Blogging Reads: Pin Up & Retro Inspired

pin up & retro blogs
I've been a little bit missing in action for a while, mostly because of the yucky weather and dark nights (we're almost there though!) meaning I haven't been able to get photos of any outfits for a while, and also because the outfit photos I attempted to take this weekend were ruined when the wind blew my tripod over and broke my beloved portrait lens. I was really upset and phoned Ben in tears on the day, only for him to turn up home that evening with his boss' lens for me to borrow plus the new Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric book, which isn't even released till Thursday, Amazon must have sent it as a mistake - it's pretty awesome though!
I'm not sure if it's coming across very much via the blog, but over the past year, my style has started to take a turn more towards the pin up and retro side. In the past, I always wanted to be one of the bloggers that could turn up at charity shops and vintage fairs and pick up the most beautiful vintage pieces really cheap and they would fit me perfectly. But, alas, that wasn't to be, since there are a very few vintage shops and fairs in North Yorkshire, and those we do have are slightly more on the expensive side, plus it's hit and miss finding something to fit and suit you. So instead I starting turning more towards repro and pin up style clothing - many of these are made to fit a shape a bit more like mine (rather than modern clothing which seems to be pretty drapey or straight up and down at the moment), plus they're a cheaper alternative to real vintage.
So I decided to share with you a few of the bloggers I turn to for style inspiration for this sort of clothing - some of these aren't all out retro or pin up wearers, but do wear things inspired by these type of things. A few I've read for a long time, a few are new reads. Hope you enjoy!

cici marie
cicimarie outfits

Cici Marie

I've only recently discovered Cici Marie (real name, Carly, as she recently revealed!), but she's fast becoming one of my favourite sources of inspiration for the "real" ways she wears pin up and retro inspired clothing, as well as featuring plenty of red lipstick reviews and a "Cheat's Roll" hair tutorial.

junebugs and georgia peaches
junebugs outfits

June Bugs & Georgia Peaches

I've been reading June Bugs & Georgia Peaches for quite a while now and love seeing the cute and quirky outfits these two ladies come up with. I'm always amazed by the way they can incorporate pin up style outfits, including full petticoats and corsets, into their lives in such a hot climate! Amanda also has a great corseting tips series going on too.

chicago chic
chicago chic outfits

Chicago Chic

Chicago Chic is a little bit more of a grown up and sophisticated look at pin up styling, closer to Dita than cutesy, with some stunning looks. This is another blog with some corseting tips and reviews, and a very unique sense of style.

atomic amber
atomic amber outfits

Atomic Amber

Atomic Amber is a bit more of a recent discovery for me, and another with corset reviews (spotting a theme here yet?!). She sports some very fetching typical pin up outfits and some with quirky twists, plus I love her 5 minute beehive tutorial, must try this sometime!

forever amber
forever amber outfits

Forever Amber

Amber is quite possibly the person who I would love to steal wardrobes off most in the whole world. I've been reading her blog for quite a while now, although not as long as she's been around on the world of the interwebs, but I've quite possibly backtracked through pretty much her whole blog during this time! She recently posted about her "uniform" of full skirts and fitted tops, and if it was feasible for me, this is a uniform I'd quite happily adopt! While she's technically not a pin up/retro blogger, her outfits are often made up of pieces that could quite easily be.


into the woods
into the woods outfits

Into the Woods

Into the Woods must have some of the most beautiful blog photography I've seen - everything looks like it's from the pages of a magazine with beautiful angles and lighting. Again, technically not pin up inspired, but definitely a lot more retro and vintage with some gorgeously proportioned outfits.

vintage at heartvintage at heart outfits

Vintage at Heart

This and the next blog are a little different as they're Australian based! There seems to be a fairly strong retro/repro/vintage community out there, and these are two of my favourites. I've read Vintage at Heart (or Harlow Darling) for a long time - I remember her making the decision to wear more retro inspired clothing, but I think those posts are gone now. Most of her outfits are repro clothing, and you've got to love this recent repro sportswear one, amazing!

