It’s winter again and as the rain and cold rages outside, there is nothing better than getting cosy by an open fire, under a cosy blanket with a hot cocoa and most importantly, a good book! In this video, I count down my top 5 cosy winter reads…the books that epitomise winter for me. What books would be on your list? Check out my channel now and don’t forget to subscribe!
Christmas is nearing ever closer and magic is officially in the air. I am excited to tear into all the presents Santa brings me this year, and today I even came home to find I had received an early Christmas present in the form of December’s Books That Matter book box…proof that I am in fact, a very good girl! lol This months theme is ‘The Season of the Sisterhood’ and I am really excited to see what is inside. Best part is, I have a present for you guys too because you can get 10% off a box of your own using code MARIE10 now!
First up, this month’s book is TO DIE FOR. She Is Fierce is a poetry collection curated and edited by Ana Sampson containing 150 poems from diverse female writers. The cover is stunning and festive, it’s a hard back and its poetry…everything you need rolled in one gorgeous book.
Alongside this stunner, we have a tonne of bookish goodies including two Christmas cards by This Girl Is Mighty, perfect for the festive season, a stunning sew on patch by designed by Ana Jaks which longs to be on a denim jacket, an absolutely adorable wooden keyring from Bookishly which is already on my keys, a beautiful book mark featuring empowering quotes and last but definitely not least, a delicious Raw Halo milk chocolate, goji berry and vanilla artisan chocolate bar which I will enjoy whilst perusing this book.
This box is literally jam packed with stunning goodies and as always i am insanely impressed with this book subscription box. Not only does the company have a fantastic ethos, promoting female authors, artists and business women but it is the best value of any book box I have ever come across at only £16 (which reduces to only £14 if you get a subscription package of 3 months or more….Can anyone say bargain? Plus, you can get 10% off any subscription package or one off box using code MARIE10.
Don’t say I didn’t get you anything this year! Merry Christmas!! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!
For my latest YouTube video I created my very own booktuber tag, a series of questions as a challenge for other booktubers! But mine is, of course, a little different. I love Christmas and all the fun, family friendly festivities that come with it but I have a dark, horror loving soul that still needs a little creepiness even at the festive season so my book tag is a horror Christmas book tag! I would love if you guys could check it out and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel!
Merry Christmas especially to all the other spooky souls out there!!
Hello readers! I have already given you the Christmas gift guide for book lovers, but what about the spooky souls like me? The people who watch and read all things creepy and who have Halloween decorations around their home as regular decor all year round? Well, if you or your loved ones are obsessed with all things horror like myself then look no further for the ultimate Christmas gift guide. Whilst anyone can buy their loved ones a copy of the latest Stephen King novel, or a DVD of that horror film they talked about incessantly, this list details some badass, unique and truly special gifts for horror lovers out there that’s guaranteed to put a big, creepy smile on their faces…you’re welcome.
I love books, I love reading and I love Horror and luckily there are some awesome book
boxes available which tick all of those boxes and then some. Plus, with any kind of subscription based gift, you have the added bonus of it being the gift that keeps on giving for months after Christmas is long gone, the decorations have been stuffed inside boxes for another year and the sherry and prosecco high has worn off…Perfect!
First up, we have the UK based Abominable Book box. This box contains three reads, one of which will be that months featured book, the second will be a randomly chosen pre-loved horror book and the third one will vary from month to month. Along with these spooktacular reads, you will also receive yummy artisanal snacks to enjoy
your horror reads with. Perfectly packaged and great value for money, this box is a great gift idea for any horror book fans.
Next, we have the US based Night Worms. This fabulous book subscription service prides itself on truly appreciating and promoting horror. The lovely ladies who created the service are avid horror lovers and that is clear from each and every box they have put together so far. Every package contains badass horror reads, magazines, bookish merch and Nightworms exclusives to create the perfect horror experience. I love this company and even had the privilege of interviewing its creators, which you can read here. I am always blown away by these packages and very jealous of the peeps living state side who get their hands on one!
Us horror fans love to wear our creepy hearts on our sleeves and there are so many
awesome shops selling badass horror merchandise out there. Shops like Tee Public, a veritable buffet of horror tees for fans of every genre out there, alongside everything from stickers to mugs and notebooks, trust me when I say there is something for everyone and to suit every budget. Best of all, every purchase from the company supports an independent artist. This shirt design for example, is called ‘World of Horrors’ is by artist Mushabon who by the way has some
really rad designs available on the site.
A shop which I personally regularly drool over is the fabulous Pretty Cult. Every item on sale makes my gothic heart go pity pat, whether it is their ‘join the cult’ items of their gorgeous tarot card tanks, every item has a witchy vibe I adore. They even have a badass collaboration with the gorgeous ladies behind Little Ghouls at the moment, a dream team I might add. Check them out immediately and make your gothy heart sing. Go on…join the cult!
Lastly, EMP UK offers a huge selection of fandom based clothing and goodies, including items for the horror fans amongst us. With everything from American Horror Story to Friday the 13th, this site has your horror clothing covered in every shape, size and style. They also have everything from horror Funko Pops, jewellery, accessories to mugs, patches and wallets, so there is something here to suit every fandom and every budget too.
