Friday, 29 September 2017

Book Review: Three Wishes




Over the last few months I’ve been enjoying making my way through my ‘To Be Read’ list and many of the books by the fantastic Liane Moriarty have made their way onto the list purely because I always enjoy her writing style. Said writing style often involves a range of characters and Three Wishes is certainly no exception to that rule. Centred around the tale of three thirty-three year old sisters, they are in fact triplets who often attract a lot of attention whenever they meet up in public due to their confidence and near constant bickering. In all honesty, on the surface they seem to be a lot younger than they are, although they are quite clearly individuals with their own lives and various problems. Lyn seems to have it all; the perfect family life and the perfect self employed empire, whereas Cat is having a difficult time after discovering that her husband’s eyes have been wandering elsewhere and Gemma seems to be at a crossroads, on the one hand she is a free spirit, enjoying house sitting as a career but struggling to take any relationship past the six month mark. At the start of the novel we see the triplets celebrating their birthday, one of them is heavily pregnant, another is enjoying the alcohol a little too much and the last one is feeling completely and utterly incensed after hearing some awful news.

This is a novel that is extremely enjoyable to read; the characters outside of the triplets, their parents and partners add a lot of fun into the mix, particularly when they all get together at various family gatherings. I like the dynamic that appeared between all of the characters, there are a lot of themes running through the novel too, including infidelity, infertility, friendship, sibling rivalry and divorce amongst many others. Considering there are a lot of what many would believe to be adult themes, this book is actually fairly easy to read as it flows very naturally. Each triplet has their own stories and personality which makes it easy to like and/or dislike them. The least favourite for me was Lyn as all of her troubles were fairly insignificant compared to those of Cat and Gemma; yes her stepdaughter was a nightmare at times but ultimately that could be be blamed on the fact that she met her husband when he was married to mother, as well as general teenage angst. It often seemed as though she almost enjoyed being the only settled sister and therefore had an air of boastfulness at times. That being said, Lyn definitely plays the role of peacemaker between the three sisters.

Whereas there were many points that it was easy to sympathise with Gemma; the non-identical sister, the one who can’t manage to hold down a job or a relationship due to her secret. Her dead fianc√© used to beat her, yet she has never told a soul, not even her sister who know her better than anyone. It’s interesting for someone who tells her family everything, to have such a big secret held so close to the chest. She means well, never wanting to upset either of her sisters and makes sacrifices for them, but ultimately one of her sacrifices wasn’t her most well thought out and makes her relationship with her family very strained. Cat has always been the confident, but after a series of truly nasty events is more or less on the verge of a mental breakdown after her marriage ends and some other issues arise amongst her and her triplet sisters. As a reader the impression is given that being identical to Lyn in looks has made her somewhat expectant of having the same achievements in life. Seeing her sisters each conceive was incredibly difficult for her after having some trouble herself and so looking at her nieces and nephew wasn’t easy for her, but she braved it all the same. Cat is definitely the sister who was dealt the most rough deal of the three siblings and there were so many times you wished that her luck would change.

Overall, this book was slightly different to the other novels that I’ve read by Moriarty. For one, this novel ends fairly loosely; none of the ends are really tied up and so the open ended finale is somewhat unexpected as well as unwanted. I was left with a want to know if Cat’s life improved, if she got the happy ending that her two sisters managed to have and some kind of closure in her personal life, not only in her professional life. The narrative structure was great, starting with an event before showing the reader the months leading up to that event was a fantastic way of providing a bit of insight into the triplets lives, as well as switching the narrative voice between each of the triplets in turn. The one thing that struck me as the novel ending was that the triplets were not as close as they appeared to be at the start of the book. Yes, they see each other regularly but they often bicker and don’t tell each other everything which was the expectation at some points before some secrets came out. I recommend this book if you want to read something that is fairly light but still has some drama; I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, particularly once I had started to know which character was which after the first few chapters (triplets make for fairly confusing reading). There are a lot of ups and downs throughout the story and a lot of the time you feel like you are a part of the novel, which is always a sign of a good book.




