Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Christmas Bookish Gift Guide 2017 | Part 2

Part two of my Christmas Gift Guide 2017 includes a selection of fiction books I really enjoyed and would recommend to different types of readers. There are some darker and some lighter reads, so hopefully they will suit whatever type of reader your friend or family member happens to be. Whilst saying that, these are mostly literary fiction books and (modern) classics, so if your friend/family member is more of a romance lover, this may not be the perfect guide for you. Let's get into the books!

1. 'A Portable Shelter' by Kirsty Logan

Set in a cottage on the north coast of Scotland, two women await the birth of their first child. They tell their baby stories inspired by the things they've learned in life. These stories are magical, whimsical and particularly beautiful. Every chapter is one story, told by one of the two women.
If you have a reader in your life who enjoys magical realism, this would be a perfect gift.

'But life is not a fairy tale. It's brighter and darker, 
longer and briefer, duller and more magical.
It's full of contradictions, but one thing it's not is neat.'

Buy here

2. 'The Essex Serpent' by Sarah Perry 

The Essex Serpent was one of my favourite books I read this year. The story is quite slow, so some people might not enjoy that. But I did. I prefer books that are beautifully written (i.e. lyrical, beautiful descriptions of detail, etc.) and this is definitely one of those.

We follow newly widowed Cora Seaborne who decides to leave the bustling city life of London to stay in rural Essex for a period of time. Cora is highly intelligent and very curious about the natural world and its significance, but in her marriage she wasn't able to research this topic or expand her knowledge because of her husband's dominance over her. So with a sense of relief she escapes to Essex to explore nature and make new discoveries. When there are rumours about a so called 'serpent', Cora is immediately eager to investigate. She meets the local vicar, William Ransome, who is suspicious about the rumours because he thinks it is caused by moral panic.
Although they differ so much from each other in their beliefs, they soon form a strong friendship and explore the limits of science and faith.

This is a beautiful literary historical novel that explores friendship, religion and science in late nineteenth-century England.

Buy here

3. 'Rebecca' by Daphne du Maurier 

We follow our (nameless) protagonist when she, working as a lady's companion, goes on a trip to the South of France. There she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. He proposes to her and they move to his estate, Manderly, on the Cornish coast. Here, things start to get difficult for our heroine. Mrs Danvers (the housekeeper) keeps the memory of Maxim's dead wife, Rebecca, strongly alive. The spirit of Rebecca seems to be constantly surrounding her...

If you have a person in your life who loves the Brontë sisters or gothic fiction, Rebecca would be an excellent gift. It's definitely one of my all-time favourite books.

Buy here

4. 'The Birds' by Daphne du Maurier

If you have a friend who loves Alfred Hitchcock' films and doesn't shy away from a little horror, 'The Birds' is the way to go. This short story collection is both dark and beautifully written (as is the case with most, if not all, of du Maurier's books). Especially the title story 'The Birds' is very dark and disturbing. I personally love stories like these, even though they can be quite scary at times!

Buy here

5. 'Eight Ghosts: The English Heritage Book of New Ghost Stories' by various authors

For any lovers of ghost stories and historic (haunted) places, this is a perfect collection. Eight authors were given the opportunity to discover their chosen English Heritage site after hours to write a ghostly tale inspired by the location. If this doesn't make you curious, I don't know what will.

Authors include: Mark Haddon, Jeanette Winterson, Sarah Perry, Andrew Michael Hurley, Stuart Evens, Kamila Shamsie, Kate Clanchy & Max Porter.

Buy here

6. 'They Were Sisters' by Dorothy Whipple

Last but not least, I'd recommend 'They Were Sisters' by Dorothy Whipple. This is the story about three sisters who marry very different men and the consequences of their decisions. This is not necessary a light read as it deals with domestic violence, but it does show us what family means to different people and how it ultimately brings us together, if we want it or not (sounds like a perfect Christmas gift, right?).

