Tag Archives | book

Etsy does Bookish: Literary Gifts for your Fantastic Gang

james and the giant peach cushion pillow roald dahl

The creativity of bookish folk is magical. 

The imagination used to fall down rabbit holes, explore fantasy kingdoms, and pledge ourselves to our fae overlords boyfriends must switch on something sparkly in the brain. 

How else do people find enough wi-fi in those witchy attics, roof-top mirror worlds and spooky forests to set up Goblin Market Etsy shops? 

Does imagination come first, or does reading fiction turn us into dreamers, makers, conjurors? 

I pulled on my selkie-armour and finest spell-helmet to go foraging for the shiniest and brightest baubles, and this is what I found:

red london candle, ve schwab a darker shade of magic gift

1. A Darker Shade of Magic Candle

‘I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.’

Let Lila do the swashbuckling while you live lying down, reading, burning this Red London candle to conjure Kell’s city instead.
The Polished Parlour is a treasure-trove of bookish goodies, with this one smelling of lilac, firewood and mulled wine. They stock White and Grey London candles too, but why take the risk?
As travars!
The Red London Candle: Inspired by V.E. Schwab’s a Darker Shade of Magic Series

raven boys maggie stiefvater dream thieves blue lily blue raven king aglionby ronan lynch adam parrish blue gansey gift present book read book read present gift etsy bookworm

2. Raven Boys Aglionby Pin

Drop in on the Raven Boys on your way back from London. It may seem far but there’s a lay-line for that, right?

Pin on this beauty to show your love for Noah/Adam/Ronan/Gansey, just be careful what you say around those trees. They can hear you…

Aglionby Pin from ArtofIVDP (a shop crammed with fandom delights)

little women tee tshirt meg & jo & Beth & Amy

3. Little Women Tee

I’m mournful now. Being #TeamNoah has that effect. Time to indulge myself with some Little Women merchandise. I’m straying from the fantasy stable here, but Jo is definitely made of magic.

I want seven of these so I can wear one every day of the week. One wouldn’t be enough to soak up my tears. There’s a reason Joey put this book in the freezer

Little Women tshirt from Mighty Circus. (They also do a Care Bears tee I’m dying for!)

sarai funko from strange the dreamer laini taylor

4. Sarai Funko (Strange The Dreamer)

Back to true fantasy with this beauty from Fandomly Selected. I love her, the hair is the exact cinnamon red I imagined while reading.

Does not come with a handle at the back which you turn to eject one hundred moths, but you can’t have everything*.

Sarai Funko from Fandomly Selected

everything everything literary print picture nicola yoon framed

5. Everything Everything Print

*You can, however, have this pretty-pretty Everything Everything print as a gift. How cool would this look in a bookish boudoir, or next to your bedroom window?

It’s made from antique paper, which is a tender touch that matches the spirit of the book. This is another one which makes me cry, so I’d have to frame it fast to catch my tears on the glass.

Everything Everything Print from Book Cover Art.

handmaid's tale tee tishirt praise be margaret atwood

6. Handmaid’s Tale Tee

Time to stop crying & take action. March on the menfolk – no, away from the menfolk!- in this zinger of a red tee. Not the best colour to blend into the snow, granted, but you’re clever enough to overcome that.

Praise Be tee from Ninety5 prints

howl's moving castle calcifer pin

7. Howl Pin

There’s an age where you’re supposed to stop believing in magic. Or, so some people think.

I remember being a kid, as my friends gave up on spells and broomsticks, thinking, ‘But what if I stop believing and  right then something magical happens and I miss it?’

The risk was never worth it. I’m now officially Grown Up and can report no ill-affects from continuing to believe that fairies could be lurking under hedges and that, given the right pair of wings, I might fly.

