Tuesday, 12 July 2016

JUNE FAVOURITES



It's been such a long time since I've done a favourites post so I thought I'd share with you some of the things that have been making me happy lately :)



01. Tilda Garden Vegetable and Quinoa Wholegrain Rice.
I know this is kind of a weird one, and I have no idea if it's any good for you or not, but damn is it delicious. I got a bunch of these on offer and they just make for a really easy meal with some grilled chicken or my absolute favourite: falafel!

02. Maybelline SuperStay nail varnish in 'Pink in the Park'.
I went on holiday in June (more on that below), and I wanted to paint my nails with something that would last the week so I dug out this Maybelline nail varnish that I got last year. It's a lovely pastel pink and it lasted the whole week with barely any chipping - which is pretty impressive! I've been reapplying it ever since because 1) it makes my hands look more tanned *smirk* and 2) it's the perfect summery colour. I think there's quite a few colours in the SuperStay range now so I'm definitely going to be checking out some more!

03. NYX soft matte lip cream in 'Abu Dhabi'.
Last month I finally managed to get to a NYX counter, the awesome one in Selfridge's no less, and picked up the soft matte lip cream in 'Abu Dhabi'. I was hovering around the counter for ages trying to decide between this and 'Stockholm' but eventually went for 'Abu Dhabi' because it's more of a brown-nude and less peachy. I have quite dark lips anyway so darker nudes just look better on me than pale ones. The formula is AWESOME, it lasts pretty much all day - through eating and drinking - with minimal fading, and it feels really comfortable on the lips. I now need every single other shade *sigh*.

04. Primark lip liner.
This lip liner cost me £1. One. Pound. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?! And it's actually really nice! It's creamy and pretty long lasting and did I mention that its only a quid?!
I don't know the exact shade of this, but there are only a few and they're all really nice so go and check them out!

05. Menorca.
Last month I went on a long awaited and much needed holiday to Menorca with my family and my boyfriend and boy was it amazing. We stayed in an apartment with a sea view and a lovely, blissfully quiet pool and my days were spent lounging in the shade, drinking Fanta Limon and reading all the books. I read five books in 6 days and it was the happiest week I've had in a long time. It already feels like it was years ago and I'm craving another break in the sun!

06. Meridian Cashew Butter.
For twenty four years, for some unknown reason, I'd convinced myself that I didn't like nuts - in any shape or form. Then 2016 came around and I decided, you know what, I should probably actually try some nut products and see if I'm making this whole thing up. And guess what? I was. I actually do like nuts, especially cashews, and especially Meridian Cashew Butter. It's made of 100% organic cashew nuts and I adore it, on toast, with strawberries (sounds weird but it's awesome) and just on a spoon. YUM.

07. Witch Please.
Last but certainly not least is Witch Please. How can I explain this podcast and how much I love it?!
Witch Please is a fortnightly podcast about the Harry Potter world by two lady scholars. At least that's how their website describes it. BUT IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT! It's about Granger Danger, print culture, the inexplicable terribleness of the fourth film and DESTROYING THE PATRIARCHY! And magic, of course, you can't forget the magic.
The hosts of the podcast, Marcelle Kosman and Hannah McGregor, decided that they wanted to re-read the Harry Potter books and watch the accompanying films and then discuss them in a wonderful mix of literary criticism, hilarity, feminism and awesome sound effects. Have I convinced you yet? Go and listen to it now on your podcast app of choice! You'll be addicted in no time.

Those are the things that have been making me happy lately, what about you? Let me know your favourite thing about June in the comments!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

MINI BOOK REVIEWS | JUNE



Total number of books read: 5
Total number of pages read: 1696
Genres: 1 YA Fantasy, 1 adult thriller, 2 YA contemporary, 1 YA mystery.
Nationality of author: 2 UK, 2 USA, 1 Jamaican.

Total cliche right here, but HOW THE HECK ARE WE IN JULY ALREADY?! This year has gone so fast and I'm starting to get worried that I won't reach my Goodreads goal for the year *cries forever*.

But never mind because I am reading some books, albeit a bit slowly. I read five books last month, all in one week, and that was the week when I went on holiday. I don't think I've actually mentioned it around these parts but in June I moved house, interviewed for and started a new job, all in one month - so it was a pretty busy one! My holiday to Menorca was a pleasant relief and I read one physical book and four ebooks - so let's get into the reviews!


