29 June 2015

I'll Give you the Sun Review: #Sassybooks Book Club


For a while now I have wanted to try something new and try and get out of my typical reading habits.  As much as my TBR pile is still pretty large, it's actually the smallest it has been in quite a long time (I am no longer double-stacking!).  I thought about joining a book club to try and push me out of my comfort zone, but I knew I wouldn't have the time to attend one regularly.  Then luckily I noticed that Hayley of Water Painted Dreams had started a book club called Sassy Books along with fellow blogger Charlotte.  This means not only could I join a book club from home, but I could get in right from the start.  The first book was I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson.  

 Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don't realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

I was a little disappointed that the first title chosen was a young adult (YA) title at first.  I have gotten really fed up of YA generally and thought I had finally gotten too old as I found a lot of it really childish.  Thankfully this title isn't one of them.  The writing is mature yet really easy to read, and the details are so beautiful that it really makes this book really special.

If you are looking for a story with a lot of action this maybe isn't the book for you, however the books I enjoy are always about great characters rather than a fast moving plot so for me this book is perfect.  I loved both the lead characters of Jude and Noah, both interesting individuals with flawed, honest personalities.  I know a lot of people didn't enjoy the author's extensive use of metaphors but I really liked it, I thought it brought a beautiful, poetic nature to the story.

This book is all about emotions, and it shows them in such a poignant and powerful way.  Following the twins as they set out to understand not only themselves, but each other.  The story is told from two points of view but rather then flipping between the two constantly, the chapters were all really long so it gave you the chance to feel like you really got to know the characters and how they were affected by different events.

I felt like I could relate a lot to the emotions and the way the characters reacted in this book, both in the way I feel now towards certain things and definitely emotions I felt in my teenage years - it all felt quite real, which is the sign of a good story in my book.

4/5

If you want to join the #sassybooks book club then jump on board. Make sure to check out Hayley  and  Charlotte's blogs as the second book is about to be announced.  You get one month to read each book so there's always plenty of time to get through it.  Happy reading!
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24 June 2015

Heights of Abraham, Matlock


A few weeks ago I celebrated my two year anniversary with my very lovely Boyfriend.  Last year we had an extended weekend in York and got to see all kinds of museums, galleries and fancy restaurants.  This year we were initially thinking of going abroad, however with our anniversary being not only on a bank holiday weekend but also in the school holidays, things tend to be a bit pricey.  On top of that we are both struggling with cash flow at the moment (that's a nice way of saying we could both do with nice fat pay rises!) so even a weekend's stay-cation was out of the question.  In the end we settled on just a day out, and now I have my car we could finally stretch further than the rubbish public transport options passing through my local village.  After much searching online we settled on the beautiful town of Matlock and it's premier attraction: The Heights of Abraham.  

If I'm being honest, I had never heard of The Heights of Abraham before, which is surprising because not only is it full of history, it is also a spot of natural beauty and has one rather unusual feature that really seems to draw in the crowds.  A cable car ride up to it!



Now call me child-like but I was rather excited about the concept of a cable car - it reminds me of trips to Alton Towers when I was a child.  I have to say the view from this one was a lot better, it's a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.  The charge for going in the cable car might seem a bit steep (pardon the pun) at £14.50 a person, but when you see what that includes when you get to the top it's more than worth it.





Once you arrive at the top of this beautiful cliff there is so much to see and do.  The main draw are the caves.  There are guided tours of two of the caves that go on throughout the day. Both are interesting, fun and stunningly beautiful.  Unfortunately I left the battery for my camera at home so I had to take pictures on my iPhone which really doesn't do them justice.  There is so much industrial and social history here and the modern-day lighting shows how simply gorgeous the caves are.  Extra kudos to our guides who were both excellent despite unruly children and very busy groups.  The caves do have a lot of steps and the floor is often uneven so if for any reason you don't feel up to it there is a film of the tours showing in a near by pavilion.


