Week 8 had a slow start.  I'm still suffering with terrible headaches and the peak of this was me crying.  In the gym.  Yup.  Good news is that the root cause seems to be a muscle in my neck causing sinus issues, so I've *hopefully* got that under control now and will never have to repeat Monday's embarrassment again!

However this does mean that the beginning of the week was a bit of a write-off and I'm a little short on 'moments' for this post.  Mum and I went to see La La Land on Wednesday and as well as forgetting to take the obligatory ticket/popcorn shot, we both came away feeling a bit "meh" about it all.  The colours and cinematography were fantastic but the story itself?  I'm not so sure....

Right....on to the photos!

Last week I finally tracked down my dream pink chunky knit and have been wearing it at every available opportunity.  It's a million times more flattering than it looks online; the colour is perfection, the knit is satisfyingly heavy and the slash neckline adds a little something extra.

We made these honeycomb crunchie cupcakes with Ella and Dylan for my sister (their mum)'s birthday and took them to surprise her at work with.  We may have kept one aside for us to sample, and seeing Ella's eyes light up as she discovered the chocolate sponge beneath the honey-laced icing was so sweet.

I've got the urge to have a change in hair colour, so I've been doing lots of (obsessive) research.  I want a light, creamy blonde with a hint of rose gold.  Not too copper and not too pink.  Hopefully I found something that'll work...now I can't wait to test it out! 

As if the week didn't contain enough pink, I painted my nails this deep but dusky shade (Barry M's 'Ballerina' if you're wondering).  And then promptly ruined it by doing the cleaning.  So now I have chipped nails, but at least the bathroom's sparkling!

What was your favourite thing about last week?

Week 8 In Moments

27.2.17

Week 8 had a slow start.  I'm still suffering with terrible headaches and the peak of this was me crying.  In the gym.  Yup.  Good news is that the root cause seems to be a muscle in my neck causing sinus issues, so I've *hopefully* got that under control now and will never have to repeat Monday's embarrassment again!

However this does mean that the beginning of the week was a bit of a write-off and I'm a little short on 'moments' for this post.  Mum and I went to see La La Land on Wednesday and as well as forgetting to take the obligatory ticket/popcorn shot, we both came away feeling a bit "meh" about it all.  The colours and cinematography were fantastic but the story itself?  I'm not so sure....

Right....on to the photos!

Last week I finally tracked down my dream pink chunky knit and have been wearing it at every available opportunity.  It's a million times more flattering than it looks online; the colour is perfection, the knit is satisfyingly heavy and the slash neckline adds a little something extra.

We made these honeycomb crunchie cupcakes with Ella and Dylan for my sister (their mum)'s birthday and took them to surprise her at work with.  We may have kept one aside for us to sample, and seeing Ella's eyes light up as she discovered the chocolate sponge beneath the honey-laced icing was so sweet.

I've got the urge to have a change in hair colour, so I've been doing lots of (obsessive) research.  I want a light, creamy blonde with a hint of rose gold.  Not too copper and not too pink.  Hopefully I found something that'll work...now I can't wait to test it out! 

As if the week didn't contain enough pink, I painted my nails this deep but dusky shade (Barry M's 'Ballerina' if you're wondering).  And then promptly ruined it by doing the cleaning.  So now I have chipped nails, but at least the bathroom's sparkling!

What was your favourite thing about last week?



1. Jenny's YouTube channel.  Specifically The Mustards' videos where they chat to us (and each other!) over breakfast.
2.  The Crown
3.  Sweet omelettes - mind.  blown.
4.  Whitney Simmons' channel for gym inspiration and focus.
5.  Speaking of fitness, why is it that buying gym clothes feels guilt-free?  Treated myself to these beauts.
6.  Dark florals and embroidery are on my style radar at the moment.  This dress could be a winner.
7.  Lovesick...love having a UK comedy series to get into again!
8.  Lisa Dawson's instagram and interiors blog are #homegoals.  It's not really our style or something I could ever see in our house, but that hasn't stopped me losing quite a lot of time scrolling through her feed!
9. Madeleine Olivia's Minimalism Series is motivating me do to more with less.
10.  These energy balls.  Making these was my first dalliance with this style of food (as opposed to baking) and they turned out ok!  Check out Monday's post for more detailed thoughts.

The Month In 10 Links: February

24.2.17



1. Jenny's YouTube channel.  Specifically The Mustards' videos where they chat to us (and each other!) over breakfast.
2.  The Crown
3.  Sweet omelettes - mind.  blown.
4.  Whitney Simmons' channel for gym inspiration and focus.
5.  Speaking of fitness, why is it that buying gym clothes feels guilt-free?  Treated myself to these beauts.
6.  Dark florals and embroidery are on my style radar at the moment.  This dress could be a winner.
7.  Lovesick...love having a UK comedy series to get into again!
8.  Lisa Dawson's instagram and interiors blog are #homegoals.  It's not really our style or something I could ever see in our house, but that hasn't stopped me losing quite a lot of time scrolling through her feed!
9. Madeleine Olivia's Minimalism Series is motivating me do to more with less.
10.  These energy balls.  Making these was my first dalliance with this style of food (as opposed to baking) and they turned out ok!  Check out Monday's post for more detailed thoughts.

I'm not sure when it happened, but I've stopped listening to music.  Pretty much at all.  With the exception of the gym, any moments when I would usually have had music on in the background (and some when I would've been watching YouTube!) now have podcasts as the backing track.

Why didn't anybody tell me this sooner?!

I don't watch a lot of television and my workplace doesn't really provide the chance to share ideas, so beyond books, blogs and YouTube there aren't really many means by which I am exposed to new concepts.  Sounds pitiful when I put it like that.

So with the introduction of podcasts I feel like I'm learning new things, absorbing fresh information and seeing different perspectives.  And of the list below, not only do they provide entertainment in that moment but a lot of them have also given me cause for consideration alongside things to work on in my day to day life.

Download and listen up.

The Guilty Feminist //  This was the one that founded my love for podcasts.  Deborah Francis White and (more often than not) Sofie Hagen plus a special guest each week discuss 21st century feminist issues while confessing their undermining hypocrisies and insecurities.  I'm not joking, I drive along nodding my head in agreement to 99% of this and have (on more than one occasion) chimed in with a resounding "YES!" Everyone must listen to this.

Tiny Leaps, Big Changes // On the whole I find it easier to consume podcasts by English presenters (I think it's something to do with the tone of voice) but Greg Clunis' self-help podcast is the exception.  Each episode is pretty short, with well-researched bite-size information and activities to take away and work on.  I've only listened to a couple so far but this feels very of the moment and I'm sure is something that can help me throughout 2017.

