The Most Beautiful Bargain

IMG_0567Guys. Guys. Oxfam is my new favourite place.

I was going to dinner last week, when I saw these in the window, for £35 and new I just had to have them. £35. Seriously. That’s five pounds a book and they are the most gorgeous editions.

IMG_0563

This was at about 7 o’clock in the evening so the shop was shut and I had a panic that they would be gone in the morning. I literally left my house at 5 past nine in the morning to get these books. Screw university. Harry Potter. And now they are mine and I am so, so happy. I’ve been wanting this particular set for so long, but they’re just so expensive. Recently I’ve become even more desperate for them because they’ve changed the covers, and I wanted the artwork that I grew up with. I literally could not leave these in the shop. £35. What.

IMG_0566

I’ll stop fan-girling now, but I am so, so happy with these. Aren’t they lovely? The Oxfam bookshop in Oxford is my new favourite place.

Have any of you guys found any amazing book bargains in charity shops?

~ a ridiculously happy Becca x

(I’m sorry for the dodgy pictures. I have literally nowhere in my room that has a: good lighting and b: is not covered in laundry.)

Guys, I’m sorry!

Two apologies, quickly. First, I’m sorry that I missed posting last Sunday. I got caught up in life and I am annoyed at myself for it, so last Sunday’s post came today instead. I’m slightly worried that the rest of term might mean that posts continue to get missed, especially as today was the last of my pre-written ones, but I have a list of ideas, and I’m going to re-find my password so I can log in on my phone and hopefully writing will happen at some point. Having access to this blog on my phone is so much easier as it means I can write in dead time, like when I’m waiting for a bus or when I’ve stopped paying attention to my lecture… Fingers crossed. My second apology is for the slightly dodgy aesthetics of my posts at the moment. I am struggling with the website. It won’t let me scroll right to the bottom of what I’m writing, so I either have to write all in one go or I can only edit the top section. It also has a fit every time I try and add pictures (might just be my laptop tbh) so they’ve been limited to one or two a lot. Will try and fix that too.

So yeah, lots of fixing to be done! Thank you for sticking around though, those of you who are still reading. You’re all amaze. And exams are coming up soon, and then uni is over and I have the rest of my life for all of the writing I can possibly want! Maybe I’ll start a book of my own…

~ Becca x

The Mime Order – Samantha Shannon

M_O_BlackThere are no words. I am in love. So much love. I had forgotten how much I adored the Bone Season, and I do not know how it took me this long to read this book. So good.
My mother was looking for a book to read, and having rejected Cinder as ‘not really the kind of thing she fancied’ I was trying to find something that was a different- a bit meatier and a bit less YA dystopian fiction. I ended up between The Bone Season and The Nigt Circus- both, although being quite complicated and a tad slow, have really intricate worlds and exciting characters. I described both to my mother and she chose the Bone Season. Wonderful.
Now I wasn’t going to read the Mime Order until the summer because for any of you that haven’t seen it, it’s absolutely massive. Until my mother started talking about how much she was enjoying TBS, and then the book talk began and I had this massive urge to READ IT RIGHT NOW. Said urge was possibly not helped by the fact that I have a thing about being the first person to read my new books and I knew my mother was going to want the second one pretty soon… So I read it. I did. It took me maybe two days. It was amazing.
I was so engrossed that I took it up to London with me when I went to watch the boat race. I could have started a new book on my kindle,but no, instead I chose to lug the brick around because it was just so darn good. Totally worth it.
I’m not going to go into the plot because huuuuuge spoilers, but I am in love with the world. It’s so amazingly fleshed out. The plot,as with TBS was detailed and intricate, and it kept me captivated the whole way through. We learn so much more about the characters, and began to understand why they’re the way they are and it was fascinating. I liked the fact that, even though the Paige-Warden relationship is still there (it would have been very weird if it disappeared completely) it was a lot more natural and felt less like e centre of the plot. I actually enjoyed it, and missed Warden when he wasn’t there. So that was a surprise.
But the world. It was by far the best part. The whole inner workings of the syndicate, the mime lords, the mollishers (which by the way is just the best word). I love how the names are so closely linked to the characters. The different atmospheres of each area, or each gang. Seeing Paige’s interaction with Jaxon and the Seven Dials. Seeing how London worked. It was marvellous. Sheol I was interesting but SciLo is about two hundred times better.
I also felt a lot more invested in the characters having now been with them for two massive books, and it made everything so much more tense. So much more desperate. I’m now stuck in a reading slump because it was just so good that nothing else is really matching it at the moment. I cannot wait for the next one, and I have a feeling my mother would agree.

