My Top 5 Books of 2016

Happy New Year everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying the festive period. I have to admit, I have been so lazy and indulgent over the past few weeks so I’m looking forward to getting back to routine. Anyway, it’s time for a round-up of my favourite books out of the 30 I read this year. If you’re interested in seeing what else I read in 2016, check my page out on GoodReads.

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I joined the Outlander fan club this year when I read Outlander in July. It was a perfect treat after four years of studying books I wasn’t always interested in and I completely fell in love with Gabaldon’s world and characters. I wrote a full review over here but I’ll give you a summary: it’s a love story set in 18th century Inverness, it involves time travelling and features a badass heroine at its centre. I loved reading about Scottish history and I especially loved our favourite Highlander, Jamie Fraser. Being a fan of Outlander has brought me lots of friends on Twitter and Instagram. I also wrote about the book-to-screen adaptation for Scottish Book Trust. A blog which even caught Diana Gabaldon’s attention!

2. Room by Emma Donoghue

Yet another book-to-screen adaptation, I wanted to read Room before I went to see it in the cinema. I read it back in January and I fell in love. Again, you can read my full review on my blog (it was one of my first ever book reviews) but here’s what I thought of it in short. It has one of the most wonderful first-person narrators I’ve come across: five-year-old Jack. It follows Jack and his mother as they live life as prisoners and are eventually freed. It’s a poignant and emotional story that’ll make you laugh and cry, as cheesy as that is. Mostly, I loved the portrayal of motherhood and the strength that Jack’s Ma finds through her son. It is wonderful – if you haven’t read it yet, do it now!

3. The Muse by Jessie Burton

It is no secret that I adore Jessie Burton’s writing. The Miniaturist is probably one of my favourite books of all time and I wasn’t disappointed with the release of The Muse this year. I wrote a full review which Jessie Burton was delighted with. I believe she said she wanted to laminate it and wear it around her neck, just sayin’. It tells the tales of two struggling female artists set across different time periods: 1967, London and 1936, southern Spain. It is one of those magical books that make you feel cosy and nostalgic but you don’t quite know why. If you haven’t discovered the beauty that is Burton’s writing then put that on your resolution list for 2017.

4. Expecting by Chitra Ramaswamy

I read this surprising book in November because I was on the shadow panel for the Saltire Society Awards. Chitra won the First Book award jointly and it was well deserved. When I first saw it, I thought: ‘No way am I reading a book about pregnancy!‘ However, despite avoiding reading this on public transport or in front of my parents, I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Before you dismiss it as just another book about pregnancy, please give it a chance. It is one of the richest texts I’ve encountered in the past few years; it’s filled with metaphors and allusions to a wide range of literature and it is far from a fluffy read about giving birth. I’d recommend this to any literature lovers and not just expecting parents.

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I was in two minds about including this book on my list because, well, pretty much everyone except me had read it but I finally gave into my pride and decided to read Harry Potter in 2016. I read the first book in January and I have to confess it is magical. I only wish I had read it when I was younger so I could’ve marvelled at its wonders from a child’s perspective. Nonetheless, I can understand why people are so besotted with this series. I’ve read the first three now and the books are far better than the films which never excited me much. Hopefully, I’ll finish the series in 2017.


Other books I really enjoyed in 2016 include: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Girl on the Train, Ceremony, The Raven Boys, and A Court of Thorns and Roses. 

What books did you guys love in 2016 and what are you looking forward to reading in 2017? Let me know on Twitter and Instagram. I have so many books in my TBR pile for next year so I’ll hopefully get a post up about that in the near future. Happy reading and a very Happy New Year!

 

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

img_4361This blog is long overdue. I started reading Voyager in August but so much has happened since then (I moved to a new city and started my Masters degree) so it has taken me a bit longer to finish it and write a review. If you read my post on Dragonfly in Amber, you’ll know Gabaldon broke my heart with that ending so I was really eager to find out what would happen next. Without further ado, here’s what I thought about the third book in the Outlander series.

This review contains some *SPOILERS* so I won’t be held accountable for ruining anyone’s experience of the book or the third season of the TV show. If you’ve not read it and still want to, avert your eyes to another review!

All Outlander themed candles are from Meraki Candles.

 


1. It’s long.

This might be stating the obvious but I wanted to get it out of the way. I love Outlander, I adore Jamie Fraser but, gosh, these books are too long. On one hand, it means more time to enjoy the characters and Diana Gabaldon’s fascinating world but it also means I am deprived of the sense of achievement I should get when I finish a 400-page long book – three times over. It’s around 1500 pages long and for the first time in the series, I really felt some parts of the story were over-indulgent.

