. I don't know anything about any of the stories in this collection but that's how I like it. 

james baldwin uk book blogs vivatramp

going to meet the man by james baldwin

"There's no way not to suffer. But you try all kinds of ways to keep from drowning in it". The men and women in these eight short fictions grasp this truth on an elemental level, and their stories, as told by James Baldwin,  detail the ingenious and often desperate ways in which they try to keep their head above water.

I let out an audible gasp when I pulled this book from the shelves. What a cover! I didn't actually realise that Baldwin also wrote short stories, so this is quite the welcome revelation. I know this probably isn't the place to start with his writing, simply because everyone raves about his novels, but I think I may ease myself in with this collection. 

uk book blogs vivatramp
the new york trilogy by paul auster 
Paul Auster's signature work, The New York Trilogy, consists of three interlocking novels: City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room; haunting and mysterious tales that move at a breathless pace of a thriller. 

I've heard Zoe and Matthew from WeLiveForBooks discuss Paul Auster on a number of occasions so I threw this into my basket without too much of a second thought. I haven't  read much within the thriller genre for a while now so I'm really looking forward to picking this up. 

secondhand book haul uk book blogs

dream story by arthur schnitzler
A novella that tells how through a simple sexual admission a husband and wife are drive apart into rival worlds of erotic revenge. 

I'm not entirely sure where I heard about this novella, maybe in a theory class at university, but it's a pretty pivotal piece of fiction within the erotic genre and I thought it'd make for an interesting read - if only to see what was classed as pretty scandalous at the time of writing. I have since read it and enjoyed it -- my full review will follow later this month. 

the member of the wedding carson mc cullers book haul

the member of the wedding by carson mccullers 
With delicacy of perception and memory, humour and pathos, Carson McCullers spreads before us the three phases of a weekend crisis in the life of a motherless twelve-year-old girl. Within the span of a few hours, the irresistible, hoydenish Frankie passionately plays out her fantasies at her elder brother's wedding. Through a perilous skylight we look into the mind of a child torn between her yearning to belong and the urge to run away. 

Another pale blue modern classic to add to my ever growing collection! I have yet to read anything by Carson McCullers but I've heard people discuss her writing at length so I thought I'd hop on the bandwagon. This isn't exactly her most popular work, sure, but it's as good a place to start as any. 

secondhand book haul vivatramp

heartease by lorna goodison

Goodison's third poetry collection. 

The poetry section is always a breeding ground for basket-fodder and this trip was fruitful. I had never heard of Goodison prior to pulling this off the shelf but on reading a couple of the poems and reading up on her bio, I decided to make it mine. Goodison is a leading West Indian poet and scholar and I'm happy to have discovered her in the dingy poetry aisle. I have also read this already - review, as ever, to follow.

browning the penguin poets vivatramp uk book blog secondhand book haul

selected poems by browning 
I don't know whether I have ever actually read Browning's poetry. I probably have - when you study a creative degree you tend to read a lot of different poets and they tend to all melt into one - but I can't recall any specific titles. If I'm honest, I just really like collecting these old Penguin editions because I am a sucker for a good print.

william blake poetry uk book blog vivatramp

selected poems by william blake 
A minute's silence for this cover, please. Hnngh! Again, I just absolutely adore these editions. I have, however, definitely read Blake's poetry but I haven't actually read anything outside of the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience so it should be interesting to read his work outside of that. 

jean rhys

good morning, midnight by jean rhys 
In 1930s Paris, where one cheap hotel room is very like another, a young woman is teaching herself indifference. She has escaped personal tragedy and has come to France to find courage and seek independence. She tells herself to expect nothing, especially not kindness, least of all from men. Tomorrow, she resolves, she will dye her hair blonde. 

As you probably know, I read Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea earlier this year and wasn't exactly enamoured. However, I know lots of people that adore her writing and so I have decided to pick up some of her works that stand alone away from other bits of literature that I may have read in the past. 

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.



Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 To Do List: Goals & Resolutions

As it's not officially a new year until a half arsed blogger shares their hopes and dreams, I thought I'd share my to do list with you...then your 2016 can really kick off! These are just a few things that I want to cover over this coming year and as, ever, feel totally free to leave your very own list in the comments:

vivatramp goals resolutations 2016


love nesting. I probably spend about 90% of my time nesting and yet I have one drawer that is full of clothes that I haven't worn for 2 - 3 years that I just cannot bring myself to part with. I want to tackle that drawer and then look to making my wardrobe more current me friendly. I want to focus on sourcing softer waistbands for the mess that is my abdominal region and I also want to pick up some staples to team with my 'outrageous literary aunt at a party' prints that I love to wear. 

vivatramp lifestyle blogs uk book blog secondhand book haul

• read 52 books 
I don't know why I like the idea of reading fifty two books as much as I do but I find that setting a clear number helps to keep my reading focused so I'm sticking with it for another year. If you'd like to keep up with my reading throughout 2016 you can read my book reviews, follow my Goodreads and keep an eye on my Instagram. I will not sleep until you all know what I'm reading.  

vivatramp 2016 resolutions and goals

As I've gotten older, my friendship group has gone from a frenzied rabble to just a select few best friends that I love with all of my heart and I'm totally okay with that. Whilst I do make the effort to speak to my best friends, I probably don't get to see them as much as I would like to so I'm hoping to rectify that a bit. This entry was inspired by the fact that I speak to Lyzi every minute of every day and yet when we met up a few weeks ago we realised that we hadn't actually seen one another in person for around a year and a half?! I am so proud of my girls and everything that they have achieved so I'm going to shower them with love and compliments for another 366 days or whatever it is because of the leap year. 

vivatramp lifestyle blogs uk

• complete my first poetry collection 
I've been tentatively writing my first ever poetry collection over the past few months and it's something that I want to work hard on and complete over this year. I have absolutely no idea what to do with it once it is written so I suppose that is something I should get a bit of help with too. I wish things like publishing my work didn't seem so mystical to me. I feel like there are whole worlds that I'm not part of because my brain just cannot fathom them. My collection, which at the moment consists of four and a half poems, doesn't follow a particular theme so far but it feels very me. I think I'll send some samples to a few friends along the way to keep me motivated. 

1 vivatramp adventures with bee butterfly house uk

• share more personal adventures on vivatramp 
I want to share more musings and adventures. I don't really get out a lot *audible gasps from everyone, I'm sure* but I know for a fact that I live for boring and I'm sure plenty of you lot do as well. Let's bloody hope so, eh?! 


• use my netflix account wisely 
I know this probably comes across as a really ridiculous goal to have but, in all honesty, I want to use my subscription for more than just watching The Office again and again. I watch a lot of television shows but I want to make some new Netflix discoveries this year. I'm currently two episodes in to Making A Murderer and it is fascinating. What should I add to my watch list?

vivatramp lifestyle blog 2016 resolutions goals

• start saving 
Time to be a bit responsible. 

vivatramp book blog creative prompts for creative writing photography

• get paid for doing shit i love 
I am so clueless when it comes to freelance fiction / creative non-fiction writing as a viable career. As I was saying earlier, thanks to my illness, I find it very difficult to concentrate and process big ideas, and I just don't know where to start where writing as a career is concerned. I need a hand, pals. If you have any resources or know of any websites or can give me any pointers, please let me know in an email or a comment.  

vivatramp uk lifestyle blogs uk

• take more personal photographs 
As a blogger, it's very easy to fill your camera rolls and memory cards with photographs of things that will mean nothing in thirty years time....unless we all start getting really sentimental over flatlays of things we got rid of decades back. Time to take more photographs of people, events and such. I want to get through a considerable amount of film during 2016 so watch this space for said photographs. 

And that roughly completes my to do list for the following year. Have you set yourself any resolutions? If so, I want to know what they are. If not, I would like to congratulate you on your yolo approach to life. 2016 has been pretty sweet for me so far - I had a huge lie in, headed to the cinema for the second time to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens and as I type I can smell the gammon that's roasting away in the oven. If the rest of the year continues the way it has started, I should be pretty content. Yes pals, that's literally all it takes to keep me happy. How have you spent the first day of the new year? Drop me a tweet or a comment and let me know or, alternatively, just forget I even asked and go about your business as you were. 

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