13 November 2018

Bookish Items/Merchandise I’d Like to Own

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Bookish Items/Merchandise I’d Like to Own
I decided that this week I'd get creative and rather specific with my list, and think up all the bookish things I wish existed for me to own.
  • Sky In The Deep hair stick
    A double pronged hair stick with gorgeous Viking-esque carvings at the top. Maybe inlaid with metal to bring out the pattern. OR a hair stick shaped like an axe, the the handle as the prong.
  • Lockwood & Co insulated flask
    For tea, obviously. Need to keep my spirits (ha) up when it's chilly.
  • The Extinction Trials Milo plushie
    TBH I just want to hug Milo, but dinosaurs are kinda big and probably not so huggable, so a plushie will do.
  • Clean Lexi inspired candle
    Yes, it's a candle but ALSO it would  smell rather specifically of champagne and clean linen, with a hint of lavender, and have a little shimmer hidden away in the pure white wax, and a quote on the outside: "We aren't broken. We're just alive."
  • Queens of Geek autograph book
    Vibrant and brightly coloured and quirky, perfect for getting autographs at cons.
  • When the Beat Drops headphones
    A gorgeous pair of over-ear headphones, sound excluding and vibrant, for listening to music.
  • A Court of Thorns & Roses oracle deck
    I think that the characters in this series would translate excellently into an oracle deck, and also they'd be pretty.
  • Children of Blood and Bone Amari inspired tea
    I've kind of already blended up my own, but I'd love an official Amari tea as she is my queen.
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns quote bracelet
    Very specifically I'd like my favourite quote on a bracelet: "The beauty of this world is fading all too fast through the cruelty and thoughtlessness of men."
  • Gilded Cage quote blanket
    A big snuggly blanket with glittering gold thread and a quote: “History only appeared inevitable because it was written in a world where it had already happened.” 

    Which super-specific bookish merch do you wish you owned?

    11 November 2018

    Dreaming of Christmas by T.A. Williams

    Today I get to welcome TA Williams, talking about their latest Christmas-y read Dreaming of Christmas.

    Writing those magical words, The End, at the bottom of the final page of a book is a cathartic moment. It represents the culmination of weeks, months, even years of effort and it is, without doubt right up there alongside births and marriages as a perfect excuse to crack a bottle (or two) of something sparkling.

    The bad news, however, is that in many ways The End is just the beginning. Take Dreaming of Christmas for example. I had a meeting with my editor at publishers Canelo back in January this year. We talked about the idea of a “Christmas” book and discussed possible settings, ranging from the Highlands of Scotland, via deepest Cornwall, to the eventual choice; the Austrian Alps. I returned to my writing cave (well, really just a room in my house that I call my study) and sat down to write the book. By the end of March, I had completed the first draft and did, indeed, open a bottle of Tesco’s Finest Prosecco to celebrate.

    What happened next?

    First the biggest test of all. I gave it to my wife to read. She is my greatest critic (and hopefully fan) and I really value her ideas and input. She returned it to me with three or four pages of comments and I spent the best part of a week going through the manuscript, changing, adding and subtracting accordingly. I then put it to one side and did my best to forget about it for a couple of weeks, finally picking it up again in the middle of April. After re-reading it and making more changes, I sent it off to my editor and awaited his verdict anxiously (it doesn’t matter how many books you write, it’s always nerve-racking waiting to hear from your publisher).

    At the end of April he replied very positively, with a number of suggestions – nothing too major I’m glad to say, but definitely changes that improved the book. I spent a week making the changes and returned the manuscript to him in May. He replied shortly after to say he was happy with what I had done and informing me he was sending it out to a copy editor. It is the copy editor’s job to check the nuts and bolts of the book from spelling and punctuation to whether the party took place on the day before or after the sledge ride and so on. This was returned to me with “Track Changes” turned on (that means you see red or blue comments in the right hand margin) so I could see every change proposed by the copy editor. I then plugged through it, accepting or rejecting changes until it was all done. I then returned it to my editor and heaved a huge sigh of relief.

    By this time, Dreaming of St-Tropez had come out and I had made a start on Dreaming of Tuscany (the next book to come out after Dreaming of Christmas). I’m sure other authors must have the same problem, ducking in and out of different stories, often confusing characters, places and timelines. You become quite schizophrenic after a while. So you can imagine how pleased I was to be finally shot of the Christmas book.

    But of course I wasn’t. The book came out on 27th August and I found myself taking to social media to promote it. And then, of course, there were preparations to be made for this blog tour and I found myself writing blog posts about Dreaming of Christmas just after finishing Dreaming of Tuscany while beginning to think about Dreaming of Rome. The moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on. It certainly does for me.

    So if anybody thinks it’s just a matter of writing it and then seeing it published, think again. Like I say, The End really isn’t the end.

    It’s the dream Christmas: snow, mountains… and, er, an ex-boyfriend. But can Zoe still find love in the Alps?

    Dumped on Christmas Eve by her long-term boyfriend, it's been a rough year for Zoe Lumsley. But then she gets an invitation she can’t refuse: an all expenses paid skiing holiday with old university friends.

