If you’ve found your way here, you are likely the sort of person who loves nothing more than curling up with a good book. Me too! If you want to make your reading experience even cosier (no matter how small your reading spot), I’ve put together a selection of some of my favourite accessories, from mugs to throws.
1. The Perfect Scented Candle
I love a scented candle. No matter the chaos around, light a scented candle and suddenly everything is calm. This scented candle from Literati & Light is one of my absolute favourites. With notes of leather, opium, old books and burnt wood, it transports you to 221B Baker Street. It is grown up, emotive and doesn’t have any of the sickly sweetness that many scented candles do. They also have diffusers if that’s more your thing.
2. The Snuggliest Throw
My house is full of throws. They can make any old chair become the perfect reading spot. For a throw to tick all of the boxes, it needs to be big (ideally big enough to be used to wrap me into a burrito), seriously soft and thick. I got my favourite one from Home Bargains. It was great value and is just so comfortable! If you’re not in the U.K., this grey throw looks gorgeous too.
3. Mug of Dreams
No reading session is complete without a hot drink of choice, and it is even better when that mug is as glorious as this one from Anthropologie. If this one isn’t up your street, the moon and stars mug from Oliver Bonas is pretty special.
4. The Luxurious Bath Caddy
One of my favourite places to read is in the bath, and my bath caddy was one of my best purchases this year. I love it! It has space for everything, and I promise it will revolutionise your bath. You can find this one here.
5. An Awesome Lamp
Coming in second place for my best purchases this year is my raven lamp! This will make any reading space look seriously cool, and it’s bright enough to read easily by. The lamp would look great in any home – whether minimalist or traditional – and is a great way to make your reading space look just that little bit more unique.
6. An Eye-Catching Notebook
Do you make a lot of notes when you read? Depending on the book, I do – and it’s always nice to have a notebook that will look smart both when you’re using it and when it’s full. The marble design on this one will look classy forever.
7. A Glorious Reading Sweatshirt
If you’re going to get properly snuggly, then you do need a lovely, warm sweatshirt to wear. This is one of my designs, from my Etsy store, and I really love how comfortable it is. It’s unisex, too!
8. A Poster to Keep Track of Your Reading
Of course, people chose to keep track of their reading in all sorts of ways, but this poster is a great way of showing the world how you’re getting on, too. You scratch to reveal the cover of each book as you read them, leaving you with an attractive poster which will also be a talking point for visitors to your home.
Do you recommend any other reading accessories? Link them in the comments – I would love to see! If you have a small business selling bookish accessories, do link your products so that we can all support you.
Fantastic news everyone! The Hellion has been snatched up by heavyweight audiobook publishers W. F. Howes, to be released as an audiobook which will be available through all the usual audio sources (audible, libraries, etc.)
This is truly wonderful news and I can’t wait to listen to it. The Hellion will be narrated by Melanie Crawley, a highly experienced voice actor who has narrated a wide range of audiobooks. She will bring a perfect, northern voice to the characters, suiting them and the setting flawlessly.
The audiobook is currently available for preorder at Book Depository, with a release date of 4th March 2021.
The Hellion is the story of three of the women accused during the 1612 Pendle Witch Trials.
Now just waiting for Netflix to get in touch for the rights for the film adaptation 😉
Classics can seem a bit daunting. If you’ve picked up War and Peace and put it straight back down again, you’re certainly not alone. Classics aren’t for everyone, and that is totally fine. Absolutely no judgement about what you read here! But if you’re planning on dipping your toe into the water and reading some classics for the first time (or since love for them was bashed out of you at school), here are my recommendations.
I’ll give some tips for reading each one. When you start to read classics, the writing may well seem clunky; it might be tricky for you to get into the flow. But stick with it and you will reap the rewards!
Classics are great, but they do need special care and attention. Keep the TV off, pour a nice cup of tea and let yourself be immersed completely in these picks…
Dracula was published in 1897, but it certainly doesn’t read like a book that is over 120 years old. It is creepy and full of character.
You will probably know some of, if not all of, the story (please be aware that the recent adaption does not follow the story particularly) – which is a bonus. You are already part of the way there!
