Thursday, 29 May 2014

Art Tuesday(ish): Birthday cards

I know that it's not Tuesday, but here is some art regardless. These four are birthday cards I've made for friends/family from over the past year or so. 

A birthday card for my sister's seventeenth (May 2013, that was.) Do any of you watch Jenna Marbles? 
"Kermit says, 'I didn't like that, but at least I got to eat a Ritz cracker!" 
Me and her both find that pretty hilarious. Hence the card. If you don't watch Jenna Marbles ... just appreciate the Ritz crackers! 

A card for my friend Colette's fifteenth (April 2013, that was.) I very much doubt this will apply to really any of you at all, but .... did you ever study Latin with the Cambridge Latin Course? If so, you may remember King Cogidubnus ... ;)
I imagine that right now you're looking at your screen thinking "what?". So just, um, appreciate this drawing of a BC British king.

Card for my friend Chloe's fifteenth (March 2014). This one, at last, has no hidden meaning. It is just fashion accessories. I was quite proud of how it turned out :)

This one was for my dad's sixty-second (October 2013), which we celebrated in Roses, Spain along with my own fifteenth birthday, two days before. I was SO pleased with this card ... it was so simple! Literally just watercolour. I know this picture is badly lit, but do ya see the rainbow effect? Do ya?? :D
Ooh and guess what book the idea came from? Why, the Usborne Book of Art Ideas, of course! Many, many, MANY times have I spoken about that book on this here blog. It is my favourite. Ever.
Hope you like these cards, and a tutorial for the rainbow tree may be coming soon ... but not on this blog! I'll say no more about that for now ... ;)

Emily x

Monday, 26 May 2014

Tea Party Tag (the Notebook Sisters are turning three!)

Hi everyone, happy Monday (if there is such a thing). So, today we are celebrating the special occasion of The Notebook Sisters' third blogoversary! If you've not come across them, they are two pretty awesome sisters (who'd have guessed?) in Australia who blog a lot about books (and fandoms. And world domination. But mostly books). You should check them out! For their blogoversary they are having a week of birthday celebrations and today I'm completing this bookish tag.

(The blog party, by the way, is Alice in Wonderland themed.)
1. Just Alice: What book cover(s) has made you super curious?
I think it's fairly needless to say that the second I saw this book, I was very curious. It was graphic novel, and (again needless to say) it was weird. And strangely upsetting. A review shall be coming soon! (That is, in a few weeks' time). 
2. Mad Hatter: List the craziest character(s) you've ever read.
Wow, OK:
~ Luna Lovegood. She is insane. But that's why we love her, of course.
~ Skulduggery Pleasant is a Sherlock-ish detective (also a skeleton, incidentally) and he has serious issues. But again ... that's why we love him!
~ Ford Prefect from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series is pretty insane it has to be said.
~ apart from that, I'm running a serious mental blank here! I can hardly think of ANY crazy characters (hence my rubbish list)! I'll probably remember heaps later on .... but such is the way.

3. Red Queen, Off With Your Head! What book have you felt like beheading?
There have been many books like this over time, but I think the prize will have to go to:

It's not that often that I completely write off a book  ... but this one was just terrible. The plot, the characters, the writing, the cringey pseudo-fantasy, the cliched love triangle .... the diabolical ending. I reviewed it, actually, elaborating on what I've just said, so if your day needs a bit of ranting and some cap locks, click here
4. White Rabbit: What books or series have been insanely popular but you've been "late" to pick them up?
The Lord of the Rings is a book that, as a fantasy fan, I am ashamed to say I only just read. It was fantastic. Just saying. Apart from that .... I don't know! I didn't read TFIOS for a while after it was famous .... and I've still not read Rose Under Fire (dammit library!) or the next two books in The Raven Boys series. So many books, not enough time!

5. Caterpillar: What's the most confusing book you've read?
I would say probably:

I read this when I was probably about 10. It took me a month, which these days is not that uncommon but in that time of three or four books a week was very insane. Can I just say, I am NOT sure that this should have been in the primary school library, and one would imagine that it got there by mistake. It was, to quote the inside jacket of the copy I read "a novel pretending to be a history of philosopher, or a history of philosophy pretending to be a novel", and it was weird. Maybe if I read it now I would really appreciate it ... but aged ten I was wading through Aristotle and Pliny, Hume, Kant and Darwin with no IDEA what was going on. And the plot took some VERY strange turns towards the end, hence why it is one of the most confusing books I've ever read. 
6. Dormouse: What was the last book that sent you to sleep?
I just finished reading Adam Bede by George Eliot. It was utterly fantastic, brilliant etc and the plot was actually riveting .... after the first few chapters. At the very very beginning ..... I wanted to die. Seriously. But if you ever start it and it does send you to sleep, I can PROMISE that it does get so much better!!!

