Sunday, 24 September 2017

25 Goals for 25 Years of Age

 

Hey again! I actually did a post similar to this before I turned 21, although that was something that I posted as a one off almost; it was before I really started blogging as a serious hobby. However I did enjoy writing it and I feel like blogging is a fantastic way of documenting the high (and low) points of your life. 25 feels like such an important number; it's the kind of age that when you're a child you think you'll be 25, married with kids and a house etc etc. Basically when you're small you believe that 25 is seriously old and your life will be all sorted! In reality, none of these things will be happening for me, but that doesn't mean that I don't have a huge list of things that I'd like to achieve before that age! So here is 25 things that I'd like to achieve before 25! (Or least within my 25th year of life!) That said, I don't have long to plan as I'm already 24, but a girl can dream, right?



1. Get a piercing. (What and where, I have no idea).

2. Visit at least three more countries in Europe that I've always wanted to explore and make the most of every minute. In January I'm visiting Copenhagen in Denmark and Oslo in Norway, so that's a start, but I'd like to see more of the world over the next year if possible.

3. Stop talking about getting more fit or losing weight and actually start making the change to see it through. Join the gym and actually go on a regular basis.

4. Rediscover my love for photography and take the time to document my life and what I see; buy a camera and create the kinds of images that I love, rather than just using my phone.

5. Learn (or at least try to learn) another language.

6. See the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play.

7. Learn the names and locations of all of the countries of the world.

8. Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour and relive my childhood dream of attending Hogwarts!

9. Have a romantic dinner on a rooftop, or high up where you can see the world from above, somewhere like the Shard, whether that's with a friend or with family, I want to feel on top of the world for a while.

10. Do an ancestry DNA test and find out my family history, as I know that there is definitely some Welsh, Irish and German but I want to know for sure.

11. Learn to relax and stop constantly overthinking; let go of the past and move on. Cut out all of the anxious thoughts and feelings and just live in the moment.

12. Get a second tattoo. (Where, or what I'm not 100% sure, oops).

13. Start a scrapbook and document all of the good times and memories I've had so far in my life. I have countless photographs printed out everywhere that I want to collate them all somewhere and so scrapbooking looks like a good hobby to start up.

14. Buy a ticket to somewhere, anywhere on a whim and see where life decides to take me for a day (or more, depending on my mood). Over the last year I've definitely become more relaxed and I'm trying to be open to spontaneity.

15. See a fortuneteller; ever since I was a child I've been interested in the spiritual world and I've love to see what a professional could tell me about my past, my present and my future.

16. Start saving. It's taken a while to get to the point where I can even contemplate the idea of saving money as I've had some financial issues over the past couple of years that were genuinely not my fault. Now I'm sorting my life out, I want to start properly having a savings plan and think about about the future.

17. Spend more time having fun and less time stressing out; I want to make an effort to see my friends more regularly, especially those who I've definitely neglected recently. I have a good bunch of friends and I need to remember to take some time out and spend time with them as memories don't get made otherwise! I want to spend a lot of time with my best friend as she's been so consistently supportive of me over the last few years.

18. Read at least 50 books that I've never read before; that's not a difficult task, but I really want to keep up with reading as a hobby and blogging has definitely helped that. I've found reading to be a fantastic way of relaxing.

19. Get back into dancing; from 4 years old until I was 17 I used to go to dancing lessons, my absolute favourite was ballet and I really want to get back into it. I used to dream about being a professional (was never going to happen, ahaha) but I’d love to rekindle my love of dance, especially ballet. I definitely want to look into some adult lessons.

20. I’d love to see the Northern Lights; simply because the world is a beautiful place and I don’t need an excuse to find a way to enjoy the natural sights of the world so hopefully over the next year I’m going to see a lot of the sights!

