Life Updates: Cats and Discount Skulls

I had a big list of book related post ideas but then I realised that I haven’t just spoken to you guys in a while. So…Hi! Hows it going? Good? Good.

So what have I been up to? Well I have some new skulls!

Over  the last month or so I have been doing some skull buying experiments. You might recognise the human skull from photos that appear on this blog and my Instagram (@Belle_and_books), so he isn’t new, but the two next to him are my two skull buying experiments.

The human skull is called Fred by the way. It is also the name of the skull who is littered all over this blog.

I was inspired by the Youtube series Gothic Homemaking and their episodes on skulls and taxidermy to do some of my own shopping around. Which would look better, a fake resin skull or a real taxidermy skull? So I set out to find one of each. The bird skull I found in an oddities market and was being sold by a vegan taxidermist who sources all of her dead animals ethically. She was someone I went to school with so she cut me a deal since the bird’s beak was a little damaged. (You can follow the taxidermist and all of her morbid works on Instagram at @FeralWitchJewellery tell her I said hello) The cat skull isn’t as interesting. I bought it from Amazon for £5. It is entirely fake. I cant decide which I like better but the cat skull is a little more sturdy because you know…bird bones are small.

In bigger and more exciting news: This Sunday, as in two days from now, I AM GETTING A CAT!

A little black kitten is rolling into my life on the first of October. She is a 9 week old rescue cat who I have affectionately named Mort. And before you ask, yes that is a Terry Pratchett reference. I pity any mice that wander into my house in the future because I have a cat who is somewhat called death.

I have been wanting a cat for years and now I am properly settled into my new home my partner and I decided that it was finally time to get the cat that I have always wanted. We went to a shelter last weekend where we were shown their newest arrivals; a cage of black kittens who had recently been in foster care. They had been left at the shelter in a box with no mother when they were very tiny so they had to be raised by a foster. This means that Mort will forever be a house cat because she had no mummy to teach her cat stuff.

I think the people at the shelter were a little biased because they had other new kittens who were different colours but she took one look at me and steered us toward the black cats. Aw well, I wanted a black one anyway. We picked her over her siblings because while I was talking to the shelter staff she reached out of her cage and kept grabbed my long black cardigan. I think she adopted me a little bit.

Maybe I will write another update post about the day I go to collect her. Lately I have been busy stocking up on kitten toys and supplies.

Now I am off to take a shower while I waiting on a pizza to arriving at my house. Have a good evening and if you have a cat give me some cat parenting tips, I will need them.

Also if you want to know what I am up to when I am not blogging about books or you want to follow my library unpacking process follow me on Instagram @Belle_and_books because I kinda live there, or check out my GoodReads to see what I am currently reading.

Oh and if you are in a morbid, possibly Halloweeny mood, I recommend checking out Ask a Mortician on Youtube. I have been watching her videos all day.

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On New Hair and Being Busy

I have sucked at two things this month: Reading and Blogging. The problem with running a book blog is that it gets a little difficult to blog when you havent really had time to read anything. So I thought I would make some time to sit and update you all on things while I enjoy a pasta salad. (Well, somewhat enjoy because it is making me feel rather sick) I think it is important to just chat with you guys sometimes rather than spending all my time throwing books at your heads.

The main reason for not blogging and reading lately is that I have simply been busy. Over the last three weeks I have had a convention to go to, (which takes up a whole weekend, involves preparing cosplays and generally leaves you very exhausted after), an event at work,(I work in digital marketing so you can see why I would be busy when a company plans an event) and I had a concert to attend yesterday. I went to see Green Day live and it was brilliant. ….Even though I had a full grown man dropped on my head at one point and my hearing is a bit messed up today.

Another reason for not blogging or reading is that I just haven’t felt like it. Being so busy is tiring so I just don’t feel like spending my free time reading. What free time I have I spend it fighting the urge to lay face down on the floor and simply not move. I also fear that I have read myself into a reading slump. I dont know about you but sometimes I have brilliant reading highs where I finish multiple books in a week and spend all of my time book shopping, but then I end up crashing into a reading slump. I will get over it. I always do. I haven’t stopped reading entirely but I have mostly been reading graphic novels.

On a vain and completely irrelevant note, I have had another big change lately. I shaved half of my head!

Don’t worry, I didn’t do it myself. I went to a professional stylist who specialises in alternative hair. It is a big deal for me because I never change my hair style. I have worn it loose and long for probably 10 years now. I barely wear it up. People usually try to deter me from cutting my hair so this time I didn’t tell anyone I was getting it done. I just did it. My hair is naturally black and silky so people hate it being cut and since shaving half of it off I have had to listen to a lot of “Oh no all of that lovely dark hair is gone” in various forms. They like the style, just not the idea of my hair being shaved off. Aw well, hair grows back. The important part is that I love it. The short side feels like a puppy when I stroke it.

