Monthly Archives

November 2014

NaNoWriMo, Writing

Completing NaNoWriMo: the view from the top

November 30, 2014
NaNoWriMo 2014 winner banner

I’ve done it! I’ve reached the summit of the 50,000 word mountain. 

Last night I hit 50,000 words and boy is the view good from up here. 

As I’ve mentioned in pretty much every blog post about NaNoWriMo, I’ve found it quite difficult this year. Last year it was really easy and breezed through but this year I’ve had to wrestle with my story. Which left me feeling like giving up so many times but I ignored the voice and did it! 

My novel is a bit all over the place and during December I’m hoping I can complete it and get it in some kind of decent order so I can begin editing it. 

Of course no completion of NaNoWriMo is without it’s reward, so keep an eye out for a few more beauty product posts. 

How’s NaNoWriMo going for you? If you’re not there yet: keep going, you can do it! 
Dystopian

Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi | book discussion

November 27, 2014




Spoiler-town!


Description from Goodreads: Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.



Shatter Me became one of those books that has been on my to be read shelf for so long that I was nervous of reading it in case I’d hyped it up too much and it disappointed me. 

I’m going to try something new and do a book discussion rather than a review, in which I’ll waffle about key points. It will contain spoilers so read on at your own peril if you haven’t read it. 


I like Marmite
The first thing of note is Mafi’s writing style, which is very ‘Marmite’. 

I know that a lot of my readers are from the US; I have no idea if you have glorious Marmite in the States but you are missing out if you don’t. It also forms an expression we use in Blighty to describe something which divides people and that people either love or hate, because no one finds Marmite just ‘ok’, they either love it or loate it. I like Marmite.

Mafi uses a lot of similes and metaphors which make the writing style very poetic and gives it a nice flow. It had me hooked from the first page and reeled me into the world. 

There were some sentences that blew my mind, take this sentence for example:

“1,320 seconds walk into the room before he does.”

Phwoar. That line was swoonworthy. I would have been floored had I not been in bed already.

The writing style really helps you understand the depths of Juliette’s feelings and helps with the world building. That being said, there are times where they don’t quite make sense, such as:

“They filled our world with weapons aimed at our foreheads and smiled as they shot sixteen candles right through our future.”

I don’t understand it! 

Mafi also used strikethroughs for Juliette’s thoughts. Again, this seems to be something that’s met with divided opinions but I liked it because it helped me really get into her character’s head. 

I liked Mafi’s writing style and I respect her for doing something different. It doesn’t work for everyone but it gets two thumbs up from me. That being said, I couldn’t handle every book being written like that. 

Instalove? Awh true love.
Something which isn’t mentioned in the book’s description, but is a pretty huge part of the book, is the romance. To begin with it looks like a case of instalove but as you discover the history between Juliette and Adam, it’s really sweet and awh-able. It also makes Juliette relatable because let’s be honest, we can’t relate to being able to kill people at the touch of a hand.

There were places where I felt like the romance took over from a plot a little too much though but I’m excited to see how it works out. 

Kenji who? 
At a mighty convenient plot, a beaten-up Kenji appears and knows how to save the day after not really contributing much at all, other than leering at Juliette, earlier in the book. Interestingly, I was much more skeptical of Kenji than our main characters. 

I’m intrigued to find out more about him in the next book. 

Warner, tell me more
Warner intrigues me greatly. There’s obviously some Daddy-issues there and I want to know more about him. I expect there’s a big backstory and I want to know more. Preferably now. (I don’t mean it, don’t spoil it!)

Or is he just a nutter who wants to take over the world, Dr. Evil style?

Either way, he sounds like one of those bad-guys I might kinda like, if that makes sense? 

Can I just take a minute? I need a breather.
After the halfway point the action started coming thick and fast and did not slow down. My own heart was racing as I read it and I struggled to put it down. I felt like I needed to take a rest after reading the last page. 

