Monday, 31 December 2018

Kinky Boots At The Adelphi Theatre London Review - December 2018

I wasn't actually planning on posting another review of Kinky Boots The Musical as I only shared one in May this year but we saw it on our second night in London just before Christmas, and if anything, it was even better than the first time so it fully deserved it's own post. I'm so glad I discovered this show and that we got to see it one final time before it closes in a few weeks. I couldn't think of anything better for my final post of 2018!
Kinky Boots - outside the Adelphi theatre
Kinky Boots takes you from the factory floor to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father's expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the shoe factory's future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, played by Simon-Anthony Rhoden, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.

This might not be one of the obvious shows you think of when it comes to the West End but it's one I'm really glad we took a chance on earlier this year. When I first heard the soundtrack I couldn't stop listening to it for weeks and weeks and when we saw the show in May, it exceeded every expectation. We said when we left we'd go back and see it again one day but then just weeks later they announced it would be closing in January. As we knew we already had a trip to London planned for Hamilton, for our wedding anniversary, it was the perfect chance to see the show again for the final time. We got a really good deal on the tickets and ended up in the exact same seats as last time too!

Despite been blown away by the cast we previously saw, I was really keen to see the current Charlie understudy (Jordan Fox) who had his last scheduled dates whilst we were there. He has been hailed as the best understudy in London, but on the day he ended up being ill so unfortunately missed all of his last scheduled dates to play the role again, which is such a shame. I'd have loved to have seen him play the lead role but I feel so sad for him that he didn't get to take on the role again for the final time before the show ends. As he was ill, it meant we had the 2nd understudy for Charlie, Jonathan Carlton. These people get cast for a reason so I don't think you can ever be disappointed when you end up with someone else and now I'm so incredibly glad we got to see his take on Charlie. He was absolutely brilliant! He completely made the role his own and you would never have guessed he wasn't playing this role full time. I just felt like he got the character of Charlie, and it was so believable in those times where he's supposed to be nervous, or stressed, or just at a complete loss of what to do next. He had a beautiful singing voice, his version of Soul Of Man made me love that song even more and though he was perfect in the sadder parts of the show, he came to life in the more lively upbeat songs too. He clearly completely throws himself into each show he gets to do and you can tell, he was the best Charlie Price I've seen and I just wish there was more chances to go back and see him again. Now onto Simon-Anthony Rhoden as Lola who is just outstanding. He impressed me so much when we last saw him but this time, he was even better, and I didn't think that was possible. This role was made for him. He nails the comedy each time, he looks absolutely fabulous in each outfit and he has the ability to one minute be making you laugh and cheer, and the next want to sob. It was such a pleasure to see him as Lola again. Other cast highlights for me were Natalie McQueen as Lauren, Sean Needham as Don and Samson Wakayu as young Lola who was absolutely living his best life on that stage.
Kinky Boots stage - Adelphi Theatre
Kinky Boots is such a special show for so many reasons and I really am still so sad it's closing. It tells such an important message, something I think we all need right now and the West End is going to be a different place without it I think. It gets better each time and it's almost like a night out. It's just such a fun show, you feel like you're part of something and it's this one big happy family. You can't not leave happy, it just makes you smile so much.

Despite absolutely loving Hamilton the night before, Kinky Boots just sums up everything that musical theatre is for me and it made our trip to London. I'd see it over and over again if I could. I'm hopeful it will return one day but if you've been wanting to see this, now's the time! It's playing at the Adelphi Theatre until the 12th of January and it's currently touring too!

Have you seen Kinky Boots? Or let me know if you have any other recommendations!

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Friday, 28 December 2018

Hamilton At The Victoria Palace Theatre London Review

Of all the musicals I've fallen in love with over the last few years ever since seeing Wicked for the first time, Hamilton has been one to stand out from the rest. From the very first time I listened to the song Alexander Hamilton, I had been desperate to see it and I still can't quite believe that for our wedding anniversary this year, we actually did. After booking the tickets over 6 months ago and been obsessed with the soundtrack for so much longer, I can't even tell you how exciting it was to finally be in the room where it happens.
Hamilton programme and tickets
So, I don't really know where to start because I have so much to stay. First of all the Victoria Palace Theatre is beyond stunning. It's recently refurbished so everything just feels brand new. As soon as you walk in you feel like you're somewhere special. Despite hearing many comments about how long it can take to get in and all of the checks they do, it was all such a simple process and before we knew it we were in our seats. To add to that, our seats were so much better than I could have predicted. As I'd been wanting to see this for such a long time, I'd gone over and over which seats were best and when it came to booking, after much deliberation we went for row F of the Royal Circle. They looked good just from the photos I'd seen but we picked perfectly. If you want to see all of the action, like the revolving stage and the choreography from the ensemble then I think the Royal Circle is the best choice. We felt so close and didn't miss a thing. I suppose the only thing I can comment on which was a little annoying was the lack of leg room. It was something I'd heard about but no matter how small you are, and I'm pretty small, you still feel quite crammed in. The show is so good though that you're constantly distracted so I'd personally put up with it over and over again. The seats were worth every single penny we spent on them.
Outside the Victoria Palace Theatre
Hamilton stage - west end
As you might imagine being as soppy as I am, I was emotional as soon as we walked in. In fact I cried more than I ever have at a show before, and I don't think it helped that I was surrounded by lots of other people feeling exactly the same which only set me off each time, even more. So in short, I cried when we walked to our seats and I saw the stage for the first time, when Alexander Hamilton started, during Wait For It, Dear Theodosia, One Last Time, Burn, Stay Alive Reprise, It's Quiet Uptown, The Room Where It Happens, The World Was Wide Enough and Who Live Who Dies Who Tells Your Story. It was such an emotional show but I think a lot of it was because I had just waited to so long and it's hard to believe you're actually there and it's finally happening right in front of you. You're also aware of how fast it's going though and all I could think was, I don't want it to be over yet. 

