This month I made a real effort to get back into filming videos again.  I've said it over and over and although I still watch a real mix of videos, it's bookish ones that I feel inspired and motivated to make.  Which leaves me wondering how my subscribers feel?  People may be following me for the more standard, beauty/fashion-focused blogger videos, so does my choice to ramble on about books leave them not wanting to watch?  

It's a dilemma!


FAVOURITE PURCHASES OF 2015
I started off the year with this video running through the best purchases I'd made in 2015.  There's a real mix in here...from a handbag I bought way back in February/March time, to lip liners and my relatively new trainers.



FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2015
Complementing the last video, I filmed a round up of my favourite books of 2015.  This video features books that weren't necessarily released in 2015 (although I think one or two may have snuck in), but definitely the best ones I read last year.



IF YOU LIKE THAT....TRY THIS!
I finished off the month with a video of book recommendations.  This is a video I've been meaning to film for a while and I've paired books up together to give an idea of similar themes which if you enjoyed in one book, you might like in another.


And those were January's videos!  You can watch them right here, or click this link to go over and watch on my YouTube channel.  Don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already! 

Videos: January

28.1.16


This month I made a real effort to get back into filming videos again.  I've said it over and over and although I still watch a real mix of videos, it's bookish ones that I feel inspired and motivated to make.  Which leaves me wondering how my subscribers feel?  People may be following me for the more standard, beauty/fashion-focused blogger videos, so does my choice to ramble on about books leave them not wanting to watch?  

It's a dilemma!


FAVOURITE PURCHASES OF 2015
I started off the year with this video running through the best purchases I'd made in 2015.  There's a real mix in here...from a handbag I bought way back in February/March time, to lip liners and my relatively new trainers.



FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2015
Complementing the last video, I filmed a round up of my favourite books of 2015.  This video features books that weren't necessarily released in 2015 (although I think one or two may have snuck in), but definitely the best ones I read last year.



IF YOU LIKE THAT....TRY THIS!
I finished off the month with a video of book recommendations.  This is a video I've been meaning to film for a while and I've paired books up together to give an idea of similar themes which if you enjoyed in one book, you might like in another.


And those were January's videos!  You can watch them right here, or click this link to go over and watch on my YouTube channel.  Don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already! 

"I'LL KNOW WHEN YOU GET YOUR MEMORY BACK....BY THE WAY YOU LOOK AT ME"



 

IN A NUTSHELL:
Alice is at the gym when she hits her head.  Waking up, she has no memory of the last 10 years of her life; that includes having 3 children (last she knew she was pregnant with the first),  becoming Class Mum, filing for divorce from her beloved husband, dating the school principal and the mystery of her best friend.  As Alice waits to regain her memory she vows to get her life back to the simpler one she once knew.  As well as following the plotline of Alice's narrative, there are also diary entries her sister writes to her therapist and blog posts written by Frannie, her honorary grandmother.


THE (MAIN) CHARACTERS:
Alice | protagonist Alice is 39 but still thinks she's 29.  Apparently she's an uber-organised, busy-body member of the community with a sharp tongue when it comes to her estranged husband.  But the Alice we meet is sweet, clumsy and can't work out how she and said husband, Nick, fell out of love.

Elisabeth | Alice's sister.  She's been through a lot and harbours resentment towards Alice - resentment Alice can't understand or remember.  Their lives have drifted apart over the missing 10 years and we watch as the sisters' relationship begins to thaw and Elisabeth's life starts to turn around.

Gina | the mysterious, absent best friend who seems to have played a big part in the downfall of Alice and Nick's marriage.

Dominick | school principal and Alice's new boyfriend.

Madison, Tom and Olivia | Alice and Nick's three children.


 FINAL THOUGHTS:
// This book felt like too light-hearted a take on what is actually a pretty serious subject matter.  Alice has no memory of being a mother, no idea how to look after her children and what their routine is, yet the other characters seem to have very little issue with leaving her alone with them as they would normally.  Nobody seems to take an active role in helping her get her memories back, filling in the blanks that she can't remember, and I found that a really unusual thing.

// Madison is 9, but this honestly isn't written as a believable 9 year old.  I work with this age group and can't imagine any of them cooking meals, behaving like a teenager and speaking so eloquently, yet rudely, to their parents.  I really struggled to believe in Madison as a character and it took away from the impact of her as a character.

// The additional plotlines were unnecessary.  I started off reading Frannie's blog posts but eventually took to skipping past them.  There's one towards the end which brought extra information to Alice's main story, and I found reading Elisabeth's bitter diary entries started to grate on me.  She's had a rough ride, but I found the way they interrupted Alice's story a little confusing and they could have done with being much shorter and fewer.

// The ending is a let down.  There's a twist at the end but then the author seems to change her mind and do a 180.  It all felt rushed and could have done with either the twist being taken out, or cutting the very end off and finishing the book at the turning point.

// I enjoyed the aspect of looking back on Alice and Nick's relationship and seeing how they fell out of love.  With Alice's more simple vantage point, not muddied by arguments and tension, she focuses more on how the fact that they love each other is more important than the bad feeling between them.  It was an interesting thread which made me consider how relationships change and whether it would be easy to put them back on track.


READ IF YOU LIKE:
Longer chick-lit.  This book nearly hits 500 pages and isn't the quickest read, but then it doesn't dig particularly deep or provide anything too thought-provoking.


THE OTHER REVIEWS:
Leanne and Sarah.

Blogger Bookclub #9: What Alice Forgot

26.1.16

"I'LL KNOW WHEN YOU GET YOUR MEMORY BACK....BY THE WAY YOU LOOK AT ME"



 

IN A NUTSHELL:
Alice is at the gym when she hits her head.  Waking up, she has no memory of the last 10 years of her life; that includes having 3 children (last she knew she was pregnant with the first),  becoming Class Mum, filing for divorce from her beloved husband, dating the school principal and the mystery of her best friend.  As Alice waits to regain her memory she vows to get her life back to the simpler one she once knew.  As well as following the plotline of Alice's narrative, there are also diary entries her sister writes to her therapist and blog posts written by Frannie, her honorary grandmother.


THE (MAIN) CHARACTERS:
Alice | protagonist Alice is 39 but still thinks she's 29.  Apparently she's an uber-organised, busy-body member of the community with a sharp tongue when it comes to her estranged husband.  But the Alice we meet is sweet, clumsy and can't work out how she and said husband, Nick, fell out of love.

Elisabeth | Alice's sister.  She's been through a lot and harbours resentment towards Alice - resentment Alice can't understand or remember.  Their lives have drifted apart over the missing 10 years and we watch as the sisters' relationship begins to thaw and Elisabeth's life starts to turn around.

Gina | the mysterious, absent best friend who seems to have played a big part in the downfall of Alice and Nick's marriage.

