Katie Vibes
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April Wrap-Up | Beauty, Lifestyle, Books

Woohoo! I uploaded my first YouTube video in EIGHT MONTHS. Hopefully I'll have some time to do these things more often now that uni is letting up for summer.

Watch above for a wrap-up of my five favourite books and five favourite beauty/lifestyle things from April!

Books mentioned:
The Vegetarian
Human Acts
Charlotte Brontë: A Life
Agnes Grey

Products mentioned:
Zuzu Luxe Eyeliner
Zuzu Luxe Mascara
RAL Heart n Soul Lipstick*
RAL Barely Pink Lipliner*
Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Hemp Protein Powder
Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar

This post contains affiliate links.

What I've Read in 2016 So Far

Quick reviews on some awesome things that I have read lately because the book club reviews have kind of fallen into a black hole. And yep, I'm recycling the planned image - don't judge. 2016 is currently sitting at 32 books read. Could be better, but still pretty good.

The Gracekeepers - Kirsty Logan 4/5
After reading A Portable Shelter last year, I was eager to move on to Logan's debut novel, The Gracekeepers. This apocalyptic fantasy follows two girls through a world that is greatly submerged by water. Separated by the world's new class system, a circus girl and a gracekeeper find each other when they need each other most.

Beloved - Toni Morrison 4/5
A modern American classic if they ever was one. This sits at the top of my list of favourite university-assigned readings. We follow a former slave and her family, as they navigate the free world and encounter figures from the past along the way. Beautiful, and truly haunting.

Jellyfish - Janice Galloway 4/5
A Christmas present that I have only just got round to reading, Jellyfish is a stunning collection of short stories from well-known Scottish author, Janice Galloway. With a mystical beach trip and musically influenced arson; this collection goes right down to the bare bones, giving us witness to both individual and societal degeneration. Absolutely brilliant and I must read more Galloway right away. 

Awesome things also read so far in 2016:
Mona Lisa - Alexander Lernet-Holenia
Embroideries - Marjane Satrapi
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - Catherynne M. Valente
Love Medicine - Louise Erdrich
The Fry Chronicles - Stephen Fry
Giovanni's Room - James Baldwin
The Atom Station - Halldór Laxness
The Crucible - Arthur Miller

To follow my reading, add me on Goodreads.

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Book Club Catch-Up: The Last Animal and Letters From Iceland

I've been a little busy lately, what with starting semester B, and therefore I seem to have fallen a little behind in terms of my Book Club reviews. Unfortunately, my memory of why I enjoyed a book wanes quite quickly and so I've decided to slot both December and January's review in to the same blog post. We shall hopefully return to normal programming with February's review which, funnily enough, will also include two books as we're doubling up.

December: The Last Animal by Abby Geni
Let's just start by saying that I adored this book and I am quite devstated that it has taken me this long to read it. I heard about it in one of Mercy's early videos and I did infact recieve it as a Christmas present in 2014. It's probably one of the longest standing books on my shelves. The Last Animal is a wonderful short story collection composed of tales that all involve humans and their relationships with a certain species of animal. For example, a young woman who looks after a giant octopus in an aquarium or a family that lives on an ostrich farm. Despite being mostly realist, the stories all carry an air of magical realism because of their dreamy descriptions and fleshed out characters, human and animal alike. In the past I have found it hard to sit down and devour a short story collection but I found this relatively easy with The Last Animal; I finished it in about two days. 

Geni has just published her first novel The Lightkeepers, and after reading The Last Animal, I can safely say that I shall be reading it this year. 

January: Letters From Iceland by W. H. Auden and Louis MacNeice 
 Letters From Iceland was Kirsty's choice and we were both eager to pick it up in January in light of her upcoming trip to Iceland. I'm definitely jealous, and after reading this wonderful part poetry collection part travel memoir, the feeling has only increased. In this lovely little book - and lovely it was, experiencing it through a beautifully old 50s library copy - we follow Auden and MacNeice on their journeys throughout Iceland for research after Auden is commissioned for a book. One of my favourite parts of this read was the fact that many sections were made up of fictional poetic letters addressed to Lord Byron. Through his witty and charming rhymes, Auden brings Byron (and us) along on his journey of barren landscapes, horseriding, and strange foods. These poems were often hilarious and provided short respite from the longer travel-focused passages which sometimes tip-toed the line between informative and dry. Although some parts of this book held preccedence for me over the others, I'm extrememly glad that I read it and it has reawakened my admiration for Icelandic literature and my lust to read absolutely everything Halldor Laxness has ever written. 

 What have you been reading recently?

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Book Club: The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell

I apologise in advance that is so late! I had promised myself that I would read and review our Book Club reads in the same month but unfortunately, November ran away without me and I only managed to finish The Death of Bees way towards the end of the month. So, without further ado, here is my review!

In the first instance, I would like to note why I have used an internet image for this post. Unfortunately, my library copy of this book came with a horrendous cover that almost associated the story with, what the literary world likes to call, 'women's fiction'. I would also like to note that The Death of Bees is not that at all - it's dark, and intense.

 "We have seen death before, Marnie and I, a mountain of ice melting over time, drops of water freezing at your core reminding you every day of that which has vanished, but the despair we know today is a sadness sailing sorrow through every bone and knuckle.”

The Death of Bees follows various perspectives including a pair of sisters and their nosy next door neighbour, Lennie. The novel opens with the sisters burying their parents in the back garden and it is from here, that the narrative grows. Marnie and Nelly are truly unreliable narrators and this is something that I can really get on board with. In addition, their both wonderfully round characters with their own quirks, interests, and downfalls. Marnie is a highly intelligent adolescent tearaway with equally as troubled friends, and Nelly is a creative creature of habit with an impressive penchant for the violin.

I found O'Donnell's writing to be really unique and the book's short, choppy chapters made it incredibly easy to devour in just a single day. You rarely find good literary fiction that is - like The Death of Bees - both beautifully written and fast-paced. I didn't find any perspectives to be any stronger than the others, and I really appreciated this. Often with these kind of stories, you find yourself pining for certain perspectives and sometimes skipping others. 

I'm glad to have been pushed to pick this up as it wouldn't have been something that I would have chosen myself (mainly because of the cover). However, it turned out to be highly enjoyable and I suggest that you give it a go if you like darker narratives.