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Monday, 14 April 2014

Book Reviews: March and April

Screenshot 2014-04-14 at 15.56.01

So since I last posted about managing to spectacularly bruise my arm by falling on it (my dad says I might have chipped the bone a bit) while taking the cat litter tray out, I've only managed to go and get clumsier. Yesterday evening, I was washing my hands after clearing up from tea and managed to knock Ben's "favourite glass" off the draining board onto the tiled floor - of course, it completely shattered, right in front of the cupboard where the dustpan and brush were, so I couldn't reach them. So I set about picking up the bigger pieces, went to put them in the bin, and managed to get hit by the automatic bin lid, crunching the glass in my fist and cutting my hand. So I cried a bit (as I tend to do!), while Ben vacuumed up the rest and I cleaned my hands off. Ben then asked me to look for the dustpan and brush in the cupboard as he couldn't find it, I opened it only to find that a litre glass bottle of sparkling lemon and ginger (which I was really looking forward to drinking!) was leaning against the door, so of course that came smashing to the ground, shattered everywhere, cut my hand again and splashed sticky liquid everywhere.
So that was my clumsiness part over, but apparently things really do come in threes, because when I went to bed, my bladder felt twingey, and yep, of course I had cystitis after I thought it had been cured by the operation I had in January. So I ended up leaving bed just before midnight, and drinking 2 litres of water and pacing the downstairs of our house because that's the only thing that makes it bearable. Then, yep it gets worse, I got a very familiar pain in my upper abdomen, and somehow, the excruciating pain I suffered with my gallstones was back, despite having no gallbladder. When it reached the point that I couldn't move from the living room floor or breathe, Ben had to call the emergency number. I'd taken ibuprofen, codeine and buscopan, so I knew the pain would start to subside soon, so I decided not to make the half hour trip to hospital. Eventually it did subside enough that I was able to fall asleep until the weight of all the pills.
So yeh, not feeling so great at the moment - sore, bruised arm, cut up hands from the glass, cystitis, and now suffering the after effects of the gallbladder (?) pain. And now you've heard all about me and my illnesses again, I'll get on with this post! More book reviews from March and the beginning of April. I decided to do a post now, mid-April, because we're going to Florida in a week and a half, so I imagine I'll be reading plenty there and didn't want too many in one post! So here we go with the next batch:

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe - 7.5/10

This was our book club book for the month, and I decided to get on with it early because I wanted to make sure I got it finished in time - luckily it was quite an easy read so I got through it quickly! It sounded like the type of thing I would read anyway: a young woman at grad college is spending her summer doing research for her dissertation as well as helping to clear out her late grandmother's house near Salem. In the house, she discovers an ancient key with a hidden noting saying only "Deliverance Dane" inside an old Bible, and decides to find out what the name might mean. This begins her long journey to find a Physick Book, filled with old knowledge and power which she needs for her research as well as other reasons. I'd say it was definitely a good read, but there were certain parts where it became a little far fetched. The book often delved into the past and history of the family and book - some of this was good, but it did jump around a little bit too much and could be annoying. But I would recommend it if you like anything to do with the Salem witch trials (as I do!).


John Dreamer by Elise Celine - 6/10

I think I've mentioned before that I use NetGalley for review copies of books, and I'd managed to get a bit of a backlog of books on there that I needed to read and review, so I decided to get going on those this month. This story begins a bit suddenly, with a girl waking up alone in a big white room and confused as to where she is and why. Six other people also appear just as suddenly and just as confused, all strangers, but one who she feels she recognises. A man called The Guardian then enters the room, seemingly from nowhere, and explains (somewhat begrudgingly) that they are there to fulfil their dreams. The dreams they all participate in are shocking, surprising, strange and confusing, but well described. There is of course the typical YA romance, and it has a fairly predictable storyline, but again, a nice easy read, probably better for younger readers.