Dominick | school principal and Alice's new boyfriend.

Madison, Tom and Olivia | Alice and Nick's three children.


 FINAL THOUGHTS:
// This book felt like too light-hearted a take on what is actually a pretty serious subject matter.  Alice has no memory of being a mother, no idea how to look after her children and what their routine is, yet the other characters seem to have very little issue with leaving her alone with them as they would normally.  Nobody seems to take an active role in helping her get her memories back, filling in the blanks that she can't remember, and I found that a really unusual thing.

// Madison is 9, but this honestly isn't written as a believable 9 year old.  I work with this age group and can't imagine any of them cooking meals, behaving like a teenager and speaking so eloquently, yet rudely, to their parents.  I really struggled to believe in Madison as a character and it took away from the impact of her as a character.

// The additional plotlines were unnecessary.  I started off reading Frannie's blog posts but eventually took to skipping past them.  There's one towards the end which brought extra information to Alice's main story, and I found reading Elisabeth's bitter diary entries started to grate on me.  She's had a rough ride, but I found the way they interrupted Alice's story a little confusing and they could have done with being much shorter and fewer.

// The ending is a let down.  There's a twist at the end but then the author seems to change her mind and do a 180.  It all felt rushed and could have done with either the twist being taken out, or cutting the very end off and finishing the book at the turning point.

// I enjoyed the aspect of looking back on Alice and Nick's relationship and seeing how they fell out of love.  With Alice's more simple vantage point, not muddied by arguments and tension, she focuses more on how the fact that they love each other is more important than the bad feeling between them.  It was an interesting thread which made me consider how relationships change and whether it would be easy to put them back on track.


READ IF YOU LIKE:
Longer chick-lit.  This book nearly hits 500 pages and isn't the quickest read, but then it doesn't dig particularly deep or provide anything too thought-provoking.


THE OTHER REVIEWS:
Leanne and Sarah.

BIBLIOBIBULI: (n) Those who read too much.

Image found via pinterest 

I mentioned a few of my goals for 2016 in this post and whilst they're all fairly loose achievable goals, the thought of setting myself real challenges when it comes to reading is something that's been appealing more and more to me.  I feel like resolutions surrounding reading are something I can really sink my teeth into and work to attain; I'm forever reading and each book is a small step towards reaching these goal for the year.

So what am I hoping to do?

Read 52 books | I've already mentioned this one and 52 is a conservative goal if I'm honest, considering I managed 56 last year and only started in earnest around April time.  I've got three books under my belt so far, so I'm on track!

Have a 're-read' month in February | There are so many books I've really enjoyed, it seems a shame to never make time to read them again.  I'm dedicating next month to re-reading old favourites, as well as refreshing my memory with books that I've got the sequels to sitting on my shelves ready to read.  First stop, the Narnia series.

Read 'Friend Recommends' books | So this one's my take on the Youtuber Recommends challenge.  I've asked six friends to each recommend a book to me and put that title in a jar.  Every other month I'll pull one out at random and have to read it.  I've got Harry Potter, Jane Austen and more in there, ready to go next month.  I'm excited to expand my literary horizons!

Keep up with book clubs | I had to do a bit of a re-think when it came to book clubs this year, as I realised that committing myself to a couple plus my Friend Recommends plan realistically left me no chances to just choose a book for myself.  So I'm sticking to the Blogger Bookclub, as well as the little group I have with a couple of friends.  Blogger Bookclub gives me the chance to read from new genres, and my friends and I tend to stick to YA which are fairly quick to read.  Instead of the third book club we semi-set up at work, we're going to buddy read as and when we fancy.  Feel free to leave a comment down below or tweet me if you'd like to join in with the Blogger Bookclub!

Clear my TBR shelves | My TBR ('to be read') piles are spanning three shelves on my bookcase.  I did a quick count the other day and realised I've got enough books to last me the year, although I just can't stop buying more!  I'm aiming to slow down on the buying front and focus on working my way through those that I've got.

Do you have any aims when it comes to reading this year?

Reading Resolutions

21.1.16

BIBLIOBIBULI: (n) Those who read too much.

Image found via pinterest 

I mentioned a few of my goals for 2016 in this post and whilst they're all fairly loose achievable goals, the thought of setting myself real challenges when it comes to reading is something that's been appealing more and more to me.  I feel like resolutions surrounding reading are something I can really sink my teeth into and work to attain; I'm forever reading and each book is a small step towards reaching these goal for the year.

So what am I hoping to do?

Read 52 books | I've already mentioned this one and 52 is a conservative goal if I'm honest, considering I managed 56 last year and only started in earnest around April time.  I've got three books under my belt so far, so I'm on track!

Have a 're-read' month in February | There are so many books I've really enjoyed, it seems a shame to never make time to read them again.  I'm dedicating next month to re-reading old favourites, as well as refreshing my memory with books that I've got the sequels to sitting on my shelves ready to read.  First stop, the Narnia series.

Read 'Friend Recommends' books | So this one's my take on the Youtuber Recommends challenge.  I've asked six friends to each recommend a book to me and put that title in a jar.  Every other month I'll pull one out at random and have to read it.  I've got Harry Potter, Jane Austen and more in there, ready to go next month.  I'm excited to expand my literary horizons!

Keep up with book clubs | I had to do a bit of a re-think when it came to book clubs this year, as I realised that committing myself to a couple plus my Friend Recommends plan realistically left me no chances to just choose a book for myself.  So I'm sticking to the Blogger Bookclub, as well as the little group I have with a couple of friends.  Blogger Bookclub gives me the chance to read from new genres, and my friends and I tend to stick to YA which are fairly quick to read.  Instead of the third book club we semi-set up at work, we're going to buddy read as and when we fancy.  Feel free to leave a comment down below or tweet me if you'd like to join in with the Blogger Bookclub!

Clear my TBR shelves | My TBR ('to be read') piles are spanning three shelves on my bookcase.  I did a quick count the other day and realised I've got enough books to last me the year, although I just can't stop buying more!  I'm aiming to slow down on the buying front and focus on working my way through those that I've got.

Do you have any aims when it comes to reading this year?

...AND THEY'RE COMPLETELY FREE!


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

Time for a change?  I've been enjoying switching up my home and lock screen backgrounds with something a little more seasonal and thought I'd share the best of the best with you all.

Happy wallpapering!

12 Awesome Downloadable Phone Wallpapers

19.1.16

...AND THEY'RE COMPLETELY FREE!


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

Time for a change?  I've been enjoying switching up my home and lock screen backgrounds with something a little more seasonal and thought I'd share the best of the best with you all.

Happy wallpapering!

