Monthly Archives

July 2014

Books

Let’s Get Lost – Adi Alsaid*

July 28, 2014
Spoiler free review! 

Source: Harlequin.com
Title: Let’s Get Lost
Author: Adi Alsaid
Pages:
Genres: Young adult, road trip, 
Release date: 1st August 2014
Publisher: Harlequin (UK) Ltd – Thank you for the ARC! 

Description: ‘One girl could change four lives forever….Mysterious Leila, who is on the road trip of a lifetime, has a habit of crashing into people’s worlds at the moment they need someone the most. There’s Hudson, who is willing to throw away his dreams for love. And Bree, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday-and a few stolen goods along the way. Elliot who believes in happy endings…until his own goes off-script. And Sonia who worries that she’s lost her ability to love. Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. But Leila’s trip could help her discover something bigger – that sometimes, the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way…’

Every once in a while you read a book that makes you smile, feel a bit giddy inside and generally feel happy about life, Let’s Get Lost is one of those. 

Let’s Get Lost is split up into five sections, each told from the point of view of all five main characters. 

The first four sections are told from the point of view of Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia and looks at how Leila comes into their lives and helps them with the big issue they’re facing at that point. The final section is told from Leila’s point of view. 

Wow was this book beautifully written. I couldn’t stop smiling as I read it, it’s just one of those ‘feel good’ books, but please don’t mistake that for being cheesy because it isn’t. There’s no cheesy dialogue, it’s funny, thoughtful and at points, inspiring. 

Though we don’t spend much time with each character, apart from Leila, they were all well developed with backstories and personality. I felt for every single one of the characters and found myself willing them on. 

I think Let’s Get Lost would be the perfect summer read, especially if you’re going on a road trip. It’s the kind of book that fills you with wanderlust and that feeling of just going for something, even if you know it’s going to be tough and that’s something we can all relate to. 

It did remind me of Looking for Alaska by John Green in the way that Leila came into strangers lives and turned them upside down and made a big impact on their lives. 

Alsaid also managed to make you feel everything the way John Green does: you feel as if you’ve known these characters your entire life and you’re genuinely concerned for them and hope things turn out alright for them. 

I honestly almost told my Mum about what happened to Bree over dinner as if I actually knew her. Now those are some crazy skills Mr Alsaid! 

Let’s Get Lost is one of the few books that as I’ve put down I’ve wanted to pick it up and read it all over again. 

This truly is one of the best books I’ve ever read and you can be sure I’m going to get myself a physical copy of this when it comes out. 

In short: A beautifully written novel about roadtrips and facing something you’re scared of. You’ll be taken on a journey full of funny moments, silly moments, sad moments and wonderful moments. If you read one book this summer make it Let’s Get Lost for it is truly one of the best books I’ve ever read. (That wasn’t very short was it?)

Price: £4.98 UK Kindle / £5.24 paperback from Amazon UK (Prices correct on 28th July 2014)

Would I recommend it: Absolutely, especially if you’re a fan of John Green. 

* I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, it does not affect my opinion. Thanks Harlequin! 

Photography

Pet photography #2

July 27, 2014
This Sunday’s photography post is all about our dogs. So grab a cuppa, sit down and prepare to say ‘awh’. 

It was supposed to be about Kenilworth Castle but I haven’t got round to sorting those photos out yet, so that will be next week, sorry! 

While I have been doing a lot of moaning about this summer thing, it does provide brilliant lighting in the evening. Last week I spent an hour annoying my dogs. 

FYI the Labrador is Bert and the Border Collie is called Dylan. 

 

 


Life

Best friends…

July 25, 2014








Me and two of my best friends – from way back in the emo archives, yes c’est moi on the right.


My Dad always used to tell me about his best friend and him. They could go years 
without seeing each other and when they got together it’d be like they’d never been apart. 

As a kid I couldn’t understand how that could work but now I get it. 

I met my best friend about 10 years ago at school. We didn’t really speak all that much in Year 7 but in Year 8 we became very close. 

We did all the typical things teenage girls do: played the Sims on console for days straight, obsessed over members of Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance, went to gigs, ate rubbish food, woke up at 11AM and made cookies. 