21. Go to a Christmas market; I’ve been to many different markets but I really want to go to a traditional Christmas market and get super festive with trees, decorations, food and drink. I’m not obsessed with Christmas, but after being ill this year I want to enjoy having time off and spending time with family and friends. Plus, there’s something magical about Christmas time.

22. Go on a boat tour, whether that’s in London, or England, the UK or abroad; I love seeing how cities look from the water and it’s the best way to take landscape photographs without crowds of people everywhere. I like the idea of having afternoon tea or a dinner on a boat, watching the world go by in good company.

23. I’ve been thinking about starting a YouTube channel for a while now and that is definitely something that I’d like to have at least tried to do in the next year. I have a feeling that I’ll still prefer blogging as writing comes more naturally to me than speaking does, but I want to push myself and really try and give it a proper chance.

24. I want to rediscover my creativity; I always used to draw constantly in a sketchbook and I haven’t finished a sketchbook since I finished university two years ago. So, in the next year I would like to see myself finishing a sketchbook and reminding myself just why I loved being creative. My favourite thing used to be filling up a sketchbook and I really want to start doing that again.

25. Go to a concert of a band that I really like, regardless of the ticket price.




Sunday, 17 September 2017

Book Review: This is Now




The cover artwork of this novel is beautiful; the landscape against the silouhette of two figures holding hands is so classic but still eye-catching and so I saw it on a shelf and put it on my 'to be read' list. I have no regrets about this, because this book was quite literally, action packed. From the get go we as readers are introduced to a range of characters through a crime; more specifically, a bank robbery. Martha is an ex-alcoholic who struggles wit her overly whilst been dry for over a year; Roman is a young and impressionable teenage Polish immigrant who is desperate to protect his mother, Rosa after his Uncle's death. To complicate matters, Cillian is the detective on the case and coincidentally Martha was once the love of his life and Tobias (Mr Hartmann) is another immigrant who came from Germany after WWII and helps Rosa to improve her English. There are so many characters in this book, all with different stories that somehow intertwine, but these are the characters who provide the main sources of information throughout and give honest perspectives on a variety of situations. This is the first novel I've read by Ciara Geraghty and it wasn't a disappointment; the way that she writes is beautiful.

One of the many reasons that I enjoyed this book was that the main event shaped the whole novel fairly early on; the bank robbery was so detailed and cleverly written, with the introduction of Martha and her best friend Tara going to the bank to meet Tara's sister Katherine. Mr Hartmann and Rosa are there too and all of their lives change forever after the robbery and ultimately, the shooting that takes place. Roman also makes an appearance by paying for past troubles, he arrives with the robbers but is unmasked so naturally is the person who takes the blame and ends up in a prison cell after managing to escape from the robbers outside of the bank. Martha is undoubtedly the best character in my opinion as although she has her own flaws, she's honest and incredibly astute, more than able to describe the whole robbery in perfect detail, making the police investigation a lot easier. She struggles with staying dry, as although she has already managed over a year sober it feels like a trial, not an achievement for her which is made even more difficult when Cillian comes back into her life via the police investigation. The cover artwork is fairly deceiving as you could assume it'd be chic lit but this novel is anything but; it's a very multi-faceted and layered plot with some interesting characters who all have flaws but overall they do mean well.

Roman and Rosa are the two characters who you really do feel unbelievably sorry for; they came to Ireland with the promise of a better life, but unfortunately some things don't go to plan and they end up in a series of difficult situations due to their brother (uncle) being involved with some dishonest and dodgy groups of men And one of the difficult situations is the bank robbery, which results in the majority of the characters having issues with Roman and he ends up with a stint in prison. This novel certainly unpredictable with some excellent snippets of Tobias' wartime past thrown in amongst his thoughts on the present day; arguably Rosa and Tobias are some of the strongest characters due to unfortunate cards that life dealt them. Due to the majority of the characters being insanely unlikeable, it is easy to find favourites among them but I also liked the fact that this novel was realistic in the sense that you saw all walks of life, it was much more intense than I expected. It was a very modern novel with a range of themes running through it including love, relationships, sexuality, crime, death and alcoholism, all of which were discussed in length at various points throughout.

