Glorious Neutral Spines

White books with flowers

Bright, light books should grace everyone’s shelves. These are six of my particular favourites. The Wuthering Heights and Pride & Prejudice are part of the glorious Thomas Nelson Seasons Paper Cut series. These fall under winter – the summer set is available for preorder now. They are some of the most gorgeously intricate designs I’ve ever seen. Also included are my incredibly special Anna Karenina and the Knickerbocker Jules Verne collection.

Here’s where you can find them (starting from the bottom):

Jules Verne – The Ultimate Collection

Anna Karenina

Wuthering Heights

Pride & Prejudice

The Beautiful and Damned

Romeo and Juliet

Purple Florals

Beautiful purple books

Late spring is perhaps my favourite time of year. The anticipation of summer and long, warm days ahead, bright flowers bursting onto the scene and chirruping birds. Throw in some glorious sunshine and I don’t think you can beat it.

This is the mood I was trying to convey with this image. Here are the links to the books that I featured (starting from the bottom):

Jane Austen: The Complete Novels

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Jane Eyre

Madame Bovary

Persuasion

Civilization and It’s Discontents

Pink and Purple Pastel Books

Pink and purple pastel books

Ah, this is one of my favourite photos that I’ve taken in a long time. I love the colours, they remind me of spring. Here’s where you can find the books to brighten up your bookcase. They’re a variety of publishers and editions, and I’ve done my best to locate them all for you. Here they are, from bottom up:

Little Women (Leatherbound)

Jane Austen Complete Novels

Middlemarch

Little Women (Flexibound)

Persuasion

Jane Eyre

The Singer not the Song

Civilization and Its Discontents

And my floral bone china tea cup is here.

I hope you enjoy these beautiful books as much as I do.

Beautiful Black Books

Black books and espresso cup

These four black books contain some of my favourite works. The one novel – Dracula – is close to the top of my list of classics I enjoy the most. It is always a delight to read (and the recent BBC adaptation was a delight to watch – amazing for binging!). The other three books contain short stories and novellas from some of the very best authors. The Flame Tree short stories in particular are fantastic value for money.

Here’s where I got them from:

Haunted House Short Stories

Classic Works From Women Writers – currently only £12.99

Dracula

F. Scott Fitzgerald Classic Works

I’m struggling to find anywhere that is stocking my little espresso cup, but the mug version is here. I picked my cups up in a Manchester library.

I’d love to hear from you if you decide to get any of these books!

Quarantine Cookery

I don’t know about you, but since the pandemic started I’ve spent a lot more time in my kitchen. Homemade food is not only good for the body, it’s good for the soul too and cooking never fails to calm me. I’ve used cookery as therapy for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s a quick, whipped together meal or a long, slow cook, the preparation of food has a power that is often overlooked in our usual fast paced world.

My first foray into blogging was a food blog. On What To Have For Dinner Tonight, I shared my favourite recipes. For me, cooking is and always has been cathartic.

If you’re just beginning your cookery journey, or are looking for some inspiration to shake things up, here are my favourite cookery books to bring some fresh ideas.

1. Greenfeast – Nigel Slater

Greenfeast

Nigel Slater’s food philosophy is very similar to my own. Good ingredients, treated well to create delicious meals. His recent offerings are two vegetarian books, one focusing on ingredients in season in spring and summer, the other autumn and winter. These books celebrate vegetables, and make their delicious, varied flavours sing. Even the most dedicated meat eater will enjoy these!

You can find Spring, Summer here and Autumn, Winter here.

2. Persiana – Sabrina Ghayour

Persiana

If you are hankering for travel abroad, these recipes will transport you to the Middle East. Persiana is packed full of fragrant, moreish recipes which can bring some sunshine into your life. From meaty meals to light salads to sweet desserts, there is something for everyone here.

3. 15 Minute Meals – Jamie Oliver

Jamie’s 15 minute meals

People love to hate Jamie Oliver, and both this book and his preceding 30 minute meals book received a lot of criticism about how long the recipes actually take to make. And yes, in real life these recipes do take more than 15 minutes (although I tidy up as I go, and factor that into the time). Despite this, the book is packed full of easy, quick and delicious meals which the whole family will enjoy. You can find it here.

4. SIMPLE – Yotam Ottolenghi

Simple Yotam Ottolenghi

Although cook books which include delightfully complex recipes are great to have around for one-off occasions, SIMPLE has an enormous amount of utility. These are the sort of meals that you won’t just cook once – you’ll make them weekly, add them to your repertoire and enjoy them over and over again. The recipes are simple in various ways – time taken, or amount of pots used, or ingredients, or you can make them ahead of time. If you’re looking for a way to build your skills and become a better cook for the future, have a look here.