The writing feels fairly modern, and it will keep you entirely hooked.
If you like your novels with a healthy dose of smut (that’s probably most of us), you have Lady Chatterley’s Lover to thank. It was first published privately in 1928, but it wasn’t released fully in the U.K. until 1960. It had been subject to an obscenity trial which the publisher (Penguin) eventually won and the book sold 3 million copies.
This led the way for books to include more sex, and laid the pathway to the more open conversations we have today.
Aside from the historical importance, it’s also a great read when you’re new to classics. There’s a love story that will leave you wanting more, and you will continue reading to find the parts that caused it to be banned in the first place!
If you want to dip your toe into the classics, why not start with a novel that feels as though it was written today?
George Orwell’s dystopian novel, published in 1949, will feel eerily similar to present day as you read it. You’ll notice all of the resemblances and leave desperate to read more of his work (I’d suggest Animal Farm next).
With another strange and chaotic year ahead, we can rely on one thing to keep us sane – books. Fortunately, there are a number of exciting books coming out this year and I don’t know about you, but I find the process of preordering books, forgetting about them and the excitement when they arrive a wonderful self-gifting process! Here are the ones I’ve added to my cart…
From the author of one of my favourite books (Never Let Me Go) comes a brand new offering. In the first novel he’s released since 2005, Kazuo Ishiguro investigates love, humanity and science. Klara and the Sun is set in a similar dystopian world to Never Let Me Go, and it sounds as though fans of that book will love this one too.
An exciting debut by Hafsa Zayyan, We Are All Birds of Uganda looks at racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong. The book has already received phenomenal reviews and won the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize. Can’t wait to get stuck into this one!
The Girl on the Train is one of those books that everyone seems to have read – and with good reason. It was immensely readable – utterly unputdownable. So it is unsurprising that excitement is brewing about Paula Hawkins’ upcoming novel, A Slow Fire Burning. This is another thriller, and I am hoping for more flawed characters and breathtaking twists.
New from Taylor Jenkins Reid this year is Malibu Rising. Daisy Jones & The Six was one of my reading highlights of last year, and I am looking forward to being immersed in this one. Jenkins Reid has a wonderful skill of creating characters that feel alive, and I can’t wait to meet these ones.
It would be wrong to write a list of books to look forward to in 2021 without including my own debut novel. An historical thriller set in Pendle, Lancashire, The Hellion examines the lives of some of the women accused of witchcraft during the infamous 1612 Pendle Witch Trials. I am delighted to be releasing this with Unbound Publishers. You can learn more about The Hellion here.
As well as these releases, I’m also looking forward to some brand new editions of classics, including the Thomas Nelson Spring and Fall editions, and the stunning new edition of The Great Gatsby by Canterbury Classics.
Which books are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments.
I’m so excited to be sharing a beautiful new range of bookish clothes and accessories, perfect for any bibliophile. With many of us stuck inside for the foreseeable, I’ve focused on comfortable loungewear- they’re perfect to curl up and read in, but still look great on a (dreaded) zoom call.
I’m delighted to have partnered with a high quality printing company to produce these items using my original artwork, meaning that I can offer a vast range of sizes and free worldwide shipping.
I’m constantly adding new items, so keep an eye on my Etsy store for the newest releases.
Here’s what we have:
Pink or blue book stack clothing
My blue and pink book stack illustrations have gone down a treat (you can get them as prints here), and I’ve been so happy with the response to the clothing items featuring these illustrations. There are two available at present (click the images to shop):
The blue book stack unisex sweater. This sweatshirt is ridiculously comfy, a flattering fit and cosy enough to lounge in, smart enough to wear out for a meal.
Tell me something comfier than a t shirt dress and leggings? Well, now you can live the dream with my pink book stack t shirt dress! Gloriously comfortable, utterly gorgeous.
Stephen King themed items
Fans of Stephen King, these ones are for you! All featuring my black cat illustration and the famous Stephen King quote “quiet people have the loudest minds”. These would make the perfect gift for an introvert or horror lover (or introverted horror lover!). Again, just tap the image to shop.