There is literally something out there for everyone so no excuses guys and gals, I want to see you wearing your love of horror out there for all to see!
Enamel Pin Badges
A more subtle way to display your love of horror is in the form of an enamel pin badge. Whether you wear them on a jacket or bag or have them on pin boards on your wall displayed as tiny, quirky works of art, everyone really appreciates a nice enamel pin and there are some incredible shops and designers out there to choose from, like the fabulous Lively Ghosts. This fabulous shop offers some truly wonderful and unique horror designs covering everything from Stephen King to Tim Burton. I have been drooling over their designs on Instagram for so long and one day I will own one…One day I WILL own one!!
Next up is the wonderful Two Ghouls Press. I own a couple of their fabulous patches and pin badges already but this is the kind of shop where enough is never enough, I must collect them all. Of particular note are their fabulous Ghoulish Gals pin collection, all of which would look amazing as a standalone piece or collected together. Their designs are truly unique and capture all that is fun about the horror genre.
Let’s face it, everyone uses their walls to display and show off their personality, hobbies and style. Whether it’s a battered band poster, a portrait of your dog dressed in Victorian clothing (That’s not weird right?) or your kids scribbles, art is important. This fact is no different for horror lovers. We love creating a creepy little space which looks like Dracula’s interior designer decorated it, full of pictures with eyes that follow you around the room and taxidermy. You can get some gorgeous horror posters and pieces inspired by horror
books and classics, but I wanted to concentrate on the artists which capture all of the wonderful, spooky vibes in their own unique and individual ways. Artists like Caitlin McCarthy who creates hauntingly beautiful images, or the fabulously talented artist Cat Mallard who creates enchanting, folksy images which are perfect for those who, like me, may be dark and gothic but are also a sweet soul at heart, like this adorable bat image.
Another fabulous artist is the incredible Mary Syring who epitomises Halloween, spooky vibes in every image. I particularly love her fantastic ouija board shaped like a ghostly bunny complete with a goat shaped planchette. I mean look at it, it is every horror lovers dream! All of these artists bring the spooky with their
gorgeous art and would look wonderful donning any wall. Finally I am obsessed with the wonderful Bwanadevil art who creates the most incredible colourful, retro horror art with old school vibes. I am utterly in love with their coffin framed pieces in particular and I have several saved in my own Etsy list as you read this post. Check out this incredible Vamperina picture for case and point.
As well as art, there are other ways to adorn your house with horror goodies. Mugs for example are one of my favourite gifts to give and receive and what better than a horror themed mug? Some of the previous shops mentioned above have mugs available, like Tee Public and EMP UK, but if you prefer something hand crafted and made with love, try Pottery by Danielle and her badass Stephen King themed mugs. (This pic was taken by @jobis on Instagram).
I recently discovered the fabulous 12 Months of October who creates stunning hand made wooden signs. They have Halloween and Christmas signs as well as signs perfect for any horror lovers home all year round. This fabulous Losers Club sign would look fantastic on a book shelf or
dresser for example.
I am an avid lover of nicknacks and ornaments and what’s better than a nicknack is a creepy, horror themed nicknack. That’s where Spook Show Babe comes in. She hand crafts the most amazing little creatures and monsters as ornaments, decoratons and jewellery. Check out this adorable little Jason Vorhees – how sweet is he?
I am a huge fan of The Alternative Beauty collective and I already own multiple items from their store. From Ouija board trinket dishes to coffin shaped shelves, skull shot glasses to witchy candles, there is something here to bring a little spookiness to any and every room. I already own the coffin shaped shelf where I store my vintage, battered Stephen Kings and my Beetlejuice funkos but I have a friend who uses hers to store her beauty products and makeup brushes so this is a particularly versatile item perfect for any horror lovers home.
Special Edition Books
As a book worm and avid reader, I will always advocate for buying more books and the
creepier and scarier the better as far as I’m concerned. What’s better than a book? A beautiful edition of a book, stunning inside and out. First up, I have to mention the gorgeous Barnes and Noble leatherbound editions. My particular favourite, is this beautiful ‘Penny Dreadful’ book, a collection of traditional victorian and gothic horror stories and it is one I own personally, because seriously LOOK AT IT! Who wouldn’t want that bad boy sitting on their book shelf or coffee table?
Next up, the fantastic Etheral Visions Publishing are dedicating themselves to bringing truly unique and stunning editions of classic horror. Featuring stunning, art deco style illustrations by the ridiculously talented Matt Hughes, every single page is a work of art worthy of being framed. I already own their gorgeous Edgar Allen Poe collection and I look forward to grabbing a copy of their beautiful edition of Frankenstein.
Finally, check out this stunning collection of H.P.Lovecraft stories from W.W.Norton and Company Ltd. The cover alone is worthy of sitting on any coffee table and is a real conversation starter. Inside is twenty-five more Lovecraft stories are re-presented as well as a number of never-before-seen revisions and collaborations with other authors.