The Deja Vu Experiment by J. G. Renato - 4/10

I hate being harsh on books because there is so much hard work put into writing each one, but I didn't enjoy this book. I wasn't sure what it would be at first, but I knew it was non fiction. I thought it might be something to do with psychology behind deja vu experiences, stories about it, something like that, but it turned out to be entirely different - very philosophical, and to be honest I couldn't really describe it accurately to you. I started off fairly interested to see what it was about, but got quickly bored and read it fast so I could get through it. After reading Ancient Greek philosophy in the original language at uni, this just fell very far short for me, and I often felt it was demeaning to those original authors in the way they were criticised at points (I believe one sentence said: "Bless them" talking about an expert in a particular field). It may be interesting for someone else, but wasn't for me.

Sinful Folk by Ned Hayes - 7.5/10

Weirdly I wasn't expecting to like this book that much, but I did. It's set in the late 1300s in Britain, a medieval world very different to the one we know today, with completely different customs and laws. A group of men, plus the main character Mear, a woman who has lived years disguised as a man, set out to get justice for their sons' deaths who had died in a fire, the door of the house tied shut with an intricate knot. I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction in this era, but it had great reviews, so I decided to go ahead with reading it anyway. The journey they undertake, travelling from their village to London on foot with their sons' bodies on a cart through the depths of winter is long and treacherous, as is the prose. There were times early in the book where I wasn't entirely sure what exactly was happening and was getting a bit fed up, but I persevered and ended up really enjoying it. The people they meet on the way are particularly fascinating, and the way that women are treated is so completely different. I would definitely recommend this, but be prepared for a long read that's at times difficult to get through.

Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert - 8.5/10

I reviewed a couple of Natasha Mostert books in my last lot and very much enjoyed them, so I decided to save the last book I had of hers until later so I didn't get through them all in one go! Her books in general combine the supernatural and transcendent with everyday life, and that's one of the things I like most about them. This one started a little differently from the others, and I was at first worried it wouldn't be as good as the others, but once it got into the story, I really enjoyed it. It follows computer hacker Gabriel who is able to enter another person's head as a "remote viewer", in the past a skill he used to help find missing people. He is approached by a man asking him to help find his missing son, and the man's wife turns out to be an ex of his from his former life. He reluctantly agrees to help, and is drawn into a world where everything is not as it seems, frequenting Monk House, the assumed site of the disappearance, and the other-worldly sisters that occupy it, drawn in by their spell. As with the other Mostert books I've read, the descriptions are my favourite part. With Windwalker, I stopped breathing during the cave diving scenes, and this book was no different. When Gabriel enters the world inside people's heads, the description and experience is unforgettable, and I was completely drawn in. The novel also includes somewhat of a study into extreme memory skills and how they have been used in witchcraft, alchemy and other disciplines, and I found this fascinating. This was a must-read for me, and would recommend others to read it too. It's pretty easy to get through, with an intriguing set of characters, enthralling storyline and simply amazing descriptions.

The Quick by Lauren Owen - 6.5/10

This book has received some rave reviews, although it is pretty hard to review without giving away the main twist and spoiler (which I won't do!), so I decided to read it. The premise seemed good - a young man from a rather distinguished country home in Yorkshire in the 1890s travels down to find his fortune in London, and is sucked into the world of seedy Gentlemen's clubs, in particular the Aegolius, only to disappear and his sister to be forced to travel to find him. The book starts with the pair in their childhoods, remembering specific events that make an impact on their lives, including their father's death, before heading into the next part set in London. I really enjoyed the beginning then lost focus a bit when it moved to London (maybe because London scares me and I love Yorkshire?!). There were times when things got a little confusing as many characters were introduced, and at times we saw the storyline from several points of view. I enjoyed the story as a whole, although the twist didn't quite shock me as much as it has others apparently, but it might be due to the type of book I normally read, and it took me a little while to trawl through it. It certainly wasn't bad, and to be honest I would recommend it, but I suppose I'm giving it a slightly lower rating because it didn't, for me, live up to the reviews I'd read.

