Thursday, 27 April 2017

Unread Books I Think I'll Love

unread books i think i will love book bloggers in the uk vivatramp  blog

Mercedes recently shared a video in which she predicted what unread books on her shelves she felt she would, inevitably, award five stars. I thought it was really interesting how we, as readers, get to a point where we can intuitively pick out books that we will absolutely  adore so I decided to hop on board and refer to my own shelves. I have picked out six titles that I have an inkling will be at least four star reads for me. We will see over the coming months, possibly years, as to whether I was right! 

If you'd like to speak up for one of the following books and encourage me to read it sooner rather than later, drop me a comment or a tweet! 

the house on the strand daphne du maurier book blog vivatramp
In this haunting tale, Daphne du Maurier takes a fresh approach to time travel. A secret experimental concoction, once imbibed, allows you to return to the fourteenth century. There is only one catch: if you happen to touch anyone while traveling in the past you will be thrust instantaneously to the present. Magnus Lane, a University of London chemical researcher, asks his friend Richard Young and Young's family to stay at Kilmarth, an ancient house set in the wilds near the Cornish coast. Here, Richard drinks a potion created by Magnus and finds himself at the same spot where he was moments earlier—though it is now the fourteenth century. The effects of the drink wear off after several hours, but it is wildly addictive, and Richard cannot resist traveling back and forth in time. Gradually growing more involved in the lives of the early Cornish manor lords and their ladies, he finds the presence of his wife and stepsons a hindrance to his new-found experience. Richard eventually finds emotional refuge with a beautiful woman of the past trapped in a loveless marriage, but when he attempts to intervene on her behalf the results are brutally terrifying for the present.

I spend a huge chunk of my time on this here blog gushing over Daphne du Maurier so it's probably no surprise that one of her books has made it onto this list. Her writing style is all-absorbing and right up my street. I have given everything I've read by her at least four stars - Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, Frenchman's Creek and The Rendezvous (and Other Stories)  - so statistically I should really enjoy this too. 

I currently have four unread du Maurier titles on my shelves, three novels and one short story collection, but I think I'll opt for The House on the Strand next. Crumbling houses on the coast, time travel, marriage problems - what is not to love?! I'm probably going to reach for this at the end of the year when everything is cold and brooding because those are peak du Maurier conditions. 

the name of the wind patrick rothfuss book blog


Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. 

Okay, this might be a bit of an odd choice because I'm not crazy about fantasy, in fact it's not really something I reach for at all, but the promise of adventure here grabs me. It's a bit of a chunkier book so, naturally, it has been sat on my shelf for quite a few years now but I think I'll be fully on board with it once I get started. I love the idea of following this magically gifted kid, especially as it has been a fair few years since I last read the Potter novels, and the internet seems to hold this series in high regard. I might give this a go over summer, perhaps, whilst reclined on a comfy chair in the sunshine. We'll see. I may give this a go when I next attempt the Try A Chapter tag. Will I enjoy this even though fantasy isn't my usual fare?! 

Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader's wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel - the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.

Homegoing has taken the bookish world by storm this year and I have been a bit drawn in by the hype, I must admit. I have heard nothing but excellent things about this novel. I am so into the blurb - from the focus on sisterhood to the fact that it's a multi-generational narrative. 

If Gyasi pulls it off, I think I could adore this.

fingersmith sarah waters book blog

Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer." Mrs. Sucksby’s household also hosts a transient family of petty thieves--fingersmiths--for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home. One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives--Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a na├»ve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, they all will share in Maud’s vast inheritance. With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to regret her decision.

Again, if you've been here a while, you'll know that I happen to adore Sarah Waters. Well, I've loved the two novels that I've read from her so far, those being Tipping The Velvet and The Little Stranger, and it has been enough for me to instil a great amount of trust in her. A lot of people say that Fingersmith, her third novel, is her best and their favourite so I've got extremely high hopes! I mean, I gave both of the Waters' novels that I've read five stars so...

Orphans, thieves, regrets - there's a lot going on here but I have every faith in Waters' ability to write some of the most captivating stories I've ever read.

the luminaries eleanor catton book blog vivatramp
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. 