2. Everyone’s old!

Voyager takes place 20 years after Dragonfly in Amber and after the Battle of Culloden. For me, this wasn’t easy to adjust to. No longer is Jamie Fraser a youthful and rampant Highlander completely besotted with Claire. Well, he’s still rampant and besotted just without the youth. So much happens in the time that Jamie and Claire are separated, I felt like they were meeting again as completely different people. Like Claire, I felt like I had to decide whether or not I was willing to love Jamie despite not knowing what kind of man he had become in the twenty years we were apart.

Will ye take me and risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew...

3. Or dead!

If they’re not old and cynical, they’re not there at all. I was pretty upset about the way Voyager sweeps over some of my favourite characters in the jump through time. There is a very brief mention of Murtagh about 3/4 of the way through the book (I think?) but that’s all. For a character who was so important in the first two books and who meant a lot to me, I would’ve liked for him to feature in Claire and Jamie’s memories more. Every book in the series has a totally different mood and setting but with this means there is a whole host of characters that I grew to love but are left dead and buried in the previous book with no mention in the next. Having said that, I really loved the moment when Claire meets Mother Hildegarde in Paris again and they have a poignant moment for Claire’s first baby, Faith.

4. Trust nobody.

And we quickly realise that Jamie really isn’t the same anymore. He lies to Claire about having a kid and being married… TO LAOGHAIRE!? This was pretty unsettling and I’m not sure if I can bear to watch it unfold when Season 3 airs. Marrying Laoghaire was one thing but the constant secrecy and lies really stuck in my throat. And Claire’s ability to gloss over his life after throwing a small temper tantrum? I’m not sure I would forgive my Jamie quite as easily.

4. That Reunion Though.

 

Now that I got my least favourite bits out of the way, I can tell you all about the best bits and the moment I was desperately waiting for was the scene where Claire and Jamie see each other again after 20 years apart. It didn’t disappoint. Gabaldon kept me waiting and the tension that builds from the moment Claire returns to 18th century Scotland is unbearable. Will she find him? What will he say? It turns out nothing: when they do meet again, Jamie faints. And it is perfectly adorable in every way:

“You’re real,” he whispered. I had thought him pale already. Now all vestiges of color drained from his face. His eyes rolled up and he slumped to the floor in a shower of papers and oddments that had been sitting on the press – he fell rather gracefully for such a large man, I thought abstractedly.

He quickly wakes up and from this point on I’m just a big ball of messy emotions.

The tears spilled down my cheeks, only to soak into the rough cloth of his shirt as he pulled me hard against him.

Oh and…

I don’t know how long we sat there on the dusty floor, crying in each other’s arms with the longing of twenty years spilling down our faces.

For every time I complain about the length of these books or some of the absurd decisions made by the characters, Gabaldon wins me over again with her ability to break my heart and mend it over and over again. I know Gabaldon doesn’t want Outlander to be known as a love story. It is so much more than that but, for me, and I’m sure most fans of this book, it is the way Gabaldon writes Claire and Jamie’s epic love story that captures my heart every time.

5. Jamie’s a Publisher!

Many of you will know I’m studying a Masters degree in Publishing in Edinburgh so I was over the moon to discover Jamie’s new career in Voyager is running a printing press in Edinburgh under the guise of ‘Alexander Malcolm.’ It was fascinating to read about printing presses in the same city that I am studying the art of making books myself. Now when I wander around the cobbled streets of the old city, I can envision wild Highland Jamie up to no good with Fergus by his side. Jamie and I really are soulmates after all.

6. Lord John Grey

While some of my favourite characters are left behind in Dragonfly in Amber (Murtagh and Master Raymond), there are lots of characters introduced (or re-introduced in this case) in Voyager. Lord John Grey did, in fact, appear in Dragonfly in Amber as the young boy who tries to “save” Claire from Jamie and the brutish Highlanders on the eve of the Battle of Prestonpans. We see a lot more of him, all grown up, in this book and he is a really intriguing character. He’s homosexual at a time when it was very much illegal and, like everyone in the Outlander world, he’s got the hots for Jamie. What intrigues me is the feeling that Jamie has a deep affection for LJG in return. There is a bromance going on there in the end that I want to read more of and I know that Lord John plays a big role throughout the series so I’m excited to see how he develops as a character!