The Age of Miracles - 7.5/10

I bought this book recently on a whim because it sounded good; I suggested it for our next book club alongside another, but we decided to go with the other, so I thought I might as well read it now. I started (and got most of the way through it) last night in the depths of my pain, so annoyingly, the story will now be twined in my head with that, but I finished the book in less than 12 hours, reading it during the night and finishing it this morning. It is both a coming of age story and a dystopian present novel, focusing on an 11 year old girl and her few friends and family as the earth's rotation begins to fairly dramatically slow. Days at first are only tens of minutes longer, but quickly become hours and hours longer, until late in the book daylight will last weeks at a time. You know I love dystopian novels, and coming of age books are always good for a quick and easy read. This one was great because it didn't delve too far into the scientifics or too far into the teenagery side, a pretty good balance overall. I did very much enjoy it, and was fascinated by the things that happened both physically and mentally to people, animals and the world in general as the earth's rotation slows - I keep worrying about it happening in real life now! I'd recommend it to younger teen to older teen readers, and people who like coming of age and YA books.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Springtime Florals

Joe Browns dress, black heels
Spring floral dress outfit
Cropped Cardigan: Zara
A springtime outfit finally, and the first one of the year without tights!! To be honest, I'd been wearing tights earlier in the day, but we were going out for tea at a local pub with my family and I decided to be brave because the weather was fairly mild. I always forget that this pub is spectacularly windy and at the highest point of the North York Moors, so is generally pretty chilly! We sat inside near a fire though and I was definitely warm enough in there. So that was Saturday evening - during the daytime on Saturday I went shopping with my sister in Harrogate and bought a few things. I'd been hoping to go to Leeds to go to the Trinity Centre, in particular Primark for the gingham midi skirt and dresses! Luckily Harrogate has a Primark, but it's not the best one, so I only managed to get a black cami top, some pink strappy shoes and the infamous pink midi skirt. I asked about the gingham clothes and the poor shop girl looked terribly baffled - guess they don't do it there!
Floral dress with cream cardigan
Outfit with floral dress
So, this outfit - I was contacted by Joe Browns to ask if I'd be interested in trying out any of their clothing. I was really pleased they'd got in contact because I used to love flicking through their little catalogue we'd got when I was younger, occasionally being treated to something from it by my mum, but hadn't had anything from there for quite a few years. I was so pleased when I saw the amount of retro styled and shaped dresses they had on offer - they were all perfectly springy and had such pretty names too. Mine is the "Sugar Loaf Mountain" dress, and has gorgeously thick material that has a nice weight so hangs beautifully. It was definitely a difficult decision though, so I've made a bit of a wishlist of all the dresses I had to leave behind on the website:
Joe Browns

I've been wearing these shoes a lot recently, although I slightly destroyed them the other day. I managed to slip and fall on the decking outside our house when emptying the cat litter tray (luckily it was already empty at this point!), and I sort of skidded sideways on them, meaning the black suede now has big green smears on it :( I also managed to destroy my arm my falling onto it and crushing it with my own body weight, so that's fairly spectacularly bruised now and I think there's a little bit of chipped bone in there too (but bear in mind I've diagnosed this part myself!).
Busy busy again at the moment - not as busy as I have been recently, but plenty coming up! I'm planning to go to York on Saturday with my sister for last minute Florida clothes, then pilates and choir next week, and I'm going to see a local musical on Thursday with the family, and the next Thursday is Floridaaaa :D
Floral skirt and heels
Cream cardigan with floral dress outfit

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Frozen Costumes Anna and Elsa: Disneyland Paris

Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costume: Anna
You might remember that a couple of weekends ago I went on a little trip with my sister, a trip to Disneyland Paris! It was our Christmas present from the parents, who managed to keep it as a surprise right up until the last present. We were told to leave the two flat square presents to open until last as they were our 'main presents', so we went excitedly through all the others and finally reached those. We tore off the paper to reveal....two calendars, mine a Minnie Mouse one. Now that was lovely, I like calendars and love Minnie Mouse, but we didn't really see how a calendar was a 'main' present (not being selfish at all, just confused considering we'd already had bigger and better presents than those!). So my mum said, "I hope you like them! We've written in the Disney dates, look and see!" (We already had a trip to Florida to Disneyworld booked in April). So I started flipping through the pages and came across "Go to Disney" written in...March?! I twigged at that moment that something was going on, but Beth was still a little confused!! We then found the envelopes which held the confirmation of the booking at the Dream Castle Hotel at Disneyland Paris!! And finally, on March 21st the day came!
Last year I went with my friends to Disneyland Paris, and that was my first trip there although I'd been to Disney in Florida several times before. We decided on that trip to do a day dressed as Princesses, and you can see that post here. So my sister and I decided to do the same, only this time we would dress as the two new Princesses, Anna and Elsa from Frozen! My sister's hair is pretty much the same colour as Anna's, and being the little sister of the two, she'd reminded me of her the second we started watching the film, so it was a given she was going to be her. In reality though, I've got a lot more of Anna's mannerisms - ie. the clumsiness, craziness and bursting into song at random. But I went for the older sister role of Elsa even though I didn't have white hair!
So, we took a lot of pictures, a lot a lot! I've cut out quite a few, but I've still got a lot to show you! So I'll just throw all the pics on of each costume/outfit and explain a bit about them, hope you enjoy :)
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen Costume Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
Frozen costume: Anna
So first up is Beth as Anna. We obviously didn't go for full on actual costumes with the proper cloaks and full length dresses because we were going to be spending the day in the parks and it just wouldn't have been practical, and would have been expensive to put together! Beth decided to replace Anna's blue skirt with blue jeans instead (from Dorothy Perkins) and layered a lacey black vest top (Dorothy Perkins again) over a plain blue long sleeved top (from Gap), with my Tesco boots and finished with a pink cardigan (from Boohoo). We went shopping the week before we went to complete our outfits. She also put her hair into plaits (no colour changing needed!) and did some awesome make up with freckles with a brown eyeliner pencil. I was really impressed by her make up because mine was definitely not up to standard!! She'd also bought an Olaf soft toy the day before that she carried stuck out of her rucksack!
Anna was a lot more fun to pose than Elsa. If you've seen the film, you'll know how crazy she is! I was trying to get Beth to do everything from dancing to "Fetchingly draped against the wall, the picture of sophisticated grace"! I think she pulled it off pretty well actually! There's also a kicking Olaf pose (watch the film!) thrown in there too, where she, ahem, actually kicked Olaf, much to the small child's dismay who was watching!!
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
Frozen costumes: Elsa Coronation
As I said, Elsa was a lot harder to pose! Aside from the tearing the gloves off and throwing them into the wind, and stamping on the ground and throwing my arms around to create a frozen palace, it was difficult to be so "frosty"! We tried to get the blossom to create snow, but not sure it worked that well!
I went for Elsa's coronation outfit rather than her amazing sparkly blue dress, just because I thought sequins, sleeveless etc. might be a bit impractical for parks all day long and was too hard to find! So, I decided to go for a dress, but not full length because I'd get tangled! I found this one at H&M the week before we went. I then added an old plain black top underneath and a black cropped cardigan on top (because it was chilly!), then found a cape on eBay for only a few pounds, and a pair of (authentic vintage) green silk gloves on eBay too for less than £20 - they go all the way up to the middle of my upper arms and have buttons to fasten them - pretty amazing!
I also added the tiara I bought at Disneyland Paris last time, plaited my hair and streaked it with blue hair chalk from the Body Shop (reviewed here) for a more frozen look since I don't think my hair would be easy to change to white!! Then I added the sparkly blue bow for fun, and we both wore necklaces that my sister bought as gifts - mine says: "Let it go, can't hold it back anymore" and Beth's says: "Do you want to build a snowman?", and I also got her a bracelet with the same words! I did attempt some blue/white make up, but it didn't go too well, so it just looks like my usual make up really!
So what do you think of our Frozen outfit interpretations?! Yes, I did wander round in a cape all day, and yes, we did get little girls stopping to look at "The Princesses" - I felt very special!!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Pastel Pinks

