Thursday, 31 January 2019

The Man Who Didn't Call by Rosie Walsh Book Review

This book stood out to me months ago so I was thrilled that I got it for my birthday, along with a few others. I'm literally getting through several books a week at the moment so I really hope you don't mind all of the reviews!
flatlay - the man who didn't call book, flowers, trinket dish, nail polish
'Imagine you meet a man, spend seven glorious days together, and fall in love. And it's mutual: you've never been so certain of anything. So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him. But he doesn't call. Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they're wrong: something must have happened; there must be a reason for his silence. What do you do when you finally discover you're right? That there is a reason - and that reason is the one thing you didn't share with each other? The truth.'

My review

I'm quite fussy that when it comes to the romance novels, I tend to stick to the same authors who I know just get it right every time but there was something about this that just seemed perfect for me. It was a story I knew I could get lost in so once I spotted it, it was instantly added to my to be read list. That being said I did struggle a little at the start and I was worried I was going to be let down. I found the story started off really slow and normally I can tell from the first few chapters if a book is going to be for me or not but luckily that feeling didn't last too long and it eventually started to pick up.

The Man Who Didn't Call tells the story of Sarah and Eddie in flashbacks where we find out about their short week together and how they ended up falling in love so quickly, and then we go back to present day where Eddie has disappeared after their wonderful time together and Sarah is desperately trying to track him down. At first I did think it might have been better to have Eddie and Sarah's full week together first rather than switching back and forth but thinking about it now, I liked the change in pace and getting more of their story in little bits. Each chapter flowed well into the next despite several narrative changes too. For most of the book we just hear Sarah's side so it was nice towards the end to get Eddie's point of view too. I mentioned in my review of One Day In December that you don't often hear from the man in books like this so it was nice to know how he was feeling too.

Obviously I'm not going to reveal what actually happened for Eddie to disappear but I found the reveal absolutely brilliant. For the most part, I had absolutely no idea what had happened - had he died? Was he secretly married? Was he at all who he said he was? but the twist wasn't what I expected at all. It was heartbreaking, and from then on I knew I was in for a serious emotional rollercoaster. Surprisingly though, I didn't connect with the characters at all for at least half of the book and I wasn't really sure if I liked any of them. I don't know what it was but I didn't have that feeling of really wanting things to work out for them like I usually do in a love story but all of that changed towards the later half of the book. By the end I was so invested in Sarah and Eddie's relationship, I needed to know things would be okay, but I can't tell you whether that ends up happening or not. There are so many twist and turns, I could never guess how it would end which I just loved. It wasn't predictable at all.

Whilst I did wonder at first if this book would end up disappointing me after being so excited to read it, I'm so glad I stuck with it. It might not have packed quite as much of an emotional punch as other books have recently, and was a little up and down sometimes, but it certainly leaves you on the edge of your seat right until the very end. I'd actually be really keen to read more from Rosie Walsh in the future now!

Have you read The Man Who Didn't Call?


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Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Mary Berry Chocolate Fork Biscuits Recipe

What did I ever do without this recipe? I've been a big fan of Mary Berry and her bakes for a good few years now so I was thrilled when I got one of her recipe books for Christmas and one of the first recipes that stood out to me was the simple Chocolate Fork Biscuits. It's only 4 ingredients and takes hardly any time so I've made these countless times over the last few weeks! I've seen a few variations of this recipe online since but I wanted to share the original that I use, as if you love to bake, you need to make these. They're perfect to go with an afternoon cup of tea, so I've been treating myself to a few while I work!
Chocolate fork biscuits, with tea and book
Ingredients:
100g softened butter
50g caster sugar
120g self-raising flour
15g cocoa powder

Method:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and grease and line 2 baking trays (or 1 large one, whichever is easier for you)
2. Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat together until smooth
3. Add in the flour, and mix well, then add in the cocoa powder, stirring until it forms a dough. It's sometimes easier to use your hands once the cocoa powder has been added
4. Form the dough into balls, about the size of a walnut and place well apart on the trays
5. Dip a fork in warm water and use this to flatten the biscuits
6. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until browned then leave to cool

Have you got any other Mary Berry recipes you like to make?


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Tuesday, 29 January 2019

My 2019 Blogging Goals

Now 2019 is well and truly under way, it's about time I share some of my goals for the year. I have a few personal goals, just not as many as last year so I didn't think that was worthy of a full post but I find setting myself blog goals and having them here to come back to always keeps me motivated. I was so proud of what I did with my blog last year, despite not reaching a few of my social media goals, so I'm hoping this year will only be even better.
beauty flatlay

Have My Best Year Since Going Self-Employed

2017 and 2018 were great years for my blog but it wasn't without its ups and downs! After going self-employed, I put even more into my blog than ever before, it literally consumed every thought most days and because of that I do feel I did well in terms of brand collaborations and growing this as a business. I'm sure a lot of self-employed people reading this will understand the struggles sometimes though of how one month can be absolutely amazing and then the next, silence - no emails, nothing lined up. That's just part of blogging. Though I'm incredibly proud of what I've achieved so far and I'm so happy I've been able to turn this into a job, I want 2019 to be my best year yet. After a lovely break at Christmas, I've started this year ready and raring to go and now I'm determined to make my blog the best it's ever been.

Get Back Into Pitching To Brands

I seemed to lose all confidence when it came to pitching to brands last year. I have no idea why as it's not like I haven't had success that way before and I've always just had the attitude of, well the worst that can happen is they say no, but for some reason I just couldn't get my head into it last year. This year I really want to get back to pitching and working with brands I'm passionate about. Whilst it's always lovely to hear from brands/prs yourself, you also have to put yourself out there too and go and get what you want so hopefully now 2019 is in full swing and I'm feeling more motivated than ever, I can get back into this soon.