The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre | ☆☆☆☆
Deanna Madden has locked herself in her apartment for three years to stop her murderous fantasies from becoming reality. She makes money by being a cam girl, performing online for paying viewers. But a disturbing client and a missing girl force her to re-enter the outside world. Although this is marketed as an 'erotic thriller', I wouldn't really say it's erotica. The discussions of sex and sexual acts are very clinical and matter of fact, they're certainly not typically 'sexy' or erotically charged, and I think this actually worked really well alongside the character development. The plot was slightly clumsy and a bit predictable but it was overall really compelling and I'm intrigued enough by the main character to want to continue with the series.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | ☆☆☆☆
Violet and Finch meet for the first time on top of their high school's bell tower, both contemplating jumping. The two end up working on a school project together and their lives become entwined. All the Bright Places is an emotionally compelling look at love, loss and mental illness. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, I'm always wary of books that contain mental illness as a primary theme, but I think Jennifer Niven dealt with the topic really thoughtfully, although it could definitely be triggering for some - so fair warning there. I thought that the characters were really well developed and I really connected to them. I don't often cry when reading but I came really close with All the Bright Places and it definitely stayed with me long after I finished reading.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon | ☆☆☆
Everything, Everything is about eighteen year old Madeline, who has been confined to her house for most of her life due to a rare illness, which means she's basically allergic to almost everything. Her life is mundane and monotonous until a new family moves next door and she catches sight of their teenage son, Olly. I started reading this almost straight after finishing All the Bright Places which might have actually affected how I felt about this book because I think I was automatically comparing them - and All the Bright Places definitely won out in my mind. Although the characters had so much potential, there wasn't much chance for character development before the narrative was pretty much eclipsed by insta-love. This is one of my least favourite tropes as it just seems rushed and the romance doesn't seem to have any foundation, the characters are just suddenly inexplicably in love. Insta-love is a collection of clichés disguised as plot development and it just feels lazy. Despite that, the plot and the writing were interesting enough to bump Everything, Everything up to three stars, although I definitely didn't love it as much as most people seem to.



V For Violet by Alison Rattle | ☆☆☆.5
Set in London, 1961, V for Violet is a YA historical mystery that follows sixteen year old Violet, who is stuck working in her parents' fish and chip shop, dreaming of a more interesting life. Then one day she meets the handsome rocker Beau, her long-lost brother comes home, and local girls start going missing, including her best friend - suddenly life is a bit too interesting. I absolutely love historical fiction and I thought Alison Rattle's 1960s London was excellently developed - it felt very convincing. The mystery was a bit slow to build but the last third of the novel had me completely gripped and I was ultimately pretty satisfied with the ending. I thought Violet was a really interesting and relatable character and although at times she seemed a bit naive, it's understandable considering the time period.

The main issue I had with V For Violet was that the side characters just weren't developed enough. This might be a personal issue as I'm always interested in the side characters and think that they can add so much to a story. I really think that if the side characters, particularly Violet's family, had been just a little more developed, it would've added so much to the narrative and the intensity of the mystery. Overall, V For Violet was a really enjoyable read and I'd definitely like to read more from Alison Rattle.

Bad Apple by Matt Whyman | ☆☆.5
I got an review copy of this from NetGalley quite a while ago so by the time I got to reading it on holiday I couldn't remember what it was about, so I went in completely blind. This is something I usually enjoy doing but with Bad Apple it was a pretty bizarre experience, mainly because the plot was just so out of my comfort zone and kind of confusing. Bad Apple is probably best described as alt-reality or urban fantasy. It's based on the premise that 'trolls' are a subterranean race who look almost exactly like humans but behave differently, and that they have been secretly exchanging their children with human children for centuries and 'troll' behaviour is only apparent once they hit puberty. Thus, it is generally the explanation for anti-social behaviour. Fifteen year old Maurice is kidnapped by trolls whilst on a school trip to a troll settlement and is 'rescued' by Wretch, who happens to be a troll. Thus 352 pages of on-the-run hijinx ensues.