7. Cheshire Cat: Book that made you laugh and smile?
Many, many, many books fit this category. Here are a few of my favourite funny books:

Utter genius.
Book cover for Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The woman is a marvel. If you're sitting there thinking "pffft stuffy old classics, can't possibly be funny" then I suggest you reassess your life. And read some Austen.
And now, the books that ALWAYS make me smile ....

I'm sorry, but no post about books would really be complete without a bit of HP. And they are very funny. A quote from Harry "the sassmaster" Potter:
Uncle Vernon: "Listening to the news? Again?!"
Harry: "Well it changes every day, you see."
And another quote because no one can stop me:
Harry: Yes.
Snape: Yes, 
Harry: There's no need to call me "sir", Professor.
..... OH SNAP!
8. Knave of Hearts: Most recent character who stole your heart?
Hmm, probably Miss Willie from The Miracle of Miss Willie by Alma J Yates. It's a super sweet book that is definitely a hidden treasure - you should read it!

9. Jabberwocky: Best villain you've read this year?
Probably Wormtongue (from Lord of the Rings) ... he's just so creepy! The way he watches Eowyn ... ugh. But also the villain from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, who I can't tell you anything about because of spoilers .... so basically you'll have no idea what I'm talking about unless you read the book. Which you should!

10. Down the Rabbit Hole: What's the latest book/series/author that's completely swallowed your interest?
I guess the answer to that would be Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, which as I said I have only read for the first time this year. It is a very all-immersing book.

Thanks so much to Cait and Mime for this fun tag! Not to mention the awesome giveaway over at their blog. Happy blogoversary to you guys! :D

Everyone else, I hope you enjoyed this, and have a good week until I next pop by :)

Emily x

Thursday, 22 May 2014

September to May: A Bookish Tour (Part 1)

Hello all.

Since I started this blog, a big part of it has been books and reading - as you know, I do quite a lot of reviewing - and so today I'm going to take you on a (very) whirlwind tour of what I read during my hiatus. Sometimes I feel like a one- or two-sentence review is as good as a few paragraphs, which is good because that's all you're getting today!

Come to the Edge by Joanna Kavenna

When our narrator leaves comfortable suburban life for a so-called farm retreat she doesn't know what she's getting into, and as she embarks on life in the country with Cassandra White, a hardened widow of questionable sanity in a house with no heating and some psychotic goats, it is far more difficult than she imagined. But  an unlikely friendship forms, and before she knows it, she is involved in a mad (and legally dubious) Utopian scheme to reclaim the valley for the locals ...

What can I say about Come to the Edge? It was a hilarious and brilliantly wicked satire that was utterly impossible to put down. The writing was excellent, the plot original and fantastic and the social commentary extremely timely and compelling. It was also soul-destroying. But you know as well as I that the more emotional devastation a paperback can wreak ... the more we want to read it.

Rating: 9/10. I'm serious guys. Read. This. Book.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Margaret Hale has lived all her life in her idyllic Hampshire village but as the story begins she is uprooted as her family moves to the industrial town of Milton in the North of England. As the title suggests, the two regions and peoples are juxtaposed as Margaret finds herself in a world that is totally unfamiliar.

This was a very enjoyable novel - despite the fact that the blurb of my copy made the ending as predictable as anything! Margaret was a little annoying at times - seriously, must you start crying again?? - but there were some excellent subplots and I did think it was beautifully written. 
Rating: 8/10

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

A novel set in 1952 India, just after independence from the British Empire, A Suitable Boy is a novel with amazing scope as it tells the story of four large families against the backdrop of a country reeling between the traditional and the modern as it faces elections and bloody Hindu-Muslim tensions.

I absolutely adored this book. Yes, it was nearly 1500 pages and yes, it took me four months to read it (that is a third of my year, guys, with only a brief break for Georgia Nicolson and Skulduggery Pleasant) but as you may be able to see, the quote from The Times on the front says: "Make time for it. It will keep you company for the rest of your life." These are true words indeed, because this was a stunning, epic and beautiful novel. It was funny and tragic, showing with incredible warmth the relationships of four families and their marriages, children and parents; I feel that it captured perfectly both the love and the constraints present in family life. Oh, and it taught me a lot about India. I can't go through it character by character, subplot by subplot, or we'd be here all night, but I really wholeheartedly recommend it. Even though it may take four months of your life ... you will not regret it.
Rating: 9/10

Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy

I can't really give a blurby-thing for this without spoilers for the previous books in the series, but here's a few things to sum the whole series up. Awesome magic. Fighting. Satire. Hilarious characters (with brilliant names). A talking skeleton (he's a detective). Almost the end of the world. And a lot of other stuff.

