Monday, September 1, 2014

August Reads

Hello! Yes, it’s been a long time, I’ve been working hard lately and just haven’t had the energy to write up posts, despite having tons of ideas in my head. Though it’s the first of the month and I just had to make sure my August Reads went up!

August Reads

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

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This book arrived after BooktubeAThon ended but before I left for Ireland, so I read after before I left and the rest when I returned. It follows on from the first book, which sees Marjane leave Iran and her parents to go to Austria to study. We see Marjane adapting to a new culture, growing up and developing who she is and all the struggles she goes through. I felt the book was a lot darker than the first one but I still enjoyed it, I love the illustrations and Marjane’s voice throughout the book. I think both books are well the read and I definitely recommend them.

 

 

How To Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

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This book was on my 2014 Watchlist because I liked the sound of Moran doing a YA book. It tells the story of 14 year old Johanna who lives with her family in a housing estate in Wolverhampton. Her father is disabled, surviving on benefits and still dreaming of becoming a big time musician. The family are pretty poor and after Johanna says something about her family’s benefits to the wrong person, she spends the summer constantly worrying that they’ll be cut. Desperate to try make some money for her family, she enters a writing contest and wins. From there she decides to become a music journalist and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde in the hopes of snagging her dream job.

On the positive side of things, I like that Moran isn’t afraid to talk about taboo issues like masturbation, poverty and UTIs. And even though the whole story is VERY similar to Moran’s own teenage and young adult life, I didn’t quite mind that. I think it made things seem a little realer, coming from someone who really knew what those experiences were like. The only thing that didn’t click with me believing I was hearing Johanna/Dolly talk and not Moran. There were just certain times where the voice just seemed too much like Moran talking and not Johanna. I do think this might be best for teenagers who are working out what they want to be as it does make you realise that sometimes you have to try on lots of different things personality wise until you find what’s right for you and that’s ok.

 

Disiraeli Avenue by Caroline Smailes

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I wrote about this more in depth here but this is a novella about the residents of Disraeli Avenue in Newcastle. Each chapter tells a different story about the resident and all chapters are written in different ways. Some in text speak, some in diary form, some like a chat. It’s a great quick read if you’re interested in how the lives of others living near each other overlap and how sometimes big secrets can be kept around those same people.

 

 

 

The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

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Kathleen Eaden was a cookery writer and the wife of George Eaden, who built up a supermarket empire. The Art of Baking was Kathleen’s biggest selling book and is used by generations of women. After her death, Eaden’s Supermarkets decides to hunt for the new Mrs. Eaden, a woman who will become the face of the supermarket and hold a baking contest. This brings together 5 very different people. Jenny, the older woman, struggling since her adult children have left home and becoming more distant from her husband; Claire, the single parent struggling to make ends meet, who put her dreams on hold after falling pregnant as a teenager; Vicki, who should be thrilled at being a stay at home mum to her young son but secretly doesn’t think it’s all it’s cracked up to be; Karen, 40 something year old obsessed with keeping hold of all she’s built up over the years, in fears of finding herself back where she began; and Mike, recently made a widower with 2 young children and trying to figure it all out. The chapters focus on the 4 women and the voice of Kathleen in the Sixties. All of them have their struggles and I honestly couldn’t chose who I wanted to win the competition. It would probably be very easy to dismiss this as chick lit but it’s definitely not. While some of the endings could have done with a bit more narration, I loved all the stories and I cried in certain parts of the book. If you like The Great British Bake Off then you’ll probably enjoy this!

 

The Antiques Magpie by Marc Allum

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Another book I started during BookTubeAThon but didn’t get around to finishing until this month. After reading The Science Magpie, I bought this book and The Nature Magpie on Kindle when they were on offer. And then forgot about them. After reading The Kitchen Magpie, I decided to give this a go.

Now, I know nothing about antiques and while there are probably some facts in here that antique buffs would appreciate more than I did, I did still enjoy this book. I like learning about things I don’t know much about and the Magpie Series of books is perfect for that kind of thing. It’s full of short little stories and tales, sometimes even just a paragraph or two, and it’s great to dip in and out of. Once again, I also love the cover!

