Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes Book Review

TWWSML I’m a big fan of Marian Keyes. I’ve read all her Walsh family books so far, which I love and have started to read others. When I saw The Woman Who Stole My Life on NetGalley, I pressed request right away and was lucky enough to be approved to read it.

The story starts with Stella, a mother of two in her early 40s who has returned home to Ireland from America as a bit of a failure. We find out that she had some minor success as an author but it didn’t go exactly to plan and Stella is desperately trying to pick up the pieces again. She has two grumpy teenagers to deal with, an ex-husband who suddenly decides he’s going to give away EVERYTHING he owns and she’s also put on weight and has found herself with a belly. The story then cuts back to events that lead up to Stella becoming an author. Struck down with a rare illness, Stella winds up in intensive care unable to move any of her body except her eyelids. Stella spends her time in IC counting down the hours until she is moved position in her bed, completely bored out of her mind. Until Dr Mannix, a neurologist, comes along. They develop a way of communicating and in term develop a bond together.

The storyline itself zigzags back and forth through different timelines, gradually pulling the story together. I’m not sure if I was a massive fan of this. I can see why it was done in a way but at times it frustrated me. I know if it was done linearly the ending wouldn’t really have worked but I think the whole American side of the story might have been a bit more thrilling if it was done that way. I also didn’t get some of the headings over parts of the books (Him, Her, Me) or how they impacted the story.

As for the characters, there were a lot of annoying ones. Stella’s son Jeffery had potential at times, but he was so horrible at other times that I couldn’t believe he wasn’t told to cop on. I know kids can play up when parents split up but he was so defiant at times! There were times I did like him though. Her ex-husband Ryan was an eejit too, I know we’re not really supposed to root for him anyway but he was so bitter to Stella at times. He turns into a right dick after she finds some success! After she recovered from her illness, I felt Stella got barely any support or understanding from her family and she didn’t say anything about it as she felt so guilty getting sick and missing so much of their lives. I did appreciate this viewpoint as I know a lot of people would feel like this, especially mothers, but I really wanted Stella to tell them to cop on at times! As a main character, I did like Stella most the time and I enjoyed her relationship with Mannix. As for other characters I liked, they were Karen her younger tenacious sister and their book mad father.

Keyes’ trademark humour is all over this and I found myself laughing out loud at times. I love that her wit has this Irish spin on it, like phrases and family dynamics. As I’ve mentioned before, it can be easy to dismiss Keyes as being ‘just’ chick lit but she always brings this other dimension. She’s tackled serious issues in previous novels and this one is no different, from the point of view of being seriously ill and stuck in hospital over a long stretch. I found myself in hospital once for a few days with my appendix and it wasn’t the best situation so I can’t imagine being there for months and months on end. But because Keyes brings humour into her stories it stops them from being downers.

I did feel this book was slightly different to her other stories. Maybe it’s because I’m a massive fan of the Walsh family saga that I didn’t love this like I do them? I did enjoy the book though, don’t get me wrong, it’s a quick read but perhaps a bit slow to get into. Still a worthy read if you’re a fan of Keyes.

This book was requested on NetGalley. I am under no obligation to post a review and when I do, all opinions are my own.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Barry M Starlight and Twilight Nail Polish


Barry M Starlight and Twilight

I love the new Barry M polishes that have come out for Christmas. There’s 2 for Boots (Starlight and Moonlight), two for Superdrug (Christmas Tree and Jingle Bells) and one for Tesco (Twilight). The Superdrug ones just launched so I haven’t had a chance to look at those but out of the other three I really liked Starlight and Twilight.




This is Starlight over Catrice The Dark Knight. I just love this polish, especially the stars. It reminds me of loads of indie polish swatches I’ve seen online.




Twilight has silver and blue glitter, with larger silver pieces. I’ve used it over Essence Over the Rainbow but I think you could definitely build it up over a few coats and use it on it’s own.

