Saturday, 29 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide: Books

Christmas Gifts: Books

Following my previous Christmas Gift Guide for Book Lovers, here are some book ideas that could make the perfect Christmas present.

1. Stay Classy: Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Oliver Twist, Vanity Fair
The classics always make a good Christmas gift, especially when you go for a beautiful special edition. Personally, I am a big fan of the clothbound ones as they look stunning and are a perfect addition to anyone's library as they have such a traditional feeling to them. The Penguin Clothbound classics have to be some of the best on the market as their covers are simply gorgeous and your reading experience will be definitely upped a notch. 
Clothbound Classics

2. Keep it Christmassy
Christmas stories will always be a top choice when selecting a book as a Christmas gift. After all, now is the perfect time of the year to read them - not only are those stories going to get you in the Christmas mood, but they are also usually wrapped up in a beautiful snowy cover. Just looking at them makes you want to buy them for that special someone. I would suggest Louisa May Alcott's A Merry Christmas and Annie Groves' Christmas on the Mersey . Another more classic choice is Tolkien's Letters from Father Christmas.

3. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Because this one needs to have its own individual place on every Christmas list. A Christmas Carol is the perfect gift no matter the age - children and adults, everyone loves the timeless story of Ebenezer Scrooge, who is haunted by three spirits in order to understand the true meaning of Christmas. Perfect Christmas present if there ever was one. If not the Penguin clothbound version, I would recommend getting the gorgeous Barnes&Noble Leatherbound hardback. However, my personal favourite has to be this lovely Dickens at Christmas hardback that both already looks like a Christmas gift, and is full of all the quintessential festive Dickens stories - including "A Christmas Carol", "The Chimes", "The Haunted Man", and a special festive tale of "The Pickwick Papers".

4. Collections: Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones
When it comes to book series, sometimes buying all of them for yourself could end up being a bit too expensive. This is why Christmas is the best time to treat someone to a full collection of their favourite book series - be it a fantasy like Harry Potter, or everything Dan Brown has ever written - book collections are the ultimate geek's present.

5. The Pretty Hardback: Fashion/Photography/Cooking
In this category I would put all the nicely looking coffee-table books that you can enjoy in your free time - here are all those reads that are not novels, but are very enjoyable nonetheless. For the girl in your life that is obsessed with fashion - definitely get her one of the Vogue on Designers books (here is the Chanel one and here is the Vivienne Westwood one) or go the extra mile and opt for Vogue:The Gown. For the ones who love to spend some time in the kitchen, the Great British Bake Off: Christmas  or New York Cult Recipes should do the trick. Alternatively, other great gifts would be Tequilla Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist , London: Portrait of a Cityor even some of the great Lonely Planet guides such as Great Escapes:Experience the World at your Leisure.

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Monday, 24 November 2014

Christmas Gift Guide: What to get a book lover

Perfect Gifts for Book Lovers

A month til Christmas means it's time to get serious on the Christmas shopping. So, here is my guide on what is the perfect present for a bookworm/geek/book addict/you-name-it.

First of all, in my experience at least, I have noticed that the book lover is an animal that could often be spotted with a cuppa - hence, I highly recommend getting your very own geek this lovely Winter Tea Collection from Whittard of Chelsea, or why not an Alice in Wonderland themed teapot! For those cosy nights in, one of the season-special Yankee Candles is a must! Here I have put a picture of the Gingerbread one, but my personal favourite has to be the Snowflake Cookie! For the girl who is always with a book, a lovely oversized scarf is a must. When it comes to scarves, Zara is a great choice! Another great gift is this gorgeous red pocket book with 72 cream, gold glided pages, that I stumbled upon in Asos. This Works' Deep Sleep Pillow Talk makes for an original present - spray this lovely fragrance on your pillow and be prepared for the most relaxing night's sleep! 
And lastly: for that special book lover of yours - there is nothing better than a satchel to put your current reads in, which makes this one the perfect Christmas present!

Hope you enjoyed this post & let me know what you think! 
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Gone Girl Review

Author: Gillian Flynn
Genre: Thriller
Originally Published in: 2012
Pages: 463

Surprise, surprise! Guess who read Gone Girl and loved it. You might be tired of hearing how good that book is, but truth is stuff like that should not remain a secret. So, here I am joining the massive fan base that Gone Girl is enjoying today…

Important Note One: Usually, I am one of those snobs who prefer to read the book before they watch the movie. You know the ones: we prefer to be a step in front of everyone else so we can point and laugh at them. So that when we walk into the cinema, we know what we are getting ourselves into. And, of course, we are, thus, able to criticize the film adaptation on a whole more knowledgeable level – you know, we have read the book, and this entitles us of a certain opinion. However, in this case I watched the film first. That is due to the fact that I didn’t even intend to read the book – truth is, the moment I first watched the trailer, I was immediately hooked and could barely wait till the release date. Add to that David Fincher, Rosamund Pike, and a better-than-usually Ben Affleck, and my excitement was getting out of hand. Once I saw the movie…a different story.