So how have you been? Tell me something exciting that has happened to you this month. I would love to hear it.

Book Haul: Come Book Shopping with Me (+OOTD, MOTD and Book Porn)

This is a blog idea I have been dwelling on for a while. What if I combined my love of books, fashion, makeup and taking general pretty pictures into one big post? It would be like taking you all with me in a way. So, lets go book shopping.

Every month I go book shopping after I get paid. It is a heavy duty operation with lots of planning. I set a budget, decide on what secondhand bookshops I will be visiting and write out a list of every book I am looking for, usually I print two copies so if anyone comes with me they can help. A lot of work goes into one book shopping trip.

The Haul


I only bought 6 books on this months book hunt. I usually shop in second hand bookshops so I usually get larger book hauls for my budget.

I bought:

Soulless and Heartless by Gail Carriger

This is a steampunk, Victorian paranormal series. It kept popping up on my recommended lists online so I bought the first two books in the series.

The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson

I have been searching for this book for years. My dad has been harassing me to read it, so I am glad to finally own a copy so I can shut him up.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

All I know about this book is that it contains Dracula and people keep telling me it is good, so naturally I snatched it up when I saw it on a shelf.

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

An Irish horror written by an Irish person about Irish fairies, sign me the hell up! I have seen books with similar ideas written by Americans and they always miss the mark when it comes to Irish folklore. So as a Irish person this book has me excited. Fairies have proper horror potential.

Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis

This is a slight sequel to American Psycho. This was recommended to me by a friend and she has awesome book taste so I am excited to finally own a copy of this.
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Makeup of the Day and Outfit of the Day

My everyday style is usually described as alternative or “goth”. I wear black 90% of the time and listen to goth bands like The Cure and Souixse and the Banshees, so maybe there is something behind what people label me. I dunno. Anyway, lets talk makeup.

It was a hot day on Saturday so I toned down my usual makeup look. Normally I am a fan of dark lips, contouring and lots of eyeshadow, but on a hot day most of that stuff will run down my face, especially if I am walking around a lot. NYX has only became available in Belfast so I am a little addicted at the moment and a lot of my makeup is from there.

The makeup I wear:

NYX eyeshadow in “Raven”.
NYX eyeshadow in “Diamond Dust”
Collection 2000 liquid eyeliner
Max Factor 3-in-1 foundation in the palest shade possible. (I dont try to look pale, this just matches my corpse coloured skin tone)
Collection 2000 pressed powder in “porcelain”
NXY liquid cream matte lipstick in “Rome”.

The clothes:

Since it was a hot day I went for my current favourite dress which is my new plain black maxi dress. Outside of this blog I write about affording alternative clothing on a budget, so since I planned to snap a photo for those posts I wore an outfit I bought almost entirely from Primark.
Black Maxi dress: Primark
Corset Belt: Primark
Black Lace Shawl: Primark
Boots: New Look.

My entire outfit cost almost £20 since I managed to get my boots for FREE a few months ago.

On Saturday I visited two of my favourite secondhand bookshops: Oxfam Books and Keats and Chapman. The latter I have written a few blog posts about on here. I love both of the shops in their own way. Keats and Chapman is beautiful and a perfect place to go if you want to hunt through lots of books for a long time. Oxfam Books is better at organising their books so things are easier to find and they have recently reduced all of their book prices.

I snapped a few pretty pictures for you while I was out so enjoy some book porn.





So, do you like this type of blog post and would like to see more in the future? This might be a book blog but I don’t see why I can’t include the occasional other interest, especially if it is some way book related. Also let me know if you have read any of the book I bought.

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 childhood reads

Two things made up my childhood: Animals and books. There were dozens of other things but those two are the most consistent and defined. I started learning to read when I was three years old. My mother was a stay at home parent who grew bored and decided to make teaching her toddler to read a pet project. We couldn’t afford books so we would walk to the library once a week to pick out things we wanted to read. It was a grand Victorian building that still stands to this day, though now it has been rebuilt since parts of it were blown up during my childhood. Good old, Northern Irish Troubles, not even libraries were immune on bad days. The library was split in two, adults to the left and the children’s section to the right, so when my mother and I walked through the doors we would part ways. I would find her again when I found the three books I wanted to borrow, because 3 year old me had her own library card. I was like Matilda, except I had a mother who loved me. Maybe I will revisit that library and write about it some day. I have always wanted to.

