Monthly Archives

February 2014

Books, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Champion – Marie Lu | Review

February 25, 2014
Spoiler free (some spoilers about Legend and Prodigy)

Title: Champion
Author: Marie Lu
Pages: 369
Genre: Science fiction / Dystopian

Description from Goodreads:June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position. 

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything. ‘ 

I’ve been stalking my library website for a few weeks now waiting for Champion to come in and when I spotted it a couple of weeks ago I checked it out feeling giddy that I was quite sure I was the first person to read it. 

When I arrive at the last book in a series, I’m always met with a slight feeling of dread as I wonder how the author will wrap everything up and occasionally ponder not reading it because ignorance is bliss right? Champion was no different after the news we receive at the end of Prodigy. 

Champion picks up a few months after the end of Prodigy, with June and Day giving their support to Anden, though they haven’t spoken in months and find themselves thrown together when the Republic comes under threat from the Colonies. 

As with Legend and Prodigy the story is told from the points of view of Day and June. When I reviewed Legend I commented that their POVs were very similar but in Champion they’re easy to tell apart and their characters have grown so much. 

What I really like about Lu’s writing style is that she makes you feel what the characters feel. When things were awkward between June and Day, you felt awkward, when June felt sorry for Anden, you felt sorry for Anden. 

Champion was the perfect mix of action and politics and as with the other two books, the pacing was perfect. At no point did I feel it was too slow or too fast, it was just right in the words of Goldilocks. 

I really enjoyed the chapters where June and Anden traveled to Antarctica. It sounded like a wonderful place and I found myself wishing I could go and visit, it sounded truly beautiful and I quite liked the sound of the points system. 
We got to found out more about Anden throughout Champion and I must say Lu definitely changed my opinions on him. In Legend and Prodigy I thought he was a bit of a stuck up Daddy’s boy but in Champion I really warmed to him and saw him in a different light. 

The romance in Champion was interesting and exciting but at no point did it take over the story and make it all about that, which I found to be a refreshing change. 

I really enjoyed the ending to Champion, I think it really wrapped everything up and in my opinion it’s probably the best series ender I’ve ever read. I also liked that we were kind of left to draw our own conclusions about what happens to Day and June next, at least that’s how it seemed to me. 

This trilogy has come such a long way and so have the characters; their development throughout the trilogy has been fantastic. 
For me, the Legend series is one of the best ones I’ve read and I’m about to say something a bit brave here; I think it’s better than The Hunger Games. 
Now, I don’t know if I’m saying that because the Legend series is fresh in my head but right now I think it’s better than The Hunger Games, which is saying something because it was my all time favourite series. 
I hear Marie Lu has a fantasy book in the pipeline and I can’t wait to read it. 
Have you read Champion? 

Beauty, Cruelty Free, Face Masks, Skincare

LUSH Fresh Face Mask Cupcake | Review

February 20, 2014

I’d never tried a LUSH fresh facemask before but after popping into their Manchester store last weekend I decided to treat myself.

They appear to have quite a good range of face masks but as soon as I saw Cupcake was for oily skin I didn’t bother looking at the rest of them in much detail. 
Cupcake smells lovely, I wouldn’t say it smells incredibly chocolatey though, I could smell the mint more than the chocolate.  
The mask is mud based and as a result is nice and thick and applies pretty easily. There’s a lot more in the pot than I expected and there’s no way I could use it all up in one go. I think I used about a third of the tub and I applied it fairly heavily. 
I left Cupcake on for 10 minutes to get the full effect and then began washing it off. 
My face immediately looked clearer and felt soft and smooth. I’ve used a few face masks that have made my skin feel soft or look clearer but I wouldn’t say any of them have done it as well as Cupcake did. 
At £5.95 they aren’t cheap but I think I can get three applications out of this and the quality of this face mask is better than any other one I’ve used so far. It’s not something I would use every single week but it’s a nice treat. 
Is it tested on animals: No LUSH do not test on animals. 

Is it vegan: Yes

Would I repurchase: Absolutely no doubt about it. 
Have you ever used a LUSH fresh face mask? Which one is your favourite? 

Yankee Candle Wax Melt – Turquoise Sky | Review

February 19, 2014

Usually I go for food-y or spicy smelling candles but I thought I’d be brave and try something a bit different. 
Description from Yankee Candle: ‘Calm, salty air with hints of sea grass and musk, float gently on ocean waves…off on an adventure beneath a bright blue sky’. 
This melt smells very fresh and it does remind me of being at the beach but thankfully it does not smell like sea salt or salty air. 
As you know by now my descriptions of scent are no good, but this just smells fresh and I found it kind of cleared my mind. 
I got about seven hours of scent out of it, but as I split the wax melt in half I’ll actually get about 14 hours out of it. The back of the packet says you should get about eight hours out of it, so I’m happy with seven.
Would I repurchase: Yes I probably will. 
Have you tried Turquoise Sky? 
Book Reviews, Books, Romance

Forbidden (The Soulkeepers #1) – Lori Adams | Book review*

February 18, 2014

Title: Forbidden (The Soulkeepers #1)
Author: Lori Adams
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept
Genre: New adult, romance
Pages: 432
Release Date: April 15th 2014
Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK

Here’s the description from GoodreadsLori Adams gives New Adult a haunting paranormal twist with the first novel of The Soulkeepers, a series that blends ancient legends and new myths with an enchanting mix of thrills, humor, and high drama.

When Sophia St. James learns that she’ll be moving from Los Angeles to a podunk town somewhere in Connecticut for her senior year of high school, she isn’t expecting an otherworldly encounter. But there is more to Haven Hurst than meets the eye: it’s home to a family of Guardian Angels, and she is the only one who can see them in spirit form. Sophia soon realizes she wants to see much more of Michael, an irresistible yet volatile Guardian who seems drawn to her too.