I kind of get what Whyman was trying to do here, a kind of mixing of traditional fairy-tale-esque 'trolls' and the way we use the world 'trolls' today - to describe people who exhibit anti-social behaviour online, in order to raise questions about difference in a humorous way. It's an interesting concept, I just don't think it was executed particularly well. I just wasn't invested in the plot or the characters, the world-building was pretty rushed and the hijinx quite drawn out, and frankly ridiculous. I love humour, I just think this might be intended for a younger audience than me and it definitely got a bit tedious. Give it a go if you have an open mind!

--

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are you currently reading? Tell me all the things!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

INDEPENDENT BOOKSHOP WEEK 2016 TAG



It's the tenth anniversary of Independent Bookshop Week!

This week (Saturday 18th - Saturday 25th June) is Independent Bookshop Week which was created to celebrate independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland. There are tons of events happening in independent bookshops everywhere and I highly suggest you check out your local bookshop to join in (you can find your nearest independent bookshop by using this handy link).

The lovely people over at the booksellers association contacted me and invited me to join in with their Independent Bookshop Week tag with ten questions to celebrate ten years of Independent Bookshop Week! So without further ado let's get into the tag:

1. What book(s) are currently in your bag? 
Well I'm actually scheduling this post in advance because when you're reading this I'll be on holiday (woohoo!) so I'll most likely be toting my e-reader around in my beach bag. But at the time of writing the book that's in my bag is The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre, which is a much hyped mystery-thriller that I haven't figured out my thoughts on yet!

2. What’s the last great book you read?
I read quite a lot of great books so this is a difficult one! But it probably has to go to The Girls by Emma Cline which is a recently released debut novel published by Vintage. I did a full review of this book which you can read here.

3. What book have you gifted the most?
I don't often gift the same book to different people because if I'm giving someone a book I want it to be the perfect book for them and something that they'll really enjoy. However last Christmas I gave Ready Player One by Ernest Cline to both my boyfriend and my brother because although I haven't actually read it myself, I've seen that many rave reviews that I knew they'd both love it - and they did!

4. What’s your favourite independent bookshop?
Gosh this is a hard one, I've visited so many wonderful bookshops that it's hard to pick just one! I visit North Norfolk with my family at least once a year and whilst there we always visit as many bookshops as possible, but my favourite is probably the Old Station bookshop in Wells-Next-The-Sea. As you can tell by the name it used to be a railway station that was built in 1857, it's a really beautiful building and the twisty-turning rooms are piled high with books, including antiquarian books and rare first editions. No matter how busy it gets, it's always almost silent and the dusty air is filled with that special anticipatory atmosphere only found in the best bookshops. The couple who own and run the shop are so lovely and I rarely walk away from there without a tote bag full of books. I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in Wells.

5. What’s been your favourite book recommended by a bookseller (or fellow booktuber)?
I feel like most of the books I read these days have been recommended to me by booktubers or other bloggers! I probably wouldn't have discovered the Saga series of graphic novels (or graphic novels in general) without booktube and I absolutely adore that series. As for my favourite book recommended by a bookseller I think that would have to be Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel which I was pondering buying in a bookshop when a bookseller jumped in and told me it was their favourite read of the year, which just sealed the deal for me, and it then became one of my favourite reads of 2015!

6. What’s your favourite bookshop memory?
I don't have any specific favourite bookshop memories but living in quite a remote area and dealing with chronic illness means that I don't get a chance to visit bookshops very often so each time I get to do that is special to me.

7. What do bookshops mean to you? What do you love about them?
Ever since I was little bookshops have been the most magical places for me. There's just this feeling of excitement, joy and intense satisfaction that I get from being in a bookshop, surrounded by stories I love and so many potential stories. Bookshops are one of the places I feel happiest, most comfortable and just like I'm where I belong. I think it has something to do with my various anxiety disorders and how out of place I often feel in public spaces but in bookshops I know I'm around 'my people', people who love the same thing that I do, and it just makes me feel so much more comfortable. It's always been a dream of mine to be a bookseller and I'm definitely going to make it happen one day, no matter what.

8. What are the books that made you? Which books have most affected or influenced you?
This is possibly the most difficult question ever, I've read so many books it's hard to narrow down the ones that have influenced me most! I'm going to the get the obvious out of the way first and say the Harry Potter series because the books were released when I was growing up and I felt like I was growing alongside the characters, and I think those books got me through my difficult teenage years and kept me reading when I might've stopped.
I'm also going to say The Colour Purple by Alice Walker as it was one of the first books that I studied at school that I really loved and was passionate enough about to write an essay that I was really proud of and that ultimately convinced me to study English Literature at university, without which I might not be where I am today.
But I would say that every single book I've read has affected me, influenced me and enabled me to become a more thoughtful reader.

