Thursday 28 February 2013

Books Are Amazing... February Edition!

Remember last month when I published my first Books Are Amazing guest post? I realise now that it wasn't the best name for this series ever but that's what it is now and WE ALL JUST HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT OKAY? Well. That was a month ago! And now it is time to do it again!

Before I get started, I have a couple of people lined up for the next two or three months but then I am wide open! So if you want to contribute, just let me know! And you totally can!

Today's guest blogger is one of my all time favourite people, Amy. Amy's partially responsible for this series anyway, as I started thinking about blogging about books after we had an AMAZING and enthusiastic conversation about our favourite books on a drive back from visiting our friends Sarah and Hayley in Bristol. Basically, Amy and I talk in exclamation marks at each other all the time anyway, but when we talk books, it goes up to multiple exclamation marks. Obnoxious, MySpace levels of punctuation. (It's so much fun) Buuuut anyway. Enough from me, here's Amy:

HIYA. I'm Amy and I write Wolf Whistle! I like fashion, feminism and Fanta but more than anything, I LOVE BOOKS. I read about 150 a year, give or take, and I am a fierce serial re-reader of my favourites. Nothing gets on my highly-guarded All Time Favourites List until I have read it at least twice and clutched it to my chest after finishing the last page, wailing "I LOVE YOU OH GAWD I LOVE YOU WHY ARE YOU OVER."

These books are plucked from the aforementioned list. I've tried to pick ones that I think maybe don't get enough light shone at them. And they are gems, you guys. They just need a little attention to really sparkle.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I'm starting with the funnest book ever. This is just so much fun! But, yes, let's just say it straight out: this book is super geeky. Like mega super geeky. But it is totally open about its geekiness and you do not have to be a geek to enjoy it (although I totally am, duh.) It's set in the not too distant future where everyone does most of their living virtually, plugged into the OASIS, which is kind of like the internet and kind of like Second Life only more. WAY more.

Wade Watts is poor and geeky and desperate to find the "Easter Egg" hidden somewhere in the OASIS that the creator James Halliday left after his death that will make him rich and famous and basically Grand Winner of the Internet. And this is his story of that, basically. It is littered - riddled! - with geeky references to the 80s: music, video games, films and books. Don't worry, though: it is never heavy handed and it is never snobbish in its obscure references. Even if you don't know much about the 80s - like, I was alive but I don't remember the 80s - you'll be fine.

Ready Player One is just a mega romp of a book and since discovering it last year, I keep reaching for it when I want something comforting and awesome and SUPER FUN. I read it three times last year. What did I say about serial re-reading? Dudes, I have a problem.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
...from one definition of geeky to a completely different one! The geek in the title refers to carnival geeks, who used to bite the heads of live chickens at carnivals and travelling fairs. Yes, seriously. And you might have a good idea of this book already from that gross statement but don't be put off!

Narrated by an albino hunchback called Oly, Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose parents try to create their very own living, breathing freakshow. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and is totally psychotic, siamese twins Iphy and Elly and the outwardly normal Chick, who looks like a regular kid but is still a freak. (No spoilers here, though!)

Set both now and in the past, Oly reminisces about her family and what happens to them while stalking a young woman. I don't know why more people haven't read this, honestly. Does it sound mental yet? Because, yeah, it is mental. But it is also great. If you like off-beat contemporary fiction - George Saunders or Jeff Noon, for example - this is definitely worth hunting down. Up with geeks!

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
You've probably heard of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, a soaring, sweeping Russian doll set of stories spanning many generations that has recently been made into a film with that Tom Hanks dude and Ms Halle Berry. The move is pretty good, actually; the book is loads better. I can be a little snobby and all "Oh gawd, the book is SO much better than the film" at times (SO SUE ME) but they did a pretty good job of what is an extremely complex book.

But what I really wanted to mention isn't Cloud Atlas at all: it's Black Swan Green, a book of Mitchell's that I really just don't think gets enough credit. These interlinked but stand alone stories about thirteen year old Jason Taylor who lives in Black Swan Green in Malvern are funny, touching, awkward and charming. Don't expect this to be like Mitchell's other books: I love them too, but this is a completely different kettle of fish altogether. And it's no less brilliant for that.