The perfect hoodie! Cosy, warm, ridiculously soft, and featuring your favourite horror writer – what’s not to love? This is unisex and fits wonderfully.
This is also available in grey, blue or pink in my eBay store.
Ok, who wouldn’t want this gorgeous Stephen King tote bag? It’s absolutely perfect for lugging around your books, and it’s top notch quality too.
The Stephen King magic mug! This starts completely black, and when you add hot liquid it gradually reveals the illustration underneath.
If enamel mugs are more your thing, check out this stylish brown book stack illustration mug. Ideal for sipping on your tea or coffee while you curl up with your book!
Love the Penguin orange classics? Share your love with this tote bag. Ideal gift for students!
My Etsy shop includes over 100 beautiful bookish items. As well as those featured in this article, I also sell a wide range of prints, greetings cards, gift sets and jewellery. Just head over to These Novel Thoughts Shop to browse!
If you are anything like Panda here, you have a bookcase (whether that’s in your home, virtual or in your local library) full of books waiting to be read. You want to power through them all but there never seems to be enough time. So you set a reading goal.
Reading goals are great in theory. They can inspire you to pick up more books than you normally would, and encourage you to read different genres, authors or styles. But they can also become unwieldy, heavy things, putting you off the thing you wanted to do most.
Here are my top tips for setting reading goals that are easy to achieve, and actually increase the number of books you’re reading…
1. Focus on habits, not on numbers
If you want to read more books, it’s natural to want to set a goal that puts a figure on that. One of the most common reading goals is to read 52 books in a year – one a week. However, that completely ignores the fact that some books are shorter, some are longer, some you can whiz through and some require far more brain power. You can get behind easily, then end up dropping your goal as you think there’s no way you could catch up.
Don’t focus on numbers. Instead, use your reading goal to develop habits that will stay with you throughout your life. For example, my habit is to read for ten minutes before I go to sleep. I do this every night, and have done for years. Getting into the habit was hard, but now that I have it, I can’t even contemplate sleep without picking up my book first. Make sure the habit suits you. If you’re an early riser, you could fit in a page or two before breakfast. Maybe you want to make sure you read at least something on both days of the weekend? Set up your goal, watch it become a habit and your future self will thank you!
2. Use your goal to broaden your horizons
Let’s be honest, if you’re setting a reading goal then you’re already someone who likes to learn. Why not use that reading goal to dip your toes into something unusual to you? Setting a goal such as ‘I want to read more books from other countries than I do from my own country’ or making sure a certain percentage of the books you read are by LGBTQ+ authors, for example, will set your focus on your book choices rather than the number of books you read. Less stress, and you end the year with a much broader viewpoint than when you started it.
3. Don’t lose sight of why you set the goal
When you start a new year, what is going through your mind when you set your reading goals? I’m willing to bet that you set your goal to read more books because you LOVE reading. Don’t let an overbearing reading goal ruin that! Your love of reading will be with you for life if you nurture it, look after it and treat it gently. Your Goodreads reading list probably won’t be.
4. Have fun with it!
There are literally thousands of reading challenges which you can find through a google search (or browse #readingchallenge on Instagram). Use these to make your reading goal a bit more dynamic. Read the alphabet (book titles which begin with each letter of the alphabet), only read books with a certain colour cover each month, read as many books as possible which have a character with your first name. It doesn’t matter what you do, but these will help focus your mind and keep your reading experience fun.
The great thing about reading challenges on Instagram is that there will be a big community of lovely readers there to chat to – they’ll help keep you on track too.
Reading goals are there to be achieved, not to beat yourself up over. Try stepping away from the numbers this year (and ignore how many books other people read!) and hopefully you can inject some more of that wonderful enjoyment into your reading.
Let’s face it, 2020 was a bit of a downer. It turns out that a global pandemic really isn’t much fun, curtailing all sorts of joyful things from weddings to festivals to simply meeting for a coffee. Still, one thing it couldn’t take away from us was our books. Reading became a bastion of solace for many, a place to escape from reality and perhaps travel the world.
So, here are some uplifting tomes to take with you into 2021. Featuring both old and new books, you’ll find something for everyone but there is one common theme running through them – a happy ending.
1. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Let’s start with an old favourite, shall we? Jane Austen’s best known work is a hug of a novel. Featuring characters you will fall deeply in love with, a heavy sprinkling of Austen’s inimitable wit, and a dose of self acceptance, it is difficult to come away from this book without a smile on your face. This book calls for dark January evenings, a mug of tea and a blanket.
The sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale (hardly a cheerful read), The Testaments provides a bit of relief. If watching totalitarian regimes crumble ticks your boxes, then pick this one up. Where we saw women struggle in the awful Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale, here we have the satisfaction of seeing them destroy it.
This is a perfect book to read as spring begins to show its head. Set in a gorgeous castle with a glorious castle in the Italian Riviera, this book will sweep you away and you will feel the vitamin D seep through its pages and into your soul. It feels warm, and happy, and strong all at the same time. A beautiful read.
By this point, most of us will have either read the books or seen the films. But if there was ever a time to revisit them, it’s now. Tolkien’s epic tale of good vs evil in a world so very different to our own is everything you need for true escapism.
5. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I first read this book as a teen and, to this day, I don’t think I have read a funnier book. It is silly, and wise, and wholesome. If you haven’t experienced the joy of this book yet, I envy you! Read it now – and you’ll find out the answer to life, the universe and everything.
6. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Ok, I know it’s unusual for a thriller to feature on a list of uplifting books, but this one genuinely is. It is morbidly funny, unique and superbly readable. It’s also short, which is great when you’re stuck in a rut and want to feel the achievement of finishing a book.
7. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
When I want my mood to be improved and my serotonin levels boosted, I often reach for a childhood favourite. The characters in Alice can’t help but make you smile – even the not so nice ones. You’ll be grinning like a Cheshire Cat by the end of it.
In a similar vein to The Enchanted April, Chocolat effortlessly sweeps you away to another place – this time, to the south of France where Vianne is winning villagers’ hearts with her mystical chocolate-making skills. The tastes and smells burst from the page and you will finish the book with a warm heart and smiling eyes.
What is there to say about this one? Michelle Obama is an amazing woman, and her life story is equally as amazing. You will find this inspiring, and hopefully it will encourage you to get out and achieve those things you thought you couldn’t.
10. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
Another laugh out loud funny book. This is the diary of Mr Pooter, a pompous and self-important man who experiences embarrassment after embarrassment. This light-hearted will leave you smiling for days.
Christmas was always a tricky time of year. His mother knew, she kept her distance, had done since he had first moved away. There might be a phone call on Boxing Day or, more likely, the day after, but Christmas Day was his and his alone – or at least, it was supposed to be.
His wife had crashed into his life just two years ago, and he loved her fiercely. She brought him a joy he hadn’t realised that he could feel. He loved his life with her. Most of the time, he couldn’t imagine being without her. But this Christmas thing was becoming a bit of an issue. The first year, they had just met so it wasn’t odd for them to spend the day apart. Last year was a different story. Their relationship had been a whirlwind and they were married within six months of meeting. They did everything together and she didn’t think it unreasonable for them to spend Christmas Day together too. On the whole, he could see her arguments. But he had to keep this thing to himself.
He couldn’t remember when it had started. He couldn’t remember a Christmas without it. Even the gentle ones furthest away in his memory included a shadow, a dark spot that couldn’t be illuminated by twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. As the years moved on, the darkness had grown edges and become something far more tangible. Last year was the worst yet.
Why had he been chosen? As far as he could tell, he was the only one. No answers were forthcoming and there was no hint of a way out of it. It just was.
They sat next to each other on Christmas Eve, faces glowing in the light of the many candles his wife lit each evening. She was hurt and confused.
‘I don’t understand.’ She kept saying. And how could she, when he didn’t himself? He was helpless.
‘It’s just one day.’ A meaningless and empty phrase. An attempt to placate that would just anger her more.
‘I don’t understand.’
He reached for her hand but she pulled it away. With a sigh, she stood and wiped her eyes. Her weekend bag was in the doorway, along with carrier bags overflowing with brightly wrapped gifts. She struggled to lift them all, swatted away his attempts to help.
