Celebrating 1111 Followers on Instagram, Part I

Yesterday I reached the epic number of 1111 followers (thank you all!) on Instagram. I’ve been on Instagram for about a year and a half, and it’s become my favorite social media by far. To me, it’s the most inspiring media and the best place to find pictures of vintage clothing, beautiful books or just random accounts. To celebrate my 1111 followers (thank you again!) I’m going to do a series of blog posts over the next week or so with my favorite Instagram accounts. But today, I’m going to repost my most liked and commented on photos on Instagram. Enjoy!

Here are my 10 most liked photos:
most liked instagram media

And my 10 most commented on photos:
Instagram Most commented

And here is my very first post on Instagram, from December 26, 2012. You can see I was a fan of using frames back then, though I almost never do it now – I feel the pictures are small enough as it is.
InstagramFirstPost

I’ll be back with my favorite Instagrammers soon, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can follow me here.

PS: Thank you thank you thank you!!!

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Snaps of August

Is it bad to say that I’m a bit relieved that summer is over? It’s been great with sunny warm days, but summer will never be my favorite season. I much prefer spring and autumn, it’s funnier to dress up when it’s not extremely hot (or cold for that matter). I’ve only done one outfit post this summer and I miss it. Hopefully this Autumn will have some lovely sunny weekends perfect for dressing up and going for walks – I already have a few ideas for more layered outfits, so maybe next weekend.

Anyway, here’s what my feet have been up to this August:

august6

I’ve been knitting like a mad knitter while watching Netflix or listening to audio books – one of my favorite things to relax with. The yarn to the left is for a poncho/sweater I finished yesterday, which I think will be perfect for the chilly Autumn days (it’s also one of my ideas for an outfit post). The pastels to the right is for a project I started yesterday about two seconds after I finished the sweater. It’s a bit of an ambitious project: a pillow case with a harlequin pattern. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull it off, but we’ll see.

august5

Where July was a bit of a slow month in regards to both reading (I was stuck with The Goldfinch) and blogging (I just wasn’t in the mood), August had me spitting out book reviews like never before, and I’ve had some lovely reading moments:

august3

I’ve been wining and dining like a princess:

august7

Nokia and Wilcox says hi, they’ll be back in September with more cuteness:

august4

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Shelf News

book haul

I just noticed the other day that my last four bookish purchases were all in red and white tones. That’s a photo opportunity waiting to click. I thought it might be fun to snap this pic with some red heels, and my choice fell upon Irregular Choice from my header photo. I haven’t worn these in ages though I love them to pieces, and I’ve only sported them in one outfit here on the blog, at my cousin’s wedding two years ago.

But back to the books. I’m looking forward to Sarah WatersThe Little Stranger, as I loved Tipping The Velvet. I’ve read two books by John Banville (before I started blogging), one of them I loved, the other I found boring, so I don’t quite know what to expect from The Infinities. Them or Us is the last installment in David Moody‘s brilliant Hater-series, which is so thrilling! The book I’m most excited about, however, is Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald. I read a novel about her, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, a little while back and it left me very curious to read some of her work. It doesn’t show in this pic, but the cover is stunning!

Which books have you recently bought?

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Peter Pan

To die would be an awfully big adventure.

Peter Pan

Title: Peter Pan
Author: J.M. Barrie
First Published: 1902
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars (average rating on Goodreads: 4.10)
I would recommend this book to: Readers who never grow up
The Beginning: All children, except one, grow up.

What a lovely surprise Peter Pan was. It was such a sweet tribute to imagination and creativity, verging on pure madness. Peter was a fascinating character. I was amused by his cockiness. It was very inspiring and had me laughing out loud more than once. Like this little statement after he remembers what he’s just done:

Oh, the cleverness of me!

He was also a rather interesting character, but we unfortunately only get glimpses of his personality as the novel is so short. I wanted to know more about him, and the final page left me even more curious than at the beginning. Beneath the adventures, the spontaneity and self-assurance there lies a darkness within Peter:

He was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must be forever barred.

Another character I loved was Tinker Bell. I loved how she’s described as being so small that she can only contain one emotion at the time, and the disasters that entailed were heartbreaking, but also had so much potential of a huge novel (with a great love triangle).

It was only in Peter’s absence that they could speak of mothers, the subject being forbidden by him as silly.

The only character I didn’t really care for was Wendy. My inner feminist can’t stand her. I felt Neverland was completely wasted on her as she was more interested in making house than going on adventures. She’s on the verge of growing up and Neverland makes her take the final step into adulthood by pretending to be the mother that the Lost Boys need. But couldn’t she have been a different mother? Why so strict, Wendy? Why do they have to be in bed at a certain hour, when there’s no school in Neverland? And why did they have to take their medicine each day? What on earth for? Yeah yeah, I know they were just playing around, but I think the game could have been more fun with a more daring Wendy.

