Friday, 31 January 2014

Books I Read in 2013 (Part Two)

Morning lovelies,

I can't believe it's Friday again already. Where did the week go? 

Where has January gone, more to the point? This year is already passing so fast! It's madness.

It's already been a week since my last book review post and I'm back today reviewing some more of the books that I read in 2013. Today I'm looking back on three novels I enjoyed reading last year: Instructions For A Heatwave by Maggie O' Farrell, Joyland by Stephen King, and Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz.

Instructions For a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

Basic Plot: It's July 1976 and London is gripped in a stifling heat wave. One morning, Robert Riordan tells his wife, Gretta, that he is going to the shop for a newspaper, but he doesn't return. His disappearance brings their three estranged, grown-up children- Monica, Michael Francis, and Aoife- home to try to work out where he might have gone. It doesn't occur to the siblings that the answer may lie with their mother.

The book goes back and forth between the voices of Gretta, Monica, Michael Francis and Aoife. Their stories slip from their present day and in to their pasts, as they try to make sense of Robert's disappearance. We learn about the feuds that have distanced the siblings from each other and their over-bearing mother, and the problems each of them are facing in their everyday lives. Monica has relationship problems, Michael Francis' marriage is falling apart, and Aoife is struggling with her secret dyslexia. As the story progresses, the characters journey to face their differences and to find out where and why Robert has gone.

Thoughts:  Maggie O' Farrell has a real talent for story telling, and although Instructions For A Heatwave isn't her best, it's one of those books that has to be devoured in a single sitting. She is so wonderfully descriptive that she really pulled me in to the story, and urged me to keep reading. The siblings, although so different, were each very likable, while their mother, Gretta, was perfectly irritating, as intended. At the same time, it was hard not to pity her as the story unfolded, and the search continued. It was an enjoyable summer read.

Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit. Rating: 3.5 / 5

Joyland by Stephen King

Basic Plot: College student, Devin Jones, takes a summer job at an amusement park called Joyland, trying to forget the girl who broke his heart. He's given the role of Howie the Happy Hound, dressing up in a dog character costume to entertain kids who visit the park. He soon learns about a mysterious murder that happened at the amusement park in the past, and makes it his quest to discover what really happened.

Thoughts: Stephen King is my favourite author, so naturally when his new novel came out last summer, I had to buy it. While I enjoyed Joyland, I kept waiting for the excitement to happen, but I felt it was a bit of an anti climax. The story remained on the same gear throughout, and I wasn't particularly overwhelmed with the story or the ending, which is very unusual as I'm a big Stephen King fan. It promised horror, but didn't deliver. It wasn't a bad novel, but in no way was it his best. If you want to read a great Stephen King, go with The Stand!

Genres: Fiction, horror, thriller.  Rating: 3 / 5

Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz

Basic Plot: Joe Carpenter's wife and daughters died in a tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of all three hundred aboard, and devastated by grief, Joe has given up on life. On the anniversary of the crash, Joe heads to the beach with a few beers, hoping the waves and alcohol will pacify him before a visit to the cemetery. Instead, Joe learns that he is being watched. From that moment on, Joe is thrust in to a world of physical danger as he learns that the official story of Flight 363 is a treacherous lie. They said it was an accident. It was not. They said there were no survivors, but then Joe learns of a woman who walked away unscathed. A sole survivor. She has a secret that will change the world, and with reason to believe his daughter may still be alive, Joe journeys  to find out the truth.

Thoughts: This book was fast paced and full of action, I couldn't put it down! Perhaps I'm biased as I am a fan of Koontz's books, but I thought it was well written. The main character's grief was well portrayed, and it was difficult not to pity him. As the story goes on and he clings to the possibility of his daughter still being alive, it was impossible not to hope along with him. The twists and turns were unexpected and set this book apart from other stories written around a plane crash. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'd recommend checking this one out if you like Stephen King novels, thrillers, and disaster.

Genres: Fiction, thriller, disaster, action. Rating: 5/5

I'll be back with the some more book reviews next week!

Have you read any good books lately? What are you reading at the moment?


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Wednesday Wish List

Morning guys,

I have some really beautiful clothes and accessories to show you in this week's Wednesday Wish List. New season stock is beginning to flood in to the online shops, and I want to get my hands on most of it! I keep discovering more and more amazing printed clothes, and quirky accessories, that are me all over. I hope it's a sign of good things to come this Spring.

