Sunday, 7 June 2015

Give It Away Now // #bloggerbookswap

So the gorgeous Char over at t*rexes and tiaras held one of her annual #bloggerbookswap events where readers of her blog can unite in their shared love of literature. Of course anything to do with books, treasure hunting and post and I'm definitely in; with today's feature I wanted to share with you the delightful parcel I received!!

Char lovingly matched up all of her contributors and upon receiving our postal partners and a few likes and dislikes we set to task, picking out a book or two to wrap up with a bow and send to it's new owner. The great part about this particular event is that the books are previously owned by you! So not only do you receive a newbie with high recommendations but you also get to lighten your shelves whilst knowing your precious novels will live on and be looked after by fellow readers!

I managed to land myself the belle of the ball and got to choose a little parcel for Char herself, and upon opening my little treat from her I couldn't believe what beautiful things lay beneath that barrage of stamps!

Not only do I now own (and can't wait to sink my teeth into) Theft of Life by Imogen Robertson and The Death of Lyndon Wilder and the Consequences Thereof written by D. A. Dineley but I also have the cutest note pad/ sketch book, a bundle of sea green bracelets and a stunning post card! What a gift!!

Both of the books have me super intrigued and sound totally my cup of tea when it comes to novels. Theft of Life is set in London 1785 after the body of a West Indies planter is discovered in the grounds of St Pauls. Investigations pursue and fingers begin pointing but as the plot untangles the answers do not appear to be as simple as once thought. And in The Death of Lyndon Wilder we follow the arrival of Ridley Halls new governess Anna Arbuthnot. Entering a household deep in mourning and befriending a newly orphaned young charge, chaos, threats and family legacies question the strength and survival of Ridley estate.

Two hefty reads that I am incredibly excited to get stuck into and who knows, possibly even worthy of passing on to another book lover, sharing stories and recommendations and a great way to give an old novel a new lease of life!

Be sure to keep a close eye on t*rexes and tiaras as Char hosts many a creative swap event, so head over and get involved!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Catching Up

I had one of those moments recently when you look up and suddenly weeks have gone by yet I've no recollection of the passing time. I know I can be somewhat of an airhead (tis true) but seriously, who stole the last month or so? And whoever it was, can you please tell me what I've been up to and whether it was interesting or not?!

My weary forgetfulness is one of the major reasons I am a list maker. Yes. I am one of those annoying people with scraps of paper floating around with their inner most personal thoughts listed amongst a cupcake recipe and next weeks errands, post it notes galore and one too many notebooks on the go. Lists are a bit of a life saver and for a naturally gifted worrier such as myself, they can relieve a stressed mind and allow for some restful sleep!

Blogging is also a fantastic way to record those moments you wish to hold onto and to share on. So with the winning combination of sharing my recent thoughts and findings in list formation before they are entirely lost to me, lets have a wee catch up!

wearing: Bare legs; making the most of that summery weather (however brief it was). Casual pencil skirts; comfy, flattering and easy to wear.

searching: Apartment hunting in the East of the Netherlands; yes, a move is on the cards!

planning: Coffee and cake with a new friend. Whipping up a retro silhouette blouse for the #Simplicitybloggerchallenge.

coveting: All of the beautiful copies of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland that seem to be illuminating the book shops at the moment, in honour of the novels 150th anniversary. My particular favourites were this eye popping pink and black, leather bound hard back copy and also the stunning Penguins Classics version and of course this punchy, one of a kind cover designed by Dame Vivienne Westwood.

listening: The neighbours chickens gossiping in the garden and my early morning cycle playlist. On. Repeat.

studying: Dutch of course, by translating the visually wonderful Flow magazine. Win win!

finishing: My first ever crochet blanket!

reading: After devouring The Help by Kathryn Stockett and A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab I went, once again, in an altogether different direction and am currently reading and enjoying Northanger Abbey by the legend that is Jane Austin.

marathoning: Orphan Black series one and two. Boy was I hooked from the get go. To appease my appetite after completing what Netflix had to offer on the series I have begun to watch The Fall; creepy, dark and mysterious chock full of irresistible Irish accents.

polishing: My CV. You never know when your next project or career adventure is around the corner...

consuming: Caramel cappuccino by the bucket load, pear ice lollies and rijst pap (cold rice pudding!).