Reach 5000 Twitter Followers

This was my goal for 2018 but I ended the year on just over 3000 followers. I'm not disappointed in that as I still grew a lot on Twitter and worked hard on interacting more but I quickly realised once I'd set my goal that I'd probably aimed a little too high! As I'm over the 3000 hurdle, I think reaching 5000 is a bit more possible this year so fingers crossed. I'm keen to get involved in more twitter chats (if any ever seem to start up again?) and comment threads and really work hard on getting to know others. If you do want to follow me, you can find me here.

Reach 2000 Instagram Followers

This is another goal I was hoping to achieve last year but wow, Instagram is hard! As the year went on, more and more changes seemed to happen which just made growing your account was near impossible. It didn't seem to matter what I did, I just couldn't get anywhere close to 2000. In the end I finished the year on just over 1500 but I've hovered around that for ages now so I'm hoping 2019 is the year I finally get over the 2000 mark. I follow back so if you do want to give me a follow, you can find me here.

Get Creative With My Photography

This is a goal I'll set for myself each year as it's something I do really struggle with. I have times throughout the year where I seem to get into a good stride and create some really good photos (for me anyway) and then others where I just think I can't compete with anyone else when it comes to photography and I give up with it. I do think my photos have gradually got better year on year, they were absolutely shocking when I first started but there's always room for improvement and I'd love to really change a few things up this year.

I always like to challenge myself when it comes to my blog so I'm incredibly excited to see how it goes in 2019. I've got so many ideas of things I'd like to change and posts I'd like to write, a new year really does make me feel so motivated and I'm so determined to make this my best year blog-wise. Hopefully these goals will all pan out a little better than last years did!

Have you set yourself any blogging goals for 2019?

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Monday, 28 January 2019

Current Netflix Top Picks #6

It feels like ages since I last shared some of my Netflix favourites! I find with Netflix there are times where it goes really quiet and not much gets added and that seemed to happen over Christmas so we've actually been watching quite a lot on Amazon Prime instead. As soon as the new year hit though, Netflix pulled it out of the bag. So many of my favourite films have come back and a few tv shows have appeared and literally taken over my life.
You, The Haunting Of Hill House, Home Again, The Other Woman, Four Weddings and A Funeral

You

The show literally everyone I follow on social media is talking about right now, and rightly so. If you somehow haven't heard about this yet, it's a psychological thriller starring Penn Badgley who is known for playing Dan in Gossip Girl. It follows Joe Goldberg, a New York bookstore manager who falls in love with a customer named Guinevere Beck and quickly becomes obsessed with her. It's dark and full of tension and we ended up watching it all in about two days, it was just brilliant! I know we're not supposed to like Joe but I couldn't help it, I think Penn plays him so well. I'm so keen to read the books now before series 2.

The Haunting Of Hill House

There was so much hype around this when it was first added to Netflix and at first I thought it was a film but it's actually a supernatural horror tv series which is based on the 1959 novel of the same name. The show alternates between two timelines, following 5 adult siblings whose paranormal experiences at Hill House when they were children, still haunt them in the present day. It has several flashbacks to 1992 showing us their scary time at the house and the things that lead up to the eventful night they're forced to leave. I love horror films so I was sure I'd like this, and it didn't disappoint at all. There were some genuinely terrifying moments and it leaves you never knowing when something is going to jump up at you. It was actually surprisingly sad aswell though, I never thought I'd get emotional at something like this but the moments with Nell and Arthur really got me. I'm pretty sure it's coming back for a second series but if it does I hope it's a completely different story as everything seemed to wrap up well for them all in this one.

Home Again

This is one of my favourite films to put on when I'm in need of something a bit light-hearted. It stars Reese Witherspoon as a 40-year-old single mother who allows three young aspiring filmmakers to live with her in her LA home, the thing is she never expected to fall for one of them. It's just a perfect romantic comedy and I never get bored of it. It's got such a good cast featuring Michael Sheen, Lake Bell and Nat Wolff just to name a few and it's so funny. I highly recommend it if you haven't given it a watch yet.

The Other Woman

Another film I absolutely love and could put on at any time and never get tired of it. Starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton, it's about three women who are all romantically involved with the same man, Mark played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. They soon find out about one another and try to come up with a plan to get revenge on Mark. It's so funny and the three of them work so well together. Leslie Mann is hilarious in every film she does but this is definitely one of my favourites.

Four Weddings and A Funeral

Like Notting Hill, it took me so long to get around to watching this! It's a film I've of course heard so many people talk about fondly so I put it on over the new year and it was lovely! I just adore Hugh Grant so I was always going to like it really. Hugh plays lovable Englishman Charles who like his friends, always ends up unlucky in love. When he meets Carrie, played by Andie MacDowell at a wedding though, he thinks his luck may have changed. Unfortunately she has to return to America but as their paths continue to cross at several weddings and one funeral - he realises they're truly meant to be together. I can see this being a film I end up watching loads in the future, it gave me that warm, happy feeling just like Notting Hill.

What have you been watching on Netflix recently?

