Been a while hasn't it? I started back at University at the beginning of October and so have been pretty much absent from the blogosphere while I've gotten back into the swing of things. If you're a fresher this year definitely have a look at my homesickness post from a few weeks ago. I'm having a good time, though the work's actually starting now so there's no days spent in bed watching rubbish on Netflicks (probably a good thing)
These are a few books I've read over the last year that I never got round to reviewing for whatever reason, so I thought I'd throw the reviews together in a post, as they were three really unusual reads for me and I definitely feel they're worth reviewing and sharing with you.
Have Mercy - Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Based in a fictional world where mechanical dragons fueled by magic are used in warfare, Havemercy tells the story of four men living in the capital city of Volstov as it nears victory from it's long war with neighbours the Ke-Han. This was a book I'd heard very little about going into and therefore really didn't have any expectations either way. In the end while this book had some amazing plot points and really interesting, conflicting main characters, it lacked a certain something. One relationship seems to develop far too quickly, and reads a little like fanfiction of some other book, while another takes forever and is never fully formed before the book ends, leaving on something of an unsatisfactory note. I definitely enjoyed it, and would recommend as a fun, adventurous read with some really sweet romantic bits if you don't want anything too heavy. I just wish that it had maybe a little more depth and time taken to explore the characters. However this is the first installment in a quartet and so I'm hoping when I get round to reading the second which I fully intend to, due to my love of the world created and it's characters, we might get a little more depth and expansion. After all, the Darren Shan series had a really shaky debut novel and became one of my most beloved childhood series.
Spindle's End - Robin McKinley
First off can we just take a second to appreciate the loveliness of that cover... and the crappy rendition my camera has decided to give me. Sad day. Anyhoo, Spindle's End is a retelling of the tale of Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty was one of my favourite childhood stories and my Dad still knows all the words to the 'Once Upon A Dream' song because I made him watch it with me so many times so I was really excited to give this a try.
The story itself was charming and full of lovely characters and really interesting plotlines. It's only downfall for me was the twisty-turny, often contrived and very overdone narrative style. Obviously world building requires a lot of explaining and description, but I believe the phrase 'Show don't Tell' would have been useful here. Far too often we'd be engrossed in the story, watching the scenes play out and it would be like someone had pressed pause and stood in front of the characters and started to explain all of these different bits of backstory and 'world' information, going off on tangents, using odd confusing phrases and generally being slow and a bit annoying. By the time they got out of the way I'd lost track of the story and, particularly during more action-y scenes, felt that the pace had been completely thrown off by this big chunk of boring-ness.
It's actually quite disappointing because the plot was a really lovely refreshing take on the fairy tale (The heroine in this is far more complex and pro-active without being the worst trait of all: 'feisty' *shudder*) and the story is really beautiful, but if you like pacey novels and witty dialogue this might not be your cup of tea.
How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran
Last one! I read this one very slowly over a long time, dipping in and out of it between reading other books, but that's not to say I didn't absolutely love it. I am a feminist. Not a flag waving, man are evil and women are better feminist, just someone who would like to promote the radical notion that women are people too.
There's a lot of feminist literature out there, much of it angry and dramatic and emotive with good reason, these are women who've been subject to great prejudice. However Moran takes a different view: she, in a lighthearted manner, takes us through some of the issues that women deal with, from being overlooked in the workplace to the pressure to be entirely hairless from the lower eyelids downwards, all of the time. There is no great anger, no preaching, just a woman throwing her hands up and going "remind me why this is ok again?" Some of her best chapters tackle strip clubs, and the 'horror' that is being fat. It puts in a really articulate but chatty way feeling's I've had for a long time, just not known how to express and opened my eyes to other ways in which both men and women are constricted and trapped by patriarchal ideals. I really enjoyed this and would definitely urge anyone who is confused about feminism or doesn't think it necessary anymore to have a flick through and just consider the ideas being presented, if it doesn't change your mind that's fine, but we'll both know at least you've considered another point of view.
Let me know your recent reads, or if you've tried any of these books tell me what you thought!
Recent Reads | Books I Didn't Get Round to Reviewing But For Various Reasons Are Totally Worth Reviewing... Ahem.
