You Need To Visit This Book Shop

There is a shop in Glasgow called Voltaire and Rousseau.

You Need To Visit This Book Shop | bluchickenninja.com

It may look unassuming.

You Need To Visit This Book Shop | bluchickenninja.com

But they have many books.

You Need To Visit This Book Shop | bluchickenninja.com

Many many books.

You Need To Visit This Book Shop | bluchickenninja.com

Some books may be terrible but there are gems to be found.

You Need To Visit This Book Shop | bluchickenninja.com

And they have a cat.

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The Devil In The Valley by Castle Freeman Jr

The Devil In The Valley by Castle Freeman JrRating: 4 / 5 stars
Format: Hardback
Published: 13th October 2015
Book Depository | Goodreads

In his quiet Vermont home, a man named Taft sits and wonders what’s missing from his life. He’s at a loss until a strange voice startles him from the rocking chair, where a stranger has seemingly appeared out of nowhere: well-dressed and smooth-talking, this man offers Taft the chance to have anything he’s ever wanted—for a price.

I really didn’t know anything about this book when I requested a copy. Even the description on the back doesn’t give much away, so I was very surprised when I found out that this book is basically the story of an old man trying to help people, but he does this by making a deal with the devil (some of you may be saying, “but Emma, it’s right in the title” well yeah, I brain farted okay?).

But he doesn’t really make a deal with the devil, it’s more that hell is some sort of organisation that is in the business of giving out whatever you could ever want in exchange for your soul. This is essentially the story of an old alcoholic who trades away his soul because he doesn’t believe in all that afterlife nonsense and the go-between; a character called Dangerfield.

I can’t find the words to explain how surprised I was and how much I enjoyed this book. It’s little story about good and evil set in a dark and moody Vermont. It’s under 200 pages but it still tells you everything you need to know without having any extraneous details. Read this if you like Stephen King (though I should add that there are no horror elements to this, I was just getting massive Stephen King vibes while reading it).

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*I received a copy of this book from Duckworth Overlook in exchange for an honest review.

A New Sketchbook

A New Sketchbook | bluchickenninja.com

So I just wanted to talk for a second about my new sketchbook. I’ve spent I don’t know how long looking for a watercolour sketchbook, the only problem is they are either far too expensive or in a landscape format (like the Moleskine sketchbook).

After lots of Googling I finally came across this A5 Pink Pig sketchbook, it’s not made specifically for watercolour but it’s fine for light washes. The paper does wrinkle a bit but at £5 I really can’t complain (I also just want to mention that Pink Pig make awesome sketchbooks, I use the A3 ones in college and they are great).

A New Sketchbook | bluchickenninja.com

Recently I’ve been really enjoying doodling simple shapes and patterns. In this sketchbook I have tried doing that but made the backgrounds by letting various colours mix together on the page (there is a technical name for this, I just forgot it). So far I have been liking the result.

A New Sketchbook | bluchickenninja.com

Maybe it’s just me but I think these would make really cool bookmarks. I think I’m going to try that. I may have to paint larger versions of them first.

A New Sketchbook | bluchickenninja.com

Fun fact: this doodle was inspired by the opening title sequence from The Road To El Dorado (link) but this also went on to inspire a logo I did for a corporate identity project which won me £100 and will be used for an arts festival. So thats cool.

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Space Dogs and Cosmonauts

This is something I meant to post weeks and weeks ago so I apologise for talking about Christmas when it’s the last thing anyone want’s to think about right now. And I apologise for writing about this exhibition so close to it closing (you still have 6 weeks if you want to see it (and you should)). I know later on I’m going to complain quite a lot about it but really, if you have any interest in the space race Cosmonauts is something you have to see.

My dad is currently working down in England so at the start of December I took the train down to visit him and to go to the Cosmonauts exhibition at the London Science Museum. So my weekend started off with me heading to Birmingham where I was supposed to meet my dad, however there is something you need to know about my dad. He’s always late. So I got to Birmingham to find out he wasn’t actually in Birmingham yet. Obviously I did the thing all good book nerds do, I went looking for a book shop.

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

So can we just talk about how confusing Birmingham city center is, and it was so busy, like I know it was running up to Christmas but I didn’t realise how busy it would be on a Friday afternoon. Maybe I’m just used to Glasgow where it’s never that busy even around Christmas time. Anyway I found Waterstones which I think had just been opened, even that was busy (something I’m definitely not used to).

Of course I ended up buying two books and while I was paying I was talking to the book seller about pretty covers and he convinced me to buy The Fox and The Star as well (I should mention I was planning on buying it anyway but he offered to give me it for half price so obviously I took the deal). Eventually my dad turned up and we went to Handmade Burger Co for dinner (omg it was so good).

