Blog posts with the tag: "books"


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I decided I should start doing these again, and I should probably call them something snazzier, but all in good time!




This week was my third week sans sugar. I’m doing the ‘I Quit Sugar‘ 8-week program, you see (and by the program, I mean just reading the books and hoping for the best). Trying to be all healthy and shiz. The first two weeks were a walk in the park, but now I find myself walking past chocolates in the supermarket and salivating, because yes, they have the Easter eggs out already. I don’t even want the Cadbury bars I devoured as a kid, I want delicious, delectable dark chocolate, like Green & Blacks, or the salted caramel chocolates from Paul A Young’s Chocolaterie. It’s getting so bad that I’m hoping I don’t lose my willpower and end up in a copious chocolate binge where I’m basically bathing in the stuff. A bit like Alfred Molina’s character in the film Chocolat



Also, here is a picture of Johnny Depp from the same film, because, well, why not?





Right, must distract myself from the chocolate (I say as I type this at the library, with a sizable tome entitled Chocolate in Mesoamerica by my side, because if I can’t eat the stuff, I might as well read about it).


This week in the UK it’s been cold, frosty and today it’s rainy and grey. Perfect library lounging time. Only my stomach is rumbling loud enough to warrant a ‘shhh’ from the librarian.


Speaking of books, I bought Marie Kondo’s new book, Spark Joy, as I’m determined to completely declutter and organise my home this year. The way I see it, a decluttered home equals a decluttered mind, and that’s what I’m aiming for. The trouble is, that Kondo separates belongings into categories and two of them are called ‘books’ and ‘sentimental items’. The problem for me is that they are one and the same. I have so many memories associated with each book, that I find it hard to part with them. Plus I’m still hoping that one day I can actually live in the library from Beauty and the Beast and, therefore, won’t need to get rid of any. Ever.





Also, look. There is a real library that looks like the Beast’s one. It’s so beautiful that I don’t think I’d ever need to leave. Sigh.


Beautiful library


Apparently in the Victorian times, it was considered romantic and a method of courtship to read aloud to one another. There is definitely something soothing about it, but not very romantic if it’s so soothing that you nod off. I always hope that at Christmas, the family will gather round the fire and we’ll all take turns reading ghost stories. Of course, this never transpires, and instead, everyone just sits with their hands stuck in the obligatory box of Quality Streets while watching Netflix.


Aaaand then we’re back to chocolate again…




I’ve pretty much taken to spending my days drinking americanos, wearing thick jumpers and basking in the glow of scented candles while I study/write. Everything always seems a bit manic in the run up to Christmas, especially as I have looming deadlines.


So, for this post, I thought I’d something fun, and post some of my favourite things from the past month.


Favourite Shops:


I try to avoid shops as much as possible but I always have to go into Liberty, especially at Christmas. It is one of the most beautiful shops and great for buying gifts.




Anthropologie is another favourite, especially for their home goods. Last time I visited I bought this Oatmeal cookie candle. It smells sooo good, but gives me a serious craving for cookies, cakes and chocolate.





Favourite Foods:


Tis’ the season for warming comfort food and this recipe for soup is delicious and easy to make. I add butter beans, whizz in my soup maker and add chopped up Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages. Oh and yes, I’m one of those people who watches Youtube girls talk about make-up and stuff. I love Essie Button.



To satisfy my aforementioned sweet tooth I like to make a batch of apple pie crescent bites. They are so easy to make.  I used Natvia instead of brown sugar. Recipe here. Here is a pic of mine.




Favourite TV:


The BBC are making great television at the moment. The Fall is back on BBC 2, so I’m glued to that every Thursday (or whenever I can catch up on iPlayer). This isn’t easy viewing, but it’s fantastic.




Remember Me is a three-part contemporary ghost story set in Yorkshire. Just my cup of tea. I haven’t watched this yet but I’m definitely going to. It stars Michael Palin and has garnered great reviews. Catch it on BBC One and iPlayer.




Favourite Reads:


In between the pile of Gothic classics and text books I’m currently battling through, I’ve managed somehow to squeeze in a few cheeky novels.  I’ve started reading Essie Fox’s The Somnambulist, a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I’m only a few chapters in but thoroughly enjoying it so far. And I haven’t strayed too far from my course as this is a Gothic Victorian novel. Also, I saw the lovely Essie speaking about her latest novel The Goddess and the Thief at the Richmond Literary Festival, so will no doubt buy that once I’ve finished with this one.