Anyway, let's get onto the cast who just blew me away. After listening to the original soundtrack for such a long time and loving the cast, I wasn't sure how it would compare in 'real life' but if anything it was better. Hearing those songs live and seeing them come to life, with added in choreography and comedy, it was just everything. To say it's such a simple stage and set, they do so much with it. The whole ensemble are involved at all times and it feels like a real team. Not only that though but you see how much they enjoy themselves, despite how gruelling the show must be to perform each day as it's just so full on.

In regards to the cast I'm pretty sure we had absolutely no understudies, which for a show like this is pretty unheard of. Not that it would have mattered if we did as everyone is so talented but there were a few select people I was keen to see and they were all mindblowing. Sifiso Mazibuko as Aaron Burr was everything I hoped. He played it in a way that really makes you feel for Burr, I never felt he was the villain he often gets portrayed to be and his voice was just amazing. We had Ash Hunter as Alexander Hamilton, and I loved his take on the role. After only listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hamilton I was intrigued to see how different Ash would be but he was brilliant. He added lots of comedy elements where he could in songs but brought such emotion to the sadder parts like Quiet Uptown. His crying only made me cry more. It was an emotional second act! Rachelle Ann Go as Eliza surprised me actually as just from listening the soundtrack, I've never been Eliza's biggest fan. I always felt she let Alex off too easily despite everything that he did during their time together and I was always more team Angelica but the way Rachelle played her, completely changed my opinion! I felt for her so much and it just shows how good she is in the role as I never expected to feel that way. A few other highlights for me were Dom Hartley-Harris as George Washington (There are just no words for One Last Time) Jason Pennycooke as Lafayette/Jefferson, Tarinn Callender as Mulligan/Madison and Jon Robyns as King George. The whole cast though is insanely talented, you're in for such a treat whoever you see.
Front of the Victoria Palace Theatre
I feel like I've gone on for long enough but if you get chance to see this show, please just go for it. It's expensive and incredibly hard to get tickets for but it's beyond worth it. It's just an outstanding piece of theatre, Lin-Manuel Miranda really has created something magical and I don't think anything that creates this much hype will come around again for a long time. The show just never stops and it makes you feel every possible emotion throughout, I've never seen anything like it. I feel so lucky we got to go and it was just the perfect way to spend our first wedding anniversary, it was unforgettable.

Have you seen Hamilton? If so, I'd love to know what you thought!

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

5 Places I'd Love To Spend Christmas In The Future

Christmas really is the best time of the year isn't it? I long for it all year round, the Christmas markets, the food, the decorations, presents, just everything about it makes me incredibly happy. Whilst I love how George and I do Christmas each year, and at the moment have no plans to change anything, I do sometimes wonder if we'll ever take the plunge and spend it abroad. I've thought before how amazing it would be to spend the big day somewhere like New York or Paris so I thought I'd put together a little list of places currently on my festive travel wishlist.
New York, Germany, Krakow, Paris, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium

Recently Bruges has shot up to the top of my travel wishlist. It looks like one of the go to places for Christmas festivities, I mean, the markets look insane and right now I can't think of anywhere better for a Winter getaway. Some of the photos I've seen of it recently make it look like a fairytale and I can't quite get my head around how somewhere so beautiful even exists. Aswell as their fabulous Christmas markets, there's also so much history to immerse yourself in by walking their cobbled streets, drinking their excellent beer and trying some of their delicious chocolate. 
Bruges, Belgium
Source

New York

I think if we were to ever go as far as to spend actual Christmas day abroad, the place to do so would be New York. I mean, it looks incredible throughout the whole year but there is just something about Christmas time, that makes it even more special. There's just so much to do and I'd love nothing more for us to have a week there in the future to do all the festive activities. I'd love to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree, go ice skating, walk around Central Park in the snow and see the window displays in the department stores, just to name a few things.
New York
Source

Paris

I adored Paris when we visited earlier this year for our honeymoon. It was everything I hoped it would be and I still can't believe we got to visit such a stunning city. We'd both love to go back again in the future and as it was pretty warm last time, I think it would be nice to go later on in the year when Christmas is really starting. Paris is apparently known as the city of light and at Christmas time, everywhere is lit up - from the photos I've seen, it's just magical. One of the most famous displays is on Champs-Elysees and it's also recommended to go to the top of the Arc De Triomphe to see the city lit up in all it's glory. There's also a nativity scene at the Notre Dame which I'd love to see, as that was definitely my favourite area of Paris on our last visit.
Paris

Krakow

Krakow is another place that has been on my travel wishlist for quite a while now. I was extremely jealous when George got to visit with work last year and ever since we've made it a priority to go back together at some point. Not only does it just look like an absolutely beautiful place, it's full of history and I'm desperate to go on the Auschwitz tour. That might sound weird, I don't know, but it's a subject that has fascinated me since school and therefore I just have to go one day. Whenever I've thought about planning a visit to Krakow, I've always thought it would be at Christmas time. The market in the main town looks stunning, with the huge Christmas tree and an array of beautiful lights. It's also full of traditional food and drink to try and even a stage with plays and choirs playing throughout the day. I'm just desperate to go.
Krakow

Germany

As I said in a previous travel post, I was born in Germany so I would absolutely love to go back in the future with George. Aside from Bruge, to me it's the ultimate place for a festive holiday. If you think the markets we have in the UK are good, they have nothing on the German ones - stalls and stalls of crafts, heavenly food, gluhwein and more, they just epitomise Christmas. I think it would feel really special to go back especially at my favourite time of year so hopefully this will be one that gets ticked off in the not too distant future.
Germany
Source
Whilst I can't see us changing up our Christmas traditions any time soon, I do love the idea of doing something different one year and hopping on a plane somewhere. I'd love to know if you've travelled to spend Christmas day somewhere other than home before? Would you recommend it?