Another way to wiggle your way into the heart of a horror book fan is to discover an author or book they have never heard of before and one which they will not be able to put down. I get a lot of my horror book recommendations from the horror bloggers and bookstagrammers I love, like the fabulous Mother Horror aka Sadie Hartmann, co owner of Night Worms book subscription box and reviewer for Scream Horror Magazine, and the amazing Ladies of Horror Fiction who are all about promoting the female authors of the genre, a group who are often underrepresented in the industry. Check them out now!
There are a multitude of horror magazines out there that contain everything horror lovers adore in one neat package. As with the book subscription boxes, a magazine subscription is a gift that keeps on giving and one which will bring a smile to your spooktacular loved one for months to come. My personal favourite is the badass Scream Magazine. This magazine literally covers every aspect of horror, from books to movies and interviews and informative articles, this is the horror lover’s BIBLE!!
If you fancy something a little more independent and limited edition, check out
Edinburgh based Blood Bath Zine. This magazine contains original short stories, poems and pieces of art all in line with that issue’s theme. They are three issues in (‘Bodies’, ‘Demons’ and ‘Hauntings’) and so far they are knocking it out of the park, receiving positive criticism and love far and wide. I am a huge fan and I am determined to one day be featured in this bad boy!!
Look, I’m a bookworm ok? I love reading and writing horror and I love horror books, plain and simple so of course, I love horror bookmarks. The name that immediately comes to mind when I think of horror bookmarks is the fabulous A Stranger Dream. I have several of her fabulous horror doll bookmarks and I cannot express enough how much I love her fabulous work, with each bookmark being not just a practical item to mark your page but are also all completely frame worthy!
It is the first week of December and Christmas shopping mania is in full swing. Just step into any shopping centre or High Street in the country and you’ll find yourself mobbed and stampeded by hundreds of frantic shoppers, desperately seeking the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones. Christmas is of course, as the song says, the most wonderful time of the year. But it can also be stressful. I for one, love nothing better than finding the perfect gift for that special someone. To see their face light up when they unwrap the paper fills me with all the Christmas joy and it was worth every second of panic buying induced stress. But it can be tough going at times. The streets can become franticly busy with shoppers and with so many shops and businesses literally at your fingertips online, how can you possibly find the time to properly peruse the sites and find that perfect pressy?
Well, since I love you guys so much, I thought I would put a little list together of some of the best gifts out there for book worms and bibliophiles (hey, they say write what you know, right?). There is something on here to suit every taste and every budget, so put your feet up and relax, because I got your back!
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept (where have you been living, under a rock?) a subscription box is a box full of specialised goodies posted through your door each month. You can get one to suit every taste and hobby, from Golf to whiskey, foodies to fashion, there is a box to suit everyone. But, as this is a list for book worms, I will of course be focusing on the book variety. I love the idea of a subscription for a present because it’s essentially a gift that keeps on giving long after the turkey has been eaten and the tinsel taken down. Most boxes come in a single month, three month or six month subscription and there are a variety of boxes available to suit every readers taste. These are just a few of my personal favourite.
The Wildest Dreams Book Box: This is a UK based Young Adult book box. Each month’s box features a newly released YA book along with a bunch of other bookish goodies, such as bookish themed tea, beauty products and book marks. At £18 per box or £50 for a 3 month subscription, these boxes are great value for money. Plus, I have had the privilege of being their rep for the past 3 months and can personally vouch for how amazing these boxes are (check out previous blog posts for full unboxing and product details) and my rep code MARIE15 still works until the end of the month for 15% off!
My Chronicle Book Box: Another UK based box, this time released every 3 months. You have a choice between a regular ‘crime and mystery’ themed box and a ‘science fiction and fantasy’ themed box or one off boxes such as the ‘A Discovery of Witches’ box. Each box contains THREE books, most of which are signed or contain signed book plates, along with a bunch of themed goodies. Again, I have had the privilege of representing this box and I can personally vouch for how fantastic they truly are. Again, have a look on my blog for full unboxings and even an interview with the box’s creator. At £35 per regular box and £55 for specialist boxes, they are great value for money considering how much is in each one and you can use my rep code MIRRORS10 for 10% off
GoScribbler box: This subscription box is designed for us aspiring writers and authors and is curated by actual best selling authors. Not only do the boxes contain beautiful items but they are also a great resource to help writers with everything from writers block to publishing tips. I have literally spent hours drooling on Instagram over their boxes and hope to find one under my tree this year (take the hint Santa). Each box features curated Writerly Gifts, a new Release Fiction Novel, an Inside Look at the Publishing Process, an Exclusive Invitation to Chat with a Publishing Professional and a Collectible ‘Writing Passport’ from a Bestselling Author Teaching You How to Master a Writing Topic. Boxes retail at $29.99 for an individual box, with 3 month, 6 month and one year subscriptions available. Photo by @mybookishbones.
Now as I stated, there are plenty of boxes to cover specific genres out there such as Fantasy and Romance, but I am going to explore some boxes in my favourite genre…HORROR! Fans of the macabre and spooky such as myself, love nothing better than a horror themed gift under the tree!
