Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Book Haul feat. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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I'm making a conscious effort this year to read the books that I already own (revolutionary idea, I know) so I'm not buying a whole lot. I do, however, have four books to show you this month that I either spied in the charity shop for £1 a piece or received in celebration of spending 6 years with Luke. I would've preferred a big pay out but you get what you're given and all that...Oh, before I forget, my January book haul was so diddy that it ended up attached to my last adventures with bee post so go and have a read if you haven't already done so.  
As ever, you're encouraged to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the following books if you've read them. I'd also love to know what books you've been buying of late because who doesn't need to add to a wishlist of over 300 books?! 

americanah chimamanda ngozi adichie book haul

americanah by chimamanda ngozi adichie
As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post 9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find  the courage to meet again, face to face? 

I'm trying to make 2016 the year I finally get to some seriously hyped books as a way of making myself even less cool. Americanah is one of those books that everybody talks about so I thought it'd be silly of me not to pick it up when I saw it tucked away on the charity shop shelf. I'm moving this to the top of my TBR pile because the blurb sounds too good not to. I love me some rich character development and that blurb just screams it! 

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the king's general by daphne du maurier 
Honor Harris is only 18 when she first meets Richard Grenvile, proud, reckless - and utterly captivating. But following a riding accident, Honor must reconcile herself to a life alone. As Richard rises through the ranks of the army, marries and makes enemies, Honor remains true to him, and finally discovers the secret of Menabilly. 

I love a bit of Du Maurier so I try and pick her up secondhand whenever I can. I own six of her books but I have read only two of them, Jamaica Inn and Rebecca. I've still got Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel, The Birds and Other Stories and, now, The King's General to read - which do I get to first?

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Fifteen year old Kambili is the dutiful and self-effacing daughter of a rich man, a religious fanatic and domestic tyrant whose public image is of a politically courageous newspaper publisher and philanthropist. No one in Papa's ancestral village, where he is titled "Omelora" (One Who Does For the Community), knows why Kambili's brother cannot move one of his fingers, nor why her mother keeps losing her pregnancies. When a widowed aunt takes an interest in Kambili, her family begins to unravel and re-form itself in unpredictable ways. 

If the blurbs of Adichie's books are anything to go by, I think I'm going to be well and truly on the Chimamanda bandwagon by the end of the year. This is her debut novel so I may read it first, before Americanah, out of interest. Is it a good place to start? ...That's probably a stupid question.

karen russell book haul

vampires in the lemon grove by karen russell  
Within these pages, a community of girls held captive in a Japanese silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms and plot revolution; a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow that bears an uncanny resemblance to a missing classmate that they used to torment; a family's disastrous quest for land in the American West has grave consequences; and in the marvelous title story, two vampies in a sun-drenched lemon grove try to slake their thirst for blood and come to terms with their immortal relationship. 

If you read my January book reviews, you'll know that I fell head over heels for Russell's short story debut last month so it seemed only natural that I lay down several hints to Luke to buy me the follow up in celebration of our sixth anniversary. This collection isn't quite as popular as St Lucys, it would seem, but I'm excited to delve in because the stories sound pretty spectacular.

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.



Saturday, 20 February 2016

How To Cheer Someone Up

vivatramp lifestyle blog how to cheer someone up acts of kindness

truffle bouquet
appleyard london

I'm a homebird. The thing I value most highly in life is love, whether that's showering myself in it or piling it onto my close friends and family. I am forever wanting to ensure that they feel loved and know how much I am in awe of them. I'm a Cancerian, if you hadn't already guessed.

Seeing as there's only so much love I can shower upon my loved ones before they spontaneously combust, I thought I'd share 8 ways you too can shower your loved ones with love until they also spontaneously combust. Are they in need of cheering up? I've got you covered. 

appleyard london flowers by post mothers day

I'm finally at that stage of my life where I can truly appreciate a beautiful bouquet of flowers and the weird sense of harmony that they bring to a space, whether I'm sending a bunch to someone, picking them myself or laying them at the cemetery for loved ones that have passed - even though my graveside floristry leaves a lot to be desired. 