9. What book do you recommend readers gift for Father’s Day?
Well, obviously all fathers and father figures are different and I'd definitely say a thoughtful and personal book would be best (my dad would love nothing more than a book on fly-fishing that he hasn't read yet!). But if we're talking generally I think The Martian by Andy Weir is a great gift for Father's Day, although I haven't actually read it myself yet, I haven't heard one negative review and it's a book my dad and brother both really enjoyed.

10. What book is currently at the top of your TBR pile?
This might seem like a rather strange one but I read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton last year and I unexpectedly really enjoyed it and I've been really wanting to get to the sequel The Lost World, which I'm hopefully going to read on holiday! They're not the most well written books and the science is fairly questionable but they're such gripping page-turners and I mean, come on, dinosaurs.

So those are all the questions! I hope you find a way to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week and if you're reading this and you want to do this tag then consider yourself tagged!

I'm also going to tag some of my favourite bookish bloggers and friends: Emma of The Eggplant Emoji, Grace of Almost Amazing Grace, Emma of Emma's Bookery, Ali of Ali Caitrin and Aisling of Aisling's Beauty Bites!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

MINI BOOK REVIEWS | MAY


Total number of books read: 8
Total number of pages read: 1595
Genres: 1 adult non-fiction, 5 graphic novels, 1 adult thriller, 1 adult fantasy.
Nationality of author: 5 USA, 1 UK, 1 French.

We're about half way through June so why not take a look back at May? May was a bit of a funny reading month for me, although I read eight things, five of them were graphic novels, which didn't take me very long to read, so the rest of the month was spent plodding slowly through just three books. I think I was just exhausted after reading an incredible twelve books in April, and that exhuastion has crept into June somewhat. Oh well, swings and roundabouts. Let's get into the reviews!

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling | ☆☆☆☆
Why Not Me? is Mindy Kaling's second collection of memoir-essays and unlike Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? which was a collection of funny musings and anecdotes on Kaling's childhood, Why Not Me? is a more focused memoir of her career and her journey to success. I found it a little difficult to get into at first because jumping from the fiction I'd been reading, to Kaling's very distinct voice was a little jarring but once I got into it I couldn't get enough. Mindy Kaling is exactly the kind of person everyone can imagine being best friends with; she's hilarious, confident and self-aware and she has some really interesting, honest and inspiring things to say in Why Not Me? This book reminded me how much I love her and inspired me to rewatch the show she created, wrote and stars in, The Mindy Project, and I'm loving every second.

The Invisible Kingdom by Rob Ryan | ☆☆.75
I've categorised this as a graphic novel in my reading statistics to simply things but it's really more of a picture story book, aimed at 'anyone aged 8-80', according to Goodreads. Rob Ryan is an amazing artist who specialises in papercutting and this book is a story about a lonely young prince that is accompanied by Ryan's papercut illustrations. The images in this book, as always with Rob Ryan's work, are absolutely stunning, but the story just lacked something for me. It was quite sweet but there wasn't a lot of plot and part of me thinks that the images could tell the story better by themselves. I think this might be part of a series but I'm not sure I'll be picking up the others.

Saga Volumes 2, 3, 4 and 5 by Brain K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples | ☆☆☆☆☆
After reading Saga volume one all the way back in January, I finally got around to borrowing the next four volumes from my local library and devoured them in just a few days. I absolutely love this graphic novel series, it's definitely my favourite by far. Saga is a sweeping space opera with a young family at it's center who are fighting to stay alive in an intergalactic war. It's difficult to describe the plot other than that but it's one you should just dive right into. The art is just incredible and the writing is sharp, compelling and hilarious. Read it now.