Made of Human // Another podcast by Sofie Hagen, owner of *the* most soothing voice.  By her own admission Sofie's been in therapy for years, so on this show she invites guests on to share with her their social issues and anxieties and how they function as humans.  So far my favourite episode has been this one with Josie Long.

Get It On // Presented my Dawn O'Porter, in this podcast she invites celebrity guests to talk about clothes and the fashion choices they make.  It digs deeper than the basic "I love leopard print" (who doesn't?) and really gets into why people rock the style that they do and what it's saying about them.  I'm really liking this, although the only downside is mid-episode ads.

Hashtag Authentic - for Instagram, Blogging and beyond // This is a very new podcast (only a few episodes so far!) but I think Sara Tasker's nailed it.  I've listened to my fair share of duds in my quest for new information but this is spot on.  Sara blogs at me and orla and the focus in this podcast is growing your audience organically, finding your style and creating an online presence without losing authenticity. 

Do you podcast?

5 Of My Favourite Podcasts

22.2.17


I'm not sure when it happened, but I've stopped listening to music.  Pretty much at all.  With the exception of the gym, any moments when I would usually have had music on in the background (and some when I would've been watching YouTube!) now have podcasts as the backing track.

Why didn't anybody tell me this sooner?!

I don't watch a lot of television and my workplace doesn't really provide the chance to share ideas, so beyond books, blogs and YouTube there aren't really many means by which I am exposed to new concepts.  Sounds pitiful when I put it like that.

So with the introduction of podcasts I feel like I'm learning new things, absorbing fresh information and seeing different perspectives.  And of the list below, not only do they provide entertainment in that moment but a lot of them have also given me cause for consideration alongside things to work on in my day to day life.

Download and listen up.

The Guilty Feminist //  This was the one that founded my love for podcasts.  Deborah Francis White and (more often than not) Sofie Hagen plus a special guest each week discuss 21st century feminist issues while confessing their undermining hypocrisies and insecurities.  I'm not joking, I drive along nodding my head in agreement to 99% of this and have (on more than one occasion) chimed in with a resounding "YES!" Everyone must listen to this.

Tiny Leaps, Big Changes // On the whole I find it easier to consume podcasts by English presenters (I think it's something to do with the tone of voice) but Greg Clunis' self-help podcast is the exception.  Each episode is pretty short, with well-researched bite-size information and activities to take away and work on.  I've only listened to a couple so far but this feels very of the moment and I'm sure is something that can help me throughout 2017.

Made of Human // Another podcast by Sofie Hagen, owner of *the* most soothing voice.  By her own admission Sofie's been in therapy for years, so on this show she invites guests on to share with her their social issues and anxieties and how they function as humans.  So far my favourite episode has been this one with Josie Long.

Get It On // Presented my Dawn O'Porter, in this podcast she invites celebrity guests to talk about clothes and the fashion choices they make.  It digs deeper than the basic "I love leopard print" (who doesn't?) and really gets into why people rock the style that they do and what it's saying about them.  I'm really liking this, although the only downside is mid-episode ads.

Hashtag Authentic - for Instagram, Blogging and beyond // This is a very new podcast (only a few episodes so far!) but I think Sara Tasker's nailed it.  I've listened to my fair share of duds in my quest for new information but this is spot on.  Sara blogs at me and orla and the focus in this podcast is growing your audience organically, finding your style and creating an online presence without losing authenticity. 

Do you podcast?
How is it the seventh week of the year already?!  On the one hand the festive season feels like a lifetime ago, but then I'm still sat here wondering about how we got (nearly) to March so soon!

Last week was a pretty busy one.  There was Valentine's/our anniversary, a day off work and a wedding to boot!  What did you all get up to?

Let's start with my day off when Mum and I headed up to London to watch Dreamgirls.  Dreamgirls is a guilty pleasure of mine and the show didn't disappoint.  The styling, the stage design, the singing...all absolutely on point.  My favourite show I've seen and one I'd 100% recommend!

To celebrate our 8 year anniversary Nick and I went out for a meal together.  We've never done a meal out on Valentine's, so for our first we kept it low key and stayed local and went with what we know - cosy atmosphere and good food.  Admittedly not my best photo, but this creme brulee pudding was perfection.

On Saturday I attended an old work colleague's wedding.  We've both moved on from the school where we met, and not only was it great to see her again but it was also lovely to catch up with other workmates from school.  We had fun with the photo booth and danced the night away....what more could you want?!

Ok so they look slightly questionable and they're definitely a work in progress, but I made these raisin oatmeal energy balls this week.  They're good, but could have done with less cinnamon and more oats.  I'm planning on having these as a quick boost before spinning sessions and at least I know how I'll improve next time I make them!

Week 7 In Moments

20.2.17

How is it the seventh week of the year already?!  On the one hand the festive season feels like a lifetime ago, but then I'm still sat here wondering about how we got (nearly) to March so soon!

Last week was a pretty busy one.  There was Valentine's/our anniversary, a day off work and a wedding to boot!  What did you all get up to?

Let's start with my day off when Mum and I headed up to London to watch Dreamgirls.  Dreamgirls is a guilty pleasure of mine and the show didn't disappoint.  The styling, the stage design, the singing...all absolutely on point.  My favourite show I've seen and one I'd 100% recommend!

To celebrate our 8 year anniversary Nick and I went out for a meal together.  We've never done a meal out on Valentine's, so for our first we kept it low key and stayed local and went with what we know - cosy atmosphere and good food.  Admittedly not my best photo, but this creme brulee pudding was perfection.

On Saturday I attended an old work colleague's wedding.  We've both moved on from the school where we met, and not only was it great to see her again but it was also lovely to catch up with other workmates from school.  We had fun with the photo booth and danced the night away....what more could you want?!

Ok so they look slightly questionable and they're definitely a work in progress, but I made these raisin oatmeal energy balls this week.  They're good, but could have done with less cinnamon and more oats.  I'm planning on having these as a quick boost before spinning sessions and at least I know how I'll improve next time I make them!
Baking these sweet treats for Valentine's Day.  Nick and I don't go in for Valentine's (it's our anniversary too) and never bother buying each other gifts so this year I thought I'd surprise him with a little twist on his favourite cake.  I know, who am I?  I made these mini heart-shaped Victoria Sponges over the weekend and then, realising they'll be past their best on Tuesday, decided to give them to him there and then.

