Bookish Christmas Haul 2015

1:00 pm

Look at that haul. Just look at it. I could not be more thankful for the books I've received this Christmas. They're all stunning in their own way and I can't wait to tell you more about them.

Angela Carter's Book of Fairy Tales edited by Angela Carter - A compilation of fairy tales from across the world and across time. I've been eyeing up this volume for a while now as I know just how much of a genius Carter is when it comes to playing with tales in her own writing. This appears like it should be a fun culmination of the research she's done over time, as well as a good collection of the truly disturbing and creepy fairy stories that get morphed into the singing bunnies we have today.

The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin - A non-fiction work of sorts, diagnosing what ails you and recommending a bookish remedy. Fun to flick through to find random passages as well as inspire your next reading choice based on how you're feeling.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson - A physical bind-up of all of Stevenson's Nimona webcomics, about a sassy, kickass, shape-shifting sidekick and her adventures with evil villain Ballister Blackheart.

Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero by Emily V. Gordon - A self-help book on becoming more super by one of my many crushes, Emily V. Gordon. Praise.

The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft edited by Leslie S. Klinger - A hulking volume of Lovecraft stories, annotated and explained. Boasting near to 900 pages, I am over the moon that I finally get to delve properly into this world of weird sci-fi and fantasy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J. K Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay - The present basically everybody wanted for Christmas.

Stories in the Stars by Susanna Hislop and Hannah Waldron - An atlas of constellations accompanied by stories from varying cultures and time periods.

Let me know what books you were fortunate to receive over the winter holidays, and also if you've read any of the above in the comments below.

M x


Current Library Borrowings #2

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The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh - A writer whose stories detail child murders is arrested due to these murders appearing in the real world.

Miss Julie by August Strindberg - A count's daugther and a count's man-servant conduct an affair and out unfurls a story of transgression and exploitation.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham - Three intertwined stories of Woolf writing Mrs Dalloway, a housewife reading the novel, and Clarissa Dalloway herself in the modern day dealing with the slow death of her friend from AIDS.

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes - After marrying a false Baron, Robin Vote moves to America and begins various relationships with women in search for 'secure torment'.

This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki - Rose's summers are always the same and always full of joy, but this one is different and she is forced to start growing up.

Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh - Clementine meets Emma at a lesbian bar and the two begin a relationship that will test everything they have.

M x


Vintage Classics Collection

2:53 pm

After seeing Jean's video on her Vintage Classics Red Spines Collection, I knew I wanted to make a post giving a quick tour on my personal collection. I'm a really big fan of their design choices for this range of books; they always pick beautiful images to go on the front without being fussy or messy.

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes

The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels

Mythologies by Roland Barthes

M x


Top Films I Watched in 2015

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Summed up in three words: 

The Martian - Orange. Witty. Potatoes.

God Help the Girl - Fringes. Dancing. Scotland.

Love, Rosie - Tears. Tears. Tears.

Kill Your Darlings - Beat. Murder. Radcliffe.

Into the Woods - Magic. Darkness. Singing.

Pacific Rim - Punch. Kick. EXPLOSION.

Godzilla - Drama. Smoke. EXPLOSION.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Whimsy. Colours. Tears.

Gone Girl - What. The. Eff.

Star Wars Episode VII - Epic. Tears. NOTENOUGHMOREPLEASE.

M x


Favourite Reads of 2015

9:37 pm

We've come to that time of year again where you're inundated with lists of people's favourite books/TV shows/films/videogames of the year go live, and yes, here I will be briefly (hopefully) chatting about my favorite things I've read in the year of 2015. The list is noticeably shorter than last year; I've definitely become more aware of what books I genuinely enjoy and sought out more engaging reads than simply fun or 'literary' ones. I've provided links to reviews I've written on the books where possible if any of them catch your eye! Wishing you all a very lovely festive break and looking forward to hearing all about what bookish presents you receive.

Warning: wall of text follows.

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud - Reviewed in Recent Reads #5 - A gorgeous and touching graphic novel that I still feel very lucky to have had signed by the author himself when I met him at an event.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - Short review in Summer Books, Part One - Say what you will, I will never tire of inspirational books about travelling women.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress) - Review coming when series completed - I'm yet to read Fairest and Winter, but I am eager to read more of this inventive and fun series.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ - One of the three books I wrote my master's dissertation on, and, unlike many books I've studied before, it stood up to bouts and bouts of re-reading and dissecting. It's such a cleverly constructed book, even if out of date in some values, and has really inspired me creatively. Thumbs up, Joanna Russ.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer- Review posted here - An absolutely stunning read that I constantly find myself wanting to re-read to get that feeling back. Please give this book a go.