Christmas has brought some more exciting polishes this year! Rimmel are doing Glitter Bombs (I’ve bought the green one), I saw some tinsel top coat from Seventeen the other day and also I saw a picture on the Maybelline stand of new glittery jewel coloured Color Show polishes, so I’m definitely keep an eye out on those! Barry M have other new glitter polishes available too.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Recent Bookish Purchases featuring Books Are My Bag!

So recently I’ve had the chance to buy some bookish things! The last time I’ve bought a book prior to this was Fangirl at the Rainbow Rowell event but I can’t even remember the last time I bought a book before that! Money’s been so tight that I’ve either bought second hand, used Amazon vouchers I’ve earned online to buy e-books or borrowed from the library. I don’t mind this, but I have missed going into book shops and just being able to pick up a book (or 5!).

Last weekend was this year’s launch of Books Are My Bag. I did a post last year about the campaign and this year I was excited to get my hands on a limited edition Tracey Emin bag! My local bookshop didn’t get any of the bags in but a quick tweet to the lovely Urmston Bookshop confirmed they did and they very kindly kept one for me. Here’s what I bought on my visit there!


First up, the main reason for my visit, the lovely Tracey Emin Books Are My Bag bag.

   IMG_3667 IMG_3668

I also got the traditional Books Are My Bag bag, which is a good thing as my one from last year broke the next day coming home from work!


I picked up this Literary Map of Ireland from The Literary Gift Company, something I’ve wanted for aggggggges!


Finally I got a copy of Alphabetical by Michael Rosen. I’ve been humming and hahing over it, especially since there’s a copy in the library, but I decided to finally pick it up. It’s something I’ve been interested in reading about since I finished Just My Type by Simon Garfield.


I’ve also purchased two other books recently. One was just before the Preloved Vintage Event and the other was in Foyles on my London Day Trip.


    IMG_3676 IMG_3675

Circle Line: Around London in a Small Boat by Steffan Meyric Hughes sounds like just me thing: a book about London combined with some stunt journalism. To The Letter by Simon Garfield was bought because I’ve been dying to read some Garfield since I read Just My Type and while the library has some other books, this one was the one that sounded most interesting to me. I’ve just realised now that the three books I bought were non-fiction too, clearly I’m in a non-fiction mood!

Did you buy anything for Books Are My Bag this year? Have you read any of the books above? Let me know in a comment below!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Carven AW 14 Ready to Wear Inspired Nails

Next edition in my Autumn/Winter 2014 runway nails! I really loved the colour of this Carven Ready to Wear jacket, I’m a sucker for corals and while they are usually worn during summer, I like this punchy corally pink to liven up dull winter days. I think the leopard on the collar adds to it too.

carven aw ready to wear

Photo from

And here’s my take.


I used Rimmel’s Rose Libertine for the base, then on the accent nail I used Essence in Dare it Nude and Essence in Black is Back. The colours don’t match perfectly, then again my lighting was also a bit off but I still like the combo.

      picture carven aw ready to wear

I have one other nail look already done and I’m toying on a few others to do as well. My nails are so short and crappy at the moment that I’ve really hesitated doing putting any polish on them, so hopefully I’ll get inspiration soon!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day Trip to London

Last week I had the chance to spend the day in London and of course I leapt at the chance to go. I only had a few hours to spend so I had hummed and hawed over what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. In the end, I just decided to wander about and go with the flow.



First off, I headed to Picadilly and went to the Waterstones there. I’d never been before and was interested in having a look. There was a queue outside waiting for a Gillian Anderson signing, so the place was abuzz with excitement. I only stayed on ground floor but found so much that caught my eye. First was the table of Penguin Cloth Bound Classics. I love those covers, so eye catching. I had fun looking in the stationary section (look at how happy that caterpillar is!) and I want that Cat Lady Chic book. Even if the cat on the cover looks a bit crazy.


