Monthly Archives

September 2015

Book Reviews, Fairy Tales

The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M. Harris

September 30, 2015

The Gospel of Loki - Joanne M. Harris

The Gospel of Loki is a retelling of the stories of the Norse Gods from the point of view of Loki, everyone’s favourite trickster.

Reading it from Loki’s point of view really puts a different perspective on it, and you can’t help but feel sorry for him because he gets screwed over several times.

Before reading this my knowledge of the Norse Gods wasn’t great, and was pretty much limited to the Thor movies, so I actually learned a lot about Norse mythology and some of the things that happened in Thor made a little more sense. 

Talking of Thor, if you’re expecting Marvel Loki, it’s not quite the same. Of course, he’s still a trickster and likes to have fun at the expense of others, but he’s much darker in this book and you soon find out why. It’s not the Marvel universe, so don’t expect a hilarious Thor either.

It’s a bit of a rollercoaster of a book; you follow Loki from his first steps in to Asgard, as he forms tumultuous relationships, to battle scenes right at the end.

At the start of each chapter, there’s a lesson from Loki and the pages that follow explain why he learned that ‘lesson’.

It was a pretty fast read, I got through it quite quickly when I was in Sweden, and it wasn’t the most gripping book I’ve read this year. I think because of the way the chapters are split into lessons, it makes it a book that you’d feel happy reading quite casually, picking it up and putting it down whenever you felt like it.

That said, The Gospel of Loki was a really enjoyable read, and I did learn a lot about Norse mythology, so I’m glad this was recommended to me.

Do you enjoy retellings?

The Gospel of Loki book rating

 

 

The Gospel of Loki Book Cover The Gospel of Loki
Joanne M. Harris
Fantasy, mythology, retelling, adventure
Paperback

The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods - retold from the point of view of the world's ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki's recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.

Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

Photography, Scaredy Cat Adventures

Scaredy Cat Adventures: Sunrise Photography

September 29, 2015

Sunrise over Cannock Chase

Heather over Cannock Chase

A couple of weeks ago, I realised that I’d never actually watched the sun come up. Sure, I’ve been up when the sun is rising, but I’ve never actually watched it. 

Realising that I have a photography competition coming up soon, I decided it was time to right that. How do you get to 23-years-old without properly appreciating the sun rising? It’s even more ridiculous when I tell you that I live a 10-minute drive from an Area of Outstanding Beauty. Pretty embarrassing. I have no excuse. 

Sunrise over Cannock Chase

Sunrise over Cannock Chase

A couple of Thursday’s ago, my Mum and I left the house at around 6am (that’s about an hour and a half before I’m normally even awake!) and headed to one of our favourite spots.

I’m fascinated by space. I love thinking about it until my brain is aching from trying to comprehend the universe. How amazing is it, that there’s this ball of burning hot gas 92.96 million miles away that heats our planet. Every. Single. Day. To me, that’s mindblowing. 

Sunrise over Cannock Chase

Sunrise over Cannock Chase

It’s easy to take things that are always there for granted, and I enjoyed taking the time to watch the sun come up. Especially in the week; I find quiet time energises me and makes the rest of the week feel a lot easier. 

My Mum had to go to work earlier than me, so she left after a while. Leaving me alone, in the middle of this beautiful landscape, with nothing but a couple of deer and a sunrise. 

Scaredy Cat Adventures

You may have spotted ‘Scaredy Cat Adventures’ at the beginning of this post and be wondering what on earth that means. 

I’m scared of a lot of things. Things that perhaps a lot of people find easy and don’t even think twice about doing. Scaredy Cat Adventures is my way of documenting, and encouraging myself, to do things that scare me and try to deal with those fears. 

One of my favourite quotes ever is from Divergent: 

Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it. – Four, Divergent

That’s what I want to do. I don’t know how often I will post Scaredy Cat Adventures, but every time I do something that I consider scary, I will blog about it, and maybe some of you can relate to me about some of my fears. 

What’s scary about sunrise photography? Well, it’s not the sunrise photography itself that scares me, it’s being in a secluded spot that scares me. 

Though I am an introvert and I’m happy to be alone in one part of the house, I don’t really like being completely alone and knowing there’s no one around to help me. 

My Mum was there to start with, but then she went. I didn’t stress and run to the car, like I thought I might. I stayed for another 45-minutes, until I absolutely had to go to work, and I was fine. Perfectly fine. 

Let’s not call this a fear conquered, but I feel a little more comfortable and confident about being there on my own now. 

