Saturday, 5 September 2015

#BookBuddyAthon Readathon TBR | Books with Bee

vivatramp bookbuddyathon readathon tbr to be read pile books uk book blog

In the interests of continuing my quest to read my way through the unread books on my shelves, and after enjoying the Booktubeathon and Bout of Books last month, I am taking part in the #BookBuddyAthon. This readathon was created by Elena Reads Books and coldteandcrumbs and it runs from Monday 7th September to Sunday 13th September 2015. The idea is to team up with a fellow reader (someone online / a family member / friend / whoever) and read and chat books for the entire week. It's a really chilled readathon with some laidback challenges so it should be accessible to a wide group of people. I'm not necessarily hoping to finish all of the following books during the week. I'm just looking forward to reading things alongside someone else for the first time and maybe crossing some more unread books off my shelf as I do so.  

After deciding I wanted to participate in the readathon, I sent Jennie from sailboat a message to ask her whether she would like to participate and be my bookish buddy for the week. Thankfully, she said yes! I have known Jennie online for quite a long time now, 5 years maybe, and her friendship is something that I am really grateful for.  She supports me in everything I do and I will never forget the comfort she offered me when we were both in distant relationships back in the day (with other people, I might add...). I'm really glad we both have a love of literature in common and I implore you to visit sailboat and The Book Journal if you haven't already done so. Onto the books that I wish to read during the readathon...

1. choose three books and get your buddy to pick one from them for you to read
Jennie had to choose from The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor, Moon Tiger* by Penelope Lively and The History of Love* by Nicole Krauss. She went for Moon Tiger - a tale about an elderly woman exploring a world history, her very own personal history, from her hospital bed. It's only just over 200 pages so I'm intrigued as to how Lively is going to build a character with such a rich history within so few pages but I am hopeful! 

2. buddy read a book 
white oleander by janet fitch
White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes -- each its own universe with its own laws, its own dangers, and its own hard lessons to be learned -- becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery. 

Both Jennie and I had previously picked up this book but put it on the backburner for reasons neither of us can really remember nor fathom so we thought we'd make a good go of it this time and buddy read it together. I haven't read a lot of books of late that focus on the mother daughter dynamic so that's something I'm really looking forward to exploring in this book. I bought this back in January and featured it in my secondhand book haul after seeing a handful of my Goodreads friends rave about it so I've got high hopes for this one.  

3. read a book with your buddy's favourite colour on
the midwich cuckoos by john wyndham 
In the sleepy English village of Midwich, a mysterious silver object appears and all the inhabitants fall unconscious. A day later the object is gone and everyone awakens unharmed - except that all the women in the village are discovered to be pregnant. 

Jennie's favourite colour is blue so I have decided to delve into the world of science fiction and read my first bit of John Wyndham! I bought this during the IBW bookshop crawl back in July 2014 so it only seems right to wave goodbye to the last days of summer with it this year.  

4. read a book your buddy gave 5 stars
1984 by george orwell
Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skillfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true piece of freedom is betrayal. 

I feel like this book is some sort of rite of passage for readers so I'm hoping to finally get round to reading it this week after putting it off for a long time. Some of you guys may remember that I featured it in my list of books to read in 2014. Yup, still not read it...Jennie gave it five stars and I'm hoping to do so too! We shall see!   

5. read a book that you want to read...just because!
asylum by patrick mcgrath*
In the summer of 1959 Stella Raphael joins her psychiatrist husband, Max, at his new posting -- a maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane. Beautiful and headstrong, Stella soon falls under the spell of Edgar Stark, a brilliant and magnetic sculptor who has been confined to the hospital for murdering his wife in a psychotic rage. But Stella's knowledge of Edgar's crime is no hindrance to the volcanic attraction that ensues -- a passion that will consume Stella's sanity and destroy her and the lives of those around her. 

I'm steadily working my way through the Penguin Essentials that I featured in my August book haul and this one stood out as something that I would quite like to read sooner rather than later. It sounds like something I will sail through once I get started so I think I'll read it towards the start of the week to create some momentum! 