Thursday, 28 September 2017

A Beauty Haul



Hello again guys; I feel like I haven’t posted a beauty related haul in a while and amazingly, all of this haul was gifted to me by best friend. Am I not incredibly lucky? She’s such a sweetheart, she definitely knows the kind of things that I’d like, for example pink nail polish and the mascara... Put it this way, mascara is probably my main make up related vice, if I could choose only one item of make up to wear for the rest of my life it would definitely be mascara as I just feel so much more confident whenever I’m wearing any as it literally makes the eyes pop a lot more. I love it whenever I get the opportunity to try out new make up or various products so this gift box of products was a dream for me, I can’t wait to test out some of the products as I do love experimenting sometimes. I’m forever on a budget so I don’t often get the opportunity to test out new products regularly, so whenever I do get the opportunity to try out new make up or products I really enjoy it. I’m so, so grateful to my bestie for this random gift box of goods and I can’t wait to let her know what ones I loved the most as well as you guys. There’s a huge amount of variety in the products provided in the gift box so it’s going to be super enjoyable to see what ones I’d consider buying again. Let me know in the comments if you like these kinds of posts :)


James Read Gradual Tan - Sleep Mask Tan Body 100ml - £30

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m so incredibly pale skinned that I literally glow in the sun haha. I’ve never really had a lot of success with fake tanning and I must admit that it’s not something that really appeals to me; I’ve learnt to embrace my natural ghostliness over the years so I’ve never really been tempted to tan. However, judging by the reviews of this brand I may try and tan my legs as it is a bit of a pain to constantly wear flesh coloured tights every summer. Obviously with the arrival of autumn, I’ll be leaving this product for next year but I can’t wait to try it, even if it’s just to even out my skin tone a little.

M&S Beauty Sun Smart Moisture Protect Sun Lotion SPF 30 - £8.50

Now, this is the perfect product to protect my ghostly skin; in fairness, everyone needs to wear sunscreen but I’m fairly careful generally with my skin in the sun because I’m terrified of ruining my skin with sun damage so I tend to use a lot of sun screen in the summer months. Ordinarily I would use SPF 50+ on very hot days, but for days spend wandering the city, this one will be great. Again, this is an item that I’ll be saving for next summer as autumn has definitely arrived in the UK for now, so this product will be a great addition to my summer skincare.

Studio 10 Youth Lift Glow-Plexion 15ml - £26

In all honesty, I’ve never been one to be interested in keeping my skin youthful, although that’s possibly because I’ve always been more interested in having healthy, happy skin instead. I tend to use moisturisers fairly often as a way of keeping my skin glowing as I have very dry skin. However, the reviews of this product are extremely positive which excites me; I’m looking forward to trying this as a f primer and illuminator before applying BB cream for understated, natural make up looks as it’s supposed to give you healthy, glowing skin that covers any visible imperfections which I really like the sound of as I’m loving ‘no makeup, makeup’ looks at the moment.

Filorga Time Filler 15ml - £16.20

In all honesty, this isn’t a product that I would’ve even thought of purchasing as I’ve never been concerned about wrinkles (watch in 10 years time when I regret that statement ahaha) but nethertheless it’s true; I’m fairly lucky in that I don’t have wrinkles yet and the laughter lines around my eyes have never bothered me as everyone has them and they make a face look perfectly natural. I’m really not a fan of the frozen face look of Botox ahaha. I will be likely to give this product to my mother as although she has amazing skin she would be far more likely to use this than I would and I hate wasting products.

Philip Kingsley Instant Beach 25ml - £8.99

This product is super exciting for me; whenever I try to style my hair, the idea of having long, tousled, beachy waves is exactly what I’d love to create as I think it looks amazing and low maintenance. I’ve always loved the hairstyles of Mary-Kate and Ashley and this product will definitely be able to help me to recreate that kind of look as it’s a texturising spray that doesn’t ruin the hair, which is a relief as my hair is quite thick due to having lots of strands but the individual strands are fine. It’s supposed to give volume and texture whilst holding the waves well, so I’m really excited to try this product as it’s definitely one that I’d repurchase if it does what it says on the tin.

Alpha H Daily Essential Moisturiser 50ml - £29

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I do have incredibly dry skin so I was very happy to see a moisturiser inside my besties box of gifts as one of the only skincare products I use regularly is a moisturiser due to how excellently it works for my skin. I’m one of those people who needs to add cream to their face immediately after washing or showering, or even in the morning before I apply any make up. As a result of moisturiser being a massive part of my skincare routine, I’m really excited to see how good this one is... For the price it should be amazing, but we’ll see soon enough.

Leighton Denny High Performance Nail Colour in Plush Pink - £12

Since I’ve been working in a job where I can wear nail varnish I’ve definitely started to enjoy it, I feel much more fancy whenever I wear it and I’m a massive fan of pink and purple shades as they really stand out and I like seeing my nails look half decent, haha. Considering the price of this polish, I’ve got really high expectations for it; I’m expecting it to be super long lasting with minimal chippage through everyday use, hopefully it’ll be as bright a pink as the bottle shows it to be as the shade looks absolutely beautiful if you go by the bottle colourisation.