Overall, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. The linguistic technique suited the variety of backstories that surrounded each character, although I must admit my favourite character was definitely Martha. It's always nice to read a novel that describes a character so throughly they begin to feel like someone you know and Geraghty's book is a case in point of this. Rosa and Roman were beautifully portrayed and it was lovely to see immigrants shown as nice people that want to succeed, I definitely had a soft spot for their mother and son relationship, the way that they continuously looked out for one another even in the hardest of times. Similarly, I loved the friendship between Rosa and Mr Hartmann, the way that he encouraged her to improve her English and create the beginnings of a better life, something which is long overdue for Rosa. The only issue I had with the storyline is that the unlikeable characters were too easy to dislike, it was a case of polar opposites which although that is understandable in a sense, in another it was fairly irritating as sometimes it's good to have more of a grey area to work with. However, I did love how the individual stories shaped themselves and it is always lovely to witness multiple happy endings and the loose ends neatly tied up; I'm still unsure of what I expected from this novel but my expectations were well and truly exceeded. 



Saturday, 16 September 2017

Favourite YouTubers #8

Hello again guys; this month I've been watching a lot of Harry Potter related videos as I'm super excited to visit the Harry Potter studios later on this month and so that has had a huge influence on what I've been watching. Generally, however I'm a massive lover of vlogs as they're usually pretty chilled out and so they're great to watch when you want to relax. I tend to watch YouTube videos before I go to sleep and so I do tend to go through phases of what I like to watch, whether that's beauty, homeware and decor, fan based videos or vlogs as it depends on my moods. I'm a bit sad because one of my favourite vloggers hasn't been uploading recently so I've been having to find other people to watch, haha. I like watching people who show their everyday lives without coming across as braggy or overconfident; it's nice to simply watch real life. I've been discovering YouTubers with less followers too, which is nice as it's always good to see how people improve and progress over time. 



LaurasAlwaysPottering

I found Laura through searching for Harry Potter related videos and more or less every single one of her videos is a Harry Potter fan related video, which is amazing. Within that genre, she posts a variety of hauls, merchandise collections, room tours and reviews. She's definitely someone who is super interested in the wizarding world, including cosplay tutorials for many different characters, although her version of Hermione Granger is the one that sticks in my mind the most but she does also cosplay characters that aren't Harry Potter related. I've been enjoying watching her very easy to follow DIYs too, for example she made a cool version of Dumbledore's elder wand that's a great alternative to buying a wand.




Sophielouisebeauty 

I've been subscribed to Sophie for a while now and she's honestly so down to earth and not afraid of laughing at herself, which I love to watch so much. Her recent series of moving vlogs have been some of my go to videos to watch because she's funny whilst showing us around her house without coming across as bragging in any way. During the move you see lots of attempts at building which almost always results in her boyfriend finishing it off (hilarious because she has a sense of humour about everything) and a variety of homeward hauls and as a viewer it just feels like you really get to know the real Sophie and I love how natural she is when she vlogs, so I'm hoping she starts uploading vlogs more regularly as they're so enjoyable to watch.



BookRoast

Another Harry Potter fan, I instantly fell in love with Gintare as she has the most beautiful way of speaking, both in her mannerisms and her accent. As her channel name suggests, her videos mostly include book related content such as her Harry Potter book collection, a bookshelf tour and 7 days of top 7 book inspired topics including characters and easy reads to name a couple. Her video ideas are super creative and I feel like she shows her interests really well; her Hogwarts house make up tutorials are the best that I've seen as she's really put thought into it as well as truly recreating the values of the houses. She has a great range of unboxing videos too, including book box, Harry Potter geek gear, owcrate and fairy loot which are great as I do eventually want to subscribe to a gift box so it's lovely to peek at the kinds of gifts that are inside them.