I read Homegoing this week and it was amazing.  It's been getting a lot of hype on BookTube and deservedly so.  It tells the story of two African half sisters - one sold into slavery and one married to a slave trader - and the impact of this on their subsequent generations.  The story spans years and continents and I found it really interesting seeing how the family ties evolved in each respective storyline.  Some characters' segments did feel rushed or insignificant compared to others, but overall I'd encourage you all to read!

I've been searching for the perfect pink scarf and this one ticks all the boxes.  Initially I only added it to my basket as a way of getting free delivery (seriously need to bite the bullet and just get premier) but the colour, in real life, is exactly what I was looking for and I've been loving wearing it.

Finally, and with no photo to go alongside, an explanation for why this week's been so sparse.  I've been ill!  I came down with a three-day headache and can't remember the last time I felt so bad.  I was near enough falling asleep at my desk, and so for the first half of the week was pretty much crawling into bed as soon as I got home.  I've got a few things planned for this week though, so the next post should be a good'un!

Week 6 In Moments

15.2.17

Baking these sweet treats for Valentine's Day.  Nick and I don't go in for Valentine's (it's our anniversary too) and never bother buying each other gifts so this year I thought I'd surprise him with a little twist on his favourite cake.  I know, who am I?  I made these mini heart-shaped Victoria Sponges over the weekend and then, realising they'll be past their best on Tuesday, decided to give them to him there and then.

I read Homegoing this week and it was amazing.  It's been getting a lot of hype on BookTube and deservedly so.  It tells the story of two African half sisters - one sold into slavery and one married to a slave trader - and the impact of this on their subsequent generations.  The story spans years and continents and I found it really interesting seeing how the family ties evolved in each respective storyline.  Some characters' segments did feel rushed or insignificant compared to others, but overall I'd encourage you all to read!

I've been searching for the perfect pink scarf and this one ticks all the boxes.  Initially I only added it to my basket as a way of getting free delivery (seriously need to bite the bullet and just get premier) but the colour, in real life, is exactly what I was looking for and I've been loving wearing it.

Finally, and with no photo to go alongside, an explanation for why this week's been so sparse.  I've been ill!  I came down with a three-day headache and can't remember the last time I felt so bad.  I was near enough falling asleep at my desk, and so for the first half of the week was pretty much crawling into bed as soon as I got home.  I've got a few things planned for this week though, so the next post should be a good'un!
So you forgot Valentine's/didn't realise until too late that your other half was participating/took a staunch approach not to take part but feel pressured into it by social media? Wondering why this post is going up just before the big day?  Don't worry, there's a method to my madness.

I said it already, but Nick and I tend to avoid Valentine's and instead celebrate with some sort of belated joint experience.  This year, however, we're bucking our own trend and actually going out for a meal together.  There won't be any lavish gifts, and that's exactly what this post is about.  Sweets for your sweet....and at the very last minute.



Something Sweet...

Nutella and strawberry stuffed French Toast - the perfect breakfast....you may want to save this one for the weekend.

White chocolate Oreo truffles - Oreos AND white chocolate?  I'm sold.  Besides the setting time these look ridiculously quick to make.


Chocolate hazelnut sandwiches - fancier than the name would suggest, these are similar to the first offering but minus the strawberries and made with brioche.

Nutella brownies - are you spotting a theme here?  Nutella was made for Valentine's.  Plus the addition of Ferrero Rocher is real fancy.

Savoury Treats...

Cheese fondue - because nothing says "I love you" like sharing food.  And well....cheese.

Heart pizzas - so this one's *kinda* marketed as being a kid-friendly recipe, but it's pizza in the shape of a heart.  Which means it definitely works for Valentine's.  And who doesn't love pizza?!

Baked Camembert with garlic bread - perhaps one to avoid if you plan on smooching after dinner.  Or just switch the garlic bread for an artisan variety.

Halloumi fries - again with the cheese!  I can't wait to give this recipe a try.


And if none of these float your boat you could always go for the ultimate last minute DIY gift....love tokens.

OTT displays of affection on Valentine's Day....yay or nay?   

10 Last Minute Valentine's Day Treats

13.2.17

So you forgot Valentine's/didn't realise until too late that your other half was participating/took a staunch approach not to take part but feel pressured into it by social media? Wondering why this post is going up just before the big day?  Don't worry, there's a method to my madness.

I said it already, but Nick and I tend to avoid Valentine's and instead celebrate with some sort of belated joint experience.  This year, however, we're bucking our own trend and actually going out for a meal together.  There won't be any lavish gifts, and that's exactly what this post is about.  Sweets for your sweet....and at the very last minute.



Something Sweet...

Nutella and strawberry stuffed French Toast - the perfect breakfast....you may want to save this one for the weekend.

White chocolate Oreo truffles - Oreos AND white chocolate?  I'm sold.  Besides the setting time these look ridiculously quick to make.


Chocolate hazelnut sandwiches - fancier than the name would suggest, these are similar to the first offering but minus the strawberries and made with brioche.

Nutella brownies - are you spotting a theme here?  Nutella was made for Valentine's.  Plus the addition of Ferrero Rocher is real fancy.

Savoury Treats...

Cheese fondue - because nothing says "I love you" like sharing food.  And well....cheese.

Heart pizzas - so this one's *kinda* marketed as being a kid-friendly recipe, but it's pizza in the shape of a heart.  Which means it definitely works for Valentine's.  And who doesn't love pizza?!

Baked Camembert with garlic bread - perhaps one to avoid if you plan on smooching after dinner.  Or just switch the garlic bread for an artisan variety.

Halloumi fries - again with the cheese!  I can't wait to give this recipe a try.


And if none of these float your boat you could always go for the ultimate last minute DIY gift....love tokens.

OTT displays of affection on Valentine's Day....yay or nay?   

Everyone seems to be talking about self-care or self-love.  And I get it; we should definitely make ourselves a priority more often and make sure we're being kind to our bodies and minds.

I've seen a variety of articles online promising all the answers, but sometimes this pursuit of inner care just seems a bit waffly.  I'm not saying there's no knowledge to be gleaned from those posts, but here's my "cut the crap" version....

Do what YOU want to do | Let's start with the basics - and it kind of goes against the whole point of this post.  But please, do read on!  So often guides to self-care tell you (specifically) what you should be doing...but now's the time to be selfish.  If you don't want to take a long bath or do some exercise on a journey to clarity then don't!  Do what brings you joy (still not sure how I feel about the over-use of that word, but it certainly fits here) and don't feel bad about it.  This could be some of the more usual things like getting out in nature or reading a book, but it could also be something more adrenaline-packed and out there.  Point is, there's a reason why it's called self-care.  Because you should be looking out for yourSELF.

