Monday, 29 February 2016

February Life and Style Favourites

Even though the weeks are flying by it feels like an age since I wrote my January Life and Style post which I suppose is a good sign. February has been a funny month as in some areas I feel like I've been making a lot of progress while other things I have completely slacked off on (here's looking at you exercise plan). Here are some of the things I've been loving for the month of February:

Setting mini writing goals :: This year was going to be the year that I worked on my first draft of a manuscript I've been thinking about writing for at least a year now. But when I thought about how many hours and thousands of words I needed to write this year it was kind of a daunting prospect. Instead I've set myself monthly word goals of 10,000 words and weekly goals of 2,500 which actually seem very manageable and I've even be exceeding them.

Interior Magazines :: I've always been more of a Pinterest/general website dweller when it comes to looking for interior inspiration but when a workmate gave me a stack of her Home Beautiful (doesn't that title just sound the wrong way around?!) magazines they have provided me with so much inspiration as well as local places to actually source stuff from. The internet is great but if you live outside the US/UK local magaizines are a great alternative.

My Skincare Regime :: It's been five weeks since I first saw a dermatologist about my skin and although my congestion issues are still being delt with it feels so much better. Yes my wallet has definitely taken a battering but it's nice to see results when it comes to how my skin feels under the surface and dehydration was really making me feel tight and uncomfortable.

Autumnal Fashion :: Although February is the last month of summer it's been damn hot the majority of the time but I'm so ready for cosy knitware and all of the layers. I picked up a really cute rust orange mock-turtleneck knit from Target (they are killing it at the moment with their fashions) and it's a nice nod to the 70s trend as well which is something I haven't really bought into.

Matte Eyeshadow :: Since I'm a bit of a magpie when it comes to eyeshadow I usually prefer some type of shimmer on my lids but lately matte has been all that I've been reaching for. There are two neutral shades from my Naked Original Palette that I reach for on rotation and I have a couple of completely matte palletes on my radar.

How To Be Single :: I scored some free double passes to the movies a few weeks ago and had to give a shoutout to this film for actually following through on its progressive attitude. Rebel Wilson and Dakota Johnson are hilarious and I loved how its stance towards singledom was one of empowerment and not something we should fix. My boyfriend thought it was hilarious too so even if you're not single I highly recommend it for a date night!

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Recent Reads: Emma by Jane Austen & Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Rather than do a traditional review for the most recent books I've read I thought I'd lump them together into one semi-ramble of a post as I feel like they're both pretty popular and you probably know a lot about both of them.

First up was Emma by Jane Austen and I have to say I loved this book, like loved even more than Pride and Prejudice. It was overall more of a fun read and Emma is exactly the type of humorous main character whom I adored reading about. One of the things I love about Jane Austen is the time she invests in her characters. Emma's character development is subtle as is the growing romance between Emma and Mr Knightley and it made me realise that a lot of modern day books can learn a thing or two from how she crafts a story. Also I have to take a moment to say that I am now a Mr Knightley fan girl and that Emma reinforces my belief that nice guys do finish first.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell is another book I had been wanting to pick up for ages having loved Landline by the same author. Set in 1999 the nostalgic elements of this book really appealed to me and the subtle character progression is another reason why I love Rainbow Rowell's writing. If you don't know much about Attachments it's about Lincoln - an IT graduate who is employed to monitor the use of internal emails at a newspaper - who then falls for a journalist through reading her hilarious email conversations.

This story is funny and cute and I really enjoyed all the little details that Rainbow Rowell crafts into her stories to bring her characters into vivid life. The only thing that threw me with this book was that Lincoln's character had his heart broken as a teenager by his first love and was still getting over it ten years later which is a looong time considering how many girls were flirting with him at his IT job. I don't know why but coupled with the fact that we only get a proper description of Lincoln halfway through the book (and it's good he's tall and cute) just made me think there's no way a guy like that would get through almost ten years of being at University and not date any other girls. Minor niggling details aside I loved the main characters in Attachments as well as the side characters who all had very strongly crafted personalities and storylines.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Unexpectedly Enjoyed in 2015

Today's Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and The Bookish is all about books that took me by surprise in 2015. Last year I really tried to read outside of my comfort zone more and there were a few titles which I didn't expect to like but really did.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor :: A blue haired girl, covered in tattoos who travels the world collecting teeth (when she's not an art student) was not a story I thought I'd be into. Well, I was definitely wrong.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinseller :: I've never read Sophie Kinseller and I don't read a lot of YA but I really really enjoyed this book and everything about it.

