Valentine’s Day for Book Lovers

We’ve never been the couple to celebrate Valentines Day, but for some reason, I love making these ‘wish lists’. So, if you’re looking for gift ideas for the book-lover in your life here are a few that have made it to the top of my ‘wish list’!

These enamel pins by Book Riot! There are some wonderful Edgar Allan Poe ones, but I found this set particularly endearing.

Janemount on Etsy has a beautiful collection of bookish pins too (including a seven Harry Potter ones!).

When I was in Omaha to see Stephen King speak I finally found a store that sold Frostbeard candles. I’ve been curious if they smell as good as it sounds like they do, and the answer is in the affirmative. They are divine and there are so many unique scents to choose from. This is one of my favorites!

I’ve seen the picture of stair treads painted with books spines floating around Pinterest for ages now. We all have, it’s a popular one. It’s one of those DIY’s I’ve always wanted to try out, but the amount of time it would take to piece it all together always forces that project to the back burner. Horse Feather Decals on Etsy has solved that problem though. This is such a unique gift idea!

The Ohlala sells these dreamy literary scarves! I’ll take one of each, please!

Heath and Harebell knows the way to every book-lover’s heart; literary chocolate for the win!

 

 

A Year of Weird

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When I first told Aaron the crazy idea I had for myself and 2016 his face lit up and he cheered, “A year of being weird!”.

Good, he was on board with the plan. Now, to get over my nerves and match his level of excitement.

We discussed ideas, how I wanted it to play out, and eventually, all of the pieces fell into place.

Knowing that my number one goal this year was to put in some serious hours working on my book, I wanted to put myself in a position where I was constantly pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and participating in unique-to-me experiences. From there, ‘A Year of Weird’ was born.

I’ll be the first to tell you, some of the items on my list are going to make me, and probably you, uncomfortable. But, that’s why I’m so excited about this! I want to embrace my interests that some would deem ‘unusual’ and I want to see things that will make me squeamish.

Why? It’s all in the name of research!

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I’ve always had an interest in the taboo and 2016 will be the year I dive into all things ‘unusual’ and see where it leads me.

I’ve started a list. I love lists. I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me out and add to this list too. If you have any suggestions for experiences I should check out or even better, experiences you would like to read about please include them in the comments below! I’m using Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories- Chuck Palahniuk as my bible for this step of the process.

My list, so far…

*Spend a day with a taxidermist

*Spend a day with a mortician/funeral home

*Learn to fire a gun/visit a shooting range

*Join the local Police Force for a ride along

*Spend the night in a reportedly haunted location

*Attend an event hosted by the the local Society of Creative Anachronism

I can’t wait to hear what you suggest!

 

2016 Reading List

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Yesterday I announced my plans for what 2016 will hopefully look like around here. In preparation for the book I’ll be working on and the posts I want to share here, I’ve created a reading/research list for myself.

On my Goodreads account, I’ll be setting a goal of 80 novels read for 2016, which means I still have plenty of wiggle room to add more novels to this list as I go along.

Based on my list, can you guess some of themes of the book I’ll writing? What is my list missing that you would add?  I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!

1. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft– Stephen King

2. Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories– Chuck Palahniuk

3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life– Anne Lamott

4. Eats, Shoots and Leaves– Lynne Truss

5. Wiccapedia: A Modern-Day White Witch’s Guide– Shawn Robbins & Leanna Greenaway

6. Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy– Melissa Milgrom

7. New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families– Colm Toibin

8. House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition– Mark Z. Danielewski

9. A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook– Janet and Stewart Farrar*

10. The Book of English Magic– Philip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate

11. Witch Hunt: The History of a Persecution– Nigel Cawthorne

12. The Witchcraft Sourcebook: Second Edition– Ed. Brian P. Levack

13. The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography– Simon Singh

14. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner– Scott Cunningham

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15. The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York– Deborah Blum

