Raiin Monkey

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Monday, 25 May 2020

I Didn't Complete the Readathon and That's Okay

Hi everyone! I hope you've all had an excellent bank holiday weekend :) It's just been the same old weekend as always for me, but I know many of you are very glad to have a break from work. I'd love to hear all about how you spent your bank holiday (despite lockdown making our days pretty uneventful, or mine at least!). 

So as you guys can tell from the title, today I'm writing a follow up to the last few bookish posts I shared on my blog. They were all about a readathon I was taking part in, and well... I didn't end up completing it! Oops :D But instead of beating myself up about it, I thought I'd share my thoughts about how I am looking at this positively. Enjoy reading! 

In case you haven't read my previous posts about the reading challenge, let me tell you all about it. It's a readathon that you can join in all year round, so if you're feeling inspired or looking for something to keep you busy during the current quarantine situation (don't listen to the government, you should still be staying indoors, if you can help it!), then definitely do the EstellosaurusReads 3 week, 4 book readathon! The reading challenge was set up by my amazing friend Estelle, over on her booktube, aka. book-themed YouTube channel. Go give EstellosaurusReads a follow! The rules of the challenge, as the name suggests, involve reading four books over a three week period, one from each of the following categories: a historical fiction, a non-fiction, a re-read & a book about the apocalypse (which is very fitting right now!). If you have read a book from one of these categories before and decide to give it another read, then you could tick off both for example, the non-fiction and the re-read books together, if that makes sense :) I however wanted to challenge myself to read more, because I was so behind on the Good Reads challenge I set myself for 2020!

A photo showing a shelf of books, with an owl plush, a funko pop of Gimli and a Lego fairy

So, what happened? 

Like with most of these kinds of things I decide to partake in, I always begin really determined and motivated. I get off to a great start and am very hyped about the challenge, but then eventually, life gets in the way and my enthusiasm ends up dwindling. It doesn't matter how much I love whatever I am trying to do, it's a struggle for me to keep it up. And this is most attributed to the fact that I live with several chronic illnesses, which mean my daily experience changes and whereas one day I can feel energised and ready to throw all my attention at something, the next day I can wake up feeling dejected, riddled with pain and it's a struggle to pull myself through the day. Who can relate? When it comes to my love for reading, don't get me wrong, it is a passion of mine; I love books! I adore getting lost between the pages, and many a difficult day throughout my life has been spent ignoring the outside world and getting drawn into a captivating story. Unfortunately, sometimes this just isn't possible. I just can't muster the mental strength it takes to pick up a book I'm supposed to be reading, and even if I do manage it, my concentration will often be almost non-existent and the intrusive thoughts I suffer from can mean that I can't detach myself from the negativity, and therefore I cannot get engrossed in the words on the page. 

Right now, so many of us are feeling crappy. And to be honest, I didn't expect to feel the way I do, considering I'm introverted and I have social anxiety, so staying at home is usually my happy place. Even when I'm looking forward to something, it's a challenge for me to fight the urge to cancel plans last-minute. But, I have started to feel trapped. I guess that it's different when you are forced to stay home VS getting to make that decision yourself (even if it can feel like your anxious wreck of a brain is usually the one making the decisions for you). It's tough enough being drained of energy due to my chronic illnesses, but then there's all this piled on top of that. Basically, it's tough af to get things done at the moment, and I'm sure lots of you will be in the same boat! 

Thus, I have been really up and down with my reading, and this all began practically as soon as I started the readathon. I re-read a favourite children's classic of mine, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. You can check my review here, if you're interested. Everything was going well. Then I started the non-fiction, and had opted for a topic that I don't usually read because I wanted to really challenge myself and learn something new in the process, however in hindsight, I shouldn't have done that whilst taking part in a challenge because I know my ways! I really couldn't get into it, and although there were some interesting parts, I was finding that I didn't want to pick up the book and it became a chore. 

A photo showing a selection of novels: a little princess, the handmaid's tale, jane eyre, alias grace, vox

I started to get irritated at myself and this didn't help either. I was irritated that I wasn't compelled to finish the book, and then the annoyance was making it even more difficult for me to do it. Living with mental illness really is like walking around with a storm cloud hoovering above your head sometimes! I found that I would get negative feelings about myself every time I thought about the book. By the time I finally convinced myself that I wasn't giving up and could come back to the non-fiction book, I didn't have much time left... 

I started reading Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, for the historical fiction category, and I loved it! It was exactly what I wanted to be reading. It consumed my mind in the way that you want a book to, or I do anyway! I want to be thinking about the book after I put it down, find myself throughout the day puzzling over questions and theories I have developed, and struggle to put the book down to get boring adulting stuff done. But this novel is a good size and so it got to the end of my three weeks and I hadn't completed the challenge. With this came more negative thoughts, and that ruined my reading experience for a while. Oh, the joys of an overcritical mind! 

