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. 


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Harry Potter Haul

Hello again guys; I recently did a blog post the 'Harry Potter Tag' so I'm sure that it won't surprise anyone that I'm a massive Harry Potter fan... I'm actually going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour later on in the month so I'm sure I'll be posting more Harry Potter related content over the next month. Recently Primark have really upped their game in terms of variety in their clothing and I've been dreaming about some Harry Potter pajamas for a while now; I actually wear a lot of the Primark Harry Potter t-shirts around the house and in bed so after thinking on it for ages I decided to take a trip to Primark and see what merchandise took my fancy. I was fairly lucky in that the Primark branch that I visited has quite a good selection of the range in terms of clothing, although it was lacking a little on the homeware side. The first thing that I decided to buy was pajama trousers; overall navy coloured with red and white stripes and trims with a slouchy, tracksuit style fit I like how they have all four houses along the left leg coloured in gold. The attention to detail is nice too, with a little lapel saying 'Property of Hogwarts School' and the label being a mini replica of Harry Potter's first letter sent from Hogwarts. The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite book of the series so I was so excited to snap up the only remaining Marauders Map pajama trousers in the shop. They're a similar fit and slouchy style to the other trousers, but a lighter shade of blue with white trims and the map printed on in white; of the two pajamas these are definitely my favourite simply because I love the design of the Marauders map.

This isn't the biggest haul in the world, but I also purchased two sets of socks from the Harry Potter range; of the two, the Hogwarts houses are the better value for money as you get extra pair of socks for the same price. They're a soft grey with the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin crests on each one with matching stripes around the toes and the tops of the ankle. A standard but classic design and they're also incredibly soft and comfy. I do like the Fantastic Beast designs a little more as they're less common than the regular Harry Potter designs. They feel like they're made of a similar quality, although I'm assuming that the slightly higher price tag is because the designs are a little more intricate with woven sparkles coming through the designs too. I like the quotes on the Fantastic Beast socks and I suppose that they seem a bit more adult when compared to the Harry Potter designs, although that could also be because the Fantastic Beasts series focuses more on adulthood in general and Hogwarts makes me think of adolescence. I'm really happy with the few things that I managed to find from Primark and I think that the quality is great, especially when you factor in the affordable price tag too. The Obliviate notebook was bought for me by my boyfriend and although it wasn't from Primark it makes sense to include it in this Harry Potter haul. All of the Harry Potter merchandise that is coming out at the moment looks amazing and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want all of it!

Harry Potter Marauder's Map pajama trousers; £8 - Harry Potter Hogwarts School Houses pajama trousers; £8 - Fantastic Beasts socks; three pairs for £3 - Harry Potter Hogwarts Houses socks; four pairs for £3 (all items from Primark)

Fantastic Beasts Obliviate notebook; £7.99 from Waterstones

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Book Review: Baby Doll

The cover of this book definitely drew me in; 'escape is just the beginning' is the perfect short, sharp description of this absolute page turner. A fantastically written debut novel from Overton, it starts with Lily realising that after eight long years her captor has forgotten to set the lock and so we see her start to flee, alongside her daughter. The notion of Happily Ever After was never going to be a reality and so even after running to freedom, in fact to her childhood home, the story doesn't end there. The use multiple narrators was an excellent way of communicating through extensive characterisation; as a reader you get to hear the perspectives of Lily, the victim of both kidnap and imprisonment; her twin sister Abby, their mother Eve and also the abductor. It was a simple but effective way of enabling the reader to really understand the motives behind each decision made by each character.

One of the main reasons why this book was such an interesting read is that it gave an insight into what happens after escape, rather than simply finishing with the escape. Essentially where most books would end, this one began. From the offset this book was gripping; as soon as Lily returned to her family she shocked them with details of who took her and what had happened to her. It's hardly unsurprising that both her and her daughter Sky needed therapy. Overton doesn't explicitly describe the evil that Lily lives through, but a lot of it is implied which actually made it feel more real, like it was something unthinkable. The hardest part of this story to digest was how much Lily's kidnapping had affected those closest to her; her father dying, her mother attempting to find love through her grief, Abby's depression and her boyfriend Wes trying hard to keep going.