Collections: Penguin Clothbound Classics

IMG_0047I love collecting books. Any books will do – I have a ridiculous amount and yet I always want more and I feel so happy looking at shelves which are just packed with books, because, books! But within my overall library, there are certain types of books which i collect in particular. Obviously, I always try and buy entire series if I like them, but I’m talking here more about larger collections, which are slightly more personal to me, whether they are a series, or a selection of books with the same cover design. The first of these collections are the Penguin Clothbound Classics, because aren’t they just beautiful!
IMG_0051
They do a whole load of classic books, from Jane Austen to Dickens, to treasure island to Alice in Wonderland, and they’re all bound in the most gorgeous cloth covers, in a single cover-design of an embossed intricate pattern. Usually the design is relevant to the story (Alice has flamingoes and Treasure Island has parrots) but sometimes it’s not quite as direct (I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with Dracula but it’s definitely striking). They all also have ribbon bookmarks in them, and they look so nice all lined up on the shelf together (or they will once I actually fill the whole shelf…)
IMG_0053
At the moment I have four, but I plan to increase that until I have a whole bunch. I’d love to have an entire shelf of them above my desk if I ever get an office. Pride and Prejudice was the first one I got, which I bought myself a few years ago as a treat (and also as an attempt to get myself to actually read Pride and Prejudice but so far that plan has been an almighty failure). I was given Dracula by my boyfriend for my birthday last year. He then gave me the Hound of the Baskervilles this year, and Alice in Wonderland was a birthday present from my best friend. They both have excellent taste.
IMG_0045
I just can’t get over how gorgeous they are! Is it just me? The pages are a bit thin for my liking, but I’m not sure I really care. All of mine came from Waterstones, which I think is the easiest place to find them. – they’re usually dotted around the Classics section, with each shelved alongside other versions of its title.  I think you can also get them online though. They vary from about £15 to around £20 depending on the size of the book.

~ Becca x

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender – Leslye Walton

18166936
Sigh. I don’t really know what to think about this one. I had heard such amazing reviews, and so was really excited to read it, but it just kinda, missed something for me. I don’t know.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender tells the life story of Ava Lavender, a girl, born in the twenties, who has wings. It follows not only her life, but those of her mother and grandmother, twisting them all together to create a sad, haunting tale of fate, and love, and loss, and hope.

The way it was approached was definitely really interesting. I liked the way that it told the stories of all three women, and whilst they were distinct from one another, they also intertwined immaculately. The writing was good – really lyrical and unique. I’m certainly glad I’ve read it as it makes you question a lot of your priorities and address what you really value in life. But at the same time, there was just something missing for me.

I never really got attached to the characters. It wasn’t that they weren’t well-written, or weren’t fully fleshed out, it was more that they just felt quite distant from me. It meant that by the time I got to the end, where the most dramatic event occurs, I just wasn’t that distressed. And believe me, I should have been. I was shocked true, but more in the way you’re shocked when you hear about something awful happening on the news, but you have no real personal involvement. It just didn’t affect me as much as I wished it had.

I don’t think it’s a bad book. Honestly. I think it is a melancholy book. You know those songs that you listen to just after a break up, or when something you were hoping for has gone horribly wrong, and they suddenly resonate with you about two hundred times more than they did when you were happy? Those songs that you listen to on repeat, because despite the fact that they express someone else’s woe, they somehow make you feel a whole lot better? I kinda feel that Ava Lavender is one of those songs. If you are sad, then it soothes wounds, and the beauty of the writing hugs your heart, and the difficulties of the characters leave you in floods of tears. But when you’re happy, it’s just not quite enough to leave you coming back for more.

I feel awful saying this, as the book is so well put together, but for me, it just wasn’t a winner. Sorry guys.

~ Becca x

A Belated Birthday Haul

(This was actually meant to go up yesterday, but then my internet broke, so I’m sorry it’s late guys!)

So I got a lot of books for my birthday. Like, a lot of books. It was amazing. I want to say now that I’m not bragging, I am so grateful for everything that I was given, but I thought it would be nice to show you guys how my bookshelves have expanded in the last two weeks.
Because I got so many I’m not going to go over every single one properly – that post would just be ridiculously long. Instead I’m going to talk about the ones that I’m the most excited about (although that’s pretty hard to choose) and use photographs to show off the rest of them. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words :P I do apologise for my photography skills though – I don’t have a proper camera, so I have to use my iPad which is okay in terms of quality but makes actually taking the pictures a bit awkward! There’s also a limited selection of potential photograph taking spots in my room so I improvised. I don’t think they came out too badly though!