Last week, after giving myself a much needed rest, I picked up the book where I'd left off and all was great again! I've finished it now, and I very much enjoyed it :) Although I have my opinions, both positive and not, but this isn't a review post, haha. Since then, I have felt very motivated to read. I am almost finished with another book, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, and oh my gosh, I'm obsessed!! Next, I will be FINALLY be reading Christina Dalcher's Vox :D So, in my opinion, the challenge has had a positive outcome. And even though I didn't complete it, as a result of taking part, I have been able to make additions to my Good Reads challenge and have had new stories brought into my life. Now, I don't want to stop reading! I am even now looking over at The Neverending Story with hungry eyes :D 

A photo showing a shelf filled with books, and also two figures, a fairy and Gimli from Lord of the Rings, and an owl plush toy

Something that I really like about Estelle's readathon is that I can have another go at any time! And so, I am planning on trying again later in the year, maybe when things are much improved with regards to the pandemic, or when I've gotten used to things! With the way the people in charge of running my country are going, I feel like it's only going to get worse, but let's not get into that... And this time around, I'm going to stick to a non-fiction topic that I know I will enjoy, like nature or psychology. I might try to go back to the book that initiated a case of readers-block in me at some point, now that there's no time constraint looming in the back of my mind. Even if I only read a page a day! It's not THAT boring, but I have discovered that a close look into the ins and outs of life as a barrister in the UK is not my thing. Although, at least I've added to my bank of random knowledge to pull out during a pub quiz! You never know when you might require a snippet of seemingly unimportant knowledge. haha. 

Anyhow, all in all, I enjoyed that the challenge lead me to read A Little Princess again, since I'd not read it for close to eight years and it was interesting to look at the book after having gone though some more life experience. It's always fascinating to see how you'll interpret a text in a future read, and discover how much your tastes or thoughts around a particular subject may have changed over time. It was a lovely nostalgic read and it got my imagination cogs turning, so to speak, which is always fun! As I said, I have been reading more over the last two weeks and that is also thanks to the readathon. So even if you don't complete a task that you start, especially if it's a challenge, then all was not in vain. You can still get something out an experience that you tried, even if that's just knowing what not to do again :)

I'll stop typing away now because Bastian, Atreyu and the Childlike Empress are calling me, and I have a mighty need to get lost in their adventure once more! This was a very wordy, chatty, whatever you'd call it type of post but I hope that it was still an interesting read, nonetheless. I hope that if you take anything away from it, that it's a reminder to not put yourself down for trying. It can take a lot to have a go at something, and we all have things going on in our lives that can interrupt our plans, but that's okay (albeit frustrating). Be kind of yourselves!

Thankyou for reading!

Have you been reading lately? 
Got any recommendations (or suggestions of books to avoid)? 

I'm also interested to know whether you just enjoy reading posts like this? 


Monday, 18 May 2020

Fox Leap! Haul & Review

Hey lovelies! I hope you are all well, and that you're looking after yourselves during these stressful times I wanted to bring a little brightness into your day, especially since its been so overcast today... (well, it has been pouring it down in the North West of England anyhow), by showing you guys some of the most gorgeous pins ever!! So if you are a fellow collector of pin badges or just enjoy all things pretty, then you're going to love this post :) 

I have had my eye on a fantastic online store called Fox Leap! for quite some time, after first having it brought to my attention by my awesome blogger friend Natalee from over at There Might Be Coffee. Ever since, I have absolutely adored Fox Leap's artwork and it makes me smile whenever some of it pops up on my feed over on Instagram. Sophie, the artist behind Fox Leap!, creates the loveliest art; her style is so adorable and unique *all the heart eye emojis*. All of her fanart and original characters have these big eyes that make your heart melt, at least that's the affect they have on me! 

A photo of a purple and white striped paper bag with a logo sticker on featuring a fox for the shop Fox Leap

I noticed back in April that Fox Leap! was having a sale and so I jumped at the chance to finally get myself one of Sophie's beautiful pins. I wanted the Kovu and Kiara pin, since The Lion King 2 is my all-time favourite Disney movie & I barely ever see any merch of the characters, but it was unfortunately sold out. I instead opted for my second favourite Fox Leap! pin :) 

So, which character did I choose? 

A photo of an enamel pin by FoxLeap! featuring Scar from Disneys Lion King

Scar, of course!! This devious, sarcastic lion is my No.1 Disney villain; he has been since I was around 5 years old. I think he's hilarious and even though I should 'hate' him, I just can't! Who else loves Scar?

This 'Be Prepared' pin design is just so stunning! LOOK AT IT!! I really love that Sophie chose to design the pin after this scene because I am such a big fan of the song! Each time I see my new pin, I instantly want to start singing :D Jeremy Irons' version is obviously marvellous, but I always think about the performance from the Broadway musical, which was the first ever musical theatre show I went to, back in 2013 with my mom, so of course, it's a memory I hold very dear to my heart. The fact that this pin makes me reminisce about the musical will mean that it will forever remain one of the most beloved pins in my entire collection! 