 

Lost, Stolen or Shredded by Rick Gekoski

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I’ve wanted to read this book by Gekoski for a long time, the end of last year, after hearing him talk about it on a Guardian Books Podcast. Each chapter centres around something in the art world that has, you guessed it, been lost, stolen or destroyed. It starts off with the theft of the Mona Lisa, which tied in nicely with the Stuff You Should Know podcast on The Louvre. There’s a chapter on the lost poem from a 9 year old James Joyce called Et Tu, Healy, in which no copy has surfaced so far and is lost to time, one of Graham Sutherland’s infamous portrait of Winston Churchill, the burning of Byron’s memoirs and forger and murder Mark Hoffman. He brings up questions like should material be destroyed, if requested, after death and should countries keep works of art they have stolen or should they be returned to their country of origin. I think I preferred the first half of the book, each chapter was a lot more specific, whereas towards the end the chapters felt more general or vague, like the cradle of civilisation (art from Iraq) and the ransacking of Africa over the years. I did like the questions Gekoski posed and liked how he didn’t seem to come down on either side, as they are not black and white issues. I do think it’s a good read, especially if you’re an art lover.

 

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

embroideries by marjane satrapi

Yes, another Satrapi book! This one is pretty short though, I read it in under an hour. It tells the story of Iranian women gathering for tea in the afternoon and all the stories they have to tell, mainly about love, marriage and sex. I felt like I was there in the room with them and could imagine them drinking tea, gossiping and giving advice. There’s a great quote from Satrapi’s grandmother that says ‘To speak behind others’ back is the ventilator of the heart’. I’d suggest reading Persepolis first and if you enjoy that, then you’ll probably like this too. And if you think you know what embroideries means, think again!

 

Because I Said So! The Truth Behind Myths, Tales, and Warnings that Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids by Ken Jennings

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You’ve probably heard a bunch of these before like ‘if you cross your eyes they’ll stay like that’ or ‘If you swallow gum, it can stick to your guts’. In this book, Jennings goes through some of these myths and sayings and proves them right or wrong, often using news items, journals and reports to back up points. It’s another book you can dip in and out of and while I did find it interesting at parts, towards the end it started to lose my interesting, though maybe that’s because I knew the answer to a lot of the questions. An ideal book for reading in small chunks as a palette cleanser before diving into your next book.

 

The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn

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I chose to read this book because Sharon over at Behind Green Eyes recommended it to me and I trust Sharon’s judgement! I got this book on NetGalley so I’m going to write a post soon for it but to give you a brief description. Danny has always lived in the shadow of his twin brother Sam and despite being really close, they are opposites. On top of this, Danny is also gay and is sometimes teased. On their 17th birthday, Sam dies in a car crash and Danny must get to grips with his life without Sam. He moves school and almost straight away has to deal with being bullied for his sexuality. He does however also make a new friend, Cher, and falls for a cute boy, Rusty. It’s no secret I like YA but this is the first time I’ve read a YA novel that has a gay main character. It’s refreshing to have a different point of view, I feel like it made the story different from typical YA but at the same time it doesn’t stick out or distract either, it’s also just another typical YA novel about romance and coming of age. Does that make sense? I hope so! Parts of it reminded me of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. A very sweet novel.

And that’s it for August! I’m surprised I managed to read so much really, considering I’ve been so busy with work, but I did start 4 of these books in July! Plus Disraeli Avenue and Embroideries are so quick to read and I did finish The Before Now and After Then in less than a day, including work! But hopefully seeing that I’ve managed to read quite a bit will keep me on track for the coming months.

August Stats

Number of books read- 9

Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 4:5

Number of eBooks- 4 (Disraeli Avenue, The Antiques Magpie, The Before The and After Now, Because I Said So!)

Number of books borrowed from library- 1 (Persepolis 2, How to Build a Girl, The Art of Baking Blind, Lost, Stolen or Shredded, Embroideries)

Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 1 (Read more books from genres I don’t usually read)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: Music Singles I Bought

I started this post as just a throw back post to older songs I used to love that I had been listening to lately. But the more songs I ended up picking, the more I realised I was picking songs I bought the singles of! So I added a few more and voila! I had this post.

I’m starting with the first single I ever bought Baby…One More Time by Britney Spears. I had, of course, other music before this, I can think of 4 albums I had on CD (Spice, Spice World, What’s the Story (Morning Glory) and Now 36) but this was the first single I remember buying.

 

Of course, I was also a big Christina fan. And while I definitely had Genie in a Bottle on single, I picked Come On Over as I heard it recently at work and it’s been stuck in my head. I do find the video funny though, I think it’s the shimmering satin sheets in the background rippling.