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13 // 14 // 15

A couple of days ago I discovered the most beautiful bird print dress by Simply Be (1.), and I've already fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with it. So deeply I'm considering selling one of my kidneys to buy it. Perhaps just an elbow would suffice? I'm desperate to own it! Sadly it costs £49 and I'm skint, but I will make it mine soon. The print is so beautiful and colourful, and I need it in my collection.

I just love the water-colour like design and all those gorgeous colours. It's an asymmetric hem dress, (a style I LOVE), and also comes in a daisy print (11.), which I'm also lusting after quite strongly. They're both beautiful, and I know I'd wear both of them to death.

Another new favourite is the rope print Lovedrobe shirt dress (6. and 8.) which comes in mint and navy. If I had to choose between the two, I'd go with the mint; it would be perfect for wearing throughout the Spring and Summer. The shape is classic, and the rope print is so unusual and quirky. I don't think I've seen a rope-print anything before, and now I've discovered a new novelty print, I'm itching to collect it.

This week, I've also had a good browse of the Punky Pins website and now I want one of everything! I bought myself an adorable penguin necklace, but I still have my eye on the swan necklace, and all the strawberry plant jewellery. I'd definitely recommend you check out their website if like me you love novelty jewellery and something a little bit different.

And basically, as usual, I've just been attracted to anything with a funky print. Flamingos, swans, hearts, birds, ropes, florals... you name it, I probably want it!

Have a great day!


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Nails | You're a Canary, I'm a Gold Mine

The lyrics are: # You're a canary, I'm a coal mine... # but I couldn't resist using it for the title. I made the connection (to what I'm about to show you) and got the song stuck in my head.

Today I've got a quick manicure post to share with you. I can't even remember the last time I did a NOTD post, and I used to do them all the time; I don't know what happened there. I'm hoping to get back in to the swing of regular nail polish posts this year, and today I'm going to start with a new favourite of mine.

Over the festive season, I picked up a couple of Barry M glitter polishes to add some sparkle to December, and over the last month or so, I've become addicted to this one in particular: Barry M's Gold Mine Glitter. I love this polish so much I've used it at least a dozen times already, and will soon be needing a new bottle. 

I was expecting Gold Mine Glitter to be a clear top coat with black and gold glitter mixed in to the polish, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn it was a black polish that contains flecks of gold glitter. I would have loved it either way, but I think this glitter looks stunning on it's own without layering it over something else.

My photos really don't do this polish justice, but out of fifty shots these were the best I got. The manicure proved to be extremely difficult to capture in the Winter daylight. Just trust me on this one; it's beautiful. Far more beautiful than these photos suggest. It looks like gold dazzling in a jet black mine.

The polish becomes opaque in two to three coats, dries within a few minutes, and the result is the most grown-up and elegant glitter manicure I've ever seen. I don't know about you, but I think some glitter polishes seem better suited to kids and teenagers, and have me questioning whether I should still be applying glitter to my nails at twenty-eight. Not this one. It looks so glamourous and edgy at the same time, and doesn't leave me feeling like a five year old playing dress up. It's a polish I imagine Cinna would have accessorised Katniss' Mockingjay outfit with. 

I've found I get minimal chipping to my index finger nails after two or three days, and the rest remain unchipped for up to a week! It's a fantastic polish for just £2.99, and it's already made it's way in to my top five favourites. You should be able to find Gold Mine Glitter in Boots and Superdrug in store and online, and on Barry M's own website. I've also seen Barry M polishes available in River Island, ASOS, and Amazon

It's my perfect cure for the January blues!


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Sunday Favourites #66

Morning all!

It's that time of the week again... So grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and enjoy! 

I think I'm a little in love with Sasha Unisex's work. Her tattoos are such great works of art.

Beautiful use of colour.

I want to have rainbow stairs!


All those colours! 

Love these lightning bolt nails; they'd be great for Summer.


These NYC nails are fantastic.


This make up look! 


It's true!


Two beautiful piebald fawns.


I love this! " You are a thousand things but everyone chooses to see the million things you are not."


These raindrops decorations are so cute.

[Source] / / [Source]

The cutest DIY stationery.


Tiffany Blue hair!


Georgina of Cupcake's Clothes looks adorable in this pastel ensemble, does she not?

Yep, this is exactly what I do.

Raindrop cookies.


I know which row I choose!


This is adorable.


The Haiku stairs in Oahu, Hawaii. This looks incredible!


