Now I know it’s odd to say, but the first half of the year I class as my ‘Wes Anderson time’. It sounds odd but from January until around the end of May is a time when the weather in England is unpredictable (when isn’t it) I like to dive into new but familiar territory. Having usually just listened to the same Christmas tunes year in, year out, when January rolls around I like to revisit and become reacquainted with familiar things like my favourite films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel whilst also delving into newer territory. This for me means sticking with the thing I love but in other formats. I did this recently with Schitt’s Creek by reading the book Best Wishes, Warmest Regards; so it felt only natural to try it with The Grand Budapest Hotel too.
Now I must admit, this is my favourite film by Wes Anderson so I do clutch onto it big time but I am really trying to verse myself in the rest of his works too and I do still have a ways to go. In the mean time though, it doesn’t hurt to take comfort in books that are a bit ‘Wes Anderson‘ too.
I won’t go too into this book as I did only recently write a whole, rambling post about it; so instead here’s the link to that here. What I will say though, this book is beautiful. It’s a behind the scenes look at all things The Grand Budapest Hotel and goes into such depth discussing the process of making the film. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves Anderson, the film or even anyone with an interest in storytelling or movie-making.
This little pink book is a compilation by Anderson showing his appreciation of Zweig’s work and showcasing his favourite pieces by him. It includes a conversation with Anderson talking about how Zweig’s work inspired him; and you can definitely read certain details in the pieces themselves which really spoke or inspired certain elements. It includes Zweig’s last work ‘The World of Yesterday’ which is nostalgic in its details of a bygone Europe. All of the pieces in this collection are deeply philosophical and thought-provoking in there musings. I wouldn’t say it’s a light read but if you have the time and the patience, I think it’s worth a read.
This is what it says on the tin – screenplay of the film. One of my favourite things about The Grand Budapest Hotel is the writing. I think I’ve said it before but the writing has such a musicality to it that I absolutely love so this is such a great read for me. While the plot is inspired by the workings of Stefan Zweig and the film displays a bygone era of sophistication through its visuals, the writing and characters are still so wonderfully portrayed through simply reading the screenplay. It helps that the film is sectioned into parts like ‘Part 1: M. Gustave‘, like it was purposely made to be read. While I do love this book, I do wonder if someone could enjoy it without never watching the film.
This book was actually a birthday gift that I welcomed with open-arms, and squealing slightly. It’s beyond beautiful and is absolutely flawless in its curation. This book is somewhat a coffee-table book with the majority of it being full of vibrant photography. It’s a bit of a photo project with the composer Koval being sent these photos from all over the globe from individuals who also recognise and appreciate how settings so common place can be accidentally Wes Anderson. Koval then compiles written excerpts to accompany the photography which I found so fascinating. He included the history of some of the along with little, personal anecdotes which was lovely. It truly is the perfect book for escapism!
This book is very much the aesthetic of Anderson with the photography all checking those necessities for symmetrical lines, tiny but quirky places and pastel tones contrasted by bright blue skies. There’s definitely a mix of polished places and then the shabbier, more run down spots but all tie together under that umbrella of whimsical charm. Although, I will say some photos can feel a little eerie and ghost-town like with their lack of humanity in the shots.
The book is laid out by the photographed places area in the world, with each section beginning with a numbered map. Some of the places are more historical with the written sections appreciating their history while others are more dry and just outright comical in their commentary of the place. All of the places within are somewhat off the beaten track which is something I really love. While I think an Anderson fan would love this book, I think anyone with an interest in photography or architecture, or even just someone who enjoys flicking through a good book with beautiful, crisp photography shots and great colour palettes, would love this book. It’s a welcomed and well-loved addition to my home library.
What is something you like to revisit in new ways? Let me know.
It was towards the end of 2020 that I watched Schitt’s Creek and got into it in a BIG way. I binged it like it was my form of oxygen and fell in love with everything about it. Fast forward to the latter half of last year, I noticed that there was a hardback, coffee-table style book being released in October and I immediately squealed with joy whilst also sending a link to my boyfriend. He took the hint and I received it for Christmas which I was so over the moon with.
This book was beautifully curated. It had everything from interviews with the cast and crew members to photography of behind the scenes and the sets, to illustrations and fan art to even letters the show has received from their loving, supportive fans. It’s honestly a must-have for any Schitts Creek fan!
You’re so cool. You just stand your solid ground, refusing to be anything but you.
Moira Rose (to Stevie Budd)
The first section of the book is comprised of a collection of pieces of writing on each character, written by the actors who play that character (so Annie Murphy writes about Alexis Rose); which I enjoyed reading so much. All of the writing in this book was amazing but reading the amount of thought that went into becoming these characters was really quite fascinating. There was also part of this section that introduced the town of Schitt’s Creek, or more so the sets, as a character too. The amount of thought that went into every single detail about the sets, even those that were seemingly small and insignificant, was just astounding to me. There were also interviews with the crew members throughout, discussing their reasoning for certain backdrops and decisions they made that turned out to be iconic for the show. For me that’s the decor of the Rosebud Motel, that blue/teal accent wall gets my diy heart aflutter.
