Sunday 31 March 2013

Books are Amazing... March Edition!

Happy Easter! Welcome to March's edition of my little book club. Books ARE amazing, you know. Today's contributor is my friend, Sarah. Here's her lovely blog, and here are her recommendations. I just received Tuesdays With Morrie in the post from her, I can't wait to start it - I love receiving books by post!

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
I've read this book twice - it's a quick read so you can feel accomplished ("fuck yeah, I finished a book!") without having to commit too much time to it. The Lover's Dictionary is um, a dictionary defined by the actions of a couple. That doesn't make any sense, does it? Except, it does. Each word is beautiful in it's own right - the story isn't written chronologically but alphabetically from Aberrant to Zenith so you're taken on a meandering path of their relationship. It's very sparsely written and I absolutely adore it.

The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King
From a tiny book to a seven novel epic - there's something for everyone here! Ha. The Dark Tower series is a departure from what people think of as usual King - i.e IT and The Shining - and is the tale of the last gunslinger, Roland, in a world that has moved on. I've read this series at least three times and it draws me in again and again, but it seems to be some of his least known work and I think that's a shame. It links all of his stories together, there are moments from Salem's Lot, Hearts in Atlantis and so many others woven in. It's beautiful and tragic and enticing - if you're a fan of King & / or the Wild West then at least pick up book one (The Gunslinger) and give it a go.

The Raw Shark Texts - Stephen Hall
This book is kind of bonkers, I'm not going to lie. It's about a shark made of words that hunts and eats people's memories, and a man who's unwittingly become it's prey. Intriguing, right? Another one I've read twice, The Raw Shark Texts is one of those books that'll leave you wondering what the hell just happened after you finish it, but in a way that makes you want to dive straight in again rather than throw the book against the wall.

Rules of Civility - Amor Towles
I adored this book. It's a grand tale from America in the 20s and reminded me a little of Water for Elephants without the circus (which would be a completely different book, right?). It's full of cocktails and evening gowns and falling from the grace of high society and it felt like an education and a riot. If you like escapism then this might be the one for you.

Tuesdays with Morrie - Mitch Albom
This is the book I recommend to everyone because I think we all have lessons we could learn and this book contains a lot of them packaged in a non preachy way. It's the story of a man reconnected with his dying college professor, but it's so, so much more. Warning: it's a weepie, so have tissues to hand.

The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
Love books? Then you'll love Jasper Fforde. The Eyre Affair is the first of (so far) seven novels so if you like this one you'll have plenty more to read. It follows the life of Thursday Next, a literary agent in (a fictional version of) Swindon. It's full of funny little asides about books and is just, urgh, awesome. Just bloody read it, okay?

Girlfriend in a Coma - Douglas Coupland
My second favourite Coupland novel (Microserfs is my favourite but it's so old now if you didn't read it 10 years ago you probably won't like it now, sigh) - Girlfriend is a Coma is set in the Canadian 70s and is glorious, if a little wacky. I think the trick to enjoying Coupland is to give yourself to the madness and settle in for the pictures he paints, rather than exclaiming "could that really happen?!" every now and again. If you like this then also read Life After God, which is a series of short stories but feels like a collective novel of thoughtfulness.

Thanks, Sarah! Tune in next month for Alex's recommendations, and, as always, if you want to be a contributor, shoot me an email or a tweet!

Friday 29 March 2013

If I was a rich girl.

As much as I love going on holiday or mini breaks, I tend to use the novelty of pretty new surroundings to take a bunch of blog photographs and then mess everything up on the blog afterwards by posting things massively out of order. Which is what I'm doing right now! Hooray.

So, I've already done TWO posts about my little mini break to Norbury Manor but I haven't actually TALKED about it, or really done a proper post about it. So, basically pretend like you're watching Memento and this is the first post you are reading about my little trip? Okay? GOOD.

The wonderful Alex got together a bunch of her blogger buddies and arranged for us all to spend a long weekend at a freaking manor house! Norbury is stunning - you can hire it through the National Trust, and oh, you SHOULD. It's got gorgeous grounds and a gorgeous inside and like four thousand bathrooms and did you SEE the rolltop bath? It sleeps 12 (although I think you could squeeze more in) and would be amazing for a hen do.

The Where Are My Knees girls!
Sarah's amazing Super Slutty Brownies
I'm ridiculous. But you knew that.

It was an amazing weekend full of gossip, chickflicks, cake, fun and cake. And more cake. There was a lot of cake. I got to meet some new lovely people as well as some familiar faces and I also had a super beautiful setting for outfit posts!

Gem and I ran out into the garden to snap some pics on the Sunday as I wanted to show off this pretty dress! I got this back in December but it didn't really fit - it's quite gratifying to see how different it looks now (look!). It's all silky and pretty and fancypants and oh so very Lady of the Manor, yeah?

It's lovely but I think Gem's dress might win. Doesn't she look beautiful?