The Luminaries is a sprawling novel, with multiple timelines and characters and stories that intertwine, and I am so into that. I love a bit of mystery and I feel like this could offer me it by the bucket load. I'm not very good at reading longer books so I, again, think I may read the first bit for a Try A Chapter tag post in order to lure myself in! Everyone that has given this book a chance seems to have really enjoyed it so it should be worth the hours.

the invisible man ralph ellison book blog vivatramp

Defeated and embittered by a country which treats him as a non-being, the 'invisible man' retreats into an underground cell, where he smokes, drinks, listens to jazz and recounts his search for identity in white society: as an optimistic student in the Deep South, in the north with the black activist group the Brotherhood, and in the Harlem race riots. And explains how he came to be living underground . . .

The Invisible Man is a classic that has inspired and continues to inspire storytellers to this day. It has won multiple awards, including the National Book Award, and received great critical acclaim. I'm not usually one to seek out books that have been met with such esteem, per se, but it suggests that I'll be in safe hands with Ellison. 

That blurb, though?!  It sounds incredible! It's another longer book, at over 500 pages, so I'll read it over a few sittings when I do eventually find time for it but I just have this gut feeling that it'll be so so worth it. 

Those are some of the unread books that I own, haven't read but think I will really enjoy. If you've read them, leave your thoughts below! Maybe suggest which one I should reach for first! Do you think there are books on your shelves that you will absolutely love? What ones? If you want to stick around for a bit, catch up on my book blog posts.

*Books marked with an asterisk were sent to me by the publisher for review purposes.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Creative Prompts (ft. words, images, sentences & examples)

creative prompts writing prompts creative bloggers in the uk vivatramp lifestyle blog
 (photo credit: o j cole on unsplash)

I'm back with a plethora of creative prompts for writing, art, blog posts, photography, essays, and all manner of other creative outlets, in order to help inspire your current or prospective creative projects. If you've been wanting to create something for a while now but you just aren't sure what, this feature is for you! And this time, it comes with added sentence prompts. Thorough.

I have also, for the first time ever, shared examples of my own creative work inspired by the prompts. In the interests of brevity and illustrating how easy and speedy creativity can be, I decided to put two minutes on the clock and see what I could come up with. The results are featured below. The pieces might not be groundbreaking, sure, but they've still been muddled into existence and all creativity is good creativity. 

As always, I have a little list of words that you can, hopefully, use creatively - whether you use them literally or in more of an abstract sense. Use them for nostalgic essays, urban photosets, pieces of flashfiction, the end result is in your hands! 

1. handlebars
2. alabaster  
3. scraps
4. phantom
5. abstinence 
6. ice cold cola
7. plaything
8. immunity
9. sugarsnap
10. the motel 

Two minutes on the clock, I reached for the handlebars prompt and created a little poem centred on teenage nostalgia.

writing prompts blog creative bloggers writers in the uk vivatramp bee stevenson

team games

those sticky sweet forever 

head over handlebars

painting skies 
for rockstars who wouldn't ever know my name

Some of us are a lot more visual and find images a lot more evocative, that's fair enough. I've randomly selected four images that I think you could definitely use as a basis for all kinds of creativity. I want to see more film snaps of country churches, an abstract take on classic fairground caricatures and a poem all about delicious food and nourishment. Make my wishes come true, pls!

writing prompts creative bloggers lifestyle blog vivatramp uk
 (photo credit: o j cole on unsplash)

creative prompts writing tips uk blog vivatramp
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vivatramp blog lifestyle writing prompts
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writing prompts creative prompts vivatramp uk lifestyle blog
  (photo credit

Two minutes on the clock, and Carly Rae Jepsen on Spotify, I saw the legs of the pier in the third photograph and decided to create a piece of creative non-fiction r:e the spaces we don't inhabit. It is brief but I like the concept. God bless you, inspirational pier legs.