In short: I really enjoyed Shatter Me and I’m looking forward to reading the next book to find out what happens next. I’ve heard this is a bit of an X-Men rip off but I seriously know nothing about X-Men (is it ‘The X-Men’? See, I don’t know.) so it’s all good as far as I’m concerned


What did you think of Shatter Me? 
Book Hauls

Book haul #5 / I have no self-control in Waterstones

November 26, 2014


Days after saying I was going on a book buying ban I went in Waterstones and it all went to pot. 

I should know by now that if I go into a book shop I will buy books, especially Waterstones because they always have offers on. 

Their table of buy one get one half price on YA books pulled me in and I was trapped. It was kind of like a Venus flytrap, I was powerless. Side note: if anyone ever needs to capture an army of book nerds, that is the way to do it.

So, starting now: I am on a book buying ban until the end of January! 

But before I go and hide all forms of currency I have, let’s have a look at the books that shattered my ban.


Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins
I can never really figure out if Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After are a trilogy or not. The characters appear in each other’s stories so in my mind they’re a trilogy and Lola is the second book. 

I’m a little apprehensive about this because of how much I adored Anna. There was a sample chapter of Lola at the end of Anna and I wasn’t instantly hooked. I’m hoping that’s because I was mourning the end of the book. 

Isla and the Happily Ever After – Stephanie Perkins
This is the third and final book in the series. It was released earlier this year and people have raved about it so much that I decided it was time for me to start the trilogy. 

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart
I read We Were Liars earlier this year on Kindle (you can read my review here) and loved it. E. Lockhart is doing a signing in a Waterstones near me in December which I’m hoping to get to, so of course I needed a physical copy for her to sign. 


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – E. Lockhart
This was my wildcard purchase. I rarely buy a book without researching it but I saw this on the table and saw it was by E. Lockhart and that was enough to convince me to pick it up. 

Throne of Glass – Sarah. J. Maas
Because I haven’t got enough unfinished series on my shelf…

I’ve only heard good things about Sarah J. Maas and after hearing her mentioned a few times during the Epic Reads Book Shimmy Awards nominations, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. 

What books have you bought recently? Have you read any of these? 
Cruelty Free

Little LUSH haul #4

November 25, 2014


Over the weekend I popped into LUSH to get another shampoo bar and picked up a couple of other things. 

Montalbano shampoo bar – £5.75
I’ve just finished the Jumping Juniper shampoo bar (I loved it, highly recommend it) and I’m completely sold on shampoo bars and wanted to test another one. 

After talking to one of the store assistants, I picked up Montalbano which is supposed to give your hair shine and has a wonderful fresh citrus smell. 

Quick note on shampoo bars: they’re brilliant value for money and last months. 

Hot Toddy shower gel – 100ml for £3.95
When I saw smelt this I thought of my Mum, she loves whiskey and Christmas scented things so this is perfect for her.


I say her, but I mean the both of us. See, there are some benefits to living with your Mum at 22…bet that’s not what Taylor Swift meant when she was on about ‘feeling 22.’

I haven’t tried any LUSH shower gels but after sniffing this, there was no way I couldn’t pick up a little bottle. 


Let The Good Times Roll cleanser – £6.75 for 100g
I’m using LUSH’s Bouche de Noel at the moment, but it doesn’t exfoliate and my skin is demanding an exfoliator. I used Let The Good Times Roll earlier this year and it’s a great gentle exfoliator. 

Previous LUSH hauls: LUSH Haul #2 | Little LUSH Haul #3

Have you picked up any LUSH products recently?
Books

Is ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ by Luna Dunham worth reading?

November 24, 2014

Not That Kind Of Girl - Lena Dunham cover

Not That Kind Of Girl - Lena Dunham cover

Title: Not That Kind Of Girl
Author: Lena Dunham
Genre: Biography, non-fiction, humour
Pages: 288 pages
Publisher: 


Description from Goodreads“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told,” writes Lena Dunham, and it certainly takes guts to share the stories that make up her first book, Not That Kind of Girl. These are stories about getting your butt touched by your boss, about friendship and dieting (kind of) and having two existential crises before the age of 20. Stories about travel, both successful and less so, and about having the kind of sex where you feel like keeping your sneakers on in case you have to run away during the act. Stories about proving yourself to a room of 50-year-old men in Hollywood and showing up to “an outlandishly high-fashion event with the crustiest red nose you ever saw.” Fearless, smart, and as heartbreakingly honest as ever, Not That Kind of Girl establishes Lena Dunham as more than a hugely talented director, actress and producer-it announces her as a fresh and vibrant new literary voice. 

