Saturday, 24 January 2015

Drakul's Mirror Necklace by Alchemy Gothic

Firstly, I would like to apologise for the lateness of this post (as always!). I have been busy settling into my new university, working on my various assignments, and learning to drive. I seem to go through phases of having very little to do, and then having times where I have almost no spare time. I really ought to learn to plan my time so this doesn't happen, but I seem to be completely incapable of being remotely organised.

I purchased Alchemy Gothic's Drakul's Mirror necklace a few months ago. I recently dyed my hair red, and I have since been leaning towards red jewellery a lot more than I was previously when my hair was black. I had been lusting over Drakul's Mirror for quite some time, and I was torn between this one and the Marie Antoinette necklace. In the end I went for Drakul's Mirror because I feel that it is a little more intriguing aesthetically. I purchased this necklace from The Gothic Shop.

The Drakul's Mirror necklace features an ornate and detailed mirror framed by the wings of a bat. Two droplet red gems hang from a double chain suspended either side of the bat. The bottom of the necklace features another red gem set above another smaller bat. I also think the bottom of the necklace resembles a wolf from certain angles, which is a wonderful touch, and very appropriate when considering the necklace in comparison to Bram Stoker's Dracula.

It's very elegant, and feels incredibly sturdy. I adore the engravings on the mirror. It's an intriguing and beautiful piece. It is also not as large as some of my other Alchemy Gothic pieces, so it feels a little more understated. I can wear this to university without feeling too overdressed.

My only complaint with this necklace is that the chain is far too long for me. I adapt most chains anyway, but I have to hang the necklace just above one of the red gems to ensure that it fits properly on me. I would prefer a shorter chain. I have also found that other people have quite a peculiar habit of looking at themselves in the mirror. I have worn this to university several times and whenever I am on the bus I catch people looking into it. It is really odd! Although it is certainly an eye-catching and unique piece, so I can see why some people are curious!

Overall, this is a beautiful necklace, and it is incredibly unique. It's a pity that the chain is so long, but it is only a minor complaint. It's a wonderful piece, and complements red hair perfectly.

I ordered this quite some time ago, but I think it cost around £23.50, so whilst it is still quite pricey, it is somewhat cheaper than other Alchemy Gothic pieces. I purchased mine from The Gothic Shop, but it doesn't appear to be in stock, so I will update the link on this post when it is available again. It is available on several other websites, such as Glitter Goth.

Disclosure: I bought this necklace myself.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was a book that I heard a lot about before purchasing. I had read numerous blog reviews and features, and it had been personally recommended to me by several people. I had very high expectations, and I thoroughly looked forward to beginning it.

From the outset, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children appeared to be exactly my kind of book. The novel promises creepy vintage photographs and a fantasy plot. I am always fascinated by unusual reads; and this was an attractive concept.

Jacob has been raised listening to the outwardly far-fetched and imaginative tales of his Grandfather. After the mysterious and disturbing death of his Grandfather, Jacob travels to a quiet, remote island off the coast of Wales in an attempt to find answers regarding his Grandfather’s mysterious life and his disconcerting death. It is here that he finds the seemingly abandoned ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

The beginning of the novel is incredibly promising. The photographs are disturbing yet entrancing, and I found the prologue immensely intriguing. The plot was engaging and I found myself flicking through it in anticipation of the next photograph. This book is superb aesthetically; it was almost worth purchasing for the photos alone. They complimented the eerie atmosphere beautifully.

