Thursday 31 January 2013

Books Are Amazing... January Edition!

There is a photo that I am very fond of, that if I can ever find I will share. It's of my sister and I on the beach, aged about 11 and 9 respectively. Becky's sunbathing, going a beautiful shade of brown... and I am a fetching shade of pale, huddling under an umbrella wearing a baggy t-shirt, accessorised with geeky glasses and a book. It's not the best photo of me - I look like a massive nerd, to be honest - but the reason I'm so fond of it is because it perfectly represents me as a kid. Nerdy, sun-avoidy and constantly clutching a book. I kind of love young, reading obsessed Sarah. She was such a geek.

Anyway, I LOVE books, and I LOVED doing a post on my favourite books in December. I don't read as much as I used to, and as such I don't TALK about reading as much as I used to, and I've made a pact with myself to bring that back. SO! I've asked some blogger buddies of mine to each do a monthly Book Club post, to talk about their favourite books. First up is Emma from The Stones Inside My Shoes! Take it away, Emma:

I really love dystopias. Set your novel in some sort of post-apocalyptic future and boom – you’ve got me.

What I love about this book is how it switches between past and present, leaving subtle hints here and there about what has happened to the main character (Snowman) and where the odd human-like creatures (Crakers) have come from. It’s essentially a book about humans playing God, and it imagines a world where this has been taken to the extreme. A really good read if you like a book that comments on society, contains a little bit of science fiction and generally creeps you out a bit...

At almost 700 pages long, this book is a pretty hefty read. It tells the life story of Saleem Sinai who is born at the precise moment of India’s independence, but like 1,000 other children born at the stroke of midnight that day, Saleem has magical powers.

The magical elements in this book are so delicately woven in between the historical context you almost forget that you’re reading fiction. This book definitely opened my eyes to colonial and post-colonial India as well – a large part of British history that they tend to leave out of History lessons. A good blend of magic, history, politics and of course, love.

Midnight’s Children recently made its way onto the big screen, but I managed to miss all of the showings in Manchester. Must wait for the DVD release!

I don’t really know where to place this novel. It’s not quite a dystopia but it’s not really science fiction either. Imagine a book where dreams and reality are having a fist fight and you’ve got yourself MM Smith’s Only Forward.

Despite the above statement, this book isn’t difficult to read. It just grabs you and never lets go, making you want to force everyone else to read it just so you can talk about it some more. It’s definitely one of those books where you finish a chapter and then stare into space for a little while afterwards because it’s seriously messing you up.

Sorry, the plot: Your main guy accepts a mission to hunt for a missing man, but there’s more than one world to search for him in. Also, there’s cats. Writers love cats.

Which leads me onto...

This book was recommended to me by a friend after I’d said how much I’d enjoyed Norwegian Wood. In many ways I prefer this book with its talking cats, and just general strangeness alongside Nowegian Wood’s themes of loss and discontent to boot.

Magical, metaphysical and generally a bit weird - but in a good way. Another hefty read, but hey, who doesn’t like a big thick book to get stuck into?

This is an amazing book. It follows the story of an evangelical Baptist who moves his entire family to the Belgian Congo in 1959 to spread the word of God. The chapters alternate between the mother and her three daughters, so you really get the sense of each personal struggle as they try to build a new life in Africa.

Takes a good look at culture, language, religion, family and the political history of the Congo. (Can you tell I like a bit of historical context with my fiction?)

Definitely one of those books that you don’t want to end, and when it does end, you just want to carry it around with you for a while because you’re just. not. done. yet. Call me the crazy book lady...

Bonus seasonal content:

There’s nothing more perfect than being in the same location or experiencing the same season as the book you’re reading. The recent snow will only add to the spell- binding quality of Snow Falling on Cedars.

A young fisherman is found dead off an island in the Pacific Northwest, but this book is more than just another crime novel. A beautifully woven tale of love, war and redemption set in the fifties that will completely captivate you as you wait for the snow to melt outside.

So there we have it – my top 5 books of all time for now. Next up, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (not that one) before the film comes out, as the book is ALWAYS better than the film (except for Atonement because of reasons. Mainly James McAvoy shaped reasons).

A big thank you to Sarah for letting me share my favourite books with her readers. If you would like to recommend a book to me after reading the above, please let me know! Especially if it’s a big chunky one.

Thanks, Emma! Next month, Amy from Wolfwhistle will be talking through some of her favourite books with you all. If you want to get involved for March or ANY of the other months in the year, give me a yell! BOOKS!!

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Wardrobe Zoo.