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Friday, 25 January 2019

Valentine's Trip Away: Top Travel Destinations For 2019*

Travelling is much more than having a week on a sun longer by the pool, couples in 2019 are looking for experiences. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, there's no greater excuse for a romantic trip away. But often, an unfamiliar location brings the biggest dilemma - what to pack!
Valentine's chocolates and flowers

Reykjavik, Iceland

Not an obvious choice on many couples list, Reykjavik is known for its astonishing views and uber-cosy vibes that set it apart from your traditional travel destination. If you're looking for something super romantic, sitting under the starry sky watching the northern lights. Or taking a relaxing spa day to another level by visiting the Blue Lagoon. There's no denying that the climate in the Nordic country is extremely different to our own, so what should you wear? Make sure you wrap up this Valentine's Day if you're heading to Iceland, because temperatures are expected to be between -2°C and 3°C. If you're planning on going on any excursions such as the northern lights or Golden Circle tour, you should think about packing some thermals as it can get even colder the further you move away from the city centre. Despite what you may think when visiting the frosty land, you can still dress up. Reykjavik has a number of fine-dining restaurants and some clubs. Some of the late-night venues have dress codes, so you'll need a change from your hiking boots and jumpers if you want to make it past the door. There are many students who live in the city and are less phased by the cold, so you'll fit in fine if you want to wear a dressy skirt and top - just bring a coat for the journey home and leave it in the cloakroom.

Riga, Latvia

This city offers exceptional architecture and experiences, so grab your passport and book those flights because when you're loved up in Riga, it's like a real life Richard Curtis flick. This capital has loads on offer, it's your chance to go all out. Whether you're into cars and want to visit the Riga Motormuseum or take a swift stroll through Central Market, you're really spoilt for choice with this location. But what should you wear? When it comes to the weather, make sure you're prepared for the lows of -6°C. For dreamy walks through Old City opt for toasty attire such as woolly jumpers, hats, scarves and gloves! Darker hues will go extremely well when it comes to posing in front of the bright buildings for the 'gram. Pack one of your favourite sequin dresses as the number of fine restaurants on offer are endless. Whether you're looking for the best local, Italian, Indians or Japanese restaurants - you must look good. Pair your dress with some chunky heels and wear a faux fur panel jacket to stay on trend.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

You may not be familiar with Plovdiv, but it's an upcoming destination that you must try with your bae. Dubbed as an exclusive city after being built around seven hills, you'll be thrown deep into the historic culture that comes with visiting this city. Think a chic top, women's straight cut jeans and metallic trainers. Then, be prepared to indulge in thousands of years old theatres, aviation museums and more! The question on your mind is what will the weather be like, estimates assume that there could be highs of 3°C but lows of -8°C. When it comes to packing for this destination, you need to pack something that keeps you warm but is super practical for walking - as you'll do plenty here! Think about thermal waterproof jackets, boots and gloves. This city is known for its cute local bars, so you don't need to go all out on an outfit if you don't want to. Go for something subtle like a roll-neck jumper, jeans and some flat trainers. Take a backpack to keep your belongings in and a jacket for when you get cold walking back to your hotel.

Krakow, Poland

First things first, if you don't head to Krakow this Valentine's, you should do at some point this year. Flights to this city aren't too pricey either, so it makes the perfect getaway for the most romantic day of the year whilst sticking to a budget! For a mix of historic and modern culture, Krakow makes the perfect trip for couples that love exploring new things. From partying in the main square to visiting castles and cathedrals, make sure you have enough time to explore everything. For Valentine's, there will be highs of 3°C but chilly lows of -7°C. For roaming around central with your loved one, fit in with the locals by wearing bright tones! But for Valentine's Day date night itself, be the star of the show with a chic dress and matching jacket!

Bruge, Belgium

There's a lot of canals and medieval architecture in Bruges. But what else makes it so special? From fantastic restaurants and bars to shopping trips and cultural landmarks, this surprise trip will be extremely hard to top. From visiting the Chocolate Museum to the Brewery, there's something for all couples to indulge in. When you're visiting, the weather is set to be around 6°C but can be as low as -1°C. When heading for a romantic walk around the city and stopping at cafes, you can keep it casual with a jumper dress or jeans and pumps - again, keep it lively with bright tones! Head out on a formal night out with heels and a sophisticated dress; for the walk home, you should always taking a matching jacket to ensure you always look on point.

Rome, Italy

There's nothing you can't do in Rome. Whether you're a complete foodie or just love the Roman architecture, everything is second to none in this city which makes the perfect excuse to snap every experience and upload countless tourist-styled pics to Instagram with bae. From visiting the Colosseum to Trevi Fountain, or even indulging in your favourite Italian dishes, this will make a trip of a lifetime and your most romantic one yet. Over the Valentine's Day weekend, temperatures are set to be at highs of 12°C (the hottest place on our list!) with lows of 3°C. So, packing for this place won't be as difficult. Pull off the Italian-chic look with knitted jumpers paired with denim skirts and tights. As you'll probably be doing a lot of walking, make sure to take some flats! You'll need to be dressed to the nines when heading to an Italian restaurant in Rome, so make sure you pack something really special for your Valentine's Day date.

Picked a location? There's a lot to choose from - but wherever you go, we're sure it'll be super romantic.

*This is a collaborative post

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Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash Review

It feels like forever since I last did a proper beauty review! With Christmas, birthdays and a few trips over the last few months, beauty kind of took a back seat but one product I've been meaning to talk about for a while is the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Wash which I've been using for a few months now.
Garnier Micellar Cleansing Gel Wash
I've been a huge fan of the original Garnier Micellar Water for years, it's a product I always go back to mainly because it just seems to work really well with my skin and is so affordable, but I was really intrigued when they released the Cleansing Gel Wash. The Garnier SkinActive Cleansing Gel Wash contains Micellar technology which acts like a magnet to remove dirt and make-up without leaving your skin feeling dry or tight. It pretty much does exactly what the original micellar water does so it's not like there's anything mindblowing about this but I've really enjoyed using it over the last few months.

I've been using this at the end of each day as the start of my skincare routine, and it's so simple. I use about two pumps of the gel, run under a little water and massage gently on my face. I use circular motions, focusing a lot on my eyes as I find mascara and eyeliner can be particularly tricky to remove sometimes. This foams up really well so not much is required and I love how gentle it is on my skin. I was a little sceptical at first about putting it near my eyes but it removes all make-up brilliantly and takes no time at all.