Here's what the pin looks like when tilted in the light (if that makes sense!)... 

Super bright & eye-catching!! I am in love with the colour scheme :) Black and green are my favourite colours so it's hard for me not to adore this pin based on the colouration alone. But there are so many more things I love about Fox Leap's Scar pin! 

I have mentioned many times before on my blog that pins with gold outlines aren't really my cup of tea, even though I'll admit that lots of pins do look lovely being gold-plated and so I have several like this in my ever-growing collection, however, in general, I'd prefer a pin with another coloured outline/plating. And so as you can imagine, the fact that this Be Prepared pin is backed in black is one of the details that drew me to it. It really love the outline colour, and how it can be subtle yet still shine just as nicely in the sunlight as any gold-plated pin can! 

Another feature of this pin that I love is the shape... I think it just has a very unique structure to it and your eyes are instantly drawn to the yellow and green smoke, and then to Scar's big eyes. They are super cute! Who can resist a chibified version of a baddie, though!? His little smirk is so endearing, too. Oh my gosh, I can't express how delighted I am with the entire design of this pin! Sophie has really captured the unique look of Scar's mane, which is another thing I love! And those swirls/wisps of smoke look super cool, don't you think? 

It's so awesome how the colours change depending on the angle and lighting. I can't wait to wear this pin out and about (eventually!) and show it off! 

You may have noticed the little sneak preview of another pin in the photo above ;) And that's what I'm going to talk about next. Sophie was amazingly kind and gifted me the loveliest pin, and I have been super excited about showing it to you guys!! 

A photo of beautiful blue fox enamel pin with flowers and leaves, by FoxLeap!

Ta-da!! HOW STUNNING IS THIS PIN!!? Just look how intricate and detailed the design is. I was so wowed when I opened my package and found this little cutie inside!! I can't get over how beautiful it is. THANKYOU so very much, Sophie, for sending me your Silver Fox* pin!! ^.^

If you guys didn't already know, a silver fox is a colour variation of the Red Fox, where instead of having bright red/orange fur, the fox looks black or very dark grey. If you've been following my blog for a while now, you'll probably know that foxes are one of my most loved animal species, and so I was over the moon to receive a fox pin!! Fox Leap!, as the name would suggest, has created several gorgeous foxy pins, so definitely go check them out if you are a fox lover like me! Talking of foxes, how brilliant is Fox Leap's logo!!? It makes me super happy... especially because of its huge, floofy tail! I can just imagine a real Red fox sleeping in a meadow full of summer flowers when I look at the logo! 

A photo of a enamel pin by FoxLeap! of a blue fox with flowers and leaves surrouding it. it has a glittery tail and paws.

So, what is it about this pin that I adore? 

Where do I start? haha :D I love the boldness of the colours, they are striking! There's also so much to look at, from the detailed facial markings, to the pointy pink ears, to the leaves in the background, the flowers & the glittery tail and paws. You can definitely see how much attention to detail has gone into the design of this enamel pin! 

I'm not sure if this makes much sense to anyone other than myself, but the Silver Fox pin really reminds me of a mountain! Let me explain... the tail makes me visualise a snow-capped mountain, and the surrounding blue makes me think of photographs I've seen of Japan's Mt. Fuji against the backdrop of a cool evening skyline. The blossoms represent sakura/cherry blossoms for me, and the leaves could be the forests surrounding the mountain. This pin makes my imagination run wild and that makes me love it even more! 

Despite the pin having a gold outline/plating, I actually don't mind it because I feel like it really helps to make the colours stand out more. They are vibrant and wouldn't look as pretty on a black or silver plated enamel, in my opinion. The gold has a lovely warm shine to it, and could totally be the sunset for my mountain! :D Oh, and another element of the design I love are the fox's green eyes, because it's almost like they are reflecting the leaves. So pretty!

A photo of two beautiful enamel pins by FoxLeap, one is Lion Kings Scar and the other is a blue fox

Anyhow, those are the two new pin badges I got from the fabulous Fox Leap! I am very impressed with the design and overall quality of them, and I loved how nicely packaged they were. The backing-cards were lovely, and I don't know why but I just think it's wonderful when I receive items in paper bags. I guess it subconscious;y reminds me of getting pick'n'mix sweets or something! Is anyone else a sucker for paper bags, or am I just weird? :D

Before I finish up today's post, I just wanted to let you all know more information about the pricing of my new pins. As I said earlier, I got the Be Prepared/Scar one on sale, during which it was only £6.40. It's usually £8, which is a great price for such a brilliant pin, although I love a good bargain, haha! All of Sophie's pins are £8, but you can get yourself a foxy pin from her website for only £6.40 at the moment. The P&P for me in the UK was £1.50, so altogether I paid £7.90, which I was very pleased with. The package arrived pretty quick as well, considering all of the corona-related delays going on. 

