Monthly Archives

January 2016

Paranormal, Young Adult

Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater | I fangirl a lil’ bit more about Maggie Stiefvater

January 29, 2016

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Oh, Maggie Stiefvater, how I do love thee. (I blame Cait at Paper Fury for my new found love.) Shiver is the most adorable and simultaneously stressful book I have ever read.

My relationship with Shiver starts at the end of December, in Shakespeare & Company in Paris. The shop was absolutely packed, way too packed for perusing. Doesn’t anyone know that you can’t peruse a book shop when it’s rammed?

At the back of the shop, they have a very small young adult section. And by small, I mean one bookshelf and I had read a big chunk of them, as they stock the most popular ones. I was ferreting around on my hands and feet, hoping that viewing the bookshelf from a lower angle would somehow mean more books just magically appeared. Poor Tom was stood there patiently (he’s a saint, I swear), when he pointed to Shiver and said “what about this?” I paused, saw Maggie Stiefvater’s name, inner Cait told me I must get it, and that was that.

Like, The Raven Boys, Shiver consumes you and drags you into it without you really noticing. It’s only when you put the book down that you realise you were in a completely different world, and now you have to have the real world which doesn’t involve adorable werewolves. I adore Maggie’s world building skills; her descriptions are so rich and detailed without ever being suffocating. Her descriptions of a sweet shop had my mouth watering and me hankering (I don’t think I’ve ever used the word ‘hankering’ before, but it feels right here.) to go and sniff a sweet shop to find out if I’m part werewolf.

Our main character’s, Grace and Sam, are well developed with good backstories, making it easy for you to just fall into their lives alongside them. Grace is snarky and exactly the kind of person I would be friends with; I think I would be Olive as she’s obsessed with photography. Sam is much more sensitive, and that seems to balance Grace’s dry humour.

I’m pretty sure it’s not a spoiler for me to tell you that their relationship is adorable. It’s your typical sweet YA romance; well if your typical sweet YA romance involves a boy who might turn into a werewolf when it gets cold out.

It’s adorable and hopeful, which makes the whole thing so stressful because you need to find out what happens next. I was glued to the last third of the book (screw revision) and I think I actually did the whole “held a breath she didn’t know she was holding in” thing several times because ANTICIPATION! I needed a rest after the end.

The secondary characters are just as interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else we might find out about the pack. I’m sure Shelby has a couple of interesting stories to give up.

To my delight, Shiver wraps itself up quite nicely. Of course, it is part of a series (and I’m looking forward to reading Linger) but everything is wrapped up quite neatly.

Unfortunately, I started reading Shiver just before exams so I didn’t read it as fast as I normally would have done, so I can’t tell you that I tore through it in a couple of days. What I can tell you is that while I was revising, my brain was trying to distract me and get me to pick Shiver up. It was longing to know what happened next – so if I fail my exams, I’m blaming Maggie for distracting my brain. Those are extenuating circumstances, right?

I have done a lot of fangirling about Shiver so far, but it does have niggles:

  • Conveniently non-existent parents – WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
  • Some more conveniently absent parents – some major plot points relied on the fact that the parents were not in places they should be.
  • Why does no one care that Grace suddenly isn’t at school?
  • Or that Olive suddenly isn’t at school?
  • WHY DOES NO ONE CARE ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!

 


In short

Shiver consumes you all at once and completely, dragging you into this adorable and stressful world as you hold a breath you didn’t know you’d been holding in, desperately hoping that everything turns out OK for Sam and Grace while the parents are conveniently absent.

What was the last book you read?

Shiver Maggie Stiefvater book rating - new favourite

Shiver Book Cover Shiver
The Wolves of Mercy Falls
Maggie Stiefvater
Young adult, fantasy, romance, paranormal, werewolves
1st August 2009
Paperback
Shakespeare & Company

 When a local boy is killed by wolves, Grace's small town becomes a place of fear. But Grace is fascinated by the pack, and finds herself drawn to a yellow-eyed wolf. There's something about him - something almost human. Then Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away...

30 Day Vegan Challenge, Food, Vegan

30-Day Vegan Challenge | Week #1

January 28, 2016

  

Last week, I decided to take the 30-day vegan challenge and I’m pleased to say that the first week has been really fun.

I originally planned to do a bit of a food diary but I completely forgot, so instead I’ll give you a little overview of how the first week has been.