LovisAmbjörnsson

Another newfound channel for me, I originally started watching her Harry Potter collection, which is one of the loveliest collections that I've seen on YouTube as she has such unusual (to me) versions of the books and some great merchandise, such as Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem. Lovis also has a beautiful voice due to her Swedish accent (I love accents, can you tell?) but I also love her cinematic style; the thumbnails, typeface and lighting effects are so consistent and look so professional I'm amazed that she doesn't have more followers. She's definitely more of a beauty and lifestyle YouTuber with some detailed videos on skincare, study tips and hair care routines alongside many other topics. 




BooksMichelle

Finally, my final favourite YouTuber this month is another new discovery for me; once again Michelle has an incredible accent as she is Dutch, but I actually found her channel through a Harry Potter collection video and from there I literally binged on so many of her videos. I absolutely loved seeing the different variations of the Harry Potter books that she owns in different languages too; similarly, I loved her bookshelf tour as we have a similar taste in books. Alongside the Potterhead videos, she also uploads content such as book hauls, tag and challenges, vlogs and unboxing videos. She deserves many more subscribers as her videos are so well set up and the content is great; she's so passionate about the topics she uploads and she just seems so genuinely lovely. 



Thursday, 14 September 2017

September Playlist!




1. What About Us - P!nk
2. Hard Times - Paramore
3. Learn To Love Again - Lawson
4. Sorry Not Sorry - Demi Lovato
5. Battle For The Sun - Placebo
6. Power - Little Mix feat. Stormzy
7. Came Here For Love - Sigala & Ella Eyre
8. Unpredictable - Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson
9. City of Angels - 30 Seconds To Mars
10. Rock N Roll - Avril Lavigne
11. Skyscaper - Demi Lovato
12. Don't Look Down - Martin Garrix (feat. Usher)
13. Crying in the Club - Camila Cabello
14. Here's To Never Growing Up - Avril Lavigne
15. It Ain't Me - Kygo & Selena Gomez


I love to listen to many different types of music and I'm sure that's fairly obvious by the range of artists and genres from my list typed above. When I was younger I limited myself to certain artists and genres and although I don't regret that, nowadays I really like having variety on my iPod as I listen to music that suits my mood a lot of the time. I don't have a long journey to and from work, but I enjoy listening to music on my journey as it cancels out any other noise and gets me in the zone in time for work. I have a busy job so it's important to have a way of chilling out before and after the working hours of the day. I have an iPhone, but I prefer to save my battery and use an iPod as it's just so easy to use and they've really lasted the test of time for me. I'm also less likely to brake my iPhone by using an iPod, haha. What music have you guys been loving recently? Let me know in the comments :)



Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Book Review: The Husband's Secret




Despite a rather obvious title, this book doesn't revolve around a single secret; there are many secrets in the world and many of them go through life unnoticed. Liane Moriarty is one of those authors who writes impeccably; I've read a few of her novels now and they never disappoint me. Her writing style never fails to draw me in through excellent characterisation and extensive explanations of who is who within the novel. The use of multiple narrators through third person works well, although at first you have to really concentrate as it does take a while before the characters fully settle into place within the novel. Ultimately this book  focuses on three women; Cecilia, Rachel and Tess, all mothers, all different ages and all with different careers but at a point in the novel their lives interlink and they become connected through one secret.

Judging by the title, you would assume that this is a love story, but in fact it is far from a love story. As much as this novel mentions the notion of love frequently, it speaks more about the pain of love; of being in love, of infidelity and unrequited love. It begins with Cecilia finding a letter addressed to her by her husband in the vent of his death; naturally curious, she asks him about it and his reaction wasn't one that she expected. That was definitely the first mention of abnormality within her life, whereas with Rachel we learn fairly on that her daughter was murdered as a teenager and we watch her struggle to cope with the loss, even after twenty years. Tess gets to bear witness to her husband falling in love with someone else, someone that she trusted implicitly and so of course she is shattered and completely uproots her life to clear her mind, taking her young son with her.