The long view is a surprisingly excellent exhibition dedicated to the history of the area, including how it was used in the industrial days of old and how it became a popular tourist attraction for the Victorians.  There is also a lot of information (and a cute little shop) about the kind of rock and fossils they used to bring up here from the mines.  It's also where I found out my Boyfriend used to collect rocks when he was younger, being the ultimate nerd I can't say I was that surprised.  Last year on our anniversary I also found out that he also used to be (and secretly still is) a massive steam train nerd after I took him to The National Railway Museum.  I wonder if discovering part of his geeky past is going to be somewhat of an aniversary tradition?




Anyway that's not all: there are heritage walks and an amazing stone tower which nearly killed me walking up but it was completely worth it for the incredible view.  Matlock is such a stunning place and being able to see it from such heights really feels like a privilege.  There is also a lovely looking restaurant here that does afternoon tea (amongst other things) but we had brought a picnic so we could enjoy the view (and save a few more pennies).  If you have children there are some pretty nice play areas around, but it isn't so kid-friendly that we felt uncomfortable being there childless (do you ever get that feeling?).

We had planned on staying and having a walk round before finding somewhere local to eat but unfortunately just as we were taking the cable car back down the heavens really opened, so we made a mad dash for the car and headed straight home.

If you are looking at somewhere off the usual beaten track to go on an adventure, why not check out Think Money's UK Travel Guide-By Bloggers!  It's aimed at finding hidden budget friendly places to check out in the UK.  

Some of the expenses from this trip were kindly given to me by Think Money
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22 June 2015

#BloggersUniteSummer15 Event


Summer is upon us and that means it's blog meet season!  I haven't been to a blog meet in so long so I was really looking forward to #BloggersUnitedSummer15 to meet bloggers old and new!  The event was held at Eten Sheffield which is a really great venue, I have actually been here before for the Northern Blogger Meetup.







The first thing we did once we were all settled in was have a blogger speed date.  Now when I first got the email about this I was a little worried.  I always think I make rubbish first impressions and I am not naturally a social impression, truth my told I am a shy introvert through and through.  However, once everyone got through the giggly awkwardness this worked really well.  It was a really good way of breaking the ice and it gave you the chance to meet more people.  I often find at blog meets that I end up chatting to the people near me and no one else.  The blogger speed date allowed the group mingled much more easily for the rest of the day.  

After this, we were left to chat and told a bit about the charity which the raffle proceeds were going towards, a company called Look Good Feel Better.  A fantastic charity that I first came across at the #SheffieldBBloggers Meet.  They raise money to help women with cancer by making the feel better with the use of make-up and other beauty items that can really help women's self-esteem at such a distressing time.  

After this and more chatting and drinks, we had a talk from a couple of brands.  First from a Sheffield entrepreneur and 3 of his main product lines, Keratin Revolution, Noir Caviar and Infinatura Cura Oil.  The first two are revolutionary hair product lines that can transform the hair, making it seem younger, softer and more full of life.  The Infinatura Cura Oil is an all in one product that can work on just about everything, skin, hair, in the bath and so much more!

We also got to chat with an American company called MooGoo.  I had never heard of them before but they really interested me, all of there products are 100% natural.  So natural you could eat them if you wanted.  They have products for all kinds of skin care problems and a seperate make-up line called Dusty Girls that has the exsact same ethics.  I'm not saying thaat you would ever really want to eat a blush, but if you did, you could with this brand.  They even have a line for animal care coming out in the near future.

Later we were on to the charity raffle, it was really great to rase money for such an amazing charity and the items on offer were amazing.  I never win anything so I was relally suprised and over the moon when I actually won the last prize of the day, a Clarins gift set worth £80!  





Once I was home I went through the very extensive goodie bag.  First up we had samples from the guys at Keritin Revolution, with a hair styling product from their Noir Caviar range and a leave in conditioner.  They were actually nice enough to give me a full sample of there hair mask after I complained about my hair troubles.  I really can't wait to try it out this out, all their products look such high quality.

