Betty’s Book Club – My 2015 Reading List

I love books. Reading books, Buying books, Owning books, Talking about books, Flicking through books. Old books, New books, Fiction books, Non-fiction books. Books.

I have a bit of a book buying obsession actually, I certainly buy the more quickly than I can read them. Pete has even refused to buy me more books as gifts until I get through some of my massive stockpile of ones I bought and want to read but haven’t yet got around to.

I do find that, as much as I enjoy reading, I am finding less and less time to read these days. At the end of a day at work I’m often too tired to do much more than vegetate in front of the television for a few hours before dragging myself off to bed.

But, I want to change this and make more time for reading, for my own enjoyment and personal betterment. As a first step to achieving this I have dragged a few of the books waiting to be read off the bookshelf and I thought I would share with you a few of the titles I hope to be scratching off my Reading List over the next 12 months, in no particular order.

1. Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron. Kim Newman
This is the second book in the Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman; I read the first book ‘Anno Dracula’ last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. As you can probably tell from the title, this series feeds into my vampire obsession. The books are based on stories of what might have happened if Dracula hadn’t been defeated at the end of Bram Stoker’s novel and vampires were now a known entity in the world, living alongside humans. While the first book was based in Victorian London, this second book has moved forwards in time to look at events during the First World War.

2. The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin
Now a step into non-fiction; self-improvement/self-help books are an increasing interest of mine. I don’t get on with all of them, but I forever in search of one that will help me, even just a little, to make a bit more sense of myself and my life.
The Happiness Project is the story of how Gretchen Rubin set out to be happier and how other people can take their own happiness journey.

3. A Force to be Reckoned With: A History of the Women’s Institute. Jane Robinson
I love the WI. Although I am, sadly, currently not involved in a Women’s Institute, I have so many wonderful memories of my time in the Sotonettes and really hope to get back involved in another WI soon.
I am fascinated by the history of the WI and this book documents the many ways in which the WI has contributed to and shaped our nation and the wonderful and strong women who made it possible.

4. The Historian. Elizabeth Kostova
This book was given to me by my mum, who, knowing my interest in vampire fiction, felt this might be right up my street.
I don’t know much about the story, but it seems to stem strongly from Bram Stoker’s original Dracula story and is told from the point of view of a 16 year old girl in the 1970s who comes across a collection of letters and documents relating to the Dracula legend.

5. Anno Dracula: Dracula Cha Cha Cha. Kim Newman
I enjoyed the first Anno Dracula so much that, once I’d finished it, I bought the next two novels in the series immediately. This is the third novel, after The Bloody Red Baron above.
The third novel jumps forward in time again to 1959 and Rome, where an unknown person is taking out old vampires resident in the city.

6. The Vintage Teacup Club. Vanessa Greene
Another gift from my mum here, but a bit of a departure from the rest of the list. Mum described this as ‘a nice relaxing read’ in the note that accompanied it. It is true that something relaxing to read is probably just what I need after a lot of blood-soaked, high-tension vampire fiction.
This is a book about a friendship formed after a chance meeting over a vintage tea set at a car boot sale. My focus on gothic-horror in this reading list may detract from the fact that I also have a lovely, vintage tea-set kind of side to my personality, where a chat over tea and a slice of sponge cake is just what I fancy – so this book is to entertain that side of my personality. My only fear is that a story of friendship like this might actually be terribly upsetting for me at the moment as I am having ongoing loneliness issues (for another time).

7. Brave New World. Aldous Huxley
This book makes this list under the criteria of ‘classic book I feel I really should have read’. I bought this quite a while ago (more than a year) but haven’t actually managed to read it yet. There is a lot of classic literature that I feel I really should have read – I have bought and been given a few but haven’t read many. My last attempt with ‘Wuthering Heights’ didn’t go well – I absolutely hated it but tried to persevere, which meant it took me forever and I still haven;t actually got all the way to the end.
Hopefully Brave New World, a story of a dystopian future, will fair better. I enjoyed 1984 by George Orwell, so there’s hope.

8. The Night Watch. Sergei Lukyanenko
The Night Watch, the first in a trilogy of novels, was recommended to me by a friend and finishes off my list with another vampire story.
I had never heard of this book, or any in the trilogy, and apparently there are movies too.
Based in Russia, the book tells the story of a world in which some people have supernatural powers, some of whom are good and some who are not. Those who work for good protect people from those who have more sinister intentions.
I have heard good things and expect that I will be moving on to the other books in the series after this one.

Does anyone else have a reading list for the year ahead? Or just a book you’ve always wanted to read?
I’m always interested in new reading suggestions – they don’t have to be vampire related (an please don;t suggest Twilight, as that’s the massive exception  to my vampire obsession).

Hope you are well – happy reading!
Love

This week I have been;
Watching – Season 2 of Arrow and Season 8 of Dexter
Listening to – War and Peace podcast from Radio 4
Wearing – all the layers!!