Eyeko Sport Waterproof Mascara 8ml - £19

This is definitely the item that I was most excited about; I love wearing mascara as I feel like it really makes the colour of my eyes stand out. I’m a huge fan of wearing mascara everyday, even if I don’t want to have a full face of make up. Sometimes just a bit of mascara just makes you feel a little more confident and that’s definitely true for me; I have really fair eyelashes so the addition of mascara really makes a difference for me. This one is surprisingly expensive so I’m hoping it’ll be a fantastic addition to my mascara collection, plus it’s the sport edition so it should be able to last all day without flaking or drying out; I’ll be testing this mascara as soon as possible and I have high expectations for it.




Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Book Review: Everything Everything




 This book is arguably one of the most hyped up Young Adult fiction pieces for a long time; in fact many people were even dubbing it as the next The Fault In Our Stars. I won't deny the comparison, but I don't think that either of these books fit into a mold. I must admit that my main reason for reading this novel was curiousity; however I did actually find myself surprised by enjoying it. The writing style of short, sharp chapters was a great way to keep the interest level up and I found it very easy to read. It was an interesting touch that the main character Maddy is fairly unusual in the sense that she's mixed Japanese and African American alongside her life threatening disease known as SCID. The one thing that is truly lovely about Maddy is that she appreciates all of the little things in life, whether that is the books that she reads, the films that she watches or the time she spends with her mother and her nurse, all of which are fairly often. As a reader, you begin to feel sorry for her as you realise that her life must be extremely repetitive as well as limiting.

It's hardly surprising that Maddy spends the majority of her life dreaming about the outside world, even Carla, her nurse admits that she is amazed that Maddy isn't depressed, or doesn't struggle with her extreme life of isolation. Fairly early on in the novel we witness through Maddy, the arrival of her new neighbours and the boy, Olly quickly captures her attentions. They have a cute friendship, communicating through their bedroom windows. It actually due to the appearance of Olly and his family that we see a radical change in Maddy. As their relationship develops it slowly becomes apparent that there is something wrong with Maddy's diagnosis, which I had thought about fairly early on as she never seemed to particularly sick, but as Carla allows Olly to visit and they become quite intimate with one another in terms of kissing and Maddy is surprisingly fine. Nicola Yoon has created a very interesting and also addictive read; once you get into the story you can't wait to finish it. I actually finished it in one sitting as it's a nice easy read with a lot of themes running through it, such as relationships, isolation, adolescence, domestic violence and alcoholism.

As you can probably tell, this novel is told mostly through Maddy and in stereotypical teenager fashion, she’s fairly self centred so much of the information is all about herself or Olly. Eventually she runs away to Hawaii with Olly and they do many of things that her mother would hate, including having sex. Maddy becomes ill and when she receives treatment she begins doubting her whole life. Her mother is a doctor and it was her mother that diagnosed her illness; which is never a good thing. As a reader, it’s hardly unsurprising that Maddy is not ill as originally thought, her mother wanted to keep her to herself after her father and brother died in a freak accident and Maddy doesn’t have the happiest of reactions when she discovers the truth. Much of the critical points surrounding this novel have been the unbelievability of her condition, although it can also be argued that this is the reason for the majority of the plot; at the end of the day, Maddy’s life is a lie and has been for as long as she can remember, which also explains why she’s so emotionally underdeveloped and therefore immature in so many ways other than in academic intelligence due to her lack of socialising with anyone outside of the bubble that is her house.

Overall, this novel is both enjoyable and addictive; it’s an easy read although it does contain some sensitive content, for example when Maddy describes the domestic violence that is tearing apart Olly’s family, how it affects their family in multiple ways. His sister is a chain smoker, Olly is constantly angry and his mother lives in fear of her alcoholic and abusive husband. I would argue that Maddy’s mother is also abusive as what she does to Maddy is wrong, regardless of how much she uses the excuse that it was for Maddy’s own good. I liked the relationship that developed between Olly and Maddy, but at the same I wish that Maddy admitted that she made a lot of her decisions throughout the novel due to her strong feelings for Olly. Realistically, if he had never moved in next door and pursued her, it was unlikely that she would ever leave her careful bubble that was her life. The main issue that I had with her decisions, wasn’t her want for freedom as that is a basic right after being kept inside under false pretences for years; it was the fact that she only dreamt of the outside world to feel love and that wasn’t necessarily the right thing, I would have loved to see Maddy embrace herself as an individual more, not only a part of a couple. However, I loved the writing style of this book and I felt that the characters were really well orchestrated throughout and the ending wasn’t a disappointment; in fact, I loved the ending as it didn’t tie up any loose ends, it left them open and I love it when a book does that. This novel is a definite recommend as it was simply a lovely piece of writing.




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.




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!






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