Teer Wayde of Curves to Kill looks stunning in this gorgeous Vanity Project- Made by Limb frock.

This tattoo is so beautiful.

The dog face is all I can see now!

I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who does this!

Louise's Lovely Links

♥ I was actually seething with anger after reading this letter of complaint a man wrote to an airline for being seated next to an obese man (which was the nicest way this douche bag described him).  Whether this is a genuine letter, or an online joke, I don't know, but either way, the writer is an insensitive jerk. I advise against reading the letter and the comments that follow it unless you have a very strong skin, because there's a disgusting level of fat-shaming involved.

♥ I Wish TV Shows and Movies Didn't Make Me Feel Like Being Fat Is A Joke.

♥  6 Plus-Size Fashion No-Nos To Break Right Now. Amen!

♥ When "Positivity" Goes Wrong: Please Stop Shaming People For Being Sad. When you tell somebody to 'be positive!', you're telling them that their feelings are invalid! Nobody knows exactly what another person is going through, and who are we to tell another person how they should feel? I personally hate when people tell me to 'be positive'; I'm glad it's not just me.

♥ It Happened To Me: I Regret Reporting My Rape To The Police. There are not enough words to describe how horrified I am by the way this lady was treated. What is wrong with people in this world?!

♥ Can The Internet Help Decode A Dying Grandmother's Dying Words? Twenty years ago Dorothy Holm passed away from cancer and left behind a stack of coded index cards which left her family stumped for two decades. Twenty years on, and her granddaughter has turned to the Internet for help.

♥ 17 Signs You Were Born in the Mid-Late Eighties... I was born in 1985, and related to most of this post!

♥ 18 Close Calls That Would Probably Make You Poop Yourself. Well, I'm not sure about that, but my stomach was definitely in knots! 1, 3, 4, 9 and 12 made my stomach lurch!

♥ This may be the prettiest tea room I've ever laid eyes on!

♥ Remind me to never get ill or injured in America... 

♥ The orphaned fawn that is being raised by a Labrador, after it's Mum was killed in a road accident.

♥ Dogs: you gotta love 'em.

♥ Cats About To Sneeze... I love that we're not the only animals to pull faces when we sneeze!

♥ Some books to sink your teeth in to: 35 Books to Read Before Their 2014 Movies25 Young Adult Books For Adults- (I recommend the Divergent series); and 15 Book Series to Read If You Loved The Hunger Games.

♥ And finally, some outfits I'm loving this week: Cara of I Like Pretty Clothes in a fabulous polka dot frock; Elena aka Frivolous Mrs D. looking stunning in swan print; Julia of The Print Fiend rocking the ASOS fox print smock; Kate of Scathingly Brilliant's Frozen-inspired look; and this whole bunch of amazing outfits from Sara's in Love With...

Have a great day!


Friday, 24 January 2014

Books I Read in 2013 (Part One)

Last year, definitely wasn't my best in terms of reading. Well, that's not entirely true; what I mean to say is last year wasn't my best in terms of reading books. Fiction, or non-fiction. I certainly did my fair share of reading blogs and articles online! I guess that was the issue; I spent so much time blogging, I didn't dedicate enough time to my hobbies off screen in 2013, which is why I only read 13 books in full over the entire year. Pitiful, oh, so pitiful!

Especially considering I'm already half way through my fourth book of the year!

From January until around September or October, I just couldn't find the patience to read. I was too restless to concentrate on what I was reading, so reading was slow. It was only when I began to reread The Hunger Games books on my Kindle in the Autumn that my hunger to read returned, and I whizzed through more than half of the thirteen in a couple of months.

I never did get around to reviewing most of them, so I thought I'd review each book I read in 2013 over a few posts, and then start afresh with this year's reads. I'm splitting the reviews in to three of four posts; with a separate post (perhaps two) for books I read on my Kindle to follow soon.

I read just six 'real' books last year, most of which I picked up cheaply in supermarkets. Today I'm briefly reviewing three of them.

An English Man in Auschwitz by Leon Greenman

Basic Story: An Englishman in Auschwitz is a Holocaust testimony written by English born, Dutch raised Greenman, a Jewish man who remarkably defied the odds and survived life in no less than five Nazi concentration camps. This book is his story, beginning with his childhood and life before the war, before going on to focus on the occupation of Holland, and life in the concentration camps. He talks about life in these camps, the suffering which he and others endured at the hands of the Nazis, and how he survived in the face of real adversity. You can read my full review of the book here. 