Next, the Moogoo bag contained a variety of different products for every blogger.  In my case, I got a blush, lipgloss, kabui brish (which feels amazingly soft) and a cleasing bar.  With all the chemicals I put on my face when I usually wear make up this could make a nice change.

The #BloggersUniteSummer15 goodie bag was full of amazing products, from makeup samples from Benefit and makeup revolution, to hair care, to amazing edibles and health treats, so skin and body care and so much more.  You will definatly be seeing some of my favorates apparing on the blog at some point!

A huge thank you to the fantastic girls who put so much hard work into organising this event; Emma, Hannah and Frankie.
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20 June 2015

My top 5 announcements of E3 2015


Two list posts in a row, what bad form, I am going to get thrown out to the wolves of bloging!  I wanted to this post up before E3 fever dies though so why not.

For those of you who don't know E3 is the biggest gaming expos in the world and is a major deal in the games industry.  Anyone who's anyone in the field is there and traditionally it is where the big gaming announcements are made.

Now, I didn't actually see much of it this year.  The time difference means most of the conferences happened either in the middle of the night or while I was at work, so I caught a few of the things I really wanted to see and the rest I got in the news or through my game-obsessed boyfriend.  So my information may not be comprehensive, bu nevertheless, here is what I am looking forward to after the e3 announcements this year.

Halo 5
In the grand debate of Xbox vs Playstation, I have always been on the side of Xbox.  However in the latest generation, I am as of yet undecided.  Putting a point firmly in the Xbox One zone is the edition of a new Halo game.  I am a big fan of Halo, now don't get me wrong, I am terrible at it, but it is a great game for playing with friends.  

Xbox One Backwards Compatability
All together now "finally!"  As I said, I have always been an Xbox girl so finally having the option to play all my current games on the new console is definitely a plus.

Oculus Rift on the Xbox
In the battle for the most appealing virtual reality addition to a  console, there have been some interesting contenders.  But I have to say Microsofts acquisition of Oculous Rift has to be the real contender for me.  I am still a bit unsure if this is going to be a permanent part of games or just a bit of a novelty, but I definitely think it has potential.  

Fallout 4
Oh, praise the pixels there is a new Fallout!  I am a huge fan of Skyrim (it's the best game I have ever played) and so when I recently started playing Fallout 3 I took to it instantly.  It stresses me out but I adore it, and that soundtrack....  Fallout 4 is coming in November so that is the deadline I have given myself to choose which console I want.

Kingdom Hearts 3
One of the best video Disney video games ever, it makes total sense that I love this series.  I have been waiting a lifetime for them to announce another console game.  Now this is only coming out on the PS4, so that definitely has the potential to sway my decision.

It is all going to come down to what I want more, Halo 5 or Kingdom Hearts 3....I think the Disney side might win out.

Which side do you play on?

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17 June 2015

5 True Crime Podcasts for Lovers of Serial


I have a confession to make, I am a secret true crime lover!  It actually only recently dawned on me that I have been keeping this my 'guilty little secret'.  I don't know how long I have been a secret lover but I do have a distinct memory of myself not long after finishing uni spending my evenings watching serial killer documentaries on Youtube and reading articles on The Electric Chair etc into the wee  hours.  Then wondering why I couldn't sleep!

Since then I have watched the odd documentary on and off and left it at that.  Then Serial happened.  For those of you who have been living under a rock, Serial is a podcast that rocked the world recently. It revolves around the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who is currently in prison serving time for her Murder.  However, the investigation might not be as clear-cut as it first appears, the team look into the evidence and ask some much-needed questions.

