Scotland, travel

Blogging break while I’m in Scotland

April 11, 2015

Loch Awe in Winter

Hello loyal subjects lovely people of the interweb, 

I’m going to Scotland today and I’ll be without internet for the week so I won’t be posting. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; I don’t see the point in posting if I can’t reply to comments or read your blogs, so you won’t see any new posts on here until Monday 20th April. 

If you’re at all intrigued, you can check out my blog posts about my trip to Scotland at the end of last year here

‘But how will I cope without your insightful daily posts?’

I didn’t say my absence was going to be easy. To tide you over, here are a few blogs that I love and read religiously:

 I hope you all have a fun and productive week. See you soon! 

books

If I Stay – Gayle Forman – did it live up to the hype?

April 10, 2015

  Last week I read Hereafter by Tara Hudson and I was left feeling underwhelmed by it, and wanting to read a book that did a good job of handling ‘what’s next.’

I’ve heard a lot of good things about If I Stay, and the film, which is why I had put off reading it for so long. If a book / series is really hyped up, it makes me wary and puts me off, but it finally seemed like the right time to pick it up. 

Promising cellist Mia is involved in a horrific accident and is forced to make an incredibly hard decision. That’s all I will say about the plot, because it’s best going into the book knowing as little as possible. 

If I Stay takes place over the course of 24 hours. Forman weaves flashbacks in to help us learn more about about Mia and her family without it feeling forced. 

I’m pleased to tell you that all of the characters in this book are realistic and normal. You won’t find any manicpixieunicornpeople here. They are normal people, who might remind you of people in your own life, which makes it more relatable and devastating. 

It’s impossible to read If I Stay and not put yourself in Mia’s situation and ask yourself what choice you would make, and I love a book that does that. 

The version I have, which is a movie tie-in, has some information from Forman about what inspired her to write this and a Q&A with cast members. I always enjoy reading things like that because I love to know what inspired an author. 

Did it live up to the hype? Being 90% Vulcan, I’m always intrigued when I come across books which people say made them cry and wonder if it will make my eyes leak. If I Stay did not make my eyes leak, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Unfortunately I can’t say that it’s become a solid favourite for me, as it has for others, and I can’t pinpoint why. You know when you read a book and you really enjoy it, but it feels like there’s a barrier or a ‘but’ that stops it from becoming a favourite and you can’t figure out what it is? That. To be fair, it may be to do with my Vulcan-ness. 

That said, I really did enjoy it and I will pick up the sequel. 

Have you read If I Stay? 

If I Stay Book Cover If I Stay
If I Stay
Gayle Forman
Young adult, romance,
Paperback
304

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. 

Life

Saying goodbye to my first car

April 9, 2015

Thiscar 

Last night I dropped my car off at the garage in anticipation for getting my new car tonight. 

I’m one of those people who gets overly attached to objects and feels genuinely guilty for getting rid of something. I feel like if I get rid of something, I’m getting rid of the memories. On top of that, I do feel a bit guilty because my Dad bought me it. 

When I first had this car and when I first passed my driving test, it represented freedom for me. I didn’t have to beg my parent for lifts, or hope I could get a lift to a concert, and I could go out whenever I wanted to. 

I went on my first holiday without my family in this car, I drove around for a couple of hours in it after breaking up with my first boyfriend, Tom and I have been all over the place in it, and it’s taken me to so many wonderful places. I’m sure we all have fond memories of things that have happened in cars. 

I’m going to close this blog post out with an on point song recommendation: This Car by Cassadee Pope. I’ve been a huge fan of Cassadee since she was in Hey Monday and her album makes for pretty good car singalong music too. 

Tell me about your first car

Photography

Stokesay Castle

April 8, 2015

Stokesay Castle gatehouse

Stokesay Castle

A couple of weekends ago we went to Stokesay Castle near the Welsh border. You know I love a good castle, so sit down and prepare for a whole load of castlin’. (I’m sure that’s a word.) 

Since Tom was ‘starving’ (as he always is if he hasn’t eaten in the past 10 minutes) we had to have lunch before walking around the castle. With our coats on, it wasn’t that cold outside so we decided to sit on the benches and enjoy cake and coffee with a castle view. 