Gracefully vintage
gracefully vintage outfits

Gracefully Vintage

As I said, this is another gorgeous Australian retro/pin up blog. Kayla also features some lovely repro clothing and has recently had quite a big focus on swimwear too with some stunning pictures (I always love retro style bikinis/swimwear more than modern!) and awesome poses.

PS: The only image in this post that is mine is the first one, all the others (including logos) belong to the wonderful bloggers linked below them, so full credit goes to them for those!

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Outwit The Weather

outwit the weather
So I was going to try to do more wishlists - I said this back in November, and it's now February, and look how far I got...not very! There's no time like the present though, is there?! 
Joules have been a brand I've always had my eye on - I've owned a few things from them over the years including this striped top, and find that they are good for high quality basics. Around here, the weather has recently changed from on and off snowing, to a few brighter days, to those dull grey days you get a lot through spring - April Showers, I suppose! So I dug through Joules' collection of coats and their range of wellies too to pick out a few favourites to help me do what their tagline says, "Outwit the weather!"
My mum has a yellow raincoat very similar to the one above which I've always been very jealous of, and my sister is always stealing it from her, so much so that I never get the chance to steal it off either them, I could really do with my own like this! I think I slightly prefer the navy one over the yellow, though the yellow pairs perfectly with the navy accessories. And have you seen those wellies?! They have bows! I'm partial to a good pair of wellies, especially if they're something slightly more unusual (ie. my Wedge Wellies and Cowboy boot wellies!), and they're always a necessity living where we do in the countryside, so why shouldn't I dress them up a bit more?! 
And why have I never owned a proper rainhat?! I hate rain more than most other things - if I ever have to walk anywhere when it's raining and you happen to pass me on my way, you're more than likely to hear me muttering and grumbling under my breath about the "stupid rain, getting me all wet, grumble grumble." I did at one time very much advocate the wearing of granny rain hats (yes, I did use that search term to find some images!) - they keep your head very dry, relatively warm, and you're not having to get an achy arm holding up an umbrella, what more do you want when it's raining? Plus, not that it really matters to me, but they're not like a proper hat that has to fit onto your head, so they don't squash your hair and ruin it - as I said, I'm not one for "hairstyles" very much, but it does mean it's securely tied onto your chin at all times. Anyway, enough of my granny rain hat rambles - basically what I'm saying is, I should probably upgrade to a proper rain hat, like above, at some point in time!
What are you wearing to outwit the rainy weather at the moment? 
And remember, I'm selling a LOT of clothes here, and possibly even more soon! We'll be moving over the next month and I need to get rid of all of these, so please help me out - I'm happy to accept offers too :)

PS: It's my five year blogaversary today, crazy!! Can you believe I've been doing this all that time?! I'd planned to have a giveaway or something special, but time got away with me, so I may just have to do that another time, but let's celebrate anyway, woop!

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A Little Taste of Yorkshire Cookbook

A Little Taste of Yorkshire
A Little Taste of Yorkshire
A Little Taste of Yorkshire
A Little Taste of Yorkshire
(Spot Ben's sister, Beth, with the double thumbs up in the front!)
A Little Taste of Yorkshire
A Little Taste of Yorkshire
A Little Taste of Yorkshire
A Little Taste of Yorkshire
One thing you should know about Ben and me is that we have a lot of cookbooks, and I mean a lot...as in I just got Ben to count them and he managed to find 93! Our sideboard cupboard is full of them, and we have a whole shelf of "favourites" in the kitchen, plus there are a few by the bed and some boxed up ready to move to the new house soon! It wouldn't be a birthday or Christmas without us getting at least a couple of cookbooks, whether from each other or from family members. Of course, last Christmas was no different except for one thing - the cookbook that Ben and I received from his sister was one that she had had a hand in herself: A Taste of Yorkshire.
Beth works at Hallmark in Bradford and grew up around here in North Yorkshire. As part of The Prince's Trust Million Makers challenge, Hallmark put together this team to create something that showcased everything that Yorkshire has to offer, and what better than a cookbook with recipes from the gems of the county. Independent businesses such as restaurants, cafes, farm shops and delis from God's own county (as they call it!) donated their best recipes to this book so they can share the goodness of Yorkshire with others. And the members of the team gave their own recipes too, so Beth gets her own double page (see above!) - so exciting to see a family member in a real cookbook!
Highlights for me include a proper fish pie from Whitby's Trenchers, the Ultimate Burger from Aston Springs Farm and the good old Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding & Gravy by Christopher Blackburn at Yorkshire Pudd.
So while we were lucky enough to get this as a Christmas present, where can you get yours? It's available on eBay for only £8.99 (which is pretty good for cookbook stuffed full of recipes nowadays!) - they are attempting as an entrepreneurial challenge to raise more than £10,000 for The Prince's Trust, so it all goes to a very worthy cause! You can also Like their page on Facebook here for more Yorkshire updates.
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Buy My Clothes!