‘Wish your family a Merry Christmas from me.’ The words dropped like stones at her feet. She didn’t reply, simply walked through the door and out into the night, taking all of the warmth with her.
He went back into the lounge and blew the candles out one by one, puffs of black smoke hanging in the air. It was early still but heavy with darkness so he headed to bed. Tomorrow it would start.
Despite knowing what would await him in the morning, he always slept well on Christmas Eve. There was an inevitability to his fate that led to a deep, cocooned night of rest. It was dreamless, angst free and gave his mind space for the day ahead. It was his favourite part of the Christmas period.
As with all good things, the end came quickly. As he was dragged back to consciousness, he knew that they were here already. Refusing to open his eyes, his other senses began to heighten and he heard the quickening thump of a heart. The thump became a pound, an incessant, urgent cacophony that throbbed in his skull until he was forced to open his eyes.
The heart stopped. The room was black. Not just dark. Suffocatingly black. He lay still, listening to the silence. There was no sound but his own shallow breaths. He could reach for his lamp, but he knew by now that it would do nothing. This was how they always greeted him.
Slowly, slowly, the blackness began to fragment into shapes. Shifting into their forms, crowding the room. There were even more this year. For the first few years there had been one, a faceless silhouette who grew ever more opalescent. The year that another came – he was ten – was the worst in his memory. From then, each year brought more.
He had theories about what they were, but he could never know for sure. Shadows – that was the best way of describing them. It wasn’t so much the sight of them that was terrifying, it was the sense of oppressive dread they brought with them. Standing there, staring with no eyes, filling the room with icy hopelessness.
He lifted himself from the bed and movement fluttered through them. They always followed.
Every year, he spent Christmas Day sitting. There was nothing else he could do. He couldn’t leave the house taking his audience with him. He couldn’t eat – he had no appetite when they visited anyway. Nothing could distract from them.
When he was a child, his mother had been disappointed and upset by his lack of interest in his gifts and lovingly prepared food, spending his time instead staring off into the middle distance. It had translated as ungratefulness, and had damaged his relationship with his mother who had tried so hard for him. But there was nothing he could do.
He walked slowly into the lounge, not bothering to dress. They followed, crowding him and stealing his breath. He had tried to talk to them in the past. He had begged them to leave in countless occasions, bargaining and pleading, but to no avail. There was no change to show they heard, just the constant, overwhelming presence.
He sat and he sat. They watched and they watched. A never ending day.
There was a sudden shrillness. He went cold, a panic snapping through his already taut nerves. He realised it was his telephone. He looked at it, unsure what to do. They looked at it too. The light from the screen pressed through the darkness so vividly that he snatched it up and answered it to make it stop.
‘Yes?’ He snapped. They were closer than ever.
‘Gerry?’ It felt like an exhale. Her voice floated like a blanket over him, comfort and love. They moved back.
‘Gerry?’ She said again. They moved back further, shrank to the corners of his eyes.
‘Melinda?’ He breathed.
‘I just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.’ And with that last word, they and their weight were gone.
If you enjoy my work, you can read about my novel, The Hellion here and preorder online here. Thank you and Merry Christmas!
If you liked this, you can buy me a coffee by making a donation below. No pressure and it is certainly not expected, but each donation gives me the sweet caffeine I need to carry on writing. Thank you!
The Hellion will be released on 4th March 2021 and can be preordered online from most major bookstores.
The1600s were a time of fear, mistrust and darkness. The early days of James I’s reign, in particular, were plagued by unease.
James I of England had already reigned in Scotland since 1567 and became King of England and Ireland as well following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. James is described by many historians as being serious, knowledgeable and scholarly – but it is impossible to overlook the terrible devastation that he caused to many families through his fear of witchcraft.
In 1589, James sailed to Denmark – a country notorious at the time for its obsession with witchcraft and the hunting of witches – to marry Anne of Denmark. Their journey back to Scotland was hit by storms, and the newlyweds were forced to shelter in Norway for several weeks. It was clear to James that witches had summoned the storm in attempt to kill him, and on his return to Scotland the North Berwick Witch Trials began. These 1590 trials are not as well known as those that occurred later, but it can be argued that they were the catalyst that led to an estimated 3000-4000 women and men being executed after witchcraft accusations in Scotland alone.
