Monday, 13 February 2017

Fairy Tales and Peculiar Resolutions

Just about every year I resolve to add a new genre or sub-genre to my reading repertoire. As a library assistant I feel pangs of guilt when I'm unable to recommend the right book to someone - though I swear this rarely happens! Over the past few years I've resolved to get into crime, paranormal romance, historical fiction, etc etc. I haven't yet succeeded in fully diving into any of them.

Teen fiction has been one of my "must get into" genres for a while. Being a fairly advanced reader in childhood, by the time I got the appropriate age for teen fiction I was passing them over for more serious, literary adult fiction tomes that in hindsight I barely understood. So, there's a giant gap in my adolescence where I missed out on the Hunger Games and Twilight's of  my time.

However, each time I've picked up a work of teen fiction, it's failed to grab me. I cringe at the self conscious descriptions of outfits and the hammy dialogue. Ever an optimist, I kept telling myself that eventually I would find a work of teen fiction that I would love, and I finally did!

I decided to jump on the Ransom Riggs bandwagon and have a go at reading Tales of the Peculiar, and I'm so glad! If I'm honest, I'd decided to read it based on the beautiful cover alone (all books should look like this!) but after realizing the connection to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (also a work of Riggs) I was sold. Those more ahead of the times might have seen the film by now, however it's *still* on my to do list!

Much unlike the teen fiction I'd encountered, Tales of the Peculiar is beautifully written in a way that's complex without being inaccessible to a teen audience, and totally devoid of cringe-worthy outfit descriptions and unnatural 'cool' slang. Essentially a collection of fairy tales, this book reminds me of my favourite authors of magical realism: a little bit Angela Carter in prose, and a little bit Italo Calvino in dark humour. While they all hint at some sort of moral lesson (or lessons) they're not as straight forward as many other fairy tales, allowing the reader to bemuse for a good while after closing the book. The brief sojourns into darker territory (capitalism, cannibalism, greed, murder) are chilling without being *too* scary. Perfect for teens but also wonderful for adults, I would recommend it to just about anyone looking for a good old fashioned cautionary tale, and for anyone who might have grown up on things like Struwwelpeter!

I will definitely be seeking out more teen fiction in the same vein - and you can borrow it here if you'd like to read it too :)

Monday, 12 December 2016

And I Brought Some Corn For Popping...

Christmas cake, mince pies, candy canes, chocolate... food is endless at this time of year, what with work functions and family gatherings and drinks and nibbles with friends.  

I'm kind of glad that I don't cook and that I'm very fortunate to have such lovely people around me who do all the hard work.  

Thanks Mum.
If you're struggling for inspiration for yet another Christmas get-together then why not check out some - if not all - of the books above and below.  There's pretty much something for everyone, be you a vegan, a paleo or raw lover.

And if you more of a traditionalist then we've got you covered too.
There's books on cakes and desserts, both large and decadent; and vegetables from artichokes to zucchinis.

And last but not least books on how to make every kind of cocktail imaginable.

G & T anyone?

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Deck The Halls...

Some years Christmas just seems a little blah.  It's either too hot or too wet and there's a serious lacking of snow and blazing fires and mulled wine.

Decorating your home and making your gifts to hand out is definitely one way to get into the Christmas spirit. 

Whether you want to make your own cards or get out the wool and make your very own Rudolph there is something for everyone among our huge range of Christmas books.  Even better you can make some Christmas cookies before you get stuck into the decorating and crafting and have a munch... or two as you go.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Counting down to Christmas

Can you believe there is only a little over three weeks left to Christmas! Usually I have been a little more organised with my Christmas shopping, but I have to admit this year has gotten away from me a little, arrgh!

So let me help you feel a bit more organised as we head into the festive season, with some geekalicious book suggestions for making gifts, decorating, Christmas Day meal planning (lets face it, the food is a pretty important component of the day) and entertainment.

First up has to be getting those gifts ready. Harry Potter fans are sure to love anything you make them from The unofficial guide to crafting the world of Harry Potter : 30 magical crafts for witches and wizards by Jamie Harrington. From Butterbeer Lip Balm to your very own golden snitch necklace, this book is a treasure trove of gift ideas.

Another excellent book to check out is Bonnie Burton's Star Wars craft book, with ideas such as an AT-AT herb garden, an Ewok flower vase, and my personal favourite, the Chewbacca sock puppet - every household needs one!

And now to the decorating, what could be cooler than Lego themed decorations! The LEGO Christmas ornaments book: 15 designs to spread holiday cheer by Chris McVeigh has a stunning array of Lego plans for you to build the most gorgeous tree decorations, you'll be looking truly festive in no time at all, and have fun doing it.