Sweden, Travel

Sunset over Stockholm

September 22, 2015

Sunset over Stockholm parliament building

Dusk over Stockholm Palace

On our final evening in Stockholm, my Mum and I treated ourselves to some delicious ice cream and had a wander down to the waterfront, where we were treated to a stunning sunset.

Sunset over Stockholm

Sunset over Stockholm / Grona Lund

Sunset over Grona Lund Stockholm

We sat at the edge of the water, with our feet dangling above the water, licking ice cream and watching the sunset as the boats continued to come in. As the sky got even more impressive, we tried to eat faster so we could capture some of it.

It was the perfect end to the holiday really as it gave us time to slowly walk back to the hotel and take in the beautiful city one last time.

On the other hand, it made it harder to say goodbye for exactly the same reason.

Sunset over Stockholm

Sunset over Stockholm

Sunset over Hotel Reisen, Stockholm

Sunset over Stockholm, Norstedts

I love sunset, and I was pretty impressed that I managed to get such decent photos considering that I didn’t have my tripod with me. I’d love to go back with my tripod in tow next time.

I’ve seen a few truly breathtaking sunsets in my time, and the one over Stockholm ranks second on my list. Incidentally, I’ll be posting about the best sunset I’ve ever seen either this week or next week.

Where have you seen breathtaking sunsets?

Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

2-minute review of Confess by Colleen Hoover

September 21, 2015

Confess by Colleen Hoover

I did my first two-minute review earlier in the year (A Court of Thorns and Roses) and intended to do more, and haven’t got round to it, so here’s my two-minute review of Confess by Colleen Hoover.

If you don’t want to watch, read on to for my written review of Confess.

A couple of weeks back, I was watching one of Hope Ortego’s videos where she did a tag and ended up tagging Confess for every question. She had just read it and was really enthusiastic about it and appeared to love it. Hope and I seem to have quite similar tastes, so I trusted her review. 

Without doing any more research, I bought it. Now, that is something I don’t normally do and Hope’s excitement for the book was why I didn’t follow my usual routine of researching a book for aaaages. 

What didn’t I like about this book? Uhm, nothing. 

It’s hard to talk about the plot or the characters too much without giving anything anyway. However, I’m safe in saying that Auburn and Owen are both well-developed and detailed characters that you grow to love and know. 

They both have issues in their own lives, which sees them deal with sacrifice, loss, family issues, and disgustingly creepy relatives. This makes Confess about more than a sweet relationship, and makes it more relatable. 

And talking of sweet, the romance was insanely cute. It’s the kind of book that makes you go all warm and fuzzy inside. The kinda book that’s perfect for a cold autumn day, where you’re all cosy under a blanket.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns though, there are some sad parts that hit you right in the feels.

Even the secondary characters are well-developed and make you feel something. Trey, for example, definitely deserved everything he got. I love it when an author makes you feel so much for characters, especially secondary characters.

Confess is told from the point of view of both Auburn and Owen, which works really well and means Colleen Hoover can hold some information back and give us a surprise when we find out about something along with the other character.

I like it when authors do that because you feel the surprise as if you are the other character who is on the receiving end of this new information, and it helps you feel for them more. 

Confess is listed as new adult, I’m guessing due to the age of the main characters (they’re 21-ish, I think). There is some sexual content, but it’s no more explicit than you’d expect to find in a young adult novel, and there isn’t a lot of it.  

Something else that made this book really enjoyable was the use of confessions. At the beginning, there’s a note from Colleen which explains that all of the secrets / confessions were submissions from real people.  

Confess is a real page turn that sucks you in and keeps you up until 2am telling yourself you’ll “just finish this chapter”. 

I am 100% sure that Confess will not be my last Colleen Hoover book. All of her books sound just as good, and I don’t know which one to pick up next. 

Confess book rating - new favourite

Have you read anything by Colleen Hoover?

Confess Book Cover Confess
Colleen Hoover
New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
March 10th, 2015
eBook

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

Life, Travel

Longing for the wilderness / pining for the fjords

September 17, 2015

Strone Hill, Scotland

There’s the consuming ache inside of me to wander to some remote place and just be there. It’s like that itch you get to have a new piercing or get another tattoo; you have to scratch it.

I remember being aware of my mortality as a kid (who wants to think about Barbies when you can worry about life being too short?) and wanting to travel the world to explore new cultures and scenery has always been something I’ve placed a high importance on.

My eyes are greedy, and there are so many places I long to see.