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

On the Saturday we headed down to London and the Science Museum. It’s been a long time since I was last at the Science Museum, my family used to really enjoy spending a day there but it felt like it has become a little run down. Some of the exhibits haven’t changed at all since I was last there others didn’t have much to look at and large parts of the museum were under construction. It was a little disappointing to be honest, but it may have just been the wrong time of year.

The Cosmonaut exhibition was good but it didn’t amaze me. I had read a review somewhere which basically said that the exhibit would change how you saw the planet and your place on it (at least thats what I think it said). So it was good but not that good. To be honest I would go just for the Russian space propaganda because some of that was really beautiful.

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

Okay I’ll stop complaining now, the exhibit really was very interesting, they had an actual Soyuz capsule that had been in space, you could see all the scratches and scuff marks from it coming back to Earth. One thing that really surprised me was the size of the thing. It’s tiny. And they managed to fit three grown men inside along with all the other stuff you need to stay alive in space.

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

Another thing I need to talk about (because it nearly broke my heart) was the story of the Russian space dogs: Laika, Belka and Strelka. Now I know what the dogs did was really important in the space race but the animal lover inside me was totally not okay with the scientists basically using the dogs as lab rats. Especially since they sent Laika up there knowing she was going to die.

After spending way too much money in the gift shop we headed to the Waterstones at Piccadilly Circus (I literally can’t stay away from this shop).  A little tip, if you’re ever in London and want to find somewhere quiet for a break go to the cafe/ bar in the basement of the Waterstones in Piccadilly. It’s one of the nicest cafes I’ve been in. And the slice of cake I got was like the size of my face (seriously, that photo doesn’t do it justice, it was huge).

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

And after that we headed home and I went back up to Scotland (I won’t even get into my dad trying to convince me to skip college so I could spend more time with him). Oh and I nearly forgot about the book haul because obviously I went and bought more books.

Space Dogs and Cosmonauts | bluchickenninja.com

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.
Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein.
The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale.
The Sand Men by Christopher Fowler.
Mort by Terry Pratchett.
The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.

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What I Read In January | 2016

So I discovered the Star Wars extended universe this month and as such most of the books I read this month were from the Star Wars extended universe. Now I realise these are not the kinds of books most people enjoy and if that’s the case I totally understand if you don’t want to read this post. However if you do like the Star Wars extended universe please please please give me book recs like seriously I need more Star Wars books to read.

What I Read In January | 2016 | bluchickenninja.com

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh.I was really surprised by this, it’s a non-fiction book written by a brain surgeon about some of the cases he has worked on. I didn’t expect it to be so heartbreaking, this book will make you think about your own mortality. Just don’t read it if you’re a hypochondriac, you will be forever thinking that every tiny thing means you have a brain tumor.

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol. 1: Vader by Kieron Gillen. I don’t normally read graphic novels so I’m not all that sure on how to review them. This is Darth Vaders story set after A New Hope and stuff happens. I liked it. The art was nice. Though I do still think that graphic novels are a little expensive for what you get.

Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno. There isn’t much I can say about this. It’s a Star Wars extended universe novel. It was kind of interesting to see the build up to Return of the Sith, especially since that movie starts right in the middle of the action. Also another thing that’s kind of funny, you get to find out about the “business” on Cato Neimoidia (spoiler alert: Obi Wan got high on alien spores).

Star Wars: Dark Lord – The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno. Despite being called ‘The Rise of Darth Vader‘ he isn’t actually in this all that much. How ever the little insights you do get are very interesting. This takes place 2 weeks after the events in Return of the Sith and it’s interesting to see the amount of conflict going on in Anakin’s mind because even after the events on Mustafar he isn’t totally Darth Vader yet. In this you see him fully turn to the dark side (and part of the reason why he doesn’t go back to Tatooine).  It’s also really interesting to find out more about his suit and how the Emperor is possibly punishing him by making him reliant on it. Basically you should read this if you want to feel sorry for Darth Vader.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I was really surprised by this. It’s a very good alien invasion type book. Despite being YA and having some romance in it, it doesn’t focus on the romance (something that has annoyed me in other books (I’m talking about you Across The Universe *grumble grumble*)). Also it has a bunch of references to Star Wars and Star Trek which was nice. For example: “And there was his face against the smudged glass and his smile as he rocketed across a galaxy far, far away in his yellow X-wing starfighter, jumping to warp speed, until the dusty yellow space-ship was swallowed by dust.

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