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July

My top 5 favourite things from July!
Now that this month is wrapping up, I thought it would be fun to look back and choose my 5 top items that I loved this month!
1. Caraval, by Stephanie Garber
 If you saw my review on this book, then you know how passionate I feel about it! So it had to be on my list, and it most definitely had to be the first one here. It was such a massive hit on bookstagram which is where I first became aware of it, but to hear more about this novel please go check out my review! It is such a fantastical, magical, beautiful, soulful, mind-sweeping, amazing book and I recommend it to everyone out there!

2. My Breville blender (around £30.)
 I have fallen in love with my new blender this month, it has definitely been helping with my new mission to stay healthy. Every week I try and make a new smoothie, and they are so unbelievably tasty and refreshing! I have started to make a collection of recipes, so if anyone is interested I can always post some!

3. Batiste Dry Shampoo.
 I can’t even begin to describe the amount of times this item has helped me out recently! It has been my complete saviour. I love the fact that you can pick out different fragrances and all of them are so fresh and feel heavenly light on your hair. An item that I’ve bought that I haven’t regretted at all, and will now be making it one of my bedside essentials.

4. Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Lip Colour.
 I’m not usually one for being mad about makeup, but every so often I make a good buy and it makes me want to buy loads more makeup! These lipsticks are my absolute fave. They apply in liquid which makes for easier application, and then set into a matte. It just makes it look so much neater for a matte lipstick, and it actually stays on!! A must-buy for me, for nights out.

5. My Wonder Woman t-shirt!
 I adored the film! So I knew that at some point I would have to buy something related to my Queen Diana. I loooove my new t-shirt with the Wonder Woman symbol on it. Wonder Woman really is one of my favourite things that I am loving this month! Such a great film, and an amazing addition to comic films out there, one of my fave genres. I just love the action, romance and creativity involved.

 
My top 5 achievements/ favourite events from July:
1. My work contract.
 I am absolutely over the moon that my work contract has now been updated to permanent, instead of a temporary contract. Having a regular source of income has really settled my nerves, and having this job has raised my confidence in amazing ways now and, as ridiculous as it sounds, makes me feel more adultlike! I’m really proud of myself for having done this.

2. Bowling night out.
 I had a lovely night out with my best friends bowling, which then inevitably ended up with us going out to a club and just dancing! It felt great to go out spontaneously and not even with the intention to go out and get drunk, just have a dance and a laugh with my mates.

3. Gym.
 Another thing that I am immensely proud of is being able to finally get over my fear, and go to the gym! I may not be very good at it or push myself like I should, but I’m just glad that I finally made the first step towards building my confidence and getting my happiness back on track.

4. My weekly lunches with Gran.
 I love taking time out every Wednesday to go and see my Grandma after work! We just have a little chit chat over some biscuits and a cup of tea; it’s a very relaxing time out for me and I love seeing her light up when I go around. I just appreciate the time that I get with her now, more than I used to.

5. Selfcare.
 Been finding new ways to make sure that I’m staying on top of my selfcare, and that no matter how busy I am one day, I always put time aside to make sure that I do something that I want to do. Something that makes me feel happy or relaxes me. Which is why I’ve set up a new routine every Monday; after I’ve cleaned the house, I watch Netflix while repainting my nails and wearing a face mask. It’s really relaxing, and makes me feel slightly better about my skin – because it is still really awful, but I’m trying to make it better!

August is set to be a busy month; with my birthday, visiting family and going on holiday! So I can’t wait to see what this month brings! Xx

Posted in Book Review

The Bloody Chamber, and Other Stories, by Angela Carter

I thought these stories were so clever! Being a feminist means that I had high hopes for this story because it was all about making the fairytales, for women. About the girls finally taking control of stories that brought them down.

I loved the irony of the characterization about the young, naive girls that appear silly and materialistic; but were actually clever and by the end, completely took their own. The men were described as mysterious, showing Carter’s views that men are hard to understand.

