Monday 30 March 2015

March Reading Wrap Up

# of books read: 7

Genres: 5 Middle Grade/YA, 2 Adult Non-Fiction

I only managed to read seven books in March, which is okay, but I'm going to aim for a couple more next month. Not too much of a range of genres, but that's okay. I didn't really follow a TBR this month, I just sort of read books as and when they arrived and whatever I felt like reading at the time. Onto the books I read...

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | ☆☆☆ 
This is the second book in the Grisha trilogy and I enjoyed it just about as much as the first. In my Goodreads review I gave it a 3.7, very specific but I think that's just how I felt about it. Although I did love this book and I'm really looking forward to reading Ruin and Rising, I do think that it suffered a little from second-book-syndrome. Both the beginning and the ending were pretty exciting and fast-paced but the middle just really dragged for me. This took me over a week to read which is unusual for me, especially as it's not a very long book. I have a couple of gripes with this series but I'll address that in a full review after I've read Ruin and Rising.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire | 
I've really enjoyed re-reading the Harry Potter series. I've been ill this past month and have been finding it quite difficult to concentrate so reading these have been a nice little break for my mind as I know the stories so well. There's just something so comforting about these books and I still find something new to enjoy in each re-read. I also love these editions so much and will hopefully picking up the next few soon.

Goose and Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter | 
I actually won these from a giveaway by Hotkey Books at the beginning of the month and devoured them in two days. I really really enjoyed them and it reminded me just how much I love UKYA and I want to pick some more up soon. I won't talk about them too much as I've already done a full review of both books, which you can read here.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed | 
I find reading non-fiction now and again quite refreshing and I really enjoyed this book. This is the true story of the woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with virtually no hiking experience, it's poignant and beautifully written. I mostly read it because the film came out recently and I wanted to watch it but I always have to read the book first. I'm going to be watching the film soon and might do a little book to film comparison post. Again, I've written a full review of this book which you can read here.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig | 
I picked this up because of all the social media hype that's been surrounding it recently and I'm so glad I did. In this book, Matt Haig gives the most full and accurate depiction of depression that I have yet read. This book is so important and I truly believe that everyone should read it, no matter whether you have suffered from depression or not. It's just so honest and real and uplifting and I could gush about it for years so a full review will be up soon.

So that's everything! As I said I do hope to read a few more books in April, and I'm going away for Easter weekend so should get quite a lot of reading done then too, as well as a lot of book-buying - look out for a haul here soon!

What did you read in February?

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Beauty: Staple Makeup Items

I was going to do a March beauty favourites post today but as I've been so ill this past month I haven't really worn make-up at all! So instead I thought I'd tell you about ten of my most essential make-up items.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum in '51' - £10.99
This is my favourite every day foundation, it's inexpensive, light and blends easily. It gives decent coverage without feeling heavy and the shade suits me perfectly. One thing I would say about this foundation though is that they don't have the widest shade range.

Maybelline The Falsies Mascara - £7.99
I'm always trying different mascaras and still haven't really found the perfect one but this is probably the best I've tried and I've gone back to it more than once. It holds a curl nicely, gives plenty of length and volume and doesn't go clumpy at all. I don't really believe in high end mascaras as I've never found one that's better than drugstore quality and they only last around three months so I don't really think it's worth the investment. There are plenty of great mascaras to be found in the drugstore like Max Factor and Soap and Glory.

Kiko Eyelash Curler - £5.90
Ok so this isn't technically a make up item but I couldn't live without this tool. I haven't tried the Shu Uemura ones that everyone raves about but these are really excellent and without the huge price tag. Kiko is definitely one of my favourite places to buy makeup, high-end quality at seriously affordable prices. I just wish there was a store near me.

Urban Decay Naked Pallette - £38.00
I got this from my university housemates for my birthday two years ago and have used it non-stop ever since and barely made a dent, that's how pigmented these eyeshadows are. This palette has pretty much any shade you could need and is perfect for both daytime wear and more special occasions. Everyone raves about it so I don't really need to go into detail about why I love it so much, this is just one everybody should have in their collection.

Mac 'Painterly' Paint Pot - £15.50
I use this every time I wear make up as a base for eyeshadow. It covers up any veins or redness and gives a nice smooth base for anything you want to put on top or it can work equally well on it's own for a natural look. This is just an essential and I don't know what I'd do without it.