I'm going to be taking a break over Christmas now so I don't think there's anything else to say apart from Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a few wonderful few days whatever you might be doing!πŸŽ„

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Dermikelp Skincare Review*

I've become a bit of a skincare fanatic this year. After not really having a proper routine for such a long time, this year has been the one for stepping out of my comfort zone and really finding what works for me. Whilst I think I have it covered now when it comes to facial oils, make-up removers and my fave, face masks, I tend to change up which products I use in the shower all the time. Because I don't tend to stick to just one when it comes to shower gels and moisturisers, even haircare, I was thrilled to receive a few samples from Dermikelp to try out recently.
flatlay of the skincare samples, christmas props
Dermikelp are a relatively new brand which has been designed to be sensitive to the skin and sensitive to the environment. Each product they stock contains a high concentration of nutrient and mineral rich Sea Kelp which has been carefully harvested from the west coast of South Africa. A few good facts about this - divers only harvest mature stems by hand to ensure younger plants aren't damaged and this is only done every 2 years to allow the forest to fully regenerate. Also, no part of the kelp is wasted and their products aren't tested on animals which is so important to me and something I'm really keen on working on when it comes to which beauty products I choose in future.

I was sent one of their sample packs to try out so I could get a feel for the brand which includes a gentle cleansing body wash, a nourishing moisturising lotion, a cleansing shampoo and a hydrating conditioner.

Gentle Cleansing Body Wash - The first product I tried was the gentle cleansing body wash. Whilst indulging in a bit of a pamper evening and a relaxing soak, I thought it was the perfect time to try out some of the samples. The body wash has been specially formulated to clean and soothe itchy and irritated skin, something I've actually been suffering with a little recently. I'm not exactly sure why but I've found my skin has been a little bit irritable over the last few weeks so this was actually really lovely to use. The body wash lathered up in hot water really well and I did find it left my skin feeling much softer than before. I think if itchy skin was something I had frequently, this would be a great product to use often as it really was soothing and refreshing.Dermikelp gentle body wash
Nourishing Moisturising Lotion - After using the body wash, I applied some of the moisturising lotion which was such a nice change as I don't often make the time to apply a moisturiser or body butter anymore. Like the body wash, this lotion has also been formulated specially to help those with dry and itchy skin. It's supposed to re-hydrate, nourish and moisturise. Whilst I can't say I've noticed a massive difference since using this as it's only a small sample size, I did find my skin felt far softer than usual. There were also a few areas on my arms that had been a little itchy which were instantly soothed and far less irritable after applying this. A starter kit including this, the body wash and a soothing cream is currently £38.99.
Dermikelp moisturising lotion
Cleansing Shampoo & Hydrating Conditioner - Now onto the hair products, the cleansing shampoo and the hydrating conditioner. These two particular products are supposed to be ideal for everyday use as they gently cleanse without stripping the hair of any natural oils. I don't tend to wash my hair every single day as sometimes I find that actually makes it greasier and harder to manage but for those that do, these are a great option. As both have gentle formulas they're good if you colour your hair too but they are particularly soothing for those with dry and sensitive scalps. I've had quite a sensitive scalp for years now which I do find sometimes has an affect on the condition of my hair so I was really intrigued to see how these would work. Again, as they're on sample sizes I didn't get many uses out of them but going on the few times I did use them, I was really impressed. The shampoo felt really refreshing and the conditioner left my hair feeling soft and easy to brush through. I'd definitely be interested in trying both of these again in future and seeing how my hair takes to them over a longer period of time. A starter kit currently costs £24.99.
Dermikelp shampoo and conditioner
Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised by Dermikelp. As they are quite a new brand, I wasn't sure what to expect but each of the products have been lovely to use. I really did find the body wash and moisturiser soothing on my skin yet refreshing, ideal for the colder months I think and the hair products made a nice change from my usual brands. If you want to try any full size products from Dermikelp yourself, aswell as finding out more about their story, check out their website here for more.

Which skincare brand tends to be a go to of yours in the colder months?

*Products provided for the purpose of this post

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Nush Spreadable Vegan Cheese Review*

A major part of Christmas for me is the food. I absolutely love cooking anyway but there is something about this time of year that makes me want to get creating all sorts of yummy meals aswell as indulging in all the snacky food like crackers, pigs in blankets and festive flavoured crisps just to name a few things. A food I'm a huge fan of though, especially at Christmas time is cheese so I was thrilled to receive the new vegan spreadable cheese from Nush to try out a few weeks ago.
Nush spreadable cheese pots, Peter's Yard crackers, christmas props
Nush are an award winning brand who are known for producing the UK's first dairy-free, soya-free, nut milk yoghurt and they've now expanded into the cheese market, releasing a line of vegan spreadable cheese. Now, I'm a huge cheese fan, I eat it most days but I'm not vegan. Because of this I had absolutely no idea what to expect but I knew they would be great to try as part of a little festive cheeseboard once Christmas was well and truly under way.

The cheese spread is available in two varieties: Natural and Chive so let me tell you what I thought of each!