The rest of the book was broken down into seasons, touching on certain episodes while going into more depth with others. They didn’t touch on every single episode but I’m pretty sure they got all the iconic ones and even some of the ones I found to be more underrated. These sections were comprised of breakdowns of the episodes and scenes, including original scripts, behind the scenes facts and photography. I think the interviews included were probably my favourite written parts of the book. Reading the dynamic between certain actors, or the actors and crew members, really made me realise why Schitt’s Creek turned out in the amazing way that it has. They just got everything SO right.
Out of the episode breakdowns, I’d say I enjoyed the one with Patrick coming out to his parents the most. It was lovely to read about the process of creating that episode, and reading how delicate and thoughtful they wanted to be while approaching it. Other’s I enjoyed were The Hike and reading about the origins of those four gold rings, and then also the creation of ‘Building the Show Within a Show‘ (Cabaret). I also loved reading the behind the scenes details about ‘the’ dress and the chaos surrounding that, as well as how they created the iconic Papal-inspired look.
I can’t forget also that all the above mentioned was littered with illustrations and fan art on all facets of Schitt’s Creek. I don’t want to spoil it all but I can’t help but list some below:
The book titles of Schitt’s Creek, and who they’re read by throughout; think Stevie sitting at her desk (really nice little Easter eggs I try to catch now when I rewatch).
Moriacabulary: all those great little words she comes out with, like bébé, Podunk, pettifogging, and jabberwocky (which happens to be my favourite poem so I really love that they used this word).
A breakdown of the Jazzagals performances.
The complete collection of Moira’s wigs – in beautiful watercolour illustrations.
The world according to David Rose – what is correct and incorrect.
The complete looks of Moira Rose – we’re talking every single look. That’s a lot of black and white!
A world map of ‘The Adventures of Alexis Rose’, with numbered locations and her one-liner references to them (just as hilarious in writing as on the screen).
David Roses complete collection of knits… amazing how they all fit in that custom built wooden trunk that Mutt built him.
I’m sure there’s so much more I missed but this book was just well and truly gorgeous to me. I absolutely loved it and cannot recommend it enough to fellow Schitt’s Creek fans (also if they wanna be friends with me and have long-winded discussions about it, hit me up!).
Also, if you are a fan and you haven’t noticed (highly unlikely) there’s a documentary-styled show on Netflix under the same title as this book, Best Wishes, Warmest Regards, which also goes through the making of the show but in quite an intimate, moving way. I could’ve cried at multiple times throughout it so I’d recommend that also.
Let me know what you thought of this book, and the documentary too.
This post is about the book, which is all about the film and how it was made so there will be spoilers ahead! …also, as the natural-born overwriter that I am, I do go on a tangent about the film and why I absolutely love it. You have been warned.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is quite honestly one of my favourite films of all time. It’s the perfect tale within a tale within a tale; with multiple layers to its storytelling which make it such a rich film. There’s so many reasons why it’s such an amazing film, and they differ so much depending on who you ask. For some it’s that iconic pink hotel front and the funicular, the exquisite Mendl’s pastries, that pristine purple uniform that cuts such a dashing silhouette, or even that dresser-top fully stocked with L’air Panache (and how effortlessly that rolls off ones tongue). For others, it’s the darker elements of the film. The chase scenes with Jopling as dramatic music pounds in the background, his skull-shaped knuckle-dusters, the prison scenes and a seemingly never-ending rope ladder; not to mention, a head in a delivery box, a dead cat in a hessian sack, and four-missing fingers. While I love all the above, The Grand Budapest is my favourite for other reasons.
The writing is amazing. There’s a familiarity to the language and a warmth that’s unparalleled for me. It has a musicality to it that just gives me all the warm and fuzzy feels, and are just so unforgettable. I think the way that the writing has been performed also has a big hand in why I love it so much. The quick-fire way that it is reeled off, especially from characters like M. Gustave; so poetic and thoughtful yet sometimes steers into sounding more like a ranting sailor than his usual gentleman-fashion.
I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it… but, I will say: he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvellous grace!
If you look further than the facade of the aesthetically-pleasing colour schemes and whimsically, fantastic characters, you realise the events at face-value are quite dire but there’s much more blood and gore involved. My boyfriend is a movie-lover and often mentions the films his dad introduced him to, and what ones he will one day introduce our kids too. It was only when I thought about this myself that I realised this film, while wonderfully colourful and somewhat comedic in areas, it’s actually probably a bit too much for a child to watch.