This Calcifer pin from Howl’s Moving Castle is the perfect small accessory to signal to others that you know about magic and other worlds, while blending in with the muggles. NayukiDraws has the cutest gang of Ghibli characters around, alongside other anime, video game artwork and keyrings.

james and the giant peach cushion pillow roald dahl

8. James and the Giant Peach Pillow

Cushions for book-lovers make the best gifts, because after a long afternoon’s reading they’ll need a good nap. This Roald Dahl pillow is my favourite because it’s so cheery, but it’s a hard choice with so many in the Storiarts shop to choose from. The same seller stocks literary scarves, gloves and bags, ranging from Shakespeare to Strange The Dreamer, so I’m sure I’ll be back next time I need a gift for a book loving pal.

Keep an eye on my bookish etsy treasure-trove list as I update it through the year – and let me know if you find new shops for me to add! Why not check out my list of crafty geek presents next?

Comments are closed

The best kind of problem

I’ve been relatively quiet online recently, because I’m revising my book and it’s totally absorbing*. Right now, at least; I expect a sticky, scary stretch will come along, but I’m not there yet. I bought Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course as a Christmas present for myself, and it’s GREAT. Cuts out a lot of flailing by giving me specifics to work on each week, plus the forums are really helpful. These things make me happy. Definitely recommended, if you’re looking to avoid flailing too.

(*plus, my iphone is still broken so I have to actually, like, get up and turn the computer on in order to be online. My laziness often overrides my social-media urge).

My only problem is that other things make me happy, too – especially books by Stacia Kane. Here I am, deep in revision, proud of my swotty, good-girl focus, and along comes a book I know I’m going to drop everything to read – Sacrificial Magic is out in the UK today! I read each of the first three Downside novels in a day and I’m sure this one will be as gripping, and as good. So that’s at least 24 hours of my writing schedule written off, while I catch up with Chess and Terrible.

Even worse,  Bring Up the Bodies is also out today – the sequel to Wolf Hall that I’ve been itching for since I heard it was being written. If I’d noticed when I pre-ordered that they’d both be released at the same time I would have kept my weekend free. Instead I’ve made plans and will have to leave the house and spend time with real people, grr 😉

Any genre-heads who haven’t heard of these are forgiven for seeing ‘Wolf’ and ‘Bodies’ in the titles and assuming I’m reading horror. Nope – they’re the story of Thomas Cromwell, and Wolf Hall was exactly the kind of well-written masterpiece that puts one off ever trying to write anything at all, because it will never be as good. You know the sort of thing. Disgustingly excellent.

Also, I totally fell for Cromwell.  These aren’t romance novels, but he was so well drawn, so complex and real that I sigh every time I think of him. My poor Thomas.  Sigh. I am so looking forward to spending more time with him.

The only flaw with Wolf Hall was that there were about twenty other characters also called Thomas, who were invariably all in the same scene talking to or about each other, and neither ‘Thomas’ nor ‘he’ were useful signifiers as to who did what. One of the drawbacks of reading on a Kindle is the relative difficulty of flicking back a few pages or referring to the index to see who’s who. Still, better than having to haul a 600 page hardback around, and a useful writing lesson learned – not to give all my characters the same damn name. There, I’m gaining on Hilary Mantel as I write…

I don’t know which book I’m more excited about. The only reason I’m starting Sacrificial Magic first is because it’ll be the quicker read. The Downside books aren’t short, but they are fast-paced and I always inhale them in one or two sittings, whereas Wolf Hall – woah, that was 674 pages, and Bring up the Bodies is 608. Wolf Hall was the first book I ever read on my Kindle, and to be honest I probably wouldn’t have read it if I’d had to lug a book of that size around.

Instead, both of these new books weigh nothing at all (or not?) and were magically delivered to my Kindle by the Amazon fairies overnight, which was thrilling to wake up to, in the same way that eBay purchases always feel like (free) gifts when they arrive.

Back later. Gone reading. X

Source: last.fm via Jenni on Pinterest

Comments { 0 }

Zoo City review

Zoo City Cover Lauren Beukes Angry Robot

How to enjoy book awards without having to actually write a novel

(A review of Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes)

There are three ways to gain pleasure from book awards (assuming that you are not one of the nominees yourself; if you are, congrats. Nice to see you here).

