Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Book review: The Secrets of the Wild Wood by Tonke Dragt



One of my all-time favourite Dutch children's books is De brief aan de koning by Tonke Dragt, and I was thrilled when decades after the original release this much-treasured classic finally received a deserving English language debut with The Letter for the King in 2014, thanks to Pushkin Press in the UK and a beautiful translation by Laura Watkinson. So you can imagine my excitement when the sequel, Secrets of the Wild Wood (originally Geheimen van het Wilde Woud) received an English release this year as well (also translated by Watkinson). Dark and more mature than its precedent, this book continues to capture the magic and adventurous spirit I've come to know and love from Tonke Dragt's imaginative world.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Book review: The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon



After Look At Me by Sarah Duguid and The Widow by Fiona Barton (review to follow), The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon is the third 2016 debut I've already read and if these novels are anything to go by it's going to be an absolutely stellar year for new book discoveries, as each one was excellent in its own right.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Book review: A Christmas Tail by Cressida McLaughlin



Serials are nothing new, after all Charles Dickens was a master of them, but in the digital age they've only quite recently made a spectacular comeback and especially in the commercial women's fiction genre it's working really well. Novels from the likes of Cathy Bramley and Lisa Dickenson come out first in staggered digital parts before being published in full as a paperback. It's genius, because readers will initially buy the books digitally, eagerly anticipating each new instalment, and they will also purchase the full paperback to have a beautiful copy on their bookshelves to cherish.

While I love the idea of serials, once I start reading I wouldn't have the patience to wait for a next instalment (I'm far too curious!) and rather read it all in one go. This means I do have to wait for the full paperback release and I had to really put my patience to the test when Novelicous' Cress McLaughlin's Primrose Terrace was published in four digital parts. In November the full book was finally released and I of course read it straight away. It was an absolute joy and well worth waiting for!

Monday, 21 December 2015

The Bloggers Hangout Christmas Food Fest



Moving a little more into lifestyle blogging I discovered the excellent The Bloggers Hangout a few months ago and I was thrilled when the invite to their Christmas Food Fest popped into my inbox. I always love discovering new brands and food is a particular passion of mine, so this was right up my alley. The event was held in a funky space in the East of London and I really enjoyed chatting to the passionate people behind all these wonderful products, and I'd like to share some of my favourite new discoveries below.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Breakfast at Richmond Tea Rooms in Manchester



When I went to Manchester for the first time a few months ago I was looking online for a place to have a nice sit-down breakfast with friends on a Sunday morning and I happened upon the Richmond Tea Rooms, which had on its menu things such as Eggs Benedict and a Maple Syrup & Bacon Pancake Stack, all for under £8 – I was sold!

What I didn't expect was how stunning the tea rooms would be; the inside is like stepping into a fairytale book, with brightly coloured mismatched furniture, beautiful vintage details, garland running across private nooks with lush velvet curtains and fluffy pillows, and wacky Alice in Wonderland themed elements hidden throughout.

So when I went back to Manchester last weekend we of course had to make a return and this time around I took some photos so you can all enjoy the gorgeousness that is the Richmond Tea Rooms.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

A look inside the stunning edition of Peter Pan illustrated by Minalima



December is of course the month for of eating chocolates for breakfast and visiting Christmas markets, but not only that, in the lead up to the holidays brands often have special 12 days of Christmas or advent calendar-themed offers and giveaways too. It has been a particular bumper year for that as many fabulous publishers and bloggers I follow on social media ran competitions every single day and I've been extremely lucky winning giveaways from Shaz's Book Boudoir (The Harry Potter Colouring Book), Laura's Little Book Blog (A Snow Garden by Rachel Joyce + Christmas Colouring Books), Quercus (Asking For It by Louise O'Neill) and Harper360 (a creative book bundle, including fiction treats).

While I am super excited to read/enjoy all of these (I wouldn't have entered if not!), it is the stunningly illustrated hardback edition of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie and published by HarperCollins I have particularly fallen in love with and I wanted to share some snapshots from inside this gorgeous book with you all. This is one of my favourite classics anyway, but this beautifully illustrated edition by Minalima (graphic designers that worked on Harry Potter) has made me fall in love with it even more. Not only is it filled with gorgeous, eye-poppingly bright drawings, but there are many interactive elements as well, including fold-outs, and my copy even came with a signed poster of Neverland!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas in London: The best of the South Bank festive markets



There are many iconic things to do in London at Christmas time, including ice skating at the Natural History Museum and Somerset House, a trip down to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland, a visit to the Ideal Home Show at Christmas and admiring the festive window displays on Oxford Street.