I have always wanted to sit, silently, in the spaces in-between. The uninhabited places. Alabaster arms wrapped around the wooden slats underneath a pier. Legs dangling, cautiously, in drains. Eyes falling on abandoned outhouses in far-off places.  Dreaming, headily, about painting my footfall to make some sort of tangible global scratch map that doesn't just sit, rolled up, in a tube under my bed. Painted footfall marking entire towns in powder-pink whilst entire continents lie, pale in comparison, untouched.

Sometimes you might need a little more than just a word or an image to help you along. And so, this time around, I have compiled a selection of ten sentences to get you started. Take elements from them. Base entire pieces on them. That's your decision! You could create a cool photoset based around the convenience of supermarkets, or paint the dank dish-cloth sky, or write a song about those worn hand-me-downs. Be playful and see where it gets you!

1.  they were a fraud 
2.  we lost ourselves in hand-me-downs
3.  the clock turned twelve o'clock on that very same platform...
4.  i was always getting lost 
5.  see you at the supermarket 
6.  all they wanted was a lazy day by the sea
7.  the car, lifeless, on that dizzy edge
8.  you wished that everything was buy one get one free
9.  that dank dish-cloth sky stayed for days
10.  i sat staring at the open door for an entire summer

Carly Bae's masterpiece, Emotion, still on Spotify, I added another two minutes to the timer and started work on a piece of 140 character flashfiction inspired by the hand-me-downs sentence prompt. Granted, it didn't leave me with much breathing space content-wise but I quite enjoyed fitting it into place with a connected idea.

creative prompts vivatramp blog uk

We lost ourselves in hand-me-downs, pillowed pawing at the window pane as we watched you soft-shoe shuffle into someone else's life.

And those are my creative prompts for writing, art, photography, blog posts, etc, for you to use as a building block on your way to creative mastery...Use them in whatever way you wish. Did you like the new additions - my two minute examples and the sentence prompts? I'd love a little feedback on them! 

Are there any other types of prompts you like to see me share, e.g concept prompts and the like? Let me know. Are you working on anything creative at the moment? What creative projects do you want to start? Scroll through my other creative prompts for further inspiration. You can also check out my other creative blog posts


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Book Haul feat. Charlotte Hobson

book haul book blog vivatramp booktube

I unconsciously restrained myself in March and didn't end up buying any books out of my own pocket. I did, however, receive a few books from publishers: one that I requested, one that I was recommended and one that I received unsolicited. 

It's 1987. Billy Marvin, the tallest boy in ninth grade, has just witnessed history. Wheel of Fortune presenter Vanna White is on the cover of PlayboyBilly and his friends, Alf and Clark, know that if they can get hold of the magazine, their world will change. Forever. But as Billy says, 'No shopkeeper in America was going to sell Playboy to a fourteen-year-old boy.' As they set out on their mission to find the most wanted images in America, they're blissfully unaware of the dangers, dramas and garbage dumpsters that lie ahead. And of how a girl called Mary might just change one of their lives. Forever.

The people at Faber messaged me asking if I would like a review copy of this title and, upon reading the blurb, I accepted. The bulk of my library consists of heavy and sad novels and this sounds like it could be a little lighter which is a welcome change, to be honest. I'm looking forward to the throwback vibes of 1987 and will be sure to pick it up when I'm looking for a little relief from emotional novels. I'm really into the cover, by the way. It is simple but captures nostalgia for a bygone era perfectly. 

the vanishing futurist charlotte hobson book bloggers in the uk vivatrmp
When twenty-two-year-old Gerty Freely travels to Russia to work as a governess in early 1914, she has no idea of the vast political upheavals ahead, nor how completely her fate will be shaped by them. Yet as her intimacy with the charismatic inventor, Nikita Slavkin, deepens, she's inspired by his belief in a future free of bourgeois clutter, alight with creativity and sleek as a machine. In 1917, revolution sweeps away the Moscow Gerty knew. The middle classes - and their governesses - are fleeing the country, but she stays, throwing herself into an experiment in communal living led by Slavkin. In the white-washed modernist rooms of the commune the members may be cold and hungry, but their overwhelming feeling is of exhilaration. They abolish private property and hand over everything, even their clothes, to the collective; they swear celibacy for the cause. Yet the chaos and violence of the outside world cannot be withstood for ever. Nikita Slavkin's sudden disappearance inspires the Soviet cult of the Vanishing Futurist, the scientist who sacrificed himself for the Communist ideal. Gerty, alone and vulnerable, must now discover where that ideal will ultimately lead.

