A Planner Stickers Haul

Planner

I’ve had a bit of a planner shake up for the new year.  I was enjoying my Dodo Acad-Pad so much that I wanted to maximise its usage as much as possible, and I thought the best way of doing this was upgrading to the Dodo Pad Filofax Refills.  They have the same layout as my previous Dodo diary, but now there is space for a pen, and best of all – stickers!

Now, my sticker game is good.  Whereas many of my friends grew out of stickers when they were ten years old, I just never lost interest in them.  As an avid scrapbooker-crafter-pen-pal, there’s always been a use for them, fueled by such things as the incredible displays found every year at MCM Comic Con, my local Paperchase, and the joys of Daiso when I visited Japan.  I can confidently hold my hand up and admit to a stationery addiction.

Anyway, with a year of empty diary pages ahead of me, I knew I needed some stickers to enhance my planning experience.  So, here’s what I bought:

Firstly, I knew that organising my spending was going to be really important, especially as I am moving out in a couple of months time.

Planner Stickers

All stickers (unless otherwise stated) were bought from HappyCutieStudio on Etsy.

I also bought some specifically for bills and grocery shopping (I’ve got to make grown-up stuff interesting somehow).

Planner Stickers

Blogging is really important to me, so much so that I have a dedicated column to it in my weekly spread.  I wanted a way of tracking when I post, and where.  Also, these ‘Currently Reading’ stickers are adorable, and a great way of counting how many books I’ve been reading as part of my reading goals this year.

Planner Stickers

Holiday stickers – ha!  Wishful thinking perhaps, but I do tend to go away at least a couple of times a year, and with weddings potentially approaching (not my own, sadly), I know it’ll be helpful to have an adorab- I mean useful means of recording the details of where I am staying.

Planner Stickers

Lastly, I bought some stickers for tracking my health too.  I particularly love the little holographic yoga stickers because their shine is the first thing I see when I open my diary.

Planner Stickers

Period tracker stickers from JosephineBowDesigns. Foil yoga stickers from Jadiescrafts.

I’ve always been a bit of a hobbyist planner, but this year as I am working a lot more, I wanted my diary to double up as a journal and canvas of sorts too, a creative space to track my 2018 resolutions, and let’s face it, an excuse to spend copious amounts on stickers.


How are you planning your year?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

January 18, 2018
/

The One Hundred Nights of Hero

One Hundred Nights of Hero

If you read my post about my Christmas book haul, you’ll already know that I was gifted the behemoth of a hardback that is The One Hundred Nights of Hero.  This is a book collector’s dream – thick pages, beautifully illustrated pages.  The fact that it is also a very, very good story seems like just a bonus at this point.

One Hundred Nights of Hero

The book is essentially a collection of short stories, but they interweave in such a way that you can’t just pop in a bookmark and come back for a new story each night.  Each story plunges you deeper and deeper (until you finally understand the plot of the film Inception).

One Hundred Nights of Hero

The main themes are about love, friendship and the power of women and storytelling.  Although most are fantasy-based, there are definite messages to take away from all of the stories.

Lesson: Men are false. And they can get away with it. Also, don’t murder your sister, even by accident. Sisters are important.

One Hundred Nights of Hero

This book was such a pleasure to read – I’ve been raving about it for a few weeks now.  You can pick up your own copy of The One Hundred Nights of Hero at The Book Depository.

However, I might recommend reading The Encyclopedia of Early Earth too (maybe even first), to help set the scene of Early Earth: available to buy here.

If you just want to feast your eyes on more of Isabel Greenberg’s work, you can do so on her website: http://isabelnecessary.com/

Happy reading!

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

January 11, 2018
/

A Glimpse of Oxford

The biggest highlight of the recent festive period for me was taking a road trip to Oxford for the day.  We piled into the car and drove the several hours to the city, arriving with snack-filled bellies, the car radio blaring out the weather forecast: suspiciously sunny for a December afternoon.

As my brother lives in Oxford, we let him lead the afternoon tour.  First stop: Port Meadow.  This beautiful stretch of grass next to the River Thames was home to this adorable little pony and his friends.  The public are free to stroll through the meadow and see the animals, and it was such a surprising sight to see so close to any city centre.

Oxford

Oxford sure was a feast for the eyes.  Beauty could be found down every street, with famous colleges everywhere you turned.  Christ Church was particularly striking, though we didn’t have enough time to join the long queue to take a look inside.

Oxford

My favourite sight of the tour was the Bodleian Library, especially the stunning architecture of the Radcliffe Camera.

Oxford

Fun fact: the Radcliffe Camera stars in the game Civilization IV (one of my favourite franchises) as a representation of Oxford University – so you might recognise it from there!