There's still time to ask a bookish buddy to participate so feel free to get involved! I will no doubt be sharing my progress on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER so make sure you're following me on those platforms to keep up to date. Are you taking part? If so, what will you be reading? If you can't take part, let me know what you're hoping to read next week anyway! 


*I was sent this book for review purposes 

This post features a couple of affiliate links, meaning if you click on them and buy books I will earn a tiny commission to put towards books to review in the future. 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

20 Creative Prompts for creative writing, photography, art & blog posts: September 2015 | Creativity with Bee

vivatramp creative prompts uk lifestyle  book blog

Following on from last month's 40 Creative Prompts post, I thought I'd turn this into a little monthly series for any creatives out there that are looking for further inspiration. 

These prompts are extremely vague for a reason; I want you to be able to use them for whatever you see fit: for stories, pieces of art, a series of photographs, ideas for blog posts, whatever takes your fancy! Take them literally or have a bit of fun with them. It's up to you. I really enjoyed hearing about all the things you were hoping to use these prompts for last month so if you've still not got round to using them yet, now's the time to pencil in some creative time over the next week or so.  

20 CREATIVE PROMPTS  for creative writing, blog posts, photography & art 

1  mountain                                                                                11•  constellations
2•  thirst                                                                                        12•  wishbone 
3•  fatal                                                                                         13   body parts
4  the square                                                                             14   circus 
5  for sale                                                                                   15•  bedsheets
6  declutter                                                                                 16•  creature 
7•  fireflies                                                                                    17•  pocket
8•  blackberry                                                                               18•  seashells
9•  snapdragons                                                                          19•  apple a day
10•  magpie                                                                                  20•  digital 

Did you use any of last month's creative prompts? Will you be using any of this month's? I'm hoping to share some of the writing that I did inspired by last month's picks very soon.

Why not check out my other posts on creativity whilst you wait?! heh.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

Penguin Essentials (& a few others!) Book Haul: August 2015 | Books with Bee

book blog uk vivatramp penguin essentials book haul

I'm still busy working my way through all the unread books on my shelves so, again, I didn't buy many books myself during the month of August. However, much to my delight and surprise, I ended up receiving some exciting bookish mail so I've still got lots of great stuff to show you. 

penguin essentials These books were sent to me for review purposes. 
I got a really exciting message at the beginning of the month from Penguin asking if I would like to receive the new additions to the Penguin Essentials series and, of course, I had to say yes. The 'Essentials' collection consists of some of the books that Penguin deem to be the most important of the twentieth century, with titles that are still as poignant and relevant today as they were when they were first published. I actually own a few of the first round in the series (Lolita, Lucky Jim and In Cold Blood) so I was pretty excited to add to my own collection of these backpack-friendly tomes. They're smaller than usual trade paperbacks so they're great for travelling around with. I have already read Hideous Kinky and Perfume, so keep your eyes peeled for those reviews soon. Which cover is your favourite? I'll start with one of mine...

in the country of men hisham matar uk book blog vivatramp

in the country of men by hisham matar*
Libya, 1979. 9 year old Suleiman's days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood [...] But his nights have come to revolve around his mother's increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn't he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie? Suleiman is soon caught up in a world he cannot hope to understand - where the sound of the telephone ringing becomes a potent of grave danger; where his mother frantically burns his father's cherished books; where a stranger full of sinister questions sits outside in a parked car all day; where his best friend's father can disappear overnight, next to be seen publicly interrogated on state television. 

hideous kinky esther freud book haul blog uk vivatramp

hideous kinky by esther freud* 
Two little girls are taken by their mother to Morocco on a 1960s pilgrimage of self-discovery. For Mum it is not just an escape from the grinding conventions of English life but a quest for personal fulfillment; her children, however, seek something more solid and stable amidst the shifting desert sands. 

