Monday 29 June 2015


It's that time of the month again and I know it's a huge cliche but this month really has gone by so fast! I can't quite believe that July is only two days away, where has the year gone?! Anyway, enough of my life flashing before my eyes and onto the things that have been making me happy this month...

01. Good Mythical Morning
As I've briefly mentioned before on this blog, I haven't been well for the past few months and have therefore had to spend a lot of time in bed. Now although this might sound like a dream come true it's actually pretty rubbish and means I'm unable to do a lot of things and life can get very boring. Last week I mentioned in my post '10 things that have made me happy this week' that I've recently discovered Rhett and Link's daily morning show, Good Mythical Morning, and this has been something that's been occupying my time and cheering me up a whole lot. I've decided to watch the whole thing from the beginning and am currently on season three, it's seriously funny and seriously addictive. If you've never watched it before, here are a few of my current favourite episodes to get you started:
4 Year Old Walks Into A Bar
How to Make Someone Sound Like an Idiot
Rhett's Most Embarassing Moment
How to Talk to Girls
My Hot Yoga Experience

02. Persuasion by Jane Austen
I'll be posting my reading wrap-up on Wednesday and a 2015 Classics Challenge review next month so I won't go into too much detail but this was surprisingly my favourite read of the month. I definitely didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did and it's now one of my favourite classics. Also I can't get enough of these beautiful Vintage editions, which you can get hold of here.

03. Revlon 'Pink in the Afternoon'
I've had this lipstick for about a year but it's been a little underappreciated until this month. I've been wearing it most days that I've worn makeup, it's a nice mid-tone pink that would suit anyone and it can be quite sheer or can be built up for a stronger look. It's just a really good everyday drugstore lipstick.

04. Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford
I'm sure you're aware of the influx of adult colouring books and in my opinion Johanna Basford's are the best. The illustrations are so beautiful and detailed, they really are a joy to colour. I got this a while ago but have really been getting into it this month as a way to manage my anxiety and pass the time when I can't concentrate on much else. I've completed quite a few pages and have been using a mixture of coloured pens and pencils, I find that both work equally well. See below for an example of some of my pages, they're not the best around but I'm pretty proud of them. If you're interested then you can find Enchanted Forest here.

05. Orabrush
This is kind of a strange favourite but it's a new discovery and I'm officially obsessed. It's basically a brush for your tongue, I know that sounds a little weird but bare with me. I've always been aware that bad breath is mostly caused by your tongue but never really knew there was a specific product out there to deal with it. I've tried just brushing my tongue with a regular toothbrush and believe me it's just not the same. If you're into dental hygiene, no scratch that, if you're a human then you need this. I won't go into too much detail because I don't want to gross you out but you won't believe the stuff that comes off your tongue when you use this. I was like 'that was in my MOUTH?!?!' ok, enough with the gross, just go buy it, thank me later.

06. Rimmel 'Santa Rose'
I already mentioned this in my '10 things' post but I'll say it again here as this has become my new everyday blush, I've honestly not used anything else since I bought it. It's the perfect neutral blush, I'm pretty sure it's much more long-lasting than any of my other blushes and it's only £3.99, score!

07. Rimmel Lasting Finish 25hr Nude
I promise I'm not sponsored by Rimmel, I've just really been enjoying their products this month! I got a sample of this foundation in a magazine a while back and was really impressed with the finish and the wear time. I managed to pick this up when it was on offer and have worn it pretty much every day that I've worn makeup this month. There are two different versions of this, the standard Lasting Finish with the red cap which is more full-coverage and the Lasting Finish Nude with the white cap which is a lighter coverage. I'd definitely say that the Nude version at least a light to medium coverage and I find that it blends in really easily and gives a glowy skin-like finish. If you're looking for a great everyday foundation then this is it.

08. Switching Off
Last but not least my absolute favourite thing this month has been making the time to switch off. Recent medication changes have been playing downright havoc with my sleep and a full, undisturbed night's sleep has become a very rare thing. I've therefore been making it my mission to get into a healthy nightime routine in order to try and settle down and ultimately improve my quality of sleep. So instead of scrolling endlessly through Twitter and Instagram before bed, I've been putting away all electronics an hour before I plan on sleeping and taking a bath or reading a book. My phone and tablet now live on the other side of my room at night so I'm not tempted by them and I don't touch them again until around an hour after I wake up. Although my sleep is still a big old mess I've found that switching off has been so refreshing and has vastly improved my wellbeing. My mind is no longer buzzing all the time and ironically I feel a little less disconnected and more at peace. I urge you to try it and see what a difference it makes.