We also passed The Eagle & Child – a pub frequented by Tolkien and C. S. Lewis back in the day.  Again, we didn’t have time to go inside, but I managed to play tourist long enough to snap a photo of the colourful sign out the front – I thought the imagery was quite interesting/slightly horrifying.

Oxford

My brother took me to two incredible shops that he knew I would love: the Blackwell Art and Poster shop, and Scriptum.  I will not disclose how much I spent overall (spoiler: lots), but here’s a sneaky peak of some of the things I bought, including two graphic novels I’ve been desperate to own, and a new Christmas tree decoration for the tree (see: Christmas Traditions).

Oxford - Saga and Descender

Somehow, we did manage to find a spare half hour to eat some Lebanese food – which I’ve never tried before, and was quite delicious – and I did sneak off to explore the enormous Waterstones.  But, I’m dying to go back and see more of the city.  Perhaps that’s something else to add to my list of New Year Resolutions


Ever been to Oxford?  Which parts of the city did you enjoy?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

January 8, 2018
/

Q&A with Holly Ice

The Russian Sleep ExperimentA little while ago, I stumbled upon a novella called The Russian Sleep Experiment.  It was immersive, and terrifying, and I immediately felt compelled to speak to author Holly Ice about her inspiration for the story.

Holly kindly agreed to a Q&A, sharing the ideas behind her brilliant horror novella, and her experiences as a writer:

1.) I’ve just finished reading The Russian Sleep Experiment, and it gave me chills!  Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

I’m glad you enjoyed the read! The novella was inspired by a popular short story of the same name which was published as a Creepypasta. My publisher Almond Press approached me to write a novella inspired by the tale which moves away from supernatural horror and into a more scientifically routed approach but I think that inspiration struck for me when I looked into the harsh reality of the time and how the decisions of certain national powers impacted people under their care.

2.) You managed to create what felt like a very real environment, which is why the story is so frightening.  What sort of research did you do to recreate 1940s Russia?

Thank you. The USSR and the 1940s in particular is a historical interest for me as I have family that were in Latvia when the country was occupied and made part of the USSR. I had done a fair bit of reading before writing the tale as a result, though I looked into the details of Siberian gulags, the landscape, and the day to day life there, before writing the novella. I tried to make the environment as realistic as possible and to show a few of the different types of prisoner that might be in these camps.

3.) Have you always aspired to be a writer?  If so, what does it feel like to have people reading (and enjoying) your work?

It’s amazing to have people read and enjoy my stories. I put these tales into the world in the hope others will discover characters they can relate to and worlds they want to escape into and explore. That’s the joy of being a writer – we’re always playing pretend with characters and creating new frontiers, new realities.

To begin with, I was much more into art, but I’ve been writing stories and muddling my way through book ideas since I was very young. It took me a number of years to build my confidence enough to share my work and try to get published. I started producing (and submitting) work more consistently around the age of 15 and had my first piece published in 2010.

4.) The Russian Sleep Experiment was published by Almond Press, and this isn’t your first time working with publishers.  What have those experiences been like?

I’ve worked with a number of small publishers and fellow authors, which has been a great experience. I’m lucky to have been published in collections with fantastic authors. I’ve learned a lot from the hands-on style of many of the editors and from the imaginations of the other authors. The community as a whole is very welcoming to new authors and I highly recommend going to conventions and meeting people in the industry.

5.) Your website teases us about a new fantasy series you are currently writing.  Can you tell us anything about this work in progress?

Sure! I took part in NaNoWriMo this year to work on the first book in The Riftkeeper Series – While I Slept. Though I wrote the first draft back in 2012–13, the story need a lot of work. I spent this November rewriting the second and third acts to improve the structure. I’m now in the process of polishing the characters and doing a full line edit.

The book is a fantasy story based in the English countryside and begins when a history and archaeology student unearths Arthur, an ancient warrior. When Arthur is awoken from his magical sleep, he finds the rifts to this otherworld have reopened, and someone is killing the people of Wardley nearby.  He must work with Annie to learn how the modern world works and thwart this new enemy.

Rather than following ‘traditional’ Arthurian myth of Merlin and the round table (likely created by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th Century), I base Arthur on the man alluded to in ancient Welsh poems. These state he is an accomplished soldier who battles supernatural creatures in the otherworld.

I was especially interested in how a more amoral fae culture would clash with our own, and how the modern world would deal with such a departure from what they know to be real and scientifically proven. I hope to fully explore this idea throughout the series.

6.) Finally, do you have any advice to offer budding writers?

There’s no formula that will bring success but it’s good to write consistently and make sure you finish a piece – even if you don’t like it. It’s more helpful to finish something and then write something new than it is to have dozens of half finished works. Once that’s done, read up on things to look out for when editing and find yourself a critique partner – online or in person. Ideally, you want someone who will give you the truth but is constructive rather than destructive when it comes to your writing. There are some communities online which can be a great place to start, such as NaNoWriMo and Scribophile. And remember, the old adage ‘write what you know’ may mean you need to read up on 18th century politics or space travel rather than avoid writing about it.