I haven't seen anyone discuss this title which seems weird because that blurb stood out to me the minute I spied it in Faber's catalogue. I love a bit of dystopia and anything to do with cults so this should be an extremely worthwhile read for me. I'm popping it on the imminent side of my TBR shelf. Have you read this? Is it as good as it seems?

the things only you can see when you slow down book haul booktube
The world moves fast, but that doesn't mean we have to. In this timely guide to mindfulness, Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk born in Korea and educated in the United States, offers advice on everything from handling setbacks to dealing with rest and relationships, in a beautiful book combining his teachings with calming full-colour illustrations. Haemin Sunim's simple messages - which he first wrote when he responded to requests for advice on social media - speak directly to the anxieties that have become part of modern life and remind us of the strength and joy that come from slowing down.

I'm not usually one for this kind of book but when I slipped it out of the envelope, albeit unsolicited, I was pleasantly surprised. It is beautifully published. There's no doubt about that. The illustrations elevate the simple philosophical messages on mindfulness and it makes for a nice balance. I'm looking forward to flicking through this of an evening if only for the stunning illustrations - those postcards are going to make perfect bookmarks! This would probably make a nice coffee table book or gift for a friend that needs to take the hint and sit down once in a while. 

A minimal book haul but a good one. What books have you bought or rented from the library recently? Anything you would recommend? 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.


This post features affiliate links. If you buy the books through the links I've provided I'll receive a 5% commission to put back into the blog. *Books marked with an asterisk were sent to me for review purposes by the publisher.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Spring & Summer Manifesto 2017

spring summer to do list blog vivatramp lifestyle blog

this spring and summer, i will:

try some fish on the bbq 
use that national trust membership, ffs 

read, read and read
take poppy to new-to-her places 

..and don't forget visits to the beach and the woods! 
make some at-home cocktails

dust off my summer clothes
maybe wander to barcelona

park the comfy seats on the patio
stroll down to the car boot sale

fill the windowsill with flowers, more often 
put those little lights up in my room

while away afternoons in beer gardens
play more records

track down the ice lolly moulds
celebrate my birthday with a bbq, again

have a good clear out
save money from said clear out 

make mazes from the windbreaks
eat ice-cream from the tub

write more poetry
and share it, somehow

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Write your own manifesto below, if you fancy, and scroll through all my other lists over the years if you'd like to.


Friday, 7 April 2017

Book Reviews feat. Olivia Laing & TBR

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March was looking like such a good reading month for me and then I became the mother of a teeny tiny black labrador puppy, named Poppy, and all of my attention turned to her! I'm not complaining because that's a delicious reason to not read but I'm hoping that I can get her a little more settled over the next month in order to have more time to myself. Despite not having an overly busy reading month, I did manage to read a bit of non-fiction and a short story collection, both of which were on last month's TBR, before the month was up! So, all in all, it could've been a lot worse!


the lonely city olivia laing book review blog vivatramp
FINISHED: 30/03/17 | PAGES: 315  | ISBN: 1782111239 
What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we're not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Fascinated by the experience, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between works and lives - from Edward Hopper's Nighthawks to Andy Warhol's Time Capsules, from Henry Darger's hoarding to David Wojnarowicz's AIDS activism - Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed. Humane, provocative and deeply moving, The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It's a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.

The Lonely City is an eclectic beast - it's part memoir, part sociopolitical commentary, part art criticism, part art history, part historical look at NYC and the creative minds it has spawned, and it's all really bloody good.

For something so sprawling in its scope, Laing manages to move seamlessly between each subject making each chapter feel both intimate and well-observed. She moves from her own personal experience of loneliness in NYC, following a relationship breakdown, to the experiences and motivations of urban-dwelling artists that either experienced or channeled loneliness or otherness in their life and work. Laing offers studies on various artists here, from Warhol to Wojnarowicz, and touches on a multitude of issues from sexuality to mental illness, from the impact of otherness on isolation, to the AIDS epidemic. It's clearly well-researched and wonderfully structured, despite being a hybrid of many different styles and subjects, and it was entirely fascinating. 