So that's everything that I've been enjoying in the month of June. Please do comment and tell me what has been your favourite thing this month?

Saturday 20 June 2015

10 things that have made me happy this week!

This post is inspired by the lovely Cider With Rosie, whose 10 things posts are some of my favourites.

You may have noticed the lack of posts around here and that's due to the fact that I've had a quite full-on couple of weeks, both good and bad. So instead of focusing on the difficulties that I've been facing lately I thought I'd share some little things that have been helping me along and making my days brighter this week:

01. We've had a few truly summery days lately and it's finally been warm enough for me to wear my birkenstocks again. This brings me unspeakable comfort and joy.

02. Lucozade pink lemonade; so bad, but so good.

03. Deciding to watch Rhett and Link's Good Mythical Morning from the beginning and making my way through over 100 episodes from the comfort of my bed.

04. Speaking of Rhett and Link, that time they sand Lionel Richie's All Night Long literally all night long. You can see the four minute version here, or the full eleven hours here if you're hardcore.

05. Seeing some of my best friends for the first time in months. Eating too much good food and having some much needed laughs.

06. Discovering my perfect neutral blush. Rimmel's Santa Rose; beautiful, subtle and long-lasting.

07. Being able to spend time sitting outside and reading, I'm currently enjoying Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness.

08. Deciding on a new everyday uniform and picking up four ultra-soft coloured t-shirts from Forever 21. Getting dressed is about to get so much easier.

09. Getting enough sleep. After having a rough time healthwise and not sleeping much for a week, getting a full 10 hours was such a relief and I feel like a little weight has been lifted.

10. Having the support of my family. I'm so grateful that due to my parents' wonderful kindness and support I am able to take the time to get better, there aren't words for how grateful I am for everything they do for me.

What has made you happy this week?

Monday 8 June 2015

The 2015 Classics Challenge: A Little Princess

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
My rating: ☆☆

Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she'll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and genorosity are all the riches she truly needs? [summary from Goodreads]

When I discovered this classic:
Just like last month's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, I used to watch the film all the time when I was younger but wasn't aware that it was based on a book until I got older. I discovered the beautiful Puffin in Bloom edition late last year and bought it for myself as a Christmas present.

Why I chose to read it:
Ever since discovering that one of my favourite films was based on a book I've wanted to read it. I used to love the story of the film when I was younger, I loved that the main character was called Sara just like me and that she was a princess. I had an imagination just as strong as she did and was adamant that I was a princess too.

What makes it a classic?
It's a wonderful story of wealth, class, kindness, friendship and growing up in Victorian England and those themes make it just as relevant today as when it was published. It is a novel which values innocence as much as experience and kindness as much as means. A Little Princess is an original and beautiful riches to rags story with important ideas to impart.

What I thought of this classic:
I completely fell in love with it before the first chapter had ended, it didn't hurt that this beautiful edition contains lovely illustrations which enrich the narrative and round out the reading experience. I was fully engrossed in the story throughout and thought that the characters were well-drawn and fairly realistic. A Little Princess is entertaining as well as moving and I defy you not to become attached to Sara and her story. I also thought it was such an interesting insight into Victorian society in terms of how different stratum of society lived and interacted with each other.

Will it stay a classic?
It definitely will. I think that the work that publishing houses (particularly Penguin Random House) are doing to reintroduce classics to a modern generation of readers is so important. By introducing new campaigns, such as Penguin Little Black Classics, and new covetable editions like the Puffin in Bloom series; publishers are helping to boost the readership of these classics and ensuring that they continue on as just that: classics. 

As mentioned earlier in this review I think that A Little Princess remains a relevant story despite it's occasional historical tropes such as slight classism and perhaps a little racism. It is after all a product of it's time, but despite this it's themes, particularly those of friendship and happiness, remain pertinent and universally relatable.

Who I'd recommend it to:
I would recommend this to anyone who loves children's literature, anyone who wishes to be kinder and anyone who has ever imagined that they had a roaring fireplace and a thick, soft duvet on a cold winter's night.

The 2015 Classics Challenge is hosted by Stacey of Pretty Books and you can find out more about it here.