adding: These new Dutch phrases and words to my growing vocab; 'Een flesje champagne opentrekken en op de tafels dansen!' ~ open a bottle of champagne and dance on the tables! 'Genieten van wat er is' ~ enjoy what there is. 'Trouw zijn aan jezelf' ~ being true to yourself. 'Begeren' ~ covet. 'Paplepel ingegoten' ~ spoonfed. 'Bewondert' ~ admire.

receiving: A beautiful post card from my beautiful friend and an exciting parcel from the lovely Char for her #bloggerbookswap event!

pinning: Always, always pinning. Most recently though lots of interior inspiration with the move coming up, seeking a new look for my hair this summer and many an hour procrastinating with other beautiful images.

feasting my eyes: Love Rosie, Cake, Still Alice, Laggies, Begin Again and Last Night. Fuelling my love of film, and apparent interest in Keira of late!

So out comes the notebook and pencil in preparation of journaling the upcoming weeks. Feel free to share below anything you've been up to lately or any of your favourite things from this month!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Turn It Up // #1 Early Morning Cycle

Am I the only nerd closet rock star that has wildly dramatic day dreams whilst listening to just the right song at just the right moment in time, as that hazy sunshine hits the train window- the perfect lighting for your music video...

There is something resoundingly fun about escaping into music, allowing it to envelope your senses, letting out all that daily fuss by dancing like a wild woman, perfecting your air guitar and drum solo, screeching out half made up lyrics whilst in a traffic jam or choreographing some seriously 'contemporary' dance moves in the shower (tread wisely here!).

One of my favourite things to do is switch up my playlists for my journey to work, for crafting in my little studio and for evenings relaxing at home. I think this could make a nice series of posts for our ever changing moods and this first playlist I am sharing is what I have been using for my early morning cycle. I hope one or two of you enjoy. Pleasant jamming dearest peoples!

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Say It Like It Is // T - Shirt Sass

You know those days when you struggle to keep that polite tight lip, that person is testing your patience, you get a pull in your best 80 denier, the grumpy sales assistant going the right way for at least an audible tut... Some days you just can't take anymore, well boy do I have the solution!!

Say it with a sassy tee. Wear your heart attitude on your sleeve and put it bluntly for all to beware. I have had a party for one picking out the best, funniest and most fierce shirts fit for a she-ro! Please behold and enjoy!

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So keep your cool, grit those teeth and flash your foe a peek of your sassy armour! For further hilarity head over to the facebook page.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Loved Before Book Haul

Hello dearest Earth dwellers! I bring to you today note of my latest treasure hunt findings, this time round in the form of two beautifully well loved books! Feeling the weight of a sturdy hard back book, it's gently curled and torn front cover, the endearingly faded ink and musty scented pages, this here my friends, is indeed buried treasure!

Whilst on a trip visiting home, family, friends and all the Cadbury's I can store in my delightfully round face, my folks and I took a few day trips here and there, making the most of my being in England. One of our road trips led us to a local gem, Lichfield, although some what tiny for such classification, but a city no doubt, (cathedral and all).

Just a stones throw from my parents house, we headed over to the cobbled streets and trinket full shops of this historically rich place. The relevance of Lichfield, historically speaking is intriguing and much can be researched of it's past, including the bustling development of this thriving coaching city during the 18th century, housing some of the greatest minds of their time, like Erasmus Darwin, Anna Seward and also the writer of the first authoritative Dictionary of the English Language; Samuel Johnson. The home of Samuel Johnson stands in the heart of Lichfield and exists today as a museum exhibiting original artifacts from his life and of course, a second hand book shop! Which is where I picked up this little beauty.

This magnificent book is written by Margaret Sanders and titled Intimate Letters of England's Queens shares with us a collection of endearing correspondence from some of England's most notably discrete royals, allowing us a brief insight into captured moments and personal thoughts of these fascinating women. This copy was published by London Museum Press Limited in 1957 and is a first edition, but I found on Book Depository (link above), that it was re released last year! Great news!

Beginning with Catherine of Aragon and ending with Queen Victoria, Sanders has chosen letters for their romantic or human appeal, rather than historical significance, showing the diverse personalities and nature of each reigning Queen, but has also given the reader some fitting background knowledge illuminating this panorama of three hundred years of English history.