I'd love to know which of the pins is your favourite and why, guys! I hope you all enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing about these gorgeous products! I will certainly be shopping from Fox Leap! again in the future. They even have a monthly pin club on Patreon, where, for just approximately £9 a month ($15 for international backers) you can get a pin, a vinyl sticker and a mini print, and I'm so tempted to sign up! A big thanks to Sophie for kindly gifting me the fox pin... I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! I hope you have a wonderful week, everyone! 

Thankyou for reading!


Have you been buying any new pins lately?

Do you have a favourite species of Fox, or Disney character, or both?
Let me know in the comments!

Keep up to date with my boring quarantine life over on social media:


Wednesday, 15 April 2020

EstellosaurusReads Readathon: Week 1 Update

Happy Wednesday, guys! How's your life in lockdown going? Lately, my time has been filled up by reading & photography. I've been spending most of my days in the garden :) I have always been very grateful for the fact that I have a garden, as it is a big help when it comes to my mental health, but especially now, it has taken my gratitude to a whole new level! If you don't have a garden yourself, please make sure to get outside for a little while, at least once a week, even if it's just to venture around the block. Fresh air & surrounding yourselves with nature is important for your well-being, and it's nice to appreciate the seasonal changes that have sprung around us all now that it's Springtime. Anyhow... let me shut up my inner nature nerd and get on topic :D 

Today, I'm going to be talking about my progress now that I'm one week into the EstellosaurusReads 3 week, 4 book Readathon. If you haven't read my previous post, check it out now for all the important info :) And then you can join in, too! Now's the perfect time to throw yourself into reading and get transported to a world where Covid-19 is not wreaking havoc! 

So far, I have checked off the re-read category, by finishing A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I'm going to be sharing a little review for that in this post :) This story was a childhood favourite of mine, and I have the 1995 movie to thank for that. I didn't actually read the book until I was a teenager, and before this past week, I had only read it two times. It had been around 8 years since that second reading, and it's always interesting how our opinions and feelings surrounding stories can change over time. I still love it, don't worry! But it's fascinating how looking at the book with fresh eyes (if that even makes sense) and a few more years life experience has an impact, even if it's a small one. It did not take me long to complete this book, especially as the story gets going, as I am always pulled into it and it doesn't take long for my brain to start swirling with imagery. It's lovely to experience feelings of nostalgia when remembering things you were fond of as a child. I just didn't want to put the book down! 

I decided that next I was going to start the non-fiction category, as I felt like it would a good transitionary read between a children's book and the apocalyptic novel I'm planning on reading as my third book of the readathon. When it comes to non-fiction, I usually stick to the same subjects, the ones that most interest me, such a animal science, nature, psychology & true crime. But as I mentioned in my first post for the EstellosaurusReads challenge, I went with something different, and I'm interested to broaden my knowledge of the in's and out's of the UK's criminal justice system. I started Anonymous Author's The Secret Barrister on Monday, and so far, it's been a pretty good read. Up to where I am now, the author is going over the history of various sectors of the law, and how those have changed into what we now see in the modern day court setting. As a history lover, I have found myself pretty engrossed in these pages. However, I'll let you guys know more in my next update :) 

Okay, here's my attempt at a book review :D Apologies in advance if it's boring or I ramble! 

Firstly, I want to give this novel a rating of 5 stars! And thus, it's pretty obviously that this review is going to be a mostly positive one, but I will mention some parts that I wish were done differently and give my two-cents on the very few negative opinions I have. The blurb for A Little Princess is as follows: Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she'll never see her beloved father again, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and generosity are all the riches she truly needs? I love a good boarding school setting! I'm not sure why, possibly because of its historical element (I mean, there are of course modern day boarding schools, but the kind that pop up in fiction are typically from another time period or run in the same traditional way that they have always done. When it comes to Harry Potter, for example... although it is full of magic, the school itself is dated, and it's wonderful!). 

The protagonist, little Sara Crewe, is easy to like! With a whimsical and fanciful nature, it's impossible to not find her endearing. Her imagination runs away with her constantly and we are given the impression that she was basically a story-teller from the moment she could talk. She's awe-inspiring to all who meet her throughout the story, and it is not difficult to see why. She's caring, very understanding of human nature for such a young person, and her personality makes one wish that they had a friend like her, at least I do! I can very much relate to Sara in that I would get carried away with myself all the time as a kid when it came to story-telling. I would go off on a tangent as my imagination took over :D I just hope that others thought of me as those around the protagonist do, and didn't find me annoying, haha! 

