Life, NaNoWriMo

I Won NaNoWriMo ’15!

December 1, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 winner

I validated my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel last night!

Ok, so I passed the 50,000 word mark during week 3 so it’s not like it’s a surprise, but it’s nice to see that little badge marking me as a 2015 winner.

I didn’t write much at all during week 4 because I’ve got an assignment deadline coming up so writing was pushed to the side. While that means I will get my assignments finished in time, it does mean that I won’t reach my second goal of finishing my first draft off by the end of November. But that’s ok.

A large chunk of my first draft has been written, so it’s not a disaster that I’ve not finished it off yet. My aim is to keep working on my first draft and get it finished by the end of January.

High fives all round to my fellow NaNoWriMos if you reached your goal too! I think it’s wonderful, and a little weird, that writers from across the globe spend an entire month writing towards the same goal.

How did you get on with NaNoWriMo? Did you reach 50,000 words?

Romance, Young Adult

Did I Mention I Love You? – Estelle Maskame*

November 27, 2015

Did I Mention I Love You? By Estelle Maskame

Grab a cuppa and get comfy, because my review of Did I Mention I Love You, is a pretty long one.

Swift synopsis: When Eden goes to spend the summer with her Dad, who she still hasn’t forgiven for walking out on her, and his new wide, and step-kids, the last thing she expects is to actually have a pretty good time.

For me, Did I Mention I Love You was very much a book of two halves. I found the first half to be fairly uninteresting. We met Eden’s Dad, his new wife, and Eden’s step-siblings, Eden makes some new friends and it’s all pretty forgettable to be honest. Nothing major happens. The only thing of note is that her oldest step-brother, Tyler, is constantly getting into trouble and Tyler and Eden hate each other.

The second half is much more interesting, though there is a major case of a sort of instalove. Eden and Tyler spend the first half of the book hating each other, but all of a sudden they decide they like each other. Not quite instalove, but definite unexplained love. They spent the first half of the book really not liking each other, and then they’re kissing and that left me confused. I found myself skipping back a few pages to see if I’d missed something out. Alas, I hadn’t.

I think the best thing for me to do here, is to split out the positive and negative points, otherwise this review is going to be all over the place.


A realistic portrayal of being a teenager: There were plenty of underage parties and drinking in Did I Mention I Love You, and like it or not, under age drinking is a realistic part of being a teenager for a lot of people. I’m not suggesting it’s right, or that all teenagers spend every night getting hammered, I’m just saying it’s good that the author acknowledged this instead of pretending that teenagers are perfect and stay in being sober every night. Props to Estelle for that.

The scary girlfriend: Tyler’s girlfriend was a very well-developed character, who scared me a little bit at points and might well remind you of someone you went to school with. To be fair, I think she might have had more about her than Eden, which I guess makes this a good and a bad point.

Family issues: I felt the issues between Eden and her Dad were pretty realistic and were handled (or not handled as the case may be) in a realistic way. My Dad and I didn’t get on when I was a teen (because we were way too similar and both stubborn donkeys) and we just didn’t talk about it for a couple of years, so I can relate to the way Eden and her father’s relationship played out in this book.

The second half was gripping: While the first half of the book didn’t really feature anything that kept me hooked, the second half was miles better in that department. Once Eden and Tyler admitted their feelings for each other, it became more interesting as they tried to figure out how to handle their feelings.


The not so good

Unexplained romance: As I mentioned above, there was no real attempt made to explain why Eden and Tyler suddenly fancied the pants off each other. There were a couple of times where it felt like Estelle was going to explain why the pair were suddenly all over each other, but it didn’t happen and any attempts to were pretty unconvincing.

Friendships rushed: This book also had a case of instafriendship, and I feel like a little more time should have been taken here. Most of her friends were pretty unforgettable, and I was often confused about who was who.

Some things were let go of too easy: I won’t go into too much detail here because of spoilers, but Tyler’s girlfriend is pretty conniving. Yet when she is left, she kind of lets it go a little too easily considering what we’re led to believe about her. I felt like maybe she would have put up more of a fight, even though she was in the wrong.