Chive

The first thing I wanted to mention about both of these pots is how decent the size is. I'm a big fan cheese spread anyway from various different brands but I do find sometimes the pots aren't huge therefore they run out pretty quickly in our home whereas these are 150g and I personally feel they last a lot longer. The chive spread has been made by churning bespoke, creamy almond milk with live vegan cheese cultures, British sea salt and of course fragrant chives to create a one of a kind dairy alternative. As soon as I opened this I was impressed with the consistency, the spread is quite thick which I liked as a problem I've found with other spreads in the past is that they can sometimes be quite runny and that just doesn't make me want to eat it so it goes to waste. It didn't take long for me to get stuck in with some Peter's Yard crackers (I featured those in my food and drink Christmas gift guide which you can find here if you want to know more) and I was pleasantly surprised! I loved the tangy chive flavour and whilst it was stronger than other cheese spreads I tend to go for, it complemented the plain crackers really well. This is such a great choice for lunches as it goes with so many things - bagels, jacket potatoes, canapes etc.
Nush chive cheese with Peter's Yard crackers

Natural

After indulging a little in the chive flavour, I tried out the natural version of the cheese spread which I enjoyed just as much. Again the thick consistency was perfect, it was great to scoop up with the crackers and I actually found it really filling too so whilst it's a great choice for something like a cheeseboard for everyone to share, you could easily get several lunches out of one pot too. Something I wanted to mention about both pots of the Nush spreadable cheese is that they are actually free from dairy, soya and gluten so they are great if you are intolerant to any of those but still want to indulge like everybody else over the Christmas period. Luckily I've never had any issues but I know cheese would be a massive loss to me if I did but at least now I know that Nush provide a tasty alternative that really don't make you feel as if you're missing out on anything. The natural flavour in particular too can be used for so many things, sweet and savoury dishes! - sauces, dips, pancakes, soups, cheesecakes and cake frosting. So versatile.
Nush natural cheese with Peter's Yard crackers
I've loved trying out the new vegan spreadable cheese from Nush and they were fab for a festive cheeseboard recently. I really do think they're a brilliant choice for any get together's or Christmas parties that you might be planning over the next few weeks and as they're so versatile you could create a number of innovate dishes with them. I'm personally keen on trying the natural flavour for a vegan cheesecake so if I do, I'll let you know how I get on! If you do want to pick these up yourself, they are available in Selfridges, Whole Foods & Planet Organic but a full stockist list an be found on the Nush website.
Nush natural vegan cheese and Nush chive vegan cheese
Have you tried any food from Nush before?

*Products provided for the purpose of this post

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Monday, 17 December 2018

The Christmas Tag #2

I do love taking part in tag blog posts and Christmas ones are always my favourite! I did take part in one last year which you can find here if you want to read through that too, but I spotted a different version on Polly's blog recently and I loved the questions. If you want to have a go yourself, feel free to copy the questions, I'd love to know your answers too!
Christmas tree lit up with TV next to it, fire crackling on screen
What is your favourite Christmas movie?
There are so many to choose from! Elf is always up there on the list but I don't think you can beat Love Actually. It's not Christmas without it.

Where do you usually spend your holiday?
At home! I absolutely love how George and I spend our Christmas each year and the little traditions we have now.

What would be your dream place to visit for Christmas?
It's got to be New York. I want nothing more than to visit one Winter when it's covered in snow.

Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
Christmas morning but we do open one each on Christmas Eve which is always exciting.

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
Something that stands out to me each year is the Christmas plays we used to do at School. I've no idea why as I never wanted a speaking role but I just loved the run up to it each year as it meant weeks of getting out of normal lessons and just singing!

Do you prefer receiving gifts or giving gifts?
Of course it's nice to receive gifts but I honestly love buying presents for other people more. I get so much joy out of it.

Favourite festive food?
Roast potatoes. I am obsessed with them. I could eat a plate of them alone. Though pigs in blankets are always a must too and you can't beat a really good Yorkshire pudding. I just love all Christmas food okay.

Favourite Christmas scent?
I love peppermint. I'm all about the fresh minty candles over the festive period.

Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?
For a few years now, George and I have been going to the cinema on Christmas Eve which is always so nice. I love going out to watch a good film then getting home to make a snacky tea (Camembert yes please), putting on a festive film and getting cosy. We also each open a present too.

What tops your tree?
We actually have a little pair of angel wings at the top of our tree. It's a bauble but it's too heavy to hang anywhere else so one year I just popped it near the top and it's been like that every year ever since. It's a special decoration and I think it makes a nice change.

Have you ever have had a White Christmas?
I can't remember the last time it snowed over Christmas but I'm pretty sure it has at some point. It tends to be after Christmas if we're going to get any snow.

What is your favourite Christmas song?
One I never tire of is Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Michael Buble. His whole Christmas album gets played on repeat in December.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Fake. I don't think I could deal with having to hoover up after a real one all the time.

Are you a professional present wrapper or do you fail miserably?
Well I love wrapping presents SO much but I don't necessarily think I'm good at it. It all depends what the gift is!

What makes the holidays special for you?
I think just spending time with people. It's a time where George and I can really just relax and spend time together without work or anything else getting in the way. Our wedding anniversary is just a few days before Christmas too so that just makes this time of year even more important now.

I can't believe Christmas is so close now! I don't want it to be over already. Have you got much planned for the next few weeks?

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

7 Tips For A Great Night Out With Friends*

Everyone loves a good night out but more often than not, they never go as planned. Whether you end up having too much to drink, you struggle to get a taxi or people don't show up - nights out are sometimes more trouble than they're worth. If like me, you love to get together with your friends but don't want all the hassle, then you'll need these top tips for a great night out with friends or family.
Group of friends with wine
Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

1. Get Together A Good Group Of Friends

When planning a night out inviting the right people is key. It may seem obvious, but the company you keep reflects on how much of a good time you have. Whether you prefer smaller groups or want to get the whole gang together - figuring out what kind of get together it's going to be is the first step to an incredible night. Don't forget to invite everyone well in advance, as chances are you'll all have incredibly busy schedules.