First up, Night Worms book box: This is a fairly new, US based subscription service created by the hugely talented horror Bookstagrammers Sadie Hartmann (aka @Motherhorror) and Ashley Saywers (aka @Bookishmommy). This is not a book box in the traditional sense. Instead of random merchandise you may never use, each month the subscriber will receive at least 2 Horror books, original artwork and exclusive content such as discounts and swag direct from the publishers. Having been long term fans of these badass ladies on Instagram, I am genuinely excited for their company and the energy and philosophy behind it. They genuinely care about promoting Horror fiction and have even collaborated with rival horror boxes (including the one featured below) to support and promote one another rather than getting caught up in all the petty rivalry! Like I said, Badass! Boxes retail at $27.99.
Next up, we have the UK based Abominable Book Club: Another box fairly new to the market and another member of the #promotehorror club mentioned above, these monthly boxes feature 2 horror reads. There is their featured book release and also a randomly selected, gently used book sourced and supplied by the box’s mysterious Brother Usef, Head Curator of the Accursed Library. As well as these lovingly chosen book, you will receive a delicious snack and hot drink to enjoy while reading. Perfect!
I LOVE candles and I have several in every room in my house. They smell good, they create a warm and cosy atmosphere and there’s something heartwarming about reading a literary classic by candlelight. These are some of my absolute favourites:
Gunn Dean Candle Company: I cannot express in words how stunning these candles are! Each one is handmade in the US, using all natural soy wax and Phthalate Free fragrance oils. Most importantly for me, they are guaranteed to be vegan and cruelty free. Everything about this candle company gets me excited…their delicious scents, their bookish themes and their stunning packaging! The best part? They even have their own epic subscription boxes featuring their candles, exclusive prints and other bookish goodies (also known as heaven in a box). Candles retail at $14.00 for a 4oz jar or $19.00 fr an 8oz jar and the subscription box is $39.00….SANTA!! You know what I want! Photo by @novelscript.
Alchemy and Ink: These stunning candles are all about luxury and beautiful aesthetic. The alluring scents are blended by hand and poured into recycled glass jars featuring drool worthy labels. The love and care taken over these candles really shines through with every package including a handwritten note, a lovely bag of tea and hand stamped packaging. This company also creates some of the most drool worthy bookmarks and enamel pins I have ever seen so definitely a great stop for Christmas shopping! Candles retail at $18.00 for a 10 oz jar. Photo by @paperbackbones.
Bookworm Candles: Bookworm candles and crafts is a UK based one stop shop for hand poured bookish candles and all sorts of awesome bookish accessories, ranging from bookmarks to enamel pins. Featuring adorable packaging and delicious scents, these candles are wonderful and at prices starting at only £6.50 for a 5oz jar, they are a great bargain and make a perfect stocking filler or little extra for your book obsessed chum!
Every book worm considers their books to be precious cargo when out and about, and a dog eared page or a wrinkled cover can be a disaster to someone (like me) who likes to keep their books in good order. Thus, a book sleeve is a bibliophile’s best friend! To those unfamiliar with the concept, they are essentially little sleeping bags for your books, to keep them cosy and safe in your bag and as these shops show, they can be beautiful as well as practical.
Cosy Sleeves: These stunning hand knit book sleeves really live up to their name. Made in Norway and available in an array of wonderful colours, all the sleeves are little chunky knit jumpers for your books, truly keeping them safe and cosy! I love the artisanal style of these sleeves especially this time of year when they give me all the winter feels. Best news?Occasionally hats are also available in the same style so that you and your favourite book can match! Heaven! Sleeves cost £26.75 and are available on Etsy.
Books Breathe Magic: This Irish shop creates stunning handmade book sleeves in an array of designs to suit all reading tastes and preferences. Featuring sleeves celebrating every fandom from Harry Potter to Raven Boys, as well as as some featuring stunning patterned fabrics, everyone is catered for. My personal favourite features skeletons on a black fabric background. Also, this year there is even a Books Breathe Magic calendar, perfect for under the tree!
Sweet Sequels: This shop features hand painted, drool worthy original art on everything from t-shirts and blankets to book sleeves and stockings. Featuring every fandom from Harry Potter to Narnia, Tolkien to Shakespeare, there is literally something for everyone here and trust me when I say, you will fall in love when you see what’s on offer. There is something to suit every taste and every budget.
My Dream? To one day own one of those epic bookish blankets…one day!
The obvious gift for a book worm and the perfect size to slip inside a stocking, a book mark is a bibliophile’s best friend!
My Book Mark: These quirky, fun book marks are all hand made and are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face. Their most famous, are the ones with little legs sticking out of your book but there are so many designs and styles available as well as lots of fandoms and themes. Is your bookish buddy a fan of Harry Potter? Why not get them the book mark featuring quidditch boots in their team colours. Are they obsessed with the world of Tolkien? Get the bookmark featuring hairy little hobbit feet. But since it’s Christmas, why not grab a Santa or Ginger bread man? These stunning book marks retail at $25.00 and are a guaranteed gift hit! Photo by @melinwonderland.
A Stranger Dream: This is a one stop book mark shop for all fans of horror and macabre. Each bookmark features an original design, lovingly printed and cut just for you. My personal favourite are the ‘doll’ bookmarks. Featuring everything from Stephen King to Scream, these bookmarks really will make the day of any horror fanatic. Check out her awesome Christmas themed ones, like this spooky ginger bread man! Bookmarks retail for less than a fiver so they are a real bargain and the perfect stocking filler. If you live outside the US, you can DM her for cheaper postage too (that’s what I do).