We are now heading into spoiler territory! I won't go into too much detail, as I might ramble on all night given the chance, but I will tell you guys all about my favourite and least favourite moments of the novel. 

What I Liked About this Book

As mentioned above, Sara's character is one of the best features of the story, in my opinion :) The book is set in the Victorian era, and so we are met with various customs surrounding class and societal expectations. There was a strict class system during this period of history and people were treat a certain way depending on which part of society they belonged to. Sara and the other students of the boarding school were upper-class, and as such we see that they have been raised to uphold specific judgements towards people who are lower in social rank than them. Sara, however, who was raised in India around many people who all lead different walks of life, is a very compassionate little girl and does not look at the world through the prejudiced eyes that those around her do. She is nice to everyone, even those who are mean towards her, and this is a lovely quality to possess, especially because it so contrasts the status quo of the period. 

One of my favourite parts of A Little Princess is the relationship between Sara and the scullery maid, Becky. Becky has been accustomed to a life of hardship and has always been treat poorly because she is a servant. The children of the school copy the example of their teachers & the figures of authority in their lives and so they shun Becky/ ignore her due to the difference in their situations. Sara was lovely with Becky from the start. As she told her stories to her peers, she wanted to share the joy of make-believe with all who were interested in hearing it, and therefore encouraged Becky to listen, too, to the confusion of the other girls. She and Becky fast-formed a bond as teller and listener, and Sara would organise for her new-found friend to meet with her whilst she was carrying out her chores so that she could give her a new snippet of a tale each day. It was so sweet! Once Sara's situation changed and she & Becky were now living under the same circumstance, their friendship only grew and it was heart-warming to read :) 

There are so many other things that I could mention as another favourite! But I'll go for the way that Sara has such a positive outlook on life. Due to the power of such a strong imagination and her ability to see the best in everything, she is able to always look on the bright side of life, as the saying goes. So much so that the people around her can't help seeing things the way she does. Her happiness radiates and she is very persuasive. There is a scene in particular when she is able to imagine that she is hosting a fine tea party in her attic bedroom, and is able to describe the most enchanting scene that her friends become fully enthralled in the fantasy, too. It's beautiful! 

I can't focus on anymore of the good parts now because my post is getting very long! Thankyou to all of you who are made it this far; I hope that you are finding my review to be an interesting one at least! :D 

What I Disliked About this Book 

Now let's discuss the parts I don't like! In the story, extraordinary occurrences take place. A man living next door, after having observed Sara's wonderful personality and her unique ways, decides to surprise our protagonist by transforming her attic bedroom into a tiny replica of a one that is fit for a princess. Whilst she is asleep, her room is transformed and she wakes up, as is to be expected, with amazed surprise to the extremely kind gesture. This is all wonderful, however, we find out that the man has been watching her (that sounds creepy, haha!) and he takes pity on her living situation. As Sara shares the attic with Becky, and they spend time together often, it annoys me that the man doesn't show the same generosity towards her also. Eventually, after watching the reaction of Sara in response to the bedroom makeover and that Becky was immediately invited to join in the splendour by her, he then makes sure to leave behind enough food for the both of them the following morning. It just somewhat broke my heart that after observing the both of them, he only took it upon himself to treat Sara. Why though? His character is described in such a way that we are supposed to see him as a very kind and caring man, and although he clearly shows that with his gesture, I still see an underlying layer of classism. He can tell that because Sara is a well-spoken, educated person, that she clearly isn't the typical servant girl, and she is given this surprise largely because of that. Yes, she is also kind and sweet, but so is Becky... so why was she not considered? Let me know what you guys think about this... singling out?

Also in regards to the treatment of Becky, it really disappoints me at the end of the novel, when Sara's place in society is reinstated once she is 'found' and made aware of her fortune, that she is taken away from the life of a servant and is once more going to be raised as a high-society lady, that Becky, her ally and now very close friend, is removed from the school, too, yes, but she is to become one of Sara's servants essentially. I don't see why the kind man who takes Sara in couldn't also 'adopt' Becky as well; it's not as if Sara's fortune is meagre, she's really rich!! Both girls could live very comfortable lives via her inheritance and Becky could be educated, as well. This would have been a happy ending for all round! I know that we are made to see this ending as a happy one for Becky, but she's still a servant at the end of the day. I understand that the book was written in 1901 (I think) and this ending for Becky would have been seen as a very fortunate one by readers at the time, but ugh. It just irks me. In the 1995 movie adaptation, Becky becomes like a sister to Sara. I could write a whole post about the difference between the movie and the book though, so let me know if that's something you'd like to see, guys :) 

I will force myself to stop here! I hope you all enjoyed reading my review of Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess. Please tell me if you did so I can stop worrying, and share more in the future. I'm having a lot of fun taking part in the EstellosaurusReads readathon! Be sure to check out Estelle's blog & booktube channel

Thankyou for reading! Have a lovely rest of the week, everyone! 