I was offered the opportunity to pick some blooms from the Mothers Day flowers range from Appleyard London and I thought it'd be the perfect way to cheer my Mum up. The bouquet, whilst not a cure for all her ills, gave her a surprise on an afternoon where she needed it most and they're now busy looking beautiful 
in the living room alongside all our candles. 

2. send notes, letters, emails and leave comments as well as likes!
I like to think there's something really special about someone just dropping in, however they choose to do so, just to let you know that they're thinking of you or are so excited by something that they just felt the need to let you know. You don't even need to live near the recipient - send them a letter or an email. I've also been making a conscious effort to leave comments and not just likes. Likes, whilst great, are enigmatic in a way because you don't really know what they're signalling. Does this person like the specific thing in the centre of the photograph? Do they like me and wish me well? Do they pity me and think this like will see me through? Tell people what it is you adore about the work they're creating or the fun they're having. 

Whenever I feel low, I find the thought of going outside alone to be pretty unbearable. Why not ask them if they fancy a stroll to get some fresh air (but make sure you do so without sounding patronising!). If that's not something they fancy doing, get some air into the house and open a window or two. I'm not saying air makes everything better, because it doesn't, but I always find sitting in my windowsill gulping fresh air into my lungs helps me...and petrifies onlookers.

4. housework or housesit
Housework is the absolute worst so why not offer to do it for someone else to cheer them up? Do their laundry or wash the dishes whilst they sit with a mug of tea or have a sleep or a bath. Alternatively, look after any small humans or furry babies that may need looking after whilst they get some much needed rest or time out. 

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Sometimes when I'm struggling, I want people's company but I don't want it within my four walls. This is where creating a thoughtful little kit or care package comes in! It doesn't need to be full of expensive things either. All you need are the essentials: something to snack on, something to get cosy with and something to read / do / watch. Fill it with cards and photographs - be as creative or as non-creative as you want. 

6. make something together 
As someone with an illness that often requires large rest or recovery periods, I have weirdly enjoyed all of the strange activities that have come my way as a result of monotony. There's something in just mindlessly working away on something to make me feel a little better - think cheap little craft kits, turning toilet rolls into angels, flower arranging or sorting out my boxes of sentimental things. Propose something not too labour-intensive and see what you can both create! More often than not, things will go so badly that you can't help but laugh.

7. plan future fun
When I'm feeling low, I find it helpful to make some light plans for the future in order to give me something to look forward to. Book up some time with the person you're trying to cheer up - you don't have to go on anything luxurious like a spa day. For example: I've got some time booked with two different friends to go charity shopping in my hometown and to marathon a television show with another and I'm excited for both. 

Just chill! Whilst doing things with them can be helpful, sometimes it's therapeutic to just have someone rest up with you whilst you do nothing more than marathon a television show you have marathoned about 20 times already. 

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What do you think of the beautiful bouquet that I picked out? As a summer baby, I am obsessed with daisies so the choice was easy. List some other acts of kindness or ways to cheer each other up in the comments, however big or small, and we can all get to being kinder to ourselves and to our loved ones. 

*Appleyard London let me pick out a bouquet of flowers in exchange for an honest review. If you'd like to read my 'photo an hour' collaboration with them, go & do so now, scamps.

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


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Book Reviews feat. Sylvia Plath

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I read in dribs and drabs throughout January meaning I only ended up reading three things in total but I'm a guilt-free human being so *shrugs*. Whilst my reading may not have been bountiful, I got round to reading three individual things that I had been wanting to read for months, in some cases years, so I'm hailing it a huge success. If you've read either of the books or the graphic novel, I'd love to chat about them with you in the comments. 


Thursday, 4 February 2016

Comfort Food, Book Haul & Best Friends

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If you cast your minds back to my to do list post, you may remember that I talked about wanting to spend more time with my loved ones in 2016 and, well, lets just say I am acing that goal so far! 

January was the month of quality family time, mostly involving food and bowling alleys, and friends over to stay and, if I'm honest, I think my mental health has been all the better for it...even if my hip joint is like 'remember when we would spend all our time chilling alone?!'  Not content with just living my life and enjoying the moment, I decided to take you with me this weekend just gone in order to share what I got up to with Claire and G (friends that you may remember from yesteryear's best friend tag post and a ton of adventures that I've linked at the bottom of this post). 

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