Thoughts: I went through so many emotions as I read Leon's accounts of life under the Nazi reign, and tears were shed. It was horrifying to read at times, but morbid curiousity kept me turning the pages, willing him to survive. His story is one of the most fascinating Holocaust accounts I've read, and it would be unbelievable if it wasn't true.

Genres: Autobiography, Holocaust Testimony. Rating: 5/5.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Basic Plot: The year is 1914 and a magnificent ocean liner suffers an explosion en route to New York City. The passengers who are fortunate enough to secure a seat in a lifeboat have abandoned the sinking ship, and the story begins with the passengers of lifeboat 14 distancing themselves from the ill fated vessel. The story follows newly married Grace Hunter and the occupants of lifeboat 14 as they sit side by side in the life boat over the course of three weeks, fighting to stay alive and praying for rescue. It is apparent from the start that the boat is over capacity, and the occupants soon learn what they will do in order to stay alive.

Thoughts: I purchased this book because the blurb shared a few distant similarities to the Titanic tragedy, which is also my favourite film. If the occupants of the Titanic's lifeboats hadn't been rescued hours later, I imagine they could've faced a similar fate to those in lifeboat 14, and at times I did imagine the story to be leading on from the famous sinking. It was hard not to considering the similarities. but it also made it easier for me to imagine the scene. It's hard to believe that a book about a group of people sat in a lifeboat for three weeks could be interesting, but I became extremely engrossed in the story, and devoured it in a couple of sittings. The book is full of twists and turns, strong main characters, (both likeable and unlikeable) and it's well worth a read!

Genre: Adventure.  Rating: 5/5.

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

I'm personally not the biggest fan of chick lit... and even less of a fan of Nicholas Sparks' work, as much as I love the movie adaptions of his novels. I read The Notebook years ago, and I don't think I've ever hated a book more in my life. I powered through it, but it was extremely dull. However, I fell so much in love with the movie of Safe Haven last year (well, hello Josh Duhamel!), that I decided to chance the book.

Basic Plot: Erin is trapped in an abusive relationship, and after some careful planning, she finally makes her escape when her husband, Kevin, is away on business. She boards a bus and eventually ends up in a small Southern town (in America), where she starts afresh with a new identity, adopts the name 'Katie', and does her best to lie low. She finds a place to live, gets a job, and saves her wages in case she needs to flee. She is befriended by her elusive neighbour, Jo, and slowly gets closer to a local widower, Alex, and his two children, Josh and Caitlin. All the while, Katie is terrified of being found by her husband- and she knows it's just a matter of time. Her policeman husband will stop at nothing to find her.

Thoughts: It wasn't the best written book I've ever read in my life, but I did enjoy it. It was a pleasant, easy summer read that required little effort and I think at times this is exactly the type of book a girl needs. Unapologetic, simple romance that can be read in a day, while sunbathing on the beach of lounging in the garden on a summer's day.

Genre: Chick lit, Romance. Rating: 3/5.

If you read just one book from this post, I would recommend and urge you to try The Lifeboat.

I hope you've enjoyed these brief book reviews- do you enjoy reading posts like these? Would you like to see more book reviews on the blog in the future? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

I'll be back with some more book reviews next Friday.


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wednesday Wish List

This week, there's been a lot of wishing going on, but sadly zero spending as it's January, and like everybody else, I'm still skint from Christmas. Restraining myself from shopping is beginning to feel like torture because I'm crushing hard on several (okay, a few dozen) amazing printed dresses. I'm seriously considering selling a kidney on the black market to pay for them... any takers? 

Well, while you guys think that one through, here's what I've been setting my sights on this week...

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10

Sunflowers are one of my favourite flowers, so when I first saw this dress earlier this week I got a bit over-excited. Even more so when I realised the print was mixed with polka dots! I don't own anything sunflower-print, and I do hope to add this one to my dress collection; I love the simple, feminine shape. The style of the dress is so nineties- I feel all nostalgic just looking at it. 

This biker jacket looks very similar to one I tried on from Evans earlier this Winter. I fell in love with it, but as it was too big I sent it back and never reordered. I've regretted it ever since. I am tempted to give the Yours Clothing version a go. I love how edgy the jacket is, with the studs and quilted faux leather, and it would go with everything from dresses to jeans.

I'm loving the coloured leopard print trend that's around at the moment, and this tunic has to be the best piece I've seen. The emerald green fabric is to die for! It would look amazing with the studded jacket over a pair of jeggings, or with leggings for lounging around at home. 