Perhaps not the best messages about addiction: Tyler suffers from addictions as a result of terrible things that happened in his childhood. For the majority of the book he is often drinking and / or taking / dealing drugs, but when he and Eden get together he seems to get over it quite quickly. That didn’t quite sit with me very easily.

As someone who has seen what addiction does to people, I don’t feel comfortable with that portrayal of just getting over addiction. Maybe it can work that way for some people, but for the majority it doesn’t and I felt it was the wrong message to be sending to a young audience. Perhaps I’m just looking into this a bit too much because of my experiences, I dunno.

The step-sibling thing was a non-issue: As you might expect, Eden and Tyler try to hide their feelings because they’re step-siblings. To me, this was a bit of a non-point. Maybe I’m just fairly open, but they weren’t raised as siblings, so who cares if their parents are married? I don’t. They aren’t related and weren’t raised as siblings, so the whole ‘what would people think, we’re step-siblings’ point got fairly old for me quite quickly.

The better sticking point was that Tyler had a girlfriend. A controlling and horrible one at that.


Conclusion: *Exhales* This is a fairly hard one to summarise because I have so many mixed feelings. Did I Mention I Love You was not perfect, but the second half of the book was pretty gripping and despite all the negatives I’ve mentioned I’m hopeful that the next book will be better and I will read it because I need to know what happens to our characters.

*I received a free copy of Did I Mention I Love You in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion.

What was the last book you read that you had a love-hate relationship with?

Did I Mention I Love You Book Cover Did I Mention I Love You
Did I Mention I Love You
Estelle Maskame
Romance, young adult, contemporary,

When sixteen-year-old Eden Munro agrees to spend the summer with her estranged father in the beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for. Eden's parents are divorced and have gone their separate ways, and now her father has a brand new family. For Eden, this means she's about to meet three new step-brothers. The eldest of the three is Tyler Bruce, a troubled teenager with a short temper and a huge ego. Complete polar opposites, Eden quickly finds herself thrust into a world full of new experiences as Tyler's group of friends take her under their wing. But the one thing she just can't understand is Tyler, and the more she presses to figure out the truth about him, the more she finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn't – her step-brother.

Throw in Tyler's clingy girlfriend and a guy who has his eyes set on Eden, and there's secrets, lies and a whole lot of drama. But how can Eden keep her feelings under control? And can she ever work out the truth about Tyler?

Did I Mention I Love You is the first book in the phenomenal DIMILY trilogy, following the lives of Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce as they try to find their way in an increasingly confusing world.

Brushes, Cruelty Free, Real Techniques

Real Techniques Retractable Kabuki Brush review

November 25, 2015

Real Techniques Retractable Kabuki Brush

Real Techniques Retracable Kabuki Brush

Since switched to mineral foundation, kabuki brushes have become part of my daily routine. I struggled to find one that I loved, until I came across Real Techniques Retractable Kabuki Brush. 

Most of my makeup brushes are Real Techniques, so I really don’t know why I didn’t check their website to start with.

Real Techniques Retractable Kabuki Brush

As the name suggests, it’s a retractable kabuki brush that can be used for mineral makeup, bronzers, blushers, or whatever you fancy. It feels nice and sturdy, the brush glides up and down easily, and the lid stays on tightly, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it coming off in your bag if you want to take it out and about.

The bristles are synthetic, which makes it perfect for those who have allergies to animal hair / fur, or if you’re cruelty free. As with every other RT brush I have used, the bristles are soft and gentle on your skin, which is a welcome change let me tell you that. I was previously using a Bare Minerals kabuki brush which felt quite harsh and scratchy on my face.

Whenever I get a new RT brush, I’m always nervous of using it for the first time because they look so pristine that it feels a little wrong to actually use them for their intended purpose. Silly, I know. On that note though, the bristles don’t lose their shape after repeated use, or after washing.