Take a day out | I don't mean take yourself off on an excursion (unless that's what you want to do, in which case refer to point one above), but just take a day out of you schedule.  Write it off.  Stay in your pyjamas all day.  Have a lie in.  The point here is to take it easy and recuperate.  So often if I find myself having a lazy Sunday I beat myself up over what a waste of a day it was, but I've come to learn that sometimes that's exactly what my body needs.  When it happens I'm trying to remind myself that living in the moment without rushing from one activity to the next is a-ok, and quite often these are the days I look back on fondly and that make me feel content.

Banish negative thoughts | I promise this is the only airy-fairy tip in this list, so bear with me.  A study in Florida found that teenagers who thought they were overweight were more likely to become obese in later life....so negative self-thoughts can have a serious impact.  We are so harsh on ourselves, so practice a little more kindness by only thinking of yourself in the way you'd talk to a friend.  Chances are you'd never berate your girlfriends for carrying too much winter weight/being socially awkward/having a particularly bad breakout, so don't do it to yourself either.  This may take time (as soon as you're told not to think of something it's inevitable that you will), but making the effort to think about yourself in a more positive light (without feeling bad about it!) will ultimately have a big impact on your self-esteem.

SELF-COMPASSION IS SIMPLY GIVING THE SAME KINDNESS TO OURSELVES THAT WE WOULD GIVE TO OTHERS
- Christopher Germer

3 No Bullshit Ways To Practice Self-Care

10.2.17


Everyone seems to be talking about self-care or self-love.  And I get it; we should definitely make ourselves a priority more often and make sure we're being kind to our bodies and minds.

I've seen a variety of articles online promising all the answers, but sometimes this pursuit of inner care just seems a bit waffly.  I'm not saying there's no knowledge to be gleaned from those posts, but here's my "cut the crap" version....

Do what YOU want to do | Let's start with the basics - and it kind of goes against the whole point of this post.  But please, do read on!  So often guides to self-care tell you (specifically) what you should be doing...but now's the time to be selfish.  If you don't want to take a long bath or do some exercise on a journey to clarity then don't!  Do what brings you joy (still not sure how I feel about the over-use of that word, but it certainly fits here) and don't feel bad about it.  This could be some of the more usual things like getting out in nature or reading a book, but it could also be something more adrenaline-packed and out there.  Point is, there's a reason why it's called self-care.  Because you should be looking out for yourSELF.

Take a day out | I don't mean take yourself off on an excursion (unless that's what you want to do, in which case refer to point one above), but just take a day out of you schedule.  Write it off.  Stay in your pyjamas all day.  Have a lie in.  The point here is to take it easy and recuperate.  So often if I find myself having a lazy Sunday I beat myself up over what a waste of a day it was, but I've come to learn that sometimes that's exactly what my body needs.  When it happens I'm trying to remind myself that living in the moment without rushing from one activity to the next is a-ok, and quite often these are the days I look back on fondly and that make me feel content.

Banish negative thoughts | I promise this is the only airy-fairy tip in this list, so bear with me.  A study in Florida found that teenagers who thought they were overweight were more likely to become obese in later life....so negative self-thoughts can have a serious impact.  We are so harsh on ourselves, so practice a little more kindness by only thinking of yourself in the way you'd talk to a friend.  Chances are you'd never berate your girlfriends for carrying too much winter weight/being socially awkward/having a particularly bad breakout, so don't do it to yourself either.  This may take time (as soon as you're told not to think of something it's inevitable that you will), but making the effort to think about yourself in a more positive light (without feeling bad about it!) will ultimately have a big impact on your self-esteem.

SELF-COMPASSION IS SIMPLY GIVING THE SAME KINDNESS TO OURSELVES THAT WE WOULD GIVE TO OTHERS
- Christopher Germer

SHOPPING MY STASH: CYCLE ONE

Back in the day I was a die hard make up hoarder.  Like, I needed as much as possible in case of every eventuality.  And when Nick and I moved in together, a make up room was a done deal.

Fast forward a few years and the make up room sits largely unused.  I do my make up in the spare room, using a selection housed in a few acrylic drawers rather than feeling overwhelmed on the daily by the sheer choice stored in the blogger favourite Ikea Helmer unit.

After culling my collection a couple of times (and still owning far too much!), I've come to the conclusion that I shouldn't be buying any more.  I know what I like, I know what I'll use and it's time to be a bit more sensible.

This year I'm going to be shopping my stash and creating an almost capsule make up collection.  The aim isn't to use things up necessarily, but to get value out of what I already own rather than compulsively shopping in the hopes of finding *that* Holy Grail product.  Saving money would be a bonus, too.  I've got my core pieces sorted (foundation, concealer, brows etc) and will be switching in more seasonal products to experiment with on a monthly (or so) basis.

So here's what's in this first cycle:


Remember Topshop's Head Over Heels?  It's a vintage blogger classic; the peachy coral blush which, in 2017, looks seriously unwearable at first glance.  After seeing this used in Pixiwoo's video I've been experimenting with working this into the skin using a damp sponge.  The result is a really pretty flush to the cheeks which is perfect for low-key make up days.

I've used Benefit Hoola on and off for years and have finally hit pan!  It's the perfect all-rounder...great for warming up the skin or can be used in a more concentrated dose as a contour.  I've also used this as an eyeshadow, both as an all over wash of colour or to add depth to the socket for that perfect 'no make up' look.

The Clinique Chubby Stick in Hefty Highlight is something I never really got my use out of, but once I realised just how many highlighters were in stash I've been inspired to start mixing things up.  So far so good, and I've been using this either on its own or layered under a powder highlight for extra oomph.

My lipstick collection in general has been gathering dust since the liquid lipstick craze hit.  This Dior lipstick, an easy to wear, light glossy formula, is so far removed from anything I've used recently.  In all honesty I'd forgotten I even owned this, but it's been such a joy to wear something low key without having to worry too much about how it's wearing off during the day.  The colour is a perfect nude, and teamed with Charlotte Tilbury's Pillowtalk liner (which I forgot to include here but has also made it back into rotation) it's a dream team.

And finally, as you can see from the inclusion of Hoola, I love a multi-tasker.  MAC's Mocha is described as a "soft plum pink" and is lovely to create a subtle almost contour to the cheeks.  I've also been using it as a neutral eye shadow and loving the effect.