Here’s what I got:
IMG_0028
And these are the five I’m the most excited about:

IMG_0042
These Broken Stars not only has an amazingly beautiful cover, but I’d also heard so many good things about it that I needed it. I’ve actually already read this one- I read it pretty much as soon as I got it – and it was fab. You should all go and get it now while I pootle off down to Waterstones and acquire the second one in equally gorgeous hardcover, because matching sets are important, okay.

Vicious, by V.E. Schwab has had amazing reviews on BookTube. It’s close enough to the fantasy-YA genres that I can almost guarantee that I’ll enjoy it, but from what I’ve heard it’s different enough to be refreshing and exciting. Also, got to get excited over a book where character development is one of the biggest praises I’ve heard for it!

The Girl With All The Gifts. This is a weird one. I’m really intrigued – I love post apocalyptic stuff, and things based around survival and rebuilding so on that note I’m really looking forwards to it. On the other hand, I am absolutely terrified of zombies. Like, can’t watch more than about ten minutes of the walking dead without guaranteeing myself nightmares, and I have planned out my entire survival plan in the event that, god forbid, a zombie apocalypse does occur, level of terrified. I know it’s ridiculous, but my brain is weird. So yeah, bit scared of this one. I’m taking it up to uni with me because my boyfriend is staying with me and then he can look after me when I inevitably terrify myself.

The Dream Thieves. The Raven Boys was pretty great, so I have high hopes. On another note, I’m currently reading the Scorpio Races (it’s the one hiding half off the left edge of the picture above) and I’m less thrilled by it. This is sad.

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson because I’ve heard amazing things about his writing and I have to start somewhere. Also I haven’t read a good, proper fantasy book in ages, unless you count the Mime Order, so I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it once term ends!

IMG_0035

Also, a shout out to Mary-Lou at the Chalet School, which was given to me by my sister. I have actually read it, which is why it’s not on my most anticipated, but I was super excited nonetheless. I read loads of the Chalet School books when I was younger, and they’re really nostalgic for me, so I’ve been collecting them for years. However, finding the unabridged versions is either really difficult or really expensive so I am very happy to have another to add to the collection. I might do a post on my Chalet School books one day, as basically no-one I know has even heard of them, let alone read them, while I’m basically obsessed.
Thank you to all the wonderful people in my life who got me books.  I am super lucky, and now I need a new bookshelf as mine are exploding.

~ Becca x

A Spring Tag (Kind Of)

eastern-daffodils-1_2968719

As it’s Easter, and spring officially started a few weeks ago, I wanted to do a Spring/Easter tag, a bit like the Christmas ones that were around, but I couldn’t actually find one I liked – everything seemed to be very beauty related, and while I do love my beauty, and might keep some of the questions, I didn’t really think it fitted with this blog! So instead I decided to make one up… Lets see how this goes:

1. What do you like most about Spring?

I love that spring marks the end of winter – I am definitely a Summer child, and as soon as the wild flowers start to bloom, and the sun starts to replace the rain I get infinitely happier. Waking up when it isn’t pitch black outside makes me so much more excited to start the day, and always reminds me that summer is coming!

2. What is your favourite Easter chocolate?

It used to be Creme Eggs, because they’re amazing, but now that they’ve gone and changed the chocolate it’s not the same anymore, and they’ve become a bit of a disappointment… WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT? It makes me so sad. So Mini Eggs maybe? Or that Cadburys chocolate bar with white chocolate bunnies on it, because they’re adorable.

3. How do you update your wardrobe for Spring?

More dresses. More skirts. Less boots. Hopefully I can start to phase the tights out soon, and then shorts, and crop tops, and loose t-shirts and bliss. Also I tend to go from dark lipstick to bright or nude lipstick around this time!

4. What kind of books do you like to read in Spring?

I’m not the kind of person who changes they’re reading habits that much based on the season, so if there’s a book I really want to read, I’ll still just read it. That being said, I think I do tend to steer away from the heavier, more intense books or anything super long in spring – I’d rather have something light-hearted and uplifting! I think I also tend to read more contemporary books in the spring and summer, but I think that’s coincidence rather than a rule!

5. Do your family have any particular Spring/Easter traditions?

My Mum’s side of the family always have a gathering on Easter Sunday, to celebrate Easter. The whole extended family would pile into either my Grandparent’s and then later, my Aunt’s house, to eat a lot of food, and just generally catch up. It’s one of the few times a year where we get the whole family together, so it’s always really nice! Since we were small there would be an Easter Egg hunt for all the kids, although that is stopping this year, as the majority of the cousins are now around 20!