Dresses for December #4

So I’ve made it through three days of work and managed to keep up my good intentions of daily blogging – although I must admit I nearly didn’t make this one. Unsurprisingly, I’m pretty tired but I was expecting it to be worse.

Today’s Dress for December is from a brand I really love – Collectif. I’ve featured them before with this cute pair of leopard print capri pants that I still adore. They have a lot of great dresses (and more besides), mostly in vintage 1940s/1950s inspired styles – however, this one really stood out to me as it’s a bit different from the other dresses on offer.
I’m not actually a big Downton Abbey fan, I’ve only seen a few episodes, but I’m increasingly attracted to the 1920s era style of dress. I think this dress is a perfect example of understated glamour, not over-the-top or flashy, but simple, sophisticated and elegant. I really like the simple and classic styling here with pearls and awesome vintage hair.
I’m not totally sure how the low rise belt would look on me, I usually go for a much more defined waist in a dress, but I’d like to give this look a try.
This dress comes in at £47.50, which I think is totally worth it. If I had the money I would definitely buy this dress – it’s another one I could easily wear to the office or dress up in the evening. 
If you are taken by today’s offering then you can check it out, and Collectif’s other offerings here.
I hope you’re all surviving your weeks too.
Love,

Old Spitalfields Market Pop-Up Vintage Fashion Show

On Saturday, I made the trip up to London to take part in a vintage fashion show for Pop-Up Vintage Fairs and Old Spitalfields Market.

It was a pretty early start for me, having to be up, ready and out of the house in time to catch a train at 8am, much earlier than I’m usually up, especially on a Saturday! At least the tiredness distracted me a bit from how nervous I was! Having never been to Old Spitalfields Market, met any of the other great bloggers who had been invited or styled anyone other than myself, I was pretty terrified.

I managed to get myself to the market and met up with Jayne J Read of Jayne’s Kitschen and ReeRee Rockette of Rockalily. It was lovely to meet both the ladies, as I’ve often chatted with them on Twitter but haven’t had opportunity to meet up with them before. Needless to say, they’re both lovely!
After a bit of a chat we got shown to the stalls that were taking part to have a look at what was on offer. We were each to be assigned a model and a stall from which to put together two outfits for the catwalk show.

I got to work with the lovely Cat and picked outfits from Vintage Glitz N Bitz, with shoes from Rock on Ruby Vintage. I unintentionally ended up putting together two 70’s outfits – not a decade I normally go for, but the items just all came together that way and I was really happy with how it all turned out.
Candy Pout did a great job on the hair and make-up for all of the models.

Outfit 1
An orange shirt dress under a brown suede coat with fur collar and tan suede boots.
At first I wasn’t totally convinced by the tan boots, but they grew on me and I ended up very happy with the outfit.
Outfit 2
Dress with white, heavily beaded bodice and pale aqua chiffon skirt with white stiletto shoes

Cat was a brilliant model and totally worked it on the catwalk, as you can see in the gif below (created by the lovely Skin and Blisters – check her blog out!).

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The other bloggers also put together some gorgeous outfits (apologies for the quality of some of the pictures, it’s very hard to photograph moving models!). All the ladies were great and very stylish, you should check their blogs out!

Styled by ReeRee Rockette
Styled by Jayne J Read
Styled by Alison Tang
Styled by Sarah Ruppin

As well as the catwalk shows there were performances from Swing Patrol dancers. I got involved and did a bit of dancing too, although my friends were totally resistant, one of the dance group members was on hand to be my partner. It was loads of fun, everyone else totally missed out by not joining in!

I had to take my shoes off as they kept falling off when I was kicking :/

I had a brilliant day, even if it was a bit exhausting. I hung around the market with some of my old uni friends for the rest of the day, exploring all the stalls. If you’ve never been to Old Spitalfields Market I really recommend you do, there are so many great stalls selling brilliant handmade items by some very talented crafts-people. If I’d have had the money I could have bought a lot of stuff! In the end all I did get was a new watch necklace for £5 and some cupcakes from Flavourtown bakery – which were so good they’re going to get their own post 🙂

I wish I had the money to get up to London more often.

Hope you all had a good weekend.

Love,

Old Spitalfields Market – Pop Up Vintage Fair, Saturday November 17th

This coming Saturday (17th November 2012), Old Spitalfields Market will be hosting a Pop-Up Vintage Fair Fashion Show!

I have been invited to come along on the day to put together outfits for the fashion show alongside some other great bloggers; ReeRee Rockette, Jayne J Read, Sarah Ruppin, Alison Tang and Amy Elizabeth Hill.

The market will be open from 11am with runway shows at 12 noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm and performances by Swing Patrol at 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.