7. Geillis Returns (Again)

Oh My God. This was the big shocker that redeemed Voyager for me when I thought I was going to give up. Why didn’t I see this coming? I really enjoyed reading about future Geillis (a.k.a Gillian Edgar). Partly because it was fun hearing that she was a righteous SNP activist. One of the best scenes in the novel is when Roger, Claire and Brianna watch Geillis travel through the stones after sacrificing her husband. Gellis is one of the most badass characters in the whole series and her crazy return at the end as Mrs Abernathy was chilling.


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Overall, I really enjoyed Voyager – I just wish it was 400 pages shorter! I guess I just keep looking for that magic spark I had with Outlander but every book brings something completely different: different settings, characters and moods. I am (trying to be) on a book buying ban for the next few weeks/months until I work my way through my ever-expanding TBR pile so this time I mean it when I say I’m not buying Drums of Autumn for a long time or at least until I can no longer withstand not knowing what happens next.

If you’re an Outlander fan too, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

I’m such a bad book blogger. This has taken far too long to post so I apologise for that. If you haven’t already then check out my review of the first Outlander book before you read this.

You’ve probably gathered by now that I am Outlander obsessed. The first book captured my imagination unlike any other book has in a long time and I have been fangirling ever since. I’ll start off by saying I didn’t enjoy the second book in the series as much as the first and I feel like I’ve been putting off writing this because I don’t want to feel sad again. Bear with me here, it might seem like I didn’t love this book but I did. This series has me transfixed but I did spend a lot of time comparing Dragonfly in Amber to Outlander so this review might seem negative at times. Probably because it ripped out my heart and stomped on it. Am I supposed to enjoy being heartbroken?

Synopsis

Dragonfly in Amber is split into four parts: Scotland 1968, Paris 1744, Scotland 1745 and back to 1968 again. It begins at the end as we are thrusted back into the twentieth century as Claire tries to piece together a life for herself and her daughter without the love of her life, Jamie Fraser *weeps gently* … who am I kidding? *ugly sobs*  and without her first (second?) husband, Frank Randall.

Thankfully, we do go back to eighteenth-century life to spend time with our fave ginger hunk as Claire convinces Jamie to prevent the Jacobite uprising in order to save thousands of Highlander lives. Claire and Jamie spend some time in Paris gallivanting with prostitutes and Bonnie Prince Charlie before returning to Scotland to settle into agricultural life and win the war after failed attempts at prevention.

I won’t spoil too much. There is a whole lot of drama in between but, finally, we go back to the beginning again as Jamie forces Claire to travel through the stones to her “own time” where she and her unborn child can live in safety under the protection of another man who loves her too *heart shatters into a thousand tiny pieces*

Characters

Reason number one to love this book is tall with a mop of red hair and his name begins with the letter J. You guessed it Jamie Fraser is and always will be one of the best parts of this series. If you’re looking for a new book boyfriend then look no further than Gabaldon’s wild Highland warrior. He is sweeter than ever in this book and I liked that we saw an insight into his intelligent and calculating side. While Outlander very much focuses on him as a fighter and a lover, Dragonfly in Amber really showcases Jamie as a clever and educated young man. Plus there’s this:

I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you – then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest … Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well.

Excuse me while I take a moment to drown in my own tears… Anyway!

My favourite new character from this book was Master Raymond: a weird and frog-like apothecary who Claire befriends in Paris. You never really know where his loyalties lie and his mysteriousness really adds a sense of magic and fantasy to the series, which I felt was perhaps lacking in the first text. He is also a badass in the herbal department and manages to save Claire’s life when she is on the brink of death. What’s not to love?

Other favourite characters include the new and adorable, Fergus (real name Claudel), a Parisian street rat who Jamie takes under his wing and fosters as his own son. Fergus is the comic reprieve from what can be an otherwise dark and heavy read. Similarly, Claire’s new friend Louise de la Tour is a really fun and sexy character who provides some levity to the story.

Plot & Setting

Dragonfly in Amber is undoubtedly a lesson in history. Compared to the first book, it was far more focussed on the history of the period and, for me, this could be difficult at times. In my first review, I mentioned that I loved the romance of this series but I felt that Dragonfly in Amber was very much focussed on being a historical fiction piece than a love story. Which is great if that’s what you’re into but, as I’ve said before, I am a sucker for the soppy stuff. Literally, I just groaned every so often: “SO MUCH WAR.”