As a reader it is clear very quickly that Lily suffered some form of sexual, physical and verbal abuse at the hands of a predator. I wasn't shocked when the predator turned out to be someone that she knew well and trusted, after all statistics suggest that often those who are abused or attacked often know the perpetrator. Lily is an insanely strong individual and I think at times I overlooked how strong she really is; her sister, Abby is the polar opposite of Lily. Where Lily constantly manages (even if only on the surface) to cope, Abby is unable to; this is likely because one has lived through hope where the other had lost all hope. After eight years, Wes and Abby are having a child together, having loved each other in the midst of their loss and that is what truly hurts Lily; seeing how people had to move on after thinking that she was dead for so long. The relationships between the characters are beautifully written, particularly the relationship between Lily and Abby.

This novel literally gripped me from the first few pages; although it was horrific and extremely sinister in places, it was one of those books that was hard to put down. The abductor was a shock from the off, the pinnacle of the community, the man who worked so hard in the searches to find Lily was the person who took her from her family. However, the shocks didn't stop at that point and I liked how the linguistic style reiterated that Lily was not the only victim in this story; the ending was a complete twist that I never saw coming, but it was incredibly satisfying. Sometimes only revenge can achieve inner peace in those that suffer, even if it takes some form of sacrifice on their part. I found this novel to be fantastically well written with a great depiction of characterisation and the relationship between families even in times of hardship. I would recommend reading this book even if you're not a huge fan of thrillers as although it touches on some difficult topics everything is handled very sensitively; focussing on the thoughts and emotions of the characters rather than the atrocities that ripped their lives apart. It's one of those novels that really sticks in your mind, even when you finish it. 

Saturday, 2 September 2017

September Moodboard

Hello again guys; I don't know about you, but I feel like August disappeared so quickly... I was not ready for September to be here already, but if I'm honest, autumn has always been my favourite season as I'm not a fan of the humidity so the chillier weather is a plus as my favoured fashions are those with huge cozy jumpers and ankle boots. I'm definitely a boots, jeans and jumper kind of girl and so September is the start of my favourite couple of months of the year, plus I do love firework displays and they're not far away now. Like I post every month, I don't own any of the photographs in the grids below; I do choose the images and places them into collages but they're not my images. I simply go onto Pinterest and type in keywords; this month I used the words Autumn, September, ear piercings, Cath Kidston, autumn fashion and some of the images are by my favourite blogger Rebecca who honestly creates the most lustworthy autumnal images. I'm really looking forward to having hot drinks and wearing big fluffy scarves to stay cozy. I love getting into a warm bed at the end of a cold day and simply enjoying watching the world go by. Is anyone else super excited for the months to come? Let me know in the comments :)

Friday, 1 September 2017

Snippets of Life: August

Hello again guys; I actually can't believe that we're saying goodbye to summer and hello to autumn already! August is always a busy month for me as it seems like everyone in my family has their birthday during August, so it has been pretty busy... During August I did a lot of things and actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would after a difficult start to the month.Over the summer months I really love the longer nights; it's such a lovely thing to be able to stay out late and watch the sun set at around 9pm; as you'll know if you've been reading my blog for a while, one of my favourite things to do is go for a river walk and watch the sun set for the night. I've been trying to enjoy every moment of life during this month and so I've been spending a lot of time with friends and family; for Piotr's birthday we spent the night in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire which was lovely, eating some good food and enjoying having the time to not do a lot of things, just having company and a nice view of the urban countryside. If I'm honest, August has been a very indulgent month; I've ate and drank whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and I can feel the extra pounds, but whatever. Happiness should always be the ultimate goal. The images below are some of the photographs that I've loved looking back on and thinking that this month was great. Now to look to September and keeping that positive outlook on life that I've been feeling recently!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Snippets of Life: August Favourites

Hello again; its now late August which means that another month has gone by so quickly! I actually can't believe that its almost autumn and therefore this year is rapidly coming to an end. This month has been quite a long one, mostly because I haven't had much time off so it has felt like work, work, work a lot of the time. I'm actually super excited for the autumn months as its my favourite season, but at the same time I'll be sad to say goodbye to long summer evenings. As always, my go to make up brushes are those by  the Real Techniques brand and I've been using them on a day to day basis. I own several different styles by the brand, including the Core Collection, Your Picks Berlin Limited Edition and the Enhanced Eye Set amongst some that I've bought individually for specific use, such as the stippling brush. They are fairly expensive brushes, but I would say that they last a long time, which makes the price worth it. I rarely use any other brush since I bought these brushes so they're a definite favourite for me. Another product that I love more or less every month is the MakeUp Revolution Fortune Favours The Brave eyeshadow palette. It's literally a bloggers dream as not only does it look amazingly beautiful in photographs as well as in person, I've honestly never seen a palette with shades like this one. There are so many different shades that the price tag of £9.99 is worth it, as a high end version would be well over twice the price. I'd even go as far as to say this is my favourite palette of all time.