So there is my Spring Tag, or my attempt at it at least. I wanted to keep it quite short, as long tags can sometimes be a bit of a hassle. I use the word tag loosely, as I’m not actually going to tag anyone, but I would love to hear all of your answers! So definitely give it a go if you fancy :)

Happy Easter everyone, I hope the Easter Bunny brings you all of the chocolate!

~ Becca x

The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

So it turns out I’ve had this sitting in my drafts for the last two months; god knows why I didn’t actually post it. Have it now to make up for my absolute lack of usefulness on the blog front. SORRY GUYS. The good news is the first draft of my thesis is only 50 words away from being done, and I get to go home tomorrow which means more time for blogging. Hopefully. I promise nothing. It was also my birthday yesterday so expect a birthday haul soon – although I know my father only ordered my presents on my birthday, so whether they’ll actually arrive in the near future remains to be seen. Anyway:

9780545424929_p0_v1_s260x420

This book has been on my TBR for so long. I remember when it came out and it was on the 3 for 2 stand at Waterstones. And yet it took me until this Christmas to buy it.

I have to say I massively underrated Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. I read Lament when I was a lot younger and really enjoyed it, but when I read Shiver etc a few years ago I didn’t really connect with it. It wasn’t awful and I still finished the whole series but I felt like there was something missing. I put my enjoyment of Lament down to tastes changing with age and never really got around to picking up the Raven Boys. But then I heard really great things and I finally, finally got around to getting it. I wasn’t disappointed.

I felt like the Raven Boys was a bit more mature than the Wolves trilogy which I appreciated. I found Blue incredibly interesting as a character. Obviously the love story is one of the major plot themes, and I really like the way it was approached. Blue was niether the love-sick girl mooning over an idolised boy, or the strong, overly I independant woman who needs no man but is overcome by one particularly persistent love interest. The same was true of Gansey: he had a good balance between cocky-facade and genuine, confused teenager which is something I see in a lot of people I know. The changing points of view really exaggerated it and at so many points I just wanted to give him a hug or jump up and down in excitement with him. I wasn’t so convinced by the love triangle, as ever, but it was at least less forced than most.

The plot was interesting, even if I could kinda guess what was going to happen. I am super interested to find out more about the trees though, both the talking ones and the vision one.

There was one thing I was really impressed by though and I can’t decide if I liked it or not: the atmosphere. It was so creepy. It might just be me but the whole time I was reading the book I felt like I was being watched. I was so on edge. It was both great because I got so immersed, and really disconcerting as I don’t often get it with books. Really really impressed with it though.

So yeah, I am back on the Maggie Stiefvater train guys! :D

~ Becca x

An Update, Finally

I am sorry that I have been AWOL for the last few weeks. I know I don’t post that often to begin with, but I haven’t had the chance to post at all recently, so I’m sorry to anyone who was checking back looking for new content. I suck.

 

Life has been super hectic recently – doing a one year Masters means they smush an entire degree into a very short space of time, and to be honest, it just doesn’t really fit. Everyone ends up completely swamped with work all the time. I’m writing my thesis at the moment, which means I spend most of my life sat in this cafe:

IMG_0019

drinking vast quantities of tea and surrounded by paper. The staff are lovely though so it’s not all bad.

IMG_0017

For the last term I’ve been doing bout 8 hours of work a day, along with trying to juggle two sports, which didn’t really leave much time for reading or writing. The last three weeks have also been competition season for both Cheerleading and Rowing, which means they took up even more time than usual. All the competitions were amazing though, especially Torpids which is the Bumps competition in Oxford (I might do a post at some point explaining what Bumps racing is and how it works because it really is a weird concept!) as we basically spent 4 days at the river, in the sun with cider and friends and it was bliss. Now that term’s finished the sport has died down a bit, but I’m having to make up time on my thesis which means more like 9 hour days for the next three weeks!

 

I don’t want to be making up excuses, but I also think it’s daft to pretend that life isn’t stressful when it actually is. I just wanted to update you guys, and apologise, and warn you that I might continue to be off the radar for a while. But I’m going home for Easter in a few weeks, and I can’t bloody wait! It means I’ll suddenly get a week or so where I don’t have to work at all, and I can read and write, and it’s going to be absolutely amazing. Also baths. I miss my bath so much. So there’s that to look forward to :) And Spring appears to be coming around the corner here in England too. It’s pretty darn great to wake up in the morning to sunlight, and not have to wear a coat all the time. Sun makes me so happy. Bring on summer!