2. Go To Places You Love

Again, this may seem obvious but if you have a couple of favourite bars that you know you love, heading their first is always a good idea. You know you won't be disappointed by drink prices or a terrible DJ, so already you'll be ready for a good time. If towards the end of the night you fancy trying something new then there will be absolutely nothing lost.

3. Don't Do Rounds

Although it seems like an easier way to get the drinks in, getting rounds often puts pressure on people who may not be able to afford the same as everyone else. Having everyone else get their own drinks is a great way to ensure people don't end up spending too much and nobody misses their round or goes over their limit. If you want to know even more benefits of not doing rounds, you can visit this blog post here.

4. Know Your Limits

If there is one way to ruin a good night out with friends it's to have more than you can handle. Knowing your limits and sticking well within them means you can still have a good night without drinking more than you can handle. If you're lucky it may even prevent your hangover in the morning!

5. Ride In Style

Whilst getting a taxi is usually more affordable, riding in style is a great way to celebrate a special occasion for you and your friends. Whether you hire a seamless chauffeur or book yourselves a limo - it will certainly start your night off with a bang.

6. Have Fun

The most important thing to remember for a great night is to have fun! It's not often you get to go out with everyone, make the most out of it and make it a night you'll all remember.

Do you love a night out? What are your top tips for having a great time? Let me know in the comment section below!

*This is a collaborative post

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Friday, 14 December 2018

Then She Was Gone By Lisa Jewell Book Review

I've posted quite a few book reviews recently, the latest being The Wife Between Us and One Day In December, but it's time for another already! I just can't stop reading at the moment! I'm getting through so many books, it's actually becoming problem as I think we're going to run out of space soon πŸ™Š
Then She Was Gone By Lisa Jewell
She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet. But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year old daughter. Because his daughter is the image of Ellie. Now all of those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?

My review

This had been on my list for a while so I was thrilled to find it when we were in Manchester recently. It was a book I'd heard great things about so once we were back, I ran myself a hot bubble bath and got stuck in. The first thing I really liked about this book is how we were thrown straight in and within a few chapters Ellie goes missing. Because of that it might seem like we don't get much backstory but as the story unfolds, we do actually start to find out more and more about Ellie and what might have happened and this happens by Lisa taking us back in time. There are flashbacks to when Ellie was at school, planning for her GCSE's, taking on a tutor, living her normal life and that's when we get little drips here and there that really start to grow and plant this story in your mind of what might have happened. It's a really good mix of past and present throughout.

Whilst we do get flashbacks throughout the whole book, at no point did I find it confusing. Lisa has written it so well that it all just flows, and each chapter goes seamlessly into the next one regardless of if we're now being thrown back to the present day or switching to a different character, which did happen more towards the end of the book. A lot of the story is from Laurel's perspective (Ellie's mum) and we find her while she's trying to rebuild her life after Ellie's disappearance. She meets a new man Floyd and she tries to repair her relationship with her other children but as her new life begins, a few strange things happen that make her re-think Ellie's disappearance and how the person responsible might have been closer to home than anyone originally realised. 

Whilst this wasn't a book that makes it obvious who the culprit is going to be, I did have my suspicions once I got a couple of chapters in. That being said, I still had no idea where it was going to go and I ended up being seriously surprised at the end when we get the big reveal. It's such an intricate story and each character has so many different sides to them so each time you think you have something figured out, it soon changes again. From the very start I was hooked and whilst there's been a lot of books like that for me recently, there was something different about this. I just felt compelled to keep reading every time I opened it up and I was willing for Laurel to finally figure everything out and get justice for her daughter. The ending I actually found really emotional and it was hard not to be affected by the story and the characters because sadly things like this do happen and people do just go missing so it felt very real.

This is the first book I've read from Lisa Jewell but it definitely won't be the last. I can totally see why people love her books so much as this one had me right from the start and continued to impress right to the very end.

Have you read any books from Lisa Jewell?


Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Thursday, 13 December 2018

The Christmas Films I Never Get Bored Of

Whilst I'm not taking part in Blogmas this year, I did want to plan a few more Christmassy posts as this really is the best time of year and I absolutely adore writing about it. Over the last few weeks I've shared gift guides, festive activities I'm looking forward to, and also my Christmas wishlist, but today I'm talking all about films. There are an abundance of classic festive films, we're spoilt for choice especially with the likes of Netflix and Christmas24 (one of the best TV channels ever) so here are a few I always look forward to settling down to watch each year.
stack of Christmas DVDs

Arthur Christmas

This is still a relatively new addition to our Christmas collection compared to most of the others on this list but I'm so glad we have it to watch every year now. I first watched this a few years ago after seeing so many people rave about it and now I'm such a big fan of it too. The film is about Santa missing out one child at Christmas and so his son Arthur takes it upon himself to deliver the presents causing lots of chaos along the way. It's so heartwarming and just gives you all the feels! A great one to watch no matter what your age is.
Arthur Christmas

Bridget Jones's Diary

So this might not be technically a Christmas film but it's one that always epitomises this time of year for me. For as long as I can remember it's been on TV in December and so each year I love to sit down with a blanket and a cup of tea and just enjoy. Bridget Jones is one of those classic films I could never get bored of. Every time I watch it, I feel the same emotions as the time before and even though I know the ending, I'm always waiting for Bridget and Mark Darcy to end up together. All three films are brilliant.
Bridget Jones Diary

Elf

It's not Christmas without Elf is it? I can't imagine a year where we don't watch this, it really is one of the best ever Christmas films, I don't think anything like it will come along again. Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf is just brilliant, I laugh at the same bits every single year and it's just a great one to sit and enjoy with family. I also love all the clips of New York at Christmas time too, each time it makes me want to visit!
Elf