I bought a brand new copy of this book for £1 and started reading it at the beginning of a coach journey home. I read continuously through the whole journey and when I got home, I stayed awake until it was finished. I bought Black Swan Green in January 2008 and have read it six times. David Mitchell is probably my favourite writer, guys. He does the magic in his words and it makes me happy.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
This book is a retelling of a bible story but stick with me here a moment, guys. It's awesome, I promise. It's the story of Dinah - a character pretty briefly mentioned in a highly and horrifically violent way in the Bible - and her mothers: Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah, the four wives of Jacob.

An internet friend (from Livejournal! lolololol) recommended this to me years ago and I pretty much forgot about it until I was in the library eighteen or so months later. The book jumped out at me then and I took it home, remembering what my friend had said. I read it hungrily and then I read it again before I took it back. And then I bought it.

Don't let the idea of it being a work of fiction about biblical characters put you off. it is not written from a religious viewpoint and is never, ever preachy. It's not about God or religion at all: it's about Dinah, who is actually rather wonderful. The Red Tent is a gorgeously written novel, full of characters to feel intimate with. The story of Dinah and her four mothers is touching, poignant and sad and completely charming. Each time I read it I get completely caught up in it all over again.

According to GoodReads I haven't read this since sometime before 2009 which has to be a mistake. What the heck, guys! I need to re-re-re-re-read this immediately!

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz
Forget 5 stars. I give this eccentric, loveable, hateable, bizzare and ridiculous novel 10 stars. A hundred stars. ALL OF THE STARS. I borrowed this book from the library and I bought it on Amazon before I'd even finished my library copy because I need this in my life and on my bookshelf.

This is a book about family, basically. A father and son and their crazy capers and kind of ridiculous life. It's not a true story - it's crazy! - but it's written with great truth and wonder. I can't even begin to describe it, honestly. It's a handful indeed.

Full of moments of unbelievable beauty and clarity, I found A Fraction of the Whole infinitely readable. It's completely batshit insane, of course. But it's utterly glorious, my friends!

PopCo by Scarlett Thomas
This book is about a girl, a necklace and some buried treasure.

But it is also about a worldwide toy company, cryptoanalysis and the creation of ideas. It's about the factorisation of prime numbers, the mass production of milk and the obsessions of teenage girls. It's about rubbish parents and loving grandparents. It's about the Voynich manuscript, paradoxes, crossword puzzles, corporate bullshit, cricket, World War 2, games of logic, Gödel's Theorem of Incompleteness, virtual worlds, miso soup, probability, the Vigenére square, 18th century pirates, mass marketing, the intrinsic value in being cool, letters written in code, transfinity, bird sanctuaries and that awful time when people were wearing skirts over trousers.

It's about what animals you'd see if you were camping in a suburban garden, which homeopathic remedy you should take if you felt like you were made of glass and why you should always change your mind when choosing a surprise prize on a game show.

It's about obsession, greed, love, creativity and a secret kept for twenty years. It's about doing no harm and stopping others from doing harm. And it's brilliant.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
If someone forced me to choose my favourite book of all time - and I mean really forced, because the idea of choosing just one is really horrible (I'd need a top 30 AT THE VERY LEAST) - I think I would chose this book. I must have read this book ten times. I'm very grateful to the person who bought it for me and have read my copy almost every year since and purchased it again for people I love. It's the perfect book to bring a little summer to my life any time of year. I love The Summer Book and I honestly wouldn't want to be without it.

In truth, I often find it hard to review books that I love without bounds and The Summer Book is no different. You may know of Tove Jansson for the Moomins but her books for adults have a similar feeling but are also next level beautiful. I find it hard to describe how much this book means to me but these small, heart-warming and utterly charming stories of Sophia, her grandmother and her father on their very own island for a summer are just perfect. Perfect. I would not change a single thing about this. Tove Jansson has created something truly amazing here.