I have yet to read this, so I can't really give you a solid review or my own thoughts on the book, but I can however share with you the passage on the back cover, which is enough to make me cancel all plans for the weekend and fall into this wildly romantic notion of peering behind the velvet curtain;

Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne
The Comtesse de Boigne was born in 1781; she died in 1866, having lived through three revolutions and a war that lasted 25 years.
Bought up in the shadow of Versailles, Adèle d' Osmond was the spoilt plaything of Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette, while in the later years, as Comtesse de Boigne, she moved in the most distinguished circles of the Empire and the Restoration and was intimate with the remarkable men and women who helped to shape the destinies of her country. Writing with wit and a sound judgement of character, she brings to life such illustrious contemporaries as Napoleon, Louis XVIII and Charles X; the prince Regent of England and his daughter, Charlotte; Talleyrand, Metternich and Castlereagh; Chateaubriand and Madame de Staël. 
This book is a fascinating commentary on an age when splendour and tragedy were so closely linked.

On a separate day out with ma and pa, on our way to Worcester for the afternoon, we stopped in one of the local villages at a tiny church fair, with the most curious selection of second hand books on offer. I scored a copy of The Help by Kathryn Stockettwhich I am currently devouring. Despite loving the movie and now too the novel, it unfortunately happens to be a movie tie in paper back version, so not exactly worth photographing for you. One wonderful book I found that I do want to share with you is this extraordinary and subjective look at the mind behind Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll The Raven and the Writing Desk by Francis Huxley.

This copy happens to be published by Thames and Hudson, London, in 1976. Here is a little something from the introduction to this book, maybe it captures your interest or at least helps explains what drove me to wrestle an OAP to the ground in order to buy it;

Anyone who has enjoyed the adventures of Alice will enjoy and be thoroughly intrigued by this brilliant book. So will those with interests in language, psychology and structuralism, who will appreciate the help that a study of Nonsense can give them. And all those who are attracted by puzzles, games and enigmas will want to know not just how, but in how many ways, the riddle can be solved.

So there you have it, two rather unusual finds but super fascinating subjects with beautifully eye catching covers, tenderly looked after by their previous owners. I look forward to learning more as I read these books, but for now I will be happy to have adopted them into my care.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Spring Fever // Sewing Wish List

As the fluffy clouds gradually sweep across a brightening sky, becoming bluer and bluer with each passing week, I feel more than ready to dust off my trusty sewing machine and whip up a storm. And by storm I mean get back into sewing for myself and attempting a few fresh and spring like pieces!

The styles that have really caught my attention lately seem both seasonally appropriate, figure flattering and have a simple silhouette that can be created in a super wide variety of fabrics. Woop!

First up on my Spring sewing wish list is a gentle shirt / blouse with short, capped or sloping sleeves, something light and breezy, not too fitted. Perhaps one button up and one loose over head style. Collar or none, I simply can not yet decide, maybe I will see where the fabric takes me (nice way of saying I'll wing it!). Here are some stunning examples of the type of beauty that I'm jabbering on about:

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The second item whizzing round my busy mind is a dress. Again, short, bracelet or cap sleeve (is this a longing for warm weather?), fitted top but not tight tight with a slight kick to the skirt. Not long but not short is my usual go to with dress length. Nothing too fussy, nice and easy form constructed from possibly a cotton denim fabric, something light but with a bit of hold. Here are my visual prompts showing a variation on said silhouette:

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Lots of gorgeous shape and design inspiration, next thing to do is narrow down ideas and source a fabric. First things first however, is to finish the pair of knitted socks I am in the middle of (birthday present for my boyfriend), before I begin any new projects!! Are any of you guys guilty of unfinished business? I'm awful for having too many ideas at once and letting that stop me from completing things. Naughty.

Here's to some sunshine! We can hope, can't we?? : )

Saturday, 14 March 2015

End of Winter Book Reviews

After setting myself a few reading goals at the beginning of this year I have been steaming ahead into my 'to read' pile and found myself super pleased with most of the books read.