From Waterstones I decided I wanted to go to Foyles on Charing Cross Road, so I went via Leicester Square and Chinatown. I popped into the M&M World Shop (love their Abbey Road scene) and that big Mr Bump plush was taken in a random gift shop. He looked so big and squishy!


This was my second ever time in Foyles and my first in the new location. That crazy chair is from a book (the name I can’t quite remember but it was along the lines of items that do a great job practically but are ugly), I bought myself Circle Line: Around London in a Small Boat (something I’ve wanted to read for a long time). I also had a lovely latte and rest in the cafe before heading on my next adventures!


I’d originally debated getting off in the morning at Oxford St but decided against it. I was so close to Tottenham Court Road I decided to pop into the Primark there. Then I decided I’d walk down Oxford St! Usually I wouldn’t but I was in a good mood and luckily didn’t feel like punching anyone as I walked down it. I popped into shops here and there but the real reason I decided to walk the length was to go to Selfridges. I love wandering around there, even though I can’t afford half the things! I snapped the new Ciate Advent Calendar, it looks so pretty.


When I had decided to walk down Oxford St, I thought I’d then hop on at Bond St station and go down to Waterloo for a bit, before going back to get my train in Paddington. However, Jubilee line isn’t stopping at Bond St at the moment so I carried on to Marble Arch and decided to just head back in the Paddington direct. I had to change at Notting Hill Gate, where I snapped these pictures, the one on the left being a cool collage along the escalators, a nice change from the video adverts. The right is waiting on the platform, I just love the look of that platform.


Once back in Paddington, I decided to have a look at the canals and get something to eat. I didn’t go as far as Little Venice, just stayed near the station, but it was still beautiful. I stopped to eat at Beany Greens, a coffee shop with an Ozzie pop art twist and had the most delicious chicken wrap and a slice of banana bread. Then it was time to head away and say goodbye to London once more (but I’ll be back soon! There’s never a big gap between visits).

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Recently Reading (Magazine Edition)

As there was no September Reads post this most (I only read two books and I did full review posts for both), I’ve decided to do a post on what magazines I’ve picked up recently!

Disclaimer: I’m the biggest magazine addict ever. I started buying Smash Hits!, followed then by all the big teen magazines like Sugar, Shout, Mizz, Big, J17, Elle Girl UK. While I lived in a small rural area in the west of Ireland, I sometimes managed to get my hands on some US imports like Elle Girl, Seventeen and Teen Vogue. I’d pick up the adult versions of Elle and Vogue every now and again, as well as Empire magazine. Once I got a bit older, I moved onto Glamour, More!, Company, Prudence, U, Stellar and the usual weeklies like Now, heat, Closer, whatever I could really get my hands on. I had to stop buying magazines because it was getting out of hand and I was finding myself getting bored with them. These days, I tend to buy mainly food magazines like Good Food and Delicious, occasionally getting the odd magazine listed above.


Here’s the haul in all it’s glory. From left to right we have Delicious, BBC Good Food, Vintage Life, Bust and Allure.


First off the foodie mags. This time of the year is my FAVOURITE time to pick up a food magazine. I love the seasonal foods, there’s always a lovely comfort food theme going through the magazine and sometimes there’s great Halloween inspiration!

vintage life

Vintage Life is relatively new to me. I can’t remember when I first picked up a copy, possibly 2011 on this trip to London? I vaguely remember finding it in WH Smiths. Since then, before I moved to the UK, I used to pick it up whenever I was over visiting friends and family. I must make more of an effort to pick this up as I love it, it’s refreshing to have a different viewpoint from a magazine. I wouldn’t say I was an expert in vintage lifestyle, I’m merely interested in it and interested in learning more, so you can enjoy it too if you’re like me. There’s a nice mix of fashion, beauty, home, DIY and other things in here too.

american mags

Finally, my two Selfridges purchases from my day trip to London last week (more on that soon). I’ve read Allure a few times over the years. It does have a lot of ads which are annoying but some of the features have been great over the years. They once did this one makeup look on Princesses and Villains which I loved, the soft dreamy makeup for the good girls and the vampy strong make up the villians (who always look more glamorous to me!). This is my first time picking up Bust though and I’m very excited! I’ve read articles before online and heard references here and there, so I’m glad I got my hands on it!