Starting school brought along more books and bigger words. Due to my head start in reading my teachers had to bring in books from the classrooms of older students to keep me entertained. Nothing in the classroom library was challenging enough so my mother complained to the school and that started the importing in of books from the years above to keep me happy. I didn’t have many friends in primary school, and the few I had were dyslexic and spent their lunch times in special extra lessons. So I spent my lunch time play times sitting on a wall with my back against a cherry blossom tree reading while the rest of my small school played around me. I was never lonely or bored, I had fictional characters for company.

So these are my top 5 childhood reads.

All Dr Suess Books

The beginning is always a good place to start. My mother taught me to read using Dr Seuss. I still remember walking into the children’s section of the library and seeing the shelf with every Dr Suess book lined up on it. They had a magnificent collection. I would always lift one and gradually I read my way through the entire series by the time I was five. Of course I dont remember the first book I ever read, but according to my mother it was Fox in Socks. Green Eggs and Ham is always one of my favourites though, and I quote it quite often.

 

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

This was one of the first two novels I ever read, and the reason why I picked out this one over the first novel is that I enjoyed this book more. I read Fantastic Mr Fox DOZENS of times. I read it so often that I could fly through it in a single bedtime sitting. I adored the main character and his cleverness, how disgusting the villains were and the morbidness of Mr Fox getting his tail shot off. This book made my childhood and it was one of the few books I actually owned. I used to keep it under my pillow for regular nightly rereads, at least until my parents bought me Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to give me something new to read.

Tailypo by Joanna Galdone

I lost a month’s worth of sleep because this book. A source of nightmares isn’t something you expect from someones Top Childhood Books, but this book marked my childhood so much that I just had to put it on this list. This book was so scary that children in my school were daring each other to read it. You might remember me mentioning a similar thing about Welcome to Dead House but I actually read this one at the time. I have reread this picture book since and I didn’t loose any sleep over it but it still creeped me out, though that could be my inner child telling me to burn the bloody thing and throw the ashes into the sea. For a month I just kept picturing the Tailypo monster sitting at the foot of my bed waiting to rip my insides out.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My first Sherlock Holmes novel. I first read this book when I was 9. I found a battered old copy of it in a charity shop and begged my mother to buy it for me. Before I got my hands on the book I was OBSESSED with Basil of Baker Street and the Granada series of Sherlock Holmes. (Look up Jeremy Brett if you want a brilliant adaptation to watch) Do you know how small children make their parents watch the Little Mermaid or Frozen over and over until everyone hates it? Well, for little me that was Basil of Baker Street. I was odd. Screw princesses I wanted to be a Sherlockian mouse. It started a lifetime Sherlock Holmes addiction and naturally once I was old enough to read at that level I picked up The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I still have my original copy of this book and it is even more battered than it was when I first bought it due to its many trips in my school bag. It even has childish scribbles inside where I ticked off the stories I had read as I progressed through the book multiple times. This is one of those books you can look back on and say formed who you are as a person.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban by JK Rowling

I think Harry Potter is going to be on most people’s lists.

I read this book after all of the books listed above. The Prisoner of Askaban was the first Harry Potter book I read. The series wasn’t popular yet and I didn’t know that the other books existed, or that I had to read them in order. I still remember the day it was bought for me. My grandmother decided I had earned a treat and told me to go into a nearby bookshop and pick out anything I wanted. I stood in children’s novel section reading the backs of various books. This one had wizards and murderers in it and a big scary dog on the back, I was sold. I flew through it multiple times before finally getting my hands on the first and second books. The fourth didn’t exist yet and I had to wait a year or two before it did.

I dont think I can say that Harry Potter was my childhood like some people claim because I already had other books that did that job before Harry showed up in my life. I can say that it has formed my social life though because all of my friends now and my partner are Harry Potter fans. We all know our Hogwarts houses, wizarding careers (since we are all too old for Hogwarts), buy each other wands as gifts and even travelled to America together to visit Harry Potter Universal Studios. It has given me so many memories and lifetime experiences.

And to answer any house and career questions: I am a Slytherin, and I work for the Mystery of Magic dealing with abused and illegally traded magical creatures.

This was a bit of a rambling post but I hope you enjoyed it. What were your favourite childhood reads? Or even better, what would your Harry Potter wizarding career be?

Top 5 Tuesdays are hosted by Bionic Book Worm

The Ultimate Book Tag

I saw this tag floating around the book blogging world and decided that it looked like fun. I won’t be tagging anyone specific in it so feel free to do it yourself if you fancy it.