16. A Room of One’s Own– Virginia Woolf

17. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing– Mignon Fogarty

18. Writing from the Senses: 59 Exercises to Ignite Creativity and Revitalize Your Writing– Laura Deutsch

19. A Short History of Nearly Everything– Bill Bryson

20. Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community– Joy Deangdeelert Cho, Meg Mateo Ilasco

21. Grimoires: A History of Magic Books– Owen Davies

22. History Of Witchcraft– Jeffrey B. Russell*

23. Signs and Symbols– Miranda Bruce-Mitford*

24. The Book of Codes: Understanding the World of Hidden Messages: An Illustrated Guide to Signs, Symbols, Ciphers, and Secret Languages– Paul Lunde

25. The Black Arts– Richard Cavendish*

26. The Dictionary of Demons: Names of the Damned– Michelle Belanger

27. Cat’s Cradle: A Novel– Kurt Vonnegut

28. Slaughterhouse-Five– Kurt Vonnegut

29. Witches of America– Alex Mar

30. Fight Club– Chuck Palahniuk
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*-denotes books I still need to add to my bookshelves

Book Club vol. 1b : The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

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I’m a few days late with this post, sorry! I said I would have it up on Tuesday but due to a few illnesses, our book club gathering was postponed until next week. I had intentions to include everyone else’s thoughts and opinions as part of this post, but you’re stuck me and me alone.

I have a degree in English yet this was my first encounter with Mr. Gaiman. I can’t believe I waited this long, I loved this novel! When I picked up a copy of this book I also purchased The Ocean at the End of the Lane and I’m really glad I did, I can’t wait to read more of his work.

I’m not sure what other editions of this book look like, but my copy had illustrations by Dave McKean. Being a visual person, I thoroughly enjoyed reading a book with illustrations. His art compliments the story beautifully.

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I’ve been told numerous times I would love Gaiman’s writing because I love description. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors specifically for that reason. I must have a lot of people who know me pretty darn well because this introduction to Gaiman’s work did not disappoint. The Graveyard Book was rich with visual imagery and satiated my desire for near photographic writing.

“You might not have seen a pale, plump woman, who walked the path near the front gates, and if you had seen her, with a second, more careful glance you would have realized that she was only moonlight, mist, and shadow. The plump, pale woman was there, though. She walked the path that led through a clutch of half-fallen tombstones towards the front gates.” – Neil Gaiman

My girlfriend read this novel at the same time I did and made the comment that each chapter felt like a new story. I can’t disagree with her, it does read that way. I don’t think this appealed to her, but I quite enjoyed it. With this novel being intended for a younger crowd, I imagine that reading through one chapter at time would be quite satisfying as they are almost reading short stories within the novel as they make our way through its entirety.

Overall, I loved the time I spent with this book. It opened up an entirely new (to me) author and I’m excited to make my way through many more of Mr. Gaiman’s novels. I really enjoyed the graveyard setting of this novel and grew quite fond of all of the characters, with the exception of a few men, but I won’t spoil it for those of you who have not read it yet.

If you enjoy description-heavy writing and are looking to get lost in a great story I highly recommend this book!  For those of you who have read this already, did you like it? Who was your favorite character (I have a few!)?

*****

I’m going to start ‘hosting’ book club right here, once a month. If you’re interested in joining along, we’ll plan to meet her on the 1st of every month to chat about that month’s novel. If you feel like throwing out novel suggestions, please do! Let’s set our next book club meeting for Wednesday April 1st, and next time, we’ll discuss The Beach by Alex Garland. I’ve been promising my brother for weeks that I would read this book next so now I’m holding myself accountable and I hope you’ll join me!

 

Book Club vol. 1 : The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

One way I hope to find balance in my life this year is by actually making time for myself, my health, and my interests and hobbies. One of my very favorite things to do during ‘me time’ is read.

The goal of reading 100 novels in a year has been on my ‘bucket list’ for as long as I can remember. But in an effort to actually succeed at this goal, I’m slowly working my way up to that daunting number. This year’s goal – 75. And, while I love reading, I also enjoy reviewing so I’ll be sharing some of my book club books on here with you! If you would like to join in and read along that would be wonderful. We’ll drink coffee and chat about literature, it will be lovely!