 HOW TO REALISTICALLY STREAMLINE YOUR WARDROBE


The phrase "capsule wardrobe" gets bandied about all over the place and is an idea I've toyed with on more than one occasion.  It has its merits; a cleaner, well-considered collection of interchangeable outfits and I do think some of the 'rules' make sense.  In fact, I'd love to be one of *those* girls who can live with a minimalist, rotating collection of clothes but it just ain't me.

So in tackling the concept of a capsule wardrobe, I've collated the widely accepted Rules and either challenged or accepted them.  Whether you choose to strip it right down or follow my more, easy-going advice, the result *should* be a more streamlined wardrobe.

Remove all but 37 items | Depending on where you look for advice, various items are excluded from this....but who honestly has time to count?  My wardrobe isn't overflowing and I've recently successfully culled over 5 bags of unloved garments, but I'm pretty sure I'm still over the limit.  Don't sweat the numbers.  Everyone's wardrobe needs are different and if you're satisfied that you've made a decent attempt to clear everything out, then that's good enough for me.  And it should be for you, too!  Ask a friend for moral support help if needs be.  I invited my sister along and she was ruthless.  Be sure to use the 4 piles approach: keep (if you love it), store (if it's seasonal or isn't quite working right now), donate (if it's good enough quality), throw (if it's not worth anything to anybody) in order to speed up this process.

Go for key pieces, alongside complementary basics with statement extras | Yeah so this pretty much sums up my wardrobe, but I think I've made clear that I won't be restricting myself on quantities!  If a jumper fits me well you can bet I'll have bought it in more than one colour.  Key pieces are my classics (well cut trousers, a leather jacket, LEOPARD PRINT!), basics make up the bulk/abundance of my wardrobe and extras tend to be accessories where I really invest my money.

The 'store' pile goes away for 3 months | In theory this is a great idea and if it works for you, so much the better.  Set a reminder on your phone - the seasonal things may come back into use, and you might find that something which you didn't love before is now ticking all the boxes for you.  In my case, I never revisited my 'store' collection and it just gathered dust.  I did semi-stick to the rules however....if, when you remember to go back and check, you haven't felt the desperate urge to wear any of the packed up items then it's time to get rid.  I ended up chucking it all.

You're on a shopping ban for 3 months | Let me start by explaining that this magical "3 months" roughly represents a season.  But please, who has the willpower to avoid shopping for that long??  Even if it's just picking up odd bits here and there (that roll neck jumper I didn't even know I *had* to have), I'm not sure cold turkey is the way to go.  Like I said, more power to ya if you manage it, but it just doesn't seem the realistic approach.  By all means if you're a spendaholic whose shelves are overflowing then try to cut down....even if you allow yourself to just buy one new thing a month.....but there's nothing worse than missing out on buying something because you didn't get it there and then.

2 weeks from the end, start planning for what you need to buy to plug the gaps in your wardrobe | I think I've covered this above, and if you're like me you'll have been buying bits and pieces as and when.  I do think there's sense to this rule though - if it's approaching winter and you know you'll need a new coat then it makes sense to plan in advance and perhaps save a little to enable you to purchase one ready for the cold.

Go on a spree and buy for your next season | If you've followed the rules but spent your money elsewhere during the season then you may find yourself a little stuck here when it comes to replacing items you've got rid of.  Alternatively, revisit your storage pile and see what you can switch into your current wardrobe for the weather ahead.  On another note, I also feel like the storage pile only really works if you've got the space to store.  If I spring clean I like instant gratification, and it's only since moving to a house from a bedroom in my parents' house that I've had the room to tuck away unloved items.

So my take-home advice for cleansing your wardrobe? 

Find out what works for you.  Take the rules with a pinch of salt - adapt them into something that fits in with your lifestyle, your personal style and your goals when it comes to clearing through your cupboards.

And that's the realistic approach.

The Anti-Capsule Wardrobe

14.1.16

 HOW TO REALISTICALLY STREAMLINE YOUR WARDROBE


The phrase "capsule wardrobe" gets bandied about all over the place and is an idea I've toyed with on more than one occasion.  It has its merits; a cleaner, well-considered collection of interchangeable outfits and I do think some of the 'rules' make sense.  In fact, I'd love to be one of *those* girls who can live with a minimalist, rotating collection of clothes but it just ain't me.

So in tackling the concept of a capsule wardrobe, I've collated the widely accepted Rules and either challenged or accepted them.  Whether you choose to strip it right down or follow my more, easy-going advice, the result *should* be a more streamlined wardrobe.

Remove all but 37 items | Depending on where you look for advice, various items are excluded from this....but who honestly has time to count?  My wardrobe isn't overflowing and I've recently successfully culled over 5 bags of unloved garments, but I'm pretty sure I'm still over the limit.  Don't sweat the numbers.  Everyone's wardrobe needs are different and if you're satisfied that you've made a decent attempt to clear everything out, then that's good enough for me.  And it should be for you, too!  Ask a friend for moral support help if needs be.  I invited my sister along and she was ruthless.  Be sure to use the 4 piles approach: keep (if you love it), store (if it's seasonal or isn't quite working right now), donate (if it's good enough quality), throw (if it's not worth anything to anybody) in order to speed up this process.

Go for key pieces, alongside complementary basics with statement extras | Yeah so this pretty much sums up my wardrobe, but I think I've made clear that I won't be restricting myself on quantities!  If a jumper fits me well you can bet I'll have bought it in more than one colour.  Key pieces are my classics (well cut trousers, a leather jacket, LEOPARD PRINT!), basics make up the bulk/abundance of my wardrobe and extras tend to be accessories where I really invest my money.

The 'store' pile goes away for 3 months | In theory this is a great idea and if it works for you, so much the better.  Set a reminder on your phone - the seasonal things may come back into use, and you might find that something which you didn't love before is now ticking all the boxes for you.  In my case, I never revisited my 'store' collection and it just gathered dust.  I did semi-stick to the rules however....if, when you remember to go back and check, you haven't felt the desperate urge to wear any of the packed up items then it's time to get rid.  I ended up chucking it all.

You're on a shopping ban for 3 months | Let me start by explaining that this magical "3 months" roughly represents a season.  But please, who has the willpower to avoid shopping for that long??  Even if it's just picking up odd bits here and there (that roll neck jumper I didn't even know I *had* to have), I'm not sure cold turkey is the way to go.  Like I said, more power to ya if you manage it, but it just doesn't seem the realistic approach.  By all means if you're a spendaholic whose shelves are overflowing then try to cut down....even if you allow yourself to just buy one new thing a month.....but there's nothing worse than missing out on buying something because you didn't get it there and then.

2 weeks from the end, start planning for what you need to buy to plug the gaps in your wardrobe | I think I've covered this above, and if you're like me you'll have been buying bits and pieces as and when.  I do think there's sense to this rule though - if it's approaching winter and you know you'll need a new coat then it makes sense to plan in advance and perhaps save a little to enable you to purchase one ready for the cold.