The Diviners by Libba Bray :: Anytime I can bring up this book in conversation you know I'm going to. Reading paranormal Young Adult fiction was not something that I thought I would ever enjoy but this book is amazing and I'm so glad I picked it up.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke :: The main reason I didn't think I would enjoy this book is that it is epically long and I didn't think I actually had the dedication to read a 1000 page book. I was pleasantly surprised and although it did take some commitment to pick it up every night am quite glad I finished reading.

You by Caroline Kepnes :: The fact that I enjoyed this book so much is the unexpected part. It's creepy, like really creepy which kind of worries me that I was so enjoying reading it.

What books did you unexpectedly enjoy reading last year?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

January and February Book Haul

I have been spoiled these last two months with my birthday and Valentine's Day bringing me some lovely books! There's a mish mash of genres from contemporary to classics and paranormal and sci-fi plus some quick reviews of a few I've already managed to read!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Songs I Wish Were Books

Todays Top Ten Tuesday is something a little bit different and is all about music! Often when I'm
listening to music I'm daydreaming about a scene in my head related to that song so I thought it would be fun to pick songs that would make a great book scene or spark an idea in my head for a book. Here goes:

I'm on Fire :: Bruce Springstein. Possibly my favourite Springstein song ever (it's a tough call) this song brings up images of unrequited love and two people who long to be together but can't.

Pieces by Chase and Status :: Im kind of a big fan of 90s club movies (think Human Traffic, 24 Hour Party People) so wouldn't it be epic to have a book that hails the club culture I was actually old enough to enjoy. Drum and bass was pretty much my jam about 2010 and I still love this song for bringing back memories of going out and listening to great music.

Santeria by Sublime :: I actually really enjoy sports related movies if they have good female characters in them and anything by Sublime makes me think of roadtrips and surfing and any book that wants to conjure up those images together is fine by me.

Punching in a Dream by Naked and Famous :: I love this song because it always makes me think of being young and doing stupid shit and I think more books should kind of celebrate being at a stage in your life when this is possible.

Burn by Ellie Goulding :: This song always makes me think of someone overcoming an epic battle, more in the emotional sense than anything else. It's uplifing and empowering and some type of badass chick should probably be involved in it coming to life.

Hold me Down by Halsey :: Any Halsey song would be a fantastic book idea I feel but something about this song reminds me of a character like Lisbeth Salander from Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.


Saturday, 13 February 2016

Reasons To Read: Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Comfort zones are nice aren't they? They're all cosy and relateable and most of the time we know exactly what to expect from them. But you know what? They can also make things a little bit boring and predicatable which was exactly how I felt about my reading preferences nestled safely between historical and contemporary fiction.

But, when I stepped a toe outside do you know what I found? There's some really exciting things going on. Things that I'd always convinced myself I wouldn't like, maybe because at one time or another I'd passed up a book or stumbled my way through a novel that just didn't work for me. Time and again I'd pick up a book from a genre I'd convinced myself that I wouldn't like and would put it back on the shelf again. I'd screw my face up at things like Sci-fi and roll my eyes at anything classified for teenagers because at one point I didn't like those things so I thought I never would.

And then something happen. Lets call it a little bit of FOMO. Or a realisation that there's legit like a million books I've mentally crossed off my nope-not-going-to-read list for what are really quite stupid reasons. As it turns out I've found exciting things outside my comfort zone. Angels and demons and monsters that don't actually exist and that you wouldn't find walking the halls of a Downton Abbey-like manor (although I would totally read that book!)

There's girls with blue hair whose parents aren't human, teenagers grappling with things that if you remember totally sucked when you were a teenager - crazy family dynamics, awkward romances and School demands, that are totally hilarious and awesome and wicked and funny and entertaining. And it's kinda like, farrrk, all this time I've not been reading any of these great things?

The thing about going outside of your comfort zone is it kind of makes you want more. I want different types of demons, I want worlds where payment in teeth is totally normal and there is more than one concept of time. I want to read things classed as Science fiction which has totally never been on my radar before. I want historical fiction to meld with zombies and references to David Bowie, because why the hell not?

