Books I took to Iceland!

I took a trip to Iceland after stressful couple months of revising for some pretty important exams (which I recently found out I passed!). I was sure I was going to get a lot of relaxing and reading done, but my body had other ideas and decided it was time to get poorly. C’est la vie! I took some great books though…

Books I took to Iceland!

Dominion by Jennifer Ridyard & John Connolly*
I did it! I finally read this gosh darn book and it was as fantastic as I knew it would be. I shut it and was immediately overtaken with a bone-deep need for more that I know will never come. Heartbreaking! But a true YA masterpiece.

Magisterium: The Iron Trial*, The Copper Gauntlet*, The Bronze KeyThe Silver Mask and The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
I originally planned to take these, then changed my mind. But, as always happens, I ignored my own plans. Two minutes before walking out the door to catch my flight and you could find me shoving these into my, until then, reasonably full backpack. I did get around to starting my re-read of this series though so I don’t feel too bad.

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner*
I’ve been looking into reading more female-written fantasy after some big disappointments from male writers and Ellen Kushner is one of the heavy-hitters. This was first released in 1986 and then rereleased in 2016 and I really want to get to it soon. But new fantasy worlds are not a friend when you’re not feeling well!

Weight by Jeanette Winterson*
One of the books I need to read for my next term of university is a Jeanette Winterson so in true Imogen-fashion, I didn’t bring that, but brought another one of her books. This is a retelling of theAtlas story and my mum actually nabbed it off me on this trip and loved it.

A Hero Born by Jin Yong*
Everyone and their mother seems to rave about these books. There have been unofficial translations for years and I was super stoked when I heard of the official translations finally being put out. Again, new fantasy worlds are not for reading when you’re poorly but I’m desperate to start this soon.

The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams*
I loved The Ninth Rain so much. So much! But I decided after a couple chapters to leave this to next year when the third and final book in the trilogy is coming out. I don’t have the best memory so I’m thinking a good 1000+ page binge of the end of this series is for the best. I can’t wait.

Have you read any of these?

Books I Took to Mallorca!

I had long decided Mallorca was going to be my ‘reading’ holiday where I do almost nothing but eat, read and rest. I was determined to get some good pages turned, mainly of review copies since I found myself with a pile of seriously exciting upcoming releases. Unfortunately it ended up being less relaxing then I hoped, but hey- lets talk about the books that made their way to Mallorca with me!

Books I Took to Pollença!

The Coffin Dancer by Jeffery Deaver
I planned my packing list of books carefully this time and I still winded up shoving The Coffin Dancer in my backpack on my way out the door. I’m ridiculous! In my defense though, I was about 50 pages in and it’s so little. I read a good chunk of this while I was away and finished it soon after I got back!

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon and The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald
Both of these were in my ‘Required Reading’ haul and that’s why they were both packed. My next assignment is a choice between the two of them. I started The Emigrants but it’s a tough read and I just wanted a week without university stress so I put it down again.

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh*
I missed the initial Flame in the Mist hype but with the new cover and the upcoming release of the second book, I’m hopping on that hype. Plus, the main character in this dresses like a boy and I’m named after a Shakespeare character who does the same thing. I didn’t get round to it on the trip but it’s top of my TBR.

Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir*
This is one of my most anticipated reads of this year. So delaying reading this when I got it about two weeks before my holiday was killing me. As I pack, I change my mind of what I want to take a lot, but this was the first thing in my suitcase. I powered through this on my trip and I liked it!

The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams*
I really wanted to finish The Ninth Rain before I went on holiday so I could take The Bitter Twins but I didn’t. So I brought both along because the idea of ten days without Jen Williams writing seemed like torture. I don’t think I can go back to male written fantasy after this, Williams has opened my eyes!

Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio*
This is a science fiction book that Gollancz are putting out in July and I’m so excited. I haven’t read a good and thick space war book in so long. I didn’t end up picking it up but I’ve since started it and dang, it’s going to be an interesting read!

Have you read any of these? What do you think of my holiday picks?

Books I Took to Cancún, Mexico!