Since it’s release in September, Not That Kind Of Girl has generated a lot of hype and a bit of controversy. 

It’s performing pretty well in book charts and lots of people have been raving about it but: does it live up to the hype and is it worth reading? 

I think that depends very much on what you’re expecting from it. 

I didn’t go into it with many expectations. I’ve watched series one of GIRLS and enjoyed it. Other than that I didn’t know a whole lot about Lena Dunham, other than she’s pretty honest and I admire her for that. 

Not That Kind Of Girl isn’t laid out in the chronological way you’d expect from a biography. Instead, it’s split up into five sections: Love and Sex, Body, Friendship, Work and Big Picture. Within each section there are a few stories which aren’t laid out chronologically, so it feels a little haphazard at times. 

As you might expect, her stories are brutally honest, there is no pretending that relationships were perfect when they weren’t. 

If you’ve watched GIRLS you will recognise some of the stories because the ‘characters’ appear in the TV series. 

The language Lena uses is very conversational and it feels like you’re sat with her listening to her tell the stories, which instantly drew me in and made it more interesting. 

There were a lot of things that Lena experienced that I can’t relate to, but that didn’t make it less enjoyable for me. That’s part of the interest in reading a biography or autobiography for me; people fascinate me and I can read about things I’ve not experienced. (That being said, there are some things Lena experienced that I would not want to experience!)

But there were parts that I could definitely relate to, especially about her OCD and fear of everything. 

Not That Kind Of Girl is not the funniest or best biography I’ve ever read but for me it’s draw and interest comes from it’s honesty. 

On reflection I think I would have like to have read a little more about how she ended up getting GIRLS on TV and maybe she could have used her book to talk about the lessons she’s learned from being in the public eye and talk about things like body image. 

Is it worth reading? Does it live up to the hype?
If you are expecting something side-splittingly funny then this will not live up to your expecations. If you want an honest insight into Lena’s life and experiences, then I think you will enjoy this. Fans of GIRLS will probably enjoy this also. 

In terms of living up to the hype it doesn’t do a bad job. As I said, it’s not the best biography I’ve ever read but I’m glad I read it and I enjoyed it. 


In short: A refreshingly honest look at Lena Dunham’s life so far. 

Price: £5.69 on Kindle UK // £8.45 hardcover on Amazon UK

Would I recommend it? Yes! 

Have you read Not That Kind of Girl?

Lifestyle

Yankee Candle’s Snowflake Cookie wax melt

November 21, 2014

Christmas scents are my favourite; they kick the butt of every other scent with their homely, cosy, baking sniffs. 

The Snowflake Cookie wax melt was part of a haul I picked up a couple of weeks ago and it’s been filling my room with delicious cookie scents ever since. 

My descriptive skills leave a lot to be desired, but I’m going to do my best here. 

Snowflake Cookie has a delicious creamy vanilla scent, with notes of biscuit dough and the icing. 

I was worried that it might be an overpowering or sickly scent but once again Yankee Candle got it spot on and it just smells delicious and makes me want cookies. 

Whenever I smell Snowflake Cookie melting away an image forms in my head of a delicious biscuit with pink icing. I don’t know if that’s because the packaging has pink icing on it or because the melt is pink: but it smells pink. 

The packaging recommends that you should get 4 – 6 hours smelly time out of each wax melt. Here’s a top tip for you: break your wax melts in half and you can double the amount of sniffy time. 

Yankee Candle’s wax melts are reasonably priced and at the moment you can pick this one up from Yankee Direct for £0.94. (Price correct on 18th November)

What’s your favourite Christmas scent? 
Lifestyle, Photography

Photo gifts for the person who ‘has everything’

November 20, 2014

Some people are tough to buy gifts for and I think the best gifts for people like that are photo related gifts because they’re personal and timeless. 