So as you might know, we're moving house soon! We've finally got a (provisional) date for it at the beginning of March, which is only 3 weeks away, eek! Even though the new house will have more room than this, I know I do have a lot of stuff that I don't need any more, so there's no point packing it up to move it from place to another, so I'm selling a lot of my old clothes. I thought I'd list them all here first, maybe put them up on Instagram, then eBay as a last resort (which I hate doing now, but need rid!).
I'm happy to look at offers on these. Postage is worldwide and will be around £3-4 for the UK, and £5-7 for the rest of the world. Everything needs to go, so please make offers and share! Either comment below or email me at sianhannahthomas@gmail.com to buy.

Selling: rebelangel.co.uk
Glamour Bunny (Gerry Roxby) Jessica dress (see here - originally £80), strapless red sequinned dress with fully boned bodice. Brand new with tags, never worn. 
Size small (8-10).
£35.
(SOLD)


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Book Review: The Deep by Nick Cutter

I usually write a round up of all the books I've read monthly, but sometimes, as you've probably realised, these round ups can go on, just a little bit! So I thought it might be fun to do the occasional full post as a book review, especially since I'm spending a bit more time reading at the moment, so thought I should dedicate a bit more space to it! It won't necessarily be books I've loved, or my favourite books, but ones that I think I might be able to write a bit more about and were interesting. So, first up...

The Deep by Nick Cutter - 7.5/10 (Kindle version)


This is a hard one to rate - the first three quarters of the book, I probably would have bounced up to the 5 star rating on Goodreads and given it an 8.5/10, but the last quarter or so just went a little too weird for my liking, hence settling around 7.5/10.

Stephen King described Nick Cutter's previous book, The Troop, as "Old-school horror at its best". In my upcoming monthly book post, I talk a bit about how I've been desensitised by the internet towards horror stories, but there was plenty in here for this to earn that title too. I was drawn to it because of the blurb describing one of my apparent favourite scenarios to read: a disease (the 'Gets) has swept/is still sweeping the population of the world. Much like an extremely aggressive version of Alzheimer's, it causes people to forget small things like where they left something or the name of someone they know, rapidly escalating until they've soon forgotten how to think for themselves, how to breathe and how to get their heart to continue beating. And yet despite this devastating disease, the world doesn't seem to be in a state of apocalypse like you'd imagine it to be - it's a calm and collected vision of a devastated future.

And yet, they think they've found a cure. It's information that's hidden under lock and key, but Luke Ronnick, an everyday veterinarian whose life has already been turned upside down more than once by the loss of his wife to the disease, and his young son years before, is called upon to head to very literally the bottom of the ocean, where his almost estranged genius brother, Clayton, is researching this supposed cure: a substance they're calling Ambrosia. The call has come from his brother himself: "We need you, Lucas. Come home."

Luke meets Al at the surface who descends with him in a tiny submersible to the work station situated further than the deepest reach of the ocean as we know it, 2 miles below the bottom of Mariana's Trench, where life cannot possibly exist. The station itself is already submerged in mystery, created to sustain life in the depths, under the pressure of 8 miles of water above, in freezing conditions and complete darkness. The journey down is only the beginning of the horrors they'll face once they reach the bottom, with "marine snow" floating past them, giant squids attacking, and ultimate blackness around them.

And once we arrive at the station itself, of course things are only bound to get worse. The scientists stationed there were supposed to report on their mental stability regularly, being in a completely alien environment so far from the places they know, but they have recently failed to do so, and it is clear that not everyone has their mental faculties about them. And is it just Luke, or is there something about the station itself? Immediately upon arrival, he feels an uncertainty about the place, even before things start to go wrong.