Have you ever read A Little Princess before? What's your opinion?

What about the movie adaptation I've mentioned? 

Also, I'd love to hear what books you're all reading right now :) 


Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Naomi Lord Art Haul & Review

Hey everyone! I hope you're all had a lovely Tuesday, and that you still have lots of chocolate leftover from Easter, (or have taken advantage of the discounts!), to enjoy :) I am a firm believer that there's no such thing as too much chocolate, however I am currently living on a diet made up of almost entirely chocolate & I am scared I will get sick of it! :O That would be borderline illegal behaviour! I have some at the side of my laptop as write up this post, haha. Not many things make me happier than chocolate & nerdy merch... and if you, too, love the latter, then I'm sure this will be a fun read for you :) I hope you all enjoy reading &  checking out the fabulous artwork I have to show you guys today! 

If you follow me over on my Instagram, you may have already seen the items that I'm going to talk about today, and you might have even watched the videos I posted on my story showing them off, but I just had to blog about them as well, because it would be wrong not to... everything I received is so wonderful & needs to be shared with others!! I'm sure that most of you will have seen Naomi Lord's gorgeous artwork on various social media sites across the internet, and if you haven't, then I'm very happy to bring it to your attention :) 

A photo showing a business card for Naomi Lord art featuring a mythological cat creature with wings surrounded by books and witchy items

Naomi Lord is a UK based freelance artist, who creates both original characters and fanart. She is probably most well-known for her Harry Potter artwork, which is not surprisingly how I first discovered her. She is super kind and hosts a giveaway once a month over on her Instagram, giving one of her lucky followers a chance to win a custom portrait of themselves (or a friend) as a Hogwarts Student, in their house colours & with their very own Patronus! It is through these giveaways that her beautiful art came into my life, and I have been wanting to order from her ever since. I am delighted that I finally could! 

As well as Harry Potter themed work, Naomi also creates art surrounding a wide variety of other topics, including Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Disney, Studio Ghibli and more! She designs a lot of mythology based characters and her own interpretations of fantasy creatures, deities, witches and astrology symbols. So many of my favourite things have been brought to fabulous, colourful life by Naomi Lord, and I adore everything she illustrates! 

So, it's about time that I showed you guys my entire haul from Naomi Lord's Etsy store. 

A photo showing a haul from Naomi Lord Art, stickers and prints

Ta-da! Sorry, not sorry, for hitting you all in the eyeballs with cuteness overload! … That might be the cheesiest/weirdest line I've ever written, but I don't care because LOOK!! :D How adorable is every single thing that I purchased, and even the business card & little thankyou note is incredibly cute! It is always so sweet when artists include a note, and even more so when it is includes a hand-drawn doodle :) That cat is an exact representation of me when I opened my order! It's nice to know when artists and independent businesses appreciate your purchase.

Let's take a close look at each of the items I added to my basket, and I'll tell you guys what I think :)

A photo showing an array of stickers by artist Naomi Lord

I knew that I would be buying some stickers, specifically the San/Princess Mononoke one, which I've had on my wishlist for a while now, but the other two were chosen after a very stressful decision making period. All of Naomi Lord's work is beautiful and it was super tough to settle on just two more stickers, but I had a budget so I had to rein in my mighty need to get ALL THE STICKERS!! 

Since it's Springtime, the season of pretty flowers and sweet baby animals, I opted for this lovely flowery Eevee design. The flower crown is gorgeous, and makes me think of the apple blossom that grows in our garden. It's very difficult to say what my favourite feature of this sticker is, because I love the huge floofy neck, the big teardrop tail, the bunny-esque ears and the tiny toe beans, as well as the sprinkle of grass and the tiny heart detail. What's not to love about this Eevee? 

A photo of a sticker by artist Naomi Lord featuring the Pokemon Eevee wearing a flower crown

A photo featuring a sticker by artist Naomi Lord, Detective Pikachu holding a mug of coffee

Something that I adore about Naomi's characters is that they just look so cuddly! Detective Pikachu actually looks like a plushie and I just wish that I could give him a hug :) His big, friendly eyes are full of personality and make me 'awwww' each time I notice them. Pikachu's rosy cheeks and oWo expression is what made me settle on this sticker. It wasn't until I saw it in person that I really noticed just how stunning the sakura (cherry blossom) illustration in the background is, and how clear the steam rising from Detective Pikachu mug of coffee is. I love it!!