This month’s book is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I’m a Neil Gaiman virgin. I have a degree in English and sadly, this is still a fact. This month though, I’ll remedy that with this novel. And… I may or may not have picked up another one of his books while I was buying this one.

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Anyway, our book club meeting is set for February 22nd, so start reading now! On the 23rd or 24th, we’ll meet back here and talk about it!

P.S. I’m on Goodreads, so if you would like to follow along with the novels I’m reading this year, please add me as a friend!

Book Review : The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

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Book : The Poisonwood Bible – 543 pps

Author : Barbara Kingsolver

Publisher : HarperCollins Publishers 1999

Amazon : The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel

I have been putting this review off for weeks.  I have no idea why.  My notes have been sitting on my desk since I finished the novel and I have been meaning to write this but just… haven’t.  So now that it’s 3:23am and the fireplace that keeps my office warm won’t start (it’s a brisk 16C in here right now) and the wind is screaming outside my window (welcome to Spring in Saskatchewan) and I’ve decided it’s a darn good time to finally write this.

I absolutely adored this book, but I really struggled with this review.  I didn’t know how ‘deep’ I wanted to get with the religious aspects of it because, well, I’m not a particularly religious person.  And, while I have no problem commenting on how I interpreted it, I know there are many out there who know a heck of a lot more about Christianity than I do and I wasn’t sure I wanted to engage in that conversation with my less-than-excessive knowledge on the subject.  I will make one comment though.  This novel was confrontational and quite critical of Christianity, and that’s one of the main reasons I liked it.  I enjoyed the challenge it created.

The second reason I struggled with this review is that I know next to nothing about the Congo.  Specifically the Congo in 1959.  Which, just happens to be the main setting of 90% of this novel.

So instead of the glaringly obvious theme of religion and the ever-present setting of the Congo, I would like to mention the characters and the text itself.

“Believe this: the mistakes are part of the story.” – Adah

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This story is about the Price family.  They are a family of missionaries from Georgia, who volunteer their services in the Congo.  Their living situation changes drastically with their move and they quickly realize just how different their lives as missionaries will be.  Their story is told solely from the mouths of the five women of the family, mother, Orleanna, and daughters Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May. While reading, I was enjoying the novel so much that I was nearly three-quarters of the way through it before I realized there wasn’t a single chapter dictated from the perspective of the only male in the family, Nathan.

The prose throughout the novel was smooth and beautiful and each character’s voice was strong, distinct, and unique in their respective chapters.  While I grew to appreciate each girl and woman, I fell head-over-heels for Adah.  She describes herself as a “crooked little person, obsessed with balance.”  Between her physical disability and intellectual excellence she is one of the most eloquently written characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  There were bits of her that reminded me of my brother, and bits that reminded me of myself and together it just created a warmth and I couldn’t help but be hopelessly devoted to her.

I already know this is a novel I will return to many times.  It is one that I will read again and take away a little bit more each time.  So, even though I have no educated response to the religious tone of this novel, and can’t comment on the going ons of the 1959 Congo, I still highly recommend this novel.

“It is true I do not speak as well as I can think.  But this is true of most people, as nearly as I can tell.” – Adah

Collections : Yes please!

I’m a collector.  I have a particularly soft spot for all things literature-related.  More specifically Poe related.  I love owning special, one-of-a-kind, items and I would love to add the following items to my collection of unique items!

1

Such a fun idea!

.via sweet tea apothecary – etsy.

2

Now if only I could convince my husband to play this game with me…

.via red star vintage – etsy.

3

The Shining is one of my favorites.

.via cushtea – etsy.

4

I need these.  Yes, need.

.via southern shoes – etsy.

5

My Penny Lane asked me to add this to the list.

.via jacqpot – etsy.

6

I would like to drink tea from this on Sundays.  It feels like a Sunday tea-drinking cup.

.via more than porcelain – etsy.

7

My current cell phone cover is starting to fall apart.  I would like to replace it with this one!

.via oh joy! photography – etsy.