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh | ☆.25
After being thoroughly disappointed by Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Cuckoo's Calling, I'd figured that mystery-thrillers just weren't for me. But my lovely friend Emma wanted me to read this book so much that she very kindly bought me a copy and after my other friend Emma gave it a rave review, I thought I'd better give it a chance, and I kind of loved it. I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a remote Welsh village after a tragic accident, but she finds that no matter how hard she tries, she can't escape her past. Sounds kind of like every mystery-thriller ever right? Wrong.
My issue with mystery-thrillers is that after a lifetime of watching pretty much every episode of CSI and Dexter, I tend to figure out the mystery pretty quickly and I don't usually find them very thrilling, but I Let You Go just threw out all of my preconceptions about this genre. I can't put my finger on what it was, maybe it was the writing, or the pretty unpredictable plot, but this book had me totally gripped from the first page and I just couldn't put it down. It was heart-wrenching, terrifying and at one point so shocking that I actually audibly gasped so many times on the train that the woman near me may have been concerned for my sanity. If you love this genre, or think you hate it, I urge you to pick up I Let You Go. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery | 
This book was kindly sent to me for review by ED public relations on behalf of Gallic Books, who publish books that have been translated from their original French, into English. It is about two young foundlings who, although living thousands of miles apart, are connected by something mysterious, and whose presence blurs the lines between our world and another. Those who loved Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog will find The Life of Elves to be quite a departure both in genre and somewhat in style. The Life of Elves is magical realism bordering on fantasy and is written in a very lyrical style, which might not be to everyone's taste. I personally enjoyed losing myself in Barbery's writing which had an almost ethereal quality to it and conjured up vivid images of nature, innocence and magic. The Life of Elves is definitely more character driven than plot-driven and every character was described so richly that they felt almost real. However the plot did move very slowly and could have done with a little more structure; there seemed to be a lot of descriptive narrative which suddenly culminated in a slightly confusing climax which felt a little unfinished (it might be part of a series, but I'm unsure). Overall, I really enjoyed Barbery's writing and would recommend it to fans of lyrical style and a more relaxed pace.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

STARTING A NEW BULLET JOURNAL WITH BUREAU DIRECT*

Starting a new bullet journal Sarah's Chapter

You might remember that back in February I posted about starting a bullet journal. At the time I had only been bullet journalling for a few weeks and thought that it might be helpful to share my experience with others, I had no idea that it was going to be so well-received. My 'Starting a Bullet Journal' post has been my most popular post of all time; it's had over 20,000 unique pageviews and has been pinned over 67,000 times on Pinterest. For a small/medium sized blog like mine, those are crazy huge numbers!


Well, four months later and that first bullet journal has been completely filled, it's totally changed how I organise my time and has made me infinitely more productive. The bullet journal is the most helpful and innovative organisational tool I've ever come across and I'm now definitely a committed bullet journaller. With that in mind it was time to start a new one and the lovely Isaac over at independent stationery company Bureau Direct offered to send me a bundle of bullet journal essentials so I could up my bujo game and share them with you guys. In this post, I'll be reviewing the items in the bundle and showing you how I've been using my new bullet journal.


Ever since starting my first bullet journal I'd been dying to try out the Leuchtturm 1917 which is the notebook of preference for so many bullet journallers, so I was delighted that this was included in the bundle that I received. The Leuchtturm 1917 comes in so many gorgeous colours but I went for the lime green as I wanted something bright and cheerful. This is the A5 dotted version* of the notebook which I find to be the best for everyday bullet journalling, as it fits perfectly in your bag and the dotted pages are perfect for both writing and drawing. I've found that since switching from lined to dotted pages I've been much more creative with my journalling as it makes drawing neat boxes, banners and grids really simple.


In my first journal I'd pretty much just used ballpoint and gel rollerball pens and after watching Boho Berry's videos I was eager to expand my pen collection so the Kaweco fountain pen and Mark's HiBi ballpoint that were included in the bundle were perfect. The Kaweco Classic Sport fountain pen* is a pocket-sized pen with a really unusual design, mine is in a forest green with gold detailing and it really is beautiful. I went for black ink cartridges as I mostly write and draw in black because it's practical and I find that way the pages don't look too busy or messy. This fountain pen writes so smoothly, the line is the perfect thickness and I find that it doesn't bleed through the Leuchtturm's pages. The Mark's HiBi ballpoint* is very slim, making it so light and easy to hold and it writes with a very fine line that is perfect for taking quick notes and drawing grids. Bureau Direct also included a Papelote notebook strap* which is perfect for carrying the notebook and multiple pens round on the go, I love this little extra and use it constantly.