Mac 'Charcoal Brown' Eyeshadow - £13.00
Although this is an eyeshadow I use it pretty much daily for my eyebrows, you can see how much I love it because I've hit pan! I went through a brief phase of using the Soap and Glory Brow Archery but found it was just a bit too dark and harsh-looking. Powder eyeshadows give a much softer and more natural look to the brows whilst still adding definition. This shade is a slightly-warm medium-to-dark matte brown, it's actually darker than it looks in the photo. Mac have so many eyeshadow shades that it would be easy to find one to match your eyebrows.

Topshop Kohl Eyeliner - £4.00
I'm not 100% sure what shade this is because I've used it so much only the end is left! But it's a warm dark brown with only the slightest bit of gold shimmer. I don't often wear black eyeliner because I have hooded lids and it can look a bit heavy on me. I find that brown brightens and widens my eyes a bit better. This is my favourite eyeliner of all time, it's soft and easy to apply, it doesn't drag the eyelids and once it's set it doesn't budge. I think I'll have to be repurchasing this soon!

The Balm 'Fratboy' Blush - £15.50
I have quite a lot of blushers and tend to wear them on rotation but I think this is the one I've used the most and definitely the most versatile. It's a pretty peachy pink that is quite subtle but can be easily built up and will go with most makeup looks.

Seventeen Mirror Shine Lipstick in 'Belle' - £4.79
Most people rave about the shade 'Beehive' but I've always loved 'Belle', it's the perfect 'my lips but better shade' and I don't really feel 'me' without wearing it. It's not overly pigmented, it just gives a subtle hint of colour and shine and I think it really perks up my whole face. Definitely my favourite lipstick ever and I could easily just wear this every day. Again it looks like I'll be needing a new one soon!

The Body Shop Honey Bronzer in '02' - £13.00
I'm quite pale and this is the only bronzer I've used which doesn't make me look ridiculous. It's just the perfect bronzer, it's matte and gives warmth to the face with no real effort. I'll be needing a new one soon and I might try out Soap and Glory's Solar Powder but this is such a favourite that I'll probably be repurchasing it.

So those are my top ten makeup staples!

Have you tried any of these? What makeup product could you not live without?

Monday 23 March 2015

Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wildpowerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. [summary from Goodreads]

My rating: 4.5 stars

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

This book was stunning in every sense of the word; from the shocking and painful struggles Cheryl goes through both on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and in her former life to the epic landscapes she crosses on the PCT. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and found that I didn't want it to end.

I picked up this book because I've heard a lot of people talking about the film and I've wanted to watch the film for ages but I always have to read the book first. Even though I hadn't seen the film I've watched the trailer and I've also googled the author, Cheryl Strayed, quite a bit and because of this I found that whilst reading I was picturing both Reese Witherspoon and the real Cheryl Strayed, which was a bit confusing and distracting at times. I suggest that if you haven't seen the film yet, read the book first and don't google the author! The imagery is so rich that the novel works best when your imagination is clear and open.

"Everything but me seemed utterly certain of itself. The sky didn't wonder where it was." - Cheryl Strayed, Wild

The writing and pacing were both excellent, it definitely kept me gripped throughout and the writing flowed seamleslly from Cheryl's PCT experiences to recollections of her former life. I really felt like I endured the journey along with her, the descriptions were so raw and in-depth that I felt her intense pain, her deep, clawing hunger and her unbridled joy. I really liked the blend of the environments and experiences within the book, there was a nice balance between the experience of the PCT itself and Cheryl's experiences both horrifying and joyous.

Wild definitely deals with some tough issues and there were times where I had my hand clasped to my mouth in horror but there were also wonderful moments of clarity, beauty and what Cheryl calls 'trail magic' that saved it from being too dark and difficult to read. Don't be put off by the 'journey of self-discovery' element. I found that it was handled well due to the fact that everything felt so honest and real, it avoided being irritating or pretentious and I enjoyed it much more than others of that trope, for example Eat, Pray, Love.