In the perfume side of the beauty world, I've been loving three perfumes more than any other the moment. All of them were gifted to me by my boyfriend and as much as I love each one, my favourite by far has to be the Princess of Hearts by Vera Wang due its beautiful notes of watermelon, jasmine and strawberries. It makes me feel super feminine and the bottle itself its very pretty with the pink hearts and crown detailing. I'm a fan of Vera Wang perfumes in general (I have at least seven in my collection) so I'm sure that it will come as no surprise that I was incredibly excited to receive the hard to find Princess Revolution and I suddenly realised that I've been wearing this scent quite often recently. I feel confident and also slightly rebellious whenever I wear this, its a sensual mix of cherry, blood orange and watermelon. The bottle is like a punkier version when compared to the other Princess scents but it is definitely a great summer scent.

I've been loving girly, fruity and floral scents this month; the Fantasy In Bloom perfume is no exception to that. The bottle itself is very cute with the Cherry Blossom patterned detailing again the soft pink background and golden stopper. As you would expect, it smells hugely of cherry blossom, berries and jasmine. I've been wearing this a lot to feel fresh and ready for the day; I'm definitely the kind of person that matches a scent to their mood. All three perfumes are under £20 and so an absolute bargain for the size of the bottles. The 'Obliviate' notebook was a bit of a surprise gift; Piotr bought it in Waterstones for me whilst we were celebrating his birthday and so it seems extra special now. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and have been since I was a child so naturally I love the Fantastic Beasts spin off; priced at £7.99, it wasn't unreasonable but it is fairly expensive for the size of the notebook, but that said the quality and attention to detail is amazing and I know that I'll treasure this notebook.

The final part of my monthly favourites is beauty related; since the weather has been fairly humid I've been wearing less make up overall other than mascara. One of my all time favourite mascaras is the Maybelline The Rocket Volum' Express and I've used it so much recently that I've actually repurchased it. Priced at £7.99 I would definitely recommend trying out this mascara; it has a plastic wand with bristles in varying sizes. I've found that makes the longest, most volumised and spidery lashes and honestly it definitely beats some of the more expensive mascaras that I've tried for a more affordable price tag. The other mascara that I've been loving is the L'Oréal Paris Miss Baby Roll which is also priced at £7.99; it's a more dry formulated mascara which makes it harder to work with, but it produces the curliest and most volumised lashes. I've been so impressed with it but I feel like it's more of a going out mascara than an everyday mascara.

I've been obsessed with having thick, natural looking tamed brows this summer and I've found two products that I absolutely love to use to achieve using this effect. The first product is the L'Oréal Paris Xpert Brow Artist in the shade Cool Blonde. It's the perfect shade for me as it is more like a taupe/dark blonde as my brows are quite dark for my pale hair skin. It has a double sided applicator, one for thickening the brows and the other for blending through. Priced at £6.99 it is an affordable addition to a make up bag and I'm really pleased with the results. After using it I then set my brows in place with Benefit's Ready, Set, Brow! Although this is more of a high end piece priced at £20, I'd argue that this is worth the money as it literally sets the brows neatly in place all day long and doesn't clump and gives a natural hold because it's a clear gel. The last favourite is the L'Oréal Paris Infallible 24hr Foundation which is simply the perfect pale shade for my skin and actually blends well into my skin. It has excellent coverage and doesn't feel heavy, or look cakey at all. It's fairly expensive for the drugstore, priced at £10.99 but a good foundation is worth every penny. It's so easy to apply and makes me so confident whenever I use it that it has quickly become my favourite foundation. What have you been loving this month? Let me know in the comments! :)

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Book Review: Small Great Things

I'm not one for only reading 'Bestsellers' but at the moment it does seem like that's all I'm reading; Jodi Picoult is a very established author and so I decided to read this book due to the interesting summary on the back cover. The summary doesn't come anywhere close to revealing the intensity of the plot, which is a good thing as this book is an absolute page-turner. This was a novel of multiple narratives, but ultimately it was centred around a widowed nurse named Ruth. During her duties she was racially abused and then accused of murder and her employers (who she previously had regarded as friends) more or less refuse to defend her, even if she is a highly skilled and trained labour and delivery nurse with over twenty years of experience. The other two narrators are Turk, the racist/white supremacist father of the dead child and Kennedy, a public defender who is determined to do her best for Ruth.