I can’t be doing with modern day busy life. It’s hectic, it’s a mess, and all we hear day in day out is terrible things going on in the world. I want to just get away from that and be away from the ‘outside world’.

When I went to Scotland earlier in the year, it felt just like that. It was just me, my Mum, and Tom exploring and appreciating beautiful scenery. Though we went to towns, and even popped into Edinburgh, most of the week it felt like we were removed from civilisation, and that was so nice.

Maybe you call it burying my head in the sand, and perhaps it is to a certain extent, but it’s nice not to hear about all the terrible stuff that’s happening in the world.

Most days, I feel like I’m just not wired right for modern day life. Sure, I love technology but I wish life was easier and simpler. I’d love to spend my days exploring nature and the wilderness.

Who says I have to sit behind a desk forever? Who says I can’t go adventuring and exploring beautiful and stunning places where there’s no trace of civilisation? No gaudy skyscrapers or advertising boards. Just miles, and miles of mountains, trees, or water.

  • I want to explore forests
  • I want to watch a sunrise from the top of a mountain
  • I want to kayak across beautiful lakes
  • I want to see the Northern Lights

And dammit, I’m going to do my best to do those things.

Do you long to travel? Or have you not been bitten by the travel bug? 

*If you did not get the reference in the title, watch this. To this day, it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. John Cleese might be my patronus.

Crafty

6 autumn / winter 2015 craft projects

September 16, 2015

6 autumn and winter craft projects

I’m so excited that autumn is on the way. It means I get to whip out snuggly things and can spend my evenings under the duvet, in cosy pyjamas without sweating to death. (TMI? I’m one of those people who has to sleep with a duvet regardless of the temperature or humidity.)

Since ‘winter is coming’ I can start knitting winter garments in abundance – because everyone needs about 10 wooly hats. 

Here are 5 knitting and dressmaking projects I’m eager to complete this autumn / winter. 

Cat hat | Knitting

I first saw this on Hey Bash a few weeks back. As soon as I saw the photo, I knew I had to make it. 

This will probably be the next knitting project I start, and I’ve ordered two yarns of wool with this project in mind, which means I’ll end up with two cat hats in different colours. It looks like it will be a fairly fast knit, so it could be a good Christmas gift. 

 

Long socks | Knitting

I love cuddly socks. Most people complain about getting socks for Christmas and birthdays, I complain if I don’t get any. 

The knitting projects I’ve completed so far have been fairly simple hats and scarves, and socks look really daunting to me. Not only do I have to try and figure out how to use four double-pointed needles (WHAAAAT?), but I also have no idea how you do the foot part. The leg part will be easy, the foot? I’m a little scared. 

One of the best things about knitting is that if you make a mistake it doesn’t matter because you can just unravel it. 

Instead of going for a nice easy normal size sock to start me off with socks, I went for huge knee socks. In my defense, they look seriously cosy and if they turn out well I’ll wear them a lot. 

 

Cat mittens | Knitting

This one, I think, is a little too ambitious and I’m not sure if I will do it but set your aims high, right?

By now, you must know that I like cats and when I saw these kitty-patterned mittens on Ravelry they went on my to make list. I’ve not done any knitting that involves colour changes like this yet, which is why I’m not sure if I will get round to it this winter.  

 

Christmas pyjama bottoms | Dressmaking / Sewing

Earlier in the year I made a pair of pyjama bottoms using the Margot pattern from Tilly & the Buttons. It’s a fairly easy pattern and there’s a lot that can be done to customise it to make it exactly how you want it. 

The fabric shop near me sells some thick and soft feeling tartan fabric, which looks perfect for a pair of Christmas pyjama bottoms. 

 

A tailor’s ham | Dressmaking / Sewing

Now I’m making garments with darts in them, I could really do with a tailor’s ham to make them look as good as possible. At the moment I’m using an oven glove, which actually works pretty well, but a tailor’s ham would definitely be better. 

 

Stockholm scrapbook 

My Mum and I decided we want to make a scrapbook of our trip to Stockholm, which will be the perfect thing to do on rainy days and cold weekends. 

 

What crafty projects are you planning to do this autumn / winter?

Sweden, Travel

The Ice Bar Stockholm – the coolest place ever?

September 15, 2015

Ice Bar Stockholm

Ice bar Stockholm

We’re back talking about my trip to Stockholm, and today’s post is about the Ice Bar Stockholm.

My sister spotted this when we first booked our trip to Stockholm, and it was pretty high up her list. As someone who doesn’t drink, I wasn’t too fussed about it, but I’m glad I went because it was so much better than I expected it to be.