I have discovered that Instagram is an unending source of incredibly talented people, including an array of fantastic artists. There is something to suit every style and taste, so have a look out there, but I have selected two of my absolute favourites…well, let’s face it, I chose them because I want these under my tree!
Caitlin McArthy art: Caitlin is an incredibly talented artist from the US, whose hauntingly beautiful images immediately appealed to me. In fact, I loved her work so much, I will be collaborating with her on an upcoming short story. Her work is utterly divine and I hope some day to have more than one piece hanging on my walls. For book worms, her image, ‘Bury me in books’ is the embodiment of our love of reading. Head to Etsy to check her out, where you can purchase prints for as little as £12 or original pieces of art from £80 to £130 if you feel like splashing out!
Wornkey Emporium: This shop is a must for all Potterheads out there. Remember that scene from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone, with all the flying keys? Well, this shop produces unique, handmade flying keys all of which look beyond magical. The keys come in all sizes, colours and shapes so vary in price depending on which one you go for. It’s blatantly obvious to anyone who see them, just how much love and work goes into every single one and again, I hope some day to have a little key of my own…or a bunch of them!
I have two honourable mentions which do not fall into a main categories above. These are shops I personally own products from and who I continue to visit and purchase from over and over again….
Lit Emporium: With a vast array of bookish goodies including t-shirts, jewellery, notebooks, prints, bookmarks, enamel badges and everything in between, this is literally your one stop shop for all things bookish. I am a huge fan of this shop and use it regularly. This shop has all the presents and stocking fillers any book lover could ever possibly want. And the best bit? It’s great value for money as well! My personal favourites are the Gothic Literature and classic penguin enamel pin badges (£7.00 each), this Jane Eyre sweatshirt (£26.00), the magic book notebooks (a bargain at £4.00 each) and the Frankenstein heart necklace (£15.00). Check them out now…you know you want to!
Adagio Tea: This is a tea company close to my heart as I currently rep for them on Instagram. They have a huge range of tea flavours to suit every taste as well as stunning brewing essentials like teapots and cups. But that’s not why I am featuring them here. No, I’m featuring them on this list because of their epic fandom ranges. They have teas inspired by every fandom you can think of, from Sherlock to Harry Potter, Tolkien to Austen and Game of Thrones as well as non literary fandoms like Supernatural, Star Wars and Doctor Who. My favourite are the fandom sampler tins. They look great and it’s an amazing way to try all of the flavours available in that fandom. Sampler tin sets are £19 for 6 tins. For the full range of fandoms, I recommend using the US version of the site.
So that’s it folks, I hope you find it useful! I basically made a blog post out of my own Christmas list and I sincerely hope that Santa reads it. What about you bibliophiles? What are you hoping Santa brings you? What are your favourite bookish shops? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!
Merry Christmas everyone! We are nearly there now. There’s just a few days left to wrap your gifts, make your Christmas cake and hang the mistletoe. With that in mind, tonight’s short story is a festive one. I hope you like it!
A Christmas Tail
I bury myself further into the dead leaves and detritus, seeking out whatever warmth I can from my make shift bed, but it’s so cold now I can see my breathe. There have been so many nights like this, where I shiver myself to sleep, teeth chattering, and with the temperatures continuing to drop, and the imminent threat of snow, I am terrified that at some point, I won’t wake up again. My stomach rumbles. I haven’t eaten for hours, and what I did have, the remnants of a discarded coffee shop sandwich abandoned by a satiated patron before I was shooed away by staff, wasn’t much to begin with.
It wasn’t always like this. I had a home once, I had someone who loved me, who I loved in return. But they died, and my life fell apart without them. I think of her now, her smile, her comforting touch on my face, the scent of her skin. I look up at the stars, millions of tiny pinpricks in a backlit canvas, and I imagine she is up there, somewhere, watching over me. But the thought brings little comfort on this cold and lonely night, and I feel a tear make it’s way down my cheek as I lay my head down to sleep.
I can hear she’s distracted, only half listening as she stirs the wooden spoon in the big bowl. We are making cake, which smells so good, and I am waiting to lick the spoon.
“What if he forgets me?”
“Santa. What if he forgets me. There’s so many children. My teacher says there are squillions all over the world. He might forget one or two, it’s understandable.”
“Santa won’t forget you. You wrote him, remember?”
I remember. I had asked for a puppy but my mum told me he couldn’t bring live animals in a sleigh, that it’s super cold up high in the air where it flies, and a puppy wouldn’t be able to stand it, so I changed it to a pink bike. I still wish for the puppy.
“Grown ups forget things all the time, even if they write it down. You make lists on the fridge and still forget stuff.”
“He won’t forget Sara.”
“But what if he does?”
“He won’t. He’s magic.”
“Sara, mummy is trying to concentrate. If I can’t make the mixture properly, there will be no spoon to lick and no cake to eat on Christmas day.”
“I stop talking. I want the spoon.