Unfortunately, despite the photographs, which are the most interesting aspect of the novel, I found Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to be somewhat of a disappointment. The plot grew considerably weaker by the second half of the novel, and I found my interest dwindling. When compared with the beginning of the novel, the second half is remarkably dull. The pace slowed down and I found myself tempted to put the book down in favour of another read. To put it simply, the book does not have a strong enough plot to match up to the photographs. During my GCSEs we used to play a game that consisted of one person writing down a list of twenty words, which you then had to slot within a short creative writing extract. I felt that Riggs was almost doing the same exercise but with photographs replacing words. The photographs should have enriched the plot and the atmosphere of the novel, I do not feel that they should have directed the narrative in a way that at times felt rather forced. I feel that the concept of the novel was excellent, but the plot was underdeveloped, and lacked distinct direction. The phrase 'style over substance' springs to my mind. Likewise, I did not feel sympathetic towards Jacob, and consequently I did not feel particularly attached to him. He was not overly likeable as a hero, and I did not find him believable as a sixteen year old boy. I do not have a problem with disagreeable narrators, but I do think that the narrator ought to be intriguing enough to keep me reading. Jacob was not. He was not relatable, and I certainly did not find him likeable. Overall I simply felt that the premise of the novel was excellent, but it was executed extremely poorly. It's a pity as it is such a beautiful book.

 I desperately wanted to like this. The premise was incredibly promising, and I'm very disappointed that it did not fulfil my expectations. I had read a number of outstanding reviews on this book before purchasing, and even though I am naturally a terrible sceptic, I wanted to believe them. I even read it second time in an attempt to coerce myself into liking this book just a little more. I do think that perhaps it would have been a lot more successful as a standalone novel. I have not yet read Hollow City, and I am still undecided as to whether I ought to read it. If anybody has read Hollow City after finding Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children disappointing, I would love to know if you think it is worth reading.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Green Haematite & Tibetan Silver-Tone Stretch Bracelet from The Black Cat Jewellery Store

I hope you are all having a wonderful January. January is actually my least favourite month. For me it is always fraught with deadlines and assignments, and I am usually sad that the festive period is over. I thought I would take a short break from essay writing today and review one of my latest purchases from The Black Cat Jewellery Store. Some of you may recall that I reviewed their Haematite & Tibetan Silver Stretch Bracelet last year. I've worn my silver bracelet almost every day since I bought it, and I thought it would be nice to invest in another one. Since I starting dyeing my hair red I have found that I have a particular love for green jewellery, and thought it would be appropriate to own a bracelet to go with my green necklaces. I chose the Green Haematite & Tibetan Silver-Tone Stretch Bracelet. I cannot wear normal sized bracelets due to my incredibly small wrists, so Anna very kindly made me one to fit. I apologise for the photographs, I am aware that you can see my reflection!

The bracelet features green haematite beads combined with beautiful silver-toned beads, and a dangling leaf charm. I found it incredibly difficult to capture the tone of the haematite beads. The colour shifts constantly depending on the light. The beads flash from green to yellow and sometimes even to blue. They are a strikingly beautiful colour and it is such a shame that I couldn't quite capture it! It is incredibly eye-catching. The haematite beads almost having a glowing quality, they reflect the light beautifully. The leaf charm matches the bracelet perfectly; it reminds me of the L√≥rien brooches from The Lord of the Rings.

The bracelet feels incredibly sturdy, and is very well made. The leaf charm is integrated into the bracelet beautifully, and the green of the haematite complements the silver beads perfectly. I imagine that these bracelets would be very hard to break!

Overall, this is a beautiful bracelet, and I do not have any complaints. My mum has already been hinting that she would like one of these for her birthday (which isn't until May!) so I will probably end up ordering another one! It complements my green necklaces wonderfully, and I adore the way it catches the light. It is a truly unique bracelet, and perfect for spring. 

This bracelet costs £16.50 and can be purchased from The Black Cat Jewellery Store.

Have you purchased any jewellery recently?

Disclosure: I bought this bracelet myself.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Book Review: The Passage by Justin Cronin

I hope you are all having an enjoyable beginning to the new year. I cannot believe that it is 2015 already! I thought I would begin the new year with a book review. I seldom post book reviews, which is really quite odd considering I have a degree in literature, and so I recently decided that one of my aims for the new year would be to post book reviews regularly. I am beginning with The Passage by Justin Cronin. My uncle thrust his copy of this book into my hands last year and informed me that I absolutely had to read it. Unfortunately I was in my third year of my degree at the time, and so I did not get around to reading it until a few months ago. I don't want to give too much of the plot away in this review so I apologise if this post seems rather vague!