I feel like the phrase “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind when I complained that Outlander lacked in the history and magic departments. Because Dragonfly is not only packed with history, it was also a lot more magical than the first book. This book brings in mysterious folklore like La Dame Blanche and plenty of cults and strange rituals which were fascinating to read about. I feel like Paris worked well for this reason.

However, I want to point out just because Dragonfly in Amber didn’t feel like as much of a love story to me as Outlander does not mean that Gabaldon scrimped on the soppy love stuff. We get some classic quotes from Jamie Fraser who just won’t quit. Like this:

If it was a sin for you to choose me . . . then I would go to the Devil himself and bless him for tempting ye to it.

In terms of setting, I much preferred being back in the Scottish Highlands. The Parisian world is incredibly descriptive but I enjoyed it a whole lot less than I would have thought. In theory, eighteenth century Paris should be right up my street. It exudes luxury, sex and, violence, which is always going to make for a great book. Yet it fell flat for me. I found myself longing for the familiarity of the rolling green Scottish hills. I don’t know if it’s because I am Scottish or because one of the reasons I love Outlander is its exploration of Scottish heritage and culture. Maybe I’m just a creature of habit, I’m not sure, but I loved the second half of the novel so much more than the first.

Overall

Dragonfly in Amber made me feel like the honeymoon was over. Outlander  was a delicious and sexy romp filled with the excitement of first love. Dragonfly is beautiful and poignant in its own way but even all good love affairs become a bit dull over time. It is one of those books I will enjoy more as time passes when I have the gift of hindsight. I spent so much time comparing it to the first that I probably didn’t value it in its own right enough. I’m probably just bitter at how much it made me cry.

Anyway, like I said, it sounds like I didn’t love this book but I did. It just broke me a little by the end. It will have you sobbing your eyes out. I didn’t know so much heartache could be contained in one book, excluding Me Before You. And, I have just ordered Voyager. I can’t wait to start it because I am suffering from a seriously bad case of Droughtlander right now. I need me some Clan Fraser.

What about you? Are you an Outlander fan? Let me know on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Sorry, it’s taken me so long to get this review up but between holidays and other blog posts, it’s just taken a back seat. Before I start I should warn you I love love love this book so I’m a little biased. My obsession has grown to heights of Twilight circa 2009. If, like me, you’re a big fan of the Outlander TV show and books then check out my Why I Love Meraki Candles and Totes by Alohomora Design posts for some Outlander-inspired memorabilia that I love.

Synopsis

Outlander, originally Cross Stitch, is the first of eight mammoth historical fiction novels. It is the tale of a young woman, Claire, a nurse with a passion for botany, who visits Inverness with her husband, a historian called Frank, on a second honeymoon after the ghastly trauma of the Second World War. On a visit to the standing stones at Craigh na Dun, Claire accidentally finds herself ‘falling through’ the stones and, upon sighting a Red Coat officer, she quickly realises she is not in the twentieth-century anymore. She has involuntarily travelled to the same spot… 200 years earlier.

In the 18th century Inverness, Claire is confronted by barbaric Scots and the equally barbaric British Army, especially her husband Frank’s vile ancestor: Captain “Black” Jack Randall. Claire is seen as an outsider – a “sassenach”- by both the Scots and Red Coats and spends most of her time trying to convince one that she is not a spy for the other.

The Good

Mixed with fantasy and historical fiction, this novel is above all else a love story. I am a sucker for romance and if this book does nothing else then it gives you one heck of an epic love story. Romantic lead, wild Highland Jamie, with tousled red locks and kilt, is one of the most swoon-worthy characters I’ve come across in fiction for a long time. However, I love that Gabaldon does not sacrifice some historical reality for the sake of making Jamie a ‘perfect’ man. He is both stubborn, excessively violent and, frankly, a little bit sexist too. But we have to remember that Jamie is 1740s Scottish outlaw and I think Gabaldon tackles this well. Yes, Jamie is rough around the edges but it is his willingness to change and to understand the world of civility that Claire comes from that makes him even more desirable. Plus, Gabaldon gives him some of the cheesiest, loveliest lines in literary history:

And thanking God that I have two hands. That I have two hands to hold you with. To serve you with, to love you with. Thanking God that I am a whole man still, because of you. – Jamie Fraser

And alongside the lovable and stubborn Jamie is Claire Randall and it is this novel’s protagonist that undoubtedly captures the hearts and imaginations of its readers. Claire is one of the best female characters I’ve read. She’s very strong-willed. I don’t want to give away too much plot but there is one scene in which Jamie and Claire get into a bit of a… violent altercation after she disobeys his command. She gives him a colourful display of her swearing repertoire and, I can’t find the exact quotation, but I’m sure she threatens to cut his heart out. It is her strength and conviction that really separates Claire Randall from the Anastasia Steele’s of the book world. And, Jamie loves her no less for her ferocity:

for all she’s a sassenach bitch… with a tongue like an adder’s… with a bum like that… what does it matter if she’s a f-face like a sh-sh-eep? – Jamie Fraser

In true Claire fashion, she proceeds to trip him up after that comment.