I feel like I’ve been walking for hours now. My feet ache, and my coat isn’t warm enough for this weather. I need some heat and some food. I move back into the town centre, following the smells and sounds. I take the back alleys and entry ways. People don’t like my kind, the waifs and the strays, the unwanted and undesirables. We are something to sneer at sitting outside their shiny department stores while they throw away their money on trinkets and baubles. We are the ugly thing you ignore when we beg for food. I learned early on that I got on a lot easier when I stayed in the shadows, out of sight and out of mind.
I find the place I’m looking for, a restaurant near the University. Their bins are always overflowing with food, and there’s a spot by the basement level kitchen, a grate used to vent air, which will be warm and dry. I lie against it, chewing the old loaf I have found by the bin. I can usually get an hour or so here, until one the staff emerge for a cigarette and move me on. Then it will be more hiding, more sneaking, seeking out another spot to survive where I won’t be in someone’s way. I always seem to be in their way.
I stare at the boxes under the tree. I know Santa hasn’t been yet, and these are just the gifts from Uncle Tom and Aunt Betty, and Granny and Grandpa, but I check them one by one just in case. None of them are bike shaped and none of them have little barks coming from them. I keep checking the time. It’s almost my bed time, and that means Santa will be coming soon, but I already know I’ll be far too excited to sleep. The night will drag, and I will feel every single minute as I count down until Christmas day.
Last year I got yelled at because I got up too early. I could see that the presents were there, and that Santa had been, but Mummy said that he was still watching, and that only naughty girls got up at 4am and woke up their parents, and we all know what happens to naughty girls…they get coal. She said that my gifts could still be magicked away if I didn’t go back to bed. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure I believe her, but there is way too much at stake to risk her being right.
So I will just have to wait and listen and hope that he hasn’t forgotten me.
It’s night again, and it’s colder than I have ever felt before. I did’t know this kind of cold existed. It’s in my very bones, along with the damp, and I can’t stop shivering. I have been walking for an age, trying to stop the numbness spreading from my feet into the rest of my body. I know what will come of me if that happens. I think I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere along the road, as the streets I am in now are unfamiliar. The moon is shrouded in thick, black clouds and only the yellow street lights illuminate my path. They cast long and ominous shadows, and I find myself afraid, of what I am unsure, but I feel it nonetheless.
It’s Christmas eve, and the houses I pass all have cheerful coloured lights on strings outlining their shapes in the darkness. Through an occasional open curtain, I can see families gathered, drinks being drunk and food being eaten, and I can hear their laughter carried faintly on the wind. This is the worst time of year for the lonely. There is so much emphasis on family, on parties and gatherings of friends and embracing loved ones or kissing them under mistletoe. But I don’t have any of that. I don’t have a family, or friends, or mistletoe. I feel so alone.
I pass a garden, the gate hanging from rusted hinges, and inside I can make out the outline of a shed. I hesitate, always reluctant to risk showing myself, to face their rejection, that expression on their faces, disgust mixed with annoyance. But as I feel the first snow of winter begin to fall from the black inky sky above, the decision is made for me, and I carefully, and quietly make my way across the lawn to what will be my bed for the night.
I check the clock. The big hand is pointing at the 12 and the little hand is pointing at the 5, which means I’m still not allowed to get up. I hate waiting; it never leads to any fun. You wait at the Doctors to get jabs and gross medicines, you wait at school for your teacher to start the lessons, you wait in lines and at bus stops. No good ever came from waiting. I try to resist the temptation to get up, but I can feel my toes wriggling and my feet tapping and I know they have already made the decision to get up on my behalf.
I walk quietly and quickly, avoiding the squeaky floorboard and stick to the very edge of the stairs, taking each step as delicately as I can. I pretend I am a spy like in the movies, on a super secret mission. I feel a little bad for getting up, and I know I could get in trouble, but I won’t open the presents or anything, I’ll just check they’re there, and perhaps give one or two a squeeze to try and guess what’s inside. That’s not naughty really is it?
I poke my head into our big living and dining room, to find the tree lights reflecting off lots of shiny paper and bows. I barely contain a scream as I run towards them, forgetting how a spy would act, and becoming a child again. I place my ear to a few of the bigger boxes, but there is no whimpering, no barking. There is a pink bike in the corner with a big gold bow. I should be happy; it’s pretty and has streamers on the handlebars to make you go faster, but I can’t help feeling a little disappointed about the puppy. If Santa is really magic, I don’t see why he can’t bring me a puppy. Maybe next year I should write to Amazon, they seem to deliver anything.
It’s just then I see him, walking across our back garden, towards my play house. He sees me and stops, and for a moment we stare at each other.
I only make it half way across the yard when I spot her. She is small, perhaps 5 or 6 years old, wearing red pyjamas covered in smiling ginger bread men. I freeze, as we stare at each other. It’s so cold now, and I am beginning to feel so sleepy. The little wooden shed in the garden is so close, and I so desperately need a place to sleep, to seek shelter from the snow now falling in great waves of white. If only she would look away for a second, I could perhaps dash inside and hide, but I know I won’t make it, and I know I haven’t the strength to find somewhere else.