This is a strange post to be writing while there’s literal snow on the ground but I went to Cancún! The trip had been about five years in the making with my best friends from school and it was so fun. I saw one of the new seven wonders of the world, Mayan ruins, cenotes, and so many turtles! Plus, I packed up a bunch of books and even read a couple…

The Coffin Dance by Jeffery Deaver
I got about twenty pages into this before I left so I couldn’t leave it behind, but I didn’t read any more of it while I was away. I just wasn’t in the mood for a good detective novel, but I do like to always have one with me.

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey
Ever since I didn’t read this after failing the A-to-Z-readathon terribly, it’s been on my mind as a series I might want to pick up sometime soon. I’ve been missing urban fantasy in my life! While I didn’t end up reading it, one of my friends did and she liked it so that bodes well!

Night Shift by Charlaine Harris
This book has officially been to three countries with me; GreeceNorway, and now Mexico! Plus, I actually read it this time so it seems third times a charm! I am now officially caught up on all of Charlaine Harris’s series- what the heck do I read now, eh?

Hello Again by Brenda Novak*
I started this while I was away, and have since finished it. Because nothing is better to read about on white sandy beaches in the sunshine then serial killers! This series is so good, I’m already waiting impatiently for the next instalment.

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn
Another one that I read! Or at least got most of the way through. By sheer bad luck or bad planning on my part, I actually had an essay due on Oroonoko three days after I got back from my trip. Super relaxing! So, while I had to bring this, it was an interesting enough read.

Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire
If I had finished my Oroonoko essay (I didn’t, but just in case) the next book I have to read is Candide so I packed it. It’s pretty little so it wasn’t a huge deal though.

Empire and Dominion by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly*
Yeah, I’m the worst. These books are still unre-read/ unread despite travelling the globe with me this year. GreeceNorway, Mexico and I still haven’t got through more than 50 pages. 2018 is going to be the year!

Coming Out Under Fire by Allan Bérubé

I’ve been meaning to read this since I got it for Christmas last year but it’s a very tough and emotional read. Too much for this kind of holiday but hopefully I’ll get back to it in the next couple of months.
Have you read any of these? What did you think of my picks?

Travel: Munich and the Christmas Market!

Last Christmas Eve, I posted up a blog post about my trip to the Christmas markets of Cologne, or Köln. So, to continue this tradition, I’ve narrowed down my favourites from my recent trip to Munich. It helps me get into the holiday spirit, and hopefully helps some of you too! Willkommen in München…

I love how the markets contrast with the city. It feels so cosy even when you’re in an absolutely huge city. And the Glühwein mugs change from stall to stall, city to city, year to year. I’m a mug collector so it’s my kryptonite.

The main thing being sold in the markets was the nativity. I didn’t really notice it that much in Cologne last year but it was everywhere in Munich. Everything from the traditional little baby Jesus in the manger to little campfires for the stable that flickered and smoked. You could spend an absolute fortune putting one together with an unbelievable amount of detail if you wanted to!

Although most of the decorations I bought there were of cats- I do have a soft spot for how these beautiful etched wooden ones look. They don’t really match any of my Christmas decor, but we did end up buying one that spins slowly when warm for above the fireplace. High above the fireplace obviously.

In general, Munich was just really lovely to walk around. Germany definitely decorate their cities more than the British, and the Nutella crepes were amazing. But I preferred Cologne for the Christmas atmosphere. Rather than the separate and distinct markets, the Munich one just sprawled through the city (and it didn’t have a chocolate museum). I guess it’s personal preference! They’re both amazing and I can’t wait to go back to Germany next December.

Merry Christmas Eve! What do you think of the Christmas Markets?

Travel: My Trip to the Christmas Markets of Cologne!

Earlier this month I went to Cologne, or Köln, in Germany to visit the Christmas Markets. I’ve grown up around the German Christmas Market in Manchester so I’ve always been interested in seeing an actual German version. I took a bunch of pictures while I was over there so I thought I’d show the best ones and share the Christmas spirit tonight!

The main reason to go to Cologne is the beautiful cathedral, and the massive Christmas market that goes with it. It’s super pretty, even to me, who has almost no knowledge of architecture or cathedrals. I didn’t go in but I took a while to admire the huge old building in the middle of a very modern city. This was also the only market we could find the mini puff pancakes with Nutella and icing sugar that taste so good.