The Bad & The Ugly

The biggest complaint I have about Outlander is its length. It’s not a major problem for me as I love the book so much that I was happy for it to go on forever but it is loooong. I’m talking 963-page-and-tiny-font long. However, please don’t let the sheer size of the Outlander series put you off. I inhaled this book far quicker than most 300/400 page books I’ve encountered in the past few months. The length is merely indicative of Gabaldon’s love of intense, and sometimes gory, detail. She envelops you in the sights, smells and scenery of the Scottish Highlands and I love nothing more than when a book welcomes you into its world with open arms like that.

Another little snag: this book promotes itself as fantasy meets historical fiction. As I mentioned earlier, it’s more of a love story than anything else and this can be troubling if it’s not what you bargained for. Gabaldon certainly educates her reader on Scottish history. I’m ashamed to admit as a young Scot how little I knew about the Jacobite uprising and the ’45. I’ve since become more awakened to my heritage and I’m determined to learn more about where I come from. So kudos to Gabaldon for inspiring that.

However, it is on the fantasy side of things that the book does lack a little. Yes, Claire does travel through standing stones and wind up in a different century but other than that the magic is quite unmagical. Most of it is explained away with twentieth-century logic: witchcraft as early medicine, for example. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the magical element and I wonder if this is something that well unfold throughout the series. Claire seems to too readily accept what has happened to her without trying to find more answers so I hope I get those answers in the next few books.

It Must Be Love, Love, Love

Overall, Outlander and I go together like Jamie and Mrs Fitz’s “parritch.” It has been so long since a book has sparked my imagination the way this series has. If you haven’t read it and are too intimidated by its size or have heard mixed reviews, please put all preconceptions aside and give it a go. I know a few people who didn’t warm to it but I believe everyone should try it at least once.

On a side note, the TV show is also brilliant. I’m notoriously fussy about book to on-screen translations especially with films so I’m glad Starz made these books into full-length series to give it the time and attention each book deserves. It is one of the best adaptions I’ve encountered, it remains very faithful to its book or, at least, as much as you can be to a 1000 page book.

Give it a go and whether you’re a new or old fan of this franchise, keep an eye out for my Outlander inspired giveaway on Instagram – coming ‘verra’ soon. I’ll be featuring gifts from Alohomora Design, Mulderie Wood, Classic Bibliophile and more.

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Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for regular blog updates and lots of bookish photos. I’m currently reading the second Outlander novel, Dragonfly in Amber, so you can be sure to find lots of Jamie, Claire and the Highlands! 

Totes by Alohomora Design

In the midst of my current Outlander obsession (I’m currently reading Dragonfly in Amber), I have been on the hunt for all things Jamie Fraser with a Highland themed giveaway in mind featuring my lovely Mulderie Wood candles. During this search, I came across a wonderful Etsy page selling bookish and nerdy tote bags: Alohomora Design.

Main designer, Alli, from Southern California, has been interested in craft and design from a young age and has cultivated this passion into a full-time job. She has combined her interest in design with her favourite books, movies and television shows to create something magical! Plus she’s a super lovely person too which makes communicating your order really easy.

I’ve been lucky enough to sample five of the Outlander designs from Alohomora Design: “Take Me Home to Lallybroch”, “Your Face Is My Heart Sassenach And The Love Of You Is My Soul”, “Dinna Fash Sassenach”, “James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser” and “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!” I’m sure all of these will have every Outlander fan grinning. I can’t wait to share these totes with all of you Outlander lovers in my Instagram giveaway.

If Outlander isn’t your style, there are Game of Thrones totes, Sherlock Holmes totes, Parks & Rec, Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, Big Bang Theory totes… The list is endless! Whatever your nerdy downfall is, Alohomora Design will have you covered with their diverse designs, I promise. One of my personal favourites is ‘When In Doubt Go To The Library’ from Miss Hermoine Granger herself. If you’re a wizard wannabe then there is a 20% off sale on all Harry Potter totes for the month of July to celebrate his birthday.