Pastels with black shoes
Spring pastel with block heels
Monochrome floral cardigan with pastels
Monochrome floral cardigan: H&M (similar here)
Pink Blouse: Forever21
Pink Pencil Skirt: H&M (similar here)
Black Block Heels: c/o Matalan
I'm here again! Wow, I keep disappearing recently, but I'll try not to be the blogger that's always apologising for it, so I'm not sorry because you probably didn't really miss me or even notice I was gone! But I've been pretty busy again recently, fortunately doing lots of lovely things that I want to do. As I've mentioned before (I think), I now do lovely "old woman" things on evenings and weekends including pilates on a Monday, choir on a Tuesday and book club every few weeks. I've also been really lucky to have been able to see lots of friends recently, including going out for a meal with some on Friday, then meeting them again and some others in York on Saturday for a spot of shopping! And, of course, the most exciting thing: I've been to Disneyland Paris with my sister!! I've got lots of pictures that I'll be sure to share soon, but for now I'll just tell you that I had the most amazing time and I didn't want to come home!
So, I'm back with an outfit post, and amazingly it's actually on the day I wore it (although I'm now in my onesie!). This was a fairly smart version of a work outfit for me - as I've said before, our office is casual, so I could wear a hoodie and jeans everyday if I wanted, but being me I'll sometimes go casual, sometimes go over the top. I decided it must be spring now so I'd go all out with the pastels. I've had the blouse and skirt for a couple of years now but have never paired them together before. The cardigan and skirt however I have worn together before, but not on the blog, so it's a new outfit to all of you ;D Unfortunately the skirt doesn't agree with sitting in an office all day - you wouldn't believe that I actually ironed it after I came in because I knew I wanted to take pictures but it was so creased, was on the phone for 5 minutes then took these pictures and it was back to the same state it was before! The shoes are fairly new from Matalan - I've been wearing them a lot recently because they have a little block heel but are fine to walk in. I also bought these espadrilles at the same time to wear in Florida (which is only like 3 weeks away now!!).
Pastel pink skirt and blouse
Pink skirt, blouse, floral cardigan and black heels
In other news, I am in love with my cats still. The "fabric issue" we had in my last blog post is resolved - it wasn't a nice job but we think we saw the fabric, and she's absolutely fine now so all is okay! They've been spayed and chipped last week, so were feeling a little bit sorry for themselves with their shaved patches of fur and stitches, but we needed to get it done sooner rather than later so we can start to let them out towards summer. I don't particularly want to because I'm scared they'll get run away or get hurt...or hurt the birds in the garden, but then again, they are cats, so I'm sure they'll be fine. I don't think they're likely to go far anyway!
What other news? It was Mothers Day here in the UK yesterday so we had both sets of parents and my sister round for a big Sunday lunch with roast pork, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and veg followed by sticky toffee pudding, coffee cake and ice cream - yes, there was plenty of food! We popped round to my grandparents later in the day too where we saw my aunt, uncle and baby cousins, although only Eva is a baby now, Mollie's nearly 3 and a half! 
And aside from work, that's my life right now! I'll try to get more on the blog soon, but it's likely I'm going to be busy for the next month or so with my "crazy" social life - I'll just do what I can! 
Pink blouse, pink skirt, cardigan
Outfit with floral cardigan
Outfit with pink skirt