Go on a spree and buy for your next season | If you've followed the rules but spent your money elsewhere during the season then you may find yourself a little stuck here when it comes to replacing items you've got rid of.  Alternatively, revisit your storage pile and see what you can switch into your current wardrobe for the weather ahead.  On another note, I also feel like the storage pile only really works if you've got the space to store.  If I spring clean I like instant gratification, and it's only since moving to a house from a bedroom in my parents' house that I've had the room to tuck away unloved items.

So my take-home advice for cleansing your wardrobe? 

Find out what works for you.  Take the rules with a pinch of salt - adapt them into something that fits in with your lifestyle, your personal style and your goals when it comes to clearing through your cupboards.

And that's the realistic approach.

BECAUSE IF IT AIN'T BROKE...

BASE
L'Oreal Infallible Matte foundation | this has eliminated my need for setting sprays or powder with its long-wearing, flawless matte finish.

Clarins Instant Concealer | pricey, but worth it.  Mine ran out after just under a year(!) and it was only when I went back to using my Rimmel concealer that I realised this stuff is HG standard.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow Pomade | first featured here, this one's a longterm love which makes defined yet natural-looking brows a doddle.

Maybelline Contour Kit | another drugstore superstar.  The perfect grey-toned shade for carving out cheekbones.


EYES & LIPS
Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara | for long, defined lashes which hold a curl all day.

MAC lip liners | whilst my collection houses a number of different brands, MAC is the best in terms of colour, precision and longevity.

Nuxe Reve de Miel | aka the only lip balm I ever use.  A honey-based treatment mask/balm hybrid which is well worth the money.

TOOLS
Garnier make up remover | the best drugstore waterproof eye makeup remover.

Real Techniques Complexion Sponge | I've waxed lyrical about this.  Run under a tap this little orange wonder applies foundation perfectly.


HANDS & NAILS
Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy | a handbag hero for my dry, eczema-prone hands.  I've reviewed this alongside the Hand Recovery treatment here

Nails Inc 'Marylebone Mews' and 'Colville Mews' | two of my favourite muted nude nail polishes.  Sadly these were both freebies from Glamour magazine but if you can track down similar shades I'd really recommend it!

What are your staples for the year ahead?

The Beauty Products Coming Into 2016 With Me

12.1.16

BECAUSE IF IT AIN'T BROKE...

BASE
L'Oreal Infallible Matte foundation | this has eliminated my need for setting sprays or powder with its long-wearing, flawless matte finish.

Clarins Instant Concealer | pricey, but worth it.  Mine ran out after just under a year(!) and it was only when I went back to using my Rimmel concealer that I realised this stuff is HG standard.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow Pomade | first featured here, this one's a longterm love which makes defined yet natural-looking brows a doddle.

Maybelline Contour Kit | another drugstore superstar.  The perfect grey-toned shade for carving out cheekbones.


EYES & LIPS
Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara | for long, defined lashes which hold a curl all day.

MAC lip liners | whilst my collection houses a number of different brands, MAC is the best in terms of colour, precision and longevity.

Nuxe Reve de Miel | aka the only lip balm I ever use.  A honey-based treatment mask/balm hybrid which is well worth the money.

TOOLS
Garnier make up remover | the best drugstore waterproof eye makeup remover.

Real Techniques Complexion Sponge | I've waxed lyrical about this.  Run under a tap this little orange wonder applies foundation perfectly.


HANDS & NAILS
Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy | a handbag hero for my dry, eczema-prone hands.  I've reviewed this alongside the Hand Recovery treatment here

Nails Inc 'Marylebone Mews' and 'Colville Mews' | two of my favourite muted nude nail polishes.  Sadly these were both freebies from Glamour magazine but if you can track down similar shades I'd really recommend it!

What are your staples for the year ahead?
IT'S A BIG ONE!


Image found via pinterest

Confession time.  I have gotten myself into *such* a muddle with my book review posts, and in the interest of wanting to be able to track my reading cohesively in 2016 I've decided to condense the review posts sitting as drafts into one big finale.  I'm aware that this is a helluva long post, so I've tried to(!) strip my thoughts down to their bare bones.


I'll do better next year!

The Confabulist // Steven Galloway
Flashbacks to Houdini's life and showmanship set alongside the story of Martin Strauss, the man who's punch to the gut killed Houdini, in both present day and with him (Strauss) looking back.  I found Houdini's life fascinating and was swept up in the glamour, theatrics and conspiracies contained in this book.  The chapters were a tad long but it was fast-paced and a quick book to read.  I loved it!
Rating: 4/5

Love is Blind // Kathy Lette
This was a thoroughly 'done' plot and this version had nothing new to add.  Lette's barbs and one liners became irritating and tiresome, making every character sound the same; hostile and unbelievable.  I've avoided giving it 1* because it wasn't a truly horrendous read - it flowed well and had lots of action.  Maybe have a go if you're a die-hard chick lit fan (although be warned...there's nothing unique here!) but it's not one I'd recommend.
Rating: 2/5

A Song For Issy Bradley // Carys Bray
This one features a family recovering after youngest daughter Issy dies unexpectedly due to illness.  The Bradleys are a Mormon family who fall apart before ultimately coming back together again.  I read this on holiday and it was the best book I could have taken.  Not only did I learn quite a bit about the Mormon faith, but it also reaffirmed a lot about what it means to be a family.
Rating: 4/5

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers // Louise Candlish 
A couple ostracised from the new neighbours alongside the retrospective story of Amber Fraser - how she built up a life in the area and the events leading up to her and her husband's sudden departure.  It wasn't the most clever mystery book I've read, but it was an easy enough read which kept an element of suspense right up until the end.
Rating: 3/5

Disgrace // J.M. Coetzee
David Lurie, a lecturer at the Technical University of Cape Town embarks on a whirlwind affair with a student.  His life crumbles when he is ultimately found out and after moving to live with his daughter, they are both subject to a savage attack.  The story didn't really go anywhere, but you get to watch a character developing, changing and growing.  I'm glad to have read it, as it opened my eyes to class and racial divides which exist in the world, but it's not one I'd particularly recommend.
Rating: 3/5

The Secrets We Keep // Jonathan Harvey
The story of a family 5 years after the father walked out on them.  As is expected with any of Harvey's novels, the characters were fun but on this occasion I felt they were a little shallow, too comedic and almost caricature-like.  This one just didn't have enough bite and is fairly forgettable.
Rating: 3/5

The Color Purple // Alice Walker
Celie is born into a world of segregation, raped, separated from her sister and trapped in a loveless marriage.  This is written in the dialect that she would have spoken, so takes a little adjustment to get into the swing of reading it, and comes in the form of diary entries.  It was a really sad story, which left my questioning why the characters seemed to stay together at points.  But it was also uplifting, heartwarming and inspiring to see Celie battle against the odds to make something of her life.  There's a twist in there too!
Rating: 3/5