I am really excited about this event, but also really quite scared – I’m a big fan of the other ladies who will be styling outfits on the day and don’t really think I can even come close to what they can do!
Do let me know if you’ll be able to come along on the day and come and find me when you’re there, I think I’ll need all the moral support I can get 🙂

For more information check out the Old Spitalfields Market website or the Facebook event.

I look forward to seeing some of you there this weekend!

Love,

Bargain Hunting

Before you even think it, no, not the TV show. I’m sure I would be quite awful at that, the things I like other people tend not to like and I’m very bad a haggling.

Anyway, last weekend my friend Emma and I had a bit of a day out bargain hunting in Southampton.

We started off visiting the Guildhall for The Vintage Fair. I often find vintage fairs can be a bit hit and miss, there are usually some nice items at good prices as well as a lot of horrible stuff and a lot of over-priced stuff – although at least that way I suppose there is something for everyone!
In fear of a massive queue of bargain hunters I arrived early but only found a handful of other people waiting for the doors to open. It was quite nice to be able to wander round and check out all the stalls while it was still quite quiet. The main Guildhall area, which I’d pretty much only been in for gigs before, was filled with vendors selling a whole range of vintage and vintage style clothes, accessories and homewares as well as a little stand selling cupcakes and tea.
There was actually a lot of stuff that caught my eye, sadly not much of it within my extremely limited budget. I actually got so caught up in looking at things that I didn’t take very many photographs. The pictures below show a few of the things that caught my eye.

  • Fur coats – obviously. These places are usually full of fur coats, both fur and real. I’m a major sucker for fur, although don’t think I could ever buy real, even if it is vintage. If I had the money I expect I’d have a small collection of fur coats by now, but I couldn’t even afford one right now!
  • An awesome/weird ram head belt. I actually photographed this as an example of the weird shit you can see at a vintage fair, but it’s actually grown on me since.
  • Hats. I love hats! Sadly, every one I tried on was way too small for me 😦
  • So much jewellery, vintage, vintage reproduction and hand-made. Again, if I had a bigger budget I’d probably have bought tonnes.

I actually only bought one thing from the fair, a dress to wear at the Old Spitalfields Market Pop-Up Vintage Fair event next week – which I will write more about soon. I’ll keep the dress in full under wraps until the event, but here’s a bit of a sneak peek.

After we’d seen all the vintage fair had to offer us, we still had an itch for bargains so went on a bit of a charity shop spree. Emma found several lovely dresses, including one by Henry Holland for £10. I didn’t find any clothes but did get a lovely set of Chinese bowls and spoons for £2.99 – ok so there are four spoons but only three bowls, £2.99!!

It’s been ages since I’ve done any proper charity shopping, it was a bit disappointing not to find any clothes – I really would love some new clothes but am working on a super limited budget in the run up to Christmas 😦 I’ve even struggled finding good stuff on eBay, my mind seems to only be drawn to expensive things lately :/

Has anyone else found any good vintage or charity shop bargains lately?

Love,

Vintage Nation

Vintage Nation, from the people behind Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, is being held at Brighton Racecourse on Saturday June 9th 2012 (10am til 11pm).

I really want to go, but at the moment, haven’t found anyone to come with me, so I thought I’d put some feelers out to see if any of you lovely people would be interested.
There will obviously be vintage shopping, but also vintage cars, live music, vintage hair styling and make-up, burlesque, a village green (brought to you by Crabbies), a man-made beach, G&T’s, champagne, DJs, dancing and the promise of fireworks!
Check out both the Facebook page and event.
Let me know if you’re interested, or already going! I think it looks like a fantastic day out 🙂
Love,

Bournemouth Blogger Meet

Rosie (A Rosie Outlook), Emma (The Style Box),  Joe (Unlimited By JK) and myself had a bit of a chat and decided to put together a blogger’s get together down on the south coast, as a bit of a change from all the London meet-ups!
The 31st of March is a Saturday to try and allow as many of you as possible to come along. We were thinking of meeting in The Tattoo Parlour Cafe in Pokesdown some time in the afternoon (TBC), before indulging in a little shopping in some of the vintage shops in the area then onto 60 Million Postcards for drinks (cocktails!) later in the day/evening.
I’m especially looking forward to The Tattoo Parlour Cafe, an American diner style, tattoo themed cafe, joined to an actual tattoo parlour, where you can indulge in classic diner foods and milkshakes, which can even come as ‘dirty shakes’ with the addition of booze :p 
Hopefully, everyone should be able to come along and join in for at least part of the day even if you can’t stay in Bournemouth too late or get there too early!
If you need/want to stay in Bournemouth overnight and need a roomie to split the cost use our hashtag #bmouthblogmeet to find others in the same position. You can also use the hashtag to promote the event, find out who else is coming or ask any questions!
It would be great if we could get as many of you involved as possible. I’ve only been to two blogger events since I started blogging and I absolutely loved both of them! If you’re interested get in touch, what have you got to lose!?
Love
betty_leopard@hotmail.co.uk