Peter Pan cat

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Soulless

Countess Nadasdy served the tea. Miss Tarabotti took hers with milk, Miss Dair took hers with lemon, and the vampires took theirs with a dollop of blood

soulless
Title: Soulless
Author: Gail Carriger
First Published: 2009
My Rating: 2 of 5 stars (average rating on Goodreads: 3.90)
I would recommend this book to: True Blood fans (but keep your expectations low)

Soulless had the potential of being a Victorian True Blood. I thought this was a pretty neat concept, but was terribly disappointed. The novel seems to me actually soulless. The characters were flat and the story a bit boring. OK, very boring. It tried to be funny, but it was so clichéd, and it seemed that the sole purpose was to make fun of the Victorian upper class. That can be a lot of fun, only in this case, it wasn’t very cleverly done. The jokes were easy and completely devoid of creativity. I kept feeling that I was supposed to laugh, but it just wasn’t very funny. Judge for yourself:

How ghastly for her, people actually thinking, with their brains, and right next door. Oh, the travesty of it all.

Our heroine is Alexia Tarabotti, an independent spinster who reads books, speaks her mind and can defend herself. She’s nothing like her airhead sisters, who only care about fashion, or her cruel mother who only cares about appearances, all agreeing that Alexia will never marry as no man would ever have her. In comes Prince Charming and they are all proved wrong. It’s a story we’ve heard a billion times before. I like it when it’s cleverly done but this one was un-nuanced. Apart from twist is that Alexia is a soulless and Prince Charming is a werewolf. But that’s just another cliché. It could have been a fun twist, only it didn’t really work.

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The End of the Affair

I became aware that our love was doomed: love had turned into a love-affair, with a beginning and an end.

Graham Greene the of the affair

Title: The End of the Affair
Author: Graham Greene
First Published: 1951
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars (average rating on Goodreads: 3.96)
I would recommend this book to: Anyone who enjoys good writing
The Beginning: A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

The End of the Affair is one of the rare truly great reads. Graham Greene blew me away on almost every single page. His writing establishes him as one of the masters, and his characterizations continuously amaze me. The story, as the title indicates, is about an affair between two lonely and confused people. It’s one of the saddest stories I’ve read in a long time, and I think this affair will stay with me for a long time.

Jealous lovers are more respectable, less ridiculous, than jealous husbands. They are supported by the weight of literature. Betrayed lovers are tragic, never comic.

The protagonist wasn’t very likable. There were times where I even despised him. But as his tale progressed, I began to sympathize with him in all his corruptness. In all his lies and deceit, there was something honest about him. Graham Greene really knew his characters inside out and he cleverly lights up his darker sides on the pages.

Sometimes I see myself reflected too closely in other men for comfort, and then I have an enormous wish to believe in the saints, in heroic virtue.

If you’re curious about Graham Greene, check out my book review of another one of his brilliant novels, Brighton Rock.
My reading moments with The End of the Affair:
graham greene the end of the affair

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Skipping Words

To read is not a virtue; but to read well is an art, and an art that only the born reader can acquire.

books

I read in many different ways. Some books I read slowly and carefully, wanting to grasp every word and wallow in the atmosphere. Some passages I read over and over again, wanting the sensation to last, taking small breaks to reflect. With some books, like Harry Potter, I do everything to make them last longer. Some books I pace through, my eyes not able to read fast enough for my bookish hunger. That’s how I felt about Hater and The Hunger Games.

Then there are books where I skim pages. Where there are parts I don’t care about (as in Possession), or, like The Goldfinch, where I’m interested in the story, but can’t stand the writing. Or where I’m just bored but too stubborn to put the book away. I’ve always felt shameful when I did this. Like I was a bad reader. But reading something thoroughly that I don’t care about is just so exhausting. It can totally ruin my reading-mood. I’ve had book crisis because of this, where I started thinking Why do I even read, will I ever enjoy it again?

A few years back, I read an essay by Edith Wharton called “The voice of Reading” where she differs between the ‘born reader’ and the ‘mechanical reader’ – and lashes out at the latter:

… it is one of his rules never to skip a word (…) This inexorable principle is doubtless based on the fact that the mechanical reader is incapable of discerning intuitively whether a book is worth reading or not.

Not that Wharton’s words are law, but I felt so relieved having one of my favorite authors tell me it’s OK the skip some passages or skim through entire pages. All readers are different after all, so perhaps it doesn’t make sense that we all read the exact same amount of words. Maybe we should be able to judge for ourselves what makes sense for us to read and what doesn’t?