And so, I sit down in the snow, and close my eyes, and wait for the people to come and yell at me, to kick me or curse me. I’m too tired to stay hidden any longer, and besides, I have already been seen. Perhaps these people will be kind, perhaps they will let me sleep in their little wooden house, and give me a blanket and some food. But in my heart, I doubt the thoughts almost as soon as their formed, and I know the cold will take me, like it took my love.
I’m just so tired. I’ll just close my eyes for a second.
“That’s enough blankets Sara.”
“But he’s still cold.”
“He’s fine, let him have some air for goodness sake or you’ll suffocate him.”
“Maybe we should get your hot water bottle too. Mine is only small.”
“He’s fine Sara. Look, he’s wagging his tail.”
And he is. It’s just a little movement at first, slow and deliberate, but soon he is wagging it like the puppies on the TV and the thumping noise it makes as it bangs off the chair makes me giggle. He was so cold when we got him inside, and mummy even rang an animal Doctor to check what to do. I learned in school that they are called Vets. The Vet said to make him warm and comfortable, and see if we could get him to eat something. No trouble there, he wolfed down my Mummy’s turkey and gravy potatoes, and he even ate the bones!!
He is little, and white with a big black spot over one eye and one black foot, as if he lost all his other socks except that one. Even his tail has a little black end, like it’s been dipped in paint. I stroke his head as he sleeps in the giant blanket fort I have made him, and occasionally, he licks my hand, which tickles.
I tried to pick a name, but Mummy says we have to check to make sure he doesn’t already have a family and another little girl before I name him, in case we have to give him back. I named him anyway; he’s called Spot.
“Now, don’t get attached Sara. He may belong to someone who is out there right now, worried sick.”
“No, he’s mine. Santa brought him. He looks exactly like the pictures I drew for Santa, see?”
She takes the page I thrust at her, and looks at me the same way she does when I have a cough or the chicken pox.
“I suppose he does, but…”
“I guess you were right though.”
“I was? What about?”
“About it being too cold in the sleigh for puppies. He was shaking when Santa delivered him.”
“And you were right about Santa, he didn’t forget me. He remembered me, and he brought me my Spot. This is the best Christmas ever.”
I kiss her on the cheek, before going back to stroke Spot’s little nose. She looks like she may say something, but seems to change her mind, and instead she just takes Daddy’s hand and mine in hers, and we all stroke Spot together, until his tail is wagging so fast, it’s just a blur.
And it is the best Christmas ever, because I have Spot and he has me. Next year, I’m going to ask for a kitten.
My last Christmas gift guide was such a huge success, that I thought I would do another one! There are so many amazing book related products and shops out there, I could never fit them into one blog post, so sit back and relax, because I have everything you need for the bibliophiles and nerds in your life!
- Book Subscription boxes continued
As I said in the last gift guide, there is literally a box to suit every taste and personality! Whether you are a horror fan, a fantasy fanatic or lover of Young Adult, there is something out there for you. I love the idea of these as a gift, because it lasts beyond Christmas and spreads the joy for longer! It is the literally the gift that keeps on giving! So here are a few more examples for you!
Owl Crate: This is the ultimate subscription box for fans of Young Adult. Every month,they hand pick the best of the newly released Young Adult novel, and give you a hardback copy, along with three to five other bookish goodies, all of which are tailored to that month’s theme. The theme for December is ‘Seize the day’ which is perfect, because you can seize the day and get yourself one of these awesome book boxes! They retail at $29.99 per month, and there’s even a junior version available for the little bibliophiles in your life! Photographed (by @mlovesreading) is the Mythical creatures box, and it looks BADASS! Definitely going in my letter to Santa!!
Lit Joy Crate: This US based book box contains a carefully chosen, new release novel plus a bunch of extra bookish goodies to bring your reading experience to life. The best bit is that they do a box to suit every age, from kids, to middle grade and finally young adult, and you can even buy past boxes from their shop, so if you have missed any of their amazing themes, you can always catch up! Boxes cost $29.99 a month and I think they are perfect for the little book worms in your life!
Vellum Box: This subscription box is just getting started, and it’s one with a difference, because each month you get a unique and exclusive bookish t-shirt, along with two to four other book related goodies! The best part? Each month, the t-shirt is designed by a different artist, so you get a one off design that supports artists within the bookstagram community! Sounds good right? Boxes cost $29.99 for regular sizes and $31.99 for plus sizes!
2. Bookish Clothing
They say you should wear your heart on your sleeve, well why not wear it right across you chest instead? No, this doesn’t require any surgery or permanent ink tattoos, it just requires a kickass t-shirt to declare your nerdy soul to the world! Everything from logos to quotes are available out there in every colour and design you could possibly want, so get shopping!
Lit Emporium: This site really is a one stop shop for everything bookish. From jewellery to stationary and notebooks, they have everything your little bookaholic heart could desire. Some of my favourite items, are from their clothing range. Featuring authors such as Mary Shelley and Sylvia Plath, as well as some badass book worm motifs, they are stylish and unique and would fit perfectly in any bibliophile’s wardrobe. And at £15.00 for a tee and £25.00 for a sweatshirt, and free standard shipping on orders over £10.00, they’re affordable too. My personal favourite? The Frankenstein heart motif. I dare you to visit and not buy something! So many things from this shop feature on my wish list, it’s hard to keep track!