Chaplin and Company // Mave Fellowes
Odeline Milk descends upon London, to her new houseboat, to make her way in the world.  As a character, she is old beyond her years, socially odd and at times, obnoxious. At its heart, this is the story of her growth as a person, and her learning to become more tolerant and welcome of those around her.  The prose is beautiful: descriptive, rich and full of flourish. But I picked this book up thinking it would have a magical element of the circus woven within. I was disappointed. The circus aspect is minimal and tainted, as Odeline discovers.  This was another well-written, albeit forgettable, book.
Rating: 3/5

The Children Act // Ian McEwan
This was a well-researched book which took me back to my days of studying law at university; with plenty of mention of real life, factual case law.  Focusing on a high court judge's ruling on whether a 17 year old boy should be able to refuse life-saving surgery on religious grounds, I was slightly disappointed to find that the decision is made by roughly the mid-point of the book, and the story carried on in a direction which I wasn't expecting.  Although I enjoyed it, I felt there were aspects of the plotline which detracted from the main thread - particularly the state of Fiona's marriage.
Rating: 3/5

You // Caroline Kepnes
After serving her in his bookshop, Joe Goldberg becomes obsessed with Guinevere Beck: finding her on Google, waiting outside her house, stalking her and stealing her phone in order to track her movements and thoughts via her email account.  It's told from Joe's perspective and was really interesting to be put into the mind of a stalker who doesn't see anything wrong in his actions.  I really enjoyed this, although there were times when I found myself doubting whether the characters' reactions were too outlandish and unbelievable. 
Rating: 5/5

Never Let Me Go // Kazou Ishiguro
This is the story of a group of friends growing up in a dystopian world where they will ultimately just become Donors or Carers for the Donors.  It's split neatly into three parts; the first taking place during their time at a boarding school-type establishment called Hailsham, where they're looked after by Guardians and know a little about their destiny.  The second chunk covers their time after Hailsham, when they live in The Cottages and begin to explore their brief freedom, before the third section where our protagonist Kathy is an adult working as a Carer.  It's a coming of age novel, where the group of friends are questioning everything they've been led to believe and trying to find their purpose in the world.  It fell flat and by the end I was desperate to finish.
Rating: 1/5

Asking For It // Louise O'Neill
Asking For It is a young adult novel, with similar themes to those discussed in The Good Girl.  Emma O'Donovan goes to a party one night, then wakes up on her porch with no memory of how she got there.  Yet everyone else knows because it's been posted online....and what happened is pretty gruesome.  She takes drugs and is gang raped.  You find out as Emma finds out and it's horrific.  The second half of the book is the aftermath of this, leading up to Emma's court case.  Emma's not the most likeable girl, but watching her turn into a shell of herself by the second half was really upsetting.  There is no happy ending in this book, but if you're after something thought-provoking yet not too challenging, I'd definitely recommend this.
Rating: 5/5 

The Dumb House // John Burnside
The premise of this (an unnamed narrator obsessed with language and discovering whether or not it is innate) is a fascinating one and the prose was well-crafted.  Our protagonist is complex, disturbed and his behaviours are shocking.  There were events in this book which left me disgusted, especially with the calm manner in which he carried them out.  I enjoyed it, but don't feel it's worthy of the hype it received.
Rating: 3/5

Life After You // Lucie Brownlee
This book tells the true story of young widow Lucie dealing with her husband's unexpected death at the age of 36, leaving behind her and her daughter.  It's raw, it's honest and it made me cry at parts.  Detailing her journey from the moment her husband died, through the various stages of grief before somewhat emerging on the other side, Lucie writes with passion, integrity and a touch of humour, and I almost feel she could make it as a successful chick-lit author following on from this.
Rating: 3/5  

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender // Leslye Walton
Ava Lavender was born with the wings of a bird.  Her twin brother is mute, her mother is known as the daughter of a witch and her grandmother has a gift for intuition coupled with a mysterious aura leading her to be suspected of witchcraft.  I love a book spanning generations, and this one takes us back to her grandmother's upbringing in France and Manhatten right through to present day.  Ava has been kept away from her peers and home-schooled, so as she reaches her mid-teens she's keen to escape and explore the wider world.  On the night of the summer solstice celebration she does just that, with grave consequences.  The ending didn't go quite as I'd imagined, but I loved it nonetheless.
Rating: 5/5

Curtain Call // Anthony Quinn
Set in 1930s London, Nina Land is an actress who interrupts the attempted murder of prostitute Madeline Farewell.  She suspects the man responsible is the wanted Tie-Pin Killer, but can't come clean about how she saw him as she was there with married artist Stephen Wyley.  They're the main thread of the story, but there are multiple others thrown in.  Despite being the talking point of this book, the hunt for the Tie-Pin Killer didn't feel like *the* most important thing, rather the development of the various characters and all of their plotlines.  This was an authentic period drama which I can imagine translating well into a television series. 
Rating: 4/5

The Snow Queen // Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Jean Hersholt
Housed in a beautiful cloth-bound edition, with stunning illustrations, reading this took me right back to being a child.  Despite remembering the main plot, I'd forgotten so many different aspects and it was lovely to rediscover them all. 
Rating: 5/5

Picture Or It Didn't Happen // Sophie Hannah
Chloe and her daughter Freya are rescued from disaster by a man who seems too good to be true.  "Rescued from disaster" is stretching it a bit....I was expecting a bit of peril, when all he does is do them a favour and save the day.  Warned off by one of his employees who describes him as a dangerous compulsive liar, Chloe can't let it rest, and embarks on a mission to find out the truth.  This was a Sophie Hannah book which very much did not feel like a Sophie Hannah book.  I was expecting mystery, clever twists and suspense but actually got very basic chick-lit.  The ending was so unexpected that it felt like a massive red herring which tied it all up very neatly and conveniently at the end.
Rating: 2/5

The Dinner // Herman Koch
An interesting book focusing on two families whose sons have committed a terrible crime together.  This felt like a social experiment and I was surprised to learn of the differing reactions and lengths each character would go to in order to protect their offspring.  A little unbelievable at times but still compelling.
Rating: 3/5

Wonder // R.J. Palacio
August Pullman was born with undisclosed facial deformities and this book follows his transition and adjustment from home schooling to mainstream education.  I'd heard big things about this and expected an emotionally charged read.  It was touching, easy to read but failed to leave a big impression.
Rating: 3/5

Northern Lights // Philip Pullman
I feel like everybody knows the premise of this so I won't go into the plot.  I will say that I found it tricky to suspend belief in a parallel world so similar to our own, and at times was questioning how/why this book is aimed at children.  The concepts were complex and I often had to re-read sections in order to grasp ideas.  It was enjoyable (if a little exhausting!) and I'll be continuing on with the series.
Rating: 3/5

My Name is Lucy Barton // Elizabeth Stroud
I was sent an ARC copy of this book, due to be released in February.  Lucy Barton is staying in hospital for a long period of time, when her mother comes to visit.  Their relationship is strained and we see Lucy think back to her impoverished, emotionally neglected childhood.  It reminded me of The Color Purple in a way, but wasn't a book I particularly enjoyed.  The plot didn't really go anywhere and the memories seemed disjointed.
Rating: 2/5

Well done if you've made it to the end....I promise not to leave such a backlog this year!
Have you read any of these?

read // 12

7.1.16

IT'S A BIG ONE!