How do you organise (and use!) your make up collection?

Why I'm No Longer Buying Make Up

8.2.17

SHOPPING MY STASH: CYCLE ONE

Back in the day I was a die hard make up hoarder.  Like, I needed as much as possible in case of every eventuality.  And when Nick and I moved in together, a make up room was a done deal.

Fast forward a few years and the make up room sits largely unused.  I do my make up in the spare room, using a selection housed in a few acrylic drawers rather than feeling overwhelmed on the daily by the sheer choice stored in the blogger favourite Ikea Helmer unit.

After culling my collection a couple of times (and still owning far too much!), I've come to the conclusion that I shouldn't be buying any more.  I know what I like, I know what I'll use and it's time to be a bit more sensible.

This year I'm going to be shopping my stash and creating an almost capsule make up collection.  The aim isn't to use things up necessarily, but to get value out of what I already own rather than compulsively shopping in the hopes of finding *that* Holy Grail product.  Saving money would be a bonus, too.  I've got my core pieces sorted (foundation, concealer, brows etc) and will be switching in more seasonal products to experiment with on a monthly (or so) basis.

So here's what's in this first cycle:


Remember Topshop's Head Over Heels?  It's a vintage blogger classic; the peachy coral blush which, in 2017, looks seriously unwearable at first glance.  After seeing this used in Pixiwoo's video I've been experimenting with working this into the skin using a damp sponge.  The result is a really pretty flush to the cheeks which is perfect for low-key make up days.

I've used Benefit Hoola on and off for years and have finally hit pan!  It's the perfect all-rounder...great for warming up the skin or can be used in a more concentrated dose as a contour.  I've also used this as an eyeshadow, both as an all over wash of colour or to add depth to the socket for that perfect 'no make up' look.

The Clinique Chubby Stick in Hefty Highlight is something I never really got my use out of, but once I realised just how many highlighters were in stash I've been inspired to start mixing things up.  So far so good, and I've been using this either on its own or layered under a powder highlight for extra oomph.

My lipstick collection in general has been gathering dust since the liquid lipstick craze hit.  This Dior lipstick, an easy to wear, light glossy formula, is so far removed from anything I've used recently.  In all honesty I'd forgotten I even owned this, but it's been such a joy to wear something low key without having to worry too much about how it's wearing off during the day.  The colour is a perfect nude, and teamed with Charlotte Tilbury's Pillowtalk liner (which I forgot to include here but has also made it back into rotation) it's a dream team.

And finally, as you can see from the inclusion of Hoola, I love a multi-tasker.  MAC's Mocha is described as a "soft plum pink" and is lovely to create a subtle almost contour to the cheeks.  I've also been using it as a neutral eye shadow and loving the effect.

How do you organise (and use!) your make up collection?
I don't know about you, but I feel like spring is just around the corner.  And nothing makes me feel more spring-like than a bunch of daffodils, so watching these open throughout the week (as well as the days slowly getting longer) has been getting me in the mood for brighter weather.
  I really don't want these weekly moments to become all about things I've worn (check out my new handbag last week!) but after a month of cold feet I finally braved it and got round to wearing my new loafers that I got for Christmas.  Thanks to Gucci everywhere's selling a version of these; mine are from Office and I love them!

Saturday began with our customary activity of taking Ella and Dylan to Costa.  We share cake, Mum and I catch up on the comings and goings of the week and Ella's loves a babyccino...albeit for the marshmallow more than the actual drink!

The week finished with a lunch date with my besties. It's been years (4?  Hi Jen, I'm sure you'll confirm!) since we were all in a room together due to not living in the same country anymore and it was like we'd never been apart.  We also did some planning for our girlie holiday and finally made an important decision.  Very exciting!  Also, the black and white filter hides a multitude of sins...

- Despite appearances this post was not sponsored by Costa! -

Week 5 In Moments

6.2.17

I don't know about you, but I feel like spring is just around the corner.  And nothing makes me feel more spring-like than a bunch of daffodils, so watching these open throughout the week (as well as the days slowly getting longer) has been getting me in the mood for brighter weather.
  I really don't want these weekly moments to become all about things I've worn (check out my new handbag last week!) but after a month of cold feet I finally braved it and got round to wearing my new loafers that I got for Christmas.  Thanks to Gucci everywhere's selling a version of these; mine are from Office and I love them!

Saturday began with our customary activity of taking Ella and Dylan to Costa.  We share cake, Mum and I catch up on the comings and goings of the week and Ella's loves a babyccino...albeit for the marshmallow more than the actual drink!

The week finished with a lunch date with my besties. It's been years (4?  Hi Jen, I'm sure you'll confirm!) since we were all in a room together due to not living in the same country anymore and it was like we'd never been apart.  We also did some planning for our girlie holiday and finally made an important decision.  Very exciting!  Also, the black and white filter hides a multitude of sins...

- Despite appearances this post was not sponsored by Costa! -
Recently I shared a post with inspiration for how to set out a bullet journal and today I'm sharing ideas for what to put in a bullet journal.

There are the standard spreads which are pretty much obligatory for bullet journallers...future/monthly/weekly logs....but it can be a bit daunting knowing how else to use your journal and what to fill it with.  The beauty of the bullet journal truly is in its freedom for creativity but if you're stuck for ideas, here's a list to get you started.

1.  Planned purchase list
2.  Online orders tracker
3.  Recipes to try
4.  Meal planner
5.  Weight goals tracker
6.  Workout planner
7.  Books read
8.  Netflix series tracker
9.  Positivity log
10.  Blogging ideas
11.  Blogging schedule
12.  Stats tracker
13.  Monthly budget
14.  Savings tracker
15.  Outfit log
16.  Housework schedule
17.  Visual diary
18.  Bucket list
19.  Travel plans
20.  Birthdays list

20 Bullet Journal Spread Ideas

3.2.17

Recently I shared a post with inspiration for how to set out a bullet journal and today I'm sharing ideas for what to put in a bullet journal.

There are the standard spreads which are pretty much obligatory for bullet journallers...future/monthly/weekly logs....but it can be a bit daunting knowing how else to use your journal and what to fill it with.  The beauty of the bullet journal truly is in its freedom for creativity but if you're stuck for ideas, here's a list to get you started.