01. Put on a pair of freshly washed jammies, preferably still warm from the dryer/ radiator.
02. Buy yourself lovely fresh flowers and brighten up your rooms with them.
03. Re-organise your room. Maybe look up some Feng Sui tips online (even if you think it's a load of poop)
04. Snuggle up with your pet. If you lack a pet, the nearest person will do!
05. Watch reruns of ancient comedies on GOLD.
06. Find a hilarious meme from a fandom you and a friend both love, and tweet it to them!
07. Dress up real fancy, do your hair and makeup beautifully and just take a quick stroll to buy some bread!
08. Write down your hopes and dreams, and stick them somewhere you'll see them every day.
09. Blend a pear, 2 kiwis, half a melon, natural yoghurt and ice for the most refreshing, yummy, healthy smoothie ever.
10. List down the weirdest celebrity crushes you've ever had. Get someone else to do this with you and laugh at each other.
11. Go on Kukee.co.uk and feel smug as you buy three pieces of lovely jewellery for a tenner!
12. Snoop around in other people's blog recommendations and find some new reads.
13. Spend a day wrapped in a duvet watching a whole series of a sweet girly feel-good anime.
14. Have a facebook cull. Delete those people who moan or plaster their drama everywhere, or are just boring.
15. Clear out your wardrobe and donate your unwanted clothes to charity, where they'll do some good.
16. Gather whoever you can and go on a spontaneous adventure to a park or the seaside.
17. Get some paper and colouring pens/ pencils and draw a really beautiful mandala. It's so theraputic and at the end you have amazing, personal art.
18. Purchase a really expensive makeup product. I've got my eye on a Chanel cream blush when I next feel the need. .
19. Write down a list of things you're grateful for. Often we get so wrapped up in our difficulties that we forget all the things we're lucky to have in our lives.
20. If all else fails, just have a good giggle at the following pictures.
all pictures found on Pinterest
It's that time of year again isn't it? The time when some of us pack off to university, to live in accommodation all on our onesies, often for the first time! That was me last year and I remember struggling quite a lot with homesickness. I'm very shy, very introverted and find meeting new people and establishing myself in a social dynamic very difficult so I spent a lot of time hiding in my new room, missing mummy cuddles and all my friends I'd known for years and my then boyfriend. The whole environment was so different and knowing that I had to stay there for ten weeks before I could really go home was very painful. The bed wasn't squishy like mine, I hated the orange curtains and they didn't allow fairy lights or posters and pictures attached to the walls so I was sat on my bed staring at bare white walls and just feeling the worst.
What I'm saying here is I know how it feels, quite a few people get a bit down in the second or third weeks and I thought I'd compile a quick post with a few tips and ideas for curing homesickness, so if you're really struggling with the blues being away from home hopefully this may help.
The first thing to do, and it's a doozy, get busy! The more things you have to do, the less time you have to be moping around focusing on how you're not at home. It also gets you having fun and seeing your new home as somewhere you enjoy being and that you belong. Join societies you're interested in and throw yourself into it. This is especially important if you consider yourself particularly shy or nervous with new people. I know it's hard, I felt psychically sick as I walked to my first English society meeting last year, but as the weeks went on it really became one of my favourite things and I made a lot of friends! This year I'm bumping it up a notch and joining the drama society which is much more intimidating but I just think of all the fun I'll have if I brave the initial nerves!
Secondly, explore! If your knowledge of your new surroundings is from your room to your lectures round the library and back again you're probably missing out on all it has to offer! Spend a bit of your free time wandering around the campus and the surrounding town/city either on a relaxing stroll by yourself or a little adventure with friends, you never know what you might come across, a cute little lake with ducks to feed, a dusty old book shop full of bargains, a little public garden full of beautiful flowers and a little bush maze (!!) or a market stall, open on Sundays, that sells little parcels with all different flavours of fudge wrapped up in ribbon. Or at least that's a few of the things I discovered on my adventures. Having knowledge of where you live, the little haunts and discoveries, stops your new home feeling big and alien, and instead it becomes cozy and familiar and most importantly yours.