I'm not going to give away the story to you any further, but believe me when I say that this is an incredibly well written book. You feel as if you are immersed in those waters completely with the characters, only breaking out of them into strange flashbacks of Luke's childhood and earlier life. The claustrophobia you'll experience when reading this feels almost real, as do every one of the threats that they face. 

As I said before, the story continues much as you might imagine, leaving you wondering whether anything is really happening or whether it's tricks of a mind that began its descent into madness as soon as the submersible began its. That is until just after about three quarters of the way into the book, at which point everything reaches a head, nothing can possibly be real at all any more - the horrors are too much - and you are suddenly sucked out of the story into an "explanation". While I didn't particularly like the explanation I got, it was executed fantastically. There was an immediate change in the atmosphere and tone - I felt as though everything had turned from chaos to a disturbing calm as all the pieces come together to reveal the bigger picture. It was odd, but it definitely left you thinking - what if this is the way things really are? It's difficult to describe if you haven't read it, but if you have, I'm sure you understand what I'm talking about.

Would I recommend this book though? In short, yes. It was brilliantly written, had a captivating storyline and just came across really well. It was everything a modern horror story should be. I should warn the squeamish first though to proceed with caution, and if you find yourself attached to animals, be prepared to skim a couple of sections - it's always the bits with the animals that get me!

Have you read The Deep yet or any other of Nick Cutter's books? I'm planning on reading The Troop sometime now - apparently that is true horror, so let's see if that can scare me!


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Retro

Collectif polka dot top, denim skirt
Collectif polka dot top, denim skirt, red cardi
Retro outfit - Collectif polka dot top
Collectif polka dot top outfit
Collectif outfit with denim skirt
Collectif Dolores polka dot top
I had a really lovely weekend that seems like it was ages ago now, even though it was actually only 3 days! As a Christmas present from our parents, my sister and I got tickets to Matilda the Musical in London along with train tickets to get us there. Living up in North Yorkshire, we don't often get to go down to London, so it was like a mini holiday for us really! We got the train down on Friday morning, which meant we arrived around lunchtime, managed to drop our bags off at the hotel (which was the Premier Inn at Bank - a pretty nice location and well located for the tube), Matilda was on in the evening so we had the afternoon to go explore. We decided to go somewhere fairly close and headed to Camden as we'd heard the market there was awesome - and that it was indeed! I don't know what I was expecting, but I know I wasn't expecting it to be as huge as it was! We managed to spend a good few hours just walking around looking at everything there - the stalls seemed to go on and on, inside and outside, with everything from vintage clothing, antiques, trinkets, handmade things, and all sorts of food. We regretted the fact that we'd grabbed a quick lunch at Pret before getting to the market as there was SO much yummy looking food - ah well, next time.

Anyway, while there we happened across a Collectif store. I'd bought a few things from their site recently and had a fleeting visit to their Spitalfields store about a year ago when Charley and I went to the Lingerie Awards, so of course, I had to have a look, especially since the upstairs section had both sale and sample sale items! The point of this whole story is that, of course, I had to buy some clothes, and this top is one of them. Over the past year or so, I've slowly moved more towards wearing retro/vintage shapes in my clothing since it suits my figure more than modern clothes do, and Collectif is one of my favourite brands for it at the moment. 

I tried on a good handful of things, but only came away with this top (the Dolores polka top) and the Dolores polka dot rose dress - I didn't realise at the time they were both Dolores, but the dress has elbow length sleeves, so it's slightly different! Both items were £25, which was pretty good I think, although the sizing was a bit strange. I got the dress in an 8 and it fits absolutely perfectly (will show this to you sometime, although it needs a little fixing as I wore it to work the other day and took too wide a step, splitting the slit in the back a bit, oops!), but the top is a 12 and a pretty good fit too! I could probably do with a 10 in the top to be fair, but the 12 was the smallest size, plus when I tried it on, I didn't realise it had a zip on the side - it's easier to get on now that I know it has a zip!