1.  Planned purchase list
2.  Online orders tracker
3.  Recipes to try
4.  Meal planner
5.  Weight goals tracker
6.  Workout planner
7.  Books read
8.  Netflix series tracker
9.  Positivity log
10.  Blogging ideas
11.  Blogging schedule
12.  Stats tracker
13.  Monthly budget
14.  Savings tracker
15.  Outfit log
16.  Housework schedule
17.  Visual diary
18.  Bucket list
19.  Travel plans
20.  Birthdays list

I thought I'd experiment slightly with the format of these wrap up posts.  I always wanted to keep my reviews snappy, but sometimes felt that meant I didn't get a chance to fully describe the plot and give you guys a real idea of the story.  This month I thought I'd try out giving you the blurb before my review as a way of achieving this....let me know if it works!



#1 - CITY ON FIRE // Garth Risk Hallberg
"Midnight, New Year's Eve, 1976.  Nine lives are about to be changed forever.  Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, heirs to one of New York's greatest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better of worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by the punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbour - and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year's Eve.  Then, on July 13th 1977, the lights go out."
I started the year by finishing off this beast of a book from my winter TBR. It's huge (944 pages!) and I'm ashamed to admit that the main source of any positive feelings I have towards this book is the fact that I'm proud to have got through it.  It could definitely have been cut down, despite how well-written and accomplished it felt.  The characters are rich, diverse and complex and I liked how their plot lines were woven together throughout, but often I found myself skimming past the flowery embellishments to find the action.  Then there was the fact that this is set in a very specific point in time which I knew very little about.  New York in the 1970s is alien to me and I feel that I missed a lot of the atmosphere and tension by not knowing anything about the political background and events of that time.
Rating: ★★★

#2 - KISSING THE WITCH // Emma Donoghue
"Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time...Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed.Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire. Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue spins new tales out of old in a magical web of thirteen interconnected stories about power and transformation and choosing one's own path in the world." 
 This year I hope to read along with The Feminist Orchestra Bookclub and this was January's book.  Short story collections can be hit and miss with me, but this fairy tale retelling selection was a definite hit.  Each story retained classic elements of traditional fairy tales which gave them a really authentic feel, despite the new spin on things.  Female characters were at the forefront but presented in a strong new light, with more depth than just waiting around for a prince.  I particularly loved how all the stories threaded together, with a character introduced in one tale taking the spotlight in the next.  I recommend!
Rating: ★★★★

#3 - ALL I EVER WANTED // Lucy Dillon
"Caitlin's life is a mess. Her marriage to a man everyone else thinks is perfect has collapsed, along with her self-esteem, and breaking free seems the only option.  Nancy, her four-year-old daughter, used to talk all the time; in the car, at nursery, to her brother Joel. Then her parents split up. Her daddy moves out. And Nancy stops speaking.  Nancy's Auntie Eva, recently widowed and feeling alone, apart from the companionship of two bewildered pugs, is facing a future without her husband or the dreams she gave up for him.  But when Eva agrees to host her niece and nephew once a fortnight, Caitlin and Eva are made to face the different truths about their marriages - and about what they both really want..."
Lucy Dillon is a guilty pleasure of mine and her contemporary romances are some of the best.  I'd forgotten how nice it can be to get lost in a book without having to concentrate *too* hard (especially after City on Fire!) and I found myself racing through this in a day or two.  Lucy Dillon always writes about dogs in her books, something I've said in the past can grate a little or seem gimmicky, but in this book the balance was just right and it didn't feel like the dogs were there for the sake of it.  What else was interesting was the fact that the main character wasn't particularly likeable, I found her selfish at times and didn't always agree with her decisions. If you're looking for chick lit with a bit more substance definitely check out Lucy Dillon.
Rating: ★★★★

#4 - THE POWER // Naomi Alderman
"What if the power to hurt were in women's hands?  Imagine a world where teenage girls awake one morning with extraordinary physical strength and power that outstrips their male counterparts. Thanks to a newly acquired section of muscle near their collarbone, young women can now conduct electricity like electric eels: inflicting pain or electrocuting to death as they wish. They can even waken this power in older women too. In Naomi Alderman’s The Power, the balance of the world is irrevocably altered overnight."
I loved this book.  It's got action, politics, strong characters, intertwining plots and feminist points for reflection.  It was exciting and I couldn't wait to read more...not much else to say other than it's my favourite book of the month!
Rating: ★★★★★

#5 - THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: MURDER, MAGIC AND MADNESS AT THE FAIR THAT CHANGED AMERICA // Erik Larson
"This is the incredible story of [The Chicago World's Fair's] realization, and of the two men whose fates it linked: one was an architect, the other a serial killer.  The architect was Daniel H. Burnham, the driving force behind the White City, the massive, visionary landscape of white buildings set in a wonderland of canals and gardens. The killer was H. H. Holmes, a handsome doctor with striking blue eyes. He used the attraction of the great fair - and his own devilish charms - to lure scores of young women to their deaths. While Burnham overcame politics, infighting, personality clashes and Chicago's infamous weather to transform the swamps of Jackson Park into the greatest show on Earth, Holmes built his own edifice just west of the fairground. He called it the World's Fair Hotel. In reality it was a torture palace, a gas chamber, a crematorium." 
This is a non-fiction book on a fascinating period which I knew nothing about.  Erik Larson splits the focus between the two men in alternating chapters, but in truth it was only H.H. Holmes' chapters that I really engaged with.  I couldn't really envision the fair's grand scale so struggled to connect with sections about its construction and the struggle to complete it.  Perhaps it reveals a little too much about my psyche to admit that I still wanted *more* from the killer's portions of the book.  His crimes (and how he got away with them) were shocking, but I didn't feel shocked whilst reading and felt perhaps it needed a bit more time spent on the crimes themselves.  Has anyone else read this and felt the same?
Rating: ★★★

#6 - EVERYDAY SEXISM // Laura Bates
"After experiencing a series of escalating sexist incidents, Laura Bates started the Everyday Sexism project and has gone on to write 'a pioneering analysis of modern day misogyny' (Telegraph).  After an astounding response from the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, the project quickly became one of the biggest social media success stories of the internet.  From being harassed and wolf-whistled at on the street, to discrimination in the workplace and serious sexual assault, it is clear that sexism had become normalised. But Bates inspires women to lead a real change and writes this 'extremely powerful book that could, and should, win hearts and minds right across the spectrum' (Financial Times).  Often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant, everyday sexism is a protest against inequality and a manifesto for change."
When I bought this book it was a bit off piste and something I'd never normally have gone for.  I am, however, so glad I did as I really enjoyed it's blend of facts, figures, anecdotes and observations.  The book was split into chapters such as 'Women in the Media', 'Women in Public Spaces' and 'Women Under Threat' which made it really easy to dip in and out of.  Not only that, the Everyday Sexism project doesn't limit itself to the sexism experienced by women, and I was glad to see another chapter ('What About Men?') featured within.  An undeniably important book that everyone should read!
Rating: ★★★★

