Revisiting the books of my childhood.

You know those books, every reader has them…the ones that made you a reader? The books which made you crave more and made your imagination run wild? The ones that you can still remember, and can still remember how they made you feel.

I think these memories and these books are unbelievably important. Nearly every aspect of who you are is influenced by past experience, and I am a strong believer that books have made me the person that I am today. And quite honestly, thank the stars for that.

I was always exposed to books as a child. My parents would often read fairy tales to me before bed, and I would always be begging for just one more story before they turned off the light. From a young age I was captured by the power of words and the way they made my mind race and the imagination course through my veins in a powerful rush.

I believe that if a children’s book can’t be enjoyed by adults and children alike…it isn’t a good book. Children’s books have the power to shape morals, likes, dislikes, reasoning, belief and what kind of person an individual becomes. This is both a responsibility and a privilege. to have and something very special to behold.

It is for these reasons I have decided to revisit the books of my childhood and see if they still have the appeal they did when I was younger, and I want to see if I can see some of my current self in the pages and see what has brought me to be the person I am today.

So here I go! Jacqueline Wilson, Terry Pratchett, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton…I’m coming for you!



Thoughts at 1:16am

Everything is enhanced after midnight; emotion, conversation, eating toast, music, silence…I could go on.

I find it hard to fall asleep at night, as I often have a lot on my mind or just don’t feel tired. While this is sometimes an issue (for example, when I have to leave for university at 7:30 the following morning), on nights which are followed by days with no plans…I let my insomnia take me over and I happily succumb to sleeplessness.

I am an introvert, and someone who loves being alone. I’m also someone who thinks too much about everything and who is constantly bothered with feelings of stress or anxiety. But, for some reason when it comes to nightime, I feel a sense of peace. Nobody is expecting anything of me, I’m alone and can be who I want, feel how I want and think about anything without interruption. I get silence, I feel productive and I feel calm. I never go to bed particularly early, as I see that as wasting the night. I know that this is not always practical, however I find it hard to care.

And this is why it is 1:16am and I’m about to put my phone down, neck the rest of my cup of coffee and continue to read my book under a pile of fluffy blankets and feel nothing but complete and utter content.

Goodnight/good morning/ good afternoon!

Pip pip.

Independent Bookshop Week 2016.

“I have gone to [this bookshop] for years, always finding the one book I wanted – and then three more I hadn’t known I wanted.”  -Mary Ann Shaffer

This past week, from the 18th to the 25th of June, marked Independent Bookshop Week in the UK. The aim of IBW is to raise the profiles of independent bookshops, to help them prosper in an industry which is being taken over by bigger chains, eBooks and by online booksellers. IBW exists as an attempt to encourage readers to fall in love with the independent bookshops in their cities, with the hidden treasures lurking on the crowded shelves, with the delicately and passionately curated collections of books, with your next favourite book.

Unfortunately for me, Aberdeen does not have much to offer in terms of independents. However, luckily enough for me, I was in Edinburgh this last week and so I took myself to two wonderful independent bookshops and a third, more alternative place. I quickly fell head over heels for the atmosphere and the magic of these wonderlands, and I want to share my Independent Bookshop Week experience with you.

The Writers’ Museum

I came across this beautiful place by sheer chance, while wandering down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh after a trip to the castle. This museum can be found on Lady Stair’s close, just off of the Royal Mile, on a small side street. The outside is reminiscent of a building off of Diagon Alley, and the slabs on the pavement are littered with quotes by Scottish authors. This museum is dedicated to three of the most prolific and famous Scottish writers of all time; Sir Walter Scott, Robbie Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.

The reason I mention this wonderful museum, is that inside there is a small bookshop (which for the sake of this post, I am classing as an independent) which, like the museum, is dedicated to Scottish authors. After an hour or so wandering around the museum in wonder, I stumbled into this bookshop…and I left with four books, either written or edited by a Scottish native.

Love Letters of Great Men edited by Ursula Doyle

This is a collection of letters by some of the most famous men in history, written for the loves of their lives. Names include Mark Twain, Charles Darwin and Robbie Burns. I’ve finished this already, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The review is up on my blog if you would like to read it!







An Apology for Idlers by Robert Louis Stevenson

As far as I understand it, this is an essay collection which discusses work ethic and enjoying the simple pleasures in life, as well as discussing issues such as age and love. I had never heard of this collection by Stevenson before finding it in this bookshop.







Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

This is a book I was aware of before, but had never picked up. I was attracted to this edition and didn’t feel I could leave without it. This book is about one man, and two conflicting personalities. The mystery is very appealing to me.