I've seen some scathing reviews admonishing Cheryl for her questionable decision-making and lack of hiking knowledge but this book was never meant to be a guide to hiking the PCT and if anything it's a 'don't try this at home kids' kind of novel. Yes she made a lot of stupid and potentially life-threatening decisions that had me shaking my fist at her in parts (yes I'm an old lady), but we are humans, we make stupid decisions and do ridiculous things. I enjoyed how open and honest Cheryl was and admired how she acknowledged her stupidity and recklessness at times. 

Wild made me think and smile and cry and feel all the feels and I definitely think I'll be reading this again at some point in my life. Even before I finished, I knew that I wanted to read it again, to pick up small PCT details or thoughtful nuances that I'd missed. It was both base and profound, both primal and rich with eloquence and I'd definitely recommend it.

You can buy Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail here.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Beauty: My Little Superbox

My Little Box subscription: £11 + £3.95 p&p
Kerastase Luminous Perfecting Conditioner - £14.50 for 200ml
My Little Beauty Lips & Cheeks - 14
Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream - £12.00 for 75ml
My Little Box Magazine

Superhero stickers
'I Believe I Can Fly' T-shirt (one size)

I've been seeing these little boxes on many blogs for a while now and finally decided to take the plunge and subscribe. I've had some mediocre experiences with beauty boxes in the past, often finding them overpriced and underwhelming. But there was something about the design element and the good reviews that just sucked me in - I'm not hard to convince!

As mentioned, I absolutely love the designs of these boxes, I really like the illustration style and I think I'll actually be keeping some of these boxes for miscellaneous storage. 

The beauty bits are pretty good, I'm not over the moon with them but I didn't really sign up for this box for the beauty, more-so the lifestyle extras. The samples included are very generous and I'm looking forward to using them The conditioner looks nice and the full-size is quite pricey so hopefully it works well, again the hand cream looks lovely and I'm always using them so it's a nice addition. I've already used the lip and cheek crayon and it's a lovely coral pink shade with subtle gold shimmer running through it, it takes quite a bit of building up on the cheeks but gives a nice glow and gives an almost-matte finish on the lips with a subtle gold sheen which actually looks really nice. I'm glad I got the crayon because I think the other option was a lip balm and I'll definitely use this more.

I really like the included lifestyle extras, they just add a bit of extra whimsy and excitement to the box. The stickers are cute and I'll definitely use them - you can never have enough stickers! I haven't read the magazine yet but it looks interesting and it's actually quite thick and pretty good quality - quite different to the cheap little leaflets these boxes usually come with.  But the real star of the show for me is the t-shirt! I was a bit worried because it's one-size-only but it fits nicely and is quite roomy and comfortable on. The material is surprisingly good quality and I like the simple design, I've already worn it and think it will become a staple basic for me.

All in all I'm really happy with this box and I'm already looking forward to next months. I'm not sure how long I'll keep the subscription going, I'm attempting (badly) to try and save money, but it's nice for now.

Have you tried My Little Box before? If not would you like to?

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Springtime Beauty Book Tag

This tag was created by awesome booktuber Samantha over at Novels and Nonsense, go and subscribe to her if you're not already because her videos are brilliant! I wasn't actually tagged to do this by anyone but that's not going to stop me. Let's get into the questions...

1) Spring sun: the days are getting longer and the sun is starting to shine. Name a book that filled you with hope or peace.
Harry Potter is the obvious choice here, every time I want to feel comforted and calm I reach for this series and it never fails. But I would also say Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, even though it's a post-apocalyptic book it filled me with hope for humanity.

2) Crocuses and Tulips: spring flowers are starting to sprout everywhere. Name an author or series you just discovered and want to read more from.
I recently read The Day of the Triffids by John Whyndam and I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I'm not usually one for classic science fiction but I'm looking forward to reading more from him, I think I'll probably be picking up The Midwich Cuckoos sometime soon.

3) A cool breeze: the days are getting warmer but are still nice and cool. Name a character which was like a breath of fresh air.
Nikolai from The Grisha trilogy was such a breath of fresh air into that series, I think the reason why I found it hard to completely love the first book was that I found some of the characters quite dry and difficult to like but that all changed with Nikolai. He's offbeat, sassy and hilarious, I can't wait to read Ruin and Rising and just hope that it has plenty of Nikolai in it to get me through.

4) Blossoming trees: all the trees are bursting with Spring colour. Show some books which remind you of Spring.

All of these lovely classics because they are so bright and beautiful! The Vintage Classics editions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, the Puffin in Bloom edition of A Little Princess and the Knickerbocker Classics edition of Wuthering Heights.