My best friends Mum was often a part of this; she is a brilliant lady who tells it like it is and has so many tales to tell. 

She always likes to embarrass us and tell people stories of ‘the great unwashed weekend’.  

What happened was, The Sims Urbz had just come out on PS2. My friend got it on the Friday night and I stayed until Sunday night. She claims that we didn’t move all weekend and were glued to the Playstation. I have nothing in my defense apart from; I’m sure we must have moved for food at least. 

Most of my favourite memories with my best friend were playing the Sims and trying to speak Simlish and all the daft things we used to say. 

We see each other less now as I have a job and she has university but every time we get together it’s like we’ve never been apart. 

When you’re growing up it can be hard to figure out who your friends are and unfortunately that’s part of growing up. I’ve been wrong about it a few times as well. 

There will also be people who you think are your best friends but somehow you’ll just drift apart.

Your best friend will be there for everything: not just the big things or the tough times, they’re there for the small things too like obsessing over a new song by a band, talking about cats or a book. 

On behalf of everyone – best friends you are awesome people. 

Cruelty Free, Skincare

Nourish Balance Starter Set*

July 24, 2014

I think it’s fair to say these products received a very intensive test. I’ve been using them for a few weeks so I’ve got a pretty good hold on these products now. 

Nourish are a UK based brand that product organic products free from sulphates, parabens and other nasties and they aren’t tested on animals. 

This starter set is for combination skin and contains four products: 50ml balance detoxifying cleanser, 50ml balance refining toning mist, 15ml balance nutritious peptide serum and 15ml balance essential moisturiser. 

They also do products for dry, sensitive and normal skin. 

The starter set costs £25 and full size products are around about £11, which I don’t think is bad at all. Sure you can find cheaper on the high street but these are high quality products which don’t have a lot of rubbish in them, so for me it’s worth it. 

Balance detoxifying cleanser:
The bottle recommends you apply this with a cotton pad but I prefer to use my hands as the pad soaks up so much cleanser. 

It’s very gentle and left my skin looking clear, clean and matte. It’s so gentle I have no issues with rubbing it on my eyelids to remove eye makeup. 

In the morning I like to use this and then LUSH’s Dark Angels to exfoliate and my skin looks nice and clear. In the evening I just use this because I’m too lazy for all that LUSH-Y mess twice in one day. 

I will definitely by a full-size version of this when it runs out. 


Balance refining toning mist
Toners help to even out your skin tone and tighten your pores. My skin tone is fairly even apart from my cheeks which are noticeably red. 

I’ve never used a toner that has made much of a difference to my skin and this was no different. If you’re someone who sees the benefits from a toner, it might be worth a try but I didn’t notice a change. 

Balance nutritious peptide serum
Having never used a serum before, I didn’t know what to expect from this. It’s quite runny and a little bit goes a long way, so you only need one pump to cover your face. 

It takes a couple of minutes to dry but when it does your skin feels soft and looks shine-free. 

I felt like this balanced my skin out and help to moisturise it and I will buy a full-size bottle when this runs out. 

Balance essential moisturiser
This is one of the best moisturisers I’ve ever smelt; it smells like the juciest apple you could imagine. It’s almost like a balm in texture and you don’t need much to cover your face. 

Unfortunately I didn’t get on with this moisturiser. When it was drying it felt uncomfortable, like something sticky had dried on my face. Applying makeup over it was uncomfortable and felt like my skin was really tight. 

On top of that I kept getting mini-breakouts when I used it. My skin quite often takes issue with moisturisers so this isn’t shocking for me or a case of ‘OMG DON’T USE IT!’. 

It wasn’t a major breakout or anywhere near as bad as breakouts I’ve had when using other moisturisers, so if your skin doesn’t normally take issue with moisturisers you should be okay.  

Conclusion Apart from the moisturiser I liked this handy little kit. It kept my skin shine free throughout the day and kept it looking clear. 

I’m impressed with how long these mini bottles last. I’ve used some mini versions that lasted just a week but I’ve been using the cleanser most days and I’ve been using it about a month know and there’s at least 2/3rds left. 