The accused in the North Berwick Witch Trials confessed to their supposed crimes, following torture. Agnes Sampson was fastened to the wall of her cell by a witch’s bridle, an iron instrument with four sharp prongs forced into her mouth. Dr Fian had his fingernails removed and iron pins thrust into the open wounds. The brutally was horrific, and the confessions unsurprising. By the time the trials were over, about seventy people had been accused of witchcraft, although it is not known how many were executed.
Following this, James took a keen interest in what he saw as the stamping out of witchcraft. He took part in the interrogation and torture of suspected witches, and attended many trials. In 1597, James wrote Daemonologie, a tract denouncing witchcraft and which was spread throughout Scotland and England.
Although some say that James’s attitude towards witchcraft mellowed in the years following this, the damage had already been done. When James took the English throne in 1603, his new courtiers were desperate to please their new king. Noblemen all over England looking to gain favour with the monarch researched him and what his leanings might be – and read Daemonologie.
It is against this backdrop that the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 took place. The gruesome hearings led to eleven deaths – ten by execution – including three generations of one family. The Hellion follows this family, always chased by a whisper of evil, right to the gallows.
The Hellion by Harriet Young – Q & As
What is your book about?
The Hellion is a novel based on one of the families accused during the Pendle Witch Trials. Elizabeth, her daughter Elizabeth and her grandchildren, Alizon, James and Jennet all lived at the notorious Malkin Towers. Plagued by poverty and their own internal struggles, their lives follow a path that leads inextricably to Lancaster Gaol.
How long did it take to reach the publishing stage?
The Hellion is being published by Unbound. I started writing the novel in March 2017, and began approaching publishers after completion in late 2018. It was accepted by Unbound in mid 2019, and it was fully funded for publication in October 2019.
What is the release date?
Release date is 4 March 2021. If you have preordered, you will receive your copy as soon as it has been published. I can’t wait for you to start receiving your copies!
How long did your research take?
Research was an ongoing process throughout the writing of the novel and for around four months prior. The limited sources mean that there are conflicting accounts of what happened, and it took some time to sift through this.
Did you have any particular author in mind when writing the novel?
I didn’t – there are many historical fiction novelists that I enjoy reading, but The Hellion is written in very much my own style. It is fast paced and, I hope you will agree, extremely readable.
How are you feeling about publication?
This is my debut novel and having a book published has always been my dream. It is terrifyingly exciting – holding my book in my hands will be an indescribable feeling, but of course I am anxious that you all like it too!
Will you write another?
My second novel is already underway. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m very excited about this one too.
Where can I get The Hellion?
The Hellion is available for preorder through the links below:
If you would like an interview, guest blog post or any other information about The Hellion, the writing or publication process (or anything else!) please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
Ok, apologies in advance everyone. I have rarely been so excited about a new set of releases (and given my propensity for getting over excited about books, this is quite a statement). HOWEVER, you need to see these!
I have the beautiful summer editions, three of the four glorious winter editions (oh, for the elusive Little Women!), and eagerly preordered the delicious sage green spring editions, which are being released in April 2021. Here, enjoy some of my photos of these wonderful laser cut Thomas Nelson editions…but keep on going to see what’s coming.
The winter editions were something brand new and exciting, the summer editions injected some delectable colour to the collection. I am excited to meet the spring editions, when they arrive in April. But I recently stumbled across the fall editions, and I can’t quite find the words to describe how stunning this feat of design is. I love the gothic, and Thomas Nelson have chosen to go FULL gothic with the fall editions. I absolutely approve, and I have already gone ahead and preordered the rest of the collection – and can’t wait for them to be delivered at the end of August 2021.
The choice of a very dark outer layer provides an excellent contrast, and shows how the collection as a whole will come together. They will look just stunning altogether on a bookshelf. I love the choices, and this is a fantastic set of titles to finish a really lovely set.