The brush picks up product easily and gives a nice even distribution of the product on to your skin. I haven’t experienced any shedding with the brush so far either, which is a good sign that it’s a quality product. (It’s pretty annoying to have to try and pick bristles off your face.)

In terms of cleaning it, it’s the same as any other makeup brush. Remember to try and dry them with the bristles facing down if you can to prevent the bristles from coming out.

All in all, it’s a really good, well-built brush that does exactly what it should. This has replaced the other kabuki brushes I have and when the time comes to replace this one, I’ll buy another one.

On average, the price of this brush seems to vary from about £9 to just under £12, which is a great price as far as I’m concerned. I’ve bought cheaper brushes in the past and been disappointed, so I have no qualms about spending a couple more pounds to get something that will last.

Which makeup brushes do you use?

Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing

NaNoWriMo week 3

November 24, 2015


Apologies, this is a day late, I know. In week three, I hit 50,000 words! My aim really is to finish my first draft by the end of November now.

Read on for my little diary about my thoughts on my novel and the amount of writing I got done each day in week three.

Day 16 – 40,619 words

I struggled towards the end of week 2, and ended up not writing very much at all over the weekend. I got my mojo back a little bit and managed to get back on top of my word count.


Day 17 – 42,576 words

I think I’m officially over the mini episode of writer’s block I had over the weekend. I could have written more today but had so much else to do, so hopefully the words will come out just as easily tomorrow. We’ll see.


Day 18 – 44, 349 words

Definitely feeling like I’m entirely over my writers block, the only problem is that I have so many other things to do that I don’t have time to have a beast of a writing session.


Day 19 – 47,082 words

I’m so close to reaching 50,000 words!


Day 20 – 50,404 words

50,000 words! Yes! So, I’ve ‘won’ NaNoWriMo, but I would really like to try and finish my first draft entirely by the end of November. It’s ambitious, but if I can write 50,000 words in three weeks, it’s not exactly insurmountable.


Day 21 – 50,582 words

Tom is working away in the week at the moment, so it’s really hard for me to feel ok about sitting down for an hour and writing on the weekend, which is why my word count was so bad today.


Day 22 – 52,407 words

Ok, so I feel a little less bad about sitting down and writing for an hour. Tom brought an Xbox One yesterday, which means I can write while he’s playing that, and not feel bad about it.

Today was one of those days where you start writing and all of a sudden you’ve written almost 2,000 words. I had to recheck my word count a few times because it really didn’t feel like I’d written that much.

How’s NaNoWriMo going for you?

Cleanser, Soap and Glory

Soap & Glory 3-in-1 Daily Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash

November 20, 2015

Soap and Glory 3-in-1 daily detox vitamin c facial wash

Soap and Glory Vitamin C Face Wash

I’m pretty lazy when it comes to skin care, so if I can find a product that will do the job of three, I am all over it.

I’ve used a few of Soap & Glory’s show products, but after hearing so many good things about their skin care range I decided to give this a go. I was also a little curious; I’ve pretty much exclusively only used LUSH face products for the past couple of years, so I was interested to see what differences I might notice between LUSH and something like this.

Soap & Glory’s Face Soap and Clarity, 3-in-1 Daily Detox Vitamin C Facial Wash (what a mouthful) aims to cleanse and purify, remove makeup, and act as a gentle exfoliator. And you know what? It does all of those things.

It’s brilliant at removing makeup (though I wouldn’t recommend getting it in your eyes…), my skin looks clearer and brighter, and it feels nice and soft. I have combination skin, so this is where I’d like to mention that it leaves my skin feeling matte, which is what I’m all about.

Soap & Glory Vitamin C facial wash

As well as working really well, it looks super cool on your bathroom shelf. It’s a light blue / green gel consistency, with small, pink exfoliating beads with it. I’m going to be honest and tell you that about 50% of the reason I brought this was because it looks like a science experience, and I like that.

Talking of the exfoliating beads – they’re small and gentle on your skin, which is great for daily use.