Now to the book…
This book is almost a window into how this masterpiece film was made. It’s a behind the scenes look with conversations with everyone varying from Anderson himself, to the actors, set designers, cinematographers, costume design, the film’s composer, and so many others. It also includes stunning photography, personal accounts and funny anecdotes as well as some amazing illustration and artwork.
I absolutely love the detailed costumes and vibrant colours, mixed with laid out backdrops in a perfect, symmetrical fashion. Anyone who knows Andersons work knows he’s so visually precise and meticulous with his cinematography. The film has different stages to it, all with frame changes depending on where or what era that portion of the film is set in which is something I think you enjoy and notice more when rewatching it. Each time I watch it I notice something else I missed before so reading about the cinematography and the decisions concerning all the camera work was really interesting for me.
This book is a must for every Wes Anderson aficionado! It contains so much insight when it came to not only the inspiration and sources for the story itself but also the process of storytelling, art and film-making too. It truly discusses every single element of the film and the inner-workings of making something great.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
Cheerio for now!
((I must apologise for rambling on for soo damn long, but if you couldn’t tell-I bloody love this film! It is and probably will remain one of my absolute favourites forever!))
Last year was great for my reading list, which I posted here. I think reading as much as I did last year helped my mental health and the clarity of my mind, especially some of the cognitive symptoms I suffer from with my chronic condition. I should say I’m not advocating for all chronic sufferers to read as much as possible by no means – that is incredibly damaging. I’m merely saying my reading whether it be a few pages of a chunky book, some light poetry or even an audio book on bad days, when I physically couldn’t read or even hold a book, really helped me get through the year. It’s a mixture of this, the escapism books gave me through the year, and some of the books I have received that have got me so excited for this year of reading; and with that I wanted to share some of them here.
Flower Crowns & Fearsome Things, Amanda Lovelace: I recently received this in the post, have had a brief flip through it and I’m so excited to get into this read. I do love a bit of Lovelace’s work so I can’t wait to see what this book has in store.
Catherine de Medici, Leonie Frieda: This has been on my shelf for some time. Long time readers will know that I love a fierce, trailblazing female from history and I do usually have a history read on the go at any given time. Last year I read a few reads like this but I’d say my last big, chunky ‘fierce-female‘ book was probably The Favourite so I think it’s about time we change that. I also have been holding off reading this for a while too as I listen to a lot of podcasts featuring historical women, like Queens Podcast, Vulgar History, & The History Chicks, all of which I think have done episodes on Catherine de Medici so I needed time for that information to kinda fizzle away in my brain to truly enjoy reading this book. I think now is the time!
Mostly Hero, Anna Burns: I love these little books – they are so perfectly sized for my small handbag and so ideal to just pull out to read whenever. I try to look for these little guys whenever I’m in a bookstore but I do have a few on my shelf I need to catch up on reading: this being one of them.
Pillow Thoughts IV & All Dogs Are Good, Courtney Peppernell: As I have mentioned on this space before, I love Peppernell’s work – especially her Pillow Thoughts Series and I recently read her book Watering the Soul so I’m definitely on a ‘Peppernell-kick‘.
The Gift of Everything, Lang Leav: Having read a few more of Lang Leav’s books I’m definitely noticing that I enjoy and relate to her more recent work more so than her work at the beginning of her career so I’m really eager to read this newest addition.
The Story of Beatrix Potter: Her Enchanting Work and Surprising Life, Sarah Gristwood: Beatrix Potter has been the ultimate role model for me since I was about six or seven. My family has friends in the Lake District who we’ve visited throughout my life and been to the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction quite a few times. I’ve also read so much about her life over that time too, so I feel like this might overlap with a lot of the knowledge I already have about her but I simply couldn’t resist this one. I hadn’t heard of this book until the man queuing in front of me at Waterstones had it and I did kinda pounce on him (…in a socially distanced way) to ask what the title was.
Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, Paul Koudounaris: Odd, I know. I bought this with a Christmas voucher and I’m already half way through the first chapter. It’s such a fascinating read. The title and visual of the cover make it sound a lot more odd than what it actually is. It goes into the Catholic faith and how these figures, believed to be martyrs, were being used as relics after the protestant reformation. I have to say it has been far more interesting than I expected when I first purchased it.
There we have it. A few books that I’m so so so excited to read this year. These are just a handful I have selected, I do have more strewn around my room but these are the ones that immediately come to mind when I think about the books in my year ahead. I also have my eye on a few titles being released this year such as the impending seventh book in the Frey & McGray Series as well as the final book in the you are your own fairytale trilogy by Amanda Lovelace unlock your storybook heart so no doubt those will be mentioned here soon.
Let me know what you’re excited to read this year – I’d love to find some more for my list!
