Recently I’ve become really interested in reading ‘Top Five Wednesday’ posts on blogs. For those of you who don’t know, this is a weekly event created by Sam (her YouTube channel is Thoughts on Tomes), where she posts a different themed topic each week for people to respond to with their own top five. Biting the bullet, I’ve finally gotten around to joining in myself! The topic for this Wednesday is ‘Characters on the Naughty List’ – aka, your top five villains or characters that you don’t like! I do love a really well crafted villain, so couldn’t wait to talk about my top five! So, in no particular order, let’s jump right in:
As some of you may remember, it was recently my birthday, and I was lucky enough to receive some new books from my boyfriend. I’ve already read and reviewed the first book, The Unwomanly Face of War, which I absolutely adored (review here)! Feeling buoyed from such success, and following on from non-fiction November, I decided to go ahead and start the second book before the month was out.
Whilst The Unwomanly Face of War was still very much a non-fiction book, it was written using such an interesting technique that the book felt extremely personal and emotive, making it a very accessible piece of non-fiction. This next book, although falling into a similar genre of a non-fiction historical book, is very different in style. This book is an academic text which takes a much broader and far more removed look at a period of history. As you may guess from its title, Medieval Europe, the book is focused solely upon the medieval time period between the years 500 to 1500. Also commonly referred to as the Middle Ages or the Dark ages, Chris Wickham takes us on a journey which tracks the major changes and events which occurred throughout Europe. This timeline takes us from the decline of the Western Roman Empire, right up to before the infamous Reformation, with far more events in between.
I really enjoy watching monthly favourites videos. I think it’s the sheer variety that it allows; the opportunity to hear about multiple things which wouldn’t necessarily fit together in any other kind of video. They’ve become quite a staple on YouTube and today I thought I’d attempt it myself on my blog.
November has been an amazing month for me – mostly because it’s my birthday month and so I’ve been completely spoiled by my friends and family! I have received so many things that I’ve been loving, but I’ve tried hard to whittle it down and leave you with just my absolute favourites. So, here we go!
I’ve always been a huge reader of dystopian and ‘end of the world’ fiction. For some strange reason it seems that the bleaker and more terrifying the story, the more I enjoy it. I know that sounds pretty grim and strange, but I think there’s something incredibly intriguing about what it takes to push someone to their limit and the way an altered world can change human nature. As a modern society we’re constantly living through change and thus adapting, and I think that these kinds of fiction capitalise very heavily on real and present fears.
When Amanda Hickie’s novel, Before This is Over, arrived on my doorstop, I was thrilled. Although it was a book I’d never heard of before, the story sounded amazing and the cover design was very well done. The novel focuses upon one family, following primarily Hannah, a wife and the mother of two young boys. They live a normal life, working normal jobs and living in a normal street. But something has been coming, something has been making its way slowly but surely into the normality of their lives; a lethal illness. Desperate to save the lives of her family, Hannah begins to stockpile supplies in the house, a foolproof plan in place for the coming emergency, despite the unconcern of everyone else around her. Yet when the illness arrives, a few isolated cases followed by an increasing number of deaths, will her plans be enough to save her boys? With the city on lockdown and the entire outside world a threat to their health, can they really survive locked inside? How far will someone go to protect their children? How much will they change?
I always feel that book lovers can sometimes fall into a bit of a predicament when it comes to gifts. I love books, and if there’s a birthday or a celebration coming up and I’m lucky enough to have someone who wants to buy me a present, chances are I’m going to want them to be of the bookish variety. Where it gets tricky is with the fact that everyone knows how much of an avid reader I am, meaning that the vast majority of people are either too scared to buy me a book in case I already have it, or they feel that I already have enough books (crazy talk!). I think anyone can agree that it’s just not as fun when you help pick your own presents, and I would almost always rather be surprised with a book.
The one person who is undeniably brilliant at this is my boyfriend. He has an uncanny ability of picking books I’ve either had my eyes on, or that I’ve never seen before but fall instantly in love with. It was recently my birthday and he really did out do himself. He’d heard me saying that I wanted to read some more historical non-fiction and he gave me the best surprise by gifting me two such books that I had never before heard of. Needing to instantly devour them, I decided to start with Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War, with my edition being translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. This book is essentially an oral history of a vast array of women from the Soviet Union who fought against the Germans’ during the Second World War. It blends together brilliantly the vulgar truth of war and the structures we impose where gender is concerned, all the while focusing upon fascinating and small details which are often overlooked in favour of the more obvious male heroics of war. I have somewhat of an obsession with world war two literature and love exploring gender in society, so this was always going to a must have!
I’ve been a lover of Lush ever since I first became aware of its existence. That very first smell, the fresh scents hitting my face as I looked with widening eyes upon the colour explosion before me, was enough to instill an unquenchable craving. Of course, not only do the products look good enough to eat, they’re also incredibly good for your skin and more importantly, animal friendly.
Over the years I have gathered a collection of favourite Lush products which I regularly stockpile in my bathroom. I’m sure most people would joke that I fear a Lush epidemic or world wide shortage, but in my opinion you can never have to many Lush items! From staple and classic products to the yearly and festive favourites – I’ve tried them all. Even so, despite my love for the entirety of the shop, one thing remains my absolute favourite; a good old bath bomb. Naturally, when Lush began to release a new kind of bath bomb, the jelly bomb to be precise, my mind went into overdrive. Complete and utter overdrive. The kind which can only resemble the crazed sight that is the uncontrollable fizzing of the brightest bath bomb in their collection. I had to try one – I needed to try one! Feeling determined, I visited my local Lush store (the Cardiff branch) to see what I could get my hands on!