The last thing I really like about this, because I can be a little bit lazy sometimes is that it's an all-in-one gel wash so nothing else is really required. It removes everything in one go and I've found afterwards it leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft. I have noticed before that the original micellar water can be a bit drying on my skin and I've felt a moisturiser is needed afterwards but I've not had that issue with this. If I'm not in the mood to do a full skincare routine then I know just this alone will do the job.

I'm so glad I tried this and I understand now why it's been so popular since it was released. It's the product I've been reaching for over many others, and as it's such a good price I'll definitely be re-purchasing in the future. This is currently £3.99 in Boots if you're wanting to try it for yourself, though it seems to go on offer quite often!

Have you tried the Garnier Micellar Gel Wash? If so, what do you think to it?

Similar beauty reviews - Garnier Micellar Water // MasqueBAR Face Masks

*Affiliate links used in this post

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Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Obsession by Amanda Robson Book Review

Okay, I thought this book was going to be a little weird, but what I got was insane. I was intrigued by this months ago so when I got it for my birthday I was keen to start it straight away. Quite quickly I realised it wasn't going to be as I expected and a much darker story than any other I've read recently.
Obsession by Amanda Robson
'One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: Who else would you go for, if you could? It's a simple question - a little game - that will destroy her life. Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They're lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman's husband and another man's wife ever just be good friends? Little by little, Carly's question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?'

My review

This might sound a little petty but the first thing I picked up on with this book, was that there seemed to be some basic mistakes that had been missed in the editing. The main one being that in the synopsis it says 'Jenny' but throughout the whole book it's spelt 'Jennie'. That stood out to me straight away and from then on I noticed a few other little things which you would assume would have been picked up on before publishing. Anyway, it's only a few small details but it was obvious to me so I thought it was worth a mention. So now onto the story, we are thrown straight in with this book, there is no hanging about. Within a few pages, Carly asks the question 'Who else would you go for if you could?' and whilst you know it's going to start a whole load of drama, I never expected it to go as far as it did. Rob, not really thinking answers that he's always liked their best friend Jenny, and that's when things really get going.

As it says in the synopsis Rob and Carly are the perfect couple so I was shocked at just how badly things spiralled out of control. Instantly after that one question, you see that each character isn't as they seem and straight away I felt so uneasy because of Carly. Amanda Robson has written this in a way that makes you genuinely feel tense the whole way through the book and I can't even say the amount of times I felt so uncomfortable, I considered stopping reading. I just couldn't believe some of the things that were said, even with the characters Craig and Jennie who at first come across much more 'normal' than Carly and Rob. Each person was so unlikeable, I didn't connect with any of them, and whilst I'm sure that was what Amanda wanted with this book, I do usually like to have someone to root for, someone I feel invested in, so I wasn't sure how to feel for the majority of this.

I also found this book to be very up and down in that one minute I was desperate to keep reading and it really picked up the pace but then other times I was just bored and found myself skimming parts until it seemed to go somewhere again. I know not each book can be exciting all the way through but one thing to note with this is that it's extremely religious, something else I had no clue about before starting. Not that it's an issue at all but sometimes there was almost too much focus on that side of it for some of the characters and I just got a little bit lost.

This has probably come across quite negative so far which isn't my intention but I'm just very conflicted with it all! The main thing I did like was how the story was told by all 4 characters. It would constantly switch from Carly to Rob, Jennie to Craig and I didn't find this confusing at all. Each chapter flowed brilliantly. It was actually nice to hear from each person and get inside their minds as even though it was Carly who started everything, each person was affected differently by it.

I suppose all that's really left to say is that I do think it's worth a read if psychological thrillers are your sort of thing. Whilst it was far more sinister than I expected at times and left me feeling quite uncomfortable for most of it, I am glad I read it actually. It's just unlike any other book I've read before, it's genuinely shocking so I just don't think my mind could comprehend everything that was going on at some points!

If you've read Obsession, I'd absolutely love to know what you thought!

Book reviews - Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell // The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet

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Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Mini Film Reviews #2 - A Simple Favour, Sweeney Todd & More

It feels like ages ago since I shared my first post in a new series of mini film reviews so I thought it was about time for another. During this time of year we have so many movie nights so we've been watching all sorts, let me know if you've seen any of these too. Ignore that one of them is a Christmas film, I planned on putting this up much earlier in the month!
Collage - Sweeny Todd, Rock Of Ages, Nativity 3, The Festival and A Simple Favour

Rock Of Ages - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A musical I'd been meaning to listen to for a while and the film seemed like the perfect thing to start with. With the songs of Journey, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and more, it tells the story of two aspiring singers, Sherrie played by Julianne Hough and Drew played by Diego Boneta. Whilst chasing their dreams, a misunderstanding involving rock god Stacee Jaxx played by Tom Cruise threatens to tear them apart. First of all, I absolutely loved the music, just classic hits one after the other and secondly the cast is so strong, aswell as the people already mentioned it also stars Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Mary J Blige, Malin Akerman and also Catherine Zeta Jones who is basically a queen of musicals. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and I've already re-watched it a few times.

Sweeney Todd - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Why did I not watch this sooner?! Of course I'd heard of Sweeney Todd before and it had been a film on my to watch list for a while but it wasn't until the end of last year I finally thought to put it on. I absolutely loved it though! I'm such a fan of musicals anyway as I'm sure you know by now so I loved it for the songs but overall I think everything about it is brilliant. Just in case you don't know what it's about, it stars Johnny Depp as Sweeny Todd who returns after 15 years to London after being falsely convicted of a crime he didn't commit. He vows revenge, applying his razor to unlucky customers and shuttling the bodies down to Mrs Lovett who uses them in her pie shop. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are fantastic together and the whole film was just one of the best I've watched recently.