Magazines. As many as I can possibly read. I have an addiction. Especially home interiors magazines. Especially home interiors magazines with Christmassy decorations. Drool.


Favourite Music:


I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s new album 1989 a lot since it’s release. I’m not the biggest ‘pop’ music fan but Taylor knows how to write a great, catchy song.




On Sunday I went to see Linkin Park at the O2 arena. This is the second time I’ve seen them live this year, after the Download Festival in June, and they didn’t disappoint. Their energy is amazing.





Dreaming of:


Fingers crossed I’ll be visiting my beloved Highlands sometime in January for my birthday. I really want some vegetarian haggis. I ordered some from Amazon recently and I think it was supposed to be frozen because it smelled of bad dog food and made me feel sick.


I like to buy the chocolate panettone from Carluccio’s at Christmas, and make bread and butter pudding with it. It tastes deliciously decadent.



As the weather starts to get colder, and the nights draw in, I find myself wanting to cosy up and read or watch TV in the evenings. I have loads to read, always, as I am constantly adding books to my collection and seeing new books I’d like to buy. At the moment I have even more to read as I prepare for my MA.


I’m currently reading a chapter a day of The History of Gothic Fiction by Markman Ellis and The Postmodern by Simon Malpas. I’m also reading another non-fiction book, Zero Degrees of Empathy by Simon Baron-Cohen; a fascinating book which looks at the reasons behind human cruelty.





Fiction-wise, for studies I am reading Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho, and I’ve just started Under the Skin by Michael Faber. I knew the latter had been made into a film with Scarlett Johansson, and that I had missed its run at the cinema (agreeing on a film to see with my husband is tricky sometimes, and going to the cinema alone seems too indulgent right now while I’m so busy). Several people recommended it as a beautiful book, and so, curious, I read the first page. I had forgotten that Faber had also penned The Crimson Petal and the White, a wonderful tome set in Victorian London, which was adapted for the BBC in 2011, and starred the lovely Romola Garai. His writing is compelling and brilliant, but what really makes Under the skin already a favourite before I even complete it, is the setting. It’s set in the Scottish Highlands, specifically around the towns, villages and roads that were so familiar to me as a child. It is quite magical to imagine this story taking place there, if not disturbing too!





I am so behind on TV shows. I rarely watch anything on our television, and usually catch my shows by streaming them on Netflix, etc. I only have two episodes to go until the series finale of True Blood. I think I’m delaying it on purpose, as, even though critics and fans alike have always said it was going downhill, I’ve always been a faithful fan.


I am yet to start season 2 of Hemlock Grove, but I enjoyed the first series, and I’ve heard that the third series will be the last, so hopefully it will stay interesting.


So far I’m liking Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain. It’s been a slow build up, and some of the characters are annoying, but the concept is an interesting one, and it’s good to see some scary vampires.





I’ve finally started watching Outlander, the series based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. It’s been marketed as a sort of Game of Thrones for women, which I think is rather strange as I know many women who love Game of Thrones. In fact, columnist Lucy Mangan wrote an article in Stylist magazine last week about how women actually enjoy some violence within the safe confinement of fictional books and shows. Anyway, I digress. Gabaldon’s book was called Cross Stitch in the UK, and it’s right up my street with Scotland, time travel, history, witchcraft, sauce and drama. This is probably feeding my misery of the upcoming referendum, because my fears of Scotland leaving the UK is basically as bad as if the land was actually severed from England and floated away as a completely separate island that I could never return to.





I’m still enjoying Witches of East End, especially Mädchen Amick as the rebellious Wendy, basically wearing the boho/witchy wardrobe of my dreams and turning into a cute black cat to spy on people. I remember her as Shelly in Twin Peaks and I’m glad she’s still acting.


Further behind on my must-watch TV, I still have The Originals (The Vampire Diaries spin-off), Salem, True Detective, Orphan Black, Masters of Sex and Revenge. I still like those shows but it’s just getting the time to watch them. I imagine it will happen one day, during a sleepless night Netflix binge fest. Sigh. Plus new shows are always starting; American Horror Story: Freak Show anyone?


What books and television are you loving?

Heather Blanchard

Welcome. Are you a writer, a bookworm, a daydreamer? Are you still clinging on to that magic that pervaded childhood? Pull up an armchair and get cosy. This blog is my dreamscape through an enchanted forest to a world of stories and the little things that make me happy; a chance to add a dash of sparkle to the daily grind. Here you will find the whimsical, the coveted, the Gothic and the romantic. Happy exploring!

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