This is one of my favourite fantasy series - second (or third, I guess) only to Harry Potter and Narnia. I know a lot of you readers are self-proclaimed fantasy fans, so if you've not heard of these books you should go and read them right now. They're just awesome. And well written. And hilarious. And Irish. And the plots are fantastic, and the friendship between the main characters (Skulduggery and Valkyrie) is one of my favourite book relationships. Or rather, favourite relationships full stops. (Because we all know that real-life relationships aren't much cop.)
Rating: 9/10

OK, so, those are the first four books in the epic tale of What-I-Have-Read-Since-September. Tell me, do you prefer short reviews like these or the longer ones like I normally do? Hope you read ALL of these books!

Emily x

Monday, 19 May 2014

Scrapbooks and Changes

Hello there. Look at this. I am posting. Are you proud?? :D
Sooo, first things first. I think it's time to have a little think about posts. Basically, would you mind awfully casting your eye over these questions and giving me a bit of feedback in the comments? Because I don't want to be posting what you don't want to read, because what is the point in that? OK, some questions:
~ What kind of posts do you like to see best? 
~ What kind of posts would you like to see more of?
~ Book reviews: yay or nay? Should they be shorter? Or longer, perhaps?
~ Do you like posts like my last one, where I tell you a bit about what I've been up to?
~ Arty posts: what are your thoughts? Do you like me posting my art? How about talking about other peoples' art?
~ Recipes - yes, no?
~ .... any other thoughts?
Thank you very much! :)
OK, so, onwards and upwards. Since last summer I have been making a scrapbook of general stuff: art, fashion, poems, quotations, birthday cards, tickets, momentos and whatever else I have that I don't want to lose. I really enjoy scrapbooking and I think it's a great way of keeping things you like together and presenting them in a nice way (rather than being shoved in a drawer somewhere). Today I thought I'd share the first few pages with you. 

This is my scrapbook, from Paperchase. I love that shop so much, I could just go and live there. And spend all of my life spendings on stationery, notebooks and unnecessary and adorable tin lunchboxes.
In June of last year, I went to, as you can see, the Glasgow School of Art degree show. There was some amazing stuff, especially in the design section (fine art was a bit weird and conceptual, notably with a wire sculpture of a goat holding a TV on which was playing on repeat the screaming goat version of I Knew You Were Trouble. I don't understand either.). Also it was nice to look around the building, considering it is a place where I sometimes think I'd like to study someday. When you go to the degree show you can take cards from all the exhibitions ... as I did!

Gorgeous jewellery made by Emma Campbell

Brooches designed by Lorna Annette Hey. Are these not just adorable??

I absolutely love these rings by Ailsa Whittet Ritchie.

The last of the Art School cards; those top two are part of a whole series by Gillian Stewart that made up a flipbook for a guy waking up and leaving his body. It was very very cool. Also some lovely boots from Boden. Boots that cost £129 ... but even though I can't afford them, I can stick them in my scrapbook! 

This card is not from the degree show but is from the jewellery designer Kirsty Fraser, who did a workshop in my art class at school. 

Well, those are the first five pages of my scrapbook. What did you think - would you like to see more? 

Emily x

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Hello again.

Well. It's been a long time .... hasn't it? I've not posted in so long I have no idea how to start, so let's just look back a bit ...

When I was thirteen, my friend told me about having a blog and eventually I jumped on the bandwagon. Emily's Chronicles was born. In the beginning I was not very good at blogging - my posts were mostly pretty embarrassing and about things no one really wanted to read - but over time I found my niche, which was blogging about books, and art, and baking, and writing, and a bunch of other stuff. I accrued some followers (about 85 in the end, although looking now that has unsurprisingly fallen to 69), I finally changed my awful blog name to something hopefully slightly less awful, and I found some AMAZING blogs (you know who you are). It was amazing to make friends on the Internet, to have something that I could write and that other people actually wanted to read, and pretty soon I was hooked into the blogosphere. But unfortunately ... well, we all know that life gets in the way. School got more serious, I had less time, I was writing a novel - and something had to give. I knew I was probably spending too much time on the Internet anyway, and so I left my blog to die. 

Looking back, I realise that the way I left - with no warning or goodbye - was probably not the best way. I guess in the back of my mind there was always the fact that you guys are "just internet friends" - but actually I miss you. I miss your blogs, and I miss my blog too. I mean, there have to be priorities in life, you can clearly all live without me, and there are things that have to be put first - the Novel, the "real" people in my life and school (sigh) - but after a few lovely comments from some of you guys, I've had a bit of re-evaluation.

And I've decided - my blog doesn't need to be chucked out of the window. Because let's be honest here ... I'm at home at the moment (study leave, woohoo!), but am I finding all my time taken up by revision and creativity and friendship?

No. I'm just spending far too much time on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, watching How I Met Your Mother literally every weekday, and, inexplicably, playing Bubble Shooter. Why, guys, why?? It's not like there's even levels to move up .... -_-

Basically, I've realised that it is no longer the case that my blog needs to put aside for other things because, newsflash, I do have time for it. And honestly, I think it's a lot healthier to spend your Internet time running a blog than some of the other things I mentioned above (Bubble Shooter, I mean you) because you're actually writing, you're building relationships, you're sharing the things that you care about. 