ASOS have held a variety of scalloped bags in their collections for the last couple of years- which pleases me no end as I love 'em. I already have this bag in a winter green shade from 2012, but now it comes in cobalt blue and I would happily find a place for one in my life. Cobalt blue makes me happy.

Yep, my eyes are on yet another polka dot dress! A girl can never have too many polka dot dresses, and this Modcloth one is a real beauty. Minnie Mouse herself would be going crazy for it! 

I'm not much of a 'pink' person, but I like this bag, and can't decide if I prefer the shade over the cobalt. (No. 4).

This daisy print dress is similar to one by ASOS Curve, but the difference in this one is available to a larger range of sizes. I could see myself wearing it on a regular basis throughout the year, and mixing it up with a variety of bold colours.

Shirts and I rarely get along; I rarely find the right fit for my shape, and I almost always have issues with gape-age. I had to wear shirts at school, and every day for work for nine years, so I rarely wear them now, but I can't deny I'm taken with this love heart printed one. It would look cute worn under some of my dresses, but could be worn in so many different ways.

I love the print of this Forever 21 dress; it makes me think of stained glass windows and mosaic floors. The print and colours are really fun, and you know me- I love wearing colour!

I've been drawn to quite a few novelty bags of late, and  the Accessorize lemon-wedge bag is so fun. It would be perfect for accessorizing all those colourful summer dresses, don't you think?

What's on your wish list this week? 


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Incoming Mail

Before Christmas, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway hosted by the lovely Dani of the blog DIY Fatshion, and a few weeks ago, a box turned up on my door step all the way from Texas, USA.

Being the girl who loves to take too many photos, my first thought was to take photos of the beautifully wrapped gifts before I opened them. I was far too excited to wait until morning to open everything (in good daylight), so I'm afraid a couple of the photos were taken at night with too much flash.

Everything was so beautifully wrapped in tissue and ribbon, and surrounded by colourful confetti.

I wasn't expecting to be sent so much! Opening them all felt just like Christmas!

In the giveaway I won a gorgeous purple and blue cotton scarf which was hand made in Southern India through a fair trade company called Handmade Expressions using traditional Batik art. This is a wax-resist dyeing technique. The American based organisation partners with artisans in India, and teaches women and people with disabilities new skills so they can earn a fair and dignified living. Fantastic right? 

The scarf is so beautiful, and I love the unique print of the fabric, and of course those gorgeous colours! It's very well made, and the cotton is thick yet light. It'll be perfect for taking the chill away on a Spring day. I can't wait to wear it when it gets a little warmer!

Dani also sent me lots of other lovely things, including five nail polishes, some notecards, and a set of pretty bow earrings...

...and also a gorgeous beaded statement necklace, and an ELF Lip Exfoliator. I can't tell you just how excited I was to receive something by ELF; I've wanted to try their products for ages as their make up is raved about all over the blogosphere. I've already given the exfoliator so much use, and it's amazing! I don't know how I ever did without it.

Dani knew I loved painting my nails, so she sent me this lovely lot. I'd never tried any of these nail polish brands before. I was particularly excited by the OPI nail polish, and it didn't disappoint! I also really love the bold green polish, and can't wait to try the others.

I love bows and these earrings are so pretty. I already have an outfit in mind for the mint pair for when Spring rolls around!

I just wanted to take the opportunity to say another big thank you to Dani for sending me all these lovely goodies. I'm so grateful, and feel very spoilt by your generosity! Everything is very much loved and appreciated! Thank you, Dani! xx

I don't know if many of you know this, but Dani's blog was actually one of the very first fatshion blogs I discovered when I stumbled up on the world of fatshion and body positivity blogs on Tumblr about two and a half years ago! Until then, I had no idea that such a world existed, but seeing normal ladies like Dani looking confident in their own skin and rocking fashionable outfits with their heads held high helped me to see myself in a new light. They helped me to accept myself for who I am and gradually aided me further and further along that yellow brick road to self-acceptance with each passing day. And thanks to Dani and many other fabulous bloggers that I discovered along that road, I'm closer to the Emerald City than I've ever been before. 

If you're on your own journey to self acceptance or just love reading great fashion blogs, I'd recommend checking out Dani's blog. I'm confident she will inspire you! Why not pop on over and say hello?! 

Have you won anything recently, or been surprised with something lovely?

What's the best prize or gift you've ever been given?

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