Having, or more specifically making that precious time, in a jam packed day, to really sit back and enjoy a book, was my first and foremost literary goal, and already flying through the third month, setting sail for Spring, I find myself actually dedicating parts of my day for this purpose. Gone are the excuses and distractions that used to keep me from indulging in reading. Having that ridiculous pressure of 'what should I be doing/ what am I missing out on' etc was blocking my way, and by pushing those negative and dragging thoughts away I have fallen in love with reading once more.

These are the books I have read and enjoyed over this fading Winter:

A Feast For Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George R. R. Martin - 5 stars
I don't have a review of such for this novel for several reasons. One reason being that it is such a beast of a book that I wouldn't know where to begin, another would be for fear of spoiling an essential plot twist for fellow Game of Thrones followers, but also because I doubt my ability to do the story justice. I will say though, that although it was a little slower getting started than the previous three, I really enjoyed it and towards the second half of the book found myself unable to put it down. If you're already a fan of the series, of course you will pick it up! Enough said.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman - 3 stars
"Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria Forester, even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village it's name. Beyond that stone barrier, Tristran learns, lies Faerie... and the most exhilarating adventure of the young man's life."

I hate to say this, but I really couldn't enjoy this book, despite it ticking all kinds of boxes. The story was adventureful, the characters were odd and wonderful and the worlds were interesting and had my curiosity tightly gripped... But... I just couldn't get on with how it was written. I feel I may have missed something. I really didn't enjoy the tone or the style and couldn't therefore appreciate the novel, as I had hoped.
I think this book, with it's witches and unicorns and wonderfully fairytale happenings, will capture the imagination and hearts of many people yet to read it, but sadly I speed read my way to the end, feeling a light relief as I closed the book.

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O' Porter - 4 stars
Set in the 90's, Renee and Flo are an unlikely friendship paring but find kinship together throughout this nostalgic read. Following their teenage dramatics this book shows a peek into the lives of two small town adolescents and the entanglement of friendship.

What a sweet and funny book. It is what it is, no frills attached and certainly doesn't claim to be poetry, but for a nostalgic and often hilariously cringe worthy glimpse back at life as a teenager, this little novel was marvellous. It's the honest insight, the unforgivably brutal happenings and the awkwardly familiar emotions that really make this book. I recommend this to anyone looking for a blast from the past, to squirm in their seat and to laugh at and with the characters and themselves whilst remembering days gone by!

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - 4 stars
"A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story of the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829."

Soft, enchanting, gentle paced story full of intrigue and emotion. Emotion made stronger by the moment you realise this tale is based on true events. Cleverly led and delicately delivered, I was captured by this touching story and felt submerged into it's world. One for solitary souls seeking a glimpse of a foreign time and place.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 3 stars
"Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret; a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel."

Ahh Mr. Gatsby. A finely spun tale of decadence and consumption in a time so fittingly equal. An honest review; I didn't fall in love with this book. I think the story line is wonderful and clever and full of awfully honest romance. But the telling, (sorry Fitzgerald), just didn't jam right for me. It was however, a perfect insight into the times of excess and showed a distinct window into the 1920's. The characters are also fantastic and believable, flaws and all. Over all this book gave great story and captured the essence of the decade but for me personally I fought my way through the writing style.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - 4 stars
"A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after a prolific event, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms and threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild." (I was purposefully vague whilst selecting this summary... Go into this one with little insight as possible!)

What a truly fascinating idea! I loved the entwining elements that run throughout the story, the pacing all the way along, the focus on various characters and their individual stories merging into a whole. I really loved the thoughts this book provokes; the reflection upon ones own existence, priorities and importance when looking from a greater height.
As the story moves back and forth between what are in the end two worlds, the parallels made between this and the comic book, also between the world on stage and real life, was really quite something.
I did start out with a 3 star rating opinion, but as the story developed and unfolded I found myself sucking into it, as each character drew closer to some revelation I was also handing onto the end of each chapter.
One thing I couldn't personally groove with; within a paragraph made up of several sentences I could all too easily notice the repetition of stand out words or phrases. Such a minute thing to point out but now and then I found it noticeable enough to distract slightly.
Other than that I really enjoyed this book. An original telling of a classic 'what if' scenario.

I am very much looking forward to choosing and turning to the first page of my next book, and hopefully continuing to allow space in my day to really consume the story. What have you guys been reading lately and do you have any suggestions or recommendations for me, based on my reviews?