Important Note Two: You read a book you love from start to finish. You:
       a)      Immediately write a review on it for your blog
       b)      Take a few days to carefully write a very honest and informative review, full of quotes and witty remarks
       c)      Rave about it for ages, keep postponing reviewing it, finally doing it in a month.
Answer: C, definitely C.

First things first, reviewing books like Gone Girl is a bit tricky since it is pretty easy to spoil them. That is, when there is a twist after twist, you can’t just go and talk about it with people who haven’t yet read it, because you will ruin the whole experience for them. So, I will keep this short.

It is the morning of the fifth anniversary of Nick and Amy Dunne’s wedding, when Amy suddenly disappears. The police’s prime suspect is Nick as everything points to the fact that his wife was growing scared of him. Although he denies it, his charming smile when posing next to the poster of his beautiful, missing wife, is not helping him. So, what really happened? Where is Amy?

The story is gripping – there is a reason I keep seeing people on the underground reading it. Once you start it, you just cannot put it down. What makes it so addictive is not just the mystery element to it, but the characters themselves – they feel real and utterly believable. What Gillian Flynn does in this book is a very honest portrayal of marriage and human nature. It is easy to put yourself on the place of these characters and ask yourself how you would act in such a messed up situation. Would you even put yourself in such a situation? Nick and Amy eventually fall in the traps of daily life – they turn into clichés, into stereotypes – but is that all they are? Sometimes turning into a cliché is what scares us the most and drives us into doing things we wouldn’t believe we would normally do.

“I was the embodiment of every writer's worst fear: a cliché.”

At the end of the book, I find myself understanding all of the characters involved – especially Nick and Amy. You get the feeling that everything comes into place, and even if you didn’t expect such an end – it somehow feels like the only real ending to their story.

Apart from the brilliant psychological side to the book and the very serious matters it reflects on, the story, as a whole, is entertaining. I found myself laugh on more than a few occasions – especially at Amy’s witty remarks. The book definitely did not make me cry, but it made me laugh. A lot. And it made me think about characters. Take the idea of the Cool Girl, for instance. I would not say this is just a description created purely for fictional reasons – the idea of a Cool Girl very much exists in our society. Here are just a few lines from her descriptions and tell me she does not sound familiar: “Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding.”

Another major issue in the book, is the media. In Gone Girl, the outcome of Amy’s disappearance hugely relies on the way the media portrays her, her husband, her parents, her friends and neighbourhood. During the course of the book, you can see both people and police falling in and out of love with Nick, hating him, then admiring him – all depending on the way he is represented in the news. Now, this is what makes the story even more believable and causes you to think about the media age we live in today. For is that not the way we shape our opinions nowadays? Especially when it comes to huge criminal cases: what you see on the news, is what you usually end up thinking.

I recommend Gone Girl to anyone who loves a good thriller, or just a good modern book in general. If you need a break from reading the classics – read Gone Girl. If you need a break from your marriage – read Gone Girl. I am not saying that everyone will love it. What I am saying is this: the book works on many levels and gives a very poignant portrayal of society today, of men and women, and their roles in it. I am pretty sure you will find something for yourself. I do not promise you will like that something.

Did you see my top 5 quotes from Gone Girl? Also, if you have read the book, let me know what you think of it and let's get this discussion going...
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Friday, 21 November 2014

5 best quotes from Gone Girl

Before I share with you my review on Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, I decided we need a post with five of the best quotes from the book. I am not gonna lie, choosing just five was not easy! Gone Girl is full of moments where I would just think "this is spot on" and as with most books, it's almost impossible to tell which are the "five best lines". So, here I will share with you five of my personal favourites (ones that do not contain major spoilers to the story).

1.  "What are you thinking, Amy? The question I've asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?"

2.“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl."

3. “My mother had always told her kids: if you're about to do something, and you want to know if it's a bad idea, imagine seeing it printed in the paper for all the world to see.” 

4. “She’s easy to like. I’ve never understood why that’s considered a compliment - that just anyone could like you.” 

5. “Love makes you want to be a better man. But maybe love, real love, also gives you permission to just be the man you are.” 

...What about you, guys? What were your favourite Gone Girl quotes and were they Nick's, or Amy's.. who is the most quotable to you?
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