Rat Queens Volumes 1 and 2 - Reviewed in April and May 2015 Reads - This has been such a good year for graphic novels for me. I think Rat Queens is absolutely revolutionary in female-led comics and I really can't wait to see what comes next for this rag-tag band of lady adventurers.

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster by Scott Wilbanks- Review can be found here and interview with the author can be found here - Even just thinking about this nearly brings a tear to my eye.

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno- Reviewed here - I really do regret having this on my shelf for so long unread. A darker and more mysterious sibling of Wes Anderson films.

All of Saga - No explanation needed. I still need to pick up the fifth volume.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves) - Raven Boys review can be found here, and a short review of Dream Thieves can be found here - Desperately needing to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue before the final installment of the series is released next year.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert- Reviewed here - I will always be a Liz Gilbert fan.

You by Caroline Kepnes- Short review found here - Up there in my 'most terrifying books of the year' list, and one I would recommend to anybody. Maybe not for the faint-hearted. Another book on this list with a sequel I am yet to have picked up.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer- Quick review written here - The strangest book I read this year.

Volume 1 and 2 of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman - Re-reads, but still wonderful. I'm really enjoying getting back into this series right from the beginning. It's probably my favorite graphic novel series of all time.

M x


Bright Paper Packages: December 2015

1:04 pm

Subscription boxes are fun, aren't they? Especially when it's nearing Christmas and you know everything inside is going to be either sparkly or delicious. It had been a while since I got a box like this (by a while I really do mean several years, and I think it was a Glossybox I got last time). Bright Paper Packages is not a beauty box, but rather a box of gifts which can vary wildly from month to month. December's theme was 'Celebrate & Sparkle'; very fitting for Christmas cheer. As you can see above, everything was wrapped up beautifully with string and gold tissue paper. Each item was individually wrapped with wonderful marble-designed stickers and washi tape.

The first item I pulled out of the box and unwrapped was a pair of gold leaf and polymer clay earrings from the company Claudia Made This. Unfortunately I don't wear earrings, but these are stunning and I'll definitely be passing them onto a friend or family member for Christmas. 

The next parcel contained two handcrafted lollies from Holly's Lollies, a company I had actually heard of before after chatting to them on Twitter. I've already scoffed down the Spiced Gingerbread flavour which was ridiculously delicious, and I'll be popping the Cherry Amaretto into my bag for work.

Next contained in a small packages was a star-shaped cookie cutter and a family recipe for Christmas biscuits. I can confirm they are delicious (see photo at the bottom of this post), and I'll be making a second batch ASAP as the first lot went down in less than 24 hours...

To add to the festive cheer was this small parcel containing a porcelain clay bauble with gold lustre from the company Jo Heckett Ceramics. This is such a beautifully made decoration which is totally to my taste; not too fussy and very clean. 

Last but certainly not least were these heart origami straws from Paper Parade. I'm a big fan of paper straws (how much of a fan of straws can you be?) so this was a lovely surprise. I've unpackaged them and popped them in a cup on the side ready to use in festive beverages.

All in all I'm happy with what I received in my first Bright Paper Packages delivery and am looking forward to what's in store for the New Year. I'm really hoping January's box has a 'resolutions/new year new you' theme or something similar as I'm eager for a new scented candle or five...

M x

P.S. This may well be my last post before Christmas, so have a wonderful time, eat as much as you can bear, exchange thoughtful gifts, and STAY CALM.


Quick Book Reviews: Jeff VanderMeer and Emer O'Toole

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* Despite having been on my 'to read' list for months, I was fortunate to receive an eARC of Annihilation via NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, thank you! *

Annihilation* - Jeff VanderMeer

I've been trying to construct my thoughts coherently on this book for over a month now and I'm still struggling to express just why this book is so genius. This is the first in a trilogy, The Southern Reach Trilogy, and describes an expedition (one of many in the past) venturing into the mysterious Area X. There's a biologist, anthropologist, psychologist, and a surveyor; all unnamed, all equally important and unimportant. Area X is cut off from the rest of civilization and completely abandoned, only home to mystery, disappearances, psychological breakdowns, and a whole lot of weirdness. Of the few expeditions that have returned, all with no memory of how they returned, they have suffered from cancers, untimely deaths, suicide attempts, and general breakdowns, with no known cause other than 'having been to Area X'. This most recent expedition will not end any more happily. This is one of those books for me where you finish it and feel completely shocked that a book can do what it did to you. I was scared, I was confused, and I was really, really, really weirded out. VanderMeer's imagination and ability to create such a believable, yet unbelievable, world is pretty startling, and I can honestly say I have read nothing like it before. I've picked up the next book in the trilogy, Authority, which I believe is completely different to its former in the series and massively expands the mythos that is 'The Southern Reach'. Adult dystopian for fans of weird fiction.

Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts & Daring to Act Differently - Emer O'Toole

A humourous look into the construction of gender and what it is to be a woman in contemporary society. O'Toole balances her thoughts on gender with anecdotes from her less-than-open-minded-about-feminism past, which I found refreshing. We all start somewhere, and that place isn't always something we want to relate our present selves to. She knows she used to 'not care' about women's rights and their freedom to do what they want in order to please the men around her and 'fit in'. She knows people go through this. It's normal. It's the way society works. I really enjoyed Emer's commentary on gender but I do wish there was a bit more on the transgender community. It seems obvious to talk about trans-women and -men when discussing the deconstruction of what gender is, but I can only remember her spending a page or two on this topic. 

M x

P. S. My mum borrowed Girls Will Be Girls and really enjoyed it too.

P. P. S. I bought one of my friends Annihilation for Christmas because I bloody loved it so much. No, they don't read my blog. Sorry to let you down if you're my friend and reading this. It's not you.


November 2015 Book Haul

4:55 pm

This is potentially one of my biggest monthly book hauls yet, and definitely one of the most exciting. Like last month I'll be dividing it into new books I purchased, ones I bought secondhand, and ones sent to me by the publishers. Maybe there are some Christmas present ideas nestled in here, too.


Blue Lily, Lily Blue - Maggie Stiefvater - The third book in The Raven Cycle and the next one for me to read in preparation for the final installment next year. Despite loving the series so far, I probably won't pick this up any time soon as I'm a bit off of YA at the moment and am looking for a change.

Authority - Jeff VanderMeer - The sequel to Annihilation*, which I read last month (review up soon!) and absolutely adored. It was infinitely creepy, beyond weird, and one of my favourite reads of the year, by far. Excited to see where the story goes and to learn more about the mysteries of this world.

Chinese Whispers: Why Everything You've Heard About China is Wrong - Ben Chu - I am a sucker for non-fiction reads, and this one really caught my eye in my local bookshop. The title says it all really.


The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi - If you're into graphic novels, you probably would have heard of this one. Satrapi details her childhood living in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. It's an incredibly popular book in this genre and I know I'm going to find it absolutely fascinating. I've written and researched a fair bit on graphic memoirs in the past, so it will be nice to go back to the medium reading this.

Gilead - Marilynne Robinson - This first cropped up on my radar after the third book in this series, Lila, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year. As far as I can tell, these are all very slow-paced family sagas, told from varying generations.

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff - Young adult dystopias, ahoy. This isn't one I heard a lot about until the film was released (I still haven't seen it). The synopsis details how Daisy goes to visit family in the tranquil, delightful countryside of England, and the next day a bomb goes off, the world taken over by a new enemy. Mysterious.

The ChrysalidsConsider Her Ways and Others, and Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham - John Wyndham fest. After loving The Day of the Triffids, I thought I would devour the rest of his books over the next year. Fortunately the secondhand sci-fi section of my local bookshop has a fair amount of his books stacked up, so I immediately grabbed the first ones I could see.

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides - Confessions: I never finished The Virgin Suicides. I don't know why. I really don't know why. I'm very intruiged by the premise of Middlesex, however. From what I can gather, this book is about an intersex character and takes the form of a family history of sorts. Very high on my TBR list.

Sent for review

The Street* - Bernadine Bishop - I can't find a lot of information about this book, but I was drawn to its description, telling how it describes the everyday actions of a varied group of people, including a soldier with Alzheimer's, an actor, a woman seeking love, and an immortal cat.

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke* - Anne Blankman - This has not been the first time I've requested a book for review, only to find out it's a sequel. Do your research, Megan. I will definitely be picking up the first book in the series, however, as it tells the story of a young women attempting to escape Germany during WWII after sympathising with a Jewish reporter. This proves difficult for multiple reasons, one of them being that her 'uncle' is, in fact, Hitler himself. Ooh, drama.

Hoping that you all had an enjoyable November and got your mitts on some good reads.