Before we really get into this I would just like to make it clear that this isn’t a sponsored post because I get that it might look like one. I’m just a genuinely pleased Photobox customer and I know how hard some people are to buy for.  

Photobox calendar 

For the past three years I’ve made my Nan a personalised calendar with photos of our pets on for Christmas and she always loves it. 

The first year I did one it was hilarious. It took her a while to realise it was a personalised calendar because on the first page she said: ‘Ooh, that looks just like my sofa and my dog,’ before realising it was in fact her dog…and her sofa. 

I used Photobox last year and this year and the quality has been great both times, providing you give them high quality images to start with of course. 

They’ve got quite a lot of sizes available and you can add photos to specific days, such as birthdays, if you want. 

There are also discounts if you buy more than one calendar so you can save pennies if you want to make a calendar of ‘the grandkids’ for grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. 

Photobook

Someone at my photography club told me they’d made a Photobox photobook and they were really pleased with it. I saw that they had some discounts on and decided to make one of all the adventures Tom and I have been on this year. 

Again, there’s a lot of choice and something to fit all budgets and I really enjoyed collecting photos, deciding on the layout and putting them in the book.

If you’re interested I had the Small Softcover Photobook.  

Prints
If you wanted to make your own book, album or frame a picture, I highly recommend Photobox for their prints also. My Mum and I have used Photobox for prints for personal use and for photography competitions and neither of us can fault their service or quality. 

Autobiography & Biography, Book Genres, Book Reviews

THRIVE – Arianna Huffington | book review

November 19, 2014
Arianna Huffington - THRIVE book cover

 

 

Title: THRIVE: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.
Author: Arianna Huffington
Genre: Self-help, 
Pages: 352 pages


Description from Goodreads: Following the success of her acclaimed Third Metric conference, Arianna Huffington, president and editor in chief of the Huffington Post, is writing a book that offers women (and men) a new definition of success, one that focused not only on career advancements, but on the equally important goals of health and wellbeing, personal fulfillment, giving back and living a life of purpose and meaning. (Wow, that is a long sentence.)

Midway through September I wasn’t feeling inspired to pick up any of the books I’d started and ended up trawling Amazon for something new and came across THRIVE by Arianna Huffington. 

I’d never read a self-help kind of book before so I didn’t know exactly what to expect, though I did think it would be a bit cheesy. 

THRIVE doesn’t doesn’t contain a single bit of cheese. What it does contain though is solid advice backed up by a lot of sound research, which proves that for a large number of us our current way of life isn’t doing us any good. 

On reflection a lot of the advice is common sense but it’s not something you think about when rushing around like a headless chicken. Sometimes you have to read and absorb words to understand even the simplest of things and know it’s time to make a change. 

What really made me stop and decide I need to re-evaluate the way I’m living was Arianna’s take on eulogies. No one ever talks about how many articles you filed when they read a eulogy. They talk about you as a person, a friend and a relative. 

The amount of research referenced in THRIVE really impressed me. She isn’t just talking about something because she thinks it’s true, she knows it’s true and she’s got the statistics to back it all up. 

THRIVE has genuinely helped me. It’s helped me see that putting more hours in doesn’t mean I’m more productive or will help me reach goals faster. 

Success is not about the hours you work or the money you make but unfortunately that’s a dangerous idea that is forced upon many of us. 

If you’re feeling a bit burnt out, stressed or overwhelmed by a busy life, I encourage you to take some time to yourself and read THRIVE. 

Just under half of this book is appendices. I think the epilogue ended when my Kindle was showing I was 59% of the way through the book. The rest is lists of useful websites or apps for giving, volunteering, meditation and things like that and sources. 

I got through the majority of the book really fast but then put it down about 20 pages before the end of the epilogue and didn’t read it for about 2 weeks. When I picked it up again and finished it in a few minutes I was pleasantly surprised. 

In short: A really interesting book, packed with studies and statistics and common sense. 

Price: £6.49 on UK Kindle // £11.89 hardback Amazon UK (Price correct on 14th November)

Would I recommend it? Yes, especially if you feel stressed, unhappy with work or like there aren’t enough hours in the day. 

Have you read THRIVE?