Image found via pinterest

Confession time.  I have gotten myself into *such* a muddle with my book review posts, and in the interest of wanting to be able to track my reading cohesively in 2016 I've decided to condense the review posts sitting as drafts into one big finale.  I'm aware that this is a helluva long post, so I've tried to(!) strip my thoughts down to their bare bones.


I'll do better next year!

The Confabulist // Steven Galloway
Flashbacks to Houdini's life and showmanship set alongside the story of Martin Strauss, the man who's punch to the gut killed Houdini, in both present day and with him (Strauss) looking back.  I found Houdini's life fascinating and was swept up in the glamour, theatrics and conspiracies contained in this book.  The chapters were a tad long but it was fast-paced and a quick book to read.  I loved it!
Rating: 4/5

Love is Blind // Kathy Lette
This was a thoroughly 'done' plot and this version had nothing new to add.  Lette's barbs and one liners became irritating and tiresome, making every character sound the same; hostile and unbelievable.  I've avoided giving it 1* because it wasn't a truly horrendous read - it flowed well and had lots of action.  Maybe have a go if you're a die-hard chick lit fan (although be warned...there's nothing unique here!) but it's not one I'd recommend.
Rating: 2/5

A Song For Issy Bradley // Carys Bray
This one features a family recovering after youngest daughter Issy dies unexpectedly due to illness.  The Bradleys are a Mormon family who fall apart before ultimately coming back together again.  I read this on holiday and it was the best book I could have taken.  Not only did I learn quite a bit about the Mormon faith, but it also reaffirmed a lot about what it means to be a family.
Rating: 4/5

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers // Louise Candlish 
A couple ostracised from the new neighbours alongside the retrospective story of Amber Fraser - how she built up a life in the area and the events leading up to her and her husband's sudden departure.  It wasn't the most clever mystery book I've read, but it was an easy enough read which kept an element of suspense right up until the end.
Rating: 3/5

Disgrace // J.M. Coetzee
David Lurie, a lecturer at the Technical University of Cape Town embarks on a whirlwind affair with a student.  His life crumbles when he is ultimately found out and after moving to live with his daughter, they are both subject to a savage attack.  The story didn't really go anywhere, but you get to watch a character developing, changing and growing.  I'm glad to have read it, as it opened my eyes to class and racial divides which exist in the world, but it's not one I'd particularly recommend.
Rating: 3/5

The Secrets We Keep // Jonathan Harvey
The story of a family 5 years after the father walked out on them.  As is expected with any of Harvey's novels, the characters were fun but on this occasion I felt they were a little shallow, too comedic and almost caricature-like.  This one just didn't have enough bite and is fairly forgettable.
Rating: 3/5

The Color Purple // Alice Walker
Celie is born into a world of segregation, raped, separated from her sister and trapped in a loveless marriage.  This is written in the dialect that she would have spoken, so takes a little adjustment to get into the swing of reading it, and comes in the form of diary entries.  It was a really sad story, which left my questioning why the characters seemed to stay together at points.  But it was also uplifting, heartwarming and inspiring to see Celie battle against the odds to make something of her life.  There's a twist in there too!
Rating: 3/5

Chaplin and Company // Mave Fellowes
Odeline Milk descends upon London, to her new houseboat, to make her way in the world.  As a character, she is old beyond her years, socially odd and at times, obnoxious. At its heart, this is the story of her growth as a person, and her learning to become more tolerant and welcome of those around her.  The prose is beautiful: descriptive, rich and full of flourish. But I picked this book up thinking it would have a magical element of the circus woven within. I was disappointed. The circus aspect is minimal and tainted, as Odeline discovers.  This was another well-written, albeit forgettable, book.
Rating: 3/5

The Children Act // Ian McEwan
This was a well-researched book which took me back to my days of studying law at university; with plenty of mention of real life, factual case law.  Focusing on a high court judge's ruling on whether a 17 year old boy should be able to refuse life-saving surgery on religious grounds, I was slightly disappointed to find that the decision is made by roughly the mid-point of the book, and the story carried on in a direction which I wasn't expecting.  Although I enjoyed it, I felt there were aspects of the plotline which detracted from the main thread - particularly the state of Fiona's marriage.
Rating: 3/5

You // Caroline Kepnes
After serving her in his bookshop, Joe Goldberg becomes obsessed with Guinevere Beck: finding her on Google, waiting outside her house, stalking her and stealing her phone in order to track her movements and thoughts via her email account.  It's told from Joe's perspective and was really interesting to be put into the mind of a stalker who doesn't see anything wrong in his actions.  I really enjoyed this, although there were times when I found myself doubting whether the characters' reactions were too outlandish and unbelievable. 
Rating: 5/5

Never Let Me Go // Kazou Ishiguro
This is the story of a group of friends growing up in a dystopian world where they will ultimately just become Donors or Carers for the Donors.  It's split neatly into three parts; the first taking place during their time at a boarding school-type establishment called Hailsham, where they're looked after by Guardians and know a little about their destiny.  The second chunk covers their time after Hailsham, when they live in The Cottages and begin to explore their brief freedom, before the third section where our protagonist Kathy is an adult working as a Carer.  It's a coming of age novel, where the group of friends are questioning everything they've been led to believe and trying to find their purpose in the world.  It fell flat and by the end I was desperate to finish.
Rating: 1/5

Asking For It // Louise O'Neill
Asking For It is a young adult novel, with similar themes to those discussed in The Good Girl.  Emma O'Donovan goes to a party one night, then wakes up on her porch with no memory of how she got there.  Yet everyone else knows because it's been posted online....and what happened is pretty gruesome.  She takes drugs and is gang raped.  You find out as Emma finds out and it's horrific.  The second half of the book is the aftermath of this, leading up to Emma's court case.  Emma's not the most likeable girl, but watching her turn into a shell of herself by the second half was really upsetting.  There is no happy ending in this book, but if you're after something thought-provoking yet not too challenging, I'd definitely recommend this.
Rating: 5/5 