Feel free to add me on GoodReads where I track what I'm reading and write incredibly half-arsed reviews. (It's kinda hard writing about stuff you love, right? I just wanna GUSH.) Or tweet me your book recommendations at @wolfwhistle! I love to add recommendations to my Goodreads to read shelf so I don't go mental in Waterstones. (lol. As if that works.)

Thanks for letting me chat about my favourites, Sarah! I love you!

Wednesday 27 February 2013

The sky's the limit, you can reach your goal.

It's going to be another crazy weddingy year for me this year - FOUR, unless someone else gets engaged and is incredibly efficient. Or unless I elope. My way is that I plan far, far in advance what I'm going to wear. So! At one, I'm hoping to wear this beauty. At another, hopefully the blue dress I bought a few weeks ago. The third, I'll be in a bridesmaid dress. And the fourth, I'm hoping to wear a dress that's never featured here before, although it has been mentioned.

You might remember in January last year, I did an outfit post with a GORGEOUS pink dress that I wore to - you guessed it - a wedding. The thing with the pink dress was that I was never supposed to wear it, or even OWN it, because I'd fully been intending to wear a lovely Jasper Conran navy polka dot dress instead. The problem was that Christmas happened, and, um, it didn't fit.

Taken in October 2011.

I keep thinking about that dress. I've never worn it outside of a changing room, and I bloody want to. I lost my first stone on Weight Watchers this week, so what would be really ace is if this post was about me saying 'Guys! I tried that navy dress on! It totally fit!' But that's not true, because it's still in storage at my parents' house from when I moved last year, and because I know that, actually, that stone has bought me back to the point where the PINK dress fits, but not the navy. Not yet.

Anyway. The first wedding of the year is in June, and I have decided that I WILL wear that dress. And it will fit. And I will wear it with red shoes and a red flower in my hair and it will look amazing and a little bit nautical and awesome. Because we all need goals, and that's mine.

However, after ordering my fourth pair of red heels (these insane Melissa heels - GUH) with that dress in mind, I might have to admit I have a problem. I can't wear them all, can I?

(L-R: Rainbow Club, Shelly's, Blink)

...can I?

PS - Yes, that IS an S Club 7 lyric in the subject line. YOU LOVE IT.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?

I love fandoms. I have friends who don't get it at all, have never given into that geeky urge. But I've always been that way inclined. I've gone through a few big ones in my life - the X-Files (before I even had the internet - I had to content myself with cutting photos out of the Radio Times), Buffy (which is and always will be my favourite TV show in the world) and Harry Potter.

Friday 22 February 2013

This night is winding down but time means nothing.

Dress - New Look
Bag & Shoes c/o Next
Belt - Accessorize
Necklace - Topshop
Tights - Primark

This post is inspired by that moment when you're playing with your hair in your PJs and it looks better than it's ever looked - completely wastefully, of course, because you're about to go to bed. That kind of happened to me last week.

No, I didn't go to bed seconds after taking these pictures - promise! But my hair fell perfectly and my makeup just WORKED and of course that was all too good to be true. But I made it out the door and to the train station, to which I found out about this. No trains running, at all. Night out plans - scuppered. So I headed home and shared my glossy hair with my housemates instead.

The night out was organised by Next, and was supposed to be an evening of speed dating with lots of other lovely bloggers (all decked out in some lovely Next garments of course). I couldn't decide on a dress, so ended up wearing an old faithful and opted for these leopard print Next accessories instead. I'm fond of leopard print, even though I'm never sure if it's very me - and I'd always think of it as a PROPER night out pattern (here's one case in point, here's another). But I think the low heel of these shoes make them more chic than trashy and I adore the design of the clutch bag - it's totally the perfect size, too. I even managed to squeeze a pair of flats in there! I think leopard print is my new favourite thing, actually - I'm having a bit of a moment with these fun Emma Go flat shoes from Spartoo, too. PRETTY.

The dress, like I said, is an old faithful. I wear it constantly - to work, on nights out... blah blah. It's a great length, a great cut, and let's face it, black goes with EVERYTHING. The last time I featured it here, I wore it to London Fashion Week - so it's funny that I've opted to feature it, again during LFW! Although I must confess I didn't bother this year - I opted to spend the weekend hanging with my sister instead. Much more my cup of tea, lately.