In all honesty, this novel is not one for the faint of heart. I usually read fairly quickly, but this is a book that you have to almost force yourself to read because the content is incredibly distressing. The plot definitely focuses on the idea that everyday racism exists, whether it is obvious or not. For all of the questions that were answered, another set of questions seemed to appear; it becomes a truly compelling read extremely quickly. There are so many themes touched upon in this novel, including race, discrimination, prejudice and injustice to name only a few; Picoult has a lovely writing style, both brutally honest and full of spectacular descriptive prose. Having multiple narrators is an excellent ways to understand every perspective, even if you don't personally agree with every narrator. On the surface, Ruth is undoubtedly the victim; after years of service and an excellent understanding of her job role, as well as her own skills. All of us have to defend ourselves from time to time, but in this context it was clearly due to the colour of her skin. The main issue I had was the behaviour of her colleagues toward her; the situation that they left her in really wasn't acceptable, especially as they had previously been friends.

The narrator who seemed to really help me understand the seriousness of the accusations against Ruth was Kennedy; perhaps because Kennedy is a white female (as am I) therefore a lot of questions that I had myself were asked and answered through her narrative. For example, when she describes her irritation at how Ruth is treated by friends and colleagues alongside the general public I understood exactly how she felt, because I felt the same way. Kennedy was determined to do what she could and deliberately took a step back from representing Ruth simply because of her race; instead she represented Ruth as a human being, a woman with thoughts, feelings and ultimately a highly educated, trained and competent nurse. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my least favourite parts of the narrative were the elements of the story told from Turk's point of view; clearly designed to shock. There were many reasons for why I found his perspective both offensive and horrifying, all of which because of the certainty of his foul belief system. I'd be lying if I didn't feel some sympathy toward him; his child died and he obviously doesn't know any better, but his parts were definitely the most difficult to read.

Overall, this novel was incredibly compelling whilst being extremely difficult to absorb. I have to admit that whilst I was completely satisfied with the portrayal of the trial, the characterisation across all areas of the novel and the range of backgrounds across the characters. However I was completely dissatisfied with the epilogue. It seemed far too contrived and definitely too good to be true, but the novel as a whole was too good to be entirely let down by a few pages. What I enjoyed about this book is Picoult's ability to make you think; however much of a difficult and uncomfortable topic racial discrimination is, it was handled well and also encouraged the reader to think outside of the box. I felt the need to constantly question any situation, for example although none of the characters were solely responsible for the turn of events, ultimately they all played their parts in the (eventually life changing) end result. I would definitely recommend reading this book as its a complete eye opener in many ways; I wouldn't say that I enjoyed it, but it is definitely one to remember and learn from.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Makeup Review: L'Oréal Miss Baby Roll Mascara

Hello again guys; this post going to be about a mascara that everyone seems to be loving at the moment! The L'Oréal Miss Baby Roll mascara. In all honesty, I definitely gave into the hype surrounding it after seeing countless make up tutorials including it on YouTube. Firstly, the packaging is so pretty with the black body of the mascara against the mint green and pale pink of the lid that contrasts really nicely against the black and pink typeography across the centre of the outer packaging. The packaging was definitely designed with instagram and blogger potential in mind as it is so photogenic. In terms of price I'd definitely rate it as a mid-range mascara at a reasonable £7.99 and its available in various shops, although I managed to snap mine up for £5.99 on an offer, which was even better. I chose the non waterproof version as I generally don't have any issues with mascara wiping off my lashes onto my face. I was super excited to see if this mascara kept its promises of mega volume, length and curling lashes.

The wand of the mascara is unlike any I've ever seen before, however I was happy to see a plastic wand as I feel like (for me) the thick bristles of plastic brushes work well on my lashes. The wand is very thick, with an incredibly defined spiral shape along the length of the wand. The wand would fit any kind of mascara routine, for example whether you blink mascara on your eyelashes, wriggle it on or stroke it on, the brush will pick up any lash, however large or little. It is a very black mascara, which I love as I'm the kind of person who wants to have mascara really make their eyes pop and I generally buy the 'Very Black' or '100% Black' options wherever possible, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this mascara to be such a good shade for a regular black option. I do own a few mascaras from L'Oréal and I have found them to be very drying on the lashes; if you want to add a few coats you have to work quickly to reach your desired effect. I tend to work on my lashes a side at a time; right first and then left, adding roughly three coats to each upper eye lash and one coat to my bottom lashes.