That’s it for now. What are your favourite magazines to read and why? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe Book Review

man at the helmIt’s not a secret that I loved Nina Stibbe’s first book (Love, Nina), which is a series of letters she wrote to her sister when she was living as a nanny in London. So I was excited to get my hands on her first fiction book (which she mentioned about starting years ago in Love, Nina).

I first requested this from NetGalley, where it sat waiting forever to be approved, so I got it from the library. Half way through my approval came through, so I finished it with the ebook copy as it was more convenient for me.

Man at the Helm tells the story of three siblings Lizzie (the narrator, 9 years old), her older sister and her younger brother, Little Jack and their mother, Elizabeth. Set in the 1970s, Elizabeth Vogel is forced to move to a small village with her children, who immediately take a dislike to the family due to Lizze’s parents recent divorce. Convinced that if they can just get their mother to settle with a man, Lizzie and her siblings decide to set up a Man List, a list of potential partners for her mother and new Man on the Helm. They set to work getting their mother together with some of these men, often writing letters pretending to be from their mother, inviting the men around (ah, the days before texting!).

I know the description sounds a bit light,a ‘parents divorce, so children try to get a new husband for mother’, that it could be akin to a Parent Trap type of film, where there’s lots of japes and everything works out splendidly in the end. But it’s not like that at all. This book is very humorous at times (as I expected, seeing the amount of times I laughed through Love, Nina) but it is very dark. As a mother, Elizabeth is not there most of the time. She obsessively writes plays, thinly veiled accounts mirroring her own life. She spends days in bed without getting up, takes medication to try and ‘fix’ herself and drinks heavily. She doesn’t cook regularly or do washing and when she does get together with men from the Man List, things never go to plan. Especially her relationship Charlie and the whole Bluebell the Donkey situation. It was especially heart breaking to see how that affected the children and how clueless Elizabeth seemed to be. But at the same time, it was clear that she did care for her children and there was lots of sweet moments with them.

Lizzie is 9 at the beginning of the book and I just loved the narration. I thought Stibbe nailed the balance of childlike perspective and grown-up attitude Lizzie has. The fact that this book is semi autobiographical probably helps this. The children are very independent and while the situation is less than ideal for most the book, they seem happy most the time and are very good friends with each other. It’s hard for them to go from a comfortable middle class background to barely scraping by (thanks to their mother’s incompetence of handling money) and while you do feel sorry for them, you don’t come away at the end of the book with an overwhelming feeling of pity towards them. If that makes sense? The book, while dark, does have it’s bright moments and that’s what I took away most from the book.

I did read another review saying it’s sad to see a story this day and age where the woman needs a man to complete, even if the story is from 1970s. I never got that feeling from the book. Yes, it would have been more unacceptable to be divorced in 1970s (and I say that this is definitely part of the semi autobiographical influence of this book) and the children were trying set their mother up so they wouldn’t really be outcasts in the village. But I felt it was more saying something about how naive the children are, thinking it could fix everything.

I felt this book was along the lines of Marian Keyes. As I mentioned before, I always avoided Keyes as I thought she was fluffy chick lit, but she has so much more dimension, writing very funny books that touch on serious and important issues and develop characters wonderfully.  If you’ve avoided the book as you thought it might just be some disposable chick lit, RECONSIDER! Stibbe has written a book that is hilarious at points, serious and tender at others and has wonderful characters. It can swing from laughing at some trivial observation in the Vogel household to having your heartstrings tugged to back to laughing again. A wonderful read.

As mentioned, this book was partly provided by NetGalley. As also mentioned, I had already started reading the book before being approved, which clearly shows that I was interested in reading this book in the first place. Opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a review.

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