Saturday 6 June 2015

May Book Haul

So in my last book haul at the beginning of May, I pronounced myself on a book buying ban until I'd whittled down my TBR. That obviously didn't happen, I knew it wasn't going to happen, but it wasn't as bad as I predicted! I actually only procured 7 books last month, 5 were from charity shops (therefore inexpensive) and 2 of them I didn't buy myself, so I think that's pretty good! I'm doing quite well at buying less books, I've successfully managed to stay away from Amazon and the Book Depository for the most part and my TBR is thanking me for it.

It's interesting to note that all of these books were bought whilst on trips with my parents, so really I can blame these purchases on their influence and the fact that we have to go into every charity shop when we go somewhere.

So without further ado, here are the books I bought in May...

My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary by Rae Earl | 50p
I got this from a 50p box at a secondhand bookshop in Halesworth, Suffolk whilst on a trip with my parents. I really enjoyed the tv show of the same name and have been interested in reading the book that inspired it. This is the real teenage diaries of Rae Earl when she was a teenager in the 90s, so there's plenty of Oasis references and plaid shirts. I'm looking forward to reading this because I think it'll be really interesting to have an insight into growing up in the 90s as my teenage years were spent in the 00's.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt | 50p
I was also really excited to find this in the 50p box of the same shop as I've nearly bought it at full price several times. I don't know too much about it except for that it follows a group of students studying classics at University, but I've heard nothing but good things and look forward to getting into it at some point.

Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson | £1
As previously mentioned on this blog, I love Bill Bryson's books. I'm trying to collect them all so I was happy to find this in the same secondhand bookshop. This is an exploration into the English language and how it's developed over time. Having studied historical linguistics as part of my University course, I'll be interested to see what Bryson adds to the discussion.

The Reckoning by Edith Wharton | 80p
This is part of the Penguin little black classics collection and when I saw a stack of them in a bookshop in Southwold it was all I could do not to buy the whole lot. I chose this because I haven't read anything by Edith Wharton before, I don't know anything about it but I like the idea of sampling an author's work with these little books.

The Tinder Box by Hans Christian Anderson | 80p
Another little black classic, I believe that this is a fairytale judging by the author but other than that I know nothing about it. I'm excited to pick this up, I think these books work really well as a break between longer books.

MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood | 99p
My mum kindly bought this for me from a charity shop on a trip to Norwich, it's not quite in perfect condition but I can't believe I got a hardback for 99p! So, interesting story (well I think it's interesting!) I read The Year of the Flood quite a long time ago and really loved it but was really confused at certain parts. It was only after I'd finished that I realised that it was actually the second in a series that started with Oryx and Crake which I haven't read. MadAddam is the third in the trilogy, so I'm not sure whether I'll wait to read this until after I've read Oryx and Crake or not. It's hard to describe what the series is about without giving spoilers but I'll just say that it's an excellent dystopian that you really should get into.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll | 99p
This was another one that was in a charity shop in Norwich, I wasn't 100% sure about it but my mum loved the edition and said that I had to have it, so she bought it for me. I told you she was an enabler! I've never actually read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland so I'll be interested to pick it up at some point, but I'm not in a great rush.

So that was my fairly modest May book haul, I think I did pretty well in that all the books were under £1 each! I think my most anticipated books are the little black classics, I just think they're such an excellent idea!

I'm really going to try and be good this month and I'm not going on any trips with my parents so it should be fairly easy. Although my TBR isn't really shrinking as I keep getting books from the library, I really need to pause that habit for a while!

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

Wednesday 3 June 2015

A Very YA June TBR

It's a brand new month for reading so once again I've picked out a few books that I'm hoping to get to this month. I originally had a totally different TBR planned but then I went to the library to return some books and wandered over to the YA section, then the obvious happened. So here is my YA heavy TBR for the month:

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
After reading Anna and the French Kiss last month it only makes sense to start the month off with it's sequel, Lola and the Boy Next Door. I'm already about 100 pages into this and I'm enjoying it so far, I'm not sure I like it as much as Anna but the characters are definitely interesting and a refreshing change of pace.

Persuasion by Jane Austen
This is the classic that I've picked out this month for the 2015 Classics Challenge. I saw a performance of Persuasion at my local theatre late last year and really enjoyed it, I've been wanting to pick up the novel ever since. I think it will be easier to get through as I'm already familiar with the plot and characters. I got this beautiful edition along with Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility for Christmas, isn't it gorgeous?

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
This was one I just picked up on a whim from the library. I actually don't really know anything about it but I've heard so many people raving about this series on booktube that I felt pretty confident in giving it a go. This isn't high priority but hopefully I'll get to it later in the month.