A huge thank you to Holly for participating in the Q&A, especially during the busy month of NaNoWriMo!

You can explore Holly Ice’s website and other works by clicking here.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

January 4, 2018
/

Goals for 2018

Life has been changing, and for once this creature of habit is excited and ready to embrace it.  I wanted my 2018 goals to reflect these feelings, so here’s a list of my resolutions for the next twelve months:

Be creative

After helping run an MCM Comic Con artist table, and working through one of Alisa Burke’s brilliant online art courses, I’m feeling very inspired to be creative.  I’ve always dabbled here and there with art, but recently I’ve been producing work that I’m actually quite proud of.  I want to keep working on my designs, as I’d love to fill the walls of my new house with original paintings.  Speaking of which…

Be independent

Moving out is something I’ve wanted to do officially for a long, long time.  Not staying with friends or round a boyfriend’s house, or in university halls.  I want a real space to shape and call my own, and if all goes to plan then that will be happening very, very soon… I’m also planning on working more hours, which will aid my new-found independence!

Be healthy

Yoga makes me feel great, both physically and mentally.  I get so much from practicing yoga on a regular basis, so I want to make sure there’s always time in my weekly timetable for a couple of sessions.  I’ve found Fitness Blender do some good videos that are nice and easy to follow (and they’re free!).  I’ve also eaten well all year, and want to continue the trend through 2018.

Be charitable

There are a lot of issues I feel increasingly passionate about with age, and I would like to take steps, however small, next year to helping some of the causes I care about.  As an example, I plan on adding loose change to a jar over the year, and spending it on food for my local Foodbank at Christmas time.

Keep writing

What I want out of creative writing has changed over the last few years.  I feel slightly in limbo with my bigger projects, as short stories, homemade zines and non-fiction writing are what I’m currently so passionate about.  Until I decide what my next move should be, I’m just going to be blogging like crazy, reading heaps of books (see my optimistic 2018 reading goals here), and being creative in other ways.


Did you achieve everything you were working towards in 2017?  What’re your goals for 2018?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

January 1, 2018
/

Reading Resolutions for 2018

I decided at the end of ’16 that I would have a year free from the (what sometimes feels like) restrictions and pressures of reading challenges and goals.  I wanted to read what I wanted, when I wanted.  This plan went immediately out the window when I discovered Rock My TBR – a reading challenge encouraging bookworms to knock some books off ye olde to-be-read.  It was relatively relaxed compared to most challenges, so I decided to give it a shot alongside my low maintenance reading year, and did indeed manage to read a few books I’d had my eye on for some time: The Russian Sleep Experiement by Holly Ice, My Japanese Husband Think I’m Crazy by Grace Mineta, and (most of, until I found the material too disturbing to finish) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (which I have promised myself I will return to one day).

Now, I’m going to be honest here. I regret not joining the Goodreads Reading Challenge in 2017.  As much as I moan about wanting the easy life, I do some of my best work with a little pressure, and I absolutely love challenges.  You can frequently find me pining for homework deadlines when my sister sits struggling through English homework, and longing once more for 2,000 word essays when my friend shares her latest assignments.  What can I say, I love to learn.

So, I’m going to turn the heat up this year.

100 books.

There.  I wrote it down; there’s no going back now.  I even put it in bold for emphasis.

I know some hungry book bloggers chomp their way through several books a week, and as a relatively slow reader I’ve always looked at their reading habits enviously.  But I’m just so into reading at the moment, and I want a challenge.

I’m pretty optimistic that with the number of graphic novels I consume, and my new-found love of non-fiction books, that I will reach 100 books by the end of 2018.  I’ll certainly be giving it a go, anyway.

Do you have a reading goal for 2018?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

December 31, 2017
/

D&D: Meet Eilaga Axeager

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to experience Dungeons & Dragons for the first time.  My friend had bought a Starter Set, and together a campaign was put together by Jack, our first-time Dungeon Master.

I played as Eilaga Axeager, a Dwarvian child prodigy who had left her home in the mountains to seek treasures in the lands beyond that would earn her glory among the Axeager Clan.  Working her way to a knighthood, she was truly an accomplished fighter, set on inheriting her father’s throne.  But as a woman, she had a lot to prove to her family that she was a worthy competitor, smarter and stronger than all of her brothers.

When we arrived at Jack’s house, characters were prepped, and we were presented with two envelopes, sealed with wax: Campaign A and Campaign B.  We debated which to pick, and settled on Campaign B.