I like how the lid has a satisfying 'click' shut so I always know if I've successfully closed it to stop it dying out, which is a nice, useful touch. Generally I do prefer a more 'wet' mascara as I find it easier to build up my lashes. My preferred lash style is definitely quite long, thick and spidery. I don't like wearing false lashes as I'm allergic to the glue so I'm always on a mission to find a mascara that will achieve a false lash effect whilst at a reasonable price. Although this is a 'dry' mascara, I was pleased to find that it is fairly easy to use, as long as you work on each eye at a time. The wand picked up my lashes so easily and coated them accordingly; the unusual spiral design of the wand seems to work wonders for curling the lashes and I'm the first to admit that I never use eyelash curlers as I'm too clumsy and too lazy; I don't even own any curlers, oops. I would say that it did live up to my expectations, but it exceeded my expectations in terms of volumisation as I've never used such a volumising mascara before! It is a fantastic mascara for curling lashes too, although I wish it gave a little more length but as my lashes are naturally quite long that's not a dealbreaker for me.

Overall, the Miss Baby Roll mascara has become my current go to mascara; I've actually been really impressed by it as I like the volumising effect in particular. Whenever there is a lot of hype surround any product there will always be those that love or hate it and in this instance I've been one of the lucky ones in that I love it. However there are a few things that irritate me slightly; I wish I'd bought the waterproof version as it does tend to smudge a little throughout daily wear, which is a shame (I've never had this issue before) and I also wish that the formula was a little more wet so that I could take more time to apply it. But those are quite trivial issues I do feel like the mascara works well on my lashes as they stay curled and volumised all day and it does add length although it does the other effects better. I would recommend this mascara to anyone who likes thick, fanned out lashes but be aware that it is a clumpy mascara. I personally like clumpiness as if I wear make up I want people to see it but I know some people hate clumps around their eyes! This mascara gives a beautiful bold effect and definitely makes eyes stand out from the rest of the face. For the quality, this mascara is definitely in competition with more high end mascaras such as the Benefit Roller Lash for less than half of the price. Let me know what you thought of this post down in the comments! :)

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Book Review: Little Pieces of You and Me

This novel is one that attracts a reader due to its beautifully laid out front cover; the artwork is fairly minimal, but somehow still manages to stand out on a bookshelf. Recently I've been reading books that contain quite difficult subject matters, so the intention was to read something a little easier and more fluid; however this book was a bit of a shock in the sense that it wasn't at all what I'd expected. Isla and Sophie are best friends and have been since their student days, however life has taken them both in very different directions. Sophie never completed her medical degree but is working in a hospital and has a husband, Liam and step daughter, Rebecca at home in Bristol, whereas Isla is a carefree, single actress currently living and working in Amsterdam with dreams of making it big within the theatre world, either by acting or scriptwriting.

Whilst they were at University the two women each wrote out a list of dreams for the future and both them still think about achieving them, although Sophie definitely feels like her dreams are much further from her reach. Isla has dreams of going to broadway and very nearly hits that dream hard on the head. Through a few short months, both of their lives rapidly change. Isla unexpectedly finds love when she isn't looking for it and he seems like the loveliest of men and his bookshop sounds so interesting; even his customers sound out of the ordinary. One of the reasons that I really enjoyed this book was that not everything in life goes to plan; Isla's life grinds to halt when she's diagnosed with a long term medical condition and she's forced to make several decisions; to give up her broadway dreams, to leave Amsterdam and a love behind and go home to her mother and grandmother in Bristol.

Each of the characters seem to be flawlessly devised and I loved the dynamic between Berenice and Rafael, how much time and energy they gave each other in terms of friendship; a foreigner abroad and an elderly lady with a lifetime love of books. Both of them came across as very kind, creative people who enjoyed having someone to talk to although they both had their own secrets to hide from the world. All of the characters make some sacrifices throughout the book, however you could argue that Sophie made the most, as when Isla was unable to fulfil her dreams of travelling, Sophie went for her and helped her to feel like she was there; they had a fantastic friendship, an incredibly supportive and almost sister-like relationship. In fact, her relationship with Isla is the strongest out of all of her relationships and that is made clear by her struggles to work around Rebecca's near constant teenage angst and her non existent relationship with her parents as they disapprove of her husband.