2021 was a great year of reading for me. I really hit a great stride with my reading and the books I came across. Like my reading in 2020, I read a fair bit of poetry and discovered some new writers who I already have a list of their books that I want to read for 2022. I definitely delved into a lot of works other than plain old fiction which I am proud of and think I did a really good job of not only hitting my (altered) reading goal of 50 books, but surpassing it by doing 52 – proud bookworm!
So without further ado, these were my reads of 2021…
The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern: Ugh, this book. I have done a book review here on this one so you can read a bit more detail about it and my thoughts over there but I will just say this book for me was a bit of a let down. There were elements I loved and then ones that just didn’t work for me which was a little disappointing considering The Night Circus is one of my all-time favs.
The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, Amanda Lovelace: This book is the second in the Women are Some Kind of Magic trilogy and it was both my favourite and least favourite in the trio. I’ve gone into it in more detail here but briefly, while I loved the female empowerment in it it sometimes overstepped that boundary line into ‘man-hating’ which I’m not a fan of.
The Binding, Bridget Collins: A huuuuge let-down and just overall disappointment. This book had been hyped up to be something that it just weren’t for me but I do have a post coming out soon which goes into the details in more depth.
The Mermaids Voice Returns in This One, Amanda Lovelace: The third in the Women are Some Kind of Magic trio and yes, it’s also detailed in this post here with the other two. While I enjoyed this last instalment to the trio, I would say that I wasn’t as connected to this material as the other two and that definitely clouded my enjoyment of it slightly.
The Timekeeper, Mitch Albom: This was a good read, a bit of a slow-burner and a bit choppy at times with the pacing but it still made for a good read. It followed three storylines connected by time and the timekeeper, and just held so many nuggets of wisdom that made you stop, think and feel throughout.
September Love, Lang Leav: Beautiful -yet another amazing addition to Lang Leav’s catalogue of published works. Her words are eloquent and personal but yet relevant and relatable. I can’t wait to read more of her work in the future.
2am Thoughts, Makenzie Campbell: This was okay-sh. It had some relatable and interesting entries to it but as a whole was a collection of one-liners and sentences strung together haphazardly rather than thought-out poetry.
within these four walls, mindfully Evie: This was a tough read for me at times. I went into it in more depth in this post here. As someone with the same diagnosis as Evie at times her writing stepped over into the ‘sh!t this is a bit too real for me‘ area and reading is a form of escapism for me, so it probably wasn’t the most enjoyable however I think it would be a great read for anyone. I would especially recommend this to those who are family members of a chronically-ill person because it would truly be enlightening for them.
The Dance of the Serpents, Oscar de Muriel: Right lets try not to overwrite this absolute gem of a book… Now, I have a book post here reviewing it in more detail but all I will say here is 5/5 stars from me. The ending messed with me a little but it didn’t take any enjoyment away from my experience of this book. I cannot wait until the seventh and final book to series (for now) comes out in February this year (…just realising that is next month -eeep!).
The Favourite: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, Ophelia Fields: a very informative and well-researched read but it was quite stiff and dragged in large areas. It was also a bit too long for my liking. There were times when I thought I was reading something that was relevant to what comes next but in reality it was just more information in case you wanted it. I had to finish this through audible or I just wouldn’t have finished it.
break your glass slippers (you are your own fairy tale), Amanda Lovelace: Ugh, this book. This is the first in Lovelace’s you are your own fairy tale trio and this has to be, hands down my favourite of her works. It absolutely oozes female empowerment throughout with its consistent use of fairy tales, princesses and the reoccurring use of fairy godmother says. This is a wonderful start to Lovelace’s new trio.
Intimations: Six Essays, Zadie Smith: a bit of an impulse buy at the Waterstones check out but what a wonderful impulsive buy it was! Absolutely beautiful collection of writing full of little vignettes from throughout 2020. Really quite stunning and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of reading it. I went into more detail about it in this post here.
Twilight, Stephanie Meyer: ugh. a reread and total journey of nostalgia but so so good. Sometimes it’s just good to reread certain books – this took me back to when I first read it, as a twelve-year-old girl trying to fit into secondary school whilst also trying to figure out if I was team Edward or team Jacob.
New Moon, Stephanie Meyer: another reread of course. I actually have the LP of the movies soundtrack which I absolutely love so I did crack that out whilst reading a few times.
No Shame, Tom Allen: This book was brilliant. I would say it’s up there with my favourites this year and I even had to get it on audible too just to hear Tom Allens voice narrate his hilarious words to me. It was so insanely good and beyond hilarious! Ugh, I could talk forever about this book but I’ll just redirect you to thispost here where I got to gush about it a bit more.
I hope you stay, Courtney Peppernell: As you’ll go on to read, I have really enjoyed and fallen in love with Peppernell’s work this year but this one wasn’t as enjoyable as the others I have read. I would still recommend it but it just wasn’t my favourite.
shine your icy crown, Amanda Lovelace: A good second book to the new trio, you are your own fairy tale, but not groundbreakingly impressive. Having said that, this also had the same sense of female empowerment and unity as break your glass slippers; I especially liked the Big Sister Says pieces.