Nativity Dude Where's My Donkey? - ⭐⭐⭐

The first two Nativity films are a go to watch of mine at Christmas but it wasn't until last December I finally got round to seeing the third, Dude Where's My Donkey? You know from the title it's going to be silly but that's what the Nativity films are, something for the whole family to enjoy. Unfortunately I think this film went a little too far with that. The plot seemed a little all over the place, the songs weren't as good and generally I wouldn't say it was quite as funny as the previous films. It was still a nice watch and I'm probably not the main target audience so I'm sure kids would still love it but I don't think I'd rush to see it again. That being said I'd like to see the 4th film that's currently in the cinemas just to see how it works without Marc Wootton playing Mr Poppy. The first with Martin Freeman is definitely still my fave, such a lovely film.

A Simple Favour - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I had been desperate to watch this for ages! We didn't get around to seeing this at the cinema but I'd heard such good things about it so I was really intrigued to see if it would live up to all of it's hype. Anna Kendrick plays Stephanie, a mummy vlogger who wants to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily's (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. I ended up really enjoying this and I think all of the praise it's been getting has been so deserved. It has a great story and the cast are brilliant, it was great to see Henry Golding from Crazy Rich Asians in this too who I mentioned in my last mini film review post. I did find it a little confusing at times not knowing who was playing who at the end and what Emily's real plan had been but maybe that's just me. I'd love to watch it again.

The Festival - ⭐⭐⭐

I think you can tell from the trailer alone this is a bit of a silly, Inbetweeners style movie but I just felt like putting something on to have in the background one weekend recently and so I chose this. Joe Thomas who is known for playing Simon in The Inbetweeners, is Nick, a young man who thinks his life is basically over after his girlfriend dumps him at graduation. His best friend has a solution though, three days at a giant music festival. Whilst some bits are a bit gross and cringey, it was what I expected it to be - a silly British comedy. I wouldn't be in a rush to watch it again but it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it might be. Nick's character is basically Simon though, there was no difference at all between them!

Have you watched any of these films too? Would love to know what you thought if so!

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Monday, 21 January 2019

3 Musicals I'd Like To See In 2019

Being such a huge fan of all things musical theatre, I have a ridiculous list of shows I'd like to see. From classics like The Phantom Of The Opera to more modern ones like Mean Girls, there are so many incredible shows playing all over the world. I've been lucky enough to see 4 so far - Wicked, Kinky Boots, Heathers and Hamilton, and I'd love to add to that list in 2019 so here are three I'm really hoping/planning on seeing before the end of the year.
Come From Away, Waitress, Dear Evan Hansen

Come From Away

'This joyous new musical shares the incredible real-life story of the 7000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada during the wake of 9/11 and the small Newfoundland community that invited these 'come from aways' into their lives. An uneasiness turned into trust and music soared into the night, gratitude grew into friendships and their stories became a celebration of hope, humanity and unity.' 

We've actually already booked our tickets for this and I cannot wait to see it! I first listened to the original soundtrack last year and soon completely fell in love with the story and the music. It's the one soundtrack that can make me emotional in an instant so I have no doubt I will be a mess by the end. It's received so much praise everywhere it's opened so far, as it's such an important show and knowing it's real life only makes it even more special for people I think. I have no doubt it will do brilliantly once it starts in London at the end of January. The queen herself Rachel Tucker is playing Beverley Bass too so I am incredibly excited to see her again after loving her in Wicked.
Come From Away

Waitress

Based on the 2007 film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who unexpectedly becomes pregnant and feels trapped in an unhappy marriage. Looking for a way out, she sees a pie contest in a nearby county and it's grand prize as her chance.

I have been listening to the soundtrack of this for SO long so I was thrilled when they announced it was transferring to the West End, and even better to the Adelphi Theatre after the closing of Kinky Boots. It's such an empowering musical about strength, hope and love and how it's okay to make mistakes and for your life to maybe take a different path than you planned. It features original music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, who has done an absolutely amazing job and I'm just desperate to see how those songs play out on stage. When the casting was originally announced for the West End run, I wasn't 100% sold on the news that Katharine McPhee would be playing Jenna but I'm intrigued to see what she does with the role, and also the fab David Hunter, fresh from playing Charlie Price in Kinky Boots is playing Dr Pomatter too so I can't wait to see him in this.
Katharine McPhee, Waitress
Source

Dear Evan Hansen

'A letter that was never meant to be see, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he's always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Both deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is a new American musical about life and the way we live it.'

This musical stood out to me quite a while ago as a lot of it is centred around social anxiety, something I know all too much about. One of the main songs 'Waving Through A Window' got me the first time I listened to it as I felt I could relate to it so much and since then this show has been on my list to see one day. Luckily it is transferring to the West End and is opening towards the end of 2019 at the Noel Coward Theatre. Dear Evan Hansen definitely isn't the most uplifting musical and it's pretty much guaranteed to make you cry but I think it's really special. I'm sure it's one lots of people will relate to for a number of reasons.
Dear Evan Hansen
Source
I'm always planning for the next show, I just can't help myself, so fingers crossed I manage to see all of these this year. I'd love to know if you have any theatre trips planned?