Overall, I found this novel to be such a surprise; I'm not sure what exactly I expected, but I definitely assumed that it would be an easy, carefree novel and that it wasn't! Well, actually it did start off very full of life's positives, however it did change fairly rapidly, with Isla's diagnosis. There were many themes in this book, including illness, faithfulness, friendship and relationships in general. Sophie was a far stronger character than she appeared at first glance and I admired how well she faired in the face of adversity, whereas Isla was far more sensitive than she originally appeared, although arguably that was due to having a shock diagnosis. As I mentioned previously, the characters of Berenice and Rafael were not only intriguing, but also key to a large portion of the plot, particularly Berenice, which considering the amount of page space she was given, ultimately had a hand in ending without even being present. Greene writes so fluidly, every word flawlessly connects to the next and makes for easy reading due to how well the novel flows, but I liked how there were many underlying elements to the book. It's a great read, but I did feel like it ended abruptly and could've had a bit more explanation in some places, for example Rafael's background was fairly unclear even after finishing the novel.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Favourite Blogs #12

Hello again guys; every month there are a few posts that I always try and find the time to post, although obviously if I don't feel my best then I take a break from blogging in general. This month I've discovered several new blogs through various social medias and so this post is a kind of celebration between blogs that I love, whether I've just discovered them or if I've been reading them for a while now. I like to read a range of blogs, including beauty, lifestyle and mental health, however my preferred blogs are always those with a dash of positivity. I'm currently loving reading blogs compared to magazines as I feel like they're written by people like me, for people like me which is refreshing. There's a feeling of authenticity that comes from blogs, which is why I enjoy reading them so much.

I found Amelia's blog fairly recently, after following her on instagram for a while, but once I saw her blog I instantly fell in love. There's something lovely in the simplicity of her photographic style. With a mix of beauty, baking and lifestyle her posts offer something for everyone, although I prefer the beauty posts generally. As a huge mascara lover myself I do love a good review and she regularly reviews mascaras by various brands in detail, which are super helpful as she even talks about packaging and longevity and the reviews do feel honest; I trust her opinions as she seems very down to earth and passionate about whatever she writes about.

I actually found Georgie's blog through her twitter page and haven't looked back since. Her sense of wanderlust and thirst for adventure is pretty catching; as in her travel photography is enough to make you want to quit your job and travel the world, discovering the beauty of life. However the travels are mixed in with a range of lifestyle and beauty posts too, which is also great. There are some really useful posts, for example what products to take in a make up bag (or generally in a bag!) for various holiday destinations and I also like her '10 things that made me happy this month' posts for a dash of positivity. 

Another twitter find, I absolutely adore her blog and other social media; this blog is definitely one for the beauty and stationary lover and the photography is simply fabulous a they're so much going on. Overall, she's definitely more of a beauty blogger and I do love how that also includes skin and nail care in this instance as I'm fairly lazy about those kinds of things so it's great to read reviews that coax me into making more of an effort! There's also a healthy mix of high end and drugstore beauty products so whether you want to lust after beautiful things or break your bank, this is the perfect blog to read if you want to spend some hard earned money as you'll want it all.

I've been following Rachel on various social media and reading her blog for about year (maybe more) now and I love how her posts incorporate a range of themes including mental health, wellbeing and lifestyle. As a mental health nursing student, it's amazing to see mental health from another perspective and I really admire her creative ways of tackling mental health and the stigma surrounding it. Honestly is really important to me whenever I read a blog and Rachel's blog is a true insight into her life, for example when writes about the tough times as well as the good times and that's so refreshing for someone like me, who wants to see real life.

The final blog that I've been loving this month I found very recently, through another blogger. Jasmine has a lovely blog, I like how she's taken so much time with it to the extent that she even built her own site to blog on. Her posts are mix of lifestyle and beauty and I love how down to earth and honest she is; her recent post on why she avoided university was great as it was a completely different perspective to my own but it also tackled an important topic that most people don't really talk about. The other posts that I like to read are favourites posts as well as budgeting posts as they're always a good way of working out if you want to spend some money. Jasmine's blog is definitely one for the hard working as she details some really important stuff and I loved her explanation about spending and bank accounts so much!

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