The year 2020 is about to end and with only a month away until the gift-giving season, Black Friday Sales starts, it only seems right to do a gift guide today.
I can’t have a gift guide without a few book recommendations, so here are my top two reads of this year. They’re both diverse reads and feature strong women. I want to ask you to check your local bookstore or Bookshop.org before looking at the bigger retailers because the indie stores need your support right now. December is a tough month and stores miss out on a lot of sales due to COVID-19.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This is my favourite book of the year. It came out this summer and the bestseller list the first week. Rightly so. Silvia Moreno-Garcia wrote a lovely gothic book set in Mexico in the 1920s. It’s creepy, disturbing, and beautifully written.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.
Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May
Seven Devils by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May is my second favourite book this year, but to be honest, it was really close. It’s a kick-ass books about rebels fighting for their freedom. The characters are the absolute stars of the story. I haven’t written my full review yet, but it’s a five star. I still want a physical copy of the book. If you like Rogue One and powerful women, check out Seven Devils.
When Eris faked her death, she thought she had left her old life as the heir to the galaxy’s most ruthless empire behind. But her recruitment by the Novantaen Resistance, an organization opposed to the empire’s voracious expansion, throws her right back into the fray.
Eris has been assigned a new mission: to infiltrate a spaceship ferrying deadly cargo and return the intelligence gathered to the Resistance. But her partner for the mission, mechanic and hotshot pilot Cloelia, bears an old grudge against Eris, making an already difficult infiltration even more complicated.
When they find the ship, they discover more than they bargained for: three fugitives with firsthand knowledge of the corrupt empire’s inner workings.
Together, these women possess the knowledge and capabilities to bring the empire to its knees. But the clock is ticking: the new heir to the empire plans to disrupt a peace summit with the only remaining alien empire, ensuring the empire’s continued expansion. If they can find a way to stop him, they will save the galaxy. If they can’t, millions may die.
Planners & Notebooks
Themed journals by Powered by Books
A few weeks ago I wrote about the beautiful journals and planners by Powered By Books, and I still think they’ll make a great gift. Every planner fanatic will be thrilled to have another planner or journal to fill up. Just pick the one that matches your receiver’s interest. Lucky for you, Powered By Books has a great variety in interior and exterior design. Check out the overview of the three I received.
Tenohira Carnelian Journal Set
This is a Washi Tape Shop exclusive, created by Sozen Create design house. I saw the design and fell in love. It’s no secret I love the Japanese aesthetic and this captures it so perfectly. I also love the colours and the koi have a special meaning. If they swim up the river, they might turn into a dragon. And everyone loves a dragon, right? If I’d just get this for Christmas, my day would be made. The Washi Tape Shop has free shipping worldwide so even if you think this set is too expensive, they might have cheaper options to surprise your washi tape lover.
Platinum Plaisir Limited Edition
Platinum Plaisir has a few awesome limited editions this year: the teal pen and the gradient pens. If you have a friend who loves colour and wants to try out fountain pens, the Platinum Plaisir is a perfect starter pen. It’s the big brother of the Preppy, with the same nib and feed. The biggest difference is the look and feel of the pen. But both write really well for their low prices. It still surprises me whenever I write with one. With a price under twenty dollars, it’s definitely a nice gift for the holidays.
You can find these at a Platinum Partner, like Pensachi. They ship worldwide.
Diamine Blue Edition
Last year, Diamine had an inkvent calendar. Twenty-five colours to count down to Christmas, and then they announced full bottles of these colours would be released later. They’re here and the bottles are beautiful. This Blue Edition, as they’ve dubbed this collection, has glass bottles in a gorgeous seasonal shape. It honestly looks like a present. I swatched all of the colours on my Instagram (with macro shots) if you want to check them out, but I’ll list my favourites here.
Happy Holiday, number 25, is my favourite. A dark blue colour, with a pink sheen, and light blue shimmer.
Blue Peppermint is another favourite. A light blue with a shimmer in the same colour.
Gold Star is the gold version of this.
Jack Frost is a dark blue with a pretty red sheen.
Polar Glow deserves a mention as well.
Yes, I have a preference for the shimmer ones, but the flat colours are gorgeous too. Poinsettia is a great red, for example.
I can’t write this guide without mentioning this. This year has been awful for a lot of people all around the world, and I’d like you to consider gifting to a charity instead of being a mountain load of presents. Your gift might be a present to someone else. Just one dollar to one of the Philippines charities might mean a meal a day, emergency supplies, or saving more people stuck on a roof. Donating to organisations fighting for trans rights, or bail out Black Lives Matter protestors. Giving back to the hospital and essential workers. There are so many great causes that could use the money.
Facemasks are here to stay because COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. There might be a vaccine on the way, but don’t expect things to be all back to normal soon. So until then, wear a mask, make a mask, give a mask. That’s the easiest way to make the world a little safer.