The Truth About Magic, Atticus Poetry: Some nice pieces but not up there with my favourites of the year. I would definitely revisit this in the years to come though – it seems like a body of work that would age well.
Tales of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgerald: A nice collection of some of Fitzgerald’s shorter fictional works. The Tale of Benjamin Button was included which was a really great read, especially given that I had only ever seen the film before.
Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury: ugh. so. bloody. good. I do have a post coming out with all my thoughts about this beautiful book. It was so much more than I could have ever expected and I anticipate it will be an annual autumn read for me from here on out.
Lamentation, C. J. Sansom: a recommendation from my grandfather. This is the sixth in the Shardlake series (I think) but I had no previous reading or knowledge of that fact. It was a slow burner but had so many plot twists and was a really great historical fiction read.
Shy: How Being Quiet Can Lead to Success, Annie Ridout: I am currently working on a post dedicated to this book. While there was some surface-level stuff in this, it also had so much great information and gems of advice that I really want to highlight and share so stay tuned for that!
7,300 Days, Isabella Mente: some beautiful pieces on depression and self-love but outweighed by traumatic and somewhat over-sexualised poetry for my own personal taste. My copy was also a used one with musings scribbled in pencil by the previous owner which made my reading so much more magical.
Magic Lessons, Alice Hoffman: This was an okay-ish read. It had elements that I really loved but there were other parts of the plot line that I could not get on board with at all. I haven’t read the four books that come after this though so maybe I’ll give those a go.
Introducing Marx, Rius: Having visited Highgate Cemetery (post to come!), my grandfather lent me this utter gem. This was such a great read! I felt so enlightened after reading this.
*Only Dull People are Brilliant at Breakfast, Oscar Wilde: a neat collection of the witticisms of Wilde and all that he embodied. A great little edition to keep on your person for light reading here and there. This was completed a few days into the new year so it is technically for next years list (oops) but I did start it this year.
*A Dance with Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust (A Song of Ice and Fire #5), George R. R. Martin: I started this book at the beginning of the year and I’m still yet to finish it – I know, it’s awful of me. I even got the audible to try make it more accessible and have less of an excuse not to read it but here we are so clearly that didn’t work out as planned. I will say that I am in the last quarter of it so you know, not far off but I really wanna get this done for 2022… and part 2!
I think for 2022 I want to read more books like Shy, the type of ones that help you grow and evolve a bit more but I would also love to read more informative, reference books. I already have a few to hand ready like this Art Nouveau one (I’m seeing the Klimt Immersive experience in August – covid permitting, so this will be a perfect read beforehand) and I also have a book called Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs which yes, I know sounds (and looks) weird but having read the first few pages already sounds absolutely fascinating so I cannot wait to devour that. I’m now wondering if I should write a To Be Read post… we’ll see. Anyways, I hope you all had a good year – particularly with your reading, watching, or whatever your thing is!
Nikita Gill is one of the first modern poets who’s work I delved into when I first started getting into poetry. I remember seeing some of her work online years ago but it weren’t until I read Wild Embers that I really became entranced by her words. As I’ve mentioned here before, I got into poetry during the very beginning of the pandemic, when the world stopped and emotionally I just felt numb; and consequently didn’t know what to do with myself. Nikita Gill’s Wild Embers: Poems of rebellion, fire and beauty served as a welcome distraction and so I escaped into a new world of modern poetry.
I wanted to share a few books by Gill that I’ve read and fell in love with over the past couple of years
As I mentioned above, this was my first experience of Gill’s work: a collection of both poetry and prose. There’s a strong sense of validation and empowerment to her work. The language is both gentle and fierce, charged with so much emotion whether it be recognition, anger, rage, love, empowerment… I could go on. I also think her choice of words works beautifully in this work as it’s lyrical and there’s a musicality to the language which is incredibly moving at times. I love the themes she uses, especially those of rebellion and revolution; they definitely light that fire in you which is such a powerful thing. I also really appreciate Gill’s comparisons to nature and universe, an ongoing tool she’s also used in her other works, and how it relates to our acceptance and growth in personal ways. I think I’d characterise this work as very much ‘self-care-poetry‘: I cannot tell you how much solace and comfort that it brought me.
I had such a huge appreciation for her revisited, or should I say rewritten, fairytales and goddesses in her writing. She slightly changes the classic tales from mythology and princesses to show them in a feminist light and highlight how toxic society can be – which was so refreshing and truly enjoyable to read. I hate to leave this section on a bad note but my only little niggle was the fact that it was slightly repetitive in areas. Rather than a growing development and ‘journey’ through the different themes, it became tiresome as it flipped back and forth and dwelled on some of them. Ultimately though, I would say that this is a great first read to test the waters with Gill’s work and I’d definitely recommend it to any avid poetry reader or poet themselves.