I really liked the cleanser and the serum and will probably buy full sizes versions of both when the minis run out.  

*I was sent this by Liv in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the product. 

Book Reviews, Books

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1) – Cassandra Clare | Book review

July 23, 2014


Spoiler free!
Title: City of Bones – book one in The Mortal Instruments series
Author: Cassandra Clare
Pages: 485
Genres: Paranormal, young adult, fantasy.
Description from Goodreads: ‘When 15 year old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder – much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the Police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing – not even a smear of blood- to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicating to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within 24 hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attached by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…’


I bought this book over a year ago and it wasn’t until I heard people raving about the final installment in the series, City of Heavenly Fire, that I decided to read it.

I’d pretty much forgotten what it was about but I had high expectations after hearing so many people praising the series.


The world building was brilliant. I had a great idea of what things looked like and I loved the world that Clare created. To put the world building into perspective: I enjoyed it as much as the world building in Harry Potter. So, it’s good. 

We were given a lot of information and some characters had very detailed back stories which made the world more interesting and intriguing and really supported the plot. 

The plot itself was exciting and a good idea; it was a fairly unpredictable battle between good and evil. The twist at the end was exciting but I had a little inkling that it might turn out to be the way it did. 

My biggest issues were with the main character, Clary. 

I didn’t connect with her or care for her and she was a pretty flat character. She didn’t develop throughout the book and on reflection she didn’t really do anything. For the most part she seemed to stand there and let everyone else do all the hard work.


There were other daft little things that disappointed me. For example Clary and Simon didn’t even question the whole new world they were dragged into.

They’d both discovered that vampires, werewolves, demons and shadow hunters exist and neither of them were shocked. Not even a “How is this possible?” or “What?”, they just kind of went “Oh right, okay.” or “Oh yeah, that’s totally what we should do next.”. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?! 

Personally, I would be freaking out.

The dialogue in places was pretty cheesy and naff. There was one particular sentence I took issue with: Clary says something about her Mom not being like other Moms and basically said that all single Moms are always looking for dates and made them out to be a bit slutty. I was not cool with that. It was completely uncalled for and didn’t add anything to the story. 

The other characters were much stronger and more interesting. For example Jace – he’s quite arrogant but at least he has something about him that stands out. I thought he was quite likeable to be honest. 

Luke had a good back story and was a strong, well-developed character. Alec and Isabelle were intriguing but we didn’t really get to find out much about them but I hope we do in the books that follow. 

Simon kind of popped up here and there. Characters literally (When I say ‘literally’ I mean, literally.) forgot he even existed at points and he just kinda appeared and saved their lives at one point. I hope he becomes more important and doesn’t continue popping up at convenient moments. 

Even the bad guy had a good back story and was a well-developed character, so what happened with Clary? 

For the most part City of Bones was fairly fast paced and action packed but the first couple of chapters were slow and occasionally things seemed to come to a grinding halt for a few pages here and there.

It was a pretty easy read but I didn’t think it was a gripping one because I just couldn’t get on board with the main character. 

Fundamentally my issues with this book boil down to Clary not being a well-developed character. It’s baffling because there are characters like Jace and Luke who are very well-developed, have character and a back story, so it’s not that Clare isn’t capable of it. 

I hope it improves in the next book because everything about it other than her is fantastic. It has all the makings of a brilliant series that I know I would love. 

It leaves me in a tough spot trying to rate it and recommend it because if she was a stronger character, it’d be a fantastic series. I will pick up the next book because I want to know what happens next and I can’t just forget about this series without at least trying the second book. 

The reviews on Goodreads are very Marmite; people seem to either love it or hate it. I feel somewhere in between because Clary was a massive let down but I loved the rest of the book. 

I’m not going to say ‘I don’t recommend it’ because you may love it but be prepared to not be bowled over by Clary. 

In short: A wonderful world and story let down by a dull main character. 

Price: £3.66 on Kindle UK / £3.85 paperback UK Amazon


Rating: 3 out of 5 (It would be a 5 if it wasn’t for Clary being dull.) 

Would I recommend it: I’m not going to say no because the world building was fantastic.