On the surface, the three women have nothing in common and don't even know each other until some life changing events unfold and they suddenly find themselves in each others company often, due to Cecilia and Tess' children going to the local school that Rachel is the receptionist at. Tess grew up in Sydney before she made her life in Melbourne and so she did know of some of the past events that seemingly come back to haunt them all. Having the events told through a third person perspective about each of the women in turn was a fantastic way to witness the same event through a different set of eyes; each of them has a different understanding of life, hate and love. During the novel, the three individuals lives and stories become interlinked and we gain much more insight into their pasts and the present. Arguably, Rachel is the most intriguing due to how she struggles to cope with her grief; even her family have suffered due to her intense pain at the loss of Janie. She has fairly bad mood swings as a result of her loss and is desperate to prove who murdered her daughter; understandably, it is hard to find closure when you have no proof of who did it.

The main reason why I enjoyed this book (other than the slightly slow beginning, but that was to expected with so many characters to introduce) was that it didn't focus on what the title suggested; yes, the husband's secret was an important discovery, but it wasn't the sole focus. The novel is a sombre one and I liked that, there was a definite element of realism to the characters; life isn't easy, but sometimes you have to manage, somehow. I loved how Moriarty place little facts and figures into the novel, whilst constantly reminding the reader of the metaphorical Pandora's Box; how sometimes it is imperative to think outside of the box, to imagine what you would do in an unbelievable situation. Lastly, the epilogue blew me away; not only was it incredibly unexpected, it was an interesting finale to the Pandora's Box idea, although I will admit that I would've liked the ending regardless; not all books should have a have a happy ending, as life doesn't always. However, this book successfully opened my mind to thinking and reflecting far more as it definitely wasn't what I expected and that is always a good thing in a book.




Sunday, 10 September 2017

Life Update // Blog Goals



Hello again guys; you may or may not have noticed that I've been posting a little less often on my blog and there is a reason for that... The 'Happy Things' posts were a fantastic way of looking after my mental health by finding the positive in the everyday, however that can't always be how I live my life. Mental health is something that you have to constantly work at and although it was a great way of improving my life for a period of time, I'm now stepping away from forcing myself to be happy and I'm trying to be naturally happy. At the moment I'm concentrating on finding happiness without active searching for it; I guess a more accurate description would be that I'm determined to find contentment. I've decided to limit the posts to a single Happy Things post each month which will be a reflection of all of the good things that have happened throughout the month, instead of counting of the perfect amount of positivity. It was a great idea and it worked really well for months, but at the same time, I spent too much time dwelling on whether I would, or could find the perfect amount of Happy Things each week and that's not a way to live.

I mentioned on my twitter the other day that I'm considering starting a YouTube channel to work alongside my blog and other social media. For me, this is absolutely crazy; I honestly never thought that I'd even think about starting a YouTube channel as I'm far more comfortable writing my thoughts than speaking my thoughts. It also sounds a bit stupid, but I don't feel like I fit the mood all that well as I'm not exactly the most confident of people; I'm actually pretty awkward, particularly because I have a deep voice for a female so I don't sound as feminine as I feel like people would expect of me. I have an issue in the sense that I don't own any equipment like microphones or cameras that would work all that well for this kind of work; for my blog work I use an iPhone 7 plus so I definitely would need to invest in some kind of equipment before making the decision to start a YouTube channel.