My biggest weakness is cheese, but to my amazement I haven’t craved it or felt like I was missing out. I’m so impressed with this because I definitely ate way too much cheese before.

In general, I haven’t found a vegan diet to be very restrictive. The only time it has felt a little restrictive is when I went to Costa Coffee to meet my friend – I didn’t spot a vegan option. I tweeted Costa though, and apparently their fruity crumble is vegan, so I’ll keep an eye out for that next time I go – I’m hoping I just missed it. 

There are a couple of things I’ve eaten during the past week that have become absolute favourites for me and I cannot get enough of them:

  • Peanut noodles
  • Thai pasta from Mayam Bialik’s Vegan Table
  • Bliss balls – I started out with Kayla Itsines recipe, but ended up just doing my own thing, throwing in desiccated coconut and more cocoa powder

So far, so good and I’m looking forward to another week of discovering new, delicious meals.

 

Beauty

Hearts On Fire Tonight

January 27, 2016

Yellow, orange, and red eyeshadowYellow, orange, and red eyeshadow

It’s been a while since I’ve had a play around with really colourful eyeshadow, but I was struck with a bit of inspiration over the weekend.

When I was about 14, all I would wear is yellow and orange eyeshadow, Hayley Williams style. For the past couple of years, I’ve mostly just been wearing neutral shades, which you can have a lot of fun with, but I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed wearing bright colours.

A spot of inspiration struck me over the weekend, so I dug out a huge unbranded eyeshadow palette (that I should probably throw out – who knows what those shadows are made of), stuck some music on and ended up with this.

I’m feeling really inspired about the whole eyeshadow thing again, and ended up ordering a couple of palettes over the weekend, (Yep, was a bit naughty and broke my spending ban…I’m sorry) so you might be seeing some more posts like this.

It’s surprisingly hard to take decent photos of bright eyeshadow that do the colours justice. I have major respect for some of the artists and bloggers that do a brilliant job of it – TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.

Vegan-friendly red eye shadow seems to be quite tricky to get hold of, so if any of you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments below.

In case you’re in any way interested, my spark of inspiration for this look came from Love Like War by All Time Low Ft. Vic Fuentes.

Paris, Travel

Why you should visit Paris before you’re 26 / when you’re a student

January 26, 2016

 

Why you should visit Paris before you're 26 / when you're a student

Paris’ allure puts it fairly high on many people’s travel wish list, and there are considerable savings to be made if you visit the City of Light when you’re 25 or under, or if you’re a student.

Though you won’t save money on your airfare, hotel, or food just for being youthful (though you might find these tips for saving money when booking a holiday useful), you can save a good chunk of money on things to do. Unlike here in the UK (not sure what it’s like elsewhere), the French give students and those 25 or under considerable discounts on admission or travel, or completely free access to some attractions.

If you meet either of those criteria, make sure you keep your student card or some form of identification that has your age and nationality on it to hand, because you’ll be using it a lot. (The reason you might need something showing nationality is that some free admissions are only for those who live in countries that are part of the EU.)


Transport

There are no savings to be made on the Metro or the RER, but both of them are cheap enough anyway. However, if you need to travel out of the city / across Europe, you can save money on the TGV if you’re under 26.

If you want to navigate the city by water, the Batobus is a great way to get around and see the city at the same time, plus savings can be made if you’re a student.


Discounts on / free admission

Admission to attractions / museums is where you’re going to be able to save the most money. On average, full price admission to museums is probably roughly the same price, or slightly cheaper than here in the UK. But, if you’re a student / youthful you can save a few euros or even get through the turnstiles without handing over a single cent.

This is by no means an extensive list, but here are some of the main attractions you can make savings at:

  • Eiffel Tower: reduced rate if you’re 24 or under.
  • Tour Montparnasse: reduced rate for students and those 20 or under.
  • Pantheon: free if you’re under 26-years-old and live in the EU.
  • Louvre: free for under 18s, and those 25 and under who live in the EU.
  • Arc de Triomphe: discount for students and those 25 and under. Free if you’re 17 and under.
  • Notre Dame tower: free for those 25 and under living in the EU, and student discount available.
  • Musee d’Orsay: free if you are 25 and under living in an EU state, or reduced rates for under 25s who are citizens of non-EU countries.
  • Catacombs: free if you’re 17 or under, reduced rate for 18 – 25 year olds.

What if I’m not a student / or am over 26?