Have you read City of Bones? If so, does Clary improve as the series continues?
Cruelty Free, Dry Shampoo, Hair

LUSH: No Drought – Dry Shampoo | Review

July 22, 2014
LUSH No Drought Dry Shampoo

I’ve been on the hunt for a cruelty free dry shampoo for ages so I was excited (really, excited) when I saw that LUSH did one. 

LUSH’s dry shampoo comes in a bottle rather than a spray can. This does make it a bit messier because it can be hard to judge how hard to squeeze the bottle. However this 50g bottle is perfect for putting in your bag. 

It’s a white powder that smells fresh and citrus-y, which is never a bad thing when you’re half asleep trying to make your hair look presentable. 

No Drought does a brilliant job of making your hair look clean again and it does add a bit of volume.

You don’t need to use a lot of product to get a good result. I’ve had this bottle for about three weeks now and haven’t used that much at all. 

I get through cans of dry shampoo fairly quickly but I think this is going to last me much longer. 

In terms of price it’s about the same as a can of Batiste but I know that for me this 50g bottle it will last longer than one of the big cans of Batiste. 

Another bonus is that because it’s not an aerosol it won’t count as a liquid in your hand luggage. I was told by Monarch that powder products are fine if they’re in their original packaging. That may not apply to all airlines but what I’m saying is, hopefully they won’t think it’s something illegal. 

In short: A fresh, clean smelling dry shampoo that revives your hair and keeps it looking fresh and clean. 

Price: £3.75 for 50g / £6.75 for 115g

Is it cruelty free: Yes, LUSH do not test on animals. No Drought is also vegan friendly. 

Would I repurchase / recommend: Definitely to both. 

Have you tried LUSH’s dry shampoo? 






Books

Time for a book buying ban

July 21, 2014


Over the past few months I’ve bought a fair few physical books only to have them sit on my shelves unread. I have no idea why because I don’t do that with ebooks. 

Physical books are usually more expensive than their electronic counterparts and I probably have about £80 worth of physical books sat unread. 

The next few months are going to be pricey with hotels, flights and travel things to book for a few races and mine and Tom’s holiday so I need to cut down on spending and get saving. 

Plus last week my car showed an accelerator fault before resetting itself and the garage informed me it will cost £250 to fix if it happens again :|. So I need to get some more money in the kitty. 

I am imposing a book buying ban (both physical and electronic) on myself until either the end of August or until I get through all of those books. Whichever comes first. I’m fairly sure it’s going to be the end of August that comes first. 

There are two exceptions: I can acquire ARCs or free eBooks. 

There is no reward (other than y’know, being able to afford things) it’s just something I need to do. 

So the big question is: who’s in? Let me know in the comments and we can all slap each other’s wrists when temptation arises. I’m thinking of using the hashtag #bookbuyingban so we can talk about it on Twitter, what do you think?

Photography

Jousting + falconry at Kenilworth Castle | Photos

July 20, 2014


My Mum got Tom and me a joint English Heritage membership for our birthday’s. Tom loves jousting so when we heard about the jousting event at Kenilworth Castle there was no doubt we were going to be there.

They had a whole medieval camp set up, with some brilliant musicians, a jester and a falconry show on.

 







































The falconry display was fantastic. I learned a lot, one of the things I learned is that some birds like to sunbathe. Also, back in ‘the day’ when men used to try and steal falcons a law was brought in that if you stole a falcon you would have meat attached to erm…delicate parts, and the falcon would feast on it. 

Surprisingly enough that punishment was never carried out because the threat was deterrent enough. 

On to the main event, the jousting. There were four competitors and their horses dressed in their own colour and they took it in turns jousting against each other (is that even the right word?) until it came down to the final two. 







































It was so exciting to watch and the winner’s horse barely broke into a trot, it was so chilled out.  



On the way back to the car we had a wander through the Elizabethan gardens which were beautiful. 







































All in all, a wonderful day was had and I’m sure this won’t be our last jousting event. English Heritage are putting on a few more jousting events over the summer, so if you’re interested here’s their calendar

Keep an eye out for next Sunday’s post which will be pictures of Kenilworth Castle itself!