Firstly, I would like to apologise for the state of my book in this post. I borrowed it from my uncle, and I was reading it in the lounge a few weeks ago. I had been expecting a phone call, so when I heard the phone ring, I jumped up to answer it and abandoned the book, which I left on the sofa. This would usually be a sensible thing to do, but I forgot completely that I now have a puppy who is not only capable of jumping onto furniture (even though she is not allowed), and who loves to chew absolutely anything. Of course, she went straight for my book, which I had borrowed. I was mortified, as I pride myself on keeping my books in pristine condition. As one of my friends pointed out, if a human had mutilated one of my books they would be thrown out of my house in an instant and I would most likely never forgive them. Needless to say, my books now do not leave my room unless they are being watched at all times. I purchased a new edition to return to my uncle (I would never return a damaged book, as I would furious if someone returned one of my own books damaged to me) and I will most likely buy a new edition for me.

The Passage presents an intriguing blend of vampire and post apocalyptic fiction. I was sceptical when my uncle first placed this book into my hands, as it did not sound particularly enjoyable. I have not read anything recently published that could be considered part of the vampire genre. Secondly, I also seldom enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction.

However, I was engrossed by the very first page. I think I can most likely count the books that have intrigued me so early on in their plot on one hand. I do not think it is difficult to see why, as the novel begins thus, 'Before she became the Girl from Nowhere - the One Who Walked In, the First and Last Only, who lived a thousand years - she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy. Amy Harper Bellafonte.' Amy is not your usual heroine. She is a child, who has been thrust into unfavourable circumstances seemingly by chance, and after being abandoned by her mother who fell into prostitution, finds herself caught in a dubious government experiment at only six years old. In The Passage she really speaks, or interacts, and she is not as dynamic as some of the other characters, perhaps, but she is nevertheless intriguing.

The first section of The Passage details government controlled experiments on inmates of death-row in a bid to achieve a refined race. These experiments grant the infected what it is usually quite typical of the vampire genre: immortality, photophobia and a thirst for human flesh. The term 'vampire' is discarded in favour of 'virals.' I was engrossed by the very first chapter. The subsequent part of the novel, which is set in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world after the cataclysmic release of the virals and their subsequence contamination of the world, is so starkly different both in pace and setting, that it is difficult to believe that you are still reading the same novel.  After thoroughly enjoying the first half of the book, I did find the transition into the post-apocalyptic second half of the book a little difficult. I struggled with the sudden change in pace, which was much faster in the previous section, and I did not find the characters as engaging as the others featured in the first section of the novel. However, I have now finished the sequel to The Passage, titled The Twelve, and my original disinterest in the post-apocalyptic world presented in the second half of The Passage has vanished entirely. I actually think that it is testament to the outstanding first half the novel that I found it difficult to separate myself from the plot of the original characters. It felt very much like I was beginning a new book after being fully engrossed by an excellent previous novel.

I will admit that I have been deterred from the vampire genre recently due to the influx of very similar and rather mundane releases, but The Passage ended up being the first book of the vampire genre that I have actually enjoyed in quite some time. The characters are dynamic and intriguing; I did not find myself attempting to rush through chapters to return to a character I preferred. Good and evil are not as distinguished as other works of fiction. I did not expect to sympathise with Anthony Carter, for instance, imprisoned in death-row, but I did. Characters are given a history and are fleshed out remarkably well. Likewise, the concept and the plot were compelling, so much so that I ordered The Twelve within the hour that I completed The Passage.

I would absolutely go as far as to state that The Passage was my favourite book that I have read in 2014, and I am looking forward to the release of City of Mirrors, which is apparently going to be released in late 2015.

Have you read anything interesting recently?
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