Monday, 17 March 2014

Baseball Jersey Outfit

Fashion blog american jerseyBaseball jersey outfit with jeans
Outfit featuring baseball jersey
 Skinny Jeans: Hollister
First things first, I have no idea why I look so cranky in half these photos and so happy in the other half - just the way I roll apparently. Well, it's been a while since my last outfit post, mostly because my camera ran out of batteries just after my last post, then I couldn't find the camera charger (read: I was lazy and didn't bother to look in the most likely place where it turned out to be...). Anyway, much has happened in this short time, including these two:
Cats
Whuuut?! Yeh, I got cats! An old friend posted on Facebook that she had two cats she wanted to get rid of because she wasn't around enough to give them the care they demanded, so I offered to take them off her hands, and yeh, we have cats! They're called Belle and Charlie (originally Kuro, but Ben found that too difficult to say) and are around 7 months old. I've always had cats around at home, so it's hardly unfamiliar to me, and I'd been wanting to get one for ages. Finally Ben gave in and said we could take these! Wasn't expecting two to come along at once!!
Unfortunately, we've already had somewhat of a minor emergency with Belle that isn't quite sorted yet...I've been working on making a dress (slowly!) recently, and was cutting up some fabric on the floor on Saturday. I started playing with a leftover strip of it with the cats then went back to work cutting it up. Next thing I know, I turn around to see Belle with the last bit of the strip stuck out of her mouth. I lunged to grab it, but she ran away, swallowing it as she did so, and that's how my cat ate a 30cm by 10cm strip of lining fabric. Of course, I did the sensible thing, implored the cat as to why she had eaten fabric (what cat eats fabric?! That's not normal!!), then phoned my mum crying about how my cat was going to die. I've heard various horror stories of pets getting seriously ill and dying from eating things they shouldn't do, in particular long things that get tangled in their intestines. We'd only had them a week and were actually about to register them at the vets, get them insured and get them booked in to get spayed that very day. But of course, Belle had to eat the fabric first. So I rang the nearest vets immediately and took her straight in. He was fairly positive that she should just be able to, ahem, pass it over the next couple of days, but recommended I keep a close eye on her in case it did in fact "pleat" her intestines by getting caught and tangled, then sent me away with liquid paraffin to help it on its way and some gloves to help me sort through the litter tray....
Well, we were hoping it would make its appearance over the weekend, but by this morning, nothing had. So I had to stay and work at home and watch the cat in case she suddenly became frightfully ill, but so far all she's done is eat, sleep and scratch at windows where she can see birds - hardly the poorly cat she should be!! We're giving it overnight, then she'll have to be back in the vets tomorrow, and I'm hoping it won't take an operation to get the fabric out. Honestly, so stressful!! Aside from that though, they are the most lovely, placid cats ever. They sit wrapped around each other like this frequently, purr all the time and are just generally cute :)
Jeans, boots, baseball jacket outfit
Baseball jacket outfit
Baseball jersey with jeans outfit
And so, onto the outfit! I got this baseball jacket a couple of weeks ago, and thought it wasn't really my style but could be good to throw on on my way to pilates and whatnot. But as soon as I pulled it out the package and tried it on, I knew I would be wearing it to work at least weekly. It's actually surprisingly flattering and pretty warm too - it's now replaced my winter coats for work as the weather is warming up. On the first day I wore it to work, one of the guys complimented me on it (this doesn't happen often, I think they are confused by the way I dress) and said he wanted one too! Let's hope we don't turn up on the same day in identical jackets #awkward (yeh, that was awkward that I just used a hash tag in a blog post).
You already know about the boots from the other couple of posts where I've worn them, but the jeans I've surprisingly not shown you before. In the past I've gone through various phases with jeans including hating them and wearing only jogging bottoms instead (including a lovely khaki green velvet pair...just as delightful as they sound); wearing only skirts and dresses; and wearing only jeans because they were the "cool" thing to wear then. My phase with jeans is now: wear them every so often, sometimes on lazy days, sometimes, weirdly, on 'smarter' days. My favourite pairs in the past couple of years were the Topshop Leigh jeans, then I moved on to the Topshop Joni jeans because we all know that high waists are much more flattering on me than slightly-too-tight-on-the-hips jeans that give me a delightful muffin top, and I've now moved on to the, unfortunately, more expensive Hollister high rise skinny jeans. Fortunately for me though, we were in America (where Hollister is about half the price of the UK) during the sales, and I managed to grab these for a ridiculously cheap price. I literally wear no other jeans now aside from these, and they're holding up spectacularly well - no bagging, tearing, tightening etc. I guess that getting slightly more expensive jeans actually is worth it, even if it's a brand I don't particularly like to buy from. The only downside is that I doubt I'll be near a Hollister in the US with sales on again any time soon, so these jeans are going to have to last me a while longer yet.
Baseball top, jeans and boots
OOTD with American jacket
Jeans, high heeled boots, baseball jacket

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