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
I read The Ask and the Answer last month and really enjoyed it so I was debating a purchase so I could finish off the trilogy. But then I saw this at the library yesterday and thought it was too good to pass up. I'm going to read it this month whilst the story is still fresh in my mind then I'll buy it later on in the year when I can afford to. I'm really looking forward to finishing this series.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
This was another spontaneous pick from the library. I have heard a few people talk about this and said they really enjoyed it. I don't know too much about it except for it's a YA dystopian where women either become concubines or wives. I'm super interested in this idea and can't wait to get into this.

More Than This by Patrick Ness
Another Patrick Ness! I will soon have read all of his YA books, I know he's got a couple of adult books and a new YA coming out in August though. This is by TBR jar pick for the month and I'm really excited about this because I bought this beautiful hardback edition at the start of the year and have been meaning to get to it ever since. Again, I don't really know anything about this and the blurb doesn't give too much away. I'm not really one to research what books are about before I get into them as I actually quite like going in blind. I'll definitely try and get to this before the month is out.

So those are the books I'm planning to read in June! Hopefully it'll be a good month and I'll be able to get to them all and perhaps a couple of others as well, I guess we'll see how I did in my monthly wrap up!

What books are you planning to read this month? I'd love to know!

Monday 1 June 2015

May Reading Wrap Up

# of books read: 9
Genres:  3 Contemporary YA, 4 Dystopian YA, 1 Children's Classic, 1 Fantasy YA.

It's time to wrap up my reading for the month of May! May was a weird month, it started out and ended really well but in the middle was just a big gaping reading slump. At the beginning of the month, I went away with my parents for the bank holiday weekend and managed to read four books in as many days on my e-reader. When I got back I started to read The Fox by Sherwood Smith for the #INDAclub readalong and just couldn't get into it, it's not that I wasn't enjoying it I was just starting to feel quity slumpy and didn't feel like picking it up. Then the #RYBSAT readathon came along and I tried to kickstart my reading with that but five days in I was still struggling to finish one book and it just wasn't working. So I didn't read very much at all for about three weeks, then earlier this week I wasn't feeling very good so I stayed in bed and started reading and managed to get through four more books by the end of the month! This month has definitely taught me that reading momentum comes and goes in waves and you just have to ride with it and take each day as it comes. I'm going to try and chill out a bit more next month and not get so stressed over how much and how quickly I'm reading, let's see how that goes eh?

Anyway, enough rambling, onto the books I read this month and what I thought of each one...

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart | ☆☆
This book got a crazy amount of hype in the blogging and booktube world last year and I sort of put it on my mental TBR but I wasn't desperate to read it. It had been sitting on my e-reader for a while so I decided to pick it up when I went away at the beginning of the month. If you haven't heard of it, it's a YA contemporary about a wealthy family who spend their summer on a private island every year. It deals with themes of family and friendship and issues like racism and classism. I know that's kind of a vague summary but it's probably best to go in kind of blind with this one. I had a few minor issues with the plot but I really enjoyed E. Lockhart's writing style and the sense of mystery. It was a compulsive read, I couldn't put it down and read it in a few hours. It was powerful and beautiful and you should probably just go and read it because I'm not doing very well at describing it here.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi | ☆☆☆.5
This is the second book in the Shatter Me trilogy, I read the first way back in February and didn't really like it at all. In Shatter Me I found the overly flowery, metaphorical writing very irritating and didn't like Juliette's characterisation at all. I decided to carry on with the series because I heard that it got a lot better and I'm really glad I did. I didn't LOVE this second book but the issues I had from the first weren't as big of a deal as the writing style was dialled back a bit and the characterisation was vastly improved. I spent the first half of the book being very frustrated at Juliette and eye-rolling the writing but then it took a turn for the better and only improved from there. 

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga | ☆☆
I was still in the mood for YA so I picked up this contemporary that I've heard a lot of people rave about lately. This is about a girl who is depressed and contemplating suicide, and she meets a boy who becomes her 'suicide partner'. I was a bit unsure about this as I knew that it does deal with depression and suicide and I was quite worried about how it would be handled. I would definitely say there is a trigger warning for depression and suicide so if you are sensitive to those issues then I really wouldn't pick this up as it might be difficult. I did pretty well with it as I think the topics were handled quite well, although I was still a bit iffy about it in places. However I think this quote was particularly well said:
"There is nothing beautiful or endearing or glamorous about sadness. Sadness is only ugly, and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't get it"
I just wish she'd said 'depression' there instead of sadness, as sadness and depression are entirely different things. Overall I did really enjoy this book and can recommend it as an interesting and pretty accurate insight into mental health.