What about you, do you read every single word of a book? Do you feel you cheat if you skip some passages? And do you think it’s OK to review a book if you’ve skimmed some of the pages, or does that disqualify you as a reviewer?

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The Goldfinch

To understand the world at all, sometimes you could only focus on a tiny bit of it, look very hard at what was close to hand and make it stand in for the whole.

The Goldfinch

Title: The Goldfinch
Author: Donna Tartt
First Published: 2013
My Rating: 2 of 5 stars (average rating on Goodreads: 3:93)
I would recommend this book to: Charles Dickens fans
The Beginning: While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years.

I feel ambivalent about The Goldfinch. In many ways, it’s a very good story with unique characters. It was just so damned boring. Yes, there were a few pages that kept me on the edge of my seat, but those pages were the exception to the rule.

I think my main problem was Donna Tartt’s writing. I wouldn’t say she’s a bad writer, but she could have used a brutal editor, forcing her to kill her darlings. Her many, many darlings. She certainly had the “show me, don’t tell me” part down. She just kept showing and showing up to the point where I wanted to scream. I actually did scream at one point. Example: Our protagonist is depressed. And we follow him being depressed at home, at school, during dinner, and when he goes to sleep. I’m not that stupid, I get it that he’s depressed, I understand that it’s all the time, I don’t have to hear about every single moment he’s depressed, I can fill in the blanks myself – actually I LIKE filling in the blanks. And it was like this with everything. His drug abuse, his friendships, his attitude towards school, the books he read, the food he eats, the furniture he repairs. No wonder the book is 864 pages long! IMO, this story should only have spread out over 400 pages. That leaves more than 400 pages of filling. If the writing had been beautiful or amazing, I would have felt differently. That just wasn’t the case. Tartt’s writing isn’t bad, but it’s nothing special.

The reading experience felt very similar to reading Charles Dickens: absolutely brilliant stories, great creativity, but too many details. It feels like you’re miles ahead of the author, like the author is afraid you don’t get it unless (s)he explains it over and over again. The funny thing is, that I see now that many reviews refer to Tartt as Dickensian – but in a good way. I can totally see what they mean; to me it’s just not a good thing.

Another thing that bothered me was our protagonist. I didn’t really like him that much. Not that I disliked him, I just didn’t really care about him. No, that’s not true, I liked him as a kid, but when he grew up, I completely lost interest in him. He was just so negative and stupid that I stopped caring about what happened to him. I like my characters passionate and ambitious, trying to achieve or accomplish something. Not numb on drugs. He was just so passive, I wanted to slap him.

And then there’s the painting. Pretty vital and symbolic red thread throughout the story. But I couldn’t care less about it.

The Goldfinch

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We Were Liars

Someone once wrote that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments. I get the same thing spending an hour with you.

we were liars

Title: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
First Published: 2014
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars (average rating on Goodreads: 3.93)
I would recommend this book to: A reader in the mood for some dark YA
The Beginning:
Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.
No one is a criminal.
No one is an addict.
No one is a failure.

We Were Liars is a classic tale of a stereotypical, dysfunctional, white, rich family. We’ve all met these characters before; dads abandoning their kids, mothers so focused on appearances they don’t see how screwed up their kids are, siblings fighting each other for inheritance, kids suppressing their sorrow to the point where it all bounces back up in their pretty little faces.

“Be normal now,” she whispers. “Right now.”
“What?”
“Because you are. Because you can be.”

It’s not a story that blows me away, but I’m nonetheless fascinated by it, and enjoy reading various stories like it. Maybe it’s because it’s miles away from my own childhood. That’s what literature can do: show you a life you’ve never had to live yourself, but let’s you leave it again. If you can.

I had no trouble leaving this story behind me after I turned the last page. I was disappointed. There’s been such hype about this book and wild rumors about something incredible that was supposed to happen towards the end. Let me spare you: it’s not that big of a deal.

I didn’t really care for the writing either. To me, it seemed pretentious and just a tad silly. For some reason, Lockhart used this cheap trick with short, choppy sentences. I kept asking myself why? To appear sophisticated? Poetic? Judge for yourself:

Touching him is familiar and unfamiliar.
We have been here before.
Also we have never been here before.
For a moment,
or for minutes,
for hours, possibly,
I am simply happy, here with Gat’s body beneath my hands.

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Another Second Hand Harlequin Bag

vintage harlequin bag

On my way home from work today, I stopped by one of my favorite second hand shops, Twenty, where I was lucky to find this gorgeous harlequin bag. Buying vintage bags has become one of my great weaknesses over the years – I have more than I’ll ever use. I really should start selling soon … Anyway, this isn’t my first harlequin bag from Twenty: I bought this beauty about a year and half ago.

Why is it that cats always think everything new is a toy for them?

vintage harlequin bag

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