Stokesay Castle isn’t really a castle. It’s a fortified manor house which was completed by 1291, with a beautiful gatehouse that was added in 1641. If you want to find out more, visit the Stokesay Castle page on the English Heritage website. 

Stokesay Castle gatehouse

Stokesay Castle gatehouse

Stokesay Castle gatehouse

My favourite part, by far, was the gatehouse. It’s so detailed and ornate, and the wonderful colour really stands out against the grey brick of the castle and the green countryside. 

Stokesay Castle

Stokesay Castle

Note the period fire extinguisher. 

Stokesay Castle

The ceiling is seriously impressive and I can’t help by imagine the gruelling work it must have taken to build a building like this and a ceiling like that without all the machinery we rely on these days. It’s stood the test of the time though. 

The three doorways you can see (ignore the open door on the right) lead into different little rooms in the tower. The perilous staircase was quite something. It was very wonky and uneven and I get the feeling it was probably always that way. I had trouble fitting my feet safely on the stairs, so I don’t know how Tom managed. 

Lots of the rooms had little cutaways like the one you can see in the photo above. To me, they look like little cat cubbyholes. I can just imagine cats cuddling up on those little shelves, snoozing while people rushed around the house. Kind of like modern day cats. 

What you can see at the bottom of the photo was a huge wooden table, which I used as a tri-pod so I could get a decent photo because the rooms were unlit and quite dark. Thank goodness for remotes and long exposure, otherwise you’d be looking at a load of black right now. 

Stokesay Castle

After wandering around the castle, we found our way to the turret. The staircase leading to the turrets were even more precipitous than the staircase in the main room. These were made of stone, and were even wonkier and misshapen. Tom and I couldn’t help but wonder how many people must have broken bones or seriously injured themselves coming up and down the stairs. 

Once at the top we were treated to a nice, albeit windy, view of the grounds at the countryside. I couldn’t help but run to the top of the steps and poke my face through an arrowslit. I love getting to the highest point of something, despite being incredibly bad at getting down things. 

Stokesay Castle from tower

Finally, we wandered around the moat. I’ve had somewhat of a ‘thing’ for moats for as long as I can remember. When I think of moats, I conjure up an image of a huge, glorious castle with a moat and drawbridge that’s guarded by a dragon, because why not? 

Stokesay castle moat

Stokesay Castle

Stokesay Castle

The moat was seriously cool. I feel that moats should become a security feature again. 

Sidenote: When I was at college we were asked about things buildings could do to protect themselves. I said ‘moats’ and I was told it was an invalid answer. Yes, it was a stupid answer as no one builds moats now, but it was also a correct and valid answer because they are security features. 

I love castles so much and I’m so lucky to live in a country that has a rich history, full of castles and grand buildings. 

The staff in the shop were wonderful also and I was talking to the girl behind the counter about unicorns because they were selling tapestries with unicorns on them. 

I took a lot of photos of Stokesay Castle and I’ve not included all of them in this blog post, but I’ve set up a Flickr album if you want to see the rest.  

Got any castle recommendations for me? 

books

Hereafter – Tara Hudson book review

April 7, 2015

 

 

 
I was trawling the Amazon Kindle store one night last week looking for something new and exiting and the cover of Hereafter caught my eye. 

It was 99p, had a lot of positive reviews and seemed awesome – I mean a girl ghost is trying to uncover what happened to her, all while trying to save and protect a boy. 

The problem is that Hereafter was like one of those films where the trailer is the best part, and the film itself doesn’t quite deliver. 

Don’t get me wrong; the first few chapters were solid, grabbed my interest and made me care about Amelia, but as soon as she met Josh it went downhill. Very quickly. 

There’s no way to skirt around it; there was A MAJOR dose of instalove, and we all know how we feel about instalove, right? I thought that as the book went on, it would be justified or there would be a reason but, nope. No reason. Just 100% pure, unfounded instalove. 

Secondly, the ‘bad guy’ isn’t much of a bad guy at all. He isn’t scary and you don’t get any kind of sense that Josh or Amelia is in any kind of real danger. In fact, the biggest danger in the book actually seems to be Josh’s Nan. 