All is not lost! Some attractions may have free admission on certain days of the week / month for everyone. For example, Musee d’Orsay is free on the first Sunday of the month.

On top of that, there are some attractions that are always free such as Sacre-Coeur or Notre Dame (note that the tower or crypts are not free), and there are lots of free things you can do in Paris such as explore the gardens or eat crepes by the Seine.

Additionally, the Paris Pass, or the Paris Museum Pass may be something that’s worth while if you plan to visit a lot of attractions during your stay, but that’s something you’ll need to weigh up by comparing prices of the pass and what you get for it, with the prices you’d be paying for admission.

A trip to Paris doesn’t need to be expensive, and a little bit of planning can help you save.

As I mentioned above, if you’re booking a trip to Paris, here are a few tips to help you save on your booking.

 

Have you visited / would you like to visit Paris?

Life, Photography, University

Take A Deep Breath

January 25, 2016

Snow scene, Cannock Chase forest

I relish each breath, burning as it the freezing air hits the back of my throat. With each step, my feet get colder but I keep on walking, focusing on the tingling sensation in my toes.

Out here, the only sound to be heard is the birds in the trees and the distant babbling of a stream. There isn’t anything else but this, right now, that matters. The weight on shoulder is getting lighter and lighter with each step, as if it were a deflating balloon.

 


The past couple of weeks have been a little stressful for me, with assignment deadlines and my first lot of exams in about five years. I got two out of the way last week (I think they went alright) and I have my last one for this semester on Thursday.

Since finishing my second exam last Wednesday, I feel a lot more relaxed and like I can breathe easier. My last exam is the one I’m least confident about, so I definitely appreciate the extra few days to get some more revision in.

How have you been lately?

Uncategorized

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer | Rick Riordan brings it again!

January 22, 2016

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer audiobook Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer was definitely a worthy first book to complete in 2016.

I actually started it at the beginning of December. I was in a mega reading slump, depsite having a handful of good books on the go, and I thought that trying out an audiobook might help, so I signed up for an Audible trial. It turns out, audiobooks and me don’t get on too well (that’s a story for another day), but I really enjoyed Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer.

In November, I finished off Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, and after discovering he was writing a series about Norse mythology, it was a no brainer; I had to read it.

Essentially, Magnus Chase follows the same formula as Percy Jackson; someone discovers they are the child of a god and they have magic powers. They meet some other magic-powered people and set off on quests to do stuff for other people, to find out where other people are who want them to do things for them, to eventually defeat someone evil.

It would have been easy for this series to be a rinse and repeat, but Rick Riordan did a fantastic job of making it stand out on it’s own and creating a wonderful world that I wish I could explore myself.

 

Why you need to read this book

  • The characters; they’re quirky, snarky, have good back stories. Jack is brilliant. Samirah is wonderful. Blitz and Hearthstone are fantastic also. THEY’RE ALL REALLY GOOD, OK?
  • The friendship; I am so happy that Rick Riordan focused on friendships, rather than romance. He did that pretty well in the Percy Jackson series too.
  • The humour; “babes before blades,” is the best line I’ve read in a book in a while. It’s a book that had me chuckling at so many points.
  • Pop culture references; I always enjoy it when a fantasy world makes reference to pop culture. For example, in Magnus Chase, Thor streams TV in HD on his hammer – he’s about to start Game of Thrones.
  • The world; I’m a big fan of Norse mythology, and the world Rick Riordan creates is so immersive that I wish I could hop on a plane and explore it myself.
  • Percy Jackson references; If you’re a Percy Jackson fan, you’ll be happy to know there are a couple of references to series and one character from the series even makes an appearance in Magnus Chase. You can probably guess who from the last name…

The only negative feelings I have about this book are that perhaps it’s a little longer than it needs to be. There were points towards the end of the book where it felt like things were being dragged out a little unnecessarily, but it wasn’t a massive annoyance for me. I think it would have been less of an annoyance if I’d read it, because I could have read those parts faster than the narrator read them.

 

A bit about the audiobook

Since the narration is pretty important when it comes to an audiobook I wanted to quickly touch on my thoughts on that. I wasn’t overly impressed by Christopher Guetig‘s narration, mostly because I felt his voice did not sound like that of a 16-year-old; his narration reminded me a lot of the voice used for the first Percy Jackson book which I listened to. Magnus did not sound like a 16-year-old boy.