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Friday, 18 January 2019

A Little Book Haul

It's been a while since my last book haul, not because I haven't been buying books, but because I've been getting through them all so quickly! I've actually ended up reading two of the books in this post already this week but I thought as I got quite a few for my birthday, I'd share them anyway in case you're in need of a few recommendations.
stack of books

Everything I Know About Love - Dolly Alderton

I've had so many recommendations for this so when I was ordering a few books last week, I decided to grab it, even better that it was on offer for only £6 too. After reading so much fiction over the last few months, well most of 2018 really, this was a welcome change. It won autobiography of the year at the National Book Awards and it was shortlisted for Waterstones Book Of The Year 2018 so I was so excited to read this and it didn't disappoint. I'll have a full review up in a few weeks!

'When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. She vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you've ever been able to rely on, and finding that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It's a book about bad dates, good friends and - above all else - about recognising that you and you alone are enough.'
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

Our House - Louise Candlish

I think this has only recently been released so it was a pretty last minute addition to my order but once I read the synopsis, I was so intrigued, I just to had to buy it. I know the whole point is that we obviously don't know what is going to happen throughout but I genuinely can't figure out how something so drastic could happen and what events could possibly lead to it. From the reviews I've read, it's apparently quite a shocking read and leaves you on edge right until the very last line, so it's safe to say I'm desperate to start this!

'On a bright morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they've just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it's your house and you didn't sell it. When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most? Bram made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her - and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth - that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?'
Our House by Louise Candlish

I Know My Name - C.J. Cooke

I love mystery books and this one had me on the edge of my seat all the way through. I read Then She Was Gone recently which was also about a missing person and though this is obviously a little different, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the tension that it had so I thought this would be quite similar. I loved piecing all of the clues together as I went along but the reveal was nothing like I expected. I'm actually not sure whether to even write a review on this or not as it seriously creeped me out!

'Kommeno Island, Greece: I don't know where I am, who I am. Help me - A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there. 
Potter Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloise Shelley is officially missing - Lochlan's wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie... Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloise missing? Why did she forget? The truth is found in these pages...'
I Know My Name by CJ Cooke

The Guilty Wife - Elle Croft

I'd actually not heard of this book before I got it for my birthday but it's exactly like what I would pick up myself. A psychological thriller that's full of twists and turns. I've read so many thrillers over the last year, some have left me a little disappointed but most I've been left thinking about for days so I'm excited to see how this compares. I already think Bethany is going to be such an interesting character.

'I'm guilty of many things. But I'm innocent of murder. Bethany Reston is happily married. But she's also having an affair with a famous client. And no one can ever know. When Bethany's lover is brutally murdered, she has to hide her grief from everyone. But someone knows her secret. And then one day the threats begin. With an ever-growing pile of evidence pointing to her as the murderer, the only way she can protect her secrets is to prove her innocence. And that means tracking down a killer.'
The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft

Johnny Be Good - Paige Toon

And to round this post off, I had to order another one of Paige Toon's book. I've read three of her books so far, and thoroughly enjoyed them all, even if they do usually break my heart a little, so I'm keen to try and get through them all at some point. The one I decided to go for this time was Johnny Be Good which I think is one of her most popular books so I have no doubt I'll love it just as much as the others I've read. This also has a sequel and a small story available on Kindle so it's going to be a decent one to get stuck into I think!

'Celebrity PA to wild boy of rock Johnny Jefferson, Meg's glam new life in sun-drenched LA is a whirlwind of showbiz parties and backstage passes. Cool, calm Christian, in town to write his famous friend's biography, helps keep Meg's feet firmly on the ground. But with Johnny's piercing green eyes and a body Brad Pitt would kill for, how long will it be before she's swept right off them again?'
Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon
At the moment I love nothing more than finding time in the evening to get cosy and read a couple of chapters of a book so it probably won't be long before there's another post like this. What books have you read recently?
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Who Says A Vegan Diet Needs To Be One Of Sacrifice?*

With the coming of every new year, it seems appropriate to take a moment to pay respects to the rise of Veganuary. The worldwide resolution to eschew animal products at least for the first month of the year has reached another record high in 2019 with no less than 300,000 people answering the call to lead a cruelty free (and potentially healthier) life even if it's just to give it a try. Most of us have stopped to consider at least for a while whether veganism is for them. Many may have a sincere desire to lead a cruelty free life but find themselves saying something along the lines of 'I don't know if I can go vegan. I couldn't live without...' before inserting the name of their favourite foods. However, a vegan diet needn't be one of sacrifice. With just a little tweaking, all of the foods you love can be made completely free of animal products at the expense of none of the flavour...
Vegan pizza
Image by Pixabay

Good For You, Good For The Planet

The right motivation can be an important way to get over any teething problems. If you should find yourself craving meat, dairy or eggs when dipping your toe in the waters of veganism, remember that a plant based diet is not only potentially good for you, it's one of the most impactful things you can do for the planet. Not only is the high protein 'Western diet' high in saturated fats and connected to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer (America's biggest killers), it also uses a colossal amount of land, water and other natural resources. And that's before we get into the inherent cruelty of industrialised animal husbandry. Besides, you'll find that wherever your culinary passions lie there's a vegan alternative...

Currys, Stir Fries and Rice Dishes

If you're a lover of Asian cuisine like stir fries, pad Thai, curries and rice dishes, these are among the easiest dishes to make vegan. Simply replace your usual meat or seafood with silken tofu or seitan. Seitan has a texture similar to duck or tender beef but it is higher in protein and lower in saturated fats than either.

Burgers

Who doesn't love a good burger? They are the quintessential American food and as a nation we consume around 50 billion of them a year. However, while beef may be a popular sandwich filling, there's no denying that cattle farming is also responsible for a whole lot of environmental damage and animal suffering. Switch out your beef for a seitan patty however and you can enjoy all of the protein with none of the animal suffering.