 

On a slightly happier note I bought books! Well, technically I bought them at the end of January but this is the first chance I’ve had to tell you guys about it. The Mime Order is the sequel to The Bone Season, which I loved, so I have high hopes for this one! I deliberately ordered it as soon as it came out even though I knew I wouldn’t have time to read it, because I wanted the big, hardback version to match The Bone Season. I’m picky, and I like my covers to match, and they’re so gorgeous I just needed it.

IMG_0004

Pretty Honest is a beauty guide by Sally Hughes. I’ve only really flicked through it so far but it’s great. Her writing is really blunt, and straightforward, and its not patronising at all. It basically covers everything you can think of in the beauty realm. Review to follow! (Hopefully…)

 

IMG_0005

 

So yeah, that’s my life at the moment. It’s pretty dull tbh, but ce la vie. Time to power through!

50 Shades of Grey: The Bad and The Good

fifty-shades-of-grey-banner

 

50 Shades of Grey. The Controversy. And with the film hitting cinemas yesterday (I do not understand people who think watching some morally dubious erotica with all of the erotica blurred out is a great valentine’s date, but there you go), I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and write a post about it.

Firstly, 50 Shades is not good literature. It is poorly written, and quite frankly just promotes abuse. Anyone who claims otherwise, clearly does not understand the nature of abuse.There are numerous other articles written on this, who explain the situation far more eloquently than I ever could, (my Facebook feed is literally littered with them) so I’m not going to go into the details here. If you want more information, please, please go and read them. If you think Christian Grey is a heart-throb, please, please go and read them. That said, I want to make it very clear here that I do not condone the actions in 50 Shades as they are portrayed – they are an incredibly poor representation of BDSM culture, and the entire book is really quite sinister.

That being said, I don’t think 50 Shades is entirely bad. Here are my three reasons why I think everyone (over 18) should read at least some of 50 Shades:

1. It brought erotica massively into the foreground. Suddenly its okay to read porn, as well as watch it, and an entire genre of literature has been opened up to the public. In turn this gets people talking, communicating about sex. Whilst 50 Shades of Grey is a very bad model, other erotica is not, and those better written, better researched examples can actually be incredibly educational, particularly to young people who are only just learning about sex. Many of them promote protected sex, surprisingly one of the few places where 50 Shades is not a complete train wreck. A lot of them emphasise the importance of communication in a relationship (not 50 Shades though I’m afraid.) Some focus on casual sex, others on sex in a loving relationship, and they show that both are okay. In a society where talk about sex is still fairly limited, 50 Shades has opened the way to a new avenue of discussion and communication. While it may have its issues, other books come to the foreground which present healthy attitudes to sex, and that is fantastic.

2. Similar, yet also opposite, 50 Shades has highlighted the difficulties surrounding sexual, and domestic abuse. Abuse can take a variety of forms, and is often incredibly difficult not only to identify but to deal with. Often those being abused do not themselves realise it until it is too late. Abuse goes beyond just physical violence. Emotional manipulation is abuse. Controlling someone’s life is abuse. I feel like, while certainly not her intention, EL. James has brought what has previously been a relatively shady issue, often swept under the carpet, to the foreground. 50 Shades shows us what not to do. I know that a lot of people are boycotting the book and the film altogether because of the content. I’m in favour of the opposite: promote it, because the more people who are exposed to the actions of Christian Grey in a purely fictitious setting, means hopefully the more people that are able to identify emotional and domestic abuse, and as such protect themselves and others. Just promote it in the right way.

3. It’s hilarious. Once you accept that a lot of what happens will make you incredibly uncomfortable, the awful, awful sex scenes coupled with the awful, awful writing, and the complete lack of characterisation is hysterical. It has to be said. I have read fan fiction better written than this (actually some fan fiction is amazing and I am upset that this rubbish got published instead).

It is okay to like 50 Shades of Grey. I feel like amidst all of the controversy this has been forgotten. If it turns you on that is okay. If you think its fun that is okay. If you hate everything about it: also okay. Just so long as you realise that it is fiction and don’t try to emulate it in real life. That if you can relate to it you recognise the warning signs and go do some research on abusive relationships. That if you are interested in BDSM you don’t use 50 Shades as your go to guide. It is absolutely, perfectly, 100% fine to like/love/adore 50 Shades of Grey, so long as you make sure that your own sex life is safe and consensual.

There we go; that is my very quickly typed out thoughts on the matter. I am hoping that this isn’t controversial/doesn’t upset anyone. I want to say it again, THE MAJORITY OF THE ACTIONS PORTRAYED IN FIFTY SHADES OF GREY ARE NOT OKAY. PLEASE DO NOT WISH FOR A BOYFRIEND LIKE CHRISTIAN GREY. JUST NO.

~ Becca x