1. Do you get sick while reading in a car?
No! I read daily on public transport and it has never bothered me. I normally don’t read in regular cars because I am busy pointing out random dogs in passing to my partner. I might be a bit of an annoying passenger.

2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?
I am going to pick my favourite author of all time for this one: Neil Gaiman. His writing style is so fun. It is clever, witty and doesn’t take itself too seriously while also being dark at times.

3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
Harry Potter. I dont think I could limit my reasons for hating Twilight to 3 points. It is a waste of paper, always has been and always will be.

4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)?
Always. I usually carry a book on me at all times, especially for work on weekdays. I also carry: My makeup bag, phone, a note book, my keys, iPod, fountain pens (because I refuse to write with any other type of pen), and wipes and tissues for emergencies.

5. Do you smell your books?
Openly and often. I even wear perfume that smells like an old book.

6. Books with or without little illustrations?
Both. I love proper novels but I am also a HUGE graphic novel fan. Bring on the comics!

7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
Anything by Cassandra Clare. Some people will hate me for this but I dont care. She stole all of the ideas for her work and now keeps writing the same thing over and over, probably because she hasn’t found another writer to steal from.

8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
Tons of them because I am a bit of an idiot.

When I was in primary school I carried around a very heavy hardback classics collection, Sherlock Holmes and a ghost stories collection at the same time in my bag. I tripped and the weight of my bag made me topple over so I landed face down on the street. …Long story short, one of my front teeth is fake because I carried around too many heavy books.

9. What is the tiniest book on your shelf?
Green Eggs and Ham.

10. What is the thickest book on your shelf?
I have no idea. Probably a non fiction book because I have a lot of encyclopedias.

11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
I am a published short story writer and journalist. So maybe some day. I think I just need a big enough idea to make a full novel of rather than a short story.

12. When did you get into reading?
I started learning to read when I was 3 years old, and I haven’t stopped since.

13. What is your favourite classic book?
The entire Sherlock Holmes series.

14. In school what was your best subject?
Biology. I liked taking things apart. Also history and English literature.

15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do?
I would put it on “The Borrow Shelf”. It is a shelf in my library where I keep copies of books that I have doubles of or dont care much about. I loan those to people rather than risking lending my pretty copies to people.

16. What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?
No idea. This is a dumb question.

17. What is a bad habit you always do while blogging?
Lowkey blogging at work on my breaks, or getting distracted.

18. What is your favorite word?
Hodgepodge. It means a messy mixture of things. It is fun to say.

19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
Nerd. I read comics, cosplay, work in technology and love science fiction. So I am definitely a nerd.

20. Vampires or Fairies? Why?
FAIRIES! I am Irish! Never mess with Fairies.

21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Shapeshifters. Angles are a bit boring.

22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Spirits. I love ghost stories. I haven’t read a werewolf story that wasnt some sort of romantic Twi-shite inspired nonsense.

23. Zombies or Vampires? Why?
Vampires. Zombies dont have personalities, but I suppose that is their point.

24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
None of the above.

25. And finally: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Action! I hate romance novels. They are usually unhealthy, boring and very unrealistic. I would rather have explosions.

Why We Need to Stop Hating on Audiobooks

“I only read REAL books”

“I can’t read if I can’t touch the book”

“You didn’t really read it if you only listened to it”

Sound familiar at all? I have heard this from a stream of people over the years when I mention that I occasionally listen to audiobooks. It usually comes from casual readers who think they are special because they managed to read one thing on the best seller list.

I get annoyed when people hate on audiobooks, and not just because I enjoy them. Hating on audiobooks and dismissing them as a form of reading is alienating people who don’t have the ability to physically read. When you say to someone that their enjoyment of a book doesn’t count because they listened to it you are potentially discouraging them from picking up a book ever again. Think about that, your comment could stop a potential reader from never enjoying a book again.

I have spoken to quite a few people who rely on audiobooks for literature. Hell, I once built an entire book playlist for people with learning difficulties. Many of the young people I worked with wanted to read the likes of Harry Potter or the classics but had difficulties reading. Audiobooks gave them the ability to enjoy books for the first time. This can also apply to people with ADHD, dyslexia, Tourettes, visual problems or people who simply do not have English as a first language. Audiobooks can unlock the world of literature to all of those people.

Reading should be accessible to everyone. Whether you listen to audiobooks while at work because you simply don’t have the time to sit and read, or you spend all day pouring over the battered pages of your favourite novel, you are reading. So next time you ever feel the urge to say that an audiobook isn’t a real book think about who you are talking to. Maybe there is a reason why they are listening to it.