Ice Bar Stockholm is kept at a constant temperature of -7C, which makes it, literally, the coolest place I’ve ever been. (Yep, getting the puns in early here.)

Ice Bar Stockholm

The ice bar Stockholm

The Ice Bar Stockholm

Everything is made from ice – the bar, the glasses, walls, and the tables. Obviously the floor isn’t made from ice, but your shoes do stick to it slightly.

Ice glasses at the Ice Bar Stockholm

Ice glass at the Ice Bar Stockholm

The glasses were awesome, and it was pretty exciting getting to drink out of something made of frozen water. When we left, we spotted a couple broken on the floor, so someone had tried to take their ice glass back with them…

Ice Bar Stockholm

Ice Bar Stockholm

Ice Bar Stockholm

The walls have got some really cool artwork in it, including carvings of animals, a map of Stockholm, and the story of Nils Holgersson.

As part of your ticket, you get a nice, big, warm cape, a pair of gloves, and your first drink. I tried lingonberry juice, which I thought tasted quite similar to cranberry juice. My Mum, sister, and her friend all had something alcoholic and said their drinks were all really nice.

You get around 40 minutes in the ice bar, which is just enough time to enjoy your drink, and look at everything.

At the Ice Bar Stockholm

Reading Magonia in the Ice Bar Stockholm

I was reading Magonia at the time, so I even got in a spot of reading. This means that Ice Bar Stockholm is officially top of my list of coolest places to read a book.

I’m glad we went to the Ice Bar, because it was much better than I was expecting it to be. It was a really fun experience, and it’s something I’ve never done before. It turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip, though pretty much everything I did in Stockholm was a highlight.

 

How much does it cost?

If you reserve online, it cost 195SEK, which is about £15.30 per person*. Depending on how you look at it, that’s an expensive drink (especially if, like me, you don’t even drink alcohol), but it’s the experience you pay for it and it is more than worth it.

If you rock up on the day, it’s 205SEK, which is about £16.13*.

*Prices correct at time of writing.

Have you ever been to an ice bar? If not, would you go?

Adventure, Book Reviews, Fantasy

Percy Jackson: The Battle of the Labyrinth – Rick Riordan

September 14, 2015

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan brought it again. The Battle of the Labyrinth is an action-packed, fast-paced, fun installment to the Percy Jackson series. 

I found the third book, Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse, to be lacking but there are no such issues in The Battle of the Labyrinth. 

The action kicks off in the first couple of pages and doesn’t let up until just before the end. It’s very fast-paced which works well to keep your interest. However, there were a couple of times where there was so much going on and it was so fast that I had to re-read a couple of bits. 

Like the previous books, The Battle of the Labyrinth involves a quest specific to this book which relates to the main storyline running through the series. I won’t say too much more about the plot as it may spoil previous books if you haven’t read them. 

We see a slightly more mature Percy in this book, which makes sense as he’s aged four years since the first book, and we see him agonising over decisions which might result in his friends being injured. 

A couple of new characters pop up in this book, along with a few monsters we’ve never seen before. Some of these monsters are ridiculous (I mean that in a good way), I can’t even begin to picture some of them in my head because they’re just so random. 

Despite the fact that I knew the main characters are going to survive, as there’s a fifth book, I couldn’t help but worry about them. I think that making you worry about a character that you know is going to survive is a sign of a really good author.

Once again, the world building is excellent and the series continues to blend mythology with the real world, making you believe that it might just be real. That’s one of my favourite writing mechanisms, I love it when authors blend fantasy with the real world. It immerses you a little bit more, and makes the world so much easier to imagine.  

I’m a little sad that the fifth book, The Last Olympian, is the final book in this series. I know there’s another series, The Heroes of Olympus, which some of the characters from this series feature in, so I’m glad it’s not the end of the Percy Jackson world.

This is a really popular series, and I see so many people talking about Percabeth. When is that supposed to happen? There’s been a couple of things in this book, but nothing major to make me really ship Percabeth. Does it all happen in the last book? Or is it just one of those things where something has been made from very little? Or does it happen in the next series?

Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth book rating

Have you read the Percy Jackson series?

The Battle of the Labyrinth (#4) Book Cover The Battle of the Labyrinth (#4)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Rick Riordan
Fantasy, mythology, greek mythology, adventure, children's,
6th March 2008
Kindle

When demonic cheerleaders invade his high school, Percy Jackson hurries to Camp Half Blood, from whence he and his demigod friends set out on a quest through the Labyrinth, while the war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near.