I hope you enjoy these books and the recipes they include. Share your favourite cook book in the comments!

Barnes and Noble Leatherbound Editions

Barnes and Noble Leatherbound books

I don’t think I actually need to say a word. These books are glorious. Barnes and Noble leatherbound books are the epitome of beauty for me. These special editions look gorgeous on my bookshelf, are a pleasure to read and would make amazing gifts. In fact, I regularly give friends and family these editions as presents. They always go down well!

Here are the ones I own. Enjoy:

F. Scott Fitzgerald Classic Works

Dracula

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Arabian Nights

War and Peace

Aesop’s Illustrated Fables

Tales of Mystery and Imagination – not the exact edition but similar.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Little Women

Anna Karenina

I hope you enjoy getting your collection started!

Purple Penguin Clothbound Classics

Purple penguin clothbound classics

Everything about clothbound classics is pleasing to the eye, and these purple ones are no exception. I love all of these books, but Madame Bovary is a particular favourite. I’m due a reread soon! Otherwise, the magic of the language in Jabberwocky is something else, and Wide Sargasso Sea is one of the cleverest retellings I’ve come across.

Here’s where you can get these books:

Madame Bovary

Jabberwocky

Wide Sargasso Sea

The espresso cup was from a charity shop.

The Binding – Bridget Collins

The binding Bridget Collins

“Somehow it went from too soon to too late, without the right moment in between.”

If you had the power to erase your worst memories, would you? The Binding explores this question and the moral and ethical dilemmas involved, and it does so beautifully.

There is a wonderful depth to Collins’ writing as she unwinds her themes. If it were possible to remove memories, would it be done for good, or for ill? All the while, a tragic love story unfolds between Emmett Farmer and Lucian Darnay, one a poor apprentice, the other rich and privileged. The love story was gorgeously written, and added another level to this already intriguing idea.

The books in Collins’ story are dangerous – they contain human memories, just as our own books do, but these are memories that the owner wanted to be hidden, secreted away from the originator themselves.

The Binding is set in a time which has many similarities with 19th century England, and this dark, gloomy setting works perfectly for the story.

I truly enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it.

8/10

You can get it here: The Binding

Top 10 Books Of 2020 (So Far…)

It has been a year for reading, with many of us spending a lot more time at home than we had perhaps envisioned in January. Fortunately, there have been some incredible new releases this year. Here are the books I’ve read and the books I’m most looking forward to this year…

1. My Dark Vanessa

My dark Vanessa

You may be familiar with My Dark Vanessa, a tale about a college student and her relationship with her professor. It is an interesting investigation into the manipulation and balance of power involved.

My Dark Vanessa

2. Hamnet

Hamnet

You may already have read my review of Hamnet, but suffice to say any fan of Shakespeare should read this story.

Hamnet

3. The Mirror And The Light

The mirror and the light

Another epic from Hilary Mantel, this is the final book in the trilogy about Thomas Cromwell and depicts his downfall.

The Mirror and the Light

4. Sisters

Sisters

Out in August, this is a disturbing tale from the author of Everything Under.

Sisters

5. A Long Petal of the Sea

A long petal of the sea

A riveting new historic saga by Isabel Allende, looking at love in exile.

A Long Petal of the Sea

6. Such A Fun Age

Such a fun age

A funny, fast-paced social satire about privilege in America.

Such A Fun Age

7. Long Bright River

Long bright river

A page turning thriller with murder and missing persons, based in Philadelphia.

Long Bright River

8. A Thousand Ships

A thousand ships

Although technically released in 2019, this features on my list because it is the next book I’m going to read (just waiting for it to arrive!) and it has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize this year. Feminist retelling of myths are usually a winner, so I can’t wait to start this one.

A Thousand Ships

9. The Mercies

The mercies

This book has been EVERYWHERE this year, and with good reason. It is based on the 1621 witch trials in Finland so of course I like it (my own book is based on the 1612 witch trials in Pendle), and this is beautifully crafted.

The Mercies

10. Topics of Conversation

Topics of conversation

Another that I’m eagerly anticipating- Topics of Conversation is an exploration of women’s lives through the medium of conversation.

Topics of Conversation

Which books are you most looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments!

Flame Tree Short Stories

Flame Tree Publishing

I don’t know about you, but there’s something about these editions that just sings to me. Flame Tree Publishing have created a range of short stories collections, and they are not only fascinating but also highly aesthetically pleasing.

I have these three so far, but I hope to expand my collection soon!

Japanese Myths & Tales

Mary Shelley Horror Stories

Haunted House Short Stories

My teacup!