The Get to Know Me Tag!

I have been really enjoying getting back into book blogging lately, and as much fun as books are it is nice to get to know the person behind the blog a little. I first saw this tag over at Bionic Bookworm’s blog so go give her post a read too.

VITAL STATS

NAME: Bernadette

NICKNAMES: None. Sadly my friends are not very creative. 

BIRTHDAY: The 8th of September.

STAR SIGN: Virgo.

OCCUPATION: Digital Designer. I manage all social media, web design and graphic design for a big car company.

LIVING IN: Belfast, Northern Ireland. I am a city girl, and I live with my partner in a large house that we only bought a few months ago.

APPEARANCE

HAIR COLOUR: Jet black

HAIR LENGTH: Just past shoulder length. It used to be butt length until I chopped it off last year. I am growing it back.

EYE COLOUR: Bright green but sometimes they are pale green.

BEST FEATURE: My eyes. I get a lot of compliments on them because they are quite big.

BRACES: A long time ago. I wore braces for 4 years of secondary school. It was awful.

PIERCINGS: 5 ear piercings. 2 in my right ear and 3 in my left.

TATTOOS: None, but I am getting a half sleeve designed for my 30th birthday next year. I put it off so I could spend tons of money on a custom sleeve.

RIGHT OR LEFT: Left

Have some selfies because why not!

FIRSTS

REAL HOLIDAY: My first holiday outside of Ireland and the UK wasn’t really a holiday. I went to France and Belgium when I was 17 to visit World War 1 battle locations. I learned so much and ate tons of delicious food.

BEST FRIEND: A plastic skeleton named Dead Fred. …Oh you mean real people? My first best friend was called Nicola. We bonded over our love of vampires and being odd.

AWARD: My primary school actually invented their science award specifically for me. We had been learning about bugs that year and I kept bringing spiders into class because I thought it would help. The teacher thought it was brilliant, the students, not so much.

SPORT: Karate. I studied it for 7 years before discovering Jiu Jitsu.

CONCERT: My Chemical Romance. A silly emo band but I never say no to free tickets.

FAVOURITES

TV SHOWS: American Horror Story, Criminal Minds, Penny Dreadful and some anime.

COLOUR: Red

SONGS: Lovecats by The Cure, Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie, Happy House by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Nancy Boy by Placebo and lately I have been addicted to the song Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division. .

RESTAURANT: A place in town called Sticks and Stones. It is an expensive steak restaurant that lets you cook your own steak on rocks. Also AM:PM which is a fine dining Cabaret restaurant, and I eat a lot of Korean BBQ.

SHOPS: My local used bookshop, obviously. It is called Keats and Chapman. For clothes I mostly shop in a place in Belfast called Vintage and Retro. I browse that place regularly to hunt for band shirts and vintage pieces.

BOOKS: Anything by Neil Gaiman or HG Wells are my favourites. Also the Sherlock Holmes series and The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

SHOES: I am a boots kind of girl. If the shoes look like I could kick a man to death while wearing them I will probably like them. Right now my favourite pair of shoes are a pair of pointed toe ankle boots that are covered in buckles.

BOOK GENRES: Horror, thriller, science fiction and fantasy.

CURRENTLY

FEELING: Relaxed – It is Friday night and I am just finished my weekly pampering session.

SINGLE OR TAKEN: Taken. I have been with my partner for almost 5 years.

EATING: Nothing but considering getting up and getting some hummus from the fridge.

THINKING ABOUT: Should I get hummus? Should I put my laptop away and read more of the new Rick Riordan book? Will I ever finish painting my nails? Find out next week on…!

WATCHING: My partner playing Breath of the Wild and giving occasional sarcastic commentary.

WEARING: Alice in Wonderland pajamas that my mum bought me for Christmas. 

DO YOU…..

HAVE KIDS: Nope, but I would like some one day. I am very much a career girl so I would like to have only one kid, two at the most. I already have names picked out. Victor for a boy and Matilda for a girl.

WANT TO TRAVEL: Hell yeah! My partner and I are going to London (again) next year to visit the West End. We also plan on visiting Japan, New York and I want to go back to France and Belgium. I miss them, even though I have been to France 3 times.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF: Yes I do. I am generally Little Miss Confidence most of the time. I have bad days like everyone else, but generally I believe I can do anything if I put my mind to it. If I have a bad day I just remind myself of everything I accomplished on my own and it makes me feel better.

I am not going to tag anyone in this, but I have one request: Do this tag and share a link to it with me. I would love to get to know some other bloggers on here.