I've been using this new bullet journal and all the little essentials for a few weeks now so I thought I'd dive right in and show you how I've been filling it out so far and the spreads that I decided to migrate from my old bullet journal.


The Leuchtturm 1917 is perfect for bullet journalling as it already has a built-in Index and numbered pages, making it so much easier to keep track of collections. I find this really helpful but the small section for page numbers in the Index does mean that if a collection (such as June dailies) is dotted over different pages you might need to make several entries for that collection.


This '2016 goals' spread is one that I migrated over from my first bullet journal as I want to continue to track these goals throughout the year. I'm hoping that by the end of the year I'll be able to see some progress on each of these goals and it'll give me an idea of how to move forward with them next year. I also had a play around with the MT pastel washi tapes*; I love using them for headers, dividers and borders, they brighten up the page whilst keeping it fairly minimal.


This spread shows two collections that I migrated over from my previous bullet journal: my blog statistics tracker and my TBR page. The idea of the TBR (to be read) page is that I write down unread books that I want to get to then colour them in once I've finished. It's a nice way of having a visual representation of what I'm reading and how well I'm doing at tackling my TBR. I used the Mark's HiBi ballpoint to draw both the stats grid and the bookcase as it's ultra-fine line is great for precision.


Again, I've carried over this 2016 reading statistics spread from my previous bullet journal as I want to continue to track these throughout the year. I want to do a post about my reading statistics at the end of the year, like I did for 2015, and tracking everything each time I finish a book will save me so much time overall, it's also super motivating. I used the Mark's HiBi ballpoint to draw the grid lines and the Kaweco fountain pen for all the writing. I absolutely love writing with this pen, it's just so smooth and is great for drawing titles and doing any calligraphy.

Future Log Sarah's Chapter

The future log is one of the key sections of the original bullet journal set up that was created by Ryder Carroll (watch this video for a great explanation of how the bullet journal system works). I use it to store events and tasks that are scheduled months in advance and I refer back to it when creating my monthly spreads.


This is my monthly spread for June. Over the last few months I've played around with different monthly spreads as some months I found I wasn't really using it, but then other formats didn't quite work for me. For now I've settled on the original monthly spread suggested by Ryder Carroll. Although it looks empty in this photograph (I'd only just set it up) I actually use the monthly task list quite a lot to note down things I need to get done in the near future. This spread is helpful when creating my weekly and daily logs.

Starting a new bullet journal Sarah's Chapter

This spread contains my monthly 'things I'm into' and my June habit tracker. The 'things I'm into' collection is kind of a mix of a gratitude log and a 'monthly memories' and it's basically where, throughout the month, I doodle the things that I've been enjoying that particular month, whether it's an item, a memory or something random. It helps me when putting together my monthly favourites posts and it's also just nice to look back on and see what I was enjoying in any particular month.

The habit tracker is something many people use in their bullet journals and basically works as a motivational tool to improve daily habits such as keeping up with skincare, blogging and getting an early night. This particular habit tracker layout is inspired by Boho Berry who actually has a habit tracker printable that is very similar. I use Papermate InkJoy pens that I picked up at The Range to fill in the tracker and it's one of the only colourful pages in my bullet journal.

Another great thing about the Leuchtturm 1917 is that it contains two built-in ribbons which means you can mark two important pages in your bullet journal. I keep one ribbon on the above spread, as I refer to it every day, and one on my current page. It's little details like that that make the Leuchtturm stand out from other notebooks.


These spreads are some examples of weekly and daily logs. The weekly log is not included in Ryder Carroll's original system but I think I got the idea from Tiny Ray of Sunshine. I use the weekly log mostly as a task list of things that need to get done that week but not necessarily on any specific day, I will then refer to this when creating my daily logs. The daily logs are standard bullet journal fare and at the moment I mainly use them as a task list.

I like to be creative with my bullet journal and I really enjoy experimenting with banners and practicing doodles (I often use Pinterest as an inspiration for these) but that doesn't mean that you have to. The best thing about the bullet journal is that it can be whatever you want it to be, it doesn't have to be 'Pinterest-y' or pretty or embellished. The most important thing is that it functions for you as an organisational system. If you want to also use it as a creative outlet, that's fine, but you certainly don't have to. Boho Berry has made an excellent video on this topic if you want to check it out.