This is Gill’s most recent book off poetry and my second read of her work. Written as the world went into lockdown, there’s strong themes of loneliness and mental health throughout it. I found it incredibly poignant as it explores so many emotions that we, as a collective society, experienced to such extremes through this period of time. It explored the moments of isolation, fear and despair, hopelessness and hurt, depression and darkness, and anxiety and exhaustion. As I mentioned previously Nikita Gill’s work always seems to have strong imagery of the universe throughout, but this book also included imagery of constellations and the universe which was a nice change. I think the majority of us had a tough time through the lockdowns especially the very beginning of the pandemic, however I think even if you had an easy time and breezed through it, you’d be hard pressed not to feel touched and emotional from Gill’s work depicting this time. I personally found it a bit too much at times. I read this as they started to slowly ease our third lockdown and while there seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel, it definitely didn’t feel like we were out of the woods; so at times I had to put the book down for awhile to recharge before I could continue on.
I only had a few issues with this book. While I did find it inspirational and it created a sense of hope and optimism towards the end, at times it was a bit too spiritual and godly for my liking but I wouldn’t say this ruined my reading of the book as a whole. Also I’d say sometimes it read more so as affirmations than poetry which, while still powerful, wasn’t what I expected or wanted from this book.
This is the most recent book of Gill’s work that I have read. I found it quite a cathartic read as it definitely explores a lot of wounds and trauma, especially that of mental health. I felt as though it took me to the darker, more damaged parts of myself and then gave me safe and more comforting words to heal. I definitely felt like this book was more of a journey than the other books above. It had a bit more melancholy to it and was very much a ‘wallow-hollow’; which looking back felt as though it tore you down to build you back up. Having said this, there’s a connection through the trauma and turmoil that these poems explore which I think many could relate to. It deals themes such as trauma, healing, self-care and hope so I think it would appeal to a wider range of readers, across all age-groups.
This book is split into eight sections, The Anguish, The Descent, The Acceptance, The Defiance, The Survival, The Worship, The Wonder, and The Beginning, which makes it a bit easier to pick up and put down as and when you need to. Gill also draws on the classic Greek Gods and mythology in The Worship section of this book too, such as Narcissus, the Minotaur, Athena & Medusa, Orpheus & Eurydice, etc, which is a nice layer to the book. Overall, I loved this book. The language was simple but used with such weighty subject matters and themes that it felt like an extremely profound experience. I think the simplicity of Nikita Gill’s language too adds to an effortless effect; it hits all the right notes without trying.
While I loved all of the books above, and no doubt will return to them at some point, I think Wild Embers was my favourite of Gill’s work so far however, that is probably more so to do with where we all were with the pandemic and how that started my love of modern poetry at the time. I look back on it fondly and even now still have a flick through it’s pages occasionally, reading a piece here and there. I’d recommend any of these works, or any of her other works too – she is truly talented!
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
Cheerio for now!
((If you are a Nikita Gill fan, I’d recommend you listen to her as a guest on the Saturn Returns with Caggie Podcast, hosted by Caggie Dunlop. I love the podcast anyway but listening to Nikita Gill talk about poetry as a form of self-expression and how you can create beautiful things through your more painful experiences was so inspiring. I’d definitely recommend you give it a listen)).
What started as an instagram and hashtag movement, connecting like-minded folk of all walks of life through the storytelling and empowering words of Danielle Doby comes I Am Her Tribe. A collection of poetry drawing on this movement and growing into a safe place to, as Doby puts it on one of her first pages, ‘come as you are. your breath can rest here’.
Doby has created a book of simple moments portrayed with simple words but which has a beguiling affect on its reader. At first glance or even a skim read, these pieces don’t seem to hold much substance but when you take the time to sit with them and truly allow yourself to be taken by each piece, and the language it uses, you allow yourself to be engulfed by the emotion her work can conjure and it’s an extraordinary process. There are moments that a piece requires a slow, more thoughtful read while other pieces command to be read with a sense of urgency, the weight and emotion of the words not truly sinking in until you’ve finished reading it. Doby’s pacing and choice of language is mesmerising, and truly beautiful to behold.
both soft + fierce
and still be powerful
I Am Her Tribe, Danielle Doby p. 137
It’s unlike other poetry that I’ve read in that it feels not so much as an individuals voice but very much a collective voice of the masses. The feel of much of her work is one of empowerment and solidarity; especially that for women which feels even more poignant given the social context since the MeToo movement and more recently the case of Sarah Everard. The raw emotion and imagery she employs in her work is moving and, while it covers many themes such as self-love, healing, and personal growth, it’s very much one of inner peace. There’s such an overwhelming sense of peace when you read her works. I personally love the astrological sign ending to the book which for me ends your reading on a more personal note – a beautiful touch.