Of course, the reason I chose Cologne was the famed Chocolate museum. I’m a big chocolate person so I found it absolutely fascinating. You got little freebies and it had a lot of the history at the beginning, then went on to how it’s made, then up to it actually being made. It’s seriously a must-visit if you love chocolate. There’s even a greenhouse with a huge cocoa plant. I found the hand wrapping of Lindt Santa so cool, especially since I’ll be eating a (smaller) one tomorrow.

My favourite market was the Home of the Elves. The elves that looked a lot like gnomes to me, but never mind. I had my first Glögg with my friend and those little elf gnome things were the cutest that I went back to this market the most to soak up the atmosphere. There’s a whole folklore about these little guys doing the people of Cologne’s housework for them until a tailer’s wife got curious and left peas on the floor to trip the gnomes. This annoyed them and they never came back, so the people of Cologne had to do their own housework from then on!

Another market I went back to was the Market of the Angels as it had an amazing decorations store. It was all one way, you walked around the different sections and ended up at the tills, so I ended up spending way too many Euros buying all sorts of ornaments for my tree and as gifts for people. The whole market felt a little more elegant, whereas the others were very rustic, and it was really nice seeing how different the markets could be.

The last market I have to show you is the Village of St. Nicholas! I just managed to snap some pictures of the little bears on swings in the tudor-y themed market before catching the tram back to my hotel. The German markets really go all out compared to the ones in England, I was amazed at all the little extras and themes.

I leave you with a reminder of who is dragging around your presents tonight. This trip actually marked something off my 30 Before 30 List, and I really recommend it as a holiday if you’re looking to go away next December. I think the Cologne markets could put even Scrooge and the Grinch in a Christmas spirit. Don’t forget to check out what books I took here!

I hope you’re having a good Christmas Eve! Have you ever been to the Christmas Markets?

5 Things I’ve brought Home from my Travels!

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a few different countries, and I’ve picked up more than a couple momentos along the way. Going to new places, seeing extraordinary sights and experiencing new cultures is one of those things that I just think is so valuable and important. And it’s neat to have things to remind you of those times. So here are 5 things I’ve brought home from my travels…

1. A Moroccan Tea Set!
I went to Marrakech a couple years ago and it was a really interesting trip. I’d never been to anywhere in Africa before so it was great going to a new continent. One of my absolute favourite things about the area, apart from the baking, was the mint tea. I’m sure anyone who has been knows exactly why I was in love with it and drank it all the time. So when I was doing some holiday shopping I went off and found my own teapot and sugar bowl, and they came home with me.

2. A Statue of David from Florence!
I’ve been to Florence a couple times in my life. It’s where my parents went for their honeymoon and they really love going back so I’ve tagged along with them. I was especially interested in going after watching Season 4 of Jersey Shore when they stay in Florence. Side note: The pizza place they worked at, Pizzeria O’Vesuvio, is the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life. The statue of David is just one of those cliché touristy things that you end up buying and he stands proud on my shelf.

3. An Antique Tin from the South of France!
I picked this up in a little antiques store in a little town that I honestly can’t remember the name of. It had a pickled snake in a jar, it was a little weird. Either way, I just remember finding the markings on the top absolutely beautiful and it came home with me to store my spare Euro change. I’d love to find out a bit more about it but I have no idea where to start.

4. An Eiffel Tower from Paris!
I have climbed all 674 stairs of the Eiffel Tower. Admittedly it nearly killed me, but I did it because I’m stubborn and when I get an idea in my head I really want to do, I do it. To commemorate this I have my lil’ one, it’s so cute and convenient for wrangling cellotape off parcels when I can’t be bothered finding scissors.

5. A Venetian Mask!
I went to Venice when I was a teenager and a friend of mine was having a masquerade party a couple weeks after I got back, so what better place to get a mask! It must have been just after I redecorated my room in red and black- oh young Imogen why- because I wanted the mask to match. It’s really beautiful and it makes me sad that it has a chip in the paint after so many years.

Do you collect from your travels?