Attempting to discover which fairytale the stories were about, was a lot of fun too. I love fairytales, so it was an enjoyable read for me. Got a bit samey, samey after a while, because the characters were all similar. But, I would totally recommend this book.

[I got major throwback feelings to high school after writing this old book review, and I have reminded myself how great this is to read! I really might be picking this up again soon!]

Posted in Book Review

Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

I’ve been meaning to write this book review for ages! I haven’t felt this way about a book in such a long time. It called out to my soul and just felt so magical and really sucked me in. In fact, I even wrote in my diary about it: “I’m reading this book called Caraval, and I am in love with it! I can’t remember the last time I felt so passionate about a book. Something about it just makes me want to read it non stop, and believe in all of the love and magic”

I really enjoyed the characters in the story, and travelling through the story with Scarlett was one of my favourite parts. She was just a lot more relatable than any of the other protagonists I’ve been with before. Most of the decisions she made, I could see myself making had I been in her situation. Her thought process was also very realistic and just made her characterisation that much stronger. I loved Julian too, and their chemistry together is one of the best I’ve ever read. I’m a sucker for the ‘they hate each other but soon grow to love each other’ type of relationships, I think they’re full of passion and a hell of a lot of romantic tension.

The story itself was so creative and imaginative that I really could not put the book down. I love being able to properly follow along with the protagonist, only finding out twists as she does and reacting to bombshells alongside her. It creates a more secure relationship between the reader and Scarlett. The twists were both a mixture of surprising and maybe a few that I had suspicions of, but overall it adds to the mystery and magic of the story.

I cannot stop thinking about it, it was such an emotional rollercoaster! I just want to throw copies of it to everyone because everyone needs to read it! And it’s the prettiest copy of a book that I own, which is a massive bonus. I am so glad that I bought it on a whim, just because other people on Instagram had!

I can’t think of any other words to explain how much this book meant to me. I guess it just reminded me of how much I love reading, and what it feels like to fall head over heels for a book.

Posted in Book Review

Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sandition, by Jane Austen

I’ve always admired Jane Austen’s work, and her sheer amazing capability to do what she did. She truly was a genius, way ahead of her time and I genuinely love spending my time reading her books.

It’s not a surprise that I loved these few pieces, my one true wish is that I would have loved them to have been finished. Dad made a joke that I should write my own endings to them! But I could never do that, and really don’t think anyone else could match her standard of expertise. The Watsons had such potential to become a truly great novel, and I know it would have been one of my favourites. The characters all stood out as individual and unique, much like my other favourites Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey. Her female protagonist in The Watsons, Emma, reminded me of Elizabeth because of the unique way that Austen creates them with their sassy personalisation.

It’s hard to write that much more about them unfortunately, because we weren’t given much. How much fun was Lady Susan though, I thoroughly enjoyed the change in style of writing and wasn’t as lost as I thought I would be. Although it is harder to form connections with the characters, because of how distrusting letters can be. All in all, the pieces were tremendous fun to read and have such potential within them.

I’m glad I finally got around to reading these few pieces. It almost made the connection that much stronger to know that she was writing most of this on her deathbed. She will always be my favourite author.

Another book to add to my collection of literature.

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19 . 06 . 17

This week has been another week of just full on working! I’ve been taking on so much overtime, that I haven’t even had time to read! Can you imagine that?! I really hope it’s worth it when I receive my first pay check, because that’s the only thing that’s keeping me going right now.

My shifts are 6-12, so every time I come home, 9 times out of 10 I just completely crash. I fall asleep on the sofa when really I want to be getting up and doing things. I want to be catching up on my tv shows and starting new ones. I want to be reading my books and reviewing them. I’m so glad that I’ve got myself a job, and starting to feel more like an adult. But I don’t want that to mean that I lose touch with all of the stuff that I enjoy doing! It’s a matter of balancing my life out and being more active, I just hope that I can get a handle on it soon.

Then again, I am slightly aware that it is also due to anxiety’s voice in the back of my mind. The voice that makes me feel guilty for having a nap even when I’m absolutely shattered, because I should have been doing countless other things. It’s as if it’s trying to make me feel less fulfilled about my life because I’m not doing enough with my days.

