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

1:00 pm

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

1:00 pm

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

10:25 am

* 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.