One is to have read all the books on the shortlist and therefore hold a valid opinion about which one is best. This never happens. Ever. Even the judges have to pull all-nighters skim-reading and pretend they’d read them ages ago.

Scenario Two is much more achievable: To have read at least one of the nominated books, and thus be allowed to hold forth, loudly, about how the one you bothered to buy should totally win the award in question (or, was such a pile of crap that it should never have been nominated).

Scenario Three is the nicest of all: To see a book you genuinely loved on the list, and for that book to actually win. That’s what happened to me when Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award last year, and I got to feel smug and proud despite having had nothing to do with the book. You hear that? A way to feel smug and proud without having to do anything except read a book. Don’t tell me you’re not impressed by that.

Right now, with the nominee list for the 2012 Arthur C Clarke Award not yet announced, having an opinion about last year’s winner is the best you can do. So, get thee to a bookshop and swot up fast. Here are some of my favourite things about Beuke’s book.

1 The concept of being animalled. In Beuke’s world, criminals have a permanent reminder of their crime, an animal who is linked to them for life. The tether between person and animal is strong, and separation is unbearable. It’s a cool, visual conceit, and something that’s not vampires. (Or werewolves). Something original. Phew.

Now that those with a less than pristine past can be identified with just a glance, the animalled are quickly ostracised. Let’s face it, excluding people who are different is something humans have always been good at. The suburbs become gated communities, and the Zoo City of the title is slang for where the cons and their critters reside.

2 Urban grittiness. I like urban fantasy when it shows me streets that are real. Streets that have dirt and junkies on them, litter and blood. When she came out of prison with a Sloth on her shoulders, no one would rent Zinzi a place anywhere nice, and in fact she kinda liked the broken down tenement she found in the Zoo City ghetto. It was dirty, and crowded, and noisy – just like prison. The scenes in the downtown slums are easy to visualise and are always believable, uncomfortably so. The detail makes the magic and the noir elements feel very real.

3 Zinzi December. What a name, what a woman. Here’s a female lead, written by a female author, winning a SF prize in a year where everyone shouted a lot (a lot) about there being a lack of female SF authors these days. Zinzi is the kind of heroine I like – cynical, clever, with healthy disregard for authority. Her downward spiral is in the spotlight, not her love life. No, she’s not proud of what she’s done, or what she does now. And nor should she be. She stays away from the drugs these days, but is involved in some dodgy internet scams to pay the bills and has no legit alternatives to turn to instead.

4 The pop culture. Like the slums, Lauren gets this right. Remember I said there were no legit alternatives for Zinzi? Well, what if she uses her natural talent to help out some bad people, and earns enough to stop hustling for a while? People with animals also have a magical talent, a shavi, and Zinzi’s talent is finding lost things. Keys, love letters, toys, jewellery. She could find bigger stuff, yes, but she prefers to stick to the easy stuff. Less trouble that way. She advertises her services to find things people have lost, and attracts the attention of a pop mogul who’s lost his teen singer. She should know better than to get involved – the darkness surrounding the case is palpable – but the money and the armed heavies make it hard to walk away.

So she takes the job, to find a lost teen idol, a cookie-cutter cutie who is adored for her innocent image. She’s a beauty, an angel, a role model. And she needs to be found before the media discovers her disappearance and infers anything sordid. The gossip magazine culture and the fake saccharine pop stars are perfectly done, and excerpts from YouTube style web pages (complete with comments), song lyrics and tabloid columns are slipped neatly between the chapters.

Bonus Scenario Four: being able to say that none of this year’s list are as good as last year’s winner. Read this now and you still have a chance to enjoy this scenario.

Comments { 0 }

Advent Thanksgiving: I just love your brraaiins (Warm Bodies review).

Warm bodies cover isaac marionMy Advent Thanksgiving series is a series of posts about stuff I liked in 2011. Music, books, tv, games, handsome gentlemen – you get the idea.