Vivlyo: This US based site features a huge range of bookish tees. They feature authors from Shakespeare to Bronte, in simple and modern motifs, in every colour you could possibly want. They cost $28.00 and would satisfy any book worm. This store also features their simple, bold designs on prints. Starting at just $12.00, these would look great in the home of any book lover. My personal favourite is this Edgar Allen Poe shirt and the Sherlock Holmes print.
Check them both out now!
3. Quirky Prints
I love nothing better than a great piece of art, and frankly, the nerdier and the quirkier the better! Who wanted to have the same thing as everyone else on their walls, when you can have a lovingly created, original piece of art featuring some obscure literary or televisual reference. Perfect!
Yandrawsamon: Yannie is a friend of mine, and I simply had to introduce you to her gorgeous shop. She creates the most unique and original artwork, covering all your geeky obsessions, from Studio Ghible to Stranger Things, you can purchase prints or original pieces of art on her Etsy store. My personal favourite has to be this quirky Harry Potter print, because who doesn’t love a good play on words? There is a whole series of Dumbledore puns, starting at £12, and the best part is that the proceeds from every sale goes to fund and train new Guide dogs. So not only do you get to give your friend (or yourself) a gift, but in doing so, you give the gift of a friend, and a vital support, to someone in need! Magic!
Tula Makes: I came across Tula in my bookstagram travels, and immediately fell in love
with her sweet and unique designs. She makes stunning prints and bookmarks, which truly are one of a kind. Are you a Harry Potter fan? Perhaps you adore Stranger Things? Tula captures these fandoms perfectly, but in such a sweet and magical way. I am OBSESSED with this Eleven print, I mean look at it! It’s awesome! She also makes the sweetest bookmarks with little tassels on them, and I am a sucker for a tassel. CThis print is only £4.79!! Check her out immediately!
Four Seasons Fox: This is another shop I discovered on Bookstagram, and fell immediately in love with. Based in Luxembourg, they have prints to suit every nerd and bookaholic, from Doctor Who to Harry Potter, your geek dreams will come true. Check out this gorgeous Hogwarts print, costing just £2.29! Bargain! The shop also contains notebooks, enamel pins and calendars and is definitely worth a visit!
Us book worms love nothing better than a nice journal or pen, because the only thing better than reading a book, i.e. writing your own!
Icey Designs: This is the ultimate stationary shop for book lovers. They produce the most gorgeous journals and notebooks, in every style and genre you could ask for, along with kickass planners, pencils and even enamel pins and candles. One of my personal favourites if this stunning Beauty and the Beast journal at $15.00, and I could go mad buying their pencils and enamel pins. Their prices are really reasonable and their products super stylish, so perfect for the list makers and obsessive compulsive organisers out there (me lol). Check them out!
4. Something different
Dillon designs Jewellery: These stunning and unique jewellery designs are just swoon worthy! Each beautiful piece is hand stamped with your favourite literary quotes, and would compliment any outfit. Check out this stunning Jane Eyre quotation bracelet at just $16.00! Along with their amazing jewellery, they also produce keyrings, dog tags and even bookish tees! I have recently found out I have the privilege of becoming a rep for this wonderful business, which means as my readers you get 15% off with my exclusive discount code MARIE15…so what’s stopping you?
Punky Pins: Your one stop shop for a truly badass range of patches, stickers, keyring, jewellery and as the name would suggest, an epic range of enamel pins! Each one is so unique and fun, and is guaranteed to brighten up even the most boring of lapels. Take this awesome ‘The Book was Better’ pin as a prime example. I can guarantee there isn’t a book nerd alive who wouldn’t jump with joy at finding this bad boy inside their stocking this year! And at only £7.00, it’s also a total bargain too! Head to their site now and see their huge range of beautiful goodies, and watch as your shopping cart grows and grows!
Amos Plush: This page features a range of Harry Potter enamel pins, as well as the cutest plush toys EVER! The hand made Harry Potter plushes are honestly so adorable, you will scream when you see them…I mean look at Harry here! Amazing! Unfortunately, the plushes aren’t for sale too often, but find solace in her epic enamel pins! One of my all time favourites, is this adorable Mad Eye Moody pin badge, with a 3D eye! Too cute. Pins range from $8.00 AUD for seconds and $12.95 AUD for the more elaborate one . She has advised me her stock is a little low right now (so get what’s left while you can) but she will be restocking in the new year, so watch this space! The best part? International shipping is dirt cheap at only $3.50 AUD worldwide! So, no excuse not to buy really!!
Groundhog Day Crafts: I found this shop on Instagram, and I am so in love with their amazingly quirky designs. Their embroidery hoops feature felted portraits of anyone and everyone your heart could possibly desire. I am a huge Wes Anderson fan, and I am in love with this Bill Murray hoop! If you want to buy something truly unique and special for the bookend in your life, then this is where to go! You could get a Harry Potter portrait, or perhaps your favourite hobbit? Prices are on request and vary based on the design. Ranging from $120 to $200, these are obviously not a small gift, however when you think of the hours and love put into each amazing design, plus the fact that you would own a one off, original piece of art, and it’s actually a massive bargain! One day i will own one on my wall! One day!!