The Dumb House // John Burnside
The premise of this (an unnamed narrator obsessed with language and discovering whether or not it is innate) is a fascinating one and the prose was well-crafted.  Our protagonist is complex, disturbed and his behaviours are shocking.  There were events in this book which left me disgusted, especially with the calm manner in which he carried them out.  I enjoyed it, but don't feel it's worthy of the hype it received.
Rating: 3/5

Life After You // Lucie Brownlee
This book tells the true story of young widow Lucie dealing with her husband's unexpected death at the age of 36, leaving behind her and her daughter.  It's raw, it's honest and it made me cry at parts.  Detailing her journey from the moment her husband died, through the various stages of grief before somewhat emerging on the other side, Lucie writes with passion, integrity and a touch of humour, and I almost feel she could make it as a successful chick-lit author following on from this.
Rating: 3/5  

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender // Leslye Walton
Ava Lavender was born with the wings of a bird.  Her twin brother is mute, her mother is known as the daughter of a witch and her grandmother has a gift for intuition coupled with a mysterious aura leading her to be suspected of witchcraft.  I love a book spanning generations, and this one takes us back to her grandmother's upbringing in France and Manhatten right through to present day.  Ava has been kept away from her peers and home-schooled, so as she reaches her mid-teens she's keen to escape and explore the wider world.  On the night of the summer solstice celebration she does just that, with grave consequences.  The ending didn't go quite as I'd imagined, but I loved it nonetheless.
Rating: 5/5

Curtain Call // Anthony Quinn
Set in 1930s London, Nina Land is an actress who interrupts the attempted murder of prostitute Madeline Farewell.  She suspects the man responsible is the wanted Tie-Pin Killer, but can't come clean about how she saw him as she was there with married artist Stephen Wyley.  They're the main thread of the story, but there are multiple others thrown in.  Despite being the talking point of this book, the hunt for the Tie-Pin Killer didn't feel like *the* most important thing, rather the development of the various characters and all of their plotlines.  This was an authentic period drama which I can imagine translating well into a television series. 
Rating: 4/5

The Snow Queen // Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Jean Hersholt
Housed in a beautiful cloth-bound edition, with stunning illustrations, reading this took me right back to being a child.  Despite remembering the main plot, I'd forgotten so many different aspects and it was lovely to rediscover them all. 
Rating: 5/5

Picture Or It Didn't Happen // Sophie Hannah
Chloe and her daughter Freya are rescued from disaster by a man who seems too good to be true.  "Rescued from disaster" is stretching it a bit....I was expecting a bit of peril, when all he does is do them a favour and save the day.  Warned off by one of his employees who describes him as a dangerous compulsive liar, Chloe can't let it rest, and embarks on a mission to find out the truth.  This was a Sophie Hannah book which very much did not feel like a Sophie Hannah book.  I was expecting mystery, clever twists and suspense but actually got very basic chick-lit.  The ending was so unexpected that it felt like a massive red herring which tied it all up very neatly and conveniently at the end.
Rating: 2/5

The Dinner // Herman Koch
An interesting book focusing on two families whose sons have committed a terrible crime together.  This felt like a social experiment and I was surprised to learn of the differing reactions and lengths each character would go to in order to protect their offspring.  A little unbelievable at times but still compelling.
Rating: 3/5

Wonder // R.J. Palacio
August Pullman was born with undisclosed facial deformities and this book follows his transition and adjustment from home schooling to mainstream education.  I'd heard big things about this and expected an emotionally charged read.  It was touching, easy to read but failed to leave a big impression.
Rating: 3/5

Northern Lights // Philip Pullman
I feel like everybody knows the premise of this so I won't go into the plot.  I will say that I found it tricky to suspend belief in a parallel world so similar to our own, and at times was questioning how/why this book is aimed at children.  The concepts were complex and I often had to re-read sections in order to grasp ideas.  It was enjoyable (if a little exhausting!) and I'll be continuing on with the series.
Rating: 3/5

My Name is Lucy Barton // Elizabeth Stroud
I was sent an ARC copy of this book, due to be released in February.  Lucy Barton is staying in hospital for a long period of time, when her mother comes to visit.  Their relationship is strained and we see Lucy think back to her impoverished, emotionally neglected childhood.  It reminded me of The Color Purple in a way, but wasn't a book I particularly enjoyed.  The plot didn't really go anywhere and the memories seemed disjointed.
Rating: 2/5

Well done if you've made it to the end....I promise not to leave such a backlog this year!
Have you read any of these?

...NOT FAT PANTS.  BIG LOVE TO LIZZIE FOR THAT NAME AND THESE PHOTOS.



Today is the day that I've returned to work after being off for the Christmas festivities from the 18th December.  It's a hard adjustment.  I've been spoilt with weeks of lie-ins, not having to keep track of days, trips to Costa (can we start a petition so they never get rid of the salted caramel brownies?) and time well spent with family and friends.  I know once I get back into the swing of things at work I'll be fine, but right now I'm not feeling it!


Joggers // Jacket (similar) // Trainers // Watch

And speaking of changes, there's going to be a couple here.  It's no secret that my posting schedule went out the window towards the end of last year - I spend pretty much every Saturday helping Mum look after my niece and nephew and whilst it's time I love giving, it does mean that time left for housework blogging is limited.  So for the time being, while I find my footing with juggling everything, I'll be changing my posting schedule.

You can now expect to find new blog posts every Tuesday and Thursday, with a new video on Sunday mornings.  Except for the blogger bookclub posts, which go live on the last Monday of each month!

On to a photo of me looking much happier (plus not at all awkward!) and back to the topic of this post.  My "fat pants" as Mum calls them, or Fash Pants as Lizzie has re-christened them.  I can see why Mum calls them that; they're soft, loose but they're also a more fashionable step up from my Primark slobby stay-at-home alternatives.  I never thought joggers would feature in my wardrobe, but these knitted ones from H&M are surprisingly wearable and oh-so comfortable.  They were perfect for hugging my post-Christmas dinner bulge but have also proved to be the perfect shopping day companions.

And isn't it just typical that we stumble upon an easy al fresco photo setting right before Lizzie ups and leaves me to go travelling?!  Think I'll have to train my sister up to keep me going whilst Lizzie's away....

Style: Fash Pants

5.1.16

...NOT FAT PANTS.  BIG LOVE TO LIZZIE FOR THAT NAME AND THESE PHOTOS.



Today is the day that I've returned to work after being off for the Christmas festivities from the 18th December.  It's a hard adjustment.  I've been spoilt with weeks of lie-ins, not having to keep track of days, trips to Costa (can we start a petition so they never get rid of the salted caramel brownies?) and time well spent with family and friends.  I know once I get back into the swing of things at work I'll be fine, but right now I'm not feeling it!