When was the last time you stepped outside your reading comfort zone?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Why I've Quit Using Over The Counter Skincare (Almost)

Somewhat unconsciously 2016 has become the year of 'getting shit done' for me and it's only January, oh yeah! This is the year that I've decided to stop complaining about things that I'm not happy with or aren't working for me and actually action some changes. Top of my list along with finally creating my own writing space - more on that in another post - was tackling my skin issues.

I've mentioned the frustrations I've felt with my skin before with constant congestion causing breakouts and this summer I noticed an increased area of pigmentation on my forehead. Although I've discovered some nice skincare that has helped - and it has helped - nothing has actually permanently helped to change my skin. Taking matters into my own hands I decided to seek help in the form of a professional dermatologist to see what actually was going on with skin at a cellular level (fancy huh). So I googled, read some reviews and booked in a free appointment to get a skin consultation and guys, it was an eye-opener.

After sitting down for an hour with a very lovely professional (sidenote her skin is amazing) I found for the first time I was getting advice on what the hell my cells under the surface are actually up to and as it turns out it's not much. My cells are lazy guys, they are pretty crap at completing their supposed 30ish day life cycle of forming, rising to the skins surface and sloughing off naturally. All that laziness is causing a lack of water getting to my skins surface which is why I've always confused about how my face feels tight and dry but appears oily. It's dehydrated and all those lazy-ass cells are getting congested and causing pimples to form.

I can't tell you how good it was to sit down with someone who has science on their side and tell me exactly what I mentioned above without me actually saying it to them. And all for free! At the start of my consultation I wasn't entirely sure about what I wanted to come away with. Mainly I wanted to know which products to buy and what would cure my skin woes.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) my dermatologist only prescribes products which have been tested and scientifically proved to show a different to skin cells. Which means no over the counter skin products. Now I should point out that this doesn't mean nothing from a beauty shop or supermarket can cure my pigmentation/dehydration woes but often the research done by pharmaceutical companies has a conflict of interest (ie. Their own brand scientists doing the research so it's not really peer reviewed or independent) meaning it's hard for dermatologists to recommend them.

At the end of my session I came away with a new understanding of what my skin is actually up to (being lazy apparently), what products will actually make a difference (hyraluronic acid, Vitamin C and Vitamin A) and the offer of skincare products which have been proven scientifically to make a difference. I decided after the hour was up that since I've been spending my hard earned cash on products that were only cleaning the surface of my skin it was time to delve a little deeper. The price of the skincare I came away with - a cleanser, serum and moisturiser to start - isn't that different to high end skincare. Ranging from $60 for the cleanser to $90 for the serum requires a bit more budgeting for me but is overly not too bad considering I only get one skin to care for.

While it's early days yet to see what is going to work for me, I've also got a milk peel booked next month for the pigmentation (also caused by my lazy-ass skin cells) so I'll keep this blog posted on what changes are happening.

The main point of todays ramble, and it has been a ramble, was to say this. If you have skin concerns that you feel haven't been overly helped by over the counter skincare then why not book in with a dermatologist. Most of them give free consultations so you are under no obligation to spend any money and it's an amazing feeling to get some advice from a medical professional concerning your skin.

Have you ever thought about consulting a dermatologist before for your skin?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Top Ten Tuesday :: Favourite Book Couples

In honour of Valentines Day this weekend, Top Ten Tuesday has gone all mushy on you and this week I've decided to pick my favourite couples!

The Bronze Horseman :: This is a love story of survival guys, Alexander and Tatiana have a war, starvation and the freezing Russian winter to contend with, it's pretty much the definition of epic. Sidenote, also this is a really great book if you enjoy reading historical fiction!

Emma :: I just recently finished this Jane Austen classic and I have to say I'm much more of a Mr Knightley fan than Mr Darcy (although maybe that has something to do with prefering Johnny Lee Miller to Colin Firth?)

Must Love Otters :: Holly Porter is a trainwreck albeit a hilarious one and I do approve of her trading up her dropkick boyfriend for the very sweet ex-ice hockey player Ryan. Their romance is so cute, and embarrassing if you're Holly but also cute.

The Winter Rose :: Good girls falling for bad boys probably doesn't get much better than India and Sid. This book is an emotional rollercoaster guys, you have been warned.

Outlander :: Although I'm a bit partial to Claire (I like her but at times she lacks commonsense) but there is no denying her and Jamie Fraser's relationship is one of the best things ever.