The rest of the weekend in London was a lot of fun too, but very tiring on my feet and legs - there's a lot more walking to do than you think! Matilda was fantastic, especially considering how small the children were in it, and we had tea at Jamie's Italian before that. On Saturday we went over to Portobello Road first (pretty much just so we could sing the song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks) where I finally got to try an underbust What Katie Did corset (the Vamp - look how awesome it is!! Awful picture, I know!). We then went to Goldhawk Road so I could do a quick fabric shop - I'd found out before that fabrics in London are way cheaper than up here, and that was definitely true. The cheapest I can get up here is about £6/m (unless I happen to catch a £5/m weekday market, which is impossible since I'm at work), and those are not exactly the nicest fabrics. I only bought two - a scuba fabric for my next Watson bra and a postbox print. In the afternoon we had tickets booked for the Tower of London, so we hada quick lunch at Costa then spent the afternoon there. In the evening, we met Beth's friend who's living down in London now for a meal at Cote by the river, which was really yummy, then went to see her house. And finally, Sunday morning, we went over to All Bar One on Regent Street for breakfast, wandered Oxford Street, then went to Libertys where I accidentally bought some Liberty fabric - oops! Yeh, that was expensive, but I thought I might as well while we were there and I only bought 1.5m.

I'm also really excited now because we've got a proper holiday booked for later this year! It's a special birthday of my dad's - not sure I'm allowed to say which! - but we've got flights and accommodation booked in the south of America (not South America, the Deep South of North America!). What with all the house buying and everything (I think we're very close to a date on that), it's a fairly expensive time - I'd looked into travel insurance like this only to realise we already have it with our bank account, so fortunately that's saved us a bit. I'm already looking at places to visit, where to go to eat etc. when we're there. Ben, my sister and I will be heading over there for 2 weeks, while my lucky parents are spending 3 weeks there, so we're on the look out for what we can do - I'm excited!
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Beach Huts

Beach Houses dress
Simplicity 2444 collar beach houses
Beach huts Simplicity 2444 dress
Beach huts dress
Hell Bunny Paloma Cardigan: Tiger Milly | Beach Huts Dress: Handmade (Simplicity 2444; fabric via Hobbycraft) | Heels: ASOS | (Only just visible Headband: Seamstress of Bloomsbury)

It's seemingly impossible for me to get good pictures in the snow at the moment - it was fine when we lived up near Richmond and lived with snow on the ground for about 3 months solid, but I had such a palava with these, and not just in terms of photography. We've had on and off snow for a few weeks around us, although not as much as everywhere around us it seems strangely - we now live in the vale of York, which is a lot flatter than the area around it, and while we can almost constantly see snow on the hills around us, it just seems to melt during the day for us. Fine with me, but I would like a good day of proper snow - nice to have one every year!

Anyway, of course, being me, I decided that since there was snow on the ground it would be an excellent opportunity to get some photos taken in it. And of course, the only obvious choice of clothing for this was the completely seasonally inappropriate dress I'd just finished making that week with heels. Of course. I should also mention that it was very windy this weekend too...And these are the resulting photos, the only usable ones - and I'll be the first to admit that these are not the best outfit photos I've ever taken! My first issue was getting the lighting right, since everything was reflecting off the snow or hugely dimming the picture. My second issue was something else entirely. I set up the tripod in the lane outside our house, finally thought I'd got my settings right, focused on the spot I was going to stand on and set the timer going. I slowly hobbled my way to the focused spot, only to turn around, grinning at the camera as you do, to find a gentlemen out on his morning walk strolling casually towards me. Now, I've had this happen before - people seeing/watching me doing outfit photos, but this was a little different considering that it was snowing and I was wearing a dress covered in beach huts and heels. Fortunately he took it in good spirits, uttering a hasty "Hello there" to me before carrying on his way, but I only managed to take a few more sets of photos before retreating to the safety of the house and snapping a few pictures in front of the fireplace, hence the massive change in scenery. I'd really wanted to show off the collar of the dress, particularly from the back too, so the indoor pictures were necessary, but the headscarf (won in a giveaway on the Seamstress of Bloomsbury's Facebook page) and my hair disagreed in the meantime due to the wind, so that was out for the indoor pictures, resulting in the mishmash of an outfit you see here!