 

I do really like Jennifer Lopez songs as well, they are so catchy. I remember with Love Don’t Cost a Thing, I played it on my cousins’ computer as it a video element to the CD. Oh the technology!

 

Speaking of those cousins, I remember playing Hero by Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott there when I bought the single. Ya ya, you can mock Nickelback all you want but I still like this song! And I was a massive fan of the Spiderman film it came from.

 

I still have Overload by Sugababes on CD, packed away in storage. It was, and still is, one of my favourite songs. I must really check out some MKS stuff.

 

There’s something about Kelly Osbourne that I’ve always loved. Back in the day, I think it’s because her punky style of clothing was very DIY, which I was into at the time, and I always wanted to be daring enough to pull it off! I bought the Papa Don’t Preach single when it was out, I really like the rocky edge to it.

 

Lastly I’ve been listening to Coldplay a bit recently, specifically the Rush of Blood to the Head album. I bought Clocks as a single, it’s just so beautiful and I still love it. I spoke about it a bit here in this post years ago.

That was fun! I think I’m going to do a post like this again in the future.Have any older songs that remind you of your childhood been stuck in your head recently? I’d love to hear which ones they are!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Palm Tree Nails

I’ve been wanting to do these nails for a while, but kept putting it off. Now that the weather isn’t as warm as it was, I decided to pep up my nails and keep summer going!

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Pretend that the blue in background is the sea and not a car bonnet!

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I had another orange polish in mind when I was thinking of this look but couldn’t find it. Probably for the best as I think this Rimmel Cocktail Colour in Shirley Temple works so much better as has that sparkle which just adds dimension. I used Barry M’s Nail Art Pen in Black to sketch and fill in the palm tree. It turned out much better than I thought it would! Just looking at these photos warms me up a bit, which is much needed as today I’m feeling very cold!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Essence Colour Flash Mascaras

I had hinted at these mascaras back in my post about the Essence Rock Style Hair Dye Powder. I had worn the purple mascara in that post but wanted to wait to put all the pictures together in one post. I have 3 out of 4 of the colours, I’m missing the blue one but I have the purple, red and turquoise ones!

Purple

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Turquoise/Green

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Red

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I think the purple is my favourite, followed by the green. The red is definitely for when you want to make a statement, I think it would be great for Halloween too actually. These can also be used in your hair, which is great if you want a flash of colour, however they do make the hair crispy, so it won’t be it’s usual shiny and smooth self! But still fun to do every now and again, I used the green on the bottom of my hair and was really impressed with the results, it has seriously tempted me to dye the bottom of my hair green!

I kept the make up relatively simple to showcase the mascaras but I do have another post planned with different ways and looks to wear coloured mascara, I just have to finish taking photos.

Do you like the look of these? Which colour is your fave? Comment below and let me know!

These products were part of the goodie bag from the Essence UK Launch. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Disraeli Avenue by Caroline Smailes Book Review

 disraeli avenue

When I saw this on NetGalley, something went off in the back of my head. I was sure I’d hear of it and I was sure I’d hear it was good but I just couldn’t remember where or when I’d heard it! After speaking to Beth from Plastic Rosaries about it, I decided to give it a go.

Disraeli Avenue is a novella with characters from Smailes’ previous book, In Search of Adam. It’s set around the houses and their tenants of Disraeli Avenue in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Each chapter focuses on characters from a specific house and a snippet from their life. Now, because it’s set around In Search of Adam, it DOES give away what happens in that book, so beware of that, there’s big time spoilers. That said, you don’t need to have read In Search of Adam to enjoy this, as I certainly did. If you like people watching or are fascinated by the secret lives of others, then you’ll probably enjoy this. I for one like to this about people who pass me on the street (not in a creepy way!) and what part of their life they’re thinking about at that time and how my life in some very small way crosses theirs. Does that sound a bit strange? I just find it so interesting that all these different lives and issues surround you every day and yet most of the time we never get to hear about these things.

If you’re looking for something consistent, then you might not enjoy this. There’s a mixture of different chapter styles, from conversations in text messages to diary format to letters and to people gossiping on the phone. Some chapters are written in phonetic Geordie slang, so you can imagine how the speaker sounds. I personally liked these elements, I found it mixed things up and contributed to the idea that there’s all these different characters.