    The bad news: her ex, Grant, will be there with his new girlfriend. But so will her former flatmate Billy, the organiser, and in the meantime he’s done rather well for himself. As Christmas in the Alps approaches, it'll be great to see the old gang. Some more than others...

    Perfect for readers of Tilly Tenant, Holly Martin and Philippa Ashley, this is the perfect magical Christmas getaway from the bestselling T.A. Williams.

    The Insider by Mari Hannah

    I couldn't wait to jump back in and see what Stone and Oliver were up to next, so when The Insider arrived I read it straight away. And I was not disappointed. The Insider is excellent, dark and slightly caustic and wickedly clever.

    The Insider by Mari Hannah coverAdd to Goodreads button
    After their success in their last investigation, DCI David Stone has been promoted and moved to the Murder Investigation Team, taking DS Frankie Oliver with him. But there's a catch: the case they are given is the latest in a series of undetected murders. It's a baptism of fire for MIT's newest recruits.

    In the incident room, the murder wall makes grim reading: three women have been killed within the past year and nothing links the crimes: no day of the week, geographical area, similarity between victims and, most importantly, no forensic evidence.

    Joanna Cosgrove is the latest victim, her body discovered fully clothed close to a railway line on the south side of the river in the Tyne Valley. The MO is the same as the other three, but the words 'serial killer' are not welcome in Northumbria force.

    And the manner in which she was killed is too close to home for Frankie...

    Source: Blog Tour | Purchase

    5 Words: Mystery, northern, family, secrets, betrayal.

    You can tell that the author knows the area which she writes about, and being set pretty locally to me (there was even a mention of where I live) and I loved it. The story takes in a wide swathe of the North East, a bit of a tour of small towns and villages, and it's all so fantastically described that I could practically see it as I read.

    I loved how the story is as much about the impact of each crime upon the protagonists as it is them investigating it. The perspective switches between Stone and Oliver so you get to see things from both sides, and see how what is happening takes its toll. You also get a few peeks at the killer's perspective, which I really liked as it helps to build up a picture yourself.

    I think my favourite thing about The Insider - aside from the excellent characters, setting, and the story itself - was the feminist narrative lurking behind it all, the caustic take-down of misogyny and privilege. It was an added layer that seems particularly pertinent right now. The Insider is very much set in the here and now, and it doesn't shy away from that.

    You don't have to have read the previous Stone and Oliver book (The Lost) before reading The Insider, but it would help if you want to get a bit deeper into the characters. The Insider has a few reveals that were hinted at in The Lost.

    06 November 2018

    Backlist Books I Want to Read

    Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

    Top Ten Tuesday
    This week is Top Ten 
    Backlist Books I Want to Read
    Because I get a lot of books from the library, I end up picking up a lot of backlist books any way. My local library is actually great for getting new releases in, but I love having a browse of the shelves and picking out older books at random.

    This list was actually pretty hard, as when I want to read a book I generally do, especially if it's a backlist title as they're easier (generally) to get a hold of.

    • The Elites by Natasha Ngan
      I have had this book for years and just never got round to it. I can remember quite specifically picking it up in Aldi, because that's a weird place to buy books.
    • Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
      I have also had this book for years, I even have a signed copy! One Day I will pick it up, as I loved the author's writing style in the Shades of London series.
    • This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees
      I think this is the only book by the author I have not read! I don't even own a copy, but I definitely want to read it at some point.
    • Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
      I loved the Uglies series, they were some of my favourites as a teen, but I never read any of the author's other books and I'd like to change that.
    • iBoy by Kevin Brooks
      There are very few Kevin Brooks book I have not read, and iBoy is one of them. I did try years ago when it was first published but couldn't get into it.
    • The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
      Ask me what my favourite book ever is, and without hesitation I will reply I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. So it's probably weird that I've never read another of her books?
    • Leaving Poppy by Kate Cann
      I absolutely ADORED Kate Cann as a teen and read every single one of her books. Except this one. I definitely want to read it.
    • Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton
      My Daylight Monsters was delightfully creepy, but for some reason I never read on when it came to Mary's story.
    • Queen of Bedlam by Laura Purcell
      I recently read and loved The Corset by Laura Purcell so I am eager to check out the author's backlist. Queen of Bedlam sounds amazing.
    • The 100 by Kass Morgan
      Earlier this year I read Light Years and I thought it was incredible, and I've been making my way through The 100 TV series, so I'm excited to start the books.

      Which backlist books do you want to read?

      02 November 2018

      Book Beginnings #63

      For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

      For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

      I am currently reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.
      The servants called them malenchki, little ghosts, because they were the smallest and the youngest, and because they haunted the Duke's house like giggling phantoms, darting in and out of rooms, hiding in cupboards to eavesdrop, sneaking into the kitchen to steal the last of the summer peaches.
      I am so excited to be rereading the Grisha Trilogy, starting with Shadow and Bone. It's been a good few years since I last read these books, but since BKMRK are hosting a month-long readalong I couldn't resist.