Anyway, I was really pleased with this dress - I'd planned to save it till summer, but of course I couldn't do that! I used the Simplicity 2444 pattern that I used for my Lighthouse dress here because the shape and style of it worked really well for me. This time I took off the sleeves (replaced with visible navy bias binding round the arm holes because I'm too lazy for facings - this is very messy though and will probably need to be replaced at some point!), and added the collar from the pattern. I technically changed how it's supposed to be done, since I sewed it with the wrong side of the bodice facing right side of the collar, then flipped it over and top stitched it in place - again, another lazy tactic, but it worked! So now I'm going to try to save it to wear in summer - good luck with that! And the cardigan is another of the Hell Bunny Paloma ones I'm obsessed with at the moment - I featured my initial black one here and I'm wearing the green one today! 

I've got a busy week coming up now - I'm getting my CRB sorted for Brownies tonight, choir (hopefully - as long as I don't have too much to do again) tomorrow night, Harry Potter night at Brownies on Wednesday, then I'm going to London for the weekend on Friday with my sister! We're going to see Matilda on the Friday evening, then have booked into the Tower of London on the Saturday, and will hopefully be visiting lots of markets and independent shops that we don't have up here - I'm planning to do a bit of fabric shopping while I'm there too, apparently it's so much cheaper, exciting! Any recommendations of anything to do in London? I've done a few of the bigger things (museums, shops etc.) before, and am wanting to visit more independent or unusual places, so any ideas are welcome :)
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What I've Read: January


I've managed to make a bit of time for reading this month, and it helps that I've had quite a few good books too. All of these have actually come from NetGalley which can be quite hit and miss - I've had some really great ones, and a few not so good ones in the past. 

Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand - 6.5/10

This book sounded like it would be right up my street - set in a Dystopian near future with the description mentioning clones. It follows Ven, who is a complete carbon copy of her wealthy counterpart Raven Rogen - she has lived her whole life in a unit packed with other clones, learning how to serve should they needed in the real world, knowing somehow that even if they aren't called to that, they may be used in other, slightly more gruesome, ways. Of course as you can imagine, Ven is finally called to serve her life's purpose as Raven in the real world - she has anticipated this every day of her life, watching videos of her, imitating her, knowing seemingly everything about her, and yet she feels nervous at the prospect. There has been an attack on Raven, and her wealthy and very important father decides the plan of action is to draw in the culprits with the fake version of her, so this is what Ven must do, and not let anyone know who she really is. 
The story flows as you might imagine - it's YA so there is of course a love interest, the usual struggle with identity (heightened in this case) and also Ven's struggles to try to keep secret who she is in the face of a growing underground revolution. It was a good story, definitely what I was looking for when I picked it, but did have some slightly more childish aspects (the very rushed love story). I have read some negative reviews saying that the book delves too far into "slut shaming" and dehumanises those who choose to be more sexually active - I disagree slightly with these, as it's coming more from the perspective of someone who doesn't know this world and is not conveying the views of the author as it's fiction. Overall, a good book but not a great book. The Goodreads page for it calls it "Clone Chronicles #1", so imagine there are more to come - I'd definitely be interested in reading these and seeing where the story goes.


The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly - 7.5/10 (Kindle version)

This isn't the usual kind of book I would pick, but something about the blurb really drew me in, holding promises of a huge secret kept by the Chinese government for decades of a brand new species soon to be revealed in the greatest zoo the world has seen. And for the most part I was right to be intrigued, as it was a brilliant read mostly. It starts with an article as a description of how China has always been slightly behind the world "giants", never able to pull ahead, setting the scene for what's to come. We mostly follow CJ, an expert on reptiles, and her brother, a photographer, as they join an exclusive group invited to join a tour before the zoo opens and reveals its secret to the rest of the world. If you haven't figured out what the species is yet that they've discovered, I won't give the game away, but believe me, it's pretty good. 
There were a lot of parts in this book I liked: the descriptions of the zoo and landscape were fantastic (really, my favourite bits!); the background into China as a country and the species that they'd found with full background information were very in depth, which I really like; and there was a particularly good relationship between CJ and one of the animals (can't go more into detail without spoiling it!). What I didn't like though was the huge amount of action - fleeing, fighting and running. For the storyline, it was necessary to have this, but there was just a bit too much at times for me. As many reviews have said, it reminds me of Jurassic Park, but it isn't a carbon copy of it, which is nice. And true to form, I enjoy the background info etc. of that, but not the action. I would definitely recommend this though and am interested to see more by the author.