Nativity

Oh the Nativity films just make me so happy! They're probably aimed more towards kids but I really do think they're perfect for the whole family. The first one starring Martin Freeman never gets old and the second with David Tennant was such a good sequel. I love the new story they come up with each time and Mr Poppy is as hilarious as always. I know if I'm feeling down over the Christmas period and just want to watch something that will make me feel good, these films are the one to do just that.
Nativity

Frozen

I'm sure a lot of people would argue that this isn't technically a Christmas film but I don't care, I love it. We watch it every year, usually on Christmas day when we're both extremely full after Christmas dinner and in need of a nap! I love the story and how it focuses on the two sisters Elsa and Anna rather than it being some sort of love story again, and also Olaf is just one of the best characters in such a long time. I absolutely love him. The songs too are brilliant, another classic from Disney.
Frozen

The Holiday

Jude Law. Do I need to say anything else? A film that never fails to put me in the mood for Christmas. This is one I love to watch on a Saturday night wrapped up in a blanket, with a box of Christmas chocolates after a festive day out. I can't imagine a year going by where we don't find time for this film. The cast is amazing - Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jack Black and of course Jude Law and also Eli Wallach as Arthur who is one of the loveliest characters. The cottage in the film always gives me the cosy feels too.
The Holiday

White Christmas

Ordinarily this wouldn't usually be my sort of film. I'm weird, I don't like 'old' films but there's something special about this one. It's one George has always loved and over time I've grown to love it too so it would be strange to not watch it at Christmas now I think. I love our tradition of watching it on Christmas morning whilst opening presents and drinking Bucks Fizz! I love some of the music in the film too.
White Christmas

Love Actually

Probably my all time favourite Christmas film. I just adore it and never tire of it no matter how many times I've watched it over the years! I love each of the individual stories we get and how some of them are tied together and the ending just makes me so happy. Such an incredible cast too! Another film I don't think we'll get anything even close too anytime soon, years on it's still so special. It's one of those films that never fails to make me smile, laugh and cry, it gives you everything you could possibly want in a Christmas film. I never get over the scene with Emma Thompson and the necklace though, it breaks me every time πŸ˜­
Love Actually
There were so many festive films I could have included but these are the ones at the top of my list to watch each year. A mix of romance, Disney and some older classics. I'd love to know what your favourite Christmas film is? Do you love any of these too?

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

My Favourite Books Of 2018

2018 has been the year I've gotten back into reading and I'm so, so happy about that. After going such a long time without even thinking about picking up a book, I decided that this was going to be the year I went back to something I used to absolutely adore. I've got through far more books than I imagined I would so I thought it was about time I picked some of my favourites. This was a very tough choice, I've read such a variety this year from classic love stories to terrifying thrillers but I've chosen 6 (random number I know but there was a few that I just couldn't leave!) that have stuck with me ever since I finished the last page.
stack of books

1. Five Years From Now by Paige Toon

There was no way this was going to be anywhere other than at the top of the list. I'd not read any of Paige's books before but I spotted this in a supermarket one day, read the synopsis and then was annoyed at myself for weeks for not just picking it up at the time! When I eventually got round to reading it, it exceeded all expectations. I went into it obviously expecting a love story but it was so much more than that. The story of Nell and Van was so intense and their love for one another so strong, it just breaks my heart to even think about it still. Something about this just got me and each book I've read since has had a lot to live up to. The way Paige writes makes you feel as if you're in the story with each of the characters and going through what they are which is so clever. Every five years when it seemed there may be a chance for Nell and Van, I was desperate for things to work out. Whilst this may have not had the exact ending I wanted, it's a beautiful love story and I don't think it will be too long before I'm re-reading it.
Five Years From Now book

2. One Day In December by Josie Silver

It was so close between this and Five Years From Now for the number 1 spot. It's another book that once I read the synopsis, I knew I would have to buy it. Whilst I expected to enjoy it, because it's the sort of book I'd usually go for, I never thought I'd read it all in three hours because I couldn't stop. It's like my hands were glued to it, each chapter I just had to keep going. It's about Jack and Laurie whose eyes meet through a bus window and they instantly fall in love. Despite her searching, Laurie can't find him anywhere after her bus drives off, that is until her best friend Sarah brings home her new boyfriend. Yep, it's Jack. What follows is a brilliant story of friendship, true love and how if you're meant to be with someone, you'll always find your way back to one another. I was rooting for Laurie and Jack right from the beginning and I felt every single thing they did. I was an emotional mess at times but then beaming from ear to ear in other chapters. It just had everything you want in a love story. It's got a very Love Actually feel to it and with it being set around Christmas and New Year, it would make a wonderful gift. A really beautiful book in every way.

3. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Different to the other books so far but one that shocked me more than any other book ever has. I've really been into thriller type books this year and this was one that really intrigued me. You assume it's about an angry ex-wife, jealous of her 'replacement' but wow there is so much to it than that. Every assumption you make throughout will be wrong, trust me. Every single time I thought I had worked out who the 'bad guy' was, the story flipped on its head and I was right back at the start trying to figure it out. It was complex but not confusing if that makes sense. It does require some real thinking every few chapters but it's written so well, at no point did I think 'this is too much'. I've just never known a book have so many twists and turns, and the one that is revealed at the end of part one blew my mind. The same thing happened again with the epilogue. I could never guess where it was going and I loved it for that. It kept me on the edge of my seat throughout.
The Wife Between Us book

4. The Sisters by Claire Douglas

Another thriller that really did impress me. I've always stuck to romance type books until this year but The Sisters was the first of another genre that stood out to me. It follows Abi who moves to Bath for a fresh start after her sister's death. She quickly becomes friends with siblings Bea and Ben, who she soon discovers have some unsettling secrets of their own. From the start, I really didn't know where this was going to go. Weird things start happening once Abi is settled and whilst the obvious culprit is Bea who has been a little weird from the start, it's really not as simple as that and we uncover quite a deep backstory. Given everything Abi has been through, at times it even comes across like she's doing a serious of crazy things just for attention so it really does change throughout and I could never quite work out where it was going to go next. It has a brilliant twist at the end which I couldn't stop thinking about for days and now if somebody is asking for book recommendations, this is always my go to. It always tend to be priced around £2 on Amazon so if you haven't read this already, give it a go.

5. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

This is one of the latest books I've read and it was definitely more of a mystery novel than anything else. Different to everything else I'd already read before it but incredibly gripping. This is about Laurel who is trying to rebuild her life after her daughter Ellie's disappearance. Just as she's getting back on track, she meets Floyd, he seems like the perfect man. Then she meets his daughter who looks identical to Ellie. Instantly it makes you think of so many different scenarios about what could have happened to Ellie and if Floyd can really be trusted. It throws you straight in but we get flashbacks so we can really build up the story ourselves. I loved Lisa's writing, you really do feel for so many of the characters and it was never just a straightforward path to the culprit. The ending was actually really emotional too which I wasn't expecting. I've got a full review of this going up in a few days in case you want to know more!

6. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This is the book that made me include 6 on this list because I just couldn't leave it. It was the first book this year that made me want to carry on reading and it really made me fall back in love with it again. It was the book everyone was talking about so I was a little worried it wouldn't live up to the hype but I had no reason to feel like that. I absolutely loved the character of Eleanor, I thought she was very relatable in that she didn't have this perfect life and was actually quite down and miserable a lot of the time. She clearly had her struggles growing up and I liked how her story unfolded, leading us a massive twist at the end that I really don't you think get any inkling about. To say it was Gail Honeyman's debut, I thought it was brilliant and I'm excited to read more from her in future.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine book
It was incredibly difficult to whittle down all of the books I've read this year into this small list as hardly any disappointed me but these all stood out to me when thinking back over the year. Now I really do love nothing more than getting stuck into a good book, it takes me away from all things social media for a while and opens up this whole new world. I can't wait to discover even more brilliant books in 2019.

Which books stand out for you from 2018? Have you read any of these too?

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Birthday Wishlist 2019

Though it was only a few weeks ago I published my Christmas wishlist, it's already time for my birthday wishlist, something I like to do every year. I have no idea how my birthday comes around so fast, it's only a few weeks away now and I'm definitely not ready for it!
collage - books, recipe books, soap and glory fizz set, yankee candle, imperial leather, chicago dvd
Chicago DVD - I know most people probably aren't that fussed about DVD's anymore because with the likes of Netflix now, there isn't that much need is there? but I do always like to pick up a few each year each that I've really enjoyed. Being such a huge fan of musical theatre, earlier this year we watched Chicago for the first time and I became utterly addicted to it. The soundtrack gets played all the time now and I just want the film so I can re-watch it. It was surprisingly hard to find anywhere online! I'm not sure what it was in particular I enjoyed so much about it but the cast and the music are brilliant.

Yankee Candle Elevation Candles - I'm in love with the new Elevation range from Yankee Candle. They're the go to candle brand aren't they? With an abundance of beautiful scents, I'm always finding new ones I want to try but as soon as I spotted the new range in Clintons a few months ago, I've been desperate to get my hands on one since. Whilst I do love the original Yankee Candles, I think the packaging of these is so pretty and they're not quite as clunky. I can imagine one looking so nice on our bookshelf when I've finally got through some of the others we already have. I can't remember which scents I preferred but I love the look of the Evening Star candle and also the Holiday Pomegranate. They're currently on offer in Boots so are much more affordable than usual.

Soap and Glory Let's Get Fizz-A-Ball Gift Set - I'm pretty sure this gift set is part of Soap and Glory's Christmas range but the good thing with my birthday being just after Christmas is that I get to still include any festive gifts I've seen and sometimes even better they go into the sale afterwards πŸ˜‰. I love bath bombs but they can be so expensive sometimes. I've been wanting to try the Soap and Glory ones for a while and I think £10 for 3 is actually quite good value given you can be paying up to £5 or more in places like Lush now for one. I think they look so pretty and I'd imagine they all smell gorgeous. I love having a pamper evening so any bath products are always a fab present! I also really want to try the new No Drama Llama Foamburst from Imperial Leather, I keep hearing such good things about it.

Essie Surrounded By Studs Nail Polish - I have a huge nail polish collection so it's not that I really need anymore but I absolutely love the look of the Surrounded By Studs Essie shade. Their gel nail polishes are brilliant so I'd love to try more of them and I've been after a nice navy colour for a while. This is about £9.99 which is pricey for one product but the quality of this particular range is second to none.
Soap and Glory fizz set, Essie Surrounded By Studs Nail Polish, LLama foamburst, Yankee Candle Elevation range, Chicago dvd
Chris Bavin Good Food Sorted Recipe Book - I'm actually not 100% sure this is out yet but I thought I'd include it just in case. I'm a big fan of the TV show Eat Well For Less, I genuinely look forward to it every week when a new series is out and Chris Bavin has become a favourite of mine since then. He even replied to a tweet of mine once so you know we're basically best mates. I've seen some of the recipes included in this and I'd absolutely love to try them so I'm definitely hoping to get this at some point.

Anna & Theo by Amanda Prowse - I can't get enough of buying books at the moment. Two at the top of my list at the moment are Anna by Amanda Prowse and Theo by Amanda Prowse. Both of these tell the love story of Anna and Theo (obviously) but it's been split into two books. I love that this tells the story from both points of view and I'm intrigued to see how it works and why they've been written that way.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton - Another book but one that has been on my Amazon list for ages now. I've heard so many people talk about this and I'm just at the point now where I need to read it, I've left it long enough and there's clearly a reason everyone raves about it. 'It's a book about bad dates, good friends and - above all else - about recognising that you and you alone are enough.'