I hope you've found this little update on my bullet journal helpful and hopefully it's given you some ideas and recommendations for new bullet journal essential items. I just want to say thank you so much to Bureau Direct for sending me this little bundle and I'm genuinely loving every single item. If you're looking for a new notebook or just want to drool over some beautiful stationery, head over to their website.

Do you keep a bullet journal? Let me know!

* Disclaimer: the products marked with an asterix were sent to me for free by Bureau Direct in exchange for an honest review. However all opinions are entirely my own and I would never review something that I didn't honestly love!

Friday, 27 May 2016

BLOG TOUR: THE BAD MISS BENNET ABROAD BY JEAN BURNETT



The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett
Published by Canelo
Release date: 23rd May 2016.
Source: Canelo via ED public relations, e-book review copy.


Whatever happened next to Lydia Bennet? A rollicking romp that follows the fortunes of Pride and Prejudice ’s most badly-behaved Bennet sister Having controversially run off with George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Lydia is confronted with his untimely demise on the battlefield at Waterloo. Merry widow Lydia Wickham, née Bennet, is therefore in want of a rich husband. Failing to find one in Europe, she embarks on a voyage to Brazil accompanied by her trusty maid, Adelaide, to join the exiled Portuguese Court in Rio de Janeiro. She soon catches the eye of the heir, Dom Pedro. Staying out of trouble doesn’t come naturally to Lydia as she is captured by pirates, then makes a second disastrous marriage, and even finds ways to ruin the Darcys’ tranquil existence all over again. Will she return from the tropics with a cache of jewels? Could she ever succeed in her quest for ‘an agreeable husband with an estate and two matching footmen’, or must her taste for adventure lead her astray yet again? [blurb from Goodreads]

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the recently released The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett! I'm thrilled to share a guest post from Jean on the enduring appeal of Jane Austen, something which is very close to my heart as an Austen fan! (You can read my reviews of some of Austen's works here and here). So grab a cup of tea and enjoy Jean's post!

--
What is the enduring appeal of Jane Austen? 

We live in the age of the Janeites, fanatical followers of Jane Austen who have helped to put her novels up there with Dracula, the Bible and other unlikely titles as the most read, loved and copied in various forms.

The term Janeites was coined by Rudyard Kipling, a great admirer of the novels. He wrote a long short story called The Janeites, set during the First World War about a group of soldiers who discussed Janes work in the trenches as an antidote to the horrors around them. They even named some of their big guns after her characters. Today people all over the world, but especially in North America, proudly call themselves Janeites.

The recent two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, has increased the urge to be Austentatious, fuelled by more and more TV and film adaptions of the novels – and originally, of course, by Colin Firth in that wet shirt. There was a film out recently called Austenland in which a Janeite indulges her ultimate fantasy and disappears into a Jane Austen theme park dressed appropriately. Are the thousands of spinoffs a tribute or a curse?

The fact is that writers have been appropriating Jane’s characters since the first spinoff novel was written in 1913. Old Friends and New Fancies by an American writer, Sybil Brinton, mixed up characters from all the novels and married them off neatly - Georgiana Darcy from P and P marries William Price from Mansfield Park.

Since then, the tendency has grown into a minor industry. The recent 200th anniversary celebrations of the publication of Pride and Prejudice saw a number of well-known writers producing modern versions of the novels. Joanna Trollope has tackled Sense and Sensibility. Has the Queen of the Aga Sagas introduced one of those beasts into Barton Cottage? I recall that it certainly needed one. Alexander McCall Smith has re-written Emma for the modern age and Val McDermid has published a modern Northanger Abbey set in Windsor rather than Bath. P.D.James wrote a spinoff (Death Comes to Pemberley), which was shown on TV.

Today, Jane’s heroes and heroines are much more intrepid, battling aliens (Pride and Prejudice and Sea Monsters), doing time travel and going Bollywood.

Women love to compare themselves to Jane's heroines and this is part of her enduring appeal. They were doing the same thing in the Regency era. The Prince Regent's unfortunate daughter, Princess Charlotte, apparently compared herself to Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.