D&D

Inside, we found our starting point: a small town, with a shopkeeper who needed some help.  We spent a little while in the town, figuring out the dynamics of our group, and trying our characters on for size.  Then, we left in the direction of the mountains to begin our quest.

The journey was not an easy one, filled with much peril.  Sometimes our morals were tested: in one town we passed through, we freed a man from being hung from the gallows.  Once free, he summoned a powerful Hell Hound, and thanked us with a mad glint in his eye as his beast tore through the citizens of the town.  Far too weak to tackle the monster, we left with a guilty conscience, and blood on our hands…

Of course, much laughter was had too.  Whilst camping in the woods, our rogue, who nobody considered particularly strong, rolled a natural 20 whilst carrying a deer he had just slayed back into camp.  It resulted in him throwing the deer towards the fire with a surge of adrenaline, the deer being skinned and diced by passing tree branches, before it landed perfectly on the fire, ready for dinner – truly a moment of DM magic!

D&D

Eilaga was fun to play as, and I scored the most Inspiration points in the group by staying true to my character.  For example, she was infuriated by anyone who belittled Dwarvian culture, often leading to her being held back by other characters when overhearing locals in a tavern, or ushered out of the bar once she’d had a few drinks!

I loved seeing my friends transform into their characters, and had such an amazing time playing.  Roll on the next session!


Have you ever played D&D, or a similar role-playing game before?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

December 28, 2017
/

A Bookish Christmas Haul

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas yesterday.  We’re not quite ready to return to normality yet in my house, and are still enjoying PJs, board games, family time and feasts.  It’s been nice to really unwind from work, giving me some time to enjoy some of the new books I was kindly gifted for Christmas:

Body Positive Power

Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe

I find Megan hugely inspirational – her Instagram is a happy place of confidence and colour, and I can’t wait to see what she has to say in her book all about body confidence.

Username: Evie

Username: Evie by Joe Sugg

I read this graphic novel a while ago, and I’m thrilled to finally own a copy!  I actually reviewed this book last year if you want to see my thoughts on it (spoiler: I rated it 5/5).

100 Nights of Hero

One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

This is the chunkiest graphic novel on my shelf to date!  I adore Isabel Greenberg’s work, and this is an excellent follow-up to the brilliant The Encyclopedia of Early Earth – really quite a unique piece of art.  You can view her many, many amazing projects on her website: http://www.isabelnecessary.com


Which new books did you get for Christmas?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

December 26, 2017
/

What I Got For Bookmas

Bookmas

My main group of friends meet every Christmas to exchange presents, a tradition we’ve kept going for as long as I can remember.  Some years, these gift giving celebrations have been elaborate, with takeaways, bags and bags filled with gifts, and snack-filled three day sleepovers.

This year we managed to find two days together, wedged in between work shifts and family commitments.  Since we are all bookworms, we thought it might be fun to try a Secret Santa Bookmas, where we would draw someone’s name at random and buy them a book/books up to the value of £10.

Unwrapping our presents was really fun!  It was great to see what everyone had chosen to buy, and the eclectic mix of books really showed how different our tastes were.

Here’s what I received:

A London Year: 365 Days of City Life in Diaries, Journals and Letters

This book looks absolutely fascinating!  It contains diary entries from as far back as the Tudor period, hundreds of years of London life.

The Keeper of Lost Things

I think I’ve loved almost every book my friend has ever recommended to me, so I’m really excited about this one.  From what I’ve seen on Goodreads, it looks like a contemporary fantasy similar to The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, a quirky story that really resonated with me.  I can’t wait to read it.

Of Witchcraft and Whimsy

This is a really sweet little non-fiction book about modern day witchcraft for beginners.  It is a topic that has a special meaning between my friend and I, so it was a really thoughtful gift.


I hope you’re all having a wonderful Christmas, and I’ll see you in the New Year!

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

December 25, 2017
/

Oceanos: A Review

Oceanos

I haven’t had much time for board games recently, so when I attended the board game cafe the other day, I wanted something light and quick to learn.  Skimming the shelves, Oceanos caught my eye as being a good balance between family and strategy game.

The card-drafting game sees players man a submarine, placing cards down to upgrade their vessel and ultimately score the most points at the end of three rounds.

Oceanos

There are extra features to keep an eye on too.  A Kraken lurks in the waters, stirred by players who place the most Kraken eyes – awakening the Kraken can lose you points, but sometimes it is a risk worth taking for an extra piece of coral, or an upgrade.

Oceanos

I was actually quite good at this game, which made a nice change (ha).  It took no time at all to learn (though I’ll admit to a good ten minutes of umming and ahhing over the rulebook), and I would definitely recommend it as a good family game for Christmas, as the illustrations and rules are pretty child-friendly, and it isn’t too competitive.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

December 22, 2017
/