One of the areas in London that easily get overlooked, though it's just a short walk away from the West End, is the South Bank. This year is a particular cracker with not only the South Bank Winter Market being bigger than ever before, but also the additions of the London Bridge Christmas Market and the Christmas Market at the Tate Modern.

So let me take you on a stroll along the Thames' South Bank, pointing out some great spots for food and retail shopping this festive season!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Penguin Random House (Vlogger) Christmas Party



At Bloggeration's Book Blogging Workshop last month I had the pleasure of meeting Stephenie from the Penguin Random House team and not only did she answer our my many questions about the publishing industry at the workshop, she even invited the bloggers there to the Penguin Christmas Party, which was a fab bonus! I went to their offices on the Strand last December for the Penguin Women's Fiction Evening and I was delighted to make a return a year later to meet other members of the team and some of their amazing authors (including the one and only Sophie Kinsella!).

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Book review: Look at Me by Sarah Duguid



There are already some 2016 releases that are dominating the book chatter on my social media timelines, including The Widow by Fiona Barton, Shtum by Jem Lester, The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon and Look at Me by Sarah Duguid. There is an incredible buzz around these titles thanks to the fantastic publicists behind them and I am thrilled to have early copies in my possession to review in the next few months.

The first one to make its way to the top of my to-read pile was Look at Me, a subtly unsettling tale of a family absorbed by grief and the collapse of their lives as seen through the eyes of an unexpected stranger forcing her way into their home.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Top 5 real-life Marilyn Monroe videos by author Lucy Holliday



After A Night in With Audrey Hepburn, Lucy Holliday's second novel was released last week which has another iconic stage star in the title: Marilyn Monroe. In the follow-up to her debut, protagonist Libby is torn between the men in her life and she realises taking advice from a Hollywood star might not be the best way to make the big decisions in her life.

To celebrate the release of A Night in With Marilyn Monroe, I'm excited to share with you Lucy's top 5 real-life Marilyn Monroe videos as part of the blog tour!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Ultimate List of Adult Colouring Books to Gift at Christmas



Not to brag, but as a kid I was pretty kick-ass at colouring in. I won a lot of competitions and after reading it was my favourite past-time.

However, like most people I stopped colouring when I hit my mid-teens and I hadn't picked up a pencil for more than sprucing up a birthday card or gift tag in over a decade when adult colouring books popped up in the shops. I was instantly drawn to the gorgeous illustrations from Johanna Basford and Daria Song, and there have been a wealth of exciting releases since, from geekish outlets such as Harry Potter and Doctor Who, to established brand such as Penguin Books and Liberty London getting in on the action.

For this Christmas (or any gifting occasion, really), I have created the ultimate list of adult colouring books that will appeal to both men and women of a range of ages and will make great presents for friends, family and yourself!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Alice in Wonderland 150th anniversary exhibition at the British Library



Alice in Wonderland is one of my all-time favourite stories and I love its many incarnations, from the Disney cartoon right through to the immersive theatrical experience of Alice's Adventures Underground, which I had the pleasure of experiencing a few months ago (followed by the Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea at Sanderson London, it was a fab Alice-themed day!). And so when I heard about the new exhibition at the British Library celebrating 150 years since the first publication of the classic novel – which showcases the original handwritten and illustrated manuscript by Lewis Carroll at its centre – I knew I had to make a trip down there as soon as possible!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Easy DIY Christmas Stocking Tutorial



At the lifestyle and craft-themed Bloggeration workshop back in October, the lovely Hannah from Crafternoon Cabaret did not only show us how to make super fun Halloween bunting (which you can totally turnaround for a more festive feel too!) but she also helped us make cute Christmas stockings, for which we used the most adorable Zazzle fabrics and ribbon. I'm not very handy with a needle and thread, but even I managed! I'm sharing the tutorial below so you too can make your own little, decorative stocking for yourself or to give as a present (it makes for unique package of small gifts as well).