The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd

This is apparently a stunning book revolving around Nan Shepherd’s relationship with nature, and her adventures in the Cairngorm Mountains. I had never heard of Nan Shepherd, however I leafed through the book and read the first page and was drawn in.








The Golden Hare

Situated on St Stephen Street in Edinburgh, I wandered in here on a rainy, bleak day and immediately lit up at what greeted me. This bookshop is full of gorgeous editions of books, and the shelves are full of carefully selected and stylish covers, of books both obscure and diverse. Walking in I was like a child at Christmas who doesn’t know which present to open first…which shelf should I start with?! Ah! This bookshop is aesthetically pleasing in all manners, with it’s beautiful interior, and the displays of its books being meticulously set out. I came out of Golden Hare Books with two books which I would never have found, and subsequently never have bought, if it were not for this independent.

We Don’t Know What We’re Doing by Thomas Morris

This is a short story collection consisting of ten stories, which follow different characters from Caerphilly, Wales through their life and highlights how nobody really knows what they’re doing or where they’re headed.

I gravitated towards this because I loved the cover, and I saw the quote from Ali Smith on the front. Who wouldn’t trust Ali Smith?






How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been: On the Importance of Armchair Travel by  Pierre Bayard

This book is described as a thought provoking and funny discussion on the misunderstood idea of the ‘non journey’ and about travelling from the comfort of your armchair.

This book had me hooked with the title, as I am somebody who has not travelled much and wants to rectify this. I am not sure what it will give me, but I look forward to the discovery.






The Edinburgh Bookshop

My final stop on my quest was The Edinburgh Bookshop. Of all the places I went, I have to say this was my favourite. Walls littered with nostalgic paintings of childhood fictional favourites like the Gruffalo and Nelly the Elephant…bookshelves from floor to ceiling teeming with books waiting to be read…a comfy sofa…a homey feel. I loved this place. This bookshop has a lot of children’s books, as well as adult fiction, non fiction, poetry and more.

I entered this shop with a smile on my face, and left this shop with an even bigger smile and three books, thus ending my independent book shop spree.





Fuck Feelings: Less Obsessing, More Living (Even if everything’s truly horrible) by Dr. Michael Bennett and Sarah Bennett

A book discussing how you can’t necessarily change your mental health status or outlook, however there are ways in which you can master skills over your life. It sounds like a more realistic version of a self help book, and also sounds rather funny.



Hands: What we do with them- and why by Darian Leader

This is a non fiction book about human life and how history, psychoanalysis, modern technology and child development can be explained…through what our hands have been up to!

An interesting topic for a book, and something I can’t wait to read.







The Ladybird Book of Mindfulness

My mum used to read Ladybird fairytales to me that came in this sort of format, that she had collected from growing up in the 1970s. Therefore, when I saw these books I felt a wave of nostalgia and was also eager to enjoy the sarcasm within in the pages.

Spoiler: I’ve read this, and it is bloody hilarious!!!







Final thoughts

So, after exploring a couple of independent bookshops and seeing what this world has to offer me, I can safely say I am converted. I would urge any of you, if you really love to read, to go and find your nearest independent bookshop, go in with some money and with no shopping list in mind…and let your eyes scan the shelves and search for gems. Because who knows? Your favourite book may just be waiting there for you, and you may have missed it otherwise.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post. Take care. Pip pip!

Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle (editor)

“Let us look forward to the coming anniversaries, with their age and their gray hairs without fear and without depression, trusting and believing that the love we bear each other will be sufficient to make them blessed.” (Mark Twain)

Love, eh? A feeling that moves us all in course, in one way or another. It has the power to build you up, knock you down, set your heart racing, sting you, change you, move you, fulfil you… I could go on and on. Love, like the air we breathe, is vital and inevitable in life and something anybody can relate to feeling and having felt at some point, whether familial, in friendship, romantically or otherwise. Today’s book review is of a book revolving around romantic love; edited by Ursula Doyle, which compiles (as the title suggests) love letters written by some of the ‘greatest men’. I found this book just wonderful, however I’m unsure how to properly review it, as it is a compilation of the writings of several different figures. I’m going to try at any rate.

Now, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic…and so inevitably I loved this collection of letters. I loved learning each man’s history and who they loved and how they viewed love. To Charles Darwin, love was “a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire, & books & music”, to William Congreve, “a delicious poison”. This collection encapsulates romantic love in all of its forms; unrequited, forbidden, happy and tragic.