So here's what's going to happen: without letting Blogger take over my life again, I'm going to restart this blog. I'm not going to post as often I used to, because that's unrealistic, and hopefully with some feedback from you lot I'm going to work out what kind of posts it's actually worth me writing (ie, what posts you actually want to read). I'm going to stop spending so much time doing totally pointless things (Tumblr, and again the Bubble Shooter) - and most importantly, I'm going to start reading your blogs again! Because you guys are hilarious, talented, and frankly pretty awesome. AND I'M SORRY FOR LEAVING.

Now then. Before things get overly sentimental, who'd like to hear a bit about what I've been up to since September?

I knew you'd say yes!

OK so books. Let's take a look at the best things I've read over the last few months.
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. SO GOOD. As a fantasy fan it was about time, and it definitely lived up to expectations. 
Allegiant by Veronica Roth. A great conclusion to the trilogy. Excuse me whilst I go and pick up the pieces of my broken heart ....
~ Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Fantastic book written in the 1930s. Wow dystopian can get SCARY.
~ Sense and Sensibility. I love Jane Austen and this was fabulous as ever! ^_^
~ The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Davies. A completely unexpected French novella - only ninety pages long! - which really affected me ... I loved it.
~ A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. This is the book that I was reading when I left (it's still on my sidebar, at least it will be until I change it), and at nearly 1500 pages it took me until Christmas Eve to finish it. Let me tell you though, it was phenomenal. I might actually do a separate review post because I LOVE this book. A lot. A lot a lot.
~ I also reread the Harry Potter series .... third time lucky ;) Seriously my obsession just grows with age. They will never not be my favourite books. (Among other books, of course, but still. Favourite books.)

Aaaand .... films! (That I watched for the first time. I mean, I watched She's The Man last night and it's still one of the greatest films ever but you guys probably already know how much I love it.) Anyway:
~ American Hustle. I saw this in January and it was soooo good! I can understand all the awards! 
~ Spiderman 2. Saw that two weeks ago. Fantastic. And emotionally devastating. Looking back it had to come ... but I didn't see it coming!! No sir! ~wail~
~ Frozen! DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAAAANNN??? I'm aware that you Disneyaholics will have raved, raved and raved again about this film and I am very late jumping on the bandwagon - but that's what comes of extremely long hiatuses! My favourite song? Honestly, I love Love Is An Open Door (I'm listening to it right now, LIFE CAN ME SO MUCH MORE, WITH YOU, WITH YOU, WITH YOOOUUU!) but now I listen to and it just seems like a lie! Ugh I totally bought into Anna-Hans (Hanna?) - didn't see the end coming! 
~ Dirty Dancing. I watched it the other night, for the first time, and I loved it! :D
There are probably more, but I can't remember right now. 

~ Permafrost by Laurena Segura. This is a beautiful song. Here:

~ Discovered a pretty awesome band called City and Colour. Get on Spotify my friends!
~ May or may not have got very very into Taylor Swift ... yes I know. Not very indie. BUT WHO CARES! 
~ I also saw WICKED! IT WAS SO GOOD! I'd never seen it before and didn't know any of the songs but it was just amazing!!!
~ I also saw the Romeo and Juliet ballet, which whilst not entirely faithful to the plot was beautiful and I loved it.
~ Incidentally, that reminds me, we studied Romeo and Juliet in English before Christmas. I became obsessed with it. It is beautiful and I love it.
.... just remembered that this is still the 'music' list. Ah well, now it's the everything else list too!
~ Speaking of English, I studied and fell in love with the poetry of Wilfred Owen. Disabled - check it out. The last two lines hurt my heart.
~ I have written slightly more of that novel ... it's slow progress though. I've somewhat lost the plot. (And when I say somewhat, I mean almost totally.)
~ Discovered Humans of New York. Love love love.
~ Yes, I have exams. But let's not talk about them.
~ Aaand I've done some other fairly normal stuff. Bought some clothes. And some books. Been on holiday. Given presents. Received presents. Been out with friends. Murdered peopl-- just joking. Normal stuff.

... And that, my friends, is an incomplete list of some of the things I've done in some of the time since I left.

Moving swiftly onwards.

I think that's all from me for today - wow, this whole post writing thing is pretty hard when you're out of practice - but I WILL be posting again soon! Maybe on Thursday. We shall see. Now it's time to go and read some of the amazing blogs I've been missing, so I'll leave with a few amusing pictures!


I cry, friends. I cry.


... OK so that turned into quite a lot of amusing pictures ... it's been a long time, kay! Now then ... I will see you very shortly!

~ Emily