I have to say I prefer the styling of the dress now - I think this is a sign of how your tastes change without you realising it. I don't think I'd ever go back to the crazy bright hair (I do so prefer occasionally passing for a natural ginger) and I prefer to be a bit simpler in my accessories. But, saying that, I always feel the need to over-accessorise at LFW, so perhaps that's not really fair. I stand by my choice of hair colour though!

Wednesday 20 February 2013


I'd be lying if I said I was the kind of person who didn't believe hype. I TOTALLY believe hype. If there is hype, I am THERE. This is why I'm obsessed with limited edition chocolate bars and the KitKat flavour challenge. HYPE.

Hype has different levels though, because there is NORMAL hype and there is BLOGGER hype. And the thing about blogger hype is that, as bloggers, you can think something is totally overdone like ombre hair or nail art, but for normal people, it might be the first time they've seen polka dot nails or blonde ends. Seriously!

Anyway, the topcoat trend has been totally hyped in blog land, and I've succumbed and I WANT IN. This is the new big thing in easy nail art, and I can't wait to see what nail art champs Barry M and Models Own bring to the plate. For now, the only reasonably priced offering I've seen out there is Confetti by L'Oreal.


It's similar to a glitter topcoat, but the glitter is matte, creating an awesome speckly look. Kind of like mini eggs! It's not even worthy of a tutorial - just paint your nails normally and then add a coat of Confetti. Easy!

In real life though - not Blog World - no one knows what this is, and I even had people thinking that I'd drawn on the tiny spots myself. Ha! As if. So pop out to Boots or Superdrug to pick it up (I thought it was really sought after and hard to find, and was even hunting on eBay, but then I visited my local Boots and it was cheerfully sitting there. And in Superdrug!) and BLOW PEOPLE'S MINDS. For, like, the 2 weeks before L'Oreal start advertising it.

Also, Illamasqua have brought out a speckled purple which is super pretty, but at £14.50 a pop I say BOO. L'Oreal's Confetti is just £5 and means you can speckle up whatever colour you choose, like my ultimate fave, Parlez Vous OPI? LUSH.

I think this ensemble would go beautifully with these lilac Converse trainers from Spartoo, don't you think? PRETTY.


Sunday 17 February 2013

Our house.

My vintage suitcases and typewriter, Natalie's amazing record player.

After my little room tour a couple of weeks ago, I thought it was time to show you the rest of our cute little house. Although my housemates and I didn't know each other before we moved in together, luckily we all have quite similar tastes and have jointly made it such a lovely place to live. It's quite a small house but it's perfectly formed - also it has a separate dining room downstairs which just means more places to put things!

Because it's quite a little house, all of us have found that our rooms aren't quite big enough to hold everything, so I think the need to spill over into downstairs is what's made it seem so homely. You've seen my room - I only have a little set of shelves, and they don't even come close to holding all my books. I must confess that about 90% of the books downstairs are mine - I just can't throw them out! And I love a house full of books. They're so welcoming.

We love our wall vinyls - such a great way to spice up a rental property as they're easy to remove! I got both of them from eBay - the cat didn't take us long to put up at all, but the cherry blossoms took most of an afternoon (every branch, every petal, was a separate sticker. It took forever!). We keep debating getting this one too. There are some amazing ones on Etsy - I'd love to have this one up some day (even if it is terrifyingly expensive!)

I scanned these photos from an old album of my Granny's and printed them out as I just fell in love with them. The first one is my Grandad catching a fish, and the second is my Mum and her twin (I actually posted them on here a while ago).

You caught me - I took these photos just after I took the ones in my last post!

Most of my female friends live with boyfriends (or husbands) so whenever they come round they always comment about how girlie it is - even the bathroom (despite my love of owls, I can't take credit - Natalie picked it up from Dunelm) - and that's what I love about it! I've lived in places before where it's so hard to put your stamp on it, or you just never get round to making it your own (my sister and I were a bit guilty of this when we house-shared - so many plans, so little done!).