      I remember that I really enjoyed these the first time round, and this first sentence reminds me why: the writing. I love Leigh Bardugo's writing style.
      I pulled the kefta tighter around me, feeling suddenly cold. I remembered the surety that had flooded through me with the Darkling's touch, and that strangely familiar sensation of a call echoing through me, a call that demanded an answer.
      I feel like the Darkling is one of my favourite ever villains. I'm not up to this part of the story yet, as I'm only reading one chapter per day (which is hell, do not recommend, I want to read it all now) and I can't wait to get up to the part where Alina and the Darkling meet.

      I'm enjoying rereading this series with hindsight, knowing what's going to happen. The anticipation is delicious.

      What are you reading this week?

      01 November 2018

      The Book Blogger Candle * GIFTED

      There is nothing better than sitting down, lighting a candle, and either reading or blogging. I'm so scatter brained and distracted that I often try to do both at the same time. When I found out that Bookworm Candles and Crafts were doing a new range I jumped at the chance to try it, as I have loved past candles (like the Comic Book Heroes, I got the whole set for myself and a friend and they're amazing).

      The Bookworm Candles and Crafts candle of the month for November is Book Blogging, and that means it's only £5 for an 8oz tin. What a bargain!

      Book Blogging Candle, and planning blog posts

      I love how Bookworm Candles and Crafts don't only list the scent notes when it comes to their candles; they list the feelings, the emotions, behind them. It lends a sense of mystery and expectation for when you finally smell the candle.

      Book Blogging: Passion, Reviews, & Nutty Banana. 

      The Book Blogging candle honestly smells good enough to eat, and even unlit my mouth was watering. It's a bit like a super rich banana bread, and perfect for burning during autumn. There is a sprinkling of gorgeous blue glitter on the top and once lit the wax itself shimmers and the scent intensifies. This candle has excellent throw, and the three wicks keep it burning evenly.

      The tin has a beautiful ribbon around the lid with a cute heart decal, and on the side there is a quote which I'm sure any bookworm will agree sums up reading perfectly:
      It's a great blessing if one can lose all sense of time, all worries, if only for a short time, in a book.

      It's a great blessing if one can lose all sense of time, all worries, if only for a short time, in a book.

      Just A Little Bookish Candle

      The Just A Little Bookish Candle range will be Bookworm Candles and Crafts' usual mix of jars and tins, with that signature fabric decoration.
      Book Blogging Candle

      You can use the code BLOGGERS20 for 20% off of the range, but be quick as it's only available until the end of November, and not applicable to the candle of the month. The Just A Little Bookish Candle range is the perfect gift for the bookworm in your life.

      Bookworm Candles and Crafts

      What's your favourite scented candle?

      * I was gifted a candle for review purposes, all thoughts are my own.

      31 October 2018

      My Halloween Rituals

      Halloween always feels a bit more like New Year for me. New Year itself is just an excuse to get together as a family and eat pie and mash and play board games together. But Halloween? It's when I feel invigorated and inspired and Get Stuff Done. Autumn is my favourite season and everything about it

      This year I've been focusing a lot on clearing out the old. I'm decorating and rearranging my room, changing up my blog a little, getting new projects planned in my head. But I'm also taking some time to reflect.

      I do have a bit of routine that I stick to, things I like to do. And this time I'm sharing some of them.

      My Halloween Rituals

      A Ritual Bath

      Nothing can beat a ritual bath, and this is mine. It's one I do whenever I'm a bit stressed or need some inspiration, and I love it for new starts too. I spend a good hour or so, sometimes more, just chilling with some rain sounds and some candles.

      Our boiler broke down on Monday so I'm actually doing this at my fiance's house this year.

      You Need
      A good handful of salt
      Two sprigs of fresh lavender leaves
      Two teaspoons of dried lavender flowers
      Amethyst stone
      Rain sounds

      The Method
      Mix the salt, dried lavender, and crystal in a jar and leave them to infuse for a few hours. Put it all in an empty bath under the taps, crush the fresh lavender in your hands to release the oils them place on top. Light the candles, set a rain sounds playlist going if it's not raining outside, and run the bath. The salts will dissolve in the running water, and the bits of lavender float on the surface.

      Just make sure not to sit on the crystal when you get in the bath. I made that mistake once and ouch.

      A Reflective To Do List

      I set up a to do list for the next few weeks. Nothing immediate or pressing, just stuff I'd like to do for me and my own well being. I think it's especially important when the days get shorter to remember to take care of yourself.

      To Do
      • Reread the DCI Ryan series and catch up with recent additions
      • Walk from Warkworth to Amble, along the beach
      • Visit the Alnwick Gardens and Barter Books
      • Reread the Grisha Trilogy before King of Scars comes out
      • Visit the Laing Art Gallery
      • Buy new pyjamas
      • Write something every day

      A Reading

      I do a three card spread for the coming months and spend an hour or so with the cards I've drawn, thinking about what they mean to me and how I can interpret them in positive ways, even if I get a scary card like the eight of swords which came up in every draw in July and August. 

      What is Halloween to you?
      Do you have any rituals?