Outfit credits: Dress - Dorothy Perkins, Cardigan - Red Herring at Debenhams, Tights - Primark, Shoes - Office

Finally, my favourite moment of the weekend... blogger group shots. Best. GIF. Ever.

Thanks to Alex for organising an amazing weekend, and thanks to Rosie, Char, Maria, Sarah, Lucy, Chloe, Becks, Alice, Gemma and Sophie for being awesome manor-buddies!

Wednesday 27 March 2013

The cat's in the cradle.

I used to be all about the skirts, and then dresses kind of took over. In truth, dresses are easier - they're an outfit in themselves, they hang nicely and, well, they're just awesome. But lately, I'm getting back into skirts, especially when I'm just pootling about at the weekend. I think the fashion magazines call this kind of look sports luxe on account of how I'm wearing a hoody and trainers but with a SKIRT. It's fashion, people. Not COMFORT, oh no. The fact that it is comfortable is but a COINCIDENCE OF FASHION.

Top c/o Skip 'n' Whistle | Hat - H&M | Hoody - GAP | Skirt - New Look | Converse Trainers c/o Spartoo

I'm a bit in love with this top that Skip 'n' Whistle sent me though, because I totally AM a crazy cat lady. Cats just seem to like me more than they do other people. As do small children, though, so I can't tell if I'm doomed to become a crazy spinster or have five million kids. Can you be both? Possibly, because I'm pretty sure I'll always be a bit crazy.

I'm just drawn to things that are a bit silly. I've just purchased one of these awesome mobile cases from Mobile Madness. The cuteness! It's a penguin! I'm going to take it into important meetings at work and people there, they will JUDGE ME.

Next I am going to buy this adorable bag and everyone will be like 'Sarah. You know that you are THIRTY, right?' And I'll be like, 'Yes, yes I do. And I will still have stupid accessories when I am SIXTY, and I will wear giant sunglasses and dress a bit like a yeti in womens shearling coats (oh yes) you will be sad that you are not as awesome as me.'

Yeah... being crazy's not so bad, really.

*This post contains sponsored links.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Overcompensate with headlines and flash, flash, flash photography.

I’m a bit of a creature of habit so when I’m presented with something new, I often resist it for as long as possible. And so, after wanting a new, more petite camera for the longest time, when I finally got one at the end of last year, I popped it on my shelf and barely touched it for months. This last weekend, whilst gallivanting with various bloggers at Norbury Manor I said to myself; ‘Sarah. This is ridiculous. Use your new camera!’ And I did. And then felt really stupid for not using it sooner.

I’ve been coveting the Nikon 1 for absolutely ages – I love my Nikon D40 to bits and have no plans to get rid of it, but it’s rather large and when I’m out all day, it just seems to get heavier and heavier. I’ve had little point-and-shoots in the past, but the photo quality is never great, and I have a nasty habit of killing them. Never take your camera clubbing, kids.

So when the Nikon 1 popped up on Groupon in December, I couldn’t resist whipping out my credit card. The Hut were selling it for £250 – not cheap, but considering everywhere else was around the £500 mark, I was excited. Plus, I had a Groupon voucher burning a hole in my inbox – no brainer, really! I love that Groupon vouchers can be used for anything – not just for money off an item like this but also for a day out or a meal, even a holiday! I am a mega Groupon addict.

It’s SUCH a good camera. When I did, finally, get to grips with it this weekend, I felt rather silly for not doing so sooner. I’ve been mostly using the smart photo feature, which takes 5 pictures when you hit the button and shows you the best one. It’s excellent in low light, and the depth of field is just as good as a DSLR – for just about half the price! It has interchangeable lenses, but the default lens is pretty great for now (although I said that for ages about my D40, then when I got a 35mm I never looked back!). There are lots of settings and features I haven’t even played with yet though – I really need to!

Although it’s small, it’s pleasantly robust so I don’t feel like it’ll fall apart when I use it. Even better, as it’s another Nikon, it works with my remote too – I actually used it to shoot these outfit pictures last year! I’m so used to shooting without an LCD viewfinder that it makes quite a change, but it does make life easier – especially for photos like this snowdrops one (they were on top of a 6 foot wall!).

The only downside is that this, the V1, does not have an inbuilt flash (unlike the other versions of the Nikon 1), which rather scuppers its planned use for nights out. I do have this camera which I could take out, or I could invest in an external flash. It’s not really been an issue so far though as I’ve been using it in the day, and it’s actually pretty excellent in low light.

Disclaimer: Groupon provided me with a £40 voucher to spend on the item of my choice, the remainder of the camera cost came out of my own pocket. And it really is a pretty awesome camera.

Outfit Credits 1) Hat - H&M, Hoody - GAP, T-Shirt c/o Skip 'n' Whistle | 2) Dress - Dorothy Perkins via Ebay (details here), Cardigan - Red Herring, StylistClick Boots c/o Spartoo Shoes
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