A photo of a sticker by artist Naomi Lord featuring the character Princess Mononoke

As I said, this item was one of the things that I knew I would be purchasing before I even started browsing through the wonders on offer. Princess Mononoke is my favourite Studio Ghibli movie, and San is one of, if not the main, most iconic character from it. Again, I cannot choose just one feature that I like best, because there are just so many intricate details. The trees and sky that make up the backdrop for one look spectacular. Each time I focus my attention on it, I can just imagine myself laying on the forest floor and looking up through the canopy. I really like the contrast of the green and blue against the colours of San's outfit and mask. Along with her bold outline, which is something that I absolutely love when it comes to Naomi's illustrations, this contrast really makes the character pop. I also find her solemn expression so cute, and it's just the best expression to use for San, in my opinion :) 

A photo of an art print of Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service by Naomi Lord

I couldn't resist picking up one of the 6x6 print's that Naomi Lord has available. All of her designs can be purchased in either a sticker form or a print, which I think it's really great! I struggled to pick between getting Princess Mononoke in print form or Kiki, the character that I eventually decided upon. Kiki is the protagonist from another movie by Studio Ghibli, Kiki's Delivery Service. It's one of my top five from this fabulous Japanese production company, and the reason why I ultimately went for Kiki as a print version is due to the expression on her face :D She looks incredibly excited and enthusiastic about whatever adventure she's going to be facing next, and her happiness is almost infectious, so I thought it would be wonderful to display this print up on the wall where I can see it & have it instantly put a smile on my face!

A lot of Naomi's art is coloured in more pastel shades, which is another thing that I love about it, however when it comes to this Kiki print, the colours chosen for her are much bolder and vibrant. Her red bow and shoes are especially eye-catching! Not gonna lie though, the main factor as to why I wanted this print might be because of Jiji (the cat).... I relate so much to his character & it's lovely to see him smiling, instead of looking gloomy or nervous, haha. 

A photo of a print featuring artwork by Naomi Lord of Professor Snape in a kawaii style

And finally, if you know me well, I'm sure that you would have been fully expecting to see Snape somewhere in this post, as soon as I mentioned Harry Potter. If you didn't know, he's my main man, my favourite character from the franchise, one of my all-time favourites when it comes to fantasy in general. I have no shame when it comes to my love for this character, and if you don't like him... you need to leave my blog immediately XD I'm kidding, but we can't be friends, maybe...

Guys, look how adorable this version of Snape is! It's brilliant to see the stoic, grumpy Professor we all know and love (or should do!) designed in a chibi style, and I am all for it! I need more cute Snape merch in my life! But for now, I am over the moon with this print from Naomi Lord. 

Artwork of Professor Snape from Harry Potter by Naomi Lord

I love that this kawaii interpretation of Severus is crossing/folding his arms and baring an unimpressed look on his face. I am very happy with all of the attention to detail when it comes to his outfit, too... the buttons along his sleeves, the high collar of his shirt, and the most importantly, the flowing cape! I am very impressed that the print features a 'softly simmering' cauldron :) It makes my little potterhead heart happy! And the addition of the potions are fantastic, too... and that tiny skull on one of them!! Cuteeee! 

Oh, and this is an 8x8 print and is the main reason I made my order in the first place. I am just a fangirl through and through XD I can't describe how much I love the way this illustration of Snape looks, and I cannot wait to get it a nice frame and be able to show it off. The only thing that would have made this print just that little bit more perfect would have been for it to have a more detailed backdrop. I do like that the background is pale as it ensures that the character stands out more, however it would be nice to see scenery like with the Kiki print & sticker artwork... maybe a mix of different shades of green to represent Slytherin? Nonetheless, I think this print is marvellous! 

a photo showing a snippet of an art print by Naomi Lord, featuring two potion bottles. One has a skull on the label.

Before I finish up this post all about my recent haul from Naomi Lord Art, I just wanted to share a little more information for those of you who want to get some of these wonderful products for yourselves or a loved one. The pricing of Naomi's art is superb, and is something I was super impressed by! The stickers cost me £1.30 each; the prints: £3.20 for the 6x6 & £5.20 for the 8x8. How amazing is that!? The shipping was £2.10 for me as I live in England, and my order arrived so fast. It was sent a sturdy envelope, with the cutest kitty doodle drawn on the back. I loved this little touch. Thankyou, Naomi! I can't recommend this store enough and I will certainly making more purchases in the future... I still have my eye on the Weasley family portrait & the artwork of the Egyptian Goddess, Bast :) 

I hope you all enjoyed reading my post, and be sure to check out Naomi's social media and Etsy because I guarantee that there's going to be something that catches your eye, too, so long as you appreciate all things kawaii. And who doesn't like cute versions of their favourites!? 

Thankyou for reading!

Which is your favourite of the items that I picked up from Naomi Lord? 

Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli, Harry Potter or Pokemon?
If so, I'll love to hear who your favourites of the franchise are? 

Did you know you can find me on tumblr? And Pinterest? Also over on Twitter

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

The EstellosaurusReads Readathon

Hi lovelies! I hope you're all having a marvellous start to the week :) Today, I have another bookish post to share with you all & as you can see from the title, it involves my fabulous friend & fellow blogger, Estelle. If you haven't read my last post where I answered Estelle's Book Tag, you can check it out here. As for today's post, I'm going to be talking about the EstellosaurusReads 3 Week, 4 Book Readathon. I'll be talking about what's involved, aka., the categories, and discussing the four books I have chosen. Enjoy!