One of the reasons that I'm feeling unsure whether or not to take the plunge into the YouTube world is that I'm worried that my videos won't be interesting enough to watch; I have some ideas for video creations but I'm just concerned that I would run out of ideas quickly and then I'd just give up. Although, I haven't ran out of blog post ideas yet so I guess that's just me doubting myself. Another reason that I'm a bit nervous is that I don't have a particularly photogenic bedroom to film in; I know this definitely comes into the whole idea of 'first world problems' but basically I haven't decorated my room since I was roughly 9 years old so it just feels like my childhood room. If I do decide to go ahead with YouTube, I will definitely be considering redecorating my room beforehand as I feel like that will make me feel a lot more confident about creating content on YouTube, as strange as that sounds. I don't really know why, but I would feel a lot more comfortable with a nice background to my videos as then I wouldn't feel like the sole focus of the video was on my face haha!

I would absolutely love it if you could leave a comment with your opinion on my dilemma down below, because I really do want to see what the people who actually read my blog posts think about the slight changes to my blogging style (posting less frequently, but better content) and whether or not a YouTube channel would suit the kind of content that I create. I really want to create content that works well for those who read my blog, so I would love any kind of feedback from you guys as although I don't have the biggest blog following in the world I do appreciate every one that takes the time to read my ramblings so I would love to hear from you. Overall, I'm feeling a little better in myself at the moment so I'll be posting more regularly across all of my social media and if you want to connect with me just get in touch as I would love to get to know you :)

Friday, 8 September 2017

Book Review: The Couple Next Door




Over the past couple of months I seem to be drawn to thrillers, which is why I picked up this novel by Shari Lapena. The plot has a lot of promise; an rich couple living in an affluent area leaving their six month old baby in the house alone whilst they attend a dinner party at another couples house. Straightaway, the warning signs are obviously there, but apparently all should be fine as it is only next door and the parents are regularly checking up on their daughter. Add in a cocktail of various alcohol and it is definitely a case of who to believe. Early on in the novel it becomes not only a case of neglect, but also of child abduction; however it begs to question who is truly at fault? Is it the mother suffering from post natal depression, the father who has a business rapidly going under or is it the friends Cynthia and Graham who refused to have a baby come to their house? Anne, the mother blames Marco, the father for persuading her to leave Cora behind with the pretext of regular checkups.

However, nothing is ever as it seems and soon the circle expands to Anne's wealthy parents; strangely, the reader never sees or hears from Marco's family. On the one hand, you feel exceedingly sorry for Anne and Marco as they're living through a parents worst nightmare, but at the same time something doesn't quite add up in places, although they called the Police soon after they realised that Cora was missing from her nursery, everyone is a potential suspect. The Detective leading the investigation is an incredibly astute man and trusts nobody, which isn't a bad thing. The novel is centered around the attempt to find Cora safely alive, although we all know that the likelihood of murder increases after several hours of disappearance.

On the surface all of the characters are respectable, hard working people but this novel really does make you question how well you really know anyone. The literary style is simple, but effective with short, sharp chapters that flit between multiple narrators and it as interesting to look at the investigation from the Detective's perspective in particular. The kidnapper is revealed fairly early on, but the twists seem to never stop; every character seems to be guilty of something but it's a matter of working out what it is that they're guilty of doing. It's not hard to realise that someone is lying, but the question is who is lying? This novel is full of lies, deceit, blackmail, secrets and untrustworthy people. It was hard to know who to place the blame on and impossible to work out who was behind the kidnapping as each character seemed know far more than they wanted to admit.

Overall, this novel is one of the most beautifully crafted pieces that I've read in a while; each character had a fatal flaw that made them difficult to like and impossible to trust. I think I literally pinned the blame onto each one of them at different points as not only were they unlikable, they also seemed to have an undeniable connection with Cora's disappearance. The only character free from dislike was the Detective and honestly, he seemed to share a similar set of ideas to mine throughout the novel, albeit he was a few steps ahead of me. Although the instincts are to blame the parents, no one ever works alone and it this novel is the perfect 'whodunnit' without being obvious in any way. There were so many hints throughout the novel to do with the framework of the crime, but at no point did I guess any of the finale correctly. That is what makes a good book exceptional.




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