The Diviners :: While I suspect I may be wrong in wishing that Evie and Sam get together, I think they would make the best couple! Evie's so funny and Sam's cheeky and a total flirt.

Leave your TTT links down below!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

An End of Summer Beauty Wishlist

I think I'm going to make these beauty wishlists a more regular occurrence as they help satisfy my need to peruse all my favourite beauty websites without necessarily spending any money. Here are the products I'm lusting over before the Summer is over:

Stila Convertible Colour Palette :: Sometimes the beauty gods release a product that takes all the difficulty out of being unable to decide on which colour to choose. I've had the Stila Convertible Blushes in my MECCA bag for ages but have been unable to decide on which one I want to take home. Sunset Serenade is the warmer toned palette of two options and includes three shades (Petunia, Gerbera and Peach Blossom) that I was torn between choosing!

Essie Nail Polish in Maximilian Strausse-Her :: I've been very picky in adding nail polishes to my collection but I love the muted tones of this greeny grey polish. I think this will be a perfect subdued option for when the weather starts to turn a little colder and is a more sophisticated shade for wearing to work than some of my bright coral polishes.

Dior Diorskin Star Foundation :: The more I hear about this foundation the more I really think it might be something that sits well with my skin type. I love glowy skin and need a bit of coverage to mask the redness around my nose and chin which is exactly what Diorskin Star Foundation promises. Not gunna lie though, the $80 plus price tag makes my eyes water a little. One for special occasions maybe?

Chanel Chance Eau Frache :: Speaking of champagne taste and beer budgets Chanel fragrances have been something I've been lusting after for a while now. Two years ago I tried out the Chanel Coco Mademoiselle fragrance and loved it but I'm looking to replace it with something a little different. It's hard to pick between the three beautiful Chance fragrances but Eau Frache has a beautiful fresh scent to it that might just become my new favourite.

Covergirl Colorlicious Lipstick :: I have a weakness for pharmacy brand lipstick (usually from Rimmel) and it's usually where any excess parking coinage ends up going! Finding a peach coloured lipstick is actually quite hard as I found out not long ago by swatching nearly every peach hue I could find. This colour looks so pretty and I don't have anything in my makeup collection like it.

Tarte Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette :: The palette with the longest name ever has been on my radar for a while now. I've slowly started to come around to the idea of matte eyeshadows and not just for wearing in the crease either. This palette is so pretty and warm toned but I think it would be just as stunning yet understated to wear a fully matte eyeshadow look. Unfortunately it's been out of stock for a while now I'm patiently waiting for it come back in store!

Let me know what beauty bits you've been lusting after lately in the comments below!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Book Review: After You by Jojo Moyes

After You by Jojo Moyes, 384 pages. Published September 29th by Pamela Dorman Books. Rating ****

After You by Jojo Moyes is the brilliant follow up to Louisa and Will's journey and even though it didn't make me want to bawl my eyes out like its predecessor this book was still a rollercoaster of emotions.

After You picks up eighteen months after Me Before You and Louisa is struggling to deal with how to cope after caring for Will. Seemingly she has the world at her feet, at 27 living in London and having travelled parts of the world she's made progress on her tiny village life but in reality Louisa is miserable and is shutting herself off from moving on from the man she cared for.

One night after returning from her shitty job at an airport bar, Lousia falls drunkenly off her rooftop garden, an accident that make two strangers enter Louisa's life that will force her to make a choice - move on with her life or continue to wallow. But will another chance at love be thwarted by Will's past?

One of the things I loved about this novel was how much I felt Jojo Moyes has stayed true to her characters. Although Louisa has grown since being with Will she's still in a lot of ways the same person and in After You we see her struggling to be the person she promised Will she would be. There were also times in the novel when I was wishing Louisa wouldn't be so ready to put other people's happiness ahead of her own but this only shows us how much growing Louisa still had to do.

As usual the supporting characters in this novel are just as vivid and I loved Sam, the paramedic who stitches up Louisa after her fall from the rooftop and Lily, the mysterious girl from Will's past. In true Jojo Moyes style there isn't a cliched happy ending for everybody but I did think that there was no better way to finish this story. Plus, even though I'm not sure there is a third book planned in this series I would be happy to pick up again where After You leaves off and see Louisa get all the happiness she deserves.
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