Perhaps the most obvious and well known modern take on an Austen heroine is in the Bridget Jones novels and films. Although Bridget has a lowly job in a publishing house her principle concern in life is finding the right man. In this she matches an Austen heroine, but while there very good practical reasons for this obsession in the 1800s - no other option being available to women, the situation hardly applies today.

Feminists will despair but women are still brainwashed from birth about the necessity of looking good and finding a man. We lack a modern day Almacks, the ballroom where the fashionable elite (the ton) met to find partners, but we have internet dating! Today's heroine haunts bars and drinks to excess but the search for a good man with the equivalent of £10,000 a year goes on.

Would Jane spin in her grave over this or would she be excessively diverted? We can never know; but it is a truth universally acknowledged that we need our Austen characters more than ever. We project our hopes, fears and fantasies on to them - and we love them.

- Jean Burnett.

--

The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad is a hilarious take on the life of Lydia Bennet after the events of Pride and Prejudice. It's a fast-paced romp through Brazil and beyond and I found it really interesting to see well-loved characters like Darcy and Elizabeth through the eyes of flirtatious, spoilt Lydia Bennet! Jean Burnett has a great writing style and I'd definitely recommend this along with her other books if you're looking for an alternative take on the Austen world.

The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett was published on 23rd May by Canelo Books, priced £3.99 in eBook.

*I received this e-book for free in exchange for an honest review from Canelo Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review*

Friday, 20 May 2016

THE GIRLS BY EMMA CLINE | SPOILER-FREE REVIEW


The Girls by Emma Cline
Published by Chatto & Windus.
Release date: June 16th 2016.
Source: Penguin Random House.
I received this book for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat. 

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever? [blurb from Goodreads]

As soon as I read the blurb for this book I knew that I wanted to pick it up. I've always been fascinated by the 1960s/70s era of American history and the California setting just drew me right in. The Girls is heavily inspired by the Charles Manson case and the Manson Family, and although it isn't a direct fictionalisation of the case, there are many parallels between the events of that summer and the plot within the novel. This aspect lends a certain reality to the atmosphere and the characters, making them all the more evocative.

The novel is set in dual timelines; it seamlessly flows between present-day narrator Evie and her account of the summer of 1969. I sometimes find dual timelines confusing or jarring but that wasn't an issue with this novel, it is largely set in 1969 but the present-day narrative adds a level of nuance as an older Evie reflects on the past.

One of the things I found most interesting about The Girls is its deconstruction of the dreamy, hippie, late 1960s version of the manic pixie dream girls. Even now, almost 50 years after the Manson girls were thrust into the public eye, society is still fascinated by them. They are iconic, held up as figures of mystery - there's a sort of dangerous attraction in the contrast between their girlish looks and the horrific acts they were involved in. Similarly, when we first encounter the 'girls' in the novel, Evie is drawn to how seemingly different they are from everyone else, their carefree laughter, unwashed hair and skimpy dresses. She is completely enthralled by them and immediately wants to find out more. She creates this mystery around them but as we get further into the book the reader, if not Evie herself, begins to see that these are just girls, who, in an attempt to escape from the roles assigned to them by traditional patriarchal society, have fallen into the false freedom and subservience of life at the ranch. They are flawed and real and frank and ultimately not mysterious at all.

The Girls is about women, and the roles they often play in the lives of men. They are wives and dutiful daughters and sexual objects and pawns in the schemes and manipulations of men, and in a way, our main character Evie rejects this mentality but is still a victim to it. Evie is not infatuated with the enigmatic cult leader Russell, as everyone else seems to be, but with Suzanne; one of the 'girls'. Evie does have sexual encounters with men but they are disconnected, unemotional and unsatisfying. In fact all the references to sexual interactions between men and women in the book are unromantic and they are portrayed as predatory and animalistic. Even in the present-day, the older Evie is often repulsed by men and is sometimes fearful of them. The Girls demonstrates the reality of systemic patriarchy and it's all-too-often destructive nature.

Even if you just read The Girls as a fictional memoir of a 1960s cult-esque lifestyle, it's excellently written, completely absorbing and the perfect atmospheric summer read. But if you look more closely, you'll also find a nuanced look at feminism, femininity, sexuality and the patriarchy.

Emma Cline is an author from California and The Girls is her debut novel.

I'm thinking about choosing The Girls for a Girl Gang Book Club pick this summer, so please do let me know if you'd be up for that!