asylum patrick mcgrath book haul uk book blog vivatramp

asylum by patrick mcgrath*
In the summer of 1959 Stella Raphael joins her psychiatrist husband, Max, at his new posting -- a maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane. Beautiful and headstrong, Stella soon falls under the spell of Edgar Stark, a brilliant and magnetic sculptor who has been confined to the hospital for murdering his wife in a psychotic rage. But Stella's knowledge of Edgar's crime is no hindrance to the volcanic attraction that ensues -- a passion that will consume Stella's sanity and destroy her and the lives of those around her. 

the mosquito coast paul theroux penguin essentials book blog uk

the mosquito coast by paul theroux*
Allie Fox is going to re-create the world. Abominating the cops, crooks, junkies and scavengers of modern America, he abandons civilisation and takes his family to live in the Honduran jungle. There his tortured, messianic genius keeps them alive, his hoarse tirades harrying them through a diseased and dirty Eden towards unimaginable darkness. 

moon tiger penelope lively book bloggers uk vivatramp

moon tiger by penelope lively*
The elderly Claudia Hampton, a bestselling author of popular history; lies alone in a London hospital bed. Memories of her life still glow in her fading consciousness, but she imagines writing a history of the world. Instead, Moon Tiger is her own history, the life of a strong, independent woman, with its often contentious relations with family and friends. At its center - forever frozen in time, the still point of her turning world - is the cruelly truncated affair with Tom, a British tank commander whom Claudia knew as a reporter in Egypt during World War II.  

billy liar keith waterhouse book haul vivatramp book blog

billy liar by keith waterhouse*
Billy Liar tells the story of Billy Fisher, a Yorkshire teenager unable to stop lying - especially to his three girlfriends. Trapped by his boring job and working-class parents, Billy finds that his only happiness lies in grand plans for his future and fantastical day dreams of the fictional country Ambrosia.

the history of love nicole krauss penguin essentials

the history of love by nicole krauss*
Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbour know he's still alive. But it wasn't always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book. Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. sands. 

foe j m coetzee vivatramp uk lifestyle book blog

foe by j. m. coetzee*
In an act of breathtaking imagination, J. M. Coetzee radically reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe. In the early eighteenth century, Susan Barton finds herself adrift from a mutinous ship and cast ashore on a remote desert island. There she finds shelter with its only other inhabitants: a man named Cruso and his tongueless slave, Friday. In time, she builds a life for herself as Cruso's companion and, eventually, his lover. At last they are rescued by a passing ship, but only she and Friday survive the journey back to London. Determined to have her story told, she pursues the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe in the hope that he will relate truthfully her memories to the world. But with Cruso dead, Friday incapable of speech and Foe himself intent on reshaping her narrative, Barton struggles to maintain her grip on the past, only to fall victim to the seduction of storytelling itself. 

a passage to india e m forster uk book blog vivatramp

a passage to india by e. m. forster*
When Adela Quested and her elderly companion Mrs Moore arrive in the Indian town of Chandrapore, they quickly feel trapped by its insular and prejudiced 'Anglo-Indian' community. Determined to escape the parochial English enclave and explore the 'real India', they seek the guidance of the charming and mercurial Dr Aziz, a cultivated Indian Muslim. But a mysterious incident occurs while they are exploring the Marabar caves with Aziz, and the well-respected doctor soon finds himself at the centre of a scandal that rouses violent passions among both the British and their Indian subjects. 

perfume patrick suskind book bloggers uk vivatramp uk book blog

perfume by patrick suskind*
In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is born with one sublime gift - an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he lives to decipher the odors of Paris, and apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But Grenouille's genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there, and he becomes obsessed with capturing the smells of objects such as brass doorknobs and fresh-cut wood. Then one day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more-terrifying quest to create the 'ultimate perfume' - the scent of a beautiful young virgin. 

gift from grandma
I received a package from my Grandma containing a book that she wasn't really getting along with so, knowing how much I love to read, she thought she would send it my way in the hope that I would like it more. I haven't read this author before but I have heard of her through others so I think I'll keep this book and see how I get along with it somewhere down the line. 