As Michael battles his forbidden desire for the beautiful young newcomer, one of Hell’s most notorious Demon Knights arrives. Handsome and charismatic, Dante has come to claim the reincarnated soul of his lost lover trapped in Sophia. Cursed with the demon of Persuasion living inside him, Dante will use his seductive charms to lure Sophia into a dangerous game that ends with the kiss of death—unless Michael, who has captured Sophia’s heart, can now capture her soul.

After reading that description how could I pass up this book? It was also advertised as New Adult and I wanted to find out what all the NA fuss is about. 

The first couple of chapters pulled me in and I was eager to find out more about our main characters. Towards the end of the first half of the book things got a bit slow but the second half was pretty explosive. 

The second half reeled me back in and I finished it in one sitting, I just couldn’t put it down. It was rammed with action and before I knew it I’d finished the book and I’m left feeling eager for the next book. 

Forbidden is told from three points of view but it was easy to tell whose POV you were reading as chapters about Michael and Dante were marked by their name and were told in third person while chapters about Sophia were in first person.  

Sophia, Michael and Dante were all well developed characters and Adams did a great job of Sophia’s development throughout the book and making me feel very uneasy and creeped out when I read sciences involving Dante. That guy really gave me the creeps. 

One of Sophia’s friends, Bailey, came across as incredibly annoying because she seems to talk in some kind of pop cultural reference language. I wouldn’t have minded the odd couple of strange sayings but pretty much everything she said had some kind of cultural reference and it wore thin quickly. 

I couldn’t help but draw a lot of parallels between the Patronus family and the Cullens from Twilight: they don’t turn up at school some days and no one seems bothered, they don’t date anyone and then there was Michael convincing Sophia to stay away from him. 

To be fair to Adams though I imagine that those are common in books where supernatural characters become involved with humans so it wasn’t a big issue for me. 

The only niggles I had with this book were: towards the middle it started to get a bit slow, Bailey talking and the dreaded ‘I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding’ phrase popped up. That line is one of my pet peeves and seems to keep cropping up in YA books. Stop it! It makes me squirm! 

All in all I really enjoyed Forbidden. It contained a good mix of suspense, mystery, humour and romance.  

I didn’t find it to be predictable, I felt for Sophia and found her character to be likeable and her development throughout the book was excellent. 

Though it is part of a series (the second book, Awaken is ‘coming soon’) Forbidden stands up pretty well on its own and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. 
In short: A gripping story about angels and demons. 
*I received an ARC through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. 


Eat: Eat better by planning your meals

February 15, 2014
We’ve been planning meals in our house for the past six months, and in that time we’ve started eating healthier, cut our food bill and cut down on wastage. 

Up until a few months ago, the idea of knowing what you were going to eat all week seemed very anal, even for me. I wasn’t convinced by it but six months on, I don’t think I’d go back to just deciding on the night what’s for dinner. 
Every Sunday before we go shopping we plan our meals for the week (it’s not set in stone, so things can be changed around) to make sure we only buy what we need and take into account that one night might be leftovers night from something earlier in the week. 
It’s really helped our food bill because we aren’t buying things we don’t need. My Nan, bless her, is terrible for making sure we have about eight tonnes of tomatoes ‘in case we run out’. Most weeks we were throwing away an embarrassing amount of food that had gone out of date because we hadn’t used it in time. 
As well as helping us save money and cut down on wastage, it’s also helped us to look at our diets and start eating healthier. 
In case you’re wondering, that pretty little chalk noticeboard is from Next but I reckon if you have the skills and power tools you could make your own for less. 
Do you plan your meals for the week? 


Knit: My first hat!

February 14, 2014

A scarf may have been the first knitting project I started but the first thing I’ve finished is this warm, cosy hat. 

I made this as a Valentine’s Day gift for my fiancé because he’s been asking me to knit him a hat ever since I expressed an interest in learning to knit.

If I look closely I can see a few cock ups but overall I’m really pleased with it and found it easier than expected.

It probably took me between 10 and 12 hours to do, which I don’t think is too bad for my first hat.

Have you ever tried knitting? 

Tuneage Thursday: The Offspring – Why Don’t You Get A Job?

February 13, 2014

Lately I’ve been listening to songs I used to love back in my early teens and this was one of my favourite.

This is such a catchy song and I think everyone knows someone who’s a bit of a scrounger and makes everyone else pay for everything.

What’s been stuck in your head this week? 

Eat: Why homemade pizza is better than shop bought or delivered

February 12, 2014

Pizza, pizza, pizza. Many people love pizza but very few make it themselves, so here’s a little ramble about why I think homemade pizza is better than anything you could buy. 

Cost effective
Making pizza yourself is very cost effective. I’m not going to say it’s the cheapest option because you can get pizza for £1 from the supermarket, but if you make your own you can produce a few pizzas.

Homemade pizza just tastes better. I’ve never eaten a pizza from a supermarket, restaurant or had one delivered (and I’ve tested lots!) that tastes anywhere near as good as a homemade one.

You know what’s in it
If you make it you know exactly what has gone into your meal, there are no preservatives or any rubbish, just good ingredients.

As many toppings as you like + make your own sauce
As long as you’ve got it in your cupboard, you can put it on your pizza. Want peanut butter on your pizza? Sure, go ahead, I bet Dominos don’t offer that.

It’s fun to make your own pizza and stuff your own crusts, the fun part alone outweighs store bought or delivered in my opinion.

If you’ve never made bread or pizza before you might feel daunted by it, but don’t, it’s really easy. The ‘go to’ recipe in my house is one from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy book, it never fails to produce beautiful dough.

What’s your favourite pizza topping?