Pizza

All around the world, who doesn't love a slice of pizza? However, even when it's loaded with veggies, your aromatic cheese dripping feast can still carry a hefty carbon footprint. Dairy is a highly resource intensive mode of farming and since it involves calves being taken away from their mothers after just 24 hours it can also be a source of intense animal suffering. Fortunately, with so many plant based cheese substitutes on the market, vegan pizza is becoming increasingly common and getting more and more delicious.

Cake, Pies and Desserts

If you have a sweet tooth, you may assume that there's no way to get the delicious desserts you love without milk, eggs, butter and cream. However, those who assume that you need dairy for a satisfying dessert need to check out these must-try vegan dessert recipes. They're delicious, satisfying and in some cases, a little healthier than their dairy laden counterparts.

So, there you have it. A vegan diet doesn't need to be a diet of sacrifice and abstinence and if you think that going vegan means committing to a life of 'rabbit food', think again!

*This is a collaborative post

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Thursday, 17 January 2019

The Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris Book Review

This is a book I've been waiting to read for such a long time. I almost bought it a few times over the last few months but 1. I already had a ridiculous amount of books to get through first and 2. I had a feeling it was one of my Christmas presents. Luckily it was, and I got stuck in straight away, to then finish it less than 48 hours later because I just couldn't stop reading once I started.
flatlay - The Tattooist of Auschwitz book, star candle holder
'I tattooed a number on her arm. She tattooed her name on my heart. In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival - scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale, a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer - it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did too. So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.'

My review

The subject of Auschwitz has fascinated me since school. I always looked forward to history lessons and it was something I always wanted to find out more about despite it being such a truly awful thing. I remember getting so involved in lessons about it, so this book was always going to be a must read for me. Told by Heather Morris, this is a book about Lale and Gita who meet at a concentration camp. It's love at first sight so what follows is a story of how true love can overcome anything and how humanity can be found even in the worst circumstances.

My first thought after finishing this book was how well Heather had handled such a sensitive topic. I'm almost struggling writing this review because I don't feel anything I can say can do it justice and how do you talk about such a thing that happened to so many people? To me, it was clear that much thought had gone into how best to approach this and that it was done in a way that was respectful to the people involved, but gave enough detail for us to really understand. I thought Heather's writing style was great, in that the book was very easy to follow from the very start, despite there been times where narrative changed from one person to another. It all flowed seamlessly. Her writing also really allows for you to build the story up as you go along and I found I could really clearly picture everything. Almost like a film playing out in my head.

I also thought Heather was great in building up tension in certain moments and at times I felt I was holding my breath, just waiting for something to go wrong, despite knowing that somehow it all ends up okay in the end. I was still always wondering how Lale and Gita were ever going to get themselves out of this situation, it was absolutely heart-wrenching at times. Even more so, because all I could think when reading was 'this actually happened, this was real life'. You could feel their love for one another and you just can't possibly imagine how it must have felt at the time for them both to not know how they could just survive, let alone be together. Though at times, this was a tough read, I feel like I've learnt so much. Though everyone knows the horror of the Holocaust, I still at times found myself so shocked at some of the things that happened, I just couldn't comprehend how humans could ever be so cruel to one another.

I think The Tattooist Of Auschwitz is a book everyone should read. The love story of Lale and Gita is told so sensitively, Heather has just done a brilliant job and was clearly very invested in making this the best it could be for everyone involved, it fully deserves all of the recognition it's getting. Stories like Lale's are so important and need to be told. We need to be the ones to share their stories so something like this can never be forgotten and can be never be allowed to happen again and I think books like this are the perfect way. I actually really hope it gets made into a film in the near future (I think it was originally intended to just be a movie), I think it would translate to screen beautifully and it would be a great way of getting this incredible story of love, friendship and hope out to a wider and younger audience.

This was the first book I read in 2019 but I already think it's going to be a hard one to beat. I have a feeling it's going to stick with me for a very long time.

Have you read The Tattooist Of Auschwitz?

Other book reviews - Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews // The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet

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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

4 Things We Shouldn't Feel Guilty About*

I'd really love to know if anyone else has found that the older you get, the more judgemental people around you seem to become? From GCSE's at school to choosing whether to go to university or not and then pursuing your career - everyone seems to have an opinion, and don't even get me started on people thinking they have a right to know what you earn and when you'll be having children. I've definitely not done things the easy way since leaving college and the 'plan' I had pretty much disappeared but I'm kind of sick of feeling judged because of it. I think with society as it is nowadays and social media being what it is, we all get criticised no matter what we do but I'm done with feeling guilty of how I live with life. So, here are 4 things I don't think anyone should feel guilty about (though I could have probably added far more!)
Bomb Cosmetics bath bombs at the Yorkshire Soap Company

1. Wanting To Grow Our Social Media Platforms

As much as people say you shouldn't focus on the numbers when it comes to social media, as a blogger it's pretty hard not to. Whilst I agree it can sometimes be easy to get a little bit obsessed with it and almost too focused, I don't think keeping track of where you're at and setting yourself goals each year is a bad thing. Some people blog for fun but others treat their blog as a business and so kind of need to be aware of their follower count. I've seen many people comment online about how numbers don't matter and whilst I completely agree they aren't the be all and end all and I think the quality of your blog and your content is just as important, if not more, I'm not going to feel guilty for wanting to grow my social media platforms anymore. We're allowed to want to see results for the hard work we put in!

2. Changing Things We're Unhappy With

This applies to a number of things in life but the main one I see a lot of criticism over is cosmetic surgery. Now I'm not saying there's anything I'm desperate to change or would be brave enough to actually go forward with but I know many people online and who I've grown up with that have had certain procedures done and it has changed their life. Women, especially seem to get frowned up if they've had any work done as people just think you should love the body you're in no matter what, and whilst that would be nice, that's not the case for everyone. Whether you require dental services because you're insecure about the state of your teeth and want to be able to smile properly again in photos, or if it's something a little more personal, who are we to judge what one person does with their body? One small change could give them a much needed confidence boost.