This is a quick read, I read it in one day while on various buses. Also all profits from this go to One in Four, a charity which provides support for people who have suffered from sexual abuse and sexual violence. There’s no real plot in this book but if you love things that are character driven and are nosy about the lives of others, you might enjoy this short read.

This copy was requested from NetGalley, with no obligation to produce a review. All opinions are strictly my own.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Throw Back Thursday

I’m taking a break from the TBT Nails for this week as I wanted to do another TBT kind of post. When I was at home last month, I discovered a bunch of things that I had kept from over the years and thought this might be a fun post to do. I did a similar kind of post when I first moved out of home and went through all my junk (you can find that one here).

Page from a kids Filofax Activity thing

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I used to love these kinds of things, where you could fill in all your favourites. I have no idea when this is from to be honest, but I had at first listed Jumanjii as my favourite film but crossed it out for Greece (ha, I totally meant Grease! My spelling is so bad here). I had Robin Williams listed as my favourite actor (even before his death earlier this week I was going to do this post and when I remembered this page after I heard the news it made me feel even sadder. He was a massive part of my childhood, of some many people’s childhoods, and some of his films are still my absolute favourites. I could go on but if there’s one thing we can take away from all this is that mental health is still such an important thing to talk about). I had Brookside listed as my favourite TV programme! What kind of kid was I?!

 

Tapes

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On the left is the Grease soundtrack (well, couldn’t have it as my favourite film without having the soundtrack!), with the bonus songs of Blame it on the Boogie and Canned Heat at the end of the tape to fill up the space! On the left is one of my oldest tapes, the second tape in a Disney compilation that I got one Christmas off my uncle to go with the cassette player I got that year. I think I was 7? No idea where the first tape is though, which is a shame.

 

Selection of Old Nokias

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If there was a nuclear war, you can be damn sure there would be Nokias still intact! Before my current iPhone (which was my mother’s phone before I got it), all I owned were Nokias. These are all of them except my very first one, Nokia 3310, which I sold after I got the one on the far right, which was my very first camera phone. After that one went, I got the middle one which lasted me 4 years before upgrading to the one on the left. I still own a Nokia for my English number though I should really swap my phones around.

 

Barbie Postcard

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This was sent by a cousin who lives in London, before her summer holidays over in Ireland. From the address on the postcard, I would date this around 2000.

 

Lemony Snickett Print

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My sister printed this off and slipped it under my bedroom door one day. Not creepy or sinister at all….

 

2003 Elle Diary

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Oh to be young again! I used this diary to fill in things that I did so I could remember and I’m glad I did. It shows so many things, like my first time meeting friends (including my boyfriend of 9 years!), all the fun things I did with these friends (cinema, discos, hanging out with each other), serious things like my Nana dying and the things pictured above (Justin Timberlake concert, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book release and my Junior Cert results). It filled with fond, fond memories.

 

Christmas Card from 1998

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While I still have a lot of cards and stuff that I got from primary school (specifically this year, as it was my last year there before moving), I don’t know why this wasn’t with the others, packed away in storage. Perhaps because of the way my name was spelt wrong?! (seriously people, it’s not that hard!)

 

Favourite and Least Favourite Colour Sweet

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In Transition Year, I decided to survey my friends on their favourite and least favourite sweet colour (what a barrel of laughs I am!). It was probably sparked by an argument with some friend over which was best. Here’s the results below.

Colour Favourite Least Favourite
Purple/Black 5 4
Red 6 1
Green 5 2
Yellow 2 4
Orange 3 2

Red seems to be most popular, with the purple/black the most polarizing. My favourite is green and yellow is least favourite. It would be interesting to see if anyone has changed their minds! I know I didn’t.

It’s so amazing what you can discover when doing a proper clean out! What have you found when spring cleaning?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Roller Skate Cake

Ah, finally a break from nail polish posts! Not that I’m complaining but I do like the break things up a bit. And I haven’t posted a foodie post in a while.

Last Friday was my friend’s birthday and seeing as she plays roller derby, I thought it would be perfect to make a cake made in the shape of a roller skate! I went to Pinterest and searched for a similar cake, most of them were ones that are standing up but eventually I found this one with a tutorial of how to cut the right shape. I waited for my cake to cool completely before cutting, then put on a crumb coat and let that sit in the fridge and then applied the final icing coat. I cut a start out of tin foil to act as a star stencil and used strawberry laces as the real laces! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and even happier to report that it all got eaten too! Worth carrying into the bar in an empty Stella Artois box.

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