  When it ended a few months ago I was left wanting more and after months of trial and error, here are my top 5:

Undisclosed: The State Vs. Adnan Syed
If you were at all interested in the case in Serial then you have to listen to this podcast.  It's a follow-up series based on the same case, by a group of lawyers, including Rabia Chaudry who passed the case onto the guys from Serial in the first place.  A lot of new information has come out since Serial ended and this covers a lot of that so it is definitely required listening.  It is worth noting that Rabia is biased in believing that Adnan is innocent so you just have to take it with a pinch of salt.

Crime Writers on Serial 
This started out as a commentary alongside the Serial podcast, and although I haven't listened to those episodes I have listened to the ones they have released since, commentating on the extra information as it comes out after Serial ended.  Although it isn't as detailed as Undisclosed and they might not have access to as much information, they are more unbiased and provide a layman's look into the facts.

Criminal
These short and sweet podcasts cover a different crime every week.  This isn't a full linear story, just a bit of interesting information.  You never know what you are going to get but each story is unique and often not covered before.

What Happened to Vishal?
This podcast covers an unresolved case from 1981 about an 8-year-old boy who went missing walking down the street near is home.  There are many unresolved questions about the police investigation and what was left undiscovered.  As a result of this podcast the case is being looked into again and so hopefully justice can be found after all these years.

Sword and Scale
I think this might be my current favorite.  It is a seriously addictive and doesn't hold back, so if you are squeamish this isn't for you.  It covers murders, serial killers and much more and is a no holds barred account, with lots of real interviews and courtroom footage.  It covers offensives you might have never even thought was possible, it could give you nightmares!

Do you like true crime?  Do you read it, watch it, or find it another way?
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15 June 2015

The Beverley Dress by Whispering Ivy










For some reason this post has been really intimidating me and I am not sure why.  I've been meaning to do it for so long.  I think it might be because this is the first time I have ever gotten someone to take my photos for me as my Boyfriend was on hand for a change, or just because I really like this dress and I really wanted to do it justice, I'm not sure.  Ever get so excited about a post that it actually puts you off doing it?  Either way, I am sorry I didn't share this with you sooner!

You might remember Whispering Ivy from my previous post about the Anita Dress, well they were actually kind enough to send me two dresses and I think this one of my favourite.  Again, I had to size down with this one so be sure to check your measurements.

This time it's the Beverley Dress, I think this dress is made for Summer and when I wear it I find my mood is instantly lifted.  The colours are so bright and the pink details really set it off plus the cut is to die for (especially the neckline).  It is really flattering on me and I feel really confident wearing it.

The material is pretty lightweight but not flimsy at all, however I am not a big fan of the belt.  It's really small so it looks a bit odd on me and I don't really like thin material belts because they crease really easily and just look a bit flimsy.  

I tried to style this in a Summer casual way with Jelly shoes from Boohoo, a Cath Kidston bag I got for my birthday and this oh so pretty and suprisingly cheap parasol and sunglasses from Bow and Crossbones.  Hair-wise I kept it simple: trying to retro-up my lazy ponytail with this headscarf from Sink or Swim Bowtique and Pink heart bow clip from Crown and Glory.  I didn't pick a necklace as I couldn't find one that sat at the right length for for the dress.  I feel like I need to try and match things better - I have so much to learn fashion-wise!

What do you think about Whispering Ivy's summer range?
Dress is a PR sample, all opinions and honest and my own.
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10 June 2015

Kirby-In-Furness












My boyfriends parents live in Kirby-In-Furness in the Lake District and it is such a beautiful part of the world.  From their house it is a 5-minute walk across a railway line to the sea, there is no beach but the view is incredible.  Unfortunately most of the times I have been to visit the weather has been pretty bad, so when the sun finally poked through a couple of weeks ago on my visit, I grabbed my camera and went on a walk.

Up and down all the rocks we climbed we even found this cute little boat someone had made washed up on the shore, I carried it to the nearest water inlay and sent it back out to sea.

Have you ever been to the Peak District?  I'm going to spend a week there over the Summer so I'd love some recmendations!
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