I'm not sure who started the Wardrobe Zoo hashtag, but I love seeing the likes of Alex, Char and Sarah demonstrating their favourite animal print items. And by animal print, I don't mean leopard spots or zebra stripes - I mean literally, printed with animals. So I've become a little obsessed with clothes that are printed with animals, or even better - those that look like animals.

These shoes are by Marc Jacobs and while they're not cheap, they're totally amazing. LOOK AT THEM. You could have tiny little mice feet! MICE FEET!


Marc by Marc Jacobs Flat Shoes from Spartoo 

This Emma Cook owl-face jumper is kind of creepy but ALSO amazing. It's like your boobs are looking at people! And they are made of owl eyes! OWL BOOBS.

Topshop, £25


Topshop, £28

This is the best watch in the world.

ASOS, £20

I need this bunny-print dress in my life, and so do you.

Dorothy Perkins, £45

Basically, all these things are the best things in the world. Yes? Yes.

Sunday 27 January 2013

I'd pay any price just to get you.

If you follow me on Twitter, Instagram or have ever read this blog before - hey, if you even know me a LITTLE bit - you might know that I like to shop. A little bit. Okay. A lot of bits.

When I was doing Friday Frocks, I realised that the majority of my favourite dresses were bought in the sale. It made me realise just how much of a sale junkie I am. But, by golly, I AM. Not just with fashion - if I spot those magic yellow stickers in M&S, I'm in my element. Bargains are the BEST.

Anyway. I have this thing I like to call 'Sale Watch'. It's a pretty simple concept - I see a dress, or something, that I rather like, but not so much at full price. Sooo... Sale Watch! I keep an eye on it and then when it goes into the sale... I pounce. Mwahaha. I get a bit of a rush out of sale shopping. Spotting an interesting colour or pattern in the rails, pulling it out, finding it's in your size... come on! What could be better! There's nothing like finding an AMAZING item of clothing for next to nothing.

The nice people at Westfield asked me to put my skills to good use this weekend, and armed with a £50 giftcard and a pair of extremely comfortable shoes (Converse trainers, obvs), I set out, determined to find a bargain. Even though the January sales have been on for almost a month, don't let that put you off - there's still lots out there! Here's what I managed to find...

This adorable spotty prom dress from Rare at Topshop was reduced from £49 to just £10!! A TOTAL steal.


Thursday 24 January 2013

Caught a lovely butterfly

New brand crush alert! I was perusing ASOS the other night and noticed this dress, by Nishe. I ADORE IT. I love the collar, the full skirt and the print - no, it's not polka dots, it's hearts. Adorable! (If you recognise it, 'the other night' was when I was putting this post together) I am also crazy for that scalloped hem - oh my gosh, the second this dress goes in the sale, it is MINE.

So then I did the natural thing and took a look to see what other dresses Nishe makes. So many cute ones! Look:

Click the image to go to the dress!

It's not the cheapest brand - some of the dresses are £100+ - but others are around the more reasonable £30/£40 mark. That burgundy star print dress is just £27 in the sale, and I've been itching for a star print dress FOREVER. The pink butterfly dress is a snippet more at, er, £99, but it's beautiful. Wouldn't it be stunning for a wedding? It has a giant bow on the back! And I keep thinking about how I have these red patent Blink heels from Spartoo that would go with it PERFECTLY. It's AMAZING.

I actually think I want all of them, and I can't remember the last time that happened. So. Pretty. OMG.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Wherever I lay my head

Because I'm a nosy sort, some of my favourite blog posts are the kind where I get to have a peek into someone's life. What's in my bag posts are kind of my crack, and god, I love house tours. Love. Them.

Anyway, the last time I did a room tour post, it went down quite well! That was last year, back when I was still crashing at my parents' house, but now I am in my own little place and have been dying to share more than just little glimpses. I live in a house share with two other lovely ladies, and between us we've made our house into the cosiest, girliest home that ever there was.

I'll share some pics of the rest of the house at a later date, but for now I wanted to share my favourite place - my cosy little room. It was a challenge - it's very small, and I have a LOT of stuff.

I'd love to replace all the furniture with clean, white stuff - but the drawers were here when I moved in and fit perfectly within the space, and the wardrobe was sold to me for pennies by my sister, and it seems silly to spend the money when everything is perfectly fine (doesn't stop me wanting to though!).

My bed is from Ikea and barely fits in the room - hilarity ensued when my dad and I tried to get it in! I'm not sure it'll ever make it out again. I'm glad we persevered though as it just wouldn't have worked having it the other way around, there'd be so much less space. The bed doubles as a storage area, with my heels propped over the rail at the end which I love - pretty and functional! (I always get asked this, but no, I don't kick them off in my sleep - they are pretty high up, and I have very short legs)

I just bought a full length mirror - it hangs over my wardrobe door, and it is tacked on at the bottom with double sided tabs designed for outdoor use so it doesn't bang about. It's so good! Before this, I had stuck tiles on the wardrobe door and they looked scruffy - not to mention a couple got cracked because they are so flimsy. This was only £12.50 in the Cargo sale.