#7 - THE FOX AND THE STAR // Coralie Bickford-Smith
"Once there was a Fox who lived in a deep, dense forest. For as long as Fox could remember, his only friend had been Star, who lit the forest paths each night. But then one night Star was not there, and Fox had to face the forest all alone and learns to embrace life and the world around us. It is a book that crackles with imagination and wonder."
This was a charming story housed in a beautiful cloth-bound book with gorgeous illustrations.  Sounds positive, right?  Unfortunately I didn't find that there was much more to it beyond that.  It's a nice story of friendship but that's just it - nice.  After hearing rave reviews and seeing that this had been crowned Waterstones Book of the Year 2015 I expected much more.
Rating: ★★★★

#8 - THE STOLEN CHILD // Lisa Carey
"St Brigid's is a remote island off the west coast of Ireland. It is a barren place and its small community is dwindling. But according to rumour it is a magical place, home to a healing well.
Two sisters, Rose and Emer, have resisted the call of the mainland. Rose is beautiful, blessed with love and many children. Emer is unlovely and, worse still, she is cursed by the strange currents that run through her fingers.  When a dazzling stranger alights on St Brigid's, she is shunned. She has come in search of a miracle, and the islanders keep their secrets close. But gradually she insinuates her way into the sisters' lives, and even Emer opens her heart.  Little do they realise that her quest will endanger the lives of all who remain on the island. Passion will endanger everything they hold dear."
In complete contrast to All I Ever Wanted, this wasn't an easy book to read.  I felt like I had to concentrate whilst reading...but in a good way.  It was dark, consuming and really drew me in to the atmosphere of the island and the story.  To be honest I definitely picked this one up on the basis of its cover and didn't really know what I was getting myself into.  It's a story of love (and its different forms), friendship, trust and magic set against an isolated island wrapped up with folklore, fairies and curses.  It wasn't what I was expecting and managed to be so much more than I could have anticipated.  The only reason this wasn't a 5 star read is that the ending wrapped up a little too nicely and (I felt) unnecessarily so.
Rating: ★★★★

#9 - THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SOPHIE STARK // Anna North 
"Who is the real Sophie Stark? The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is the story of an enigmatic film director, told by the six people who loved her most. Brilliant, infuriating, all-seeing and unknowable, Sophie Stark makes films said to be 'more like life than life itself'. But her genius comes at a terrible cost: to her husband, to the brother she left behind, and to an actress who knows too much."
I found it really interesting to be reading about a character but only through the eyes of other people and was drawn in by how Sophie's personality seemingly changes according to the perspective of the narrator.  Whether this was Sophie herself or the narrator projecting the Sophie they wanted to see, it definitely made me stop and think more about the relationship shared.  Sophie is enigmatic but also surly and unlikeable at times and the overall feeling I got from her was that of loneliness and vulnerability.  This isn't necessarily a book I'd recommend, but if you're looking for something a little different, or a book for a book club, then this may be one to check out.
Rating: ★★★


Whew!  I read far more than I anticipated in January!  What was your favourite book you read this month?

Read in 2017: January

1.2.17

I thought I'd experiment slightly with the format of these wrap up posts.  I always wanted to keep my reviews snappy, but sometimes felt that meant I didn't get a chance to fully describe the plot and give you guys a real idea of the story.  This month I thought I'd try out giving you the blurb before my review as a way of achieving this....let me know if it works!



#1 - CITY ON FIRE // Garth Risk Hallberg
"Midnight, New Year's Eve, 1976.  Nine lives are about to be changed forever.  Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, heirs to one of New York's greatest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better of worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by the punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbour - and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year's Eve.  Then, on July 13th 1977, the lights go out."
I started the year by finishing off this beast of a book from my winter TBR. It's huge (944 pages!) and I'm ashamed to admit that the main source of any positive feelings I have towards this book is the fact that I'm proud to have got through it.  It could definitely have been cut down, despite how well-written and accomplished it felt.  The characters are rich, diverse and complex and I liked how their plot lines were woven together throughout, but often I found myself skimming past the flowery embellishments to find the action.  Then there was the fact that this is set in a very specific point in time which I knew very little about.  New York in the 1970s is alien to me and I feel that I missed a lot of the atmosphere and tension by not knowing anything about the political background and events of that time.
Rating: ★★★

#2 - KISSING THE WITCH // Emma Donoghue
"Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time...Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed.Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire. Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue spins new tales out of old in a magical web of thirteen interconnected stories about power and transformation and choosing one's own path in the world." 
 This year I hope to read along with The Feminist Orchestra Bookclub and this was January's book.  Short story collections can be hit and miss with me, but this fairy tale retelling selection was a definite hit.  Each story retained classic elements of traditional fairy tales which gave them a really authentic feel, despite the new spin on things.  Female characters were at the forefront but presented in a strong new light, with more depth than just waiting around for a prince.  I particularly loved how all the stories threaded together, with a character introduced in one tale taking the spotlight in the next.  I recommend!
Rating: ★★★★

#3 - ALL I EVER WANTED // Lucy Dillon
"Caitlin's life is a mess. Her marriage to a man everyone else thinks is perfect has collapsed, along with her self-esteem, and breaking free seems the only option.  Nancy, her four-year-old daughter, used to talk all the time; in the car, at nursery, to her brother Joel. Then her parents split up. Her daddy moves out. And Nancy stops speaking.  Nancy's Auntie Eva, recently widowed and feeling alone, apart from the companionship of two bewildered pugs, is facing a future without her husband or the dreams she gave up for him.  But when Eva agrees to host her niece and nephew once a fortnight, Caitlin and Eva are made to face the different truths about their marriages - and about what they both really want..."
Lucy Dillon is a guilty pleasure of mine and her contemporary romances are some of the best.  I'd forgotten how nice it can be to get lost in a book without having to concentrate *too* hard (especially after City on Fire!) and I found myself racing through this in a day or two.  Lucy Dillon always writes about dogs in her books, something I've said in the past can grate a little or seem gimmicky, but in this book the balance was just right and it didn't feel like the dogs were there for the sake of it.  What else was interesting was the fact that the main character wasn't particularly likeable, I found her selfish at times and didn't always agree with her decisions. If you're looking for chick lit with a bit more substance definitely check out Lucy Dillon.
Rating: ★★★★