M x


Book Review: Helle Helle's This Should Be Written in the Present Tense

10:36 am

Helle Helle's This Should Be Written in the Present Tense is a very simple book. It tells the story of Dorte, a young women, supposedly studying in Copenhagen, but really living alone by a railway station, unsure of what to do with her days. Throughout the story she has numerous relationships with men of varying intensities, but they never fill the void for her. This sense of emptiness and lack can be felt through Helle's incredibly minimalist writing style, focusing more on surroundings and the normality of Dorte's flat than what she is actually feeling. I felt, whilst reading, that I could picture everything in minute detail, from layers of dust to minor fabric imperfections, but Dorte's thoughts still passed me by. I did, however, feel a real closeness to her way of thinking  when it was described. There is a wonderful parallel in this too between Dorte's life and that of another young woman, her older friend, also called Dorte, which can be confusing for the first few chapters. Their lives mirror one another, despite a difference in ages. I enjoyed the idea that their experiences are universal.

This short novel does a very believable job at describing the life of a young woman unsure of where her life is heading, and unsure of what she really wants, simply through its sparse, yet beautiful, writing style. I've never read a text like this before, and the only thing I can think to compare it to, bizarrely, is the work of Samuel Beckett and the emptiness his writing contains, whilst still giving the reader so much to work with.

Recommended to: young women, and appreciators of minimalism. 


Books for My Non-Existent Coffee Table

9:05 am

I'm not at that point in my life yet where I have a trendy low coffee table strewn with books because space is pretty bloody crucial at the moment. I live in one room so giving myself something extra to trip over really isn't an option. That aside, I do have a rather wonderful collection of 'oversize' books on their own bookcase, available for perusing whenever my heart desires. I normally get a few for Christmas as they're not normally something I would buy myself and leave them around to read in small chunks. In some cases, there aren't really many words, as you'll see, so they can only really be defined as 'coffee table' books.

This is one I was given by my grandparents when they were having a clear out of their house as I couldn't bear to see it go anywhere else. I'm happy this is one that also comes with information about various artists and styles as I'm always interested to learn more about artistic movements and the people behind the creations. 

I received this beast of a book last Christmas and spent the whole day reading it (whilst watching, in total, four Star Trek films and having a long nap). The basis is pretty simple: the history of Batman's universe, told year-by-year, highlighting the pivotal issues, the introduction of famous characters, and relationships between varying arcs. It's everything I enjoy to read about, and it's been a really handy source for deciding which stories to read next.

Hyrule Historia - Patrick Thorpe.

My emotions when I finally found this translated into English. The Legend of Zelda series has pretty much been everything to me since my early teens, and I remember when this was first released in Japanese. Pretty much everybody I knew was itching to get their hands on a copy, and when I saw this in Forbidden Planet all of those years later, I knew I couldn't leave without it. It covers the history of the series, gives a provisional timeline for the events of all of the games (basically what everybody wanted confirmed for decades), shows beautiful concept illustrations, and ends with a manga introduction to the most recent game (at the time of publishing), Skyward Sword. Swoon.

Marvel Encyclopedia - Alastair Dougall.

Fairly self-explanatory. An encyclopedia of Marvel characters and some summaries of important comic events. This is another one that I can dip in an out of, and I'm absolutely in love with. The only problem with books like this is how quickly they can fall out of date, with the comics world changing drastically week-by-week.

Rankin Portraits - Rankin.

I can't remember how many years I've had this now, but it was my first foray into the photography of Rankin, and I've been following his pursuits ever since. I love his simple style and how he focuses on 'the person', rather than any fancy props or costumes. This is such a pleasing book to flick through when you're looking for some minimalism inspiration. 

Bond On Set: Filming Skyfall - Greg Williams.

This is one I picked up about a week after seeing Skyfall because I really wasn't ready to let it go. I could talk about that film all day, but it rekindled everything in me I ever felt towards the Bond films (in a post-Quantum world, that's very impressive), and that's as much depth as I'll go into today.  I found the cinematography of the film possibly my favourite aspect, so buying this was a non-negotiable for me.

Art of Vogue Covers 1909-1940 - William Packer.

Another book saved from the clear-out. It's fascinating to see what magazine covers used to look like, compared to the shiny photographs and barrage of tiny headlines shouting at you like we have today.

The Wes Anderson Collection - Matt Zoller Seitz and Wes Anderson.

Last, but certainly not least, is the latest addition to my coffee table book collection. This volume takes a behind-the-scenes look of all of Wes Anderson's movies (excluding Grand Budapest which came out after publication), including set design, props, scriptwriting, cinematography, costumes. For someone with such a distinct aesthetic style as Anderson, this gives a really interesting insight into how he comes to have all of these ideas.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a coffee table book collection? Please leave a comment below telling me!

M x