Humans 3.0: The Upgrading of the Species by Peter Nowak - 6.5/10 (Kindle version)

This is quite difficult for me to review as it's not the fiction that I usually read, but rather a sort of extended essay written by tech journalist Peter Nowak as a discussion of humanity at the current time. It discusses the breakthroughs we've recently had in terms of technology, talking about how what we take for granted now would have been simply inconceivable for humans only a matter of decades ago, and their advances in turn would have been so to generations before theirs too. It covers a large subject matter of human advances, not only in technology, but financially, in terms of happiness and many others. And yet it's not dull at all - it was fairly easy for me to read, even though I'm no expert on the subject matter at all, and even had touches of humour. It was definitely interesting, making me look at how far humanity has come and how far we can still go, into worlds that are inconceivable to us yet but may happen in our lifetimes. While it's not my usual read, it was very interesting and was a nice break from fiction. It wasn't too heavy, had very good research to back up a lot of the info and is an intriguing look at humanity as we know it - good for an overview but doesn't go too far into topics that I imagine would begin to bore me.

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne - 9/10 (Kindle version)

The Ice Twins was, to put it simply, one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. It's been recommended by a good few authors I enjoy and is described as a gripping psychological thriller - one of my favourite genres. There are, again, parallels to Gone Girl, however I didn't see these till afterwards, so that didn't influence my decision to read it for once!
The story picks up with a family of three, previously of four. One of the seven year old twin girls died only a matter of months before in an accident, and the family has decided to move from their home in London to a remote Scottish island, Torran (or Thunder Island), once owned by the father's grandmother, where he used to spend his holidays, and he has fond memories of the place. The house is practically derelict, alone on the island, accessible only across mudflats at low tide or by boat - it really sets the scene! It's quite clear that they are trying to escape the memories of the recent death of the other twin. There is a definite feeling of grief hanging over every aspect of the book right from the start. The remaining twin, Kirstie, turns to her mother one day just before they move, asking: "Why do you keep calling me Kirstie, mummy? Kirstie is dead. It was Kirstie that died, I'm Lydia."
And so the story begins. There is a lot more to the book than just the confusion between which twin is which. The parents' marriage is hovering on the edge of break up, with tension between the two growing throughout the book. And of course, there's more than meets the eye between the characters. You're constantly wondering throughout the story whether they really did mix up the twins, if it's a just an expression of the surviving one's grief, whether the other is returning as a ghost and so on, no matter how ridiculous some of the options seem. It was a fantastic book that kept me guessing throughout. I really liked the characters, especially Kirstie/Lydia (who is it really?!) - she really embodies the sense of grief of the novel and is also strangely creepy, but you feel so terribly sorry for her, the little girl left behind as a constant reminder to everyone of her dead sister. As the book keeps reminding you, imagine her looking in the mirror every day and seeing her best friend and sister staring back at her - awful. I definitely recommend this - really, one of my favourites recently.
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Sewing: Cloth Habit Watson Bra