I think one of the things I loved the most about this book was seeing that even the most influential, smart, seemingly professional and maybe even at times unfeeling, great men of the past could be so deeply touched by love. This book of letters really does show how universal of a feeling love is, and how interpretive of a form it can take. While some letters were overly embellished and flowery, others were simplistic and conveyed feeling just as fully. I am a hardcore lover of a well written paragraph or string of words. I love nothing more than a metaphor, analogy, simile, or beautiful description. And for that reason, I found something in pretty much every letter which moved me and made me smile.

I thought this book was very well done, as Ursula Doyle introduced each love letter with a page or so worth of information about each man, who they were writing to, and some context and information about the way the romance (or lack thereof) turned out. I loved the inclusion of more well known names, such as Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Robbie Burns, Bethoven, interspersed with some men that I had never come across before, but became fascinated by, such as Richard Steele and Robert Browning. I also loved the fact that soldiers who fought in the world wars were included in this list of men, as the rest were all extremely well known and prolific individuals, and it highlighted that soldiers, although maybe forgotten over time, are just as great of men, and just as capable of love. While they may not have written books like Les Mis, created a theory of evolution or had influence through a political career, they were just as great, if not more so, in terms of bravery and heart.

I think this would be a lovely book to just dip in and out of every once and a while, as it shows timelessly how important and influential love is on human life. While some letters were borderline pretentious, for the most part they were delightful. It is both an educational and a pleasurable read, and I have dipped in and out of it since, reading over my favourite ones again. In particular I loved the letters of Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Richard Steele and Oscar Wilde.

I don’t have much more to say about this book, other than to encourage you -whether a hopeless romantic or otherwise- to read this. It’s an emotive and beautiful insight into a more sensitive side of history, and I found it endearing and just a jolly good read.

If you aren’t a fan of mushy proclamations of love or over the top, complimentary and self indulgent writing then it maybe is not for you. However if you love beautiful writing, a bit of history, or want something to make you squeal “awwwwwwwwwww”, this will do just fine.

I hope you guys enjoyed this book review. I’m going to end it with a few of my favourite quotes. Pip pip!

“O sweetest of all boys, most loved of all loves, my soul clings to your soul, my life is your life, and in all the world of pain and pleasure you are my ideal of admiration and joy.” (Oscar Wilde)

“But Love, almighty Love, seems in a moment to have removed me to a prodigious distance from every object but you alone. In the midst of crowds I remain in solitude. Nothing but you can lay hold of my mind, and that can lay hold of nothing but you. I appear transported to some foreign desert with you (oh, that I were really thus transported!), where, abundantly supplied with everything, in thee, I might live out an age of uninterrupted ecstasy.

The scene of the world’s great stage seems suddenly and sadly chang’d. Unlovely objects are all around me, excepting thee; the charms of all the world appear to be translated to thee. Thus in this sad, but oh, too pleasing state! my soul can fix upon nothing but thee; thee it contemplates, admires, adores, nay depends on, trusts on you alone.

If you and hope forsake it, despair and endless misery attend it.” (William Congreve)





Checking in.

Hey guys!

I hope everyone is having a great week. I’m spending my last few hours in Edinburgh tucked up in The Elephant House, a coffee shop which is now famous for being the place JK Rowling frequented and wrote a lot of Harry Potter. Despite being a tourist spot, it still has a quiet and comfy feel. And it is here that I’m sitting now, reading Love Letters of Great Men and nursing a pot of breakfast tea. 

I’ve had a fantastic time in Edinburgh, and I can’t wait to write a haul post showing you the books I bought, and the independent bookshops I found around Edinburgh. 

Pip pip! 

The Coffee Book Tag.

Hello friends!

So I was scrolling through my YouTube feed the other day and I came across The Coffee Book Tag. I watched a couple of these videos and thought it was really fun. And, as a coffee, tea and as generally a lover of hot drinks, I figured this book tag would be pretty fun to try! Why not go and pour a coffee and we can get started. I’ll wait for you to get back……

Okay, ready? Excellent. Let’s go!

Black Coffee: Name a series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans.

Now, generally speaking I do not read a lot of series. This is in part because I am flaky and tend to never finish them. However, when I do start a series, I normally have a pretty good idea of whether I’m going to enjoy it or not.

My answer for this question is going to be similar to a lot of people that I have seen doing this tag: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Now, I have tried to read Game of Thrones, I really have. But each time I only managed to get less than 200 pages in. It is just not my kind of book. I love fantasy on the odd occasion, but I do not like following so may characters, and I also find the length of these off putting. I’m afraid Martin and I just don’t work together, sadly. I will not be trying to force myself to read these books again.

Peppermint Mocha: Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.

Hmm, I don’t tend to read seasonally and so I do not really pay attention to trends when it comes to what people are reading and when. However, talking from a personal level, I absolutely LOVE reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone during winter and more specifically around Christmas.