Now I don’t want to be a Debbie-Downer and end of a negative note but I have one qualm with this book which is the cover. My copy is a matte white cover with a slight embossed title repeated several times and the authors name, all in white. While aesthetically it is somewhat cute to me, it is also becoming kinda dirty and quick to mark/scuff in all manner of ways which is infuriating to me. I love to revisit my poetry collection whenever I feel drawn to delving back into the authors work and I often take whatever book I’m in the middle of wherever I go with me so this does not bode well for this cover at all and makes me a little apprehensive to reread in the future. I also wonder how inclined readers would be to read it if they picked up a copy at that bookstore to find it a little grubby before they’ve even bought it. There that’s my nit-picking over with.
Now, I mentioned this book in my Christmas Films post recently. I originally saw the film, Picture a Perfect Christmas on the movie channel in 2019 and loved it. I watched it again last Christmas and recently showed my mom it too – in a bid to get her excited and convince her that we should start decorating in late October. It weren’t until a month ago that I even realised it was based off a book and immediately I had to get my hands on a copy.
This festive tale revolves around Sophie Griffith and David Murphy, along with a few others. Sophie is a photographer whose job takes her all over the globe and while waiting for her next gig to be finalised, she’s helping her injured grandma Louise over the holidays. As she arrives in Washington state to lend a helping hand she meets David Murphy, Louise’s neighbour. Other than being outrageously attractive to Sophie, David is guardian to Troy his six-year-old nephew who Louise often helps with. Throughout her stay Sophie finds herself growing closer to the Murphy men with the help of their festive activities along with the meddling matchmaking of Louise. While they’re both attracted to one another, with Sophie about to jet off with her next assignment and David running his company and caring for Troy, surely it’s a non-starter but can they manage to make it work?
I read this book within two evenings – a personal best, I might add. It is light-hearted and full of all those festive warm and fuzzies. One thing I loved about this book is that it’s told from both Sophie and Davids point of view. That was really refreshing and just gave the story a bit more to it. Reed also does a wonderful job of capturing that chemistry and electricity between two people who are attracted to one another. I thought the ending was cute but a little vague and quick for my liking.
I found the story and characters a bit surface-level. There was a lot of potential to tap into, especially with the themes of grief and trauma which could’ve been explored so much more. I think the instant attraction between the characters made the whole ‘we can’t be together’ conflict a bit weaker especially in comparison to the strength of the attraction. This is something I preferred in the film: Sophie has a boyfriend Brent which is the obvious reason why she can’t be with David, even though something is there between them.
I’m glad I read this book and would definitely recommend to anyone who wants a light-hearted, festive romance but I think I preferred the film and will probably stick to that in the future.
Have you watched the movie or read the book, or both? What did you think?
While there’s moments when life feels ‘back to normal‘, I find myself feeling in flux still. I’ve enjoyed seeing and catching up with friends again (safely) and I’m so looking forward to the festive season beginning but I’m also enjoying having those safe moments in the comfort of my own home and just chilling out. Maybe it’s the November version of me – I always seem to hibernate a little during November as a way of trying to build up some energy and enjoy the peace before the madness of Christmas begins. It’s a moment of rest and serenity for me although, it is usually littered with a few Christmas shopping trips or some ‘brainstorming‘ for gifts. In these moments of rest I’ve really been enjoying my more creative hobbies/past-times so I wanted to share a few of my favourites with you lovely lot.
Colouring books – Without sounding like a total kid, when it came to my birthday I asked for quite a few colouring books. I really enjoy popping on a podcast or something on audible and colouring for an hour or two. It’s so peaceful and relaxes me so much that I really lent into that when it came to my boyfriend wanting present ideas. He got me a Twilight one (team Edward foreverrr!) and a Schitts Creek one. I love both of them and they’re great additions to the ones I have on my shelf too -like Gilmore Girls, Game of Thrones, and Tim Burton. As it happens, my mother also got me a Beetlejuice one which was such a surprise -I’m a bit of a darker one when it comes to my favourite films so I’m shocked she would even know what to look for.
knit kits – I found a real love of knitting during the pandemic. I learnt years ago but never found the time to pursue the craft properly and then an international pandemic came along and helped me out. I spent most of 2020 knitting, even knitting at least one thing for everyone in my life for Christmas, and now it’s got to the point where I feel a little lost if I’m not working through a project at any given time. In all honesty, I’m usually knitting items for other people so this year there’s been a few things on my list to knit for myself. Lauren Aston does some incredible knit kits, some of which I have done already but I listed some on my Wishlist and was lucky enough to receive the Santa hat one from my boyfriends parents. I have actually done this one before but I did it for my mom and knew I wanted one for myself but never got around to doing it. So after receiving this gem, I stuck on a Christmas film (during Halloween, might I add) and got to knitting it, with hot chocolate to hand too.