Now, if you are a bit of a The Great British Bake Off fangirl like I am, you will totally love The great British bake off: Christmas by Lizzie Kamensetzky. What better way to plan your Christmas menu! This gem will make you look like a true Christmas goddess with recipes from a variety of contestants and judges Mary and Paul. If someone feels like whipping me up some of Mary's ultimate Christmas Pud, I will forever be in your favour :)

Now that we have made some gifts, got the place looking festive, and cooked up some amazing Christmas noms, you'll be about ready for something nice and relaxing to do.
Personally, I love a good wee Christmas story and every year the lovely Debbie Macomber kindly provides one that really warms the heart. Some of my past favourites have included Dashing through the snow, Starry night and Call me Mrs. Miracle. I'm eagerly awaiting her latest for this year 12 days of Christmas.

Another one of my favourite things to look forward to at Christmas time is the Dr Who Christmas specials. I may still be getting over last year's Doctor Who: The husbands of River Song, which made me laugh and cry in fairly equal portions. The previous years installment Dr Who: Last Christmas kind of terrified me (along with making me want to laugh and cry), guess that is just the magic of Doctor Who!

Righty, I think we're looking pretty organised now - back to finishing that shopping :)

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A wretched hive of scum and villainy

Following on from my previous blog post 'I need a (Super) hero!', I'm feeling the need to add some balance to the force by sharing some of my all time favourite villains with you. I'm sure you'll agree there is nothing like a good villain, and several of the ones on this list are super good indeed. Or is that bad? So bad they are good anyway! So in no particular order I bring you:

Kingpin. I might not have put Kingpin on this list, if it wasn't for the fact that I am currently working my way through Daredevil on Netflix. Kingpin is the ultimate scheming crimelord, and apparently first appeared in the pages of Spider-man. But he really made his mark as Daredevil's archenemy. Vincent D'Onofrio is a revelation, playing Kingpin (also known as Wilson Fisk) in a superb manner. Fisk is a brute of a character in the comics, and while he still is in the series, there is so much more depth to his character. Even as you (really really) want to see his downfall, you still can't help being sucked into his burgeoning relationship with Vanessa, and feel a little sorry for him after THAT backstory. For a bit more post Netflix Kingpin, check out Daredevil: The man without fear or Daredevil: Born again.

Next up is Spike from Buffy the Vampire slayer. The bleach blond vamp was most definitely a highlight of the series for me. Watching him transform from the earlier days where he was one of Buffy's greatest foes, to becoming a sometimes unofficial member of the Scooby Gang, to finally becoming Angel's competition for Buffy's affections, he always entertained and was never boring! I was always Team Spike I have to say, sorry Team Angel fans. I think it may have been the accent, I'm always a sucker for an accent ;). For anyone wanting some more Spike in their life, you can either start watching the series from the very beginning here, or check out his very own comic Spike: The complete series.

My next villainous bad boy is Loki, as in the Marvel version of. Loki is the adopted Asgardian brother of Thor, Son of Odin. He wants the throne his brother will inherit for his own, and is constantly scheming up ways to take it. Tom Hiddleston brought Loki to life rather deliciously in the Marvel cinematic universe, and made the villain everyone's favourite (sorry Thor!). You can see just how deliciously for yourself in the movies Thor, The Avengers, and Thor: The dark world. I just love it when he pops up for cameos in other comics, such as the third volume of Ms Marvel: Crushed, and even better, he has his own series you can check out called Loki: agent of Asgard. I almost think he wrote the blurb for it himself, "The God of Mischief is stronger, smarter, sexier and just plain sneakier than ever before".

On my list next is Moriarty. While I'd like to pretend I was being all literary here, and a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle, in reality this is all about Sherlock, the TV series. Sherlock is AMAZING, and so his nemesis Moriarty as played by Andrew Scott. I'm not sure if it is that fabulous accent (I think I mentioned my weakness for accents earlier), or the slightly unhinged yet hilarious way that Moriarty plays games with Holmes that makes the series for me, but it definitely would not be the same without him!

Last up is Darth Vader, who is quite literally the Daddy of all villain hood *giggle* (On discussion with some of my fellow librarians, they felt that joke was a little misleading, as he's really the Daddy of a hero, but I'm going with poetic licence here). When I researched all time great villains, Darth Vader came in at the top of many lists, and I 100% have to agree. Lets not talk about his less than stellar days as Anakin (I try to pretend the prequel trilogy doesn't exist), but his height of glory in the original trilogy which you can check out here. This is the villain that launched thousands of cool toys (just look at that photo above) and has been cosplayed in so many awesome ways (that pink Vader princess is a huge favourite of mine!). Don't just take my word on it, I hear Kylo Ren agrees big time ;) If you want more of a Vader fix, check out his newest comic series Star Wars: Darth Vader.

We love you too Spike