Baylis & Harding Naturals Festive Feet Gift Set - My feet suffer all the time, no matter what shoes I'm wearing or how far I may be going, they just always end up sore and achy so as soon as I spotted the Baylis and Harding festive feet gift set, I had to add it to this list. It contains foot soak crystals which just sound heavenly, a foot lotion and a cosy pair of socks which you can never have enough of in Winter.

Cath Kidston Phone Case - I'm due a new phone soon so I was thrilled to spot these two gorgeous cases on offer on the Cath Kidston website. I mean, they're still expensive for what they are but so pretty. The London phone case is obviously up there as a favourite, it's just like one of the gorgeous Cath Kidston mugs we have but I also adore the Sketchbook Dogs one. It has a cavalier on it and they are my favourite dogs so I'd like it just for that reason alone.
Baylis and Harding foot set, Everything I know about love book, Anna and Theo books by Amanda Prowse, Cath Kidston phone cases, Chris Bavin recipe book
As with any birthday or Christmas wishlist, I'm never actually expecting anything, I just like to put these together. I do think George finds them pretty helpful though when it comes to shopping for meπŸ˜‚. The day itself is never the easiest for me for a number of reasons so I'm more about spending the day doing something fun and eating a load of chocolate cake!

Have you tried the Yankee Candle Elevation range? or let me know if you have any other book recommendations!

*Affiliate links used in this post

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:

Monday, 10 December 2018

Current Netflix Top Picks #5

There is no better time for Netflix than Christmas. I am loving the range of films and programs on there at the moment and as we've been watching so many festive things, I thought it was about time for another post in my Netflix series.
Netflix logo, jack whitehall travels with my father, the princess switch, christmas with the coopers, the sinner, nativity

Jack Whitehall Travels With My Father

I loved the first series of Travels With My Father so I was so excited when the second series finally arrived. This follows Jack Whitehall and his dad as they go on unusual and amusing trips to foreign lands in an attempt to strengthen their bond. The second series sees them take a road trip across Europe to places like Germany, Hungary, Romania and more, all certainly making for an adventure and great TV. It's just so funny to watch their relationship, his dad is hilarious and I just wish they did more TV together. I don't think the second series was quite as good as the first but I still hope they do more in future.

The Princess Switch

Okay, I totally expected this to just be over the top cringe, but it was actually quite a good Christmas film! Far better than I was expecting and one I'd be quite happy to watch again. Starring Vanessa Hudgens, this film shows what happens when a down to earth Chicago baker and a soon to be princess, who discover they actually like like identical twins, hatch a Christmastime plan to trade places. Of course, it sounds like pure cheese and it definitely wasn't one of the best films I've ever watched but sometimes you just need a film like that. It was a nice, chilled out movie to put on at the weekend, a great way to start the festive season.

Christmas With The Coopers

I love that Netflix have a whole section dedicated to the Christmassy films now. There are some great ones on there and one that we watched recently was Christmas With The Coopers. It actually wasn't the happiest Christmas film ever, quite sad at times but I really enjoyed it. It's got a brilliant cast including John Goodman, Diane Keaton, Ed Helms and Amanda Seyfried. It's about Sam (Goodman) and Charlotte's (Keaton) annual Christmas Eve celebration where four generations of extended family get together. What the children and grandchildren don't know though is that Sam and Charlotte are planning on getting a divorce and this is their last Christmas as the family know it. Unbeknown to Sam and Charlotte though, each person attending has a whole host of their own problems going on and none of them quite want to open to each other about it causing lots of drama on the day for everyone. I love that this shows that life isn't perfect and just because Christmas is portrayed as this happy time for everyone, it doesn't mean that's actually the case. It highlighted lots of different issues but in the end showed the importance of family and being there for one another which was so heartwarming to see. Oh, and the dog totally steals each scene he's in.

The Sinner

OMG, why did it take me so long to watch this? When the first series starring Jessica Biel came out, everyone went mad for it and when a show is hyped up so much, it puts me off watching it. We were at a bit of a loss with what to start next though recently so we finally watched this and now, I just wish we'd given in sooner. It's absolutely brilliant! The first series follows detective Harry Ambrose delving into the past of a troubled mother, Cora, in order to determine why she fatally stabbed a man during a trip to the beach with her family, as she has no idea herself why. I loved that in the first episode they throw you straight in and we see the attack and that it's different to other shows in that then the following episodes are all about uncovering the reasons why and going back in time to see what Cora had blocked out for years. I think it's such a clever show and once we started watching, we couldn't stop. We've just finished the second series too which sees Harry Ambrose return to his hometown after a 13 year old boy confesses to poisoning a couple. Again he has to figure out why this has happened and he learns secrets that the town's inhabitants have been trying to keep buried for years.

Nativity

The Nativity films have been a favourite of mine for years and each Christmas I look forward to getting cosy and sitting down to watch them all again. There are 4 so far (the latest is currently in cinemas) but I think the original with Martin Freeman is probably my favourite. In the first film Martin plays a failed actor, now a primary school teacher and he's given the task of directing the school's Nativity play. He and Mr Poppy, the hilarious classroom assistant, tell everyone a Hollywood producer will be coming over to film the play which isn't quite true. Lots of chaos ensues but it's just so funny and heartwarming and it makes me smile each time. The second with David Tennant is equally as good too! Just the perfect films to get you in the festive mood.

What have you been watching on Netflix recently?

Follow Me - FacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest & Bloglovin!
SHARE:
© Food and Other Loves . All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Made By pipdig