As well as writing a blog, Estelle also runs two YouTube channels, one dedicated to spreading awareness about everyday life living with a disability, and the other is EstellosaurusReads, which as you have probably guessed, it's all about the wonderful world of reading! It is through this channel that Estelle has launched her new readathon challenge, that you can join in with at anytime. The only rules are that you follow the categories and you read your books within three weeks :) Click here to watch the original challenge video. 

So, what are the categories? Participants are asked to choose a book from each of the following genres: 1 Historical fiction, 1 Apocolypse themed book, 1 non-fiction, and 1 re-read of any kind. There's also the option to limit the amount of books to have to read to three, if the re-read chosen also fits into another of the aforementioned categories. 

A photo showing four books: the road, a little princess, alias grace, the secret barrister

It was perfect timing that Estelle announced her readathon just before I was planning to do a book haul on eBay! I had been wanting to get some new books for a while, and this lockdown/quarantine was the kick up the butt I needed to get the ball rolling :D The start of 2020 has been a rough one for me, even before this dreadful virus surfaced, and as a consequence, I just haven't had any motivation to do much of anything. I am seriously behind on my GoodReads challenge for the year! But it feels like a brilliant time to get lost in my happy place, which is between the pages of a good book, and not think about what's happening in the world as I stay indoors. If you're a fan of reading and you're looking for something to occupy these days cooped up at home, then you should join in, too :) 

Okay, so the books that I have chosen are as follows; 

For Historical Fiction, I decided on Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. If you haven't heard of this author before, she is the brains behind the original story that inspired the popular Hulu series, The Handmaid's Tale. This book is actually one of the best I've read and I'm a big fan of the show, so I'm very curious to see how her writing translates over to a historical tale. Alias Grace was adapted into a six-part series by Netflix back in 2017, and as I am a lover of all things period drama, I really enjoyed it. Let's see if I feel the same way about the story in its literary form! 

For the Apocolytic catergory, I originally chose The Passage by Justin Cronin, but the book that arrived is MASSIVE and I feel like it might be a struggle for me to read along with the other books :D However, I luckily ordered another novel of the same type and that is Cormac McCarthy's The Road. You may recognise the name from the movie adaptation released in 2009. I watched it as soon as it was released on DVD because Viggo Mortensen *all the heart eyes*, and thought it was a very compeling story. I am super excited to read the book! 

a photo showing four books: the road, a little princess, alias grace, the secret barrister

When it comes to the re-read, I have chosen one of my favourite stories of all-time,  A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is a classic children's novel by the same author who is behind the more well known, The Secret Garden. I fell in love with the tale I am going to re-read when I was around 7 years old and watched the 1995 movie on TV. The protagonist is called Sara, just like me and that made me even more drawn into the story, as well as the historical setting, as I have always been a history nerd. I didn't actually read the book until I was in my teens when I borrowed it from the local library, and in my 20's when I got my kindle, I downloaded the story and read it again, and loved it just as much. I'm very much looking forward to reading it for a third time, and I'm sure I'll read it again and again for years to come :)

Lastly, the fourth book that I will be reading as part of the EstellosaurusReads readathon, to check off the non-fiction category, is something that I wouldn't normally read, so it's going be very interesting. I am a seeker of knowledge, in general, and will read a lot of non-fiction books about topics that interest me, mostly animal science and nature related, but also psychology, history, medical science and enclyopaedia-esque books. Even though I was wanting to choose a book that was outside of my usual go-to topics, I honestly just went for this book as I was trying to pick things from the same second-hand seller :D But I'm hoping that The Secret Barrister is a fun read. We'll see! I do really like how the author is anoymous... i'm crossing my fingers for some intriguing reveals about what goes on behind the scenes in the law system. 

Well, those are the reasons for why I chose the four books I am going to be reading over the next three weeks. I'm going to start tomorrow, Wednesday 8th April and will need to be completed by the 29th. Wish me luck! I am planning to post updates, maybe including book reviews, even through I'm not sure I can write them very well, haha. 

A big thankyou to Estelle for setting up this readathon challenge, and giving us all something to distract ourselves from all the shit that's taking place around us at the moment. Be sure to head over to her blog to have a read; she posts lots about books, and also fashion, living with sacral agenesis, hauls, cats and more. She also the most colourful & awesome Instagram that you need to follow! Whether you are joining in with this readathon or not (which you totally should be), happy reading, my bookworm brethren :)

Thankyou for reading!

What are you reading at the moment?

Do you have any book recommendations from the categories mentioned in this post? 

Follow along with my readathon progress via my Instagram & Twitter 
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