It's just so bloody NICE to have all the little bits and bobs I've collected over the years at car boots or on trips out and about - even my elephant, which matches Natalie's sofa and Kate's chair perfectly. It's just such a nice place to come home to!

Outfit credits: Dress c/o Zalando, Necklace - Accessorize, Ash Court Shoes - Spartoo

Friday 15 February 2013

Be careful making wishes in the dark.

Here is a secret. Occasionally - OCCASIONALLY - I am wrong. I know, I know, I am as shocked as all of you. But it's true. And when it came to retiring Friday Frocks last year - I was wrong. I missed it! I liked having an excuse to talk about dresses every week, and I liked the fact that it gave my blog more of an identity - even if it was 'Damn, that girl has a lot of dresses.'

So, we're back! I'm going to mix it up a bit this time around though - rather than a new dress every single week, I'll be including frocks I've shown on here before, styled differently. My theory is that this will stop me spending QUITE so much money on dresses!

Starting back off is a new dress that I am completely in love with. Don't you just love it when you pull on something and it makes you feel like a million dollars? This fits beautifully and I adore the colour. Also it's the ideal style for work or play - a good length (and neckline) and... oh, it's just goddamn PRETTY. It was also a frigging steal at just £19 from Zalando. Amazing! Also, I think it'll look lovely in the summer with bare legs and wedges (I am so flipping tired of winter!).

I wear my hair like this a lot but it's the first time I've ever seen what it looks like from the back. It looks pleasingly complex, even though it really isn't. I'm also still seriously infatuated with the colour... and it's so nice to be without roots for once!

Tights - Primark
Necklace - Accessorize
Ash Court Shoes - Spartoo Shoes

PS - The Winner of my Blinkbox giveaway is Georgina from Caramel Latte Kiss! I just couldn't resist a Buffy reference, even though, er, Oz didn't appear until the SECOND season. Tut tut. I'll be in touch!

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Wouldn't you think I'm the girl, the girl who has everything?

When I was 7, I went to see The Little Mermaid at the cinema with my dad and sister. I loved it, of course, except for one bit... the end. I cried my eyes out because I was devastated that Ariel had to leave her dad. And then we were walking down the street afterwards and ran into my arch nemesis, Kerry, and my dad was all 'Don't go and see The Little Mermaid, hahaha!' and then I just cried more because I WAS MORTIFIED. THANKS, DAD.

Despite all that, I would probably say that The Little Mermaid is my favourite Disney film, because mermaids are the frigging best. Although when I watched it recently I reached the conclusion that it is to blame for my phobia of sharks, squid – oh yeah, and that little obsession with red hair.

Anyway, such is my love for mermaids that I get super excited when I see clothes that emulate them. For instance, these shoes which I bought for my birthday party last year – the purple and green sequins make me think of tropical fish scales (and also dragonflies but this post is about mermaids so ssssh). They’re so pretty! They really hurt my feet but they’re so PRETTY!

Iron Fist heels - £39.50

One of my favourite nail polishes is from OPI’s mermaid inspired collection and is called Catch Me In Your Net. It’s the perfect sea-toned shade, equal parts blue and green and oh-so-pretty. *abandons blog post, goes to paint nails* And I've just discovered it's super hard to find these days. Oops. Ebay is your friend, and mine.

I really love the tones of this rather mermaidy blouse from Bonmarche (I know! But they actually have some lovely stuff and I’ve been shopping lots with my mum lately so they’re on my radar). They’ve got tons of ladies tops for less – this is just £12!

I can't miss out this, the most mermaidy dress I have ever found (except for this one). I was about to say that it was not in stock any more but Topshop has it! It’s by Motel and if I could pull off bodycon, I would have snapped this up a long time ago. IT’S BEAUTIFUL.

Finally, I can’t talk about mermaids though without mentioning one of my favourite bloggers – Zoe, who is an actual real life mermaid! I love her blog, but I’m mostly obsessed with her amazing hair. If I wasn’t so committed to this fake redhead business, I could be seriously tempted by a turquoise dipdye. Le sigh.

This might actually have been my favourite wishlist ever. There should be more mermaid themed things, am I right? (I'm totally right)

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