Thirdly, friends, the backbone of your time at uni (your education aside of course. Ahem) Definitely make a real effort to get on with your flatmates or whomever you're living with, you'll probably be spending a lot of time around them and this is much easier if you're at least comfortable around each other. Even if they're not the sort of people you would normally gravitate towards, make an effort to find out about them and have some shared experiences under your belt, going out for a drink as a group, playing a few rounds of articulate or sharing a flat meal. Don't just limit yourself to the people you live with either. There are so many ways to make friends, joining societies is the big one, but also consider arranging study (or often 'study') groups with people in your classes. There's nothing like a confusing lecture to bring people together and often these little get togethers start in the library and finish up in a Starbucks or pub somewhere and they're a great way to meet new friends, who will then often invite you along on other outings where you'll meet more people. Again it's hard if you're shy or find meeting people draining but just be brave and take it steady, even if you go to one social on a semi regular basis and attend study groups a few times a month you're getting to know people and making friends that like to spend time the same way you do. Then get really brave and arrange something yourself, a pizza and movie night, a go at that new karaoke bar that's just opened up, whatever takes your fancy. I guarantee you'll have fun, even if you then need to hide in your room for a few days to catch your breath.
My last piece of advice is possibly the hardest and one that may need a little explaining, and that is to limit your contact with home, at least between the second and maybe sixth week as you settle in. One girl in my flat was constantly locked in her room, on skype to her parents or boyfriend and never really settled. She always complained of being homesick and had a hard time clicking with the rest of our flat. I strongly believe that depending too much on contact from home in the first few weeks can really hinder your settling in. It's an excuse to stay in your safety zone and also keeps your attention focused on home and how much you miss it instead of taking the opportunity to have the time of your life. Of course keep photos of your family and friends around and little reminders of home, but let them be reminders of how much you love them, and how lovely it will be to see them again and tell them about what a lovely time you're having rather than wallowing in the fact that you're far away from them. Remember that they love you and want you to enjoy this part of your life.
I do hope those little pieces of advice help anyone who feels they might need it. I know it's scary being away from home but these are the years in which you become the person you will be for the rest of your life. You probably don't want to be that loud, brash party animal who's always the centre of attention, but it's great to know that we are brave and have faith in ourselves and can step up to the plate when necessary and even have a really nice time doing it.
Do remember though, if you are really struggling with homesickness and you believe it is affecting your studies or your mental health there are people there to help. Talk to your personal tutor or an on site councilling service who will be loaded with advice. Around 70% of students report feeling homesick within the first two months of university so they'll have heard it all before and know just how to help you.
Right, that's quite enough from me, I'm going to go make a warm cup of tea and snuggle up in bed with the cat and the next few episodes of Free! an anime I've been really loving recently. Feel free to share any homesickness advice or experience below, you lot always have such good things to say!
Autumn is here! Although it's still surprisingly warm... *suspicious* and I though it would be fun to try out the Autumn Tag that I've seen floating around. It was created by Georgina of Makeup Pixi3 and I first came across it on Water Painted Dreams, by the lovely Hayley, she said that anyone who fancied doing it could consider themselves tagged so I'm not cheating, hopefully you enjoy this and although I'm not going to tag anyone in particular, definitely have a go if you want to.
01. Favourite Thing About it: My birthday! (30.09) Always fun but there's a lot of other things, jumping in leaves, Halloween, back to school stationary shopping, and getting to wear chunky cardis and hiding unshaved legs under tights for a few months.
02. Favourite Drink: I really don't do hot drinks (I know, shocking) but I would maybe go for a hot chocolate. Other than that I love a good iced mocha or caramel frappucino from Starbucks or anywhere similar. I love walking around the high street and having people look at me like I'm crazy drinking an iced drink while wearing gloves and a scarf!
03. Favourite Scent/Candle: At the moment I've got a Salted Caramel yankee candle waiting to be burned. I think it's a bit sickly at the moment but of a really chilly evening I think it'll be lovely and warm and yummy.
04. Best Lipstick: Berry tones ftw, I like Topshop's Wicked which I feature in a post here. It's a vampy lip, but very sheer and wearable for wimps like me but can be built up or blotted into a stain. Perfection!