Any Persephone book would make a really nice gift (not just because they are extremely well published and beautiful), especially if you have someone in your life who reads a lot and you're afraid they already own the book you want to gift, because Persephone reprints neglected fiction (and also non-fiction) by twentieth-century women writers, so they might not have heard of these titles yet.

Buy here

As always, let me know if you'll be gifting any of these to your loved ones!

With bookish love, 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Christmas Bookish Gift Guide 2017 | Part 1

Christmas is one of my favourite things. I love the cosiness, the blankets, the Christmas songs, the Christmas trees and decorations, but most of all, the presents. And (this is a surprise to no one), books are my favourite gifts. I love to gift them to people, and it's even better to receive them myself. 
This year I want to start doing Christmas gift guides. They will be bookish, because this blog is about books. I have just started a new blog that is non-bookish (Hills and Holly) and I'm thinking about doing a Christmas gift guide on there as well (without books!). 

Back to the books. This post will be the first one in a series of themed gift guides. I have 6 more on the planning, so look out for those in the next couple of weeks. This post includes books that feature a very wintery setting and atmosphere, some also Christmas related (bonus!). So, let's get into them. 

 1. 'Mystery in White: A Christmas Crime Story' by J. Jefferson

This book is published by the British Library in their excellent series of newly published crime classics. There are many more in this series with a story centered around Christmas, so there are more options to choose from. This story in particular starts off with a stranded train on Christmas eve in the middle of the snowy countryside. Several passengers climb out of the train to take shelter in a deserted country house and whilst unravelling the secrets of the house, a murderer strikes in their midst.

I read this book last year in December and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love crime classics and this one does not disappoint. It's a very cosy read and perfect to curl up with in front of the fireplace while it's snowing outside.

Buy here with free worldwide shipping

2. 'Murder on the Orient Express' by Agatha Christie

With the new adaptation out in theaters at the moment, this will be a perfect gift for someone who enjoyed the film and may want to discover its original story. Recently re-published in this beautiful wintery edition, it would be a gorgeous gift to give to someone this Christmas. 

The story is about Hercule Poirot,  famous French detective, who happens to be a passenger on the Orient Express when a murder happens. Because of heavy snowfall the train comes to a halt and is unable to move on. But the passengers won't be bored, because there is a murder case to solve and a murderer to catch, who is very likely to be in their very midst...

3. 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas' by Agatha Christie

Another Christie in a beautiful edition and a perfect seasonal mystery thriller, this story is about a family gathering at Christmas Eve, waiting to hear the reason for this unwanted meeting, when a murder happens upstairs in the house and our trusted detective Poirot is called to help. 

This edition might be a little hard to get if you live outside the UK (I bought it in London last year when I was on holiday), but you can order it from the Waterstones website. I will link another gorgeous edition you'll be able to order on the Book Depository. 

 4. 'Dickens at Christmas' by Charles Dickens

This gorgeously illustrated edition contains all of Dickens' Christmas stories. If you know any Dickens enthusiast or someone who enjoys a classic Christmas story set in the Victorian era, give them this book. I personally love the Christmas Carol story and it's such a famous seasonal classic it would be a shame not to have it on your shelves.

Buy here with free worldwide shipping

5. 'A Christmas Carol' by Charles Dickens

I couldn't do a gift guide without mentioning a Penguin Clothbound Classic, could I? This edition of A Christmas Carol was the first Clothbound edition I bought and also one of the first classics I ever read. This covers almost the exact same stories as the 'Dickens at Christmas' edition, but this edition is a bit smaller and therefore contains less stories. So if you don't want to overwhelm someone with a big book, this would be perfect. It has the most wintery cover you can imagine and looks gorgeous on one's shelf.

Buy here with free worldwide shipping

 So, that was it for part 1! I hope I've given you some new ideas and let me know if you're planning on gifting any of these to anyone. The next part will be up soon as well. 