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi | ☆☆
I then decided to just finish up the Shatter Me trilogy with this one (there are companion novellas which I may read at some point but I don't think they're essential to the trilogy) and I've got to say I LOVED it. I honestly really really enjoyed it. It was addictive and fast-paced and the romance element was just, there are no words, if you've read it then you know what I mean. Now the reason I haven't given this five stars is because it's not actually that good of a book as a whole, it was really enjoyable but there were still some significant plot issues and the writing did still annoy me at times. Now that I've finished the series I would definitely recommend it and just advise that you push through the first book and stick with it.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett | ☆☆
This is the first book that I picked up for #RYBSAT and it's also going to be my 2015 Classics Challenge book for this month so I won't say too much about it here. I'll just say that I really really loved it and it's one I'll be reading again and again. Isn't this edition absolutely stunning? You'll get more of a look at it when the 2015 Classics Challenge post goes up.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness | ☆☆☆.5
This was the second book I read for #RYBSAT and my TBR jar pick for the month, but I didn't manage to finish before the readathon was over. This is the second book in the Chaos Walking trilogy so I can't really say what it's about but it's an excellent continuation of the series. I read about 100 pages over the course of a week and then just sat down on Thursday and Friday of last week and read the other 400 pages. It had been a long time since I read The Knife of Never Letting Go so I had to refresh my memory a bit but once I got into it I was hooked. I don't think that this suffered from second book syndrome at all, I enjoyed the progression of the story, the pacing was nice and the character development was excellent. I just really enjoyed the different interactions that I got to experience in this second book and I can't wait to see how the plot progresses in the third and final book of the series.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness | ☆☆
After The Ask and the Answer I had a few library books that I had to get finished as they're due back this week. I was so happy to find this in my local library as I've wanted to read the illustrated version for so long. It's such a beautiful book, the artwork is so rich and amazing and really adds to the atmosphere of the narrative. It's hard to describe what this book is about without spoiling it except to say that a young boy is dealing with his mother's illness. I actually found that quite difficult to deal with so I'm giving a trigger warning for the book if serious illness, particularly in a parent, is a sensitive issue for you. It's tough to put into words how I feel about this book, I thought it was beautiful and heartbreaking and incredibly important and I devoured it in a single sitting. It managed to be both gritty and beautifully atmospheric and dealt with very serious issues without ever being maudlin. I want to read this book again and again and am already planning a purchase of the illustrated edition for my collection.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | ☆☆☆.5
I was still really feeling YA so I picked up this contemporary which is the first in a series, this is a library copy and I really like this edition. Anna and the French Kiss follows Anna who leaves her home in Atlanta in the US and is shipped off to a boarding school in Paris by her father. I had a little eye-roll moment at the 'poor me' drama of being forced to attend a perfect-sounding school in a wonderful city, but reminded myself that any kind of change is difficult for anyone and although it obviously sounds like a dream situation it wouldn't be easy for a lot of people, especially a teenager. Anyway, despite some minor eye-roll moments, I really loved it. I thought the characters were pretty realistic and well-drawn and I enjoyed their development. The themes of first romances and friendships were dealt with well and I found the plot to be well paced and compelling. I'm already planning a purchase of this for my collection and can't wait to read the next in the series, which deals with different characters.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner | ☆☆
This is another YA set in a dystopian 1950s England where a corrupt, dominant power is trying to intimidate it's enemies by landing on, and claiming, the moon. It follows Standish Treadwell, a boy from impoverished and terrorised zone 7, along with his grandfather and best friend who are determined to make a stand against the neo-Nazi dictatorship. It's told from Standish's point of view who cannot read or write but who is "a breeze in the park of the imagination". Maggot Moon is a beautiful story of frienship, rebellion and bravery and I really, really enjoyed it. It was a wonderfully quick read and I easily read this in one sitting.

Phew! That was a long one. Congratulations if you made it through to the end, I appreciate your stamina! It was a good reading month overall and I'm hoping for just as successful a month in June. My June TBR should be up on Wednesday so stay tuned for that, until next time!

What was your favourite read of the month? I'd love to hear from you!

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