While this won’t replace LUSH products for me, it’s perfect for when I’m coming home late from work. If you work late / long shifts, you’ll know that products that are easy and less messy are exactly what you need at 2am in the morning. For that reason, I’m sure this is something I will repurchase.

What multi-use products do you like?


Adventure, Percy Jackson, Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian – Rick Riordan

November 18, 2015

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian

Oft, that was a tiring, adventure-filled, and excellent end to a series.

I put off reading the Percy Jackson series for years because I wasn’t sure whether or not it would live up to all the hype I’ve seen about it, but after finishing the final book in the series, I’m happy to say that it absolutely did.

The Last Olympian is just action after action after action, right from the get go. By the time I finished reading it, I felt in need of a nap and a rest. It just did not let up, and that was a little detrimental at points. Action is good, but it felt like there was a bit too much action. At times it was a little hard to keep up with what was happening, who is who, and I would have liked a bit more slower-paced stuff.

And, bizarrely, the final battle takes place over the course of a handful of paragraphs and seemed a little sudden, which was a little anti-climatic.

That said, I was happy with the ending and I think Rick Riordan did a good job of tying everything up, and he didn’t shy away from killing off some likeable characters.

Percy, Annabeth, and Grover underwent quite a lot of character development throughout the series, and that was evident at the end, especially concerning the decision Percy makes.

One of the reasons I love this series so much is the banter and friendship between the characters, and it felt a little lacking in this book. Though to be fair, they were battling throughout the whole book so maybe the bants wouldn’t be entirely realistic.

All in all, I really enjoyed The Last Olympian and the Percy Jackson series as a whole. I’m clearly older than the target market, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable, and I actually learned some things about Greek mythology as well, which I can’t complain about.

Percy Jackson has been a really fun, and easy series to read that’s perfect for when you’re feeling a bit burnt out and just want something you can read without thinking about too much.

I’m glad I finally got around to reading this series, and I’m eager to make a start on another one of Rick Riordan’s series. I don’t know where to start though. The Heroes of Olympus seems like the logical choice, but I do really like Norse mythology so Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard is looking like the one I’ll go for next.

Have you read the Percy Jackson series?

Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian book rating


Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) Book Cover Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Rick Riordan
Adventure, mythology, middle grade,

All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing

NaNoWriMo: week 2

November 17, 2015

NaNoWriMo week 2

After the success of week one, week two was a little trickier and I started to struggle with parts that I hadn’t planned so well.

Here’s my NaNoWriMo diary on how week two of writing went, and my plans for week three.


Day 9 – 28,263 words

Monday is my day off from university, and I also had it off from work, so I decided to get a lot of reading and university work done. During a break from reading and making notes, I beat my word count and had to force myself to stop writing and get back to doing other things.


Day 10 – 30,076 words

Today is the first day where I feel like I’ve come anywhere close to struggling to reach my daily word count. I wrote a rough plan in preparation, and the characters have deviated a little, but the part I’ve come to now is probably the least planned part and that’s caught me out.

Nevertheless, I still beat my daily word count, so I can’t complain. Though, I realise my struggle may also be due to discovering The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. Oops. Hooked.


Day 11 – 32,198 words

I’m making progress, but not finding it as easy going as everything else so far due to the lack of planning around this bit.


Day 12 – 34,009 words

I started writing some Christmas scenes today, which was nice as I love the build up to Christmas and imagining winter wonderlands.


Day 13 –  36,125 words

Much the same as the rest of the week, progress has been slower than last week because I’ve not really planned this part out.


Day 14 – 37,222 words

This is the first day that I haven’t met my daily word goal of 1,667. Of course, it’s not too bad as I’m ahead, but I was hoping to beat the word goal every day nonetheless. I had a pretty busy day, and just didn’t have chance to write much.


Day 15 – 37,462 words

Well, this was my worst day of NaNoWriMo so far. I just couldn’t get anything decent out, so I decided not to push it.
I’m hoping things will pick up in week three, and my aim is to reach 50,000 words by the end of the week.


How is NaNoWriMo going for you?