Laing isn't aiming to unpick loneliness to find some sort of panacea for herself and her readers. The Lonely City, therefore, isn't a self-help book. It's more of a meditation on loneliness and an acceptance that, sometimes, it just is what it is but, sometimes, it can inspire entire groups of people...even entire movements. I left this book with a head full of creative insight and an urge to go back to page one and start again. 

It is definitely worth your time, even if you're sat there thinking 'but I don't really read non-fiction...'. Go out and buy it and be prepared to annotate every single page. I loved it. 


FINISHED: 31/03/17 | PAGES: 273  | ISBN: 9781844080717
Set mostly in lush, heady colombia but even in a jungle-like new york city, they yoke together the fates of guerrilla soldiers, rich kids, rabbits, hostages, bourgeois expats, and drug dealers. interconnected yet fractured in places, the result is a narrative jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing, or a kaleidoscope where different characters spin into focus as they take turns to come into focus. her characters' voices are completely haunting - and pachico's playfulness with language and mastery of consciousness create a mesmerising collective atmosphere. 

From a stoner re-imagining of Watership Down to an imprisoned teacher that now teaches Hamlet to the jungle's sticks and leaves, The Lucky Ones is a collection of tentatively linked stories that has a lot going on. 

These stories are atmospheric, a bleak intensity suffocating the pages, and each tale embodies the sights, smells and sounds that it takes such careful time to imagine for you. Think woody undergrowth, think drugs, think the heady chorus of parties. The stories bounce around chronologically and the narrator doesn't really reveal themselves right away and so it takes you a fair few pages to find your footing, if at all. It's probably no surprise, reflecting back, that there were times where I felt really puzzled as to what was going on. I think I may have come to this collection with somewhat of a disadvantage, too, knowing next to nothing about Colombian history or politics. I felt like a bit of an outsider, as such, throughout. 

I wasn't wild about this collection but, for the most part, I think that's down to my personal tastes when it comes to short stories. Pachico's writing is absorbing and evocative and, as such, I would be interested in reading anything she has published in the future. Who knows, I may give this a re-read and find that my head is more in it. 


I really want to get back into the swing of things reading-wise this month so I'm going to put four things on my TBR pile: three novels and one trade paperback.

vivatramp book bloggers booktube in the uk

I'm after a little adventure in my reading this month and this tale of an unlikely group coming together in the face of danger and a desire for freedom sounds like the tonic! I hauled it just last month but there's no time like the present, right?! 
A sneaky new purchase that arrived just this morning, Black Wave has been at the top of my to buy list ever since I saw it on the publisher's Twitter page. Look out for it in next month's book haul and book reviews!  

the girls emma cline blog saga review book bloggers in the uk vivatramp

the girls by emma cline  
The Girls has been sat on my shelf for a year and I love coming-of-age cult stuff so I really need to pick it up. I read the first couple of chapters for a Try A Chapter tag post and enjoyed it so it seemed silly to keep putting it off with no good reason. I'm about half way through and I'm all for the poetic writing style. I'll keep you posted! This novel is also sat on my Books To Read in 2017 list so it'll be extra satisfying to finish it!

saga vol. 7 by brian k. vaughan and fiona staples 
I couldn't exactly leave the new volume of my favourite series sat there, could I?! I read these volumes as soon as they're placed in my paws so, again, expect to see this in next month's book haul and book review posts. 

A kind of quiet reading month but a good one towards the end! What did you read last month? Did you enjoy it? Leave your TBR's in the comments below too!  If you aren't quite done here, you can scroll through all of my book blog posts. Or, alternatively, you could just flick through my book reviews instead. 

Links to books are affiliate links. If you don't fancy any of these books but would still like to use my link to purchase some books with, please use my general Book Depository link. Thanks, pals! Books marked with an asterisk were sent to me by the publisher for an honest review. 

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