sewing the watson bra
I know I don't tend to share underwear photos on this blog much (since I now have Big Cup Little Cup for that), but these ones are a bit different so I chose to share them here: I made this set myself! So rather than this being a review/fitting post, it's more of a sewing one, which fits here better at the moment, although I may do a fitting style one at BCLC too.
This is probably my biggest achievement of late, this bra and knickers set, because who would have thought when I bought a sewing machine nearly a year ago that I'd still be sewing now and making even my own undergarments?! I found the Watson bra pattern on Pinterest just before Christmas and immediately emailed it to Ben to ask him to buy it for me as a present since we were both a bit stuck on what to get plus it was available in a size that would fit me!! I read through the pattern booklet straightaway after receiving it, but was a little overwhelmed by all the different types of fabric you could use - I just didn't get all the stretch and different names, especially since the UK isn't particularly big on stretch fabrics or lyrca which this pattern calls for. A few days later though, I discovered that Amy at Cloth Habit was doing a sewalong just for this pattern - amazing! I immediately joined the Facebook group and have been reading every bit of info I can find on the pattern.
Following Amy's recommendations, I bought all the bits and pieces I needed from an English website called the Sewing Chest and a few extra pieces for future bras or for "just in case" - in case I'd chosen the wrong things or messed up the first time! Obviously, I only used a few of things I bought for this bra, which was these:
Watson bra fabrics and notions
Stretch Nina Stripe (sherbert pink - 50% stretch each way) | White Powernet | White Tricot (lining) | Bra Strap Plush Back 13mm | Plush Back Elastic 8mm | Gold rings/sliders | Hook/eye fastener
I decided to start with making the bra, since that was the main part of why I'd chosen this pattern. It is an unlined, soft cup bra pattern without underwires and you have the choice of longline or normal band. It is available in sizes 30B-I, 32A-H, 34AA-G, 36AA-F, 38A-E, 40A-D - if you've been around here (or BCLC) a while, you'll know I struggle to find well fitting bras in the small band, large cup size range. In UK sizing, I'm currently a 28GG/H, but as you'll notice (and you must take note!), this pattern is in US sizes without double letters. Amy provides a size chart for this particular pattern and I did use this to an extent, but I am a bit of an anomaly to it, since I'm a pretty full on top shape, however I made this in the smallest band size and largest cup size available: 30I. For reference, I measure around 27.5" underbust and 37" full bust, and 34" upper bust.
Watson bra pattern
Cloth Habit Watson bra in progress
The pattern was easy to cut out and use - I weighted it down onto my fabrics with tins of tuna, obviously! And traced around it with pencil, although I now have an air erasable pen I used for the briefs which is much easier. The above picture shows the bra in progress - I'd sewed together the cups, sewn the elastic onto the cups, the lining onto the cradle, and the powernet (band) onto the cradle. I did have a bit of trouble attaching the cups in the middle where the elastic was a bit bulky where it overlapped, but I think it'll get easier with practice (apparently Amy has some tips coming up on this anyway), and I definitely need to practise my elastic sewing - this was my first ever time, so there are parts that are a bit iffy, some parts where I overstretched it or didn't stretch it enough, and a couple of tucks (oops!), but this was really just a practice to learn how the pattern works.
And here's the finished product - the lighting changed between when I started and finished, took me that long - oops! And I've also taken some pictures of it on me since I know others are wanting to know how it looks on, especially in a larger cup size (oh and I've got some old swimwear padding in under it as a cover up - it was slightly see through! - so sorry about the strange bumps!):
watson bra & briefs
watson bra cloth habit 30I
watson bra band
watson bra & briefs cloth habit
So you're probably wondering how well it actually works in this size - pretty well I find! I have a self-supported shape anyway, so despite my size, I don't actually need a huge amount of support - I'll sometimes go out without a bra. I do find though that this gives me a small amount of lift, pushes me into the middle a bit, and has a nice supportive band - the longline helps very well with this. My band is a little on the tight side at the bottom, possibly because my elastic was a little bit firmer than it should be - technically I think it's strap elastic - and because my rib cage flares out significantly. But it's loosened over a couple of wears, so it's now very comfortable.
watson briefs cloth habit
And finally the briefs - I made these in a size small, but using different elastic which I picked up in a local shop I found, Barnyarns: so amazing, it's a 5 minute walk from work and had everything I need, including stretch needles in the right size and iDye which dyes stretch fabrics and elastics but I couldn't find anywhere else except online! Anyway, I finished the briefs this afternoon and they fit perfectly and are really comfortable - so pleased! I did have a few issues with skipping stitches in these, but as soon as I swapped the needle, it was fine - I didn't think my needle could have gone blunt after just sewing one bra but apparently so, just goes to show!
So that's that - what do you think? I'm really pleased and can't wait to make my next set - maybe blue mesh next time, and possibly the normal band option.


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