Lots of bookish love, 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Currently Reading: 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell

"What other people may think of the rightness or wrongness is nothing in comparison to my own deep knowledge, my innate conviction that it was wrong." - Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

Saturday, 7 October 2017

(Late) September Bookhaul

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Atmospheric Autumn Reads

It's the end of September which means my favourite time and season of the year (except for Christmas) has started, Autumn. The leaves are turning brown, rain has started falling and on some days we are lucky to get some sun. The cold has yet to settle in, but I'll take what I can get.
It's time for candles, scarves, long walks in the forest and the occassional hot chocolate.

I personally love to read seasonally. I can enjoy a book a lot more when the setting of the story is a bit similar to mine. In today's blogpost I have four autumnal reading recommendations. Books that are atmospheric, have autumnal settings, or are just a little bit more solitary.

'To the Bright Edge of the World' by Eowyn Ivey is Ivey's second novel after the highly acclaimed 'The Snow Child' (which I have yet to read). The story is set at the end of the nineteenth century in the backdrop of the Alaskan landscape. Colonel Allan Forrester is charged with the task to navigate the Wolverine River, which no man has been able to do before him. His only company is a small group of men. Their mission is to open up the gate to Alaska and its reserves of gold to the outside world. It is an incredibly dangerous mission and Allan is forced to leave his pregnant wife, Sophie, behind.
Sophie is worried about her pregnancy and is struggling to keep herself distracted from it. She discovers photography, which is a very new concept in the time period and is usually not associated with women practicing it. Sophie, however, finds a shop owner who provides her with the needed material and she is determined to discover the wildlife and nature around her.
This is a beautiful story of two people on two very different journeys. The backdrop of the Alaskan landscape is very atmospheric and perfect to read during Autumn or Winter.

'The Essex Serpent' by Sarah Perry was probably one of my favourite books I read this year.
The story is set in the Victorian time period and we follow Cora Seaborne, a high-society widow from London, as she decides to turn her back on city life and move for the time being to Aldwinter in Essex, a rural and religious village where there are rumours about a myhtical beast roaming around. Cora is very interested and fascinated by science, so this rumour is what brought her to this place at first. Then she meets Will Ransome, the local vicar. Despite their opposing opinions about the beast, they are both interested in science and quickly develop a close friendship that ties them together.
This book is beautifully written, the story is completely enchanting and I loved the whimsical descriptions of the Essex landscape and its nature. The theme of science vs. religion is very apparant in the story and that's why I loved the main characters' friendship so much. Despite their obvious differences, they develop a beautiful friendship, and I think we could all learn from that.

'Sandlands' by Rosy Thornton is the best short-story collection I have read so far. Played out in different time periods and written about different people, somehow all of these stories are connected through their connection to Suffolk's nature and its wildlife. Someone is feeding a fox rescued from the floods, an academic is taken back in time in a tower on the deserted shore, and an owl is guarding long-lost letters in the forest. This collection is quiet and beautiful, its characters are interesting and above all, its descriptions of nature and the landscape of Suffolk are simply enchanting.

'The Good People' by Hannah Kent is quite a bit darker than the books mentioned before. We follow three women in a rural village in nineteenth century Ireland, surrounded by myths and folklore. After the sudden loss of her husband, Nora finds herself alone and caring for her infant grandson Micheal. But Micheal isn't a normal child, he is a changeling, a fairy child who is the cause of all the bad things that have happened in the valley, including Nora's husband dying. At least, that is what Nora and the superstitious people around her start to believe.
Nora hires Mary, a servant girl from more rural parts, to come live with her and help her with Micheal. Determined to get rid of the evil that possesses Micheal, Nora and Mary ask Nance for help. An outsider of the village living on the deserted mountain slope, Nance was once revered by the villagers for her healing powers, but is now seen as a threat and danger by the new local priest. Rumours spread fast, and Nance, Mary and Nora are slowly becoming victim of accusations and gossip.
This is a book you must read during the colder months, preferably when there is a storm. The story will pull you in very quick, and it is a thrilling and brilliant one for sure.

I hope you have some more books to put on your (seasonal) tbr/wishlist, and happy reading!

Lots of bookish love,