Joggers // Jacket (similar) // Trainers // Watch

And speaking of changes, there's going to be a couple here.  It's no secret that my posting schedule went out the window towards the end of last year - I spend pretty much every Saturday helping Mum look after my niece and nephew and whilst it's time I love giving, it does mean that time left for housework blogging is limited.  So for the time being, while I find my footing with juggling everything, I'll be changing my posting schedule.

You can now expect to find new blog posts every Tuesday and Thursday, with a new video on Sunday mornings.  Except for the blogger bookclub posts, which go live on the last Monday of each month!

On to a photo of me looking much happier (plus not at all awkward!) and back to the topic of this post.  My "fat pants" as Mum calls them, or Fash Pants as Lizzie has re-christened them.  I can see why Mum calls them that; they're soft, loose but they're also a more fashionable step up from my Primark slobby stay-at-home alternatives.  I never thought joggers would feature in my wardrobe, but these knitted ones from H&M are surprisingly wearable and oh-so comfortable.  They were perfect for hugging my post-Christmas dinner bulge but have also proved to be the perfect shopping day companions.

And isn't it just typical that we stumble upon an easy al fresco photo setting right before Lizzie ups and leaves me to go travelling?!  Think I'll have to train my sister up to keep me going whilst Lizzie's away....

YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT TO MOVE FORWARD.

2015 was an interesting one.  It started in the tail end of one of the lowest times (mentally) of my life and saw me dealing with issues and emotions I'd never experienced before.  In 2015 I made the active choice to stop feeling like that, to take life more positively and stop making a big deal out of the little things.  And I achieved it!  I'm much more at peace with myself and those around me, so yeah, in the time of empty resolutions and unattainable goals....I'm definitely going to set myself some more for the coming year. 

But before that, a little look back and some of the highlights of 2015:

// Nick and I celebrated 6 years together with a trip to the zoo
// I spent my birthday with friends, family and a DIY photo booth
// And speaking of birthdays, I also went for a fancy meal out with my two favourites
// We went on a family holiday to beautiful Durdle Door
// Nick and I spent a day exploring Oxford 
// I read a lot of books
// We saw in the start of the festive period with our annual trip to The Oracle's Christmas Glitz

And now on to the goals.  I like to stay achievable and build on where I'm at in my life already.  And d'you know what?  I'm starting off 2016 in a pretty good place.  There's definitely room for development, but overall I think each of these goals is realistic.

PERSONAL
Keep up with my general 'No Fucks Given' outlook | It's gotten me (and others) through quite a few stressful situations over the last year.  It doesn't mean I don't care about anything; it's about knowing when to care and how much.  Self-preservation.

Get together with friends regularly | I've already started a book club with friends from school, so we see each other monthly at least, but I want to make sure I see everybody who's important to me.  It's so easy to go months without seeing each other, I'm going to make the effort to get dates in the diary to keep friendships alive.

Read 52 books | I set a late goal of 50 books last year and surpassed it, but don't want to up it to 60 and set myself up for fail!  52 is a nice round number which I'm (secretly) confident I'll get past.

Spend quality time with Nick | Nick and I have very different schedules, lifestyles and interests, so it can be difficult to spend true quality time together.  We're debating setting up a memory maker-type thing for the two of us to do something out of the ordinary each month.

Take more photos | One I say every year, but over the Christmas period I've been using instagram much more and really enjoying it.  I don't want to be one of these people who misses the moment through staging the perfect photo, but I'd definitely like more pictures and memories to look back on.

Keep shifting the pounds | I'm aware that this is an extremely generic resolution, but I've managed to lose 12lbs over the last few months and I'm excited to stick with it and hit my target weight in the coming weeks.  After a good 18 months or so struggling with bad eating habits, I'm so happy to have found something that works for me and my body.

BLOGGING
Get my groove back | Hopefully you've noticed the big changes around here!  I'm so happy with the way things are looking and want to continue the momentum to get back into things and start investing time in writing, photographing and filming again.

So here's my big question to you - what do you like seeing here on Lorna, literally?  Or what would you like to see instead?

Happy New Year everyone.  I hope it's a good one!

Twentysixteen

1.1.16


YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT TO MOVE FORWARD.

2015 was an interesting one.  It started in the tail end of one of the lowest times (mentally) of my life and saw me dealing with issues and emotions I'd never experienced before.  In 2015 I made the active choice to stop feeling like that, to take life more positively and stop making a big deal out of the little things.  And I achieved it!  I'm much more at peace with myself and those around me, so yeah, in the time of empty resolutions and unattainable goals....I'm definitely going to set myself some more for the coming year. 

But before that, a little look back and some of the highlights of 2015:

// Nick and I celebrated 6 years together with a trip to the zoo
// I spent my birthday with friends, family and a DIY photo booth
// And speaking of birthdays, I also went for a fancy meal out with my two favourites
// We went on a family holiday to beautiful Durdle Door
// Nick and I spent a day exploring Oxford 
// I read a lot of books
// We saw in the start of the festive period with our annual trip to The Oracle's Christmas Glitz

And now on to the goals.  I like to stay achievable and build on where I'm at in my life already.  And d'you know what?  I'm starting off 2016 in a pretty good place.  There's definitely room for development, but overall I think each of these goals is realistic.

PERSONAL
Keep up with my general 'No Fucks Given' outlook | It's gotten me (and others) through quite a few stressful situations over the last year.  It doesn't mean I don't care about anything; it's about knowing when to care and how much.  Self-preservation.

Get together with friends regularly | I've already started a book club with friends from school, so we see each other monthly at least, but I want to make sure I see everybody who's important to me.  It's so easy to go months without seeing each other, I'm going to make the effort to get dates in the diary to keep friendships alive.

Read 52 books | I set a late goal of 50 books last year and surpassed it, but don't want to up it to 60 and set myself up for fail!  52 is a nice round number which I'm (secretly) confident I'll get past.

Spend quality time with Nick | Nick and I have very different schedules, lifestyles and interests, so it can be difficult to spend true quality time together.  We're debating setting up a memory maker-type thing for the two of us to do something out of the ordinary each month.

Take more photos | One I say every year, but over the Christmas period I've been using instagram much more and really enjoying it.  I don't want to be one of these people who misses the moment through staging the perfect photo, but I'd definitely like more pictures and memories to look back on.

Keep shifting the pounds | I'm aware that this is an extremely generic resolution, but I've managed to lose 12lbs over the last few months and I'm excited to stick with it and hit my target weight in the coming weeks.  After a good 18 months or so struggling with bad eating habits, I'm so happy to have found something that works for me and my body.

BLOGGING
Get my groove back | Hopefully you've noticed the big changes around here!  I'm so happy with the way things are looking and want to continue the momentum to get back into things and start investing time in writing, photographing and filming again.

So here's my big question to you - what do you like seeing here on Lorna, literally?  Or what would you like to see instead?

Happy New Year everyone.  I hope it's a good one!

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