5) T-shirts and shorts: with warmer weather comes cooler clothing. What is your favourite short book?
I really love Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara, it's just a really lovely pocket-sized collection of poetry. My favourite is Having a Coke With You which you can listen to Frank O'Hara reading here:

6) Spring is the time for new beginnings. What series are you hoping to start this year?
I'm definitely going to read the Divergent and Mortal Instruments series this year. I know, I'm probably the only person in the world who hasn't read them but this year is the year!

7) Springtime beauty: What is your favourite Spring flower?
I think that Tulips and Daffodils are beautiful but I really love Snowdrops because when they peek their little heads through that's when you know that Spring is coming.

I tag everyone reading this to do this tag and please let me know in the comments if you've done it!

What's your favourite thing about Spring?

Monday 16 March 2015

Five Things I'm Loving Lately

I've been really quite ill for the last month or so and I've been feeling quite down in the dumps and sorry for myself, so I thought I'd inject some positivity with a little post about the things that have been making me happy lately.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unless you've been living under a rock with no internet connection you will have heard that Tina Fey's new series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was released on Netflix last weekend, and instead of binge-watching the entire thing in one sitting (so tempting), I spread out the episodes and watched a couple whilst having a bath in the evenings. Kimmy Schmidt is an endearing, feel-good comedy which has me literally cackling (Titus is my spirit animal). It's a breath of fresh air and will perk up your day in no time.

Asda Chocolate bunnies
Only 60p and absolutely delicious! I may have devoured more than one (or two) of these whilst being confined to my bed with Netflix.

Humans of New York
I know I'm super late to the party but I only just discovered HONY through their instagram account, and I stayed up later than was perhaps advisable scrolling back through their feed, discovering beautiful images and the anecdotes that accompany them. HONY captures people from every walk of life, their stories range from inspirational to heartbreaking to humorous. I'm determined to go through their whole archive, that's how good it is. A must-follow.

Zoella Soak Opera
I bought this last month to bump a FeelUnique order up to get free delivery and I've been using it non-stop ever since. I have far too many baths to keep buying lush bath products and this is a lovely affordable alternative that makes bath times smell divine. I also find it quite moisturising for my skin. Get it here.

The Les Mis Soundtrack
I've been listening to various versions of the Les Mis soundtrack on Spotify all week and although I do love the film version, Russell Crowe can't sing for toffee, so I've really been enjoying the 10th anniversary edition. I'm determined to go and see the show on the West End this year and the soundtrack has me belting my lungs out and itching to buy tickets.

What are some things you've been loving lately?

Saturday 14 March 2015

Review: Paper Aeroplanes and Goose by Dawn O'Porter

I recently won a giveaway over on the Hot Key Books Twitter to celebrate Dawn O'Porter's novel Goose being nominated for the first ever YA Book Prize. The prize included both Goose and Paper Aeroplanes, the first book in the series, along with three Barry M nail polishes!

This is a YA series which follows Renée and Flo, two teenage best friends living on Guernsey in the mid-90s - a setting which I absolutely adore. I devoured both of these books in two days and really really enjoyed them, like really enjoyed them. The YA I've been reading lately has been mostly fantasy or US contemporary so it was a real breath of fresh air to read some UK YA and it really brought to my attention how different US and UK YA often are. Paper Aeroplanes and Goose were realistic and gritty and really hit home with me, more-so than anything else I've read lately. On to the reviews!

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Sarah's Chapter on Bloglovin

I've just joined Bloglovin! So if you would like to follow me you can do so here: <a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Top Five Wednesdays: Books That Made You Think

Top Five Wednesdays was started by Lainey at GingerReadsLainey and today's topic is 'Books That Made You Think'. Check out the complete list of top five wednesday-ers here. So here are my picks in no particular order:

Monday 9 March 2015



This is the little corner of the internet that I've decided to make my own. So, first some introductions:

My name is Sarah, I'm a 23 year old English language and literature graduate just starting to make my way in the world.
I went to Newcastle University and now live at home. I love reading, dogs, chocolate and being by the sea.
This blog will be mostly bookish, sometimes lifestyle and occasionally beauty.


If you read this I would love it if you introduced yourself, what are three of your favourite things?

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