There is something so comforting about a reread, in particular the first Harry Potter. It is so familiar and a cosy up read. As well as this, Harry’s first Christmas at Hogwarts is a magical moment in the book and I love picking this up around Christmas to remind myself of it.

Hot Chocolate: What is your favourite children’s book?

This is such a hard question to answer! There are so many books that I’d consider favourites of my childhood, and that shaped me to be as I am now.

The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton are possibly the books I remember most vividly from my childhood. In fact, anything by her stuck in my mind. I loved Jacqueline Wilson, my favourite of hers being The Lottie Project. Road Dahl books fed my imagination and kept it awake. But if I had to pick my absolute favourites, it would be the first few books of the Harry Potter series, or  The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett.

Double shot of espresso: Name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Without a doubt, this would be Lustrum and Imperium by Robert Harris. These books are from Robert Harris’ series chronicling the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero. It is a deeply explained, intricate recount of politics in Ancient Rome and the corruption, the conflicts and dramas. I love these books and am currently reading the third, Dictator, with a friend of mine. In particular the second book, Lustrum, had me hooked from the first page and I found myself not being satisfied with putting the book down, always saying to myself “just one more page”.

Starbucks: Name a book you see everywhere.

At the moment, this would be Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. As I understand it, this is a romantic novel which is quite heart-breaking. It has also just been made into a movie. I don’t really have much interest in reading this book, as I do not opt for romance often and so I probably won’t be reading this one. However, considering the hype it is getting at the moment, it must be pretty good, right?

That Hipster Coffee Shop: Give a book by an indie author a shout out.

I suppose I’m kind of cheating here…because this book isn’t necessarily ‘Indie’ as it was nominated for the Manbooker Prize last year, but The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma is a book I rarely hear any talk of and this should change.

This book is fantastic. It deals with some unpleasant themes but is beautifully written, with some more interpretive aspects regarding myths and the future and prophecies. It is a slow burner but I really loved it. I loved it for the writing almost more than for the plot, but all in all this was just a great read.

Oops! I accidentally got decaf: Name a book you were expecting more from.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn comes to mind for this. I enjoyed this book, but found the ending very disappointing, and did not find it THAT captivating throughout. When I picked up the book I was expecting to be sorely addicted and to be sucked in, based on what I’d heard and seen of this book, however I found myself adopting a very ‘take it or leave it’ attitude towards this story.

The Perfect Blend: Name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet, but ultimately satisfying.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg, AKA one of my favourite books of last year and probably of all time, encapsulates bitterness, sweetness and satisfaction for me. I found myself crying at points, frustrated at other points, squealing with happiness, and closing the book thinking “wow, what a great ride”. This book really is a great read, I’d recommend it to everyone. It brings together the past and present, ranging from 1920s, racist Alabama to the 1980s. There are a plethora of characters and it is generally just a pleasure to read.

Green Tea: Name a book or series that is quietly beautiful.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. There can be no other answer to this question. This is an open discussion, memoir, self help book that doesn’t really fit into one category. Haig discusses depression and anxiety in a poignant and heartfelt and real way, and this book will always be my saving grace which I will look to when I need a bit of help. If you are interested in this book, I reviewed this on my blog a couple of weeks ago.

Chai Tea: Name a book or series that makes you dream of far off places.

I’ve chosen How to be Both by Ali Smith. I read this book last year and absolutely fell in love with it. This book starts with a different perspective or character dependent on which copy you buy. The book is split into two halves, one following a young girl called George in the current day, the other following an Italian Renaissance artist. This book made me yearn for the ability to time travel, because Renaissance Italy and the artist community sounded fascinating and compelling to me, and I found my mind wandering picturing the world at that time.

Earl Grey: Name your favourite classic.

This is like asking a mother to pick her favourite child. I can’t……..

Okay I’ll try!

In terms of American classics, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most fantastic books I have ever read, and while a cliché answer, it is well loved for a reason. I have read and reread this book many a time, and I love even more with each read.

I have read a few British classics, and I’d have to say that my favourite is Jane Eyre. I love the story, the feminist messages and the strong will of Jane as a protagonist. I have not reread this book but it is about time that I picked it up and fell in love all over again.

Oh, you’ve finished your coffee? How funny, we have also just finished the tag too! I hope you guys enjoyed this book tag, I will hopefully be doing some more of them soon. I am not going to tag anyone specifically, but for those who want to do it…consider yourself tagged by yours truly!

How do you guys take your coffee? Or are you more of a tea person? Tell me, I wanna know!

Until next time everybody.