Each tote comes in a variety of sizes and colours. There are two tote styles: 15″ x 16″ or  15″ x 12″ with 4″ gusset (natural colour only). You can also choose from the following colour combos to suit your OOTD: natural tote with black ink, natural tote with gold ink, black tote with gold ink and navy tote with gold ink. I was lucky enough to sample all four and they’re all gorgeous.

Not only is the range of designs and quotes impeccable but the quality of these totes is very high too. They’re made from 100% cotton making them lightweight but strong enough to carry your books and laptop. They’re ideal for holding all your library books on your way home from school or University or simply for showing off your love of pop culture while you’re out shopping with friends.

If you’re looking for a tote-ally (yes, I went there) unique gift for your friend then these are perfect. You could even pair a geeky tote with one of the literary candles by Meraki Candles. Or, of course, you can treat yourself to something fun and original. Check out all Alohomora Design totes on their Etsy page. Keep up to date by following them on Instagram and Twitter too.

Remember these totes will be up for grabs in my next giveaway so to stay updated follow me on Instagram.

*Shipping costs vary.

 

Why I Love Meraki Candles

UPDATE: SINCE POSTING THIS BLOG IN 2016, MERAKI CANDLES HAVE SADLY CLOSED THEIR STORE.

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What could be cosier than being tucked up in bed with a good book and candle burning in the background? Well, you could be burning one of these gorgeous candles inspired by literature. By now, you’ll have worked out that I just love candles and especially when they’re handcrafted in Scotland (my favourites include McKelvie and Mulderie Wood candles) but I hit the jackpot when I found the Meraki Candles Instagram page. Not only are these candles made in Scotland, which is really important to me as a Scottish blogger, but they are also book themed!

I’ve drooled over various different literary candles in the past but the majority of them are from the U.S and the shipping is just extortionate. I prayed I would find some bookish candles in Scotland and then Meraki Candles appeared before me. Twenty- year old Heather from Meraki Candles combined her love of reading and candles in these stunning jars of sweet-smelling, book inspired candles. She has candles inspired by Harry Potter, A Court of Thorns & Roses and, my personal favourite, Outlander. Which means no matter what bookish fandom you hail from, there is a candle for you. If you know a big Harry Potter fan, which most of us do, then the Flourish and Blotts candle would make the perfect birthday present for them.

However, as I mentioned it is the Outlander inspired candle that I really love. I’ve only just discovered the world of Outlander and I’m already hooked. I binge watched ten episodes of the show in two days and have already relegated my boyfriend to being the other Scottish Jamie in my life. My obsession with Jamie Fraser is becoming reminiscent of my Edward Cullen phase at age fifteen. Sam Heughan though – unf. I can’t wait to finish writing this blog so I can get my nose stuck in the book to find out what happens next. So the Lallybroch candle from Meraki Candles is the perfect companion when I’m watching the television series or reading the book. Sandalwood myrrh and lavender, this candle is so fresh smelling that you feel like you’re walking through the Scottish Highlands with wild Jamie by your side.

I’ve also been lucky enough to trial Cookies and Dreams which is just the sweetest, most sugary delight. Heather uses the highest possible concentration of fragrance to ensure a huge scent payoff with her candles. The smell is baked cookie and French vanilla; one whiff of this candle and you are transported back to your childhood baking cookies and cupcakes with your granny or whisked away to an old-fashioned French patisserie. If you’ve got a sweet tooth then this is certain to cure your cravings and you don’t need to be a bookworm to enjoy it (or any of the fragrances)

As for the packaging, I was genuinely really impressed by the quality of the Meraki Candles. It’s hard for me to believe that candle-making started as a just-for-fun hobby for Heather a few months ago. They come in petite glass jars which are just dreamy sitting on your bookshelf. A strong attention to detail is evident. With a degree in Computer Design and a passion for art, it is clear that design is at the heart of her products and Heather has spent some time working on new designs to keep her standards as high as ever. I love the colours especially the gorgeous green of my Lallybroch candle.

So they’re bookish, they smell and look great… What’s the catch? Truthfully, there is none. Meraki Candles are made with soy wax which makes them cruelty-free too. They tick all of the boxes on my candle lovin’ checklist and I just want to keep staring at them all day. If, like me, you love candles and you love books then please check out the Meraki Candles Etsy page. You can get 10% off with my FOURTHMONTH10 code which is an absolute steal because their candles are something to cherish!

For more of my home inspiration follow me on Instagram. Let me know which candles you’re loving right now and if you give these literary gems a try!