05. Go-to Moisturiser: My poor dry cheeks need some serious loving in the winter so I've been enjoying the Miracle Mattifier from Good Things, which really hydrates without any greasiness or clogging during the day and then soothing my skin with Aloe Vera Gel during the night.
06. Go-to Colour for the Eyes: I don't wear a lot of eyeshadow any more, but I don't think you can beat a good metallic bronze during the Autumn, either dusted on lids by itself with a flick of mascara or deepened up with browns in the crease for some serious glamour.
07. Favourite Music or Band/Singer to Listen to: Oh gawd, I have such sporadic music taste, my spotify reads like that of someone with MPD, but in the Autumn I definitely lean towards rock/indie music a lot. A few of my faves in those genres are R.E.M, Seether, Nirvana, The Killers, Kiss, Misfits and Stone Sour. To name but a minute proportion of my favourites...
08. Favourite Outfit to Wear: I love cracking out the dresses layered with snuggly chunky cardigans, tights and ankle boots. Throw hair into a half-arsed bun and I'm ready to take on the world.
09. Autumn Treat: I always buy more ankle boots than is strictly necessary in the winter. I also tend to stock up on books and lots of LUSH Christmas bath treats as well.
Let me know your own favourite things about Autumn, until next time!
Well where have the years gone? Or at least that's what all of my various relatives have enjoyed asking all day. Honestly I don't have an answer, aside from maybe 'wasted on Tumblr'.
Although I'm writing this today, on the 30th, I imagine it will not go up until tomorrow, which means that yesterday was my birthday! (I feel like a very confused Time Lord) I turned the big two-one, which is weird age, because I feel like it's the last milestone age for a long time, next time my age is a big deal I'll be forty! Isn't that terrifying? Regardless I had an absolutely lovely day and was spoiled rotten by my lovely family and friends and wanted to share my day with you.
I knew me, my parents and brother were going out for lunch the afternoon of my birthday. What I did not know was that a big cluster of relatives had come a long way to surprise me! It was lovely, we went to The Marchmont Arms, which does sort of posh pub food, you know the type, and as we were guided to our table I couldn't help noticing the big pink monstrosity hovering over our table, like a girly Nativity Star. When we got closer all my relatives cheered and started singing Happy Birthday in tones typical of my Irish-Mancunian heritage... It was a case of grinning and bearing. The table also bore a huge bucket of treats, seen above, featuring possibly the most mentally unstable looking gingerbread man I've ever clapped eyes on. Luckily I turned him to face my brother so I didn't have to look into those eyes. Also a round of applause goes to my Dad for managing to Photo-bomb every decent shot I got of the gingerbread psycho.
There were many ultra fancy schmancy options on the menu featuring names of seafood I couldn't pronounce and phrases like 'laid tenderly on a bed of basil leaves.' But in the end I went for a burger. It was pretty impressive when it turned up I think you'll agree. Nothing says fancy establishment like eating off a chopping board and having your chips in a bucket. It was absolutely delicious and of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy chocolate and vanilla gelato, topped with a homemade (still warm! Ahhhh!) cookie. It's definitely one of the nicest meals I've had in a long time, and being in the company of my wonderfully rowdy and hilarious (and slightly drunk) relatives just made the day even more special.
After the lunch and a quick disco nap I was given my main presents: The two Folio Society Editions of classic books and the amazing perfume Sartorial by Penhaligon's, all of which are pictured at the top of this post. In a fun twist, mum's first inkling of my interest in the perfume, came from her reading this wishlist post. So now I know how to hint! I also got plenty of cash from people, which, unfortunately will mostly go towards boring things like rent, and being able to eat. Afterwards I was whisked off for a little shopping spree with some of my most loved friends and I was so busy having a great time that I forgot to take any pictures! But I was treated to a few beauty bits, a nice LUSH selection and a few books so I consider myself a very very lucky girl indeed. I'm actually having a bit of a quiet night in now, as I don't think I could handle three big social things in one day, I'm already exhausted! But it was a lovely day and I do consider myself so very fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people.
I hope you had a lovely weekend, let me know what you got up to!