My review of Warm Bodies is up at Slacker Heroes today. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this, not being a big zombie fan, but it was gorgeous.  Funny, full of art and music and just the right side of sentimental.  Zombie romance – who knew?

I just love your brraaiins: 3 reasons to fall in love with a zombie

He lives in a plane

Post zombie plague, the undead hang out in large groups at abandoned places while the living hide in barricaded, joyless camps. ‘R’, our zombie narrator, lives in an abandoned airport, and has claimed a 747 commercial jet as his private pad. He spends his days travelling up and down the airport escalators, then up and down again. I guess they’re operating at the same level of animation. His friend ‘M’ is more down to earth (all zombies have forgotten their full, living names; M and R think they remember the first initials of theirs, at least) and is as sleazy and female obsessed in death as he was in life. M lives in the ladies bathroom, watching soft porn and tripping on hits from fresh brains. I know which bachelor pad I’d prefer.

‘My friend ‘M’ says the irony of being a zombie is that everything is funny, but you can’t smile, because your lips have rotted off.’

He loves music

It’s hard for the zombies to remember what happened to them, or what their lives were like before. R seems to be the only one who cares, and his inability to piece anything together is upsetting him. He collects records and memorabilia, paintings, movies and dolls, and piles them up in his plane-pad. He’s certain they were things of importance but unable to remember why. His mind is stretching beyond his zombie lot in life, but his memory won’t play ball and his vocabulary, limited to the occasional shuffling syllable, can’t help him ask what he wants to know. In one of the cutest, coolest scenes of the novel, he uses his vinyl stash to ‘scratch’ the words he wants to say, skipping through lines of Sinatra records to articulate his thoughts.

Who’s he trying to communicate with? Well. When he eats the brain of a twenty something soldier, he experiences the love the boy had for his bright, full of life girlfriend and decides to rescue her and bring her back to his plane. Yes, you’re right, not the cleverest idea ever. Bring a living girl into an airport full of zombies in order to protect her? Hmm. Anyway, while she’s there they start playing the records he’s amassed, and have a strange few days of hanging out, playing records and eating Thai food. Sounds like my 20s. Though I never had to cover myself in the blood of the dead to hide my scent from the hordes of hungry dead outside.

He values pop culture

Frustrated that none of the other zombies seem to remember or want more, R loses his temper and shouts at a zombie he meets when looping the escalators one day. She has a name tag – she has a name, a clue to her old life, but zombies can’t read so all it does is taunt him.

‘Name,’ I say, glaring into her ear. ‘Name?’

She shoots me a cold look and keeps walking.

‘Job? School?’ My tone shifts from query to accusation. ‘Movie? Song?’ It bubbles out of me like oil from a punctured pipeline. ‘Book?’ I shout at her. ‘Home? Name?’

I think I’d get on with this guy. Picture it. We’re in his plane, listening to Sinatra, eating pad Thai and talking about books. He’s kinda immortal. He’s got DJ skills. He wants to know where I’m from, what my favourite movie is. He’s eaten my boyfriend’s brain to get to know me better – if that’s not commitment, what is?

Every few pages of this novel has a reference to what this new, dead world is missing; Julie’s eyes are likened to ‘classic novels and poetry’, while R’s cravings for brraaiins pulse like pink Pollock fractals. Polaroids are valuable because memories are fading, Beatles songs weave in and out of the chapters, and R and his crew are a ‘cadaverous cadre…roaming the open roads like Kerouac beats with no gas money’. The people behind the barricades have no time to teach their children about art and music, because learning to load a gun and cut a zombie’s brains out are more urgent life skills. They dress in khaki and there’s no booze left in the pub. They are alive, but what for? Warm Bodies is a love letter to what we still have – culture, creativity, emotion, (vodka) – and inspires me to relish it now, before the zombie apocalypse takes it all away.

from ‘3 reasons to fall in love with a zombie’

– Click here for the review at Slacker Heroes (and if you are a zombie fan, check out the rest of the site’s Zombiethon)

Comments { 0 }