emotionally weird kate atkinson book bloggers uk vivatramp

emotionally weird by kate atkinson 
On a weather-beaten island off the coast of Scotland, Effie and her mother, Nora, take refuge in the large, mouldering house of their ancestors and tell each other stories. Nora, at first, recounts nothing that Effie really wants to hear -- like who her real father was. Effie tells various versions of her life at college, where in fact she lives in a lethargic relationship with Bob, a student who never goes to lectures, seldom gets out of bed, and to whom Klingons are as real as Spaniards and Germans. But as mother and daughter spin their tales, strange things are happening around them. Is Effie being followed? Is someone killing the old people? And where is the mysterious yellow dog? 

suprise mail! This book was sent to me for review purposes. 
Sometimes publishers send me books out of the blue and I end up with surprise mail to open. It's like having a few miniature Christmases throughout the year! As you probably know, I love reading short stories so this little sampler of Penguin's upcoming volumes on the British short story is right up my street. I definitely want to add the physical books to my collection once they have been released in full later this year. You should check out my post on how to write short stories if you haven't already done so! 

the penguin book of the british short story uk book blog

second hand purchase
I sort of broke my book buying ban in order to purchase one of my favourite books in 'very good' secondhand condition in an edition that is currently out of print. I'm really happy to finally own it and I'm hoping to pencil in a little re-read next year in order to encourage as many people as possible to pick it up! I absolutely love these Virago designer editions. I'm after the DuMaurier ones next!  

their eyes were watching god zora neale hurston book bloggers uk lifestyle blog vivatramp

their eyes were watching god by zora neale hurston 
. When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds.

What did your book haul consist of this month? Have you read any of these books? 


Monday, 17 August 2015

Bout of Books 14.0 Readathon TBR | Books with Bee

vivatramp book blog uk readathon tbr pile boutofbooks

Earlier in the month I participated in the #booktubeathon readathon and enjoyed the experience so much that I thought I'd take part in another that runs from Monday 17th August - Sunday 23rd August. Bout of Books is a pretty chilled out readathon with the idea being to simply read as many books as you would like and whatever titles you would like to within the time frame. There are no challenges or strict guidelines to follow. Your 'to be read' pile is left entirely up to you! If you'd like to find out more, you can head over to the #boutofbooks blog.

Even though I read 7 books during my last readathon, I've decided to only pick out a few this time because I've got lots of boring admin bits to get done and I want to read these particular titles at a much slower place. Here are the books that I'm going to be reading over the next week. If you've read them, leave me a little review of them in the comments! 

perfume by patrick suskind   This book was sent to me for review purposes. 
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born in a Parisian slum and abandoned on the streets, discovers he has an extraordinary - near superhuman - sense of smell. As he sniffs his way across France, this gift is exploited by Grenouille to make the world's most marvellous perfumes. Yet in seeking perfection in his experiments, he realises that a vital ingredient is missing for the perfect scent: innocence. And in order to get the ingredient he needs, he must capture it - whatever the price. 

I read The Pigeon at the start of last year and I have been meaning to read this book ever since. I'm currently 50 pages through this already and I'm hoping to finish it within the next couple of days as I think it's a book that deserves to be read within a shorter period of time. Suskind writes so delicately about even the most menacing of things so I have every faith that I will love this book. 

beloved by toni morrison
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. 

I am incredibly ashamed to say that I am yet to read anything by Morrison but I've decided that now is the time to rectify that mistake. Everyone speaks so incredibly highly of Morrison and I'm really hoping that I, too, will become one of those people! 

siddhartha by hermann hesse
Set in India, Siddhartha is the story of a young Brahmin's search for ultimate reality after meeting with the Buddha. His quest takes him from a life of decadence to asceticism, through the illusory joys of sensual love with a beautiful courtesan, and of wealth and fame, to the painful struggles with his son and the ultimate wisdom of renunciation. 

The beautiful Nina sent me this book a year, maybe two years, ago and I promised myself I would read it once university was up. I read the first chapter a few months ago and enjoyed it so this should be a quick read to end the week with. I actually own another of Hesse's works, Steppenwolf, that I've yet to read so I'm looking forward to finding out what he's all about. 

Are you going to participate in the readathon? If so, let me know what books you're going to read. If not, what books would you have picked if you were able to take part?