Thirdly, no one seems to notice that Josh is talking to someone who isn’t there. Ok, I know this is a book about ghosts so it’s not 100% realistic, but surely someone would notice that he was having a full-blown conversation and was holding hands with a ghost? You’d think so. But no. 

On top of that, nothing really seemed to happen during this book. 

To summarise; I was pretty disappointing by Hereafter. It started well and I think there is a good idea here but it just didn’t work, which was a little gutting because it sounded so good. The bad guy wasn’t bad enough and things were just too easy for Amelia and Josh. 

Hereafter Tara Hudson Book Rating

What’s the last book you read that really disappointed you? 

Hereafter #1 Book Cover Hereafter #1
Hereafter
Tara Hudson
Young adult, paranormal, supernatural, fantasy,
ebook

an there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

books, video

Insurgent Collector’s Edition – Veronica Roth

March 31, 2015

Insurgent Collector's EditionI've not done a video in a while, but today I'm reviewing the Insurgent Collector's Edition by Veronica Roth.  

As always, if you don't want to watch the video here are the highlights. 

With the Insurgent Collector's Edition you get:

  • The full Insurgent story
  • Beautiful deckled page edges
  • A book ribbon
  • Free Four: a short novella told from the point of view of Four about the knife throwing scene from Divergent.
  • Q&A with Veronica Roth
  • A short essay where Veronica talks about character death
  • Insurgent discussion questions
  • Celebrate the series - tips on holding a Divergent themed party 
  • Veronica's Divergent playlist - songs that inspired Divergent 
  • Veronica's Insurgent playlist - songs that inspired Insurgent 
  • Faction party tips 
  • Poster
  • Faction symbol transfer tattoo things

As with the Divergent Collector's Edition, I love all of the bonus material in this book. I enjoy reading about what inspired authors and their take on things that happened in the book and why they did certain things. 

I like that there seem to be more and more special / collector's editions being released recently. They're nice for fans to have and they make wonderful gifts. I bought my best friend the Divergent Collector's Edition for her birthday and she loves it. 

On top of that, they're pretty cheap considering the normal price of hardback books in the UK. I bought my collector's editions from Wordery and they were around £12 each, which is great considering the RRP of a hardback is usually £20 over here. 

Wordery: Insurgent Collector's Edition - don't fret, even though the description and product title don't say it's the collector's edition, this is the collector's edition. 

Do you have any collector's editions?  

If you're interested, click on the image below to see my review of the Divergent Collector's Edition by Veronica Roth. 

Divergent Collector's Edition

beauty, empties, hair

Empties #2 | Beauty & hair

March 30, 2015

Empties #2

It’s been a while since I’ve done an empties post and I’ve got through a fair few things that have been cluttering my drawers for the past few months. 

Empties posts are some of my favourite to read because you get a much more accurate review when someone has used a product up. 

I have reviewed some of these products, so where I have a review I’ll link to it. 

Lily Lolo Mineral foundation, Natural Collection loose powder & elf mineral foundation

Natural Collection: Loose Powder

I decided to try this when I was using liquid foundation and found that my skin was oily. This was pretty good at keeping my skin looking matte, but it didn’t do a great job for me because mineral foundation works much better for me than liquid foundation. 

Recommend / repurchase: If you’ve got normal skin, this will probably work quite well but it’s not fantastic for oily / combination skin. I won’t repurchase because I use mineral foundation now so I have no need for it. 

Elf: Mineral Foundation

This was the first mineral foundation I tried and it did a really good job, especially considering the price. 

Recommend / repurchase: I would recommend this and would repurchase. Elf UK are closing down sadly, so get a shuffle on if you want to try it.

Elf: Minearl Booster in Shimmer – my review

This gave a nice slightly glowy finish. Unfortunately Elf seem to have sold out of this so you can’t buy it in the UK anymore. 

Lily Lolo: Mineral Foundation in Porcelain – my review

After trying out Elf’s mineral foundation, I was fairly happy with the results but wanted to try a slightly more expensive brand to see if gave better coverage, and this does. It gives buildable light to medium coverage and is great for oily / combination skin. 

I really like this foundation, it’s probably my favourite mineral foundation. 

Recommend / repurchase: I would recommend this and I have already repurchased.   Continue Reading…