I got suitcases from car boots to put on top of my wardrobe - amazing for general bits or bulky items (the brown one holds my petticoats which take up SO MUCH ROOM). I have more downstairs for things like hats and scarves and fancy dress clothes! Another car boot find is my bedside table is an old sewing box I got from a car boot which gives me more storage. I tried to make it the 'If it's going to be anywhere, it'll be there' place. Everyone needs one of those.

The lamp was a TK Maxx bargain a few years ago - I've never seen them since, but it's the kind of quirky classic that I think I'll have forever.

I have a little dressing table, sort of - another set of drawers which holds all my makeup and bits (there's so much, it's shameful). The pretty mirror was a gift from dotcomgiftshop. I'm such a sucker for shabby chic! My jewellery hooks are from Sass & Belle, and although they're great, I've had to rehang them with string as the weight of all my necklaces were too much for the glue holding it together! It works fine this way, though.

I love the little pots for my hair grips and hair bands - I am a firm believer that things can be pretty and functional! The blue pot is from a car boot and the clear bonbon jar is again from dotcomgiftshop. It's so useful as the lid is the perfect size to use for a candle snuffer, meaning that when I blow out my favourite candles (I'm obsessed with the Glade Honey & Chocolate ones) my room doesn't smell of smoke for hours!

That rather messy looking hanger is on the back of my door, which holds all my belts (and my camera bag). The little chandelier is a Christmas decoration I picked up in America a few years ago and the Alice print was another car boot find.

And finally, my gravity-defying, stuffed-to-the-brim shelves. A lot of my books are downstairs but I've kept the favourites up here, and all my BITS. I love packed shelves - organised clutter, I guess. I have shoes nestled in with books and jewellery draped over everything. I love the whole effect, although I'm sure it's not anyone! I just don't think I can DO minimalist.

I got the little birdhouse in the Wilkinsons sale - far too nice for the garden, it holds all my Lush bits instead. And lots, and lots of sparkly shoes. You just can't lock sparkly shoes away, especially my sparkly Shelly heels that I just had to buy in both colours (the Dorothy ones are amazing but the silvery ones are multi-coloured glitter and are even more amazing). You might spot my beloved birthday crown (and lots of other circusy souvenirs) and my dear little Madeline doll, as well as one of my favourite pictures of my best friends from Sha's birthday.

It's taken absolutely forever to put this post together! I'm so fond of my room and all the little details that I've accumulated. Have you ever done a room tour? I'd love to see! Remember? Nosy.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Cold hands, warm heart.

I woke up this morning, took one look outside and said 'Well, I am not leaving the house today.' After a day or two of snow, I get seriously sick of the stuff, and after slipping and sliding my way home last night (admittedly after rather a lot of red wine), staying inside seemed like the best plan.

Luckily, my housemates persuaded me to see daylight and so I wrapped up warm, pulled on my trusty Hunter welly boots (normal shoes just don't cut it in this weather!) and ventured into St Albans for a walk in the snow and a yummy roast dinner.


Friday 18 January 2013

Porcelain heart.

Right. Okay. So, I KNOW that February 14th is not very long away. And this might LOOK like a Valentine's Day themed post. But it isn't. But you know what? I LIKE heart print stuff. I like red. I like pink. And whatever holiday Clinton's is promoting that week does not make a difference to the things that I like, OKAY?

Unless it's Christmas. Christmas rules. Also, you get like a week off work. You don't get any days off for Valentine's Day. BECAUSE IT IS NOT A REAL HOLIDAY.

Anyway, this covers what I think of Valentine's Day. But now that is out of the way... LOOK AT ALL THESE PRETTY THINGS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE TO WEAR ON THAT DAY OR ANY OTHER DAY.

I love this dress so much. Sleeves, an amazing cut and HEART PRINT. Loooveeee it.

LOOK AT THESE BAGS. I get sent quite a lot of press releases by email, and I normally don't share the contents with anyone, but these? OOOOH. They're satchels! They're heart print! I must have them all!

These shoes do not have hearts on them, but they are so pretty and shiny and red and girlie that, screw it, I'm buying them. I'm buying them right now.

Blink heels £34.30

I was just about done and then I searched 'heart' on ASOS and then this happened.

So, just so we're clear. I LOVE LOVE. But not Valentine's. Got it? *stern face* Good.

Topshop, £20
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