Last Christmas I actually made a point of knitting something for almost everyone in my life, which was insanely hectic. Although, I’m not making that commitment this year, I will no doubt be enjoying knitting a few bits leading up to and over the Christmas period… I would actually love to share a few things I’ve knitted with you all so stay tuned for that!
Books! I’ve been spending a lot of time reading lately. Whether it be through audible or curling up with an actual book, I’ve really enjoyed it lately. I think the cooler weather really stirs up the need and desire to just immerse myself into fictional places. I’ve also really been diving into my reading list lately as I completed my Goodreads reading challenge during October and while it was lovely it felt a little disheartening. I should’ve done it far higher. I made my challenge for 36 books for 2021, thinking that 3 books at month will be a challenge -I should say that I think I made it a lower number because I was reading chunkier books at the time like those by George. R. R. Martin. I have since edited it to 45 but I’m already 4 books ahead of schedule and it’s early November as I write this so I think next year I’ll have to take the plunge and just go for the full 50! Anyway, because of all these contributing factors I have been absolutely loving my books lately. The books I’ve been reading will appear on my end of year roundup and no doubt, you’ll see a few reviews here soon.
While I love revisiting Christmas tales like A Christmas Carol and taking comfort in festive poetry over the Christmas period, I also enjoy taking solace in some darker reads too. There’s nothing quite like reading a book from the gothic or horror genre when the weather is often reflecting those gloomy landscapes the writer is also portraying. It’s the perfect mix. Throw in a blanket, some candles and a brew of your choice and you’ve got yourself a winner!
A dark classic within the horror genre, with themes such as vanity, selfishness and cruelty, this classic is definitely a tale of corruption and makes for the perfect read during the darker months. The prose and language is incredibly lyrical which, for me, made the plot line so digestible and fast-paced. I won’t go into the plot line too much as it is a classic that many of us know well however, I would like to point out that this isn’t in the horror genre due to it’s relation to monsters or the supernatural (as such), I would say it’s more so in this genre as it showcases the horror and cruel acts at the hands of a human. The display of Gray’s personal traits and how this effects the events that unfold are quite startling, and are what adds to and plays into the horror. I do have an old post on this book here, although it is rather old now so do forgive me.
The ultimate vampire story of all time – how could I not include this gem here?! I know I recently mentioned this book in my Dark Reads for October post so I won’t ramble on as I’d truly be repeating myself. All I will say is that this is, to my mind, the original vampire story and set against the backdrops of locations such as castles in the middle of the mountains and Whitby Abbey perched upon the hilltop, mausoleums and graveyards, to mansion homes – it’s so eerie and perfect for cozy evenings.
I personally find a mystery, let alone one set against a creepy location, perfect for this time of year. The Hound of Baskervilles is very similar to that of a Scooby-Doo episode. The structures are identical. A secluded location with little to no inhabitants in the area, some form of monster or evil reeking havoc on the locals, some sort of warning or signal to leave, a couple chance meetings with that monster or form of evil which then turns out to be someone taking advantage of local myths and legends to capitalise on something they can get from it, usually wealth or power. This is the structure of the Hound of Baskervilles story but a bit darker in areas and so much more atmospheric. I’d highly recommend it to anyone, its language is straightforward and it’s not too long a read either. The Valley of Fear on the other hand, while I know that I have read it I can’t remember the plot line for the life of me.
Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus, like Dracula, is seen as the pioneering classic for all ‘creations-come-to-life’ tales that followed. Again, many know the tale of the scientist Frankenstein whose creation comes to life and seemingly haunts him in his quest for purpose. Set against the backdrops of the Swiss Alps and Mont Blanc, the collegiate city of Ingolstadt Germany, the desolate artic landscape, and the wild, sparsely populated Orkney Islands. Shelley’s writing is expertly paced and has such a musical quality in parts. The imagery of the outcast creation is beyond beautiful and the language she uses evokes such emotion in it’s reader you do sometimes have to remind yourself that ‘yes, this is the monster everyone dresses up as when Halloween comes‘. You can’t help but feel heartbroken for the orphaned creation trying to find a purpose in his life as he scours the land in a state of loneliness.
Like Dracula, I did only mention this book recently in my Dark Reads for October so I won’t bore you with my musings all over again, you can find them here. The tale of a lonely phantom-figure terrorising and causing mysterious happenings in a grand, opulent opera house is one that thrills my bookworm heart. The writing and imagery Leroux conjures is exceptional, paired with the backdrops of dressing rooms, theatre boxes and a bustling theatre with secret passageways and mezzanine labyrinths is exquisite. I cannot recommend this book enough for these cooler months ahead.
There, those are just a handful of my gothic, slightly darker classics for the winter months upon us. Let me know if there’s any that you would add or what you’re favourite winter read is – I’d love to know.