3. Your Living Situation

I think no matter what your living situation is, whether you're living at home with parents, in a student flat, renting or have a mortgage, there will always be someone ready and waiting to criticise you. I think it's one of those things where if you're not doing exactly as everybody else is, or how they expected, then it's wrong. People who still live with family are made to feel guilty as it's just a given apparently that you don't pay rent and get everything done for you, but sorry that's not the case for everyone. Those who are renting like me, can sometimes find people judge because to them it's just common sense that you save for a deposit and buy a house. Many times I've felt embarrassed or guilty that we've been renting for years whereas other people I have know have already bought their first home, but I like my home! I'm not going to be made to feel bad anymore. No one knows the reasons why people choose to do what they do, and frankly it's none of their business.

4. Not Drinking

This is a big one for me and one that I find crops up at least a few times a year if there are occasions or events. It's just expected that you drink and if you don't, people think there's a big reason why. I'm not saying I'm teetotal, I do love a glass of prosecco every so often and in Summer sometimes it's nice to sit somewhere and have a drink but the majority of the time I'm just not about that life. I find alcohol can sometimes set my anxiety off and in the past I've found it's just not been worth it. I like to think I'm still pretty fun without the drink but I get the impression a lot of people assume you're boring or just a bit weird if you don't drink and I am beyond tired of it. Just leave people alone! I hate that some people feel they are entitled to know your entire life story and your reasons for saying no. You don't owe anyone an explanation.

I hope this hasn't come across like just one big rant, I'm just quite passionate about all 4 of these things and I think they're all something different people will be able to relate to. Let me know though if you agree with any of them or if you have any other experiences you want to share.

*This post is in collaboration with Tooth-Doctor

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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

What I Got For My Birthday & A Shopping Trip To Leeds

It's not long since my What I Got For Christmas blog post but as my birthday was just last week, I thought I'd share some of the presents I got for that too. I feel like whenever anyone does a post like this, we all have to say we're not bragging or anything so yeah I'm not, I just love reading posts like this!
flatlay - cadbury, soap and glory set, kinky boots dvd, imperial leather foamburst
So, one of the first presents from George that I opened was this beautiful candle in the scent Holiday Pomegranate. I've been wanting to try one of the new Elevation candles for months but I'd not got round to it yet (that and the fact I already had about a million to burn over Christmas) so I was so happy to get this. It smells absolutely gorgeous too, just like cherries and apples! 
Yankee Candle Holiday Pomegranate candle
I then unwrapped lots of beauty bits which was exciting. The new Imperial Leather No Drama Llama FoamBurst smells so sweet, I am obsessed with it already, and sticking with the 'pamper' theme, I also got the Soap and Glory Fizz Set which I spotted just before Christmas. It has their three bath bombs which are something else I've been meaning to try for a long time, and aren't they so pretty? I can't wait to use these. George also got me some Essie nail polishes too which I wasn't expecting! He got me one of their Gel Couture polishes in the shade Surrounded by Studs which is a deep navy colour and I also got the shade Apres Chic. I'm always painting my nails so these are a fab addition to my collection.
flatlay - soap and glory fizz set, imperial leather foamburst, essie nail polishes
A few final bits from George included the loveliest Christopher Robin colouring book which is going to be perfect for days I just need to chill out a bit. I find colouring so relaxing and of course, I adore Winnie the Pooh so it's absolutely perfect. He also got me Kinky Boots on DVD, I'm sure you know by now I'm a huge fan of the musical and the film is just brilliant so I'm so happy to have this. It will be nice to watch now the show has closed! And of course, there had to be some food involved didn't there? I am a chocolate fiend so I was thrilled with the huge bar of Cadbury and the Bournville gift box.
Bournville gift box, cadbury bar, kinky boots dvd
I also got a few lovely gifts from George's brothers too which I totally wasn't expecting. It made my day. Two books which I'm really excited to read - The Guilty Wife and I Know My Name. They also got me Chicago on DVD which I have been after for ages now, I am literally obsessed with the soundtrack. And finally a few food bits which I have thoroughly enjoyed over the last week. More Bournville too so I now have plenty to get through! I also received a few lovely presents from some other people too, mainly bath bombs and beauty bits 🙊
flatlay - chicago dvd, bournville orange, 2 books
I was totally spoilt this year and I couldn't be more grateful for everything I received. My birthday is never something I particularly look forward to, I much prefer to celebrate other peoples but to say how hard it has been over the last few years, this was completely different. I had the best day and I actually didn't want it to end. Not only did I get some really thoughtful gifts but George and I also had such a nice day out. We went to Leeds which isn't too far from us for a day of shopping and food and it was exactly what I needed.
Leeds Trinity
Lindt store, Leeds
The Yorkshire Soap Company, Leeds
We had a delicious meal at Bills, somewhere we'd not actually ever been too before and I already want to go back for more. To start we had the best bread board and oils, if there is something like that on a menu, there will never be a time I don't order it, anyone else just LOVE bread?! For mains I had the pan fried chicken with herbed mashed potatoes, long stem broccoli and a truffle and wild mushroom sauce, and George had the steak - both meals were insanely good. And for dessert, because you've got to have one on your birthday, I had the eton mess and George had the pecan pie. It was literally one the best meals out we've ever had!
Bills Restaurant, bread board
Bills restaurant, pan fried chicken
Bills restaurant, eton mess and pecan pie
It was just the best day and the perfect way to start off the month.

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