#4 - THE POWER // Naomi Alderman
"What if the power to hurt were in women's hands?  Imagine a world where teenage girls awake one morning with extraordinary physical strength and power that outstrips their male counterparts. Thanks to a newly acquired section of muscle near their collarbone, young women can now conduct electricity like electric eels: inflicting pain or electrocuting to death as they wish. They can even waken this power in older women too. In Naomi Alderman’s The Power, the balance of the world is irrevocably altered overnight."
I loved this book.  It's got action, politics, strong characters, intertwining plots and feminist points for reflection.  It was exciting and I couldn't wait to read more...not much else to say other than it's my favourite book of the month!
Rating: ★★★★★

#5 - THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: MURDER, MAGIC AND MADNESS AT THE FAIR THAT CHANGED AMERICA // Erik Larson
"This is the incredible story of [The Chicago World's Fair's] realization, and of the two men whose fates it linked: one was an architect, the other a serial killer.  The architect was Daniel H. Burnham, the driving force behind the White City, the massive, visionary landscape of white buildings set in a wonderland of canals and gardens. The killer was H. H. Holmes, a handsome doctor with striking blue eyes. He used the attraction of the great fair - and his own devilish charms - to lure scores of young women to their deaths. While Burnham overcame politics, infighting, personality clashes and Chicago's infamous weather to transform the swamps of Jackson Park into the greatest show on Earth, Holmes built his own edifice just west of the fairground. He called it the World's Fair Hotel. In reality it was a torture palace, a gas chamber, a crematorium." 
This is a non-fiction book on a fascinating period which I knew nothing about.  Erik Larson splits the focus between the two men in alternating chapters, but in truth it was only H.H. Holmes' chapters that I really engaged with.  I couldn't really envision the fair's grand scale so struggled to connect with sections about its construction and the struggle to complete it.  Perhaps it reveals a little too much about my psyche to admit that I still wanted *more* from the killer's portions of the book.  His crimes (and how he got away with them) were shocking, but I didn't feel shocked whilst reading and felt perhaps it needed a bit more time spent on the crimes themselves.  Has anyone else read this and felt the same?
Rating: ★★★

#6 - EVERYDAY SEXISM // Laura Bates
"After experiencing a series of escalating sexist incidents, Laura Bates started the Everyday Sexism project and has gone on to write 'a pioneering analysis of modern day misogyny' (Telegraph).  After an astounding response from the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, the project quickly became one of the biggest social media success stories of the internet.  From being harassed and wolf-whistled at on the street, to discrimination in the workplace and serious sexual assault, it is clear that sexism had become normalised. But Bates inspires women to lead a real change and writes this 'extremely powerful book that could, and should, win hearts and minds right across the spectrum' (Financial Times).  Often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant, everyday sexism is a protest against inequality and a manifesto for change."
When I bought this book it was a bit off piste and something I'd never normally have gone for.  I am, however, so glad I did as I really enjoyed it's blend of facts, figures, anecdotes and observations.  The book was split into chapters such as 'Women in the Media', 'Women in Public Spaces' and 'Women Under Threat' which made it really easy to dip in and out of.  Not only that, the Everyday Sexism project doesn't limit itself to the sexism experienced by women, and I was glad to see another chapter ('What About Men?') featured within.  An undeniably important book that everyone should read!
Rating: ★★★★

#7 - THE FOX AND THE STAR // Coralie Bickford-Smith
"Once there was a Fox who lived in a deep, dense forest. For as long as Fox could remember, his only friend had been Star, who lit the forest paths each night. But then one night Star was not there, and Fox had to face the forest all alone and learns to embrace life and the world around us. It is a book that crackles with imagination and wonder."
This was a charming story housed in a beautiful cloth-bound book with gorgeous illustrations.  Sounds positive, right?  Unfortunately I didn't find that there was much more to it beyond that.  It's a nice story of friendship but that's just it - nice.  After hearing rave reviews and seeing that this had been crowned Waterstones Book of the Year 2015 I expected much more.
Rating: ★★★★

#8 - THE STOLEN CHILD // Lisa Carey
"St Brigid's is a remote island off the west coast of Ireland. It is a barren place and its small community is dwindling. But according to rumour it is a magical place, home to a healing well.
Two sisters, Rose and Emer, have resisted the call of the mainland. Rose is beautiful, blessed with love and many children. Emer is unlovely and, worse still, she is cursed by the strange currents that run through her fingers.  When a dazzling stranger alights on St Brigid's, she is shunned. She has come in search of a miracle, and the islanders keep their secrets close. But gradually she insinuates her way into the sisters' lives, and even Emer opens her heart.  Little do they realise that her quest will endanger the lives of all who remain on the island. Passion will endanger everything they hold dear."
In complete contrast to All I Ever Wanted, this wasn't an easy book to read.  I felt like I had to concentrate whilst reading...but in a good way.  It was dark, consuming and really drew me in to the atmosphere of the island and the story.  To be honest I definitely picked this one up on the basis of its cover and didn't really know what I was getting myself into.  It's a story of love (and its different forms), friendship, trust and magic set against an isolated island wrapped up with folklore, fairies and curses.  It wasn't what I was expecting and managed to be so much more than I could have anticipated.  The only reason this wasn't a 5 star read is that the ending wrapped up a little too nicely and (I felt) unnecessarily so.
Rating: ★★★★

#9 - THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SOPHIE STARK // Anna North 
"Who is the real Sophie Stark? The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is the story of an enigmatic film director, told by the six people who loved her most. Brilliant, infuriating, all-seeing and unknowable, Sophie Stark makes films said to be 'more like life than life itself'. But her genius comes at a terrible cost: to her husband, to the brother she left behind, and to an actress who knows too much."
I found it really interesting to be reading about a character but only through the eyes of other people and was drawn in by how Sophie's personality seemingly changes according to the perspective of the narrator.  Whether this was Sophie herself or the narrator projecting the Sophie they wanted to see, it definitely made me stop and think more about the relationship shared.  Sophie is enigmatic but also surly and unlikeable at times and the overall feeling I got from her was that of loneliness and vulnerability.  This isn't necessarily a book I'd recommend, but if you're looking for something a little different, or a book for a book club, then this may be one to check out.
Rating: ★★★


Whew!  I read far more than I anticipated in January!  What was your favourite book you read this month?

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