I was pretty disappointed with the voice used for Samirah also because he also made her sound really young, but I don’t think he got a great handle on her tone of voice in general. Everything she said was said in exactly the same way, and most of the time it made her sound a bit weak, even when she was saying something she was annoyed about, or being fierce about.

Also, the accents were pretty bad. Especially the Irish one.

 

In short

A fun blend of Norse mythology, adventure, pop culture, and wonderful characters.

 

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer book rating - really good

I love Norse mythology so if you have any recommendations, please let me know.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer Book Cover Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
Rick Riordan
Fantasy, Adventure, Mythology
October 6th, 2015
Audiobook

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Food, Life, Vegan

That’s it, I’m going vegan

January 21, 2016

Basket of vegetables

Image: Unsplash

I’ve been ‘trying’ to go vegan slowly for the past year, and I would say that about 40% of my diet is currently vegan, the rest of it is vegetarian, but I’ve decided it’s time for a challenge; the 30 day vegan challenge.

There are a few reasons I’m taking up the challenge:

  • Dairy products gross me out (don’t even get me started on milk)
  • I eat way too much cheese (it’s all or nothing with me and cheese – and I do realise it’s made from milk, but my stomach makes exceptions for cheese)
  • I need to eat healthier, and significantly less sugar (I won’t be able to eat the majority of biscuits, which are my achilles heel)
  • I’ve watched some food documentaries recently, and agribusiness even more ridiculously unsustainable than I thought, and the number one cause of climate change / damage (not cars or wasting energy)
  • I’m a glutton for punishment and like a challenge

Starting yesterday, I have started the 30-day vegan challenge. (I know, I could have just taken part in Veganuary, but this is me.) For the next month, I will be doing my absolute best to eat a 100% vegan diet and will be posting weekly updates to let you know how I’m getting on.

I think I’ll do quite well, as I reckon at least 50% of my diet is probably vegan anyway. My main concern is finding vegan options if I eat out because there aren’t a lot of eateries around here that offer vegan options, much less inspiring vegan options.

I’m looking forward to what the next month will bring, and I’m hoping that at the end of it I will be eating a more varied and healthier diet.

If you’ve got any tips or recipes, please share them with me.

Beauty Reviews, Cruelty Free, Face Masks, Vegan

Rosy Cheeks | LUSH Fresh Face Mask

January 20, 2016

Rosy Cheeks LUSH fresh face maskLUSH Rosy Cheeks fresh face mask

Rose scent + LUSH fresh face mask = something I can definitely get on board with.

A few weeks ago, I spotted a new addition to LUSH’s face masks, Rosy Cheeks, and I was sold as soon as I saw the name. I don’t know if my name gives me some kind of predisposition for loving rose scented things, but I cannot get enough of it.

Containing kaolin, calamine, and rose oil, Rosy Cheeks cleanses, calms, and tones your skin while smelling absolutely delicious.

The consistency is unlike any of LUSH’s face masks I’ve tried before; it reminds me of rubbing a thick moisturiser on my face. It glides on easily and you don’t need to use much to cover your whole face. I haven’t finished my pot yet, but I think I will get upwards of eight applications out of one 75g pot, which works out to be 84 pence per application at the most.

Pop it on, stick a timer on your phone for 10 to 15 minutes, sick back with a book and a cuppa and let Rosy Cheeks work it’s magic.

Removal is really easy, in fact it’s probably the easiest LUSH face mask to remove because of how smooth it is and quite thin in comparison to their other face masks. That said, I tend to stick a face mask on before I have a shower and then take it off in the shower.

I have combination skin and this works a treat for my skin; it leaves my skin looking fresh, clean and matte. 10 minutes is usually enough for me and I find that if I leave it longer than that it can leave me with some drier patches.

The packaging says you’re supposed to keep it in the fridge. To be honest, I don’t keep any of their products in the fridge because I’m lazy and it’s too much effort to go downstairs. I think that as long as you store it in a cool place, it will be fine.

Price: £6.75 for a 75g pot (Price correct at time of posting)

Is it cruelty free / vegan: LUSH are a cruelty free company, and Rosy Cheeks is a vegan product

Would I repurchase / recommend: I will definitely repurchase and recommend to EVERYONE (Sorry, not sorry if you get sick of hearing me talking about this)


To conclude

This wonderfully rose scented face mask gently cleanses skin, leaving it soft and bright.

What’s your favourite face mask?