Despite this view, I have done a lot of things looking back at the week. I went out for a friends birthday and watched Wonder Woman (incredible!) and then watched Baywatch the next day. I also took myself out for a walk when I was feeling a little suffocated by the house, and treated myself to an ice cream, due to the fact that it was a supremely hot day. This week I have had a hell of a lot more social interactions than normal, and it has felt great. It really does make you feel more refreshed and builds my confidence up. I’d like to think that this week coming up, I’ll be able to be more active after work too.

In reflection this week had had its ups and downs, but it started off really strong and work has been so great lately!

Posted in Blog

12. 06. 17

This post on last week is a little late because of how busy I was and how tired I am.

I am still keeping up with the #365daysofselfcare tag and you can see that in full swing over on my twitter! I post some of the updates on Instagram, depending on whether I’ve taken a photo that I like! It has been really helpful the past week because it has encouraged me to see all of the good things that have happened each day, and has reminded myself to always do something I ‘want’ to.

Monday and Tuesday I was working at the Oxfam bookshop again, falling in love with it the more I work there! I even chose to walk both days, as the weather is heating up now and I am trying to find more ways to remain active.

On the Wednesday I went into town with my Grandma, and we treated ourselves to some new dresses for the summer. It was a really lovely day, and since moving back home, I’ve really appreciated the time that I can spend with her.

Then Friday through to Sunday, I was doing my 6-12 shifts at Tesco. I’m really enjoying working there, and have now signed up for overtime. The only thing is, I can’t get used to how tired I then feel when I come off my shift. I’m fine when I’m at work and then I walk through the door at home, and just want to nap. That’s the only thing that I need to learn how to conquer. Because otherwise I end up wasting the rest of my day which is a shame!

I finally did my gym induction as well, which means it’s ready for me to go to now whenever I want. And yet, my anxiety is still holding me back. I really want to go, and I really need to, because I’ve been really self-conscious about my weight lately. I’ve put a lot on since moving back home. So I keep trying to think of times when it’ll be less busy so I won’t feel judged and there won’t be loads of people there. But I can never be bothered to get out of bed around 6, as I have been struggling to sleep in this humid heat. And then I’m too afraid to go any other time because I don’t know how busy it will be. I know I just need to ‘bite the bullet’ (I hate that saying) and go. I will feel so much better once I’ve been and it will give me the courage to keep going as well.

Posted in Book Review

Midnight Alley (Morganville Vampires #3), by Rachel Caine

[This is a book review from a couple of years ago, I recently found a notebook where I had written down some brief thoughts from books I’d read and thought it would be fun to have a read over them. I haven’t returned to this book series yet, but I do plan to soon!]

I still do not know how to feel about the Morganville vampires books. I like that it isn’t over-hyped and not many people know about it, I would love to see a TV series on this!

I really like the characters in the books, Claire reminds me, at points, of things that I’d do if I was in their situation. I loved Shane in the first two books, he was so arrogant and good-looking, but God is he annoying in this one. Still handsome, but I wish he’d dump his prejudice against vampires. Especially because of Michael!

The plot was really good though, the whole vamp curse thing was so interesting. And, I can’t wait to see what Amelie’s father is going to be like in the next one.

For some reason, I could not give this book more than 3 stars, hopefully the next books will be better.

 

Posted in Blog

05 . 06 . 17

It’s been another whirlwind week of me accomplishing new things and feeling even better for it.

I did my two shifts of working at Oxfam with the books, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I even got slightly trained on the till, the day was really slow so I didn’t get chance to serve anyone but I have a feeling I will be put on the till at some point soon. Working with the books is really soothing for me, I feel an extreme sense of relaxation in the shop. It’s like a safe place for me and I love going in there.

I also started working at Tesco! That was a massive kick in anxiety’s face! I’m an online shopper, so I go around the store and collect other people’s shopping. I like being kept busy and having the repetitive notion of collecting a trolley and just getting on with the work. It’s only two shifts a week at the moment, but I’m looking to sign up for loads of overtime. I did almost have a slight breakdown the night before my first shift, but I am so proud of myself for how I dealt with it and for moving on.

This week I was finally encouraged to sign up for a gym membership, due to the fact that I will actually be getting paid now! I’ve been feeling a little down lately due to my current weight, and the sad reality that some of my favourite clothes for the summer no longer fit. I really think going to the gym will do me the world of good; I’ll be able to keep fit and healthy which will make me feel so much better, and help against fighting anxiety.

Even though all of these things suggest that I am getting better at gaining my confidence back, and doing my best to fight anxiety, there are still some setbacks. I am still terrified of making phone calls. I don’t quite get why I am so nervous about making them, but I panic so much. I need to call the gym to book an induction otherwise I’ll never go! But I’m too scared to pick up the phone and dial. Hopefully that’s something that will come with time and I will eventually get over it.

To end on a happier note, I have decided to start doing the #365daysofselfcare tag. This will remind myself to always do something every day that is just for me. And I think it’s a lovely thing to be able to look back over when I do get caught up in a bad day.

Posted in Book Review

After You, Jojo Moyes

I’m always wary when I approach books like this. I fell head over heels for the first one, Me Before You, because of the beautiful dynamic between Lou and Will and wondered how the next one would suffer.

Obviously Lou has changed significantly, the grief impacting her in the way I pretty much imagined it would. So the overall story arc follows her surviving and dealing with what she did, and the effect that it had on her and everyone around her. In small ways she is still the clumsy, awkward girl that we all grew to love; but with a darker side to her as she shuts people off and is stuck in a rut.

I admired the twist of using Will’s daughter popping up and demanding to know answers, and all the trouble that she brought with her. She was a really wild character that brought the light and life back to Lou’s life. She may have had difficulties and struggled a lot making it through, but that’s what made her an interesting and dynamic character. I much prefer reading about those types of characters, because they are not unimaginative and stock; they are relatable due to the way they express and deal with real emotions. The female friendship between the two of them was one of my favourites that I’ve read in a long time!

I started off liking Sam, liking the dates that they begun to have together and thinking it was rather cute. But it wasn’t long before my feminist mind started to kick in. I didn’t see exactly why he was relevant to make a happy ending, because Lily had already changed Lou and her offer to go to New York. His chemistry with Lou wasn’t as good as Will’s, but maybe that’s because they didn’t spend as much time together? I guess everyone’s happy endings are different, but for once it would be nice to have a novel showing that a relationship doesn’t always have to be the goal. (Thank God she still went to New York though, otherwise I would be raging!)

Also, on a side note – the ‘Feminist’ awakening that Lou’s mother had was a shockingly embarrassing portrayal of feminism and made me cringe every time I had to read about the fact that she was not shaving her legs. Feminism has so many layers and is more deep, like the fact that she wanted to leave the house without her husband and expand her world, which should have been the focus. Not a lousy portrayal of shaving preferences – attempting to garner humour about something that is a life choice for some people.

I don’t really know what else to say about it. It was a sweet read, with a lots of twists and turns, all designed to propel Lou along until she was finally ready to let go of Will. The symbolism at the end with the balloons was beautiful. And while it was nice to read about those characters again and see how everyone got on after Will, there is that question – was this sequel necessary?

Posted in Book Review

The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks

I had high hopes for this book, not only did I love the film adaptation, but I had heard a lot about Spark’s works. I was disappointed.

I did not like the writing style at all, it was basic, boring and it meant that I felt no connection to the setting or the characters. The descriptions were petty and I did not get fully engrossed into the narrative as I normally love to.

I perhaps should not have watched the film first, because I missed all of the back story that I loved. I hated that I could not get connected to the characters, they were not developed at all.

The story itself was beautiful, it would have made a lasting impression on me if only the characters had been more developed so that I could feel more sorry for them. I would recommend the movie, not the book … it’s not often you hear me say that.

[This is a book review that I wrote in 2015 – so I would really love to try and read this book again because I think that my tastes have grown.]